United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect
Letters to CDC - Family Visiting
Letters to Editor on Visiting
Friday, March 8th, an important hearing took place in Sacramento which most people probably don't know about. And yet it was well- and emotionally-attended by those who did know. The California Department of Corrections held it to air proposed changes to visiting rules in our 33 state prisons, changes which are rather onerous. Of course, if you are one of our 160,000 prisoners or one of their presumably 800,000 family members, you care about visiting rules. But the truth is that if you are any citizen in the state of California you should care because the vast majority of prisoners will parole and there is precious little else in their prison experience besides family contact that may help them exit prison a whole, non-repeat offender.
Prison is...well, prison--total loss of freedom, exposure to gangs, drug availability, insanity, brutality, sexual abuse, antagonistic guards. For ten years now the mind-set of our Governors has been to reduce educational and self-help opportunities. A troubled person commits a crime, gets sentenced, and several years later exits a whole person? Highly unlikely, unless something makes a difference in his/her life, and the best hope of that is family support and visiting. The CDC, rather than making visiting more difficult and stressful, should be bending over backwards to make use of the thousands of free "therapists"--family members--whose unsolicited efforts can make life inside and outside the prison more stable and safe.
Deborah D. J...
March 2, 2002
Rick Grenz, Chief,
Dear Mr. Grenz:
Changing visiting rules and making it almost impossible to visit a loved
one in prison, does not
Yet as you enter any prison and get treated like a prisoner yourself,
it makes you feel like throwing on some county blues. When in fact
all we can be found guilty of is loving our flesh and blood, or loving
that man or women that we took vows to be with until death parted us. I
understand prison is not meant to be camp snoopy. It’s not a place of adventure
However it is where our loved ones happen to reside. Until someone you love ends up in prison, you’ll never understand how important those visits are to people.
Have you ever seen the lines awaiting to get into a visiting room. You have men and women of all ages, from all over the states and some from out of state wanting to see their loved ones.
When a 90 year old mom go’s to see her son, her flesh and blood, she
does not see a convicted felon she sees the man or women she gave birth
too. It was a blessed
Im not surprised that the Department of Corrections would consider imposing more rules on visiting and inmate. CDC tends to make life difficult for families of prisoners, they always have!! Are they going to stop mail next?
As it is it takes 20 million days to get a one page letter that says
Hi how are you, I pray your in good health to an inmate. Where is it going
to end? As long as there is no significant laws being broken on a regular
basis, or violent outbreaks between visitors and visiting staff, then leave
OUR time with OUR families alone!!! And anyone who opposes this, you should
keep your mouth closed unless you have experience in this area. Mind
your own business and
March 4, 2002
Rick Grenz, Chief,
Dear Mr. Grenz:
I am appalled at the lack of concern CDC used in coming up with more and more rules to discourage any visiting of inmates in the future. I do not understand why it is so difficult to check ID of the visitors and allow them to visit without further harrassment. Visitors often travel all night to visit for a few hours the next day. Some guards seem to take pleasure in denying visits as I have seen on the few occasions I have been able to visit.
I continue to hear that it is good for the moral of the inmates when they get a visit and it even keeps the invironment safer inside so why all the stumbling blocks to keep people away? Strip searches! What is your true goal? I question why you cannot do your job without penaIizing visitors of the inmate or further penalizing the inmate to no visits. In fact, I question the whole process when I see long documents of more and more rules for visiting. I implore you to make it easier to visit, not more difficult for inmates to keep in touch with the outside world and heir families.
March 3, 2002
Rick Grenz, Chief,
Dear Mr. Grenz:
I am writing in regards to the proposed changes to CDC visiting regulations inm hope that the voice of a visitor is heard. Is visiting not hard enough of families already?? Do you enjoy tearing families apart?? The family of a convict is the silent victim, the victim no one hears about and no one cares about and visiting their loved one in prison the families continue to suffer and be punished, not only does cdc punish inmates but their families as well...
Children visiting a father or mother in prison suffers enough with the very limited contact with their parent but you want to tell an 8 year old boy he cant sit on hos father or mothers lap?? What is wrong with you people?? Can you not see what deep effect this would have on a child not matter how old??
Most pyscholgists say drug addiction is a sickness and not a crime but yet instead of providing rehabilitation for these people, a first time drug offender receives no contact visits for the first year of incarceration, so cdc wants inmates to dive deeper into their addiction to cope with the limited contact with their families and to cope with the pyscological torture of prison alone. To deny a person human contact in cruel and unusual punishment and unsonstituional.
