http://www.prisoncommission.org/report.asp


I hope that everyone had a chance to read the Prison Commission's entire report. While none  of it is news 
to the UNION people who contributed to the research, and who lived the nightmare, the fact that it is 
agreed upon by law enforcement professionals means that it just might have some impact.  As long as 
law enforcement owns the majority of politicians and the "public demand" isn't strong enough to get these 
things done, reform cannot take place.  You are the public who must make these demands and get out the 
vote for lawmakers who are really going to represent you.

Your ability to work toward organizing is the key to whether or not these reforms can take place. Without 
tightly organized voting groups that outnumber those of law enforcement, not that difficult to do when 
everyone contributes time and money, there is no representation for the prisoners and their families. 
Those connected to prisoners outnumber everyone now, but whether they want to give up their chains is a 
question that remains to be demonstrated.   All those UNION members who submitted their case histories 
and chronologies to this endeavor PLEASE pat  yourself on the back.

I thank the members of the Commission who  have read the UNION newsletter for a little more than a   year 
now and I am very happy with your work and your recommendations which is very much in line with what I 
have been saying for the past decade.

Ultimately the demand must come from enough of us who will take action and nobody can do that for us. 
We are the rescuers that we've been praying for, as the future hinges on the size and financial ability of 
our own voting group.  Don't forget to write into editors who ran articles about this important report. This is 
a good one to print off and send to the prisoners so they can see some hope and realize what some of 
their families did here to help them.

B. Cayenne Bird


Summary of Findings and Recommendations

What happens inside jails and prisons does not stay inside jails and prisons. it comes home with prisoners 
after they are released and with corrections officers at the end of each day's shift. When people live and 
work in facilities that are unsafe, unhealthy, unproductive, or inhumane, they carry the effects home with 
them. We must create safe and productive conditions of confinement not only because it is the right thing 
to do, but because it influences the safety, health, and prosperity of us all.

The daily count of prisoners in the United States has surpassed 2.2 million. Over the course of a year, 13.5 
million people spend time in jail or prison, and 95 percent of them eventually return to our communities. 
Approximately 750,000 men and women work in U.S. correctional facilities as line officers or other staff. 
The United States spends more than 60 billion dollars annually on corrections. Many of those who are 
incarcerated come from and return to poor African-American and Latino neighborhoods, and the stability 
of those communities has an effect on the health and safety of whole cities and states. If there was ever a 
time when the public consequences of confinement did not matter, that time is long gone.

Some of the people confined in our jails and prisons have committed serious and violent crimes. We can 
legitimately deprive them of liberty, but we cannot allow anyone who is incarcerated to be victimized by 
other prisoners, abused by officers, or neglected by doctors. We must remember that our prisons and 
jails are part of the justice system, not apart from it.

There are nearly 5,000 adult prisons and jails in the United States—no two exactly alike. Some of them are 
unraveling or barely surviving, while others are succeeding and working in the public's interest. To 
succeed, jail and prison administrators everywhere must confront prisoner rape, gang violence, the use of 
excessive force by officers, contagious diseases, a lack of reliable data, and a host of other problems. 

Solving these problems takes dedication and dollars. But there is no reason why health and safety should 
be limited to only some correctional facilities and no reason why even the best institutions cannot make a 
larger contribution to public safety and public health. The findings and recommendations outlined below, 
and explored in detail throughout the pages of this report, address the most pressing problems facing 
corrections today and the reforms that can and must occur.

I. Conditions of Confinement

1.Violence

Finding: Violence remains a serious problem in America's prisons and jails.

There is disturbing evidence of individual assaults and patterns of violence in some U.S. prisons and jails. 
Corrections officers told the Commission about a near-constant fear of being assaulted. Former
prisoners recounted gang violence, rape, beatings by officers, and in one large jail, a pattern of illegal and 
humiliating strip-searches. Former Florida Warden Ron McAndrew described small groups of officers 
operating as "goon squads" to abuse prisoners and intimidate other staff. And in February, 2006, while the 
Commission was gathered in Los Angeles for a final hearing, more than a thousand prisoners were 
attacking each other in the Los Angeles County jails, days of violence that the press described as riots. At 
that hearing, California corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman told the Commission: "Quite frankly, no 
one denies that violence occurs in prisons and jails in this country."

Finding: We know which conditions in correctional facilities fuel violence and, therefore, how to prevent 
violence.

Violence and abuse are not inevitable. Every correctional facility can provide a safe environment for 
prisoners and staff. As Donald Specter, director of the Prison Law Office in California, told the 
Commission: "Prisons don't have to be as dangerous and as violent as they are. The culture of our prisons 
virtually dictates the level of violence that you will have in them. And if you change that culture, you will 
reduce the violence."

