United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect
U.N.I.O.N. Letters to Editor
Nora is published in the hard copy newspaper of the Bakersfield California which is in Kern County where seven prisons are located. GREAT JOB NORA,
Guards go too far
The Bakersfield Californian | Sunday, May 31 2009
The attitude of detention officers (prison guards) is that they are the ones who know what the "interest of justice" requires, thus causing so many lives to be destroyed in prison. The only job they have is to take custody of the prisoner and keep him or her there until the length of the sentence is carried out.
Assuming responsibility for "justice" gives them carte blanche to re-judge an inmate every day of his captivity and carry out "enhanced sentencing" to their subjective satisfaction. It permits arbitrary punishment at the whim of the captors. The only restraint they have is fear of prosecution.
Law's high cost
Re "Jessica's Law not working as intended," Aug. 11
The unintended consequences of bad law are beginning to show, as was predicted. The statistics in The Times indicate a recidivism rate of 3%, one of the lowest for all crimes -- and not the 50% touted to pass the law. Yet state Sen. George Runner continues his scare tactics without regard to financial or human cost. He says 70% of voters approved the measure. Sure they did, based on his baloney statistics. I guess we can thank him for making us less safe by adding to the homeless population.
Sex crimes are horrible, but a failure to understand that most of these crimes are committed by family members or persons known by the victim does little or nothing to improve our safety.
Disgraceful way to do business
California prisons are a disgrace, and Vacaville prisons are no exception.
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation wants to increase the numbers of inmates, increase the size of the prisons and not pay its medical bills ("Pact on care of inmates is approved," The Reporter, April 26). Go figure.
You don't really have to figure. The CDCR tries to skip out on the cost of medical care, just like it skips out on approving the care for inmates. Consequently, inmates end up with permanent health care damage. This costs the taxpayers a lot more in the long run.
I find it shocking that CDCR employees ignore the effects of diabetes. The diets are totally wrong for diabetics. They would rather have inmates permanently damaged than provide preventive care. It is no wonder the cost of medical care for inmates has gone through the roof.
Now it takes them two years to agree to pay Vacaville's hospitals for the inmates' medical care cost. Shame on the CDCR and shame on the state of California legislators.
Nora Weber, Bakersfield
Receiver change bodes badly for prison reform
I smell a rat ("Prison receiver abruptly replaced," The Reporter, Jan. 24). What deal did the governor strike up in the backroom with the judge? Newly appointed prison health system receiver Clark Kelso is right out of the governor's book of "good old boys." The prison health care system will now step right back into the dark ages of torture.
Of course the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would not like former receiver Robert Sillen. I can't think of anyone they would like to force them to make any changes. However, I think the financial crunch California is going to face will force the governor to take some action even if the department doesn't like it.
I am shocked that U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson would cave in from pressure by the state.
I wonder now if the court will cave in when it comes to capping the prison population? Aren't federal judges above pressure from state officials? Maybe not.
I wonder who will give the medical staff of these prisons their raises. I can guarantee you it won't be Kelso. I can assure you that Kelso was hand -picked by the governor to save money for the crumbling state budget. Kelso will be a lap dog for the governor and the department.
Nora Weber, Bakersfield
Sex offender law
should be scrapped
Quite simply, Proposition 83, regarding punishment and restriction of sex offenders, is a poorly written, unconstitutional law that was passed by the voters because they were scared by the Republican governor and legislators who wanted to appear tough on crime. It does nothing to protect children, who should be protected, and it is creating a whole group of men and women and their families who have nowhere to live (Page 5B, Nov. 1). Homelessness is not acceptable for anybody. We must do better. The first thing we need to do is scrap Proposition 83 ("Jessica's Law") and replace it with something that is fair and equitable to all while protecting the children. The great majority of abuse to children happens in their own environments, by somebody they know. It does not happen in parks or playgrounds.
Daily News - Voice of Tehama County
Letter to Editor: Crime reduction numbers must be pulled out of thin air
Bob McArdle, Red Bluff
Doug LaMalfa is wallowing in his rice paddies too much! He quotes a 50-percent reduction in crime out of thin air.
California crime rate fell less than other states who have not opted for draconian sentencing practices.
He then uses the scare tactic to have citizens believe serious felons are to be released, again based on nothing but his imagination.
He fails to recognize the "tough on crime" but "soft on rehabilitation" crowd who are in the pocket of the CCPOA have now got a tiger by the tail.
Even the Feds have seen the evil system they have created.
Thank you for your attention.
Bob McArdle, Red Bluff
September 12, 2007
Restrictions on sex offenders
Your article on the impossible residency restriction created by Jessica's Law barring convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school, park or beach is right on target. Perhaps if our lawmakers concentrated on making laws that made sense, we would be able to come up with logical and well-thought-out solutions to social problems. It's time for our elected officials to start fulfilling their responsibilities rather than focusing on being reelected.
Letter: Politicians foster fear Chico Enterprise-Record
While reading an article Thursday stating "Sheriff, D.A. join effort to block early inmate release," I couldn't help wonder if these gentlemen have been following this issue for the past year. After all, it's been covered extensively in all the papers, TV and on the Internet.
