Can CDC Police Itself?


I am sharing with you some of my notes and thoughts, which are no means complete. I would like to remind you of my comments when I testified against Edward Alameida's appointment which are located here.  There are also notes from one of  my many meeting with Robert Presley and Edward Alameida which were a total waste of my time. 

Almost all of what has happened could have been prevented if only someone had been listening and believing our warnings. 


Lettie, Mardele and I came to make ourselves seen on behalf of families of inmates whose loved ones have been tortured due to the corruption of the CCPOA and CDC's failure to investigate and resolve complaints. 

Senators Romero and Speier's special hearing "Can CDC Police itself was inspired by a number of recent events, all of which seemed comparatively minor to many of the situations I have witnessed which never made it to the media 

Poor elderly Mr. Nieto was there with photographs of his son showing bullet holes.  He swears that the guards murdered his son "Angry Bear" in 1988.  He has never been acknowledged but, alone,  he still seeks justice. 

And we were there, and our presence was known and appreciated by those who are seeking truth, and those who have participated in the psychological and physical torments of our loved ones gave us a few daggers which we immediately stared back. 

The rest of the auditorium was a sea of knuckledraggers sporting shaved heads.  I wondered who was taking care of the inmates and how many were on lockdown so that the event could take place.  And the price tag must have been huge for those on State salary to spend the day to be involved, but if they were getting the message, then it was worth it. 

I would have them at the hearing. 

"Who is lying?" 

Alameida had made a statement to the effect that "two women weren't going to tell him what to do."  A bold mistake to make to two senators.  Do you recall that when I testified against him at his confirmation hearing that he was angry that I had done so and treated me with derision from that point onward?  And that he went out of his way to cooperate with Michael Knowles in a campaign of psychological torment that gave us no alternative but to file our own lawsuit which is now before the federal court awaiting counsel to be appointed for multiple eighth amendment violations - and more? 

It is the culture of the society of knuckledragging neanderthals to have little or no respect for women, which brings to the point where we simply are forced to fight back through lawsuits and in this case, the Senators pushed until he was fired. 

Charges may be filed against him and his crony Thomas Moore, also fired. 

Alameida's sins are out in the open, but somehow he has sneaked into a job in CDC Facilities instead of being really fired. The power game between CDC and the legislators isn't nearly over. Senator Romero made it clear that she wants Alameida in no job whatsoever on the State's payroll.  She, too has learned what happens when the silver stake isn't driven deeply enough once a monster such as Alameida is identified. 

I was encouraged that Bruce McPherson, whose son was shot and killed over a small amount of money.  This is happening often to many people due to the desperation created by the three strikes law. McPherson is a long time member of the Senate Public Safety Committee. It was unusual to hear him voice those things were wrong within the system and something needed to be done about it.  In the past, he has always voted staunchly with law enforcement, mostly refusing to recognize or listen to stories about their corruption.  He at least admitted that his eyes and ears were now open. 

A very artificial looking Senator Jeff Denham was a stomach turner sitting on the committee, especially with us knowing of his two attempts to deny inmates transplants by statute, instead of just unofficially, which is the present method of murder by medical neglect. There have only been two transplants since 1996 but even these were two too many in the eyes of this Republican fiend. 

Another reason for the hearing was to protest Gov. A.A.S. move to eliminate the entire Inspector General's Office and put it completely under the control of Presley's replacement, Roderick Q. Hickman.  In going through my records I have found complaints that were filed against Mr. Hickman with Amnesty International which identifies him as a cohort with Michael Knowles and others of a very oppressive group with punishing versus healing mentality.  So I do not trust him. 

Even if I did trust him, I firmly believe that there ought to be an independent agency to provide oversight to CDC, which is now teetering on the verge of federal takeover.  I am certain the 60 complaints I filed with the FBI had something to do with this, I have reports from inmates at Mule Creek that were told at first not to cooperate with any questions from the FBI and then a notice was hung up that they should cooperate. 

After the Gestapo manner in which Knowles runs Mule Creek, these inmates would have to be transferred out of there to feel free to speak, of this I am very certain.  But it is the families who should do all the fighting for the inmates whose lives are extremely oppressed by these bullies.  As I have stated again and again, there are 3 million of us with the power of the vote who can at any time we choose to properly organize step in and put an end to this humanity when everyone decides to really work instead of just list sitting like a bunch of victims. 

So the FBI has been gathering a great deal of information and I would like everyone to cooperate and even initiate complaints to Mr. Hagar who wrote the report that opened all this up to media and legislative attention.  Mr. Hagar doesn't know the half of what's been going on although he furnished additional information that Mr. Rimmer, the director of CDC said he hasn't read yet. 