The majority of prisons and many jails hold more people than they can deal with safely and effectively, 
creating a degree of disorder and tension almost certain to erupt into violence. Similarly, few conditions 
compromise safety more than idleness. But because lawmakers have reduced funding for programming, 
prisoners today are largely inactive and unproductive. Highly structured programs are proven to reduce 
misconduct in correctional facilities and also to lower recidivism rates after release. Results from a Zogby 
International poll released in April, 2006, show the public's support for protecting public safety through 
better programming: 87 percent of Americans favor rehabilitative services for prisoners as opposed to 
punishment only.

Decisions about where to house prisoners and how to supervise them also have an enormous impact on 
safety. A well-developed system to objectively classify prisoners by risk reduces violence among them. So 
does an approach to supervision in which officers are engaging with prisoners throughout the day. Yet the 
best classification and supervision systems still are not commonplace around the country.

Teaching and modeling non-forceful ways for officers to resolve conflict is crucial because the 
unnecessary or excessive use of force and weapons provokes broader violence. Such guidance is 
especially important given the increasing use of pepper spray, TASER guns, and other weapons that can 
cause serious injuries if used excessively. Former general counsel of the Texas prison system, Steve 
Martin, told the Commission that these weapons are often used as a "first strike" response, before other 
tactics are considered or attempted.

Finally, the ties with family and community that former prisoners depend on after release also promote 
safety during incarceration. Unfortunately, the distance between home and the correctional facility—and a 
culture in some facilities that does not welcome visitors—makes it hard to maintain those ties. There are 
even barriers to maintaining contact by phone when the cost of receiving a collect call from someone in 
prison—much higher than in the free world—operates like a tax on poor families.
prevent violence: recommendations1. Reduce crowding. States and localities must commit to eliminating 
the crowded conditions that exist in many of the country's prisons and jails and work with corrections 
administrators to set and meet reasonable limits on the number of prisoners that facilities can safely 
house.

2. Promote productivity and rehabilitation. Invest in programs that are proven to reduce violence and to 
change behavior over the long term.

3. Use objective classification and direct supervision. Incorporate violence prevention in every facility's 
fundamental classification and supervision procedures.

4. Use force and non-lethal weaponry only as a last resort. Dramatically reduce the use of non-lethal 
weapons, restraints, and physical force by using non-forceful responses whenever possible, restricting 
the use of weaponry to qualified staff, and eliminating the use of restraints except when necessary to 
prevent serious injury to self or others.

5. Employ surveillance technology. Make good use of recording surveillance cameras to monitor the 
correctional environment.

6. Support community and family bonds. Reexamine where prisons are located and where prisoners are 
assigned, encourage visitation, and implement phone call reform.
c ommission on safety and abuse in america ' s prisons

Finding: We need more reliable measures of violence behind bars than we have today.

Data about deadly violence show decreasing rates nationally of homicide and suicide, but we do not have 
equally reliable data about the much larger universe of non-lethal violence. There are prisons and jails that 
are not collecting or reporting information about assaults: For example, Arkansas, North Dakota, and 
South Dakota each reported zero assaults among prisoners statewide in the year 2000. In-depth studies 
suggest that actual levels of violence among prisoners are at least five times higher than what even the 
best administrative records capture. Equally troubling, we have no national measures of non-lethal 
physical violence perpetrated by staff against prisoners, despite widespread agreement that excessive 
use of force happens. Chief statistician for the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics Allen Beck told the 
Commission, "I cannot measure well the level of assaults using administrative records as they exist 
today."

1.2. medical care
Finding: High rates of disease and illness among prisoners, coupled with inadequate funding for 
correctional health care, endanger prisoners, staff, and the public.

Much of the public dismisses jails and prisons as sealed institutions, where what happens inside remains 
inside. In the context of disease and illness, which travel naturally from one environment to another, that 
view is clearly wrong. Left untreated, staph infections and diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and 
HIV directly affect our families, neighborhoods, and communities.

As a result of poverty, substance abuse, and years of poor health care, prisoners as a group are much 
less healthy than average Americans. Every year, more than 1.5 million people are released from jail and 
prison carrying a life-threatening contagious disease. At least 350,000 prisoners have a serious mental 
illness. Protecting public health and public safety, reducing human suffering, and limiting the financial cost 
of untreated illness depends on adequately funded, good quality correctional health care.

Unfortunately, most correctional systems are set up to fail. They have to care for a sick population on 
shoestring budgets and with little support from community health-care providers and public health 
authorities. Capturing the degree of failure in California, Dr. Joe Goldenson told the Commission, "There 
are facilities with four or five thousand people that only have two or three doctors." Around the country, 
some physicians are operating on a license that restricts their work to correctional facilities because they 
are deemed not qualified to provide care in the community. The public has yet to face the broad and long-
term costs of these kinds of failures.

Finding: Medical neglect and the spread of infectious disease are not inevitable; there are solutions to the 
health-care dilemmas facing corrections.

