Archive for the ·

Prisons

· Category...

“Grassroots” Prisoner Strikes in California Actually Funded Directly by George Soros

8 comments

The hunger strikes at several California prisons this summer may have seemed like spontaneous uprisings against torturous conditions.  That’s how many incurious souls in the fourth estate are portraying them.  To wit, this hand-wringing Washington Post editorial highlighting the “tragic modesty” of prisoner demands:

DOZENS OF INMATES at California’s Pelican Bay facility went on hunger strikes for several weeks this summer for what seemed like pitifully modest demands: “Allow one photo per year. Allow one phone call per week. Allow wall calendars.”  What would prompt such drastic measures in the quest for such modest goals? Answer: The protest was an exasperated and understandable reaction to the invisible brutality that is solitary confinement. Some of the Pelican Bay inmates have been held in “security housing units” for years; those tagged as gang members can expect to stay there for six years, with no certainty that they will be reintegrated into the general population even if they renounce gang membership.  When an inmate is holed up alone in a cell for up to 23 hours a day with no meaningful human contact, a photograph of a loved one or a weekly telephone call can help to forge a connection with the outside world. With little or no exposure to natural light, a calendar can help forestall losing all track of time, all sense of reality. These simple privileges, in short, can help ward off insanity.

Well, that sounds just horrible.  Why wouldn’t the cruel prison wardens allow a mere snapshot, or wall calendar?

Because the protests weren’t really about family pictures or calendars.  Because the inmates, and particularly their leadership, weren’t really harmless and misunderstood “ex” gang members in the first place.  Because the dozens of well-funded activist organizations who played the media like dumb fiddles aren’t telling the truth about either their tactics or goals.

The whole thing was a set-up, and any fish smarter than many fish in the MSM would have smelled something fishy and swum away from the bait.

Rainy Taylor, “Bay Area Revolution Club”

While the national and international media were busy wringing their hands over the seemingly sentimental prisoner demands, and dumbly reprinting activist agitprop as facts, local news sources like the Sacramento Bee bothered to ask real questions about the policy being protested — Secured Housing Units (SHU), cellblocks which isolate dangerous, disruptive, and gang-related prisoners from the rest of the prison population:

Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [] said they will review policies on how the agency determines which inmates are believed to be gang leaders who are then placed in a security housing unit.

But they insist that inmates inside the SHU, including several who have identified themselves as leaders of the hunger strike, pose a serious threat to others and are there for very good reasons. [emphasis added]

The state’s security housing units were designed as prisons within prisons to house the most dangerous criminals. While SHU inmates are largely isolated from other prisoners, corrections officials say, they still have certain amenities available to them.

“They have 23 channels, including ESPN,” [corrections spokesman Oscar] Hidalgo said. “I think that’s something that’s far from extreme isolation from the rest of the world.”

These guys get cable, including ESPN.  I certainly don’t pay for that.  Yet they claim they’re striking because they lack “wool caps” for “wintertime.”  Such demands don’t pass any smell test.  They are deliberately designed to create an impression that the prisoners are shivering in the cold, not sitting around watching Sports Center.

Inmates in California SHU watching cable TV . . . what, no HBO?

Yet the “wool caps for winter” campaign was repeated uncritically by media sources throughout the world.  Al Jazeera English published a wildly misleading editorial by one prominent Soros-funded activist, Issac Ontiveros, who calls SHUs “torture.”  For good measure, Ontiveros’ editorial throws in a bunch of other deceptive agitprop painting the U.S. as a “prison industrial complex” that must be overthrown.  He repeats all the activists’ greatest hits, bluntly lying about the real circumstances of mass murderer George Jackson’s death, whitewashing the horrific, racially motivated killings perpetrated by Jackson, and downplaying the murders of prisoners and guards by other prisoners during the Attica riots.  Racial accusation?  Check.  Denial of violence by “activists”?  Check.  America equals police state?  Check.

This is the type of “news” about America being disseminated around the world, all subsidized by George Soros.