This cannot go right without the input of at least a few hundred families of just how wide and deep the corruption and brutality runs.  Because all of us haven't complained loudly enough, most of the Senators think that the Office of the Inspector General is actually taking care of inmate complaints.  Mardele brought letters of appeal that she made to the OIG to protect Scott Larsen from beatings and torture which came back to her "sorry, there is nothing we can do to help you."  As a result of this failure to investigate Mardele and her son had no choice but to file a lawsuit.  She is a member of the clergy and not someone who is going to accept being brushed off as just another powerless family member of a prisoner. 

When Senator Speier asked for a representative from the Inspector General Office to come forward no one was there which completely floored her.  Later, Ken Hurdle walked into the hearing.  it was worth the entire fiasco of outrageous parking costs and the surreal environment of the big top for me to be able to yell out across the auditorium to Hurdle ' "hey, useless!" 

Because after many years of asking Hurdle, our appointed CDC representative to handle UNION complaints, to intervene on perhaps hundreds of emergencies and having only a handful actually resolved, most of those minor transfer, that's the only name he deserves. Useless. 

The Inspector General's representatives are the foxes guarding the hen house.  To them, the inmates are always wrong.  I have witnessed this time and time again to the point that I will not even waste my time to bring anything to the attention of Ken Hurdle or Matthew Gray. 

I cannot see the reasons why they are so useless but it appears to me that they have zero power to do anything important.  The wardens and guards tell them a pack of lies and that's the verdict with absolutely no proof and no real investigations happening. 

I do not believe that the policing of CDC should ever be left to the YACA department.  This would be a major step backwards.  These people cannot change overnight, if ever, the cover up is a way of life.  But the current, OIG John Chen is impotent and useless and others were glad that he was fired. 

Others named Hickman as party to the problems so he did not come out of the hearing unscathed. 

Donald Spector of the Prison Law Office spoke to me afterward and was almost apologetic for not being more direct and harsh with his comments.  "I must work with these people" he said, meaning that he wanted to say more I assume. 

My opinion of Donald Spector's testimony was that he did a very good job in a low key manner.  Not at all the way that I would have blasted them, but then I am not running for office or working within that madness in any way except to bring forward the family complaints.  So let's give Donald Spector an "A." 

It was a melodrama to be certain.  We had Max Lemon blubbering because his life had been threatened and the CCPOA was not giving him an escort as he moved about the community.  What a wuss.  He was the whistleblower who had kicked an inmate when he was clearly down and it is caught on tape.  Senator Romero made it clear that she didn't like that behavior but he wormed out of charges and any real accountability for it. 

What he said was something to the effect of "I was protecting the life of the other officer near me because there were weapons on the yard." 

Now there is a mentality that is very hard for me to comprehend, let alone agree with, amongst even the best lawmakers. 

Imagine the major voting groups sitting at a table playing cards.  These would be law enforcement unions, labor unions, the people who write check to elect the legislators to bring their interests forward for them in the form of bills.  The people who count are those in charge of the voting groups. 

 Prisoners and foster children have no voting group. 

So they are the playing cards, the political footballs, the game pieces that are to be kicked about between the players. 

The playing cards (prisoners) have little or no significance as individuals.  But as a group they are the biggest industry in the State so what is done with them, our loved ones who are mere pawns in this big game, is of major importance. 

What Max Lemon was sobbing about (Lord, I hope he isn't going to be interacting with inmates in his state of mind) wasn't nearly as bad as what the inmates and their families are enduring at the hands of the rogue guards and administration. 

The media always leaves out the good parts.  When Lemon described kicking an inmate while he was down as something he had to do, someone from the balcony yelled out a chastisement.  What I heard was part of it - "you son of a bitch."  Then all the little well dressed attendants in suits headed up to the balcony to quell the outburst. (ha, ha, what a spectacle as the attendants are not knuckledraggers, quite the opposite.)  I rather enjoyed all Lemon's discomfort and emotional breakdown, realizing that he must have inflicted a great deal of the same thing on others who were powerless to stand up to his obvious insanity. 

The story around the officer who committed suicide over the preventable riot was another enigma.  It didn't jive.  Inmates commit suicide daily over horrible psychological intimidation and the legislature mostly couldn't care less and never makes an attempt to correct these conditions that are returning people much sicker to their communities than before they were incarcerated.  Their families usually cannot win the cases if they bother to file lawsuits because there are no real investigations.  I asked some bereaved family members to file complaints with the State Personnel Board, the most basic form of complaining and haven't seen it yet.  So all in all, very few people care about inmate suicides because there is little noise about these from all of us and we are the cards, not the players due to our failure to properly organize. 

But the importance of this guard's suicide was of monumental importance.  My God, I have never seen such an uproar! 

I was certainly sympathetic toward Mrs. Piper who came home and found her husband sitting in a chair in the garage after having blown his brains out with a shotgun.  Her twelve year old daughter was with her. 

I have endured many, many worse nightmares than this guard gave as his reason to selfishly check out on his family in such a grim fashion.  And I know most of the people who work so hard in the UNION have endured 1000 times worse circumstances and not gone off the deep end and committed suicide. 

Although I will tell you honestly that there are very few people amongst us who haven't seriously considered it, the depression is so great, the brick walls are so high.  And the inmates themselves have often told me that the UNION is the only reason they don't commit suicide, to know that the family members are coming together to fight these campaigns on their behalf one at a time. 

But the story sounded unrealistic to me.  There must have been more to it.  Piper obviously thought that the Folsom riot was set up. Most of them are so there's nothing new about this, and especially with Bunnell's obvious connection to the Mexican Mafia which is fully on public record from a civil suit filed against him. 

O.K.   Business as usual, the riot was set up and assisted by guards. 

The Piper's son had recently come out that he was gay.  This is common and not a reason for suicide. 

His notes explained "my job killed me." 

What if he had ever lived through the nightmare of having a loved one arrested, tried in a corrupt court and sentenced to bloodhouses where they are tortured daily?  Does this compare to the very minor reasons given for his suicide?  He endured hardly anything in my opinion.   I have always thought that people who would participate in locking another human being in a cage - especially non violent, mentally ill or addicts are mentally deranged themselves. 

And they have a bar-bouncer look about them, the males.  The female guards are a different story altogether but one equally as sick. 

The never ending lockdowns were fully disclosed, some lasting more than a year. 

I wish I had a nickel for each time I have told these committees that the North and South gangs should never be housed on the same yard and not even put in the same prison. 

So the stories of the oh-so-important guards and their families were given, and even though they were all different, great respect was shown by the Committee to these people.  Respect that is never shown to inmates and their families who are considered liars and drug traffickers and given little or no voice, laughed at because they won't organize and always considered as insignificant as a game piece or playing card. 

I am treated as person some lawmakers would like to discredit so that my reports of wrongdoing will not be believed by the press.  After all, I have all the goods and files full of evidence of medical neglect and deliberate indifference.  But because I/we have inspired and supported a number of lawsuits, we are not treated as insignificant. 

And Senator Romero has someone on her staff who is a former ally from our early days who has just returned to the Capitol.  He is shocked at all we have endured for teaching families the proper way to organize and blowing the whistle on multiple individuals.  I have loaded him up with multiple failed investigations and emergencies from our subscribers and we have yet to see if can or will do any better for us, but I am hopeful. 

It was good to see that Cheryl Pliler, the former warden at CSP Sac has been promoted to a higher position within CDC. She was an active part of the hearings.  Pliler was a decent warden and Eric was healing from the abuse he suffered at Mule Creek nicely until her promotion brought that ogre Michael Knowles back in to do some more torture.  I told her of the latest threat to transfer him to Lancaster away from his family, a major violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and she told me she would look into it right after the hearings.  This will likely be another ally for us as she was a decent - not perfect - but decent warden. 

But all they respect are lawsuits and initiative campaigns registered with the State. Senator Romero made it very clear to all the CCPOA UNION members, hundreds of them who attended her hearing, that she Unions are the American Way.  She said that she sits on the board of her Union at the University and that is the only way that legislative influence is gained.  But she said, there comes a point when the power of a Union can reach thuggery and it appears that CCPOA is there.  She wanted to make it very clear that she did not wish to break up the Union, only to break up the Code of Silence which prevented wrongdoing from ever being reported.  She felt that Unions are here to stay and that they run our government which is what I've been preaching for several years. 

If you have no Union capable of doing lawsuits and initiative campaigns, you are not considered a serious player but end up as one of the game pieces. 

All of the guards who testified admitted to the code of silence and were fearful of the consequences for breaking it. We know that is why there are no real investigations but the other reason is that when inmates complain, they are punished for it and always found to be wrong.  No one believes them or their family members.  And when Eric went directly to the legislature with news of the food contamination's, he became a whistleblower that needed to be silenced.  There was no discussion of protection for inmate whistleblowers whatsoever during these hearings.  It is very clear that the prison administrations go way out of their way to hide what is happening from the legislators.  And woe be unto inmate whistleblowers as we all witnessed when Eric tried to do the right thing in saving inmates lives from contaminated food. 

So this part bothered me.  That the OIG has turned into more of an agency that functions on behalf of guards instead of protecting inmates. 

The guards and their families are important and believed when they tell these incredible stories. 

The inmates and their families are unimportant unless they are filing lawsuits and doing initiative campaigns. 

These are the attitudes of our lawmakers in my perspective.  Nobody wants the families to ever organize and become a "player" because then who would be the "cards." 

I have often been criticized for teaching criminals to organize. 

But in my view, the families of prisoners are not criminals but innocent crime victims. 

Some families are probably criminals, but we don't have any of those in the Union.  The ones who are involved in drugs aren't going to get involved in organizing resistance and express outrage for heaven's sake. 

And the legislators are focused on policy.  They make statutes that are never going to be followed in actual practice by the knuckledraggers. 

Allow me to illustrate.  The D.O.M. clearly states that inmates should be allowed to wear their lightweight jackets to the visiting room.  These are made of Levi material, cheap and provide insufficient warmth, but it is in the regulations that inmates may keep themselves warm and wear them to visiting. 

We know that one of Michael Knowles' favorite tortures is to take coats away from inmates and leave them out in the freezing cold for hours and hours.  Matthew Gray knew he was doing this to Eric and did nothing about it if you will recall during the blow up at Mule Creek last year over the food contaminations. 

At CSP Sac Eric showed the regulation to the visiting Sgt. Hall.  She agreed that it clearly states that jackets can be worn to visiting.  The regulations can be completely clear but it is fine and dandy if the prison employees want to break the rules. 

For a few weeks, Eric was allowed to wear his jacket.  He knows the regulations better than 90% of the guards, who make up their own rules as they go along. 

Then when it appeared that an inmate was correct and actually achieve regulation enforcement, in comes the bullies to squish this "uprising" of code enforcement and took the jackets away even in freezing cold temperatures.  So against the Title 15 and D.O.M jackets again may not be worn.  Now where is the person, the entity who is going to insist that the guards follow the rules? 

There isn't one.  The OIG isn't going to make the prison administrations follow the pages of statutes.  The legislators aren't going to reprimand and arrest those who are breaking the laws by treating inmates in an inhumane manner. 

There is no one guarding the guards. 

There is no Union of families with enough funds, paid staff and volunteers to take issue with all these code violations and back it up with lawsuits, paid attorneys and withholding votes for those who side in with the guards. 

So there is no policing and no representation of prisoners. 

The media allows itself to be banned.  Look at the lead of this editorial by one of the state's top journalists in the news this morning 

Daniel Weintraub 
Sacramento Bee Columnist 
(916) 321-1914 

California Insider 
A Weblog by 
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub 
January 21, 2004 

Folsom Prison blues 
It’s probably not a subject too many Californians care about, but the lid seems to be coming off the state prison system. The latest disclosures come from a legislative hearing looking into a riot at Folsom in 2002, the prison’s reaction to it and a culture of denial, cover-up and intimidation within the system. Meanwhile, legislators are raising appropriate questions about Schwarzenegger’s proposal to downsize the independent Inspector General’s office and move it under the purview of the agency secretary. Here is the story in the Bee. 
Posted by dweintraub at 11:42 AM 

How can it be that there are 3 million people connected to state prisoners alone and one of our best editorial writers in the state apologizes for even bring up the subject? 

This is a topic which has broken our state financially and Dan thinks not many people care about it? 

Is it because he doesn't receive enough letters from families of inmates to make HIM care about it.  I would say the answer is "yes."  Journalists write about stories that are sent to them, they respond only to the squeaky wheels.  If the wheels aren't squeaking and crowds aren't picketing, everyone must be happy and there is no story.  That's how journalists are educated.  I know this for a fact.  They can only report on what other people say and do. 

They mostly consider law enforcement, district attorneys and legislators as reliable sources. Prisoners and their families do not have credibility with most journalists.  If they do, there is a campaign to stomp out their voices so that the corruption may continue out of the eyes of the press. 

But I am very impressed with the unity and presence of the media here with us right now. Most of the major journalists in California have been reading the newsletter for the better part of a decade and I knew many long before my son was ever arrested thank God. 

Thank God we have been able to be heard. 

