U.N.I.O.N.
United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect
 
 

Little Hoover Commission
Public Hearing on GRP 1, Boards & Commissions
January 27, 2005 - Sacramento
Story of Danny Provencio


 CDC Lied

Letters to Little Hoover Commission

Little Hoover Commission - Articles



I had only to ask the mother of Danny Provencio who was shot in the head by a guard who was said to be "untrained" to attend the Little Hoover Commission hearings one time.

Nancy Mendoza, her sister, son and daughter drove all night and walked into a crowded hearing room wearing t shirts challenging Warden Vasquez for allowing their son and father to be injured while in custody.

After about an hour of listening to discussions on prison reform, Nancy couldn't stand it anymore and stood up with an emotional appeal for help.  The media was there, and she didn't realize that she was sitting right next to Matthew Cate, the new Inspector General.  At that point all hell broke loose.

The Commissioners were compassionate even though their meeting was disrupted but one of the coordinators came over to me and asked me if I could intervene and get this distraught mother to sit down.

I put my arms around Nancy (after I felt she delivered her message) and apologized to the Commission for not waiting until the public comment session and clearly stated "There is no access to these people, even in an emergency there is no place for advocates or families of prisoners to go for help."

I took her outside the hearing room into the hallway of the Capitol and we were suddenly deluged with CDC people, media and senators and their aides.

The entire room was clearly shaken over the emotional appeal that brought the human element to this most important meeting about the proposed plan for prison reform.

Senator Romero told the San Jose Mercury News that she was upset over what she had just heard, told me that we get our communications crossed sometimes and sent her aide back to the hearing to bring Nancy, Danny's mom to her office.  Nancy wanted me to go in with her 
but Senator Romero wouldn't permit it. hmmm 
 

Roderick Hickman, Secretary of Youth Adult and Correction Agency, made a commitment to the commission to thoroughly investigate this shooting.  I told the commission later during the public hearing about another brain dead prisoner, Edward Rister.

CDC's director of Communications who is in charge of all the public information office gave me his card and told me to "call him anytime I have a problem."  (public relations people for CDC  were first on  the scene as they saw the media swarming us)  Sorry boys. Too late for us to  trust you.   We got it all out there as NBC and other affiliates rolled the story of this distraught family.

The Inspector General, Matthew Cate did the same.  He told me that he will personally read all my communications about UNION members in distress.  Hmmmmmm.  We'll see.

This mother made a difference that had an incredible impact on the hearing and will now get the news coverage it deserved in the first place.

Most of the major networks aired the story.  I  am speaking to lawyers.

The Commission was unaware of our support of the four wrongful death lawsuits since September but forced Hickman vow that he was going to do something about all the circumstances we described, including Eric being in  the  hole out of retaliation for 90 days.

Bev and Sarah gave compelling speeches as well during the public comment period.

During my talk the family of Danny Provencio sat quietly with me and we were much different witnesses than all those making a buck out of the prison industry who really delivered mixed and in some cases, weak messages.

I can assure you that everyone got the message that advocates acting behalf of the families of prisoners have no voice and no access to all those posturing to be handling our problems.

If everyone who quickly gave me a card and offered to help after never returning calls or answering letters follows through as they promised the Commissioners and promised me, then we should be able to get some of our emergencies cleared up.

We'll see.

As I've told you all at least a million times, the squeaky wheels get the grease and people who won't show up at critical times never give us that opportunity. 

The grieving family of Danny Provencio delivered.  I thank them for responding when I called to them to attend and I recognize them for the incredible courage  they displayed yesterday.

I also have a commitment that the names of all  five dead inmates at Lancaster will be given to the news media.   We'll see if promises are kept..

B. Cayenne Bird



In  the past six, nearly seven  years, I can't remember when I wasn't the only one to show up to a Senate Rules Confirmation  hearing.  Wednesday's hearing to confirm two parole board  members (not wardens mind you) brought inmate families from as far away as Los Angeles and 
Orange County  to be heard by an all new Senate Rules Committee headed by Senator Don Perata.

The room was packed with law enforcement because the confirmation hearings also included the new Director of Highway Patrol.

About 30 people opposed both Susan Fisher and Margarita Perez and Senators Gil Cedillo and Jim Battin mentioned briefly that they had stacks of letters of opposition. Senator Perata did get a little hot with me when during my  testimony I stated that the "system is corrupt  arrest through parole"  and "that many innocent people are in prison" 

At that point I reminded him that the UNION is organizing and "we're not putting up with all this injustice" and  he said "OK" and we moved on.

Senator Cedillo was troubled by the fact that  the entire board is composed of people with law enforcement backgrounds and crime victim's advocates.  He still confirmed both  however

Donald Miller, MD, JD who served 20 years in prison before being found factually innocent carried the message of this dysfunctional, lopsided board make up the next day before The Little Hoover Commission.

Our presentation was dynamic but it was ignored and both Susan Fisher and Margarita Perez  are now on the BPT.

Susan  Fisher told me that she is a changed person from her many  years an advocate for Doris Tate Crime Victims group.

We'll see.

I did talk with one of the founding members of that group after the hearing when she approached me and asked me to speak to her church group in San Diego about how the prison reformers and crime victims advocates got together in Oregon to get the mentally ill out of 
prison.

It's all the same end you see.  This former prosecutor understood it perfectly.  She told me that Susan Fisher will surprise us all with her fairness.

We'll see.  And your pens will  be ready  to report your individual experiences with the BPT, correct?



 latimes.com/news/local/la-me-prison28jan28,1,4992263.story?coll==la-headlines-california

CALIFORNIA
Brain-Dead Man Incarcerated
The prisoner, shot by a guard during a fight, is still under watch. His family is seeking more involvement in his care.
BY Jenifer Warren
Times Staff Writer

January 28, 2005

SACRAMENTO — Daniel Provencio lies on his back in a hospital bed, tubes sprouting from his mouth, a thick wreath of gauze on his head. Shot by an officer during a fight at Wasco State Prison, Provencio, 28, has been declared brain dead. 

Since the Jan. 16 incident, Department of Corrections investigators have been asking questions at the prison near Bakersfield. Shootings by officers — in this instance with a large foam pellet — are rare in California these days and are given greater scrutiny than ever before.

That is small comfort for relatives of Provencio, a father of one from Ventura who was in prison for violating parole and had about five months left to serve. As they watch his swollen face for signs of a miracle awakening, they crave answers about how he wound up in a coma, on the cusp of death.

"We have been given four different stories, and we don't know what to believe," said Provencio's mother, Nancy Mendoza. 

On Thursday, Mendoza and Provencio's brother, sister and aunt traveled to Sacramento in search of help, dressed in white T-shirts bearing a picture of the inmate and his 4-year-old son, Daniel Jr., who lives with his mother in Oxnard.

Outside a Capitol hearing on prison reform, they talked with corrections officials, legislators and inmate advocates, hoping their pleas might pierce what they described as a bureaucratic shroud enveloping the case. They say, for example, that medical decisions — such as the removal of a drainage tube they believe was preventing swelling of his brain — are being made without their consent.

"After they removed that tube, his eyes swelled shut and his arm and hand got all puffy," said Provencio's brother, Johnny, a security guard in Moorpark. "It made him worse, and they never even asked us about it."

Mendoza said she has asked prison officials to release her son from custody and move him to a hospital close to her Ventura home. It pains her, she said, to watch him lie — ankles shackled — in an intensive care unit crowded with prison guards, who watch him and another ailing inmate around the clock.

"If he's dead, why are they keeping him?" Mendoza said. "How does a dead man do time?"

Prison authorities declined to discuss Provencio's condition, citing privacy rules. But Todd Slosek, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said officials were exploring a possible compromise that might allow for an early parole.

"We want to find a compromise that works for the family and everyone else," Slosek said. Otherwise, Provencio will continue to be cared for by the Corrections Department — and to be watched by officers despite his comatose state — until the end of his sentence.

Provencio was shot after a fight broke out in a lounge area as about 40 inmates were being given their dinner trays, officials said. Three prisoners were involved in the altercation, and one of them tried to restrain guards who intervened. The officials would not say what role Provencio played.

After officers ordered inmates to get on the floor, a guard in the control room 8 feet above fired a round, foam object resembling a handball from a 40-millimeter launcher. The balls are considered nonlethal force, said Lt. Brian Parriott, a Wasco spokesman, and are meant to be fired at a person's extremities.

Officials would not discuss Provencio's injuries or any other details, pending completion of the investigation. Family members said Provencio was taken to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield, where a coma was induced so that doctors could operate and relieve swelling in his brain. He relies on a ventilator to breathe and is nourished with a feeding tube, relatives said.

Provencio arrived at the 6,100-inmate prison near Bakersfield in August to begin his second term in state prison. Previously, he served three years and eight months for narcotics violations.

His troubles, his mother said, stemmed from a heroin addiction he developed in his early 20s. After his initial release from prison, however, he was staying clean and working full time with his cousin, laying utility pipe, she said. 

"He was a really good kid who got into drugs," Mendoza said. "But he battled it. He got clean."

Driving home from a Father's Day celebration at his aunt's home last year, he was pulled over and charged with driving under the influence, a parole violation.

"He made a mistake that day," his mother said. "Now look at him."



Posted on Thu, Jan. 27, 2005 
 

Administration: Prison plan would fix 'improperly managed' system

DON THOMPSON

Associated Press
 

SACRAMENTO - Changing the bureaucracy of California's troubled youth and adult prison system would again make the state a national leader in imprisoning criminals and then rehabilitating them, representatives of the Schwarzenegger administration said Thursday.

The corrections plan is the leading edge of Schwarzenegger's larger proposal to reorganize state government.

Lawmakers, union leaders and inmate advocates said the proposal merely shuffles organizational chart boxes, and particularly objected to more closely affiliating the California Youth Authority with the adult Corrections Department.

But the plan won general praise from members of the watchdog Little Hoover Commission.

The prison plan and a companion proposal to eliminate dozens of state boards and commissions are before the commission for three days of hearings this week. By law, the commission will make recommendations before legislators conduct up-or-down votes on proposals they are not permitted to alter.

The corrections plan is "an opportunity to make a significant change in a system that's been overworked, overburdened and improperly managed," testified Youth and Adult Correctional Secretary Roderick Hickman, who would head the new Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. "The current organization was designed for a different era."

Since then, the prison system has ballooned with no significant organizational change, Hickman said. The administration wants to combine redundant administrative functions and concentrate power and responsibility at the top of the pyramid, at Hickman's level.