Quite astonishingly, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Committee is actually using photos of the bloody Attica riots to illustrate their demands on behalf of the current California hunger strikers.  This is the coalition homepage:

Get it?  Give in and end the practice of secured housing units for offenders who stab prison guards, or . . . prisoners will riot and stab a bunch of prison guards.

~~~

Back on Planet Sanity, the San Jose Mercury News bothers to document real conditions in the SHUs, plus the behind-bars behavior that landed some of the benighted residents of California’s Secure Housing Units in secure housing to begin with:

Many of the inmates on the tour were housed in pairs in cells stocked with televisions and books. The cells had doors perforated with dozens of tiny holes, instead of standard prison bars, to make it more difficult for inmates to pass items from one to another.

In one area, two inmates in neighboring cells played virtual chess, calling out their moves to one another.

Inmates do have contact with other prisoners, staff and visitors, including spending more than an hour each day in exercise yards, [corrections spokesman Oscar] Hidalgo said. They have 23 cable television channels, reading materials, access to a law library and learning materials, and can correspond with family and friends.

Conditions are “far from what we think is torturous,” Hidalgo said, though some violent inmates and purported gang leaders are kept physically separated.

Three of the state’s prisons have such units, housing about 3,800 of the state’s 161,500 inmates.

Inmates sent to the unit “have essentially earned their way,” Hidalgo said. “They have numerous assaults on inmates, they have numerous assaults on staff, they have to be isolated for their protection and for the protection of other inmates. These are predatory-type inmates, and we need to ensure they are not harmful to others.” . . .

He said the strike originated in the unit’s “short corridor,” home to 202 top gang leaders. The department provided background on five strike leaders at the request of The Associated Press. They include:

— Todd Ashker, 48, who prison officials contend is a high-ranking member of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood. He’s serving 21 years to life for a killing another inmate at Folsom State Prison in 1987, the latest in a long series of convictions. He’s accused of stabbing five inmates and assaulted three employees in prison.

— Danny Troxell, 58, of the Aryan Brotherhood, who’s serving 26 years to life for a Fresno County murder. He’s accused of six assaults on other inmates.

— Arturo Castellanos, 50, of the Mexican Mafia, serving 26 years to life for a Los Angeles County murder. He’s accused of stabbing six inmates in prison.

— Ronnie Dewberry, 53, the Black Guerrilla Family’s “minister of education” in charge of orienting and indoctrinating other inmates. He is serving 25 years to life for an Alameda County murder.

— George Franco, 46, of Nuestra Familia, serving 15 years to life for a Santa Clara County murder.

Hidalgo said the strike was coordinated by gang leaders who normally are sworn enemies.

~~~

In order to understand the professional activists orchestrating the hunger strikes, you first have to understand that they view incarceration itself, whatever the crime, as illegitimate.  Their goal, stated openly, is to “empty all prisons.”  Yet, such extreme statements don’t place them beyond the pale in the progressive Left, who largely view America as a fascist police state.  The tone of this activism has grown increasingly extreme, even though public relations efforts often mute the rhetoric for certain audiences.  The current anti-incarceration movement is more powerful and more dangerous than their outré predecessors such as the original Black Panthers.  Unlike these former groups, the current movement’s leaders wield tremendous influence in public policy and legal policy organizations, as well as in the current Justice Department and other government bureaucracies.

Coordinated actions like the California hunger strikes also demonstrate the reach of such extremism into taxpayer-funded institutions like the California university system.  Several movement leaders are tenured professors whose activism is really their only academic work — activism subsidized by the taxpaying victims of the super-thugs being housed in SHU units.

