by families of prisoners
about Chowchilla and other prison deaths
have blood on their hands...
by B. Cayenne Bird, Director
Did this sudden and senseless death really benefit or protect the citizens of California ? The heartbreaking answer could only be "no."
Hardie had complained of chest pains and sought help at the prison medical clinic three times in the two weeks preceding her death on DEC 9. The "clinic" at California Correctional Facility for Women at Chowchilla (CCWF) is classified as a Skilled Nursing Facility where six young inmates died between Nov 1 and Dec. 12. Hardie was the fifth.
Any barely trained medical professional would have suspected the heart as the problem. Normally, an EKG and a chest x-ray would be ordered for chest pains and the patient hospitalized until the results were analyzed.
Instead Hardie was given a "breathing treatment" and offered Pepto-Bismol and Motrin. She was asked for a $5 Co-payment and turned away from proper diagnosis TWICE by MTA's, a hybrid guard-nurse combination which is equivalent to a Licensed Vocational Nurse with a nightstick. The physician did not order these basic tests even with a familial history of heart disease. Why not?
The answer is most likely to save money, which is barely available for the health and dental care of California's 160,000 inmates.
Eye witnesses tell a gruesome tale of how they all screamed for help for about seven minutes to summon a guard while Hardie lay bleeding profusely. One of her cellmates gave CPR. Finally, two guards opened the door, took one look at Stephanie and instead of summoning help by radio, ran away and left her!
Frightened cellmates kept the CPR in progress, blood and all. It was 15-20 minutes before the guards returned to load her into a van WITH NO EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT. She was transported to what they term a "prison medical clinic." Only two of the State's prison hospitals are licensed according to a State Auditor's Report January 2000 on Managed Care. These clinics do not meet regular hospital standards.
No one ever saw a defibrillator, a shock device key to treating heart attacks and so common that almost every airplane has one on board. If C.C.W.F. even owns one of these basic pieces of emergency equipment it was never used on Hardie. On the weekends, no doctors are present to handle problems of 3200 women, the size of a small city.
An ambulance would only be called if the inmates could afford to pay for it and few of them could at salaries of 18 cents or less an hour. We have reports of ambulances arriving in one to two hours at most prisons because they are remotely located. Few take issue with the shoddy emergency response methods.
Hardie's relatively minor offenses resulted in capital punishment for her and a lifetime of hurt for her surviving mother Diane Hardie-Rios, a juvenile probations officer in Pomona. I question what she was doing in prison in the first place.
Her grandmother feels she was a victim of vindictive sentencing because she cried out during her trial that would separate her for ten years from her children who were then 8 and 10 years old. She had five years of her sentence left.
Through all the pain of Stephanie's sudden and suspicious death, her mother and members of the UNION had to literally fight for the release of her body. We notified several senators, acting CDC Director Steve Cambra, Det. Metcalf of the Madera County Coroner's Office, 31 news agencies to name a few that we wanted the evidence preserved and an independent autopsy performed at 8 a.m. Monday morning.
But Det. Metcalf steamrollered us all embalming her body and washing her hair before we could send in an independent pathologist. Metcalf knew the family's wishes but he ignored everyone. After embalming, the autopsy was adversely affected and a toxicology report was impossible for anyone to get.
Our lack of funds magnified the problem, and this working mother just trying to bury her daughter went through a living hell for 13 days, looking for a lawyer, facing large and sudden expenses.
We are all aghast at the sequence of events, at the callousness of the public and officials to help the families of all the dead inmates. This holocaust is worse than the death toll of any riot. Three more have died since Hardie, seventeen so far this year.
On the same day that Hardie died, Jack Kryder, a visitor on his way out of C.C.W.F. fell onto the grass. Another visitor pleaded with the guard that he could administer CPR to Kryder until help arrived. But the untrained guard forced everyone back into the visiting room according to witnesses.
