Voices from the hood

by KC X018, CCWF
Voices from my past, children, soft sounds, the smell of cut grass
The flight of the falcon, a humming bird hovers around a bright red feeder. A window, the window sill of heaven.
Ravens call at night, the cane, oh, the magic of the Raven Cane at night.
To even underestimate the power in the hood in the wee hours of the morn, is to say the “caine” and eye have no say!
Listen, yes, in quiet silence comes the WAY.
Less is always an addition when the last part is the only less,
Then the less is the more, but only in response to just the ADD =
2 equal is to be a part of, to remain less, then can become, a gift is source, as in it works,
The How It Works, hood, stayed down until we equal the most.

Seeds of Light

Bringing Indigenous languages into the prisons
by Stormy Ogden (Tule River Yokuts, Kashaya Pomo) former prisoner, yokutswoman@aol.com
For the American Indian people language is an intricate part of their culture. It is the foundation from where the songs and prayers and stories come from. So much of their worldview, culture and ideology are encoded in language, that when a people lose their language, they lose a very important part of themselves.
Seeds of Light is a language program for Native prisoners. We supply cultural and language materials for Native prisoners whenever and wherever possible.
For more information contact:
Seeds of Light
221 Idora
Vallejo, Ca 94591

Solitude

by J. O., CCWF, 7/2/04
In the solitude of my living space
I contemplate the fate of my existence
Expelled from society, the so-called human race
There is turmoil, chaos and resistance.
Though all seems well on the outer shell
My fallen spirits dwell in the pits of hell
The other me lives toilfully day to day,
Leaving my life in disarray.
An everyday battle continues within
Struggling, the fight, to keep me from sin.
A new way of living, new people I encounter
Decisions to make, so much to ponder,
My life behind the barbed wire fence.
Repression, repulsion, take no offense
The charlatan medical staff
Who call inmates riff-raff
Life behind the barbed wire
My life, as I see it, in a mire
In the solitude of my living quarters
I find serenity in that concrete space?where
My free world memories can’t be erased
Try as they might to change my inner thoughts…
Well, I think not!
Rules and regulations, sure, why not?
But there is one important thing you forgot
Regardless of how hard you try
For me to follow rules and comply
Treat me with respect as I do you
Because right now, as it stands
Every step I take forward
You push me back two!
Does that make things right for you?
Imprisoned to pay for a crime
Try as I do, you treat me like slime.
Some say I am spoiled?extras I don’t need
Why give a privilege to a bad seed?
As the ailing became sicker and some losing their life
What is the purpose of everyone’s strife?
In the solitude of my living space
I mentally block out this detestable place. Although
You see me smile and laugh as I walk out the door
Inside I cry out, please, no more.

See What I See ?

by L. R., CCWF
Society is led to believe that they have captured
many ?evil drug lords?
In the war on drugs
They say the streets are safe but ?
See what I see ?
I?m surrounded by women
Far from the drug lords
Escobar, Atala, Cuervas, Ochoa
Manuel Noriega and more
See what I see ?
As I look around me
Surrounded by heartache and pain
The oppressed and abused
The prisons are full
See what I see ?
Down troddened, addicted, and poor
?evil drug dealers? victims of the war
a sacrifice, a façade for all to believe
See what I see ?
The abused, persecuted and afflicted, victims of the war on drugs
Stripped of dignity
Stripped of a belief of justice
Their lives ? the final sacrifice
Doomed behind the razor wires of isolation, loneliness, and despair
See what I see ?
Women hoping for justice
Just someone to care ?
Someone to see
See what I see ?
And tell me that ?
The thousands of poor who cannot afford an attorney
The abused who are convicted as king pins
The poor charged with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of
Phantom drugs
? are not the victims of the ?War on Drugs?

Dignity Denied: The Price of Imprisoning Older Women in California

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children is proud to announce the release of its report on older incarcerated women. The result of extensive interviews with older incarcerated women throughout California, the report calls for two categories of recommendations: (1) reduce the number of older prisoners (for example, release all nonviolent prisoners over 55 on geriatric parole); and (2) improve the lives of older prisoners (for example, establish an ?over 55? status that will provide age-specific consideration and assistance regarding housing, programming and activities of daily life.
For a copy of the report or its executive summary, please look at the website: www.prisonerswithchildren.org or write to LSPC at 1540 Market St., #490, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Martha Fernández (en Español)