At the same time, the pendulum would swing toward preventing crime, rehabilitating inmates and keeping ex-convicts from returning to prison, reflecting Schwarzenegger's view that "Corrections should correct."

The most significant way to slow prison population growth is to trim the number of ex-cons returned to prison for parole violations or new crimes, Hickman said. Based on other states' results, California could see an annual 2 percent to 3 percent drop in recidivism, or 2,000 to 3,000 fewer inmates returning to prison.

But the prisons are so crowded, with inmates triple-celled or bunked in day rooms and gymnasiums, that there will be few prison closures or other significant cost savings immediately, Hickman said.

Schwarzenegger's plan may be a start, but what's needed is "an extreme makeover" for a system that has been criticized by national experts and a federal court-appointed monitor, said Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles.

Hickman should "go back to the drawing board" to revise a plan that now projects it will take years to make basic reforms, said Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Daly City. She also questioned the administration's commitment to reform, noting, "We add 'rehabilitation' to the name - then we slash $95 million from the budget" for inmate education and other programs.

Moreover, Romero and Speier said the Youth Authority - which they called, respectively, "an utter failure" and "a house of horrors" - should be separated from the adult system completely and dedicated to community-based rehabilitation programs.

Don Spector, director of the Prison Law Office that has frequently and successfully sued the department on behalf of inmates, said the prison system "is ungovernable because it's too big." Problems can't be fixed by consolidating the adult and youth systems into one even bigger agency, he said, joining a parade of calls to retain a separate Youth Authority.

Hickman spokesman J.P. Tremblay said the plan would keep adult and youth prisons separate but allow adult education, vocational, psychiatric and other services to be more freely shifted to aid youths if needed.

ON THE NET

California Youth and Adult Correctional Agency:  http://www.yaca.ca.gov

California Department of Corrections:  http://www.corr.ca.gov

California Youth Authority:  http://www.cya.ca.gov

Little Hoover Commission:  http://www.bsa.ca.gov/lhc.html

California Correctional Peace Officers Association:  http://www.ccpoanet.org/


  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-parole16jan16,0,2551252.story?coll=la-home-local

Inmate Says Parole Board Is Biased

By Jenifer Warren
Times Staff Writer

January 16, 2005

SACRAMENTO — Winning a parole date is no easy feat for California murderers. Linda Ricchio, serving 27 years to life for killing her former lover, figures her odds of release are slim to none.

She blames her uphill battle on the identity of her 1987 victim, Ronald Ruse. Ruse's sister, Susan Fisher, sits on the state Board of Prison Terms — the very board scheduled to decide this week whether Ricchio is rehabilitated and deserves a second chance.

Ricchio says that's unfair, and wants her bid for parole heard in Superior Court. For five years, she notes, Fisher was director of a major crime victims group now lobbying against the inmate's release.

The legal challenge comes as Fisher — appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last February — prepares for her confirmation hearing in the Senate at the end of this month.

It also reflects a concern voiced by inmate advocates since Fisher's selection: Can a leading figure in the crime victims movement be impartial in judging those who have committed the gravest crime of all?

"Often, I think people in victims' rights organizations tend to make judgments based on a particular offense, rather than assessing each case on its individual merits as the law requires," said Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit firm that monitors conditions for inmates. "That's the concern."

Fisher, 51, declined to be interviewed. She will not sit on the panel assigned to consider parole for Ricchio, but the inmate fears that Fisher's colleagues will be influenced nonetheless.

A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger said the governor had no qualms about whether his appointee can be fair.

"She has already granted parole [to other inmates], so she has shown through her actions a willingness to consider these cases on a case-by-case basis," press secretary Margita Thompson said. "The governor, in making such appointments, always receives assurances that the person can be impartial and fulfill the mission of the board."

A Republican from Oceanside, Fisher is the second of Schwarzenegger's three parole board appointees to stir controversy. The first, Richard Loa, stepped down in August amid warnings from Senate leaders that he would not win confirmation. Loa, a Palmdale city councilman, drew sharp complaints for his questioning of prisoners during board hearings.

The third appointee is Chairwoman Margarita Perez, a Democrat from Cameron Park. Though initially criticized for a lack of experience, Perez is expected to be confirmed when she appears with Fisher before the Senate Rules Committee on Jan. 26.

Commissioners on the nine-member board, which evaluates serious offenders whose sentences make them eligible for release, are paid $99,693 a year; the chairwoman earns $103,317.

Fisher is not the first parole board member related to a crime victim, but her leadership on behalf of victims makes her the most prominent. In the 1990s, the board had two commissioners — John Gillis and Steven Baker — who had lost a child to murder. Both men were members of Parents of Murdered Children, a board spokesman said.

A news release on Fisher's appointment said she had been director of the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau since 1999, and a member of that group's board for seven years. She also belonged to two other victims groups and, since 2000, was president of Citizens for Law and Order.

Articulate and poised, she often spoke at legislative hearings before her appointment, and was routinely quoted in media reports on everything from the death penalty to a prison smoking ban. In 2002, she testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, recounting her brother's murder as she lobbied for a bill to prevent the release of personal information.

That activism triggered alarm among inmate advocates when she was named to the parole board. They questioned whether someone with a deep personal loss and strong connections to other victims could keep an open mind when deciding whether incarcerated murderers and kidnappers had changed their ways.

Critics also argued that if the governor named someone aligned with victims, he also should add a member familiar with the concerns of prisoners. The other commissioners have backgrounds in law enforcement.

Ricchio's lawyer shares those concerns, and has filed legal papers seeking to move his client's parole hearing to Superior Court. Although Fisher is not one of two board members assigned to judge Ricchio's readiness for release at a hearing Tuesday, her presence on the larger board amounts to "a serious conflict of interest that works against my client," attorney Rich Pfeiffer said.

In his motion, Pfeiffer said "it is reasonable to infer" that Fisher has shared her feelings about the case with co-workers, arguing that blocking his client's release "has apparently become a mission for the commissioner."

He notes that the website for the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau, the group Fisher formerly led, features a lengthy summary of Ricchio's crime that urges members to write the parole board and demand that she be kept behind bars. Although it is not signed, the letter appears to have been written by a relative of the victim. It closes with: "We loved him very much and we miss him every day. We feel his absence in everything we do as a family."

Tuesday will mark Ricchio's first parole hearing since her conviction 15 years ago. Though her prison record is good, inmates are almost never granted a release date at their initial board appearance. In a telephone interview, Ricchio said that all she wants is a fair hearing.

"I just don't believe the board can be impartial with Susan Fisher's presence," said Ricchio, 44. "The best result for everyone would be to move the hearing to Superior Court."

Parole board officials so far disagree. In a letter to the inmate's lawyer, board attorney Deborah Bain said "there is no evidence that Ms. Fisher has previously advocated her position" on the Ricchio case, and no evidence that the board "will not discharge its duties in … a fair manner."

Fisher no longer serves as an officer for any victims group, board officials said, and her voting pattern is similar to those of other members. Out of 455 hearings, she voted to grant parole in about 7% of the cases, slightly below the board average of 8% for 2004.

"If Miss Fisher were assigned to this case, then clearly that would be a conflict," said Tip Kindel, communications director for the board. "But to suggest that her relationship to the victim influences the board as a whole is a real stretch."

Fisher does not plan to attend Ricchio's hearing, though she has a legal right to do so as the victim's next of kin. Her parents and three sisters, however, say they will be there. One of them, Laurie Mallon of Escondido, said the family is approaching the hearing with a sense of dread, revisiting memories they would rather forget.

"Even though 17 years have gone by, we feel the same as we felt then," said Mallon, a bank loan officer. "The pain she caused my brother is forever. The pain she caused our family is forever. Where is the equity in discussing whether Linda should get out now?"

Mallon said that in her view, Ricchio should never be released. No matter how well she performs in prison, Mallon said, "no matter how many Bible study classes she attends, we believe she is a violent person who really hasn't taken responsibility for what she's done."

Ricchio shot and killed Ruse, an auto mechanic, on Dec. 14, 1987, outside his Carlsbad apartment. The crime was called the "fatal attraction" killing — a reference to the movie released that year starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas — because of trial testimony that she was obsessed with Ruse and unwilling to let their eight-year relationship end.

Ricchio gave a different account, saying she had planned to commit suicide in front of Ruse but shot him accidentally. A jury convicted her of first-degree murder, and a state appeals court upheld the verdict.

After 15 years at the California Institution for Women in Chino, Ricchio said she is ready for parole. "I don't minimize my responsibility for Ron's death, and his death will live within me each and every day, whether I'm incarcerated or not," she said. "But I also believe I have served my time. I am not a threat to the victim's family or society."



 http://www.sacunion.com/pages/california/articles/2094/


Nancy Mendoza, right, and her children demand answers
Sacramento, CA,
 

 Hearing Interrupted, Point Made
Woman confronts commission about 'brain dead' son.
By Darby Patterson, The Sacramento Union
Published: January 28, 2005 

SACRAMENTO - In contrast to Wednesday's contentious Little Hoover Commission hearing on the reorganization of state government, Thursday's hearing on a new plan for the Department of Corrections was collegial - even punctuated with good humor from Roderick Hickman, secretary of the embattled department. But, the feel-good moments were shattered when Nancy Mendoza stood from the audience and made herself heard. 

Mendoza, whose son was shot in the head with a "foam" bullet by a prison guard at Wasco State Prison, used the hearing to get the attention of state officials. Her son, Daniel Provencio, 28, is currently at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield and was pronounced "brain dead" by authorities. Provencio was arrested for drunk driving - a violation of his parole - and incarcerated. He had formerly served a three-year term for possessing, transporting and selling drugs. 

Mendoza interrupted the hearing with an emotional plea to get more authority over her son's fate and information from the Department of Corrections. She said her son is currently on life support and that Wasco Warden P.L. Vasquez wants Provencio to "serve out his sentence" 
from a hospital bed. 

Mendoza picked the right venue to plead her case. The state's top corrections officials were present at the meeting along with several senators - among them Sen. Jackie Spier, D-San Mateo, who has been a vocal critic of the corrections system. 

Mendoza said she and her family have had repeated problems with hospital visitation since the January 16 shooting and that prison officials won't allow her to get another medical opinion about her son's condition. 

According to Brian Parriott, spokesman for the prison, Mendoza's concerns are being addressed. "The family has requested a third opinion and medical records were released yesterday or the day before," he said. 

Parriott said that confidentiality rules prevent him from talking about Provencio's condition. 