Here are just a few of the activist groups involved in inventing the recent hunger strike.  In one way or another, nearly all these groups are bankrolled by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation:

Critical Resistance — founded by well-reimbursed, Communist, taxpayer-employed, “professor” Angela Davis, Critical Resistance is dedicated to eliminating prisons entirely.  Their mission statement:

We call our vision “abolition”, and take the name purposefully from those who called for the abolition of slavery in the 1800′s. Abolitionists believed that slavery could not be fixed or reformed – it needed to be abolished. As PIC [Prison Industrial Complex] abolitionists today, we also do not believe that reforms can make the PIC just or effective. Our goal is not to improve the system; it is to shrink the system into non-existence.

All of Us Or None — AOUON is at the forefront of a dangerous new legal campaign: promoting lawsuits against corporations like Home Depot when such deep-pocketed targets deign to choose to not hire ex-cons with criminal records.  That’s right — employers everywhere may soon be facing civil rights lawsuits if they choose any non-felon over a felon, or take applicants’ criminal histories into account in any way.  How would you like to not know the criminal background of your kid’s teacher — or your mom’s nursing home aide — or that guy Home Depot sent over to hang the new cabinets?  Disturbingly, Eric Holder is grandstanding on this issue and deploying the resources of the Department of Justice to “research” such discrimination claims.  The EEOC is, of course, on board through Holder’s Cabinet Level Prisoner Re-Entry working group.

Good luck not hiring muggers and robbers in the future.  See here for more shocking details.

Aw, heck.  The day is growing short.  I’ll just list the rest of the organizations agitating for wool hats for violent offenders.  Remember, all of these groups have joined hands with radicals seeking the release of all prisoners and the total elimination of incarceration.  Some things to ponder when reading this list:  Do most of these organizations and “organizations” really look like grassroots groups?  How many are part of the vast activist astroturfing being coordinated through “civil liberties” legal foundations?  How many are extreme left-wing or openly communist political and legal groups rebranding themselves as social justice advocates?  How many are directly or indirectly funded by George Soros?

[Answer: No, Lots, The Rest of Them, and Almost All the Big Ones]

A Better Way Foundation
A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)
A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Los Angeles, CA
ACLU of California (Read Statement here)
ACLU of Mississippi
AIDs Foundation Chicago
All of Us or None
American Civil Liberties Union (National)
American Friends Service Committee
American Gruner: Coalition of Latino Leaders

American Public Health Association (Prisoner Health Committee, Medical Care Section)

