Commentary: The CDCR Grievance Process Is Broken

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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By Richard Evans

The CDCR grievance procedure implemented 3-25–20 (Title 15,  3481-3485) is nothing but problematic. I’ve been litigating  seemingly straightforward issues for 2.5 years, and have been met with constant & repeated stonewalling, deflection, apathy, incompetence, and harassment the entire time.

I’m a left-handed musician (for 30 years) and have been attempting to obtain left-handed instruments (guitars, basses, etc.) in order to participate in our facility’s band program, while creating my M.U.S.I.C. workshop.

I began the process by following chains of command criteria:

  1. Seeking info from IAC (uninformed response)
  2. CDCR request to yard captain (no response)
  3. Informal notice to warden (mistakenly interpreted as a grievance & generated less than desired results from custody)

Left-handed guitars are not available in any approved package vender catalog. Attempts to have them provided through an alternate vender, Amazon, failed. I was told by yard officers, lieutenant, CC-II, sergeant, property officer, I was not getting a left-handed guitar from Amazon because they’re not an approved vender.

My initial grievance using the “new” procedure sought to obtain venders for left-handed instruments, and was granted 1-30-23. When I was called to program to pick up my guitar, that’s when the harassment began. My only remedy was the US Constitutional right of due process, and the right to petition violations of conditions of confinement.

Of the 238 grievances filed over 2.5 years, only 38 were deemed to be within CDCR regulations, others were:

– redirected w/no response within 60 days (57)

– time expired, decisions granted in default process (52)

– decisions beyond 60 day policy (37)

– timed out decisions, policy violations (21)

– missing, stamped but unfiled (34)

– redirects, time expired, no resolution (12)

– grant decisions, not implemented (41)

– unresolved misconduct, staff & admin. complaints (23)

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Staff doesn’t even like the new process because either they don’t understand it, or for all the work they have to do, and redo, and because everyone seems to want to avoid fixing the problem by addressing the actual aggrieved issue, and nobody wants their name on it. They’re not even signed anymore, and generated signatures are used without the actual person ever “signing” anything.

To be honest, I don’t really care about any of this crap, I only want to play music and teach my guitar/M.U.S.I.C. workshop.

I feel that the CDCR created this mess and I’m stuck feeding it back to them. It started it as a defense measure, and turned into harassment and retaliation from staff, all because of that damned left-handed guitar from Amazon.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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