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    < US Supreme Court Declares that Requiring Mandatory Sentencing of Youth Under 18 to Life Without Parole is Unconstitutional.
On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that states may not impose mandatory life sentences without parole on juveniles, even if they have been convicted of taking part in a murder.

The justices ruled in a 5-to-4 decision that such sentencing for those under 18 violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling left open the possibility of judges’ sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without parole in individual circumstances but said state laws could not automatically impose such sentences.

CCWP recognizes this ruling as a small but significant step forward in the fight to eliminate Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentences. We will continue to work with women and trans prisoners with life sentences, and their allies, to stop all LWOP and life-term sentencing and to change the ways that youth are criminalized by the criminal legal system. For more, read the statement by the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth.

    < All of Us or None/LSPC sue to secure voting rights of 85, 000 Californians
March 7th, 2012

The following article can be found at


Today’s lawsuit asks the Court of Appeal to clarify the voting rights of more than 85,000 Californians in time to allow them to register before Oct. 22 deadline

San Francisco – Three organizations concerned with voting rights have filed a lawsuit in the First District Court of Appeal today to clarify that people who have been sentenced for low-level, non-violent offenses under the state’s historic reform of criminal justice known as Realignment are entitled to vote in the 2012 elections and beyond.

Petitioners in the case are All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and the League of Women Voters of California, three organizations committed to voting rights and reintegration of people with convictions, as well as a woman confined in San Francisco jail for a narcotics conviction who wishes to vote. Secretary of State Debra Bowen and San Francisco Director of Elections John Arntz are named as respondents.

At the center of the lawsuit is a 2006 ruling (League of Women Voters vs. McPherson) in which the same court clarified that people who are confined in county jail as a condition of felony probation are entitled to vote under California law. Individuals sentenced to county jail under Realignment are not “in state prison” or “on parole” as required by McPherson. The organizations that brought McPherson have returned to the Court of Appeal to protect the voting rights of people living in their communities, in county jails or under probation-like supervision, following Realignment.

In December, Secretary Bowen issued a memorandum (#11134) to all county clerks and registrars stating that none of the individuals sentenced under Realignment are eligible to vote. But according to the McPherson ruling, the California Constitution deprives individuals of the right to vote on the basis of criminal convictions only if they are “imprisoned in state prison” or “on parole as a result of the conviction of a felony.”

Petitioners are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, Social Justice Law Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and the Law Office of Robert Rubin. Petitioners argue that excluding Californians with criminal convictions from voting is at odds with the California Constitution and contradicts a central purpose of Realignment, which is to stop the state’s expensive revolving door of incarceration by rehabilitating and reintegrating individuals back into society.

Jory Steele, managing attorney of the ACLU of Northern California, explained that the suit seeks an order allowing Californians statewide to register for the November elections. “California’s courts have a proud tradition of protecting our fundamental right to vote. Here, this is particularly important because disenfranchisement has such a disproportionate impact on people of color.”

“We are trying to intervene and hold offenders accountable, to ask them to step up to be productive, responsive citizens,” explains Santa Cruz County’s Chief Probation Officer Scott McDonald. “Reintegration can’t just be about punishment. It’s also about taking responsibility and participating fully in the community. Voting encourages literacy and positive civic engagement. It reinforces the goals of re-entry.”

“Being deprived of the right to vote is civil death,” said Joe Paul, who coordinates a re-entry program that focuses on workforce development and life skills in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Sheriff and the Department of Corrections. “To reintegrate, you need to exercise the rights of citizenship - to get a job, to serve on a jury, to vote. For democracy to work, especially in the inner city, everybody needs to be a part of the franchise. If we are not inclusive, we cannot be indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

The people who will now be in their communities following implementation of Realignment are men and women whose offenses are neither violent nor serious. They include, for example, people who have forged a train ticket, possessed morphine, taken items from an empty building during an emergency, received stolen metal from a junk dealer, or counterfeited a driver’s license.

“When I cast my vote, I feel a sense of collective power. Everyone should have the opportunity to do that,” says Susan Burton, founder and executive director of A New Way of Life, a successful re-entry program emphasizing leadership development for women and girls based in South Central Los Angeles.

    < State prison "realignment" falls short with plans for female ex-convicts
By Suzanne Bohan
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 03/01/2012 07:14:19 PM PST
Updated: 03/01/2012 09:48:43 PM PST

When Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law last year drastically changing the rules for oversight of low-level felons upon their release from prison, plans for handling the influx of female parolees fell between the cracks, say many experts.

"I've been screaming for a year, 'What are we going to do with the women?' " said Edwina Perez-Santiago, who on Thursday opened one of the few services in the state for assisting "AB 109 women." Her chief focus for the project, based in Richmond, is finding housing, a challenge heightened by laws barring felons from renting low-cost federal housing.

In April, Brown signed AB 109, a "realignment" bill that transfers oversight of felons exiting state prison for nonviolent, nonserious and nonsex crimes from the state to county probation departments. And effective Oct. 1, newly convicted "non, non, non" felons would be jailed in county facilities instead of state prison, part of an effort to reduce bulging populations at the prisons.

In exchange, the state pays counties for their increased load of prisoners and parolees.

Counties statewide have been scrambling to prepare for the influx, but the focus has been on aiding male felons in transitioning to stable lives with jobs and housing, or on jail accommodations for low-level felons convicted after Oct. 1.

"We're all focused on the men," Perez-Santiago said. "What about their mothers, aunties and everyone else?"

Women have unique needs, she explained, such as arranging child care or healing from the emotional scars of domestic abuse.
Advocates for female prisoners agree.

"Women are going to be impacted, proportionally, much more than men," said Karen Shain, policy director with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children in San Francisco. She explained that more than half of the 7,500 women in state prison were convicted of low-level offenses. Typical crimes included drug use, credit card fraud or larceny.

By June, some 500 women released from state prison will fall under county oversight because of the new law, Shain said. "It's a problem every county is going to be facing," she said.

Counties have leeway in how they manage the new parolees, such as GPS monitoring, stays in drug-rehabilitation centers, house arrest or supervised release.

Perez-Santiago's new service, the "Re-entry-Reunite Project," is unique, said Terrance Cheung, chief of staff for Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, of Richmond.

Services for AB 109 women "are not as developed," he said. "She's the one solely focused on that.

"She's a credible, formidable woman," Cheung added. "She knows her stuff."

Perez-Santiago said several women fresh out of state prison in Southern and Central California for low-level offenses want to relocate to Richmond, but she doesn't have housing for them because of rents the women can't afford and the restrictions on federal housing for felons.

Funding for the project now comes from private donations and Perez-Santiago's own contributions, although she's seeking county, state and federal funding for it.

A few of these women are in their 50s, she noted, and have been in prison since their teens. Once she does find housing, the nonprofit Reach Fellowship International, which she heads, will provide them with jobs, such as landscaping work. The organization also offers GED, ESL and other classes.

"But as long as I can't get a roof over their head, it's a little challenging," Perez-Santiago said.

Contact Suzanne Bohan at 510-262-2789. Follow her at

To learn more
What: Re-entry-Reunite Project
Address: 1662 Fred Jackson Way, Richmond
Phone: 510-289-7901
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday

    < New bills regarding the death penalty, juveniles and gangs
February 28th, 2012

The following article was sent to us by The Criminal Justice Information Network

At Deadline Legislature Introduces Hundreds of New Bills: Juveniles, Gangs, and the Death Penalty
Friday, February 24th was the deadline for legislators to introduce bills. More than 800 bill proposals were filed on the final 2 days. Here are a few bills of interest:

SB 1514 (Anderson R) Death sentences: automatic appeal.
Current law requires an automatic appeal to be made to the State Supreme Court in death penalty, or capital, cases. This bill would remove this right to an automatic appeal. The bill would instead allow for an appeal to be taken to an appellate court in the same manner as non-capital cases, except under certain circumstances. Click for the full language here.

SB 1363 (Yee D) Juveniles: solitary confinement.
Would require that juveniles shall not be placed in solitary confinement unless they are found to be a substantial and immediate risk of harm to others and all other less-restrictive options have been exhausted. When a juvenile is placed in solitary confinement under this bill, correctional facility staff must take certain precautions as regards to mental health. In addition, the youth must maintain their rights, such as the right to bed and bedding, education, and religious services, among others. Click for the full language here.

SB 1506 (Leno D) Possession of controlled substances: penalties.
This bill would reclassify simple drug possession offenses as misdemeanors instead of felonies, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. Click for the full language here.

SB 1307 (Runner R) Criminal street gangs: registration.
Current law requires anyone who has committed a crime that the court finds is “gang related” to register their residential address within 10 days of release from custody. This bill would require this registration to occur annually and for each time an address is changed. It would make it a misdemeanor to fail to register or update registration. Because this bill amends law that was enacted through Proposition 21, a citizen’s initiative that was approved in 2000, the bill will require a 2/3 vote. Click for the full language here.

    < Bill Hackwell Photos: 2-20-12 Occupy San Quentin
This slide show/photos is a great snapshot of the day[Occupy San Quentin], done by Bill Hackwell.



February 16, 2012

You may have already signed and that's great. We have modified the wording and included the complete joint statement from people inside both women's prisons in Chowchilla, CA.
Please pass it on and reply if your organization wants to be listed as an endorser.

Currently there are over 2,650 women and transgender prisoners housed at VSPW. Instead of releasing thousands who are eligible to go home, CDCR is planning to transfer them to the Central California Women's Facility (159% over capacity) and California Institution for Women (139% over capacity.)

Our communities have endured and suffered forced removals and relocations of people openly and under false pretexts for generations. Even though no prison is where anyone wants to or needs to be, closing and moving women out of this one is yet another uprooting to the detriment, and against the will of, people rendered powerless and whose humanity is disregarded.


A Call to Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence to Share Their Stories

This is a call for writings by survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence


Working Title: Challenging Convictions: Survivors of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Writing on Solidarity with Prison Abolition.

Completed submissions due: April 15, 2012.

Like much prison abolition work, the call for this anthology comes from frustration and hope: frustration with organizers against sexual assault and domestic violence who treat the police as a universally available and as a good solution; frustration with prison abolitionists who only use “domestic violence” and “rape” as provocative examples; and, frustration with academic discussions that use only distanced third-person case studies and statistics to talk about sexual violence and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). But, this project also shares the hope and worth of working toward building communities without prisons and without sexual violence. Most importantly, it is anchored in the belief that resisting prisons, domestic violence, and sexual assault are inseparable.

Organizers of this anthology want to hear from survivors in conversation with prison abolition struggles. We are interested in receiving submissions from survivors who are/have been imprisoned, and survivors who have not. Both those survivors who have sought police intervention, as well as those who haven't, are encouraged to submit. We are looking for personal essays and creative non-fiction from fellow survivors who are interested in discussing their unique needs in anti-violence work and prison abolitionism.

Discussions of sexual assault, domestic violence, police violence, prejudice within courts, and imprisonment cannot be separated from experiences of privilege and marginalization. Overwhelmingly people who are perceived to be white, straight, able-bodied, normatively masculine, settlers who are legal residents/citizens, and/or financially stable are not only less likely to experience violence but also less likely to encounter the criminal injustice system than those who are not accorded the privileges associated with these positions. At the same time, sexual assault and domestic violence support centers and shelters are often designed with certain privileges assumed. We are especially interested in contributions that explore how experiences of race, ability, gender, citizenship, sexuality, or class inform your understandings of, or interactions with cops, prisons, and sexual assault/domestic violence support.

