Are We the Lost?

by Angelina Rodriguez, Death Row, CCWF
For the son of man has come to seek and save that which is “lost”. ?Luke 19:10
Who are these “lost”? My name is Angelina Rodriguez. I have been on California’s Death Row for a little over a year now. For the past 4 years I have met hundreds of these “lost”. I am one, too.
U.S. society inflicts torment, false arrests and imprisonments. Innocents are executed. Sexual, physical, mental, verbal, and emotional abuses are rampant. Desperate cries for help issue from correction facilities where Americans are unjustly persecuted. Corruption in government leads to cruelty towards men, women and children.
Do you find yourself angry that these things are happening and want them to stop?
You are familiar with rights in the criminal justice system such as innocent until proven guilty, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, due process of law, no cruel and unusual punishment, Miranda rights must be read before being interrogated, and persons may not be tried twice for the same offense. But the truth is our courts, judges, prosecution teams, attorneys, jailers, and civilian personnel disregard any and all of our rights in order to win a conviction.
Here is a rundown of some of the violations of legal rights I have endured throughout my four-year battle:
No telephone access permitted, even to my attorney.
My legal documents, crucial for my defense, were removed from my cell by LAPD deputies and thrown out!
For 3 years I was locked down 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in a tiny cold, dirty, and infested cell with no windows.
The prosecution used what California courts call “non charged offenses” against me. This is where a defendant accused of a serious offense can be found guilty of charges that they were not tried for, or were tried and then dismissed due to a hung jury. Non-charged offenses are used to increase convictions and to impose the harshest sentence.
So here I am, convicted and sitting on the California women’s death row. Thousands of other prisoners in the general population are also here because of such violations of their legal rights!
I am currently enrolled in a paralegal correspondence course (blessed by my beloved step-dad), applying what I learn to work on my case and advocacy work for others. There are many others who are pursuing education and using their skills to achieve the same purposes ? to change the country’s correctional systems. I hope that you will see we are determined to work as hard and long as it takes.
There truly are very few organizations and individuals who stand up for the incarcerated. Thank God we are blessed with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. It is these angels who give us a bit of comfort in knowing both that we are being heard through them, and especially, that we are not alone. So we thank you CCWP. I thank the women prisoners who share their thoughts and give added support, comfort and companionship.
I will continue praying; will stand up in one way or another to help stop our own concentration camps of hell. Please add your prayers and voices, too. We need not be “lost.”