Prison Reform for Dummies: What's Right and What's Wrong Since there is obviously a lack of depth and creativity on actual prison reform amongst the Republican lawmakers in particular and even some of the Democrats, I've penned this opinion piece.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently thinks that sending people out of state away from their court cases and families is a right way to create more beds in prisons. Locking people in cages has never worked to lower or prevent crime since civilization began. This desperate plan is more evidence of the total disregard that this Governor has for human life and due process. Please go to the link below to see beneath the surface
Moving prisoners out of state would be a wrong move because it treats people as if they were no better than livestock and it denies due process. Not that some people might not be desperate to get out of California's blood houses. I know of Israeli nationals who would love to be on the next flight out of here to our mutual benefit.
I can think of two reasons why the Governor would float such a callous and wrong-headed idea as contracting 10,000 people to private prisons out of state. One is so that he doesn't have to initiate any real reform and two, thereby alienate his Republican base whose Holy Grail is punishing instead of preventing and healing the actual causes of crime. Moving people is not a reform. Their cases and witnesses are here, and due process must be respected, cherished and preserved.
Moving inmates who have little ones would punish the children unnecessarily and would not impact the gang culture, as gangs are everywhere in the country. Moving "gang" members to other parts of the country is simply a way to expand that culture. And who could ever trust the screening process to know who was moved? This mob-like organization does what it wants, and they could get a green light and move anyone they want.
The idea of moving people in prison away from their legal cases and families is not only callous but it's ridiculous. However, if some prisoners want to waive their rights to due process or want to go out of state to be near their families, that would be fine -- but not if those prisoners are terminally or mentally ill, which would make them incompetent to sign their lives, family members, and court cases away.
Since there is obviously a lack of depth and creativity on actual prison reform amongst the Republican lawmakers in particular and even some of the Democrats that will bring our society to a better place, I've penned this opinion piece. It has actually been voiced many times before with the help of thousands of prisoners’ families, many of whom are doctors, teachers, nurses, business owners, social workers and even attorneys and journalists -- in other words, intelligent, professional people who are living the nightmare of injustice by having a loved one incarcerated in California. They know better than any aging action hero or cartoon character making life and death decisions with people's lives what is needed, as they are the victims of these crimes against humanity brought on by all this political blustering and capitalization off human suffering that has brought us to this crisis.
Before any semblance of reform can be achieved in the overcrowded, overwhelmed, under-functioning, understaffed, unaccountable, out-of-control, out-of-step, and in-debt California prison system, two things need to happen: emergencies need immediate attention, and a metaphorical house cleaning needs to take place.
Emergencies Must Be the First Priority Until Actual Reforms Which are Really Going to be Effective Are Agreed Upon
Families of ill or injured prisoners still have no place to go for help or information when they have concerns about what has happened to their loved ones. This heartless lack of common decency and accountability has resulting in countless cases of preventable illness, injury, and ultimately death -- followed by wrongful death lawsuits. To lower the mounting preventable death toll, somebody needs to put someone in charge of responding to inmates and their families in preventable emergencies. In this declared emergency, creating contact personnel for families in need of information and help should have been the first order of business. Yet it still hasn't been done!
Also, as part of the current emergency, the Governor needs to sign the media access bill. I know of at least four young men who were found dead by hanging in the past month or so. Suicide is a form of medical neglect, and reports are that two of these young men were badly beaten by guards the day before. Their deaths might not have been suicide, but when the media has no access, CDCR can literally get away with murder. If there is nothing to hide, the Governor should honor the First Amendment of the Constitution and sign it.
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B. Cayenne Bird is a 45-year veteran op-ed journalist and publisher. A descendant of Mary Todd Lincoln, and General Andrew Porter, she is passionate about human rights and criminal justice issues. A mother and grandmother with advanced degrees in Journalism, Liberal Studies, and Humanities (Cultural Anthropology) she has focused on prison reform making great strides in Calif. supporting the landmark Plata-Coleman case for a decade which resulted in major prison reform. She writes scholarly articles too but prefers op-eds.