Skip navigation
Prison Profiteers - Header

CA Advocacy Manual, LSPC

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
Fighting for Our Rights:
A Toolbox for Family Advocates of
California Prisoners
Produced and distributed by the Family Advocacy Network of Legal
Services for Prisoners with Children

Fighting for Our Rights:
A Toolbox for Family Advocates
of California Prisoners
Produced and distributed by the Family Advocacy Network of Legal Services for
Prisoners with Children
Creator: Donna Willmott
Editor: Cassie M. Pierson
Contributors: Susan Burton, Steve Castillo, Cynthia Chandler, Doris Mitchell,
Grace Ortega, Jenny Osborne, Maisha Quint, Judy Ricci, Sean Sabo,
Maxwell Sanchez, Karen Shain, Natali Smith, Heidi Strupp, Deborah Teczon
Layout and design: Design Action Collective
Photos: Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Graphics: Jen Seron
Made possible by grants from The California Endowment, the California State
Bar Trust Fund, the Fund for Nonviolence, and the Omnia Foundation

© 2004 Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC)
A note on reproduction:
LSPC is interested in the widest distribution of this manual. You are welcome
to make photocopies of this material, but if you do, please copy the manual
in its entirety and please do not charge for the copies. For questions about
this manual, please contact Legal Services for Prisoners with Children at
(415) 255-7036; fax (415) 552-3150;
info@prisonerswithchildren.org;
1540 Market St., Suite 490, San Francisco, CA 94102,
www.prisonerswithchildren.org

Dedication
his manual comes out of the work of LSPC’s Family Advocacy Network (FAN), which supports the leadership of family members in advocating for the human rights of prisoners and their families.

T

Special thanks to all those members of FAN who contributed their ideas, their letters, their love, and to our sisters and brothers inside for their assistance in shaping this manual.
This manual is dedicated to the families and friends of prisoners who have refused to let the bars be a barrier,
whose love and perseverance keep their families and communities together against all odds.

The Visit
The pain is too acute as we watch
Our brother/son/husband/friend
Herded by fat, uniformed, vacant eyed guards
Back to a hell that seems to never end
Except for our visit.
It’s a sharp stab to the heart
A vertigo that starts in the head
Knowing that these men
Strong yellow/brown/black/red
Might be dead before our next visit.
The hurt overwhelms, goes to the core.
A collective ache felt by us all
As we leave our sister/daughter/wife/friend
In the cells, rooms, dorms and halls
And we start to grieve, crying in silence
For a longer visit.
We leave by car, bus, train and plane
Their face on our minds their touch still felt
Words and kisses warm on our ear
We slump in our seats and try to melt
Into the memories of our too short visit.
Whistles, bells, head counts, lines
We sit or stand for hours it seems
As the life behind the prison walls
The hellish life and what it means

Bombards us in the visiting halls
Waiting, watching, for our visit.
We fill out the forms, wait in the lines
Go through the metal detector a thousand times
The sounds that reach us shock us so
We can hardly talk when at last we meet
Our sister/daughter/wife/friend
As the gate finally opens, we smile and greet
Them on another visit.
Our hearts beat fast.
Do I look alright? What will he say?
You know he called last night.
Cowboy is back in here again.
He stayed out almost a year this time.
Chile, James just got out the hole
Said a chump on A Tier told.
I swore I wasn’t comin’ up here no more.
Junior bring your butt back here beforeShaniqua let me fix your hair
T.J., look, look over there
Here comes daddy.
-Staajabu

Staajabu is a nationally published, award-winning poet. She and her daughter V.S. Chochezi are a dynamic
mother/daughter poetry team known as Straight Out Scribes; they have several volumes of poetry and a CD to
their credit. Their website is www.angelfire.com/biz2/straightoutscribes.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................................1
TOOLBOX: Tools for Advocating for a Loved One in Prison ................................................................3
MEDICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH CARE IN CALIFORNIA PRISONS ........................................................5
Legal Standards for Prison Health Care ........................................................................................................5
Overview of California Department of Corrections (CDC) Health Care Services ............................6
Frequently Asked Questions ..............................................................................................................................6
Common Medical Problems Faced by Prisoners..........................................................................................8
Medical Release Form........................................................................................................................................12
Sample Advocacy Letter from family member to Chief Medical Officer ........................................14
Sample Advocacy Letter from family member to Warden....................................................................15
APPEALS PROCESS FOR CALIFORNIA STATE PRISONERS AND FAMILY MEMBERS ........................17
Citizen’s Complaints ..........................................................................................................................................18
CDC 602 (Inmate/Parolee Appeal Form) ......................................................................................................21
CDC 1824 (Reasonable Modification or Accommodation Request) ..................................................23
BPT 1040 (Appeal: Title 15, CCR sections 2050-2056)..........................................................................25
CDC 2142 (Citizen’s Complaint Form & Instructions) ............................................................................27
WHERE TO FILE COMPLAINTS WITH THE CDC ........................................................................................29
WHERE TO FILE COMPLAINTS WITH OTHER AGENCIES........................................................................31
FILING COMPLAINTS WITH STATE MEDICAL LICENSING AGENCIES..................................................31
DECLARATIONS ..............................................................................................................................................33
Sample declaration ............................................................................................................................................34
BOARD OF CONTROL (GOVERNMENT CLAIM) and FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS CLAIMS ....................35
Board of Control Claim Form & Instructions ............................................................................................37
TIPS ON COMMUNICATION WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS ........................................................................41
Tips on Face-to-face Meetings with Your Elected Officials and their Representatives ..............41
Tips on Writing to Your Elected Officials....................................................................................................42
Tips on Calling Your Elected Officials and their Representatives ......................................................42
Testifying Before Legislative Committees ..................................................................................................42
Testimony by Family Members; two examples..........................................................................................43
Sample Letter Supporting Legislation..........................................................................................................45

TIPS ON COMMUNICATING WITH THE MEDIA........................................................................................47
Write a Letter to the Editor ............................................................................................................................47
Call-in to Radio Shows to Express Your Opinion ....................................................................................47
Approach a Journalist and Try to Get Them Interested in Your Story ..............................................47
Letter to the Editor (San Francisco Chronicle)..........................................................................................49
Los Angeles Times Editorial, “Get Real on Parole Policies”....................................................................49
Los Angeles Times Opinion Piece, “Don’t Cut Off Prisoners From Their Families” ........................49
COMPASSIONATE RELEASE..........................................................................................................................51
Overview Chart ....................................................................................................................................................52
Sample Report in Support of Compassionate Release ..........................................................................54
Sample Letter from Family Member ............................................................................................................57
Sample Letter from a Hospice ........................................................................................................................58
Sample Letter from a Sentencing Judge ....................................................................................................59
ASSISTING A PRISONER IN APPLYING FOR A TRANSFER ....................................................................61
Sample Letter #1 (Counselor) ........................................................................................................................62
Sample Letter #2 (Warden)..............................................................................................................................63
Sample Letter #3 (Director of Corrections)................................................................................................64
TEMPORARY LEAVES AND FURLOUGHS ..................................................................................................65
PAROLE AND PAROLE TRANSFERS ............................................................................................................67
Sample Letter (Parole Transfer Request) ....................................................................................................69
ASSISTING YOUR LOVED ONE WITH A PAROLE HEARING....................................................................71
Sample Letter from a Family Member Supporting Parole ....................................................................72
Sample Letter of an Employment Offer ......................................................................................................74
Sample Letter from Chaplain Supporting Parole ....................................................................................75
Informational Chrono (Laudatory) from Correctional Officer in Support of Parole ....................76
CALIFORNIA’S CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES ..............................................................................................77
GLOSSARY........................................................................................................................................................81
RESOURCES ....................................................................................................................................................83
Legal Resources....................................................................................................................................................83
Advocacy & Support Resources......................................................................................................................84
Medical Resources ..............................................................................................................................................86

Introduction

T
■

In California, one out of 33 African-Americans
was incarcerated in April of 2000, compared
with one out of 122 Latinos and one out of 205
whites (McCormack).

■

Nearly one out of ten children in California had
a parent in the criminal justice system in 20012002 (Nolan, 2003). Nearly four times as many
African American grandparents are raising their
grandchildren compared to their white counterparts (U.S. Bureau of the Census).

■

Family members of prisoners
are held hostage by MCI as we
are forced to sign up with an
MCI-affiliate in order to be
able to receive collect phone
calls from our imprisoned
loved ones. Phone companies
like MCI make outrageous
profits from collect calls from
prisoners. A 15-minute longdistance call from Los Angeles
to Pelican Bay would typically
be $.08 per minute. A 15minute operator-assisted collect call from Pelican Bay
Prison to Los Angeles can cost
as much as $2.95 per minute.

■

California Department of Corrections (CDC) policy requires that 33% of a prisoner’s commissary
fund be turned over to the Victims Restitution
Fund. Every time a family member sends a prisoner $10.00, $3.30 is automatically deducted.
Over the last 10 years, $50 million has been
directed to this fund from prisoners’ accounts
(www.cdc.corr.ca.gov/VictimServices/Restitution.asp).
This is an additional, unofficial tax on families
of prisoners.

Those of us who have ties to someone inside know
how many obstacles there are to maintaining support
and communications with our loved ones. When families and friends go to visit, we often have to put up
with humiliating treatment by prison guards. Women
visitors are subject to judgments by guards about their
clothing and are often spoken to in a demeaning manner. We find ourselves being criminalized simply
because someone we care about is in prison.
After spending hours driving long distances, and a lot
of money for hotels, we arrive for
our visit and are told our clothes
are not appropriate, or the paper
work isn’t in order, or our loved
one is not able to come to the visiting room—no reason is given. If
we try to get some answers, we’re
threatened with termination of
our visits. When something worrisome is happening with our loved
one inside—she is sick, or there has
been a death in the family or some
emergency with the kids—we call
the prison and are met with a wall
of silence. We are treated as if we
had no right to look after the people we love.

Introduction

his manual was developed to assist families and
friends of California state prisoners in advocating for their rights and the rights of their incarcerated loved ones. The “war on crime” and the “war
on drugs” have taken a devastating toll on our communities, as we have watched the number of prisoners
in California triple in the last 20 years. The heaviest
burden falls on Black and Latino communities; nearly
3/4 of California’s prisoners are from communities of
color. Consider these statistics:

1

Fighting for Our Rights

We believe that family members can play an important
role in making sure their loved ones are safe from
abuse, get needed medical care, and are treated with
the dignity and respect they deserve. Our support is
critical on so many levels: our loved ones need to
know they can count on us, and the California
Department of Corrections (CDC) needs to know that it
must be accountable for what happens to the people
they keep behind bars. In the summer of 2002, family
members and prisoner rights advocates pushed back
the CDC’s attempts to implement new visiting regulations that would have made it much more difficult, if
not impossible, for many family members to visit.
When we joined forces by writing letters and speaking
up at a public hearing in Sacramento, we were able to
make our voices heard. Family members have testified
at legislative hearings about many issues that affect
their loved ones, and are clearly having an impact on
legislators and public opinion.

2

This manual outlines some basic tools you can use to
fight for the rights of your loved one inside. From letters and phone calls to official complaints and contacting your legislators and the media, you have ways
to make your voice heard and change situations that
are not acceptable. This manual gives information on
specific issues you may need to advocate about: medical neglect, compassionate release, emergency
furloughs, transfers, and paroles. It focuses on
issues of medical care, but the tools described
here can be used to advocate about many
issues. Most importantly, this manual draws on
the experience of family members who have
used their power to change situations that
seemed unchangeable. Their involvement
made a
difference.
We have included letters in this manual that
were written by family members and other
advocates. With the exceptions that are
noted in the text, names of state officials,
doctors, family members, and prisoners have
been changed to protect their privacy.
Sometimes this manual refers to prisoners as
“she”, sometimes as “he.” We do this deliberately to avoid favoring one gender over
another. The information in this manual
applies to both women and men, unless where
noted.

This manual is not intended to answer all your
legal questions or take the place of an attorney.
Prison policies are subject to frequent change. It
is your responsibility to check to make sure the
information on the policies and the forms are up
to date. The information in this manual is based
on policies and procedures of the California
Department of Corrections and will apply only
to California state prisons. County jails and other
detention facilities are governed by a different
set of policies.

Endnotes:
Clare Nolan, Children of Arrested Parents. California Research
Bureau, 2003. http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/03/11/03-011.pdf
Erin McCormick, “Number of State Prisoners Soared in 90’s:
One in 33 Blacks Was Behind Bars in April Last Year,” San
Francisco Chronicle (August 9, 2001).
The Census 2000 Supplemental Survey, QT—03; Profile of
Selected Economic Characteristics: 2001

e are not the only family going through this tragedy, there are many
people suffering the same situation, and we need to get in touch and
support each other.”

“W

TOOLBOX
Tools for Advocating for a Loved One in Prison

f someone you care about is being denied medical care or is being abused by prison authorities, you can play
an important role in changing the situation.

I

Here are some tools you have at your disposal:
• Letters and phone calls to the Warden, Chief Medical Officer, and other CDC officials
• Inmate grievance process (602)
• Letters, phone calls, and meetings with your elected representatives

• Filing complaints with state medical licensing agencies
• Filing complaints with the Inspector General’s Office
• Filing a Board of Control Claim in order to preserve your right to sue for damages in State Court
Each of these tools will be discussed in a separate section of this manual. Additionally, sample letters from family
members and other advocates are included in several sections as examples.

Here are some important tips for communicating with prison officials
■ Put

all communications to prison officials in writing, and send them certified mail.

■ Make

your complaint specific, and try to keep the writing clear. Shorter is often better.

■ Make

sure you are directing your complaint to the right person, the person who has authority to affect the
situation (see pages 29-32). Then send copies to other people who also have responsibility and could have
an impact.

■ Keep

a written log of all your efforts, and encourage your imprisoned loved one to do the same. Keeping a
medical diary just for this purpose is very helpful so you can easily keep track of when you spoke to someone, when they said you could expect a response, and what was said in the conversation. Be sure to write
the full date and time of these events, as well as the full name and title of the person with whom you
spoke.

■ The

person incarcerated should also use a medical diary to keep track of every attempt made to seek medical care, every attempt to obtain medical records, and every interaction with CDC staff that is related to
medical care. She should be sure to write the full date and time of these events, as well as the name and
title of the person she spoke to. She should keep copies of all co-pays, inmate request forms, 602 and 1824
forms, etc. In addition, it is a good idea for your loved one to periodically send you copies of her diary.

Tools for Advocating for a Loved One in Prison

• Contacting the media

3

■ Make

sure that your
incarcerated loved one
gives written permission to the prison to
discuss with you her
medical condition and
related issues. New
guidelines are very
specific about what
must be included in
this permission. See
sample release, page 13.

■ Keep

copies of EVERYTHING you send, and
encourage your imprisoned
loved one to do the same. This
creates a “paper trail” that could
prove very helpful later.

the records related to a specific lab test. Your
loved one should copy the records and send
you a copy for safekeeping.
■

Try to learn more about the medical condition
your loved one has. You can get educational
information from various groups, like the
American Lung Society or the Arthritis
Foundation. This is important because it
helps you better understand what kind of
medical care your loved one should be
receiving. Knowing more about her medical
condition also helps your loved one advocate
for herself.
■

Make sure the appropriate person is
listed as the emergency contact on the
prisoner’s central file (C-file).
■

■ After

every phone call, send a follow-up
letter summarizing your conversation.

■ Write

letters to your elected representatives
and the media. Include copies of your correspondence with the CDC and any other documents
that could be helpful.

Fighting for Our Rights

■ It

4

is not uncommon for the prison medical staff
to fail to get a prisoner’s previous medical
records in a timely fashion. If your loved one has
a chronic illness, it can be very helpful for you to
get her previous medical records from doctors
who were providing care before incarceration.
Sometimes a family doctor may be willing to
summarize someone’s medical history and send it
to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

■ Encourage

your loved one to obtain her prison
medical records, both from the institution and
from any outside hospital where she receives
treatment while incarcerated. This creates a
paper trail and may help prove that she is not
getting proper medical treatment. It may also be
very useful should a lawsuit be filed in the
future. The prisoner must fill out an Inmate
Request Form specifically requesting medical
records; she will be charged a copying fee. If the
records are many pages, it might be best to
request records for a limited time period or for

Whenever possible, discuss a plan of
action with your incarcerated loved one
before you take action because advocating on someone’s behalf often results in
retaliation by prison officials.

■ Look

for websites created by other family
members who are publicizing similar issues.

■ Find

out if the prison where your loved one is
incarcerated has an Inmate Family Council that
you can be part of. (See Resources Section,
page 83).

■ Don’t

blame yourself if your efforts don’t work
the way you had hoped. You’re up against many
roadblocks! Hang in there … it’s a long road.

MEDICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
CARE IN CALIFORNIA PRISONS

Legal Standards for Prison Health Care

Plata v. Davis, a statewide class action lawsuit alleging
that cruel and unusual punishment was being inflicted
on prisoners whose medical needs were not being met.
Brought by the Prison Law Office, and settled in June
2002, Plata requires an overhaul of the medical practices in the CDC and provides for an independent monitoring of the CDC’s progress in complying with the
new standards.
Shumate v. Wilson, a class-action lawsuit filed by several legal advocates (Legal Services for Prisoners with
Children among them) on behalf of women prisoners
in two California prisons. Shumate challenged the
inhumane medical care in the women’s prisons, and
legally required the CDC to meet higher standards of
health care for women prisoners. The settlement, which
was signed in 1997, required regular Pap tests and

pregnancy care as well as improved access to doctors
and the ability to get medications on time.
Armstrong v. Wilson was brought by the Prison Law
Office to ensure that the rights of disabled prisoners
were protected. Based on the rights laid out in the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this class-action
lawsuit resulted in an injunction requiring the CDC to
improve disabled prisoners’ access to programs.
Coleman v. Wilson is a statewide class action brought
by the Prison Law Office to challenge the unconstitutional treatment of mentally ill prisoners within the
CDC. This federal case lays out standards for the treatment of mentally ill prisoners.
In spite of years of lawsuits, medical and mental health
care in California’s prisons is often grossly inadequate.
The following section will tell you what a prisoner has
a legal right to. It should not be taken as a description
of the actual state of care in California’s prisons. It is a
starting point for you to advocate from, a measuring
stick that tells you what medical care should be like.