But at some point there needs to be a place for families of prisoners and inmates to go where there is going to be resolution.  Otherwise the violence builds from the frustration of brick walls.  The mental illness grows from being invalidated again and again. 

My son's doctors say that his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is 100% prison induced.  He will have it for the rest of his life in or out of prison.  Now that the "victim" has recanted (two years ago) he should be retried and released. 

The emphasis is not on healing inmates.  It is on torturing and subjugating inmates which is doing nothing to deter crime.  In fact it is creating a great deal more crime than these legislators can even comprehend. 

But it is a huge bureaucracy. 

One thing that I re-affirmed yesterday is that complaints on INDIVIDUALS to the State Personnel Board is a very good action to take.  The focus is on INDIVIDUALS, promotions and even when people have committed crimes against inmates, such as deliberate indifference, they do not want these letters of complaint in their personnel files. 

One complaint doesn't matter but it is time for all families of prisoners to fill up these files with multiple complaints.  This forces the bureaucracy to take some sort of action and to make the decision of just who is responsible for the blood shed and suffering at the hands of the bully guards and wardens. 

They've been getting away with just passing the buck until the UNION came along and started writing to the press, inspiring a few lawsuits and naming the names of those who were callous in a number of deaths and permanent disabilities. 

We are a different group than they're used to seeing because we know how the game is played and what it takes to stop consenting to being the game pieces.  We teach the others that they must organize to have voice. 

This means write, picket, raise money, and get out the vote.  This means a commitment to work at least two hours a week to build one of the voting machines that will have representation.  Until we do that we have almost no representation.  The legislators know it requires 6500 people gathering 200 signatures each to put anything on the ballot or to recall someone. 

If a group can't or won't do initiative campaigns and lawsuits they are not players. 

People are put into office by special interests, they are not going to represent our special interests unless we put them there and write checks once in awhile. 

But the victim mentality keeps waiting for a rescue that is never going to come until we bring it ourselves.  When group leaders tell people that a letter will handle the problem at hand, they are lying through their teeth. 

What happens to letters to legislators?  They are thrown in the trash or read by a kid with no life experience or clout to be able to do anything about your problem. 

Many letters to the media will impact a problem. 

Many letters filed on one individual with the State Personnel board will at least get them in trouble. 

Lawsuits win when they simply make it to court.  But it requires thousands of us to be able to afford to do this so we must be unsympathetic of anyone who sits on the sidelines and doesn't help us file lawsuits. 

Initiative campaigns are something almost every group in California can do except the families of prisoners.  This is because it requires 6500 all pulling on the same rope at the same time.  And that is something that families of prisoners have never once been able to do yet.  The group nearest to this point are the Moratorium on the Death Penalty.  Their numbers grow daily and we've had some key members of this group in the Union for a long time, so they have learned about organizing.  But those at the top who do all the work cannot also do all the recruiting.  If recruiting was the focus of all the groups in California, we'd be past about 80% of these life and death emergencies.  Recruiting is the key.  But not enough people make this their priority. 

Every prison reform group works the core to death while the others just read email. 

They are sabotaging themselves by never coming to a protest or important hearing or sending someone to show the strength of their voting group to the legislators and media. 

 This is unbelievable.  The groups who oppress you never fail to show up in great numbers.  That is proof of their strength.  Yesterday was clear evidence of that fact.  The guards were there! 

We have people, tens of thousands of people,  who want to end oppression and injustice in their hearts, but they don't back it with the four actions required to bring it into reality, even though these actions are simple and can be done in only about two hours per week. 

The guards recruit everyone.  They wouldn't think of not having everyone as a member of the CCPOA.  There is no disagreement that a union is critical in ALL of the voting groups that have recognition.  The people are together on this oganizing basic critical to their survival. 

The Crime Victims groups operate in the same manner.  They do not sit idly by and fail to recruit people to their voting group! 

This is the American Way.  The active writers, protesters, recruiting, suing, initiative campaign pursuing groups get to control the freedom of everyone else.  The attitude is organize or don't complain that you have no representation.  Like it or not, this is a fact of life. 

We in the UNION are about the only reform group that has a firm grasp on this and that makes us a formidable foe to those who support the status quo and never want families to be anything more than playing cards.  That is why we suffer attacks from CDC friendly "leaders" so don't ever fall into this backward thinking. 

The UNION struggles with money just like everyone else but we are such fighters that we are able to do actual campaigns and projects with very little money.  Smart thinking would be to empower the advocates with enough funds to be able to do  mailings, protests, advertising campaigns, and so forth but the CDC divide and conquer agents will do everything not to allow that to happen. 