ANSWER
Arkansas Voice for the Children Left Behind
Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco)
Black Awareness Community Development Organization
Breakout!, New Orleans, LA
Bristol Anarchist Black Cross
Building Locally to Organize for Community Safety (BLOCS) –Atlanta, GA
Cafe Intifada
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
California Prison Focus
California Prison Moratorium Project
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
Campaign to End Prison Slavery (UK)
Campaign to End the Death Penalty (Read statement here)
Cante Wanjila Native American Reentry and Support Project, South Dakota
Center for Community Alternatives
Center for Constitutional Rights (National) (Read statement here)
Center for New Community (national)
Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, Providence, RI
Center for Young Women’s Development
Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar
Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective (NC) (Read Statement here)
Chicago Anti-Prison Industrial Complex Teaching Collective
Chuco’s Justice Center
CLAC Legal Committee
Coalition for Prisoners Rights
COMITÉ DE SOUTIEN DE LA GRÈVE DE LA FAIM / HUNGERSTRIKE SUPPORT COMMITTEE
Comité pour un Secours rouge canadien
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Community justice network for youth
Community Restoration Services (Los Angeles)
Courage to Resist (Read statement here)
Critical Resistance
CUAV: Community United Against Violence (San Francisco)
Defender Association of Philadelphia
Denver Anarchist Black Cross
Detention Watch Network
East Bay Saturday Diaologues with Dr. Nancy Arvold & April Schlenk
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Fair Chance– Los Angeles Project
Families & Allies of Virginia’s Youth
Families to Amend California’s Three-Strikes (FACTS)
FedCURE
Florida Immigration Coalition (Miami, FL)
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
Freedom Archives
Freedom Inc (Madison WI)
Fresno County Brown Berets
Friends Committee of Legislation on California
Frontline Soldiers
Generation 5
Glen Cove Solidarity
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
Human Rights Coalition- Fed Up! (Pittsburg)
Immigrant Workers’ Center
Immigration Law Clinic of UC Davis Law School
International Action Center
International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
International Council for Urban Peace, Justice & Empowerment
International Health Workers for Peace Over Profit (Read Statement here)International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, SF Bay Area Chapter
Justice for Families
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA
Kemba Smith Foundation
Kersplebedeb
L’En-Droit de Laval
La Raza Centro Legal
Labor/Community Strategy Center, Los Angeles, CA
LAGAI-Queer Insurrection
Law Office of Rebecca Young, East Boston, MA
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Little Lake Learning Center
Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network (Read statement here)
Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (Read statement here)
Merced County Brown Berets
Milk Not Jails, New York
MIM Prisons
Modesto Anarcho Crew
Modesto Copwatch
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Jericho Movement
National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild University of Pittsburg Chapter
National Policy Partnership for Children of the Incarcerated
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (Read statement here)
NC Piece Corps
Needle Exchange Emergency Program
New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter
New York City Anarchist Black Cross Federation
New York City Anti-Racist Action
November Coalition
Oakland Community Action Network
Oakland Education Association (OEA) Peace & Justice Caucus (Read Statement here)
Osiris Coalition
Parolees for Change (Los Angeles)
Parti communiste révolutionnaire
Pathways To Your FuturePeace & Justice of La Luz, New Mexico
Peace Over Violence Los Angeles
People’s Commission NetworkPeople’s Organization for Progress (NJ)
Peter Cicchino Youth Project of the Urban Justice Center (NY)
Prison Activist Resource Center
Prison Health News
Prison Law Office. (Read Statement here)
Prison Policy Institute, Massachusetts
Prison Radio
Prison Radio Show CKUT 90.3 FM Montreal
Prison Watch Network
Prisoner Correspondence Project
Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York
Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie
QPIRG Concordia
Real Cost of Prisons Project
Redwood Curtain Copwatch
Registered Society within Association for Probation and Offenders’ Assistance, Germany
Republicans for Change
Resurrection After Exoneration, New Orleans, LA
Rethinking Schools
Revolution Newspaper
Revolutionary Athletes Worldwide (R.A.W.)
Revolutionary Hip Hop Report
Riverside Church Prison Ministry
Safe Streets/Strong Communities, New Orleans, LA
San Francisco Women in Black.
SF Pride at Work/HAVOQ (Read statement here)
Shabazz Legal Services
Socialist Action
Solidarity Across Borders
Southern California Library
Stanislaus County Radical Mental Health
Stop the Injunctions Coalition
TalkBLACK, Atlanta, GA
Tamms Year Ten, Illinois
Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth
The Mobilization to Free Mumia-Abu Jamal
The New Orleans Loiterers Union
The New York Campaign Against Torture (NYCAT)
The New York Task Force for Political Prisoners
The Outs
The Termite Collective
The WE Project, Los Angeles
Time for Change Foundation
Toronto Anarchist Black Cross
Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois
Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project
UHURU Solidarity Movement
United for Drug Policy Reform (Oakland, CA)
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United National Anti-War Committee
United Panther Movement
Urban Justice Center (New York City)
Vermont Action for Political Prisoners
Visions to Peace Project, Washington, D.C.
Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE)
Voices Unbroken
W. Haywood Burns Institute
WESPAC Foundation (NYC)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Pajaro Valley Chapter
Women’s Council of the CA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
Women’s Prison Book Project (Minneapolis, MN)
World Can’t Wait

