Valley State Prison Inmate Family Council 


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In California every institution is required by law to have a Mens' Advisory Council ("MAC"). This is a committee formed of prisoners who have been elected by other prisoners to be their representatives in dealing with prison staff and administration regarding issues that affect groups of prisoners, or the prisoner population in general. It is not meant to deal with the problems of individual prisoners unless those problems also affect other prisoners.

The typical MAC organization consists of each housing unit electing a representative.  This group of representatives from all the housing units on a "Yard" meets and elects from among themselves an executive body, e.g., chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, treasurer, sergeant at arms.  The only statutory requirement is that MAC members be elected by the prisoners, not picked by the administration. MAC terms run for one year.

Once the MAC is established, the individual prisoners bring problems to their own housing unit MAC member. That MAC member then discusses the problem with the MAC representatives in that housing unit. If it appears to be a general problem, they collectively bring the problem to the attention of the MAC executive body. The executive body further investigates, and if they consider it a bona fide problem worthy of resolution, they will bring the issue to the attention of staff. Individual housing unit problems are usually addressed within that unit with or without executive body members being involved. Some problems between prisoners or groups of prisoners are often resolved without staff involvement. 

Early problem discussion with staff are informal, and many minor problems can be resolved at this stage. If not, the MAC executive body, if required by CDC regulations, to meet with the prison administration no less than once each month.  This meeting is colloquially called the "Agenda Meeting." This because any item to be discussed must be placed within a written agenda, that is submitted a certain number of days prior to the scheduled meeting. This written agenda request must be sufficiently specific and detailed so as to allow a staff investigation of the issues, and thus allow the administration to be sufficiently prepared to discuss the issues intelligently and possibly resolve them at the meeting.