The State Worker

California prison manager watched thousands of YouTube videos at work

An administrator at the Valley State Prison in Chowchilla watched thousands of YouTube videos while on the clock, according to a new report from the California State Auditor.

Though the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation normally blocks access to sites like YouTube, the administrator — whose name wasn’t given but who worked in the prison’s education program — had the ability to bypass that restriction “because his duties sometimes required him to access certain sites,” according to the auditor’s report.

The employee misused that privilege, according to the report, to watch more than 2,200 YouTube videos from September 2017 to June 2018.

“On one particularly egregious day, we found that the administrator accessed 55 YouTube videos that did not appear to be related to his duties,” the auditor’s report stated. “When we shared the administrator’s Internet activity with his supervisor, she agreed that the evidence confirmed the poor work output she witnessed from the administrator.”

The audit said “most of the videos featured recreational vehicles, footage from crimes, and political or religious commentary.”

The employee, according to his supervisor, “often revealed a surprising lack of knowledge when she asked him simple questions” and he was unable to remember “a week when he had worked the expected 40 hours.”

prison youtube.PNG
An education program administrator at Valley State Prison watched thousands of YouTube videos at work, according to California State Auditor Elaine Howle. The graphic was created by the California State Auditor's Office California State Auditor's Office

The corrections department conducted a review of the employee’s performance and sustained the auditor’s findings.

“However, before CDCR could take disciplinary action against him, the administrator retired,” according to the report. “CDCR does not believe that the administrator was aware of the investigation or that the timing of his retirement was related to investigative activity.”

With the employee no longer employed, the state auditor recommended that corrections provide training to a supervisor to perform “proper monitoring and management of subordinate staff” and to implement safeguards that notify senior emanagers when an employee bypasses a site block.

In response to the report, the corrections department issued a statement that the supervisor has received that training “and the supervisor also implemented bi-weekly meetings with her staff to reiterate expectations for daily operations and acceptable behavior.”

The corrections department is also exploring the usage of a reporting system that would notify the department of its top internet data users, the audit says.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee