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Old 03-05-2016, 10:56 PM
maegonzalo maegonzalo is offline
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Default MWI- Still Employed with CDCR, Needs Advice

Hi! I'm writing because I work as a free staff (not a CO) at CDCR. I met my fiancé where I am still employed. He transferred on NDS (non-disciplinary status) and I am going to find another institution to work at ASAP. I am hoping someone will know a few things I have questions about that I cannot find answers to in Title 15 or the CDCR Operations Handbook. First, I don't see any reason there will be issues with me visiting him, especially since staff who MWI can still visit even if the inmate receives a rule violation and the staff is fired, investigated, etc. Does anyone know if there will be problems if I fill out the 'staff separation' form (I think it's called that, or something similar) at my next institution that will then be placed in my file stating that I am visiting him- this is supposed to be 'confidential' and ensures he isn't transferred to the same yard as me. I don't want to fill it out and have the institution deny me and then investigate/fire me for some reason (paranoia!)...but my thinking is that if someone does become concerned that we are visiting, i will have the form in my file and it will be good that i disclosed/had it approved? Also, do you think the warden might deny it since I'm not putting it in my file right now? I haven't started visiting yet, and I don't intend to until I leave my current institution where I met him. This has all been very difficult because of the repercussions it can have on my job in the future. But i also want to try to do it as "right" as I can because I do intend to stay with cdcd for a while longer and marry him! I would greatly appreciate any insight into this, and thank you in advance!!
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Old 03-06-2016, 08:27 AM
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Welcome to Prison Talk. I moved your question to the CA prisons "Intro" forum for answers from members who have dealt with similar issues already.

I know nothing about the CA prison system, but I still lean towards filing the form, from your new prison (not from the one where you are working and he is an inmate), when you are ready to visit him .

If you are denied, you can talk to whoever made the decision, or file a grievance?. If they do find out, and no form was filed, you will probably lose your job.
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Old 03-06-2016, 09:54 AM
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All I know is CDCr can be very strict when it comes to staff and inmate relationships.
You may have problems trying to visit, or even keeping your job.
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:10 AM
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Hi there you are working for the CDCR and having a relationship with an inmate . This not something you should be keeping quiet. If you want to do it right then report your relationship before it has consequences for you and him.
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Old 03-06-2016, 04:02 PM
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I'm not from California, but my advice is to resign and don't wait. Questions are going to come up if/when you file that paperwork and they are probably not going to let you keep your job anyway (fraternization). It won't matter that he is transferred because it wasnt a relationship that existed previously and it developed while you were working there and he was an inmate.

Even if you are innocent of anything criminal which I am assuming you are, when you file the request and admit to the relationship there is a very good chance they will investigate the full extent of your relationship. It is a lot better to leave on your own terms and from there especially since he is at a different facility now, you can try to get visitation, etc although it very well may be a challenge and a long road. I met my fiancé while working at his prison too so I do understand your situation and totally sympathize. I had to give up a job, but I gained the love of my life. Best of luck to you.
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Old 03-07-2016, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by maegonzalo View Post
Hi! I'm writing because I work as a free staff (not a CO) at CDCR. I met my fiancé where I am still employed. He transferred on NDS (non-disciplinary status) and I am going to find another institution to work at ASAP. I am hoping someone will know a few things I have questions about that I cannot find answers to in Title 15 or the CDCR Operations Handbook. First, I don't see any reason there will be issues with me visiting him, especially since staff who MWI can still visit even if the inmate receives a rule violation and the staff is fired, investigated, etc. Does anyone know if there will be problems if I fill out the 'staff separation' form (I think it's called that, or something similar) at my next institution that will then be placed in my file stating that I am visiting him- this is supposed to be 'confidential' and ensures he isn't transferred to the same yard as me. I don't want to fill it out and have the institution deny me and then investigate/fire me for some reason (paranoia!)...but my thinking is that if someone does become concerned that we are visiting, i will have the form in my file and it will be good that i disclosed/had it approved? Also, do you think the warden might deny it since I'm not putting it in my file right now? I haven't started visiting yet, and I don't intend to until I leave my current institution where I met him. This has all been very difficult because of the repercussions it can have on my job in the future. But i also want to try to do it as "right" as I can because I do intend to stay with cdcd for a while longer and marry him! I would greatly appreciate any insight into this, and thank you in advance!!
Okay, this is where I scratch my head.

