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CDCR High Risk Update Audit - Public Safety Realignment and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, CA State Auditor, 2015

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April 2015

Report 2015-609/2015-610

High Risk Update—
Public Safety Realignment and
the California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation

COMMITMENT

INTEGRITY

The State Has Reduced Overcrowding in Its Prisons, but Its
Inmate Health Care Is Still Under Federal Receivership

LEADERSHIP

The first five copies of each California State Auditor report are free. Additional copies are $3 each, payable by check
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621 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200
Sacramento, California 95814
916.445.0255 or TTY 916.445.0033
OR
This report is also available on our website at www.auditor.ca.gov.
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For questions regarding the contents of this report,
please contact Margarita Fernández, Chief of Public Affairs, at 916.445.0255.
For complaints of state employee misconduct, contact the California State Auditor’s
Whistleblower Hotline: 1.800.952.5665.

Elaine M. Howle State Auditor
Doug Cordiner Chief Deputy

April 21, 2015	

2015-609/2015-610

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:
The California State Auditor presents this report updating our previous assessment of the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) as a high‑risk agency and
the State’s 2011 public safety realignment as a high‑risk issue. In 2007 we designated Corrections
as a high‑risk agency because of overcrowding in the state prisons, the state of the prison health
care system, and its lack of consistent leadership. In 2013 we designated the 2011 public safety
realignment, which transferred responsibility for certain nonserious, nonviolent offenders from
the State to the counties, to be a high‑risk issue because the State lacked reliable and accessible
data on the legislation’s effects.
This report concludes that Corrections continues to warrant its designation as a high‑risk
agency. Although Corrections has continued to reduce the state prison population, achieving
the final inmate population target of 137.5 percent of the prisons’ design capacity for the
first time in February 2015, we continue to have concerns about the remaining two areas.
Specifically, despite demonstrating improvement, the prison health care system remains under
the direction of the federal court‑appointed receiver. Additionally, Corrections continues to
lack a succession plan for its senior leadership positions and has no timeline for when such a
plan will be complete. Until Corrections has an opportunity to successfully demonstrate that
it can maintain the level of care established by the receiver, and can further demonstrate
that it has developed a succession plan, we will continue to designate Corrections as a
high‑risk agency.
In contrast, we conclude that the 2011 public safety realignment is no longer a high‑risk issue
at the state level because of steps taken by the Board of State and Community Corrections to
collect information on realignment programs and practices for counties to use when making
decisions related to criminal justice. Although many counties continue to face challenges related
to overcrowded jails because of realignment, these challenges are local responsibilities rather
than statewide issues that can be addressed by any particular state agency.
Respectfully submitted,

ELAINE M. HOWLE, CPA
State Auditor

621 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200

S a c r a m e n t o, C A 9 5 8 1 4

916.445.0255

916.327.0019 fax

w w w. a u d i t o r. c a . g o v

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California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

Contents
Summary	1
Introduction	3
High-Risk Agency Update
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation	5
Corrections Recently Reported That It Had Achieved the
Federal Court-Ordered Prison Population Target	

5

The Federal Court Has Recently Clarified the Process for Transitioning
the State’s Medical Care System From Under the Receivership, but
More Work Remains 	

9

Although Corrections Has Filled Many of Its Vacant Positions,
It Lacks a Succession Plan to Ensure That It Has Consistent Leadership 	

12

High-Risk Issue Update	
The State’s 2011 Public Safety Realignment 	15
The State Has Made Progress Toward Collecting the Information
Necessary for Counties and Interested Parties to Evaluate the
Impact of Realignment	

15

County Officials, Rather Than State Administrators, Are Responsible
for Managing the Increase in County Jail Populations and Other
Challenges Following Realignment 	

18

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California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

Summary
Results in Brief

Highlights . . .

In 2007 we designated the California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation (Corrections) as a high‑risk state agency because
of overcrowding in the state prisons, the state of the prison health
care system, and Corrections’ lack of consistent leadership. Our
current review finds that Corrections has reported significant
reductions to the state prison population; however, Corrections
continues to warrant its designation as a high‑risk state agency
because of our concerns about the remaining two areas. In contrast,
we believe that the 2011 transfer of responsibility for certain
nonserious, nonviolent offenders from the State to the counties—a
transition known as realignment—is no longer a high‑risk issue
under our state high‑risk program.

Our review of the California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections)
and the State’s 2011 public safety
realignment highlighted the following:

Since our high risk update report in 2013, Corrections has
continued to reduce the state prison population. In fact, it
reported to the Federal Court that it achieved the final inmate
population target of 137.5 percent of the prisons’ design capacity
for the first time in February 2015.1 Although not enough time has
passed for Corrections to demonstrate that it can maintain inmate
population levels at the Federal Court’s target, a number of factors
cause us to conclude that state prison overcrowding is no longer
a factor contributing to Corrections’ designation as a high‑risk
agency. Specifically, the State’s 2011 public safety realignment
significantly reduced the number of inmates housed in the state
prisons. Further, the passage of Proposition 47 in November 2014
reduced penalties for certain offenders, making some offenders
ineligible for state prison and potentially shortening the sentences
of others. By February 2015, Corrections had increased the
number of inmates it houses in contract beds outside of state
prison facilities to roughly 14,700 individuals; these inmates do
not count against the prison population cap. We will consider
reexamining the State’s prison population in future high risk reports
if it begins to show signs of exceeding the Federal Court’s inmate
population target.

»» Corrections lacks a succession plan to
ensure that it has consistent leadership.

In February 2006 the State’s inability to provide adequate prison
health care caused the Federal Court to place its prison health
care system under a court‑appointed federal receiver. California
Correctional Health Care Services, under the direction of the federal
court‑appointed receiver—which we will collectively refer to as
the Receiver’s Office—will remain in place until the Federal Court
1	

We use one term—Federal Court—throughout our report for simplicity, rather than referring
to the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of California as
separate courts.