First of all, no one is advocating that violent prisoners be released early. Only non-violent inmates that have served the "bulk" of their sentence will be considered. Many of those will have only days or months left to do anyway. These are "short-timers" who are going to be released anyway.
Second: The state of California has no say in the matter. It's a federal decision based on constitutional issues. California has had years to correct the overcrowding problems but has chosen to ignore these issues. It is not politically advantageous to appear to be "soft on crime" so the governor and the legislators have stuck their heads in the sand for so long that the feds had to step in.
Serious health problems and death has prompted federal intervention. Solutions offered by the governor will take years to implement and cost billions more on top of the current prison budget of $10 billion.
Cutting social programs like education and health care, among many others, in order to continue to feed the prison money pit is outrageous.
Other states have found sensible approaches that are successful. Fear-mongering politicians crying "wolf" is counterproductive and only serves to compound the problem.
ó Larry Phipps, Chico
Everyone's guilty in the prison mess
We are all to blame for overcrowded prisons. For decades, we have ignored the veterans coming back mentally destroyed by the effects of wars. We have ignored the homeless who sleep on sidewalks in cardboard boxes and beg for handouts. We have ignored the ones in schools who were not capable of graduating. We ignored the drug problem, and instead of stopping the pushers and the source, we started locking up the addicted users.
The people educated enough to devise solutions ignored the problems as these helpless people kept falling one by one into a lost and hopeless society. We just locked them up and said, "We are tough on crime." These unconstitutional crimes against humans are as bad as the crimes of those we lock up. Some judges are willing to say, "Enough is enough, the torture will stop."
Nora Weber Bakersfield
Re "A vote for Jessica's Law is a vote for kids" (Viewpoint, Feb. 25):
The man who killed Jessica Lunsford would not have been stopped by any version of Jessica's Law. He didn't kill her in a school or a park where a GPS system may have tracked him. Laws like this are ineffective and
Politicians who blocked Jessica's Law in Vermont and Massachusetts are not cowardly; they are realistic and understand what works and what does not.
- Alexis Marie
Posted on Wed, Feb. 28, 2007
I have a good friend soon to be paroled from state prison and he will be subject to the provisions of Jessica's Law. I don't believe that they should be applied to him because he was already in prison when the law the passed on November 7, 2006. If it is enforced and he is subjected to the residency restrictions and the GPS monitoring it is a violation of the Ex Post Facto clause of the United States Constitution.
I believe that protecting our children is extremely important, I have children of my own, but I also believe that protecting out Constitution is important because without the framework it provides our society as we know it will collapse. Prop 83 was passed out of fear, without the majority of the electorate really reading and understanding it. It needs to be thrown out and other legislation, written clearly and concisely needs to be brought before the voters.
Reform sentences, not prisons
In reference to Roger Stauffer's letter Sunday about California prisons, some clarification is in order.
I agree, they are grossly overcrowded. However, the annual cost is currently running over $9 billion and estimates have it at $43,000 per inmate. The California Department of Corrections Web site is not the best source for gathering info on prisons. They have a vested interest in painting a picture that is more beneficial to them rather than presenting an objective view. Check out: group.yahoo.com/group/rightor1UNION or groups.yahoo.com/group/usprisonreform.
Stauffer seems to think transferring inmates out of state to private prisons would help relieve overcrowding. Not so. There are thousands of people waiting in county jails to fill those beds immediately, thus it would have little or no effect on the prison population.
We have more than 176,000 inmates right now in a system designed for 90,000. Transferring a few thousand would be a drop in the bucket and will not relieve the problem. Some think it would be unconstitutional to move them out of state anyway. Lawsuits are pending.
Our "tough-on-crime" approach has produced this problem and it will take a serious revision in our laws to undo the damage. For starters, get the mentally ill out of prison and into treatment facilities. Likewise with drug offenders. Repeal the "three strikes" law and the poorly written sex offender law (Proposition 83). Invest in community facilities that prevent crime and abuse.
ó Larry Phipps, Chico
Jerry Brown's ``tough on crime'' stance is nothing more than political grandstanding with no concern for our laws. As the state's top legal authority he must step away from politics and be a protector of the Constitution rather than himself. We, the taxpayers, must stand up and roar that he wants to spend our tax dollars defending a law that is ineffective and unenforceable. I trust that Judge Karlton and Judge White will continue to uphold the law in spite of our legal eagles' lack of courage to stand up what our founding fathers worked to so hard to create. By no means can Proposition 83 apply to those who were incarcerated but not yet released on November 7th if we follow our U.S. and State Constitution. This clearly violates the ex post facto clause as it assess a new and stricter punishment to those who have already been sentenced. It is imperative that the court redefine who this proposition applies to and how it will applied. The witch hunt that has occurred around individuals who have been labeled ``sex offenders'' is shameful. Why don't we have residency restrictions on drunk drivers living near liquor stores, robbers living near any store or bank, murderers living near anyone?? This is clearly prejudicial and it has been proven beyond a doubt that these are laws are strictly punitive and not effective in stopping a crime. California needs to take a lesson from Iowa who is currently trying to repeal their law.