Potential topics:
· What does justice look like to you?
· Perspectives on police and prisons as a default response to sexual assault
· What do you want people in the prison abolition movement with no first hand experiences of survivorship to know?
· How did you overcome depression/feelings of futility when dealing with these systems?
· Critical reflections on why the legal system has or has not felt like an option for you
· Perspectives on the cops/PIC participating in rape culture
· Restorative justice and other methods for responding to sexual violence outside of the PIC? (if you are a settler be conscious of appropriations of indigenous methods)
· How have you felt about conversations you’ve had about the PIC?
· How sexual assault inside and outside of the PIC is treated by organizers against sexual assault, domestic violence, and the PIC
· Police and prison guards as triggers
· Responding to sexual assault and domestic violence when communities weren’t there for you
· What the legal system offers survivors and what it doesn’t
· Rants at manarchists, the writers/directors of televised cop dramas, and communities that let you down
· Survivor shaming for reporting and for not reporting to police

Please submit first-person accounts, critical reflections, essays, and creative non-fiction to by April 15, 2012 with “Submission” as the subject line.

· One submission per person;
· 12 point Times New Roman font;
· Submit as an attached document (.doc files preferred, no .pdfs);
· English language (American spelling);
· Pseudonyms welcomed, as are name changes in the written piece.

Early submissions are encouraged. First time authors encouraged.

If you have questions, we welcome emails to with “Question” in the subject line. We are looking for both shorter pieces of writing and longer pieces, but if your piece is more than 20 pages consider sending us an email to run the idea by us.

Please attach a short biography that you are comfortable sharing with the editors (200 word max.). This is not about your credentials, but getting to know you and where you are coming from. All information you provide will be kept confidential.

About selection and editing: Submissions will be reviewed by a group of readers who will consider if and how each written piece could contribute to the finished project. Each piece will be read by at least two readers who will contribute to the decision to accept/reject/edit the piece. Some of us working on this project have been made to feel alone as both survivors and abolitionists. Some of us have managed to carve spaces within these communities. Now we are looking to open the conversation and hear from people we’ve never met, who have struggled to practice politics in a rape culture and police state. We believe that the needs of survivors matter in these movements, and we don’t need someone else to speak for us or about us as case studies and numbers. We want to hear from you.

For more information please visit:

If you have questions, directly contact with “Question” in the subject line.

Please distribute widely.


Please Sign Prop 9 Petition- Do Not Sentence YOUTH to Life Without Parole!

The following is an E-mail sent to us by Gail Patrice:


Right now, juveniles in California can be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. It is a sentence to die in prison. The US is the only country in the world that applies this punishment to youth under the age of 18.

Several hundred teens have been sentenced to life without parole in California. Under the current law, not one of them will ever have the opportunity to demonstrate that they have turned their lives around and can safely re-enter society.

If Senate Bill 9 is enacted, California will set up a strict process for a judge to examine these individuals’ lives when they are older and determine if they are rehabilitated and remorseful. If so, they will then have a chance to earn parole after serving a minimum of 25 years.

We ask our legislators to pass this important bill during the upcoming vote.

That's why I signed a petition to The California State House, which says:

"As a concerned Californian, I urge you to give youth the possibility of a second chance. Please pass Senate Bill 9."

Will you sign this petition? Click here:



Tell Tom Ammiano to Repeal AB 900

San Francisco --
CALL and EMAIL Assemblyperson Tom Ammiano and demand an end to Prison and Jail expansion!

Right now, California residents are preparing for catastrophe as millions of dollars are being released through the notorious AB 900 legislation to be used to build more and bigger jails. We know more jails means more of our loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors locked up, and less resources for meaningful work, good schools, decent housing, and reliable healthcare.

Join CURB in demanding an end to the largest prison expansion project in world history. Help us pressure and encourage elected officials to take a stand against further devastation of our communities. We are encouraging San Francisco residents of Tom Ammiano's district to call his office and strongly encourage him to listen to the people and repeal AB900.

By making use of our collective voice and power, we can lead the way in repealing this monstrous legislation.

We will begin burning up the phone lines and sending flurries of emails starting Friday, Feb. 10th and want to keep going strong through Friday, Feb. 17th!


Youth Deserve a Second Chance: We Need to Pass Senate Bill 9!

Take Action to Pass SB 9!

Right now, juveniles in California can be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. It is a sentence to die in prison. The US is the only country in the world that applies this punishment to youth under the age of 18.

Several hundred teens have been sentenced to life without parole in California. Under the current law, not one of them will ever have the opportunity to demonstrate that they have turned their lives around and can safely re-enter society.

If Senate Bill 9 is enacted, California will set up a strict process for a judge to examine these individuals’ lives when they are older and determine if they are rehabilitated and remorseful. If so, they will then have a chance to earn parole after serving a minimum of 25 years.

We ask our legislators to pass this important bill during the upcoming vote.
Please sign this petition. Click here:



Great Piece by Victoria Law on Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm CST.

We Demand the Right to Vote: The Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement Counters Voter Suppression

by Victoria Law

On Sunday, March 7, 1964, 600 civil rights activists attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the police murder of fellow demonstrator 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson and to demand their rights. As the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were brutally attacked by white state troopers, many of whom had been deputized that very morning. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized; the day became known as “Bloody Sunday.” After a federal district court issued a restraining order preventing a second march across the bridge, a third march was successfully organized and carried out. The bridge became a symbol of the Civil Rights struggle.

Nearly fifty years later, the dreams of the Civil Rights movement remain unfulfilled. Mass incarceration has replaced Jim Crow as a means of racial and social control: In the fall of 1965, in a special message to Congress, Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Crime: “I hope that 1965 will be regarded as the year when this country began in earnest a thorough and effective war against crime.” In his 1973 State of the Union message, Richard Nixon vowed to continue and expand that war, linking the growing civil unrest to violent street crime. Reagan further intensified the amount of policing and prisons with his 1982 “War on Drugs” launched three years before the 1985 emergence of crack cocaine. These “wars” came at a time when economic conditions were deteriorating, particularly in communities of color; both served to lock poor people, particularly poor people of color, away before they could organize and challenge social conditions and the social order.

On February 28, 2011, more than fifty formerly incarcerated people from around the country convened in Alabama. All had worked on issues affecting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in their respective states. Over the course of the weekend, attendees asked themselves and each other, “How do we bring people together and align people with the work that they’re doing individually from a collective perspective?”

The Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement emerged from this inaugural meeting. Its goal is to organize a national movement to restore formerly incarcerated people’s civil rights, halt prison expansion, demand an end to mass incarceration, eliminate prison abuses, and protect the dignity of family members and their communities. The organizers drew connections between the Civil Rights movement and their own movement for civil and human rights, illustrating the connection by walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

After returning to their home states, members of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement continued to build together. “We’ve held rallies and acknowledged prison actions. We’ve collectively held events on historic days. For instance, the War on Drugs was enacted on June 17, 1971. All of us held an event within our respective states around the War on Drugs. When the prisons in Georgia had their strike, we recognized that. We just recognized the fortieth anniversary of the Attica uprising. We’ve recognized the Pelican Bay hunger strike. We’ve recognized the common issues that people who have been incarcerated have stood up and fought against in building this movement. The commonalities in our collective actions have brought us together to end mass incarceration,” stated Tina Reynolds, co-chair of the NYC organization WORTH (Women on the Rise Telling HerStory), an organization of formerly and currently incarcerated women) and one of the original twenty people who began the discussion leading to the convening.

On November 2, 2011, the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement held its second national gathering in Los Angeles. Over 270 people from twenty states converged for a one-day conference to share their experiences and vision and to strategize fighting against policies leading to racial profiling, gang labeling, inhumane sentencing, voter disenfranchisement and hiring discrimination. They learned about the issues, organizing, and, in some cases, successes in other states.

The conference included not only seasoned organizers, but also those who were new to prison justice organizing. “Pilar,” a formerly incarcerated woman, remembered that she had never before been in a public space with hundreds of people who shared her experience. Even those already organizing in their home states like Mercedes Smith, a formerly incarcerated woman and current organizer with WORTH, were impressed. “I thought it was the greatest thing I had ever heard—a movement that was made up of nothing but formerly incarcerated people. It had to be a powerful movement and I wanted to be a part of it,” she recalled. “Once I got there, it showed me how important the work is that I do and it made me eager to come home and jump back into it.”

The one-day convening was packed with trainings on juvenile justice and youth organizing, Ban the Box , voter disenfranchisement, gender issues and other issues. Attendees also adopted a national platform, addressing fourteen points related to incarceration:

I. We Demand an End to Mass Incarceration;

II. We Demand Equality and Opportunity for All People;

III. We Demand the Right to Vote;

IV. We Demand Respect and Dignity for Our Children;

V. We Demand Community Development, Not Prison Profit;

VI. End Immigration Detention and Deportation;

VII. End Racial Profiling Inside Prison and In Our Communities;

VIII. End Extortion and Slavery In Prisons;

IX. End Sexual Harassment of People In Prisons;

X. Human Contact is a Human Right;

XI. End Cruel and Unusual Punishment;

XII. We Demand Proper Medical Treatment;

XIII. End the Incarceration of Children;

XIV. Free Our Political Prisoners.

“While the platform points are broad, we believe we’ve at least touched on all of the aspects that people have experienced while doing time in prison and beyond,” Reynolds noted, adding that, although ratified by the conference attendees, the platform is still a work-in-progress. “The issues addressed in the platform are the basic foundational issues involving the inhumane and oppressive treatment within the criminal justice system. We are taking a stand and saying that we’re going to stop it, that things need to change.”

By the end of the conference, attendees set a goal of registering one million voters in 2012.

Smith, who attended a training session on voters’ rights at the conference, returned with a resolve to help formerly incarcerated and convicted people know their rights. “I’m going to put a training together for voters’ rights and get voter registration cards so that people can register to vote. We’re also going to tell people who are formerly incarcerated how to go about being able to vote.” Smith notes that, in New York State, former convictions are not barriers to voting: “As long as you’re on parole, you can’t vote, but if you have your Certificate of Relief, you can vote while you’re on parole. For women who don’t have their Certificate of Relief, I want to tell them how to get it so that they can vote. Once you’re off parole or if you have a misdemeanor, you can vote.”

The movement is also including people who are currently behind bars in their mass registration campaign: “If you’re sentenced to a year and a day and you have to go upstate on a misdemeanor charge, you’re allowed to vote. If you’re in jail and you haven’t been sentenced, you’re allowed to vote,” Reynolds explained. “Why aren’t these people given their right to vote?”

So what are the next steps towards this goal?

“Our first step is to hold a training on voters’ rights,” Smith explained. “Before we go out, we need to know what we’re going out to say and do…I’m going to try to go to as many organizations and give them the training that I receive. I’m going to take voter registration cards with me and have everybody get people registered to vote. When I agreed to get people registered to vote, I took it seriously. I wouldn’t have raised my hand if I hadn’t taken it seriously. I raised my hand and I’ve been on it since I’ve come back. By the time the election comes, they’re going to be registered to vote. I’m going to tell them that you can’t just complain about who’s in office. Learn who wants to be in office, learn if that’s who you want to be in office to work with. You can’t just complain about them and not want to change things or do anything about it. Learn your rights about voting, get registered to vote!”

However, registering one million formerly incarcerated and convicted people is just the beginning: “I’m going to work on some other things, but one thing at a time,” Smith stated. “One of the things I learned at the convening was that people have worked on issues such as Ban the Box and they have been successful in their states. It makes you say, ‘If they could pass that law there, we can pass that law here.’ Before, I would say, ‘I don’t want to work on that. That’s too hard.’ Now I feel the fight is worth it. As a formerly incarcerated person, I want all of that—not only for myself, but for all my sisters and brothers that are formerly incarcerated. I want them to be able to vote, to be able to get a job, to get housing, to be treated like human beings.”