During the past few weeks, I have had a number of advocates contact me to tell me that anytime they are really effective, they too are attacked and criticized in efforts to beat down their work and stop their organizing. 

We must never give into this and keep pushing forward as reform comes in baby steps. We must all agree that nothing is the same as it was in 1998. 

I hope that you are all deeply grateful to the press and plan to write in on these fantastic articles to come them encouragement and appreciation as well to divulge more of the dysfunction.  That's your job if you want to see this all move to a better place. 

We should emphasize that the Inspector General's office needs to exist but with better staff and more power to actually make a difference.  The legislators do not have their incompetence clearly in their minds.  But there is no way YACA can handle all the problems that are going to cost millions in lawsuits with only four people and no accountability to anyone. 

We should report more wrongdoing to Mr. Hagar who issued the federal report that started the ball rolling.  Our input is necessary to really open his eyes. 

We should definitely document the deliberate indifference by Gray, Hurdle and Zimmerman in the case of Beverly Dias so that can result in a lawsuit.  A cowardly non participant is never going to achieve reform and thousands of people in prison need transplants due to the hepatitis epidemic raging out of control.  I would like to see 100% support of Mr. Kiliz who has boldly taken a stand against murder by medical neglect on behalf of us all.  So if I asked you for a letter, please do not procrastinate as it is very important here to us all. You could be next. 

We should continue to organize until we reach the point that we are insignificant to the legislators, the media and even the public.  Unless we do that, we are all stuck in the status quo without a voice. 

We should not fail to elect people who will really represent us, for that is the root of our problems. 

We should do everything in our power to alert the governor of the great expense that the State will incur if something isn't done about this corruption and system gone awry.  We are the only ones who will care enough to file lawsuits.  If the families of prisoners do not care enough to fight back then no one else will care either. 

Keep mailing in the newsletters to the inmates as some of them are intelligent enough to understand why their lives are hell on earth.  Some of them are sending their families. 

Let's keep distributing the television shows as these are very educational and alert the millions with a loved one in prison that we do exist to teach them how, when, where to fight back.  Remember that 99% of the time only the UNION, Friends Committee on Legislation, ACLU and Drug Policy Institute are the only ones fighting hundreds of battles.  These others don't even bother to show up, let alone get out the alerts to let you know when you should up.  I am very selective in when I will call you. 

But I expect all committed UNION subscribers to attend or send someone when I need back up which is part of your commitment letter.  I have never called you more than three times per year but you should all strive toward creating a larger protest, hearing team because it's all about numbers.  No numbers, no respect.  No numbers, no reform.  No numbers, no media coverage.  It's all within your control.  For people who work it is your responsibility to find a senior or student who will stand for you if you can't make it. 

Support advocates or you will have no advocates.  All the other groups mentioned above pay their advocates.  Only the Union advocate - me - is a volunteer.  So when I caall for you to back me up with attendance, you need to do it. 

We have two important hearings coming up.  One is on March 5, the hearing on packages and the other is Charles Wesley's lawsuit in LA on medical neglect, the date is tentatively March 9. 

My wrist is getting tired but I tomorrow I will comment on the sleazy testimony of the CCPOA president, Mike Jimenez, whose raspy voice was no less penetratingly evil than the Godfather's. 

I am still recovering from this virus from hell and couldn't make the policy portion of the hearing today.  But I will continue to study it as it unfolds.  This is only the beginning. 

B. Cayenne Bird 

Razors missing, warden goes 
Prison locked down as blade search enters its third week 
This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press on Wednesday, January 21, 2004. 
Valley Press Staff Writer 

LANCASTER - Michael Yarborough, warden of California State Prison Los Angeles County, was removed from that position Friday on the heels of a security breach that may have put 200 razor blades in the hands of prisoners. 
After the correctional officers realized the razors were missing, 1,060 inmates of maximum security Facility B were put on partial lockdown as guards searched for the dangerous weapons. The prison still is on lockdown. 

Yarborough, 51, is still employed by the California Department of Corrections, but where he will be assigned next was not available Tuesday, said Lt. Ken Lewis, the public information officer at the prison. 

California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Margot Bach said Yarborough was not "removed for cause." 

Youth and Adult Correctional Agency Assistant Secretary Tip Kindel said Yarborough was removed by the acting director of the Department of Corrections, Rick Rimmer. 

As a civil servant, Yarborough has the right to move back down to a previous position that he held before becoming a warden, Kindel said. 

