California Correctional Peace Officers Association
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|Full name||California Correctional Peace Officers Association|
|Key people||Mike Jimenez, President|
The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), founded in 1957 as the California Correctional Officers Association (CCOA), is the corrections officers' labor union in California. The CCPOA is widely considered one of the most powerful political forces in California politics. CCPOA made the largest contribution to the No on 5 Campaign in 2008, contributing one million dollars. CCPOA president Don Novey established the union's tradition of forming close alliances and friendships with political leaders during the 1980s.
The mission of the CCPOA is to "promote and enhance the correctional profession, protect the safety of those engaged in corrections and advocate for the laws, funding and policies needed to improve prison operations and protect public safety."
The CCPOA union members currently pay $79.87 per month to the union. As of 2002, the union had 31,000 members, at which time union dues totaled $21.9 million per year.
In the 1950s, an officer, despondent over working conditions at San Quentin State Prison, committed suicide. This prompted Officer Al Mello and eight fellow officers, five of which were Correctional Lieutenants concerned with the pay scale and working conditions, to start traveling to the three existing state prisons (Folsom, Soledad, and San Quentin) to rally support for the creation of a union dedicated to representing the correctional officer series. In 1957, the California Correctional Officers Association (CCOA) was formed with members from each adult institution. Almost immediately, law enforcement officers from the California Youth Authority, Youth and Adult Paroles, and Medical Technical Assistants began to inquire about membership.
Until the 1980s, unionized prison guards were relatively weak politically in California, with membership divided between the California State Employees Association and the CCOA. Don Novey led a successful effort during the 1980s to combine California Youth Authority supervisors and parole officers with prison guards, launching the CCPOA's rise to prominence. The CCPOA's membership increased substantially. Novey was an aggressive lobbyist and helped bring the union to a position of great influence in Sacramento politics, eventually becoming one of the most powerful unions in the state.
By 1992, the CCPOA was California's second largest political action committee, contributing over a million dollars to legislative candidates. The CCPOA also contributed over a million dollars to Pete Wilson's successful 1990 gubernatorial campaign, the largest independent campaign contribution on behalf of a candidate in California history. The CCPOA subsequently backed Gray Davis's successful campaign for governorship in 1998.
The CCPOA has supported campaigns for tougher criminal sentences, including large contributions to the 1994 campaign for Proposition 184, the 'three strikes' ballot initiative, which puts repeat offenders behind bars for lengthy terms.
The CCPOA is deeply involved in a variety of political activities. Most spending is done through political action committees. Although its membership is relatively small, representing only about one tenth the membership of the California Teachers Association, CCPOA political activity routinely exceeds that of all other labor unions in California. The union spends heavily on influencing political campaigns, and on lobbying legislators and other government officials. CCPOA also hires public relations firms and political polling firms.
Lobbying efforts and campaign contributions by the CCPOA have helped secure passage of numerous legislative bills favorable to union members, including bills that increase prison terms, member pay, and enforce current drug laws. The CCPOA takes the position that correctional officers perform an essential public service that puts in great danger, and strives for a safer California
Political action committees
CCPOA critics assert that the union has become too powerful in California politics, that it has used its power to unfair advantage, and that it has been an impediment to constructive debate and openness about the state of California prisons. The union has been criticized for the way it uses its relationship with crime victims, including its financing of two statewide victims' advocacy groups.
- CCPOA.org - California Correctional Peace Officers Association (official website)
- PrisonsUnderPressure.com - A CCPOA-sponsored documentary that examines some of the root causes of prison overcrowding.
- CJCJ.org - 'Political Power of the CCPOA: The Cycle of CCPOA Influence', Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice