Prison Plan is Embarrasing to Thinking People Everywhere
Dr. B. Cayenne Bird

Dr. B. Cayenne Bird is an ordained minister and a 37-year veteran op-ed journalist and publisher. She volunteers her time as founder and director of United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect UNION. The UNION is active in prison reform and criminal justice issues. She is a mother and grandmother and focuses on human rights and restorative justice. She is also the host of television series "Cayenne Common Sense" and publishes a daily online newsletter to subscribers.

April 29, 2007

 Thinking people know that the practice of locking people in cages is from the dark ages. Even so, most politicians do not have the courage to admit that such a primitive action is a non-solution to crime prevention. 

There are no statistics anywhere that prisons, jails, isolation, lockdowns or harsh laws such as the death penalty do one thing to deter mentally ill people from acting out their sickness. What we’re doing in California is spending billions of dollars to punish sick people who are being released to our neighborhoods worse off than before they were confined to a cage.

It is not impossible to overcome these primitive practices, but it does take courageous trailblazers to get it started by standing up to the punisher crowd. People once thought that the world was flat and it took quite a lot to convince them otherwise. This is an example of a wrong belief, a paradigm, which is very hard to get people to accept, especially if they’re making a great deal of money by perpetuating a lie.

A brilliant book about paradigms entitled 

"Conspiracy of Paradigms" was written by Denise Breton and Christopher Largent (link) which explains a bit about how oppressive people use wrong ideas to control and abuse souls.

At the link there is quite a bit of detail about how prisoners’ normal emotions are removed and camp emotions are implanted, and how after the shock of the prison experience sets in, apathy takes over which is the inability to care about anything.

Those who are parasites feeding off the human misery which is at the core of the prison industry have little or no conscience about breaking the prisoners in body, mind and spirit. 

These “punishers” promote that abuse is the only way to teach the mentally ill and addicts which make up 70% of the prison population (or more) a lesson they will never forget. But the fact remains that no matter how hard anyone tries, you cannot punish a sick person into being well. If anything, abundant credible research teaches us that punishing the mentally ill only makes them much sicker.

The current legislature had a chance to re-examine this faulty thinking and replace the primitive “punisher” mentality with a more enlightened one of treating and healing the sick in our society who cannot follow the rules. I would like you to see a page I am updating on our site which shows the names, the lawsuits filed and the photos of real people who have been destroyed for life over the unbearable incompetence taking place in the prisons.

These are but a few of the campaigns in the past three years that my UNION volunteers and I did in a desperate struggle to save lives, better conditions and plead to the lawmakers for justice. (link) Keep in mind that every taxpayer who cooperates with this inhumanity by not showing up to vote or speak out in the media with simple letters to editor is as responsible as CDC and the legislators who support this brutality.

We were hoping and praying for relief which isn’t coming because our side isn’t one of the 134 mobilized voting machines that count in Sacramento . Even though we number in the millions of citizens, we are not loud enough or writing enough checks to matter to law enforcement’s puppets sitting in elected office. The builder’s are also pulling the Governor’s strings, licking their chops at the fresh human slaves that will be caged in their billion dollar prison building projects.

In the dark of the night, your elected officials conspired and agreed to pass a ridiculous bill which Senator Perata admits in his speech is bad. I am disturbed by all the fast-tracking and “cooperation” between the Repuglicrats on new laws that are of life and death importance. 

When the Assembly passed the bill to mortgage our children’s future by agreeing to allocate $7 billion dollars on a 69-0 vote with no debate, I felt a cold shiver run throughout my patriotic soul. The Democrats have sold out to the Republicans this time. 

For years Republicans have exposed the Democrats for stealing the public’s hard earned money through redistribution tax schemes and wasteful spending projects in an effort to buy votes. Today Republicans who run for office on “no new taxes” platforms have stolen the public hard earned money by creating bonds, which are nothing more than a form of new taxes.

Future taxes will pay the principal and interest and the future is our children and grandchildren. Without sentencing reform, the new beds will fill up quickly. The Democrats in supporting this so-called compromise have sold out to the “tough on crime” mindless Republicans. I was so hopeful that the 34 new people elected to office were going to be of the same cloth of other great leaders, but I can see that they are just followers of the filthy lucre mindset.

