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    Compare these 3 cases

    Sure the three criminal cases illustrated below (videos) happened in different states, but ask yourself, should politicians control clemency after viewing these three cases.

      

    SF Bayview Newspaper

    Public Policy Institute of California
    Beyond Bars Videos by:
    Saturday
    Aug272011

    KALW 91.7 FM Radio Spells it Out on Drug War

    Great piece by By Chris Connelly of public radio station KALW 91.7 “America's war on drugs: 40 years, a trillion dollars, and debatable results”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/kalw/detail?entry_id=96104

    Listen to or read this report. The quotes from the five former US presidents are enlightening when you hear the budget requests from four of them. Then compare that cost to the cost of getting drugs, which says it all.

    Thank you KALW

     

    Wednesday
    Aug172011

    "Olly olly oxen free!"

    Could it be that California Governor Jerry Brown is attempting an “April Fools” joke on the federal three judge panel? Or maybe the governor is just playing “Hide and Seek” in an attempt to avoid releasing some nonviolent prisoners. 

    As reported in this AP/ SFGate.com piece “The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation projects the law will reduce the population of the state's 33 adult prisons by 9,200 inmates in time for the initial Dec. 27 deadline, about 800 inmates short of the court mandate. It expects to meet the second deadline by removing 20,000 inmates by next June.” 

    The Bureau of Justice Statistics determined that more than half those in prison are nonviolent. California leads the nation with 170.000 inmates in its 33 prisons. In other words Gov. Brown cannot find 800 qualified nonviolent prisoners for release out of a possible 85 thousand nonviolent prisoners. 

    In Plata vs. Brown, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of a federal 3 judge panel to release more than 33,000 prisoners in two years due to the unsafe and unhealthy condition of having California’s 33 prisons run at 180% capacity. 

    It does not take rocket science to pick out nonviolent prisoners suitable for release. Every California prisoner has what is known as a “C file.” This central file has the entire criminal history of an inmate in it, so we know who is violent and have a good idea of those inmates who are nonviolent. 

    The explanation for not being able to reach the first benchmark could be in relying too much on AB-109 as the “Solution.” This bill signed into law by Gov. Brown shifts the responsibility of housing some low-level felony offenders back to the counties jails, not release.

    Unqualified for county jail or release consideration are all those convicted under the California “3 Strikes law that has caught up thousands of petty thieves and minor drug convictions for minimum sentences of 25 years per inmate. 

    Families to Amend California’s Threes Strikes FACTS has complied a shorter list of 150 of the several thousands currently serving a minimum sentence of 25 years to life for very minor crimes. This list includes Santos Reyes a father of two children serving 26 years to life for cheating on a written driving test. Leandro Andrade a father of 3 children is serving 50 years to life for stealing $160.00 worth of children’s videos. Then there is the case of Michael James who is serving 25 years to life for writing a bad check for $94.00. What is so strange about the Michael James case is that, Michael Schneider will serve less time in a California prison for defrauding mostly old people out of $43,000,000.00.

    For the State of California to plead for understanding or more time to release inmates while it continues to pick and choose who to hide in out of state prisons verses releasing prisoners is a dangerous game. It is asking the federal judges to announce in frustration, "Olly olly oxen free!"

    The federal court is not interested in California’s game of Hide and Seek with prisoners. Nor was it playing an April Fools prank when it ordered the release of inmates due to unsafe conditions. 

    However, California is risking an experience of unsafe conditions as a result of its recent filing with the court by hinting that it might come up 800 short of the federal court demand.

    The history of releasing prisoners by an angry court has always resulted in a jail break for happy murderers, rapist and child molesters when states choose to treat a court order like some game.

    Monday
    Aug152011

    Determined

    Well people, it has been nine months since the SF Bayview newspaper published my piece, “Wanted Black Leaders…”

    http://sfbayview.com/2010/wanted-black-leaders-for-california-prisoner-release-court-

    Office, bed & bath

    I am still living in my truck happy and determined to get people to understand that the answer to all our prison problems is, clemency.

    Clemency is the most powerful tool in criminal justice. We could use this tool to trigger prison reform safely and save billions in tax dollars at the same time.

    Though not planned, I am living in my truck until I get the attention of Sacramento lawmakers. No politician will take me seriously. After all, I'm just a black, crippled, homosexual, prison reform activist and homeless.

    So why do I continue? As I said nine months ago, Santos Reyes is living in California’s Folsom Prison for 26 years to life for cheating on a written DMV driving test.

    As a victim of crime since I have lived in my truck, (three thefts and a hit and run) I would not sentence these perpetrators to such a long and ridiculous sentence, regardless of their past criminal history. That is where you come in.

    It is my belief that you would be a better judge then lawmakers on prison sentences. That is what California Clemency Boards would do.

    A proposed constitutional amendment

    1. Repeal the authority of the governor’s power to grant clemency and any sentencing commutations in the State of California.

    2. Create a new clemency law that supersedes all known and unknown laws in the State of California dealing with clemency and commutation and allow pre screened average citizens, paid $100.00 a day to determine who should be released from prison.

    At top left of this page, click on "What is it" for more info.