Horrified men, women and children who were out for a pleasant Saturday visit watched Jack Kryder twitch and writhe with no help for a full 38 minutes - too late to save his life. Imagine the torment of the good-byes said that day when families saw the vivid reality of the prison's lack of emergency medical services.
The correlation between a civilian visitor and an inmate receiving no emergency treatment and dying on the same day ought to be recognized. Both instances were witnessed by many -some regular citizens and guards, not just inmates. At least this time, the State cannot so easily deny the crisis.
Official records show 39 people dead from Nov 1 through DEC 12 in California's State prisons.
Not all of these deaths could be construed as suspicious. After observing the lack of qualified personnel and equipment, repeatedly hearing the inhumane practices accepted as business as usual by callous legislators led by Gov. Davis, I can only conclude that not everything possible was done to relieve pain or to save these people, even if some did die from natural causes. This strong statement is based on nearly three years of handling member complaints on a daily basis. It's a nightmare. Diagnosis and surgeries IF performed take many months, even years.
There were six inmates and one visitor who died Nov 1 through Dec. 12 at Chowchilla alone. Three more have died since. Does it only matter to media and officials when deaths are clustered in this manner? Three of those deaths are under investigation by a medical team sent in from UC Davis. From what we've witnessed, ALL of the cases should be thoroughly investigated.
Susann Steinberg, Director of CDC Healthcare Services has issued 160,000 letters to inmates advising them to suspect legal and illegal drugs. How are they supposed to monitor the safety of drugs given to them by prescription? People in prison are at their bungling mercy.
Wouldn't the mailer money have been better spent on teaching guards how to administer CPR or at the very least acquiring a defibrillator (which may be in a back room some place because no one can use it). Covering up, making excuses always seems to be important than remedy. It's time for some answers and for the people of California to demand a reduction in the prison population and revision to overly harsh laws.
At some point, it would have been the right thing to do to notify the public that the harsh laws had resulted in too many people in prison, more than can be cared for within the budget allocated by Davis and the legislators. Nobody had the guts and stood by quietly while prisoners are suffering and dying everyday.
Already inmates who witnessed the death of Hardie are being pressured not to testify. Correctional Officer London who sent Hardie to the clinic twice is not showing up for work at the prison. Is she hiding?
We weren't the only ones alerting the public to the medical crisis. Senator John Vasconcellos stated at almost every Senate Public Safety Committee held for the past four years that people were being released from prisons sicker than before they were incarcerated, both mentally and physically. Senators Richard Polanco Vasconcellos and Hayden proposed many bills trying to put the Correction part of Corrections into healing programs. Republican legislators beat most of these down. The medical doctors in CDC Health Care services pleaded for more budgets to be able to meet basic needs of a burgeoning prison population.
Gray Davis vetoed most of these bills and budget requests even though millions of dollars in lawsuit payouts continually drain the taxpayers. Lawsuit payouts for prison guard brutality, medical neglect, and civil rights violations of prisoners are hidden and spread across several budgets. It appears there are more than 5000 lawsuits a year, but since Wilson, it is almost impossible to pry loose the exact figure of settlements.
Pay now or pay later the taxpayers are paying for all this inhumane, unbearable incompetence. Legislators can't and won't do the right thing up front because of groups such as CCPOA and Crime Victims who stop everything to benefit prisoners, even though healing programs would ultimately lower crime. Such groups finance election campaigns. Prisoners have failed to produce a lobby of their own due to ignorance and poverty. They don't count in Sacramento.
Reporters are banned from the prisons, the public cannot scrutinize what is happening right under our noses which is destroying thousands of families connected to inmates.
Lawyers saw the injustice of the trial which acquitted the Corcoran guards for murder, neglect and brutality, although more trials are coming up. They advise us the juries are mostly all employees of the human bondage industry. They say the Republicans protect all the oppressors in court and are whipped before they start in most cases. Johnny Cochran won't take prison medical neglect cases, nor will most other lawyers.