* * *
By ANNETTE SCOFIELD
Why has our prison system become so dysfunctional, since Pete Wilson was our governor? Is there a correlation to this and his ban on mediaís ability to go in to these institutions? Why do you the media sit and take this ban when so many injustices are perpetrated? Only 10% are violent criminals, others are there for technical probation or parole violations, nonviolent crimes, or those with the lack of funds to fight their cases; accepting plea bargains with the threat of outrageous sentences over their heads.
They all live with disease ridden unsanitary filthy conditions, minimal provision of food (barely enough to keep from starving), contaminated water, brutality and inhumane practices, servitude to provide cheap labor for major corporations, unnecessary deaths due to the lack of proper medical care, all of which "services" are provided at exorbitant costs paid by us the tax payers. Is it because too many of our media outlets are owned by these same major corporations who make millions if not billions on these modern day slaves? Where is the accountability? Itís time that YOU the media WAKE UP and fight for your rights to go back in to these facilities and report the truth!
Annette Scofield , Irvine, CA
By ANNETTE SCOFIELD
Iím a native Californian since 1953 and have seen her triumphs and woes throughout the years.The status of our prison system is one of the most outrageous mishandled crises I have thus far witnessed. The problem isnít going to be solved by building more prisons; build more prisons, arrest more inmates. The CDC is a monster with an unquenchable thirst that will never be satisfied. Proven alternative methods utilized by other societies have diminished their crime rates and their prison population by addressing the core root of the problem; providing education, rehabilitation, drug counseling and emotional healing.
"Without a vision the people perish". These inmates are not given any hope or vision. The majority of them do not need long prison sentences. Most are non violent offenders who if given the opportunity can change the direction in their lives. Use our taxes to educate and rehabilitate the inmates so they wonít have to return to the prison system out of desperation because they have no skills or talents to survive on the outside. Early releases for those in prison for technical probation or parole violations and amending the 3 strikes law should be considered to lesson overcrowding.
Annette Scofield, Irvine, CA
AB261 UNDER ATTACK
By SUSAN TIMPSON
I am one of the people [who] Sally Leiber is supposed to represent, I even voted for her; but if we were voting today[,] I would not. I oppose her bill AB261, ending the statute of limitations on sex crimes. Sex crimes cover a lot of things, from the seriously deranged offender, to the 18-year-old teen having relations with their 17-year-old partner, or even [other sexual acts] which many do not consider a crime at all.
Extension of the statute will not do anything positive and may result in more false imprisonment and add to all the bad law we already have in California regarding sex crimes.
I strongly object to her fear mongering on the subject. People who are fear mongers have nothing to say of any value so they try to scare and intimidate people to get their way under the guise of watching out for the defenseless among us. In my opinion that's what Assemblywoman Leiber is attempting to do.
What we really need in California are well written, fair and just laws so that when someone has served their time in prison[,] they have the opportunity to try and turn their life around, rebuild and become contributing members of our community once again
Susan Timpson, Sunnyvale, CA
Posted on Mon, Feb. 12, 2007
Sex crime proposal another bad idea
I am one of the people Assemblywoman Sally Lieber is supposed to represent. I even voted for her. But if we were voting today, I would not. I oppose her bill, AB 261, ending the statute of limitations on sex crimes (Page 1A, Feb. 8). Elimination of the statute will not do anything positive and may result in more false imprisonment and add to all the bad law we already have in California regarding sex crimes.
I strongly object to her fear-mongering on the subject. People who are fear-mongers have nothing to say of any value, so they try to scare and intimidate people to get their way under the guise of watching out for the defenseless among us. What we really need in California are well-written, fair and just laws so that when prisoners have served their time, they have the opportunity to try to turn their lives around.
January 24, 2007
Why has our prison system become so dysfunctional, since Pete Wilson was our Governor? Is there a correlation to this and his ban on media's ability to go in to these institutions? Why do you the media sit and take this ban when so many injustices are perpetrated?
Only 10% are violent criminals, others are there for technical probation or parole violations, nonviolent crimes, or those with the lack of funds to fight their cases; accepting plea bargains with the threat of outrageous sentences over their heads.
They all live with disease ridden unsanitary filthy conditions, minimal provision of food (barely enough to keep from starving), contaminated water, brutality and inhumane practices, servitude to provide cheap labor for major corporations, unnecessary deaths due to the lack of proper medical care, all of which "services" are provided at exorbitant costs paid by us the tax payers.
Is it because too many of our media outlets are owned by these same major corporations who make millions if not billions on these modern day slaves? Where is the accountability? It's time that YOU the media WAKE UP and fight for your rights to go back in to these facilities and REPORT the TRUTH!
It is shocking that an elected official would complain that the electorate
is to blame for lack of action in his and previous administrations on prison
overcrowding and the problems that go with it.
This administration is showing gross irresponsibility by blaming the
public for the prison problems and wanting to fix them with borrowed money
that will mortgage our great-grandchildren.
January 10, 2007
Until we get out of the business of warehousing individuals (prisoners) for the sake of employing other individuals (prison employees and court house personnel) don't expect any change in the prison system.
Prisons were supposed to be for housing the worst of the worst who would severely harm the public if left to kill or torture as they wish.
However, the prisons have been turned into huge and very dangerous babysitting facilities for everyone from the mentally ill, to the poor slob laying passed out on a city corner, to the most dangerous murderers -- a mix of warehoused individuals who have proven to be very costly. Prisons have become big business and the largest employer in California.
