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Oct 20, 2017
keywords: Millions For Prisoners Human Rights March speeches
Prison Focus Issue 53
Read at August 19, 2017 San Jose sister march for the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March
We are here together to make a more humane, just, compassionate society. To do so we must first dispel the myth about America. Then confront the self-deception and lies that we have come to believe as truths. Move from the illusion into the heartbreaking reality that it is. We will be disoriented. “The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off” wrote James Baldwin.
We must reclaim our individual power because trying to operate within an alienating demoralizing social structure is killing us. We can no longer afford to lay low, keep quiet, or resign to our situation. We have been conditioned to accept things are they are, and be grateful. Fears get stirred periodically just enough to keep us off balanced and scared into subjugation. We must each free ourselves from self-imposed state of helplessness and powerlessness through action. It is a daunting task. However, I know collectively we can be a force.
We are here to point out the glaring contradiction of having the 13th Amendment legalizing slavery in this free nation. These two entities cannot coexist. There is no room for slavery in Humanity. There can be no exception for any group. Abolition and the exclusion of the 13th Amendment will require that we dismantle the inherent racist social order and unequal distribution of resources that are a “badge and incident of slavery.” Emancipated slaves had no resources but their labor. They entered binding contracts that were coercive and placed them in positions similar to slavery. If they breached the contract there was the criminal law to punish them into legal enslavement via the 13th Amendment. Domination merely appeared in new disguises.
Our Humanity has been held hostage by the false belief of race superiority. There is no such thing. Nonetheless it is this delusion and economic greed which bore the dehumanizing practice of slavery. Slavery is a reflection of an entire system of understandings, practices, laws, and institutions that confers power and social status to a selected few determined on controlling others. Since the 13th Amendment’s ratification in 1865, those the dominant culture has deemed ‘less than’ have been the target of this convenient injustice. Slaves, Blacks, Chinese, Jews, Irish Americans, indigenous Indians, Mexicans, Japanese Americans, and more recently our poor, our mentally ill, our newly released prisoners, and our homeless have been further marginalized. “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me,” Ralph Ellison wrote in the Invisible Man.
This has been our challenge as a nation; How to fight personal prejudices, systemic bias and racial discrimination that perpetuates negative stereotypes and other lies we have, at an unconscious level, come to believe as fact. The disenfranchised have learn to have low expectations of themselves, to blame themselves for their low station in life and to accept undignified conditions. Non-dominant groups have been forced to assimilate and acculturate, be absorbed into a culture that has never fully accept them as equals. And in this conformity they have lost their identity, shed traditional clothing, silenced their native tongue, not eaten their foods. Becoming a shell of who they were and prepared to be colonized psychologically. To negate is to gain, they are promised. This is not freedom! We must change this.
George Orwell wrote “Freedom is slavery”. Freedom is a constant struggle that requires constant vigilance and more importantly a stance of no tolerance when attacked. Freedom comes with civic duty and social responsibilities. We will need to create programs that nurture self-determination and social and civic equality.
Our other challenge has and will be, as James Baldwin wrote, “[the] great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate”. It is our responsibility to bring about the humanity in all of us as equals. As we go through this transformation we must remain conscious that, as Baldwin stated, “the other is oneself”.
Baldwin, James. “A Letter to My Nephew” (1962). “The Fire Next Time” (1962)
Orwell, George. “1984” (1949).
Ellison, Ralph. “Invisible Man.” The Progressive Magazine. (1952).
Oct 20, 2017
Prison Focus Issue 53
"Resilience is defined, and often found through the hands of time, my peers and the masses seek answers through the divine, hope for change through the lies that bind, and better days in another life, only through strength and unity can we set changes to the drifting tides, find freedom for the ones that try, and brighter sunshine for the rest to rise - as we rise together"
Resilience is when you find yourself at the end of your rope, cut the line and keep on pushing, when all else seems hopeless. Often times the resilient know and understand the rough path we choose comes with many sacrifices, minimal acknowledgements or appreciation and unfortunately, very often wasted time and effort. Often times you are stuck helping dizzy individuals who show little effort to help themselves and fail to realize these walls and prison cells ain't just affecting them but the ones beyond these walls that love them the most, and for them we must remain resilient.
