Senator Leyva: Alarming Prison Suicides Audit Findings Demand Action

Leyva Will Introduce Legislation to Improve Inmate Safety, Corrections Oversight

Thursday, August 17, 2017

SACRAMENTO - Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) issued the following statement after the California State Auditor today released an audit report examining suicide prevention and reduction policies, procedures and practices at state prisons in California:

“Last year, I requested that the State Auditor conduct an important audit of the prison suicides crisis at California state prisons, including the California Institution for Women (CIW), a women’s prison located in the Inland Empire.  After receiving strong bipartisan support approving the audit in the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the State Auditor conducted this much needed assessment over the past year culminating in today’s report.”

“The findings of this audit are very troubling.  From not conducting inmate risk evaluations properly to not implementing treatment plans as appropriate, I am concerned with the overall lack of prioritization of this important issue by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).  Moreover, it is unacceptable that inmates on suicide watch would not be monitored and checked at appropriate time intervals to ensure their safety.  I am most troubled by the fact that CDCR has apparently known about many of these issues for several years and has not enacted the needed reforms to ensure inmate safety.  As per the State Auditor’s key legislative recommendation, I will introduce legislation in the near future to improve transparency, reform and accountability within CDCR so that inmate risk evaluations and treatment plans, as well as staff training, are standardized and strengthened.”

“I thank Ms. Howle and her team for their hard work and commitment to uncovering the truth and circumstances surrounding the suicides and attempted suicides of inmates at state prisons in California, as well as for providing important recommendations.  In the weeks ahead, I will work with the auditing team, my legislative staff, CDCR officials and interested stakeholders to follow up on the key recommendations noted in the report, as well as draft legislation that will ultimately help to fix the issues uncovered in this audit.  It is critical that inmates in our prison system do not view suicide as a viable option and that state prisons provide them with the necessary mental health care and other support systems to improve their health and wellbeing.”

The State Auditor’s full audit report can be found at the following location: Audit Report.

The State Auditor’s audit fact sheet is found at the following location: Fact Sheet.