Alot of inmates do not get regular visits with their loved ones and
you want to make a time limit on how long they can kiss and embrace this
is absurd. It should be left up to the correctional officers discretion,
we only get about 5 minutes anyway but to put a demand on the time limit
is uncalled for. We get harrassed and gawked at enough during our
The visitor handbook and Title 15 states that CDC encourages visiting
but in no way is this any kind of encouragement. The value of visiting
as a means to establish and maintain meaningful family and community relationships
is recognized and encouraged. This new
Please reconsider the new proposed regulations, its time to make some positive changes.
The people in charge of state prisons in California (CDC) would have you believe that 1% of the drugs in prison come in through the Correctional Officers. That must be based on the opinion that they don't need the money since they just got a whopping 25% raise from the Governor (who's union is Davis' biggest campaign contributor). But with drugs inside going for 10 times the street price, don't bet on it.
CDC has visitors to the inmates passing the contraband. Oddly enough, the visitors are screened, the visits are monitored, and after the visit the inmates are strip searched. Now just who is kidding who?
Maybe funding a drug rehab program upon entry to prison would do more for the citizens of the state than fattening the CO's wallets would.
March 2, 2002
Dear Mr. Grenz:
Re: Proposed Visiting Regulations
The first thing I noticed when reading the new regulations, is that “Visiting is not a privilege.” I would strongly disagree with this premise, as it is a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of California. It is not subject to the whims of unelected bureaucratic guards to decide who can visit and who cannot. Visiting has been used for punishment, for psychological torture and mind control techniques. This is a violation of California Constitution, Article 1, §7 (b), where no distinction between classes of citizens is made, including prisoners who are being punished for some violation.
“A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens. Privileges or immunities granted by the Legislature may be altered or revoked.” California Constitution, Article 1, §7 (b).
"Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them." Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 US 436,
The use of visitation as punishment is cruel and unusual, as receiving mail and visitors are the only thing that prisoners receive to keep them sane, in touch with family and friends, which contacts are needed when they are released at some future date.
Rights are something that cannot be taken away from us. I am aware that the government through the legislative process likes to turn rights into privileges, but privileges can be tampered with, changed at the whim of a bureaucrat who has no authority to make these kind of decisions. Privileges can be tightly regulated and, with little justification, taken away where "Rights" present greater obstacles to abuse.
I would request that the sentence at the start of the regulations? “Visiting is not a privilege,” be removed from the new regulations that are proposed.
March 22, 2002
Dear Mr. Grenz:
Re: Proposed Visiting Regulations
At the hearing on March 8, 2002, it was brought to the attention of Cayenne Bird, that the law had been changed in 1996 and the regulations are just now being brought into harmony with the 1996 law.
In the 1996 LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST, about Senate Bill 1221, it states:
“Under existing law, a person sentenced to imprisonment in a state prison may during that period of confinement be deprived of only those rights as is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. Existing law additionally enumerates certain civil rights of a state prisoner, including, among others, the right to inherit, own, sell, or convey real or personal property and to purchase, receive, and read any and all newspapers, periodicals, and books accepted for distribution by the United States Post Office. This bill would delete from those enumerated civil rights of a state prisoner the right to have personal visits.
SEC. 2. The Legislature finds and declares that the provision of any privileges to inmates in the state prison may be granted pursuant to prison rules or regulations promulgated for that purpose.”
In their Summary, it states that this “Eliminates certain enumerated rights contained in the "Prisoner Bill of Rights." And it further states: “By most we mean those not guaranteed by the Constitution. These activities, by removing them from statute as "rights," would effectively become privileges. As such, they may be given or revoked. This will provide the Director with a more effective tool for behavior modification.”
To provide the Director with a tool for “behavior modification,” which is another word for mind control which in a reality is a total violation of the Prisoner Bill of Rights. This is the Russian Psycho-politics to break down our society and to destroy America. When prisoners come out of prison after having been tortured with psychological mind control, they are 100 times worse off than when they went into prison.
Where were these Senators minds when they passed this draconian law? Here is the list of the Senators that voted for this law: Ayala; Beverly; Calderon; Costa; Craven; Haynes; Hughes; Hurtt; Johannessen; Johnson; Johnston; Kelley; Kopp; Leonard; Leslie; Lewis; Lockyer; Maddy; Monteith; Mountjoy; O'Connell; Peace; Russell; Thompson; & Wright.
I will copy this letter to the Office of Administrative Law, whose duty it is to make sure that rules and regulations are in harmony with the California Constitution, as stated in Government Code §11340, that they be “consistent with other law,” and that would include the California Constitution and that rights are not violated---even for prisoners.
As stated in my letter of March 2, 2001, “Rights are something that cannot be taken away from us. I am aware that the government through the legislative process likes to turn rights into privileges, but privileges can be tampered with, changed at the whim of a bureaucrat who has no authority to make these kind of decisions. Privileges can be tightly regulated and, with little justification, taken away where ---"Rights" present greater obstacles to abuse.”
