Drew Nate | Black Voice News
On July 27, the State Of California published the results of an investigation involving the California Prison Industry Authority (CalPIA).
The investigation came as a result of multiple whistleblower allegations.
The audit revealed that during 2017 through 2018, CalPIA used approximately $1.3 million in gifts that had no relation to CalPIA’s purpose. CalPIA’s responsibility is to provide work opportunities for incarcerated individuals under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
What They Found
Examples of unlawful gifts that were found during the investigation included $80,000 in artificial turf that was given to a prison, $66,000 in digital cameras, and $156,000 in furniture which was built by inmates and eventually given away without any money in return.
CalPIA did not receive approval from the Prison Industry Board before providing all of these gifts according to the audit. $213,000 was spent on leadership training that was exclusively used by another department.
According to the audit many CalPIA employees were aware of the agency’s actions but they did not question it as they feared executive management retaliation. In the investigation it was also found that CDCR spent $443,000 on security prison cameras for the perimeter of the prison.
Additional Violations Found in Hiring Practices
Not only did CalPIA’s executive management violate state laws in regards to spending but in their hiring processes as well.
CalPIA is under scrutiny after investigators learned executives used unethical hiring processes which included hiring candidates that were relatives and friends, for jobs and promotions.
Through evidence found in email records, personnel files, and witness statements, investigators found that CalPIA executives had appointed two individuals into the special consultant classification that should have been filled by traditional civil servant positions. Secondly, CalPIA also preselected an employee by changing the classification for an ongoing recruitment and then did not re‑advertise the position.
Auditors further reported CalPIA’s executive management unlawfully influenced multiple hiring decisions for an executive’s son, son-in-law and, without CalPIA’s knowledge, hired a soon to be in-law without considering any other applicants.
Also during the investigation email records were discovered revealing several CalPIA staff advanced an employee into a permanent skilled laborer position while abolishing their ranked list of eligible candidates. This ended up favoring the candidate the executive wanted. The same employee was later promoted to prison industries superintendent without opening up the position.
Moving forward, CalPIA has stated that in response to the investigation they will place a notice of this investigation in the personnel files of any former employees responsible for the improper use of agency funds. Additionally CalPIA will be adding mandatory training for executives and managers in order to combat favoritism in their hiring processes.
Finally, CalPIA will also begin to inform and train employees at all levels of the agency on how to report malicious behavior.
Drew Nate is a recent graduate of La Sierra University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications. As a student he researched and wrote on topics of interest including international climate change, social justice, fashion and criminal justice reform for the University’s student run newspaper.