»» Corrections has reduced its prison
population substantially and met
the final inmate population target the
Federal Court established.
»» The prison health care system remains
under the direction of the federal
court‑appointed receiver.

»» The Board of State and Community
Corrections has made progress toward
gathering information necessary
for counties to evaluate the impact
of  realignment.

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is satisfied that the State has the will, capacity, and leadership to
maintain a system of providing constitutionally adequate medical
health care services to inmates. In our 2013 report, we concluded
that until control of the prison health care system reverts back to
Corrections, Corrections will remain a high‑risk agency. Because
the Receiver’s Office has reported significant improvement in the
inmate health care system, the Federal Court has now clarified
a process for the gradual transition of inmate health care back
to Corrections. However, the timing of this transfer is left to the
discretion of the Receiver’s Office. Until the Receiver’s Office
delegates increased authority to Corrections, and until Corrections
demonstrates that it can adequately manage inmate medical care,
we will continue to consider the prison health care system a factor
contributing to Corrections’ designation as a high‑risk agency.
Further, we believe that Corrections’ lack of a succession plan for
its leadership remains another factor that makes Corrections a
high‑risk agency. We previously considered Corrections’ challenges
with maintaining consistent leadership to be high risk because
many executive‑ and warden‑level positions were vacant or held
by individuals in an acting capacity. However, Corrections has
recently shown significant improvement in filling the vacant
positions within its leadership at its headquarters: Its March 2015
organizational chart showed no vacancies and only three employees
serving as acting directors. Nonetheless, after eliminating its
succession planning and training units in 2011, Corrections has
yet to establish an adequate alternative to meet this need. Without
such a plan or an adequate alternative, Corrections cannot ensure
the availability and quality of its future leaders; thus, its ability to
maintain consistent leadership remains a factor contributing to
Corrections’ designation as a high‑risk agency.
Finally, in 2013 we designated the State’s 2011 public safety
realignment of its criminal justice programs to be a high‑risk
issue because the State lacked reliable and accessible data on the
legislation’s effects. However, since our previous report, the Board
of State and Community Corrections has taken significant steps
to collect information on realignment programs and practices
for counties to use when making decisions related to criminal
justice. For example, it has published a definition of recidivism,
identified and made available criminal justice performance
metrics, and gathered data from counties regarding their plans
for implementing realignment. Further, although many counties
continue to face challenges related to overcrowded jails because
of realignment, these challenges are local responsibilities rather
than statewide issues that can be addressed by any particular state
agency. For these reasons, we do not believe realignment should
continue to be designated an area of high risk, under our state level
high‑risk program.

California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

Introduction
Background
State law authorizes the California State Auditor (state auditor) to
establish a state high risk assessment program and to issue reports
with recommendations for improving state agencies or statewide
issues it identifies as high risk. State law also authorizes the state
auditor to require state agencies identified as high risk and those
responsible for high‑risk issues to periodically report to the state
auditor on the status of the implementation of recommendations
made by the state auditor. Programs and functions that are high risk
include not only those particularly vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse,
and mismanagement, but also those that have major challenges
associated with their economy, efficiency, or effectiveness.
We first designated the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (Corrections) as a high‑risk agency because of issues
related to overcrowding in its prisons, its inability to achieve or
maintain a constitutional level of health care for its prison inmates,
and issues related to the consistency of its leadership in upper
management. We cited the same issues in our subsequent reviews,
and as a result, Corrections has remained a high‑risk department
since 2007. In 2013 we added as a new high‑risk issue the 2011
realignment of funding and responsibility between the State and
local governments. We highlighted the impact of realignment on
criminal justice programs and noted that stakeholders, including
counties that are responsible for assessing their progress under
realignment, need reliable and accessible data to assess the effects of
realignment on their local criminal justice programs.
To update our analysis of the high‑risk statuses of Corrections and
the 2011 realignment of criminal justice programs, we interviewed
knowledgeable staff at the following entities:
•	Corrections.
•	 The Office of the Inspector General.
•	 The California Correctional Health Care Services, which operates
under the direction of a federal court‑appointed receiver.
•	 The Board of State and Community Corrections.
We also interviewed the governor’s special advisor on public safety
realignment. In our interviews, we obtained various officials’
perspectives on the current extent of risk related to Corrections
and the 2011 realignment. We reviewed the efforts that the officials
had identified as mitigating the risks, as well as reports and other

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documentation relevant to the issues. We considered a number
of qualitative and quantitative factors, as well as whether or not
any agencies had taken measures to correct previously identified
deficiencies. Ultimately, the determination of high risk was based
on the independent and objective judgment of the state auditor’s
professional staff.

California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

High‑Risk Agency Update
THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
AND REHABILITATION
In our 2013 update on high risk, we continued to identify
the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(Corrections) as a high‑risk state agency, citing its struggles to
reduce prison overcrowding, the state of the prison health care
system, and Corrections’ lack of consistent leadership. Our current
review found that Corrections has made significant progress on
the first of these three issues: Corrections has reported that it
has reduced its prison population substantially and recently met
the final population target that the Federal Court established.2
However, the health care system remains in federal receivership,
and Corrections must do more to ensure that it maintains
consistent leadership. Specifically, California Correctional Health
Care Services, under the direction of the federal court‑appointed
receiver—which we collectively refer to as the Receiver’s Office—
will retain control of the prison health system until the Federal
Court determines that medical health care provided to inmates
meets constitutional standards. Although the Federal Court
recently prescribed a process for gradual delegation of authority and
institutions back to Corrections, we continue to designate prison
health care in federal receivership as high risk until Corrections
demonstrates that it has the capacity to adequately manage the
functions and institutions the Receiver’s Office transfers back to it.
Finally, we believe that Corrections has more work to do to ensure
that it has the ability to attract and retain consistent leadership
and that it should continue its efforts to develop a succession plan
or a suitable alternative. For these reasons, we continue to designate
Corrections a high‑risk state agency.
Corrections Recently Reported That It Had Achieved the Federal
Court‑Ordered Prison Population Target
In accordance with the Federal Court’s orders, Corrections
has reduced its inmate population. In fact, in February 2015,
Corrections reported to the Federal Court that it had met the
final population target for its adult institutions.3 Although
Corrections has reported that it has met the terms of the Federal
Court’s Order, the Federal Court has made it clear that it expects
2	

We use one term—Federal Court—throughout our report for simplicity rather than referring
to the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of California as
separate courts.

