Today, lawmakers will take a look at the state's correctional policies governing the use of the Security Housing Unit, or SHU, tiny cells whose prevalence recently prompted the third massive prison hunger strike in the last two years.
Prisoners starving themselves to protest the SHU found sympathetic ears in Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, who will preside over today's joint hearing of the Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees. Advocates for the hunger strikes cited the planned hearing as one reason they halted their action.
Witnesses will include California Inspector General Robert A. Barton, Director Michael Stainer of the Division of Adult Institutions, Margaret Winter of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project and Dolores Canales, a family member of a SHU inmate and one of the key people speaking on behalf of the inmates. Reform advocates will be rallying on the Capitol's west steps before the hearing, which runs from 1 to 3:30 p.m. in room 4203.
VIDEO: What's bugging Gov. Jerry Brown? Perhaps it's a recent veto stirring up memories of his history with insects, Dan Walters says.
STATE HOSPITALS: On the topic of controversially managed state institutions, the Assembly Select Committee on State Hospital and Developmental Center Safety will hold a hearing today examining issues of violence and safety lapses at state-run facilities for the mentally ill. Witnesses will include Dolly Matteucci of Napa State Hospital, Michele Mudgett of the California Office of Patient's Rights and law enforcement and public health officials from Napa County. From 1 to 3 p.m. at Napa Valley College.
FILM FUNDING: Also on today's informational hearing agenda is a look at the state of California's oft-debated film tax credit. Held at the SAG-AFTRA National Headquarters in Los Angeles (naturally), the joint hearing of the Assembly committees on Revenue And Taxation and on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism And Internet Media will feature Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission; Rusty Hicks of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor; a handful of economists and film studio representatives; and Assembly members Ian Calderon and Raul Bocanegra.
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Eric Linder, R-Corona, who turns 35 today.
PHOTO: Lt. Rick Graves stands in the inmates' concrete exercise yard at Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, on Feb. 9, 2012. New York Times/ Jim Wilson.