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Hastings to host conference on state's prison crisis

San Francisco meeeting free, open to all who register

The crisis facing California's prison system will be the subject of a conference sponsored by Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco starting Thursday.

The meeting, titled "California Correctional Crisis," is open to the public and will be held Thursday and Friday in the lower-level auditorium of the State Building at 350 McAllister St.

Sessions on inmate health care lawsuits and on sentencing reform will address some of the problems stemming from severe overcrowding in the state's prison system.

"California's prison system has been in a state of crisis for over a decade," said Hastings professor Aaron Rappaport, an organizer of the conference.

"Anywhere you look--at the overcrowded conditions, the inadequate sentencing structure--the system is breaking down," he said. "We need to rethink the way California has been incarcerating its offenders."

Matthew Cate, director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, will be on a panel on "Defining the Problem" at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento, who is presiding over one of the prison health lawsuits, will be the luncheon speaker on Friday.

Other speakers during the two-day session include Clark Kelso, a court-appointed prison health care receiver; state Sen. Mark Leno, (D-San Francisco); Prison Law Office director Donald Specter; and California Correctional Peace Officers Association President Michael Jimenez.

Attendance at the conference is free, but those who wish to attend are asked to register in advance. To register or to see a full schedule of the conference, go to the conference Web site at www.cacorrectionalcrisis.org.

For more information, contact Hastings Law School spokeswoman Nicole Sadler at(415)

581-8818.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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