3	

Corrections also reported to the Federal Court that it had maintained the appropriate population
level in March and April 2015.

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We have concluded that prison
overcrowding no longer is a factor
for designating Corrections as a
high-risk agency.

Corrections to demonstrate an ability to sustain these lower
population levels. Thus, more time is necessary for Corrections
to satisfy the Federal Court on the question of sustainability.
Nonetheless, we have concluded that prison overcrowding no
longer is a factor for designating Corrections as a high‑risk agency
according to the statute governing our high risk program. However,
because Corrections relies on contracts with facilities to house a
significant number of inmates outside of its prisons to meet the
Federal Court’s population targets, we will consider reexamining
the State’s prison population in the future if Corrections
demonstrates difficulty in maintaining the Federal Court’s inmate
population target.
In August 2009 a Federal Court ordered the State to reduce its
inmate population in the adult prisons Corrections operates to
no more than 137.5 percent of combined design capacity, which
it defined as the number of inmates a prison can hold based on
one prisoner per cell, single bunks in dormitories, and no beds in
spaces not designed for inmate housing. In a related Order dated
January 2010, the Federal Court made clear that its Order to reduce
the adult prison population was an attempt to rectify deficiencies
in inmate medical and mental health care. The January 2010 Order
stated that “crowding is the primary cause of the constitutional
inadequacies in the delivery of medical and mental health care to
California inmates and that no relief other than a ‘prison release
order’ . . . is capable of remedying these constitutional deficiencies.”
Figure 1 depicts a timeline of select Federal Court Orders and the
State’s reports on its progress toward reducing its inmate population.
A variety of statutory changes have helped Corrections reduce
its prison population. The cornerstone of the State’s solution for
prison overcrowding was its 2011 public safety realignment, which
we discuss in more detail in subsequent sections. Realignment
shifted responsibility for newly convicted, low‑level offenders and
for most parole violators from the state prison system to county
jails.4 Although it is credited with reducing the prison population
by tens of thousands of inmates, realignment alone was not
enough to meet the federal court‑ordered target. Consequently,
in September 2013, the governor signed Senate Bill 105
(Chapter 310, Statutes of 2013), expanding Corrections’ ability
to enter into contracts for additional inmate housing with local
governments, private entities within and outside of the State, and
community correctional centers. Further, the bill appropriated
$315 million for this effort. Corrections’ Weekly Report of Population
dated February 11, 2015, listed roughly 5,900 inmates as housed
4	

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the 2011 realignment made felons generally
ineligible for state prison unless they had current or prior convictions for serious, violent, or
sex‑related offenses.

California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

under contract within the State and another 8,800 inmates as
housed under contract out of the State. Housing these roughly
14,700 inmates in contracted facilities helped Corrections meet
the federal court‑ordered population target because the inmates
Corrections houses outside of its 34 adult institutions do not count
against the institutions’ combined design capacity.
Figure 1
Timeline of Selected Federal Court Orders Related to Prison Population Benchmarks
January 12, 2010
The Federal Court ordered the State to reduce the
inmate population in the adult institutions operated
by the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (Corrections) to 137.5 percent of
combined institution design capacity while meeting
interim benchmarks. According to the Federal Court,
design capacity is based on one inmate per cell,
single bunks in dormitories, and no beds in spaces
not designed for housing. The State appealed the
Order to the United States Supreme Court
(Supreme Court) and lost.

2010

2011

June 30, 2011

2012
January 29, 2013

2013

The Federal Court granted the State a six-month
extension to comply with its June 2011 Order, setting a
new deadline of December 31, 2013.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision on May 23, 2011,
the Federal Court reaffirmed its January 2010 Order
requiring the State to reduce its inmate population to
137.5 percent of design capacity by June 27, 2013. The
Federal Court also required the State to meet specific
interim benchmarks and to produce interim reports
keeping the Federal Court apprised of its progress
toward the deadline.

2014
February 10, 2014
The Federal Court granted the State an extension of the
December 2013 deadline. It required the State to meet
the final population benchmarks of 137.5 percent by
February 28, 2016. It also required the State to meet
interim benchmarks by the following deadlines:
143 percent of design capacity by June 30, 2014, and
141.5 percent of design capacity by February 28, 2015.

July 3, 2014
The Federal Court granted the State an extension
to meet the 143 percent interim benchmark—
the State had until August 31, 2014, rather than
June 30, 2014, to comply.

2015
February 17, 2015
More than a year before the Federal Court’s
deadline, the State reported to the Federal Court that
Corrections reduced the prison population to
112,993 inmates, or 136.6 percent of design capacity.

August 15, 2014
Two weeks before the Federal Court’s deadline, the State
reported to the Federal Court that Corrections reduced the
prison population to 140.2 percent of design capacity, or
115,972 inmates, meeting the August 15, 2014, as well as
the February 28, 2015, interim benchmarks.

Sources:  Federal Court Orders dated January 12, 2010; June 30, 2011; January 29, 2013; February 10, 2014; and July 3, 2014, and status reports from the
State dated August 15, 2014, and February 17, 2015.

