California Progress Report

February 12, 2007. 36 comments. Topic: Prison Reform 

California Needs Systemic Prison Reform, Not Exporting Prisoners Out of State

By Dr. B. Cayenne Bird 

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently thinks that sending people out of state away from their court cases and families is a right way to create more beds in prisons. This desperate plan is more evidence of the total disregard that this Governor has for human life and due process. 

Moving prisoners out of state would be a wrong move because it treats people as if they were no better than livestock and it denies due process. Not that some people might not be desperate to get out of California's blood houses.

I can think of two reasons why the Governor would float such a callous and wrong-headed idea as contracting 10,000 people to private prisons out of state. One is so that he doesn't have to initiate any real reform and two, thereby alienate his Republican base whose Holy Grail is punishing instead of preventing and healing the actual causes of crime. Moving people is not a reform. Their cases and witnesses are here, and due process must be respected, cherished, and preserved. 

Moving inmates who have little ones would punish the children unnecessarily and would not impact the gang culture, as gangs are everywhere in the country. Moving "gang" members to other parts of the country is simply a way to expand that culture. And who could ever trust the screening process to know who was moved? 

The idea of moving people in prison away from their legal cases and families is not only callous but it's ridiculous. However, if some prisoners want to waive their rights to due process or want to go out of state to be near their families, that would be fine -- but not if those prisoners are terminally or mentally ill, which would make them incompetent to sign their lives, family members, and court cases away. 

Since there is obviously a lack of depth and creativity on actual prison reform amongst the Republican lawmakers in particular and even some of the Democrats that will bring our society to a better place, I've penned this opinion piece. It has actually been voiced many times before with the help of thousands of prisoners’ families, many of whom are doctors, teachers, nurses, business owners, social workers and even attorneys and journalists -- in other words, intelligent, professional people who are living the nightmare of injustice by having a loved one incarcerated in California. They know better than any aging action hero or cartoon character making life and death decisions with people's lives what is needed, as they are the victims of these crimes against humanity brought on by all this political blustering and capitalization off human suffering that has brought us to this prison crisis.

Before any semblance of reform can be achieved in the overcrowded, overwhelmed, under-functioning, understaffed, unaccountable, out-of-control, out-of-step, and in-debt California prison system, two things need to happen: Emergencies need immediate attention, and a metaphorical house cleaning needs to take place. 

Emergencies Must Be the First Priority Until Actual Reforms Which are Really Going to be Effective Are Agreed Upon

Families of ill or injured prisoners still have no place to go for help or information when they have concerns about what has happened to their loved ones. This heartless lack of common decency and accountability has resulting in countless cases of preventable illness, injury, and ultimately death -- followed by wrongful death lawsuits. To lower the mounting preventable death toll, somebody needs to put someone in charge of responding to inmates and their families in preventable emergencies. In this declared emergency, creating contact personnel for families in need of information and help should have been the first order of business. Yet it still hasn't been done!

Also, as part of the current emergency, the Governor needs to sign the media access bill. I know of at least four young men who were found dead by hanging in one month alone. Suicide is a form of medical neglect. If there is nothing to hide, the Governor should honor the First Amendment of the Constitution and sign it.

Cleaning Up the Big Houses

As for cleaning house, a reasoned, well-planned release of certain classes of inmates is not only the quickest way to ease overcrowding, it will also serve to right some wrongs. It is wrong to sentence non-violent people, especially women, to state prisons hundreds of miles from their children for low-level crimes. It is wrong to subject the mentally ill to prison regimentation they cannot follow, harsh treatment by insensitive guards, threats and a wide range of abuses by violent inmates. It is wrong to keep frail elderly inmates constrained, often in isolation, when they are no longer any possible threat to society. It is wrong to keep the seriously ill in prison, again often in isolation or without any way for their families to visit them, even in their final days.

Once the big house is cleaned of these wrongs, there will be greater opportunity to start the kind of reforms that will begin to heal a system, so broken, so dysfunctional, so paralyzed that in spite of good reform ideas having been presented over many years, little if anything has actually been accomplished. 

Release the terminally ill and frail elderly 

Taxpayers do not wish to pay to imprison sick people who are no longer a danger to society. Those who are dying often have families who are willing to care for them. Some of this expense can be born by federal programs instead of the State if the inmates are released. Prisons aren't hospitals and prison guards aren't nurses. Prisons are no place for the ill because punishing those who are sick doesn't serve the public safety in any manner whatsoever. This is beyond cruel and unusual punishment to lock people in cages knowing that medical care cannot be delivered

These emergency and house-cleaning reforms alone could result in about 40,000 beds getting freed up without the expensive price tag that farming punishment out to other states would incur of our badly needed resources.

Conclusion

Reforms that might be categorized as repair and maintenance steps involving the entire system, arrest through parole are detailed in columns I have penned at American Chronicle.

With some organizing work we can put take the people who voted against SB1547 http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/05-06/bill/sen/sb_1501-1550/sb_1547_bill_20060821_amended_asm.pdf by Romero last year out of power, including the cowards who didn't show up to vote for it. Politicians need to realize that the days of ignorance and apathy amongst the oppressed are over. The Republican politicians have been doing lockstep voting against every front end reform bill proposed for more than a decade. On important reforms, a 2/3 vote is required which is how they've blocked revision of the ineffective and inhumane Three Strikes Law. 

Very few citizens can be seen in attendance at these vital hearings or speaking up during public comment or people would have know long ago that it is the Republicans who keep us in this primitive mindset of vengeance-based justice. We need to kick the bums out of office, demonstrate in mass beneath their windows, and name the names of everyone who is callous in daily letters to editors. It's time to get smart on crime! If you would like to help me and thousands of voters who have been dedicated to reform for the past eight years with this important work please email me at rightor1@yahoo.com.