No judgment against you, I'm sure you're a nice person and I'm sure your intentions are good. But Woah. Wait. Okay. So you met your fiancée at the prison that you currently work at? Let me clarify...he was an inmate at the time you met him? Or am I missing something? Was he an employee who did something wrong and is now incarcerated?

I don't think I even have to tell you that everything I've ever read or heard about this sort of thing indicates that there is a ZERO TOLERANCE policy about staff and inmates fraternizing, and unless you knew him before he was locked up, or before you worked there, then I almost want to say that your best step is to quietly resign. Maybe someone knows something I don't, and I know what you think you're reading in CDCR manuals and such, but as someone who works at a prison, if you're working for CDCR and suddenly apply to visit an inmate where CDCR is not understanding a previous relationship (friend, family member, etc.) that predates his incarceration time or your employment time, I don't know how this ends well for you. It could even have some disciplinary consequences for him (Seg/SHU time.)

If I'm understanding this right, you really are stuck between a rock and a hard place here. I will speak as someone with a significant other in prison, if Dee told me that a staff member, regardless of rank, was getting too friendly with her, or asking to visit her, or anything like that, I'd report them, and they would probably lose their job. I get that in this case you are the significant other and there's probably nobody else on the civilian side who'd be interested in reporting you, but all it takes is one person making that connection...

If I am understanding you right then disclosing this relationship very likely will end any work that you can do in a prison. Probably any prison. If you haven't done anything illegal (I am sure you are aware that an inmate does not have the ability to give consent and therefore any sexual contact you might have had would technically not be legal and could get you in a load of trouble....if you have done that PLEASE DO NOT DISCUSS THAT HERE as even with you posting anonymously, if someone makes the connection it can come back and cause you a problem,) if you haven't snuck him contraband, if the only thing you're guilty of is fraternization, then disclose the relationship and quietly resign.

I honestly....as a human being, I feel for you. But as someone who's heard some stories, I worry about what you've gotten yourself into from a professional standpoint. We love who we love. But this is really does not sound like a good situation. So if I've misread something, let me know, but to my knowledge staff that is MWI is not allowed to visit, at least not right away as it is considered a potential security risk regardless of whether it's the same prison you worked at or not, and in extreme cases beyond getting fired they aren't even allowed to receive phone calls and will have their mail under extra scrutiny while the investigation goes on.

As for Title 15, I don't see anything direct, but I'm fairly familiar with the Title 15 and keep a copy on my tablet. I can tell you that a department official might find you in violation of Section 3391, Part a which, while non-specific, states the following: Employees shall be alert, courteous, and professional in their dealings with inmates, parolees, fellow employees, visitors and members of the public. Inmates and parolees shall be addressed by their proper names, and never by derogatory or slang reference. Prison numbers shall be used only with names to summon inmates via public address systemts. Employees shall not use abusive, profane, or otherwise improper language while on duty. Irresponsible or unethical conduct or conduct reflecting discredit on themselves or the department, either on or off duty, shall be avoided by all employees.

The reason I bring that up is that the department, right or wrong, could determine that you have acted in an unprofessional manner and that you have engaged in "irresponsible or unethical conduct." Again. I am not saying you have. But I'm hoping that you're considering what they might say. It doesn't matter that you are not a Correctional Officer. Title 15 rules apply to all employees.

There is also section 3400 to consider, Familiarity: Employees must not engage in undue familiarity with inmates, parolees, or the family and friends of inmates or parolees. Whenever there is reason for an employee to have personal contact or discussions with an inmate or parolee or the family and friends of inmates and parolees, the employee must maintain a helpful but professional attitude and demeanor. Employees must not discuss their personal affairs with any inmate or parolee.

Again, if I am understanding this right, if you met your fiancée at the prison while working there and while he was incarcerated there, they're probably going to throw Section 3400 at you.

Again, I'd suggest not talking anything of any sexual contact here, but I refer you to section 3401.5 of Title 15 for a discussion of what the department's policy is on that. Even if you haven't been involved sexually with the inmate, chances are that they will try to get you on this part of their policy as well.

As for what I think you're referring to in terms of self-reporting, that's section 3406: Committed Relatives and Friends of Employees. If an employee becomes aware that any relative or person with whom the employee has or has had either a personal or business relationship, has been committed to or transferred to the jurisdiction of the department, the employee shall notify in writing, the employee’s institution head or appropriate director/assistant secretary of that fact.

The problem there is that you have been aware of the relative/person for some time now.