Inmates apparently broke into a locked room on Jan. 5 and stole about 200 razor blades used at the on-site auto body paint shop, Lewis said. 

Yarborough's departure was announced to the staff on Tuesday, Lewis said, adding that there were "numerous" reasons for Yarborough's removal that the staff was not made aware of, but his departure was not related to poor performance. 

Lancaster Assistant City Manager Dennis Davenport, who also serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee to the prison, said no representatives from the prison made him aware of Yarborough's departure. 

While Davenport said he has been concerned with financial cuts at the prison, he did not observe any problems with Yarborough's performance. 

"We weren't necessarily happy with what was going on out there, but we always assumed that the problems had to do with the state," Davenport said. 

Charles M. Harrison, 46, was appointed Tuesday as acting warden, Lewis said. 

Harrison was previously the chief deputy warden of the California State Prison, Centinela, in Imperial, which houses 4,472 medium security male inmates, according to the California Department of Corrections Web site. 

The Lancaster prison houses more than 4,000 maximum and middle security male inmates. 

Harrison became a correctional officer in 1981 and worked his way up through the ranks, becoming a sergeant, a lieutenant and a captain before becoming associate warden in Centinela. 

Further details about his background were not available, Lewis said. The security breach occurred Jan. 5. 

During the lockdown, under the modified program, inmates cannot receive packages, telephone calls or attend religious services, cannot use the exercise yard and must eat in their cells, Lewis said. 

The auto body paint shop is part of the vocational training program at the prison. 

Guards had searched the yard and some cells, and were interviewing inmates but had yet to find the missing blades, he said, adding that the search may continue through the week. 

Lewis said he could not recall a similar theft. The blades make "the perfect concealed weapon" and may have been sold by the thief to other inmates for money, cigarettes or canteen items, Lewis said. 

"When you're living in a maximum security prison, it's not uncommon for inmates to arm themselves, because you just don't know when you might be a victim of assault," he said. 

The acting warden will re-evaluate the situation on Monday or Tuesday, Lewis said. 

Davenport said he had not heard of the razor blade incident. 

Yarborough started working at the Lancaster facility on July 15, 2002. 

He worked at the Lancaster prison as assistant warden from its opening in 1993 until he became the warden at the medium- to high-security California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi in 2001. 

I want to know about the inmate with a broken leg since the first week of December. 

I want to know why I have multiple reports here that inmates were being fed one tablespoon full of food of each item as punishment for the missing knives. 

I want an answer to why no one ever oversees Lancaster. 

What about all the families that moved to be near their loved ones in Lancaster.  Blades are missing so they just get shipped out in a swift decision? 

Not that the inmates writing to me are complaining.  They feel that anyplace would be better, but what about the hardship on the families with all these transfers? 

Lancaster is a hellhole.  Pete Knight allows it.  Why not bring out some of the real crimes against inmates with investigations into Lancaster, High Desert, Pleasant Valley, Pelican Bay and Mule Creek...for starters. 

The Inspector General isn't doing this so you need to make a lot of noise to the media.  the legislators won't read their own mail but they always pay attention to what appears in the papers.  Especially when their own names are mentioned. ,


You wrote ...Witnesses said the riot broke out as the prison began integrating members of two rival gangs who had been locked in their cells for months: the Mexican Mafia and Nuestra Familia. Instead of releasing inmates of each group a few at a time to maintain control and ensure that no fights broke out, more than 80 inmates with gang affiliations were released all at once... 

This is the crux of the situation. Locking up an entire building or yard for the actions of a few, known to the guards, troublemakers for months and then mixing warring factions is criminal. The guards got overtime pay for lockdowns so they loved it. That's why a number of guards made 6 figure salaries while CDC was running up a $500M budget overrun. 

It is unconstitutional to separate the races in prison but when did the Mexican gangs belong to different races? They're both latino. If this was an isolated incident it might be excusable but it has gone on, covered up and unreported, for years. Mr. Schwarzenegger tear down those walls! 

Bob Driscoll 


Some good news! 

Arnold signed a new parole law and it is now being implemented in all California parole offices. 

A friend of mine was just released on parole, Saturday, January 17th. He said that posters were displayed in the parole office stating that parole officers can no longer violate parolees for alcohol or drug offenses and other minor violations. They have to refer drug violators to treatment. Parole officers can only return parolees to prison if a new crime is committed. My friend actually saw a parolee turning herself in for a drug violation and they just referred her to treatment! 

Go Arnold! Hopefully, we'll see a lot more positive changes happening within the system as well. 


This appeared in the Register a few days ago. 