Federal Standard
All prisoners have the right to medical and mental
health care. Violating this right would be violating the
constitution. In Estelle v. Gamble, the Court decided
that “deliberate indifference to a serious medical need”
is a violation of the constitution. In order to prove his
case a prisoner must show the following:
1) That a medical need is serious. In order to prove
this, the prisoner must have:

a) An injury that a doctor finds in need of treatment
b) A medical need that affects the prisoner’s daily
activities, and/or
c) The presence of intense or chronic pain
2) That the prisoner was denied medical care, the
treatment was delayed, or the care was improper.

Medical and Mental Health Care in California Prisons

The medical care system in California’s prisons has been
the subject of several court cases brought to address
the substandard care prisoners have had to endure.
Among the cases that govern California laws are:

5

Medical Care Tort Standards
Patients also have the right to be protected from
medical malpractice or negligence. To prove
medical malpractice, the prisoner must show the
following:
1) The doctor did not use the same skills that a
reputable doctor would use.
2) Because the doctor did not act accordingly, the
patient suffered injury or illness.
California law also holds public employees (prison
staff) accountable for neglecting to take action if
they have reason to know that a prisoner needs
immediate medical attention. The circumstances
for needing immediate medical attention must be
very serious (for example, requesting medicine for
a headache is not considered an emergency, but
if an inmate fell off of his bunk and became
unconscious, emergency attention is needed).

Overview of California Department of Corrections (CDC) Health Care Services
Frequently Asked Questions

Fighting for Our Rights

Does my loved one have any rights as a patient while
in prison?

6

According to CDC policies, prisoners do have certain
rights regarding access to medical care. However,
there is often a big difference between written policies
and what actually happens in reality. The CDC also
reserves the right to deny or limit these rights. The following is a brief summary of patients’ rights according
to CDC policies:
1. Prisoners shall be provided “medically necessary”
care. Medically necessary is defined as “health care
services that are determined by the attending
physician to be reasonable and necessary to protect
life, prevent significant illness or disability or alleviate severe pain and are supported by health outcome data as being effective medical care.”
2. Prisoners have the right to be free from mental
and physical abuse.
3. Prisoners shall be not be discriminated against
in their attempts to get medical attention.

4. Prisoners have the right to be treated with consideration, respect and dignity.
5. Prisoners have the right to confidentiality
regarding their medical situation and the right to
approve or refuse the release of this information to
anyone outside the CDC, except in the case of
transfer to another health care facility, or as
required by law or third party payment contract.
6. Prisoners have the right to obtain from prison
health staff information about their health status,
including diagnosis, treatment and prognosis (if
known).
7. Prisoners have the right to communicate with
persons outside the prison consistent with CDC
policies. Prisoners also have the right to have
access to an interpreter.
8. Prisoners have the right to informed consent
and to refuse medical treatment.
9. Prisoners have the right to refuse convulsive
treatment (electroshock).
10. Prisoners have the right to be informed about

prison rules applicable to their status as a patient
and have the right to file grievances.

clinics, offsite, or in special housing units. Many prisons contract out for specialty services.

11. Prisoners have the right to be free from chemical (except in emergencies), clinical, and treatment
restraints, except when necessary to protect themselves or others from injury.

Will my loved one be given medical care as soon as
she arrives at the prison?

How does my loved one access health care?
All prisoners, including those in segregation, have a
right to medical care. Prisoners must fill out a Health
Care Services Request Form (also called a co-pay) and
explain why they need medical attention. Prison health
staff reviews these requests for care and set up
appointments based on priority.
Does my loved one have to pay for health services?
Prisoners are charged $5.00 for each “inmate initiated”
health care visit. Prisoners are not supposed to be
charged for the following: emergency care, diagnosis
and treatment of communicable diseases, mental
health services, follow-up care, health services necessary to comply with state law, reception center health
screening, inpatient services, extended care, skilled
nursing care, and Chronic Care Program visits.
What if my loved one can’t afford the $5.00 co-pay?
If a prisoner does not have any money in her account
for 30 days, she is considered indigent and the $5.00
co-pay fee for medical services is waived.
What types of medical services are available in prison?
The CDC provides primary care, standby emergency
care, mental health crisis care, and basic medical care
in skilled nursing facilities, hospices, and correctional
treatment centers. CDC prisons differ in the level of
health services they provide. All prisons provide outpatient medical, dental, pharmacy services, public
health and mental health care that is delivered both in

Does the prison provide specialized care for prisoners
with chronic illnesses?
The CDC has a Chronic Care Program (CCP) aimed at
identifying and providing treatment to prisoners with
certain chronic and communicable diseases such as
heart problems, diabetes, HIV, seizure disorders, etc.
Prisoners enrolled in this program are supposed to be
seen by a doctor every 90 days for monitoring and
treatment.
What happens if there is a medical emergency at
night or during the weekends?
Registered nurses are on site and available to respond
to emergencies at each CDC prison 24 hours a day,
seven days a week. A physician is on-call by telephone
during evening hours, weekends and holidays. At those
prisons with a General Acute Care Hospital, a physician
is available on site at all times. Prisoners in needed of
hospitalization are sent out as necessary.
Who is in charge of health care at each prison?
Each prison has a Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and/or
Health Care Manager (HCM) who are responsible for
overseeing the delivery of health care services.
Can our family hire an outside doctor to examine and
treat our incarcerated loved one?
A prisoner or an outside advocate, whether a family
member or legal representative, may request that a
prisoner be examined by an outside doctor. However,
the advocate or person requesting the examination

Medical and Mental Health Care in California Prisons

12. Prisoners have a right to access their medical
records.

All prisoners are supposed to receive an initial health
screening immediately upon arrival at the prison and a
complete medical evaluation and physical within 14
days.

7

must pay any costs associated with such an examination. Additionally, prison health staff is not required to
follow any recommendations made by the outside doctor. These requests must be submitted to the warden
who consults with the Chief Medical Officer before
issuing a decision on the request.

watch commander) and the attending physician. If
your loved one does not have a terminal diagnosis, you
must demonstrate why the visit cannot wait until the
prisoner returns to the institution or her regular general population housing unit. For specific requirements,
contact the visiting lieutenant.

Can I visit my loved one if she is sick in the hospital or
prison medical unit?

Can my loved one be released from prison if she is
dying?

It can be extremely difficult to visit a sick loved one
who is temporarily housed in an outside hospital or an
on-site prison medical unit. Generally speaking, these
types of visits require special approval from prison
staff (such as the warden, visiting lieutenant, and/or

California state law allows for the early release of terminally ill prisoners. However, these “compassionate
releases” may be extremely difficult to win due to the
strict eligibility requirements. (See section on
Compassionate Release)

Common Medical Problems Faced by Prisoners
Your loved one needs medical attention and is
not able to see a doctor.
Summary of the Problem
One of the most common problems prisoners experience regarding the prison health system is often just
trying to get an appointment with a doctor.

Fighting for Our Rights

What is supposed to happen?

8

The following is a very general and brief overview of
the process prisoners are supposed to use to get medical attention from a nurse or primary care doctor.
These policies were developed as part of a settlement
agreement in a class action lawsuit called Plata v.
Davis. Please note that these rules are being applied
over a period of time at each of California’s 32 prisons
(except Pelican Bay) and may not yet be in place in the
institution where your loved one is incarcerated.
1. Each prison medical clinic shall have one RN,
one MTA and one Physician or Nurse Practitioner
and be open at least eight hours a day, Monday
through Friday, excluding holidays. There must be
at least one RN on duty at the prison during the
evenings and weekends and at least one physician
on-call during non-business hours.
2. The health clinic will provide medical care to
patients who (a) have submitted a Health Care
Request Form, (b) are referred to the clinic by custody staff, or (c) are experiencing an “urgent/emergent” medical problem.

3. Prisoners are expected to initiate health services
by filing a Health Care Services Request Form (copay) explaining why they need medical attention.
Prisoners must pay a $5.00 co-pay for every prisoner-initiated visit. Some exceptions to this policy
include, but are not limited to, the following: a
prisoner is without funds for 30 days; the prisoner
is seeking emergency medical attention; the prisoner is seeking medical attention for diagnosis and
treatment of certain communicable diseases; the
prisoner is seeking follow-up care recommended by
a medical staff person.
4. All requests for medical services are placed in a
locked box, which is checked daily. All requests are
supposed to be reviewed by an RN daily in order to
determine medical priorities.
5. Prisoners are supposed to be evaluated by an RN
within 24 hours of submitting a request form to
determine what medical care is needed. The nurse
will provide treatment if necessary, within the
scope of her abilities.
6. Patients shall be scheduled to see a primary care
provider for the earliest possible appointment if (a)
the needs of the patient are beyond the scope of
practice for an RN, or (b) this is the patient’s third
request for the same medical complaint.
7. Once an appointment to meet with a doctor has
been made, the prisoner is supposed to receive a
“priority medical ducat” which gives her special
permission to leave her job or program assignment
in order to go to this appointment.

Prisoners often wait days, weeks, and — in extreme
cases — months to access medical staff. Prisoners
complain that they submit co-pays and are never seen
by medical staff yet have $5 deducted from their
accounts, regularly have their appointments cancelled
without explanation or rescheduling, show up for
appointments only to find that their medical records
are not available, or see doctors who dismiss their concerns and offer no treatment.

Possible solutions
Prisoners who experience problems accessing medical
attention should consider filing a 602, which clearly
and briefly explains their attempts to get care.
Prisoners should try and keep copies of all documents
related to their attempts to get care, including Health
Care Request Forms (co-pays), priority medical ducats,
Inmate Request Forms, medical records, 602s, etc. It is
also extremely helpful to keep a “medical diary” that
keeps track of dates forms were submitted, dates of
responses, dates and descriptions of all contact with
any medical staff including names and positions, and
details of the state of the prisoner’s health.
Family members may consider writing letters (and
making follow up phone calls) to the prison’s Chief
Medical Officer, Warden, and prison officials in
Sacramento in an attempt to make known your loved
one’s difficulties getting medical attention. Your letter
will be much stronger if you address the following
issues and show officials that you know exactly what
policies have not been followed correctly:
• Has your loved one
submitted a Health Care
Request Form (co-pay)?
If so, how many and
when? What kind of
medical attention was
requested? What happened?
• Find out if an RN saw
your loved one within
24 hours of filing a copay. Did another medical staff person see the
prisoner?

• Was your loved one charged $5 for care that was
never provided or charged for care that is part of
an on-going treatment plan?
• What happened once your loved one was able to
see a doctor? Did the doctor physically examine
the patient and provide information about a
diagnosis, the need for further testing, and possible treatment options? Did the doctor make
recommendations for specific follow-up action?
Did this happen?
Try to be as accurate and specific as possible, including
dates, names and detailed descriptions of events. Include
copies of all relevant paper work with your letter.

Your loved one experiences delays in getting
medications refilled.
Summary of the Problem
Many prisoners complain that they often experience
delays in getting their medications refilled. This can be
very serious depending on the type of medical problem
they have. For example, prisoners with HIV who do not
take their medications regularly may experience drug
resistance as a result of medication interruptions.
Prisoners taking anti-seizure medications may experience seizures, which puts them at risk for serious injury.

What is supposed to happen?
Prisoners are allowed to keep a supply of medications
in their cell. Certain medications, such as HIV medications and narcotics must be taken as “Directly
Observed Therapy” which means prisoners must wait in
pill-line to receive their medications and ingest them in
direct view of medical staff. In
other words, prisoners are not
allowed to keep these types of
medications on their person in
their cell and must always wait
in a pill-line to take their
doses.
Prisoners receive self-administered medications in 14-30 day
supplies. Sometimes prisoners
may receive a 30-90 day supply. Medications are prescribed
by health care providers, often

Medical and Mental Health Care in California Prisons

What often happens in reality?

9

the prisoner’s yard doctor. All newly ordered medications are supposed to be made available to the prisoner within 24 hours unless the drug would not normally
be started until the next day. Certain medications
used to treat severe pain, nausea, agitation, and diarrhea are supposed to be issued to the prisoner immediately. Prisoners enrolled in the Chronic Care Program
(CCP) who need to take medication on an ongoing
basis often receive a 30-90 day supply. CCP patients
are supposed to be seen by a CCP doctor every 90 days
at which time the physician should re-order any needed medications.

What often happens in reality?
Prisoners often experience interruptions in their medications for a variety of reasons. For example, prisoners will wait in pill line only to discover that their
medication renewals have not been refilled. A scheduled appointment with a doctor may be cancelled,
delaying their medication reevaluation. Sometimes
prisoners are issued other people’s medications.

Possible solutions
Prisoners who experience problems getting their medications renewed may consider filing a Health Care
Services Request Form (co-pay) to see their yard doctor
and request a medication renewal. If this does not
resolve the issue, a prisoner may choose to file a 602.
If filing a 602, the prisoner should make sure to
include the following information in the appeal:

Fighting for Our Rights

• Name of the medication(s) and a brief description of why the prisoner needs this medication.

10

• An explanation of what went wrong, for example, the prisoner was never called for her regular
CCP appointment and therefore never received a
renewal for the medication.
• If possible, include a copy of the medication label
to prove that this medication had previously been
prescribed and also include a copy of any co-pay
forms which may have been filed in an attempt
to resolve the problem.
Family members may consider writing a letter to the
prison’s CMO, Warden, and prison officials in
Sacramento in an attempt to make known your loved
one’s difficulties getting medications renewed. Your
letter will be much stronger if you can demonstrate
that the prisoner has followed the rules for resolving

problems and these efforts have not worked. Your letter should mention if your loved one filed any co-pays
or 602s and what happened as a result of these
actions. As always, make sure to keep copies of all documents and correspondence.

Your loved one is forced to work a job or
program assignment that she is not able to do
because of health-related problems.
Summary of the Problem
Most California state prisoners are required to work or
participate in some type of prison program in order to
establish a record of “good behavior” and also to qualify for “good time” credits. However, some prisoners
are unable to work or program because of medical
problems. These individuals must get special permission from prison doctors and administrators in order to
be excused from work. Unfortunately, many prisoners
who are sick, in pain, disabled or otherwise having
problems working complain that it is often very difficult to acquire the special status of not having to
work. If prisoners don’t work or program they risk getting punished.

What is supposed to happen?
In past years, if a prisoner was unable to work because
of a medical issue, a prison doctor would issue a
“chrono” (authorization form) stating that the individual is not able to work at all due to medical reasons.
This meant the prisoner would still receive her “good
time” credits and keep getting all other privileges. This
is also called being on “A-1-A status.” Unfortunately,
the rules changed and doctors now have less authority
over deciding whether or not a prisoner is able to
work. Currently, a prison doctor must write a “chrono”
that explains exactly what an individual is able to do.
For example, a “chrono” might state that a prisoner is
not able to walk more than 50 feet, lift anything over
5 pounds, not be exposed to sunlight, etc.
Next, the prisoner will go before a classification committee which will decide if there is a prison job or program that the individual is able to do given her
health-related limitations. If such a position exists, the
prisoner will be placed directly into that job or put on
a waiting list. If there is no job or program available,
the classification committee will put the prisoner on
“medically unassigned status” (if the medical issue will

What often happens in reality?
Two of the most common problems related to this policy are (1) prison doctors do not issue the appropriate
chronos and (2) prisoners have the right chronos but
their job or program assignment requires them to perform activities that they are not supposed to do.

Possible solutions
It is the responsibility of the prisoner’s work supervisor

to provide “reasonable accommodation” on the job. If
your loved one is given a job that she is not able to
perform, she can attempt to resolve the issue informally by talking with her work supervisor who may be
willing to make adjustments to the job assignment.
For example, if your loved one works as a “porter”
(janitor) and is not suppose to lift anything over 5
pounds, perhaps her work supervisor will not require
her to perform this task. If the supervisor says that in
order to stay at the job the individual must perform
activities that she is unable to do or are extremely
painful or dangerous, the prisoner should be reassigned. The prisoner may consider filing an “1824
Reasonable Modification or Accommodation Request”
form which explains her attempts to resolve the issue.
She should also explain specifically why her current job
assignment conflicts with her chronos.
Your loved one may also try to submit an “Inmate
Request Form” asking to speak with the CMO about
her desire to be issued a particular
chrono.
If your loved one is unable to get
her prison doctor to issue the
appropriate chronos, she may consider filing a 602 explaining (1) a
brief description of her health condition and (2) a brief explanation
of why the job or program assignment is inappropriate. She may
want to request specific chronos
that will make her current job easier or request a different job assignment entirely.
As a family member, it can be
helpful for you to write letters to
the warden (and follow up with
phone calls) explaining the problems your loved one is having with
her classification status and job
assignment. Try to be as specific
as possible about the problem and
what your loved one has done to
resolve the issue.

Medical and Mental Health Care in California Prisons

get better within 6 months) or “medically disabled status” (if the medical condition is permanent or will last
longer than 6 months). It is important to note that
prisoners who are either put on a waiting list for a job
or are classified as “medically unassigned” will receive
partial privileges or A-2-B status. Prisoners classified as
“medically disabled,” receive their full privileges or A1-A status.

11

AUTHORIZATION TO RELEASE MEDICAL INFORMATION
In order to protect the confidentiality of a person’s health care records, hospitals, doctors, and health care agencies must have permission from the patient before they can release information. If you are attempting to obtain
a copy of your loved one’s medical file from the CDC or from an outside hospital or clinic, you will have to show
that you are authorized to receive the information you are requesting.
According to California Civil Code section 56.11, for an Authorization to be valid it must meet the following
requirements:

• It must be handwritten by the person signing it or typed in at least 14 point type
• The authorization to release information is clearly separate from any other language on the page
• It is signed and dated by the patient
• It states the specific uses and limitations on the type of information to be disclosed
• It states the name or function of the health care provider that may disclose the information
• States the specific uses and limitations on the use of the information by the person authorized to receive
the information
• States the name or function of the person authorized to receive the information
• States a specific ending date for the authorization
• Tells the person signing the authorization that she has a right to have a copy of it

Fighting for Our Rights

On the following page you will find an example of an Authorization to Release Medical Information that contains all of the requirements above. When you make a written request for your loved one’s records just include a
copy of her signed authorization as proof that you are authorized to receive the information.

12

You will probably have to pay a fee for your loved one’s medical records. Charges for copying medical records
will vary from one agency to the next. It is not unusual to be charged anywhere from 10 cents a page to 50
cents or more per page. In addition to the per-page copying charges, you may be charged a “basic fee,” a
“retrieval fee,” shipping and handling charges, and sales tax. These various fees can add up quickly and depending upon how large your loved one’s medical file is, this can become costly. For example, the cost for 43 pages
of records from one medical center came to $69.99 (a $32.00 basic fee, a $15.00 retrieval fee, 35 cents per page
copying fee, $2.67 shipping/handling, and $5.27 sales tax).

MEDICAL RECORDS AUTHORIZATION
(This authorization for the use or release of medical information is requested from you
in order to comply with the requirements of California Civil Code section 56 et. seq.)
I, __________________________________________________________________ hereby authorize
(Name of Patient)
__________________________________________________________________________________
(Name and address of Physician, Hospital or Health Care Provider)
to release to ________________________________________________________________________
(Name of person authorized to receive the information)
all information in his/her/its possession regarding my medical condition, INCLUDING MY HIV
STATUS, MENTAL HEALTH, AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE, documented between
________________________________________ and ______________________________________
(Beginning date)
(Ending date)
and further authorize the examination and copying of the records and information.
I understand that _________________________________________________________, will regard as
(Name of person receiving the information)
confidential any information released to him or her, and will use the information for the sole purpose of
advocating for my right to health care. Such advocacy may include seeking legal relief and/or speaking with the media and will be conducted under my direction.
This authorization shall remain in effect until five (5) years after my death, or until revoked by me in
writing, whichever occurs first. Photocopies of this authorization shall be as valid as the original. I
understand that I have the right to revoke this authorization and to receive a copy of this authorization
upon request.
Copy requested:

❏ Yes

❏ No, and if not why?

___________________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________
(Signature)

______________________________
(Date)

_________________________________________
(Social Security Number)

______________________________
(CDC number)

_________________________________________
(Street address)

______________________________
(Date of Birth)

_________________________________________
(City, State, Zip Code)

Sample Advocacy Letter from a Family Member
Karen Jones
1050 Main Street
Middletown, CA 99555
(999) 111-5555
June 4, 2002

VIA FAX

Dr. Richard Smith
Chief Medical Officer
Central California Women’s Facility
PO Box 1501
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1501
Dear Dr. Smith,
I am writing on behalf of my sister Pat Jones, W-00001. I visited her yesterday and was told the following
about her urgent medical needs:
She found out she had an abnormal pap in February 1999, when she first arrived at CCWF. She had laser surgery two months later, but had no follow-up care for two years. She was told in 2001 that she had cancer and
had another surgery, this time at Madera Community Hospital. She was denied her post surgical visit by the
MTAs and was not given the antibiotics or pain medication prescribed by her outside doctor. She has had an
abnormal vaginal discharge since her surgery, and it took her three requests to be seen, eight months after her
surgery. She was given betadine douches and some pills but the discharge continues. She also filed a 602 in
an attempt to get the medical care she needs but this failed to resolve this issue. Included with this letter is a
copy of her 602.
She has had a breast lump since 1999, which she mentioned to medical staff. She had a mammogram and was
told not to worry about the lump unless it hurt. She had a sonogram but was never told the results. The lump
now is burning and painful. She put in a request to see a doctor in March of this year but has not yet been
seen for this condition.

Fighting for Our Rights

I am quite concerned that no one seems to be following her care, and no one has taken the time to explain her
current status to her. I am asking you to review her chart and make sure she gets the care she needs. I look
forward to your prompt response.

14

Sincerely,
Karen Jones

cc: XXXXX

Sample Advocacy Letter from a Family Member*
July 15, 2000
Warden Ray Middleton
Valley State Prison for Women
21633 Avenue 24
Chowchilla, CA 93610-0099
Re: Inmate Gina Muniz, W-77857
Dear Warden Middleton:

Since her arrival in your care, her symptoms have increased. I received a call from her on July 14 at approximately 10:30 A.M. She stated at that time that she was very ill and in pain. She also stated that she was losing
weight at a fast rate. After examination in your facility, she was given a pap smear and Motrin to treat her
symptoms. It has been my understanding after speaking to a nurse in your facility that you are in receipt of her
medical records. This is where my question to you arises. Since when is follow up treatment for cancer dealt
with by the issuance of Motrin? I am requesting that you take immediate action on this matter and see that my
daughter receives the proper medical care and continued daily treatment she was previously receiving. I
understand that she is incarcerated, but her human right to medical care is being ignored.
As previously stated, she was receiving treatment for her cancer at Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Los
Angeles. I expect her treatment to be continued, not put on hold as the cancer worsens and spreads. We are
talking about the quality of a young woman’s life and health. This is not a case of a bad flu, but a matter of a
life-threatening disease. She has an 8-year old daughter and many family members are concerned about her
well-being.
I anticipate immediate action for my daughter and look forward to a written response from you.
Sincerely and gratefully,

Grace Ortega
Cc: Gina Muniz
Cal Terhune, Director, CA Dept. of Corrections
Gov. Gray Davis
Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamonte
Sen. John Vasconcellos
Sen. Richard Polanco
Bill Heatherman, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Concerned Citizens for Prisoners
Southern Center for Human Rights
Prisoners Legal Service Project
ACLU National Prison Project
Prison Activist Resource Center
Kairos Outside Ministry

California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Families of Prisoners Support Group
Prison Rights Union
Prison Legal Aid Network
Prison Legal News
Board of Prison Terms

Medical and Mental Health Care in California Prisons

I am writing on behalf of my daughter, Gina Muniz. She arrived in your care approximately June 15, 2000.
She was recently sentenced in the Pomona Superior Court. Prior to her sentence she was in Twin Towers in
Los Angeles. During her stay at Twin Towers she was housed in the medical ward and Women’s and
Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She has been diagnosed with cervical cancer, stage 2B. She was under
treatment when transferred.

* This is an actual letter from a family member

15

“I

found out that I am not alone, and there are ways to cope.”

APPEALS PROCESS FOR CALIFORNIA STATE
PRISONERS AND FAMILY MEMBERS (602s)

C

If a prisoner is complaining about misconduct by
someone who is a “departmental peace officer,” in
addition to filing a 602 appeal, the prisoner must read

and sign a Rights and Responsibility Statement (CDC
Form 1858) and attach it to the 602. If the prisoner
fails to attach Form 1858 to her appeal, the appeal will
be rejected as incomplete. Departmental peace officers include correctional officers, MTAs, and parole
agents. A sample Rights and Responsibilities
Statement can be found in the Citizen’s Complaint section below.
A prisoner or parolee who has a disability or mobility
issue stemming from a health problem may file an
appeal on a CDC Form 1824, Reasonable Modification
or Accommodation Request. The prisoner must
describe the disability or mobility impairment. For
example, a prisoner might write: “I have lupus. I have a
‘no sunlight chrono’. Because of this chrono, I am not
supposed to walk in daylight to my job. I keep getting
115s because I don’t show up for work. I am requesting
a hat and sun block chrono so I can walk to my job.”
After completing the form, the prisoner submits it to
the institution’s/facility’s Appeals Coordinator Office.
A decision is supposed to be made within 15 days after
they receive the form and the response is written on
the form and returned to the prisoner. If the prisoner
is not satisfied with the decision, the 1824 must be
attached to an Inmate/Parolee Appeal Form (CDC 602);
section F on the 602 form must be completed and then
submitted to the Appeals Coordinator within 15 days
of when the original decision was received. If still dissatisfied with the response/decision, the prisoner may
request a Third Level review (Director’s Level) as above.
As a family member you have the right to file an
appeal if you are concerned or dissatisfied with
departmental policy and regulations or facility policies
and regulations. Instead of using a 602 form, you may
simply write a letter stating the problem and what you
want done about it. If you were appealing a procedure
or practice of the facility or institution, you may write

Appeals Process

alifornia state prisoners and their family members, as well as parolees, have a right to file an
appeal of any decision, action or policy that has
an adverse affect on them. This process is known as
the 602 Appeal Process (602 refers to the green CDC
form prisoners use). For example, if a prisoner is having a problem with a doctor, nurse or counselor, the
prisoner asks for a 602 form and writes her complaint
on the form and then states what she wants done to
remedy the situation. The prisoner must file the 602
within 15 days of the incident or injury that led to the
problem. The prisoner then takes the form and submits it to the medical appeals coordinator or other
appropriate staff member who then has 10 working
days to respond to the 602 in writing (the staff member writes his/her response on Section C–Informal
Review). If the prisoner is not satisfied with the
response, then Section D—Formal Level of the 602
form must be filled out stating why she is dissatisfied,
any supporting documents she may have should be
attached and then everything is sent to the
Institution/Parole Region Appeals Coordinator (this
must be done within 15 days). The coordinator then
has 30 working days to respond in writing (Section E).
If the prisoner is still not satisfied with the decision, a
Second-Level Review may be requested (Section F and
again within 15 days) by re-submitting the appeal to
the coordinator who has 20 working days to respond
(Section G). If the prisoner is still dissatisfied with the
decision, further information may be added and a
Director’s Level Review (Section H) requested. The
director then has 60 working days to respond to the
prisoner in writing. Once a prisoner has taken a 602
through all levels of review, administrative remedies
have been exhausted.

17

to the warden or regional parole administrator of the
facility/institution where the problem arose. The warden or regional parole administrator has 15 working
days to respond to you in writing. If you are dissatisfied with the response, you may then send the appeal
to the director who has 20 working days from the date
the appeal is received to give you a written response.
If you are complaining about a policy or regulation of
the department, write to the Director of Corrections in
Sacramento instead of the warden or regional parole
administrator. The director has 20 working days from
the date your letter (appeal) is received to give you a
written response.
Your right to file an appeal can be found in Title 15 in
section 3137 (Appeals Relating to Mail) and section
3178 (Appeals Relating to Visiting). However, even if
you do not have the right to formally appeal issues
unrelated to mail and visiting, you always have the
right to advocate for your loved one inside by calling
and writing the warden, the chief medical
officer/health care manager, the regional parole
administrator, and the director.

Fighting for Our Rights

Filing a 602 is vitally important because it
establishes a paper trail of attempts to remedy
an adverse situation. All levels of appeal in
the 602 process must be exhausted before a
prisoner may file a federal lawsuit.

18

Citizen’s Complaints
A Citizen’s Complaint may be filed to allege misconduct by a departmental peace officer. They must be
filed within 12 months of the misconduct you are
complaining about. You must submit a written complaint and read and sign a Rights and Responsibilities
Statement (CDC Form 1858). Family members, friends,
prisoners, and/or parolees may file a Citizen’s
Complaint.
Examples of misconduct by a departmental peace officer include, but are not limited to the following:
calling a prisoner derogatory names
using indecent, abusive, or profane language while
on duty
irresponsible or unethical conduct either while on
duty or off duty
other discourteous or unprofessional conduct
The Rights and Responsibilities Statement you must
sign (CDC Form 1858) should be in boldface type and
must be available in multiple languages. An example
follows.

Rights and Responsibilities Statement
(Penal Code Sec. 148.6; Cal. Code Regs. Title 15, Sec. 3391(d)
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A POLICE OFFICER (this
includes a departmental peace officer) FOR ANY IMPROPER POLICE (or peace)
OFFICER CONDUCT. CALIFORNIA LAW REQUIRES THIS AGENCY TO HAVE A PROCEDURE TO INVESTIGATE CITIZENS’ (or inmates’/parolees’) COMPLAINTS. YOU
HAVE A RIGHT TO A WRITTEN DESCRIPTION OF THIS PROCEDURE. THIS AGENCY
MAY FIND AFTER INVESTIGATION THAT THERE IS NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO
WARRANT ACTION ON YOUR COMPLAINT; EVEN IF THAT IS THE CASE, YOU HAVE
THE RIGHT TO MAKE THE COMPLAINT AND HAVE IT INVESTIGATED IF YOU
BELIEVE AN OFFICER BEHAVED IMPROPERLY. CITIZEN (or inmate/parolee) COMPLAINTS AND ANY REPORTS OR FINDINGS RELATING TO COMPLAINTS MUST BE
RETAINED BY THIS AGENCY FOR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS.
IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO MAKE A COMPLAINT THAT YOU KNOW TO BE FALSE.
IF YOU MAKE A COMPLAINT AGAINST AN OFFICER KNOWING IT IS FALSE, YOU
CAN BE PROSECUTED ON A MISDEMEANOR CHARGE. (An inmate/parolee who
makes a complaint against a departmental peace officer, knowing it is false may be
issued a serious disciplinary rule violation in addition to being prosecuted on a misdemeanor charge).
I have read and understood the above statement.

Appeals Process

__________________________________
Complainant

19

Where to File Complaints with the
Department of Corrections
Check out the CDC’s website: http://www.corr.ca.gov
You can find the contact information for each prison in California, including the name of the warden.
Director
California Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
(916) 445-7688

Assistant Deputy Director
Health Care Services Division
California Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
(p) (916) 324-0876; (f) (916) 327-0545
Plata Implementation Coordinator (person hired to oversee implementation of Plata, the statewide medical conditions lawsuit)
Health Care Services Division
California Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
(916) 327-6910
Regional Administrator (Northern, Central, and Southern Regions)
Health Care Services Division
California Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
Phone numbers:
Northern Region—(916) 327-8677
Central Region—(916) 327-1577
Southern Region—(916) 327-9767 and/or (909) 715-0138
CDC Ombudsman (person hired to intervene to resolve disputes within the CDC)
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
(916) 445-1773

Where to File Complaints with the CDC

Deputy Director
Health Care Services Division
California Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
(916) 323-0229

29

Where to File Complaints with
other Agencies

Office of Inspector General (investigates allegations of misconduct by state correctional agencies)
P.O. Box 348780
Sacramento, CA 95834-8780
(916) 445-1748
Toll free: (800) 700-5952
(f): (916) 928-4667
California Board of Corrections (establishes standards for health and safety in jails)
600 Bercut Dr.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-5073

If you have concerns about specific prison health staff you may consider filing complaints with the appropriate
state licensing board. These agencies are designed to monitor medical professionals in order to protect the
public (which includes prisoners) and ensure that medical professionals are providing care consistent with their
licensure. There is no guarantee that by filing a complaint you will get the specific care you desire or that the
medical staff person will be reprimanded. However, you are creating a paper trail and lodging official complaints with other state agencies (besides the California Department of Corrections) about the difficulties prisoners experience getting adequate medical care. You can write to these agencies directly for complaint information:
Complaints about Physicians
Medical Board of California
Central Complaint Unit
1426 Howe Avenue, Suite 54
Sacramento, CA 95825-3236
(p) 916-263-2424
Toll-Free 1-800-633-2322
Consumer Information Unit 916-263-2382
(f) 916-263-2345

Where to File Complaints

Filing Complaints with State Medical Licensing
Agencies

31

Complaints about Dentists
Dental Board of California
1432 Howe Ave, Suite 85
Sacramento, CA 95825-3241
(p) 916-263-2300
(f) 916-263-2140
Complaints about Registered Nurses
Board of Registered Nursing
P.O. Box 944210
Sacramento, CA 94244-2100
(p) 916-322-3350
(f) 916-327-4402
Toll-Free License Verification Number - 800-838-6828
Complaints about Certified Nursing Assistants
Department of Health Services
Licensing and Certification
Aide and Technician Certification Section
Attn: Enforcement Unit
1800 Third Street, Suite 200
P.O. Box 942732
Sacramento, CA 94234-7320
(p) 916-322-1084
(f) 916-324-1054

Fighting for Our Rights

Complaints about Licensed Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians
Many Medical Technical Assistants (MTAs) are also Licensed Vocational Nurses
Board Of Vocation Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
(p) 916-263-7800
(f) 916-263-7859

32

Complaints about the Skilled Nursing Facility at the Central California Women’s Facility
Health Facilities Evaluator
Licensing and Certification
Department of Health Services
7170 North Financial Drive, #110
Fresno, California 93720
(p) 559-437-1500
(f) 559-437-1555

Declarations

declaration is a formal, written statement made under penalty of perjury. Declarations can be used in
court to communicate information about events you have witnessed. In a declaration, you only write
(declare) facts that you know to be true. For example, your name, your relationship to the prisoner, the
names and dates of phone calls you made on behalf of your loved one, what was said in those phone calls,
events you witnessed, etc. It is important to remember that you should not make statements based on what
someone else told you. You should not put anything in a declaration that you would not be willing to testify to
in court. The declaration should be typed and double-spaced but if you do not have access to a typewriter or
computer you may print the declaration by hand. Be sure to print clearly and use blue or black ink (do not use
pencil). The declaration includes a statement at the end that it was made under penalty of perjury, it is dated,
you print or type your name, and then sign your name as the declarant. A declaration is not notarized. A sample declaration is on the following page.

A

Remember:
1. Only declare facts you know to be true.
2. Do not include information that someone else told you.
3. Type the declaration or print by hand in blue or black ink. Do not use pencil.
4. The declaration can be any length; number each statement on the declaration.
5. Include statement at the end that the declaration was made under penalty of perjury.
6. Sign and date the declaration.
7. Do not notarize the declaration.

Appeals Process

8. Keep a copy.

33

(SAMPLE)

DECLARATION

I, _________________________________________, declare:
1. I am the [ father, mother, friend ] of [ name of prisoner ] who is currently
incarcerated at [ name of prison ], in [ name of city ].
2. I visited with [ name of prisoner ] on [ date ] ; during the visit, I noticed that she had trouble [ walking, sitting, breathing, etc. ] and she appeared to be in a lot of pain.
3. I called [ name of warden, chief medical officer, prison counselor ] on [ date ] to ask about my
[ daughter, sister, mother, friend ] and to say how concerned I was.
4. The [ warden, chief medical officer, prisoner counselor ] took my call OR was not available to
speak with me and I left a message with [ name of person & title ].
5. I documented my telephone call by sending a letter to [ name of warden, etc. ] on [date]. (See
copy attached)
6.
7.
8.
Etc.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true

Fighting for Our Rights

and correct.