As always we send our love, strength and solidarity to all the resilient people we always find solid by our sides and by their sides we rise and stand tall. Our special thanks to California Families Against Solitary Confinement, the lovely Ms. Jamie Weinstein and Ms. Dolores Canales (our strength and solid rocks), Mr. Scott Budnick, Ms. Taeva Shefler, PHSS, PAN, ARC, CURB, the fine establishment and staff of California Prison Focus, San Francisco The Bay View, Changing Tides and the many other strong resilient men and women who through it all, remain unshakable as we rise.
In addition I’d like to extend a great appreciation to all the class collective who participated and contributed to our group appeal to Proposition 57 regulations which initially seemed focussed on dismantling any and all significant changes set forth by the inmate class and California voters. Here on C yard over 400 signatures were gathered. Our special appreciation to the strong members of the Brown Movement Coalition (BMC) for their instrumental organization and contributions circulating our petition, more specifically our secretary Mr. Geronimo Polina, legal specialist, Mr. Marcus Perez, chief organizer, Mr. Luis Martinez, as well as Mr. Santiago Baltazar, and all other contributors to our struggle. Feel free to contact any of us in the Brown Movement Coalition, as together we can create real, lasting change and equality.
Along with this article, I've enclosed the Brown Movement Coalition Proposition 57 Proposal Platform. If it is not available for viewing, please note the following:. Prop. 57 was set forth by the inmate class collective, resilient advocates and strong-willed state representatives who wished to right the many unconstitutional, racially- based policies, discriminatory sentences and years of abuses by drawing back and “excluding the imposition of an enhancement, consecutive sentence or alternative sentences”( sec 32(a)(1)(A). Mr. Scott Kernan wishes to blatantly exclude and disregard from the regulation changes, make it nearly impossible to attain the benefits and/ or completely exclude whole sections of the policies overwhelmingly passed by California voters - such as gun enhancements or whole groups of inmates such as lifers and LWOP.
The Brown Movement Coalition remains confident in CPF’s exceptional abilities to inform all our resilient advocates. With our expanded opposition we will focus our efforts on our platform to impose change and our efforts going forward to assure the many sacrifices we made will not be in vain. The BMC Prop. 57 Proposal is a composition of insight with contributions from all races and class members to explain important issues affecting us all, as well as to realign CDCr with the original intent of Prop. 57. This proposal was drafted by the BMC, distributed to all blocks for review and signature, if in agreement. In this way we could direct a unified response. Together we will rise and stand tall in opposition to this oppressive institution.
Unfortunately, we live in a time and place where the barely- concealed racism, discrimination and instruments of oppression utilized by the ruling class to control and keep the minority lower- class citizens dependent are not confined to perverted circles of like-minded individuals, but more than ever amplified and accepted on the world’s biggest stage. As brown natives, born to a hostile occupation in a land stolen through rape, pillage, plunder and bondage, we remain unfortunately accustomed to the many forms of abuse and oppression.
We, the brown- skinned and strong- minded are not a mass of “rapists, drug dealers and bad people,” despite the many ways we are portrayed by a moronic, xenophobic “president” and the members of society who wish to demonize the noble brown race. In a world and country where racist outbursts by top level officials is the norm, immigration and violent crackdowns on protesters is not effectively addressed, often by an all-white panel, who lack insight or understanding of the Mexican@*. , and often talk of inclusion or racial equity seems to exclude our brown people, it's no wonder we have to be resilient.