The Register overlooks the success of the "three strikes" law when it focuses attention only on the "third strike" ["Reform of '3 strikes' on agenda for 2004," Editorial, Dec. 31]. No felon can receive 25 years to life unless he has committed at least two prior serious or violent felonies. 

A defendant cannot get a life sentence for a misdemeanor after two prior felony convictions. Advocates trying to change current "three strikes" law sometimes misstate the law and fail to discuss the seriousness of the prior felony convictions. 

Only defendants who have a long and well-earned history of criminal conduct are sentenced to life. The same population that has committed felonies in the past commits the vast majority of new felonies. Crime is down today because "three strikes" works. 

Todd Spitzer , REPUBLICAN Assembly Member from Orange County 


California assemblyman, 71st district 

Dear Editor, I am stunned a lawmaker can call the three strikes law a success? With 4,000 non-violent offenders in our already 180% over capacity state prisons at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, that’s no success. It ‘s a crime! We the taxpayers must pay ,but cost seems no object to our lawmakers these days! Mr. Spitzer is also incorrect and misleads the public about what is and is not a serious crime. It could be a burglary that occurred decades before and if a person shoplifts food in a grocery store with an empty back, that is burglary. The third strike can be a so called wobbler crime! A misdemeanor “enhanced” to a felony such as possession of a controlled substance. And excuse me Mr. Spitzer but crime is up please feel free to look at the state attorney generals web page! Ten years of a failed and poorly written law only prove why you received a lower approval rating than Gray Davis! Francis Courser 

Choose your top 5 preferences if your are a Union subscriber.  We cannot work on everything, let's take a few campaigns that are winnable.  Put them in the order of importance you prefer. 

If you'd like to be reminded of the campaigns we successful completed in 2003, a few of them are listed here. 

Nothing changes without our active work on the problems. 

besides getting your letters of complaint into me, the State Personnel Board and your statements of the deliberate indifference and willful neglect you witnessed or experienced this year, I'd like to ask you for a list of your personal priorities. 

The UNION is a coalition of various activists with social issues.  But we need to narrow down the number of campaigns we're willing to get involved with so we can take a few and hammer them to a win. Naturally since we are the largest and most mobilized group, we get a lot of requests for help. 

It is almost always thankless when we do help so to save our emotions and achieve victory without doing everyone elses' work for them, let's take a vote of where your priorities lie. 

Send me back the top five interests you have on this list. 

!. Electing a new US president, name your favorite candidate even if this isn't a priority to you. 

2. Kevin Cooper is slated to be executed soon and the End the Death Penalty Advocates are looking for support with protests and letters to the editor to end the death penalty. 

3.  Medical neglect, an ongoing problem that is killing our loved ones.  We will include campaigning to control the dangerous epidemics of Hep, TB, Aides in this one. 

4.  Continued abuse of the mentally ill, no healing programs, returning them to their communities much sicker than before they were arrested.  We'll include the abuse of cruel ad seg and SHU units in this choice. 

5.  Education of inmates, rehabilitation and better preparation for prison release including medical screening since diseases are leaking out to the public. 

6.  Amending the three strikes law.  Show us the money first. Without at least $1 million and 6500 volunteers willing to work besides those hired, this one can't make it. How important is this one to you? 

7.  Parole - how many lifers are on the UNION list?  I do not see enough lifers organized and mobilized on all these lists, they are just passing email and not raising funds for initiative campaigns. 

8.  Mandatory Minimums 

9.  Crime Prevention programs such as better handling of foster children, reducing homelessness, standing up against welfare and workman's comp cuts, educating poor children, after school programs, support of young mothers, social issues that create crime when they go unaddressed. 

10.  Our visits Lawsuit which include all objections to the new visiting policies.  We need to see 2600 supporters of this before we file, otherwise we end up doing all the work and paying for everyone else who doesn't help.  Still if I see the workers and the commitment, we have a great law firm in mind. 

11.  Attendance at the Packages hearing in March, getting letters into during the public hearing period. 

I have a television and radio show which will support most of these but we will need to distribute it and that is going to take some work and funds, a group effort because we couldn't afford to just buy, mall and duplicate 800 tapes to 100 stations.  We have to do it the hard way of dropping off, picking up and passing the tapes ten times or more. 

Where are the tapes?  The third tape on visiting is now ready to be aired!  What are you doing with the tapes!  The clock is ticking here and people are lined up waiting for you to get yours aired and pass it on. 

B. Cayenne Bird, Journalist 
P.O. Box 85 
Garden Valley, Ca. 95633 



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