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Federal Court-Ordered Measures
to Reduce the State’s Prison Population
The Federal Court ordered the State to implement the
following measures to reduce its adult prison population:
Measures affecting release credits:
•	 Increase good behavior and participation credits for
offenders with two felony convictions for crimes that are not
violent or sex-related. The measure made these offenders
eligible for credits that could reduce their sentences by
33 percent, an increase from the previous rate of 20 percent.
•	 Increase good behavior and participation credits for
low‑risk, minimum‑security inmates so that these offenders
are eligible to earn two days of credit for every one day
served while maintaining participation in fire camps.
Measures affecting parole:
•	 Create and implement a new parole determination process
for offenders with two felony convictions for crimes that are
not violent or sex-related where these offenders become
eligible for parole consideration once they have served
50 percent of their sentence.
•	 Parole inmates who are serving indeterminate sentences—
sentences of unspecified duration—to whom the Board of
Parole Hearings has already granted parole and set a future
parole date.
•	 Finalize and implement an expanded parole process for
medically incapacitated inmates in consultation with
California Correctional Health Care Services.
•	 Finalize and implement a new parole process whereby it
refers inmates who are 60 years of age or older and have
served at least 25 years of their sentences to the Board
of Parole Hearings to determine the inmates’ suitability
for parole.
Measures affecting rehabilitative programs:
•	 Activate new reentry hubs at 13 designated prisons. These
hubs are locations in which the California Department
of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) and
Corrections concentrates programs to help to ensure that
inmates are ready for the transition back into society after
they are released. The Federal Court ordered Corrections to
ensure the hubs are operational within one year.
•	 Pursue expanding pilot reentry programs with additional
counties and local communities.
•	 Implement an expanded alternative custody program for
female inmates.
Source:  Federal Court Order dated February 10, 2014.

Furthermore, California’s voters passed Proposition 47
in November 2014, which further reduced
Corrections’ inmate population. Specifically,
Proposition 47 reduced certain crimes to
misdemeanors, thus making them punishable by
imprisonment in a county jail rather than in a state
prison. The crimes in question include shoplifting
when the value of the stolen property does not exceed
$950, and possession of certain controlled substances
for personal use unless the defendant has certain
prior convictions. Further, the proposition allows
offenders currently serving certain felony sentences to
apply for reduced sentences. As of mid‑February 2015
Corrections reported that it had released
approximately 2,470 inmates that met the provisions
of the proposition. The Legislative Analyst’s Office
(LAO) estimates that by reducing some crimes to
misdemeanors, Proposition 47 may result in an
ongoing reduction to the state prison population of
several thousand inmates within a few years.
Similarly, the LAO estimates inmate resentencing
resulting from Proposition 47 could likewise result in
the release of several thousand inmates; however,
according to the LAO, this resentencing will have only
a temporary effect on the State’s prison population. In
its Senate Bill 105 Final Report dated January 9, 2015,
the California Department of Finance (Finance)
estimated that roughly 5,300 inmates were potentially
eligible for release if resentenced under the provisions
of Proposition 47 as of September 2014.
In addition to those steps the State took on its own,
the Federal Court ordered Corrections to institute a
series of measures to reduce the prison population. In
an Order dated February 10, 2014, the Federal Court
instructed the State, among other things, to adopt
eight measures to reduce the inmate population. We
describe these measures in the text box. Arguably,
the measure that has had the most impact to date
on the prison population is a measure that made
certain offenders eligible for good behavior and
participation credits that could reduce their sentences
by 33.3 percent. Corrections reported to the Federal
Court that it had released at least 5,581 inmates as a
result of the measure as of February 2015. In contrast,
in its February 2015 report to the Federal Court,
Corrections noted that it had granted parole to only
115 inmates because they were 60 years or older and
had served at least 25 years of their sentences.

California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

The Federal Court Has Recently Clarified the Process for Transitioning
the State’s Medical Care System From Under the Receivership, but
More Work Remains
In 2006 the Federal Court ordered that California’s inmate health
care system will remain in federal receivership until it determines
that the State has the will, capacity, and leadership to maintain a
system of providing constitutionally adequate medical health care
services to inmates. In March 2015 the Federal Court issued an
Order (March 2015 Order) clarifying the terms and conditions
for transitioning the State’s medical care system back from the
Receiver’s Office. The March 2015 Order clarifies the process
for gradual delegation of authority over headquarter functions
and institutions back to Corrections and vests the delegation
decisions with the receiver. Leading up to the Federal Court’s
order, the Receiver’s Office reported to the court that it had made
notable improvements to the inmate health care system and had
already delegated several functions to Corrections. However, until
Corrections can demonstrate that it is capable of maintaining the
medical care systems that the Receiver’s Office has put in place, the
prison health care system will continue to be a factor contributing
to Corrections’ designation as a high‑risk agency.
The Receiver’s Office published a turnaround plan of action
(turnaround plan) in 2008, which has guided its efforts for bringing
prison health care services within Corrections up to federal
constitutional standards. In the turnaround plan, the Receiver’s
Office stated that constitutionally adequate health care requires
that inmates receive timely access to competent medical and
clinical personnel who provide effective care informed by accurate
patient records. Further, constitutionally adequate health care also
requires that inmates have access to appropriate medical facilities,
equipment, and processes, as well as timely access to prescribed
medications, treatment modalities, specialists, and appropriate
levels of care. The Receiver’s Office outlined six goals, which it
characterized—along with the associated objectives and action
items—as the steps necessary for Corrections’ health care program
to rise to constitutionally acceptable and sustainable levels.
The Receiver’s Office reports that it has made significant progress
in achieving its goals, but critical areas of improvement remain.
Specifically, in its February 2015 triannual report, the Receiver’s
Office noted that 43 of the 47 required actions were complete and
that only four were in process or ongoing, an improvement from
the 13 required actions in progress or ongoing that we reported
in 2013.5 The Table on the following page lists each goal and the
5	

By February 2015 the Receiver’s Office combined two of the 13 required actions and completed
eight required actions. As a result, the Receiver’s Office reported four required actions in progress
or ongoing.

In March 2015 the Federal Court
clarified the process for gradual
delegation of authority over
headquarter functions and
institutions back to Corrections and
vests the delegation decisions with
the receiver.