As strong, intelligent, unique, hard-working, family- oriented, trustworthy, unshatterable brown men and women, no longer will we accept the mass discrimination and abuses targeted at members of our community or any other race, creed, religion or sexual orientation. We stand strong for all of the members of the minority lower- class communities who have endured centuries of abuse and discrimination. The effort it took to pass propositions, including 57, was due to the collective efforts of the strong- willed, inimitable character of our resilient families, friends and supporters from across the world, who looked beyond the cold walls and chains ( that can never contain us) to stand up for what is just. As a dear friend outside the walls has shown me, despite the fact that she could do many other things with her life, she chose to stand in solidarity with us - and walk together step by step - we are not alone and together we fight for a cause much greater than ourselves.
To all the resilient, strong- minded individuals who remain undeterred by the many obstacles and odds and wish to live and fight for true change, you are not alone. We speak from the voices, cries and echoes of a resilient unconquered people and together we will rise.
*Mexican@ - denotes Mexicano and Mexicana as equals.
The Brown Movement Coalition: A strong, resilient human and civil rights organization fighting for social, economic and cultural equality for brown sisters and brothers, minorities, lower- class citizens and all disenfranchised people suffering under the heels of oppression. All who wish to make a change, - please contact us.
Rodolfo A. Lopez, Calipatria CA 92233
Oct 20, 2017
keywords: SHU, solitary, human rights
Prison Focus Issue 53
In the 1970’s a highly secretive counterintelligence program inside of the California Department of Correction [and Rehabilitation] became operational, it was referred to as the Debriefing Program. The special agent of SSU were former military and mercenaries who had operated in counter-insurgency and counterintelligence units in places like Vietnam, Laos, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Angola, etc. They would bring their expertise inside the CDCR during the Ronald Reagan governorship to carry out counterintelligence operations in general, against the NF, EME and AB, and in particular, against the BGF.
The word debriefing is a military term. Soldiers of the United States Military and agents of intelligence units coming in from Recon and other missions would undergo debriefing. Also captured enemy soldiers and spies with confidential information about activities and plans of hostile groups or nations would be taken through enhanced interrogation [debriefing] under some form of mental/physical torture. Foreign diplomats and other defectors would be taken through debriefings.
The debriefing program of the 1970’s was very unique, it would be the first program of its kind in a state or federal prison system dealing with prison organizations with a sophisticated paramilitary structure. The debriefing program wasn’t at the time based on debrief, parole, or die. The SSU debriefing program was exclusively directed around a small influential circle of people inside the four named entities referred to today as a security threat Group-1 (NF, EME, AB/BGF by the CDCR. SSU set-out to turnout particular ranking members inside each of the entities who could be compromised. The targeted individual’s life was placed under a microscope of surveillance for profiling. Wherefore the visible aspect of their personality may suggest exploitability. Some were vulnerable to being blackmailed or they were opportunistic when extraordinary privilege was placed on the table, some went for the offer of immunity, and some could be compromised with a supply of heroin. All of this was done towards a strategy of coopting them into working as confidential informants who would be receptive to provocateur work. The debriefers were kept under the radar of prison guards who were considered by SSU as corruptible in their mercenary motives. They couldn’t leak what they didn’t know.
In the mid 1970’s the undercover debriefers inside of particular groups were instructed by their SSU handlers to create fifth column cadres in an attempt to usurp control over their formation hierarchy. The SSU were successful in the first 5 years of the debriefing program, they decided to expand said program from exclusively targeted ranking individuals to being inclusive of their affiliates of the STG-1 groupings.
The SSU introduced a second phase of the debriefing program which became inclusive of both ranking and underling members and even non-member associates. By 1985 the second phase of the debriefing program begin tightening the screws on the four STG-1 groups by way of indefinite solitary confinement which meant psychological warfare, deprivations, non-contact visit, excessive cell searches, mail tampering, set-ups, transferring far away, incursions of outside families residence, bus therapy/transfers for jailhouse lawyers, slanderous accusations, exposing sexual identity of closet homosexuality, minimum amount of property/canteen, orchestrated contradictions that led to assaults and killings, inadequate medical care, lack of nutritious meal, maddening noise throughout the night, coming under urine/feces attack, and on top of it all that is parole denial under the extrajudicial requirement of debriefing for parole suitability.
