"We have no restrictions," review panel member Joseph Gunn, a former LAPD officer and director of L.A.'s police commission, said. "There are no boundaries." Journalistic and official accounts of prison problems have been accumulating for years, but they were given short shrift by the Davis administration and legislators, clearly due to the influence of the CCPOA, which had become arguably the state's most powerful single political interest during the 1980s and 1990s as the system expanded rapidly. CCPOA and its leader, Don Novey, pumped millions of dollars into political campaigns, both to elect politicians deemed to be pro-union and defeat those considered to hostile. The union built a massive headquarters building, from which it dispatched lobbyists, dispersed political money and conducted advertising campaigns about walking "the toughest beat in the state." It also underwrote several "victims' rights" groups that provided the public pressure for ever-tougher sentencing laws and provided seed money for the "three strikes and you're out" ballot measure that increased the prison population by many thousands. CCPOA has never been shy about its goals. It wanted tougher sentencing laws to send more felons to prison, which then would increase pressures to build more institutions and hire more union members to guard the inmates. Over the last quarter-century, the inmate population has expanded from about 20,000 to about 160,000, with commensurate increases in financing and Department of Corrections employees. At the same time, through contract negotiations and direct legislation, CCPOA sought and got ever-fatter contracts and protections for its members from those who might investigate wrongdoing. It's only a slight stretch to conclude that those who guarded inmates - in a kind of reverse Stockholm syndrome - often adopted the prison culture itself. The code of silence and heavy pressure on CDC administrators to overlook wrongdoing have been documented repeatedly. Schwarzenegger, in a statement, said he wants the new commission to show how the state can improve prison culture and ethics. We'll hold him to that. It's time for the cover-ups to end.