34

DATED: ______________________
_________________________________
TYPE OR PRINT NAME
_________________________________
SIGNATURE OF DECLARANT

f you feel that you have been financially damaged
or injured by the action or inaction of an agency or
employee of the state government, you can file a
claim for money or damages with the State Board of
Control (Board). These claims are known as Tort claims
and are filed pursuant to Government Code Section
910. Claims may be filed for the death or injury of a
person or loss/damage to personal property and must
be filed within six months of the date of injury.

I

The first step is to get a copy of the claim form and
follow the instructions on how to fill it out. The
instructions are clear and you should have little or no
trouble providing the information needed to process
your claim. If a particular section does not have
enough room for your information you may attach
additional pages. After you have completed all applicable sections of the claim form, you then make four
copies of everything. Send the original and three
copies to the address on the form and keep the extra
copy for your records. If you wish to have an
“endorsed” copy (one that is stamped as received)
returned to you, then you must also enclose a written
request for an endorsed copy and a self-addressed
stamped envelope.
The Board’s Government Claims (GC) Program will
review your claim to make sure that it is complete and
meets certain legal requirements. If everything is in
order, the GC Program will then ask the agency affected by your claim to review it and submit their written
recommendation to the Board. Then the GC Program

prepares its own recommendation and presents it to
the Board where the matter is discussed during a public meeting. The Board may decide to accept the claim
and order the affected agency to pay the claim or it
may reject the claim without discussion. If your claim
is rejected by the Board you will receive a notice, usually within two weeks of the Board’s meeting, which
then allows you to pursue a lawsuit against the agency
or employee that caused the injury or damages. Your
lawsuit must be filed within six months from the time
you received the Board’s notice. If you do not receive
a notice from the Board, then you have two years in
which to file a lawsuit.
It is important to remember that if your claim is for
damage or loss of personal property valued at more
than $100 and the damage/loss occurred while you
were incarcerated and you are still in prison when you
file the claim with the Board, you must exhaust your
administrative remedies before you file the Board of
Control claim (see the section on 602 Appeals). If you
fail to exhaust remedies first, your Board of Control
Claim will be returned to you as incomplete.
Finally, if six months or more have passed since the
injury or harm and you did not file a claim with the
Board, you must get leave or permission to file a late
claim. Write a letter requesting permission to file a
late claim and attach it to a claim form and mail it to
the GC Program. If the Board does not take action
within 45 days, your claim is deemed rejected and you
can then file a lawsuit.

Board of Control (Government Claim) and Federal civil Righs Claim

BOARD OF CONTROL
(GOVERNMENT CLAIM)

35

Federal Civil Rights Claims

Fighting for Our Rights

It is also possible to bring a lawsuit in federal court
rather than state court. However, you may only sue in
federal court if a prison official violated a federal law.
Also, in federal court you may not name the State of
California or the Department of Corrections as defendants because they are not “persons” under the Civil
Rights Act. Instead, you would sue the individual officer who injured you, the officer who ordered the
assault and the person who is supposed to supervise
the officers’ actions, if you can show a failure to properly supervise or a failure to train the officers who
caused the injury or harm.

36

A claim under the federal civil rights act must be
brought within three years if the harm occurred before
January 1, 2003. If the injury or harm occurred on or
after January 1, 2003, the case must be brought within
four years.
Again, it must be stressed that a prisoner must exhaust
administrative remedies before bringing a lawsuit in
federal court. If you cannot show the court that
administrative remedies have been exhausted, the
court will dismiss your lawsuit for “failure to exhaust
administrative remedies” and you will be required to
re-file the lawsuit at a later time.

Instructions for filing a claim

Please read all instructions on this page before completing the
claim form. You must fully complete all applicable sections of
this form or your claim will be returned to you as incomplete.

Section 1

Section 3

Claimant Information

Insurance Information

Filing a late claim application:

Provide the full name, mailing address, and telephone number of the person(s) claiming damage/
injury. (Note: All official Board notices and other
correspondence will be sent to the person(s) listed
in this section unless a representative’s name is
provided in Section 5.) If the claim is being filed on
behalf of a minor, specify your relationship to the
minor, and the date of birth of the minor.

This section must be completed if your claim involves a motor vehicle. Indicate if a claim for the
alleged damage/injury has been filed with your
insurance carrier. If yes, provide the name, telephone number, and mailing address of the insurance carrier. Also include your policy number and
the amount of the deductible.

Under State law, claims relating to causes of
action for death or for injury to person or personal
property or growing crops (tort claims) must be
presented to the Board no later than six months
after the date of the incident. Tort claims relating
to any other causes of action must be presented
no later than one year after the incident date. Claimants are encouraged to consult with an attorney to
determine if there are exceptions for your claim.
Equity claims have no statutory claim filing deadlines. Please note that evidence of “presentation”
includes a clear postmark date on an envelope or
a certification of personal service.

Section 2

Section 4
State Agency Information

Claim Information

(FOR STATE AGENCY USE ONLY)

• Provide the name of the State agency(ies) that
allegedly caused the damage/injury.
• State the exact date of the incident which caused
the alleged damage/injury.
• Enter the total dollar amount being claimed as a
result of the alleged damage/injury. If damage/
injury is continued or anticipated in the future,
indicate with a “+” following the dollar amount.
• If the total dollar amount exceeds $10,000, indicate whether the claim is a limited civil case or
a non-limited civil case. A limited civil case is a
claim in which the amount claimed totals less
than $25,000. A non-limited civil case is a claim
in which the amount claimed exceeds $25,000.
• Provide a breakdown of how the total amount
being claimed was computed. You may declare
expenses incurred and/or future, anticipated expenses.Attach three copies of all bills, payment
receipts, and cost estimates to your claim.
• Describe in full detail the damage/injury that allegedly resulted from the incident.
• If applicable, provide the street address, city,
county, State highways, road numbers, or post
mile markers where the alleged damage/injury
occurred. If the claim is scheduled for a Board
hearing, and an appearance is necessary, indicate the preferred hearing location.
• Describe in full detail the circumstances that led
up to the alleged damage/injury. State all facts
that support your claim and why you believe the
State is responsible. If known, provide the
name(s) of the state agency(ies) and/or the
name(s) of the state employee(s) who allegedly
caused the injury, damage, or loss.

If the claim is presented by a State agency, it is
imperative that the State agency provide complete
and accurate funding information in the event that
the claim is approved for payment. In particular,
the State agency must provide the Budget Act
Appropriation or Item Number and the appropriate
Schedule if applicable. Include the name, title,
CALNET telephone number, and signature of the
agency budget officer or representative authorized
to approve payment of the claim.

Section 5

When filing a tort claim (required to be presented
no later than six months as specified above) beyond the six-month period, you must explain the
reason for delay in filing the claim. This explanation is called an “application for leave to present a
late claim”. (See Government Code Section 911.6
for legally acceptable reasons for filing a late
claim.) In considering your late claim application,
the Board will first decide whether the late claim
application should be accepted or denied. The
Board will consider the merits of the claim only if
the late claim application is granted.

Representative Information

Claim Submittals:

If your claim is being filed by an attorney or authorized representative, provide the name, telephone
number, and mailing address of the attorney/representative. (Note: If representative information is
provided, all official Board notices or other correspondence will be sent to the person listed in this
section.)

A complete claim form and/or late claim application and related documentation must be filed with
the Board at the mailing address indicated on the
reverse side of the claim form. Claims may also be
personally delivered to the Board at 630 K Street,
Sacramento, CA during regular business hours
(8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), Monday through Friday
except holidays.

Section 6

Submit the original and three copies of the completed claim form and/or late claim application and
related documentation to the Board.

Notice and Signature
The claim form must be signed by the claimant or
the claimant’s attorney or authorized representative. The Board will not accept the claim without a
proper
original
signature.

Requests for an endorsed copy of the claim and/or
late claim application must be submitted in writing along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.
If you have questions regarding the filing of a claim
with the Board, please contact the Government
Claims Program at 916-323-3564, or toll free at
1-800-955-0045.

State of California
Board of Control

GOVERNMENT CLAIM
SBOC-GC-0002 (Rev. 6/00)

Please read “Instructions for Filing a Claim”
If you are filing this claim beyond six months from the incident date, please
see instructions for filing a late claim application on the opposite page.

G_________________________________

Section 1: Claimant Information
Name of Claimant
Mailing Address

Telephone Number (include area code)
(
)
City

State

Zip Code

Section 2: Claim Information
Is the claim filed on behalf of a minor? ❏Yes ❏ No If yes, please indicate: Relationship to the minor______ Date of birth
of the minor_________
Name of State Agency against which this claim is filed
If the amount exceeds $10,000, indicate type of civil case:

❏ Limited Civil Case ❏ Non-Limited Civil Case

Incident Date
Month
Day

Dollar Amount of Claim
Yr.

Explain how the dollar amount claimed was computed.
(Attach three copies of the supporting documentation for the
amount claimed with this form.)

Describe the specific damage or injury incurred as a result of
the incident.
Location of the incident (If applicable, include street address, city
or county, highway number, post mile number and direction of travel.)

Preferred Hearing Location (If an appearance is necessary):
❏ Sacramento ❏ Los Angeles
❏ Oakland
❏ San Diego
Explain the circumstances that led to the alleged damage or injury. State all facts that support your claim against the State of California, and
why you believe the State is responsible for the alleged damage, or injury. If known, provide the name(s) of the State employee(s) who
allegedly caused the injury, damage or loss. (If more space is needed, please attach additional sheets.)

State of California
Board of Control

Submit completed claim form and three copies to:

STATE BOARD OF CONTROL
GOVERNMENT CLAIMS BRANCH
P.O. Box 3035
Sacramento, CA 95812-3035

GOVERNMENT CLAIM
SBOC-GC-0002 (Rev. 6/00) Reverse

Section 3: Insurance Information (must be completed if claim involves a motor vehicle)
Has the claim for the alleged damage/injury been filed
or will it be filed with your insurance carrier?

❏ Yes

Policy Number

Telephone number (include area code)

(

)

❏ No

Mailing Address

City

State

Name of insurance carrier

Amount of Deductible

Zip Code

$
Are you the registered owner?
❏ Yes
❏ No

Make:_________________Model:________ Year:__________

Section 4: FOR STATE AGENCY USE ONLY (must be completed by the State agency presenting claim)
Name of State agency

Budget Act Appropriation or Item Number and the appropriate
Schedule if applicable.

Name of fund or account
Name of agency budget officer or representative

Title

Signature of agency budget officer or representative

Date

CALNETNumber

Section 5: Representative Information (must be completed if claim is being filed by an attorney or authorized representative)
Name of Attorney/Representative

Telephone Number (include area code)

(
Mailing Address

City

)
State

Zip

Section 6: Notice and Signature
Section 72 of the Penal Code provides that “every person who, with intent to defraud, presents for allowance or for payment to any State Board or Officer, or to any
county, town, city, district, ward, or village, board or officer, authorized to allow or pay the same if genuine, any false or fraudulent claim, bill, account, voucher, or writing, is
guilty of a felony.”

Signature of Claimant

Date

Signature of Attorney/Representative

Date

“I

used to feel that no one had the pain I had, or the sadness. Now I feel I
can help other families of prisoners.”

Tips on Communication with
Elected Officials
lected officials are there to serve the people who elected them. Use your right to make your concerns
known to the people who make the laws by asking for a meeting, and going in a small group to voice
those concerns. You can do this in your local area, or in Sacramento. You can do it in a joint effort, for
example, in a lobbying day activity, or any time you have a pressing issue. You can locate your legislators and
stay current on the status of bills by going to the front of your telephone book, and looking under the
“Government Officials” section. You can also use the internet by going to this address:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html

Issues affecting the prison system are often taken up in these two legislative committees: The California Senate
Public Safety Committee and the California State Assembly Committee on Public Safety. We suggest going to the
above website to find out who makes up those committees so your advocacy efforts will be focused on those
who make the policy.

Tips on Face-to-Face Meetings with your Elected Officials and Their Representatives
It is common to meet with a legislator’s staff member (aide) instead of the legislator herself. Don’t feel slighted.
This is often as effective as meeting with the elected official directly. Let the aide know what you want to discuss, and tell them if you are representing a group. Remember to:
• Make an appointment beforehand.
• Go with a specific purpose in mind, and focus on one or two topics.
• Prepare before you go: select a main spokesperson, bring information like a fact sheet or articles from the
press. Statistics can be especially helpful as you make your case.
• Outline the problem clearly, and say how you’d like to see it be resolved.
• Expect questions, try to think what they may be before you go.
• Offer to assist them with more information if you can’t answer everything.
• Make it clear that you want a response, and follow up with a letter and/or a phone call.
• Report back to other people in your network, and give yourself a pat on the back for making your voice
heard.

Tips on Communication with Elected Officials

E

41

Tips on Writing to Your Policymakers
• Keep your letter short, one page at most.
• Keep a copy of every letter you write.
• Type it if at all possible.
• Try to avoid form letters.
• Keep to one issue in your letter.
• State your purpose at the beginning; give the bill number if it’s about legislation.
• Identify yourself as a constituent, and identify your organization, if you’re part of one.
• Say you’re from their district if you are.
• Clearly give your reasons for supporting or opposing the bill, if it’s about legislation.
• Enclose supporting materials, such as news articles.
• Thank them in writing if they are supporting your issue.

Tips on Calling Your Elected Officials and Their Representatives
Telephoning your legislator is another important way to make your voice heard. Phone calls for
or against a specific bill are tracked by the legislator’s office. Usually a staff person will note
your opinion and pass it on.
• Keep the call simple. Usually cover only one subject in a phone call.
• Introduce yourself as a constituent (voter), giving your name and address.
• Be clear about what you are asking the legislator to do.
• Ask when you might expect a response.

Fighting for Our Rights

Testifying Before Legislative Committees

42

One of the most important ways family members can make their voices heard is by giving
testimony before committees in the state legislature, during investigative hearings or when
bills are being heard.
• Keep your testimony focused on one or two specific issues.
• Try not to “read” your statement. Take your time and speak from your heart.
• Have a signed copy of your letter or statement with you when you testify, so that you can submit it to
the committee if necessary.
Following this page are examples of actual testimony given by family members in support of legislation and a
sample letter supporting a specific piece of legislation.

Testimony given to the California State Legislature to support SB396, a bill designed
to improve medical care in prisons
Statement Regarding Gina Marie Muniz’s Struggle for Medical Care
By Grace Ortega, mother
My name is Grace Ortega. My daughter, Gina Marie Muniz, was 27 years old when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer while she was on trial. Treatment was given and sentencing was delayed because of her treatment.
While incarcerated at Twin Towers County Jail, she was scheduled for an operation to remove the cancer. Gina
Marie was sentenced on June 12, 2000, and arrived at Chowchilla on June 14, 2000. She had not received her
scheduled operation.

Gina Marie Muniz was hospitalized on September 8, 2000. The failure to continue her medical treatment resulted
in her cancer spreading very fast. Two weeks later she was determined to be terminal. My heart was broken.
We fought very hard for her compassionate release and Gina was finally released from the hospital and came
home on November 27, 2000. She died at home with our family on November 29, 2000 at 12:45 pm. My daughter had made me promise that I would fight for the women still in Chowchilla. That is why I am here today. How
many more Gina’s have to die before the medical care is changed? Gina’s daughter, Amanda, my granddaughter,
doesn’t understand why her mother had to die.

Tips on Communication with Elected Officials

When she arrived at CCWF in Chowchilla, she told the screening staff about the cancer. They were aware that she
was a cancer patient, that she was being treated while at the county jail, and that treatment had not been completed. Then the medical staff at CCWF simply disregarded Gina Marie Muniz. She was not referred to a cancer
specialist and went without treatment for five months. They locked her up, ignored her medical needs, and when
she did complain about the pain caused by the cervical cancer, she was given Motrin and Metamucil. Dr. Reeves
at CCWF told me personally that cancer did not cause pain. They were housing my daughter and put her medical
file on a shelf. None of the doctors cared for Gina Marie Muniz, because if they did she would be here today. Not
one of those doctors lifted a finger for Gina.

43

Testimony given to California Legislature to support a compassionate release bill
for dying prisoners
Date: April 7, 2000
To: The State of California Legislation
From: Deborah Teczon
Re: Compassionate Release
Hello, I’m writing this letter on behalf of California State Prisoners and their families. My sister was incarcerated
at California Correctional Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California. My sister died February 10, 1999, from
breast cancer and medical neglect while incarcerated. Tina was not a violent offender, my sister was a very good
person with a very bad habit, which caused her to do some bad things in her lifetime. Due to her drug addiction,
she caused herself more harm than I believe she caused anyone else.

Fighting for Our Rights

I stood by my sister even though I didn’t agree with the way she chose to live her life. I know that when my sister became ill, the prison waited so long to act on her behalf that it was their NEGLECT that ultimately caused
her DEATH. I feel that the CDC could have been more compassionate to my sister and our family since she was so
close to death. Dealing with the whole situation was one of the hardest battles I’ve had to take on in my lifetime.