No debate by the Assembly members over the allocation of $7 billion in new cages when there is no basis that locking people in cages does one thing to prevent or deter crime? This is a time when we desperately need money for education which is a very wise crime prevention tool. Instead our lawmakers robbed us of precious education dollars in a stealth move by raising taxes via a bond and there was NO DEBATE? How utterly revolting and unrepresentative of the best interests of the citizenry. Who are these people we've put in power over our lives?

Students at UC San Francisco are admirably protesting that they cannot pay for school even after working full time jobs. The photos of their Walk Out to support Education Instead of Incarceration can be viewed here. After all, a large percentage of the prisoners are young between 18 and 25 years old, certainly not unredeemable. Without an education, they are more likely to end up committing crimes due to poverty and desperation.

What heartens me is how bright and energetic the University students are unlike so many of their parents who allow themselves to be turned into wage slaves without so much as a protest. Even after their children are taken into slavery to work in the prison industry, too many parents are still not writing short comments to editors, attending important policy hearings in Sacramento or bothering to bring ten people to the polls to stop the crazy Repuglicrats destroying their lives.

Protesting is how people of my generation ended the Viet Nam war. Protesting in mass is how the Iraq war is coming to an end. Protesting in mass is a necessary way to show the lawmakers that voting groups are formed well enough to be able to elect or recall them. If a citizen’s pressure group does not have enough funds and noisy volunteers to put their own people into office by paying for their campaigns or to file lawsuits or do initiative campaigns, then that group simply has no voice. 

Protests show the size of a voting block. 

Emails and phone calls to legislators are ineffective as they do not believe that the families and parolees have the intelligence to really organize a voting machine. That’s why it is difficult to get any of the lawmakers to carry bills forward for us. They know there won’t be crowds at the hearings, checks written or lobby work as a mysterious victim mentality of looking for a free rescue hangs as a dark cloud over our entire movement.

Every freedom fight has required a war chest and a large army dedicated to the ideal and this one of the battle for prison reform is no different.

As long as such pressure groups remain unfunded and smaller than 6500 trained and mobilized members, we will never see prison reform. All of the current reform is coming from lawsuits, those filed by Prison Law Office which we have supported, the attorneys of ACLU and the 28 lawsuits of the UNION families have put these critical issues on the front burner. 

But without thousands of people marching in the streets, overflowing the Capitol, the lawmakers simply will continue to do what they want, because silence is a form of consent in a Democracy. So that is why this wrong-headed Prison Paradigm still exists even though it has overbuilt the bureaucracy and literally destroyed hundreds of thousands of California families.

We need not be stopped here in front of this brick wall for such a long period. It was the University Students and the hippies that rescued Cesar Chavez who nearly starved to death for seven years trying to organize the uneducated and illegal workers. I know that it was the hippies and students who gave the UFW a voice so that it could be a voting machine large enough to stop the oppression for I was there, living in Kern County during those years.

Besides Cesar Chavez, my youth was an era filled with humanitarian greats including Dr. Martin Luther King whom Judge Thelton Henderson and Rev. Jesse Jackson supported and worked closely with, as well as President John F. Kennedy. They all taught the lessons of basic organizing including marching and getting people to the polls to vote against the punishers.

I remember vividly the day JFK was shot. The teachers at my junior high as we called it then in Bakersfield were sobbing as they herded us outside to say the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag at half mast. At the time I didn’t quite understand their unusual display of emotion but I remember crying too. 

I was the Valedictorian of my eighth grade class that year and my speech was all about our paths in life as humanitarians. The world was deeply grieving the senseless killing of a president that held much higher ideals than what we've put into power over us today. I was as dead serious at 14 years old about that humanitarian path so critical to changing paradigms of backward thinking then as I am today.

Then came the Viet Nam war to which I lost classmates and witnessed the migration of the flower children to Haight Ashbury. The murders of students who protested at Kent State are still as clear in my memory as if they happened yesterday. At the time, I thought it would be very cool to be a hippie and go with them but I had a job at the Bakersfield Californian newspaper and responsibilities on the college newspaper as well. 

I broadcasted the Saturday News for ABC KBAK TV at a time when women weren’t allowed to do that type of “man’s work.” I couldn’t go to San Francisco and be a hippie because I had to write and report the news about the war abroad and the war at home on my people. 

The same as now. 

I would like to think as I soon enter my 40th year as a California publisher and opinion writer that some of the primitive paradigms about treating people as animals would have progressed to a more advanced and effective level. 