Correctional facilities have a tremendous opportunity to provide health care to people in jail and prison 
that also protects the public health. But corrections cannot do this alone. Lawmakers must provide adequate
funding, and health-care providers from the community must get involved. Together, they can recruit qualified 
and caring medical staff who are able to manage contagious and costly diseases. Proper screening and treatment
of infectious diseases in correctional facilities makes a difference: Between 1992 and 1998, New York City 
reduced tuberculosis cases citywide by 59 percent, and drug-resistant cases by 91 percent, through this kind of 
partnership.

Improving correctional health care requires more than partnerships. Many short-term cost-saving 
measures imposed by local, state, and federal legislatures have long-term negative consequences. To 
drive down the costs, legislators pressure corrections administrators to require prisoners to make co-
payments for their medical care. While co-payments seem reasonable on the surface, they cost more in 
the long run by discouraging sick prisoners from seeking care early on, when treatment is less expensive 
and more effective and before disease spreads.

Equally troubling, misguided federal law deprives correctional systems of desperately needed Medicaid 
and Medicare dollars to fund decent health care. Many people in prison and jail qualify for these federal 
benefits and lose them when they are incarcerated. Just like any other community health-care provider, 
correctional agencies should be reimbursed for the cost of providing health services to people who are 
Medicaid and Medicare eligible. Finally, along with committing more funds to care for mentally ill prisoners, 
states and counties need to expand treatment in the community. Our jails and prisons should not function 
as mental institutions.

Provide health care that protects everyone: recommendations:

1. Partner with health providers from the community. Departments of corrections and health providers 
from the community should join together in the common project of delivering high-quality health care that 
protects prisoners and the public.

2. Build real partnerships within facilities. Corrections administrators and officers must develop 
collaborative working relationships with those who provide health care to prisoners.

3. Commit to caring for persons with mental illness. Legislators and executive branch officials, including 
corrections administrators, need to commit adequate resources to identify and treat mentally ill prisoners 
and, simultaneously, to reduce the number of people with mental illness in prisons and jails.

4. Screen, test, and treat for infectious disease. Every U.S. prison and jail should screen, test, and treat for 
infectious diseases under the oversight of public health authorities and in compliance with national 
guidelines and ensure continuity of care upon release.

5. End co-payments for medical care. State legislatures should revoke existing laws that authorize 
prisoner co-payments for medical care.

6. Extend Medicaid and Medicare to eligible prisoners. Congress should change the Medicaid and 
Medicare rules so that correctional facilities can receive federal funds to help cover the costs of providing 
health care to eligible prisoners. Until Congress acts, states should ensure that benefits are available to 
people immediately upon release.

Summary Of Findings And Recommendations

1.3. segregation

Finding: The increasing use of high-security segregation is counter-productive, often causing violence 
inside facilities and contributing to recidivism after release.

Separating dangerous or vulnerable individuals from the general prison population is part of running a 
safe correctional facility. In some systems around the country, however, the drive for safety, coupled with 
public demand for tough punishment, has had perverse effects: Prisoners who should be housed at safe 
distances from particular individuals or groups of prisoners end up locked in their cells 23 hours a day, 
every day, with little opportunity to be productive and prepare for release.

People who pose no real threat to anyone and also those who are mentally ill are languishing for months 
or years in high-security units and "supermax" prisons. In some places, the environment is so severe that 
people end up completely isolated, confined in constantly bright or constantly dim spaces without any 
meaningful human contact—torturous conditions that are proven to cause mental deterioration.

Prisoners often are released directly from solitary confinement and other high-security units directly to 
the streets, despite the clear dangers of doing so.

Between 1995 and 2000, the growth rate in the number of people housed in segregation far outpaced the 
growth rate of the prison population overall: 40 percent compared to 28 percent. As lawyer, scholar, and 
prison monitor Fred Cohen told the Commission, segregation is now a "regular part of the rhythm of prison 
life." There is troubling evidence that the distress of living and working in this environment actually causes 
violence between staff and prisoners. And the consequences are broader
than that: Housing a prisoner in segregation can be twice as costly as other forms of confinement, and the 
misuse of segregation works against the process of rehabilitating people, thereby threatening public 
safety.

Limit Segregation: Recommendations

1. Make segregation a last resort and a more productive form of confinement, and stop releasing people 
directly from segregation to the streets. Tighten admissions criteria and safely transition people out of 
segregation as soon as possible. And go further: To the extent that safety allows, give prisoners in 
segregation opportunities to fully engage in treatment, work, study, and other productive activities, and to 
feel part of a community.

2. End conditions of isolation. Ensure that segregated prisoners have regular and meaningful human 
contact and are free from extreme physical conditions that cause lasting harm.

3. Protect mentally ill prisoners. Prisoners with a mental illness that would make them particularly 
vulnerable to conditions in segregation must be housed in secure therapeutic units. Facilities need 
rigorous screening and assessment tools to ensure the proper treatment of prisoners who are both 
mentally ill and difficult to control.
c ommission on safety and abuse in america ' s prisons

II. Labor and Leadership

Finding: Better safety inside prisons and jails depends on changing the institutional culture, which cannot 
be accomplished without enhancing the corrections profession at all levels.

