|Prison Reform Network Made up of Parents and Patriots
Dr. B. Cayenne Bird
Dr. B. Cayenne Bird
There's an old saying that "no good deed goes unpunished" and that is certainly the case for anyone who stands up for prisoners, who are considered by those who profit off them as being less than subhuman. The public has received such fearmongering from elected officials that most folks are led to believe that only monsters are in prison who deserve no voice or even basic humane treatment. But nothing could be further from the truth. There is probably no one as loathed as anyone who advocates reform, even if it is devastated families fighting for their own loved ones who are suffering and dying in the bloodhouses in the name of "justice."
The UNION is a newsletter communication system between people who are focused on organizing to change the laws and insist on better conditions for prisoners. We believe that healing addicts and the mentally ill who make up 70% of the prison population is a much better route to protect the public safety. And after all, humane treatment of people's loved ones is the law which isn't being followed by the bureaucrats in charge. This is why the federal receivership ruling and prison cap is absolutely necessary, the dead bodies behind these decisions don't lie.
Created in 1998 around the Corcoran hearings when guards were using real guns to shoot into crowds of unarmed prisoners, the UNION's purpose is to share information on disease outbreaks, deaths and riots, abuses and lawsuits filed by families of prisoners in crisis with the media, families and subscriber human rights groups who have worked together to create all the public awareness. These are the most important events that ever take place in a prison and yet with the lack of media access, the journalists cannot interview specific inmates to find out what really happened. So the families of the UNION bring this news to keep the prison officials from literally getting away with murder.
People in the healing professions who are often family members of inmates employed as doctors, teachers, nurses, social workers, four journalists and people from every walk of life, are given several opportunities each day to educate the voters, show up to stand up for humane treatment of prisoners at important hearings and/or protests and to do something other than simply complain about the problems.
The primary block to prison reform is ignorance and apathy of how the system works (or doesn't work) and what everyone's role as an American citizen is in cleaning it up - or not. There aren't any rescuers in a majority-voters rules democracy. We, the people, must rescue ourselves and those who are struggling to get this done have little tolerance for the victim mentality that has prevented initiative campaigns from being possible for several decades. There are heroes in the UNION ranks and two of the greatest human rights advocates I have ever met, both of whom are extremely dedicated to teaching the poor and uneducated that they must be a part of the process to change the laws are Michael Westmoreland and Alexis Endurance.
We in the UNION communication system are all unpaid volunteers and have coordinated one educational campaign after another to bring attention to sick and dying prisoners throughout California and sometimes throughout the country. Some people like to complain but never write to editors, never show up at important hearings or help to organize a voice for themselves. They just want a free rescue for no work and no money spent which is impossible for anyone to do for them as most groups outside of prison reform fully realize.
I would like to brag about the work of Michael Westmoreland who is one of the orginal UNION subscribers since 1998. He is a well-educated, multi-talented father whose son was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was swept up into a merciless system receiving an excessive sentence for a victimless, non-violent crime. Westmoreland never fathomed that injustice could happen to his son, like most of the parents of prisoners, he used most of his resources trying to save him from prison. But since there is little or no justice in the courts these days, he could not save him. Another family destroyed by the system we as taxpayers and voters allow to exist to punish us all, often unjustly.
And also recognize Alexis Endurance who has hosted an internet radio show doing weekly prison outreach for almost two years, again working hundreds of hours for the prisoners for no salary. The show is entitled "We Are All Doing Time" delves into the issues and has featured hundreds of guests. She has repeatedly given voice to the voiceless through this hardwork. Alexis has three grown children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, a home to manage and a husband with a disability to care for, yet she spends some 50 hours a week as an unpaid volunteer and attends all our calls to actions.
The families of the UNION are unseen crime victims whose financial and emotional lives were devastated by an overcrowded system that has murdered hundreds, perhaps thousands of sons and daughters, wives and husbands who didn't have a death sentence. The media has been the front line of defense covering the 28 lawsuits that we've filed and the communicators in the UNION help to bring this news to the public and to other journalists since the media is banned.
While there are 3 million potential voters attached to a state prisoner now, not including the l.5 million on parole, in juvenile halls, jails and federal prisons, the problem of ignorance and apathy continues to hold back real progress. The divide-and-conquer agents sent by law enforcement labor unions to keep the gangs in prisons fighting, to fracture the families up into 500 small groups that cannot do initiative campaigns is very successful at assuring almost no resistance will be given to keep their politicians out of power.
The greatest gift that any educated person could give to anyone is to teach them how to organize and cast off their chains.
Michael Westmoreland and Alexis Endurance have both labored tirelessly for years to deliver this gift through every manner possible, whether it's radio, posting at the news sites, or entering forums controlled by prison guards. This week both Alexis and Michael have taken an unfair bashing at a site which provides good visiting information but does little to educate the families to the issues. Prison Talk Online, a software community managed by an ex-convict (he operates only under a screen name of Fed-Ex) located in Texas who knows little to nothing about California issues, let alone about the history of our movement libeled and slandered both these fine volunteers while claiming to be on the side of reform.
For the record and public education it should be noted that prison guards control that forum. It is also heavily influenced by the paid Porn Promoter Matthew Gray who besides filing one lawsuit and bashing all prison reformers has contributed little or nothing positive to where we are today with so many issues finally on the table.
Mature parents such as Alexis Endurance, Michael Westmoreland and myself have an excellent track record of being a fantastic, cutting edge communication system with reliable information. These are just two of the dedicated prison reform heroes and patriots in our network. Divide-and-conquer agents will stop at nothing to put the movement asunder, even posting libelous information but those who are sincere can see through it I hope.
6500 people willing to work to organize can change any law, less than that cannot, so we all have decisions and choices to make about whether injustice and inhumane conditions is worth achieving or we listen to people who don't even live in California and CDCR agents, often giving privileges to the families who will assist in keeping us fractured to the point that we are all stuck in the status quo.
Initiative campaigns cannot be achieved until the money and volunteers are ready to go as the criteria to get anything on the ballot is 660,000 in 150 days. Other groups outside of prison reform do this often but they are not fractured up at the hands of CDC divide-and-conquer agents.
Consider the occupations and backgrounds of the UNION families, our impeccable track record and decade-long dedication before believing lies told by someone we are suing. At this time, we have served 350 state employees with lawsuits, most for wrongful deaths and people are still dying. We are the people who brought this awareness about and we deserve more than bashing out there as these are women and children who are literally being destroyed due to the absence of a large enough voting lobby to defend them.
Thank you Michael Westmoreland and Alexis Endurance for your attempts to garner support to save lives and end suffering in the prisons and for your many years of hard work and loyalty to the UNION. This is the type of fighting spirit of which our forefathers would have been proud. Will we ever overcome ignorance of how the system works and apathy of the 3 million people devastated by it?
I can only hope that we continue to make more progress in this area. All it takes is a little common sense. What if there had been no UNION? Would any of the present reforms be on the table? I think not. Herman Melville said it best, to the effect that we are all connected and what leaves us as causes, returns to us as effects.
Rev. B. Cayenne Bird