BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 1270
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   January 10, 2012
          Chief Counsel:      Gregory Pagan


                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                                 Tom Ammiano, Chair

                   AB 1270 (Ammiano) - As Amended:  January 4, 2012
           
           
           SUMMARY  :  Requires the California Department of Corrections 
          (CDCR) to permit media representatives to interview inmates 
          personally in California's prison on a pre-arranged, as well as 
          random, basis unless the warden determines the interview poses 
          an immediate threat to public safety or the security of the 
          institution.  Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Requires the warden, once he or she has granted a media 
            interview request, to provide notice to the victim or victim's 
            family at least two days prior to the interview if the victim 
            or victim's family has stated they wish to be notified in the 
            event of interview requests.   

          2)Provides that during an interview, a news media representative 
            may use materials necessary to conduct interviews, including, 
            but not limited to, pens, pencils, papers, and audio and video 
            recording devices.  These items shall be subject to search for 
            the purpose of protecting against an immediate and direct 
            threat to the security of the institution.  

          3)States that a news media representative who desires to conduct 
            a prearranged interview at an institution shall make the 
            request within a reasonable time period prior to the requested 
            interview in writing to the warden or through contact with the 
            institutions public relations office.

          4)Requires staff to notify an inmate of each interview request, 
            further stating that no interview shall be permitted without 
            the inmate's consent. 

          5)States that an inmate should not receive compensation or 
            anything of value for interviews with the news media. 

          6)Requires the warden or the warden's designated public 
            relations or custodial official to notify the news media 








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            representative making the interview request whether the 
            interview has been granted within 48 hours of the request.

          7)Requires the warden or the warden's designated public 
            relations or custodial official be given at least two business 
            days prior to an interview to notify the victim, who has 
            requested notification of an interview request, that the 
            interview has been granted. 

          8)Allows the warden or the warden's designated public relations 
            or custodial official to deny an interview with a particular 
            prisoner if it is determined that the interview poses an 
            immediate and direct threat to the security or the physical 
            safety of a member of the public.  The news media 
            representative will receive specific explanations for the 
            denial within a reasonable period of time. 

          9)Allows CDCR to establish a reasonable time, place, and manner 
            restrictions for prison interviews, including limitations on 
            the number of interviews per prisoner in a specified time 
            period and limitations on the amount of audio, video, and film 
            equipment entering the facility for the interview.  CDCR also 
            can establish arrangements for pool interviews if the requests 
            to interview one individual are excessive. 

          10) States that no prisoner or parolee can have his or her 
            visitation limited or revoked as a result of a visit from a 
            news media representative.  A prisoner or parolee may also not 
            be punished, reclassified, disciplined, transferred to another 
            prison against his or her wishes, or retaliated against for 
            participating or communicating with a representative of the 
            news media. 

          11)Prohibits interviews from being the subject of auditory 
            monitoring.

          12) Defines "representative of the news media" as a journalist 
            who works for or is under contract to a newspaper, magazine, 
            wire service, book publisher, or radio or television program; 
            or who, through press passes issued by a governmental or 
            police agency or through similar convincing means, can 
            demonstrate that he or she is a bona fide journalist engaged 
            in the gathering of information for distribution to the 
            public.









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           EXISTING LAW  :  

           1)Vests the Secretary of the CDCR with the supervision, 
            management and control of state prisons.  The Secretary is 
            also responsible for the care, custody, treatment, training, 
            discipline and employment of a person confined in those 
            prisons.  The Secretary may decide the rules and regulations 
            for the administration of the prisons.  (Penal Code Sections 
            5054 and 5058.)

          2)Requires a person sentenced to imprisonment in a state prison 
            may only be denied of civil rights reasonably related to 
            legitimate penological interests.  (Penal Code Section 2600.)

          3)Allows an inmate in a California state prison to correspond 
            confidentially with a member of the State Bar or holder of 
            public office, provided that the prison authorities may open 
            and inspect incoming mail to search for contraband.  (Penal 
            Code Section 2601.)

          4)Prohibits a prisoner from participating in a specific 
            face-to-face interview with a media representative.  CDCR 
            Regulations, Title 15, Section 3261.5(a)(2).]

          5)Permits a media representative to engage in random 
            face-to-face interviews of individuals involved in a specific 
            activity or program or encountered while covering a facility 
            activity or event, and shall be limited to the time, areas and 
            segments of the facility population designated by the 
            institution head.  CDCR Regulations, Title 15, Section 
            3261.5(a)(1).]

          6)Prohibits use of cameras or recording equipment without prior 
            approval of the institution head or designee.   CDCR 
            Regulations, Title 15, Section 3261.5(b).]

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown


           COMMENTS  :   


           1)Author's Statement  :    According to the author, "This bill 
            enables media representatives to request specific in-person 
            inmate interviews and requires CDCR to respond to requests 








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            within a 48 hour period.  The department would still retain 
            discretion over all media requests, including the ability to 
            deny requests that pose any safety risks to the institution, 
            staff, or a member of the public.  Any responses denying a 
            request must be accompanied with a written explanation for the 
            request denial.  Crime victims and their families would be 
            notified of the approved interview at least two days prior to 
            the date of the interview and inmates would be protected from 
            any acts of restitution by CDCR for speaking with a media 
            representative."

