Department of Corrections Secretary Tilton Faces Confirmation Hearing

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Acting Secretary James Tilton of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation faces a confirmation hearing July 11 for permanency of his position.

Opponents of Tilton are expected to attend the hearing, some writing formal letters of opposition against his confirmation as Secretary. Even though those opposed to Tilton agree he inherited a very broken system, they say that he has exacerbated many problems.

Tilton promotes a rules change proposal, for which there is a hearing July 31, that increases strip searches of inmates’ families. The stated reason for the additional security is to prevent the entry of drugs and other items into the prisons. Previous investigations show current visitor screening processes prevent contraband from being brought into the prison by visitors. That obviously leaves only staff, suppliers and vehicles capable of bringing in drugs, weapons, cell phones and other items. If the strip searches deter families from visiting inmates and prevent contraband from entering that way, how will the Secretary explain its continued entry?

Tilton’s proposed rule change is pointed to by opponents as being just one example of his inability to do the job of Secretary and his lack of imagination.

A $7.7 billion package supported by Tilton proposes to build more prisons, adding 53,000 new prison beds. The argument for adding the new prisons and beds is that serious overcrowding is prevented. Opponents to the plan say that the state prison bed shortage is far less than 53,000 beds and the counties have more bed shortages that the plan does not address.

Another of the acting secretary’s plans is to move around 8,000 prisoners out of state in order to reduce overcrowding in California. Opponents to that plan, including the CCPOA (prison guards association) say the plan will not reduce overcrowding. Moving prisoners out of state will also break up families, preventing families from visiting prisoners.

Previously, Tilton agreed with the need for community programs, alternative sentencing and more effective parole supervision, but his plans do not include sentencing or parole reform, two major items his opponents say are sorely needed – and the primary causes of overcrowding.

Several lawsuits name Tilton. 28 lawsuits were filed by the “UNION” families “for his indifference to pleas for help which resulted in immeasurable suffering and continues to do so.” Some of the lawsuits name him “for a failure to protect the safety of prisoners in life and death situations.”

Opponents to Tilton’s confirmation say he has had several months to display leadership to address the severe medical neglect throughout the California Prison System. His lack of action and concern on many issues, such as rehabilitation programs and mentally ill prisoners demonstrates that Tilton is not effective in the position of Secretary of the CDCR and should not be confirmed.

Editor’s note: “UNION” means “United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect” http://www.1union1.com

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.