Fascinatingly, the Open Society Foundation isn’t on the list.  But they don’t really need to be: they are the list.

~~~

If you like this report and other stories published at Crime Victims Media Report, please consider making a donation at our Paypal button.  Donations of any size are greatly appreciated, and they enable me to do this work.

If you are victim of crime and feel you were denied justice, or if want to thank the police and prosecutors who supported you and sought justice, contact me at tinatrent2@yahoo.com.  I can’t guarantee I can personally be of assistance, but I may be able to steer you to other resources and organizations, or help you tell your story.

If you have suggestions for stories or are media seeking pro-prosecution, pro-incarceration, victims’ rights perspectives from an experienced state lobbyist and academic, type “media” in the heading and send your query to tinatrent2@yahoo.com.

Is Solitary Confinement The Really Expensive Part?

no comments

Ah yes, the silly season. Reporter claiming to be writing about solitary confinement jumps right into equating solitary confinement with “hard-line criminal justice polic[y]” instead.  According to this view, solitary confinement is not, as one might think, a rational response to the dangers created by extremely violent offenders.  Nor is it a way to protect prisoners who might be vulnerable to harm because of their appearance, orientation, or gang status.  Nor even a response (one that ought to be appreciated) to the endless lawsuits filed against corrections facilities demanding protections for prisoners — protection from themselves, or others.

Nope, in the eyes of the media, every issue relating to incarceration and crime is just another opportunity to lash out at allegedly “draconian” sentencing policies.  In this view, using less solitary confinement to address budget constraints isn’t a sign that prisons are having to deal with the financial downturn like everyone else.  Using less solitary confinement is:

a dramatic acknowledgement, analysts say, that states can no longer sustain the costs of hard-line criminal justice policies.

Hmmm, which analysts?  And what’s so “hard-line” about using solitary?  Don’t prisoner activists want maximum safety for inmates?  If corrections officers didn’t care about prisoner safety, they wouldn’t bother spending more of their budgets to separate prisoners from each other, right?

What’s really being protested (I mean reported) here is incarceration itself.  What the activists want is nobody going to prison, ever.  Thus, this even more incoherent comment on the use of solitary confinement, dialed in to fill the article’s next slot:

“The whole philosophy of being just tough — locking people up and throwing away the key — has not solved the problem,” said Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, Democratic chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Well, luckily, nobody does that key thing.  And “solved” which “problem”?  The problem of crime?  According to Sen. Whitmire, incarceration doesn’t solve the problem of crime.  So . . . what does this have to do with solitary confinement?  Are we supposed to stop putting criminals in solitary confinement or stop putting them in prison?  Or are we just supposed to sit here listening to meaningless claptrap, nodding our heads?

Unsurprisingly, unlike Whitmire, corrections spokespeople aren’t in the mood to play politics with what is, for them, a life-or-death issue:

Decisions to return dangerous inmates to the general prison population anger some prison officials, who say the changes could threaten the safety of corrections officers and other inmates.  “The departments of correction are rolling the dice with public safety. … This is going to blow up,” said Brian Dawe of the American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network, an association of officers.

Elsewhere, here’s the guy whose picture appears in the yellow pages under “Solitary Confinement: Arguments For”

Robert Gleason

For seven days, Robert Gleason Jr. begged correctional officers and counselors at Wallens Ridge State Prison to move his new cellmate. The constant singing, screaming and obnoxious behavior were too much, and Gleason knew he was ready to snap.  On the eighth day — May 8, 2009 — correctional officers found 63-year-old Harvey Gray Watson Jr. bound, gagged, beaten and strangled. His death went unnoticed for 15 hours because correctional officers had not followed proper procedure for inmate head counts at the high-security prison in southwestern Virginia.  Now, Gleason says he’ll kill again if he isn’t put to death for killing Watson, who had a history of mental illness. And he says his next victim won’t be an inmate.  “I murdered that man cold-bloodedly. I planned it, and I’m gonna do it again,” the 40-year-old Gleason told The Associated Press. “Someone needs to stop it. The only way to stop me is put me on death row.”