I would request that this matter be reconsidered, and the regulations be kept in harmony with the California Constitution.
cc: Office of Administrative Law [OAL returned letter 3-26-02]
Mind Control in the California Penal System
Solitary Confinement Torture in the U.S.
ACLU Prisoner Rights
March 3, 2002
Rick Grenz, Chief
Dear Mr. Grenz,
We are the leadership of the Office of Detention Ministry of the Catholic
Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Over the past few years, we have led
delegations to over 20 prisons. We began each delegation with
a short meeting with the Administration of the prison. Most of our
visit was taken up with talking with the inmates. We focused on the
Ad Seg and Shu inmates
In all the prisons we visited the two recurring major concerns were
visits with family and friends and health care. It is a known fact
that prisoners with strong family relationships and positive friendships
are more likely to participate in programs, to be motivated, and to successfully
re-integrate into society. It is apparent there is a direct link
between hopelessness and acting out, which can be violent. Visits
should be encouraged and
We were very distressed to read through the new visiting guidelines. It seems to us that these guidelines are trying to discourage visiting and to further punish SHU inmates who have no family members who can visit.
Some of the new guidelines that we find distressing are the following:
The background checks on minors over seven years of age and the requirement
that they have a picture ID before being allowed to visit The regulation
prohibiting male inmates from holding their children over
We are especially distressed by the rule disallowing non-family members from visiting SHU inmate. Many of the people in the SHU have no family who can visit because of distance, financial concerns, family problems, or death. To cut off their friends from visiting is cruel. Many of our chaplains and volunteers would no longer be allowed to visit inmates who have left our institutions and moved on to the SHU.
We believe that these kinds of regulations will increase the hopelessness, anger and violence of the prisons and bring great sadness, frustration, and stress to the families and friends of the incarcerated people. We strongly urge that these regulations be changed.
Cc: Senator Polanco
The California Department of Corrections is following a mandate made by the Legislature in 1996 which deleted all visits for prisoners. Suddenly, six years later during an election and state of bankruptcy, Governor Davis decides to enforce it. The people who will suffer most are little children who will be disconnected from their moms and dads.
How does this cruel and unusual punishment to families, the innocent victims of crime, assure the public safety? Giving someone $200 at the gate after emotionally abusing them for years in isolation and an atmosphere of violence and disease might make them want to drive a semi truck in the capitol. Is this practical thinking?
To The Editor:
Thank you for printing the editorial from the Sacramento Bee regarding proposed changes to state prison visiting regulations. I know that the public generally does not care about inmates and their families, but they should. I hope that by reading the editorial, people will realize that inmates have families who care for them, and that they are humans with their civil rights still intact. I visit inmates in two prisons regularly, and have wanted reform for years.
However, the proposed changes are not the reform I had hoped for. I want more access to my incarcerated friends, not less, and ease of restrictions, not more. If you were to read the complete document, you would see that prison officials intimate that visitors are the cause of many of their problems. This isn’t so. Yes, some visitors try to smuggle in contraband, but keep in mind that ALL inmates are strip-searched and their body cavities are inspected upon leaving the visiting rooms.
If any contraband gets in, it’s because the guards do not search the inmates thoroughly or not at all, or actually allow the contraband in. In addition, please note “officials claim that 52 % of illegal drugs found in prison come from visitors.” May I ask, how can a visitor hide massive amounts of drugs on his or her person? Where, in body cavities?” I don’t know about other visitors, but my body cavities could never hide that much contraband.
Also, visitors must pass through a metal detector every time they enter the prison. Visitors are allowed to bring in with them: an identification card, $20 in singles, 8 photographs (no Polaroids), a comb, a package of unopened tissues all contained in a small, see-through plastic bag, a Bible, and an assortment of baby needs such as diapers and formula bottles. Now I ask you again, how can a visitor sneak in contraband in that little space??
And where does the other 48% of illegal drugs come from? One of my incarcerated friends, who has served 12 years on a 15-to-life sentence, tells me that if not for my visits, he would go insane. The pressures to survive in prison are immense and one cannot turn one’s back for fear of attack from another inmate or guard. It’s a terrible life. Yes, they must be punished for their anti-social behavior, but they need human contact to stay human, and they don’t get it at all in prison.
They only time they are touched by another human being is when they are routinely searched by guards during the course of their day, and those are not “good” touches. I was informed this morning via email that 100 persons attended the meeting on March 8 to comment on the proposed changes. The stories they told were heart breaking.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to express my belief that the main thrust of the proposed changes is designed to further isolate inmates from their families and loved ones. Yet, they are expected to have a strong base of support when they leave prison. Where and how can they accomplish this if visitors are discouraged from visiting?