“It’s not just about them having the right to vote,” reflected Reynolds. “It’s having an opportunity to be a part of this movement because here is an opportunity for us to talk about the movement, to talk about a political analysis, to talk about education, to talk about the history of incarceration and how it’s impacted us over the last forty years with the War on Drugs. There is life after prison; there are rights that we are supposed to have. If we’re not seeking them, why aren’t we seeking them? Why aren’t we fighting for our rights as far as what is available to us?”

Victoria Law is a writer, photographer and mother. She is the author of “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women” (PM Press 2009), the editor of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison and a co-founder of Books Through Bars – NYC. She is currently working on transforming “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind,” a zine series on how radical movements can support the families in their midst, into a book.


Feb 18th Art/Visual Prop Making Party for Occupy San Quentin Rally!

Join CCWP members and others from the Occupy 4 Prisoners to create
striking visuals to bring to the Occupy San Quentin rally on February

Time/Date: Saturday, February 18th 12 noon

Place: 1540 Market St., Suite 490 near Van Ness (CCWP/All of Us Or
None offices)

Bring: Imagination, energy and poster making materials (we will have
some there but always good to have more).


A Rally for Political Prisoners

San Francisco, California: International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier.

AIM-WEST will hold a Leonard Peltier rally on MONDAY, February 6th starting at the Federal courthouse on Mission and 7th in San Francisco at 11 am and will leave at 11:30 am for a short walk to the Federal Building on Golden Gate St. for a noon time rally from 12:00-1:00 p.m.

We will have prayer, sage, drum and song, open microphone, speakers and announcements. The rally will be held to remind the public that the USA is warehousing political prisoners and that we haven't forgotten the date of Leonard's arrest in Canada (Feb. 6, 1976).


Governor’s Juvenile Justice Realignment Proposal Echoes Recommendations

Governor’s juvenile justice realignment proposal echoes CJCJ’s 2012 recommendations!

New report provides five policy recommendations to ensure successful juvenile justice realignment in California

CJCJ’s January 2012 report entitled Juvenile Justice Realignment in 2012 provides support for Governor Brown’s realignment proposal and offers five policy recommendations that include a three-year process that allows counties time to design new services and infrastructure. At the end of three years, the state will no longer manage youth correctional institutions and the resources that used to sustain these facilities will be transferred to the counties. Shifting full responsibilities for juvenile justice services to the counties will spur innovation and produce substantial cost savings. Similar recommendations by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Little Hoover Commission, and the Governor’s Office date back to 2008. CJCJ’s Executive Director Daniel Macallair states

“Governor Brown is correct when he asserts that the best correctional interventions are those delivered at the point where the offender is most likely to return.”

Sign our advocacy letter to tell the governor that you support juvenile justice realignment.

Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get our publications on this issue as they are released! One to be released tomorrow… make sure you find out first.

Does your California County support realignment?


End of Prison Oversight Not Certain

AP Interview: End of prison oversight not certain

By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The court-appointed receiver overseeing
California's prison health care system said Friday the state must keep
its promise to spend more than $2 billion for new medical facilities
before the federal courts can end an oversight role that has lasted
six years.

California committed to spending $750 million to upgrade existing
medical facilities, building a new $906 million medical center and
converting juvenile lockups at a cost of $817 million. So far, only
the new medical center in Stockton is being built.

Receiver J. Clark Kelso told The Associated Press that the state must
begin all the upgrades before it should be allowed to retake control
of a prison medical system once deemed so poor that it was found to
have violated inmates' constitutional rights. They are his first
public comments since a federal judge last week told officials to
begin preparing for an end to the receivership.

"That leaves a court order that the state is now out of compliance
with," Kelso said during the 75-minute interview. "The courts have
been promised construction for the last half-decade. Somehow those
promises don't get kept."

California officials are analyzing the need for new medical facilities
in light of a state law that took effect last year that is sending
lower-level criminals to county jails instead of state prisons.
Federal judges have ordered the state to reduce its prison population
by 33,000 inmates over two years to improve the treatment of mentally
and physically ill inmates, a decision that has been upheld by the
U.S. Supreme Court.

At its height in 2006, California's inmate population was more than 162,000.
Kelso said the medical center that is under construction in Stockton
and the $750 million in upgrades are needed even if the state has
fewer inmates. Conversion of the juvenile lockups was to have included
new housing and treatment facilities for sick and mentally ill

Kelso has been negotiating with officials from the state Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation and attorneys representing inmates
after a federal judge issued a notice saying it was time to begin
ending the federal receivership. Court oversight of medical care in
the nation's largest state prison system has led to improvements in
inmate health care that have cost California taxpayers billions of

"We'll just see if the parties can't find a middle ground for
agreement," Kelso said.

The pace of those negotiations will determine how quickly the state
can retake control of its prison health care operations, he said.
Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate said he wanted to see the
receivership end as early as this summer, although he also said it
would be appropriate for the courts to maintain some type of oversight
role to ensure that inmate care does not deteriorate.

"I think the sooner we return day-to-day operations to the state, the
better," Cate told the AP in an interview earlier this week. "We need
to work out the construction issues, obviously, and I know that Clark
is also concerned about making sure there's a strong structure in
place to maintain the strides we've made. But if we can work those
issues out, I'd love to see it be this summer."

Kelso said the state also should create a quasi-independent medical
bureaucracy within the corrections department to make sure the state
doesn't backslide because of budget cuts or a lack of interest.
"A lot of that has to do with budget independence and the independence
of the head of prison health care really to control his or her
budget," Kelso said. "They can't just get lost in the big haze that is
the corrections budget."

He said the corrections department traditionally has focused on
keeping inmates safely locked up, with a lesser emphasis on the
well-being of those prisoners, and it is unclear if that culture has

Citing inmate overcrowding as the leading cause, the federal courts
previously found that medical care for California prisoners was so
poor that an average of one inmate a week was dying of neglect or
malpractice. It ordered the prison population reduced, prompting the
department to send layoff notices this week to 548 employees because
fewer workers are needed as the number of inmates declines.

In the notice he filed last week, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton
Henderson said conditions had improved enough to consider ending the
receivership. He said most of the goals of the federal oversight had
been met.

The San Francisco-based judge ordered Kelso, state officials and
inmates' attorneys to report by April 30 on when the receivership
should end and whether it should continue some role in ensuring that
conditions remained constitutional.

"I think this all depends much more on the state's progress than on
mine," Kelso said. "Frankly, if the construction had been done as
promised, I'd be a hell of a lot closer."

Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press.

    < Students in San Francisco Produce Educational Films on Prison System
Students at City Arts and Tech High School in the Excelsior District of SF, invited activists and former prisoners to present to their class. CCWP was represented by members Samantha Rogers, Alba Guerrero and Deirdre Wilson. All three women are mothers who have been locked up behind addiction/co-dependence who are using all the wisdom, resilience and skills they have gained on their paths before, during and after incarceration, to build a better community and reach their full potential as human beings.

    < Valley State Prison inmates express concerns over pending conversion

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 - 1:35 pm

Valley State Prison Inmates Express Concerns Over Pending Conversion

Inmates at Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) have flooded the office of Madera County District 2 Supervisor David Rogers with letters expressing their concerns and fears over the state's plan to convert the prison to a men's facility.

"These concerns," Rogers said, "range from losing valuable rehabilitative programs and the potential of being housed near women who have threatened their safety."

Recent numbers show about 3,000 women are housed in VSPW, Rogers said, which is 150 percent of design capacity. At Central California Women's Facility (CCWF), the second women's prison located in Chowchilla, there are about 3,400 inmates, 180 percent of design capacity, Rogers said. The only other women's facility, California Institute for Women (CIW), houses almost 2,000 inmates and was designed for 1,200.

"These women are concerned that the two facilities which will remain after the conversion, CCWF and CIW, will be more crowded than the three are today," Rogers said. "This goes against the court order that mandated the reduction in population. The concerns that launched the lawsuit against California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation were based on inadequate mental health and medical services.

"How are those services going to be administered to a greater, more condensed population with the existing staff? It makes no sense."

Rogers added that he fully supports law enforcement and knows the women are in prison to pay for their own actions. He also said the correctional officers who have adjusted to overseeing women will now have to adjust to overseeing men, who are much more violent behind bars.

The letters, while focused on the overcrowding expected at the remaining two women's prisons, express the fear that not even the correctional officers will be able to protect them, Rogers noted.

" 'CDCR is failing to protect us,' one woman wrote," Rogers said, " 'by putting us into a crowded, hostile and volatile situation.' That's not what the federal court intended."

The prison now has about 55 self-help groups initiated and run by inmates, Rogers said.

"These women have dedicated themselves to rehabilitation, and now they are afraid of losing these valuable resources," Rogers said, adding that CCWF only has about six groups. "According to these women, the inmates at CCWF don't want the additional groups. Besides, if they're going to be packed into two prisons, there won't be time, space or resources for these groups."

"They have asked me to be their voice on the outside," Rogers said. "I'm going to do just that. Already my staff has made contacts with state and federal representatives, and has reached out to non-profit organizations that fight for incarcerated women's rights. The things these women claim have happened, the fear they express in these letters — No one should have to live in fear.

"They are paying their debts to society and aren't asking anything more than what they have rights to. To live in a safe and secure environment, and have the medical and mental health care they need. Every human is entitled to that, whether they've made mistakes or not."

Most of the letters, Rogers said, come from women serving long-term or life sentences.

" 'VSPW has a good reputation as far as having the most self-help groups — mostly facilitated by inmates themselves,' one woman wrote," Rogers said as he read from the woman's letter. " 'The lifer/long-termer population has worked very hard not only to better ourselves, but to give back to the outside community. These programs will no longer exist if we are moved to CCWF.' That's just wrong.

"Another woman wrote, 'We have been made aware of threats of violence against us if we are moved to CCWF and that staff there do not want us to reestablish our programs once we arrive.' " Rogers said.

Rogers noted that yet another woman said she gave law enforcement information years ago that helped convict a woman. That woman, he added, is incarcerated at CCWF.

"This woman said she was in fear for her life should she be housed at CCWF," Rogers said. "This woman has documented the CCWF inmate as an enemy, someone she believes will do harm to her. She also said someone on staff told her if she didn't retract her documentation, she would be housed in Administrative Segregation.

"For her safety, they're going to lock her up and keep her from the programs she has been doing so well with. Again, that doesn't make sense and I can't believe the federal courts intended to lock a woman up twice — once in prison, and again in a secure housing unit."

Rogers said another inmate had a list of concerns that, she said, are not being addressed, such as enemy concerns and possibly being housed in total lockdown if they do not sign waivers clearing those concerns, the housing arrangements when there aren't enough beds, medical care and the increase in waiting times to see doctors, and how the population in lockdown will gain access to the law library. Others expressed concerns over the amount of gang-related violence at CCWF, Rogers said.

" 'I am writing to you with the hopes that you will be the voice of prison inmates,' " Rogers read from another letter. " 'I am not requesting special treatment, just that we be heard and have our concerns taken into consideration before any drastic changes occur.' "

"This prison, according to the inmates, is like a community," Rogers said. "They are facilitators, mentors, teachers, peace-keepers and mediators through these self-help groups. They have bonded because they have common interests and goals to turn their lives around. How can someone not respect that?

"They talk about the stress levels they're living with due to this conversion. I can only imagine what they're going through from the passionate words that pour from these letters. My heart goes out to them, but that's not going to make their living situations better. Someone has to put a stop to this. And I'm going to do everything in my power, through the contacts I've made at the state and federal levels, to help them."

Read more here: <
Join us to Make Valentines Day Cards for Prisoners

Join SF Pride at Work, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Artists of the 99%, and TransGender Intersex Justice Project for a fun and fabulous Valentine’s Day Card-Making Party for Prisoners.

