Document Sample
					 August 27, 2009                        Published by Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy (SJRA)                                      Vol. 1, Issue 6
                            P.O. Box 71, Olivehurst, CA 95961 530-329-8566

               By Barbara Brooks                         changed in this bill; writing bad checks, receiving       expert. None of these would have the power to
                                                         stolen property and petty theft with a prior. The         vote. Why not? Yet, Senator Runner tried to put
The justification that politicians use for not passing   Republicans are concerned that this would have an         forth an amendment to this, by removing [only] the
prison reforms is their belief that “Public Safety is    effect on 3-strikes, because those offenses would         felon from serving on the sentencing commission.
the ‘premier, the overwhelming responsibility of         not be charged as strikes.                                This is Runner’s style of justice for all.
government is to protect innocent lives from people           The Republicans attempted to put forth plenty             As he said, “They can’t vote, but they can
who would endanger those lives,” as Republican           of amendments to the bill, including six sets             debate on what’s happening to those who do crime
Senator Ashburn conveyed to the legislature on           authored by Sen. Runner, and presented by his             to Californians. You can minimize the issue, but
August 20, 2009.                                         fellow Republicans. In each instance, Senator Jenny       you’ve given the same level of position on looking
     As important as public safety is to all of us,      Oropeza made a motion that the amendments be              at sentencing laws as you’ve done for victims.”
according to our United States Constitution, the         tabled, and in every instance they were, by carrying      “This, he said, fixes that. It says that a felon cannot
ultimate, primary responsibility of government is to     the votes.                                                serve on a sentencing commission.” (But he does
see to it that every person in this country receives          The bill squeaked by with a vote of 21-19.           not oppose the other two non-voting members to
justice. This is where our politicians are missing       Even Democrats, Senators Calderon, Correa and             remain and debate.)
the mark, falling short, side-stepping the real issue.   Padilla fell under the pressure and voted against it. I        Even if the felon had the right to vote in the
     Every decision that is made is directed toward      remember years ago conversing with Correa when            commission, what would this one vote do, when
public safety, rather than seeing that justice           he was in the Assembly, about 3-Strikes. He               faced with all the others from law enforcement? In
prevails. Our politicians are so intent on not           adamantly told me that he had made a commitment           actuality, as written, they are making the felon, the
appearing ‘soft’ on crime, that they go overboard to     years before, to support 3-strikes, and he is not         victim and mental health/substance abuse person to
prove they are ‘tough’ and that public safety is their   changing that commitment.            Who was the          appear ‘equal,’ but they would definitely be
primary goal. The Republicans follow Nancy               commitment made to that he cannot consider a              ‘separated from the whole. Does anyone remember
Reagan’s ‘Just Say No,’ philosophy and the               change of mind? He continues the ‘tough’ on crime         the phrase “separate but equal?” That didn’t work
Democrats give into their bullying, and nothing gets     persona. Nevertheless we are grateful and thank           out very well. This is nothing more than labeling
done. The minority party in the legislature is           those Democrats in the State Senate who had the           these people, putting them in a different ’class’ as
setting the conversation, pulling the weight of their    courage to take a stand on prison reform.                 not good enough, not smart enough, not in public
platform to do nothing less than to accomplish their          Senator Runner, along with other Republicans         service enough.
own goals. And the Democrats allow themselves to         do not like the idea that a commission would be                Is this what justice is about? Was the felon’s
be bullied, and they give in to the extreme, ideology    made up of UNelected people. Well, you see, it’s          debt to society paid, or must he or she continually
of their opponents.                                      like this. In plain language, we don’t trust you and      be punished, classified as different and separated
     Why do some choose to go into politics? Is it to    cannot depend on you to do the job you were               from being a part of the community, bringing with
serve, or do they have their own agenda and want         elected for, and we need a commission that is de-         him/her their own experience into the equation,
the power to accomplish their own favored                politicized because the current system is over-           such as former CA Assemblyman Pat Nolan and
projects? Is it for a cushy job with the many perks      politicized and nothing can get done.                     Chuck Colson, Special Counsel to Nixon, both of
for not doing anything when it comes to taking care           The commission would be filled with law              Prison Fellowship, and ex-felons.
of business? Never in corporate America could they       enforcement people, judges, scholars and 8 voting              There are unjust laws and our legislators are the
get by with ignoring distasteful issues or stalling a    members appointed by the Governor, (those 8               lawmakers. We need justice in our laws. Laws that
budget for months, while costs and repercussions         confirmed by the Senate.) The bill states that “the       are rationally presented to the public, rather than
rise every day.                                          sentencing commission, (among other things), shall        relying on hyper-propaganda used to label people,
     We have been crying out for the need of change      provide a balanced forum for statewide policy             name-calling, contradictions and half-truths, blatant
in the prison system for years. The state’s own          development, info development, research and               lies and the abundant use of fear tactics to achieve
watchdog, the Little Hoover Commission, has              planning concerning criminal sentences and their          what is desired. Politicians use these techniques to
researched and printed many reports, backed up by        effects . . . and to assemble and draw upon sources       obtain votes in legislation, as well as in the media
studies, statistics and the like, and the legislators    of knowledge, experience, and community values            for gain at the polls.
continue to be deaf to their recommendations. This       from all sectors of the criminal justice system, from               This bill moved to the Assembly and fell
is the perfect example of a commission that has no       the public at large, and from other jurisdictions.” It    apart, because Assembly Speaker Karen Bass’
teeth, no power to make the needed changes. As           doesn’t appear very balanced to me, but I’m sure it       influence was not strong enough to obtain the votes
good as it is, it is not good enough.                    would be the only way that a sentencing                   needed from her own party, and because at least
     On August 20, 2009, I watched on TV on the          commission would be accepted by the governor and          eleven of them were running for higher office or re-
CalChannel, also at, (a               law enforcement. Sounds to me as if law                   election and did not want to look ’soft’ on crime. A
channel that brings California legislation into our      enforcement directs much of how the sentencing            watered down version emerged, cutting out the
homes so we can see parliamentary procedure in           commission is written up, along with a controlling        sentencing commission, alternative sentencing,
action, (or no action). I have been told that in a       presence involved in decisions of the commission.         changes on ‘wobblers,’ removing changes to grand
nutshell, politics is the “art of compromise.”           Since legislators receive so many donations from          theft and grand theft auto, and limiting all other
     The senate met to vote on AB14 XXX, a decent        law enforcement, are they afraid of losing financial      changes to property crime to inflation since 1982.
bill with changes the Governor agreed to; a              aid, when law enforcement would be making the             This version will be voted on in the coming week.
sentencing commission, alternative sentencing,           laws, and would not have a need to donate? When                The Federal 3-Judge panel will take on the
keeping wobblers as misdemeanors rather than             you lose power, you lose donors as well.                  legislators responsibility. It’s the only option left,
enhancing them to felonies, raising the threshold on          The bill would allow one felon to be on the          and it won’t be to their liking.
property crimes. Though the governor                     commission, along with one victim’s rights person,
recommended 73 wobblers, there were only 3 to be         and one mental health director or a substance abuse
Page 2         Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -   It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!      08-27 -09