We better get down to some real rehabilitation -- not only for the prisoners, but also for a prison staff and court personnel, some of whom couldn't find a job any place else and who have become reliant on their high paying salaries so that it is in their best interest to keep these prisons filled to capacity and overflowing. It spells one thing (job security) at the expense of the taxpayer.
-- NORA WEBER, Bakersfield
Attorney general is unfairly interpreting Proposition 83
Proposition 83 is a nightmare for the families - more than 1 million women and children - of the people who have been lumped together as "sex offenders." We are in deep, dark hole of despair with no hope for a worthwhile future. Lives are being destroyed by this system we call "corrections and rehabilitation," and now the attorney general wants to continue the destruction for a lifetime ("It's about limits on sex parolees," The Reporter, Jan. 17).
Until sweeping changes are made to correct and rehabilitate, and until sentencing reform is achieved, our system is nothing more than the California Department of Destruction for Life. It's time that we, the people, stand up and roar.
How many times is the attorney general's office going to reinterpret the Constitution? Our founding fathers did not intend for politicians and legislators to decide when it could and could not be applied.
George Runner, the author of this abhorrent proposition, clearly stated that he intended the law to be applied prospectively. Prospective means "future." How can apply this to anyone who has already been sentenced?
Politicians and legislators must have the guts to stand up for the principles this country was founded on, namely the Constitution.
If we erode the basic principle of ex post facto, we might as well live
in a fascist or communist country. We must shout for rehabilitation and
treatment, not punishment for a lifetime.
Leah Simon, West Hills
Judge people, not groups
What has become a huge witch hunt is now so out of control that we may never see sanity again. It's been said many times before, but is worth saying over and over: Proposition 83 and its interpretation by vote-seekers is unconstitutional ("It's about limits on sex parolees," The Reporter, Jan. 17). Ninety-six percent of former sex offender crimes were not related to crimes against children - a crime usually committed by family or family friends.
We have Megan's Law, Jessica's Law, and I heard about another little girl in the Midwest whose name was attached to a bill when someone flashed her. Give it a child's name and it will fly, never mind that we are putting everyone in the same bag.
All of these gutless wonders who are stating their "interpretations" don't have the common sense to know that each case should be judged individually, not collectively. As a matter of fact, they were judged and sentenced.
Judy Wickliff, Lomita
Voters: Insist on prison reform
In reading the article announcing Dennis Sisto's recent promotion to warden of California State Prison, Solano ("He's at prison pinnacle as warden," The Reporter, Jan. 4), I felt a tiny glimmer of hope for the system.
Mr. Sisto talks of wanting to provide work and education programs for prisoners, increasing inmates' stays in county jails, and moving nonviolent female prisoners to smaller correctional facilities. He also boasts involvement in community crime prevention efforts.
Although these are admirable goals, I fear the system is too big for him and the status quo of warehousing and recycling prisoners will prevail. Too much political influence and too much big-business control, combined with the bureaucratic quagmire of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the undue power of the correctional officers' union historically have suppressed many others' efforts at prison reform.
For decades, criminal justice experts have proposed viable solutions, but few if any have been supported by the governor or the Legislature, and none have been implemented by the paralyzed CDCR.
California needs a major voter rebellion against the politicians' and prison industry's "tough on crime" selfish lies (e.g., Proposition 83). Citizens: Speak up for crime prevention, prisoner rehabilitation and community-support facilities. Demand political and financial support for real solutions to crime.
Barbara Christie, Arroyo Grande
Jessica's Law useless, expensive
Thank you for your editorial stands against Proposition 83, Jessica's Law. I can only hope our judges and legislators will read them. This is a nightmare for the families of this group of people lumped together as "sex offenders." We are in a deep, dark hole of despair with no hope for a worthwhile future.
Lives are being destroyed by this system we call "corrections and rehabilitation." Until sweeping changes are made to correct and rehabilitate and allow people a second chance, this is nothing more than the "California Department of Destruction for Life. "
It's time for we, the people, to stand up and roar. How many times is the Attorney General's office going to reinterpret the state Constitution? George Runner, the author of this abhorrent proposition, clearly stated he intended the law to applied prospectively. Prospective means "future." If it is prospective, how can it be made to apply to anyone who has already been sentenced? Mr. Runner was quoted as saying it applies to people "who have not yet been caught."
Politicians and legislators must have the guts to stand up for the principles
that this country was founded on, namely the Constitution. If we erode
away the basic principle of ex post facto, we might
We must shout for rehabilitation and treatment, not punishment for a lifetime. Iowa has clearly proved that these laws do not work, and there have been several studies that show residency restrictions and lifetime tracking do not prevent these crimes from happening.
Since 90 percent of sexual offenses involving children occur between a child and a familiar adult, and not in a school or park, it is clearly apparent that these restrictions are useless, not to mention expensive.
Leah Simon, West Hills
Proposition 83 restrictions useless and expensive
It's time for we, the people, to stand up and roar. How many times is the Attorney Generals office going to reinterpret the Constitution?
George Runner, the author of this abhorrent proposition (Proposition 83), clearly stated he intended the law to applied prospectively. Prospective means "future".
