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New Shadow Commission Will Form to Urge State to CURB prison use
by upton sinclair (irlandeso [at]
Monday May 3rd, 2004 11:00 AM
“We are encouraged by the Governor's willingness to study prison closures, but if he truly wants ‘action, action, action,' he is going to have to hear from more than the people who built and are invested in this $5.3 billion prison system,' says Sitara Nieves Kapoor of CURB.
New Shadow Commission Will Form to Urge State to CURB prison use

Sacramento, CA: Responding to the Governor's budget directive to create a commission to close California prisons, a coalition of California groups, Californians United for A Responsible Budget (CURB), will be naming a “shadow commission” to highlight issues not raised by the CDC-led group, including the impact of prisons on families, the conditions of institutions, and how the state could close at least three prisons and cancel the opening of Delano II.

“If the Governor was sincere in his desire to ‘blow up boxes,' rather than simply ‘move them around', then he needs to hear from people that have been in those prisons, their families, and people who have studied what the state needs to do to build safe communities,” says CURB spokesperson Rose Braz.

“Instead of hearing from Californians, who have said in poll after poll they want cuts to prisons, the governor will be hearing from those who built up the very system they are now charged with reducing,” continued Braz.

Through minor parole reforms and increased access to educational programs passed by the legislature last year, the CDC projects the state's prison population will decline by 15,000 by mid-year 2005. Since the average California prison holds 4,750 people, at least three prisons could be closed given the expected decline in the prison population, and Delano II's scheduled opening could be canceled. If other small reforms were enacted, such as those suggested by a recent Little Hoover Commission report on parole, the state could save hundreds of millions of dollars more, reduce the prison population further, and close additional prisons.

The Governor's budget recognizes, “While population reductions provide substantial savings on the margin, entire institution closures nearly double the potential savings.” The average California prison costs $98 million to operate each year.

“We are encouraged by the Governor's willingness to study prison closures, but if he truly wants ‘action, action, action,' he is going to have to hear from more than the people who built and are invested in this $5.3 billion prison system,' says Sitara Nieves Kapoor of CURB.


Jeff Adachi is the Public Defender of the City and County of San Francisco . Before being elected as Public Defender in March 2002, Mr. Adachi previously worked as a deputy public defender in San Francisco for 15 years and in private practice for 2 years. He has handled over 3,000 criminal matters throughout his career. Mr. Adachi graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1985 and attended undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley. Mr. Adachi serves on the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigents and is a member of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has published five books in this area. He is a past president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area and the SF Japanese American Citizens League. He has been a certified criminal law specialist since 1991.

Dr. Dorsey Odell Blake was officially installed as minister of The Church for The Fellowship of All Peoples, the nation's first intentionally interracial, interfaith denomination, in 1994. Rev. Blake served as the Director of the Center for Urban-Black Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley; Co-Director, United Campus Ministry, The Ohio University, Athens; and, Program Director of the Howard Thurman Educational Trust, San Francisco. He was also the first full-time Black male professor at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa , 1972-77. Rev. Blake received his A.B. from Brown University , M.A. and M.Div. from Pacific School of Religion, and D.Min. from United Theological Seminary. He has extensive field ministry experience and works with interfaith groups on justice and peace issues. He serves on the board of International ANSWER (Act Now to stop War and End Racism), California People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, and California Interfaith Alliance for Prison Reform.

Susan Burton is the founder and executive director of A New Way of Life Foundation . Following her experiences in the criminal justice system, Ms. Burton founded A New Way of Life to assist women in breaking away from the criminal justice system. The foundation seeks to provide basic living needs for homeless women with a history of substance abuse who are in transition from prison or at risk for incarceration. In addition, she also works with youth to raise their awareness and develop their life skills as a means of preventing substance abuse and reducing incarceration.

Eveline ShuHui Chang currently directs the Friedman First Amendment Youth Activism & Education Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California . Prior to working with the ACLU, Eveline directed the Multicultural Youth Project in Chicago, and most recently worked as Program Trainer for the Posse Foundation, a national organization that selects and trains diverse groups of student leaders and sends them in teams to top colleges and universities around the nation to create more inclusive campus climates. Eveline received a B.A. degree (History/Art/Psychology) from Rice University in Houston , Texas (1994), and a Masters in Social Work in Counseling & Community Organizing from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1995). She has recently been active with the Asian American Artists Collective, Insight Arts, and the Young Women Warriors Program in Chicago .

Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore is Associate Professor of Geography and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California . Previously, she taught in the Departments of Geography and African American Studies at the University of California , Berkeley . Dr. Gilmore has researched the California Department of Corrections for more than ten years. Golden Gulag , her book on the state's prison expansion in political and economic contexts, is forthcoming from the University of California Press . Author of many articles, Dr. Gilmore has provided expert witness testimony on behalf of rural communities seeking alternatives to prison for local economic development. She has also directed an annotated bibliography on environmental justice published in 2003. Dr. Gilmore has worked on the connections between economic and environmental injustice in rural and urban communities, and found strong similarities between places where prisoners come from, places where prisons are built, and places that suffer extreme forms of environmental degradation and economic neglect. Her research includes investigation into alternative development strategies for such communities; this work complements the work others do on alternatives to incarceration. In 2002-2003 Dr. Gilmore was a Senior Fellow at the Open Society Institute. She has received numerous honors and awards.

Tom Hayden is a former California State Senator. In that capacity, he participated in numerous senate hearings on prison issues. He is currently a Professor at Occidental College , Los Angeles and author of Street Wars: Gangs and the Future of Violence (New Press, 2004).

Professor John Irwin received his BA in sociology at UCLA, a Master's and PhD in sociology at UC Berkeley. He taught sociology for 27 years at San Francisco State University . His books include The Felon, Prisons in Turmoil, The Jail , and It's About Time . Professor Irwin has received several awards from the American Sociological Association, the American Society of Criminology, and the Western Society of Criminology.

Terry A. Kupers , M.D., M.S.P., is a Professor at The Wright Institute and practices psychiatry in Oakland , California .  He is the author of four books, including Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 1999) and   Public Therapy: The Practice of Psychotherapy in the Public Mental Health Clinic (Free Press, 1980).  He has testified as an expert on prison conditions and the quality of mental health care behind bars in over twenty large lawsuits, and he has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice and Human Rights Watch on prison conditions and their mental health effects.  He is Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Contributing Editor of Correctional Mental Health Report .   

Robin Levi is a human rights advocate and attorney and currently is the Human Rights Director at Justice Now in Oakland . Ms. Levi spent four years as Advocacy Director for the Women's Institute for Leadership for Human Rights, which advocated for the human rights of women and girls in the United States , especially women of color. Prior to that, she was staff attorney at the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, where she monitored and documented violence and discrimination against women worldwide. In particular, she documented sexual abuse of women in U.S. state prisons. Ms. Levi was one of the founders and organizers of the Women's Caucus at the First Preparatory Committee of the World Conference Against Racism. She also was a consultant to the Drug Policy Alliance where she worked to end the war on drugs. Robin is currently on the Board of Directors for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and the Data Center , which provides social justice advocates with access to strategic information and research skills.

John Lum has over 25 years of direct work in corrections. He has worked two state adult systems ( North Carolina and Massachusetts ), one state juvenile system ( New York ), three county adult jails ( Hampden County and Hampshire County in Massachusetts and Santa Clara County in California ) and was most recently Chief Probation Officer for San Luis Obispo County . He served as both Associate and Acting Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Correction and Assistant Director for the Santa Clara County Department of Correction. He was also a consultant to the California State Senate, Joint Committee on Prison Construction and Operations. As Chief Probation Officer in San Luis Obispo County (1994-2001), he was frequently cited for leading the department to more alternatives to incarceration and treatment services contrary to the national and state trends to abandon such approaches and adopt punitive policies.  In 1999, he publicly committed to not recommend that the Juvenile Court commit any juveniles to the California Youth Authority due to the known abuses and violations of the law in the agency. 

Eric Mar is a member of the San Francisco Board of Education. He has taught Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University since 1992. He serves as a delegate to the California School Boards Association and is active in the Council of Urban Boards of Education of the National School Boards Association. Mar is the former Acting Dean and Assistant Dean for New College of California School of Law where he taught Racism and the Law and Critical Race Theory. He has served on the Human Rights Committee for the State Bar of California and the Civil Rights Committee of the National APA Bar Association and on the boards of the National Lawyers Guild and the Media Alliance. He is the past director of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights and a longtime member of the Chinatown-based Chinese Progressive Association and APALA [Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance]. Mar is also a founding member of APIforCE (Asians & Pacific Islanders for Community Empowerment) and the Institute for Multiracial Justice. Mar works closely with SF's Teachers for Social Justice, LA's Coalition for Educational Justice, Education Not Incarceration and Californians for Justice.

