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Related Categories: California | Police State & Prisons
" H 0 R R I F I E D "
by Boston Woodard (c/o MikeRhodes [at] Comcast.net)
Sunday Aug 19th, 2007 9:23 AM
Boston Woodard is a prisoner/journalist and in the article below writes about what is being done to reduce prison overcrowding and some of the obstacles that exist.
boston-06.jpg
" H 0 R R I F I E D "
An Assemblyman's Retort
By Boston Woodard

Prisoners pore over all the media they have access to in order to know what the public is being proffered regarding the ongoing crisis inside the (as a female, prisoner/journalist describes as) "California Department of Corrections [sic] & Rehabilitation [non—existent].”

The recent assignment of a three judge panel to consider capping the state’s grossly overcrowded prison population in California (174,989 prisoners) has spawned interesting responses from various politicos throughout the state. The most egregious response came from Assemblyman Todd Spitzer (R-Orange CA.), who blurted he was “horrified” that no attempt was made to “provide balance” to the panel. His response is no surprise as the ultra—conservative Spitzer leads the way in interfering with prisoner’s rights, rehabilitation and release using equivocacy in an effort to advance his own agenda. After U.S. Circuit Court Judge Stephen Reinhardt, an outspoken so-called “liberal,” was assigned to the panel by U.S. 9th Circuit Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder to sit alongside federal judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton, Spitzer's rhetoric began to spew. Judge Reinhardt's assignment to the panel was a devastating defeat to the conservative nut—case base. Right—wing demagogues lost this battle.

The three judge courts were developed as a component of the Prison Litigation Reform Act signed in 1996. This Act restricted the power of a single federal judge to order early prisoner releases from state prisons. Once the three judge panel is in operation, Henderson, Karlton and Reinhardt can order early prisoner releases if there had been an earlier finding of a constitutional violation, if the CDCR officials failed to repair it in a reasonable amount of time and if they found that overcrowding is the main cause of the problem.

Rumors abound inside the prison system as to what may or may not happen now that the three judge panel is official. Most prisoners know that this panel is not going to arbitrarily begin releasing convicts into the streets of California who haven’t earned the right to get out. Prisoners who have violent criminal histories, multiple repeat offenders and child-molester types WILL NOT be benefitting from any release that may occur as Spitzer would have the public believe.

Prison officials, the California Correctional Peace Officer’s Association (guard's union - CCPOA) and politicians with hidden agendas love to spark fear into the public. They make up horror stories to advance their agendas and to ingratiate themselves with the public as some sort of heros when all along, it was them who allowed California’s prison system to go to hell. Only those prisoners with minor offenses, non-violent commitments and those subjected to bogus parole violations will be the one’s most likely to benefit from any release decision the panel makes.

Angry, self-serving, conservative nut-jobs like Todd Spitzer have, for now, crawled back into their mossy holes to conjure up some new, magical, misleading and meritless lies about prisoners to attack anything the three judge panel may order regarding capping the prison population or releasing prisoners. This method of laying the blame on convicts has worked great for decades, as it diverts the public's attention away from the real reason there is a prison crisis.

Prisoners have no real way to defend themselves against being used as an excuse for the neglect, incompetence and overall malfeasance inherent among corrupt prison officials. What Spitzer and the “mainstream” media are not saying out loud is that the three judge panel is a FEDERAL TAKE—OVER of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

They will just have to deal with it! Judges Henderson, Karlton and Reinhardt are now, in reality, the new head of the CDCR, the shot callers, the men who will be making the decisions regarding the future of the entire prison system in California. Hopefully, the panel will order the state prison system back into some semblance of normalcy.

As of May 11, 2007, California's prison population has bulged to 174,989 prisoners. Approximately 162,848 are male charges while 12,141 are female. This number is nearly double the design capacity for all California state prisons.

California’s Legislature enacted Assembly-Bill 900, a $7.4 billion dollar bond measure (certificate issued by a government or a company promising to repay borrowed money at a fixed rate of interest). As if the state doesn't have enough money woes already (and can't even pass a budget on time), $7.4 billion dollars for 53,000 new prison beds is insane knowing the three judge panel is probably going to lower the prisoner population by thousands. You would think the Todd Spitzer types are "horrified” about that. NOT!

In an order published July 23, 2007 by Judge Karlton as Senior Judge of the U.S. District Court, on the COLEMAN V. SCHWARZENEGGER civil case #CIV S-90-0520 LKK JFM P, he wrote:

“Review of the record before this court shows that, through AB-900, the State of California has responded to the prison overcrowding crisis with legislation that requires the construction of thousands of beds to increase the capacity of the prison system, development and staffing of rehabilitation programs to reduce recidivism, and transfer 8,000 inmates out of state. For the reasons discussed supra, none of these efforts will have any appreciable impact on the severely overcrowded prisons in California for at least two years, if then."

A Special Master assigned by the federal court reported on May 31, 2007, “(o)ver the past 11-plus years, much has been achieved, and many of the achievements have succumbed to the inexorably rising tide of [prisoner] population, leaving behind growing frustration and despair.” The Special Master’s report went on to explain, “Given the almost twelve years that this case has been in it’s remedial phase, and given the constitutional considerations at stake, the direction in which the State has at present chosen to go by enacting AB-900 simply fails to address in any timely way relief from the overcrowding crisis and its attendant impact.”

Judge Karlton concluded with, “It is hereby ordered that plaintiffs’ November 13, 2006 motion to convene a three judge panel to limit the prison population is granted.”

There has been empirical evidence for decades that those in charge of the California prison system have turned a blind eye to corruption and mismanagement allowing it to continue with impunity.

The three judge panel, the federal takeover of the prison system, is California’s only real shot at fixing, arguably the largest occurrence of gross negligence and incompetence in state history. The three judge panel should be allowed to do what they do uninterrupted or distracted by colloquial, conservative frivolities by those who claim to be “horrified” by a solution for the prison crisis.

###

Boston Woodard is a prisoner/journalist serving his sentence in Solano State Prison and is not a life prisoner. Woodard has written for the San Quentin News, the Soledad Star and edited The Communicator.

Boston Woodard, B-88207
CSP—Solano, 13-F-8-L
P.O. Box 4000
Vacaville CA. 95696-4000
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
prisonsanyTuesday Oct 9th, 2007 1:01 PM
Prison OvercrowdingbeajThursday Sep 6th, 2007 10:17 PM
A solution to the over crowding!n5667Thursday Aug 23rd, 2007 2:53 PM
He may be a prisoner, but he can at least spellFrank CourserTuesday Aug 21st, 2007 7:52 PM
California PrisonersDave FreemanSunday Aug 19th, 2007 4:11 PM
prison overcrowding youve got to read thisDr. B. Cayenne BirdSunday Aug 19th, 2007 3:57 PM
More delaysJ.P. LEUTYSunday Aug 19th, 2007 3:32 PM
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