Although the Bakersfield Californian reported that Mendoza and her family had their visitation privileges revoked just days after the shooting, Parriott said officials have worked with the family. "We have gone above and beyond as far as giving them the ability to visit," he said. It was only after background checks and applications were completed that Mendoza's family was allowed to return to Provencio's bedside. 

"They have him shackled to the bed, by both ankles," Mendoza told The Union. "I don't understand. Where is he going?" 

Parriott admitted that the prisoner is shackled to the hospital bed as standard procedure. 

Although early reports about the moments that led up to the shooting were unclear, Todd Slosek, assistant director of communications for the Department of Corrections, said an internal investigation is ongoing. Currently, the understanding is that two inmates were fighting and when guards came to break up the fight, Provencio tried to prevent the officers from intervening. 

"The gunners are trained to shoot at zone one - the legs and arms," Slosek said. The "foam" bullets are not designed to kill, but to cause enough pain to change the dynamics of a situation. 

One newspaper report called the incident an "alcohol-fueled brawl between inmates." The prison is investigating the production of high-proof alcohol by inmates who brew fruit, sugar and other common ingredients to make a powerful drink. Information about Provencio's 
blood-alcohol level was not made public. 

The Office of the Investigator General is also looking into the incident. Matthew Cate, the state's investigator general, admitted the system of internal scrutiny could use some reform. "I think there should be increased transparency - and there should be an ability for an officer to go in [to an incident] in real time and oversee an investigation." Cate is part of the top-level management that Gov. Schwarzenneger appointed to force changes to the state's correctional system. 

The sheer size of the department makes it difficult to address every incident equally, Cate said. "We get 4,000 to 5,000 complaints a year. We try to focus our resources in the most troubled areas." Cate said his department has just 20 investigators to watch over the state's population of 163,000 inmates. 

The unexpected interruption to the hearing served as an example of endemic problems within the structure of the Department of Corrections. Some members of the Little Hoover Commission had earlier expressed an interest in seeing infractions such as some drug-related 
charges, be dealt with outside the prison system. Slosek remarked that, thus far, the department hasn't had the resources to create those alternatives. 

"For years, the agency hasn't had a public policy or research component," he said, adding that substance abuse programs, counseling and half-way houses might serve to reduce the prison population. 

All these explanations don't mean much to Mendoza who wants to have some influence over her son's future. As she understands it, she won't be able to make the important decision of whether or not Provencio will remain on life support. She did, however, succeed in getting the rapt attention of a body of people who can influence the future of corrections in the state. 



Posted on Fri, Jan. 28, 2005 
 

State guarding inmate who may be brain-dead
SECURITY COSTING $1,000 A DAY IN OVERTIME
By Mark Gladstone
Mercury News Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO - California taxpayers are paying more than $1,000 a day in overtime for round-the-clock guarding of an inmate who was shot in the head by a correctional officer Jan. 16. Yet the felon's relatives say they have been told the prisoner is brain-dead.

The mounting cost of guarding incapacitated or comatose inmates was disclosed Sunday in a Mercury News special report. In the latest example, injected into a Capitol hearing Thursday, the tab of having at least one officer watch convicted felon Daniel Provencio 24 hours a day while he is restrained in the intensive-care unit of a Bakersfield hospital has run up to more than $11,000, according to Department of Corrections officials.

``What's the point'' of spending all the money, asked Rosie Dismukes, Provencio's aunt. ``If he's brain-dead, he can't go anywhere. Why does he need to be shackled? He's not going to get up and go anywhere.''

The case provides another stark example of what critics say is an inflexible policy that sometimes leads to overstaffing in the care of dying inmates.

Provencio's distraught relatives say they are seeking a ``compassionate release'' for the 28-year-old Oxnard man but have met resistance from the Department of Corrections, which is spending $1,056 a day to watch over him.

After his mother interrupted the hearing to complain about a state prison policy, corrections officials said late Thursday that they are looking at options, including asking the Board of Prison Terms to parole Provencio.

Under a longstanding state policy, all sick or injured inmates who are treated outside prison walls are required to be escorted and guarded by two officers. Over the past six years escort and guarding costs have jumped 61 percent to more than $30 million annually.

To protect public safety, the inmates are also restrained in hand or leg shackles. Authorities cite anecdotes of even inmates in wheelchairs jeopardizing security.

Sunday, the Mercury News spotlighted the costs of guarding two other inmates. In the case of a heavily sedated prisoner, the taxpayer tab was $81,745, including $68,121 in overtime, for 58 days in the hospital. The taxpayer bill to guard a paraplegic inmate with a lung infection was $55,305, including $40,676 in overtime, for 45 days of hospitalization.

Concerned family

Provencio's case raises many of the same issues about whether incapacitated inmates treated outside prisons could be guarded more cheaply. Provencio's mother and aunt also have other concerns.

They said Provencio is considered by doctors to be brain-dead after the shooting. However, they want another opinion and are seeking legal help to obtain a compassionate release for him.

Provencio's distraught mother, Nancy Mendoza, shouted out her concerns during a hearing Thursday on the Schwarzenegger administration's plan for reorganizing the state's youth and adult prisons.

``Excuse me for interrupting,'' she said from the back of the room, as state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, was finishing her testimony about proposed prison reforms. ``There's no reforms, there's no rehabilitation going on.''

Son on life support

Provencio was shot in the head during a disturbance in a prison day room. He was taken to the intensive-care unit of Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield.

A hospital representative could not be reached. But Provencio's family said he was hit in the forehead with a foam or rubber bullet.

Initially sentenced on drug charges, Provencio was sent back to prison in August, according to authorities, on a parole violation related to charges of drunken driving, associating with gang members, evading arrest and possession of a gun.

Mendoza said the family is seeking to ensure her son is kept on life-support equipment. ``They've said he's brain-dead,'' she said, but ``we haven't seen any of the tests. What led to that conclusion?''

Todd Slosek, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said the shooting was under investigation and he could not divulge details. Authorities indicated that they had obtained two opinions on Provencio's condition and were providing the family's physician with records.

Meanwhile, Slosek reiterated that every inmate taken to a community hospital must be escorted by guards. ``The safety of the public is paramount,'' Slosek said.
 

Mercury News Staff Writer Brandon Bailey contributed to this report. Contact Mark Gladstone at  mgladstone@mercurynews.com  or (916) 325-4314. 



January 29, 2005

I'd just like to address the reorganization plan here today. We have a number of people who mail in the newsletter to their inmates and this is so important that I'd like to just single it out as a topic.

There were nine hours of testimony and I recommend thateveryone who didn't attend get a copy of the tape and watchit several times so that you know what this means to you.

The Little Hoover Commission knows there are serious problems within CDC but since they have no loved one in prison, has little information on the day to day systemic dysfunction.  I respect the Little Hoover Commission even though they are working with a blind eye.  What impresses them most about Hickman is that  he participates with them, and they apologized that he would be delayed through 18 speakers from the public.

This disturbed me quite a bit and what I found was that there were very few speakers from the public - we were all advocates, prison teachers and people who should have been included in the main agenda, not relegated to the last when the media and everyone else had gone home.

They like  Rod Hickman but a reorganization  plan should not hinge on the performance of one man who could fall over with a heart attack tomorrow.

He came up through CDC and Eric was in Mule Creek when he was warden there. I cannot forget the inmate whose bandages weren't changed for 27 days after surgery and only after I had to get Amnesty  International to jump on Hickman from England.

People can change and maybe he is trying but I now have news of ten suspicious deaths and a brain-dead inmate since September that the press needed to know about but couldn't get the details.

So I can only assume by the size of the sweat beads on the CDC  public relations people's forehead as the media was swarming us for the story on the shooting that cover up is supported by Hickman.

I do not feel comfortable that we should put all this power into one man's hands, no matter how fantastic others might think him to be. 

The recommendations were that a civilian commission be appointed for oversight of CDC and then it all got squirreled around to where the civilians were cut out and too many people report to Hickman.

Here is another example of smoke and mirrors.  CDC has a name change in the works "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation" yet the $95 million for rehab isn't going to be allocated.  So why change the name?  It's  a PR move to stop  the revolution that's brewing but we aren't going to let them get away with it, are we UNION subscribers?

I focused my talk on access to help  that could easily prevent tragedy and lawsuits. Everyone was so upset over $95 million getting cut for rehabilitation, you can imagine the look on their faces when I made the reality of $240 million in lawsuits pending that we are supporting known to the Commission.

With this devastated family sitting next to me at the table, they could not make any callous comments whatsoever.  They have the message that inmate families are capable of organizing which is a nightmare to all of CCPOA (and most of the rest of the world since families are viewed as criminals and not the crime victims that you actually are, although  some families are definitely dysfunctional addicts who are a drag on our work, most are good people).

I believe that Oregon has it right with the crime victims advocates and the prison reformers joining forces to get to the same end of increasing public safety by getting the mentally ill out of prison and into more healing facilities such as hospitals.

The current system is the opposite of public safety and  is endangering everyone as CDC creates its own mental illness by tormenting inmates.  That is why crime victims groups and prison reformers can come together on this concept of healing vs punishing mentally ill and addicts because it is much more a solution to crime.

The Commission is antsy and wants to start someplace.  But the plan needs to be amended and the panelists and legislators stated it very  clearly.

There is too much focus on data and red tape, the plan actually increases the size of the bureaucracy.

The best solution is to reduce the size of the prison population immediately, releasing all non violent inmates and revise the sentencing laws so that alternative sentencing can take place.

This did receive quite a bit of discussion from panelists but not enough from members of the commission.

I don't want you to get your hopes up too high, but I believe this is a sincere effort to reform it.  They are looking at a three year time frame to get everything put into place but your pen writing letters to editors can keep the pressure on and make it happen sooner.

I made certain that the letter for our recommended reforms that we wrote for Presley in 2000 which I printed in the newsletter last week was well acknowledged.

Presley never wanted the mentally ill in prison and I made this point emphatically which threw the Commission a little since only the nurses representative had even mentioned it.

I  insisted on an AA degree and had a chance to refer to the guards as Knuckledraggers -  you would have been proud.

They have the message but keep up your letters to editors because the details of  what is really going on inside the prisons is nothing that no one can get except from you so keep on expanding our network.

Needless to say, I stressed media access as being of primary importance since real investigations do not take place.

Naturally, the tape is missing in the Provencio shooting incident.  Danny was in prison on a minor parole violation, living in the day room.  He had an addiction problem.  It turned into a death sentence for him, a young man of 28 yrs old.

As the Commission looked into the faces of his mother and children, they told Hickman that testimony from our UNION people was very upsetting and that he MUST do something about these problems and our specific situation.

Now we must hang together and make certain that happens.

The legislators and bureaucrats will get full information on all our pending member complaints on Monday and I will report back their progress.  Lettie, Bev, Toni, Sarah, the Provencio Family and Attorneys David Warren and Dr. Donald Miller and myself  were your voice. 

We simply must focus on getting more people to attend upcoming hearings.

One of the new assembly members is interested in carrying legislation forward for us but only if we will commit to bringing the people to the hearings that they must have in order to influence the public and other legislators.

Be relentless in finding people to attend some 300 hearings in Sacramento if you cannot personally make it.  I don't expect any one person to cover all these hearings, not even I can do that and will be able to attend less this year than at any time in the past due to family demands.  We are all sick, poor, stressed to the max, but if you want reform, you cannot sit home and wait for it to knock on your door.  You must be active in building the necessary block of workers 
it takes to make an impact.

Somehow we missed the confirmation hearing of Micheal Harrison forwarden at CSP Lancaster.  We are stretched too thin and that is why recruiting workers for Sacramento is vital.  You know I wouldn't have missed that one for the world, but each year many important things fall through the cracks. 

The war is in Sacramento and basic  is that people show up for the war.

B. Cayenne Bird



 http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/10756335.htm

Posted on Fri, Jan. 28, 2005 
 

Prison reform criticized at hearing
POWER OF GUARDS' UNION, YOUTH ISSUES STILL CONCERNS
By Brandon Bailey
Mercury News

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan for reorganizing the agency that operates youth and adult prisons ran into a buzz saw of criticism Thursday from leading Democratic legislators and other reform advocates who called it a well-intentioned effort that fails to fix serious flaws.

``There are real fundamental things that need to change, and this is not doing that,'' said state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, a longtime critic of the state prison system.

Speier told the state's Little Hoover Commission that the proposed reorganization takes no specific action to halt out-of-control spending or fix a floundering inmate health-care system. Other speakers warned that by combining some functions of the adult and juvenile systems, the plan could make things even worse for juvenile offenders.

But Roderick Hickman, the state's top prison official, told commissioners that the reorganization is a first step to accomplishing other reforms in both the adult prison system and the California Youth Authority.

The plan would consolidate authority in Hickman's office and move away from a decentralized structure in which wardens have vast discretion to run individual prisons as they see fit. Schwarzenegger has called the proposal part of his effort to overhaul state government.

``The current organization was designed for a different era'' -- long before the state's prison system ballooned to its current size of 170,000 inmates, with 54,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $6 billion, said Hickman.

The Little Hoover Commission, a state watchdog agency, will make a recommendation to the Legislature, which has authority to approve or reject the governor's plan.

While arguing that no proposal could satisfy every critic, Hickman promised that a stronger central administration would impose new performance standards and allocate resources where they are needed most. In turn, he said, that will allow him to implement deeper reforms.

``I'm trying to do something that will get us to change,'' he added, with some exasperation.

Hickman, who is secretary of the state's Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, sounded like other prison critics when he testified that his agency needs ``drastic and fundamental reform.'' Commission members agreed: Some described the prison agency as the worst in state government, and a few suggested that any change would be an improvement.

In a departure from previous administrations, Hickman and other officials have said they want to move toward a system that emphasizes rehabilitation and uses research to determine the most effective programs to lower recidivism rates. That drew praise from prison-rights attorney Donald Specter, who called Hickman's stance ``courageous.''

But Specter advised the commission to reject the reorganization plan as insufficient. And Speier said that Hickman's intentions were undercut by the governor's budget proposal, which trims $95 million from prisoner programs.

Speier also said the administration must do more to rein in the powerful prison guards' union, which has negotiated generous pay and a voice in key management issues. But Hickman insisted he is taking a firmer hand with employee unions. Others suggested the proposal will reduce the guards' clout by allowing him to appoint wardens without confirmation by the Legislature, where the union has a strong base of support.

With about 3,500 youth offenders and more than 160,000 adult inmates in the state system, Speier and state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, warned that the unique needs of juveniles would likely be overshadowed if juvenile prisons are placed in the same administrative division as adult institutions.

It would be better to move juvenile programs to a separate agency, such as the state's health or social services agency, added Senate Majority Leader Romero, who is proposing her own plan to overhaul the CYA.

State officials disagreed. Hickman aide J.P. Tremblay said officials believe the governor's proposal can best deliver better services to juvenile offenders.
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Contact Brandon Bailey at  bbailey@mercurynews.com  or (408) 920-5022. 



 http://www.sacunion.com/pages/california/print/2095/

Commission Considers Total Revamp of Corrections
Department director's plan brings compliments and criticism.
by Darby Patterson, The Sacramento Union
Published: January 28, 2005 08:54 

SACRAMENTO - If Wednesday’s hearing of the Little Hoover Commission was a hot bed of disagreement in which agencies threatened with consolidation or closure expressed their ire, Thursday’s occasionally looked like a group hug with Roderick Hickman, secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency in the middle. 

The hearing Thursday focused on the reorganization of YACA – an agency that has been the target of repeated negative headlines and legislative inquiries. Hickman, a veteran of the correctional system was appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger to give the agency a top to bottom cleaning. 

The 13-member Little Hoover Commission is making recommendations based on the governor’s recent California Performance Review report. Hickman presented a plan that would restructure the agency, change the way that it does business and even change its name to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Hickman told the panel that reorganization will be founded on three principles: consolidation; elevation of rehabilitation services to be on par with “custodial” functions; and a proactive approach that has been lacking in the past. “I believe there is truly an opportunity to be on the cusp of what I believe is monumental reform,” he told the commission. 

He said that chronic problems such as the state’s high recidivism rate, prisoner abuse, and the influence of unions on management processes are among the issues that will be addressed. 

Hickman, whose rapport with the commission was obvious, quickly admitted that YACA is in desperate need of fixing. “The system is overworked, overburdened and improperly managed,” he said. 

California’s prison population has vastly increased over the past 20 years. According to Hickman, there were 57,000 inmates in state prisons in 1985. By 2004 that number had grown to 172,000. Throughout those years, there was no strategic plan for how to handle such growth and prisons became stove-piped fiefdoms controlled by powerful wardens. 

Hickman said his plan will change that environment by instituting accountability and performance measures. He said the department is poised to form 50 to 100 implementation teams to carry out the new strategic plan. He added that the agency will also dramatically improve its use of information technology to streamline management and make information sharing possible. 

Asked by commissioners how the department plans to implement change when the governor’s proposed budget contains a $95 million cut for corrections, Hickman said the job will still get done. “In difficult fiscal times we have to make difficult decisions,” he said. “It is a hard pill to swallow.” He added that some resources may be redirected and he anticipates savings from consolidation of certain functions. 

The commission was largely impressed with Hickman’s presentation and called it professional and thorough. However, a series of witnesses introduced a number of problems they say the plan may not address. 

That the California Youth Authority remains in the Corrections realm was the topic of long debate. Many witnesses – and some commissioners – felt the “punishing” focus of the department is inappropriate for young offenders. They suggested the youth authority be moved to a more suitable agency – where rehabilitation and education are the focus. 

Hancock said his department had been looking at other states for alternatives for incarcerated youth. Many people who attended the day-long hearing had come to express their concerns over the CYA’s history of allegations of abuse and the suicide of young offenders while in the agency’s care. 

The restructuring effort will bring together some organizations that have previously had adversarial relationships. “We are going to be the leader of a collaborative,” Hancock said. 

“My job as secretary is to bring people to the table,” he said, adding that people might not like what’s served “but are welcome to have a conversation over dinner.” 



 http://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/story/12162551p-13032713c.html

Panelists dispute plan to overhaul prisons
 

By Andy Furillo -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 2:15 am PST Friday, January 28, 2005
 

Early in a Thursday hearing, Little Hoover Commission member Stanley Zax joined several of his fellow panelists in congratulating the state's top correctional official on his reorganization plan for California's youth and adult prison systems."I'd say you're certainly on the right track," Zax told Youth and Adult Correctional Secretary Rod Hickman.

But after hearing witnesses raise questions about the plan and whether it can lasso a system encumbered by horrific labor-management relations, a recidivism rate of more than 70 percent, rising health care costs that now eat up $1 billion a year, and a nonexistent management information and data system. 

Zax changed course."This is the greatest hoax I've ever witnessed in my life," Zax said when told it may take 10 years or more to fix the state's $7 billion correctional system. Zax said that if the plan doesn't change the system's culture, "it will accomplish nothing."Zax left the hearing before he could be asked to elaborate on his comments.Correctional agency spokesman J.P. Tremblay disputed the suggestion that the reorganization plan is anything other than a major effort to redirect a prison system knocked reeling by more than two decades of massive growth accompanied by management scandals, institutional violence and a basic failure to correct criminal behavior.

"As the governor said, corrections needs to correct, and we are developing a system that will do that," Tremblay said. "This plan and reorganizational structure will start us there and get us there. We may have to make some modifications somewhat, but right now, we're moving in a direction where (issues like) education and health care won't be afterthoughts."Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released the correctional reorganization plan the day after his Jan. 5 State of 
the State speech. The plan features a shift in power to the office of the secretary, with all the system's wardens and institution directors reporting directly to him or her.Hickman introduced the reorganization plan Thursday by saying it will infuse California corrections with added accountability. 

He said it will build on the Correctional Independent Review Panel headed by former Gov. George Deukmejian and launch the state prison system into a new era where rehabilitation of inmates is just as important as separating them from society."Some people looked at that 
(Deukmejian) report and saw it as a validation of their belief that the system needed to be blown up," Hickman said. "I and hundreds of other leaders in this organization ... saw it as an opportunity to make significant change in a system that has been overworked, overburdened and improperly managed."All eight members of the commission complimented Hickman for taking on the task."We applaud you for your efforts today," said commission Chairman Michael 
Alpert. Commissioner Stuart G. Moldaw warned, however, that reshaping the state's sentencing structure has to be "part and parcel of restructuring change."Commissioner Mike Gordon, a Democratic assemblyman from El Segundo, questioned the proposal to rename the agency the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation when the governor's new budget seeks to cut $95 million in prison education and drug-treatment programs.