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 publishes a daily online newsletter to subscribers teaching them how to become activists for prison reform.


Comments

Dr. Bird, I fully agree with everything you have said here. Having spent 12 years behind the walls of a variety of California's prisons I know first hand what the conditions are. The total shift from rehabilitation to punishment has done more harm to any hope a new parolee might have for success than anything else. Most educational and vocational programs have been scrapped to utilize space for bunks. Pre-parole classes are a joke with most of the instructors providing less than minimal instruction. With due respect to many of the instructors, they can't deliver when education budgets are constantly cut. Based on first hand experience with policy's and attitudes of the CDC (the "R" does not apply), the republican legislature and the average Jane and Joe citizen of this state, I do not believe we will see meaningful change in my lifetime. I know that is cynical thinking, but my cynicism is rooted in experience.

Posted by: Michael at February 12, 2007 07:40 AM

Informing the public is crucial at this time of misinformation, calous lawmakers, horrid prison conditions, and the need for public access. If our prison systems have nothing to hide, then why is it that our media is locked out. Parents should have the right to know is there son or daughter is sick, or dying. Prisoners are locked up for punishment, why must those families be punished as well. This is cruel, this is inhumane, and it is an outrage! I wonder how many parents have died over the stress that our system causes.
There are so many abuses in our system that it is humanly impossible to keep up. 

Posted by: J Buchanan at February 12, 2007 08:35 AM

Sadly ~ apathy rules !

Posted by: Lawyer Basker at February 12, 2007 09:29 AM

You are right on Dr. Bird. The public should be informed and educated on how our tax dollars are being used to torture and impair inmates. Reform and rehabilitation are a name only as not much exists inside the walls of prison. Overcrowding, abuse, neglect, lack of medical attention and food with no nutrition are common place. Not only is the inmate punished but children suffer and families are torn apart creating an atmosphere for more crime and destruction. We need to get out of the punishment stage and move to rehabilitation of every part of the inmate's life including their families. Thank you for the informative article.

Posted by: Shirley at February 12, 2007 10:07 AM

It is not just the prison system that is wrong here, it is also the justice system; Thank You for this article!!I wish there were more like it.... 

I am sending this e-mail for everyone who has a loved one in the Robert Presley Detention and cannot visit with them because of overcrowded conditions.

I have tried for 4 weeks to visit my son in jail, and every time I call I am told they are booked up. I was told by one of the Deputies that they are so overcrowded they have prisoners sleeping in the basement of the jail (THAT'S BEEN CONDEMNED FOR YEARS) I am not sure but I think the families of the inmates have a right to visit, and the inmates with no family should not be stuck sleeping on a basement floor. I believe this is called cruel and unusual punishment. My son was in a motorcycle accident last year and was in a coma for 4 weeks (his wife was killed) He had his spleen removed and is unable to walk without pain because he needs a hip replacement. He also had some brain damage, and numerous other injuries. The jail refuses to give him medical attention because the injuries are pre-existing. It really upsets me that we in the Unites States can help people in other countries, but God forbid we help any person in America that needs it. I know some of these inmates deserve to be in jail, but when the District Attorney adds charges, like violation of parole (a felony) and not doing well on parole (a felony) on my son (who by the way has never been on parole and is not on probation), there is something very wrong with the judicial system in Riverside County. Hopefully the new district attorney will turn things around and fix this broken piece of Riverside. It is very sad when a person who complains to the city about an $800.00 helmet stolen by a sheriff’s deputy and gets reprimanded for it, is the very person who comes to my home several months later to arrest my son and testifies under oath that my son is on parole. Thank god my family is able to retain an excellent attorney from Orange County to represent him, because they are trying to 3 strike him. In fact our attorney was told by one of the prosecutors in court that if this case was in Orange County; my son would have been released by now. Hopefully someone will do something about Riverside's Dirty little secrets, and corrupt judicial system that results in malicious prosecution.
 

999 RC 4.421(B)(4) F On probation or parole when the crime was committed 08/07/2006 
999 RC 4.421(B)(5) F Prior performance on probationor parole was unsatisfactory 08/07/2006 
999 RC 4.421(B)(2) F Prior Convictions are numerous or of increasing seriousness 08/07/2006 
 

cc; District Attorney
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cc; DOJ
cc;ACLU/SC
1616 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
213 977 9500 Phone
213 250 3919 Fax
cc; Los Angeles Times
cc; The Governor of California
cc; Orange County Register
cc; Families to Amend California's 3-Strikes: Reasons to Amend 3-Strikes
cc; Senator Gloria Romero
cc; Senator Diane Feinstein
cc; Ken Calvert
cc; Press Enterprise
 

Posted by: Maddy at February 12, 2007 12:39 PM

Reverend Bird, it is really nice to know that the oppressed have someone fighting for their rights. Thank you for being there for everyone, too bad more people like you are out there. Many of our politicians know that many new law and forms of punishment are wrong but they do nothing and go with the flow for fear of retaliation. Forcing inmates against their will to Prisons out of State will do nothing to ease the overcrowding issue in California Prisons. We have 170,000 inmates, moving 10,000 will not make a dent at all. We could free up close to 30,000 bed spaces if the State would build "real" Mental Care Facilities and release the terminally ill. Let the loved ones of the terminally ill care for them during their last days. 