How can this apply to anyone who has already been sentenced if it is prospective. Mr. Runner was quoted as saying it applies to people "who have not yet been caught".
Politicians and legislators must have the guts to stand up for the principles this country was founded on, namely the Constitution. If you erode away the basic principle of ex post facto, we might as well live in fascist or communist country. You must shout for rehabilitation and treatment, not punishment for a life time.
Iowa has clearly proved that these laws do not work, and there have been several studies conducted to prove the residency restrictions and lifetime tracking do not prevent these crimes from happening.
Since 90 percent of sexual offenses involving children occur between a child and a familiar adult, and not in a school or park, it is clearly apparent that these restrictions are useless, not to mention expensive.
Don't be duped into believing you will be safer when this law will push
the truly dangerous off the sex registration list and into rural areas
where law enforcement resources are much more limited.
Why Jessica's Law doesn't work
A recent letter is an example of why Jessica's Law (Proposition 83) should never have been passed ("Neighbors should have known," The Reporter, Nov. 15). Because of laws such as this, sex offenders cannot find a place to live or jobs in any community. Therefore the state is placing them in private homes at taxpayer expense because the state is responsible for them as long as they are on parole.
As far as being rehabilitated, that is a joke. There is no rehabilitation in our prisons today. Sex offenders, as well as all other offenders, are housed in overcrowded prisons with no rehabilitation whatsoever, little or no medical or dental care, or even enough food to meet their basic needs. Advocates have been screaming for rehabilitation so that inmates return to society in better shape to support themselves and their families. That is not happening at this time. There is no difference in these offenders now except that they are angrier, more frustrated and they have little or no hope.
Proposition 83 passed this month with more than 70 percent of the vote because of political hype and hysteria. The facts are that there is only a 3.3 percent recidivism rate among sex offenders, that these crimes against children are committed overwhelmingly (more than 93 percent) by family members or close friends, and that the GPS monitors will not stop these crimes. Children will actually be hurt by this law, while families are destroyed.
We cannot sweep our social problems under a rug. Society needs to face the problem and use solutions that work. Clean out the prisons of those who do not belong there and rehabilitate the rest. Return them to society with tools to live in accordance with the rest of society. Laws like Proposition 83 help nobody and cost taxpayers billions.
Shirley Wetherwax, Santee
Article Launched: 08/22/2005 07:08:58 AM
Inmate medical care is what the doctor ordered
I wish to thank Dr. Moss David Posner for his recent commentary on the abuse to inmates in our prisons and how the California Department of Corrections is at the core of most of the medical neglect towards the inmates ("CDC's 'sound of silence,' Forum, The Reporter, Aug. 7).
The CDC, correctional officers and other authorities are not professional doctors, but they have the up-front say whether an inmate is allowed to see a medical or mental professional. If they do not feel a person is ill, they deny medical access, which can lead to disaster and even death for inmates.
Families have been fighting for years because inmates have been denied medical treatment, and the CDC responds that we are just malcontents. Even with documented evidence we are not heard.
But now, Dr. Posner has brought this inhuman treatment to light. Thank you so very much, Dr. Posner.
In his report published in The Reporter, Dr. Posner wrote that medical doctors have asked for help many times from the CDC Health Care Services Division Dr. Deputy
Director Rene Kanan, and the doctors have been refused proper care for the inmates. We pay these people high wages for not doing the jobs they are supposed to do. When family members write or call them for help, we are given the runaround and told that it's not up to them, that the problem is in Sacramento. So who are we to go to for help? Everybody tells us it's someone else, and so on. Sounds like a government shuffle to me.
Maybe now, someone will wake up and realize that our prison system is in trouble and the inmates are all at risk of death from medical neglect.
Laura Ingram, Red Bluff
The author is a member of Union for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect - Editor.
Article Launched: 08/17/2005 07:19:53 AM
Testing CDC doctors no solution
I read Dr. Moss David Posners' opinion piece ("CDC's 'sound of silence,' Forum, The Reporter, Aug. 7) his comments were very appropriate. I have my son's medical records showing serious injuries occurring during his prison confinement. Many doctors in various prisons have written medical orders for his needed surgeries, braces and other life-saving medical needs.
The prison review committee has denied most doctors requests. In some cases they even took a black marking pen and blacked out the scheduled surgery date. As a result, my son is totally disabled and in a wheelchair, causing additional expenses for the taxpayers.
For the most part, American-educated doctors are well trained and are perfectly capable of good medical practice. The prison authorities, staff and guards need to get out of the business of administering punishment in place of medical decisions and stop controlling every decision their medical doctors are allowed to make.
Testing medical doctors is not the answer. Stopping the corruption in prisons committed by prison staff within the California Department of Corrections is the answer to solving the problem.
Nora Weber, Bakersfield
Article Launched: 08/09/2005 06:58:00 AM
Some inmates need treatment
Prisons are to rehabilitate and protect, not be cruel. Many inmates are mentally incapacitated, not capable of caring for themselves. That is how they wound up in prison. They should be in mental hospitals, not prison, but most of all they should not be treated cruelly.
Some inmates are old and sickly and do not need cruel treatment from guards and prison staff. They need hospitals and treatment to become whole human beings again. Some inmates are cruel people having been taught that from a very early age, however, cruelty begets cruelty and fair and humane treatment begets the same in return.