Making valentines day cards is not only a fun creative way to spend your evening but is one way to support people currently locked up. Prisons are cold and isolating places meant to make people feel totally alone, especially for queer and trans prisoners. Sending someone a bright & cheery card is one way we can start to break that isolation.

Prisoner support and advocacy organizations have had similar events in the past and in 2012 we want to open up the opportunity for people in the Bay Area to join others around the country to send love to folks locked up. We want them to feel the love of the community and know that they are not forgotten.

Thursday, February 9th 6 - 9PM
Mission SRO Collaborative
938 Valencia Street

$3-10 donation to help pay for envelopes and postage. No one turned away.

Bring your card making supplies (we will provide supplies as well), creativity, love, and passion for justice, abolition and community. Not Allowed: glitter, glue, staples, tape, (anything with adhesive), polaroids. Allowed: construction paper, printer paper

Sponsored by Black and Pink, CCWP, TGI Justice Project, and Artist of the 99%
For more information, see
or email Charlie Fredrick at

    < A Major Victory for Us and for Parole Reform

Judge Strikes Parole-Revocation Provisions in California Law

A Sacramento federal judge has struck down as unconstitutional the part of California's so-called Victims' Bill of Rights that governs parole revocation.

The law, enacted by voter approval of a 2008 ballot initiative known as Proposition 9, was a sweeping amendment to the state constitution, conferring a long list of entitlements on crime victims. The sections dealing with parole revocation were made part of the state's Penal Code.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton ruled Tuesday that those sections fall short of providing the minimum due process guaranteed by the Constitution and two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Morrissey v. Brewer – a landmark in 1972 – and Gagnon v. Scarpelli one year later.

The requirements missing from California's law include "a written summary of the proceedings and of the revocation decision, the opportunity to present documentary evidence and witnesses, and disclosure to the parolee of the evidence against him," Karlton wrote in a 26-page order.

The judge held that an injunction he issued in 2004 as part of a now-18-year-old, still-ongoing class-action lawsuit on behalf of parolees is "necessary to remedy constitutional violations created" four years later by the voters.

The judge found to be unconstitutional the provision of Proposition 9 that parolees have a right to an attorney at the state's expense only if the parolee is indigent and appears incapable of speaking for himself. Karlton said the California law overly restricted a parole agency's discretion and allowed a parolee to go uninformed of his right to request counsel.

Most importantly, Karlton added, a right to a lawyer is presumed if the parolee makes a credible claim that he did not violate parole, or a credible claim of mitigating circumstances. Thus, Karlton concluded, his injunction "is a properly tailored remedy, aimed at curing violations of due process rights."

Karlton next targeted the state law provisions entrusting to the Board of Parole Hearings "the safety of victims and the public," and prohibiting the board from weighing the cost or burden to the taxpayers that may result from continually sending people back to prison.

The judge said his injunction directs the board to use remedial sanctions rather than parole revocation when appropriate, thus reducing the number of returnees and the overall inmate population – the latter being a Supreme Court-mandated goal.

The law further violates the Constitution by denying a parolee a "neutral and detached" hearing body to make parole revocation decisions, Karlton stated.

The state places "a thumb on the scales of justice and tip(s) the balance towards incarceration. By entrusting the board only with the safety of victims and the public, (the law) strips the board of its duty to balance those factors with a parolee's liberty interest," the judge wrote.

Yet another part of the law allows the unconditional use of hearsay evidence at parole revocation hearings, denying a parolee the "right to confront and cross examine adverse witnesses … unless the government shows good cause," Karlton said.

Only two paragraphs of the parole revocation statute were left standing. Karlton decided they are not viable by themselves, so "no portion of the statute can be preserved."

One of the proposition's requirements survived and will be included in Karlton's injunction: that a revocation hearing be convened no later than 45 days after the placement of the parole hold, as opposed to the 35 days required by the injunction.

Gov. Jerry Brown and his administration are represented by the San Francisco law firm Hanson Bridgett LLP. One member of the firm declined to comment and another did not respond to a call requesting comment.

    < Petition to Stop the Conversion of Valley State Prison for Women to a Men's Prison
January 25, 2012

Sign the petition to stop the conversion of Valley State Prison for Women to a Men's Prison

You may have already signed and that's great. We have modified the wording and included the complete joint statement from people inside both women's prisons in Chowchilla, CA.

Please pass it on and reply if your organization wants to be listed as an endorser.

Currently there are over 2,650 women and transgender prisoners housed at VSPW. Instead of releasing thousands who are eligible to go home, CDCR is planning to transfer them to the Central California Women's Facility (159% over capacity) and California Institution for Women (139% over capacity.)

Our communities have endured and suffered forced removals and relocations of people openly and under false pretexts for generations. Even though no prison is where anyone wants to or needs to be, closing and moving women out of this one is yet another uprooting to the detriment, and against the will of, people rendered powerless and whose humanity is disregarded.

    < Inhumane Conditions at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

Inhumane Conditions at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

January 25, 2012

Lino Silva has been an inmate at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in California for the past seven years. He says the conditions there are inhumane and unacceptable, even for a prison. The kids at Ventura say they endure the following:

  • Water fountains that do not drain and hold stagnant pools of dirty water.

  • Toilets that are broken, leaking, or frequently overflowing.

  • Filthy showers and bathrooms in living units.

  • Lack of clean clothing and clothing that fits.

  • Air vents that smell of sewage.

Lino has used his time at Ventura to learn to read and to serve as a mentor to other kids in prison. He’s due to be released next year, but before he leaves, he wants to do everything he can to improve conditions at Ventura.

So Lino started a petition on asking the Ventura Youth Prison Superintendent Victor Almager to improve conditions at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility. Click here to sign Lino’s petition.

The conditions at Ventura are so deplorable that the kids there say they would rather be in adult prison. “We feel desperate,” Lino says. “Some youth here are so desperate they are trying to get transferred to adult prison. The only way to do this is to commit new crimes and try to get charged as an adult.”

The guards at Ventura are no help, either -- Lino says he was put in solitary confinement just because he covered a light to try to get some sleep. When Lino and other kids have complained to the guards, Lino says they get responses like, "I don't have to live here, why do I care?"

Lino knows it’s dangerous for him to start a petition about Ventura -- he believes he’ll face retaliation for going public with this information. But Lino also believes that, with public pressure, the powers that be will take steps to make life better for him and all the other kids imprisoned at Ventura.

Click here to sign Lino’s petition asking Ventura Youth Prison Superintendent Victor Almager to improve conditions at Vetura Youth Correctional Facility.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

- Michael and the team

    < Hundreds Turn Out to Oppose Massive LA County Jail Expansion
January 24, 2012

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros, Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Los Angeles— Over two hundred community members showed an enthusiastic display of opposition to the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Department’s move to expand LA County’s jails. After noting much community pressure, the Supervisors immediately backed down from the $1.4 billion dollar expansion
plan that Sheriff Baca proposed in October. While the supervisors did not decide to withdraw the county’s application for state AB 900 Phase 2 jail construction funding, they did slow the pace on the commissioning of a $5.7 million report on possible jail expansion.

Throughout the meeting a series of reports from the Vera Justice Institute, ACLU, and the anticipated report form expert Jim Austin were cited, outlining countless solutions to LA’s notorious jail conditions and overcrowding. “If the Board of Supervisors is so concerned about improving conditions in the jail then
let’s do what we know. The only solution is to reduce the jail population, not to build more cells” notes Emily Harris, Statewide Coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “We know the Supervisors won’t vote for an outright $1.4 billion dollar expansion, but moving forward with the AB 900
applications shows that the Supervisors are still investing in moving forward with failed expansion policies. We fear that in the place of a one-time massive allocation, they will try to deceive LA residents by pushing forward a series of small expansion plans that amount to the same thing.

Outside the Kenneth Hahn administrative building, nearly a dozen LA-based organizations rallied their people for two hours before entering the hall and giving an hour and half of public comment to the Board. “Obviously we want the board of supervisors to align themselves with the vast majority of LA residents in
opposing any new jail cells in our county,” said David Chavez of Critical Resistance and the Youth Justice Coalition, two lead organizers of Tuesday’s mobilization. “While the Board voted against the voices of the people today, it is also clear that people are not going to back down from there demands that resources go toward reentry services, educating residents of this city, toward healthcare, toward jobs, not toward locking them up. We will certainly be back, and I am sure we will be back even stronger.”

    < Bill to Amend California's Three Strikes Law Passes Appropriations Committee

January 23, 2011

Bill to Amend
California's Three Strikes Law Passes Appropriations Committee

On January 19th, AB 327 (Davis), a bill to amend California’s Three Strikes Law cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AB 327 must pass the full Assembly by January 31, 2012. If AB 327 passes the Assembly, the bill will move to the Senate where it will have until June 28th to pass the Senate policy committee, the Senate fiscal committee, and the Senate Floor.

The bill would put an initiative on the ballot to require that the “third strike” of the California Three Strikes Law be classified as “serious” or “violent”. Assemblymember Mike Davis, whose district includes a portion of the city of Los Angeles and Inglewood, amended AB 327 to carry the current language on January 4, 2012. For the full language click here.

More than 24,500 nonviolent offenders are serving two or three times what they would have served if they have not been convicted under California’s Three Strikes Law. Many of these offenders are serving life sentences. For example, nonviolent crimes such as possession of a controlled substance, filling out a false DMV application, and petty theft are crimes that can put someone behind bars for life under the current Three Strikes Law.

AB 327 would give voters the opportunity to revisit the original goal of this law amidst the current fiscal and prison overcrowding crisis.

There were four organizations that testified in support of the bill at the committee hearing: California State Conference of the NAACP, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), and Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA). The two organizations that testified in opposition are: the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) and Crime Victims United of California (CVUC).

    < Healthcare in Prisons Likely to Worsen
Looks like the Federal Health receivership will be coming to an end. Even though it hasn't helped that much I can't imagine things will get better for health care in the prisons once the Receiver is gone!

Six years. What has really changed?
AP News Break: Judge to end Calif. prison receiver
Associated Press
Published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A federal judge on Tuesday ordered California officials to prepare for the end of a six-year, court-ordered overs ight of the prison system that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars and helped force a shift of lower-level criminals from state prisons to county jails. U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson cited improving conditions in the prison system in a three-page order that says "the end of the Receivership appears to be in sight." The ruling marks an important milestone in a process that began nearly six years ago when the judge appointed a receiver to run California's prison medical system after finding that an average of one inmate a week was dying of neglect or malpractice. He cited inmate overcrowding as the leading cause, but said in Tuesday's order that conditions have improved.

He praised the better conditions throughout the system, particularly noted during inspections of medical facilities by the prison system's independent inspector general. "Significant progress has been made," Henderson wrote, citing the receiver's own report to the federal court last week. "While some critical work remains outstanding - most notably on construction issues - it is clear that many of the goals of the Receivership have been accomplished." Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement praising the decision, saying the state has been "working very hard to clean up the mess in the prisons and I appreciate the judicial recognition of our efforts."

J. Clark Kelso, who took over as receiver in January 2008, looks forward to participating in the talks with state officials but declined further comment, said his spokeswoman, Nancy Kinca id. Henderson ordered Kelso, state officials and attorneys representing inmates to report by April 30 on when the receivership should end and whether it should continue some oversight role. Problems with inmate medical care helped prompt federal judges to require the state to ease prison crowding. That led to a shift that began last year that is sending lower-level inmates from state prisons to county jails. In a ruling last May, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court's authority in ordering California to reduce inmate crowding as a way to improve medical conditions. The federal courts had ordered the state's 33 adult prisons to reduce their total population by 33,000 inmates over a two-year period. The prison system had an all-time high of 162,268 inmates in 2006.