Posted by: Lorenzo at February 12, 2007 01:34 PM

V. Chavez, badge #69884, A. Cortes 70592, D. Beaty, J Rodriguez. 

Posted by: Alex at February 12, 2007 03:12 PM

V. Chavez, badge #69884, A. Cortes 70592, D. Beaty, J Rodriguez. 

Posted by: Alex at February 12, 2007 03:12 PM

These are the names of the officers that reportedly severely beat our brother Guillermo Vera at Salinas Valley Prison so bad that he had to be taken to Monterey Hospital last Sunday. He has stitches in his head and we believe he suffered brain damage from other beatings. Our entire family traveled from Los Angeles to see him on two occasions and was turned away the first time and only allowed 15 minutes a second time. We are filing reports on each officer, our brother was in ad seg completely isolated from the guards. Why don't the legislators stop the torture? They are killing our brother probably because he filed a habeas corpus lawsuit out of retaliation. The beatings on D yard are frequent of the mentally ill. What is wrong with the legislators that they allow this to happen? My brother has been tortured by the guards a third beating by them could kill him. There is no place to go for help except to tell Reverend Bird. No matter how terrible their crime, the guards get away with beatings and murder. Our brother is a good man, he doesn't have a death sentence. Who will step forward to move our brother to a safer place before they kill him the rest of the way. Two beatings in one month, no accountability.

Posted by: "ALEX LALIN" at February 12, 2007 03:33 PM

Questions to ask the Director, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

There apparently is fairly strong opposition to increased funding for prisons and corrections[1]. Maybe it is due to a perception that the state prison system is in a 'tailspin” due “to political cowardice among governors and lawmakers fearful of being labeled soft on crime”[2]. There is a dearth of basic information about the basis of the state’s construction proposals. Maybe a few bits of information would increase support to the Governor’s proposals. 

The Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (DC&R) should be asked:

1. Why hasn’t the state conducted a normal analysis and planning process before recommending spending billions on new facilities that will shape the correctional system for the next 30 years? 

The lack of a strategic planning and monitoring process is probably the major cause of most of the correctional system problems. The California corrections system is a $10 billion per year system lacking direction. The State has not shown any evidence of a normal planning process, simply implying that operating at 200% of “design” capacity which does not really indicate the actual extent of overcrowding, as the basis to invest billions expanding the prison system (see 3 below). 

A normal analysis and correctional system planning process must start at the font end of the system and proceed downstream to the end of the system, the prisons[3]. It is obviously not rational to recommend any construction with out careful analysis and planning, particularly when even a cursory look at available data clearly indicates that the shortage of perhaps 100,000 beds county jail beds is the main cause of prison overcrowding. Dealing with the county jail bed shortage probably eliminates prison overcrowding. Building more prison beds will further distort the state correctional system and increase costs.

2. How many inmates are housed in facilities not in compliance with American Correctional Association (ACA) standards[4]?

The DC&R consistently reports that institutions/camps operate at about 200% of design capacity. Design capacity is a California definition based on one inmate for each cell. That does not reflect American Correctional Association standards requiring single cells “for inmates assigned to maximum custody”. DC&R should be asked to indicate how many inmates are housed in facilities not in compliance with ACA standards, particularly how many inmates are housed in gyms/libraries etc and how many maximum security inmates are housed two per cell.

3. How many prison beds are occupied by offenders serving less than 12 months? 

These short term offenders, including parole violators, occupy about 30,000 to 40,000 prison beds, and are the main reason for prison overcrowding. These offenders should, and historically did, serve their terms in county jails. There has been a shift of “county jail inmates” to the state prison system. Historically about 50% of all offenders were held in county jail and 50% were held in prison. The current ratio is about 33% (83,000) in county jail and 67% (167,000) in prison. 

4. Why doesn’t the state just “tinker” with length of stay (LOS), particularly for the short term offenders in prisons, as counties do every day, to match prison population to capacity?

Prison LOS averages about 587 days; reducing it by a few days has no impact on parole behavior[5]. Counties release about 20,000 similar inmates per month with no impact on the crime rate. 

5. Why not fix the parole revocation system and simply invest some money to expand local treatment programs to provide alternatives for expensive return to prison for technical and minor law violations?

The revocation rate for technical (mostly non-criminal) violations is far higher than any other large state and adds an estimated $.5 billion to annual prison operating costs. The lack of sufficient local correctional program alternatives for technical violators and drug users caused the incredible increase in the costly technical parole violation rate. Investing a few million to expand local correctional programs would probably save far more than the cost of the expanded programs.

6. Explain the basis for the statement that the DC&R might close the prison system to new commitments.

The basis for the unprecedented step, at least for California, of closing the prison system to new commitments requires explanation. The law, Attorney General opinion or other source granting the Director of Corrections & Rehabilitation the authority to refuse court orders committing offenders to prison should be cited so everyone can understand how the prison system could be closed to new commitments. 

Like to see the state save up to a half billion annually by implementing a well tested correctional program? 

You say that sounds like a “pie in the sky” scheme. Of course it does – the only thing, though, is that it is probably true. How could such cost savings be achieved? By establishing a community corrections program with features similar to successful community corrections programs operated by Minnesota and Oregon since the early 1970s. 

California’s violation rates are three to four times its historical rates and far higher than any other state[1]. The difference in prison operating costs resulting from current parole revocation rates compared to historical or “normal” rates costs is about $.5 billion annually. A rough estimate of the cost of this difference in violation rates during the past 10 years would total about $5 billion in avoidable costs, giving credence that the quote: “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you are talking real money[2]" applies to the state prison system. 

Under a community corrections act, counties contract with the state to provide parole supervision. Parole violations would be handled in the same manner a violations by felony probationers by the courts. It should be noted that felony probation success rates have not changed during the past 30 years and it is very probable that parole violation rates would return to normal/expected levels under the counties.