Martha Fernández, quien estuvo prisionera en el VSPW, murió el Lunes 12 de Diciembre del 2005, después de haber sido atendida en la sala de emergencies del hospital de la comunidad en la ciudad de Madero. Su cuerpo fue trasportado y entregado a su familia en la ciudad de Watsonville; y ellos procedieron con los arreglos para su funeral el día Viernes 16 de Diciembre del 2005. Inmediatamente después del funeral, la funeraria le informó a la familia que no pudrían enterraria por no haber recibido el certificado de defunción propiamente firmado. La familia, naturalmente, se indignó. La familia, quienes inmigraron de Mexico y tienen conocimiento limitado en el idioma ingles, no solamente sufrieron la inesperada muerte de su hija, pero tampoco la pudieron enterrar en el tiempo y manera esperada.
Un familiar y una defensora del CCWP, se comunicaron con los oficiales del VSPW y el hospital de la comunidad de Madera para determinar como obtener un certificado de defunción firmado lo mas pronto possible. Durante el transcurso de los siguientes 3 días, los mandaron de un lugar a otro y con diferentes personas dentro de la agencia. Fué hasta el 19 de Diciembre del 2005, siete días después de la muerte de Martha, que la familia pudo darle cristiana sepultura, una tardanza inexcusable.
CCWP ha estado activamente publicando este consternado caso, recalcando que el factor que Martha Fernández era inmigrante lo mismo que el limitado conocimiento del ingles de su familia, impactó en el tratamiento que ella recibió aún después de su muerte. Mientras tanto hemos recibido sugerencias que el VSPW está interesado acerca de la publicidad negativa; hasta la fecha no hemos recibido alguna misiva oficial aceptando responsabilidad por dicho problema y clarificando que procedimiento tomaran en el futuro.
Si Ud. Se siente indignado por el trato ofensivo recibido por la familia Fernández en este incidente, escriba o envíe un FAX a:
Jeanne Woodford, Acting Secretary
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
PO Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
Fax # 916-442-2637

The Story of Martha Fernandez

Martha Fernandez, who was a prisoner at VSPW, died on Monday, December 12, after having been treated in the emergency room of Madera Community Hospital. Her body was transported to her family in Watsonville and they proceeded to schedule a funeral for Friday December 16th. Immediately after the funeral, the mortuary informed the family that they could not bury Ms. Fernandez because they had not received a signed death certificate. The family was, of course, extremely upset. The family, which is of immigrant background with limited English knowledge, not only suffered the unexpected death of their daughter but were also unable to bury their loved one in a timely, compassionate manner.
A family member and a CCWP advocate contacted officials at VSPW and Madera Community Hospital to determine how to obtain a signed death certificate as quickly as possible. Over the course of the next three days, they were shifted from one person to another and to many different people within each agency. It wasn?t until several days after Martha had died, on December 19 that the family received the signed death certificate and were able to bury her, an inexcusable delay.
CCWP has been actively publicizing this appalling case, pointing out the likelihood that Ms. Fernandez?s immigrant background and her family?s limited English skills impacted on the type of treatment she received after her death. While we have received indications that VSPW is concerned about the negative publicity, to date we haven?t received an official letter taking responsibility for the problem and clarifying what the procedure will be in the future.
If you are outraged about the insulting treatment which the Fernandez family received in this incident, write or fax:
Jeanne Woodford, Acting Secretary
California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation
PO Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
Fax # 916-442-2637

Standing up at Sacramento County Jail

by Tatiana Turner
For all of you who have never had the pleasure of running through Sacramento County Jail, then truly this will discourage you from ever wanting to commit a crime in Sac County. The only way to to stop these injustices is by uniting as a group and making and taking the time to fight these unjust standards we are subjected to by people who choose to use the power over us in the wrong ways – what?s legally known as abuse under the color of law.
There was a time in our lives when things were way worse. There was no choice but to unite and speak out during the civil rights movement or during the abolition of slavery. But coming from and living in one of the freest countries there is, it seems we have gotten a bit too comfortable when it comes to standing up for our rights.
Although there are no rats and snakes and we were not hung and beat, Sac County officers are very proud of their reputation amongst colleagues as having criminals do the hardest time and being the strictest facility within the 700-mile radius of the facility. They also have the highest rates of suicides, the highest rates of abuse law suits and have had to pay one of the highest amounts in a breech of rights lawsuit. Yet living in the biggest state in the U.S., and the capital at that, they continually abuse people mentally and physically as well as constitutionally and seem to not get any repercussions heavy enough to make them stop.
Instead they take it out on the more ignorant of the inmates with the attitude that the person is too stupid to fight back or complain to the right people. The officers fear our knowledge and live off of our ignorance and lack of power. But, I?ve come to realize that the real problem isn?t the officers, it?s us, the inmates. We can do something about it. We do have rights. We can make change. But like Newton says, things will stay the same unless you move them. It takes a force to get the ball rolling.
Since we don?t get sprayed down with water hoses anymore or can eat wherever we like, and drink from whatever water fountains we want; since we were born with rights that other people fought and died for, we feel that nothing is worth standing for anymore. Well folks, I?m here to say that nothing will happen in these places unless we stand and fight as a unit. Get educated and learn your rights and learn how the world works, or else you will always get shuffled around in this world?like a loose newspaper in a Chicago wind, left by someone who didn?t care if it would ever become trash.