But as always with the punishers, there are new toys such as GPS devices to try out on people. The new taser weapons to use for their macho shows of strength against our young people whom they’re snatching up by the thousands for crimes that aren’t really crimes. And now a ridiculous plan to expand the human bondage industry at a time when it is overdue to be ending so that we as a people can focus on healing the sick, instead of punishing them.

After all these years of being a person dedicated to the First Amendment, human rights, liberty and justice, the one thing I know for sure is that we can’t just make a bunch of noise once or twice and expect the bullies and the people they put into office to do their bidding to take any action on the problems. The lawmakers have now made it quite clear that they love prisons and do not want to be enlightened to better methods of restorative justice, preventing poverty, mental illness and substance abuse which would be much smarter to prevent crime. The lawmakers have also told us this past month, that all the 54,000 people unconstitutionally sentenced will not be welcome to appeal in the courts for years, if ever, by their “fast track" of SB 40.

I am not going to live forever, nor is Judge Henderson, so I’d like to do that thing that writers do best and record what I think it’s going to take to put an end to this nonsense. Reform only comes about when the oppressed get together and elect the right people in the first place and that includes paying for their campaigns and getting solidly behind them to get them elected. 

The good people who dare to take on the Goliaths have no such backing from the oppressed. It isn’t because it couldn’t be done. Such support could be given since this segment of our society outnumbers all the punishers and could vote them off the planet if so inclined! No. The withholding of support from the people most hurt to elect the right people to office is mostly due to a lack of education about how the system works as well as fearfulness. Fear is the most powerful tool of oppression and has worked splendidly for the law enforcement labor unions to gain control of my native state.

When Senator Don Perata stated in his speech “the voters want to see people in prison” he is speaking the truth. That’s because the main people voting are law enforcement labor unions, their friends and family members. Of course they want to see people in prison so they can have an overpaying job for heaven’s sake. You can listen to that speech which didn't make a lick of sense to me here 

When people began ringing my phone to get my opinion of what was said, I was not surprised based on what I've heard and witnessed for ten years straight out of the legislature, but I was and am still disappointed. Very disappointed.

The rest of the people outside of friends and family of law enforcement aren’t voting that much, including the 18 year olds. Maybe this apathy is changing now that the students are recognizing they are more likely to go to one of these new prisons than to college. 

I am a lifetime student myself as well as having three grandsons who are working hard to put themselves through college. They are exhausted trying to balance jobs and studies and so disheartened that our cartoon character of a Governor has raised tuitions to pay for more prison building. Gasoline is more than $3.35 a gallon, a home and nice automobile are out of the reach of too many of our youth, even those who are working can’t make it. 

How stupid to put the importance of education and prevention programs behind prison expansion. I hope that the taxpayers are aware that $7 billion is just to kick off this prison building party and billions more will be required to maintain and expand it. 

The plan passed this past week is so bad that it has angered everyone including the powerful prison guard’s union (CCPOA) who elected most of the Republican politicians to office to do their bidding. What will happen now after the Governor signs the bill is that it will mostly likely go into a lawsuit. I believe that the legislature punted it to the courts to sidestep actual reform. When the CCPOA gets angry, the lawmakers listen, but the people who need to be raising the roof about all of this are the educators and students in addition to the three million silent people connected to a state prisoner who historically hasn't put up a large enough fight for themselves.

It would have been very easy to take the 34,000 mentally ill prisoners completely out of a system where they cannot survive. On May 7 another meaningless CDC public hearing will take place that will further prosecute the mentally ill for masturbating. You read me right. Our courts are tied up with prosecutions of the mentally ill caught in prison masturbating, which marks them as a sex offender, a designation that can easily result in death by stabbing. Their cells are their homes. Why not keep the women guards out of the male areas where the mentally ill are isolated until they have no sanity left. It is outrageous this primitive practice of punishing the sick for predictably acting out their illnesses which prison exacerbates! In their CDC Bulletin for a rules change, they are blaming Judge Henderson for this one as well. The UNION people have been to dozens of these rule change hearings that CDC holds pretending to have an open ear to listen to objections. 