               Note from Barb
    Am I actually going to get this in the mail before
the end of the month?
    Thank you to all who worked so hard and
collected stamps, sent families/friends addresses.
Our outside contacts are growing, and they are the
    As much as I am dying to shout out your names,
I hesitate to do so for fear of leaving someone out.
So, please understand. And often times you do not
get the credit you deserve, but I know that you are
there, and you know who you are.
    I will let you know that stamps were collected
from PVSP, (136) at a value of $47.59, Lancaster
LAC (64) at a value of $28.06, Folsom (75) at a
value of $31.24.
    If the other prisons had done the same, just think
what our stamp war chest would be.
    We also got so many donations of stamps from
prisoners and families, sending 20-40.
    I don’t have time to tally the names/addresses,
but I’ll report on that in the September issue.
    I apologize for the small print used on the Plata/
Coleman Decision Analysis, but thought the info
was too important to have for you, so I managed to
squeeze it in. If you need the analysis in larger print,
send a S.A.S.E.
    By the way, I tried again to make contact with
CATS Law, and sent them an email, telling about the
newsletter, and could I interview them and put
something into the Advocate about what they are
doing, but I did not get a response back. It has now
been several weeks. I recently spoke to Annette
Summers, Chair of the 3-Strikes Initiative Coalition
and also Director of FACTS Bay Area Director, and
she said she has communicated with them on a
couple of occasions in hopes of being able to set up a
face to face meeting. She was told that CATS
Law was not able to meet at this time, but Annette
said she will remain available should they decide to
meet with her in the future. Annette said that the
coalition's hope is to work collaboratively with any
organization seeking to reform 3-Strikes.                                         ADVOCATE   SUBSCRIPTION or
     I am very excited about the upcoming website.         J                         ADDRESS CHANGE
My son Keith is doing it, and this is all new to him,          Please send me a 12-month subscription to Advocate.
and he’s doing a great job. It was delayed some, but       F
                                                           F   Enclosed is a check or money order in the amount of $12.
we’re happy it’s going up by 9/7/09. We will start
out with the SJRA Advocate on the web, available
for downloading, a few reports, including the 3-           P   Prison_____________________________________________
Judges Ruling (184 pages), Kenneth Keel’s                  L
Complaint and 1074 Form for Correspondence                 E   NAME_____________________________________________
Approval to Ken, and also a blank 1074 form if any         A
                                                           S   CDC#________________________                       Circle which Applies
prisoner wants to fill it out for corresponding with
someone else. We also want to put prisoners                E
                                                               HOUSING____________________                           1. SUBSCRIBE
articles, poetry, artwork on the web. We will have                                                               2. ADDRESS CHANGE
more time to add more information to the website           C   P.O. BOX ____________________
after this newsletter is finished.                         A
     The best time for me to answer mail, do extra         L   CITY__________________________ST_______ZIP____________
things, work on updating the database, is right after      L
the newsletter goes out. I have a difficult time               Make Check Payable to: Barbara Brooks, SJRA
answering mail, printing and sending requested cases       M   Mail to: Barbara Brooks, SJRA
when I’m right in the midst of trying to add last          O
                                                               P.O.Box 71
minute requests for the newsletter, print, staple, fold,   M
                                                               Olivehurst CA 95961
stuff, and invariably run to the post office minutes
before it closes, but it’s all good. God Bless.
08-27-09        Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -   It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!       Page 3

                                                     By Robert H. Outman
                                              Senior Affairs Committee Chairman
                                                 Lifer’s Support Group, MCSP

     Civilized societies have always           humanity have inaugurated a committee            Committee established a toiletries
respected their elders while some              to advocate for elderly and disabled             assistance program, quarter mastered
cultures actually revere them. However,        prisoners.                                       by prisoner Robert Cortes, who also
for those senescent folks unfortunate               With the support of prisoner                translates for the ultra- forgotten
enough to land in California's prison          Richard Greene, Chairman of the                  Spanish speaking elders. Tom Wynn
system; all bets are off.                      LIFERS SUPPORT GROUP, Tom                        can be seen hurrying across the orison
     California's insatiable appetite for      Wynn an altruistic younger prisoner,             yard with a pair of shower slippers for
more and longer punishment has                 who ' s institutional veneer cloaks a            an 85 year old menace to society forced
produced an alarming increase in               passionate man, co- chairs the SENIOR            to shower barefooted. John Czub can be
geriatric prisoners. Prison                                                                          seen helping a 75 year old pariah
officials are packing these                                                                          who      suffers      from     the
timeworn so called “menaces to                                                                       embarrassment of incontinence.
society” into an overcrowd ed                                                                            Other committee members help
system designed for much                                                                             guide the needy through the
younger prisoners.                                                                                   confusing labyrinth of paperwork
     Our guardians of the public                                                                     demonically       designed       to
trust through budget restrictions,                                                                   discourage prisoners from filing
indifference, or by simple                                                                           grievances. Jim Daly, an older
ignorance are morphing society ' s                                                                   committee member who knows the
good intentions into shameful                                                                        horror of being attacked by a
dimensions. Old men and women                                                                        younger cell- mate, monitors to
are needless victims of violent                                                                      prevent others from suffering the
assaults, standing in brutally long                                                                  same fate. Cliff Ellis works at
lines in extreme weather, forced                                                                     trying to get elders out of their
to compete with much younger                                                                         cells to     socialize in ga me
prisoners, and are stripped of what                                                                  tournaments such as checkers,
little dignity an aged person                                                                        dominos, and chess. John Racz and
should have in their final years.                                                                    Grant Wilson stand sentinel on
     One’s first thought might be,                                                                   specific days at canteen to assure
“well, they broke the law so they                                                                    the elderly and disabled are not
deserve what they get.” However,                                                                     bullied out of their access to the
its not that simple, this enhanced                                                                   store, or their property. Tom
punishment of the elderly comes                                                                      Dickershaid makes sure ADA signs
full circle to punish the taxpayer                                                                   are in place, and abuses are
also. The vulnerable aged                                                                            reported. This team of dedicated
prisoner 's medical costs are twice                                                                  men expose themselves to ridicule
that of the younger social menace.             AFFAIRS          COMMITTEE.         This         from insensitive guards, a thankless
With estimates of up to $100,000. per          committee with older prisoners is                prison administration, and ignorant
year, per aged prisoner, compounded            balanced with the younger Wynn, and              prison yard bullies. Yet, they forge on
by over 20,000 prisoners 55 years and          John Czub a prisoner young enough to             with the energy, inspiration, and ethic
older, California has a recipe for fiscal      be the grandson of the forgotten men he          that one would not expect in a person,
disaster. Until legislators decide to          champions. Unlike the older men on the           who society doesn 't want. As they break
stop this runaway monetary drain train,        committee these young men enjoy no               new frontiers in          their pr iso n
the financial manacles and chains of           tangible benefits other than the intuitive       philanthropy, they need your help and
the taxpayer will continue to grow             rewards of their compassion for the              support.
heavier.                                       aged and disabled.
     At Mule Creek State Prison, in                  Prison is a place generally austere        Submitted by: An old man who is proud
California, shining through the smoke          of the milk of human kindness.                   to associate with these unsung prison
of burning tax dollars and dark clouds         Although California 's prison budget is          heroes.
of administration indifference, an             close to 11 Billion Dollars a year, an
intrepid group of elderly and altruistic       indigent prisoner goes without the               Robert H. Outman, prisoner P-79939
younger prisoners are making a                 b asi c di gni t y o f a t oothbrush,            13 / 128
difference. Ignoring the old proverb           toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and              P.O. Box 409060
“Prophets go unrecognized in their own         other simple life necessities. Through           Ione, CA 95640-9060
lands, ” th ese pioneers in prison             donations,       the   Senior    Affairs
Page 4            Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -                    It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!                                    08-27-09

Plata/Coleman Decision Analysis                                                                                                   the appointment of the receiver and special masters has
                                                                                                                                  been enough. While some ‘Plata/Coleman’) progress has
Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2009                                                                                                been achieved, it has been slow. The receiver and special
                                                                                                                                  masters themselves testified as to how overcrowding has
COPIED FROM BLOG OF:                                                                                                              hindered their ability to improve the system. In addition,
CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL CRISIS                                                                                                    since solving the crowding problem will not immediately                                                                                   make the medical system's deficiencies disappear, their
                                                                                                                                  services will still be needed after the acute difficulties are
ABOUT US                                                                                                                          resolved.
                                                                                                                                          The panel also rejects the state's reliance on shipping
We are faculty members and students at UC Hastings College of the Law.                                                            inmates out of state as a solution, not only because of the
We look forward to hearing from you.                                                                       small numbers that can be accommodated, but also because
                                                                                                                                  of the unknowns regarding the standard of care in those
Hadar Aviram, Associate Professor of Law                                                                                          states.

Plata/Coleman Decision Analysis: Part I                           noting that "[a] prison system’s capacity is not defined by     More in Part III.
                                                                  square footage alone; it is also determined by the system’s     POS TED BY HAD AR AVIRAM AT 4 :4 6
Here are some thoughts regarding the Plata/                       resources and its ability to provide inmates with essential     PM
Coleman decision; they are by no means                            services such as food, air, and temperature and noise
systematic or exhaustive.                                         control". It then moves on to explain the causal link           3 COMMENTS:
        First, I should probably mention that my "simple          between overcrowding and poor medical services, not
math" estimations from the previous post were not so              before mentioning that four former CA prison                    Prison Clinician said...
simple, and as it turns out, somewhat exaggerated. Based          administrators testified in support of this assertion.                 While I agree with the court's assessment ...with
on the most recent data on the California prison population              The testifying administrators pointed out to several     respect to mental health (and i read the opinion which was
(as of July 29, 2009)The Prison Law Office calculates the         ways in which overcrowding hinders health care. First, the      strong on mental health) - my fear is that the issue will not
order to e calculate the reduction as 40,000 to a level of        decision mentions that, in general, overcrowding leads to a     be addressed comprehensively. There is a reason why an
110,000. The Order says at page 37, fn 35:                        set of priorities impacted by various emergencies, thus         estimated 40-50% (or more) of the inmates are seriously
        In this opinion and order, we will hereafter consider     relegating health services to a lower place in the list of      mentally ill. This has to do with continued cutbacks of
only figures and percentages relating to the CDCR's thirty-       priority.                                                       mental health treatment in the community settings.
three in-state adult prison institutions. We do not consider             Second, the court emphasizes several problems                   IF we see a number of inmates being released who
camps, community correction centers, or Department of             stemming from the lack of space: the inadequate use of          are mentally ill, and no corresponding services developed
Mental Health state hospitals, all of which also house            reception centers to house inmates rather than treat them,      in the community - we will only see large numbers
CDCR inmates. It is the thirty-three in-state adult prison        the severe shortage of treatment space, and the inability to    returning to the prison - and CDCR will say something like
institutions that are the subject of the Governor's Prison        place inmates according to classification because of space      "told you so" etc.
Overcrowding State of Emergency Proclamation and were             constraints. This is a problem particularly with respect to            Reform needs to take place not only within the
the focus of the evidence at trial before this court. All         mentally ill inmates, who "languish in clinically               prison system, but also in the community-specialized
references to "system" and "systemwide" encompass only            inappropriate settings."                                        programs for seriously mentally ill have to be developed at
those thirty-three adult institutions.                                   Third, overcrowding directly impacts the quality of      a much larger scale. I'm not at all confident that CDCR is
        In these institutions, the data shows population of       care: "Bad bed" areas are understaffed, unsanitary (thus        up to such a task, it would require a complete overhaul of
about 150,000 and a capacity of 80,000. 80,000 times              exacerbating the risk of spreading infectious diseases), and    the parole outpatient clinic - and its failed model.
137.5%= 110,000. The reduction would thus be 40,000.              toxic for the severely mentally ill.                                   I think, though, that county mental health, with
Which is about 12,700 inmates less than the population                   Fourth, there are other ways in which overcrowding       additional $$$, can develop programs - they have the
under the Governor's proposed reduction plan.                     hinders care. Understaffing is a problem not only with          experience, and infrastructure to do so... Such programs
        Moving on to the decision itself, it is probably useful   respect to medical and mental health stuff, but also with       could still maintain close links with parole agents, but with
to learn a bit about the legal framework. This is not the first   respect to the custodial stuff expected to keep the peace       the understanding that mental health treatment is a longer
population reduction order in the history of prison               and escort inmates to receive medical treatment; the            term process - and rules of violation would also need to be
litigation, and the panel cites cases from the 7th and 11th       pharmaceutical system is unable to keep up with delivery        looked at again.
circuits, in which population reduction was deemed to             demands; there are huge backlogs in receiving specialty                CDCR has had more than ample time to develop
represent "the proper balance between the duty of the             medical care; and the growing need to rely on lockdowns         mental health programs - and they've failed. There is a
district court to remedy constitutional violations and the        as a way to keep the order hinders the provision of medical     serious conflict of cultures and interest between custody
right of the State to administer its prison and parole            care during such times.                                         and clinicians, they need to be separated - both within the
systems". However, since those decisions, Congress                       Finally, the impossibility of manually filing the huge   prisons and outside with regards to providing mental health
enacted the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 18               number of medical records leads to inadequate record            services to parolees.
U.S.C. § 3626, which raised the bar for providing relief in       keeping, which leads to chaotic administration.                 AUGUST 8, 2009 6:25 PM
prison conditions cases.                                                 The panel then draws a line of causality between the     Hadar Aviram said...
        The PLRA has two sets of requirements for relief:         overcrowding and some of the horrendous examples of                    Thanks for your comment, Prison Clinician. I think
requirements regarding all prison-conditions -related             preventable misdiagnoses, disease exacerbation and              the court (cynically?) points out later in the decision that
litigation, and requirements that apply specifically to           preventable deaths. It also points out that overcrowding        the saved money from population reduction could be used
population reduction orders. The latter order - which can         exacerbates the plight of mentally ill prisoners. A variety     for developing community programs.
only be given by a three-judge panel - requires the court to      of experts - including former prison administrators, prison     AUGUST 8, 2009 8:01 PM
find, by clear and convincing evidence, that --                   scholars, administrators, physicians, and psychologists -       Pam said...
      (i) crowding is the primary cause of the violation of a     are cited as supporting the causal link. Moreover, the court           As an Ex. prison clinician, I understand the
Federal right; and                                                points to the litigation history in the Plata and Coleman       hesitancy this writer expresses. As I wrote in another
      (ii) no other relief will remedy the violation of the       cases as proof of the worsening of the situation, due to        comment, I know prisoners with severe psychotic disorders
Federal right.                                                    overcrowding, despite efforts to improve medical care with      are receiving only Visteril (an antihistamine that sedates)
        In addition, as with all other prison litigation, the     other measures.                                                 for their psychosis. This is also administered only at
situation must satisfy the "needs-narrowness-intrusiveness"       2. Is there really no other way?                                bedtime to quiet the tier or if the inmate is extremely loud
standard, that is, "[p]reliminary injunctive relief must be              The court's response, in a word, is no. As support,      and disturbing staff. Hence, they are not receiving mental
narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to               the panel examines a series of alternative measures,            health treatment (this is only one example). Like many, I
correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief,     pointing out their inadequacy as solutions to the problem.      hoped there would be changes with the leadership of the
and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct that               First, the panel states the inadequacy of further        receivers. There may be in some areas, but not all and
harm." The court must also take public safety into account,       construction as a remedy to the problem. Currently, there       certainly not permanent changes. For those in power, the
and “give substantial weight to any adverse impact on             are no plans to build new prisons; re-entry facilities would    mantra is as always to just wait "them" out, and we will
public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system       take years to build and would not provide immediate relief;     continue as before and "I told you so".
caused by the preliminary relief.” The Plata/Coleman panel        and building medical facilities is now compounded by the               CDC will see that those who are released are ones
finds that all of these requirements have been satisfied; the     financial crisis. In general, construction is inadequate        who will recidivate so they can tell the public we get what
next post will elaborate.                                         because it could not be completed in a timely manner,           we deserve. I find many custody and administrative staff
POSTED BY HADAR AVIRAM AT 8:42                                    though if it were to be completed, it could be part of the      interested primarily in taking a pay check home only. The
AM                                                                solution.                                                       inmates who would be less likely to re-enter are those with
                                                                         Second, additional hiring is, according to the panel,    long sentences and who have decided they cannot continue
Plata/Coleman Decision Analysis: Part II                          impractical, given the difficulty of filling in current         to live as previously. Most of these inmates are
                                                                  vacancies. As the decision points out, the overcrowding         Indeterminant sentences or XXX-to-Life sentences( not all,
1. Is overcrowding the primary cause for the                      issue in itself discourages new hires, and a less crowded       but many, reach this level of rehab. even in this atmosphere
medical system's dysfunction?                                     system would be more conducive to quality hiring.               of no formal CDC rehab. Great Britain has performed
     The court responds in the affirmative. It starts by                 Third, the court responds to the state's argument that   significant research, (Cont’d on page 10, Plata/Coleman)
08-27-09         Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -   It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!              Page 5

