AB 292 (Stone), the Access to Programming Act: The goal of this bill is to limit disruptions to rehabilitative programming in CA prisons by directing CDCR operations in the following ways:
1. Minimize disruptive transfers by seeking voluntary transfers first,
- Transfers to other prisons or facilities are very disruptive to rehabilitative programming. Transfers have an adverse effect on someone’s ability to remain in programs and complete them.
- AB 292 directs CDCR to solicit transfers from those who want to be transferred before transferring those who are programming. This does not end transfers, but makes it harder to transfer those who are programming.
2. Prioritize incarcerated persons for similar programming when transferred or if a program is temporarily canceled or terminated.
- Currently, when incarcerated people are transferred to different prisons, they are not guaranteed to continue similar programs and are forced to restart the waitlist process. Programs are sometimes cancelled in the middle of the courses, with no explanation or guarantee they will resume.
- AB 292 directs CDCR to prioritize incarcerated persons for similar programming when transferred or if a program is temporarily canceled or terminated.
3. Offer programming to the greatest extent possible during lockdowns;
- In addition to unnecessary lockdowns disrupting programming during normal times of operation, for the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtually all programming was halted while the prisons were on lockdown despite there being remote and other alternatives to continue programming
- AB 292 directs CDCR to continue offering programming during lockdowns when possible, including during security or health-related institutional lockdowns.
4. Minimize program waitlists to less than one year to the greatest extent possible;
- Long waitlists are a major problem in CA prisons. In many prisons, waitlists for rehabilitative programs are much longer than 1 year.
- AB 292 directs CDCR to reduce the waitlist time to the greatest extent possible so incarcerated people don’t have to wait years for essential programs.
5. Minimize conflicts with work schedules;
- Often, rehabilitative programs are held at the same time as mandated work assignments for incarcerated people.
- AB 292 directs CDCR to minimize conflicts between an incarcerated person’s work schedule and programming
6. Offer a variety of programming for everyone, to the greatest extent possible
- CDCR treats access to programming as a finite resource and is primarily provided to those who are closest to the release
- AB 292 directs CDCR to provide a variety of programs to all incarcerated people in CA prisons regardless of security level or sentence length.
AB 292 will go into effect Jan 1, 2022 and apply to everyone in CDCR.