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total number of required actions that were complete or in process
according to the February 2015 report. One action the Receiver’s
Office has completed since 2013 is implementing a health care
scheduling and inmate tracking system. Because the system
allows health care staff to schedule medical appointments and
track the location of inmates as their appointments approach,
its establishment furthers the Receiver’s Office’s goal of ensuring
patient‑inmates’ timely access to health care services. Two of the
four actions that are currently in process or ongoing relate to
the Receiver’s Office implementing programs for quality assurance
and continuous improvement. The remaining two actions focus
on improving medical records, radiology, and laboratory services
and completing upgrades to administrative and clinical facilities at
Corrections’ institutions.6
Table
California Prison Health Care Services’ Progress Toward Completing Actions and Achieving Goals
Established in the Turnaround Plan of Action
NUMBER
OF TOTAL
ACTIONS

NUMBER OF
COMPLETE
ACTIONS

NUMBER OF
INCOMPLETE
ACTIONS

GOAL
ACHIEVED

Ensure timely access to health care services

9

9

0



Establish a prison medical program addressing the full
continuum of health care services

9

9

0



Recruit, train and retain a professional quality medical
care workforce

6

6

0



Implement a quality assurance and continuous
improvement program

9

7

2

5

Establish medical support/allied health infrastructure

7

6

1

5

Provide for necessary clinical, administrative, and
housing facilities

7

6

1*

5

47

43

4

3

GOAL

Totals

Source:  California State Auditor’s analysis of the Twenty‑Eighth Tri‑Annual Report of the Federal Receiver’s Turnaround Plan of Action for
September 1–December 31, 2014, filed with the Federal Court on February 2, 2015.
 = Yes
5 = No
*	 According to the Receiver’s Office, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is responsible for implementing this
required action.

In March 2015 the Federal Court issued an Order that reinforces a
process for incremental delegation of authority over headquarters’
functions and institutions back to Corrections. The March 2015 Order
maintains the existing process through which the Receiver’s Office
delegates authority to Corrections, but more significantly, it requires
the Receiver’s Office to consider information from monitoring
6	

According to the Receiver’s Office, Corrections is responsible for implementing the required
action that pertains to completing upgrades to administrative and clinical facilities at
its institutions.

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April 2015

activities when making a delegation decision. Further,
the March 2015 Order states generally that after the
Receiver’s Office delegates all authority back to
Corrections without revocation for a one‑year period
after delegation “a rebuttable presumption of
constitutional adequacy and sustainability [in the
prison medical care system] will be created.”
Although the Federal Court makes clear that the
authority the Receiver’s Office delegates to
Corrections can be revoked, the March 2015 Order
offers a clear path toward the eventual termination of
the receivership. The text box offers additional detail
from the March 2015 Order.
A year earlier, in March 2014, the Federal Court
indicated that a meaningful, independent system of
evaluating the quality of care is critical for ensuring
sustainability of the reforms the Receiver’s Office
has put in place and it confirmed this previous
position in its more recent March 2015 Order.
Specifically, the Federal Court stated that when the
Receiver’s Office determines whether an institution
is suitable to return to Corrections’ control, it will
consider findings from the Office of the Inspector
General’s (Inspector General) medical inspection
reports as well as data from the Health Care Services
Dashboard and other internal monitoring tools. The
Inspector General began its program of inspections
in 2007, when it developed a tool and process to
periodically review medical care delivery at the adult
institutions and measure compliance with health
care policies and procedures, as state law requires.
Over time, the Inspector General has worked with
the Receiver’s Office, court experts and others to
redesign its medical inspection process by adding
a qualitative component that allows it to examine the
quality of care. The Federal Court also recognized
in its March 2015 Order that the Receiver’s Office
had initiated a quality improvement program at its
headquarters and at the institutions. The Federal
Court believes that when the Receiver’s Office
fully implements this program, it will provide a
mechanism for self‑identifying and correcting errors.
As of February 2015 the Receiver’s Office reported
that it had delegated to Corrections authority over
three operational areas: construction, medical
facility activation, and health care access. In its
March 2015 Order, the Federal Court directed the

General Summary of the Federal Court’s
Receivership Transition Plan Dated March 2015
In March 2015 the Federal Court issued an Order
(March 2015 Order) that modifies the plan to transition inmate
medical care from California Correctional Health Care Services,
under the direction of the federal court‑appointed receiver—
which we collectively refer to as the Receiver’s Office—back to
the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(Corrections). The March 2015 Order establishes the process
for incremental delegation of authority over system-wide
and headquarters functions, and individual institutions
from the Receiver’s Office back to Corrections as generally
summarized below.
Certain requirements related to delegating or revoking authority:
•	 The Receiver’s Office must meet and confer with the
underlying parties and consult with the court experts before
granting a delegation of authority.
•	 The plaintiffs may monitor care at the institutions for one year
after authority has been delegated to Corrections. Plaintiffs’
monitoring ends after one year unless the Receiver’s Office
revokes the delegation or the plaintiffs bring a successful
motion before the Federal Court.
•	 The Receiver’s Office must regularly evaluate at least monthly
whether it should revoke any delegations. However, before
revoking a delegation, the Receiver’s Office must meet and
confer with the parties and consult with the court experts.
•	 Any party who disagrees with the Receiver’s Office’s decision
to delegate authority or not, or to revoke authority or not, may
challenge that decision before the Federal Court.
Certain requirements after delegation:
•	 The Receiver’s Office will retain power over the inmate medical
care system until the underlying court case terminates.
•	 The Receiver’s Office must certify for the court that it has
transferred all headquarters functions and institutions
to Corrections once it has done so. Within 30 days of the
Receiver’s Office’s certification, Corrections must file a
governance plan with the court. Plaintiffs have 30 days to
challenge Corrections’ plan.
•	 If the Receiver’s Office leaves all delegations in place without
revocation for one year following certification to the Federal
Court, then a rebuttable presumption of constitutional
adequacy and sustainability will be created. The plaintiffs
have 120 days to challenge the presumption. If no challenge
is made, the parties must promptly file with the Federal Court
a stipulation and proposed order terminating the federal
receivership and underlying court case.
Source:  Federal Court Order dated March 10, 2015.

