Tear Down the Statue of Liberty and Turn the Flag Upside Down
October 6, 2007
This is something you probably won't see on the Discovery Channel this Sunday night October 7, 2006 as Ted Koppel reports on California State Prison Solano. Check your local listings for the time it will air in your area.
Imprisoned Journalist Boston Woodard and Sophanareth Sok came to me and they cried out for help. An out-of-state transfer into slavery with no visits allowed from family members again, possibly forever, taken against his will even though he met the criteria of demonstrated family ties, was more than Sok could bear alone.
But I did not have the volunteers to call a massive picket beneath the governor's window since we just had a big rally there last month on Sept 7 to support the sentencing commission laws SB110, AB160 and compassionate release for sick and dying prisoners AB1539. The media will not cover this story unless hundreds of people show outrage that it happened in Sacramento where the war is located which is unlikely. Thousands of horrible events are flying under the radar of the media and I am so pressed for time that I cannot inform you of even 1/10000th of what is taking place that would make God himself cry.
I knew that not enough of the people losing their sons and husbands as slaves to private prison corporations would come to protest outside CDC(r) Director James Tilton's window for fear of being arrested as illegal aliens. I could not write a check to hire a lawyer for Sok and the other families affected as I am an unpaid volunteer and we can barely keep our 28 lawsuits in progress or basic supplies on hand.
Other lawyers paid well by CCPOA tried to stop this grave inhumanity of out-of-state transfers but failed to do so. There are so many Republican-appointed judges in power that the entire system is corrupt from arrest through parole and full of cronyism. These private prison corporations that the Governor is dealing with have been successfully sued scores of times for abusive slave labor practices involving prisoners. That didn't stop Governor Schwarzenegger from selling able bodies to them instead of releasing non-violent or sick and dying prisoners or changing unconstitutional sentencing laws.
I have never witnessed in 40 years of being journalist such pain as I've seen at the hands of our government during the past nine long years. I am simply numb from watching so many young people deliberately destroyed and sometimes murdered by callous bureaucrats who are breaking the laws. Yes, the bureaucrats are breaking our California and US Constitutional laws and getting away with doing so
And the most frustrating part of all is that these human rights violations are done with the full cooperation of the families affected. "It's just too hard to organize and set up our own voting, writing suing group" some say.
We might as well tear down the Statue of Liberty because she has no meaning anymore. The Republican politicians have nullified everything that we hold sacred and our silence and inaction continues to worsen the situation, particularly here in California during this prison crisis.
I watched yet another a family be destroyed with what happened to Sophanareth Sok and I wonder if Ted Koppel or anyone of national prominence will ever know about, let alone report on this sad day at Solano Prison.
There exists television footage of Matt Gray of TIPS encouraging the out-of-state transfers to take place. After I blasted young Matt Gray for putting everyone in prison at risk of being taken out of state, he backed down on this a bit. But the damage was already done. We know that CDCR does what they want fully out of public view, and they have already broken their commitment to send no one with demonstrated family ties which was predictable in the first place. Some people have no life experience to draw upon when they are put on committees and they are prone to making huge mistakes, which Matt Gray has done many times. Even after he may have changed his mind, Gray should never have agreed with out of state transfers in the first place, which is recorded in the television archives and I may put it up on You Tube for anyone who is in disbelief that any advocate of prisoners could actually come out and endorse such an outrageous idea. The parents of the prisoners certainly never endorsed such a bad idea knowing that there were far more intelligent alternatives and that every prisoner would be at risk of getting caught up in the net.
Make no mistake, there are people who shouldn't be in high places who are supporting this destruction of family ties for life which is nothing more than senseless cruelty. I don't know how those who support such a gestapo government agency as CDC(r) can sleep at night knowing the pain and separation that they're creating which will affect every family member in a destructive way.
The transfers of illegals appears to be a new profit center since they can do this with almost no resistance from the family members themselves. Illegal residents cannot vote and almost nobody cares about them. Instead of standing up to demand compassionate release of sick and dying prisoners, removal of the mentally ill from prison facilities altogether and ceasing to arrest people for crimes that aren't really crimes, this is the Governor's bright idea to ease the overcrowding.
I would like you to read this description sent from the bowels of the beast known as CSP Solano where UNION family members have filed several wrongful death lawsuits over the past few years. They have a new warden out there at least. Thomas Carey is gone, but read this and weep if you have compassion for young families who are being ripped apart for the sake of a profit to run the legislature and bureaucracy.
