August 12, 2004 Rally - Press Release
United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect
FAMILIES OF PRISONERS TELL LEGISLATORS
Public Outcry over Medical Neglect and Inhumane Conditions due to overcrowding - Coalition Demands Immediate Release of Non Violent Prisoners
Sacramento, Ca. Families of prisoners and reform advocates will come together August 12th to protest the shameful conditions that exist within California's prisons. The rally is being coordinated by United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect, (U.N.I.O.N.), a statewide communication system of prison reformers and humanitarians.
In an effort to draw attention to inhumane conditions in prisons and jails statewide, devastated families of prisoners will make the expensive journey to Sacramento to appeal for emergency measures and an end to conveyor belt laws resulting in inhumane conditions. The event will be held today from 11 am to 2 pm on the North side of the Capitol in Sacramento and the public is invited.
U.N.I.O.N. Director B. Cayenne Bird has brought members of the UNION Coalition together to prove that families of prisoners are intelligent enough to stand up for themselves as voters. The rally is to deliver a message to the lawmakers that the California Department of Corrections is a taxpayer-financed machine that is destroying families and doing nothing to deter or prevent crime.
Speakers from groups who are co-sponsors of the event include a number of related topics pointing to CDC's inability to curb spending, prevent medical neglect lawsuits, and their overall lack of any efforts to insure that the inmates released within our communities have the skills to succeed as a rehabilitated and productive member of our society.
Rev. Andre Shumake, a prominent activist in Richmond's Iron Triangle and the uncle of inmate Anthony Shumake, who died as the result of an infected tooth while incarcerated, will speak about "State Murder by Medical Neglect." His group, Richmond Improvement Association represents a number of other members of the clergy in the Bay Area.
Mark Ravis, MD, JD, Mark Ravis and Associates of Century City and San Diego will give an update on the medical neglect case of Charles Wesley which has been supported by the UNION for four years and is now in Federal Court. His remarks will also include arguments for releasing the terminally ill. The Compassionate Release bill has passed the Senate and is now waiting for the Governor to sign it. Much of the costs of taking care of the terminally ill could be taken over by Social Security instead of being such a burden on the State. Ravis what amounts to torture of mentally ill inmates in the hostile environments of California's prisons. He will discuss how those who are ill are punished and prosecuted simply for acting out their illness.
Fred Jackson/Barbara Becnel, the journalists behind the movie "Redemption" and the book "Tookie Williams Story" will address officials violations of the First Amendment. Preventing journalists from visiting those who have committed serious crimes would have blocked nine children's books that discourage kids from joining gangs.
Robert Driscoll, Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese Detention Ministries will describe the ineffectiveness and unnecessary expense of a failed parole system.
Professor Michael Vitiello of the McGeorge School of Law will offer alternative sentencing ideas and talk about how the Three Strikes Law has failed. He will give legislators tips on sanity in sentencing and offer restorative justice solutions more effective and cheaper than the present methods.
Dr. Sarah Chappell will speak about the effect of unlawful rules changes around visiting which has caused tens of thousands of children to be cut off from their parents in prison and greatly affected the mentally ill who are becoming much sicker than before they were incarcerated due to isolation. The visits cutbacks were part of a budget reduction.
UNION Director B. Cayenne Bird is calling for support of class action lawsuit against the State for changes in visiting and seeks the backing of 2600 families of prisoners. "The number of supporters of a visiting lawsuit are now at 1500. Due to the low incomes of the families separated from their loved ones because of the new rules, it takes several thousand to file a lawsuit that can actually win against this powerful guard's union.
However this situation of denied visits to children and families is so serious that we have no choice but to sue since the only voice ever heard by the legislators is that of CCPOA. There are three million Californians connected to state inmates alone. This does not include those in jails, juvenile halls, federal prisons or on probation. I am certain we can find 2600 people willing to sue over the break up of their families. We will rail against visiting changes as well as an end to packages from home, which is nothing more than a $240 million money grab from families and retail businesses for the pockets of CDC-friendly vendors".
Rev. Bruce Bramlett, Episcopalian Priest in the Bay Area will describe the cruelty of isolation in Security Housing Units and the mental illness they are creating at a large cost to the state both in human and fiscal terms.
Donna Larsen. Educator and member of Fresno Insider/Outsider Support Group will reveal how the poor are denied DNA tests, even when the penalty is death. Larsen is a long time California advocate.
Wives, Families and Friends of Death Row California Director K. Gay is bringing a delegation to describe degrading visiting cages at San Quentin. There are only 13 cages for 600 men and women which is interfering with their ability to maintain family support and work on their legal cases.
George Washington Descendent doesn't Approve of Prison Slavery Author, Historian and mother of inmate who just spent two weeks wondering if her son was dead or alive, Anita L. Wills
The rate of recidivism for California is the highest in the nation (85%), and the many speakers at this rally will present arguments for prison reform that fall well beyond the scope of the CDC's ability to embrace and enact.
For further information, please contact the following:
B. Cayenne Bird