                                                                                   The Parole Board has granted these women
                                                                                   parole. Now it goes to the
                                                                                   Governor. Write letters to the governor so
Mark Grangetto a prisoner's request for a Writ of Mandate under                    the letter will be received while it is on his
Assembly Bill 1539 "The Extended Compassionate Release": is                        desk.
scheduled for a Court hearing.
                                                                                           FREE Margo Johnson W-25758
The hearing is set for September 4, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. in                                   FREE Sharelee Holt W-20394
Department 19 of the Sacramento Superior Court.
The attorney, Ken Karan will be present, along with the mother of the                           VERY IMPORTANT!
inmate, Nora Weber, for the news media to speak to
immediately following the Court hearing.                                                        WRITE LETTERS NOW!
For those who want to attend you are more than welcomed. I believe
                                                                                    A SIMPLE LETTER AS SHOWN BELOW
this Court hearing will establish a Court decision regarding a recall
of sentence for a disabled prisoner, and a Court decision associated                   IS ALL THAT IS NEEDED-SEND IT
with the responsibility, as spelled out in the Assembly Bill, that the                                     NOW!
CDCR must abide by.
                                                                                   Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
This will be a real test if the State really wants to release a prisoner or if     State Capitol
they will fight tooth and nail to keep even disabled prisoners, when the           Sacramento, CA 95814
families, such as myself, are willing and able to take care of the                 Fax# 916-558-3160
disabled prisoner.
                                                                                           Re: Name and CDC ID #
You can spread this news far and wide for anyone who wants to attend
this hearing. I look forward to seeing you in Court.                               Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
                                                                                   Name has been found suitable for parole by your hand
Nora Weber                                                                         picked Parole Board. Her case is now on your desk and
                                                                                   it is clear that she presents no threat to society, and
                                                                                   should be released back into the community.
              TerminallyIll Convict Deborah Peagler
                           To Be Released
                   Gov. Schwarzenegger Allows Parole
                 for Convicted Murderer Dying of Cancer                            Signature

          Norma Cumpian and Linda Lee Smith                                        Name
             Parole Reversed by Governor

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from families of ex-offenders, to                of being alone and helpless. This
bring those with an interest in the              applies to the families of those who              Questions? Call us at:
prisoner support community a forum               are incarcerated just as much as it               (866) 91-VISIT (866.918-4748)
in which their issues and concerns               does to those behind the walls.                   September 6, 2009     Los Angeles
may be addressed by others in                    PTO's goal is to bridge the
similar circumstances and beliefs.               communication barrier that exists in              September 13, 2009 Long Beach
                                                 and around the criminal "justice"                 September 20, 2009 Anaheim/Panorama City
Inside the PTO web community you                 system today and bring everyone in
                                                                                                   September 27, 2009 South L.A.
will be able to find support from                the prisoner support community
others who are dealing with, or have             closer together to effect change in               October 4, 2009    Santa Rosa/San Leandro/
been down the same dark road you                 policy, prisoner rights, sentencing                                  San Jose
may currently find yourself,                     and so much more.                                 October 11, 2009 Los Angeles
information resources & tools to aid                                                               A complete bus schedule with more dates
your in achieving your goals, and
                                                           Check it out!
                                                                                                   can be found on the website at:
most importantly, a place to                                                             
Page 6        Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -   It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!                     08-27-09