Richard McKone
Lincoln, CA

916/645-1219

richmck@starstream.net

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Open http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/tsp00.pdf for comparative violation rates for the various states or review DOWNSIZING PRISONS, Michael Jacobson, New York University Press, 2005.

[2] Generally attributed to Illinois Senator Evert Dirkson (1896-1969).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Source: Public Policy Institute of California January 2007 –http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/survey/S_107MBS.pdf

[2] See Little Hoover Commission report, Solving California’s Corrections Crises, open: http://www.lhc.ca.gov/lhc.html

[3] Refer to the Michigan Task Force 2004 Report on Jail and Prison Overcrowding for an example of a system wide approach to dealing with corrections at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/report_119595_7.pdf. Also refer to http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/publications/finance/TDCJ_Strategic_Plan_2005-09.pdf for the State of Texas Corrections Strategic Plan.

[4] (Standard 4-4131) "Single cells are required for inmates assigned to maximum custody”. 

(Standard 4-4132) "Single cells/rooms and multiple-occupancy cells/rooms may be used for housing inmates in medium/minimum custody …”

[5] See Recidivism: The Effect of Incarceration and Length of Time Served, Song & Lieb, September 1993 for a listing of 12 studies on LOS and parole outcome at: http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/rptfiles/IncarcRecid.pdf
 
 
 

Posted by: Richard McKone at February 12, 2007 03:45 PM

I agree with your article because the Department of Corrections need to make several changes. They need to let the media to have access to the facilities, so people can now how our family members are treated. People also need to be inform how the correctional department really work. 

Posted by: adelaida Lalin at February 12, 2007 05:21 PM

I agree with your article because the Department of Corrections need to make several changes. They need to let the media to have access to the facilities, so people can now how our family members are treated. People also need to be inform how the correctional department really work. 

Posted by: adelaida Lalin at February 12, 2007 05:21 PM

Reverend Bird for Attorney General!!!

Posted by: mak at February 12, 2007 07:50 PM

I have filed a lawsuit against the State of California CDC (R?).
where the crime sounds almost identical to the article written above by Maddy. 

I guarantee you when this trial starts sometime in late March or early April there are witnesses that will give testimony and a very well known reporter that is going to put the (California Prison Punishment System, CPPS) on the global map of exposure. 

A big contributor to this exposure was Ms. Bird, the writer of this article. Others are individuals from the medical community and an attorney that is without a doubt the most ethical person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. 

The words "Justice For All" posted on every Court House in America should be taken down. That is an absolute sick joke being played out on every taxpayer. There is no "Justice" for the broke, mentally ill and uneducated individuals who are railroaded by some fancy talking District Attorney who are allowed by the Courts to dance their way through a case as if they were a performer in a Broadway play. They are not held accountable for their dirty tricks of covering up, destroying or creating evidence to convict even those they know are innocent. 

How dare we call this sick system of justice "equal justice for all". The only justice we ever get is what we can afford to pay for with $$$$. Those who can't afford to pay with $$$ will pay with their lives in a prison. We will surely perish by the crooked deeds of the evil doers. If anyone reading this agrees with me and you have not joined the UNION to fight back for justice, then I suggest you join immediately and get in there and fight back with your writing and protest and let your voices be heard. 

Posted by: Nora Weber at February 13, 2007 04:58 AM

I agree with Mrs. Bird, I also have a son in D yard in Salinas Valley State Prison that’s mentally ill in ad-seg he is tortured and beaten and starved. I'm trying to get Power of Attorney to help him in saving his life. But he's afraid to sign anything because he' not being treat for his illness and is paranoid to sign anything. The last time I went to see him a week ago; he looked like a prisoner of a Nazi camp that has been beaten and starved. he was a skinny as a straight pin. His face was nothing but skin and bones. Please go to the link to see for yourself what is happening in our American gulag. 
 

The Death Of Timothy Souders
A mentally ill prison inmate died of thirst after he was restrained for 17 straight hours – 15 past the policy limit – in a procedure now banned. Scott Pelley reports on the plight of mentally ill inmates. More... 

Explore: Brain Diseases | Watch: Mentally Ill Inmate Dies Alone

Posted by: G.Duran at February 13, 2007 07:10 AM

Reverend Dr. Bird is a lifelong human rights author and a scholar who could be earning six figures instead of working for the poor and uneducated as a volunteer. Her most important message is that injustice is a decision made by the people every time they don't vote or don't organize a voting group to keep Republicans and people who vote for them out of office. She teaches subscribers how to fight for themselves in her daily newsletter to the media, legislators and families of prisoners who understand that organizing is their only hope. 

I have been a member of the UNION for ten years and it has saved my sanity to be one of the 6500 workers needed to be able to do initiative campaigns, referendums and recalls, to write to editors, show up to protests or important hearings when Dr. Bird calls us and to get out the vote. 

If the poor and uneducated were voting and organizing in the UNION, we'd have none of the current problems. Dr. Bird has a brilliant mind and was one of the original people to cry out over the overcrowding problem in 1998, She also witnessed many deaths after legislators of both parties ignored preventable medical crises and for many years was often the only voice in the Capitol for prisoners besides ACLU, Friends Committee on Legislation. 

When she began her demeanor was kind but when the legislators turned their backs on people and their sons and daughters died, she found that only by embarrassing them in the media and filing lawsuits against all who were responsible or callous to appeals for help was the only way to make prison reform important.

She led the families to achieve many smaller but important wins against the Fascists in charge but the Republican politicians killed all major reform at the legislative level by voting against everything except furthering the agenda of law enforcement labor unions.