We frequently brought 40 or 50 representatives to speak out against taking packages, cutting back visiting, extending SHU review times up to 90 days, the list of hearings we wasted our time on attending is endless. These are not televised and not once did CDC relent on any illogical and irrational thing it wanted to do to make the chaos even worse. Often they did not even get our names right or enter our testimony into their record. Always their decisions have been destructive and expensive to the entire system but no one really cares because the media isn’t there to report it.

Building prison hospitals under the present designation of CDC or DMH is akin to throwing money into a black hole. Why reward two failed agencies who know nothing about healing the mentally ill?

To these lawmaker clowns under the Big Top dome in Sacramento, the prisoners are simply commodities. They are cash cows, a modern kind of slave that pays for the unjust bureaucracy. You can hear that attitude in their voices during the hearings on the California Channel. 

I trust Judge Thelton Henderson to see through this very bad plan and I know that he will question as I do why the Democrats are passing laws that they do not like or believe in and then blaming it on him.

Please tell the prisoners not to commit suicide, which always happens when the legislature does something as ridiculous as passing this impotent prison plan. This insensitivity to the prisoner's state of mind is but one reason why we have the nation’s largest suicide rate which brings delighted squeals from the punishers who love witnessing their hopelessness, pain and suffering.

For those 3 million relatives of a state inmate it will get your blood pressure boiling to realize that your suffering is mostly due to politics. 

Here’s what patriots and activists for change should do every time they get angry at the system.

.Register people to vote as “decline to state” at post offices in poor neighborhoods until you can't stand up anymore. The first step to prison reform is electing the right people in the first place

.Call up a teacher and ask them why the heck their labor union isn't railing against education dollars being wasted on prisons. Many teachers now have kids in prison and have been in prison themselves. There are thousands of teachers, and because they’re organized, they matter. They’re too compliant and easily trampled by the punishers. Their salaries reflect that lack of backbone.

.Write letters to editors of 150 words or less until you're blue and get your friends and family members to do the same. Public education is our job.

.Start lining up the ten people you are going to bring when our bill AB1539 to release sick and dying prisoners goes to the Appropriations Committee any day now. When people aren’t there, the legislators assume that they consent to what is taking place.

.Start lining up the ten people you are going to bring to sit in court for two of our lawsuits coming up in about a month

.Recruit one new person to the UNION to be trained and mobilized as an activist for change. 6500 people willing to write, protest and get out the vote can change any law, elect or recall any politician. You can’t wish reform into being. It takes some work by enough people to make the 150 day deadlines.

.Get extra exercise which will help burn off some of the stress hormones we're all generating by the gallons right now. Don't agonize, organize and mobilize. The lawmakers count on ignorance and a defeated spirit from our side. Without those factors, law enforcement's politicians would not be in office. Asking them to do the right thing obviously is a total waste of time. The power of numbers in action is the ONLY solution.

Here are a few of my past articles which gives hundreds of ideas for reform which you may use to model your own letters to editors. Public education must be done through the media and it is everyone’s job because apathy and ignorance of the voters are the only reasons in the world why we have all these brick walls in place. 

Corrupt Criminal Justice System Contributes to Over-Crowded Prisons 

October 21, 2006

by: Dr. B. Cayenne Bird


Real Prison Reform Must Include Sentencing and Parole Changes

September 25, 2006

by: Dr. B. Cayenne Bird


Prison Reform for Dummies: What's Right and What's Wrong

September 13, 2006

by: Dr. B. Cayenne Bird


Parents of Prisoners ask: Why are we paying to punish sick people in prison?

August 17, 2006

by: Dr. B. Cayenne Bird


Parents of Prisoners Pray for this Urgent Reform First

August 8, 2006

by: Dr. B. Cayenne Bird


Voters Must Demand Sane Prison Reforms to Protect the Public Safety

July 26, 2006

by: Dr. B. Cayenne Bird


Build Mental Hospitals - Not Prisons - to Lower Crime

July 9, 2006

by: Dr. B. Cayenne Bird


Links to all of the above articles can be found here

If you would like to do more than just pass email back and forth and become an activist for real change, please subscribe to my daily online newsletter so you can know when, where, why to fight back. Until enough people get that 6500 workers are needed, we are all stuck in the quagmire of the status quo. There are no rescuers except ourselves, obviously, this reform can only be done with more lawsuits and an initiative campaigns. 

The forms are Join_the_Union.html

"Ignorance and apathy of the people rule governments.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge comes from reading newspapers,

not from getting your news from television alone"

Rev. B. Cayenne Bird