I am deeply offended that this is happening in our names and with our tax dollars and I can only say that people other illegals will soon be sent because CDCR operates above the law, the media is banned and the families cannot see danger coming. They are willing to be game pieces until it's their turn to suffer and then they find out that there is no place to turn in an emergency for help.
If it isn't a free rescue that requires no investment of time and money, then most of the young wives and girlfriends aren't interested enough to help with our important work. The parents of prisoners appear to be much more serious but even they do not see that their active participation is necessary in order for anyone to be able to succeed at changing laws through the inititiative process. And of course, CDC(r) has divide-and-conquer agents all over the internet email lists to stop any serious organizing which could put the guards in the soup line from taking place. I can see a big gravy train coming that is going to leave other young families separated for life and there will be absolutely no place for them to turn when it hits.
It's very frustrating to watch this happening when there are 3 million people related to a prisoner who could be organizing to elect their own people to office and teaching the poor to vote. Until that happens, these young people will be as sheep in the field, just waiting for the hungry wolf to devour the next one, and then they will go back to grazing.
If there is no voting machine in place, and law enforcement owns the politicians and the Governor, then we must watch this horrible destruction of young lives. What a crying shame when the oppressed outnumber everyone who buys into these human bondage businesses.
We will no doubt hear of retaliation on Boston Woodard for reporting. Some people such as Boston are born to be courageous patriots and to them we owe a great debt of gratitude.
You can know that Sophanareth Sok is one of thousands cruelly separated from his family but at least he isn't like to get MRSA, unless of course, he is already infected and carrying it to Tutwiller. Wouldn't it be ironic if every guard who hog-tied him came down with this plague tearing through the prisons right now? I believe that what comes around goes around, but what useful and good purpose are all these non-solutions to crime serving except to give a bunch of bullies over-paying jobs? And why are the people who will be victimized even though they are US citizens sitting around like sheep instead of standing up to this big oaf from Austria with a room temperature IQ and a heart of stone? The families are crime victims not criminals and yet they are being severely punished. Why is that?
Because they're uneducated and too weak and fearful to fight back? It's sickening and nobody should sit silently and allow these things to place over expensive and ridiculous philosophies of some politician put into office who is dedicated to serve only law enforcement. These politicians were chosen by special interests because they are lacking in keen intellect, mercy and compassion and because they love the stage of politics much more than they love people. We need to get together and take some of these cartoon characters out of office or suffer the consequences of their cruelty.
Rev. B. Cayenne Bird
The Transferring of Sophanareth Sok
By: Boston Woodard
(This is a follow-up to "Foreign National Prisoners, Targeted For Out-Of-State Transfers" which can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/09/01/18445270.php )
While state prisoner Sophanareth Sok was visiting with his wife Samantha, four heavily armed and secured prisoner transport buses rolled into Solano State Prison to begin forcefully transferring "foreign nationals" to out-of-state private prisons.
In July1 the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) began forcing foreign national prisoners to a private prison in Mississippi in a weak (some say illegal) attempt to relieve over-crowding throughout the California prison system.
According to "official" information handed out to those foreign nationals directly affected, there are several reasons why some prisoners would not be transferred. Medical holds, mental health issues, and those with a life sentence are exempt from transferring. Also, foreign nationals with "demonstrated family ties" would not be forced to transfer according to information given to them. You'll have a hard time convincing Sophanareth Sok of that.
On September 17, 2007, Sophanareth, a young Cambodian prisoner, demonstrating no resistance, was forced face down outside the visiting area at Solano State Prison, handcuffed behind his back, his legs were then hog-tied with nylon "flex-cuff" restraints. A half dozen guards carried Sophanareth to one of the four waiting buses queued for the Sacramento International Airport for a non-stop, one-way flight to the Tallahachie County Detention Facility in Tutwiler, Mississippi.
Back in August, Sophanareth took it upon himself to do something in an attempt to stop the transfers. He was mostly concerned about his wife Samantha and his other family members. He was also concerned about the families of other foreign national prisoners who were also being threatened by the transfers. It wasn't fair to them that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and CDCR officials chose to make the discriminatory choice to transfer only foreign national prisoners to the other side of the country.
Sophanareth organized approximately 80 foreign nationals of various nationalities to take part in a "Group Appeal" in accordance with the rules governing state prison operations in the California
Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, §3084.2.(l).
The appeal was filed under the "emergency appeal" statute; CCR-3084.7 § (l)&(2). The prisoner appeals process (law) was implemented more than thirty years ago for prisoners to appeal any departmental decision, action, condition or policy which they can demonstrate as having an adverse effect upon their welfare.
