The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is changing how inmates are housed, saying current separations between general population inmates and those held in sensitive needs yards have been ineffective in eliminating gangs and violence within prison walls.
The agency will instead move toward creating some “non-designated program” facilities, where both groups will be tasked with co-existing. The current system has bred new gangs within the sensitive needs yards, resulting in escalating violence, CDCR Undersecretary of Operations Ralph Diaz said.
“We are going to do behavior-based programs and holding people based on their own behavior,” Diaz said. “These are the individuals that will eventually be returning home,” he added.
The transition may not be smooth, however, says Joshua Mason, a south Sacramento resident, gang expert and former inmate within the state’s prison system.
Inmates sent to the sensitive needs yards are historically inmates who face threats from the general population for factors like helping prison administration as informants, leaving a gang or being convicted with an unfavorable crime, like child molestation.