The families of prisoners are also the innocent victims of crime. We must immediately halt the conveyor belts feeding men and women into a system which cannot care for them by ending the Three Strikes Law, Mandatory Minimum Laws, enforcing parole laws, instituting Prop 36 and release those terminally ill prisoners and the mentally ill into hospitals.
None of this inhumanity is a solution to crime and it's a disgrace that no one should tolerate.
United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect (U.N.I.O.N.) has alerted legislators and the public to a widespread medical crisis in prisons on a daily basis since July, 1998. Timeline and actions:
Aug, September, 1998
The UNION families picketed the Capitol to support Corcoran Senate hearings. Director B. Cayenne Bird wrote numerous press releases and appeared on at least 20 television and radio broadcasts alerting the public of prison guard brutality and medical neglect.
November - January, 1999
As a result of UNION's repeated reports of the crisis supporting the work of Senator John Vasconcellos, Davis created the Office of the Inspector General and ombudsmen to investigate inmate complaints.
January 6, 1999
Medical neglect exposed on statewide television before the Rules Committee. Senator John Burton appointed a legislative rep to handle UNION member complaints.
Ombudsmen are finally responding to complaints which have been pending for more than a year. There is some remedy. State Auditor publishes report on Managed Care which admits medical problems. http://www.bsa.ca.gov/bsa/since93.html.
June 21, 2000
A five hour meeting is held between State Officials and the UNION to discuss the medical crisis. Lack of money and qualified personnel are the reasons given for medical deficiencies by CDC Medical Healthcare and other officials.
September 29, 2000
At least 30 articles and letters in other newspapers written by UNION director B. Cayenne Bird and members frantically appeal for help with the medical crisis. The speeches, articles, broadcast were relentless since July, 1998.
Federal lawsuit alleging medical neglect at CCWF Chowchilla thrown out due to "lack of evidence."
October ll and 12
Senator Polanco invites the media to hear testimony of medical abuse, neglect and guard brutality at CCWF Chowchilla and CIF, Frontera.
CDC Director Cal Terhune re-retires, no new director is appointed. Acting Director Steve Cambra tries to fill in
November 1 - Dec. 12
Six inmates and one visitor are dead at CCWF Chowchilla, 39 are dead statewide.
Senator Polanco has called for a hearing. Meanwhile three other inmates have died at Chowchilla
Coffey had a heart attack with no hospitalization, no tests, no emergency equipment and l/2 hour for any Guard to even reply to inmate screams for help. This is a pattern, no one is safe. The media needs to care. Every mother and grandmother should tremble in their beds for what apathy and silence is allowing in the name of justice right under our noses.
B. Cayenne Bird
January 10, 2001
We have a situation in our state that continually distresses me to hear and read about.
It concerns the lack of medical care and the continuing lack of compassion that the system has for the mentally handicapped and the incarcerated people in our state prison system. There is also a rampart lack of medical attention not being given to any of these people too.
They are dying because of CDCs neglect. It appears that not only are the prisoners being neglected but because a great majority of guards are not trained in CPR and don't have very much compassion for humanity, a civilian visitor died of an apparent heart attack while frustrated visitors watched helplessly. No one was even allowed to go out and try to help the man.
What a sad state of affairs. What does it take to change this situation? Possibly a celebrity o r a politician's family member has to be on the non receiving end of this problem. God help us all.
A very concerned citizen,
I am responding to recent articles about the medical neglect and abuse in California's prisons and County jails.
Can anyone tell me why there is no substantial medical treatment for the seriously ill in our prisons and jails?
Can anyone tell me why another human being could turn their back on the dying?
Can anyone tell me why our society would rather turn the other cheek, throw all of the misfortunate in prison and jail and then condone the abuse and lack of medical care?
Can anyone tell me why we all stand by and watch as the helpless die a slow and agonizing death?
Can anyone tell me why we lost our hearts and our souls?
Can anyone tell me why we all continue to pay for it?
Tell me why...........
The Register is to be applauded for running the article "Davis, Legislators and Voters have blood on their hands" by B. Cayenne Bird.
The Geneva Convention (Convention III of 12 August 1949) relative to the treatment of prisoners of war states: “Under all circumstances, prisoners of war will receive any medical care they may need and will preferably be treated by medical personnel of the Power on which they depend and, if possible, of their nationality.” The U.S. Government does not treat its own ‘prisoners of war’ accordingly, having waged a War on Crime and a War on Drugs on its own citizens.
The denial of adequate medical care is being exposed as standard practice and we cannot ignore these inhumane conditions any longer. At the rate California is incarcerating people it won't be long before someone YOU know is behind bars. Wake up, Californians!
This letter is to respond to the 39 deaths that have occurred at the Chowchilla Women's Facility and other Correction Facilities within the State of California.
Thirty-nine incarcerated people, along with their now grieving families, had no idea that when they had been sentenced by California's Criminal Justice System that they faced the possibility of death - not freedom - before they ever completed their term. Overpopulated prisons, uuntrained and understaffed medical personnel helped to contribute to these untimely deaths.
The CDC Health Care services has pleaded for more budgets to be able to meet the basic needs of an ever-increasing prison population but to no avail. Our uncaring and callous legislators have chosen to ignore this medical crisis along with Governor Gray Davis who has chosen, with his own hand, to veto most of these bills and budget requests.
Voters & taxpayers need to have their eyes opened to this horrible assembly line of neglect that is going on in the California Prisons before another unknowing son or daughter becomes a victim of medical malpractice.
I read with disgust the story of the inmates & a visitor dying at theWomen's Correctional Facility in Chowchilla. No one should be denied emergency medical help just because the person is on prison property. I hope the voters force our state to account for these deaths. No one knows if someday the person needing help might be themselves.
The op-ed piece you ran on poor medical care in state prison (by B. Cayenne Bird) pries the lid off a little-considered world.
I live in the largest city in my county, but all of its inhabitants equal only 4/5 of California's prison population (160,000). Here we have three hospitals, among many other medical facilities. The phone book lists pages of doctors; nurses and therapists abound.
What would it be like to live in a subdivision which had little access to these facilities, where many of the neighbors had mental or addiction problems, and where you were surrounded by armed guards? In prison the neighbors and the guards may go with the territory, but inadequate medical care should not.
Deborah D. Jimenez
Perhaps, the state of California prisons could be easily attributed to CDC management's ineptness. Or, perhaps, it could go even deeper and point to CDC management's indifference toward inmates and their families. Ironically, that "professional sickness" has turned inward and destroyed the lives of correctional staffs and their families.
It is painfully obvious, to me, that the governor of California - along with his "yes" (puppets) people - could care less about the deteriorating conditions (and sinister attitudes) behind our prison walls that has led to the recent - and unacceptable - number of deaths.
Perhaps, Senator John Vasconcellos (of Santa Clara County) was right on target when he recommended the termination of CDC's top 200 administrators! Obviously, that would work....if only they weren't replaced by 200 more CDC idiots!
Lonnie F. DeWitt
December 31, 2000
California does have laws concerning at least minimal prisoner care. They rarely get it. Many guards do not even know CPR -- an easy skill to learn and one that everyone should know! It is time for reform and it is time to challenge our elected officials. And, please! No more prison administration denials implying that inmates fabricate medical neglect stories "because they have an ax to grind." These are facts, not isolated or unusual incidents.
As preposterous as it may seem, these sorts of things happen daily. Putting sunlight on these events is a responsible act. I would like to thank your paper for the news article written by B. Cayenne Bird.
Because of her efforts, I am now a member of UNION and I urge all who care about "man's inhumanity to man" to learn how you can bring common sense change to the management of our prisons and to a population that has long been ignored.