By the 1990’s all of the above led to the routing individuals away from their affiliation’s clutches. But there was now a hitch in place. The CDCR would only remove individuals from extrajudicial punishment provided that they undergo debriefing. Simply dropping out of their membership or association was out of the question if it weren’t followed with a debriefing. Only after a successful debriefing would the individuals be removed into Protective Custody Unit or into a general population. A successful debriefing entail a written biography of their group history, naming its members and sympathizers, along with a detailed account of the inner workings of the group and then a partial polygraphy examination would be given on the things the SSU knows isn’t fabricated, otherwise the debriefing wouldn’t be successful on the tales told.
By the time 1995 arrived the Phenomenon Effect occurred, so many individuals started debriefing that it created a stampede, the mental and physical coercion was taking its toll, individuals seeking to debrief would start telling tales of non-existent criminal conspiracies. The number of prisoners waiting to debrief created a management program for the Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI). The SSU was a highly structured elite paramilitary police unit, a lot of the IGI weren’t qualified to be part of the counterintelligence program. So the SSU created the Investigative Service Unit (ISU) and the OCS Gang Intelligence Operations. The appropriation to maintain said units inside the CDCR was an astronomical amount of tax payers’ money.
The psychopolitics of the Debriefing Program have nothing whatsoever to do with turning out reformed gang members. The debriefing individuals were encouraged to rejoin their former street gangs for protection and cover or else start their own prison street gang for an umbrella of protection and cover. The stamping out of the existence of STG-1 is a priority of the CDCR, however it has nothing whatsoever to do about bringing an end to prison gang activity. In fact it has everything to do with expanding gang activities into the inner cities of California as larger market of commerce. With the absence of the STG-1 groups from California prisons general populations between 1984 and 2014, it left a vacuum to be filled with over fifty new entities referred to by the CDCR as STG-2 prison street gangs. The uniqueness of STG-2, they are hybrid, the offerings of two entities (street/prison gangs) functioning at the same time in society and prison. Within five years of STG-2 classified groups, thousands of individuals have joined the debriefing bandwagon and not as reformed gang members nor the result of coercion of solitary confinement. Cities across California are overrun with STG-2 entities as it has become a lucrative business for the peace officer associations of sheriff, city police, state police, marshal, highway patrol and prison guards who have all established numerous specialized anti-aging units.
The ingenuity of the psycho-political strategy of the debriefing program during phase two. The names of the debriefers would be released to the prison guards so they could release the information into the prison grapevine, and at times bogus information was given to prison guards to be released. And the former cohorts of the alleged debriefer would spread the word of the now apparent snitches who betray their groups or association’s trust. And with the opening of Pelican Bay State Prison supermax solitary confinement units of C/D Facilities, of which it was architecturally designed to break the will of those identified as STG-1 via mental/physical torture under the color of state law. It was crucial to the success of the debriefing program for STG-1 groups to hold animosity against their fellow cohorts who broke under the torture and then debriefed. It mattered not to the criminal mentality thinking individuals that many of those who debriefed was under such mental torment that in order to avoid taking their life via suicide, they surrendered to their tormentors.
The United States Military at one time took the same ridiculous attitude when American soldiers being held as prisoners of war who debriefed under mental or physical torture were referred to as telling traitors, and they were dishonored by their cohorts. And then one debriefing soldier was tortured into appearing on camera making confessions and charges against the USA for war crimes, the film was presented to the United Nations as an offer of proof of America’s crimes against humanity. However the debriefer blanked out the word torture in morse code which led to a propaganda coup for America over their enemy. It was such a propaganda coup that the United States military had to re-think and re-write their playbook on their captured prisoners of war who debriefed, they were now classified as victims of torture and no longer viewed as traitors but instead as heroes.