I'm sorry. Maybe there's something in another Operations Manual that's more specific, or maybe I've completely missed the point, but it just doesn't seem to me that there is much good that can come from you continuing to work for the department at this point, particularly if you are continuing to be involved with this man. If he's on short time the best course of action might be to quietly quit and wait for him to get out while hoping they don't find out about your relationship.

I wish you luck and wish that there were better answers. But like I've said, if I understand this right....you're in one heck of a tough spot. I hope that you and your SO come out of it without incurring any problems.

-E
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Old 03-07-2016, 06:29 PM
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I know nothing about CA, but my experience and the past experiences of many, many posters on PTO leads me to believe you're underestimating the seriousness of the situation that you're in.

We have people here who have gone years without being able to see their significant other because they MWI - even if you aren't considered a security risk, it'll be assumed that you had motive to sneak in contraband or even worse - it'll be questioned if you slept with your fiancé, which is considered nonconsensual and a felony here in Texas. And even if you're cleared of all that...corrections has an "us vs them" mentally that's pretty deeply ingrained. Institutions are known for punishing employees who fraternize long after their employment has ended just because they dared to betray that code.

You really can't win here. When your name and info pops up as a current/former employee, you're screwed whether you have a form or not. You can't claim you knew him before you worked there and it be remotely believable.

To me, your best bet is to quit. Since he's already transferred you aren't a security threat and that's a giant hoop you don't have to jump through.
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Old 03-07-2016, 07:38 PM
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I met my husband as free staff... I worked at a mccf.. And I had to resign before I was fired. They tried keeping him there to prevent use from seeing eachother but he was able to get transfered. My assumptions are that your current work place is unaware of your relationship.
To each there own. I fully understand. But cdcr needs facility they can trust won't cross the line. Even as free staff you are expected to uphold the same professionalism as a co. And it's completely understandable. Cause there are men who take advantage of staff... If I were you I would try. And if you really love that man you should go won th your gut and give it a shot. And if you lose your job or are unable to see him that's something you have to be ready for and willing to deal with
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Old 03-07-2016, 08:06 PM
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I agree with WeepingWillow that you may be underestimating the experience you're about to have when you either resign and try to visit or are discovered and disciplined. I also agree with Hueros_T that if you love him and are prepared to completely sacrifice your career with corrections (I realize you are a free employee, but you are in a corrections environment), then do what you need to do. But...

You transferring to another institution does not solve your problem. You are his staff now and you can't change that. CDC views this as a breech of security.

The staff-inmate relationship as viewed by CDC seems predictable to a point. If you quit and try to visit, you and your interactions with him will be investigated. At best he'll be under a microscope for some time and you'll be under review for misconduct. At worst, he could be disciplined for fraternization with staff. If you are found out before then, all bets are off.

Yes, former staff have overcome these obstacles to have lasting relationships. But for the sake of others who may be toying with the idea, please remember: you can get fired, you can quit, you can leave that place and not look back. Your inmate love interest is their property, for lack of a better word, and the consequences for them can come down harder and faster than you can control. It's not all about your career.
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:54 PM
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Thank you all for your feedback and especially for the supportive comments. I grasp the seriousness of the situation even if it may not come off as such. I am working on getting a new job outside of CDC ASAP. Thank you all again for taking the time to respond.
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Old 03-08-2016, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by maegonzalo View Post
Thank you all for your feedback and especially for the supportive comments. I grasp the seriousness of the situation even if it may not come off as such. I am working on getting a new job outside of CDC ASAP. Thank you all again for taking the time to respond.
Certainly Mae. My relationship with my girl started under circumstances that, while not exactly like yours, bear a degree of similarity and resulted in me opting to change careers. Wishing you luck. Keep us posted, keep coming back for support, but do bear in mind to be cautious about what you do share in case anyone is watching. I hope my post did not come off as intentionally judgmental. I just know how I've been treated by CDCR just as someone with a loved one locked up (not well at all, as you might suspect) and what the stories I have heard are like, and I wanted to point at what I thought would possibly be things they might bring up in light of the situation. Stay strong.
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Old 03-08-2016, 03:50 PM
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In their eyes the code of conduct and ethics has been broken professionalism, honesty, integrity and the trust of your co-workers. They figure if you can break those rules than you can pose a threat and be in breachment of the security of that facility.

Finding another job would be the best thing to do. Let me know if I can assist you. I have assisted with getting or restoring visiting to some families. I'm not a lawyer but I'm familiar with the cdcr rules. Good luck.
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