44

When we first found out my sister was so ill, we didn’t know where to go or whom to turn to. It was very frustrating. When someone you love is dying and incarcerated, there’s no one to turn to, and no one who cares or
wants to give any information. Once we knew about Compassionate Release, we started to research what needed
to be done in order to obtain one for my sister, so we as a family could be with her when she was dying. It was
so unthinkable that she was dying and that we would have no control over what was going to happen to her. We
talked before she died and she asked me to do whatever it would take to get her out so she could die with her
family by her side and with dignity. I didn’t think that request would be so difficult to obtain. After many hours
on the phone and spending countless hours pleading with the CDC and the courts, a judge finally granted the
Compassionate Release. But even to the bitter end, the lawyer for the State of California stood up in court and
tried to have the case continued. We were so scared she would die before we could say goodbye and that would
have devastated the family even more than what we were already going through. Just to get the information to
the courts and be a part of the proceedings was a battle.
Finally she was granted the release and she died one week later. My sister got her last wish. She died with her
family and with her dignity. For some reason, the Lord showed favor on her and on us as a family. I think
Compassionate Release shows more compassion for the family than the prisoners. I encourage lawmakers to take
on the battle for Compassionate Release. It is a very good program and was the only thing to look forward to
when my sister’s life was coming to an end.
I am proud for the LOVE I have for my sister, and must take a stand on behalf of other California State Prisoners
that are dying in prison every day. God rest your soul, Tina.
Deborah D. Teczon

Sample Letter in Support of AB2133 Legislation, re: Visiting Rights
Dear XXX,
My name is ______ and I am the family member of a prisoner. I know personally the importance of visiting
for both an inmate and for his or her family.
AB 2133, authored by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, would require that, prior to making changes to existing visiting regulations, the California Department of Corrections shall weigh the proposed changes against
the significant benefits inmate visiting presents to prison staff, to visitors and to prisoners themselves.

As a legislator you will accomplish several very important goals by voting in favor of AB 2133. First, you
would improve safety and security within the state’s prisons by giving prisoners good reason to remain disciplinary-free, thereby decreasing prison violence and subsequently increasing on-the-job safety for prison
guards. At the same time, you would reduce crime, fear, and tension within the communities you represent
because fewer of the roughly 100,000 individuals paroled each year, would re-offend once released back into
the towns and cities where your constituents reside.
Secondly, you can save your constituents and other taxpayers in the state of California millions of dollars each
year by supporting this bill. Visiting allows prisoners to maintain crucial ties to the very individuals who will
assist them upon parole, making it much easier for a prisoner to successfully transition from incarceration to
release. The greater the success rate upon post-conviction release, the fewer the number of people we send
back to prison. And with the cost of incarceration ranging from $25,000 to $65,000 per year per prisoner, this
is a significant cost-savings, one which would help alleviate the state’s current $17 billion budget deficit.
Additionally, your district can take the monies normally required to prosecute and return an individual to the
corrections system and allocate those funds for greater municipal needs.
Lastly, within your district are thousands of constituents who are parents, grandparents, children, siblings, and
spouses of prisoners. As law-abiding taxpayers of this state, we deserve your support and representation as
well. Your support in the form of this bill will encourage loved ones of prisoners to continue to act as positive
influences in the lives of prisoners during and following incarceration.
In conclusion, passage of AB 2133 is a positive step toward ensuring that visiting will continue to improve
safety and security within the prisons, increase the likelihood of success upon parole, and save the state’s taxpayers millions of dollars by maintaining the crucial ties between prisoners and their loved ones. As a constituent of your district I strongly urge you to support this bill.
Sincerely,
XXX

Tips on Communication with Elected Officials

Fifty years of expert research unequivocally demonstrates that visiting significantly improves inmate behavior
and dramatically increases success upon parole. Many states have long recognized the value of visiting as an
effective tool for accomplishing both.

45

e have all been exposed to the injustice of our prison system in one
way or another. We have to be able to talk, listen cry, and support each
other… and we have to go on with our fight against this heartless system.”

“W

Tips on Communicating with the Media

he editorial page is one of the most widely read
parts of any newspaper. The goal of the “letters
to the editor” page is to have thought-provoking
letters, often with contrasting views, that give a sense
of how the public is feeling about important issues. It’s
a place where readers often comment on articles that
recently appeared in the paper. A well-written letter to
the editor can change the way people view an issue.
Responding to articles that raise the issues you’re concerned about is a good way to add your “two cents” to
the debate. Here are some tips for getting your letter
into the paper.

T

• Make your letter shorter rather than longer
(less than 300 words); it has a better chance of
getting published.
• Look for a “hook”. Editors are more likely to be
interested in your letter if you refer to a recent
article or news story.
• Avoid a tone that’s too personal, and avoid
name-calling.
• Don’t swear (even though you’d like to).
• Make personal contact with the person who
reviews letters to the editor. You can call the
paper and ask to speak to that person after you
send in your letter to see if they are going to
print it.
• Don’t give up if your letter doesn’t get in. Editors
have many things they look for as they are
deciding which letters to print, and it depends
on what other letters they receive that day.
• Always include your contact information: name,
address, and work and home phone numbers.

Call in to radio shows to express your
opinion
It’s important that talk show hosts hear from a variety
of people. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and
jump into the debate, even if your ideas may not be
popular.
• Make a few notes about the point you want to
make before you pick up the phone.
• Be short and to the point.

Approach a journalist and try to get
them interested in your story
Remember that your story is important, and you want
to tell it the best way possible.
Consider yourself an “expert” on prisons if you have
someone doing time in one.
Study your local paper to see which reporters write
about the kinds of issues that you want to get coverage on. Identify the ones you want to approach. Learn
who is on the “prison beat” of your local paper.
• Think about what you want to say before you
contact a reporter. Make some notes of the
main points you want to cover, and keep it to a
few main points (but don’t “read” it to them). Try
not to overwhelm them with too much in the
beginning.
• Remember that we have a lot of stereotypes to
overcome when talking about prisons and prisoners. Think ahead of time about what those
might be before you place your call, and be prepared to speak to those things that may be an
obstacle for someone listening to you. For example, a reporter might want to know why your

Tips on Communicating with the Media

Write a letter to the editor

47

loved one is in prison. Be prepared with a truthful answer, and don’t feel defensive.
• Call them early in the day; they get very busy in
the afternoon with deadlines. Ask if they have
time to talk, or if you should call them back
later. Call them back promptly so you don’t miss
their deadline.
• Be very careful to be accurate with the reporter.
They need to check their facts, and you’ll lose
credibility with them if your information isn’t
correct. Don’t exaggerate.

Fighting for Our Rights

• Remember, you are probably trying to interest
them in a story that is a “human interest story”.
People remember stories about people, more
than statistics and general ideas. Speak from
your heart and your experience. Put a human
face on the issue.

48

• Speak to “shared values” that you have with your
audience, for example, “fairness” and a sense of
justice.
• Don’t feel like you have to answer every question
a reporter poses. It’s OK to re-direct the discussion to the thing that is important to you.
• Is there a solution to the problem you are highlighting? If there is, speak to possible solutions as
well as the problem.
• Always keep a copy of articles that speak to the
issue you feel strongly about or any article you
are quoted in. You may want to include copies of
these if you write to your legislators.

“M

y daughter suffered greatly … she is missed so much, her grace, her
beauty, her laugh … I’m very thankful for getting her home”

Compassionate Release

T

While compassionate release is permitted for many
prisoners, it is not guaranteed. Prison doctors are often
reluctant to issue the chrono necessary to begin the
process. Family members can play a crucial role in
obtaining compassionate release for their loved one.

Being aware of a prisoner’s deteriorating condition and
writing letters of advocacy urging that a terminally ill
prisoner be issued a “six-months-or-less-to-live”
chrono in a timely way can help to make her release
possible. Developing a release plan, which may include
locating a hospice that will accept the dying prisoner
upon release, is a crucial step in the area. Likewise,
writing letters as family members and obtaining letters
from others in the community who support the compassionate release of your loved one are important
contributions.
The following section, excerpted from Justice Now’s
manual “Compassionate Release for Dying Prisoners,”
provides an overview of the steps involved in obtaining
compassionate release, as well as sample letters and
documents to guide you in the process. For more
details, we recommend ordering it from Justice Now at
1322 Webster St., Suite 210, Oakland, CA 94612. See
our Resources section for more information about their
work.

Compassionate Release

he compassionate release law, passed in 1997
under Statute 1170(e) of the Penal Code, allows
for the release of terminally ill prisoners who are
no longer considered a threat to the community. It
does not apply to a prisoner sentenced to death or a
term of life without possibility of parole. This compassionate release law permits dying prisoners with six
months or less to live to spend their last days surrounded by family members and friends, with the comfort that all human beings are entitled to in their final
days. It allows families to say goodbye to their loved
ones in a dignified, loving way. It spares prisoners the
horror of dying alone, and spares families the feeling
of being powerless to be present with their loved ones
in their final passing.

51

Fighting for Our Rights

A. Determinate Sentence

52

B. Parole Violation

Family, prisoner, or designee may
initiate the process by written
request to the Director of the
CDC or the CMO of the prison.

Family, prisoner, or designee
may initiate the process by
written request to the
Executive Officer of the BPT or
the CMO of the prison.

The prison CMO must write a 128C chrono confirming that the
prisoner suffers from a terminal
condition and has less than 6
months to live, and recommending a compassionate release.

The prison CMO must write a
128-C chrono confirming that the
prisoner suffers from a terminal
condition and has less than 6
months to live, and recommending a compassionate release.

Within 30 days of the written request,
the Director of the CDC either
approves or disapproves the request
for compassionate release based on
medical and risk assessment.

Within 30 days of the written
request, the Executive Officer of
the BPT either approves or disapproves the request for compassionate release based on medical and
risk assessment.

The Parole Agent must
approve the request.

The sentencing Judge must hold a
hearing within 10 days and either
approve or disapprove the request
for compassionate release.

Prisoner must be released
within 48 hours.

If there is a distinct charge, the
BPT makes a recommendation
to the CDC on how to proceed.

From “Compassionate Release for Dying Prisoners” by Justice Now.

C. Indeterminate Sentence

The prison CMO must write a 128-C
chrono confirming that the prisoner
suffers from a terminal condition
and has less than 6 months to live,
and recommending compassionate
release.

Within 30 days of the written request,
the Director of the CDC makes a recommendation to the BPT either approving
or disapproving the request for compassionate release based on medical and
risk assessment.

The BPT must hear the case at
its next lawfully noticed
monthly meeting (approximately 2 weeks notice required), and
either approve or disapprove
the request.

The sentencing Judge must hold
a hearing within 10 days and
either approve or disapprove
the request for compassionate
release.

Before Cal. Penal Code §1170(e) was
enacted, if the prisoner had passed her
Minimum Eligibility for Parole Date
(MEPD), the governor (as opposed to the
sentencing judge) would have to
approve, disapprove, or fail to take
action on the BPT’s recommendation for
release. Current law does not provide
for the governor to play a role in the
compassionate release process. However,
in order to keep the governor involved in
cases where the prisoner has passed her
MEPD the BPT may fail to address the
compassionate release issue and instead
recommend commutation or early
parole. Both of these alternative determinations carry distinct legal processes
that require the governor to approve the
prisoner’s release. Neither alternative
process incorporates the timing safeguards present with the compassionate
release process.

Prisoner must be released
within 48 hours.

From “Compassionate Release for Dying Prisoners” by Justice Now.

Compassionate Release

Family, prisoner, or designee
may initiate the process by
written request to the Director
of the CDC, Executive Officer of
the BPT, or CMO of the prison.

53

Sample Report in Support of Compassionate Release*
I. MS. MONTGOMERY’S HEALTH HAS SIGNIFICANTLY DETERIORATED AND THEREFORE
WARRANTS HER COMPASSIONATE RELEASE
Medical evaluations conducted within the last three
weeks demonstrate that Ms. Montgomery’s medical
condition has significantly deteriorated since her last
compassionate release hearing. These reports were prepared by Dr. Anne S DeGroot, Brown University, and Dr.
Juan J. Tur, Chief Medical Officer, CCWF, and are provided in Attachment A.
Ms. Montgomery suffers from severe wasting syndrome
and has lost over 10% of her body weight over the
past 9 months. She currently weighs less than 65% of
the normal weight for her height.
Ms. Montgomery’s ambulatory condition has also significantly deteriorated since her last hearing as well.
She is now bedridden. She has only one limb that
remains functional – her left arm. She cannot walk,
and she can only use a wheelchair minimally as she is

easily fatigued and has to push the chair with the
assistance of only her one functioning arm.
Ms. Montgomery’s severe weight loss and low T-cell
count have left her vulnerable to cancer and infection.
HIV specialist Dr. Anne S. DeGroot estimates that Ms.
Montgomery will die within the next few weeks to
three months.
Since both Dr. DeGroot and Dr. Tur’s medical evaluations were completed, Ms. Montgomery’s medical condition has deteriorated further. On Friday, April4, 1997,
Ms. Montgomery suffered a series of severe seizures.
Since suffering these seizures, Ms. Montgomery has
remained bedridden. The events of Friday, April 4,
1997, are documented in a letter dated April 7, 1997
from Ms. Karen Shain, Legal Assistant, Legal Services
for Prisoners with Children (see Attachment B).

II. MS. MONTGOMERY’S RELEASE POSES NO SECURITY THREAT TO SOCIETY

Fighting for Our Rights

Ms. Montgomery does not pose a threat to society. She
is substantially physically incapacitated – having the
use of only one limb, her left arm. Additionally, she
suffers from severe fatigue. She cannot physically pose
a threat to society.

54

Moreover, Ms. Montgomery is not a violent person. She
is extremely remorseful for her commitment offense.
This remorse is reflected in the initial probation report
completed at the time of Ms. Montgomery’s prosecution. It is further expressed in Ms. Montgomery’s
Personal Statement. Moreover, Ms. Montgomery does
not have a single conviction for a violent offense other

than her commitment offense, and she played only a
limited role in her commitment offense. Ms.
Montgomery has not had any disciplinaries against her
for violent incidents other than the one suicide
attempt which involved violence against herself, not
another. That her commitment offense was circumstantial in nature and not indicative of violent tendencies is supported by a 1994 Diagnostic Study and
Evaluation by the CDC under the Provisions of Penal
Code 1170 (d) in which CIW Warden Susan Poole concludes that “the nature of the commitment offense
seems to be situational and not likely to reoccur” (see
Attachment A, p.2).

III. MS. MONTGOMERY HAS A COMPREHENSIVE AND SUPPORTIVE RELEASE PLAN
Ms. Montgomery has secured a placement at Catholic
Charities’ Belmont House, a hospice located in San
Mateo, CA. Belmont House provides housing and hospice care for low-income persons in the last stages of
AIDS. Belmont House has agreed to admit Ms.
Montgomery upon her release from CCWF. Belmont
House will provide Ms. Montgomery with the following
services: full hospice care, nursing case management,
and spiritual and psychological counseling.
Moreover, Belmont House has had experience accepting another inmate form CCWF as a compassionate

release placement. That inmate died within weeks of
being admitted to Belmont House, but was enabled by
Belmont House to die in dignity with her family’s support and comfort.
Belmont House’s commitment to taking in Ms.
Montgomery upon her release and providing her with
the aforementioned services is documented in letters
from Deborah Rogers, Program Director, Belmont
House, and Mary Gaspar, Director of Nursing, Belmont
House. Both letters are provided in Attachment D.

* From “Compassionate Release for Dying Prisoners” by Justice Now.

IV. MS. MONTGOMERY’S RELEASE PLAN ENJOYS STRONG COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Numerous HIV/AIDS organizations are prepared to welcome Ms. Montgomery to San Mateo and the greater
San Francisco Bay Area. They are committed to providing their agencies’ support upon her release to the San
Francisco Bay Area. These agencies provide a guaranteed healthy and strong support network for Ms.
Montgomery upon her release.

Agencies guaranteeing their support to Ms.
Montgomery include: The HIV/AIDS in Prison Project of
Catholic Charities of the East Bay; Women’s AIDS
Network; Women Organized to Respond to LifeThreatening Diseases (WORLD); San Francisco AIDS
Foundation, and the AIDS Legal Referral Panel (see
Attachment E).

PERSONAL STATEMENT OF MS. M. MONTGOMERY

I was raised as a young child on an Apache Reservation
in Mexico. I was one of a set of quintuplets. The five of
us had nine older siblings, and two sets of younger
twin siblings. My father was physically violent toward
all of us, and drank from the time he awoke until the
time he fell asleep with a bottle in his hand. Money
was scarce, and my mother struggled to care for us.
I went to school until I was nine years old when my
mother and youngest sister were killed in a car accident.
Our father abandoned us after the accident and remarried. The nine older children had left home in their
young teens, and therefore my same aged siblings and I
had to leave school to care for the youngest children.
When I was twelve, I was able to go back to school. No
one requested or demanded that I go; I went because I
wanted to learn. But when I turned thirteen, my family
arranged for me to marry a 15 year old man whom I
did not know and who later was one of the codefendants in the crime for which I am imprisoned. I was
forced to quit school so that I would have time to be a
good wife and mother and to care for my husband and
to have his children. I had my first son when I was
almost fourteen. My son died after being hit by a car
when he was two and a half. I had twins, a boy and a
girl, when I was seventeen. My son and daughter will

be fifteen soon, and they are currently cared for by
one of my sisters in Mexico.
My husband was very cruel and violent. More than
once he threatened to kill me with a baseball bat.
When I was pregnant with our twins he threw me
down a flight of stairs. He was extremely jealous, and
any time I would disagree with him he would hurt me.
I began to understand how violent he was within the
first 6 months of our marriage. At that time I tried to
throw him out of the house but my family insisted I
maintain the arranged marriage. Faced with no family
support, and being only thirteen years old and pregnant, I let him return.
I allowed my husband to intimidate me into doing
many things I now regret. I wish I had had the
strength then that I have now to understand how I
could have made better decisions and led a more productive life. However, because of my age, limited experience, and my family’s insistence on maintaining the
marriage, I believed at the time that I was trapped in
the marriage. I did not have the education or family
support which I needed to find a constructive way out
of the relationship. Instead, feeling trapped, I allowed
my husband to get me involved in situations that I
knew were dangerous and wrong.
I began drinking soon into the marriage in order to
block out the pain and feeling of being trapped. Later I
began using marijuana and heroin. I now know that
reliance on these substances made it even more difficult for me to take responsibility for myself and to live
productively.
In addition to turning to drugs and alcohol, I also
allowed my husband to convince me to come to the
United States. When he posed the idea, I was afraid
that he would hurt me if I refused. Furthermore, I
naively thought that by being away from my family I
might find a way out of the marriage. I now wish that

Compassionate Release

My name is M. Montgomery. I am 34 years old and I
am expected to die any day from AIDS. I have been in
prison for the last eleven years. During that time I have
reflected at length on my past actions. My declining
health has forced me to reflect even more seriously
during the last few years so that I can die understanding myself and my actions. I am submitting this written statement to the Board of Prison Terms to assure
you that I have changed immeasurably, and that I will
never engage in illegal activities again. I hope that the
written statement will somehow communicate who I
am now, how I have changed, and why I should be
allowed to die with dignity at Belmont House.

55

I had stayed behind in Mexico. I could have finished
school, gotten a job, and cared for my children. I could
have led a more productive life. Instead, I found myself
in a country where I did not know the language and
where my primary family was my violent husband. This
unfortunate decision led to the crime for which I am
now in prison.
The day of the crime, I had once again regrettably
allowed my husband to bring me into a situation from
which no good would come. I had finally told my husband that our relationship was over, but he wanted to
meet to discuss reconciliation. I met with him and his
friend to talk. His friend was a heroin user and suggested that they find someone to rob in order to get
money for drugs. By going along with them, I put
myself in a situation where they used me as a decoy
when they eventually stole a television set. I didn’t
have time to say anything before they grabbed the television set out of the victim’s arms. My husband’s
friend then hit the victim in the head and she fell to
the ground.

Fighting for Our Rights

I learned months later that the victim died from pneumonia in connection with the head injuries caused by
the blow. I have always felt deeply sorry that she died,
and am sincerely remorseful for the role I played in her
death. I confessed and cooperated fully with the police
when I learned that she had been killed.

56

During the past ten years in prison, I have engaged in
deep reflection and introspection about my actions. I
have never considered myself to be a violent person,
and I am truly saddened that I allowed myself to be
led into such a dangerous, violent and illegal situation.
I made a bad decision to remain with my husband, and
I knew he repeatedly got me involved in situations that
were wrong. I take full responsibility for not finding a
constructive way to remove myself from the relationship and to lead a productive non-violent life. I wish I
could have had the strength to find the means to
make better choices before anyone was injured.
When I arrived in prison I began trying to correct the
obstacles that led to my failure to leave my husband,
and to allowing myself to be used in the robbery as a
decoy. I needed to become clean and sober. I needed to
cut all ties with my husband. I needed to learn English
so that I could communicate and ask for advice and
assistance. And I needed to develop a healthy support
network through which I could receive the assistance
and support my family failed to provide. I have accom-

plished these goals.
I have been clean and sober for ten years. I divorced
my husband in 1987 upon arriving in CIW. I have completely distanced myself from him, and I have ensured
my children’s safety from him by placing them in the
custody of one of my sisters in Mexico.
I began teaching myself to speak and read English by
talking with others and reading child-care books in the
library in CIW. For approximately a year, I have been
too ill to leave my bed in the infirmary, and I therefore
have not been able to access books as well as I have in
the past. However, I continue to study English by
studying television shows. I am now able to speak and
read English fluently. I will never be trapped by not
being able to communicate again.
My understanding of my actions and my commitment
to never again engage in illegal activities has been
heightened by my understanding that I have come to
the end of my life. I have had epilepsy all my life, and
now I have full-blown AIDS. I have been HIV-positive
since 1984, and I became disabled from its symptoms in
March, 1992. Since that time I have suffered extreme
pain as a result of AIDS’ debilitating symptoms.
I have wasted down to 79 pounds, and despite the fact
I know I need to eat, I am almost always nauseous and
eating is extremely difficult. I lost my front teeth during an epileptic seizure and this has made eating all
the more difficult. I am watching myself waste away. I
have extreme pain throughout my body, particularly in
my legs. And my legs are so weak I cannot lift them
and I require the use of a wheelchair. I hurt my right
shoulder in a bad fall in November, 1996. Since then, I
have not been able to use my right arm. It is now so
weak I cannot even use it to push my wheelchair.
Getting out of bed is now very difficult because I have
to pull my body into the chair using just my left arm. I
have been spending almost all day in my bed.
I know I will not live much longer. I want to make the
time I have left as productive as possible given my
health. I have no time to waste on foolishness. All I
want to do is spend my remaining days giving love and
being loved back – being a productive part of a community. The support I will receive at Belmont House
and from others in the San Francisco Bay Area will
allow me to do this. I hope you will assist me in my
efforts to live and die in peace and allow me to do so
at Belmont House.

Sample Letter from a Family Member in Support of Compassionate Release*

May 15, 2001
To whom it may concern:
Re: Patricia Stewart (******)
It has come to my attention that my sister, Ms. Stewart, has been denied the request for compassionate release from prison. I visited with my sister in March of this year and became painfully
aware of her terminal condition. The doctors at that time estimated that she had less than six months
to live.
Since that time, we have done everything we possibly could to get her released. I fully understand that she committed a crime and should be made to pay, but under these circumstances, I beg
you to release her and allow her to die with some dignity outside of prison walls.
My family and I have made arrangements for her care once she is released. In her condition,
she poses no threat to society. I have eight other brothers and sisters who would like to visit with her
while she can still recognize them. They have a need to visit with her to say their good-byes. I have
two sisters who live in the Pasadena area that we could stay with while visiting her. Please help us to
bring some dignity to our sister in her last days. Release her so that she can die in a comfortable
place surrounded by people who love her.

Rebecca Stewart

Compassionate Release

Sincerely,

* From “Compassionate Release for Dying Prisoners” by Justice Now.

57

Sample Letter from a Hospice in Support of Compassionate Release*

April 8, 2000
Mr. John Doe
Acting Exec. Officer
Board of Prison Terms
428 J Street Sixth Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Mr. Doe,
My name is Louise Donahue. I am the Director of Nursing at the Community Charities
Osbourne House. Osbourne House is a hospice facility which offers palliative care, emotional and
spiritual counseling, and nurse case management to people in the final stages of AIDS. We at the
Osbourne House are willing to take in Ms. Gaines upon her compassionate release from
Chowchilla’s Women’s Facility.
Please find enclosed a brochure which details the services available to residents of the
Osbourne House. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to reach me at my
numbers listed below.

Sincerely,

Fighting for Our Rights

Louise Donahue, RN, PHN

* From “Compassionate Release for Dying Prisoners” by Justice Now.

58

Sample Letter from a Sentencing Judge in Support of Compassionate Release*
June 10, 1998
Cal Terhune
Director, Department of Corrections
1515 “S” Street
Sacramento, CA 94283
Re: Compassionate Release for Ms. Gaines
Superior Court Case No. *******
CDC ******
Dear Mr. Terhune,

If you reconsider Ms. Gaines’ case, based on the above information, I would not oppose a
compassionate release in this case. Additionally, John Gilligan, who is the Deputy in Charge of the
District Attorney’s Office here, has indicated that he is not opposed to a compassionate release in this
matter and that he does not believe that in her current state Ms. Gaines would pose a threat to the
safety of others. If there is any question or problem, please feel free to contact me. The direct phone
number to my court is (***) ***-****.
Sincerely,

Jane Doe
Judge of the Municipal Court
Sitting on the Superior Court by Assignment

Compassionate Release

I am writing to you at the request of the Public Defender’s Office, to address the question of a
compassionate release for Ms. Gaines. As the sentencing judge, I remember the circumstances of Ms.
Gaines’ case and the conduct which resulted in her commitment to the Department of Corrections.
Having reviewed the information that has been provided to me by the Public Defender it appears that
your medical staff has determined that her medical condition is terminal and that she has less than six
months to live. She apparently is suffering from active myelogenous leukemia, is bedridden, receives
oxygen and is fed through a feeding tube. Based on this information it appears that she would not
pose a threat to society if she were to be granted a compassionate release.

* From “Compassionate Release for Dying Prisoners” by Justice Now.

59

’m truly not alone in my battle.”

“I

Assisting a Prisoner in Applying
for a Transfer

A

• A hardship transfer is based on a prisoner’s need
to be placed closer to her immediate family. Family
members can be very helpful in this process by
showing the ways they experience particular difficulties based on the distance they must travel to
visit. A letter from a doctor who treats elderly, ill
or disabled family members can document the
hardship faced by the family member in their
efforts to visit their loved one in prison. For example, the fact that someone cannot travel for more
than an hour in a car is very compelling information. A letter from a psychologist or psychiatrist
explaining the importance of frequent visits for a
child’s well-being can support the need for a
transfer. A letter from a church or community
leader can outline the ways a transfer would help
the family. Establishing the history of strong family ties is important in this process. “Immediate
family” is defined as spouse, mother, father, sister,
brother, children, grandchildren, including stepfamilies, foster and guardianship relatives.
• A medical transfer is based on medical needs
that are not being met by the current institution
that could be met by transferring to another one.
Prisoners are not guaranteed a transfer if their
current prison does not have specialists or special
programs pertaining to their medical needs, but
they can request a transfer. Some types of medical
conditions may require a transfer, such as pregnancy or HIV status. Doctors and other medical profes-

sionals may write letters supporting a transfer
based on the specific medical condition and outlining the reasons why the current location is not
appropriate.
• A transfer based on educational or vocational
training can be requested, but it is very difficult to
win a transfer based on this alone. Prisoners do
not have an absolute right to vocational or rehabilitative programs.
• A transfer based on being in the same prison
with a known enemy can be granted if a prisoner
can show that being in the current prison puts her
in physical danger.
Prisoners must request a transfer in writing. A
“transfer packet” should include the following:
a) An initial request letter to the counselor stating
where the prisoner wants to be transferred
b) The reasons for the transfer, including the legal
citations from Title 15 (medical transfer, family
hardship, etc.)
c) Supporting documentation
The transfer packet can be addressed either to the correctional counselor (before an annual review or at the
initial classification hearing) or submitted to the classification committee directly at a classification committee hearing. A copy of the packet should be sent to the
Warden. The prisoner should keep a copy of everything in the transfer packet. If the request for transfer is denied, the prisoner can file a 602 and appeal it
to each level if necessary. Supporting documentation
should be included with the 602.

If all administrative remedies (602) have been exhausted, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus.

Assisting a Prisoner in Applying for a Transfer

lthough it is difficult for a prisoner to get
transferred to another institution, Title 15 does
provide some guidelines for requesting a transfer. There is no absolute right to be transferred, but a
prisoner can apply for a transfer based on the following reasons:

61

SAMPLE Sample Letter #1
June 2, 2000
Jane Smith
1234 Main Street
Anytown, CA 99555
Counselor Anderson
California State Prison
PO Box 9999
Centerville, CA 99551
RE: Robert Jones, CDC #00001
Dear Counselor Anderson:
I am writing to advise you that it is necessary for Robert Jones to be transferred to California State
Prison #2. I understand that according to California State Law, Penal Code Section 5068, prisoners
should be placed in the facility closest to their home so they can maintain their relationships with
family and friends. I am unable to visit regularly with Robert and I feel it is necessary to be available
for regular visits. Family and friends provide support to the prisoner while he is in prison and it is
very important that I am available to continue our relationship with Robert.
I am not asking for special treatment. I am asking that according to CDC policy that Robert be transferred close to home. I will look forward to hearing from you in the near future that the arrangements
are being made to transfer Robert Jones to California State Prison #2.
I am sending a copy of this letter to Robert so he will know that I have contacted you and asked for
your assistance.

Fighting for Our Rights

Thank you in advance for your kind and personal attention to this matter.

62

Sincerely,

Jane Smith

cc: Prisoner
Warden
(Note: Do not put your phone number—you want a written reply. You are establishing a record if legal action
must be taken.)

Sample Letter #2
June 22, 2000
Jane Smith
1234 Main Street
Anytown, CA 99555
RE: Robert Jones, CDC #00001
Dear Warden:
This is to advise you that I have contacted the counselor assigned to Robert Jones regarding his
transfer to California State Prison #2. It is difficult for me to visit Robert at his current location. It is
very important that I continue my relationship and support for Robert.

I know that having Robert closer to home will make it possible for me to visit regularly and provide
emotional support for him while he is serving his sentence. Having Robert in prison has been difficult to deal with and regular contact will make this time less stressful.
Thank you in advance for your personal attention to this matter. I will look forward to hearing from
you that the transfer will be initiated for Robert Jones to be moved to California State Prison #2. I
will send a copy of this letter to Robert so that he will know that I have communicated with you.
Sincerely,
Jane Smith
cc: Robert Jones, CDC #00001
Counselor
CDC Director
(Note: Do not put your phone number - you want a written reply. You are establishing a record if legal action
must be taken.)

Assisting a Prisoner in Applying for a Transfer

According to prison policies, prisoners can request to be placed in a facility which is closest to home.
California State Prison #2 is close to where I live. I know that the CDC feels that family and friends
are important and consider them a priority for each prisoner.

63

Sample Letter #3
November 15, 2000
Jane Smith
1234 Main Street
Anytown, CA 99555
John Q. Doe
Director of Corrections
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
RE: Robert Jones, CDC #00001
Dear Mr. Doe:
This letter is being sent to you because the staff and administration at California State Prison #10 have been
informed that I want to have Robert Jones moved to California State Prison #2, and they have failed to do so.
I am not asking for special treatment. I realize that the state law provides that prisoners may be placed in the
prison closest to home. I know that the California Department of Corrections believes that support from family and friends plays a significant role in the management of the prisoner.

Fighting for Our Rights

I am unable to visit regularly and provide the important support for Robert because of the distance and
expense. I have severe arthritis and am not able to travel long distances. The California law, Penal Code
Section 5068 stipulates that prisoners should be placed in the facility closest to home so that they can maintain
their relationships with family and friends. I hope you will notify the counselor and warden to inform them
that it is necessary for Robert Jones to be transferred to California State Prison #2. I understand all prisons are
overcrowded; I know that consideration is given to safety and security level as necessary, however, there
would be no threat to staff or to the prisoner if he were placed at California State Prison #2.

64

I have been trying to have Robert moved for five months. I have contacted each person who should have
processed the paperwork for the transfer. I would rather not have to hire an attorney to file a legal action to
have Robert moved. Such action would take more time and money, which is not available. I am asking for
your help in this matter.
I am looking forward to hearing from you in the near future, that the transfer has been processed.
Sincerely,
Jane Smith
cc: Prisoner
Warden
Counselor
(Note: Do not put your phone number - you want a written reply. You are establishing a record if legal action
must be taken.)

Temporary Leaves and Furloughs
(Title 15 Sections 3080, 3081, & 3082)

P

A temporary leave or furlough may also be granted
for pre-release planning to attend job interviews, to
make residential plans or for other reasons that are

closely connected to release programs. Pre-release
leaves will not normally be granted earlier than sixtythree (63) days before the prisoner has an established
or anticipated release date.
These leaves or furloughs are usually for a very short
period of time (not more than three days) and the prisoner must meet certain eligibility requirements. The
CDC Director may require that the person removed
from the prison facility remain under custody during
the leave. In addition, the prisoner may be required to
reimburse the state for any expenses that the state
incurs as a result of the temporary leave.
Prisoners who are transported from the prison for
medical care and treatment are not limited to a threeday leave nor are they required to reimburse the state
for costs that arise from their removal from the prison.

Temporary Leaves and Furloughs

risoners in California have the right to request a
temporary leave or furlough so that they can
attend services for a deceased member of their
immediate family or to visit a critically ill member of
their immediate family. “Immediate family member” is
defined by the CDC as: the prisoner’s legal spouse, parents (including adoptive parents), stepparents/foster
parents, grandparents, natural/step/foster brothers or
sisters, the prisoner’s natural/adopted children and
grandchildren, and legal stepchildren. The CDC does
not consider aunts, uncles, or cousins as immediate
family members unless there is a verified foster relationship.

65

Parole and Parole Transfers
(Penal Code sections 3000, 3001, & 3003)

E

The CDC is supposed to meet with each prisoner at
least 30 days before the prisoner’s release date to provide the prisoner with the conditions and length of his
or her parole. The prisoner has the right to a reconsideration of both the length and conditions of parole by
the BPT if the prisoner asks for a reconsideration.
Even though the length of a person’s parole may have
been set at three years, or even five years for violent
felonies, there are provisions in the law that allow for
the early discharge from parole. For example, a person
with a three-year parole term who has been on parole
continuously for one year since his or her release from
prison, is supposed to be discharged from parole within
30 days unless the CDC makes a recommendation to
the BPT to retain the person on parole. The BPT must
find “good cause” in order to retain that person on
parole. For a person who was given a five year parole
term, that person can be discharged from parole after
being on parole continuously for three years. Again, if
the CDC recommends that the person be retained on
parole, the BPT must find good cause in order to retain
that person. The BPT must make a written record of
how it reached its decision and the CDC must give a
copy of that decision to the parolee.

When prisoners are released from prison they are
returned to the county of their last legal residence.
However, in some instances the CDC decides to send
the person to a different county which requires the
CDC to declare in writing its reasons for placing the
parolee in a different county. The BPT considers several factors in reviewing the CDC’s decision and gives
great weight to protecting the victim and the safety of
the community.
You can use these same factors that the BPT relies on
in your efforts to have your parole transferred to a different county. The five factors are: (1) The need to
protect the life or safety of a victim, the parolee, a
witness, or any other person; (2) Public concern that
would reduce the chance that the prisoner’s parole
would be successfully completed; (3) The verified existence of a work offer, or an educational/vocational
program; (4) The verified existence of family in another
county with whom the prisoner has maintained strong
ties and whose support would increase the chance that
the parole will be successfully completed; and, (5) The
lack of necessary outpatient treatment programs for
parolees receiving treatment pursuant to Section 2960
(of Penal Code).
The CDC and the BPT state that they give priority to
the safety of the community, witnesses and victims in
determining whether a prisoner should be granted
parole to a county that is not the county of a person’s
last legal residence. So, when requesting a transfer of
parole to a different county, it is important to stress
the existence of strong family ties and support, offers
of employment or more opportunities for education or
vocational programs, and the availability of drug treatment programs. It may be important to point out that
a transfer of parole to a different county will help
ensure a successful parole because the prisoner/parolee
will be away from whatever influences led to his
imprisonment.