I loved the article by B. Cayenne Bird. Don't get me wrong, I believe a person should pay for his misdeeds, but I also believe they should not be treated as less than human. Some of the ways these inmates are treated are inhumane. We would be in prison for treating animals with more care. Should a person that is serving time for their crime have to fear for their life just because they made a poor choice. Some of these inmates are just barely adults that realize the error of their ways and want to make good of their life.
I would like to thank your paper for publishing the news article written by B. Cayenne Bird . I used to think all prisoners deserved what they got. I had the same "lock them up and throw away the key" attitude that we hear voiced by Gov. Davis and many others.
There are many inmates that will be in prison for several years or even life and are no more guilty than you or I. Sometimes it is "jury tampering". Sometimes it is corrupt cops. Sometimes it is just poor choices. I used to think that these were just an excuse to get out of a crime. But now I understand that misleading a jury or tampering with a jury can be the difference between a five to ten year sentence and a life sentence.
A person that should have served his time in five years may be doomed to spend the rest of his life behind bars because a jury was misinformed. Should these people be treated as animals?
Thank you for the article by B. Cayenne Bird. Some of these inmates should not even be serving time. There is a difference between a true "life" sentence and an indeterminate sentence. True "life" sentences are "life without parole".
These people were sentenced to remain in prison for the rest of their natural life. Indeterminate sentences are "15-life", "25-life", etc. The "life" term is there to give the system the "ability" to keep an inmate that is not suitable for release locked up. It is NOT there to keep those who are not a threat to society. Just the same as a 10-25 year sentence says "keep them for 10 years and release them" unless there is reason not to, then keep them locked up for the full 25 years.
I am writing to you today from Ottawa, Canada to express my grave concerns about the conditions in California's prisons where 39 people, including one visitor, have died since November 1 .
Many of these deaths have likely occurred due to lack of proper medical attention. All inmates receive little or no health care that is nowhere near the standards available to other citizens.
As an international observer, I urge all California citizens to write to their political representatives demanding full investigation by outside agencies, ie not the prisons themselves, into the deaths and the ongoing health care crisis which affects over 150,000 prisoners and their families. Let me assure you that when planning a holiday, my destination would never be the USA which to me is the most uncivilized country in the world.
Mrs. J. Stanley
The death of Stephanie Hardie(prisoner) and Jack Kryder a visitor is tragic. From personal experience I know that this is all too common within the California Prison System. The denial of adequate medical care is standard practice. Most doctors that I met with dispense the same medication for whatever ills you, you would receive Motrin for back pain or severe chest pains such as Stephanie Hardie, follow up care can take weeks.
I have witnessed an Officer injured and a helicopter arrive within 7 mins to transport him, yet Mr. Kryder waited 38 minutes and died. We can not ignore these inhumane conditions any longer, at the rate California is incarcerating people it won't be long before someone you know is behind bars. We must all pay the price of incarceration if we break the Law. But, Medical Neglect is not part of the sentence.
Thank you for running that article by B. Cayenne Bird.
I have been following the news regarding the 39 deaths that have occurred through out the prison system recently. Six of those were at the women's facility at Chowchilla. Wasn't there a recent inquiry into the medical care standards at this facility? What boldness the staff has to disregard the complaints of these women even in the aftermath of such an inquiry.
I guess CDC is answerable to no one. This is appalling and every California citizen should feel outrage because no matter what anyone does to end up in prison he/she still deserves to receive decent treatment. Treating people with cruelty will only come back to haunt the citizens of this state.
The article by B. Cayenne Bird and prison medical neglect makes me ashamed to be a Californian.
Over the years I have read countless reports of a person owning too many dogs or cats and going to prison for not taking care of them. Those in Sacramento responsible for this medical neglect should serve jail time for crimes against humanity.
It makes sense that prisoners should return to their communities, healthier -not sicker mentally and physically. Davis should be recalled for ignoring the alerts that resulted in these deaths. I am outraged that people will work for a system which routinely murders young people through medical neglect.
The Register is to be applauded for running the article "Davis, Legislators and Voters have blood on their hands" by B. Cayenne Bird.