This is a much more direct discussion of solitary confinement.

Gleason already is serving a life sentence for killing another man. He fired his lawyers last month — they were trying to work out a deal to keep him from getting the death penalty — so he could plead guilty to capital murder. He’s vowed not to appeal his sentence if the judge sentences him to death Aug. 31.  “I did this. I deserve it,” he said. “That man, he didn’t deserve to die.”

There are no innocents here.  The victim had a pretty ugly record, too:

Watson was serving a 100-year sentence for killing a man and wounding two others in 1983 when he shot into his neighbor’s house in Lynchburg with a 10-gauge shotgun. According to prison records, Watson suffered from “mild” mental impairment and was frequently cited for his disruptive and combative behavior.  Watson was sent to Wallens Ridge on April 23, 2009, a day after he set fire to his cell at Sussex II State Prison. Gleason and Watson became cellmates on May 1, 2009.

This is the reality of prison — scores of violent men locked up for our safety, and their safety, while activists circle outside, trying to come up with any reason whatsoever to get them free again, as we foot the bill.

In the days the two spent locked in an 8-by-10-foot cell, Watson would talk about how he had “drowned” two television sets because they “had voodoo in them,” Gleason said.  He would also belt out “I wish I was in the land of cotton” from the song “Dixie” and other songs at all hours, scream profanities and masturbate. In the chow hall and in the recreation yard, Watson would get inmates to give him cigarettes for drinking his urine and clabbered milk.  “You can’t be upset with someone like that,” Gleason said. “He needed help.”  Gleason said his requests to separate the two were met with mockery and indifference by correctional officers and prison counselors. He said he knew what he’d do once officials refused to put Watson in protective custody.  “That day I knew I was going to kill him,” he said. “Wallens Ridge [prison] forced my hand.”  It was after midnight when Gleason used slivers of bed sheets to tie Watson’s hands and arms to his body and fashioned a gag out of two socks. He later removed the gag and gave Watson a cigarette, telling him it would be his last. Gleason said Watson spit in his face when he went to take the cigarette out of Watson’s mouth, so he jumped on his cellmate’s back and beat and strangled the man.

Interestingly, the D.A. immediately offered Robert Gleason a plea deal in Watson’s murder.  Gleason demanded death row instead:

[Attorney Ron] Elkins had offered to let Gleason plead to second-degree murder. He also offered to drop the capital murder charges and come back with a charge that didn’t carry a death sentence. Elkins wouldn’t say why he made those offers.  However, capital murder cases are typically lengthy and expensive, especially as appeals wind through the courts. Even though Gleason confessed, Elkins said he proceeded cautiously to ensure the case couldn’t be overturned on appeal.

Here is the real financial crisis in the justice system: a defense bar that has undermined our ability to afford prosecutions to such an extreme degree that prosecutors actually have second thoughts about trying a murder case . . . when they’re not busy being worried about affording the endless, frivolous appeals that will inevitably follow.

Just think about how many thousands of lesser crimes get dismissed every day because it “costs too much” to try them.

Think about how many prosecutions never go forward because of the high price of endlessly re-trying every conviction.

But that — that’s not the type of thing you read about in the paper.

“Inmates Rights” From the Left, Under-funding from the Right, Prison Guards Shanked in the Middle

no comments

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Inmates out of control
Former officers share tales of terror at Valdosta State Prison

Recent reports of violent incidents at Valdosta State Prison have triggered an uproar among former and present correctional officers who claim the inmates are out of control. . .

“The state of Georgia is running that prison with as little staff as possible …,” an anonymous officer told The Times. “One officer is on the floor dealing with 100 close-security inmates at a time, who are locked up for murder, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault and so on. We are only one step away from a maximum security prison. Many of these offenders will never be released from prison and have nothing to lose …”

Another officer said that people are throwing drugs and cell phones over a back fence for the inmates.

“We are also finding several shanks,” the officer said. “And the administration won’t do anything about it.”

The officer added that at least 80 percent of the inmates have mental issues.

“We have no protection out there and we are scared.”

Read the rest here.

Meanwhile, a story with a slightly happier ending, in the Tampa Tribune.