I am currently incarcerated in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation CDCR. I am a California Vietnam veteran. I served almost two years of active duty in Southeast Asia. I was decorated with the Silver Star, Purple Heart, etc. I am 70 years of age.
On December 17, 2015, I was ordered to a pre-Board of Parole Hearing consultation meeting that was conducted by Commissioner Rosalio Castro. At the conclusion of the hearing I was provided with a three page printout of what the state Board of the Parole recommends I do and what is expected of me in order to be found suitable for parole. I am providing you with the original copy given to me by Commissioner Castro. I am retaining a copy to show other elderly (65 and older) inmates.
Under the heading: Findings/recommendation, which documented/recommended both vocational training and work assignment. As a senior citizen I immediately recognized the naked truth about what was missing from the CDCR parole release guidelines. The Board of Parole lacks release suitability policies and guidelines for the elderly and the many of us who are disabled, on disability, have earned pensions, or will be receiving veterans benefits for PTSD and/or will be retired once paroled. As far as myself, I retired from the workforce at the age of 49 and had sufficient retirement income that there was no need to continue working. Social Security would augment that income when I turned 68. A Social Security benefit audit will show that I started paying taxes at age 12 and was gainfully employed for about 35 years.
The Board of Parole suitability guidelines recommend and the commissioners require that elderly senior citizens learn or pick up another vocation in order to be found suitable for parole because it will "enhance" one's ability to be employed in the community and succeed on parole.
During the Board consultation hearing I informed Commissioner Rosalio Castro of my past work record and my past vocations which kept me gainfully employed since I was 16 years old until retiring at age 49. Commissioner Castro informed me that if I did not follow the board's recommendations I would be denied parole. He said, "Look over those recommendations again; do you see any exceptions for age?"
I will be 75 years old at my initial parole hearing. You can clearly see the intent of the board, those who turn 65 years of age or others with medical conditions are reclassified as high-risk medical patient inmates. Once an inmate meets the state HRM classification guidelines their state of California taxpayer billing value used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation nearly doubles from $73,000 annually to approximately $150,000 requiring the state to pay multiple millions of dollars more to CDCR for each elderly/disabled HRM inmate.
When a CDCR inmate becomes infirm and requires a wheelchair his value to the CDCR as a taxpayer billing vehicle rises again. When I say rises, I mean that CDCR can now bill the state taxpayers for additional funds, substantially more than the housing cost of a 20-year-old gang member, drug dealer or serial burglar.
The prison administrators at CDCR, the prison guard union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) created the high-risk medical (HRM) patient classification system as a procedural device to consistently extract more tax dollars from state taxpayers. This is because the state legislature has denied more construction funds to build more prisons. Do you understand the relevant facts here? Elderly and HRM patients are increased fee income generators for CCPOA and CDCR administrators. Non-HRM inmates do not bring in the same amount of taxpayer money as an elderly or disabled HRM patient does. Therefore, elderly and disabled citizens have become a higher valued incarceration commodity, thus CDCR and CCPOA have a substantial financial motivation to keep elderly and disabled HRM patients incarcerated for as long as possible in many cases until death. This is true even in light of the fact that elderly and disabled parolees have the lowest repeat offender percentage rate (less than half of one percent re-offend once one is over the age of 65).
Forty years ago California voters had no idea that incarceration had been transformed into an administrative cash generating machine for CDCR and CCPOA. At that time both organizations went to work expanding the prison system into an industrial taxpayer fleecing system that now stretches from near the Oregon border (Pelican Bay State Prison) to within 5 miles of the Mexican border (RJ Donovan State Prison). There are 34 adult prisons in California, not counting the privately run, out-of-state prisons which together (at one time) house 170,000+ prisoners. CCPOA loaded them up and forcefully overcrowded them, treating the disabled inmates like rats in a cage. This was done for the specific purpose of artificially inciting and promoting daily and much violence. The media message spoon fed to the voters was: look at how violent these prisons are — we need more taxpayer dollars to make the public safe.
I am currently incarcerated at the California Institution for Men ("CIM"). Recently A-yard and C-yard were classified as 50-and-older HRM yards (neither of these yards any housing unit cooling to accommodate elderly HRM patients with high blood pressure, cardiac conditions or diabetes). This deadly housing situation is criminal, but it is the hidden behind closed prison walls. Most of the vocational training classes required by the Board have been moved to D-yard. There are approximately 1100+ inmates on A-yard, most of them over 50 years of age. The younger HRM patients have classroom priority over the seniors. These elderly HRM patients and lifers cannot transfer off A-yard to fulfill the parole board recommendation (to take a vocational training class), thereby assuring a Board denial and longer terms of incarceration for the elderly life term HRM patients (CDCR's most profitable class of inmate). All 50 and older HRM yards will eventually lose most of their vocational training classes. The younger inmates are always given priority while the elderly are given walking canes, walkers and wheelchairs along with the provision of deadly living conditions and poor to nonexistent medical care.
Currently we have an 84-year-old Army veteran (John Schnabel) who has suffered from heat stroke and is living in an overcrowded dorm built for 80 people which currently houses 150+ HRM patients. This same dorm has no ambient air cooling when temperatures in Chino greatly exceed 100 degrees. If these events happened outside of a prison setting staff would be criminally prosecuted.
In addition to losing access to reasonable medical care and safe housing, elderly HRM patients are losing access to vocational training, a requirement demanded by the state parole board. The professional taxpayer fleecers at CDCR have been refining this scheme for many years and continue to be financially rewarded by denying parole to as many retired and elderly inmates as possible and refusing to bring their parole plan policies into the 21st century and thereby treating the elderly fairly. These disabled seniors represent ongoing job security and are directly responsible for increased and continuing income for the many commissioners, CCPOA staffers and CDCR administrators who all have a financial interest in ensuring that the state parole board denied parole to as many elderly inmates as possible.
Very truly yours, Harold Taylor
Disabled HRM veteran