Prison Reform Campaigns Need a Few Thousand Volunteers ASAP
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.

March 03, 2008

 It certainly is good to see ordinary people in action registering voters and getting behind candidates that are really going to represent the will of the people.

Since we won our campaign to get the legislators to pass a bill that could release frail elderly, terminally ill and medically incapacitated people in October, many people have written to me begging UNION members for help with their campaigns,

There are no rescuers, no group representing prisoners in California can call 1,000 or more people to the Capitol to show the lawmakers we are intelligent enough to organize. This is where we need to focus on building up our troops so that we can do initiative campaigns because we have enough funds and volunteers lined up in advance.

No group has this in place except for Drug Policy Alliance who spent ten years building up to 25,000 members and raised $9 million dollars. This is the right way to do it folks. Having 500 small, fractured groups out there, especially those that just pass email and don't do any real campaign is not as smart as having one or two large ones.

The state runs on groups, if you haven't built yourself a voting machine, no one hears your voice.

Within the UNION network, we have some dynamic people who are working for reform without enough funds and volunteers. People on the sidelines who don't write to editors, post at the news sites, show up to important hearings three times a year at least in Sacramento, who never register voters or bring new people into the movement are blocking reform.

Everyone wants to win so this is how we need to break it down right now because permanent decisions are being made which impact all of us involved in prison reform, education or nursing.


The UNION members who do all the work and pay for our work voted in December that our campaigns for 2008 would be limited to 

1. focusing on non-violent prisoner release, 

2. support of a prison cap by writing to editors and attending hearings on this topic

3. and if we have enough workers, more work on our ten year campaign of AB 1539 and medical neglect.

We are still short a minimum needed 480 folks who can post simple comments at the news sites and who care enough about the prisoners to attend hearings. So the UNION is the place to subscribe if you want to see changes in sentencing, a prison cap imposed, AB 1539 put into effect (so far none of our UNION members who are dying or permanently incapacitated have been released.) We have carried the campaign for ending medical neglect for ten years but at this time, we do not have enough volunteers to really rally in large numbers if we can't get these life and death situations addressed. Everybody thinks someone else is going to do their share of the writing and attending hearings and pay for all the supplies, filings, copies, postage and so forth which cripples our efforts. The war is in Sacramento and in the courts, not at the prison level, so this is where we need more focus.

Support of our Wrongful Death and Abuse Lawsuits Coming to Court in 2008 and New Ones in the Process of Being Filed

The UNION families have a number of lawsuits for abuses and wrongful deaths coming to court this year. Since all reform is the result of lawsuits, initiative campaigns or electing the right people to office in the first place, it is important that we have the money and the volunteers it takes to keep these lawsuits in progress. We currently have a waiting list of people whose loved one died a suspicious death hoping to find a lawyer who will take the case on contingency. If you have a wrongful death lawsuit already in progress and have already hired a lawyer, please email me at Unfortunately, we will see no change in medical neglect unless we keep the lawsuits coming and support the ones that have been filed. Email Stephanie Gooding at  if you will help with work and funds needed for our wrongful death lawsuits

Support for Packages Lawsuit filed in Federal Court Needed

One of our UNION members has filed a lawsuit in federal court against several of the prison guards at Salinas Valley Prison, especially C.O. Godinez, for stealing from inmate packages. There is an ongoing problem out there of guards operating above the law and we may protest the prison again this year. I've had 32 lbs of legal documents conveniently lost due to C.O. Godinez' vindictiveness and other mail blocked and interfered with as well. If you are one of the 350 plus family members involved in the theft of items from your packages by SVSP prison guards, you definitely want to subscribe to the newsletter and find out how you can help bring this legal action to a successful conclusion. There is no doubt that the criminals are wearing the badges and putting their people into office. There is no oversight or consequences for guards breaking the law and the only way to deal with it is for the UNION families to keep the lawsuits coming forward. 

End the Drug War Workers Needed

There are two great initiatives underway and both deserve support. The Drug Policy Alliance has the money to hire signature gatherers but it still needs and deserves support

Amend Three Strikes Initiative Workers Needed

The initiative that involves one of our long time UNION members is the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2008 which has no paid signature gatherers. This means that in order to meet the deadline, it's sponsor, Frank Courser, needs 6500 or more volunteers to gather at least 300 signatures each by the deadline. You can pass the DPA petition at the same time and register voters, this field work must get done if we are to win reforms. Email Frank at and he will mail you petitions. Even when the volunteers and funds aren't there, we should always make the best showing possible or the legislators conclude we're too lame to organize. To help with the campaign now underway and needing 6000 or more signature gatherers email

Juvenile Reform needs workers

If you want to bring about reform for juveniles, contact UNION member Lourdes Duarte who is also an organizer with Books Not Bars. They are doing a wonderful job because the parents of juveniles are more passionate about working for reform. Last year Books Not Bars and some other supporting groups of parents, won major legislation, more proof that organizing works. This is the main thrust of Books Not Bars, reform of laws and facilities affecting juveniles. Email her at

So get off your apathy and email me to see how you can help the people who have invested years in bringing these campaigns to a boil, as well as learn how to fight back for yourself and others. There are no rescuers. Each campaign requires funds and volunteers, funds and volunteers, plug in somewhere because complaining alone is not an act of reform

If you're not getting the UNION Daily Newsletter, you have no idea where, when, how to fight back. The only blocks to reform are ignorance and apathy. We can overcome that problem and be a part of the solution which to organize, not agonize. The UNION is by subscribers for active subscribers only and we are concerned only with the campaigns within our subscriber network. There are a number of group leaders and members of the clergy who subscribe to the UNION newsletter as well but they are separate. If you want to see changes in the laws, better conditions then help out. Now. Your enemies do not have any trouble organizing more harsh laws against you, they show up to hearings, write to editors, raise millions to keep the oppression that feeds them in place.

Rev. B. Cayenne Bird

P.O. Box 340371
Sacramento, Ca 95834

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