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California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

Receiver’s Office to continuously evaluate whether additional
revocable delegations of authority to Corrections are appropriate.
The Receiver’s Office has not revoked the three delegations it has
made thus far, which the Federal Court indicated in its March 2015
Order constitutes some evidence that Corrections’ capacity to
maintain a constitutionally adequate system of inmate medical care
has increased. When we asked the Receiver’s Office in March 2015
about the status of its additional delegations, the director of
legislation and communications (director) stated that the Receiver’s
Office will not establish plans or a timeline to transfer more
headquarters functions to Corrections until it has an opportunity to
confer with Corrections’ management.
When we asked the Receiver’s Office about its plans for delegating
authority over institutions back to Corrections, the director stated
that any plans will be informed by findings from the Inspector
General’s ongoing medical inspections, as well as by subsequent
consideration of other performance data by the Receiver’s Office.
The director also stated that because the Inspector General
began its medical inspections cycle with Folsom State Prison, the
Receiver’s Office expects that a report on Folsom will be available in
late April 2015.
Until the Receiver’s Office delegates
increased authority to Corrections
for inmate medical care, and until
Corrections demonstrates that
it can adequately manage these
functions, the issue remains a factor
contributing to Corrections remaining a
high‑risk agency.

Although the Federal Court has established a process for
transitioning the prison medical care system from the Receiver’s
Office back to Corrections, this transition process will take
time. Until the Receiver’s Office delegates increased authority
to Corrections, and until Corrections demonstrates that it can
adequately manage functions related to inmate medical care, the
issue remains a factor contributing to Corrections remaining a
high‑risk agency.
Although Corrections Has Filled Many of Its Vacant Positions, It Lacks
a Succession Plan to Ensure That It Has Consistent Leadership
In past high risk reports, we expressed concern over Corrections’
lack of a strategic plan, the significant number of vacancies in its
leadership positions at its headquarters, and the high turnover
rates for the wardens at its institutions. Corrections has been
using a current multiyear blueprint rather than a traditional
strategic plan to establish its commitments and guide its focus.
Corrections describes the blueprint as its plan to make sizable
changes to its operations, and it and other state oversight agencies
are monitoring its progress against the established goals in the
blueprint. Additionally, Corrections has made progress in filling
many of its vacant leadership positions and follows an established
warden‑vetting process. However, it continues to lack a succession
plan and has no timeline for when such a plan will be complete.

California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

We believe without a succession plan, Corrections may struggle
to ensure the availability and quality of the future leaders it will
need. As a result, Corrections’ ability to maintain consistent
leadership remains a factor contributing to Corrections remaining a
high‑risk agency.
In 2013 we reported that Corrections had stopped using its
2010–2015 strategic plan—despite the document remaining
available on its website until mid‑March 2015—rather, Corrections
had shifted its focus to developing a multiyear blueprint in response
to the 2011 realignment. Corrections describes the blueprint as its
plan to save billions of dollars, to end Federal Court oversight, and
to improve the prison system. It uses a commitment matrix to list
its goals, to identify the responsible parties and due dates, and to
track each goal’s status toward completion.
Both the Inspector General and Finance monitor and report on
Corrections’ progress toward achieving selected blueprint goals.
In October 2014 the Inspector General reported mixed results in
Corrections achieving the goals it set in the blueprint. For example,
the Inspector General reported that Corrections continues to meet
the blueprint goals for standardized staffing at institutions but
needs “marked improvement” to reach its in‑prison rehabilitation
goals. According to Corrections, it has also developed an internal
dashboard to monitor and track certain new and existing goals
that complement the blueprint. For example, on an internal
dashboard the department lists five goals, including reducing the
inmate population and achieving excellence in infrastructure and
administration. The dashboard reflects measures associated with
each goal and offers links to historical quarterly data. Because
Corrections has a current vision for its operations and it and
others are measuring its progress against these established goals,
we no longer consider strategic planning to be a factor that makes
Corrections a high‑risk agency.
We also found that Corrections has filled many of its vacant
leadership positions. Its March 2015 organization chart showed
no leadership vacancies at its headquarters and just three of
22 leadership positions with direct reports to the Corrections
secretary are filled by employees in an acting capacity.
The three positions with staff in an acting capacity are the
undersecretary of administration and offender services, the director
of correctional health care services, and the director of adult
institutions. According to Corrections, the undersecretary and the
director of correctional health care services positions have been
filled by employees in an acting capacity since February 2013—more
than two years ago. Nevertheless, this is a significant improvement
from the recent past, during which Corrections experienced rates
as high as 38 percent for positions that were vacant or had staff

We believe without a succession
plan, Corrections may struggle to
ensure the availability and quality
of the future leaders it will need.

