“California prisoners’ rights often trampled”
That’s the headline of this Sacramento Bee investigation into the “602 process,” or the set of procedures by which the California prison system adjudicates grievances and disputes. Based on a review of CDCR data as well as a number of interviews, reporter Charles Piller found a pattern of “widespread suppression of inmates’ rights to contest allegations by guards or pursue claims of mistreatment”:
Current and retired officers, prisoners and parolees allege that correctional officers and their superiors routinely file bogus or misleading reports, destroy or falsify documentation of abuses, and intimidate colleagues or inmates who push back.
Sources with firsthand knowledge called the problem pervasive, offering dozens of examples. Even if the allegations are valid for a fraction of cases, thousands of prison terms could have been extended improperly at vast cost to taxpayers.
One of the more disturbing stories in the article is that of Kenneth Hernandez, who suffered from a skull fracture, facial paralysis, seizures, and vomiting after a prison guard threw him head-first into a metal locker, then was found guilty of assaulting an officer and lost five months of good-time credit and a year of family visits.