     

     

    Tuesday
    Aug022011

    Go Wash Your Hands

    The California Prison System is so sick; it is in the process of regurgitating 33,000 state prisoners back to its 58 counties, to complete their sentences in local jails. 

    This is the conclusion of the Supreme Court ruling known as Plata vs. Brown, where the state was sued many years ago for, unhealthy prison conditions. Part of the problem was that California is housing as many as 170,000 prisoners in its 33 prisons, design to house approximately 100,000. The ruling by the high court resembled the last time I had food poisoning.

    What caused me to become sick was the fact that I ate something that was prepared by someone with unclean hands. The same thing could explain what happened to the California prison system. And it is time that we do what our mother instructed us to do, “Go wash your hands.” 

    Twice, California voters rejected prior attempts to pass a 3 Strikes law. Voters were unconvinced by the argument of its author, Mike Reynolds. Voters basically instructed him to go wash his hands again. This angry father who lost his daughter in a botched robbery by two ex-cons passed helped pass the 3 Strikes law. He simply returned to the table with unclean hands while voters were distracted by another horrible crime.   

    In 1994 the 3 Strikes law passed due in part by the outrage of the kidnapping and murder of a twelve year old Polly Klaas by Richard Allen Davis also an ex-con with a drug problem at the time. The other part was the fact that voters refused to wash their hands (read and understand the proposed law) before eating up the argument that we need to get tougher on criminals.

    Under the Three Strikes Law, Leandro Andrade a father of 3 children was given a 50 year sentence for stealing children videos worth about $160.00. This was the first case to reach the Supreme Court and the 3 Strikes law prevailed. A divided 5 – 4 ruling rejected the claim that the sentence was a violation of the 8th Amendment “cruel and unusual punishment” argument. In another ruling, the high court also upheld a 26 year to life sentence of Santos Reyes, who cheated on a drivers test, also a three strikes case.

    There are literally thousands of similar cases in California where petty criminals will be spending a minimum of 100,000 years of prison time for petty crimes such as stealing videos, cookies or golf clubs to name a few. 

    The Supreme Court, which played a major part in overcrowding California prisons with its 3 Strikes ruling, ironically attempted to wash its hands. Earlier this year due to unhealthy prison conditions, the high court ruled that California must release 33,000 prisoners in two years. It also demanded that10, 000 of these state prisoners be released by a November 2011 deadline. The ruling did not necessarily free anyone from custody. It only placed an extra burden on our county jails or parole and probation departments. In other words, we still have unclean hands.

    Today, many of us laugh at the fact that we actually attempted to fool mom when we went into the washroom, turned on the water; never allowing it or soap to touch our hands for some strange reason. Then we returned to show mom our same dirty hands. She usually said, “Go wash your hands again and this time use soap.”

    This Supreme Court ruling to release prisoners has a similar affect. It offered no soap solution to address the real problem. Furthermore the ruling questions if water was even applied to cure the unhealthy and overcrowded prison condition. This screams, “Go back and wash your hands” mainly to those who believe 3 Strikes is good law. 

    There are a number of published reports supporting both sides of the argument of 3 Strikes. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that California continues to have a prisoner recidivism rate of 70%.

    Wendy Still, head of the probation department for San Francisco county recently testified in the July 21, 2011 Board of Supervisors public safety committee meeting. She said, “85%” of California prisoners had a substance abuse problem at the time of their arrest. 

    Plain and simple, shifting the responsibility of 33,000 prisoners from state to local control does not prevent one crime from being committed. However, if we are going to show mom that we actually washed our hands properly, we would return to the table after first washing our hands of California’s 3 Strikes law and invest in more substance rehabilitation as the soap.

    Tuesday
    Jun072011

    Stop Stalling and Release Prisoners or Else

    California Governor Jerry Brown is ready to release his convoluted plan to obey the Supreme Court order to release prisoners due to prison overcrowding and health issues. In the article , he is also begging for more time, claiming two years is not workable.

    California has 58 counties. California has been ordered to release approximately 33,000 prisoners over the next two years. That means on average, California can safely release 24 nonviolent prisoners per month, per county and reach the number of 33,408 released NONVIOLENT prisoners in 24 months.

    What is so hard about that? Currently, California releases 10,000 prisoners a month on average. But because there is nowhere for the released prisoner to go, they end up back in prison. The flaw in the Supreme Court order to release prisoners is, that it could not order rehabilitation services for those released, which means 70% of those released will be back in prison in a short time.

    The solution, a new state clemency system that is controlled by average citizens (pre-screened)not politicians or prison officials, who in my opinion have motives that work against what is best. These pre-screened citizens could work on mini county clemency boards and operate a release program case by case. Working with prison records to insure that those convicted of marijuana or other nonviolent or non-serious felonies are released before murderers, rapist or child molesters who happen to have less than two years remaining on their sentences would help.

    These released prisoners then could be offered golden incentives with the assistance of a newly created rehabilitation industry (at 1/6 the current cost of $51,000 per year, per inmate to incarcerate) to stay out of prison.

    For example, if an individual stays out of any U.S. prison for three, 5 or seven years, they could earn a full state pardon. Even current parolees could be offered this opportunity for a clean record.

    Otherwise, build more prisons, not for those released... but for those of us who are not willing to lift a finger to help this prison release order work safely, which would be a far greater crime.

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