I have been following closely the proposed changes to visiting for prisoners. I live across the country but have a close friend in your prison system. I am the only person who visits this person and our visits are generally once every year or so. Under the new rules proposal it is likely that not even I will be allowed to visit because I am not a family member even though I know this person many years and have been approved to visit for many years.
What purpose does this serve other than to even further isolate prisoners. The impact of these proposed changes will be felt for a long long time. Men and women who had that bit of contact with the outside world will now have even less than they had. How does that help to reintegrate them back into society. I think it does not. Will this make them better neighbors and citizens when they finally do return among us? I think not. Is CDC truly concerned with public safety? It sure does not look like it from where I am sitting.
Excellent letter by Pat Johnson who is also actively submitting our letter to alert pastors/priests in the Riverside/San Bernardino area.
Consider having to travel two or three hundred miles to see daddy or your son or daughter. Have you ever given a loved one a hug and goodbye kiss? How about some guard standing therm timing it for a five second limit? Most prisoners have precious little contact and many no visitors. They are shipped off hundreds of miles away from family. Almost guaranteed to destroy a family because of hardship. How is this going to make anyone fit to re enter society?
These families were teachers,
professional career women, advocates for the poor, medical and other professionals.
Not derelict drug addicts as so often portrayed. Grandmothers,
wives and loved ones who are sacrificing to give what support they are
Contrary to some popular rumor inmates do not live a life of luxury! Extremely restricted, lights on continuously with constant noise from guards or mentally ill inmates crying out in agony.
This is just some of the torment in prison. But innocent families should not be made to suffer.
CDC should be trying to support families and work toward helping the inmate rehabilitate not drive them mad. Government always cuts back on education, health care, self help programs and anything that helps families heal!! We need to heal families not destroy them! A life is a terrible thing to waste!
Published: Tue, Apr 2, 2002
Harshly changing prison visit rules
I have been following closely the proposed changes to visiting for state prisoners.
I live across the country, but have a close friend in your prison system. I am the only person who visits this person and our visits are generally once every year or so. Under the new rules proposal, it is likely that not even I will be allowed to visit because I am not a family member, even though I have known this person many years and have been approved to visit for many years.
What purpose does this serve other than to even further isolate prisoners? The impact of these proposed changes will be felt for a long, long time.
Men and women who had that bit of contact with the outside world will now have even less than they had. How does that help to reintegrate them back into society? I think it does not.
Will this make them better neighbors and citizens when they finally do return among us? I think not.
Is the Department of Corrections truly concerned with public safety? It sure does not look like it from where I am sitting.
Linda Chiancone, Glen Allen, Va.
Published: Tue, Apr 9, 2002
New visiting rules unconstitutional
Now, the prison administrators want to allow only blood relatives for visits with inmates in the segregated housing units. But what if they have none? What if they are too far away, which is often the case?
Who will know in the free world if this segregated housing unit inmate is being tortured? What if the only reason an inmate has for living is hope and love from an open-hearted person in the free world?
This is the cruel punishment. It is not necessary. There are many issues concerning the new rules that are in the progress of being implemented.
You might think, "What do we care? They all belong there and should have a cruel life." Well, let's hope it never happens to you or your loved ones.
If only blood relatives are allowed to visit those in the segregated units, this will mean activists and clergy will be unable to report on this extreme cruelty. Look beneath the surface.
There is a lot more to this than we know about at this time. Stop these rules from being passed for all our sake.
Margie Jump, Bullhead City, Ariz.
Published: Thu, Apr 25, 2002
Proposed visiting rules harm families
On March 8, 2002, a very important hearing took place, impacting the lives of some 800,000 family members of inmates in California prisons. Rule changes then proposed will have profound effect on the children, wives and grandparents.
Consider having to travel 200 or 300 miles to see Daddy or your son or daughter. Have you ever given a loved one a hug or goodbye kiss? How about with some guard standing there timing it for a five-second limit?
Most prisoners have precious little contact and many have no visitors at all. They are shipped off hundreds of miles away from family, which almost guarantees to destroy a family because of hardship. How is this going to make anyone fit to re-enter society?
These family members are teachers, professional career women, advocates for the poor, medical professionals and others. They are not derelict drug addicts, as so often portrayed. These are grandmothers, wives and loved ones who are sacrificing to give what support they are able.
Contrary to some popular rumors, inmates absolutely do not live a life of luxury. It is extremely restricted. Lights are on continuously with constant noise from guards or mentally ill inmates crying out in agony. This is just some of the torment in prison. But innocent families should not be made to suffer.
California Department of Corrections should be trying to support families and work toward helping the inmate rehabilitate, not drive them mad.
Government always cuts back on education, health care, self-help programs and anything that helps families heal. We need to heal families, not destroy them. A life is a terrible thing to waste.
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