United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect
Warden Confirmation Hearings
|The warden confirmation hearing for Dave Runnels High
Desert and John Dovey,
CIW will be held today in Rm 113 at 1 p.m. We are in opposition, my remarks follow.
We are favorable to the appointment of Diane Butler, Old
Folsom since our files
Our support or opposition is based solely on the nature and number of complaints from families in our files. These are my remarks.
B. Cayenne Bird
My name is B. Cayenne Bird, I represent the U.N.I.O.N., United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect. We are a statewide group of 6,000 humanitarians and groups, which include 35 priests/pastors. Most of our people are doctors, teachers, nurses, professors, social workers and 32 journalists, people in the helping profession. Many have a loved one in prison and we are all voters.
We would like to voice opposition against Dave Runnels as permanent warden of High Desert Prison for the following reasons.
We believe that he does not have control of the guards. High Desert has been reported to engage in lockdowns for excessively long periods. Our people report lockdowns for ll months in 2001 and all of this year except for three weeks. Families believe that since the two riots between blacks and whites were instigated by the same people that both may have been caused by guards.
The lockdowns at High Desert are perpetual. This is cruel and unusual punishment which only makes inmates sicker and more dysfunctional than before they were incarcerated. We understand that prisons are a place where the mentally ill are kept in cages and expected to follow rules, even though they are incapable of doing so. The CDC has been previously criticized by Amnesty International and our European custodial counterparts as having lengthy periods of isolation.
Dave Runnels punished all yards during the holidays for the misbehavior of a few men. God only knows how the inmates are provoked! November 26th 2001 through January 3, 2002. They missed Christmas, New Year's and inmates birthday visits.
Feb. 2nd 2002 through March 1st Instituted because two trays missing from kitchen (had been missing for one week before lockdown) In the one month off lockdown many inmates did not get to go to canteen because of the number drawing system that decides who goes and when.
Therefore inmates were short of writing paper and other necessities. One inmate's TV had broken. He and his cellie went the entire lockdown without a TV because C.O. Bickford kept the new television sitting on his desk in R&R instead of delivering it to the inmate who owned it. During this time inmates on D-yard stabbed a child molester to death in their yard but were NOT put on lockdown until days later.
March 1st-31st Little lockdowns (1-3 days) off and on all month for fist fights, missing cups or trays from chow hall, etc. Staff rotation this month meant delays in all programs...canteen only open half the normal time, packages only delivered on a few days and so on.
April 12th through May 6th Locked down because inmates being released to yard had weapons (which they always have but c.o.s only "find" them when they want to).
C.O.s only searched one section of one building per day in order to 'be thorough' (read: 'stretch out the search and make more overtime money')
We have reports of extreme violence, extreme retribution if inmates file complaints, some of the worst intimidation of family members in the system.
I respectfully request that the Committee consider High Desert to be a facility that need emergency overall. It is on a par of inhumane activities and psychological intimidation comparable with Pelican Bay and Lancaster.
Medical and dental neglect, unsanitary practices in the kitchen which promote disease, secrecy to an extreme level, all of it makes High Desert one of California's biggest hellholes.
Runnels hasn't begun to handle it. Perpetual lockdown is not a solution. It can only serve to make matters worse as inmates have no incentive to be good, they are too separated from their families and not living any decent standard. This is the tip of the iceberg of what I have in my files about High Desert. The psychological abuse, medical neglect, needs to end right now. We have High Desert high on our list to picket, that's how strongly we feel.
Thank you for allowing the UNION to have voice today.
UNION opposes John Dovey
My name is B. Cayenne Bird, I represent the U.N.I.O.N., United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect. We are a statewide group of 6,000 humanitarians, individuals and groups, which include 35 priests/pastors. Most of our people are doctors, teachers, nurses, professors, social workers and 32 journalists who subscribe to our daily reports of what really goes on behind the walls, people in the helping professions. Many have a loved one in prison and we are all voters.
We would like to voice opposition against Warden John Dovey as permanent Warden of Chino Institute for Women for the following reasons:
The entire grounds is rusted, decrepit, place needs to be bulldozed down. Dovey buys into caging women in this most horrid facility instead of insisting that it be brought up to date.
He has failed to provide safe and healthy living conditions. CIW has a massive rodent infestation that is frightening too many of the female inmates and dangerous to their health.
Flies are very thick. CIW in the middle of a horse farm, there is manure all around, a fertilizing processing plant just across street, ammonia gas blows right into the prison to a toxic level. Coming out of visiting people report their eyes were watering. It is quite shocking that women would be treated in this manner.
Water has been contaminated by nitrates and heavy metals
posted in the waiting room, most likely lead plumbing. Very strict regulations
about water quality. They are supposed to report these problems every
three months but haven't been doing so. Inmates are forced to drink the
poisoned water while guards drink bottled water. Report needs to
be updated, last one posted April 2001, request update and what has been
done to protect water supply.
Failure to control the guards, even those known to have histories of sexual harassment especially Sgt. Cole, Coleman, peeping tom. When complaints are filed, the administration gives excuses and protects rather than firing him, which is the appropriate action.
