Background. In 1996, a class-action lawsuit known as Clark v. California was filed in federal court contending that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against prison inmates with developmental disabilities and denying them adequate accommodations, protection, and services because of their developmental disabilities. The state agreed in 2001 to take a series of actions to settle the case including complying with a set of revised policies and procedures as set forth in a court-approved remedial plan.
Governor’s Proposal. The Governor’s proposed budget includes $3 million from the General Fund in 2012-13 and ongoing for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for compliance monitoring and training activities related to the Clark case. According to the department, these resources are needed to ensure that the state is fulfilling the court-approved remedial plan. Of this proposed funding, $1.8 million would be used to hire 12 additional headquarters staff to conduct reviews of each of the state’s prisons to assess whether inmates with developmental disabilities are being provided appropriate accommodations in accordance with the remedial plan. The remaining $1.3 million would be used to provide overtime coverage to backfill behind staff who leave their posts in order to provide annual training to other prison staff on how to accomodate the needs of developmentally disabled inmates.
High Number of Vacancies in CDCR Headquarters. Our analysis indicates that CDCR currently has unutilized headquarters resources. That is because they have vacancies in all of the classifications included in the request. For example, the department is requesting three analyst positions despite having 130 vacant analyst positions within headquarters. Overall, as of April 2012, the department had a total of 265 vacancies (26 percent) within the five classifications for which they are requesting additional position authority.
Recommendation. In view of the above, we recommend that the Legislature reduce the Governor’s proposed augmentation by $1.8 million and 12 positions and direct the department to fill existing positions that are currently vacant to conduct the Clark compliance reviews. We note that the department has informed us that they are in the process of developing a plan to eliminate vacant positions that are no longer needed, including some within headquarters. In the event that the department eliminates most of its headquarters vacancies, it may be appropriate to reevaluate their need for the requested resources.