"In a different fiscal time, we'd made different fiscal decisions," Hickman said, alluding to the current budget dilemma. Hickman also said the department is revisiting its vocational and educational programs to better align them toward inmates who could get the most benefit.  State Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, lodged some of the most strident criticisms of the reorganization effort, saying, "I don't believe it's ready for prime time."She said that in spite of 
Hickman's reform efforts of the past year, the prison officers' union is actively trying to block the secretary's agenda.Speier said the best way to reform the system is to place it under the federal judge in San Francisco who has taken charge of medical and use-of-force issues at Pelican Bay State Prison.Joining Speier in opposing the plan was Joe Gunn, executive director of the Deukmejian panel. "I would hold out for better," he told the commission. 

Gunn has criticized the plan for ignoring what he described as the "linchpin" recommendation of the Deukmejian panel - a citizens' commission appointed to oversee the corrections agency.Just before Speier spoke, the hearing was disrupted by a Moorpark woman, 

Nancy Mendoza, who claimed that her son who was incarcerated on a parole violation is brain dead after being hit with a 40-millimeter riot-control projectile by a prison officer during a fight at Wasco State Prison.Mendoza said she is trying to get her son, Danny Provencio, transferred to a hospital near her home but that corrections officials are blocking the move. Department of 
Corrections spokesman Todd Slosek said the transfer issue is under department review.

About the writer:
The Bee's Andy Furillo can be reached at (916) 321-1141 or  afurillo@sacbee.com



 http://www.bakersfield.com/local/story/5249726p-5278325c.html
 

Brain-dead inmate's family seeking his early release
Relatives say they plan to see that man's medical care is paid for after he is paroled
By STEPHANIE TAVARES, Californian staff writer
e-mail:  stavares@bakersfield.com

Posted: Friday January 28th, 2005, 11:25 PM
Last Updated: Saturday January 29th, 2005, 11:18 PM

The Wasco prison inmate left brain dead after being shot in the head by a guard may be released from custody before the end of his sentence.

The family of Daniel Provencio is lobbying for early parole for the inmate, who has lain brain dead at Mercy Hospital since last week. They are working with a lawyer and inmate advocates in an attempt to gain his release before the end of his sentence, which is five months away.

"If he's dead like they say, then why can't we have him?" said Johnny Provencio Jr., Provencio's brother. "It doesn't make sense."

California Department of Corrections spokesman George Kostyrko confirmed the CDC is looking into releasing Provencio early.

If released, Provencio's medical bills would no longer be paid by the prison, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.

The family said they have not yet discussed where Provencio will go if he is granted an early parole, but Johnny Provencio said it will likely be near one of his relatives in Ventura County or Simi Valley.

Johnny Provencio said the family doesn't expect to pay for his brother's care since they believe his injuries were caused by the prison guard who shot him.

"We shouldn't be the ones paying for it anyway," he said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to have to take that to our lawyer and he can take care of that for us."

Social Services officials in Ventura County, where Provencio is from, said he might be eligible for Medi-Cal and Social Security.

A guard at Wasco prison shot Provencio in the head with a foam bullet Jan. 16 during an altercation between inmates.

Prison officials refuse to release any details about the fight or indicate how Provencio was involved. Investigators are still looking into the incident and whether the shooting was justified. Prison officials could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. 



 http://www.bakersfieldonline.us/news/read/2/17150

Family of brain dead Wasco prisoner wants him moved.
By: Bill Curtis
2:25 PM Tuesday, February 1st, 2005
 

Daniel Provencio..28.. is still at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield after he was shot by a guard with a rubber bullet two weeks ago during a fight with another inmate.

Provencio's family wants him to be released so they can transfer him to a hospital closer to their Ventura home. 

Since the Jan. 16 incident, Department of Corrections investigators have been asking questions at the prison near Bakersfield. Shootings by officers — in this instance with a large foam pellet — are rare in California these days and are given greater scrutiny than ever before. 

Prison authorities declined to discuss Provencio's condition, citing privacy rules. But Todd Slosek, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said officials were exploring a possible compromise that might allow for an early parole. 

Provencio was shot after a fight broke out in a lounge area as about 40 inmates were being given their dinner trays, officials said. Three prisoners were involved in the altercation, and one of them tried to restrain guards who intervened. The officials would not say what role Provencio played.

After officers ordered inmates to get on the floor, a guard in the control room 8 feet above fired a round, foam object resembling a handball from a 40-millimeter launcher. The balls are considered nonlethal force, said Lt. Brian Parriott, a Wasco spokesman, and are meant to be fired at a person's extremities. 

Provencio is in critical condition -- and remains on a ventilator. 



 http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/story/12225636p-13089580c.html

Editorial: Beyond bizarre

He may be dead, but he's eligible for parole

Published 2:15 am PST Thursday, February 3, 2005

What does it take to get declared dead in California, anyway?
The question isn't as dumb as it may seem. Consider:

A person who is declared brain dead is legally and physiologically dead. "Brain dead" is dead.

By that standard, a Wasco State Prison inmate surely qualifies as being dead. So why is he being treated as alive?

The prisoner, Daniel Provencio, has been at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield since he was shot in the head with a "foam" bullet by a prison guard Jan. 16. Members of Provencio's family told the Bakersfield Californian that doctors declared him clinically dead the morning of Jan. 20 after tests found no brain activity.

Under California law, the hospital must do two examinations by two different doctors to determine death. If the patient meets all criteria for death on both examinations, this is noted in the medical record at the time of the second exam and is recorded as the time of death. The coroner's office typically is called as soon as death is declared.

Yet Provencio's mother said Wasco Warden P.L. Vazquez expects Provencio to "serve out his sentence" from a hospital bed. The family has asked obvious questions: "If he's dead, why are they keeping him? How does a dead man do time?"

Here's how. Provencio is on a mechanical ventilator and a feeding tube, even though he's dead. And he's shackled to the bed by both ankles, even though he's dead. He's being guarded by prison guards 'round-the-clock at a cost of $1,056-a-day, even though he's dead.

No, we are not making this up. But the absurdities don't end there.

The Department of Corrections apparently now is considering a "compromise" that might allow the dead man to be released on "early parole."

Obviously, this preposterous situation can't go on. The hospital needs to step forward and make a definitive declaration: Is Provencio dead? If yes, what was his time of death, and why hasn't he been released for burial?

Time of death is recorded on a patient's chart as the time he met the criteria of brain death. If he's not dead, who told the family that Provencio is "brain dead," which is dead-dead? Either the family is being denied the right to bury their relative or they have been subjected to a huge hoax.

The absurdities aren't confined to the handling of Provencio's current condition. Consider the chain of events that led to the present situation.

At Wasco State Prison on Jan. 16, two inmates were fighting; Provencio apparently tried to prevent prison guards from intervening.

KGET-TV 17 News reported that the incident was an "alcohol-fueled brawl between inmates." Officers told the station that inmates brew fruit and other food ingredients. A guard shot Provencio in the head, though "foam" bullets are meant to be fired at a person's legs and arms.

Alcohol production and brawls. Shooting inmates in the head. Shackling and guarding a dead inmate. What is going on at this prison? The Department of Corrections needs to get control of this out-of-control institution. And it needs to end the macabre saga of the (apparently) late Daniel Provencio.



 http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/10814875.htm

Posted on Fri, Feb. 04, 2005 
 

Death-bed prisoner policy reviewed
BRAIN-DEAD FELON'S CASE RAISES MORAL, COST ISSUES
By Mark Gladstone
Mercury News Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO - California prison officials are examining their policy that results in severely ill and comatose inmates being shackled and guarded around the clock by officers on overtime, they announced Thursday.

The Mercury News has reported the rising cost to taxpayers of transporting and guarding ailing inmates taken to community hospitals. Among the inmates spotlighted was Daniel Provencio, a brain-dead felon who was shot Jan. 16 by a guard, and whom authorities are now attempting to compassionately release to his family or possibly parole.

So far, however, corrections officials can't locate a facility near Provencio's family in Ventura County that will take him. His guards alone are costing taxpayers more than $1,000 a day, and the total bill is nearing $20,000.

``We are trying to find a plausible solution to the matter,'' said Department of Corrections spokesman Todd Slosek . ``We just can't release him. We can't just unshackle him. We have a contractual obligation to the hospital. And if we were to go unshackle him, we'd have to consult with the union,'' whose members are watching over Provencio.

Slosek confirmed the policies for guarding inmates hospitalized outside prisons are being reviewed. Prison officials, he said, want to determine how severely ailing inmates can be treated respectfully while security is maintained in community hospitals.

At issue is whether the state's corrections bureaucracy, which has been plagued by financial problems and legal challenges to the quality of inmate health care, has the flexibility to deal with complex moral and legal issues in cases like Provencio's. If he's brain-dead, can the state offer him a compassionate release typically reserved for those on their death beds?

``In a sense, we're guarding a dead man,'' said Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who chairs the Senate correctional system subcommittee. She said people are ``incredulous that California taxpayers are paying $1,000 a day and assigning guards to guard a dead man. It's almost something out of a Stephen King novel.''

Provencio, 28, of Oxnard, was initially sent to prison on drug charges. He was returned in August on parole violations, including drunken driving. Then, last month, he apparently tried to interfere with officers seeking to break up a fight at Wasco State Prison. He was shot in the head with a foam projectile used to quell riots.

He was taken to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield, where his family and Department of Corrections officials say he's been declared brain dead. But he remains on life-support.

Slosek said department officials are in a ``no-win situation.'' They can't remove Provencio from his hospital ventilator because he would stop breathing.

But, if they released him to his family, Slosek said, he apparently would not be eligible for Medi-Cal, the state's health program for poor people. ``If the governor commuted his sentence or we got authority to release him to his family,'' Slosek asked, ``who's going to pay the cost of the hospital bill?''
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Contact Mark Gladstone at  mgladstone@mercurynews.com  or (916) 325-4314. 



 http://edition.cnn.com/2005/US/02/04/brain.dead.inmate.ap/

Family fights to free brain-dead inmate
Nancy Ortiz-Mendoza holds a photo of her son, Daniel Provencio, as she speaks to reporters.
 

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- An inmate who was left brain-dead after being shot by a prison guard nearly three weeks ago lay in a hospital bed Friday, guarded around the clock at a cost of more than $1,000 a day, in a situation family members and a lawmaker called absurd.

"This sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel," Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero said. "For us in the Legislature, we're asking, 'Then why are we guarding a dead man?"'

State corrections officials tried to find a way around a department policy that requires guarding hospitalized inmates. They compromised Friday afternoon by unchaining the inmate's legs, which had been shackled to his bed.

Daniel Provencio, 28, was shot in the head with a supposedly nonlethal foam projectile while he allegedly tried to prevent guards from breaking up a fight between two other inmates.

