Fed. Investigator Charges CA Guards Union with Cover-up

An investigator appointed by a fed. judge has concluded that officials of the state’s prison guards union have protected rogue guards, resulting in a code of silence where “good officers turn bad.”  Special Master John Hagar released a 71-page report on Jan. 15 recommending criminal contempt charges against the frmr. head of the Calif. Dept. of Corrections, Edward Alameida, and an ex-chief deputy, Thomas Moore. 


According to Hagar, the two quashed an investigation of guards at Pelican Bay State Prison on perjury charges, and then deceived Hagar.  Alameida’s decision to end the internal probe reportedly came just days after a telephone call with the vice president of the Calif. Correctional Peace Officers Assn.


Last year, fed. officials turned over to the state evidence that at least 3 guards lied under oath about 2 other guards, Edward Powers and Jose Garcia, who were convicted of beating inmates at Pelican bay and setting up another inmate to be stabbed.  But corrections chief Alameida shut down the state probe, reportedly saying that he wanted to “make this go away,” days after his phone conversation with the union official.  In his report, Hagar concluded that many investigations of mistreatment of inmates “have been disrupted over the past 10 years by the ” union.


“Rather than correcting the prisoners, some correctional officers acquire a prisoner’s mentality:  They form gangs, align with gangs and spread the code of silence,” Hagar wrote.  He recommended contempt charges against Alameida and Moore partly because the two falsely claimed that one of the chief witnesses against the two guards was mentally ill.


The Correction Dept. will have an opportunity to respond to Hagar’s report before it is formally submitted to U.S. Dist. Judge Thelton Henderson (N.D. CA, Carter).  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new Secy. of Youth & Adult Corrections, Rod Hickman, believes that he can develop  an “investigative process that has credibility and is thorough and fair,” acc. to spokesman Tip Kindel.  Union vice pres. Lance Corcoran claimed, “we don’t spend our time or money defending bad cops.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 1/16/04]