Most inmates will one day return to society. Should they be returned as better human beings or crueler people? We should rehabilitate, treat and mend our broken members of society into better human beings who will be contributing citizens.
Shirley Wetherwax, Santee
Article Last Updated: 7/30/2005 07:55 AM
Prisons are cruel not to be cool
As we are experiencing the present heat wave, we relax in our air-conditioned homes, play in our swimming pools, run to the cool beaches, and find many other ways to get relief from the heat. Our thoughts are on our own comforts.
But there are thousands of inmates in our prison system who are forced to live in cells where there is no air conditioning, no pools to wade or swim in.
Can anyone imagine living in a 8-by-6 room without cold water to drink, no way to take a shower except once a week, no way to ward off the oppressive heat? Yet these people must endure this inhumane way of life.
They are people and they don't deserve to die from heat stroke, suffer unnecessarily any more than any of us. The prison system must put in cooling systems in all institutions for the safety of all those they house. Anything less could be a cause of major cruelty.
Josie Strode, Red Bluff
The author is a member of Union for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect, or UNION, an inmate advocacy group - Editor.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY monstrous,that so many people are dying needlessly in our prisons. The medically disabled are clearly being made to suffer. Wake up, California, don't you smell the death's! We have a responsibility to help put an end to this inhumanity.
Mark Grangetto, son of Nora Weber, is dying a slow painful death. This human being has been denied his medicine, his nutrition, he is blind, has a crippled leg, clawed hand, in a wheel chair, down to 100lbs, with diabetes,TB and hepatitis C. He belongs in a hospital. He would get better treatment at the SPCA!
Old, Infirm and Paying the Ultimate Price
I wish to thank Sandra Kobrin for her story about the elderly inmates in our prison system ("Dying on Our Dime," June 26). She brought to light the necessity of relieving our system of the elderly, the dying, the infirmóthe most costly of all prison inmates. With compassionate release, they could get much better care with their families or at residential care homes.
This could save millions of taxpayer dollars. The dollars saved could much better serve the needs of other inmates, and help provide better healthcare, rehabilitation programs, drug and mental health treatment, education and practical training.
These elderly and sick inmates are no longer threats to society, so why keep them locked up like animals when they could live what is left of their lives in the loving care of family or friends? Please release them.
Eliminate wanton corruption
Is it politically appropriate for members of the House of Representatives and Senate to accept gifts from lobbyists and others? Why do we allow lobbyist into our halls of Congress? Don't our elected officials earn top salaries and perks for services rendered?
It is no wonder some are disenfranchised and stay home and away from the polls on Election Day with all the latest scandals of corruption. Whatever happened to the conduct of ethics and decency in the halls of our Congress. Employees of the city of Vallejo are banned from accepting any kind of gratuity for services rendered. The federal government should use this as an example to the constituents.
At present there are some who are attempting to bring politics into our churches. Why would I want to attend church and listen to politics or a politician when I have all week to view TV or listen to the radio if I care to. Attending church is a very private privilege and a time for solitude, prayer and peace, not politics.
Syndicated columnist Mark Russell on April 27 in The Reporter quoted a line from the Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters": "If Jesus came down and saw what was being done in his name he would throw up." Amen, he could not have said it better.
Nora L. Millam, Vacaville
Article Launched: 04/24/2005 08:56:02 AM
Wife says inmate's rights violated
In December 2003, an associate warden at California Medical Facility told me and my husband, Mark, while we were sitting in his office at the prison, that Mark would take a double cell or else.
Mark was in a wheelchair. First they took the wheelchair away and gave him a walker, which he could not use with one hand. Mark was almost 100 percent blind, has a paralyzed left arm with a clawed left hand, Hepatitis C, diabetes, a broken patella of the right knee, a fractured disc in his back and other disabilities.
Mark refused a double cell because he was stabbed on May 30, 2003, and another time suffered 11 stab wounds while at Salinas Valley State prison.
When Mark arrived at CMF in September 2003, I was told there was no space for single-cell housing. According to the associate warden, Mark's single cell housing would be in the "hole," for refusing to take a double cell.
In a letter to me, my husband claimed he was dropped off the gurney by the correctional officers on his way to the hole. And they allowed the steel door to partially close on his head. Then, he wrote, the officer kicked him in the head and he went totally blind.
Mark was on psychiatric medication and given very little water. When Mark's little bit of eyesight in his right eye finally returned, he wrote me a letter telling me of his condition.
When the psychiatrist finally checked Mark, his blood sugar was 829.
I called the associate warden's secretary and faxed her a copy of Mark's letter. That same night, after midnight, Mark was taken out of the hole and transferred to Corcoran Prison. The associate warden said he could be single-celled in Corcoran.
Their records state that they took a videotape of the event.
Do you want to know the truth? Let's all demand that they show that video at a townhall meeting.
I'm not seeking favors or respect, I would like to know the truth.
Nora Weber, Bakersfield
Article Last Updated: 4/22/2005 07:02 AM
End the abuse of our prisoners
In the English version of the Thesaurus I found the following:
Rehabilitation: Treatment, therapy, healing, remedy, cure, analysis, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, physiotherapy.