The receiver's office also was given authority to greatly expand the prison sy stem's medical staff and increase pay significantly. Henderson said he expects the receiver will continue in a general oversight role, even if the state takes back the authority to run the medical system. That will ensure that care is not diminished in the future. The judge asked parties for advice on when the receivership should end, how long an oversight period might last and when the underlying case on the quality of medical care should end. Jeffrey Callison, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the department "is ready and eager" to begin planning for the end of federal oversight of prison medical care.

Under the receivership, the state has built new medical facilities at several prisons, including San Quentin, where Death Row is located. It currently is building a medical complex in Stockton. The state doubled the amount of money it spent on inmate health care over five years, to more than $15,000 per inmate annually. Spending controlled by the receiver increased from $948 million before the receiver was appointed to nearly $2.3 billion by 2008, according to the state Department of Finance. Spending on medical care, pharmaceuticals and transporting and guarding inmates declined to $1.8 billion for the current fiscal year.

    < Gang Injunctions are Spreading, Communities are Reacting
On Friday, January 6th, Inglewood's First District Councilman, Mike Stevens visited Chuco’s Justice Center. We asked him about rumors we had heard that Mayor Butts and Police Chief Seabrooks were considering the development of Inglewood’s first gang injunction. Councilman Stevens said that it was on the agenda for the following City Council meeting.

On Tuesday, January 10th, when we arrived at the City Council, we were told by the police officer (who is on duty at each meeting) that the matter was voted on in an earlier closed session to authorize $10,000 in spending to have the injunction written.

Although the matter had been decided prior to public comment, YJC members testified anyway to voice our opposition.

Brandy Brown illustrated how injunctions in Los Angeles had impacted their families’ abilities to stay connected. Said Brandy, “My cousins couldn’t even go to my brother’s funeral because they were arrested at his candlelight vigil for ‘associating with gang members’ even though that was their family.” Henry Sandoval described injunctions as “keeping youth from being able to take advantage of education, jobs and housing. This really discourages us from being positive. How do you expect us to leave the street life behind?”

Tanisha Denard questioned why $10,000 was needed when plenty of cities have injunctions that can be used to cut and paste. She said, “This city is hurting for money, and Inglewood School District is about to declare bankruptcy, but we have $10,000 to write an injunction?”

Treva Ellison emphasized that “good public policy is written in consultation with the community, not in secret meetings.” Kim McGill explained that injunctions have historically been used as tools for gentrification and have not stabilized, but displaced families and communities of color. She added, “We are very concerned that this decision was made without a public hearing, and urge the City Council to schedule a time for those youth and families who will be most impacted to speak to you.”

The Mayor promised to have Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks contact us. On Friday, January 13th, Chief Seabrooks did call and answered several of our questions: 1. The budget to pay for the writing of an injunction was approved at a City Council meeting in October. 2. The $10,000 budget allocation made at last Tuesday's meeting was only a partial payment. The total allocation authorized for the writing of the injunction is $160,000. 3. The Chief would not indicate what neighborhoods would be targeted for the injunction, but did say that several would be enjoined. 4. She agreed to meet with us regarding our concerns, and will schedule a meeting with us this week.

The YJC will work to challenge the injunction as this process moves forward. To get involved, contact us at 323-235-4243 or by e-mail – Look out for future action updates for a community forum on this matter.

    < Stop LA Jail Expansion: Pack the Board of Supervisors Jan 24th!
On January 24th, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors will discuss whether or not to approve Sheriff Baca's latest plan to rob LA: a new jail that will cost $2.66 billion dollars ($1.4 billion to build and $1.26 billion in interest to bankers).
Let's send the Supervisors a simple and clear message: Vote No on Jail Expansion in LA.

LA county needs more education, health care, jobs, and housing, not cages!

What can you do to stop the expansion?
Come to the Supervisor meeting: Join residents from across LA on the 24th to send a strong message that we don't want more jail cells. We will be sending out more information as we get it.
Call your Supervisor: and urge them to VOTE NO on the jail expansion. Click here to find your Supervisor
Forward the petition: urging LA Supervisors to vote NO on the jail expansion. Send the link to as many people as you can.
Get involved! A coalition of residents and community-based groups meets every Sunday at 5 pm at Chuco's Justice Center. Come join the fight. Email LA Critical Resistance organizer Mary Sutton for more information.
LA doesn't want, doesn't need and can't afford more jail cells!

What do LA residents have to say about Baca's plan? Watch Carmen Vega from the Los Angeles Poverty Department speak out against LA's jail expansion plans more jails in LA.

With the resources Sheriff Baca already has, he has created an international disgrace in LA County jails, where the torture of inadequate medical and mental healthcare and pervasive brutal beatings are routine.

It's time to stop using LA jails as mental health hospitals and homeless shelters. The only sustainable solution to overcrowding is to send less people to jail.

LA does not have $2.66 billion dollars to waste on harmful jails. 14.5% of LA residents are unemployed; 40% live without health insurance; and at least 51,000 people are homeless.

For more information: visit, follow CURB on twitter! @CURB_Prisons and join the CURB Action Email list!

    < How incarceration affects families: Interview with Lateefah Simon
By Rina Palta

Lateefah Simon is the director of the California Futures Initiative at the Rosenberg Foundation in San Francisco.


Nationally, women are the fastest growing prison population. And one of the highest female prison populations in the world is here in California. That's slated to change under the state's new realignment program. The number of women in prison is supposed to shrink drastically, by as much as half, over the next few years.

Anticipating that change, California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation officials announced they're converting one of the state's three women's prisons to a men's facility. Lateefah Simon, director of the California Futures Initiative at the Rosenberg Foundation in San Francisco, says this will be the first time the state has emptied a prison.

KALW's criminal justice editor, Rina Palta, sat down with Simon to talk about what's happening in California, and what sorts of alternatives are on their way. She started by asking Simon what the new California Futures Initiative is about.

RINA PALTA: What's unique to the experience of women in prison versus traditional male experience in prison?

LATEEFAH SIMON: The question about the uniqueness of women who are incarcerated in California is an interesting one. What we know is that prior to many of these policy changes that are happening right now as we speak in California, California has been a mass incarcerator of women. We would incarcerate 9,000 women per year in our state's prisons. We also know that 67% of women who are locked-up in our state prison system are mothers, many of them are single mothers. We also know for women who are incarcerated, amongst those 67%, we have to think about where their children are.

PALTA: So, talk a little bit how realignment is impacting this population in California and what's going on so far.

SIMON: Advocates and folks like the Rosenberg Foundation who are involved in philanthropy and supporting groups who are working for change... Some would say it's too early to say how realignment would work out for women. But what we do know is that the CDCR's proposal to close and convert Valley State Prison... Literally the first time in a generation that I know that we've talked about emptying the prison and figuring out ways to send women home. That is a very clear indicator that realignment will be one of the most important reforms, critical reforms and efforts.

When women come home, non-violent women come home, children connected back with their mothers... The statistics say they are all over the place, and they are clear when women are reunited with their cildren they are less likely to go back to prison, they are less likely to commit crimes. So, as a women's advocate for my whole career, I am really excited. And of course no policy is perfect and that's why we have to keep our ears to the ground and we have to keep supporting advocates who are pushing the lines and creating opportunities for women. It's extremely exciting!

PALTA: What do we know about how incarceration impacts families? And what happens to kids when their mothers are incarcerated? Do they usually end up with other relatives? Are they put in the foster system? How is this impacting the larger community?

SIMON: There are some great advocates who have been working on the issue of incarcerated parents. And I don't believe that there is a blanket statement on what happens to kids when their mothers enter the criminal justice system. There are number of things that actually happen.

One of the things that we are really clear about and also focusing on is the issue of child trauma. Some of the most profound advocates on this issue say that when a child is separated from their parents, 100% of them experience post-traumatic stress. One hundred percent! Many of the women who I'm talking to who are right now housed in the California state prison system for non-violent crimes – their parents are struggling, their mothers are struggling with addiction. They're caught on non-violent felony charges, they are taken away to prison. There is a number of things that can happen depending on the circumstances of the arrest and conviction. What we hope is – but we also know it's not necessarily true across the board – is that a family member can take these children in and work with them and love them until the day their mother gets out of prison.

Anyone who has grown up without their parents suffer. It's difficult. But when your mother is behind the bars three to four hours away from you, and you are not able to see your parent, you are not able to take part in what some would call a normal childhood. It's extremely difficult. And we know that there is trauma associated with that; there is trauma associated with poverty, there is trauma associated with law enforcement. There are so many things that these young people must hold on their shoulders. We got to get out act together as a state.

PALTA: That's a good question actually. What does that mean? What does that look like? Everyone always calls in after these stories asking, “What can I do?" That's a good question – as a community, how can you embrace this population that's coming home and what can you do to help?

SIMON: There are so many ways that folks can get involved. If you want to write letters to your legislator about making sure that supportive housing and alternative citizen programs are well-funded within the next year. Because again, successful reentry, I should say, can only happen when people come home and there are opportunities for them to heal and transform. Of course, helping on a policy level and representing your county on the state level so they know how you feel.

But I always say give to your local food bank; give clothes to the local women's shelter, the domestic violence shelter; make sure that the children in community schools have lunch and breakfast. I mean, what we are talking about is family reunification. What we are talking about is making sure that the counties do it right. What we are talking about is making sure that the state no longer would waste $50,000 times 9,000 women per year, many of those non-violent offenders who simply want to care for their children and get rehabilitation.

I just feel that there are so many ways that folks can help out on a very micro-level. But also it's the voices within our congregations, the voices within our temples, the voices within our masses, the voices at Occupy, the voices around the state – we have to make sure that the voices of women who are coming home are amplified. Because in fact – I know this so well – in communities that are most impacted by poverty, by crime, it is women who are holding-up those communities. It is the grandmothers. It is the mothers. You go into any community whether it is Echo Park or Hunter's Point, and you knock on any door, and it's the mother with children who is going to answer that door. Until we figure out how to really mend our families we have to step up and support women and families.

    < Murder Victim Family Members Speak out Against Juvenile LWOP
January 13, 2012

Help us change California’s law: young people should never be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. Please watch this quick YouTube video featuring murder victim family members saying why they support SB 9, a bill that would give second chances to youth.

By viewing it, you’ll be letting legislators who look at it next week know that many people think this issue is important. Pass it on!

If you like it, click “like.” Put it up on your Facebook page, and send it to friends and family.

    < Please Sign Petition for Amber Riley, Sentenced as a Teen, Doing Life

Click here: Criminal Justice Petition: Teenager Deserves New trial |

    < National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners

Proposal to Occupy Oakland General Assembly

This is the proposal that was passed at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly, on Monday, January 9th. For more information and/or to endorse, email occupy4prisoners [at] gmail [dot] com.



We are calling for February 20th, 2012 to be a “National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners.”

In the Bay Area we will “Occupy San Quentin,” to stand in solidarity with the people confined within its walls and to demand the end of the incarceration as a means of containing those dispossessed by unjust social policies.


Prisons have become a central institution in American society, integral to our politics, economy and our culture.

Between 1976 and 2000, the United States built on average a new prison each week and the number of imprisoned Americans increased tenfold.

Prison has made the threat of torture part of everyday life for millions of individuals in the United States, especially the 7.3 million people—who are disproportionately people of color—currently incarcerated or under correctional supervision.

Imprisonment itself is a form of torture. The typical American prison, juvenile hall and detainment camp is designed to maximize degradation, brutalization, and dehumanization.

Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow. Between 1970 and 1995, the incarceration of African Americans increased 7 times. Currently African Americans make up 12 % of the population in the U.S. but 53% of the nation’s prison population. There are more African Americans under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

The prison system is the most visible example of policies of punitive containment of the most marginalized and oppressed in our society. Prior to incarceration, 2/3 of all prisoners lived in conditions of economic hardship. While the perpetrators of white-collar crime largely go free.