The CCPOA, CDC have it all worked out so that it is almost impossible for devastated families to sue for the many diseases and disabilities their loved ones wind up with from our inhumane prison system. Lawyers won't take prison cases because all information is shut down, even for the press.
We need to release people from prison and change the laws so that this terrible consequence is only for terrible crimes. The people must contact their local senators and assembly members and demand an end these evil practices or we ought to end their terms in office. This is America, this is the year 2001, we cannot allow this murder and torture to happen right under our noses!
I have been trying to get health care, mental health care, and substance abuse treatment in CDC for over 5 years now (in L.A. County jails now for a couple of years). I feel terribly burned out as I have tried to get help for so many people.
I worked at North Kern State Prison for about 6 months in 1997 while I passed my psychologist licensing exam. The people in the mental health department really scared me with their lack of knowledge. As an example, I was one of about 9 staff psychs. Only 1 had passed the licensing exam and had to try for many years before passing.There were 6 others who had been there for over 3 years trying to pass the exam and get licensed. The state allows two years to pass and an extra year with some sorts of special circumstances. I was the only one of them to pass and all the others were terminated due to failure.
These were the main staff responsible for making the determination of whether inmates received mental health treatment or were sent to the General Population. The reality of the work load to someone who knew what they were doing was that it took about 4 hours to complete the evals of about 10 people.
Some of my peers took all day and others left on state time to go work at local nursing homes. It's called "double dipping" as they made money from MediCare and Medical while they were on state time. As a matter of fact, my supervisor did the same thing.I used the time left over to go out to the cell blocks and talk with troubled inmates. Got myself into trouble with my peers as they felt I made them "look bad." Anyway, as soon as I got my license, I left the system but have worked around it not in the system ever since.
I no longer practice and that's another long story associated with CDC. Some of the atrocities I watched An inmate who walked into NKSP with a known bad back. No ADA accommodations were made for him even though it was clearly noted in his medical chart. (American Disabilities Act)
He was sent to a prison with no medical and no ADA. Assigned a job wiping tables (talk to a back specialist about that type of motion for a severe back) and deteriorated so that he suffered a paralyzing back episode. I was there the day after it happened and have never seen a man in such pain. It took an amazing amount of outside interference (Hayden's office, attorney's, me, other doctors) to get him sent to medical help at a different facility. However, his inpatient records were never sent with him. AT CIM, he was considered a pain in the neck demanding medical treatment. Without any medical referral from Ironwood, he never got the appropriate treatment. It went down hill from there and he ended up at Corcoran, again with no treatment.
He ended up leaving prison in a wheelchair. Impossible to litigate even with his medical records as no attorney would take the case. With no outside medical evals, how can you show negligence and malpractice. I have talked with Mark Arax about some of the things I saw but at the time was not willing to let him use my name. I am no longer practicing and would be willing to allow that now BUt, quite honestly don't think it will do much good.
Cayenne, I truly believe that the biggest problem at the base of all of this is the guards union.They have such incredible power to influence all of Sacramento. I have personally suffered from their incredible power.They are the ones influencing Davis, in my opinion. The resistance to Prop 36 is a good example. IF we actually begin to address the root causes of what puts people in jail, these guys might lose jobs.They love to see the high parole violations as it keeps the jails full.I am very fearful of private prison business as we lose further accountability.Educating prisoners might actually help them never to return and then how would all those people who "walk the most dangerous beat" work?? I have walked that beat with them and they are scary people. ; I walked the cell blocks with the MTA each morning at 6:30 when meds were passed and have seen the worst of the worst time in a prison.