Neglecting inmates in ad seg for months at a time, even those in there for their own protection is just wrong.
The combination of isolation and Unsanitary hygiene makes it comparable to a prison in Tijuana, Yes, it is no better than third world prison unfit for Americans.
The building has leaking sewage facilities that come right into occupied cells, especially in ad seg.
One of our members is a medical doctor with a loved one inside. He was met with a cover up when he voiced complaints to Warden Dovey instead of an investigation.
National Commission of Healthcare, says that inmates should have daily access to a shower of appropriate temperature.
Women in ad seg shower every 3 days and it is very cold. His loved one was put into these nightmarish ad seg conditions. They thought it would be for a few days since it was for her protection. Snafu after snafu occurred until ten weeks in that hell hole went by. This sort of cruel treatment is considered acceptable business as usual at C.I.W. We have a problem with this type of callous thinking. The idea should be to return inmates to their communities in better condition than before they were incarcerated. This is certainly not happening at CIW. The good doctor is someone whom I know and greatly respect when it comes to the topic of prison conditions. Many legislative reps and CDC employees know him well as our medical advisor. He is not at all a hot head or inaccurate in his appraisals of extreme medical neglect in most of California's 33 prisons
His description of the overall operation of the facility is this" All of these conditions pale in comparison to the Standards for Health Services in Prisons set by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care."
We have many other complaints to validate these accusations.
I am B. Cayenne Bird, United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect, UNION Director speaking on behalf of 6000 individuals and groups in opposition to the confirmation of Mule Creek Warden Michael Knowles.
If I give voice to the voiceless, those in our society who have been devastated by overly harsh, conveyor belt laws it is because they are being ignored by you. Why else would anyone vote against Amending the 3X law when it is common knowledge throughout the world that California cannot properly care for prisoners?
What voice could I use to convince you that Knowles is
unfit for the job? Should I shout to express the anguish that
I feel over conditions that would make God himself cry? Would you
believe the documented evidence that Knowles practices
Would having each of you spend one night in the gymnasium stacked 3 bunks high with beds just 18" apart with toxic, disease-ridden air quality cause you to raise an eyebrow? It might be uncomfortable for you to sit on a toilet just 18" from another man with no privacy -
IF you can get a toilet with 160 mostly very ill inmates vying for only ten seats. And, we must remember that the symptoms of rampant Hep C include diarhhea.
But there is no respect for sanitation and disease at Mule Creek.
Knowles allows inmates infected by Hep C to work in the kitchen, use their hands to serve food. These hands may be gloved at times, but their forearms and up to their elbows when mixing certain foods are not covered and they have no soap and water in the bathrooms most of the time.
Just what voice does one use to object to a system and its wardens who commit crimes against humanity with no conscience?
Would crying, yelling, taking my usual business-like tone make one bit of difference to you?
These conditions are reality. A summary of 89 complaints is posted at our website for anyone who really wants to know the details of what is happening at Mule Creek and most other prisons in the name of justice statewide.
Michael Knowles will prove to be the most expensive warden that you've ever hired with the number of lawsuits already filed against him and many of the guards he empowers with his own made up rules. There is no respect for Title 15 at Mule Creek State Prison. The UNION does not believe that psychological torture by the thugs and bullies he allows to do as they please is corrective or rehabilitative in any way.
He conned the MAC Committee into writing a letter of endorsement, dangling the carrot that he would correct most of the 89 complaints.
As of yesterday, he had corrected none of these complaints and the MAC Committee feels used and tricked by a man whose word holds no merit.
I was overwhelmed with grief after spending an entire day trying to figure out how to summarize the extreme cases of abuse in my files. Each time I thought I had set aside the worst cases an even more shocking one popped up in the pile.
My father, grandfather, and son were all Veterans, and I have spent my entire life being a patriot through three decades of journalism.
I can tell you right now that the atrocities happening as business as usual at Mule Creek Prison and most of the other prisons in the State is the opposite of what my ancestors wanted to see happening in the name of justice and liberty.
There are too many people in prison. It is unAmerican, unChristian to cage and not take care of people's basic needs, to destroy tens of thousands of connected families over crimes that aren't really crimes.
A legislature is simply a collection of people paid to represent special interests, using government to impose their will on everyone else.
I have plenty of details on blatant medical neglect, severe psychological intimidation, inhumane and illegal conditions and much, much more.
Just recently a young mentally ill man was allowed to seize 27 minutes on the cold concrete with no first aid, no checking of his vital signs, plenty of monkeys standing around scratching their heads instead of carrying him 100 feet to the prison infirmary. The other inmates are still traumatized over this, but there are no first aid classes scheduled for guards as a result of this needless death. This is business as usual at Mule Creek and most other prisons.
All I can do is wonder just what circumstance would result in firing someone as unbearably incompetent and callous as Michael Knowles?
Either you don't believe me or you just don't care, either way I predict a flurry of lawsuits as the price that should be added to his annual salary.
The costs in both monetary and human terms will be great
and could easily be prevented by your denial of his confirmation now.
Thank you for allowing me to speak on behalf of suffering and dying inmates
and their families