Parole and Parole Transfers

very person incarcerated in a California state
prison for a term of more than one year and one
day is subject to a parole term. In most cases, the
parole term is set for a period of three years, but for
those convicted of “violent felonies” the parole term
can be up to five years. In addition, for those prisoners
who received a life sentence, the initial five-year
parole term can be extended for another five years if
the CDC requests an extension. The request for an
extension of parole must be made no later than 180
days prior to the end of the initial five-year period of
parole and a hearing on the extension must be held by
the Board of Prison Terms (BPT).

67

Letters requesting or supporting a parole transfer
should be addressed to the parole agent assigned to
the prisoner/parolee. The letters do not have to be
long but they should address the factors listed above
which are found in Penal Code Section 3003 (parole;
geographic placement). You do not have to wait until
the person is actually released on parole to request a
transfer; in fact in many cases it is good to begin the
process before the person is released. If your request
for a parole transfer is denied, you should file a 602
appeal.
If you or your loved one is released before the parole
transfer is granted, then it is important that he report
to the assigned parole officer on time in the county he
is assigned to. He can request a “travel pass” from the
parole agent so that he can travel to the county his
family is living in or where employment is waiting for
him. Travel passes are good for 30 days and a person
can be issued up to three 30 day passes but must
return within each 30 day period to report to the
parole office. Copies of the passes and a good report
from the agent in charge can be used as documentation supporting your parole transfer request.

Fighting for Our Rights

Of course, maintaining a good relationship with the
parole office makes this process less stressful and more
likely to succeed. It is perfectly all right for a family
member to go with the parolee when the person must
report. If the agent can see that the family supports
the parolee and is taking the necessary steps to ensure
the successful completion of the parole term, then that

68

agent may be more willing to help the parolee.
Parole may be changing in the near future due to
budget considerations. The CDC is supposed to expand
its use of pre-release planning to include a needs and
risk assessment so that the parole agent will have better information as to what type of services the parolee
needs. In addition, existing pre-release classes are to
be improved and expanded and will be mandatory for
all prisoners nearing the end of their prison term. It is
expected that the pre-release classes will cover a
broader range of topics and materials. Prisoners serving a parole revocation term will not be required to
participate in the pre-release planning program.
Another important change is that the pre-release program will be operated by the parole division with assistance from contracted social workers instead of prison
employees.
Finally, the use of Police and Corrections Teams (PACTS)
which are partnerships between the CDC, local law
enforcement, and community service providers, have
been expanded to all 25 parole districts, with funding
for a Community Resource Coordinator in each. The
coordinator is a liaison between the parole office and
the service providers and recruits their participation in
the PACT Parolee Orientation. This orientation will be
mandatory for all parolees and is expected to provide
the parolee with a better opportunity to take advantage of resources within the community such as housing, health, and employment services.

Credit: Rosario Munoz family

Sample Letter for Parole Transfer Request
July 17, 2003
Parole Headquarters, Region 4
Mr. John Doe, Regional Administrator
21015 Pathfinder Road, Suite 200
Diamond Bar, CA 91765
Re: Parole Transfer request for Robert Smith CDC #00001
Dear Mr. Doe:
I am writing on behalf of Mr. Robert Smith who is presently on parole under the supervision of the Chula Vista
#4 Unit.
Mr. Smith filed a request for a transfer to the parole unit in Needles, California, immediately following his
release from prison. That request was denied and Mr. Smith filed a 602 grievance on May 22, 2003. The 602
was denied on June 9, 2003, with a notation that “San Bernardino remains closed to most transfers.” However,
also noted under section E-Reviewer’s Action of the 602 is information that the parole unit in Victorville is about
two hours from Needles, which leads Mr. Smith to believe that the Victorville unit may be accepting transfers.
(See copy of 602 attached).

According to Penal Code section 3003, a person may be considered for parole to a county other than his county of residence provided he can show it would be in the best interests of the public and if he can show family
ties and employment opportunities in that county.
In this case, all of Mr. Smith’s past criminal activity took place in San Diego County and he has no history of
criminal activity in either Needles or Victorville.
If Mr. Smith is required to remain under the supervision of the Chula Vista Unit, it will be extremely difficult
for him to successfully complete his parole and become a productive member of the community. He must now
live in his father’s home where there is barely room for him because of the number of other family members living there. In addition, he has no job opportunities there. More importantly, if he and his wife are forced to live
apart, the stability that she brings to the marriage will be missing. She needs his support as much as he needs
hers as she is experiencing some health problems that do not allow her to travel extensively.

Parole and Parole Transfers

It is imperative that Mr. Smith be transferred to either the Needles parole unit or Victorville unit. Mr. Smith’s
wife, Cheryl Smith, lives in Needles where she is a Resident Manager of the Orange Apartments. Because her
employer recently transferred her to Needles, it is not possible for her to move to Chula Vista where her husband is currently living. In addition, Mr. Smith has been offered a position at the Orange Apartments as a
Gardener/Porter and will be gainfully employed.

69

Sample Letter for Parole Transfer Request (continued)

Mr. Smith has already proven that he intends to make his parole a successful one. He obtained travel passes in
April, May, and June so that he could visit his wife. He returned within the allotted time and has not posed any
problems and his adjustment is noted as “Good.” (See copies of Visitation Permits attached). Additionally,
while confined in Avenal State Prison he was disciplinary free and had no gang affiliations or enemies. (See
CDC form attached.)
I urge you to seriously consider allowing Mr. Smith to transfer his parole to either Needles or Victorville so that
he and his wife can be together and where it will be more likely that he will successfully complete his parole
plan.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Should you wish to discuss this matter, I can be reached at the above
number.
Sincerely,

Cassie M. Pierson
Staff Attorney

Fighting for Our Rights

cc: Robert Smith
Chula Vista Parole Office

70

Assisting Your Loved One with a
Parole Hearing

F

* The strength of family ties: How often have you
visited, spoken on the phone, written to each
other? Give any examples of your support for
your loved one.
* Examples of your family’s stability: Where do you
work? How long have you worked there? How
long have you lived at your current address? How
long have you been married?
* Examples of your family’s community involvement: Do you volunteer at your children’s

schools? Are you active in a community
group/organization? Do you participate in any
religious community?
* Rehabilitation: How have you seen your loved
one change and grow during his incarceration?
What classes did he take in prison? What skills
were learned? Why do you think your loved one
can live successfully in the community?
Letters and other documentation of community support such as job offers must be sent to the prisoner, his
attorney handling the parole hearing, or the BPT representative at the prison. All letters must be submitted
at least 10 days before the scheduled hearing.

Assisting Your Loved One wtih a Parole Hearing

amily members can play an important role in
assisting an incarcerated loved one who is serving
a life term and trying to obtain parole. Family
members, friends and other community members can
write letters, emphasizing these points:

71

Sample Letter from a Family Member in Support of Parole
1263 Marguerite Street
Atwater, CA 95301
January 24, 2004
Dear Board of Prison Terms Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners,
I am writing on behalf of my aunt, Nora Andrade, who is eligible for parole. I am very close to my Aunt Nora
as I was raised by her mother since I was three years old and have known Nora all my life. She and I have a
special bond because we are both the youngest of the family. She is more like a sister to me than an aunt. In
all the time that we were growing up, she has always been a kind and caring person. I have great memories of
when she would help me when I was in school. When I heard about her upcoming parole, I was so excited
that she would have another chance at freedom.

Fighting for Our Rights

I have visited my Aunt Nora many times in prison over the past 16 years and every time I see her, I think, why
is she here, she does not belong here, she belongs with us, her family. We talk a lot at these visits and we have
stayed close because of them. She tells me mostly about how she is doing things to improve herself in prison
and is always trying to stay positive. She attends self help meetings, has received certificates and pursued her
education. I always tell her to keep doing what she is doing, pursuing training and getting prepared to be let
out. My aunt is always accepting help and is building her confidence and I am there to help her and support
her. I want my Aunt Nora home, where I can visit with her in her house, where she can come over and visit
me and my wife and see our kids who all love her very much. I have 5 children who miss her very much. She
is ready to be an active member of society. Please help her achieve that goal.

72

During the course of my aunt’s relationship with Federico, in addition to the emotional and mental abuse
where he would be very strict with Nora and Lupe, I also saw signs of physical abuse. One time, I saw bruises
on my aunt’s wrist. She just tried to explain this by saying she had bumped into a table. I had also seen her
eye glasses broken a couple of times and each time she would just say that she had dropped them or stepped
on them. I think she was not telling us something. I think she wanted to protect Federico since he was the
father of her child and she didn’t want to hurt her daughter Lupe by revealing anything that might make her
think badly of her dad.
In our culture, women do not tell a lot about what happens in the house. Nora was also very shy and did not
like to tell us about the problems she was having because she was afraid to let anyone know the truth. She
would rather act like everything was ok. Even though we knew something was wrong, that she was depressed,
she would give us the idea that it was ok with her and Federico. I believe that she did not want to let us down
and make us worried about her. I wish she would have told us something, we could have helped. I hope that
you will consider that she was abused when you think about what she did.
We have been living without Aunt Nora for 16 years already. She has been in prison so long. She has done all
the right things while she is in there and we are proud of her for making good decisions. My aunt knows what

Sample Letter from a Family Member in Support of Parole—Continued

she did and she feels so badly, she tells me she regrets what she did. She has tried to use her time in prison to
think about her crime and to improve herself. She is ready to come home now. We are waiting for her. We
have been waiting for her.

My aunt was granted parole twice in the past and I hope this board will also be compassionate. In fact, I
remember how happy we were the day she first got a release date, but when we found out she couldn’t come
home, it was like she had been put in prison again for the first time. The entire family was sad but we did not
let my aunt know our disappointment so that she would remain hopeful and she has. My aunt has no history of
violence or arrest. She is loving and loved. We are willing to provide any amount of support for her when she
is free. My other aunt, Cleo, has lived in Aunt Nora’s house all this time with my grandmother (their mother)
and they also want Nora home. Aunt Nora will return to her own home and live with them. I will also be there
for her and give her any support or help she needs. There are so many people waiting to see Aunt Nora and
help her.
I look forward to my Aunt Nora’s release and want to thank you in advance for your compassion.
Thank you,
Maxwell Peter Sanchez

Assisting Your Loved One wtih a Parole Hearing

So many people love my Aunt Nora. Every time I talk about her to my friends or my family, we all have wonderful things to say about her. She will be an asset to the community when she is able to join us again because
she has earned three certificates. My aunt never was and continues not to be a threat to society. She is a gentle
person. In fact, when she was arrested, the arresting officers found that she did not pose a threat of flight or a
threat to society. Her bail was reduced from $100,000 to $25,000. This really means that my aunt was not a
threat at the time of the unfortunate incident, and her hard work while in prison tells us that she continues not
to be a threat.

73

Sample Letter of an Employment Offer

June 28, 2003
Board of Prison Terms
1515 K Street, Suite 600
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Arthur Jones (CDC # )
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing in support of parole for Mr. Arthur Jones who is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. Legal
Services for Prisoners with Children is offering Mr. Jones employment upon his release from prison.
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) has a twenty-five-year history of advocating for prisoners
and their family members. As an agency that is acutely aware of the difficulties prisoners face when paroled,
LSPC is in a position to assist three or four prisoners a year with employment and mentorship so that their transition back to the community is less difficult.
Mr. Jones has been a model prisoner throughout the years and has not been a discipline problem. He is the personal friend of Dorsey Nunn, Program Director of LSPC, and would be welcomed into the LSPC “family” when
he is paroled.
Mr. Jones would be responsible for general clerical work at LSPC at an hourly rate of $15.00. His duties would
include: intake calls, correspondence, and filing. In addition, he would have an opportunity to participate in conferences and trainings that LSPC organizes throughout the year.

Fighting for Our Rights

On behalf of LSPC, I urge the Board to grant Mr. Jones parole so that he can return to his community. Thank
you for your attention to this important matter

74

Sincerely,

Cassie M. Pierson
Staff Attorney
cc: Counselor, San Quentin State Prison

Assisting Your Loved One wtih a Parole Hearing

Sample Letter from Chaplain Supporting Parole

75

Fighting for Our Rights

Informational Chrono (Laudatory) from Correctional Officer in Support of Parole

76

C A L I F OR N I A ’ S

COR RECTIONAL
FACILITIES
★

Pelican Bay State Prison

• Crescent City

N
Susanville •

★
★

W

High Desert State Prison
California Correctional Center

E
S

Folsom State Prison

Sacramento • ★

★

California
Medical Facility
CSP Solano

CSP Sacramento (New Folsom)

★ •Vacaville ★
★
★

CSP San Quentin

•

Mule Creek State Prison

Stockton
•

San Francisco

Tracy •★

Deuel Vocational Institution

•★
Jamestown

Sierra Conservation Center

Chowchilla •
★
• Salinas
Correctional Training Facility
Salinas Valley State Prison
Pleasant Valley State Prison
Avenal State Prison

Valley State Prison For Women

★

Central California Women’s Facility
• Fresno

★★
★
★
★

California Men’s Colony

★
★

• San Luis Obispo

CSP Corcoran
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
and State Prison

★
★•

North Kern State Prison
Wasco State Prison

Bakersfield

★

California Correctional Institution
CSP Los Angeles County

• Santa Barbara

★

Los Angeles

• Chino • • Riverside

California Institution for Men
California Institution for Women
California Rehabilitation Center

Calipatria State Prison
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

★
★★

★
★

Blythe •

• San Diego

★

★

EI Centro • ★

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Communications Office (916) 445-4950

Ironwood State Prison
Chuckawalla Valley
State Prison

Centinela State Prison

May 2003

Security Levels
Level l
Open
dormitories
without a
secure
perimeter.

Level ll
Open
dormitories
with secure
perimeter
fences and
armed
coverage.

Level lll
Individual
cells, fenced
perimeters
and armed
coverage.

Level lV
Cells, fenced or
walled perimeters,
electronic security,
more staff and
armed officers both
inside and outside
the installation.

SHU
Security Housing
Unit.The most
secure area within
a Level lV prison
designed to
provide maximum
coverage.

RC
Reception
Center. Provides
short term
housing to
process, classify
and evaluate
incoming inmates.

Cond
Condemned.
Holds inmates
with death
sentences.

YEAR
OPENED

SECURITY
LEVEL

San Quentin State Prison (SQ)
San Quentin, CA 94964 • (415) 454-1460

1852

I, II, RC, Cond

3,283

Folsom State Prison (FOL)
P.O. Box 71, Represa, CA 95671 • (916) 985-2561

1880

I, II

2,072

Reopened: 1954
Original/Women’s: 1933

I, II, IV, RC, SHU

2,781

California Institution for Men (CIM)
14901 Central Avenue, P.O. Box 128, Chino, CA 91710 • (909) 597-1821

1941

I, RC

3,078

Correctional Training Facility (CTF)
Highway 101 North, P.O. Box 686, Soledad, CA 93960-0686 • (831) 678-3951

1946

II, III

3,281

California Institution for Women (CIW)
16756 Chino-Corona Road, P.O. Box 6000, Corona, CA 92878 • (909) 597-1771

1952

I, II, III, RC

1,026

Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI)
23500 Kasson Road, P.O. Box 400,Tracy, CA 95378-0400 • (209) 835-4141

1953

I, III, RC

1,787

East: 1954
West: 1961

I, II, III

3,884

California Medical Facility (CMF)
1600 California Drive, P.O. Box 2000,Vacaville, CA 95696-2000 • (707) 448-6841

1955

I, II, III

2,315

California Rehabilitation Center (CRC)
5th Street & Western, P.O. Box 1841, Norco, CA 92860 • (909) 737-2683

1962

II

2,314

1963
CCC Camps: Varies

I, II, III
I

3,682

FACILITY

California Correctional Institution (CCI)
24900 Highway 202, P.O. Box 1031,Tehachapi, CA 93581 • (661) 822-4402

California Men’s Colony (CMC)
Highway 1, P.O. Box 8101, San Luis Obispo, CA 93409-8101 • (805) 547-7900

California Correctional Center (CCC)
711-045 Center Road, P.O. Box 790, Susanville, CA 96130 • (530) 257-2181

RATED
CAPACITY

FACILITY
Sierra Conservation Center (SCC)
5100 O’Byrnes Ferry Road, P.O. Box 497, Jamestown, CA 95327 • (209) 984-5291

YEAR
OPENED

SECURITY
LEVEL

RATED
CAPACITY

1965
SCC Camps: Varies

I,II, III
I

3,926

August 1984

II, III

2,610

California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC)
P.O. Box 29, Represa, CA 95671-0002 • (916) 985-8610

October 1986

I, IV

1,728

Avenal State Prison (ASP)
#1 Kings Way, P.O. Box 8,Avenal, CA 93204 • (559) 386-0587

January 1987

II

2,320

June 1987

I, III, IV

1,700

July 1987

I, III, RC

2,200

California State Prison, Solano (SOL)
2100 Peabody Road, P.O. Box 4000,Vacaville, CA 95696-4000 • (707) 451-0182

Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP)
4001 Highway 104, P.O. Box 409099, Ione, CA 95640 • (209) 274-4911
R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain (RJD)
480 Alta Road, San Diego, CA 92179 • (619) 661-6500
Northern California Women’s Facility (NCWF)
7150 Arch Road, P.O. Box 213006, Stockton, CA 95213-9006 • (209) 943-1600

Deactivated

California State Prison, Corcoran (COR)
4001 King Avenue, P.O. Box 8800, Corcoran, CA 93212-8309 • (559) 992-8800

February 1988

I, III, IV, SHU

3,016

Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP)
19025 Wiley’s Well Road, P.O. Box 2289, Blythe, CA 92226 • (760) 922-5300

December 1988

I, II

1,738

Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP)
5905 Lake Earl Drive, P.O. Box 7000, Crescent City, CA 95531-7000 • (707) 465-1000

December 1989

I, IV, SHU

2,280

Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)
23370 Road 22, P.O. Box 1501, Chowchilla, CA 93610-1501 • (559) 665-5531

October 1990

I, II, III, IV, RC, Cond

2,004

Wasco State Prison (WSP)
701 Scofield Avenue, P.O. Box 8800,Wasco, CA 93280-8800 • (661) 758-8400

February 1991

I, III, RC

2,984

Calipatria State Prison (CAL)
7018 Blair Road, P.O. Box 5001, Calipatria, CA 92233-5001 • (760) 348-7000