Richter v. Hickman, No. 06-15614
In a murder case, petitioner's habeas petition                                     By Annette Summers, MPH
is granted where defense counsel performed                                           Coalition Chairperson
inadequately by failing to consult with a fo-
rensic expert, and this resulted in prejudice            Since we last updated you about the           guaranteed due to the need to be well funded.
because the available forensic testimony           progress of the initiative coalition, there have    However, I want to be upfront with you in
would have contradicted the prosecution's          been several additional meetings with key           saying that, according to the consultants, our
explanation of the events that transpired.         individuals who we are hoping to get early          decision to make an attempt for 2010 will
90 pages/                                          buy-in from. They were given draft language         need to depend heavily on factors other than
US v. Monghur, No. 08-10351                        to review and are supposed to provide us their      just the money. One such additional factor
In a prosecution for being a felon in posses-      feedback by the end of August. This has             that we are told we must be wary of in 2010 is
sion of a firearm, denial of defendant's motion    pushed our original timeline back a little, but     the potential for candidates in the Governor’s
to suppress evidence is reversed where defen-      we recognize that this buy-in can be a crucial      race to use the 3-Strikes issue as their political
dant did not waive his Fourth Amendment            component in the overall success of a               platform in order to appear “tough on crime”.
expectation of privacy in a closed container in    campaign and therefore we are prepared to           Therefore, the coalition will be carefully
which federal law enforcement discovered the       make the necessary adjusts on our end. With         weighing the advice of all of the campaign
firearm at issue.                                  that said, I know everyone is anxious to know       professionals we have consulted with thus far
12 pages/SASE with 61cents postage and 2           more about the initiative language. Because it      when deciding whether or not to move
loose stamps.                                      is still in draft form and subject to being         forward in 2010. Much like the strategy that
Matylinsky v. Budge, No. 08-15459                  changed based on the feedback from those            the gay marriage advocates have proposed, if
In a murder prosecution, denial of a habeas        currently reviewing it, I am reluctant to say       the decision is reached to wait until 2012, the
petition is affirmed where petitioner offered      too much. However, what I will say is that          coalition will continue to keep momentum by
no evidence indicating that defense counsel        based on the feedback we have gotten thus           implementing a 3-year campaign strategy.
was unreasonable or ineffective for selecting      far, it is shaping up to be somewhat similar to     This will be a discussion that the coalition
his chosen trial strategy, as the strategy was     the 2008 version. Unfortunately, this version       will be having over the next several weeks
intended to and did prevent petitioner from        was more conservative than many of us               while keeping in mind that the last day that it
receiving the death penalty. 21 pages/SASE         would have liked, but it had the best potential     is recommended to file initiative language
with                                               to win at the ballot according to polls.            with the state is September 25th . Please
US v. Hector, No. 08-30271                               Additionally, while we await feedback         continue to send any inquires along w/a
In a child pornography prosecution, defen-         about the initiative language, we have also         SASE to:
dant's sentence is vacated where the district      had some additional meetings with campaign          Northern CA FACTS
court was required to use its discretion in        consultants.       As mentioned in the first        ATTN/ Initiative Coalition
determining whether to vacate defendant's          newsletter article written in the Advocate          P.O. Box 55822
receipt conviction or his possession convic-       about the coalition, I pointed out that an          Hayward, CA 94545
tion to avoid double jeopardy concerns.            initiative on the 2010 ballot was not               or
US v. Alba-Flores, No. 08-50135
Defendant's drug importation sentence is
affirmed where defendant's prior California                                          BOSTON WOODARD
convictions were not expunged for purposes                                                   By Barbara Brooks
of the Sentencing Guidelines, because under
California law the convictions in question              Boston      Woodard,        a   well-known     his free speech and civil rights.
could still be used at a later time in a variety   courageous and prolific journalistic writer              Boston writes frequently for the
of circumstances. 17 pages/SASE with               from inside a California state prison, was          Community Alliance newspaper in Fresno, in
                                                   placed        in       isolation      in     ‘the   addition to Indybay. He has many articles
                                                   hole,’ (Administrative Segregation) on July 9,      available on the Indybay website, including
                                                   2009 at CSP-Solano, in Vacaville.                   “Rogue Prison Staff: Breaking All the Rules,”
                                                        In the letter I received dated August 13,      the one he wrote that he was disciplined for.
                                                   2009, Boston wrote that he was rushed by            Read at:
                                                   several guards, handcuffed and taken to an
                                                   isolation cell in Ad Seg for a month. He            newsitems/2009/04/16/18589746.php
         ANNOUNCES                                 states, “the lock-up order said I was a danger           Boston has written two articles for the
                                                   to the institution and a security risk because of   SJRA Advocate, one in July, “The Importance
                                                   my journalistic activities.” He adds “no crimes     of Media Access,” (which was extremely
WWW.SJRA1.COM                                      committed by him, and no charges, (115s,
                                                   etc).” He was there for a month and then
                                                                                                       timely) and in June, “Appeals/602s Matter:
                                                                                                       Take Back Your Recourse.” He promises to
                                                   transferred to California Correctional Center       write more in the future.
                                                   at Susanville. The Warden at Solano put in               It cannot be easy to make the choice to
             COMING                                writing that he was being transferred to
                                                   another prison because of his journalistic
                                                                                                       write truthfully, with boldness, in order to
                                                                                                       educate and cause change. It is my prayer for
                                                   writings. In this letter of August 13, he had not   Boston and all the other writers from inside
                                                   received his property yet, which has his            who dare to speak truth, that God protect and
 SEPTEMBER 7, 2009                                 typewriter and writing materials.                   guide each of you. May our Holy God grant
                                                        Boston has legal counsel who has filed a       you all knowledge, and more than that, Wisdom
                                                   lawsuit against Warden John W. Haviland and         in all you do and say.
                                                   others who are responsible for the violation of
08-27-09           Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -   It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!                  Page 7

               It is not only by shooting bullets in the battlefields that tyranny is overthrown, but
          also by hurling ideas of redemption, words of freedom and terrible anathemas against the
                            hangmen that people bring down dictators and empires..."