In addition, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that in 2008 alone there was a loss in economic input associated with people released from prison equal to $57 billion to $65 billion.

We call on Occupies across the country to support:

1. Abolishing unjust sentences, such as the Death Penalty, Life Without the Possibility of Parole, Three Strikes, Juvenile Life Without Parole, and the practice of trying children as adults.

2. Standing in solidarity with movements initiated by prisoners and taking action to support prisoner demands, including the Georgia Prison Strike and the Pelican Bay/California Prisoners Hunger Strikes.

3. Freeing political prisoners, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning and Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, a Black Panther Party member incarcerated since 1969.

4. Demanding an end to the repression of activists, specifically the targeting of African Americans and those with histories of incarceration, such as Khali in Occupy Oakland who could now face a life sentence, on trumped-up charges, and many others being falsely charged after only exercising their First Amendment rights.

5. Demanding an end to the brutality of the current system, including the torture of those who have lived for many years in Secured Housing Units (SHUs) or in solitary confinement.

6. Demanding that our tax money spent on isolating, harming and killing prisoners, instead be invested in improving the quality of life for all and be spent on education, housing, health care, mental health care and other human services which contribute to the public good.

Bay Area

On February 20th, 2012 we will organize in front of San Quentin, where male death-row prisoners are housed, where Stanley Tookie Williams was immorally executed by the State of California in 2005, and where Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on death row, is currently imprisoned.

At this demonstration, through prisoners’ writings and other artistic and political expressions, we will express the voices of the people who have been inside the walls. The organizers of this action will reach out to the community for support and participation. We will contact social service organizations, faith institutions, labor organizations, schools, prisoners, former prisoners and their family members.

National and International Outreach

We will reach out to Occupies across the country to have similar demonstrations outside of prisons, jails, juvenile halls and detainment facilities or other actions as such groups deem appropriate. We will also reach out to Occupies outside of the United States and will seek to attract international attention and support.

We have chosen Monday, February 20, 2012 at San Quentin, because it is a non-weekend day. Presidents’ Day avoids the weekend conflict with prisoners’ visitation, which would likely be shut down if we held a demonstration over the weekend.


Angela Davis
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Jack Bryson
Kevin Cooper Defense Committee
Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu Jamal
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu Jamal
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Occupied Oakland Tribune
Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression
Prison Activist Resource Center
Prison Watch Network
San Francisco Bay View Newspaper
Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network

    < Legislation to Allow Media Access to Prisoners
Media Access to Prisons Under Legislative Review
Prisoners Continue to Struggle Against SHU Conditions

Press Contact: Jay Donahue
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – The public safety committee of the California State Assembly will review the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) policies regarding media access to prisons and prisoners in a public hearing today at 9am in room 126 of the Capitol building. According to the language of the proposed bill, A.B. 1270 seeks to restore the media’s ability to conduct pre-arranged in-person interviews with specific prisoners according to the discretion of CDCR. The bill would require CDCR to respond to media requests for in-person interviews within a 48 hour period. “Passing this bill would be a really big success for both prisoners and the press in terms of being able to hold the CDCR accountable,” said Carol Strickman, an attorney with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. “Lack of media access to prisoners has created a real issue with transparency regarding the deplorable conditions in California prisons.” Media representatives were allowed to request interviews with prisoners for over two decades prior to 1996, when the CDCR made changes to their policy through an internal regulation.

During prisoner hunger strikes in both July and September 2011, members of the press made repeated requests of the CDCR to interview strikers held in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) that were protesting conditions which have been sited by numerous human rights groups as inhumane. Prisoners detained in the SHU are kept in total isolation without telephone privileges and with only limited family visits. SHU prisoners are confined to small concrete cells for 23 hours of the day without any contact, conditions that have been shown to exacerbate mental illness. A number of prisoners at Pelican Bay have been in the SHU for 20 years or more. After significant pressure from members of the press and the public, media representatives were allowed to tour the Pelican Bay SHU and interview several prisoners on August 17, 2011. “The media visit to the SHU was essentially a CDCR publicity stunt,” said Emily Harris, statewide coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “This was a highly orchestrated event designed to show only what the CDCR wanted the public to see. A.B. 1270 will allow the media and the public a better look at exactly how the CDCR uses $9.2 billion dollars in tax payer money annually.”

Even with this bill on the table, SHU prisoners around the state continue to struggle to make gains around the five core demands laid out during the recent hunger strikes. The CDCR is reportedly reviewing its controversial gang validation procedure with a proposal expected for review by stakeholders in the coming months. Molly Porzig of Critical Resistance notes, “Prisoners took an extraordinary risk by going on hunger strike and they continue to face retaliation for doing so. They brought the conditions in California’s SHUs to light and we will continue to struggle to make sure their demands are met.”

For more information please visit

    < Alternative Custody Program for women and The 2012-2013 State Budget
Author: Diana

"Here's what the new state budget for 2012-2013 says about expanding the alternative custody program for women:

Alternative Custody for Women
Proposal to Balance the Budget:

Approximately 70 percent of the current female inmate population is classified as non‑violent offenders with convictions for property or drug‑related crimes. Additionally, a majority of the women in state prison, including those with prior serious or violent convictions, are classified as low‑risk. Increased participation by women in programs such as substance abuse counseling and vocational education will enhance prison safety and rehabilitation efforts and further reduce the state’s adult inmate population. The Budget provides for the expansion of Alternative Custody for Women to include women who have a prior serious or violent conviction. This will allow CDCR to place these offenders in community‑based treatment programs in an effort to achieve successful outcomes and reduce recidivism among this population. Savings resulting from the reduction in the female inmate population will be used to cover the cost of treatment programs in the community. The anticipated population decline in future years is expected to generate long‑term savings of $2.5 million beginning in 2014‑15 and $5 million annually thereafter. In addition, the state expects to avoid future incarceration costs related to this population due to the positive effects of rehabilitative and therapeutic programs provided through alternative custody."

    < Help Close California's Youth Prisons
Just in -- Governor Jerry Brown called for the closure of California's youth prisons! As part of Brown's 2012-2013 budget, the Division of Juvenile Justice would stop taking youth beginning in 2013. He proposed this last year as well, but then caved to pressure and backed down. We simply can no longer waste money on an expensive, failed youth prison system at the expense of schools, hospitals, and libraries.

This year we need to make sure it closes. Join me in sending a message to the Governor and other leaders urging them to finally shut it down.

To take action on this issue, click on the link below:
Help close California's youth prisons!


On January 24th, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors will discuss whether or not to approve Sheriff Baca's latest plan to rob LA: a new jail that will cost $2.66 billion dollars ($1.4 billion to build and $1.26 billion in interest to bankers).

We REALLY need to show Board of Supes that we don't want $2 billion plus spent on jails!!The only way to do that is to have a presence on Jan 24th
9:30 a.m., in the Board's Hearing Room Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

What can you do to stop the expansion?

Call your Supervisor and urge them to VOTE NO on the jail expansion Click here to find your Supervisor

Sign & forward the petition urging LA Supervisors to vote NO on the jail expansion. Send the link to as many people as you can.

Help us organize!

A coalition of residents and community-based groups meets every Sunday at 5 pm at Chuco's Justice Center. Come join the fight.Email Emily Harris, CURB Coordinator, for more information. Chuco's is located at 1137 E. Redondo Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90302

With the resources Sheriff Baca already has, he has created an international disgrace in LA County jails, where the torture of inadequate medical and mental healthcare and pervasive brutal beatings are routine.

It's time to stop using LA jails as mental health hospitals and homeless shelters. The only sustainable solution to overcrowding is to send less people to jail.

LA does not have $2.66 billion dollars to waste on harmful jails. 14.5% of LA residents are unemployed; 40% live without health insurance; and at least 51,000 people are homeless.

What could LA do with $2.66 Billion?

$55 million: hire 500 registered nurses
$50 million: hire 400 people in the Dept. of Mental Health
$55 million: hire 375 people for prevention and early intervention services
$366.4 million: Stop Medi-Cal, Mental Health Services, CalWORKs, In-Home Support Services cuts at the state level from hitting LA residents
$816 million:End homelessness in LA (rent 40,000 2 bedroom apartments for a year at $1700/month)
$1.3 billion: close LAUSD 2011-2013 anticipated budget gaps, save further cuts

Total: $2.64 Billion

    < State high court revises parole appeal guidelines
"Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, December 30, 2011
California courts have been too quick to second-guess decisions by the parole board and the governor that deny release to convicted murderers and other life prisoners, the state Supreme Court said Thursday.

The court was responding to a series of lower-court decisions that followed its last major ruling on parole review standards, in August 2008. In that ruling, the state's high court said both the Board of Parole Hearings and the governor, who has veto power over the board's decisions, could deny release of a parole-eligible prisoner only if the evidence showed the prisoner was still dangerous, and could not rely solely on the facts of the earlier crime.

Judges and appellate courts have relied on that ruling to overturn dozens of parole denials, finding no evidence that a prisoner was currently dangerous and questioning conclusions by the board and the governor that the inmate lacked "insight" into his or her past criminal conduct.

But in Thursday's decision, in a case from San Diego County, the justices said courts must accept the board's findings on lack of insight, or any other basis suggesting the prisoner is still dangerous, if there is any evidence in the record to support it.

"The executive decision of the board or the governor is upheld unless it is arbitrary or procedurally flawed," said Justice Carol Corrigan in an opinion signed by four of her colleagues. "The court is not empowered to reweigh the evidence. ... The scope of judicial review is limited."

The ruling clarifies standards for hundreds of suits filed each year by life prisoners challenging parole denials. In one such case, a state appeals court ordered a new parole hearing Dec. 21 for a San Francisco man who fatally stabbed a pregnant woman in 1984, saying the parole board had not presented any evidence that he was still dangerous.
The ruling will make courts "very reluctant to overturn the governor or the board, even more reluctant than they are now," said Michael Beckman, lawyer for a prisoner in Thursday's case. Beckman contended it would allow the board, which approves parole in only a small fraction of the cases, "to continue breaking the law" that says parole should normally be granted.

Beckman's client, Richard Shaputis, was 50 when he fatally shot his wife, Erma, at their El Cajon home in January 1987. He claimed it was an accident, but the court said he had beaten her many times in the past and had abused his former wife and molested one of his daughters. He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 17 years to life.

Shaputis, now 75, has a spotless record in prison, has taken part in rehabilitation programs, is in ill health and was judged by private psychologists to pose a low risk of violence. The parole board denied his parole in 2009.

A state appeals court overruled the board. Thursday's ruling blocked Shaputis' parole.

The ruling can be viewed at"

    < Human Rights Watch Releases New Report that Shows Juvenile Lifers are Suffering in Solitary Confinement
January 3, 2012

by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

The United States is the only national in the world that doles out life sentences for crimes committed while the offender was below the age of 18. According to a report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch, “approximately 2,570 youth offenders serving life without parole sentences in adult US prisons,” and as inmates they ”experience conditions that violate fundamental human rights.”

The report “draws on six years of research, and interviews and correspondence with correctional officials and hundreds of youth offenders serving life without parole,” and presages the Supreme Court’s upcoming review of juvenile LWOP. “Youth offenders are serving life without parole sentences in 38 states and in federal prisons,” HRW reports. “Prison policies that channel resources to inmates who are expected to be released often result in denying youth serving life without parole opportunities for education, development, and rehabilitation.”

Among the report’s shocking findings is the fact that “nearly every youth offender serving life without parole reported physical violence or sexual abuse by other inmates or corrections officers.” Unsurprisingly, “Youth offenders commonly reported having thoughts of suicide, feelings of intense loneliness, or depression. Isolation was frequently compounded by solitary confinement. In the past five years, at least three youth offenders serving life without parole sentences in the United States have committed suicide.”