If we give these men tools to never return, the guards ranks will thin. The main thing I see in CDC security staff is a huge power trip that is very brutal. I can remember doing therapy (not allowed actually when I worked there) with a man who was suicidal. The treatment of such a man Lock him in a "infirmary" - a cell with a plastic matress and a blanket, dressed in boxers. That's it.This guy was swallowing broken up razor blades trying to commit suicide.He was angry and depressed. He refused to talk to the poor excuse for a psychiatrist (Dr. Cummings, hopefully gone from CDC) so the good doctor stormed out after ordering him to take his meds
. I was very ticked at his treatment and confronted the doc. "Is confrontation a new technique in treating suicide now?" Didn't win points.Anyway, I returned in the afternoons to talk to this guy.If I wanted to sit at a table with him and talk, he had to come out dressed only in boxers with his hands cuffed behind his back.I chose to talk through the slot to him to allow him some dignity.
He made incredible progress just in talking with me and agreed to go to Vacaville for treatment. The guards had fits every time I came to talk to him. As I drew a chair up to the slot, they would come over and pull the chair away and make me sit far away so I would be safe.; It wasn't fear for my safety, it had to do with their need for power over these "animals."
Sorry for such a long email but I have so much frustration at having tried so many directions to help men to treatment and seem to have failed in most of them.Oh, the guy with the razor blades I still communicate with him and he is doing very well, in spite of this atrocity.The good doc wanted to return him to the yard after a couple of weeks (it's a pain to transfer to medical/mental health treatment) but the inmate had realized from talking to me that he needed treatment.
He told me that if he had gone back to the yard, he would just have found another way to kill himself.He's an incredibly bright man who has a release date in the next couple of years and will return to college and earn a degree in sociology.
So, it was well worth the time I put in. I have burned out so badly with all this.I fought this battle when I lived in Vermont in the mid-70's and saw much the same as now. So little has changed.If anything, it has become worse.The warehousing of human beings is the worst form of abuse.My belief is that we must look carefully at some particular issues.The disenfranchisement of so many black men.This must be reversed, in my opinion. We should work to change the law that makes a convicted felon lose the vote How can people be a part of society if they are not given full rights.Successful completion of parole should return the right to vote.
I have a serious concern on the federal level. John Ashcroft is a dangerous person to be Attn Gen, in my opinion. I urge everyone to write to their senator and urge that his confirmation not be approved. He is in a position to do serious damage to the cause of justice.
Sorry for the length of this, a new year seems to bubbled over my frustration. Wish I was closer to Sacramento and I would help however I could.I have little money but do have time and the ability to write.
Dr. Patricia Y.
Dear Dr: Patricia
You have only been with us for a short time. If you will invest a couple of hours in reading about our battles at the website, you will see that we have through methods of bombardment, demonstrations, and exposure in the press been able to save many lives.
We were given a representative in January, 1999 by Sen John Burton to handle our members complaints. If we get 30 complaints at any given prison which aren't handled to our satisfaction, I call for a poll to see how many families are willing to picket that prison. This is their achilles heel, exposure in the press and focus on evil individuals who accept ineptitude and abuse as business as usual.
We have been the cause of wardens getting fired, new laws getting passed, we have filed complaints with licensing agencies on specific doctors, once we picketed Corcoran in 120 degree heat for weeks and our seniors signed up 300 members out there. That "joint" is much more cleaned up after our NOISY opposition.
We all get burned out. There are some days when I feel that I can't endure another battle but every time a new member joins us to share the burden, we all become strengthened and able to go one more mile.
None of us have money, we struggle for the basics. All of us have illnesses and broken hearts from all the destruction rained upon us by politicians who have used us as pawns. There is a solution but it is necessary to understand why the Guard's Union has the upper hand.
They have about 48,000 people all paying $50 a month to their Union. The two basic elements of a powerful voting lobby are funds and volunteers. We can do the same and exceed their power by outfunding and outnumbering them, and I don't see any other way. This is how they buy lawyers, non-profit organizations, politicians, and public relations employees, pay for printing and generally own California.