All the rules and policies in regards to filing the group Appeal were followed to the letter by Sophanareth. His attempt to legally register the objections to the transfers in a Group Appeal was met by the abusive handling of the grievance inherent in Solano's appeals office.
With time running out, Sophanareth inquired as to the status of the appeal after waiting more than two weeks. On September 10, 2007, the prison's Appeals Coordinator M.D. Corioso, informed Sophanareth, in writing, that his office had "no record of receipt" of the Group Appeal. Approximately four days after Corisoso lied about having no knowledge of the first Group Appeal, that very appeal (submitted 8/22/07) surfaced from the appeals office. Appeals Coordinator Corioso illegally held the initial Group Appeal (which was filed as an "emergency appeal" according to policy) until it was too late for the merits of the appeal to be heard. This is a convenient tactic frequently used by prison appeals officials and is a flagrant violation of the law.
A second appeal was immediately filed with a simultaneous letter to Solano State Prison's Warden D.K. Sisto. Log Number #CSP-S-07-02937 was issued approximately 48 hours before Sophanareth and dozens of other foreign nationals were to be forcefully transferred to Mississippi. The very next day, the appeals office (no doubt because of the warden's letter) sent S. Cervantes, CC-II Appeals "Specialist" to try and make a silent deal with Sophanareth to annul the group appeal he filed.
Sophanareth was told by Cervantes that if he would drop the group appeal and make it an "individual" appeal, he would be removed from the transfer list. When Sophanareth expressed his concerns about the 80 other signers of the group appeal Cervantes spewed, "We're talking about you, don't worry about them!" Sophanareth told Cervantes that he was already transpacked (personal property packed in boxes for shipping) and officially endorsed to transfer by the Institution Classification Committee (ICC). According to Sophanareth, Cervantes stated very clearly, "Don't worry, we'll go to a higher authority and get you pulled off the list."
Cervantes' offer (probably at the behest of Appeals Coordinator Corioso) was declined by Sophanareth. These dirty back door, or silent deals offered by the Appeals Coordinator are the easy way out when they are confronted with powerful, merit-filled appeals such as Sophanareth's that opposed the discriminatory transferring of foreign nationals.
On September 14, 2007, in a "Second Level Appeal Response," Sophanareth's Group Appeal was denied on baseless claims by Warden D.K. Sisto. In a not so surprising move, Appeals "Specialist" Cervantes refused to discuss the merits of the appeal as he is required to do, according to the California Code of Regulations 3084.2.(l). Maliciously ignoring the rules, Cervantes would not allow Sophanareth to represent the other signers of the Group Appeal as required by the rules governing Group Appeals under Title 15 policy.
A Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed in the Solano County Superior Court describing the abusive and illegal practices of Appeals Coordinator Corioso, Appeals "Specialist" Cervantes which are condoned by Warden Sisto. The Writ asks the court to compel the warden to order Corioso to issue a log number on another appeal that would rewrite the entire appeals section of the Title 15, affording prisoners their right to a level playing field after filing an appeal.
California's Inspector General Matthew Cate has been notified of the appeals abuses at Solano State Prison. Inspector General Cate has been asked to intervene and launch an investigation into the abuses. More than forty pages of evidence was forwarded to the Inspector General to benefit an anticipated investigation by that office.
Sophanareth Sok stepped up to the plate in a noble effort to right a wrong that was leveled against a group of prisoners who were discriminatly targeted for these spurious transfers. For his efforts, Sophanareth's transfer was put on the fast track to further impede his ability to legally fight the transfers. He vowed to continue his fight (as difficult as it will be) from Mississippi to get back to California, his family and everything he has worked for to fulfill his desire for a successful release from prison.
Boston Woodard is a prisoner/journalist.
Boston Woodard, B-88207
the prisoners cannot fight for themselves so they list organizations
that they are praying will help. But all of these organizations are struggling
for funds and volunteers to operate They have so many lawsuits in progress
that they cannot take on anymore but the prisoners continue to hope and
pray instead of sending their families to help with the necessary organizing
The prisoners have a hard time accepting that there isn't one group
in California in prison reform that pull together a large crowd beneath
the Governor's window on a regular basis, but somehow they feel that there
is some "they" out there who will do this simple organizing work instead
of their friends and family members, until it's too late. It's organized
crime and nothing less than organized crime which has us all in a chokehold
due our own lack of understanding of how to make the system work properly
and apathy in bringing 20 people to the polls to keep law enforcement's
politicians out of power.
United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect