Mom to Gov - Please Intervene - Prison Parole Board Will Block My
Dr. B. Cayenne Bird
The UNION turns ten years old on July 5, 2008. We worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week as family members to bring attention to medical neglect issues and to urge release of the terminally ill. In every case where we were able to get a parole of a dying prisoner, the families all said the same thing: That no legislator or bureaucrat at any level would help them until the UNION stepped in and through a public outcry from other family members were able to get the media's attention. We couldn't take on every case because we are all unpaid volunteers and there are only so many hours in the day and so many dollars that the families have to work with during their life and death struggles.
In the case of Danny Provencio, it took seven rounds of international publicity to get any movement in the crisis at all. His mother Nancy Mendoza and I crashed several hearings where we weren't really welcome, before Senator Romero intervened and helped us literally get a dead man paroled. No other advocates, lawyers or legislators were ever involved in any way. The UNION mothers and the media caused such an uproar that Senator Romero, the best legislator for those who can get through to her, finally took the action required to get him out of shackles. Danny died a few days later. It was our Provencio case that was key in the passage of AB 1539, but you can be sure that nobody would have cared if I hadn't been able to get the media involved SEVEN times. The case for his wrongful death is currently in the courts.
The same is true in the case of Mark Grangetto, whose mother Nora Weber tried to save him for years. No other legislator or "group" ever did help her. The UNION families were the only ones who cared and took action. He went as a totally incapacitated prisoner before the parole board last year and was denied. Nora Weber spent about $70,000 on a lawsuit to stop the abuse but the Judge was politically pressured to throw the case out because only evidence from the last six months could be presented. It was outrageous. Now there are rumblings that something might be done for Mark Grangetto after Fox Channel 2 in San Francisco covered our May 30 rally to urge release of the terminally ill.(Google up our battle to see what it took)
But the purpose of this article is to talk about another courageous mother, Norma Norma Martinez, a UNION subscriber whose paralyzed son goes before what Senator Perata so appropriately pointed out recently is a "stacked" parole board tomorrow. I ask those who are tired of paying money to punish the sick to fax a quick letter to let the BOP know that people are watching the case of Steven Martinez.
Nobody can rescue people without a public outcry from the humanitarians on the side-of-smart on crime measures. Not even three judge panels can do much without we, the people, organizing to do initiative campaigns which are supported by a loud public outcry. We must always remember that everyone in power is dependent on the dollars from the criminal justice system, especially the legislature. As long as our voting machine doesn't outnumber theirs, we are at the mercy of politicians put into office by law enforcement labor unions. We could put in our own, at least 3 million potential voters are tied to a state prisoner, but we simply don't want to do the writing, recruiting and voter registration it takes to end this mess, so we suffer on.
Norma is a grieving UNION mother who already knows by watching the outcome of others who subscribe to my daily newsletter that there isn't likely to be justice tomorrow for her paralyzed son. She is standing up for her son but she needs a public outcry to back her up.
As the fear mongering headlines scream about the possible release of Susan Atkins, why are few people noticing that the state is killing far more people than the seven killed by members of the Manson family? Where's the public outrage over these abuses and needless deaths? It is clear that the outrage is only going to come from those affected and not from people profiting off the human bondage industry. They prefer to hang onto every last body far beyond the time that is necessary.
People have hated the Manson Family for their drug-induced mental illness for 40 years, but what mentally ill person was ever deterred from acting out their own illness by this overpunishment? And why is killing seven people 40 years ago, more important than the people thousands who are dying at the hands of lawmakers and prison officials today?
I am here to tell you that I for one, am outraged that a prisoner is dying every day due to overcrowding and prison mismanagement. An estimate was given that one prisoner per week is dying a preventable death but in my opinion, that figure is low. Nobody knows how many have been killed by careless double celling practices which are routine within the prison system or how many have died shortly after release due to neglect. And the Center for Disease Control says that 39% of the prisoners are being released with Hepatitis which infects untold numbers of the citizenry.