There will be no prison reform of any magnitude until enough families organizing a proper, funded voting group or until the feds take over the entire system.

Reverend Bird is not only brilliant, unpretentious and noble, but she is a fighter and compassionate person of high ethics. You can speak to her and never even realize who she is, a person with impressive education and lifetime achievements who has been published thousands of times in California's editorial pages for decades. 

She has been attacked time and time again for helping the people who most need it, for teaching them why they have all these problems (their failure to organize), lived a much lower lifestyle than is necessary waiting for them to get serious and feeling every pain of those around her.

One thing Dr. Bird can't stand however is politicians because they've whored their souls to special interests and she has not and will not and the lesson she taught thousands of oppressed people is to "never be silent" and "don't agonize - just organize."

The politicians would do well to look at the advice of someone who has been taking complaints from 33 prisons and getting hundreds of letters per week in the mail for more than a decade. This is evolved thinking, something which very few legislators are capable of doing. The people most at fault are the voters and especially those who didn't vote to keep the Republicans out of our legislature and out of office.

Reverend Dr. Bird is much higher person than any low life politician but if you ask her about her knowledge, she will tell you that she is a lifelong student. Thousands of people come to her for help but she is a person without money and without power except for the strength of her pen. 

Yet she managed to get 27 lawsuits filed and has many people who love her. Those people who are under subpoena probably don't love her too much. Those with loved ones in prison owe Dr. Bird and the UNION members a great deal for finally getting this horrible prison crisis on the front burner.

How many lawsuits will it take? How many more people with die? How many more children will be separated from their parents and be case into a foster care system where they are sexually abused and used as slaves? When will the oppressed every organize instead of waiting for a rescue without spending any money or doing any activism work?

When?

Posted by: Michael Westmoreland at February 13, 2007 09:55 AM

Dear Rev Cayenne,
Thanks for being helping my family and all other families that are fighting agains the corruption of the facilites. It is crucial to have more people like you that have passion for help those immates that contantly are oppresed by the department of corrections. 

Posted by: Adelaida Lalin at February 13, 2007 08:48 PM

Bravo Rev. Bird and a big hand to those whos comments are not only supportive but informative as well.
Dr. Bird is a true hero in a world seriously lacking hero's. She is dogged and tireless in her efforts to expose these appalling injustices and does so with intelligence and eloquence. 
To those politicians in Sacramento and to the CDC(R),
heed her words, or pay the consequences. The time to act is now...

Posted by: Larry Phipps at February 14, 2007 12:17 AM

Bravo Rev. Bird and a big hand to those whos comments are not only supportive but informative as well.
Dr. Bird is a true hero in a world seriously lacking hero's. She is dogged and tireless in her efforts to expose these appalling injustices and does so with intelligence and eloquence. 
To those politicians in Sacramento and to the CDC(R),
heed her words, or pay the consequences. The time to act is now...

Posted by: Larry Phipps at February 14, 2007 12:17 AM

Bravo Rev. Bird and a big hand to those whos comments are not only supportive but informative as well.
Dr. Bird is a true hero in a world seriously lacking hero's. She is dogged and tireless in her efforts to expose these appalling injustices and does so with intelligence and eloquence. 
To those politicians in Sacramento and to the CDC(R),
heed her words, or pay the consequences. The time to act is now...

Posted by: Larry Phipps at February 14, 2007 12:48 AM

Bravo Rev. Bird and a big hand to those whos comments are not only supportive but informative as well.
Dr. Bird is a true hero in a world seriously lacking hero's. She is dogged and tireless in her efforts to expose these appalling injustices and does so with intelligence and eloquence. 
To those politicians in Sacramento and to the CDC(R),
heed her words, or pay the consequences. The time to act is now...

Posted by: Larry Phipps at February 14, 2007 12:48 AM

Oh Holy Father, Bless Cayenne Bird,and and send your angels before her to prosper her way.God speed,and deliver us from evil.Amen

Jeremiah 9:23-24
23)Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 

24)But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. 
 

Posted by: Donna at February 14, 2007 11:47 AM

I understand now, why the Republicans want to build more prisons....Their horrible Proposition 83 got passed by the incompetent voters of California. Now they have to scramble to make room for the thousands of people that will be facing longer prison sentences under Prop 83. They will also be under the toughest Parole conditions than any other parolee which means that the likely hood of a Parole Violation will be inevitable. Prop 83 will only further crowd our prisons and will do nothing to stop sex crimes. Prop 83 is an Unconstitutional law that should be repealed because it will do noting to protect our children.

Thank you Rev. Bird for everything you have done for others.

Posted by: John Caballo at February 14, 2007 03:40 PM

It is just amazing that in order for the family to check on the condition of Guillermo Vera this week by guards at Salinas Valley Prison, the Mexican Consulate had to be called in. In such emergencies, our own US reporters cannot go inside and there is no one in government who will help, even in life and death situations. 

We had to go to another country to get help. The Mexican Consulate showed up at the prison and interviewed Mr. Vera, who has been beaten twice while in ad seg, where no other prisoners can get to him. The reason is probably that he has sued for excessive force at another prison. La Familia of prison guards stick together. 

When they assault a prisoner to the degree that he must be hospitalized, the next step is to blame another prisoner or charge the inmate with some crime they made up to cover themselves. This happens because there is no real accountability or oversight of these prison guard goons.

Is the Governor about to start a war with Mexico? I think so. Why do the journalists put up with the ban? Why don't more families go to the media with their stories of abuse? A lot of questions, not many answers.