13

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California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

working in an acting capacity. In addition, as of February 2015,
Corrections reported that 12 of the 35 wardens who oversee the
institutions’ day‑to‑day operations were serving in an acting
capacity.7 Although this number may seem high, the Inspector
General’s 2014 annual report states that warden candidates typically
serve as acting wardens for at least three months before the State
begins its vetting process. The Inspector General leads the vetting
process, which includes subjecting the candidates to background
investigations, site visits, interviews, and stakeholder surveys;
at its conclusion, the Inspector General makes a confidential
recommendation to the governor.
However, despite its progress related to other leadership issues,
Corrections continues to lack a succession plan and has no
timeline for when such a plan will be complete. In a document
titled Strategic Plan—2010–2015, posted on its website through
mid‑March 2015, Corrections states that a high number of
management and leadership staff are eligible to retire within
five years and that it must ensure a viable candidate pool exists to
assume these roles in the future. Further, Corrections defines viable
candidates as those that are prepared, trained, and motivated to
assume management and leadership roles, among other qualities.
Moreover, Corrections states that a succession plan will mitigate the
impact of impeding retirements and increase employee motivation
to promote. Nevertheless, by 2011 Corrections had eliminated
its succession planning and training units and abolished all the
positions; Corrections attributed its actions to budget cuts.
In 2013 we reported that Corrections anticipated reestablishing
these units, but according to the human resources associate
director, as of January 2015 Corrections had not yet done so.
However, the director stated that Corrections is working with the
California Department of Human Resources to engage in certain
succession planning activities. Nevertheless, the associate director
noted that Corrections lacks authorized positions dedicated to
developing a succession plan; instead, its current efforts consist
of one to two staff fitting these tasks into their current workloads.
She further explained that because of its lack of adequate staffing,
Corrections does not have a timeline for when it will complete its
succession plan. Without a plan to help ensure the availability and
quality of future leaders, Corrections may struggle to mitigate the
impact of impending retirements. Consequently, we continue to
consider this an area of high risk that contributes to Corrections’
designation as a high‑risk agency.

7	

One of the 35 wardens oversees the California City Correctional Facility; the Corrections
Corporation of America owns it, but Corrections leases, staffs, and operates the facility.

California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

High‑Risk Issue Update
THE STATE’S 2011 PUBLIC SAFETY REALIGNMENT
In 2013 we added the 2011 realignment of public safety funding
and responsibilities between the State and local governments
(realignment) to our list of high‑risk issues facing the State. As
a result of realignment, the State shifted fiscal and program
responsibilities for nonserious, nonviolent, and nonsexual felony
offenders in local jails and on probation or in treatment programs to
local governments instead of sending them to state prisons. As we
noted in our 2013 report, stakeholders need reliable and accessible
data to assess the realignment’s effects. Since our last report, the
Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) has made
significant efforts to gather information on realignment programs
and practices that counties can use to inform their decisions related
to criminal justice. Although many county jails continue to struggle
with overcrowding, we determined that realignment is no longer
an issue under our statewide high‑risk program because under the
tenet of realignment, county officials are responsible for how best
to address this issue. However, we may consider the management of
their jail populations as we carry out our high risk local government
audit program.
The State Has Made Progress Toward Collecting the Information
Necessary for Counties and Interested Parties to Evaluate the Impact
of Realignment
The 2011 public safety realignment shifted fiscal and program
responsibility for nonserious, nonviolent, and nonsexual felony
offenders in local jails and on probation or in treatment programs to
local governments instead of sending them to state prison. Although
the legislation related to realignment does not clearly contain distinct,
measurable goals, it outlines overarching intended objectives, which
include lowering recidivism rates, improving public safety outcomes
among adult felons and facilitating their reintegration back into
society, and reducing costs to the State. Since 2011 the State has
provided funding to counties to help support them in managing
their new responsibilities under realignment. The funding was about
$1.1 billion for fiscal year 2014–15. This funding became permanent and
constitutionally protected with the passage of Proposition 30 in 2012.
An August 2011 report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO)
indicated that establishing useful accountability measures would be
critical to the long‑term success of realignment. The LAO emphasized
the importance of creating reporting requirements and processes that
are beneficial to local agencies, elected officials, and communities—
those ultimately responsible for the local programs—rather than

15

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California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

the State when establishing program accountability mechanisms
for realigned programs. The special advisor to the governor for
realignment (special advisor) echoed this emphasis on the importance
of local decision‑making responsibility. She stated that realignment
was designed to give counties maximum flexibility in managing their
new criminal justice responsibilities and determining how to measure
their success. Accordingly, she asserted that the State deliberately did
not identify statewide success measures and gave the counties full
discretion to use their realignment allocations as they saw fit.
The State established the BSCC in 2012 to help provide leadership,
coordination, and technical assistance to state and local criminal
justice systems, among other tasks. More specifically, the BSCC is
responsible for collecting and making publicly available data and
information regarding state and community correctional policies and
practices. According to the special advisor, part of the BSCC’s purpose
in producing this information is to help counties better measure and
assess their performance and to highlight county practices that have
improved outcomes for offenders and local communities. In our
2013 audit report we noted that the State lacked access to reliable
and meaningful realignment data to ensure its ability to effectively
monitor progress toward achieving intended realignment goals.
Since we issued our 2013 assessment, the BSCC has made significant
progress in its efforts to gather and make available such information
and data. Its recent efforts include developing a definition of recidivism,
identifying and making available data related to a set of criminal
justice performance metrics, gathering more useful data from counties
regarding their plans for implementing realignment, and preparing to
collaborate with other entities to research individual offender behavior
over time.
In particular, the BSCC’s recent efforts to establish a uniform
definition of recidivism may help improve the reliability of the
counties’ recidivism‑related data. As we previously mentioned,
reducing recidivism was one of the overarching goals of realignment.
Although a June 2014 report by the Public Policy Institute of California
(PPIC) concluded that offender behavior did not
appear to have changed substantially following
realignment, it acknowledged that measuring
The Board of State and Community Corrections’
recidivism presented a challenge due to the variety of
Definition of Recidivism
ways that the California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation and other interest groups define it.
Recidivism is defined as a conviction of a new felony or
Following a mandate by the Legislature requiring it to
misdemeanor committed within three years of release from
define recidivism, the BSCC collaborated with various
custody or committed within three years of placement on
supervision for a previous criminal conviction.
legislatively mandated stakeholders and in
November 2014 approved the definition shown in the
Source:  The definition of adult recidivism that the Board of State
text box. A uniform definition of recidivism may help
and Community Corrections released on November 13, 2014.
counties to better evaluate their performance in
the future.