In conclusion: the majority of debriefers who submitted to the debriefing program because of the excruciating noise, pain distress, deprivations, alienation/loss of family members, chronic illness of incurable cancer, etc. would reject opting out by suicide, and then there were those who chose to kill themselves instead of debriefing, as an honorable thing to do. Yet we referred to them as weak for killing themselves. Yes we unknowingly became the perfect collaborators of the SSU debriefing program, by turning on other victims of torture. For those who have a social consciousness that is free of the criminal mentality, we too play into SSU strategy by condemning all of our brothers victims of torture, even when it was evident that were blinking the word torture in the massive amount of CDCR 1030’s confidential information reports that held so much misinformation. It was morse code telling us of their loyalty during forced debriefing. And even after our fellow brothers received relief from their excruciating pain, we spread word about them betraying the cause of liberation. Some of our brothers who no longer could distinguish friend from foe, became homicidal under torture, and their cellie and others would reap the effects. Both the murderer and the victims of the homicidal rage are victims of torture. We must hole the state prison officials accountable by exposing the atrocities committed by SSU, IGI,. ISU, OCS, CCPOA, DRB and the BPT who all formed a criminal conspiracy and committed crimes against humanity. The Board of Prison Term are using CDCR 1030’s confidential information that was extracted during debriefing of torture victims as evidence to find those who withstood the torture as unsuitable for parole. So survivors of torture, it is time to declare a legal war/propaganda warfare against the perpetrators of the debriefing program. We have only our chains to lose.
In the early 1990’s I attempted to introduce a psychopolitical counter strategy that I believed would have exposed the hidden game plan of the debriefing program, of which was the interjecting hybrid gang members in the inner cities of California which would then transfer to inner cities all across the United States. Declaration under article five would have made the debriefing program impotent and thereby forcing it to collapse on itself. Most individuals I shared it with didn’t have the social or political maturity to understand the positive impact of the declaration. We would have generated so much support from peace loving people all over the world. Those who will reject the declaration, are not able to transition out of the criminal mentality and rather be in collaboration with the SSU debriefing program instead of destroying it. The history and the psychopolitics of the debriefing programs is much more than what’s expressed in this piece. Forever forward and never backward.
An open letter to all California prisoners…..
Henceforth this declaration should be referred to as:
Declaration under article five
I do acknowledge that solitary confinement between the years of 1985-2015 was a traumatic experience resulting in psychological and physical injuries that effected tens of thousands of California prisoners. I do declare that the effected prisoners were victims of torture that resulting in the following:
(1) The acts of suicide whole under solitary confinement.
(2) The killings of fellow prisoners while under solitary confinement.
(3) The debriefing while under solitary confinement.
(4) The suffering from activity deprivation, cultural deprivation, environmental deprivation, material deprivation, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, social deprivation and thought deprivation while under solitary confinement.
(5) The chronic health problems leading to cancer, Hep C, death, and the mental health problems of nervous breakdown and going insane while under solitary confinement.
I do acknowledge all prisoners (male/female) who broke under torture, mentally, physically and psychologically. I call upon the United Nations and the International Court in The Hague to register them as victims of state sanctioned/sponsor of torture. And that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation entities of SSU, IGI, ISU, OCS, DRB, CCPOA and BPT knowingly and with callous disregard for the humane treatment of prisoners did perpetuate crimes against humanity.
I call upon both state and federal government to provide all victims of long term solitary confinement and extreme isolation with independent medical/mental health treatment and reparations in the form of monetary compensation, parole suitability, removal from parole supervision and specialized rehabilitation programs should be forthwith, and also pardons from the Governor of California for those prisoners convicted of crimes committed while under the torture listed in said declarations.