           2)Background and History  :  In 1971, the CDCR adopted a 
            regulation prohibiting media access to specifically named 
            prisoners.  This regulation was upheld by the United States 
            Supreme Court in Pell v. Procunier (1974) 417 U.S. 817.  The 
            Court found that a prison inmate retains those first amendment 
            rights that are not inconsistent with his or her status as a 
            prisoner and with the legitimate penological objectives of the 
            corrections system and the rights of the media under the First 
            and Fourteenth Amendments are not infringed since the media 
            can still visit prisons and talk to inmates at random.

          In 1975, the Legislature enacted Penal Code Section 2620 
            (Chapter 1175, Statutes of 1975) which provided that during 
            any periods of confinement, state prisoners may only be 
            deprived of rights "as is necessary in order to provide for 
            the reasonable security of the institutions . . . and for the 
            reasonable protection of the public."  When this section was 
            enacted, the CDCR again allowed media access to specifically 
            named prison inmates.

          In Turner v. Safly (1987) 482 U.S. 78, the test for limiting 
            inmates' rights was held to be whether the restriction "is 
            reasonably related to legitimate penological interests."  In 
            1994, Penal Code Section 2620 was amended (Chapter 555, 
            Statutes of 1994) to generally adopt the Turner standard.  As 
            amended Penal Code Section 2620 stated, "A person sentenced to 
            imprisonment in the state prison may during a period of 
            confinement be deprived of such rights and only such rights as 
            is related to legitimate penological interests."

          The adoption of the Turner standard in statute, as noted above, 
            prompted the CDCR in 1996 to issue emergency regulations that 
            deleted news media from the confidential correspondence 
            authority and deleted authority for "specific person" media 








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            interviews along with the procedures that had existed to 
            facilitate such interviews (and added language that "inmates 
            may not participate in specific-person face-to-face 
            interviews").

           3)Pre-Arranged Interviews with Inmates  :  Current regulations 
            prohibit representatives of the news media from prearranging 
            an interview with a CDCR prisoner.  With respect to the 
            implementation of these regulations, a CDCR memorandum dated 
            November 3, 2004, "Revisiting California Department of 
            Corrections Media Policy", sets forth CDCR's policy regarding 
            prearranged interviews:

             a)   "Institutions are prohibited by CCR, Title 15, Section 
               3261.5 to arrange individual interviews between media and 
               inmates; 

             b)   "If a media member wants to contact an inmate, they can 
               do so by writing a letter and getting approval to be on the 
               inmate's visiting list;

             c)   "As a visitor, media are allowed to bring writing 
               materials but are prohibited from bringing any electronic 
               recording devices and cameras; and,

             d)   "The media member can meet with a specific inmate during 
               normal visiting hours and is allowed to bring writing 
               material to take notes while interviewing an inmate."  

           4)Cameras and Electronic Recording Equipment  :  Current 
            regulations:  (a) restrict the use of video and audio 
            recording equipment while within a CDCR facility generally; 
            (b) require the prior approval of the institution head for 
            random interviews; and, (c) may not be used for pre-arranged 
            interviews during visiting hours.

          This bill requires CDCR to allow representatives of the news 
            media to use materials such as pens, paper and electronic 
            recording equipment during any interview with a prisoner, 
            subject to search and reasonable limitations on time and 
            amount of recording equipment entering the facility.

          It is not clear that the authority of the institution head to 
            limit the amount of recording equipment allowed within the 
            institution also vests an institution head with the authority 








                                                                  AB 1270
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            to limit the specific type of equipment or use of that 
            equipment once permitted inside.  This may lead to an 
            institution head either granting an interview where the 
            representative of the news media operates video and audio 
            equipment or a denial of the interview altogether for purposes 
            of protecting institutional security or a member of the 
            public.

           5)Prior Legislation  :

             a)   SB 304 (Romero), of the 2007-08 Legislative Session, was 
               identical to this bill and would have allowed 
               representatives of the news media to conduct prearranged 
               interviews with specified prisoners incarcerated in the 
               CDCR.  SB 304 was vetoed.

             b)   SB 1521 (Romero), of the 2005-06 Legislative Session, 
               was identical to this bill and would have allowed 
               representatives of the news media to conduct prearranged 
               interviews with specified prisoners incarcerated in the 
               CDCR.  SB 1521 was vetoed. 

             c)   SB 239 (Romero), of the 2005-06 Legislative Session was 
               identical to this bill and would have allowed 
               representatives of the news media to conduct prearranged 
               interviews with specified prisoners incarcerated in the 
               CDCR.  SB 239 was vetoed.

             d)   SB 1164 (Romero), of the 2003-04 Legislative Session, 
               would have allowed representatives of the news media to 
               conduct prearranged interviews with specified prisoners 
               incarcerated in the CDCR.  SB 1164 was vetoed. 

             e)   AB 1440 (Migden), of the 1999-2000 Legislative Session, 
               would have repealed regulations issued by the CDCR 
               restricting media access to prisoners.  AB 1440 was vetoed.

             f)   AB 2101 (Migden), of the 1999-2000 Legislative Session, 
               was identical to AB 1440.  AB 2101 was vetoed.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 

           American Civil Liberties Union








                                                                  AB 1270
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          Books Not Bars
          California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
          California Correctional Peace Officers Association
          California Newspaper Publishers Association
          California Public Defenders Association
          Drug Policy Alliance
          Friends Committee on Legislation of California 
          Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

           Opposition 
           
          None
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Gregory Pagan / PUB. S. / (916) 
          319-3744