Most corrections professionals work under extremely difficult circumstances to maintain safety and help 
prisoners improve their lives. But because the exercise of power is a defining characteristic of 
correctional facilities, there is constant potential for abuse.

In the worst cases, the institutional culture can devolve into one where, in the words of prison chaplain 
Sister Antonia Maguire, prisoners are treated like "animals, without souls, who deserve whatever they 
get."

Cultivating a positive culture inside our correctional facilities is more than a "feel good" idea. As former 
Minnesota Warden James Bruton wrote, "Security and control—given necessities in a prison 
environment—only become a reality when dignity and respect are inherent in the process."

Today there are efforts to improve the underlying culture of prisons and jails in places as far apart as 
Oregon, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Corrections administrators leading those reforms 
understand that an "us versus them" mentality endangers prisoners and staff and, over time, harms the 
families and communities to which prisoners and staff belong. "We're moving away from having that 
feeling of being safe when offenders are all locked up, to one where we're actually safer because we have 
inmates out of their cells, involved in something hopeful and productive," explained Mary Livers, 
Maryland's deputy secretary for operations.

Efforts at culture change cannot succeed and bear fruit, however, without recruiting and retaining a highly 
qualified officer corps and great corrections leaders. All too often, that is not the case. The rate of 
turnover among officers averages 16 percent annually—and is higher where the pay is lower. Directors of 
systems remain on the job for no more than three years on average, and their rapid turnover destabilizes 
entire systems.

State and local governments must improve pay for officers and find other ways to develop the labor force 
at all levels. Training for officers must improve so that they are better prepared to interact effectively with 
prisoners from diverse backgrounds. The skills and capacities of lieutenants, captains, and wardens—
staff who have the greatest influence on the culture of prisons and jails day to day—must be developed. 
And governors and local officials must hire the best qualified professionals to lead correctional systems 
and give them the freedom and resources to do the job well.

Change the culture and enhancethe profession: recommendations

1. Promote a culture of mutual respect. Create a positive culture in jails and prisons grounded in an ethic 
of respectful behavior and interpersonal communication that benefits prisoners and staff.

2. Recruit and retain a qualified corps of officers. Enact changes at the state and local levels to advance 
the recruitment and retention of a high quality, diverse workforce and otherwise further the 
professionalism of the workforce.

3. Support today's leaders and cultivate the next generation. Governors and local executives must hire the 
most qualified leaders and support them politically and professionally, and corrections administrators 
must, in turn, use their positions to promote healthy and safe prisons and jails. Equally important, we must 
develop the skills and capacities of middle-level managers, who play a large role in running safe facilities 
and are poised to become the next generation of senior leaders.

III. Oversight and Accountability
Finding: Most correctional facilities are surrounded by more than physical walls; they are walled off from 
external monitoring and public scrutiny to a degree inconsistent with the responsibility of public 
institutions.

Summary Of Findings And Recommendations

All public institutions, from hospitals to schools, need and benefit from strong oversight. Citizens demand 
it because they understand what is at stake if these institutions fail. Prisons and jails should be no 
exception. They are directly responsible for the health and safety of millions of people every year, and 
what happens in correctional facilities has a significant impact on the health and safety of our 
communities.

Corrections leaders work hard to oversee their own institutions and hold themselves accountable, but 
their vital efforts are not sufficient and cannot substitute for external forms of oversight. Former 
Oklahoma Warden Jack Cowley cautioned, "When we are not held accountable, the culture inside the 
prisons becomes a place that is so foreign to the culture of the real world that we develop our own way of 
doing things." Or as U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine, who oversees all federal 
prisons, told the Commission, "There is tremendous pressure within an institution to keep quiet." Despite 
increased professionalism within the field of corrections, there remains resistance to scrutiny by 
"outsiders" that must be overcome.

The most important mechanism for overseeing corrections is independent inspection and monitoring. 
Every U.S. prison and jail should be monitored by an independent government body, sufficiently 
empowered and funded to regularly inspect conditions of confinement and report findings to lawmakers 
and the public. Today, this is the case in only a few states and localities.

While independence is a crucial feature, the relationship with corrections should be collaborative: insiders 
and outsiders working together to ensure safe and effective facilities.

The federal courts also have an important role to play. Federal civil rights litigation ushered in life-saving 
reforms over the past 30 years. Several misguided provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act enacted 
in 1996 must be changed so that the federal courts can deliver justice to individual prisoners who are 
victims of rape, excessive use of force, and gross medical neglect, and compel reform in facilities where 
prisoners and staff are in danger. Equally important, the U.S. Department of Justice must step up efforts to 
monitor correctional facilities and, when appropriate, bring civil or criminal actions in response to abusive 
conditions. States should develop similar capacities. Finally, every prison and jail should allow the press to 
do its job; invite lawmakers, judges, and citizens to visit facilities; and work in other ways to inform the 
public about life behind bars.