San Joaquin County Jail Suicide

On January 18, 2006, a San Joaquin County mother of a teenage boy held in the San Joaquin County Jail on minor drug charges was awarded, $758,000 in compensatory damages by a Sacramento jury after a three week federal jury trial. The teenager, who had schizophrenia, committed suicide after being held in 24 hour a day lock down for a period of three months without any treatment. Due to his incompetence to stand trial, the court had ordered his transfer to the state hospital. However, that order was never carried out.
The jury found that the County deliberately and indifferently violated this young man’s civil rights by denying him access to medical treatment, failed to protect him, and failed to properly train, supervise and discipline its officers and employees in order to prevent such unnecessary deaths. The indifference was found to be systemic in nature. The jury found not only the county but also the sheriff and treating physician individually liable. On Feb. 22 the jury awarded $100,000 in punitive damages against the psychiatrist whose recklessness allowed this suicide to happen.
Attorney for plaintiff, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children Board Member Geri Green, is pleased with the victory. She said, ?Today, it is jails and prisons that house those suffering from severe mental illness. This jury heard what actually happens behind those walls and was outraged.?

Are Vendors Gouging Prisoners?

by Prisoner?s Family
The vendor pricing comparison below shows how outrageous the pricing of the prison-approved vendors actually is. We encourage our readers to write your state legislator and let them know how unfair it is to make prisoners and their families pay mark-ups of 100-200% when most prisoners make only a few cents an hour and the majority of family members are struggling to make ends meet!
The vendor pricing table compares the prices of 3 widely used prison-approved vendors (Access, Walkenhorst, D&D) to 3 major retailers in the Fresno area (Walgreen’s, Long’s, and Rite-Aid) for the week of December 11, 2005. It shows the percentages of mark-up on prices families have to pay by being forced to buy from vendors.
Per the DOM 54030.9.1- Vendor prices will not exceed the median price of comparable items by more than 10%. DOM also states that “items listed in catalogs must regularly be in stock”…
90% of vendor boxes have at least one out of stock item…and commonly several items that are out of stock.
Items were compared utilizing exact brands, ounces, etc.
Many brands that the vendors sell are not sold in stores and so comparisons are not available (City Cow, Brushy Creek, Cactus Anne, etc.)

Price Comparison
Items & Size
Access Walkenhorst D & D Longs Walgreen Rite Aid
Duracell AA batteries 8-Pk   $9.98 (+124%) $7.12 (+60%) $4.44 $4.50 $4.49
Hersheys Kisses 8.5 ? 10 oz   $4.49 (+75%) $3.38 (+69%) $2.50 $1.99 $1.99
Wheat Thins 7 ? 10 oz   $3.59 (+79%)   $2.00    
Pringles (chips) 6 oz   $1.99 (+101%) $1.75 (+77%)   $0.99  
CoffeeMate Creamer 16 oz $3.20 (+113%)     $1.50    
Folger Coffee 13 oz $7.80 (+291%) $6.99 (+251%) $8.97 (+351%)   $1.99  
Maybelline Mascara $6.30 (+175%) $6.39 (+205%) $6.99 (+241%)   $2.29  
Infusium23 Sham.or Cond. 16 oz $8.04 (+61%) $10.49 (+305%) $7.99 (+60%)   $4.99  
Pantene Sham. or Cond. $6.99 (+109%) $6.99 (+109%) $5.39 (+62%)   $3.33  
Lady Speed Stick-Deo / anti-persp. $4.00 (+79%) $5.49 (+60%)     $2.05