Correction: Alternation, improvement, rectification, modification, adjustment, tweak.
Now, this is what I feel that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation should stand for, and not abuse, murder and torture.
I challenge our so-called "caring" governor, the Legislature, media and taxpaying citizens to find out exactly which meanings are being carried out in our California correctional system, the ones listed or the ones meted out by our so-called prison system.
I'm sure that when everyone looks into what our tax dollars are really being used for, you will be aghast at what you learn. Prisoners, no matter how bad or good they might be, do not deserve to be treated as less than human beings. If we allow this brutality to continue, then we become no better than the brutes themselves.
Please stop the abuse now.
Malissa Silveria, Red Bluff
Article Launched: 04/15/2005 09:48:09 AM
Family, friends must force change
The Reporter's recent article about prisoner activist, B. Cayenne Bird ("A mother's fight for justice: UNION takes on the system," The Reporter, April 9), should be a wake-up call to the friends and families of all inmates. There's a gigantic problem of inmate abuses in our prisons. Friends and family should not just complain about it, but be part of the solution, not the problem.
Only active participation with an activist group such as Ms. Bird's United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect, and voices at congressional hearings and votes at elections will make headway to solutions. Friends and families should not remain silent; they should speak out and join in the problem-solving.
They can help their loved ones who are incarcerated. They have to count on family and friends to make the changes happen.
Michelle Gatliff, Pleasant Hill
The author is a member of United for No Injustice, Oppression or
Neglect - Editor.
Should we punish or try to heal?
There are those among us who are born to be messengers. Cayenne Bird ("A Mother's Fight for Justice," The Reporter, April 19) has been screaming bloody murder about violations of the U.S. Constitution in prisons and jails since 1998.
Seven years later, state senators Gloria Romero and Mike Machado had a senate hearing that finally verified Ms. Bird's claims were valid.
A recent letter to the editor by a former correctional lieutenant criticized Ms. Bird, who has stood up in a battle akin to swimming up Niagara Falls. She has brought together the poorest of the poor, mostly uneducated and oppressed women, to stand up to the bullies tormenting and murdering prisoners.
She rose above her own pain to help others. Weapons and physical violence against those who need healing is what some advocate. Ms. Bird advocates something much more sensible, and she is not lacking in compassion.
Ms. Bird advocates real deterrents to crime. Jesus, a felon, said "Whatever you do to the least of you, you have also done it to me." Jesus considered the prisoners to be himself.
All Christians are admonished to visit those in prison and to care about them, which Ms. Bird's critic publicly admits he does not. We have this holier-than-thou critic taking on a mother who has risen above her own pain to stand up for those with no voice.
She is an unpaid volunteer who could be making a pretty penny with her education and professional background, instead of donating her time to better humanity.
I do not want to be financing with my tax dollars the locking up of people with medical and mental problems in cages and tormenting them, then turning them loose much worse off on the citizenry.
Do we want to back punishers or healers? The choice should be clear.
Susan Randall, Vallejo
02/18/2005 07:25:53 AM
Too many unanswered questions Reporter Editor:
It is so rewarding to finally find justice for the family of this poor man, Daniel Provencio, the 28-year-old California Department of Corrections inmate left brain dead after being shot by a correctional officer with a supposedly nonlethal foam projectile during a prison altercation last month. He was released from custody Monday. But now we have to go another step and get another brain-dead inmate, Ed Rister, released to his family. He was beaten by inmates, but not found by guards for several days when, he was declared brain dead. It took his desperate family a year before being told where their son was being kept, and more time before they were allowed permission to see him. Is this not the same cruelty as was placed on Danny Provencio's family? Or is it different because Ed Rister's
condition was caused by an inmate rather than a guard? Why did it take days before guards even looked for him? Why wasn't his family notified of his condition, and where he was being kept? Why was he moved to different locations to keep the family from him? So many questions. His family deserves the same right to have their son released to them as Danny Provencio's family.
Josie Strode, Red Bluff
The author is a member of United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect, or UNION - Editor.
The Daily News
Hard to tell
The California Department of Corrections does not recognize "brain dead" as an illness because they have hired so many who exhibit the same condition. --Bob Driscoll, Woodland Hills
Broken penal system
Editor -- For some time now we've all read about California's "pathetic" penal system. Millions have been paid out in lawsuits won by those who were wronged by the state's broken prisons.
Why haven't these problems of abuses, rapes, killings and budgeting been cleaned up? For years, this system has been reprimanded and ordered to clean up its act.
Now, instead of using common sense, we taxpayers are paying through the nose for officers to "guard" an inmate who's now brain dead. Let his family make the final decisions regarding his care. That's the right approach!
Citizens, speak out. Demand this system be repaired. Our tax dollars
should be spent on rehabilitation, not retaliation.
Penal system slow
In 1994, an investigation of the California Medical Facility in Vacaville by the U.S. magistrate showed that prisoners were suffering and dying because of poor conditions, which were ordered corrected years before.
These same conditions still remain as of this date.
This same year, the courts found unsanitary conditions in all prisons. No cleaning supplies for personal hygiene, nonsanitary cell conditions, inmates not allowed to use toilets. These conditions are in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Once again, the prison system was ordered to correct these problems. The unsanitary living conditions still exist after the order given 11 years ago.