Finding: Internal oversight and accountability is no less crucial than monitoring from the outside. We need 
to strengthen the mechanisms that exist and make more use of them.

The American Correctional Association (ACA) has developed a solid set of standards governing all 
aspects of correctional operations and provides a process whereby facilities can become accredited by 
complying with the standards. Yet today only a tiny fraction of the nation's jails and fewer than half of 
America's prisons are accredited.

Every prison and jail should be accredited, and the ACA should raise some standards—pushing 
institutions to excel beyond acceptable practice to good practice—and continue to strengthen the 
accreditation process.

Internal oversight also depends on listening to those who are incarcerated and to the officers who work 
the tiers and pods. No director, warden,or shift commander alone can know all he or she needs to know. 
In many correctional facilities, there are inadequate, sometimes wholly meaningless, systems for 
receiving and responding to prisoners'grievances and reports by staff about misconduct, and there are 
failures to safeguard from retaliation those who speak out. Corrections administrators must encourage 
prisoners and staff to voice their concerns and then protect them.

IV. Knowledge and Data

Finding: Uniform nationwide reporting on safety and abuse in correctional facilities is essential. 
Incomplete and unreliable information currently hampers the ability of corrections leaders, legislators, 
and the public to make sound decisions about prisons and jails.

All correctional facilities should be required to record and report to the federal government essential 
information about safety and health inside facilities. The data we have today is incomplete and unreliable 
in ways that make it impossible to get a complete picture of safety and abuse in correctional facilities, 
compare levels of safety in systems and facilities across the country, or dependably track trends over 
time within a single state or local system.

There must be public demand for more and better information about the health and safety of our 
correctional facilities. Without it corrections administrators cannot make the best management 
decisions, legislators cannot make the best policy decisions, and the public has no way to judge whether 
those decisions protect or hurt the community.

The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Association of State Correctional Administrators, and others 
are working to standardize the data collection process. Congress should pass legislation that builds on 
those efforts by funding uniform, nationwide reporting, and state legislatures should mandate compliance 
with the national reporting requirements.

Congress also should enact legislation that provides incentives for states to track the success of former 
prisoners, using the most sophisticated measures, and then analyze the outcomes alongside conditions 
of confinement, including levels of violence. This is a tremendously difficult task, but it is work that 
policymakers should embrace as it will contribute directly to public safety.

Finally, we cannot hold corrections administrators accountable for the safety of prisoners and staff, and 
for public safety, if we do not provide the resources necessary to effectively manage their facilities. Every 
criminal statute, every sentencing policy, and every policy related to probation and parole has 
consequences for the conditions inside our prisons and jails and for the health of communities. 
Legislators should be required to confront the potential consequences of the laws they are considering 
and publish impact statements before voting.

Increase oversight and accountability: recommendations

1. Demand independent oversight. Every state should create an independent agency to monitor prisons 
and jails.

2. Build national non-governmental oversight. Create a national non-governmental organization capable of 
inspecting prisons and jails at the invitation of corrections administrators.

3. Reinvigorate investigation and enforcement. Expand the investigation and enforcement activities of the 
U.S. Department of Justice and build similar capacity in the states.

4. Increase access to the courts by reforming the PLRA. Congress should narrow the scope of the Prison 
Litigation Reform Act.

5. Monitor practice not just policy. Ensure that American Correctional Association accreditation more 
accurately reflects practice as well as policy.

6. Strengthen professional standards. Improve and support American Correctional Association standards.

7. Develop meaningful internal complaint systems. Corrections managers should strengthen the systems 
that allow them to listen to those who live and work in prisons and jails.

8. Encourage visits to facilities. Create opportunities for individual citizens and organized groups, including 
judges and lawmakers, to visit facilities.

9. Strive for transparency. Ensure media access to facilities, to prisoners, and to correctional data.
c ommission on safety and abuse in america ' s prisons

In Conclusion

We all bear responsibility for creating correctional institutions that are safe, humane, and productive. With 
so much at stake for our citizens' health and safety, with so many people directly affected by the 
conditions in our prisons and jails, this is the moment to confront confinement in the United States.

Improve Knowledge And Data: Recommendations

1. Develop nationwide reporting. Federal legislation should support meaningful data collection, and states 
and localities should fully commit to this project.

2. Fund a national effort to learn how prisons and jails can make a larger contribution to public safety. The 
federal government and states should invest in developing knowledge about the link between safe, well-
run correctional facilities and public safety.

3. Require correctional impact statements. The federal government and states should mandate that an 
impact statement accompany all proposed legislation that would change the size, demographics, or other 
pertinent characteristics of prison and jail populations.

This morning there are at least 95 articles at www.google.com (click on news tab and enter prison, 
California) along the same lines as the three below. Those people who answered my call to open up  your 
lives last  year and submit a chronology to this Commission are not mentioned in these articles except as 
part of the permanent, recorded results.