In its section on “Protective and Punitive Isolation,” the report finds that “Youth offenders often spend significant amounts of their time in US prisons isolated from the general prison population. Such segregation can be an attempt to protect vulnerable youth offenders from the general population, to punish infractions of prison rules, or to manage particular categories of inmates, such as alleged gang members. Youth offenders frequently described their experience in segregation as a profoundly difficult ordeal.”

It continues: “Life in long-term isolation usually involves segregating inmates for 23 or more hours a day in their cells. Offenders contacted by Human Rights Watch described the devastating loneliness of spending their days alone, without any human contact, except for when a guard passes them a food tray through a slot in the door, or when guards touch their wrists when handcuffing them through the same slot before taking them to the exercise room or for a shower once a week. Youth had the same experience and feelings whether they had been isolated to protect or to punish them.”

The report’s findings on the use of solitary confinement on juvenile lifers (with corresponding footnotes) appears below. You can also read the full report–which includes a series of recommendations to the president, Congress, corrections officials, and judges– online or as a PDF.

Protection that Harms

A growing consensus views protective isolation as acceptable only as a last resort and interim measure. [56] Yet isolation is commonly used by prison officials as a quick solution to protection challenges­including the challenge of keeping a young person safe in a prison full of adults.

Youth offenders reported to Human Rights Watch that they sometimes sought out protective custody to avoid harm. Occasionally, prison authorities recognize the problems a youth offender is having and take corrective measures. Jeffrey W., who entered prison at age 17, wrote:

At the beginning, the focus was on surviving…. Naturally, I was the target of sexual predators and had to fight off a couple rape attempts…. These were hardened, streetwise convicts who had been in prison 10, 15, 20, 30 years and I was a naive 18-year-old who knew nothing about prison life…. Because of the rape attempts on me … state prison officials [said] I should have been classified as needing protection. I was soon sent to the state’s protection unit…. I stayed there for seven years until I was returned to the general population­older, wiser, and capable of surviving general population. [57]Unfortunately, segregation can exacerbate the lack of opportunities for programs described in more detail later in this report:

Right now I’m not receiving no schooling or counseling due to being in ASU Administrative Segretion Unit. They have no schooling for me or etc. They are way out of conduct here. I been asking to receive some GED work but I haven't receive no response. I wish to receive schooling. I learn how to read and write in prison and I want to be successful. I might get out one day. [58]Prolonged periods of isolation can be devastating for anyone, but are especially devastating for young offenders. [59]

Punishment with a Permanent Impact

Youth offenders are often placed in long-term isolation or super-maximum security confinement as a disciplinary sanction. Dennis Burbank, an administrative officer at Colorado State Penitentiary, offered an explanation for why youth offenders serving life without parole often end up confined in long-term isolation:

One [factor] is age­when you come in at a young age with life without, there’s not a whole lot of light at the end of the tunnel. Also, it’s kind of a guy thing: the young ones come in with a lot of fear, anxiety, paranoia, and they want to make a name for themselves­so they have a tendency to act out…. They say [to themselves] ‘I’ve got to impress everyone with what a bad-ass I am.’ [60]Long-term isolation can have lasting negative effects on inmates. Troy L. came to prison at age 16 after committing first degree murder at the age of 15. He spent “something like 300 days in an isolation cell” when he was awaiting trial and had been transferred to isolation several times since for “different reasons.” [61] Troy said he had spent so much time in isolation that he was unable to feel comfortable relating to and living around other people, especially now that he was housed in the general population barracks:

If you just see what these barracks are like, they got us piled in there like some cockroaches. And I’ve spent so much time over the years … in just cells and lockdown for different reasons. And it’s hard for me to deal with just having so many people around. So much­I can’t think­you know what I mean? [62]Human Rights Watch has systematically documented and advocated against the human rights violations inherent in the incarceration of individuals in super-maximum security prisons throughout the United States. [63] Segregated living also has long-term psychological implications. [64]

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
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415 863-9977

Questions and comments may be sent to

    < The current state (demands and progress) of the Pelican Bay Struggle: Message: People need to remain focused, and continue to apply pressure on CDCR via letters, emails, fax, etc.
Authors: T. Ashker, A. Castellanos, Sitawa (s/n Dewberry), A. Guillen

Pelican Bay Short Corridor Update
(December 2011)

A Shout-out of respect and solidarity – from the Pelican Bay Short Corridor – Collective – to all similarly situated prisoners subject to the continuing torturous conditions of confinement in these barbaric SHU & Ad/Seg units across this country and around the world.

This is our update of where things currently stand and where we’re going with this struggle – for an end to draconian policies and practices – summarized in our “Formal Complaint” (and many related documents published and posted online, since early 2011)

As many of you know… beginning in early (2010), the PBSP – SHU Short Corridor Collective initiated action to educate people and bring wide spread exposure to – the (25+) years of ongoing – progressive human rights violations going unchecked here in the California Department of Corruption – via dissemination of our “Formal Complaint” to 100’s of people, organizations, lawmakers, Secretary Cate, etc… wherein, we also sought support and meaningful change.

The response by CDCR – Secretary Cate was “file an inmate appeal” (collectively, we’d filed thousands); therefore, after much reconsideration and dialogue, the collective decided to take the fight to the next level via peaceful protest action – in the form of hunger strike.

With the above in mind – beginning in early (2011)… we again sought to educate people about the ongoing torture prevalent in these prison systems – solitary confinement units; and pointing out our position that – the administrative grievance process is a sham, and the court system’s turned a blind eye to such blatantly illegal practices – Leaving us with no other meaningful avenue for obtaining relief, other than to put our lives on the line and thereby draw the line and force changes, via collective peaceful protest hunger strike action.

We believed this was the only – fully advantageous – way for us to expose such outrageous abuse of state power, to the world and gain the outside support needed to help force real change.

We requested support in the form of – asking people to write letters to those in power… we received more support than we ever expected – in the form of letters, rallies, and hunger strike “participants” – more than (18,000) similarly situated prisoners and some people on the outside!

All united in solidarity, with a collective awareness – that the draconian torture practices described in our “Formal Complaint” are prevalent across the land; and that – united in peaceful action, we have the power to force changes.

The hunger strike actions of (2011) achieved some success, in the form of – mainstream world wide exposure – solid, continuing outside support – some small improvements to SHU/Ad-Seg unit conditions … and assurances of more meaningful – substantive changes to the overall policies and practices re: basis for placement and amount of time spent, in such units – a substantive review of all prisoners files, per new criteria – and more change to the actual conditions in such units.

However, this fight is far from over! Notably, the second hunger strike action was suspended in mid-October … in response to top CDCR administrator’s presentation that the substantive changes be finalized… would be provided to “the stakeholders” (this includes our attorneys), within 60 days for comment. To date, CDCR hasn’t produced anything re: SHU/Ad-Seg policy changes; and PBSP’s Warden has not even replied to the (2) memo’s we’ve sent him concerning – additional program – privilege issues, per core demand #5 (see footnote #1 below)

Naturally, many people are not happy about CDCR’s failure to abide by their word – again – and they are asking… “what’s the next move in this struggle?”

Based on our collective discussions, our response is … people need to remain focused, and continue to apply pressure on CDCR, via letters, emails, fax, etc… summarizing the continuing core demands – immediately! There’s real power in numbers!! (see addresses to contact below, at footnote #2)

It’s important for everyone to stay objective and on the same page – remember… united we win, divided we lose. And, if we don’t see real substantive changes within the next 6 months… we’ll have to re-evaluate our position.

Additionally, now is a good time for people to start a dialogue about changing the climate on these level IV mainlines… As it stands now, these lines are warehouses, with all the money meant for programs – rehabilitation, going into guard pockets.

It’s in all of our best interests to change this in a big way, and thereby force CDCR to open these lines up and provide all of us with the programs and rehabilitative services that we all should have coming to us!!

Respect and Solidarity,

T. Ashker, A. Castellanos, Sitawa (s/n Dewberry), A. Guillen

-Dec. 2011-

Footnote#1: To date, we’ve received zero improvements re: core demand #5 … while Corcoran and Tehachapi have gained on canteen and dip-pull up bars – which, is all good. This is an example of what we pointed out in our “Formal Complaint” re: disparate treatment at PBSP-SHU compared to other SHU’s.

This is also a typical CDCR attempt to create discord and disruption to our unified struggle…we’re certain this feeble move will fail because all of us understand what our main objective is – an end to long term torture in these isolation units! It is our fundamental right to be treated humanely… we can no longer accept state sanctioned torture – of our selves! (and, our loved ones!) and we remain unified in our resistance!!

Footnote#2: Addresses of people to write

1. Tom Ammiano, Assemblyman 2. Governor Edmund G. Brown
Capitol Bldg. Rm# 4005 State Capitol, Ste #1173
Sacramento, CA 95814 Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone# 916-319-2013 Phone# 916-446-2841
Fax# 916-319-2113 Fax# 916-558-3160

3. CDCR – Secretary Matthew Cate 4. Carol Strickman, Attorney at Law
1515 S. St. Ste. #330 1540 Market Street, Ste. #490
Sacramento, CA 95811 San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone# 916-323-6001 Phone# 415-255-7036
Fax# 415-552-3150

All inmates writing to these people should be sent ‘confidential mail’ and anyone outside of prison, supporters, family members, etc… please write and also email.

    < SB 391 has been withdrawn!
5 January 2012

SB 391 was introduced late in the legislative session by Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) and he has now withdrawn the bill! If passed, SB 391 would have allowed parole commissioners to deny parole to any life term inmate based SOLELY ON THE LIFE CRIME, no other reasons needed.

Please take a few minutes to read more on the Life Support Alliance website. Thank you!

    < Photos from the 15th Anniversary of The Fire Inside and Art Auction
The Fire Inside 15th Anniversary Celebration was powerful and energizing. Thank you to so many people . . . all of our generous and wise performers and speakers, volunteers, sponsors, donors, supporters, everyone who attended the celebration and more!

Here are a few photos from the event, and we look forward to posting many more soon!

Sistahs of the Drum2.jpg
Sistahs of the Drum performing at 15th Anniversary Event

Connie Keel, MC Wanda Sabir, Keisha Burton and MC Deirdre Wilson at 15th Anniversary Event

Angela Davis and Wanda Sabir
Dr. Angela Davis and MC Wanda Sabir at 15th Anniversary Event

Melanie DeMore and Patricia Wright Photo.jpg
Singer/Songwriter Melanie DeMore with photo of Patricia Wright at 15th Anniversary Event

Photo credit: Scott Braley

    < Take Action to Stop Prison and Jail Expansion
23 December 2011

Several members of CCWP participated in Californians United for a Responsible Budget's (CURB's) Lobby Day in Sacramento on December 12, 2011, with a focus on a moratorium of jail and prison expansion. The day was quite productive, but just the beginning, with much more work to be done. Please see CURB's website for ways to get involved and to sign petitions opposing more jail beds in Los Angeles, Riverside and Sacramento Counties. Thank you!

    < Convening of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement
The Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement held a national convening in Los Angeles on November 2nd, 2011. Please check out their powerful national platform on their website, and feel free to share with others!

    < Compassionate Medical Release for Patricia Wright!
Please sign the petition asking for compassionate release of Patricia Wright. Find out more about Patricia Wright's story and the campaign on her behalf.

    < California Prisoner Hunger Strike Update
16 October 2011

The second recent hunger strike by California prisoners has come to an end. As prisoners throughout California continue their struggle for human rights and against torture, we must keep up the pressure on Governor Jerry Brown and the CDCR as the 5 core demands have only been minimally addressed.