The state has spent $1,056 a day in overtime guarding Provencio since January 16, when he was taken to a Bakersfield hospital, where he lay hooked up to a ventilator.

The Corrections Department continued to pay for Provencio's medical care because his family, hoping for a miracle, wanted him on life support.

The Corrections Department said it was trying to find a way to waive the policy so Provencio could be moved to a nursing home or halfway house. Beyond the policy question, it was unclear who would pick up the tab, spokesman Todd Slosek said.

"He's in such a critically medicated state that there are very, very few options for him to be released to an outside facility, and we've had no takers," Slosek said.

To Provencio's family the situation is heartbreaking and absurd. Relatives are allowed to visit for only one hour a day, during which they are watched by a guard.

"I don't know if they think I'm going fit him in my back pocket and take him out, but that ain't going to happen," said the inmate's mother, Nancy Mendoza. "For them to keep him shackled and have a guard inside, for a person they consider dead, that's kind of crazy."

Corrections officials said that any inmate taken out of prison for treatment must be shackled and guarded to protect the public, hospital employees and guards.

The hospital and guards went along with the decision to remove the shackles, the department said.

The policy is also tied to contracts with hospitals that treat inmates, and the powerful prison guards' union. In order to waive that policy, hospitals and guards would also have to agree, the department said.

The state spent $29 million guarding medical patients last year, the department said.

The Mercury News of San Jose reported recently that the department spent $81,745 to watch over a heavily sedated prisoner for 58 days and paid $55,305 to guard a paraplegic with a lung infection during a 45-day hospital stay.

Romero, who is chairwoman of an investigative committee looking at the troubled prison system, said she has heard that other inmates who are brain-dead are under guard, too.

"I want to know how many dead men we have in our system," she said.

A spokesman for state prisons said it was not immediately clear if there were other dead inmates.

Mendoza said her son was sent to prison for violating parole on drug convictions by driving drunk.

"I don't know if they're expecting him to walk out of there," said his older brother, Johnny Provencio Jr. "If they believe he's brain-dead, where is he going to go?"



Posted on Sat, Feb. 05, 2005 
 

Governor ridicules need to guard man in coma

By Mark Gladstone

Mercury News Sacramento Bureau
 

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday assailed as ``ludicrous'' his own administration's policy of posting two officers on overtime to guard shackled and comatose inmates when they are hospitalized outside of prison walls.

Citing various shortcomings in the prison system, Schwarzenegger said the state needs to "tighten the screw so we don't have this misuse of money. And instead of having these two guys standing there 24 hours a day guarding this guy that is in a coma, why not have these two guys working somewhere else where they really are needed.''

Recent Mercury News articles have revealed the 60 percent jump over the past six years in spending to guard and transport severely ill inmates. The standard policy is to have two guards, one armed, watch over sick inmates sent to community hospitals and to shackle the prisoners to thwart escapes.

The governor's comments follow Mercury News reports about the case of Daniel Provencio. He is being guarded around the clock only by a single officer at a cost of $1,056 a day, even though his family has been told he's brain dead. Provencio, 28, was shot by a guard Jan. 16 at Wasco State Prison. He was hit in the head with a foam projectile used in riot control. The shooting is under investigation.

After the governor's appearance before the Mercury News editorial board Friday morning, the Department of Corrections announced that Provencio had been unshackled in his room at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield.

"A guard will remain at the hospital to ensure that the proper visitors are visiting him,'' said Todd Slosek, a Department of Corrections spokesman. "Potentially, someone could come in and wheel him out.''

Slosek said the Provencio case is "very complicated'' and is freighted with legal issues.

"We could parole him, but the decision was made not to because we don't want to dump the cost and liability on the hospital,'' said Slosek. He added that Provencio, most recently a construction worker, would be eligible for Medi-Cal, but under that program for the indigent the hospital would be reimbursed at a lower rate.

Provencio's mother, Nancy Mendoza, said she is clinging to hope that her son might recover, even though she has been told by doctors that he is brain dead. Mendoza said another of her 10 children went into a coma as an infant and recovered and is now 29.

"I've told my children that if I feel at any time that Danny won't pull out of this, I'll let him go,'' Mendoza said. "There's hope.''

Provencio, a high school wrestler, was sent to prison originally on drug charges. He was released but returned in August on parole violations, including drunken driving. Last month, he apparently tried to interfere with officers seeking to break up a fight at Wasco State Prison.

Slosek reiterated Friday that the department is seeking to adjust its overall guarding policy to deal with cases like Provencio's. While the cost of guarding Provencio is more than $1,000 a day, the department has not been able to estimate the cost of his medical care to the taxpayers.

But Mendoza cannot give up hope. "All his organs are functioning,'' she said. "It means he's still alive and gives him the opportunity to survive.''
 

Mercury News Staff Writer Dion Nissenbaum contributed to this report. Contact Mark Gladstone at  mgladstone@mercurynews.com  or (916) 325-4314. 



February 15, 2005

All this took was three weeks of my life, Nancy's life and knock down, drag out arguments with all the decisionmakers to make this happen, your letters  to editors, kicks and punches to callous bureaucrats and a few hundred articles printed internationally. You'd think we'd see UNION printed somewhere but I am just happy that we could achieve this.  Ed Rister deserves a release to his family too! 

The family of Danny Provencio is extremely grateful to every UNION family member who helped make this historic event take place.  Tomorrow they will meet with the hospital administrators and there had not be any squirreling around about the bills, because CDC lied when they said Medi-Cal wouldn't cover the costs.  They will still need help to get Medi-Cal to kick in rapidly enough. No tricks will be accepted and the Provencio family is ready to go. I will advise you when the guards are actually gone. Hold your head up high, pat yourself on the back if you helped with this campaign and know how it happened.  Not because people wanted to do the right thing but because the press coverage and pressure was too much to bear. Congratulations and please remember all the others who are totally incapacitated on the taxpayer's dime. Be a bop up doll, take the punches and come back fighting even when recognition doesn't take place. We do need to thank Senator Gloria Romero and all the California journalists who carry us all through this inhumane mess. B. Cayenne Bird United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect www.1union1.com 
 

Mon, Feb. 14, 2005 Brain dead inmate released from custody, parole cut short 

DON THOMPSON Associated Press 

SACRAMENTO - An inmate who was left brain-dead after being shot by a prison guard last month was freed from custody and his parole ended Monday with an unusual decision of a state prison board.Daniel Provencio, 28, remains in Bakersfield's Mercy Hospital, hooked to a ventilator and intravenous tubes.But he no longer is shackled to the bed, nor guarded around the clock at a cost of $1,056 a day as he had been since he was shot in the head with a supposedly non-lethal foam projectile during a prison altercation Jan. 16. 

"The whole thing is a tragedy," said state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who chairs two corrections oversight committees. "It's just moronic that we were ever in the situation where we were having to guard what for all intents and purposes was a dead man."Provencio was released in June after serving a three-year, eight-month Ventura County sentence for drug possession with intent to sell. But he was re-incarcerated Aug. 23 for violating his parole by driving under the influence. 

He was due for parole consideration again on June 21.The state Board of Prison Terms released him from custody and discharged him from parole, giving him credit for time served and waiving his remaining parole requirement.The move was akin to granting him a compassionate release, but compassionate release requires that an inmate have less than six months to live. No one knows how long Provencio can survive, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Margot Bach."He's the family's responsibility now, which is what they wanted," Bach said.The cost of his continued medical treatment will likely be borne by Medi-Cal, the state's health care program for the poor. A corrections spokesman did not have an estimate of what Provencio's care has cost the department to date.Three investigations continue into the incident at Wasco State Prison.Prison officials said Provencio was shot in the head by a guard in an elevated gun tower when he refused to lie down and instead tried to prevent guards from breaking up a fight between two other inmates. The 40mm foam projectiles are designed to be fired at arms or legs, however.The case drew more criticism from state lawmakers and inmate advocacy groups because of disputes over which family members could visit Provencio and for how long. His distraught mother, Nancy Mendoza, last month disrupted a Little Hoover Commission public hearing into Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to reorganize the state's prison system, complaining that she was receiving little information or access to her son."The department was once again forced into doing the right thing after a tragedy," said Romero.But prison officials said they cooperated with the family as much as they could within security regulations. 


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 http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/10912362.htm

Posted on Wed, Feb. 16, 2005 

EDITORIAL

A brain-dead policy
 
 
 

ONCE AGAIN, CALIFORNIA's Department of Corrections has demonstrated that it suffers from a paucity of rational thought, at least until the public becomes outraged. The department's most recent fiasco involves its decision to spend $30,000 in less than a month to guard a low-level state prisoner who has been declared brain dead by doctors.

Reporters for the Times Sacramento Bureau first disclosed the case of Daniel Provencio. It is a case that shines a much-needed spotlight on the policies of the state's $6.5-billion-a-year prison system. The reporters uncovered that the Department of Corrections spent $1,056 a day in taxpayer money to place a 24-hour-a-day guard on the shackled Provencio in a Bakersfield hospital.

Provencio had been hit in the head with a rubber bullet fired by a guard during a disturbance at Wasco State Prison on Jan. 16. Doctors at the hospital declared Provencio medically brain dead. His family requested that he be released because of his condition, but the department officials refused to do so until Monday. That came about 11 days after they decided that Provencio required only one guard and that he could be unshackled. How thoughtful.

The department's handling of this case might make some sense -- we emphasize might -- if the prisoner were Charles Manson or the Unabomber. But Provencio is your run-of-the-mill criminal, a 28-year-old construction worker from Oxnard who was originally sentenced on drug charges and then paroled. He was sent back to prison in August for a parole violation involving drunken driving, associating with gang members, evading arrest and possessing a gun.

The man is brain dead. His life has effectively ended. Why would the Department of Corrections continue to post a 24-hour guard on his room? Because it is policy, we are told. That's the same catch-all explanation we are given for the countless situational inanities that too often surface in our state bureaucracy.

Disclosure of this case caused an avalanche of criticism directed at the Department of Corrections. Even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called his own department's policy "ludicrous." Now we get word that the department has launched a broad review of policies on guarding bedridden inmates who are taken outside the prison walls for treatment.

Such a review is long overdue, and here's a good place to start: Remove clinically brain-dead inmates from the list of those considered to be a risk to flee.


 http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/story/12367206p-13223433c.html

Editorial: Dead and on parole
The long, strange saga of Daniel Provencio

Published 2:15 am PST Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Twenty-five days after prison inmate Daniel Provencio was declared brain dead, the California Department of Corrections finally ended round-the-clock guarding and released the body to his family. That's the good news. But it occurred only after a bizarre precedent: The department got the Board of Prison Terms to parole the dead man.
Normally, when a prisoner dies in Department of Corrections custody, the body goes first to the county coroner, then to the family.

