Employees of the California prison system are usually on the right side of the law. But a senior psychologist at California State Prison was recently arrested -- for the crime of pretending to be a victim of a crime. Her final day on the job was Dec. 22.
In April, Laurie Ann Martinez faked a sexual assault and robbery with the help of her friend Nicole Snyder, according to court documents described in The Sacramento Bee.
During the police investigation into Martinez's report of being assaulted and robbed, one of Martinez's co-workers allegedly told the police that Martinez had openly discussed staging such a crime in order to persuade her husband to move to a safer neighborhood. Both Martinez and Snyder are charged with felony criminal conspiracy.
When the allegations first emerged in May, Martinez was transferred to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation headquarters, where she wouldn't have contact with inmates. She was officially terminated last month.
Among the employees of the California justice system who have succumbed to crimes they are responsible for preventing and punishing are a corrections officer and two police officers who were indicted in 2006 by a federal grand jury on civil rights, narcotics and weapons charges. Along with over a dozen others, they had robbed more than 20 private homes in uniform, under the auspices of legitimate police searches.
Police corruption is not a problem special to California, of course, and getting a paycheck from a department of corrections doesn't make one immune from committing a crime. But the national spotlight has been on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation since May, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the overcrowding in its prisons qualified as cruel and unusual punishment. The prison system was ordered to reduce its inmate population to 167 percent of the intended prison capacity by Tuesday.
In his opinion, Justice Kennedy expressed particular concern about the quality of physical and mental care prisoners were receiving in California's penitentiaries. The allegations against Martinez give his concern all the more weight.
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