BEYOND BARS: Inmate Advisory Counsel: A Cruel Hoax

By Rodney B. Barno
Corcoran, CA

I was the Inmate Advisory Counsel (IAC) Chairman at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (CSATF) in Corcoran, California. My responsibility was to advocate for the population of my facility and for the IAC to be a vehicle of communication between the administration and population. When issues arise and have a systematic impact on the population, the IAC had a duty to address it with appropriate administrative staff.

Immediately when I began to address serious problems with the inmate appeal system with the appeals coordinator, associate warden and warden, I began experiencing the direct impact of retaliation. When I made attempts to address significant program delays and deviations, I really felt the heat from staff. I had uncovered the administration was falsifying records to inaccurately report that the population was receiving more programming than it was (NOTE: this was allegedly an Enhanced Programming Facility [EPF], an honor yard). When I was retaliated against, for conducting IAC business, I filed appeals and agendas with administrative staff.

In January 2016, I was placed into administrative segregation. I was told “confidential information” was received noting I have an enemy. I was programming on that facility for over four years. Having the IAC position that I did allowed me to understand how the administration truly operates—in a fraudulent manner! Immediately when a Chairman begins to advocate on behalf of the population, he “disappears” from the yard. The past two or three Chairmen experienced the same retaliation. While my segregation is deemed non-disciplinary and non-adverse, I continue to feel the punishment.

I was threatened, physically hit, my property illegally confiscated and stolen by staff, and currently suffer from inhumane conditions in segregation. I have been issued a false disciplinary report, denied meals, confined to my cell for 24 hours a day since January 19, 2016, denied recreation, and denied the right to appeal and mail out. For one week I slept on a cold metal bunk without a mattress or adequate clothing. At one point, I was denied toilet paper.

The administration does not recognize me and will do nothing to correct this misconduct and retaliation. I believe the IAC process is a “cruel hoax” that is deceptive to the population and Director of Corrections. The IAC system is broken and completely ineffective, requiring statewide attention. Little did I know, I had entered a job position that was a ticking time bomb, not knowing I would be placed into segregation and transferred for doing what’s right for the population. The IAC is in no way, shape or form designed or intended to address concerns expressed by the population.

There are many other issues the IAC attempted to address (e.g. medical, ADA, food service, and specifically huge problems with mold, floods, rodents, and roaches, in the dining hall). I’ve never seen anyone talk about the IAC in California. It’s time to bring attention to it and shed light on the injustices imposed on the Chairmen who take up serious responsibilities dealing with all inmates and staff and administration. It’s tough! ■

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