Posted by: Stephanie Gooding at February 15, 2007 09:52 AM

There are several witnesses to the beating by four guards of prisoner Guillermo Vera at Salinas Valley Prison but more information is needed. His life is in danger. Is the Mexican Consulate the only source for help? Apparently so. If you have information, get in touch with Rev. Bird who will keep your name confidential rightor1@yahoo.com. We must stick together and protect one another, not be divided and therefore conquered by the prison guard gang or the legislative gang. We as voters outnumber them all if only we will organize 

Posted by: Stephanie Gooding at February 15, 2007 10:52 AM

Rev. Cayenne-Bird thank you for all you do.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, is derelict in his duties, when it seems a way around the problem, rather than fix it, IN HIS FEEBLE ATTEMPT TO DEFY THE DECISION OF THE CALIFORNIA COURTS TO RELEASE THE PRISONERS, Arnold would rather ship the problem out, thus shifting his duties and responsibility to do his job.
1. WILL THE CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS MONEY BE REQUIRED TO 
FOOT THE BILL TO HOUSE THE INMATES IN OTHER STATES?
2. ARE THE CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS MONEY BEING SPENT TO 
SHIP OUT THE INMATES?
3. HOW MANY OFFICERS WILL CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS HAVE TO 
PAY OVERTIME AND ALL TRIP EXPENSES FOR?
4. WILL THEIR WIVES OR GIRLFRIENDS BE ACCOMPANYING THEM 
ON THESE TRIPS?
 

Posted by: RADO at February 18, 2007 08:04 PM

Rev. Cayenne-Bird thank you for all you do.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, is derelict in his duties, when it seems a way around the problem, rather than fix it, IN HIS FEEBLE ATTEMPT TO DEFY THE DECISION OF THE CALIFORNIA COURTS TO RELEASE THE PRISONERS, Arnold would rather ship the problem out, thus shifting his duties and responsibility to do his job.
1. WILL THE CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS MONEY BE REQUIRED TO 
FOOT THE BILL TO HOUSE THE INMATES IN OTHER STATES?
2. ARE THE CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS MONEY BEING SPENT TO 
SHIP OUT THE INMATES?
3. HOW MANY OFFICERS WILL CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS HAVE TO 
PAY OVERTIME AND ALL TRIP EXPENSES FOR?
4. WILL THEIR WIVES OR GIRLFRIENDS BE ACCOMPANYING THEM 
ON THESE TRIPS?
 

Posted by: RADO at February 18, 2007 08:04 PM

See this is the same attitude of the Corrections Officers and the entire staff of all the Prisons. When the head is bad the body is also defiled. The defiance of Arnold Schwarzenegger is a direct result of the chaos in California government, issues with the Prison reform system, the guards/corrections officers are out of control; inmates being abused, killed, refused or provided with the least amount of medical attention, poor quality of food.
I would like to see some of the inmates family members visit the inside of the Prisons, un-announced with some of the legislators and or assembly persons and get the correct story, rather than go on the word of the people hired to uphold the very laws they themselves break.

THESE CORRECTIONS OFFICERS HAVE BECOME SO ARROGANT WITH THEIR JOBS; THEY IMPOSE STUPID RULES ON THE SPOT WITH VISITING FAMILIES, BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY ARE NOT BEING WATCHED, AND IF ANYTHING IS DONE IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME BEFORE THEY CAN BE TERMINATED OR DEALT WITH. 

ARNOLD YOU AND YOUR FLOCK OF HOODLUMS ARE OUT OF CONTROL. 

Posted by: RADO at February 18, 2007 08:23 PM

I suggest we start reform with the IMPEACHMENT of the current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the cleaning of the house should include the removal of those tainted overpaid, arrogant corrections officers, especially those who beat the inmate, the officers are as follows: V. Chavez- A. Cortes or A. Cortez- D. Beaty- and J. Rodriguez. .
This is what I mean by defiance these corrections officers refused the family information on the where abouts of their incarcerated family member and his condition, that inmate was in a hospital, there is no way the inmate could check himself in a hospital, inmates are under much more scrutiny than visiting family.
These ARROGANT officers claim they had no idea where the inmate was at.
Let us not stop the house clean sweep there, let us go to the BOARD OF PRISON TERMS, and change the policy of who IS QUALIFIED TO OCCUPIES THE SEATS OF THE BOARD OF PRISON TERMS.
LETS STOP THE MUTINY, LETS STOP THE WILD WILD WEST TACTICS, LETS STOP THE ABUSE, 
LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN LIKE THE WATERS IN A MIGHTY STREAM.

Posted by: RADO at February 18, 2007 08:41 PM

Rev. Cayenne-Bird, AMERICA HAS MADE SOME PROGRESS TOWARD FREEDOM BUT MEASURED AGAINST THE GOAL THE ROAD AHEAD IS STILL LONG AND HARD. THIS COULD BE THE WORST POSSIBLE MOMENT FOR SLOWING DOWN.
INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE.
LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN LIKE THE WATERS IN A MIGHTY STREAM ON THOSE WHO DARE TO DEFY THE VERY LAWS THEY ARE
OBLIGATED TO UPHOLD.
I ASK THAT ALL WHO CAN HELP REV. CAYENNE-BIRD BE THEY IN POLITICS OR HOUSEWIVES, PLEASE STEP FORWARD WITH YOUR SUPPORT, YOUR HELP IS GREATLY NEEDED AND EQUALLY APPRECIATED.B REV. CAYENNE-BIRD I AM WITH YOU.
OH YEAH I TOOK THOSE WONDERFUL WORDS FROM DR. MARTIN L. KINGS SPEECH, LET FREEDOM RING. THEY ARE CHILLING AND POWERFUL.