But the results are the most important part and this international hard-hitting exposure of inhumane 
prison conditions would not have been possible without you.  The mentally ill are suffering the worst of the 
abuses and you can write about that in your ten sentence letters to editors but overall the press coverage 
does a fantastic job.  I thank the journalists who have followed with us via this newsletter for the past 
seven years and brought out our other stories as well.

There must be millions of dollars in media time and space about your suffering.  When we started the 
UNION in 1998, only three or four newspapers carried an occasional story. Had everyone related to a 
prisoner gotten together and raised money, we could have purchased this exposure before the election 
but it's all still good.

Those prison guards who have tortured my son, Nora's son and others, called us liars and tried to prevent 
this type of news coverage from ever being exposed to the public, the Department of Corrections who 
named us by numbers (instead of our names) when 40 of us begged for those in ad segs and SHUs to be 
released are unveiled.

Without the intelligence, risk-taking courage of the UNION people who took the time to tell the details of 
their own suffering, the world would never know about the oppression under which we live, or about the 
absolute hell we've endured for the past fifteen years,  all of it for no reason.  All of this inhumanity, none of 
it a solution to crime.

I thank everyone who responded to this call to action to participate and today, I am very relieved that we 
have this much news coverage about torture in America, but especially in California's prisons.

I am issuing another call to action for us to protest in Sacramento to draw attention to and object to the 
appropriation of $600 million with which to build bogus mental hospitals which will be nothing but ad seg 
and SHU units.  We certainly need such facilities but completely outside of the control of CDC.  Please give 
me a date Mon. through Thurs when   you can bring ten people to back me up at a protest in Sacramento. 
The other citizen's groups outside of prison reform are out doing protests at the Capitol right now, so we 
need at least  500 committed before I call it as small protests do not count.

My calls to action have always resulted in positive results, not as quickly as we would like, but if we listed 
out every win we've had since 1998 by taking group action, the results are impressive and indisputable. 
This type of press coverage tells the voters they are wasting tax dollars and at risk of a system that 
chews up lives. It is worth far more than purchased advertising because the truth rings through in every 
article I've read so far.

I am very proud of you for what you did here,  and grateful to the National Prison Commission for this work 
and for listening and for caring.  The politicians know of the suffering and dying but make no effort to 
respond to individual complaints and that is why we must continue to fight until our screams are not only 
heard but acted upon.

Give me a count - you writers and protesters who are heard today far and wide.  Thank God for the people 
of the UNION who have carried everyone in these battles.  This is a big one that you who participated 
caused to happen for the good of every prisoner and their family in the nation.

Good luck came through discipline and  your action.  If  you didn't participate when I called to you, it is 
possible you are a part of the problem instead of the solution.  I'm too happy over this today to scold the 
list sitters, but reform comes much faster when more participate.
B. Cayenne Bird

 latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-prisons8jun08,1,4073969.story?coll=la-headlines-

High Cost of Prisons Not Paying Off, Report Finds

The U.S. spends more than any other nation -- $60 billion a year -- to house inmates, but sees little good as 
a result, a bipartisan panel says.

By Jenifer Warren, Times Staff Writer
June 8, 2006

SACRAMENTO — Americans spend $60 billion a year to imprison 2.2 million people — exceeding any other 
nation — but receive a dismal return on the investment, according to a report to be released today by a 
commission urging greater public scrutiny of what goes on behind bars.

The report, "Confronting Confinement," says legislators have passed get-tough laws that have packed the 
nation's jails and prisons to overflowing with convicts, most of them poor and uneducated. However, 
politicians have done little to help inmates emerge as better citizens upon release.

The consequences of that failure include financial strain on states, public health threats from parolees 
with communicable diseases, and a cycle of crime and victimization driven by a recidivism rate of more 
than 60%, the report says.

"If these were public schools or publicly traded corporations, we'd shut them down," said Alexander 
Busansky, executive director of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons, established 
by a private think tank in New York. Rather, the commission said, Americans view prisons with 
detachment or futility, growing interested when a riot makes the news and then looking away, "hoping the 
troubles inside the walls will not affect us."

With 20 members representing diverse perspectives, the bipartisan panel urges Americans to ignore the 
costs of incarceration no longer. Launched in early 2005 amid what panelists called "accumulating doubts 
about the effectiveness and morality of our country's approach to confinement," the commission will 
deliver its findings to a Senate subcommittee in Washington today.

Among the highlights in the 126-page report:

•  Violence remains a serious problem in prisons and jails, with gang assaults, rapes, riots and, in Florida, 
beatings by "goon squads" of officers.

Crowding is one cause, with most lockups so packed that they feature a "degree of disorder and tension 
almost certain to erupt in violence."

Idleness also compromises safety. "But because lawmakers have reduced funding for programming, 
prisoners today are largely inactive and unproductive."

Family ties — another proven factor in promoting safety and successful paroles — are strained by 
prisons' location in remote areas and by a culture that does not welcome visitors. There are even barriers 
to receiving phone calls, with the cost of a collect call from prison far higher than what is charged in the 
free world, amounting to "a tax on poor families."

•  High rates of disease in prison, coupled with inadequate funding for healthcare, endanger inmates, staff 
and the public, with staph infections, tuberculosis, hepatitis C and AIDS among the biggest threats.

In California, healthcare has been deemed so bad — claiming one inmate life in an average week through 
incompetence or neglect — that a federal judge seized control of prison medical care from the state and 
recently handed it to a receiver.

•  The rising use of high-security segregation units is counterproductive, often causing violence inside 
prisons and contributing to recidivism.

Although designed to isolate the most dangerous inmates, segregation units increasingly house those 
who may appear unmanageable but who pose no danger to others or are mentally ill. Prisoners are often 
released from solitary confinement — where they experience extreme isolation from human contact for 
long periods — directly to the streets, despite the proven risk of doing so.

The commission recommends more rigorous screening, an end to conditions of severe isolation and 
proper treatment for the mentally ill.

•  Prison culture — the "us-versus-them" mentality — endangers inmates and staff and harms the families 
and communities to which convicts return. Many states are pursuing a new approach, which the 
commission called more than a "feel-good idea."

"Security and control — necessities in the prison environment — only become a reality when dignity and 
respect are inherent in the process," said former Minnesota Warden James H. Bruton, one of scores who 
provided testimony. Change will require recruitment and retention of high-quality officers and leaders, so 
the field — which employs 750,000 people — is not viewed as one of "knuckle-draggers in dungeons."

•  Despite increased professionalism in corrections, resistance to outside scrutiny and oversight remains.

In California, the Office of the Inspector General acts as a watchdog, investigating reports of abuse, 
assaults and fatalities. But the media are limited in their access to the state's 33 prisons, and legislative 
efforts to overturn such restrictions have been vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his 
predecessor, Gray Davis.

The commission includes members who run correctional systems and attorneys for inmates, as well as 
lawmakers and others from the criminal justice field. The panel spent a year exploring problems — the 
first comprehensive, national effort of its kind in three decades.

Its co-chairmen are former U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge John J. Gibbons and former U.S. 
Atty. Gen. Nicholas deB. Katzenbach.

State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) also served on the panel, which was staffed and funded through 
the Vera Institute of Justice.

All 20 members supported the report's findings, concluding that "we should be astonished by the size of 
the prisoner population, troubled by the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans and Latinos, 
and saddened by the waste of human potential."

The report can be found at http://www.prisoncommission.org .
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respond to the above article  letters@latimes.com
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http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/14768433.htm

Jun. 08, 2006
Study: Prison abuse, neglect not unique to state
By Don Thompson
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - Abuse and neglect in California prisons is so bad that it has brought condemnation from 
national experts and forced a federal judge to seize control of inmate health care.

Now a federal commission says in a 126-page report made available in advance to the Associated Press 
that similar problems exist in many prisons and jails across the nation.

California has become known as a national leader in areas such as environmental protection and energy 
efficiency. In this case, it's leading by bad example, said state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, a 
member of the national Commission on Safety and Abuse In America's Prisons.

The first national prison commission in three decades is presenting its findings and recommendations 
today to the U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee on corrections and rehabilitation in Washington, D.C.
Also today, federal judges from Sacramento and San Francisco will hold an unusual hearing in the state 
capital to consider expanding federal control of inmates' medical treatment to cover mental health care.

The review stems from an ongoing dispute between a non-profit inmate rights group that filed class-action 
lawsuits against state officials over how the prison system should operate. The suit was settled shortly 
after it was filed in 2001, but the two sides have been sparring since over implementing the details.
Problems that have made headlines in California echo in other lockups for 2.2 million inmates nationwide, 
the commission said in its report. They include:

• Medical care so poor that inmates often die of neglect.

• A ``code of silence'' that protects wrongdoers while punishing whistle-blowers.
• Crowding and underfunding that leaves inmates with living space the size of a twin bed.

• An emphasis on punishment, including mentally damaging periods of isolation, instead of on programs 
that could help convicts prepare for a return to society.

``If you want to know anything that's wrong with prisons, come to California,'' said Romero, the Senate 
majority leader who has held many hearings into prison problems. ``How not to run a prison -- that's what 
California has been about for decades.''

Elaine Jennings, representative for the newly renamed California Department of Corrections and 
Rehabilitation, said the department is making progress but the national report shows the challenges it 
faces.

The adult and juvenile prison systems were combined nearly a year ago to give top corrections 
administrators more control over individual prisons and allow better coordination. Jennings said there is 
better security, separation of inmates, and employee discipline than before.

New interim Corrections Secretary James Tilton promises to restore education and vocational programs 
that failed under his two predecessors.