Michael Marcum joined the San Francisco Sheriff's Department in 1980. Mr. Marcum has served as Director of Prisoner Education and Treatment programs, Jail Commander of two facilities, Director of Work Furlough, and Parole Commissioner.  He was promoted to Assistant Sheriff in 1993.  Prior to his career in corrections, he spent 6 years in state prison, in the California Department of Corrections, on a conviction of second degree homicide for killing his father in l966.  During his incarceration he was an organizer for the United Prisoners Union.  He was released from prison in 1972, and discharged from parole in 1974.

Joe Morales began working for the Delano Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment in November of 1998. Mr. Morales came to environmental justice organizing from backgrounds in organizing for homeownership for low income people, welfare reform, farm worker resource and capacity building training and economic development. Mr. Morales comes from a family of migrant farm workers. He is a member of the Central California Environmental Justice Network, the Northern California Grassroots Fund, the Farm worker Committee of the California Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and the San Joaquin Valley Organizers Network. Mr. Morales also serves on the Latino Issues Forum Advisory Committee.

Rocio Nieves is an organizer with the Youth Force Coalition. A 20 year old Chicana mom, Ms. Nieves has been involved in fighting for the rights of her community for the past seven years. Ms Nieves started her social justice career at age 13 by joining E.U.T. (Everyone United Together), an after-school organization where she began to understand the injustices that poor, young, immigrant, women, of color endure.  Ms. Nieves went on to intern at Unity Now! Youth Together for Empowerment (UNYTE), a youth component of the Building Opportunity for Self Suffiency (BOSS) project.  After UNYTE, Ms. Nieves worked at Young Women United for Oakland (YWUFO), an organization that focuses on young women's health.   Ms. Nieves is currently the external organizer to the Youth Force Coalition.  

Dorsey E. Nunn is Program Director for Legal Services for Prisoners With Children. He has over fifteen years experience as a paralegal and has worked over twenty years on prison related issues. He formerly sat as the co-chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Services For Prisoners for the State Bar of California. He was the former co-chair of the Institution and Alternative Section for the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association. He formerly sat on the board of Legal Aid Association of California. He is a member of the National Organizing Committee for Critical Resistance. From 1996-1998, he was a California Wellness Fellow. He has hosted a radio program (KPOO in San Francisco ) on criminal justice related issues. In 1991-1992, he managed Alcohol and Drug Halfway House for Project 90. In 1993 he was elected to the advisory board for Project 90. In 1993, he was instrumental in establishing Free At Last, a residential treatment program for women and children and a drop-in center for addicts and alcoholics in East Palo Alto . He has taught classes in the California Youth Authority on the rights of incarcerated parents. Recently, he has been involved in bringing to the public's attention the need for better medical care for prisoners who have AIDS or who are HIV Positive. He has spoken extensively on this issue and other issues relating to prisoners, their children and family members at numerous conferences, workshops and demonstrations. Mr. Nunn has won numerous awards including, The Human Excellence Award presented by the San Francisco Muslim Community Center, Certificate of Appreciation presented by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition presented by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. In 1971, at the age of nineteen, Mr. Nunn was sentenced to life in the California Department of Corrections under the felony murder rule. He paroled in 1981 and discharged from parole in 1984.

Karen Perez was released from prison in the spring of 2001. She currently volunteers for Visions of Hope, a program that works under the supervision of the Parole Board to target high-risk youth in high schools and detention centers. She speaks with youth about her experiences in prison, including the challenges of being Hepatitis C positive and the lack of medical care in prison. Ms. Perez also lends her experience, strength and hope to women still in prison who are looking for clean and sober living once they return to their communities. Ms. Perez, who has been clean and sober since 1997, is a mother of four and grandmother of eight children. Ms. Perez is currently studying to be a Chemical Dependency Counselor at California State University , Bakersfield , and awaiting a liver transplant.   

Professor Nancy Stoller , a medical sociologist, is Professor of Community Studies, University of California , Santa Cruz . Author of many articles on prison health and a consultant to community organizations and governmental bodies, her most recent monograph was the 2001 study "Improving Access to Health Care for California 's Women Prisoners." She also served on the APHA Jail and Prison Health Task Force which prepared the 2003 "Standards for Health Care in Correctional Institutions." Professor Stoller is currently completing a book-length study of changing health conditions in American jails and prisons during the past 25 years.

Dawn Williams is the External Affairs Vice President of the Graduate Assembly at UC Berkeley and the Campus Action Committee Vice Chair for the UC Students Association.  Ms. Williams is also a former teacher and a second-year graduate student in the school of education at UC Berkeley.

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