January 1992

I, IV

2,208

February 1993

I, IV

2,200

April 1993

I, III, RC

2,692

October 1993

I, III

2,208

February 1994

I, III

2,200

November 1994

I, III

2,208

May 1995

I, II, III, IV, RC, SHU

1,980

August 1995

I, III, IV, RC

2,224

May 1996

I, IV

2,224

August 1997

II, III, IV

3,324

California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC)
44750 60th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93536-7620 • (661) 729-2000
North Kern State Prison (NKSP)
2737 West Cecil Avenue, P.O. Box 567, Delano, CA 93216-0567 • (661) 721-2345
Centinela State Prison (CEN)
2302 Brown Road, P.O. Box 731, Imperial, CA 92251-0731 • (760) 337-7900
Ironwood State Prison (ISP)
P.O. Box 2229, Blythe, CA 92226 • (760) 921-3000
Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP)
P.O. Box 8500, Coalinga, CA 93210 • (559) 935-4900
Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW)
21633 Avenue 24, P.O. Box 92, Chowchilla, CA 93610-0099 • (559) 665-6100
High Desert State Prison (HDSP)
475-750 Rice Canyon Road, P.O. Box 750, Susanville, CA 96127 • (530) 251-5100
Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP)
P.O. Box 1020, Soledad, CA 93960-1020 • (831) 678-5500
California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF)
900 Quebec Avenue, P.O. Box 7100, Corcoran, CA 93212-7100 • (559) 992-7100

Glossary

A-days: flat time or day-for-day, meaning that no
additional time is added to the sentence and none
taken away; often heard in the context of a prisoner
being punished for not working, which means that her
good time credits for that day are taken away. For
example, “My work supervisor did not believe that I
was really sick and when I didn’t show up for work, she
gave me an A-day.”

class action lawsuit: brought on behalf of an entire
group of prisoners; seeks systemic change; does not
always involve money damages
clerk: a job assignment for prisoners, similar to a legal
assistant or secretary
CMO: Chief Medical Officer, head doctor of a prison
CO: correctional officer — also known as a cop or
guard. Hierarchy of COs is militarized (Sgt., Lt.,
Captain, etc.)

books: prisoner trust fund account from which money
is withdrawn for canteen purchases, copies and
postage. For many prisoners, money going onto their
books is subject to a 33% restitution reduction — the
state takes this reduction to pay for housing, food and
victims’ funds.

co-pay: $5.00 fee charged each prisoner for each medical visit, unless the prisoner is classified as indigent,
i.e. there’s been no money on the prisoner’s books for
at least 30 days.

canteen: the commissary at the prison where prisoners
can buy food, writing supplies, hygiene products, etc.

ducat: permission slip which allows a prisoner to move
around the prison

CC-1: a staff counselor

ERD: Estimated Release Date

CCCMS or Triple CMS: Correctional Clinical Case
Management Services, usually heard in the context of
a mental health designation

free world: often used in reference to non-prisoners
and outside agencies

CCPOA: California Correctional Peace Officer’s
Association, the prison guards’ union in California
CDC: California Department of Corrections
C-file: central file, institutional file in which all information about a prisoner is kept
chrono: permission slip granting a special privilege or
right to a prisoner, often for something like a lower
bunk, access to ice, special diet, no heavy lifting; usually written by a doctor
CIW: California Institution for Women, located in
Corona in Southern California

DOM: Director’s Operating Manual; institutionally created rulebook

free staff or people from the outside: contract staff
members who work in the prison but are not guards or
prison administrators. Includes people who run the
educational, drug rehab, and religious programs inside,
construction workers, etc.
Good time or good time credits: time off of sentence
in exchange for working/programming
going over the wall: refers to time when a prisoner is
moved from the A yard Reception and Receiving area
of the prison to the main yard
GP: general population; where a prisoner is typically
placed if not in isolation or medical facility

Glossary

The following is a list of commonly used terms, and
includes both prison slang and jargon.

81

head count: daily accounting of prisoners; happens
several times a day; no movement happens within the
prison during count
Health Care Services Division: branch of the California
Department of Corrections responsible for overseeing
the provision of medical care to all state prisoners
hot meds: controlled medication, including psychotropic medications, anti-depressants, HIV meds, and
some high blood pressure meds. Each dosage is dispensed at the infirmary and requires prisoners to stand
outside often in very long lines.
ICC: Institutional Classification Committee; administrative committee within the prison which decides how
each prisoner will be classified; also determines housing, privileges, job eligibility
in the mix: in the thick of things in the general population; someone who hangs out in the yard during the
day and participates in the prisoner community
ISO, ISU: Investigative Services Officer, Investigative
Services Unit; the internal investigation officer and
office at each prison.
jailhouse lawyer: prisoner who assists others in filing
legal actions
lockdown: confinement of a prisoner to her cell; can
be a disciplinary or safety measure. Sometimes an
entire prison can be on lockdown.

Fighting for Our Rights

MAR or MARB: Medical Authorization Review Board,
the committee in charge of deciding if a prisoner will
receive a particular medical procedure and when.
Comprised of medical staff and prison administrators
at each prison.

82

meds: medications
medically disabled: doctor approved status; prisoner
excused from working and still gets good time credits;
usually given to prisoners with a long-term or permanent illness or disability that prohibits them from
working
medically unassigned: doctor approved status; prisoner excused from work but gets A-days; usually given to
prisoners who are temporarily unable to work for medical reasons

MIC or CPMP: Mother-Infant Care program, also
known as the Community Prisoner Mother Program;
places mothers and their young children in half-way
houses in community-based settings
MTA: Medical Technical Assistant - guard with
Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) training
MVA: Motor Vehicle Assistant - prisoner who drives
vehicles in medical emergencies
porter: job assignment for prisoners that is roughly
equivalent to a janitor
program/programming: refers to a prisoner’s job
assignment or participation in educational programs; a
means to receive good time credits, for working as a
clerk, porter, going to classes
R&R: Receiving and Reception or A Yard, that area of
the prison where prisoners are first processed and classified
SHU: Security Housing Unit or Ad-Seg (administration
segregation); also known as lockdown or the hole; solitary confinement cells ostensibly used for prisoners
who are discipline problems and cannot remain in general population, or who are in danger of harm from
other prisoners. SHU sentences can be “indeterminate”
which means the person does not leave the SHU until
she paroles, snitches (called “debriefing”) or dies; prisoners usually are given indeterminate sentences for
alleged gang affiliation.
SNF - Skilled Nursing Facility at Central California
Women’s Facility, also known as 805 or the Treatment
Center; a medical facility within the prison grounds
Title 15: Section 15 of California Code of Regulations
which governs prisons in the state of California
115: serious write-up by a guard for a violation of an
institutional rule; goes into the C-file; prisoner has a
right to appeal
128: less serious write-up by a guard for a violation of
an institutional rule; also appealable
602: inmate grievance procedure; write-up performed
by a prisoner as a challenge to some action committed
(or omitted) by a staff member
1824: grievance form filed for American with
Disabilities Act (ADA) violations, similar to a 602

eing the mother of a daughter in prison is very hard and lonely.
You feel different; it’s difficult to speak about your loved one.
Sometimes people don’t understand; sometimes they’re afraid to hurt
your feelings, so they don’t mention her.”

“B

Resources

Publications
The California State Prisoners Handbook: A
Comprehensive Practice Guide to Prison and Parole
Law (Third Edition, 2001)
Cost: $40 to prisoners. $182.00, including California
tax and shipping. Covering a wide range of subjects,
this guide provides a summary of the law pertaining to
prisoners and parolees. Includes sample pleadings and
forms. Produced and distributed by The Prison Law
Office, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964.
(p) (415) 457-9144; (f) (415) 457-9151
www.prisonlaw.com
Compassionate Release for Dying Prisoners: The Nuts
and Bolts Manual for Winning Compassionate Release
By Cynthia Chandler, Co-Director, Justice Now
1322 Webster St., Suite 210, Oakland California 94612
(p) (510) 839-7654; (f) (510) 839-7615
www.jnow.org
Incarcerated Parents Manual: Your Legal Rights and
Responsibilities
Manual para Madres y Padres Encarcelados (Spanish
version)
Addresses various aspects of family law, including child
custody, foster care, paternity, child support. Cost: No
charge to prisoners; $10 suggested donation for family
members and advocates. Produced and distributed by
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and Prison
Legal Services, 1540 Market St., Suite 490,
San Francisco, CA 94102
(p) (415) 255-7036; (f) (415) 552-3150
www.prisonerswithchildren.org

A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual: Fifth Edition
A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual: Fifth Edition, 2002
Supplement
Published in 2000; updated, 2002. Cost: $31.00 to
prisoners ($43.00 for manual and supplement). This
manual explains the rights of prisoners, legal research,
federal and New York state law. Available from
Columbia Human Rights Law Review,
435 West 116th St., New York, NY 10027.
(p) (212) 854-1601; (f) (212) 854-7946
jrnhum@law.columbia.edu
Manual for Grandparent-Relative Caregivers and Their
Advocates (Spanish version also available)
Addresses the issues of most concern for grandparents
and other relatives. Cost: No charge to prisoners; $25
suggested donation for family members and advocates.
Produced and distributed by Legal Services for
Prisoners with Children, 1540 Market St., Suite 490,
San Francisco, CA 94102
(p) (415) 255-7036; (f) (415) 552-3150
www.prisonerswithchildren.org
Protecting Your Health and Safety: A Litigation Guide
for Inmates
By Robert E. Toone. Published in 2002. Cost: $10.00,
including S&H. This is a guide to the basic rights of
prisoners relating to their health and safety while
incarcerated. It does not deal with criminal law.
Available from the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400
Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104
(p) (334) 956-8200; (f) (334) 956-8481
www.splcenter.org
Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual (Third Edition)
By Don Boston and Daniel Manville. A guide for prisoners
and advocates who are challenging prison conditions.
Contains information on legal research and writing.
Oceana Publications, Inc., NY, NY.

Resources

Legal Resources

83

Suing a Local Public Entity
Information and forms needed to sue a county jail
official and/or other county officials. Cost: No charge
to prisoners; $10 suggested donation for family members and advocates. Produced and distributed by Legal
Services for Prisoners with Children, 1540 Market St.,
Suite 490, San Francisco, CA 94102
(p) (415) 255-7036; (f) (415) 552-3150
www.prisonerswithchildren.org
The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook: How to Bring a
Federal Lawsuit to Challenge Violations of Your Rights
in Prison (Fourth Edition, Revised in 2003)
Edited by Ian Head and Rachel Meeropol.
This handbook is a resource for prisoners and their
advocates who wish to file a Section 1983 lawsuit in
federal court. Cost: Free to prisoners, family members,
advocates, lawyers, and others. Published by the
Center for Constitutional Rights and the National
Lawyers Guild.
www.jailhouselaw.org
Transportation to Court
Information and forms explaining how to get from
state prison or jail to court for a hearing concerning
child custody or parental rights. Cost: No charge to
prisoners; $10 suggested donation for family members
and advocates. Produced and distributed by Legal
Services for Prisoners with Children, 1540 Market St.,
Suite 490, San Francisco, CA 94102
(p) (415) 255-7036; (f) (415) 552-3150
www.prisonerswithchildren.org

Fighting for Our Rights

Legal Help

84

Check your local Yellow Pages for Legal Services in
your area.
California Courts Self-Help Center
An on-line self-help center that gives free and low-cost
legal help regarding family law, small claims, domestic
violence, seniors needs, as well as other topics
Judicial Council of California
Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
www.courtinfo.ca.gov
Centro de Ayuda de las Cortes de California
El recurso oficial de auto ayuda mas completo para
informacion sobre las cortes de California.

Judicial Council of California
Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
www.sucorte.ca.gov
LawHelpCalifornia.org
On-line self-help information, free or low-cost legal
service referrals, links to legal resources regarding
housing, families, public benefits, immigration, disability, elders, individual and civil rights
www.LawHelp.org

Advocacy and Support
Organizations
Action Committee for Women in Prison
1249 N. Holliston
Pasadena, CA 91104
(p) (626) 398-0105
ACWIP@yahoo.com
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
1540 Market St., Suite 490
San Francisco, CA 94102
(p) (415) 255-7036 Ext. 4; (f) (415) 552-3150
info@womenprisoners.org
California Prison Focus
2940 16th St., B-5
San Francisco, CA 94103
(p) (415) 252-9211; (f) (415) 252-9311
info@prisons.org
California Prison Moratorium Project
PO Box 339
Berkeley, CA 94701
(p) (510) 893-4648
califpmp@igc.org
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
1622 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(p) (415) 621-5651
info@cjcj.org
Centerforce
2955 Kerner Blvd., 2nd Floor
San Rafael, CA 94901

Critical Resistance
1904 Franklin St., Suite 504
Oakland, CA 94612
(p) (510) 444-0484; (f) (510) 444-2177
www.criticalresistance.org
Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes (FACTS)
3982 S. Figueroa, #207A
Los Angeles, CA 90037
(p) (213) 746-4844
www.facts1.com
Families of Prisoners Support Group
Center for Nonviolence
985 N. Van Ness
Fresno, CA 93728
(p) (559) 237-3223
www.fresnoalliance.com
Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)
1612 K St., NW, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20006
(p) (202) 822-6700; (f) (202) 822-6704
www.famm.org
Families with a Future (FWAF)
1540 Market St., Suite 490
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 255-7036, Ext 320
Family Advocacy Network (FAN)
1540 Market St., Suite 490
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 255-7036, Ext 306 or 319
Friends Outside is a volunteer-run organization that
assists prisoners and their families by acting as an
intermediary between the family, the prisoner, and the
criminal justice system. They help prisoners and their
families locate resources available to them in the community, and provide regular support groups for exoffenders. There are hospitality trailers staffed by
Friends Outside at every California prison. There are
also Friends Outside Case Managers inside the prisons
that work directly with the prisoners.

National Office
PO Box 4085
Stockton, CA 95204
(p) (209) 955-0701; (f) (209) 955-0735
www.friendsoutside.org
Free Battered Women
1540 Market St., Suite 490
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 255-7036 Ext. 6
www.freebatteredwomen.org
HIV/Hepatitis C in Prison Committee of California
Prison Focus
(510) 665-1935
hipcomm@excite.com
Inmate Family Council (liaison organization of inmate
family members and prison officials)
Each prison with a council has information about how
to get connected to it.
CCWF Inmate Family Council
CCWFInmateFamilyCouncil@hotmail.com
Justice Now
1322 Webster St., Suite 210
Oakland, CA 94612
(p) (510) 839-7654; (f) (510) 839-7615
www.jnow.org
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
1540 Market St., Suite 490
San Francisco, CA 94102
(p) (415) 255-7036; (f) (415) 552-3150
www.prisonerswithchildren.org
Prison Activist Resource Center
PO Box 339
Berkeley, CA 94701
(p) (510) 893-4648; (f) (510) 893-4607
www.prisonactivist.org
Prison Literature Project
Grassroots House
2022 Blake Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(415) 553-4580
www.bapd.org/gpract

Resources

(p) (415) 456-9980; (f) (415) 456-2146
www.centerforce.org

85

Arthritis & Fibromyalgia
Prison Unity Reform Project (PRUP)
www.vip-cali.com/prup
prup@justice.com

Publications
Outsiders Looking In: How to Keep From Going Crazy
When Someone You Love Goes to Jail
By Toni Weymouth and Maria Telesco. ($21.95, including S&H.) Available from OLINC Publishing, P.O. Box
6012, Fresno, CA 93703-6012
The Prisoners Assistance Directory
Cost: $30.00. Lists local, national and international
organizations that provide services to prisoners and
their families. Published by the National Prison Project
of the ACLU, 733 15th St., N.W., Suite 620,
Washington, D.C. 20005

Asthma and Chronic Lung Disease

Medical Resources
For general information on many health topics, these
are two important resources:

Cancer

National Institutes of Health
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892
www.nih.gov

Fighting for Our Rights

Southern California Chapter
4311 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 530
Los Angeles, CA 90010-3775
(323) 954-5750
info.sca@arthritis.org

American Lung Association of California
424 Pendleton Way
Oakland, CA 94621
(510) 638-LUNG
contact@californialung.org

Centers for Disease Control
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3534
1-800- 311-3435
www.cdc.gov

86

Northern California Chapter
657 Mission St., Suite 603
San Francisco, CA 94105-4120
(415) 356-1230
1-800-464-6240
info.nca@arthritis.org

Two web sites for general health information:
www.webmd.com
www.drugdigest.org
For specific medical conditions, there are specific
organizations you can contact for more information.
This is only a partial list of organizations that address
specific medical issues. Go to your phone book’s yellow pages or do a web search for more information on
medical issues not listed below

American Cancer Society
National: 1-800-ACS-2345
www.cancer.org
American Cancer Society
East Bay Metro Unit
1700 Webster St.
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 832-7012
American Cancer Society
Los Angeles Coastal Cities Unit
5731 W. Slauson Ave., Suite 200
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 348-0356

Diabetes
American Diabetes Association
ATTN: National Call Center
1701 North Beauregard St.
Alexandria, VA 22311
1-800-342-2383
www.diabetes.org

Epilepsy (Seizure Disorder)
Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California
1624 Franklin St., Ste. 900
Oakland, CA 94612-2824
(510) 893-6272
(800) 632-3532
www.epilepsy-socalif.org
Epilepsy Foundation of Southern California
5777 Century Blvd. Suite 820
Los Angeles, Ca 90045
(800) 564-0445
sos@epilepsy-socalif.org

Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the American Liver
Foundation
5777 Century Blvd. Suite 865
Los Angeles, Ca 90045
(310) 670-4624
www.liver411.com
Project Inform
205 13th St., #2001
San Francisco, CA 94103
1-800-822-7422

Hepatitis & HIV

Resources

Northern California American Liver Foundation
870 Market St., Suite 1046
San Francisco, CA 94102
1-800-465-4837
www.liverlifeline.com

87

 

 

The Habeas Citebook Ineffective Counsel Side
CLN Subscribe Now Ad
PLN Subscribe Now Ad