The commission's findings that more prison rehabilitation was needed found an unusual ally in Chuck 
Alexander, executive vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

``We're going to have `rehabilitation' stenciled on our badges, but that's as far as it got. The educational 
and vocational programs have been virtually shut down,'' Alexander said.

Such programs are needed to keep ex-convicts from quickly returning to prison, he said.

Far from locking society's problems safely behind bars, poor treatment virtually guarantees that most 
inmates will eventually get out and cause more harm, the national commission said.

``It's based on a false premise that you lock people away and they somehow get rehabilitated. And they 
really don't get rehabilitated at all,'' Romero said. ``Seven of 10 parolees will come back, most after 
committing new crimes.''
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respond to this one letters@mercurynews.com
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http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-te.md.prisons08jun08,0,4350855.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

U.S. prisons called risk to lives
Report lists overcrowding, few constructive activities as conditions that cause inmate violence
By Greg Garland
sun reporter
Originally published June 8, 2006

Overcrowding, cruel conditions and a lack of constructive activities for inmates fuel violence in America's 
prisons and threaten public safety because most inmates return to their communities ill-prepared for daily 
life, according to a report to be presented to Congress today.

"Few conditions compromise safety more than idleness," says the report by the Commission on Safety 
and Abuse in America's Prisons, a nonpartisan group that has studied conditions inside the nation's 
correctional facilities for the past year. "But because lawmakers have reduced funding for programming, 
prisoners today are largely inactive and unproductive. Highly structured programs are proven to reduce 
misconduct in correctional facilities and also to lower recidivism rates after release."

The report highlights issues that have emerged in Maryland as state officials struggle to control prison 
violence that records show has turned increasingly deadly in recent years.

"It sort of validates what we've been saying," said Frank C. Sizer Jr., the state's prison chief. "You can't 
continue to lock people up and not do anything with them and put them back into society with no tools to 
be able to cope."

Some correctional officers have been critical of Sizer and his boss, Public Safety and Correctional 
Services Secretary Mary Ann Saar, for focusing what they say is too much of their attention on inmate 
rehabilitation. They say it has come at the expense of safety and security of prison staff.

"There is a balance between security and treatment," Sizer said. "A good treatment program only serves 
to improve safety and security."

The report being released today is the product of a yearlong study by a 20-member commission that held 
hearings around the country and was staffed by the New York-based Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit 
group that researches criminal justice issues. The commission was co-chaired by former U.S. Attorney 
General Nicholas de B. Katzenbach and John J. Gibbons, former chief judge of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of 
Appeals.

The report says there is far too much violence in America's prisons and cites "other serious problems 
that put lives at risk and cause immeasurable suffering."

The problems include "too many facilities that are crowded to the breaking point, too little medical and 
mental health care, unnecessary uses of solitary confinement and other forms of segregation, a 
desperate need for the kinds of productive activities that discourage violence and make rehabilitation 
possible, and a culture in many prisons and jails that pits staff against prisoners and management against 
staff."

Among other things, the commission recommended that policymakers eliminate crowded conditions at 
prisons and jails, invest in programs proven to reduce violence and change behavior in the long term and 
substantially reduce the use of physical force in dealing with the inmate population.

"The majority of prisons and many jails hold more people than they can deal with safely and effectively, 
creating a degree of disorder and tension almost certain to erupt into violence," the report says.

The country spends about $60 billion a year on corrections, said Alexander Busansky of the Vera Institute. 
He said 2.2 million people are in prison or jail. Maryland operates 27 jails and prisons that house about 
27,000 inmates at any given time, according to state corrections officials.

Maryland prisons and jails, like many others around the country, have long suffered from overcrowding, 
state officials say.

The problems are particularly severe at two state-run facilities in Baltimore, the Central Booking and 
Intake Facility and the Baltimore City Detention Center. Both have a history of violent incidents.

The report says a variety of factors fuel violence.

Besides overcrowding, unnecessary or excessive use of force can provoke broader violence, the report 
says. And the increasing use of high-security segregation at prisons "is counterproductive, often causing 
violence inside facilities and contributing to recidivism after release."

An inmate placed in segregation is kept locked in an isolation cell for 23 hours a day, sometimes for 
months at a time and often with little human contact, the report notes.

The commission also called for a change in federal rules to shift health care costs for eligible prison 
inmates to Medicaid and Medicare programs, which would ease some of the burden on the states.
Maryland Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Mary L. Livers, who testified before 
the commission, said the report should lead to positive discussion about changes that are badly needed in 
the field of corrections.

She said it is "vitally important to staff safety and to inmate safety" for inmates to be involved in productive 
activities while they are incarcerated.

Livers said administrators have been trying to move Maryland's correctional system more in that 
direction, calling it "a major culture shift" from the way business has been done in the past.

greg.garland@baltsun.com

To view the full report, go to www.prisoncommission.org/report.

-------------------
B. Cayenne Bird
United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect
P.O. Box 340371
Sacramento, Ca. 95834
www.1union1.com/Join_the_UNION.html
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Prison Commission Report