The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says the California Correctional Center in Susanville has been "fully deativated." File photo

CDCR takes aim at CCC employees — new court filing includes ‘unavoidable’ layoff warning

As the state of California depopulates its prison system and closes incarceration facilities, the state declares continuing the city of Susanville’s lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation any longer may result in unavoidable layoffs for California Correctional Center employees.

According to a declaration supporting the state’s efforts to end the city of Susanville’s lawsuit against CDCR et al filled Friday, Sept. 2 in Lassen County Superior Court by Jennifer Barretto, the undersecretary of administration at CDCR, CCC employees are in “limbo” and cannot take advantage of transfer opportunities afforded to other CDCR employees because the department is forbidden from offering those opportunities to them due to Lassen County Superior Court Judge Mark Nareau’s preliminary injunction.

Barretto said she could “competently testify to those facts” if called as a witness.

According to Barretto’s declaration, both the Division of Juvenile Justice and CCC are “statutorily mandated to close no later than June 20, 2023.” While DJJ staff have been “significantly assisted through the process with numerous outreach and placement opportunities … staff at CCC are in limbo and CDCR cannot assist them avoiding layoffs as long as the preliminary injunction barring closure activities remains in place.”

In her declaration, Barretto outlined the transfer opportunities the department has given to DJJ staff that cannot be given to CCC staff.

Barretto declared non-sworn DJJ staff participated in a Voluntary Transfer Program which held positions open for them “until they are relieved of their duties at DJJ.” She declared “that process concluded on May, 2 2022.”

A second process allowing transfers for sworn youth correctional officers and youth correctional counselors concluded March 24, 2022.

A transfer program for youth authority sergeants and lieutenants concluded July 6, 2022.

“CCC staff currently have no process that affords them the same opportunities to select vacant positions within CDCR, as this would be a closure activity forbidden by the preliminary injunction,” Barretto declared. “CDCR is not able to plan for such processes as that would also be a closure activity … It is clear that CCC staff have already been disadvantaged and have missed opportunities to participate in closure pre-layoff closure employment processes that would afford them the chance to voluntarily transfer to another CDCR work location/institution based on seniority … Because the preliminary injunction continues to block CDCR from offering CCC staff the same opportunities that DJJ staff have had, CCC staff’s options from avoiding being included in a formal layoff plan are dwindling and CDCR’s efforts to avoid that soon may no longer be possible.”

Even if the CCC case is dismissed immediately, CCC staff could not participate in the Voluntary Transfer Program until mid-November and transfer deadlines would then arise in December 2022, Barretto declared.

“CDCR would prefer not to have a deadline during the holiday season, as the numerous special activities inherent during this festive time tend to distract staff, and there is a heightened risk some will miss that deadline,” Barretto declared, … “every day after Sept. 2 that the injunction remains in place increases the risk that CDCR will be unable to assist Lassen County staff with avoiding the stresses in being included in a formal layoff plan.”

Editor’s note: The mandated June 30, 2023 closure of DJJ facilities and the mandated June 30, 2023 closure of CCC are governed by two separate pieces of legislation.

According to CDCR’s website, “SB 92 sets a defined closure date of June 30, 2023 for all DJJ facilities.” SB 92 was a 2020-2021 California budget trailer bill. According to a Jan. 7, 2021 letter from Kathleen Allison, CDCR secretary to DJJ staff, “We would like to take this opportunity to advise you that Governor Newsom will be announcing in his 2021-22 budget proposal the permanent closure of the Division of Juvenile Justice by June 30, 2023. As you aware, last year’s state budget called for realignment of juvenile justice to county care, beginning with the suspension of new commitments as of June 30, 2021, as well as for youth to transition by attrition.” The transfer program for DJJ staff was developed and applied over several years.

However, the selection of June 30, 2023 as a closure date for CCC was part of a budget trailer bill signed by the governor only 90-something days ago — June 30, 2022.