In solidarity, Louis Powell B-59864
PO Box 4490 B1-116
Lancaster, Ca. 93539-4490
Oct 20, 2017
Prison Focus Issue 53
In April 2015, two New Afrikan California prisoners, in a Bay View article introduced the concept of, “Strategic Release” (SR) for ‘Life’ prisoners. SR was described as “a different form of compassionate release.” The bruthas reasoned that SR recipients “will have a direct impact on reducing crime – and the social inequalities at the root of (some) criminality. They continue: “consideration for strategic release is based on a prisoner’s work product, and proven record of service to their community, and society as a whole…” their notion of an SR begins with a petition to the Board of Parole Hearing (BPH), the prisoner’s biography requesting his/her parole, or the same sent to the Governor requesting Clemency (See April 2015 edition of the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper).
The hurdle in a SR’s path, is the BPH’s or the Governor’s investigators accepting the presented evidence of a prisoner’s service to society, or the interpretation of a cited act’s value. Without such an agreement, it is hard to fathom a SR petition opening the gate for the subject of its request. However, even if prisoner advocates for SR, attained agreement one hundred percent of the time, from state investigators for their SR clients. Those paroled/clemencied would be but a miniscule portion of the more than 30,000 ‘Lifer’ population in California. Therefore, SR ought to be approached as a tactic employed in a larger campaign to acquire a greater say in parole matters. A campaign in part taking aim at the BPH’s propensity to deny parole to ‘Lifers’ who have completed the “base term” of their sentence. A campaign in part which will seek to replace law enforcement types – police, prosecutors, etc., on the ‘Board’ with engaged community members. And, a campaign in part where “Jail-House Lawyers” (JHL) among us will research the impact of the December 17, 2013, “Butler Settlement Agreement” signed by lawyers for the BPH in the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California. A settlement that “required the ‘Board’ to notify ‘Life-Term’ prisoners of their ‘Base-Term’ - - - at their first Parole Hearing.”
The JHL will also research the implications of Butler’s presiding justice J. Anthony Kline’s 2012 statement: “The ‘Board’ appears to be violating the rights of thousands of inmates by systematically denying release.” Comments apparently made in an earlier ‘Lifer’ petition. Butler’s lawyer Sharif Jacob indicates early “notice of ‘Lifer’s’ “Base-Term” - - - is a starting point for a constitutional challenge,” in that on average ‘Lifers’ are receiving parole dates a decade beyond their “Base-Term.” Once all that can be learned from “Butler” has been, the JHL’s who conducted the research will prepare a pamphlet with sample writs and instructions for ‘Lifers’ to utilize when the ‘Board’ fails to follow “Butler.”
A community is a group of people of common interest, living under the same government. It coalesces with other communities to form the ‘state,’ giving it the authority to administer its affairs and enforce the law of the united communities. The community is: the city, county, or state of x, y, z versus John/Jane Doe on the ‘Face Page’ of a ‘Charge-Sheet.’ When the community law is broken, it seeks to identify, arrest and prosecute the alleged culprit. If convicted, the convict is subject to a range of sanctions up to and including a period of exile served in state prison. If the governed had “the right…to alter or abolish” the government, in the ‘colonial settler’s’ thinking of “The Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.” Then our community is well within its right to alter any state agency – so it better serves us. The centerpiece of the campaign is giving the community the ultimate say in determining if a ‘Life’ prisoner will be reintegrated into his/her community. By creating and empowering a “Community Release Board” (CRB) brought into being through protest, proposition and/or legislation. Spearheaded by a determined cadre, united for its realization, who will educate the public, and organize mass- consciousness to protest, to proposition, to apply political pressure to advance the agenda.
The CRB will contribute to curing California’s inability to operate its prisons within their capacity, absent federal oversight, or caveat where capacity is above 100 percent, and the combustible consequence of crowding too many people into not enough space, looms on the horizon. By implementing a practical Parole Program guided by a prisoner’s “Base-Term,” and diluting dependency on manipulatable opinion. The CRB will contribute to shrinking the CDCr’s budget by resisting taking at ‘face-value’ future behavior predicters, colored by hidden prison politics and petit-peon beliefs.
