Published: Wed, Jul 11, 2001
Incapable of getting a fair trial
Judge Harry Kinnicut, who in open court called James Diesso an animal on the first day of this trial, showed prejudice from day one and should not have tried this case.
The jury missed the point that the mentally ill are innocent and when people are medicated they do not "look" mentally ill. But anyone who stabbed another inmate 17 times, swallows glass, razor blades and tries to hang himself repeatedly (and has for years), cannot be considered sane.
The people who administrate prisons are responsible for those they hold helpless in cages. The person who would place a toddler into a cell with a pit bull dog is the true murderer in this situation.
The state of California has no business double-celling known, violent inmates together. The result can only be maiming or death.
Why aren't they on trial instead of blaming it all on Diesso and getting off scot-free? Where's the national media on this outrageous injustice?
Jerry Baker, Fairfield
Published: Thu, Jul 5, 2001
Prisons are cruel to mentally ill
One of the reasons reporters are banned from prisons is due to the continual torture of the mentally ill, who, like Mr. Diesso, are pepper sprayed while caged in the California Medical Facility.
Prisoners are poor people. A candy bar would be more effective in getting a mentally ill, child-like person to come inside from the yard than pepper spray.
When Ronald Reagan eliminated the mental hospitals, he caused a crisis within the prisons. The humane thing to do is get the mentally ill out of the prisons and into hospitals. Both the James Diesso and his victim's family are entitled to millions in lawsuits for double-celling these two.
That's why the politics caused a "sane" ruling for someone with a long documented history of mental illness. Now the prison administration escapes accountability.
Citizens ought to get involved here. Everyone thinks they can't go to prison until it's too late. Murder by the system right under our noses shouldn't be ignored.
Joan Galven, Fairfield
Published: Thu, Jul 5, 2001
An easy decision for a recent Solano County jury. What shouldn't have been so easy was deciding that James Diesso was sane when he killed Jeffrey Ford. No fewer than three doctors had testified to Diesso's insanity, and prison records going back many years bore out their opinions.
Either way, Diesso will spend the rest of his life incarcerated. But to mandate him to "regular" prison instead of psychiatric confinement cannot be in the best interests of the general prison population, the prison employees, or Diesso himself.
Bigger questions related to this case affect all of California's 160,000 state prisoners every day. What was prison staff thinking when they put a guy, who a year before had stabbed another inmate 17 times and was known for acting out crazily, in an 8-foot-by-8-foot cell with a guy who had recently fought twice with guards? Was this business as usual in today's prison management? Are they so tired of bad actors that they don't care what happens? Was there an element of revenge against Ford? How many inmates sleep with one eye open every single night because their "cellie" may be James Diesso, unmedicated and unconfined to psychiatric care?
Deborah D. Jimenez, Santa Rosa
Published: Fri, Jul 6, 2001
Give treatment not punishment
Solano County Judge Harry Kinnicut does not know how to lead, nor is he following. He is dead wrong and destructive to boot. Perhaps it is time for him to hang up his robe and just get out of the way.
If you treat a human like an animal, they will respond in kind. It is time for James Diesso (the Vacaville prison inmate who killed his cellmate) to receive treatment.
Sandra Harris, Los Angeles
Published: Sat, Jul 7, 2001
Prison system avoids scrutiny
What would be considered a criminal offense (or neglect) in the outside world, is considered business as usual behind prison walls.
Younger inmates sometimes suffer in ways we cannot begin to imagine. One such man is currently housed in a California prison, Jimmy Diesso. He has a long history of mental illness which has been well documented.
Yet one day his guards placed him in a cell with another violent, mentally ill inmate - knowing full well what the outcome might be.
What would have been a criminal act in the outside world, was once again business as usual behind prison walls.
Our corrections department needs correcting. Never again should this department be allowed to set up a murder or turn their back on neglect and walk away from issues of safety. It must be held accountable.
Mary Charlotte White, Riverside
Published: Sun, Jul 8, 2001
State culpable in prisoners' violent demise
Isn't it a fact that he, James Diesso, his family and other inmates were screaming for help prior to this horrifying incident? Who is really at fault here?
I am a taxpayer and I would like the truth.
It is right for anyone to have been put in that position? Of course, not. Is it time for the state of California to take responsibility for its own actions? Yes.
This incident should have never taken place. For a Solano County judge and jury to hold a man who is "limited," to say the least, as responsible for this murder is flat insane.
This was not my idea of a fair trial. A fair trial would have included Warden Ana Palmer on the witness stand, taking responsibility for this heinous decision (to house a mentally unstable inmate with another). Why not? She earned her salary and made irresponsible decisions resulting in the death of an inmate.
As a taxpayer I am held responsible for every single decision I make every day of my life. I take this responsibility very seriously.
Loved family members are entrusted in the state's hands. How dare it make a mistake like this? I demand an answer. Now two families' lives are ruined at the hands of a high-paid state employee.
I feel the state of California and Ana Palmer used James Diesso as a scapegoat for a crime they wanted to happen.
Who is the sick one? James Diesso with documented brain disorders or the State of California and its decision to house two violent inmates together.
Sylvia Vasquez, Rancho Santa Margarita
Prisons need some oversight
A code of silence governs the officers, and protects them from wrongdoing. No accountability is in place for the miscarriage of justice and power.
The union that represents the officers is the most powerful in California. James Diesso's murder conviction and Jeffrey Ray Ford's death have added two trophies to the California Department of Corrections.
Officers are not held responsible to provide for the safety and security of inmates. They are above law, order and justice.
Law-abiding citizens who have a loved one in a California state prison are exposed to the demeaning, disrespectful attitudes and inhumane treatment of officers. They soon learn that complaints only bring retaliation on their loved one.
Until we allow journalists and other objective voices from the community to expose the atrocities, banned in the name of "security," each prison will remain a kingdom without restraint.
Rose Mary Caragol, Lemoore
Published: Tue, Mar 9, 1999
Prison treatment nearly inhuman
If an ordinary citizen had a mentally ill child and it was discovered
Yet, the warden and staff at Vacaville's state prison have been committing
He has been bound in five-point restraints, which is against international
Of what value has placing Jimmy Diesso in "the hole" for months at time
It is too easy for California Medical Facility management, who has tortured
There are some Eighth Amendment violations at issue here. Jimmy needs
to be moved to a hospital in Nevada where he can receive regular visits
Thousands of UNION members don't intend to sit by and watch these conditions happen to any inmate in Vacaville or the rest of the state for that matter.
You will find it difficult to ignore us as we intend to decry these
Catharine Davis, Council Bluffs, Iowa
March 6 2000
Mother convinced her son never will get fair trial here
Reporter Editor: As James Diesso's mother, I need to get some things
Please come get me, I am so scared." He was not a child that was just
Margie Jump, Cold Springs, Nev.
Stand up, protest prison scurrility
It was recently discovered that a mentally ill man had his medication
Yet it does not stop there. He has also been stripped of his clothing,
Left alone for days on end with little human contact, his condition
You may ask yourself why this man's abuse is not reported in the media.
Perhaps they feel it is not newsworthy or that people don't want to
The recent hearings on the horrible things that have occurred, and are