                                                               Part 2 of 2 parts

                                                          By Robert Morales
     I have been shipped to one combat zone        the arson source of poverty and                     common humanity which binds us as
after another. I have seen men brutally            disenfranchisement, social and economic             prisoners is greater than that which divides
murdered, one friend was tragically shot to        realities which deeply polarize American            us!
death by a tower officer. Stabbings, assaults      society and create ever-widening rifts                    The senseless violence amongst
and racial riots, I can cite a litany of horror    between the rich and the poor.                      ourselves will have to cease before the
stories that would make your hair curl. All              No serious discussion of prison reform        California prisoner can stride towards
this and more has been a part of my life for       can be undertaken unless this paradigm of           empowerment and political autonomy. The
the last eleven years. Yet, the question must      socio-political and economic iniquity is thrust     need to promote interracial cohesion and
be asked, how many thousands more, male            into the forefront of national public               increase socio-political awareness has never
and female both, share a fate similar to mine?     consciousness. The crisis within the                been more dire, for until this awakening
How many thousands more, who from simple           California prison system has attained terminal      occurs, all California prisoners will continue
lack of opportunity or education, cannot           velocity and will require a multi-faceted           their lowly serf status as legislative pawns to
articulate the pathos of this hellish existence?   disciplinary approach to solve. The issues          the Feudal lords in Sacramento.
The California public seems wholly ignorant        which confront the state with respects to                  Martin Luther King was a man I greatly
of the immense amount of suffering which is        prisons are imbued with complex dimensions          admired. He once said that the moral arc of
daily played out behind these iron walls of the    and are much too lengthy for this writer to         the universe bends towards justice. I believe
California State prison system                     cite, what is strikingly obvious is this; disease   that. I really believe that. With these powerful
     The recent interview with the                 has reached epidemic proportions within             words, one can walk into a sensibility so deep
Sacramento Bee Editorial board is evidence         these walls, the yards are saturated with brutal    we see it. With this vision we can walk into a
enough that the Governors tired rhetoric is        violence and systemic racism. The grand             growing awareness that maybe, just maybe,
once again heavy on sentiment and light on         experiment has failed.                              that arc does bend towards justice, but I swear
rationale. With a sly wink and a well-                   In 1970, California had 12 prisons and        to you that it needs weight. Together we can
rehearsed spiel, this charismatic, cigar-          23,000 prisoners; 30 years later, it had 21 new     form the impetus of that weight that slowly
chomping bigwig is acting as "The Shill " for a    prisons and over six times more prisoners.          tilts justice in our favor. The weight of
cabal of prison growth industrial bureaucrats.     These institutions of teeming humanity have         you...the weight of me...the weight of
Completely skirting over the real issues, the      grown exponentially during the last two             beautiful people like Barbara Brooks, Geri
Governor instead puffs on his hundred-dollar       decades and are primarily used today as a           Silva and Annette Summers and all those
corona, rolls up his sleeves and gives the         lower socio- economic containment                   unnamed whose spirit of sacrifice and
public that same old “ Song and Dance”             mechanism and as a profit-generating venture.       resilience is so wonderfully inspiring. With
routine. In a rapid fire monologue reminiscent     No institution which animates this country          pressed palms, a deep bow to all of you.
of an old time carnival barker, he attempts to     could afford to be built on anything less.                A leap in the heart is all it takes to
soften “The Mark” by sticking out his chest              The question before us now as prisoners       believe. Please believe. Believe with me, with
and extolling his latest scheme to create          is simply this; do we possess the clarity of        us who are imprisoned in the belly of this
revenue, namely, the shipping of a few dozen       vision to rise above our dismal situation and       monster-beast that with your prayers and
hapless Mexican Nationals to the Federal           dare implement radical change in our                social activism, maybe, just maybe, we can
prison system.                                     environment? Are we willing to acknowledge          bend that moral arc and effect change in this
     This is typical of the mentality of a state   a painful, but vital truth, that perhaps our        archaic law which imprisons so many of us
whose knee-jerk response to crime fails to         entire thinking process is dysfunctional? That      unjustly. A defeat in battle does not constitute
address the real issues and instead gives          we are the problem with our mad universe?           a war lost. Take heart and be of good cheer,
budgetary priority to law enforcement and          Look around you, the infrastructure of our          for it is God Himself who smiles upon our
prison expansion.                                  iron city is riddled with an insidious and          efforts. The sun has yet to set upon our
     America spends billions of dollars            highly toxic racism which poisons and               righteous cause.
annually to incarcerate its citizens at a rate     diminishes us all. This prison gang structure,
which exceeds that of any nation on earth.         which forms the matrix of our galley slave          Robert Morales P-27996
Hundreds of thousands of America’s                 existence, is nothing more than a sub-culture       C-6-1 21
disenfranchised poor, “Useless for profit          bent upon the suppression of progressive            P.O. Box 5246
making” are disproportionately represented in      change. Simply stated; arise from those             Corcoran, CA 93212
our nation’s prisons.                              dungeon cells of apathy and ignorance, cast
     While a great deal of resources have          aside those chains forged in the fires of your
been allocated to deal with crime in               pain and suffering and try and understand
California, primarily in funds to militarize       this, do not allow the dehumanizing
police and expand our prison system, only a        environment of the iron house to define your
paltry amount has been directed to eradicate       intrinsic value as a human being. The cause of
Page 8   Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -   It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!   08 -27-09


August 12, 2009
                                          CIVIL RICO LAWSUIT UPDATE

                                                By Kenneth G. Keel

I am pleased to inform you that our First Amended Civil RICO Complaint
was submitted to the U.S. District Court on August 6, 2009. The names of
all 161 Strikers and Lifers who timely submitted Motions to Intervene are
listed in the Complaint.

Along with the Complaint and Motions to Intervene, a Motion for
Appointment of Counsel was submitted. Therefore, everyone will need to get
ready for a potential attorney visit or letter. This author strongly
suggests that everyone obtain and read a copy of the First Amended Civil
RICO Complaint to get familiar with the case facts, claims, and prayer for
relief ( " damages" ).
After the Court Clerk processes the documents and returns the conformed
copies, all new Intervenors will be provided stamped facepages. Meanwhile,
everyone must submit a CDC 1074 Form to your assigned counselors for
approval to write me directly. Approval may take 4 -6 weeks. Send S.A.S.E.
to SJRA for sample CDC 1074.
Only properly prepared documents should be submitted to the Court.
Everyone who submitted motions to intervene directly to the Court has
major discrepancies with your documents. For instance, the Court prepared
a “NOTICE OF DOCUMENT DISCREPANCIES,” which notified me that several
inmates have submitted motions with the following discrepancies: (a) No
copy provided for judge; (b) No proof of service attached; (c) Document is
dated back in Feb. of 2009; and, (d) There are no exhibits, memorandum of
points and authorities or declaration as specified in the document. The
Court warned me “that any further failure to comply with Local Rules may
lead to penalties pursuant to Local Rule 83 -7.” Therefore, do not attempt
to file any documents without first communicating with this author or an
Everyone acting on behalf of prospective Intervenors who sent legal
documents that were rejected by Folsom Prison, please contact this author
as soon as possible. Do not send any legal papers.

Finally, to obtain a copy of the First Amended Civil RICO Complaint, send
$4.50 to cover printing costs to the SJRA. If unable to send check, please
send postage stamps equal to the value of $4.50. Include a manila envelope
(if possible) with $1.56 in postage.       The First Amended Civil Rico
Complaint will also be available free for downloading at
                                                                                                Coming on September 7, 2009
                                              Make Check Payable to:
                                               Barbara Brooks, SJRA
                                                      Mail to:
                                                Barbara Brooks, SJRA
                                                     P.O. Box 71
                                                Olivehurst, CA 95961
08-27-09          Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -   It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!                 Page 9