In this case, however, public confusion over whether brain dead means "dead" or "in a coma" led to extremely odd conduct. Brain dead means dead - the complete, permanent, irreversible cessation of brain activity. The Department of Corrections did the family and the public a disservice in letting that confusion drag on far too long.

Members of Provencio's family told the media that doctors declared him brain dead the morning of Jan. 20. Once death occurs, the state's laws on the handling and disposition of dead bodies should apply.

That should have been the case on Jan. 20. Yet the Department of Corrections continued to treat Provencio as alive when he was dead, shackling him by the ankles to his hospital bed and guarding him around the clock.

The director of corrections finally ordered the shackles removed Feb. 4. But department spokesmen continued to describe Provencio as in such a "critical medical state" that they were having a difficult time finding a nursing home for him, as if Provencio were still alive. One spokesman said, "We've had no takers."

That's not surprising. Not many nursing homes take dead people as patients.

Family members and the public deserved both accurate information and responsible action. And the public still deserves accountability.

Press reports indicate that Provencio was shot in the head by a guard after a drunken brawl fueled by inmate-brewed alcohol. We await the report from the Office of the Inspector General and Office of Internal Affairs - and basic management changes immediately to regain control at Wasco State Prison. We haven't seen the end of this bizarre saga.



By Mark Gladstone:
 

State prisoners' health care security costs spiral upward 
Contra Costa Times (subscription), CA - Jan 23, 2005 
By Mark Gladstone. ... 
The cost to California taxpayers: $81,745, including $68,121 in overtime. ... he, too, was watched around the clock by two state prison guards as ... 

Price of prisoner care 
San Jose Mercury News (subscription), 
CA - Jan 24, 2005 
By Mark Gladstone. ... 
The cost to California taxpayers: $81,745, including $68,121 in overtime. ... he, too, was watched around the clock by two state prison guards as ... 

Policy on comatose inmates reviewed 
Monterey County Herald, CA - Feb 4, 2005 
By MARK GLADSTONE. 
SACRAMENTO - California prison officials on Thursday announced they are examining their confidential policy that results in severely ill and ... 

Brain-dead inmate's costs queried 
Contra Costa Times (subscription), 
CA - Feb 4, 2005 
By Mark Gladstone. 
SACRAMENTO - California prison officials Thursday announced they are examining their confidential policy that results in severely ill and ...



 http://www.bakersfield.com/local/story/5334478p-5359973c.html

Former inmate, declared brain-dead, dies

Family of man who was kept alive by ventilator plans autopsy in Ventura

By STEPHANIE TAVARES, Californian staff writer
e-mail: stavares@bakersfield.com

Posted: Friday March 4th, 2005, 11:30 PM
Last Updated: Saturday March 5th, 2005, 12:56 PM

A former Wasco Prison inmate who was declared brain-dead after he was shot in the head with a foam bullet in mid-January has died.

 Daniel David Provencio, 28, died at Mercy Hospital around 2 p.m. Friday. His family said they had received a call around noon saying Provencio had "some sort of blood clot" and other problems. By the time they reached Bakersfield at about 3:20 p.m., it was too late.
"It hurts at this point," said Johnny Provencio Jr., Provencio's younger brother. "It's kind of hard to express the feeling."

Provencio has been clinically brain-dead for more than a month, but his family kept hoping for a miracle, keeping his body alive with a ventilator and a feeding tube at Mercy Hospital.

He was in prison for violating the terms of his parole by driving under the influence and had four months left on his sentence when he was shot. His original conviction was for a drug violation.

Since the Department of Corrections decided to release him from custody Feb. 14, the family has been looking for another hospital or long-term care facility. But nobody would take a man they considered dead, Provencio Jr. said.

Family members said that even though they knew Provencio was in very poor condition and could die at any minute, they are still in shock.

"I'm very upset and mad -- I'm angry," Provencio's sister, Nancy Anaya, said. "I'm angry that somebody did this to him. It's something that could have been prevented."

The family plans to have Provencio's body taken to Ventura County for an autopsy. Provencio Jr. said the family wanted to be sure the person doing the autopsy wasn't biased. The family has not yet discussed where Provencio will be buried.

Provencio's case made statewide headlines after word got out that a brain-dead man was being held by the prison, shackled to a hospital bed and under heavy guard at a cost of $1,056 per day. The cost of keeping him in intensive care was an additional $2,927 or moreper day.

State Sen. Gloria Romero, the chair of the Senate Select Committee on the California Correctional System, has spoken with the family, most recently on Thursday, about the difficulties they faced in gaining visitation privileges and information regarding Daniel's condition. She has also spoken with Mercy Hospital administrators about their dealings with the prison.

Romero plans to hold a special policy hearing to address possible changes in how the Department of Corrections deals with brain-dead or comatose inmates, hospitals and the families of the hospitalized inmates.

"From a policy standpoint, we have a lot to address," Romero said Friday morning. "These are things any prison system will have to address, especially as science is able to prolong our lives. When somebody is an inmate, it raises questions when an inmate is brought in to a hospital comatose or brain-dead over who makes the decisions -- the prison or the hospital?"

Provencio suffered severe brain injuries when a prison guard shot him in the head with a foam bullet Jan. 16. Officials have said Provencio may have been attempting to prevent a second guard from breaking up a fight. 

He was taken to Mercy Hospital that night, where he slipped into a coma. He was declared brain-dead four days later.



 http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/11059336.htm
 

Mar. 05, 2005 

Inmate dies after costly security bill 
 

CASE PROMPTED REVIEW OF GUARDING ILL INMATES 

By Mark Gladstone 

Mercury News Sacramento Bureau 
 

SACRAMENTO - A comatose state prison inmate who was guarded around the clock for a month at a cost of more than $30,000 to taxpayers died Friday in a Bakersfield hospital, his brother said.After reports in the Mercury News focused on the cost of watching Daniel Provencio, whose family was told he was brain dead, prison officials removed the officers, released him to his relatives and launched a review of the guarding policy.Provencio, 28, a construction worker from Oxnard, was hit in the head with a rubber projectile fired by a prison guard during a prison disturbance in mid-January. 
 

A Corrections Department official declined to comment on Provencio's death, citing several continuing investigations.But Johnny Provencio, the dead man's brother, said the state must get to the bottom of what happened. ``Whoever shot my brother needs to be accountable for this,'' he said.State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, said she expects to hold a hearing on a variety of issues raised by the case. Romero, who visited Provencio's hospital room Thursday, said she expects the family to file a civil lawsuit in the case 

. ``In the end, California taxpayers will pay the bill,'' Romero said, after learning of Provencio's death.Besides guarding costs, the Department of Corrections was billed $110,000 in medical expenses until Provencio's release to his family Feb. 14.The Mercury News first reported Provencio was shackled and under 24-hour guard at a cost of $1,056 a day in overtime. 

The case prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to brand his own administration's guarding policy ``ludicrous.'' Soon afterward, Provencio was unshackled.He was originally sentenced on drug charges. But last August Provencio was sent back to prison, officials said, on a parole violation related to charges of drunken driving, associating with gang members, evading arrest and possessing a gun.Contact Mark Gladstone at  mgladstone@mercurynews.com  or (916) 325-4314.


 http://www.kget.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=5CB756AB-A3A2-

Injured inmates dies after jailhouse scuffle
Updated 03/04/05 

BAKERSFIELD - A Wasco Prison inmate in a coma for nearly three months after a prison riot has died. Daniel Provencio passed away Friday afternoon at Mercy Hospital from injuries stemming from the prison yard disturbance, in which a correctional officer fired a rubber bullet. 

The 22-year-old suffered head injuries and was pronounced brain dead months ago, but his family refused to take him off of life support. Thursday, Sen. Gloria Romero, who worked to have Provencio released to his family, came to Bakersfield to check on his condition. Provencio's mother, Nancy Mendoza, said the family plans to sue the state prison system. 

----------
I am relieved for Danny's wonderful family that God has taken him away from the suffering of the ventilator. 

His death will not have been nothing if we continue to press for for changes in the death bed policy. 

In honor of Danny, please do your letters to the editor about the inhumanity of having Ed Rister in shackles while he is brain dead since 2003 and write about the cruelty CDC has imposed on both families in their darkest hours. 



 http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/breaking_news/1109230

6.htm Mar. 09, 2005 

Autopsy: Inmate died from rubber bullet impact 
 

Associated Press 

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - An inmate who was left brain-dead after being shot with a rubber projectile by a prison guard died from the injuries received in the incident, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday. 

Daniel David Provencio, 28, was shot in the head with the supposedly non-lethal projectile during an altercation at Wasco State Prison Jan. 16. He was taken to Bakersfield's Mercy Hospital, where he remained in a coma and was hooked to a ventilator for weeks. Still officially in custody, Provencio was shackled to the bed and guarded around the clock at a cost of $1,056 a day until he was freed in mid-February. 

He died Friday at the hospital, according to his family. Autopsy results released Wednesday by the Kern County Sheriff's Department indicate Provencio died from "brain death" caused by "blunt force trauma" from the impact of the projectile. Provencio had served a three-year, eight-month drug sentence, but was re-incarcerated in August for violating his parole by driving under the influence. He was due for parole consideration again on June 21. 

Three investigations of the shooting are under way. Prison officials said Provencio was shot in the head by a guard in an elevated gun tower when he refused to lie down and instead tried to prevent guards from breaking up a fight between two other inmates. The 40mm projectiles are designed to be fired at arms or legs.



  http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=108E4D93E8FE60D0&p_docnum=3

Bakersfield Californian, The (CA) 
 

March 17, 2005 Section: Local Page: b1 
 

Officials mum on death inquiry 
 

STEPHANIE TAVARES, Californian staff writere-mail: stavares@bakersfield.com In mid-January, Wasco Prison inmate Daniel Provencio was shot in the head with a foam bullet. Now, just days after his family laid his body to rest in an Oxnard cemetery, internal prison investigators may have figured out exactly how that happened. But the public, and Provencio's family, may never be allowed to know what happened that day -- or who is responsible. 

Wasco Prison Public Information Officer Brian Parriott said the prison expects the internal investigation report, undertaken by the Deadly Force Investigation Team in the California Department of Corrections' Law Enforcement Investigations Unit, to be completed any day. 