The laws of this state are dictated by 134 groups and a few individuals who have come together in special interest groups. The UFW Farmworkers, the Janitors Union, the Teacher's Union such groups are voting lobbies. They buy off the Governor and the legislators and put their own candidates into office. These groups use the government to impose their will on everyone else who does not have a large, well-funded, highly mobilized voting lobby.
We must exceed the power of the Guard's Union, fighting fire with fire. It may take 90,000 people each paying $15 a month to do this, but there are at least 3 million people hurt by the love affair between the politicians and CCPOA. We far outnumber them but the families of prisoners need to be educated that each person has a small responsibility if we are to be able to put them all in the soupline.
The good legislators have called and called for this to happen and everyone else seems to be able to get this concept except the families of prisoners. We have the ball rolling but our members fall down on recruitment, thinking someone else is doing all this work for them.
So the commitment letter at http://www.1union1.com/com.html makes it all very simple for us to build this necessary voting lobby of the core group of 6500 people who "get it." Notice that our members are mostly educated people such as social workers, college professors, teachers, nurses, lawyers, journalists, and a few who are uneducated but are willing to respond when called. (Mobilize means write or show up within a few hours of being called) The movement has been running in the far, far left for 20 years. When representatives of the Peace and Freedom Party, Communists, Socialists and other groups bother to show up in Sacramento, they are shunned as enemies by the Gov and legislators.
At this time, we are the only mainstream coalition of any size but we are not nearly large enough. We have former employees of CDC such as yourself who are book authors, speakers, they speak at churches, colleges and distribute UNION material and write about our work.
You must click on the individual links at the home page if you want to understand the full impact of what we've done and our formula to end this inhumanity. No one person can do it alone. If you really read each webpage you will see that we often DO get remedy and it will give you emotional relief.
In our meeting June 21 (wish you had been there), I discussed frequent complaints of inmates swallowing razor blades with top state brass. Warden Ana Ramirez Palmer told me that there is technology where razor blades can be swallowed without harming the body. She said that razor blades are supposed to be administered by receiving an old one in exchange for the new one.
Obviously, there are too many people in prison and we must all shout to high heaven through writing, demonstrating, voting, and getting others to help us until we get the funds and people together to have a real voice. No one is going to do this for us, we must do it ourselves.
Here is the commitment letter. It is the solution, but everyone must cooperate, find ten subscribers, teach them to sign up ten, as rapidly as possible. Can you see that when we all pull on the same rope, we can bring what is in the darkness to the light? Aren't you amazed at the letters about medical neglect which have been generated today?
With funds and volunteers, all things are possible. We must each carry a small share of the load, nothing can succeed until we have thousands working in unison. We take a few things and focus on them, see how the bills we chose mostly WON on the legislative bills page. With more funds and more volunteers we can do more. It's a basic formula which everyone else seems to be able to master.
I can see how many people really do read through our website and if everyone did this, they would become educated on solutions. We have a lawyer for a similar case to the one you describe with the back problem, Charles Wesley went to the clinic at CIM and asked for help 61 times. He was denied and is now permanently disabled. This will cost the taxpayers dearly and it's all documented for anyone to see. The UNION members will stand behind Charles Wesley and attend this trial. We can draw attention to a few issues even before we reach the 6500 basic core group.
There must be consequences for those who participate in these acts against mankind which are criminal Thank you for telling us of your hard work, you are among allies here. The prisoner who was neglected at CIM should get in touch with Charles' attorney. Groups matter, individuals do not matter. When we can bring 1000 people to picket, attend important hearings, the legislators will change around their attitudes. So far, this hasn't happened for any group.
Whose fault is it? We can't trust those in power to do the right thing, so we must simply strip them of their power. Nobody in Sacramento wants to be on our black list, believe me. We can embarrass a tin man. (and frequently do). While we are by members for members only, we do not handle complaints for non-members, everyone has benefitted from our campaigns. We are only limited by sheer numbers.
More articles on the Medical Crisis
Imprisonment Should Not Be Revenge, Published in the LA Times
Articles published by our members on abuse of the mentally ill in prison
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