California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

In response to another of the Legislature’s mandates, the BSCC
published a report in February 2015 that established a set of
performance metrics for criminal justice systems to assist
policymakers in making informed decisions based on their
local priorities and desired outcomes. The proposed metrics
include measures of the flow of people and cases into each
county’s correctional system—reported crimes, arrests, and
court proceedings—as well as the results: numbers detained,
sanctioned, supervised, and treated. The report also includes
metrics related to local socioeconomic circumstances. County
officials will be able to use these metrics in conjunction with
their understanding of local policy preferences and other unique
county‑specific circumstances as they seek to establish priorities,
maximize resources, and achieve goals within their own community
correctional systems. However, the report stresses that local
knowledge is necessary to fully interpret community corrections
metrics and that using differences in metrics to compare the
effectiveness of county community correctional systems is
inappropriate. Although these metrics alone may not be useful for
comparing community correctional systems’ relative effectiveness,
they should provide relevant insight into how counties have
responded to policy changes at the state level.
The BSCC has also improved its survey questions concerning
counties’ realignment implementation plans, which should improve
the quality of its annual report. Each year, the BSCC is required to
compile a report regarding counties’ realignment implementation
plans and issue it no later than July 1st. The survey sent to counties
for fiscal year 2014–15 asked additional questions that should result
in more detailed information from counties. Specifically, the survey
included questions regarding each county’s criminal justice goals,
objectives, and outcomes, as well as a breakdown of how counties
have budgeted realignment allocations not found in previous years’
surveys. This information should allow stakeholders to more clearly
see how counties have chosen to deal with their new responsibilities
under realignment and provide counties with better information to
assess their own performance and approach to criminal justice.
Recognizing that data‑driven analyses are essential to determining
the impact of realignment and the effectiveness of county
approaches, the BSCC is collaborating with the PPIC, Corrections,
and the California Department of Justice to conduct a study that
will provide individual offender‑level data from 11 counties over
a three‑year period. The BSCC expects the study to begin in
July 2015 at which time the PPIC will begin receiving data, which
should provide insight into the impact of different realignment
correctional strategies and show how unique county features may

The BSCC has improved its survey
questions concerning counties’
realignment implementation plans,
which should improve the quality of
its annual report to stakeholders.

17

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California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

impact correctional decisions. According to the executive director
of the BSCC, this study may assist counties as they try to implement
programs to achieve better outcomes for their inmate populations.
County Officials, Rather Than State Administrators, Are Responsible
for Managing the Increase in County Jail Populations and Other
Challenges Following Realignment
Since the implementation of realignment began on October 1, 2011,
the number of inmates in state prisons has decreased while the
number of inmates in county jails has increased, albeit to a lesser
extent. Specifically, between September 2011 and June 2014, the state
prison population declined by about 25,300, while the average daily
county jail population increased by 16 percent, or about 11,600, as
shown in Figure 2.8 A PPIC report on the impact of realignment
between June 2011 and June 2012 concluded that realignment had
significantly affected county jail populations, resulting in more
counties operating jails above their rated capacities. Further, PPIC
stated that an increased number of counties had reported releasing
inmates early due to insufficient capacity.
Figure 2
Average Daily Statewide Inmate Population at County Jails
90,000

Daily Inmate Population

86,000

82,000

78,000

74,000

Se

pt
em

be
r2
No
01
ve
1
m
be
r2
01
Ja
1
nu
ar
y2
01
2
M
ar
ch
20
12
M
ay
20
12
Ju
ly
Se
20
pt
12
em
be
r2
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01
ve
2
m
be
r2
01
Ja
2
nu
ar
y2
01
3
M
ar
ch
20
13
M
ay
20
13
Ju
l
y2
Se
pt
01
em
3
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r2
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01
ve
3
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be
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01
Ja
3
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ar
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4
M
ar
ch
20
14
M
ay
20
14

70,000

Month and Year
Source:  The Board of State and Community Corrections’ Jail Profile Survey Data from September 2011 through June 2014.

8	

In November 2014 voters passed Proposition 47, which reduced penalties, including jail terms, for
offenders who commit certain nonserious and nonviolent drug and property crimes. Although
data is not yet available at the county level, Proposition 47 may help reduce overcrowding in
county jails.

California State Auditor Report 2015-609/2015-610

April 2015

Although county jail populations and the early release of inmates
have generally increased statewide since realignment, the impact
has varied from county to county. The number of inmates released
early from county jails each month increased by 37 percent across
the State, from about 10,200 in September 2011—the month prior
to realignment being implemented—to more than 14,000 in
June 2014, the most recent month for which data is available.
Between September 2011 and June 2014, 26 of the 58 counties
reported increasing the number of inmates they released early,
eight reported decreasing the number, and the remaining
24 reported that they did not release inmates early in either
month. The BSCC’s deputy director of administration and research
indicated that knowledge of local circumstances and issues is
essential for understanding why jail overcrowding and early
release rates have changed in certain counties. A February 2015
BSCC report indicated that socioeconomic factors, demographics,
and the availability of certain county resources all influence jail
incarceration rates and other county‑level performance metrics.
Although some counties have struggled to manage the increased
number of offenders for whom they are responsible under
realignment, the responsibility for resolving these issues ultimately
lies with county officials, not with state administrators. The California
State Auditor may consider the management of local jail population
as we carry out our high risk local government audit program.
We prepared this report under the authority vested in the California State Auditor by Section 8546.5
of the California Government Code.
Respectfully submitted,

ELAINE M. HOWLE, CPA
State Auditor
Date:		 April 21, 2015
Staff:	
	
	
	
	
	

Grant Parks, Audit Principal
Tram Thao Truong
Aaron Fellner, MPP
Sharon L. Fuller, CPA
Brett Noble, MPA
Scott R. Osborne, MBA

Legal Counsel:	 Stephanie Ramirez‑Ridgeway, Sr. Staff Counsel
For questions regarding the contents of this report, please contact
Margarita Fernández, Chief of Public Affairs, at 916.445.0255.

19

 

 

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