But the CDC will not release any information from the report without a court order, CDC spokesman George Kostyrko said. 

State law requires that some of that information, such as the name of the officer who shot Provencio and the general details of the incident, be made available to the public. 

In recent years, every other peace officer organization in the state, from city police to park rangers, have been required by law to release basic details and the names of officers involved in shootings. They generally comply within days of the incidents. 

When a Bakersfield police officer is involved in a shooting, the department tries to get the name of the officer released as soon as possible, usually within a day or two, according to Lt. Dave Haskins. 

"Because we're a community-based organization 
...
we try our best whenever possible to release the name once all necessary contacts have been made," Haskins said. 

Haskins said sometimes the information is delayed a bit to let the officer inform his family, if immediately releasing the information would put someone unduly in danger or if an investigation needs to be completed to ensure accurate information is released. 

The CDC claims the law does not apply to its guards, who are also peace officers. 

"Until the investigation is completed, under Section 6255, the CDC declines to subject the officer to public scrutiny beyond the scrutiny the officer is already undergoing as part of the existing investigations," Kostyrko wrote in a response to an information request submitted by The Californian. 

Case law has established that the names of such officers, even during the investigation, should be made available to the public. 

"The perceived harm to deputies from revelation of their names as having fired their weapons in the line of duty and resulting in a death does not outweigh the public interest served in disclosure of their names," Santa Barbara County Superior Court judges Ronald C. Stevens and William L. Gordon found in a 1997 case involving the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. 

Provencio's family would like to know who shot their relative and who was at fault in the incident. But they doubt getting the information will be easy. 

"If they said they'll give us (a copy of the report), I wouldn't believe them," Johnny Provencio Jr. said. 

The family is also confused about why the investigation took two months. 

Wasco Prison's Parriott said he had no way of knowing why the investigation would take two months -- only the investigators would know. 

A call to the Law Enforcement Investigations Unit office was immediately transferred to the CDC communications office. 

CDC spokesman Kostyrko didn't know either. He said only the Wasco prison officials would have the information. 

It's not the first time Wasco Prison and the CDC have been tight- lipped about the Provencio case. 

In the first days of his hospitalization, the prison refused to divulge any information about Provencio's condition. They even limited the medical information given to his family. 

They wouldn't even confirm Provencio had been shot. 

It is a problem that goes beyond the walls of Wasco Prison. 

In December 2003, a local judge threatened to jail the head of CDC for withholding evidence in the case of an inmate at Tehachapi Prison who had been charged with murder. 

The court never received all the missing information and the trial is still under way, said the defense lawyer in that case, J. Anthony Bryan. 

"We are still having trouble with them (the CDC)," Bryan said. "They are still not in compliance. They are refusing to cooperate and that is right down to the present time." 

Attorneys across the state tell similar stories. 

"Every time we litigate there's a problem against them," attorney Robert L. Bastian Jr. said. "We have to fight and guess if the bucket has leaked on the way over to the magistrate office. And my gut feeling is that the bucket does leak a lot." 

In recent years, those "leaking buckets" have led judges and prosecutors to suspect the CDC of covering up instances of abuse. Internal investigations throughout the CDC have been so questionable that a federal judge threatened to take over the system in July 2004. 

Since then legislation has been passed requiring all CDC investigations to be monitored by the state Office of the Inspector General. 

Twice a year the Inspector General's office publishes a report on what prison investigators did and did not do, what they found and critique the investigators' findings, said Brett Morgan, the chief deputy of the Office of the Inspector General. 

He said their next report, which will include information about the Provencio case, will be available to the public, but that certain privileged information, such as witnesses' or victims' names, would be blacked out. He said that anyone familiar with a case would still be able to find information about it in the report. 

"The goal of our office is to try to make public as much as we possibly can," Morgan said. "That puts a lot of pressure on them to do a great job with their investigation."



 http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/breaking_news/11222836.htm

Posted on Thu, Mar. 24, 2005 
 

Prison won't name guard in inmate's death

DON THOMPSON
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - The family of a now-deceased inmate who was kept on life support and guarded around the clock for nearly a month may never know how he was fatally shot in the head with a supposedly non-lethal weapon, nor learn the name of the guard who pulled the trigger.

Prison authorities, citing legal precedents and state law, won't release their internal investigations into the Jan. 16 shooting of Daniel Provencio at Wasco State Prison, nor will they say which tower guard fired the foam bullet designed to be aimed at arms and legs.

The Bakersfield Californian newspaper, which sought the records, contends the policy is contrary to the practice of other law enforcement agencies that routinely release the identity of officers involved in fatal confrontations.

Provencio, 28, was guarded around the clock for a month after he was declared brain dead, at a cost of $30,624, or $1,056 a day, the Department of Corrections said in a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who heads two prison oversight committees.

His medical care will cost the department more than $100,000 for the 29 days until he was formally released from custody Feb. 14, the department said. He died March 4.

Prison officials said Provencio was shot when he refused orders to lie down and instead tried to prevent guards from breaking up a fight between two other inmates.

But they won't release other details without a court order, rejecting the newspaper's public records requests.

"They're going to have to convince a judge it's in the best interest of the public to release the officer's name," department spokesman George Kostyrko said Thursday. "The Peace Officer Bill of Rights is very specific about what can be released and what can't be released."

Three internal investigations aren't completed, but also won't be released, Kostyrko said. And he said medical provider contracts also sought by the newspaper are confidential for three years after they are completed, for competitive reasons.

The Associated Press also has been seeking medical contract information since November 2003 without success.

The Californian maintains that state law and court rulings require that basic information, such as the name of the officer, be made available to the public even while investigations continue.

"Our position is that unequivocally these are public records," said Bob Christie, the Californian's city editor. "Every other law enforcement agency we deal with provides us with this information within 24 hours after a shooting incident."

The department's and newspaper's lawyers are consulting, though the paper hasn't decided whether to sue, Christie said.

"Until the investigation is completed ... the CDC declines to subject the officer to public scrutiny beyond the scrutiny the officer is already undergoing as part of the existing investigations," Kostyrko wrote in the department's formal response to the paper's information request last week.

Lance Corcoran, vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said releasing officers' names can and has brought threats from gangs and resulted in officers being placed on inmates' "hit lists."

The prison system's inspector general routinely posts its investigative reports on its Web site, where its report on the Provencio shooting will go once it is completed.

ON THE NET

California Department of Corrections:  http://www.corr.ca.gov

The Bakersfield Californian:  http://www.bakersfield.com



 Ventura County Star 
  
URL:  http://www.venturacountystar.com/vcs/coleen_cason/article/0,1375,VCS_221_3625656,00.html 

Trying to make sense of a senseless death
By Colleen Cason 
March 16, 2005

Mike Burley / Special to The Star 

Grieving family members try to comfort Nancy Mendoza at the funeral for her son, Daniel Provencio, who died from a rubber bullet that struck him in the head during a melee while he was serving a prison sentence.
 

left, pallbearers for Daniel Provencio are Gabriel Mendoza, Clark Mendoza, Ysac Perez, Mario Alfaro, Leo Mendoza Jr. and Johnny Provencio.
 
 

Gabriel Mendoza, left, comforts Nancy Anaya at the service for Daniel Provencio at Santa Clara Cemetery in Oxnard on Tuesday.
 
 

It was too senseless to be anything other than our government at work. Armed prison guards stood watch night and day over a brain-dead inmate at a cost to taxpayers of $1,056 per diem. 

There was almost zero chance of this dead man waking. And even when he was ambulatory, this prisoner had been convicted of a nonviolent crime. 
 
But then nothing in the case of Daniel David Provencio makes a heck of a lot of sense. 

The Oxnard man had been comatose since a Jan. 16 melee at Wasco State Prison when he was hit in the head by a supposedly nonlethal foam pellet. 

On Valentine's Day, prison officials stopped the insanity. The shackles came off, and the guards vanished. Provencio was pardoned, and what was left of him was handed over to his family. 

Provencio's mother, Nancy Mendoza, hoped for an Easter miracle. When she ran her finger down the soles of her son's feet, he made a face, she told relatives. 

But the miracle never came. He died March 4 at a Bakersfield hospital. 

The only thing more senseless than guarding a dead man is that Daniel Provencio's life had to end the way it did. 

Everyone I spoke with described him as a good-hearted 28-year-old father whose life mattered deeply to his extended family. 

On Tuesday morning, a hundred or more people gathered at Santa Clara Church in Oxnard for his funeral. 

They came to pay their respects. I came to try to make sense of why it happened. 

Was his early death just a case of unintended consequence run amok? 

The mourners were scattered across the pews in the back of the church, but they were shoulder to shoulder in the seats up front. 

The program handed out at the service gives his date of death as Jan. 20, 2005 -- the day he was declared brain-dead. But arguably it was set in motion last June. 

Described as an adorable, chubby little kid who grew up to be captain of the Hueneme High wrestling team, Provencio served three years in state prison for selling drugs. He was paroled in October 2003. But on Father's Day of last year, he went to a Ventura bar to party with his friends. 

He got picked up for driving under the influence -- a violation of his parole. In August, he went back to prison and was due to be released this year. 

"He did not live a perfect life," said the Rev. John Fahey, who officiated at the spare Roman Catholic service in the ornate, old church. 

The priest read the Bible story of the criminal crucified beside Jesus who found redemption in his final moments. 

Provencio was no saint. But then few of us are. 

And although no eulogies were said during the service, I spoke with his older brother afterward. 

"He was a good brother and a good friend," Johnny Provencio said. 

Daniel leaves a son without a father. A mother with a hole in her heart. And a brother who will miss him every day of his life. 

How differently this played out than the Atlanta courthouse rampage last Friday. 

If Hollywood had written the ending to that story, no one would have believed it. 

A young mother, held hostage by accused rapist and mass murder suspect Brian Nichols, persuaded him to let her go by reading from a book about Christian service. Nichols then allowed her to escape and gave himself up by showing a makeshift white flag to police. 

Here's a man authorities say killed a judge, a court reporter and two law enforcement officers. He shot a female deputy at point-blank range with her own weapon. 

Somehow he lives to stand trial. Somehow he gets more time. And for what purpose? 

Provencio, who committed far lesser crimes, never got the chance to turn things around. 

The chance to live a long life and to die a free person with debt to society stamped "paid in full." 

Hollywood probably would never write the ending to Provencio's story. 

It just seems too senseless in every sense of that word. 
 

-- Colleen Cason's e-mail address is  ccason@VenturaCountyStar.com . Her telephone is 655-5830. 
 


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