by Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
The California Senate Public Safety Committee will hold hearings on Senate Bill 1064, introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner, on Wednesday, May 20, and letters of support are needed as soon as possible from both inside and outside prison walls. SB 1064 (Skinner) provides due process and procedural requirements for the use of confidential information gathered within the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) to provide more fairness to incarcerated people.
CDCr’s use of information supplied by in-custody informants can have myriad and extreme adverse consequences for people behind bars, affecting housing assignments, disciplinary actions, decisions about parole suitability and other critical matters. Specifically, the bill prevents CDCr and the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) from making any findings or decisions that rely in whole or in part on allegations that are uncorroborated, and that come from an in-custody confidential informant. Information from a confidential informant can be used only if it is substantiated with independent evidence that supports the allegation.
SB 1064 additionally requires that, at least 10 days prior to making a decision or finding based on information supplied by an in-custody informant, the person implicated by the information be notified of the date the information was provided, the date of the events or actions referred to in the informant’s report, the location where the information was provided by the informant, the source and nature of the informant’s personal knowledge of the events/actions, and the investigative steps taken by the receiving officer to verify the information.
The bill also instructs the Inspector General to review implementation of these provisions and to report their findings to the Legislature.
Template for support letters for SB 1064
Send letters to Sen. Skinner’s office via fax to 916-651-4909, email to Senator.Skinner@Senate.ca.gov or mail (but be aware it takes three weeks to pass security) to Senator Nancy Skinner, Chair, Senate Public Safety Committee, State Capitol Room 5094, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Send copies to the Senate Public Safety Committee via fax to 916-445-4688, email at https://spsf.senate.ca.gov/ (follow prompts, including to register yourself or group) or mail (but be aware it takes three weeks to pass security) to Senator Nancy Skinner, Chair, Senate Public Safety Committee, State Capitol Room 2031, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Re: SB 1064 – SUPPORT
Dear Senator Skinner:
The _________(name of organization or individual)________ is in strong support of your bill, SB 1064, to limit the use of confidential information inside the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The bill would prohibit Department officials from using uncorroborated in-custody informant information in order to extend prisoners’ sentences for rules violations or to make other serious decisions regarding prisoners.
If such information surfaces, the prisoner implicated would be given due process with regard to the information, not including revealing the source, but including a full description of the time, place and officer who obtained it. It is important that statements that impact time in prison be corroborated by independent sources who had had no contact or communication with the informant and no prior knowledge of any supporting physical evidence. This bill would address these important justice needs.
Other “talking points could include:
If you or your loved one was kept in isolation because of confidential information, please give examples, including how many years they were kept in SHU or other forms of isolation__________________________________________________________________
If you or your loved one was denied parole based on confidential information available to the Parole Board but not available to you, describe__________________________________________________________________
If you or your loved one was given a high risk assessment based on confidential information, describe that ________________________________________________________________________
Thank you for carrying this important legislation. Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you.
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) is a coalition based in the Bay Area made up of grassroots organizations and community members committed to amplifying the voices of and supporting the prisoners at Pelican Bay and other California prisons as they strive to win their hunger strike demands. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/.