The late Black Panther Geronimo Ji-Jaga was targeted by the F.B.I.’s COINTELPRO, and local police “Red Squads.” in their effort to destroy the L.A. Chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP); he was framed and convicted of a murder he did not commit. He was interned in the California Department of Corrections for (27) years, until his tenacious capable attorney convinced the court to recognize the miscarriage, ordered his release and awarded him millions in damages. The Parole Board in its wisdom, held him (20) years beyond his “Minimum Eligible Release Date” (MERD).
Had Ji-Jaga’s fate been left to the “Board of Prison Terms” (BPT) and/or “Board of Parole Hearings” BPH’s discretion; chances are he would have died an innocent man in prison, or been subject continuously to the same treatment Sundiata Acoli reported he faced across the country at his New Jersey Parole Board Hearing, (i.e.) “A forty-year train of denials.”
I appeared before the “Board of Prison Terms” BPT in December of 1981, (2) years beyond my MERD. The Deputy District Attorney representing my commitment county, recommended I be given a 5-year parole date. The Parole Board rejected the recommendation, and denied my parole, over the view of my commitment county’s representative. Today, I am (37) years beyond my MERD.
The CRB will create space, and its ripple-effect will remove the need to pay other states to house thousands of California prisoners. It will shrink the CDCr back within its borders. It will remove the pressure for new jail, and prison construction, manage over-crowding, speed up ‘Lifer’ community-reintegration by purging current BPH dysfunction.
The CRB will serve as an alternate board to the BPH for all indeterminate sentences, except ‘life-without the-possibility-of-parole,’ and ‘condemned prisoners.’ It will guard against class, and race-targeting, and act as a hedge to impede private prison profiteers, and ‘bought-off’ politicians. The indeterminate prisoner’s “Minimum Eligible Release Date” will serve as the dividing line between BPH Parole Authority, and the CRB’s.
The state will take an indeterminate prisoner to BPH within a year of their MERD and decide if it’ll grant parole. A parole grant will BE subject to the “Governor’s Review & Reversal” (GRR). If the BPH denies parole; the authority to parole such prisoner’s will transfer to the pre-convictions’ community, “CRB,” with the prisoner’s central file.
The CRB will review the file to determine when the prisoner will appear before The CRB. The CRB will have the authority to parole such prisoners within an agreed upon number of years – not to exceed five and subject to GRR. After 5-years, the CRB’s authority to grant or deny parole is wholly its own.
When the CRB grants parole; it’s “Community Parole Agency” (CPA) will assume parole supervision in all grants except prisoners the state classifies as “high-risk.” With these parolees, the state will supervise. The CPA will monitor the supervision, and conduct any parole violation hearing. The state will contract with the CRB for costs sufficient to cover salary and infrastructure agreed to with CRB negotiators.
CRB candidates will examine BPH statutes, and study California Parole Boards: The Adult Authority, Community Release Board, and the Board of Parole Hearing’s Archives. In search of the balance between what has been, what is, and what the CRB hopes to contribute to this history, as it prepares to take the mantle of alternate board and confidently write a new chapter. CRB review decisions will be weighted towards: the sentence given, when the committed crime occurred, the average time in prison during particular periods, additional convictions while in custody, the Life-Term Matrix Butler, and a sanity evaluation, (i.e.) “Does the prisoner know right from wrong?” All CRB parole grants or denials will consist of these factors, the CRB’s gathering experience and natural community sense.
The CRB’s aim is to release as many prisoners who’ve served their sentence as possible, without endangering public safety, by not being ruled by fear. By, cutting through calcified opinion, and convoluted reasoning which has ignored the time in prison, and age reduces dangerousness dramatically as well as the likelihood of participation in future crime.
FREEDOM IS A CONSTANT STRUGGLE!!!