Fear mongering against incapacitated and terminally ill people who could be getting expenses paid by their own families or in part picked up by federal SSI money must stop. The Governor and all the legislators signed the bill because it makes good sense. They have the power to speed up the SSI process and get quadriplegics, paraplegics, parlyzed and brain dead people whose families don't want them into skilled nursing facilities. The bully guards don't know a thing about healing. Nobody comes out of blood houses better off for it.
I don't have enough volunteers to make a huge public outcry for each case of untold suffering and preventable deaths taking place right now, today. I hope the "intervenors" making the decisions for a totally new system right now in the Plata case before the Three Judge Panel don't make the June 27 deadline. I hope that because the atrocities such as what is happening to Steven Martinez, Mark Grangetto and about 4500 other people should surface as each family gains the skills and courage to step forward to write their own articles if necessary and attend the Nov 17 hearing with the UNION mothers. We can't fight FOR people but we can fight WITH people who are committed and courageous.
Norma and Charles Martinez never thought this nightmare could happen to them, and they have with the help of Linda Poniktera prepared their own press release. Hooray! This is the same fighting spirit that made it possible for us to help Danny Provencio and perhaps Mark Grangetto is about to receive re-sentencing to a nursing facility.
Why can't people that we call public servants do the right thing without having their ridiculous and unconstitutional blocks to appropriate releases exposed in the media? This is illogical at a time when our human services and education budgets are collapsing. It should be a no-brainer that reduced education and human services will cause crime to rise.
You know those UNION mothers by now if you follow prison reform. They never let up, so it will save considerable future headaches to give Steven Martinez a parole, a compassionate release, whatever it takes to get him home to his family who clearly loves him.
The tapes below are two separate reports. This story hasn't made the national networks yet. I hope that by putting the press release in my column that some of the large circulation mediums will see it and help things to right tomorrow.
You as a citizen can help by faxing a letter to the Parole Board or simply calling them to ask for mercy for Steven Martinez at the phone number below. Do it right away as the hearing is tomorrow.
I am very proud of our UNION mothers and their fighting spirit that has carried this fight for ten years. They need and deserve more help and support as scores of lawsuits they have filed which affect everyone move forward in the courts. Make sure you are subscribed to the UNION newsletter to learn how, when, where to fight back to better conditions and change laws.
Nobody can rescue we, the people. Prison reform happens because of the public outcry at the news sites and in the news media, by organizing at least 6500 people willing to do the work of initiative campaigns. Without enough funds and volunteers gathered in advance, we cannot win. What is the public outcry? It is the number of people writing to editors about many issues, not just those that affect them today. It's large attendance when a rally is called or at important hearings when permanent decisions are on the table. The public outcry is you and even the three judge panel is influenced by the squeaky wheels - not just one or two times - but all the time.
Let's make a public outcry today on behalf of this very courageous mom and dad and their paralyzed son. We as taxpayers do not need to be paying four high priced guards to stand over people who can't even move. Steven Martinez has a family. He is a father with children. His life has more value in their midst than rotting away in Corcoran Prison which is notorious for poor medical care.
Everyone risks this situation so take action now. Jesus said "Whatever you do to the least of you, you do it also to ME." These lawmakers, wardens and guards who claim to be Christians and allow this type of inhumane treatment are hypocrites and I can't bear to watch this type of thing without taking some sort of action. Can you? See the two videos below then write your letter. The UNION parents typify Norma and Charles, who is a retired fireman. It could happen to anyone.
All of this inhumanity and prisons aren't even a deterrent to crime. Quite the opposite. What the lawmakers and punisher crowd are doing are far worse crimes than the Mansons committed and the majority of the inmates. Am I indignant? You bet I am and our only block to reform is apathy.
Rev. B. Cayenne Bird
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Linda Poniktera
California Family Calls On Governor Schwarzenegger to Enforce the Law as Prison Authorities Block Release of Eligible Prisoners
Prison Authorities Deny 100% of AB 1539 Petitions, Ignore Legislative Intent to Reduce California´s $20B Budget Deficit and Ease Prison Overcrowding
June 16, 2008, San Diego, CA – A California family is asking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to intervene as the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) Board of Parole hearings (BPH) reviews the case of a quadriplegic diabetic inmate who is eligible for release by law. Tomorrow the BPH is expected to attempt to block release of Steven Martinez, a permanently medically incapacitated (PMI) prisoner whose annual cost of care approaches $500,000.00. Amid a $20 B budget crisis, California taxpayers are paying a premium of nearly 20 times the average to care for PMI prisoners who, by definition, pose no threat to society. Estimates are that Assembly Bill 1539 will save the state of California more than $7.25 million annually[i].
Mr. Martinez is the "poster child" for why AB1539 was passed. He was stabbed in the back of the neck while in prison, resulting in quadriplegia which exacerbates his pre-existing diabetes. His complex, labor intensive care requires 24-hour nursing staff, 7 days a week, provided by a dysfunctional health care system currently operating under federal receivership. Though unable to swat a fly off his nose, let alone pose a threat to society, prison guards are paid to observe Mr. Martinez day and night. The astronomical costs for PMI prisoners will rise predictably as the body deteriorates and inevitably fails.
According to Ken Karan, attorney for the Martinez family, "Governor Schwarzenegger should enforce the law. Mr. Martinez is the poster child for why AB 1539 was enacted. Even prison authorities admit that he is permanently medically incapacitated and eligible for release. The legislature expects BPH to follow the law in its recommendations to the court. Clearly there is no legal basis for prison authorities´ attempt to apply criteria not found in the law, and Mr. Martinez should be released."
AB 1539, co-sponsored by California State Assemblymember Sally Lieber and Paul Krekorian, was amended in 2007 to include criteria for release of PMI prisoners who pose no threat to society. The law is intended to address taxpayers´ concerns about California´s $20B dollar budget crisis and ease the myriad health care problems created as a byproduct of prison overcrowding[ii]. Instead, since the law went into effect January 2008, the BPH has essentially ignored legislative intent by denying 100% of petitions for release in PMI cases.
Even the prison´s Director concedes that Mr. Martinez is eligible for release under the statute. The prison´s analyst admits that, "physical threat is clearly unlikely." With no clear basis for denying the petition, the Director´s denial calls into question whether the prison system intends to implement the new law. Click this link for the full story
WATCH VIDEOS ABOUT THE CASE
Provided courtesy of San Diego County Times and the Citizens´ Internet Television Network:
Attorney Ken Karan discusses the legal and policy implications of AB 1539 - click link below
Norma and Charles Martinez talk about their son Steven Martinez – click link below
Please fax a letter today asking for mercy for Steven Martinez to
James Davis, Commissioner Board of Parole Hearings
BPHs Executive Office at (916) 445-1539 Fax: 916-445-5242
end press release by Linda Poniktera
Mark Grangetto may be getting some relief after three long years of the UNION family members fighting for him. Here is his mother Nora Weber who marched in San Francisco two days before having surgery weighing just 86 pounds. It is this fighting spirit that resulted in the few releases and paroles that we have been able to achieve but only after extensive media coverage and numerous UNION protests and legal actions filed by his mother.
I will write a column about it in the daily newsletter when he finally gets relief. All I can say is do your best to communicate with the news media. Anything they can hide due to not enough public outcry will be totally ignored. What a crying shame! Why weren't you here at this rally standing up for your own family? No wonder reform takes so long.
If you're not reading the UNION newsletter, how can you possibly know when, where, how to fight back or what's going on today that affects your life? We recently won one of our visiting lawsuits which I will write about in my next column.
subscribe here. You can't change laws or better conditions for no work and no money spent. Get seriously active, just sending email to people who already know the problems is not an act of reform. If you want to stop terrible initiatives, you do that by registering the poor to vote against them. Pretty basic, can't be skipped, isn't being done.
Rev. B. Cayenne Bird
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