Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; Immigrant Legal Resource Center; and Asian Law Caucus v. California Department of Corrections

Closed Case
Jul 29, 2008

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

The California corrections department is using underground, non-public guidelines, rather than lawful regulations, to decide whether to transfer California prisoners to other states as far away as Mississippi and Tennessee. This means that inmates and their families do not know how the prisons decide whom to transfer.

It also leaves open the possibility that prison officials are using arbitrary and subjective judgments regarding race, ethnicity, and immigration status to transfer inmates thousands of miles from their families. The ACLU Foundation of Northern California is representing three advocacy groups in seeking to require that the prison system follow the law and make these crucial decisions using fixed, public rules, developed with input from the public.

Suit Brought on Behalf of Advocacy Organizations

The lawsuit is brought on behalf of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and the Asian Law Caucus, on the grounds that California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has failed to comply with California's Administrative Procedure Act. The Act serves as a check against arbitrary decision-making by state agencies and officials.

Groups Seek to Stop Inmate Transfers Until New Polices in Place

The groups are seeking an injunction to stop the transfers until proper policies are in place, sufficient notice has been given, and public comment allowed.

The attorneys and advocates who have filed the suit charge that the current policy is effectively an underground one, as it lacks public, enforceable standards and a transparent process for determining who will be involuntarily transferred out of state.

State law recognizes the benefit of placing inmates near their visiting family members.

The ACLU Foundation of Northern California is working with the law firm of Keker & Van Nest, LLP on the suit.

Learn more:

ACLU Memorandum RE: Involuntary Transfer of Prisoners (December 18, 2008)

Governor’s Prison Overcrowding State of Emergency Proclamation (October 4, 2006)

CDCR Memorandum RE: California Out-of-State Correctional Facility Program, Phase III (February 2, 2007)

Various CDCR Memoranda RE: Involuntary Transfer (September 21, 2007 – February 1, 2008)

ACLU Letter to Secretary Tilton, CDCR RE: Out-of-state inmate transfers (December 12, 2007)

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