                                                 with an afternoon of meetings with                   funding mental health, education, and
                                                 lawmakers in hopes of further promoting              comprehensive drug rehabilitation, both in
                                                 these proposals. We will update you all in the       prisons and communities, as liberally as we
                                                 next newsletter as to how these meetings             fund prisons. After all, we know that more
                                                 went.                                                prisons and more tough on crime laws can
                                                 FEDERAL COURT RULING TO RELEASE                      only lead to more of the same. Therefore, it is
      By Annette Summers, MPH                    PRISONERS: FACTS formed an ad-hoc                    time to stop locking everyone up for what
       FACTS Bay Area Director                   committee to focus specifically on developing        they may do in the future and instead choose
                                                 a strategy to ensure that 3-Strikes is a part of     to invest in the affirmative potential of
PEOPLE’S BUDGET FIX: As reported in the          these discussions involving how to reduce the        people.
last newsletter, FACTS partnered with the        prison population to comply with the 3-judge         INITIATIVE: The Initiative Coalition will
ACLU of Northern California, Drug Policy         panel ruling.                                        continue to keep you updated as promised,
Alliance, and Ella Baker Center to push the      TRAGIC MURDER IN LOS ANGELES: As                     but you will now find this information in a
“People’s Budget Fix” which included             many of you might have heard, a senseless            different part of the newsletter.      Please
proposals for smart, cost-saving criminal        murder of a young, innocent girl in downtown         continue to send any inquires along w/a
justice reform. FACTS’s part of the proposal     Los Angeles has recently fueled some intense         SASE to:
was to change the 3-strikes law to where it      debate over the 3-strikes law. The person             Northern CA FACTS,\
only applied to violent offenses at a savings    currently being accused of murdering this             P.O. Box 55822
potential of roughly 5 billion dollars in 5      young girl potentially could have been in             Hayward, CA 94545
years. The first event around the “People’s      prison under the 3-strikes law had there not          or
Budget Fix” occurred on July 30 th in Oakland.   been a clerical error. For supporters of the 3-
There were about 100 people gathered along       strikes law, they see this murder as proof that              LIFERS AND LIFERS
with several people from the media which         this tragedy could have been prevented had                 FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
was successful in bringing much needed           the 3-strikes law been applied appropriately.                     Meeting
attention to the 3-Strikes issue. Catherine      In other words, their response to this tragedy              How to Advocate for Your
Lytle, whose husband is sentenced under 3-       has been similar to that which evolved                         Loved Ones Inside
Strikes, spoke on behalf of FACTS. She did a     following the brutal murder of the young
wonderful job representing the loved ones of     Polly Klaas in 1993. However, unlike last                  Legal Advisors, Resources,
those affected by this unjust law and her        time, we hope that there will not be a similar                   and Information
words resonated on an emotional level with       knee jerk reaction to implement further tough
                                                                                                          Saturday, September 5, 2009
all those in attendance. The follow-up event     on crime policies in response to an emotional
is scheduled for August 18th in Sacramento.      situation. Instead, our hope is that the public                  10am—2pm
A press conference and rally will be followed    can come together to realize the potential in                   Lunch served
                                                                                                             Living Stones for Christ
                                                                                                               Tabernacle Church
                                                                                Check out               1631 Lake Street, Bakersfield, CA
                                                                              On Sept 7, 2009           Info-661-328-1880 or 661-428-5265

                                                                               these alternatives, then prison or jail may be
                                                            June 2009          appropriate.

                                                                          Over three-quarters (77%) believe alternatives to
                                                                           incarceration do not decrease public safety.

                                                                          More than half (55%) believe alternatives to prison or
    Attitudes of US Voters toward Nonserious Offenders                     jail decrease costs to state and local governments.
              And Alternatives to Incarceration
                          Christopher Hartney                            •   US adults more often think alternatives to
                          Susan Marchionna                                   incarceration are more effective than prison or                   jail
                                                                         time at reducing recidivism (45% vs. 38%).
Findings in Brief                                                        •
                                                              Respondents cited a variety of reasons they                believe
 A majority of US adults believe that some crimes, for   justify sending fewer people to prison or jail, including
  which offenders are currently incarcerated, do not      expense, overcrowding (danger to guards, danger to
  demand time behind bars.                                inmates), the ability of proven alternatives to reduce
                                                          crime, and the fairness of the punishment relative to the
 Eight in ten (77%) adults believe the most appropriate crime.
  sentence for nonviolent, nonserious offenders* is           *For the purposes of the poll and this Focus, we define
  supervised probation, restitution, community service,       “nonviolent, nonserious offenders” as those convicted of
  and/or rehabilitative services; if an offender fails in     nonviolent, nonsexual crimes in which the value of lost property
                                                                               did not exceed $400.
Page 10             Barbara Brooks, Sentencing and Justice Reform Advocacy -                     It’s My Business, and it’s YOUR Business, Too!                                   08-27-09

