From the President

August 12, 2013

Let me start by welcoming our newest SCOPO member - welcome aboard Stanislaus County Probation Corrections Officer Association! They joined as of our August 2nd meeting in Santa Cruz County, where we had a good and productive meeting. Among the issues discussed at that meeting, was SB 61 – Juvenile Solitary Confinement.

As of this writing, SB 61 is scheduled to be heard this week in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Reading the text of the bill, the bill in its current form would:

….provide that a minor or ward who is detained in, or sentenced to, any juvenile facility or other secure state or local facility shall not be subject to solitary confinement, as defined, unless the minor or ward poses an immediate and substantial risk of harm to others or to the security of the facility, and all other less-restrictive options have been exhausted. The bill would permit the minor or ward to be held in solitary confinement only in accordance with specified guidelines, including that the minor or ward be held in solitary confinement only for the minimum time required to address the safety risk, and that does not compromise the mental and physical health of the minor or ward. The bill would require clinical staff to evaluate a minor or ward face to face within one hour after placement, and every 4 hours thereafter, asspecified.

It is our opinion, that institutions already have acceptable mechanisms in place to govern the use of confinement time, in addition to following established standards in Title 15 and Title 24. Furthermore, SB 61 would force counties to change all current juvenile detention facilities at an increased cost at a time when counties are strapped for cash. In order to comply with the proposed bill, counties would also be forced to increase staffing levels as workloads are increased. Lastly, this bill would increase workloads without providing the resources necessary to carry out the added mandate. SCOPO is strongly opposed to SB 61, and plans to continue its fight against what we believe is a misguided effort at addressing juvenile confinement. If SB 61 passes, the fallout could create a ripple effect throughout the juvenile and adult institutional systems.

Working against SB 61 is another example of how important it is for us to become actively engaged in politics, whether it is at the local, state or national level. If we don’t act on our own behalf, who will? Whether you follow politics closely or not, know that decisions are being made every day by politicians; which will have an impact on your lives – work related or in your personal lives. The easiest way to get involved is to vote or volunteer to work on an issues campaign (i.e. measures or propositions). The next step is to become directly involved in advocating for individuals or issues that are important to you or your organization. That includes setting up a Political Action Committee (PAC) for your organization, endorsing political candidates, making contributions to candidates that support your interests, educating your legislators – locally and at the larger level, and promoting ideas and values that are relevant to the job you do. It is also important for organizations to involve their members, and for individuals to participate in their organization’s efforts. Let’s not forget the community at large, which not only benefits from the job related services we provide, but they can also act as a powerful ally if rallied to the right cause. Their support is critical to achieving your goals, and making a difference on the political landscape.

Its hard work, but we need to continue to be at the forefront of the battle to preserve and expand funding to probation, and be an active participant when probation and related labor issues are being discussed. If we aren’t, then we’ll surely be on the outside looking in.

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President