I do not believe anyone can give a decent answer to why the penal system is immune from following court orders.
Charles Rand, Lower Lake
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
November 6, 2004
The low road was taken to defeat Proposition 66 when bald-faced lies were used at the last minute, giving supporters no time to refute them. What lies? (1) That any murderers would be released. The sentence for murder is a minimum of 15 years to life and has nothing to do with three strikes. If there were a three-strikes conviction, it was after the first life sentence for murder. (2) That 26,000 would be freed, including two-strikers who were not part of the proposition. In fact, only 4,000 were eligible for review and possible resentencing.
Up until two weeks before the election, those against the proposition complained that one individual had put up more than $1 million to have it passed. Where was the hue and cry when an Orange County individual poured in several million to defeat it, aided and abetted by the [prison] guards union? Nice timing but hardly ethical and certainly not honest; just another scare tactic from the broken criminal justice system.
The defeat of Proposition 66 is the saddest result of this election. Fear-mongering has brutalized the majority of voters of California and made us mean-spirited. Any lingering support I felt for our popular governor is now terminated.
(Updated Friday, October 8, 2004, 7:25 AM)
By vetoing Sen. Gloria Romero's bill and denying journalists access behind prison walls, Gov. Schwarzenegger placed his big boot on the tip of the prison corruption iceberg, exerting his power to sink it into hiding.
But it won't go away, any more than slavery or the holocaust disappeared. The iceberg is too mammoth, corruption and mismanagement within the California Department of Corrections too endemic, abuses of power and coverups the norm, medical neglect and deaths widespread. So, despite attempts by the governor to keep it submerged, it just keeps bobbing up and rearing its ugly head. Each time it exposes a most recent evil, paid off in a lawsuit by the uninformed taxpayer.
The governor is depriving California citizens of our right and our obligation to be informed. Journalists' access to California prisons is the vehicle to educating the taxpayer and to breaking up the prison corruption iceberg.
Rose Mary Caragol
Governor needs new view of prisons
Friday, August 20, 2004 -
As with any medical emergency, there exists a "golden hour" of time for treating a patient for an optimum outcome. A compromised airway should have been a life-and-death concern to the doctor at California State Prison at Solano County when he decided to call an ambulance. Who decided that Anthony Shumake could wait two hours for treatment by transporting him 76 miles to Manteca, as opposed to a 10-minute drive to VacaValley Hospital?
This is clearly an opportune time to pass the buck, but don't pass it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, because it is certainly no sweat off his back if the buck stops elsewhere. Perhaps another major lawsuit for medical neglect may impact his current position of viewing an entire prison facility and posing for television cameras from a guard tower, to viewing the entire prison system from a whole different level. It is time for the governor to step down from his tower and see the prisoners' view from the same level as Anthony Shumake did. Just ask his family if Gov. Schwarzenneger had a clear view of existing conditions beyond his aerial press opportunity.
Got a toothache, governor? No problem. The state can pull it for you. The state Department of Corrections is certainly more effective, accountable and efficient under your watch. Just say "ah," and wait a few days for a followup to see how you are doing. Never mind that you cannot swallow anything in the following six days while you wait. That's probably to be expected if you are locked up, or maybe on lock-down while in prison.
The governor has handed total control of our prisons to CDC, which has clearly demonstrated that they do not rehabilitate, they just incarcerate. "Corrections" is an oxymoron when used to describe a broken system.
Tamra Smith, Eureka
Schwarzenegger Is Posturing on Prisons
August 19, 2004
Re "Judge 'Can Take' Prisons, Governor Says," Aug. 17:
Why is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger making his official press visit to Mule Creek State Prison, a soft protective-custody yard, and not to some of the more troubled prisons for his look inside the system?
This is too much politeness for me, like creating a movie set with toy soldiers and phony promises in a bucolic prison setting. Everyone knows the prison guards union aggressively lobbies down progressive legislation. Schwarzenegger goes where the power is and placates the rest. Just look at that generous pay raise for the guards he allowed to happen while serious programs for the mentally ill were slashed and California cities cannot afford enough police on the street to realistically fight crime.
Having a charming conversation with hard-nosed Judge Thelton E. Henderson and making calculatingly casual comments about a federal takeover of the prison system seem like, well, acting.
Re "Inmates Forced to Sleep on Floor," Aug. 15:
There is one immediate solution to the problems at Los Angeles County jails. It is simple and can save us millions. Allow me to send out this valuable advice to all possible detainees: Stop committing crimes. It's not that difficult. Millions of us do it daily.
Now, for those of you who wish to ignore this advice, please be forewarned that you may get beaten, shot or killed in the course of your crimes. And after you're apprehended, you will quite possibly suffer horrendous conditions and treatment within the court and prison systems.
Now that this has been explained to you, I hope that it will eliminate any sense of shock, surprise, discomfort or indignation you may experience as a consequence of your chosen criminal actions.
Improve conditions for inmates in summer
Summer is upon us and human beings are going to die due to these cruel conditions in hot, sultry cells. That human being is someone's mother, father, sister or brother.
We should clean up cruel, inhumane conditions in our state prisons.