Please visit this website for a more complete update regarding the Hunger Strike and the prisoners' five core demands:,and click here for listings of upcoming actions in the US and Canada.

These videos capture the entirety of the public hearings on August 23rd, brought about as a result of prisoners going on hunger strike and the mass wave of the pressure across the country that followed. Part 1 of 2, Part 2 of 2.

To sign an online the petition in support of the hunger strike, please visit:

To view a video of the July 18th Sacramento demonstration, please click here.

    < Attorneys Needed
Countless women in California's prisons are serving life sentences as a result of being abused by an intimate partner; some were convicted for their involvement in the death of an abusive partner while others were forced by an abusive partner to participate in or confess to a violent crime. Most have no prior criminal record and have already spent half their lives in prison. Some of these women have a legal basis to challenge their original convictions, but are provided no legal resources to present their case and obtain their freedom.

In our view, it is criminal that a change in law that could apply to someone serving a prison sentence does not automatically include access to legal assistance from the state to present that evidence. Instead, this system and our society are comfortable allowing people to spend decades in prison serving unduly harsh sentences due to a lack of resources. Who are these people in prison? The majority are people of color and/or those with little economic power.

Their only recourse is to rely on the good will of those law firms who do pro bono work to represent them in parole hearings and with writs of habeas corpus under Penal Code section 1473.5, on the basis that the intimate partner battering they experienced was never considered by a court. These efforts can take years and require diligent and intensive legal work.

Groups like the California Habeas Project and our project Free Battered Women are the link on the outside to educate people and do outreach to lawyers. Through the efforts of the Habeas Project, 31 women have been released from prison since the passage of P.C. 1473.5 in 2002. However, even with these efforts there are 17 women who are still waiting for legal help.

We also know many other life-term prisoners who desperately need pro bono or low cost attorneys for representation at parole board hearings and with other legal matters. Please contact us at to find out how you can help.

Additionally, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners is grateful for the remarkable contributions of the following firms: Arnold & Porter; Bingham McCutchen; Covington & Burling; Davis Wright Tremaine; Dechert LLP; Foley & Lardner; Gibson Dunn; Heller Ehrman; Howrey LLP; Katten Muchin Rosenman; Kazan, McClain, et al; Keker & Van Nest; Kirkland & Ellis; Jones Day; Latham & Watkins; Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Morgan Lewis; Morrison & Foerster; Nixon Peabody; O’Melveny & Meyers; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Paul Hastings; Perkins Coie; Pillsbury Winthrop; Proskauer Rose; Reed Smith; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom; Squire, Sanders & Dempsey; Wilson Sonsini; Winston & Strawn; and numerous solo practitioners.

Thank you!

    < Who are we as a people?

Who are we as a people?
Who are we as a people if we cannot forgive our children?
Who are we as a people if we cannot help teach our children?
Who are we as a people if we cannot speak out for our children?
Who are we as a people if we cannot help our children?
Who are we as a people if we cannot fight for the rights of our children?

Just who are we as a people?
Who are we as a people to look a child in the eye and say "you deserve to be looked at as an adult even though you are a child".
Who are we as a people not to see, that child could be your child.
Who are we as a people to judge a child for his actions and not his heart?
Who are we as a people to determine that a child life is over without giving him/her a second chance?
Who are we as a people to ignore that the child is really just a child.
Who are we as a people to sit back as if nothing is going on with that child?

Just who are we as a people?
How can we be as a people and for the people if we cannot realize that something is going on with our children today?
How can we as a people turn our backs on our children!

My child! Your child! Our child! God's child!
Who are we as a people not to want to help our children! God's children!


Written and read by former prisoner La Keisha Burton at CCWP's screening of Juvies on May 13th, 2011. La Keisha was given a life sentence after she was arrested at 15 years old, and served 18 years at the California Institute for Women, an adult correctional facility. To listen to Wanda Sabir's radio interview with La Keisha, please click here.

    < Faith Organizations Come Out Against Mass Incarceration, February 2011

Criminal Justice Reform Faith Letter

The undersigned faith organizations are committed to ending mass incarceration in the United States. Our intent is to work with Congress to pass criminal justice reforms that refocus our energy and efforts on the restoration of individuals, families, and communities affected by crime through prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programs, and appropriate accountability. This focus will increase public safety, strengthen families, and reduce the enormous social and economic costs of maintaining such a large prison population.

We represent millions of Americans, many of whom provide pastoral care for prisoners while they are incarcerated, provide direct services for those reentering society after incarceration, and sponsor various drug and crime prevention services and programs for our constituencies and the community at large. These ministries often exist because of many congregations which are made up of in part or entirely by individuals impacted by the criminal justice system, whether they are formerly incarcerated individuals, victims of crime, or impacted family members. Thus, our organizations have a direct interest in the state of the criminal justice system and are mobilized to advocate and work for common sense reforms . . .

    < Help Patricia Wright get Compassionate Release
Patricia Wright currently has Stage IV terminal cancer and is trying to obtain compassionate release from California Correctional Women's Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla. She is working towards 5,000 signatures in support of her release. Please click here to sign her petition.

To read Patricia's article on living conditions at CCWF please click here. Thank you.

    < Mary Shields is Free!
17 January 2011

After serving over 19 years in prison, Mary Shields was released on parole on Martin Luther King's birthday!

This was a long struggle for Mary who was first granted parole in 2006 and then had her date snatched back from her when the California Governor recommended against her release and the Parole Board rescinded the date. Mary did not give up and neither did her family, friends and supporters around the country who supported her with funds, letters and love. CCWP continued to visit and work with Mary and she was represented at her last Parole Board hearing by a wonderful pro bono lawyer, Krys Burgess. Again, she was found suitable for parole and this time it went through!

Mary sends her tremendous gratitude for all the support she has received over the years.

    < Lucasville, Ohio Prisoners on Hunger Strike - Update
January 2011

Prisoners unjustly sentenced to death for the Lucasville (OH) prison uprising recently went on hunger strike, to demand that they be placed on Death Row rather than be held in solitary confinement (and to initiate a campaign that will hopefully lead to executive clemency).

Here is a recent update:

"Denis O'Hearn 4:33pm Jan 15

Folks, I have a short report on today's rally at OSP in support of the three men on hunger strike. But, first, I can now report to you the wonderful news that all three have resumed eating because they achieved a victory. The prison authorities have provided, in writing, a set of conditions that virtually meets the demands set out by Bomani Shakur in his letter to Warden Bobby . . . .

The hunger strikers send you all thanks for your support and state that they couldn’t have won their demands without support from people from around the world. But they add to their statement the following: this time they were fighting about their conditions of confinement but now they begin the fight for their lives. They were wrongfully convicted of complicity in 1993 murders in Lucasville prison and have faced retribution because they refused to provide snitch testimony against others who actually committed those murders. Now, because of Ohio's (and other states') application of the death penalty, they still face execution at a future date. Ohio is today exceeded only by Texas in its enthusiasm for applying the death penalty. We need to take some of this energy that was created around the hunger strike to help these men fight for their lives.

So, we may celebrate a great victory for now. Common sense has prevailed in a dark place where there appeared to be no light. But watch this space for further news on their ongoing campaign."

    < A Step Forward in the Fight to Free Sara Kruzan
January 2011

Sara Kruzan was sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) at the age of 16. Due to a diligent grassroots campaign her sentence was recently commuted to 25 years to life. Although CCWP believes that Sara, and all those living behind bars, should be freed, we celebrate this victory in the hope that Sara will now have a chance of spending part of her life free.

    < A Tribute to Marilyn Buck
This video tribute to Marilyn Buck is wonderful and inspirational. To watch the video, please click here. Thank you.

    < What we are reading: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
We recommend Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow. On Wednesday, October 6th, we had an enlightening discussion about chapters 2 and 4, and we hope that everyone gets the chance to read the book in its entirety. Spontaneous book discussions are welcomed!

    < Help Free Sara Kruzan!
From the Free Sara Kruzan website: "There are approximately 225 juveniles in California serving a life without parole sentence. California has the worst racial disparity rate in the nation for sentencing juveniles to life without parole. Black youth are given this sentence at 22 times the rate of white youth.

One such case involves Sara Kruzan, now 31. She was raised in Riverside by her abusive, drug-addicted mother. Sara met her father only three times in her life because he was in prison.

Since the age of 9, Sara suffered from severe depression for which she was hospitalized several times. At the age of 11, she met a 31-year-old man named G.G. who molested her and began grooming her to become a prostitute. At age 13, she began working as a child prostitute for G.G. and was repeatedly molested by him. At age 16, Sara was convicted of killing him. She was sentenced to prison for the rest of her life despite her background and a finding by the California Youth Authority that she was amendable to treatment offered in the juvenile system.

'As a society we’ve learned a lot since the time we started using life without parole for children,' said Elizabeth Calvin, a children’s rights advocate with Human Rights Watch. 'We now know that this sentence provides no deterrent effect. While children who commit serious crimes should be held accountable, public safety can be protected without subjecting youth to the harshest prison sentence possible.'"

Sara will soon have a resentencing hearing. To sign a petition supporting her release, please click here. Thank you.

    < Elimination of First Mandatory Minimum Since Nixon Administration
A bit of good news, though there is still much work to be done against the Drug War . . .

House Joins Senate in Ditching Crack Disparity
FAMM Hails Elimination of First Mandatory Minimum Since Nixon Administration

Date: July 28, 2010
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel,

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark legislation to dramatically reduce the sentencing disparity between federal crack and powder cocaine sentences and to repeal the five-year mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine. The bill, S. 1789, already won unanimous approval from the Senate in March and now goes to the White House for President Obama’s certain signature. Its passage marks the first time that Congress has repealed a mandatory minimum drug sentence since the Nixon administration.

    < Interview with Maria Suarez, former prisoner and slave
For almost 28 years Maria Suarez was held against her will. First by a slaveholder and then imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit.

She was tricked into slavery when she was 15 years old. Her captor abused her mentally, physically, and spiritually. He threatened to hurt her family so even when the police and her family tried to help, she told them everything was okay. Her dreams of a better life were fading. "My dreams just were crushed. They never let me bloom, like a rose. They never let the rose grow up to be a rose.”

Maria says that for 28 years she was just looking for, “A little bit of justice.”

Her story is heartbreaking and inspiring. Read for yourself, or see Maria's compelling story. She was interviewed for the film, ''Dreams Die Hard''.

- from Free the Slaves organizational website.

To read the interview with Maria Suarez, please click here. Thank you.

    < Free Battered Women, CCWP and Parole Support
Free Battered Women (FBW) has recently become a program of CCWP, with both organizations growing and strengthening with new people, energy and ideas! We are in the process of adding FBW updates and information to the CCWP website.

Please see our "Action Center" webpage for parole support letters and other important actions. Thank you!

    < Freedom for Margaret Moore!
The following is a message from the Post Conviction Law Project asking the community to support Margaret Moore. Please send your letters of support for this incarcerated survivor of domestic violence!


My name is Erin McCann and I work for USC Law School's Post Conviction Justice Project. I am writing to you today on behalf of Margaret Moore, a battered and abused woman who has spent nearly thirty years in prison for killing her abusive husband.

Margaret Moore is 50 year-old, non-violent survivor of domestic violence. As a child and adolescent, her father subjected her to countless instances of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Years later, after marrying the victim and distancing herself from her father, Margaret once again suffered severe abuse, this time at the hands of her husband. A May 2002 California Board of Prison Terms’ Investigation concluded that Margaret’s “horrific upbringing undoubtedly contributed” to her crime, and “years of incestuous physical and emotional abuse…ended her ability to, otherwise, logically seek an escape from her miserable existence in her marriage to the victim.”

Click here to learn more

Montage of protest photos

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