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Waste of the Day: Despite Targeted Funding, California Prisons Didn’t Fix Disciplinary Process

The California prison system received $34 million in targeted funding to address guard discipline – then didn’t use it.

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Topline: California’s prison system received $34 million to institute reforms related to staff misconduct allegations. Although new rules were put forward, the process never changed because prison staffers continued to operate under the old rules.

Key facts: Inmates can file reports with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) if they believe they have been mistreated. If the mistreatment stems from a prison employee, the issue is addressed by a team from another prison to avoid bias.

Waste of the Day: Despite Targeted Funding, California Prisons Didn’t Fix Disciplinary Process
Waste of the Day 2.12.24 by Open the Books

In 2021, the state inspector general found that prison staffers were the ones determining if a misconduct allegation against themselves or their colleagues was worth flagging for investigation, presenting an obvious conflict of interest.

The department requested $34 million from the state in its 2022 budget to “restructure its staff misconduct allegation screening.” The rule changes were made on paper, but prison staffers kept following the old system anyway, leading the state inspector general to criticize the $34 million in “wasted resources” in a Jan. 29 report.

As a result, 595 allegations of misconduct against prison staff were classified as “routine grievances” and investigated by the same prisons where the misconduct may have occurred.

The process “resulted in a wasteful duplication of efforts and misallocation of resources” because investigative work had already begun on some of the 595 cases before they were reclassified, according to the IG.

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The drawn-out process also caused the statute of limitations to expire on 127 cases, 22 of which could have caused a prison employee to be fired had the case been investigated.

Background: While it’s impossible to quantify the dollar cost of the misallocated resources on top of the wasted $34 million, CDCR’s budget doesn’t have excess funds to spare. The department spent almost $2.5 billion just to pay outside vendors in 2022, according to OpentheBooks.com.

The 2023-24 budget allocates $14.5 billion for the department, more than any other state prison system.

Supporting quote: “This reassignment complied with regulations and was shared with the Office of the Inspector General in advance,” CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Macomber wrote in his response to the IG report. “Of note, the reassigned grievances amounted to less than one-third of one percent of all grievances reviewed by the Department in calendar year 2023.”

Critical quote: “The department’s attempt to downplay the impact of its decision by pointing out that it only affected a small percentage of grievances ignores the impact its decision had on the incarcerated people whose allegations of staff misconduct were not reviewed in compliance with the department’s current regulations,” the IG wrote in the report.

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Summary: $34 million is a lot of money just to rewrite the rules of a bureaucratic process, especially if the process is never actually changed.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, OpenTheBooks.com captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.

Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.

Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.

In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).

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