For more information about our Community Release Board CRB Proposal, write to us:
Attn: W. L. Nolen Mentorship Program –
In re: Community Release Board,
P.O Box 7907
Austin, Texas 78713
Oct 20, 2017
Prison Focus Issue 53
The Ashker lawsuit challenged CDCr’s use of indefinite placement in a Security Housing Unit (“SHU”) for anyone “validated” as a member of a prison gang. Previously, staff members at the institution level could make the determination that a person--because of their alleged membership in a gang--was a threat to the institution’s safety and security. Once in SHU, prisoners stayed there for decades, with no way out.
Under the settlement, announced September 1, 2015, the parties agreed that there will be only two paths for the State to put a person in SHU. The first is the CDCr disciplinary process. As part of the disciplinary process, if the State finds that the offense was related to or for the benefit of a STG, the person may be referred for an additional two years in the SHU to participate in a Step Down Program (SDP). Separately, the Departmental Review Board (DRB) —the highest‐level committee in CDCR— can determine that a prisoner is appropriate for “Administrative SHU” if the DRB finds “overwhelming evidence exists supporting an immediate threat to the security of the institution or the safety of others, and substantial justification has been articulated of the need for SHU placement;” or the prisoner has committed at least three SHU-able offenses within the past five years, and “substantial justification for the need for continued SHU placement due to the inmate’s ongoing threat to safety and security of the institution and/or others, and that the inmate cannot be housed in a less restrictive environment.” These two paths were designed to ensure that CDCR officials would not have the ability to arbitrarily put people in the SHU without full due process considerations.
As part of the settlement, CDCr was required to draft regulations implementing the terms of the settlement. In August 2017, CDCr gave plaintiffs’ counsel a draft of the regulations. We reviewed and brought many recommendations to CDCr for changes. According to CDCr, they integrated about half of our recommendations into the regulations. On September 18th, 2017, CDCr submitted proposed emergency regulations to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). Based on this version, it appears that CDCr made some small changes, but some of the biggest problems remain in the regulations. The Ashker team submitted an emergency comment to the OAL and hope that these regulations will not be implemented with such gross defects. The draft “emergency” regulations have not been implemented as of October 10, 2017. We are doing what we can to ensure that CDCr does not send people back to indefinite SHU or implement these regulations that could (as we read it) allow them to.
The worst parts of the proposed regulations relate to placement in solitary confinement. At several locations in the proposed regulations, CDCr states that “ICC maintains discretion in evaluating an affiliate’s (alleged gang member or associate) overall disciplinary record and case factors in determining placement in the SDP or within a general population setting.” This is clearly not allowed under the settlement and we are challenging it.
For placement decisions, the new regulations have ICC making the initial decision and the DRB approving it, rather than having the DRB make the initial decision.
Further, CDCr refuses to define “overwhelming evidence,” even though this is a new standard to CDCr.
Under the settlement agreement, once a person is in Ad-SHU, CDCr is required to “identify all efforts made to work with each inmate … to move the inmate to a less restrictive environment as soon as case factors allow.” However, the regulations do not incorporate any such requirement. We are concerned that without placing this in the regulations, staff will not do it, and therefore more people will potentially be placed in solitary for longer.
We are also concerned about retaliatory placement in the Restricted Custody General Population unit (RCGP). Under the settlement, there are three groups of prisoners who are to be housed in the RCGP. The first group is those with safety concerns. Section 3000 (the proposed definition of RCGP) and Section 3378.9 refer to prisoners with a “a substantial threat to their personal safety should they be released to general population.” However, these regulations reflect an incomplete version of the Settlement Agreement language, which states that people shall be transferred to RCGP “if identified safety concerns prevent their release to GP and the RCGP is deemed to be appropriate” because of a “substantial threat to their personal safety …. as determined by a preponderance of the evidence”. We have challenged this as well.
The regulations are still evolving, and the most important thing to note is that they are not final yet. The Ashker team continues to advocate and will follow-up after these issues have been resolved.
Eva DeLair is an attorney with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and a member of the Ashker team of attorneys representing the class action.