                                                                  below 110,000. Should the state prove unable to provide          better being treated within people rather than outside, this
PLATA/COLEMAN                                                     constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care         is not true for many others, whose treatment will be more
                                       (Cont’d from Page 4)       after the prison population is reduced to 137.5% design          effective - and cheaper - outside prison walls. The release
                                                                  capacity, plaintiffs may ask this court to impose a lower        plan could take these classifications into account, by
and proven this. How is it we cannot believe rehab. works         cap. Similarly, should it appear that the provisions set forth   crafting, for example, good credits so that "only those
and human beings are capable of change?                           in the plan adopted by the court will not achieve the            mentally ill individuals with the greatest level of
       Maybe, some day, we the people of the United               expected population reduction, plaintiffs may seek to have       psychiatric stability and the greatest potential to
States of America will accept the responsibility of caring        the plan amended."                                               “voluntarily” follow up on outpatient care would be
for those who we lock up. I certainly hope so. I like to          POSTED BY HADAR AVIRAM AT 6:55                                   eligible, at least until appropriate community programming
think we humans accept others as being human and not sub          PM                                                               is in place."
-human, and therefore less deserving than we, because they                                                                         POS TED BY HAD AR AVIRAM AT 7 :2 4
are less fortunate than we.                                    Plata/Coleman Decision Analysis: Part IV                            PM
AUGUST 14, 2009 12:47 AM                                       Wait! Won't reducing the prison population
                                                               compromise public safety?                                           Plata/Coleman Decision Analysis: Part V
Plata/Coleman Decision Analysis: Part III                             The panel answers this question in the negative;                    I'd like to conclude this series of posts by pointing
Crafting the appropriate population reduction                  while, as the decision states, it is impossible to anticipate       out a few strengths and weaknesses of the panel's decision.
       The panel then moves on to figure out which remedy      what kind of effect the order will have on public safety, the       These are important to keep in mind, since the decision
would be enough to solve the problem, and yet no more          court believes there are ways to craft a reduction plan that        will undoubtedly be appealed to the Supreme Court.
than enough; the statutory limitation requires them to craft   will not compromise the state's responsibilities to protect         Strengths
the least intrusive measure possible. While they believe       the public. The panel makes the following points:                          All in all, my impression is that the panel not only
that the plaintiff's request for a reduction to 130% capacity         The experience of imprisonment in an                         made a brave, no-nonsense decision, but it also supported it
is "reasonable and finds considerable support in the           overcrowded institution itself has a criminogenic effect;           quite firmly and thoroughly. The opinion does not beat
record", they opt for a lesser level of reduction.             therefore, reducing its scope might actually benefit                around the bush, and it addresses each of the PLRA
Establishing that the cut should be between the levels of      public safety. The current incarceration experience                 concerns with a well-supported array of data. Moreover,
130% and 145%, they opt for a cut to 137.5%.                   backfires in terms of protecting the public, by being a             the decision benefits from using the defendants' own
1. Where should population be reduced?                         "petri dish" for crime. Overcrowding hinders the                    experts and plans. After all, there could hardly be a
       The panel considers, and rejects, the possibility of    possibility to properly classify inmates, thus housing them         disagreement about the population explosion as a key
requiring population reductions in specific institutions:      according to levels of risk. It also hinders the inmates'           complicating factor in each and every aspect of prison life,
"[T]he constitutional violations identified by the Plata and   access to rehabilitation programs. Under such conditions,           certainly in providing essential services; the government
Coleman courts exist throughout the California prison          inmates learn new criminal behavior while "doing time",             more or less has conceded it, and its own plans to deal with
system and are the result of systemic failures in the          which actually increases recidivism rates.                          overcrowding are remarkably similar to those proposed by
California prison system". Moreover, "defendants have                 Rather than mindlessly throwing the prisons'                 the court. The only difference seems to be in scope.
never contended that the problems at issue in Plata and        doors open, there are thoughtful ways to reduce                     Weaknesses
Coleman are institution-specific". In addition, the panel      population without compromising public safety. The                         I see three main issues that may be brought up
sees specific institution capping as micromanaging, and        court agrees that a wholesale release of inmates without a          against the decision on appeal; two of them can be easily
potentially more of an intrusion into the state's ability to   thoughtful plan is not a good solution. It proposes several         addressed, and the third one is rather open to speculation.
manage its prison population than an overall cap.              ways to reduce prison population without compromising                      First, the court has rejected the government's
2. How should population be reduced?                           public safety: credits for good behavior and achievements,          argument that it has already intervened quite dramatically
       The process for planning the population reduction is    which act as an incentive to pursue rehabilitation options;         in the matter by appointing the receiver and special
a combination of collaboration and coercion: The plan will     diversion of technical parole violators, who constitute a           masters, and yet, it has argued that these institutions will
come from the state, but be modified by the court with         large population of returning inmates; diversion of low-risk        still have plenty of room for improvement and hard work
input from the plaintiffs and other parties, and the courts    offenders with short sentences; sentencing reform;                  after the overcrowding crisis is alleviated. This argument
will retain jurisdiction to ensure                                                   increasing rehabilitative programs in         coudl be said to undermine the statement that
compliance or modify further. This                                                   prison; and modifying statutes. The           overcrowding is the primary reason for the
model, which was proposed by the           The inmates who                           court points out that most of these
                                                                                     have been endorsed by the state;
                                                                                                                                   dysfunction .The proper response to this argument, I
                                                                                                                                   believe, is to differentiate between necessary and sufficient
plaintiffs, leave the state with some
flexibility about the best mode of        would be less likely                       faithful blog readers will probably           factors. While alleviating overcrowding is an essential
reduction, and follows similar orders                                                remember them from the Governor's             factor in improving medical services, it is by no means
given in other cases.                    to re-enter are those                       reduction plan of 27,300 inmates,             sufficient, and much work - staffing, construction,
3. How much population
reduction is necessary?
                                         with long sentences                         which we discussed here. The plan,
                                                                                     therefore, need not be all that different
                                                                                                                                   generating best practices - will still need to be done.
                                                                                                                                          Second, while the three-judge-panel's jurisdiction
       Aaaah, this is the $64,000            and who have                            from the Governor's plan, save for the        emerged from a discussion limited to the medical system,
question. While the panel believes                                                   fact that the reduction is larger in          the judges may be said to exceed these limits by discussing
that the plaintiffs' request for a       decided they cannot                         scope.                                        other ills of the prison system, such as the broken parole
reduction to 130% capacity is                                                             The assumption that community            apparatus and recidivism rates. However, a close reading
"reasonable and finds considerable
                                          continue to live as                        resources will not suffice for                of the decision reveals that these additional issues are
support in the record", the decision          previously.                            containing the released inmates is            addressed as a direct response to PLRA requirements;
opts for a lesser level of reduction.                                                exaggerated. The panel considers              recidivism rates and other issues are not discussed in and
The panel cites Dr. Craig Haney, who              Blog Comment from                  several ways in which the community           of themselves, but in the context of public safety and
pointed out, in his expert opinion,                         Pam                      might be affected by population               remedy feasibility.
that “there’s nothing magical” about                                                 reduction. It concludes that the                     What seems to be a problem, though, is not so much
any specific percentage, including                                                   releases will not have a significant          the language of the decision or its reasoning, but its timing.
100%. The court points out that even in institutions at        impact on population in local jails. They also state that           The order was given days after the Governor came up with
100% capacity there are problems stemming from                 parole supervision would not be affected, since many of             a reduction plan of 27,300 inmates. Since the court itself
crowding, and that California prisons, by design, are unable   the problems with it stem from inadequate resource                  states that no number is "magical", a possible argument
to provide an appropriate level of care to even 100% of the    allocation, particularly from an unnecessary focus on low-          before the supreme court could be that the reduction the
population. However, the panel mentions that the plaintiffs    risk parolees and technical violations. The court also              state is willing to embrace is "enough" of a reduction. The
requested a reduction to 130%, relying on plans drawn by       rejects the (cynical?) assertion that rehabilitation/reentry        answer to the "how much" question is rather difficult, and I
the Governor's own personnel. Experts' estimates,              resources will be taxed by the reduction, noting                    can see the Supreme Court, in the spirit of federalism and
however, wavered between 130% and 145%. The latter,            (cynically?) that the considerable financial savings from a         state autonomy, leaving the amount of releases to the
according to some of the testimony (including Haney's, in      population reduction could be put to good use creating              (already exercised) discretion of the Governor and prison
response to some wardens' suggestions), is a very              more rehabilitation and reentry programs, thus contributing         authorities. Those who rejoice in the panel's courageous
conservative estimate of what would be required, taking        to public safety in a more effective way.                           decision today should hope that its reasoning for the
into account physical space and staffing. The court phrases           There is no evidence of a significant relationship           percentage of reduction will stand.
its final estimate as follows: "Rather than adopting the       between early releases and a rise in crime rates.                          We'll have to wait and see.
130% limit requested by plaintiffs, we will out of caution     Empirical evidence presented by experts supported the               POSTED BY HADAR AVIRAM AT
require a reduction in the population of California’s adult    conclusion that "population reduction measures have been            8:03 PM
prison institutions to only 137.5% of their combined design    adopted in various states without an adverse impact on
capacity – a population reduction halfway between the cap      public safety.” This alleviates concerns over the order's
requested by plaintiffs and the wardens’ estimate of the       potentially adverse impact on public safety.
California prison system’s maximum operable capacity                  There is no public safety reason to exclude
absent consideration of the need for medical and mental        mentally ill inmates from the release order. Numerous
health care. At the adult institutions’ present design         experts supprted the assertion that community-based
capacity of 79,828. . . (CDCR weekly population report as      treatment is a better strategy to handle mentally ill inmates.
of August 27, 2008), this equates to a population of just      While it is possible that some mentally-ill patients may do

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