Posted by: RADO at February 18, 2007 08:52 PM

IN MY ATTEMPT TO CHANGE MY WORDING AND URGENT NEED TO PRINT THE MUCH NEEDED OPINION ON THE CALIFORNIA PRISON REFORM AND THE KEEPERS OF THE KEYS I NEGLECTED TO PROOF READ MY E-MAIL, I MEANT TO SAY WHO IS QUALIFIED TO OCCUPY THE SEATS OF THE BOARD OF PRISON TERMS. 

Posted by: RADO at February 18, 2007 09:05 PM

Thank you for writing about the lies and misinformation being used by politicians to pass bills that slowly erode our civil rights and create an atmostphere reminiscence of the Salem Witch Trials.

Posted by: Diane Cook at February 20, 2007 08:43 PM

Oh the poor inmates. Just a question, what does media access have to do with inmate suicide?? Maybe they repented but felt overwhelmingly depressed for the misfortune and heartbreak they have caused others in their lifetime and couldn't take it anymore. Or maybe they felt bad for letting mom down. Or maybe the comfort of being in a gang is no longer a comfort and the gang has turned on them.

NO...

I don't think so. We could only guess what was going through their minds. By the way, most of your frail, ill old men you speak of are child molesters. Old and frail but the only humans they could beat, abuse, and sexually torture were humans of a smaller stature.

Prisons need reform, laws need reform, but the blame is not just the officers and government but the individuals commiting the crimes. What responsibility do the criminals take? They're not in prison for talking back to mom and dad.

Last question....Are any of you victims of crime or just family members enabling the criminal? 

Posted by: BON93 at February 22, 2007 08:50 PM

My fiance is in Salinas Valley. He has been incarcerated 25 years since he was barely 15. No parole ever. He has been in many Calif. prisons and states this one is the dirtiest prison he has ever seen. Not just actual filth, but staff filth to. He suffers Hep. C and several serious conditions. Insult to injury he broke his arm. He put in to see the Dr. several times. He was escorted over and sat for hours several times. He never saw a Dr. once. His arm started healing and it was crooked and bent until it would not straighten out. He enlisted the aid of his cellie to help him rebreak his own arm. In order to try and bind it in a position where it would heal at least somewhat straight. I don't need to state what pain and agony he has endured. He is not a complainer,he is a model convict. He is up for a board hearing March 14th. He is working so hard on this process. It scares me if he fails yet again. He is smart, good and kind. He has a huge family who love and support him. He is taking college courses and active for years in church work and the chapel. He is fully rehabilitated after 25 years and one horrible crime commited by accident as a child. It serves no purpose whatsoever to keep him in prison. He could be a productive member of the free world. What do we look forward to? His dieing in prison where no one sees or tells ? Pray for him please. He needs it more then ever. 

Posted by: Bonnie Carter at February 25, 2007 11:03 PM

Bonnie

You're married to a criminal doing a life term. (I know this because he is going to a board hearing on 3/14) Obviously his "accident" KILLED someone. Whatever actions he took at 15, I'm sure he knew better. So really, it wasn't an accident. He also has HEP C. So either he has a liver problem, he continuously used intravenous drugs, or he was "really" close to those that did. 

So, Bonnie I pray for you and if you have any, the children you subject to prison during visiting hours on the weekends. Some advice.....look elsewhere for a husband.

Posted by: BON93 at March 7, 2007 12:13 AM

I'm sorry I was confused. You're engaged to an inmate, not yet married.

Anyway, good luck with that.

Posted by: BON93 at March 7, 2007 12:16 AM

My fiances hearing was held over until April 30th. For what its worth he turned 15 the day of his only crime. He was with 2 older children and it could not be proved which of the 3 commited the act. My fiance did not... His hep C was from dirty tatoo needles years ago while he was still a kid. He is not a user or drinker and carries many testimonies of this by dozens of people as well as staff. He is a programer taking college courses. He works within the chapel. God forgave him many years ago. He has a huge family and support group that forgave him many many years ago. He has gone through every program and job he could find while incarcerated. There really are those who are rehabilitated among those who arn't and never will be. He has jumped through every hoop they ask of him for over 25 years. What purpose does it serve to keep him dying a slow and sickening death. Are we really that blind that we can't see when the length of time has more then paid for the crime? Theres thousands on the streets that are 50 times worse in the criminal activity dept. then he will ever be. I've been doing life with him for over 10 years.We will continue to do what it takes to prove the big word. REHABILITATION. No one is filled with more remorse the he is for his part in the terrible outcome of that one night 25 years ago. Convicts should not be lumped into one. They are individuals. And some hang on to there minds and souls while others cave in. Good will prevail.

Posted by: Bonnie at May 3, 2007 12:49 AM

My fiances hearing was held over until April 30th. For what its worth he turned 15 the day of his only crime. He was with 2 older children and it could not be proved which of the 3 commited the act. My fiance did not... His hep C was from dirty tatoo needles years ago while he was still a kid. He is not a user or drinker and carries many testimonies of this by dozens of people as well as staff. He is a programer taking college courses. He works within the chapel. God forgave him many years ago. He has a huge family and support group that forgave him many many years ago. He has gone through every program and job he could find while incarcerated. There really are those who are rehabilitated among those who arn't and never will be. He has jumped through every hoop they ask of him for over 25 years. What purpose does it serve to keep him dying a slow and sickening death. Are we really that blind that we can't see when the length of time has more then paid for the crime? Theres thousands on the streets that are 50 times worse in the criminal activity dept. then he will ever be. I've been doing life with him for over 10 years.We will continue to do what it takes to prove the big word. REHABILITATION. No one is filled with more remorse the he is for his part in the terrible outcome of that one night 25 years ago. Convicts should not be lumped into one. They are individuals. And some hang on to there minds and souls while others cave in. Good will prevail.

Posted by: Bonnie at May 3, 2007 12:50 AM

I feel so sorry for the families of inmates that have to wait for their convicted family members to finish their sentences. The empty feeling inside must hurt as much as the victims suffering, perhaps the pain hurts as much as the life long suffering that victims and their families have to go through.
Perhaps we should hust abolish imprisonment altogether and make a mockery of the legal system so we could all be surrounded by those kind, loving murderers who have found the lord? Please... Give me a break.
How about if St. Sillen gave as much effort to fix the Veterans Affairs medical system to help out combat wounded veterans instead of giving all his determination to not allow an inmate that has O.D on heroin the best health care available in the country. 
You guys act like your incarcerated family members were rounded up during a search for individuals who sang to loud at last sundays choir. Cry me a river.

Posted by: Johnny at July 7, 2007 06:26 PM

If you don't like the conditions in prison then don't commit crimes that put you there. We are bankrupt and in a recession. Law abiding citizens are struggling to make ends meet. Do you think they really want to hear that the state is spending billions to provide for murderers, rapists and pedophiles? That's just too damn bad! If you want to free up some space, deport ALL the illegal aliens in prison back to Mexico. If they come back, execute them. We need ag workers? Then bring back the chain gangs and let these criminals work and help support themselves. I for one don't think the state should be in the healthcare business. I'd rather see hospitals built for working class citizens. Do you know how many hospitals have closed in California because they are forced to provide services to illegal aliens? Wake up people and smell the coffee. Prison isn't meant to be a convalescent home or a country club. It's a prison and it's not meant to be pleasant.

Posted by: Stephen at April 11, 2008 04:23 PM

Prison overcrowding. I can't believe how our $$'s get waisted. For example: We spend x-amount of $$'s at the County level successfuly treating crimminals waiting their sentencing in a pod that is treatment. the men from all races work very well together supporting each other. They have a great attitude no matter what level because they are offered hope and a new direction to be in the world. Then they are sentenced to prison and put in with the general population and it is a matter of time they go right back to their old behaviors and all the dollars we have spent at the County level has gone right out the window.

Solution: why can't we have the men and women that are successful at the County programs go right into a treatment pod in the prison upon their arrival? Eventually the general population will get smaller and the treatment component will become the majority. Most of the people incarcerated are there because of their addiction. anotherwards if they weren't using they wouldn't have committed the crimes. There children are on the horizon with much more damage due to being abandoned as children, genetically predisposed and are using substances at a much earlier age before the stucture of their brain has been fully formed. They say 3-5 years is early recovery because their decision making and perception is grossly impaired and it takes a while for the brain to heal. 90 days, 6 mos just doesn't cut it. They really need 3-5 years depending on the individual. I have been observing this for the last 30 years, my own children were effected but I was able to get the support required to intervene. He was in the County facility 30 years ago due to his addiction to marajuana. His father died of alcoholism. My children are all very successful members of society today.

We can cut cost by having the inmates at the county level who are successful in their treatment put directly into a treatment program in prison.
 

Posted by: Carlyne Fein, LMFT at July 26, 2008 01:06 PM

Prison overcrowding. I can't believe how our $$'s get waisted. For example: We spend x-amount of $$'s at the County level successfuly treating crimminals waiting their sentencing in a pod that is treatment. the men from all races work very well together supporting each other. They have a great attitude no matter what level because they are offered hope and a new direction to be in the world. Then they are sentenced to prison and put in with the general population and it is a matter of time they go right back to their old behaviors and all the dollars we have spent at the County level has gone right out the window.

Solution: why can't we have the men and women that are successful at the County programs go right into a treatment pod in the prison upon their arrival? Eventually the general population will get smaller and the treatment component will become the majority. Most of the people incarcerated are there because of their addiction. anotherwards if they weren't using they wouldn't have committed the crimes. There children are on the horizon with much more damage due to being abandoned as children, genetically predisposed and are using substances at a much earlier age before the stucture of their brain has been fully formed. They say 3-5 years is early recovery because their decision making and perception is grossly impaired and it takes a while for the brain to heal. 90 days, 6 mos just doesn't cut it. They really need 3-5 years depending on the individual. I have been observing this for the last 30 years, my own children were effected but I was able to get the support required to intervene. He was in the County facility 30 years ago due to his addiction to marajuana. His father died of alcoholism. My children are all very successful members of society today.

We can cut cost by having the inmates at the county level who are successful in their treatment put directly into a treatment program in prison.
 

Posted by: Carlyne Fein, LMFT at July 26, 2008 01:07 PM

There are as many stories as there are people. You cannot lump everyone in prison and say it is right. The idea of the prison system is archaic and barbaric, an eye for an eye, is as old as mankind. If we want Law breakers to be law abiding, then law abiding people need to raise to the occasion and develop to a higher level. The prison system has been throughout history a inhumane way of treating fellow humans. As long as we "law abiding" citizens allow for prison guards who are more inhumane than the prisoners then we have no room to talk about those who fall through the cracks. Look back on history...how many incarcerated people were really "criminals" and how many were there for the edification of those in power? Sure there are REAL criminals but if there is any hope for "us" then it only will come from our own ability to grow more humane, Look in our hearts to feel compassion for the human condition (all human condition.) Prisons should not be accepted as permanent housing but only a transitory place until...? We don't have the answer because we are stuck in ancient history. Let's find a NEW enlightened way. 

Posted by: Virginia at October 27, 2008 04:30 PM
 
 


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