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Foreign National Prisoners, Targeted For Out-Of-State Transfers

by Boston Woodard (c/o mikerhodes [at]
Boston Woodard is a prisoner/journalist and in the article below writes about the issue of foreign national prisoners being targeted for transfer to out of state prisons.
Foreign National Prisoners
Targeted For Out—Of—State Transfers
By: Boston Woodard

Sophanareth Sok is a foreign national. He is a 27—year old Cambodian serving a 15 year sentence. He is married and has strong family ties in the Sacramento area, about a thirty—five minute drive from where he is presently doing his time in Solano State Prison in Vacaville California.

In another smoke—and—mirror attempt to clean up their management mess of allowing severe overcrowding to manifest within California’s 33 state prisons, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB—900, a bipartisan bill that provides $7.8 billion to upgrade prison facilities, including medical and mental health units, 53,000 new prison beds, and to cover the cost of forcefully transferring thousands of foreign national prisoners to out—of—state private prisons.

According to California Penal Code Section 11191(a), thesole reason being used by Solano prison officials to justify the transfers clearly reads, “ inmate sentenced under California law may be committed or transferred to an institution outside of this state, unless he or she has executed a written consent to the transfer.” The transfers from Solano State Prison are a microcosm of what is happening throughout California’s 33 prisons state—wide. On July 20th and 27th, some 200 foreign nationals (mostly from Mexico) have been shipped to Mississippi. The CDCR proffers an aggressive schedule that will include trips of approximately 120 foreign nationals being shipped to Mississippi every couple weeks.

PC—lll9l(a) further reads, “The inmate shall have the right to a private consultation [of his choice~1 with an attorney..., or with a public defender if the inmate cannot afford counsel, concerning his rights and obligations...”

In a preemptive move to cover their asses, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) hired the law office of Sean Musgrove of Rescue [sici California that carried out these unsolicited interviews with Solano’s foreign nationals. This clearly circumvents the law. CDCR officials can now claim that those forced to transfer did indeed consult with an attorney. The meetings were short, vague and ambiguous. According to Sophanareth Sok, “I was not told that we had a right, according to the law, to private counsel or a public defender who I would have preferred to speak with.”

These involuntary interviews were made mandatory by prison officials. Each foreign national was issued a “Priority CDC—129/Inmate Pass” (known to prisoners as a “ducat”) making it mandatory to show up to see an attorney clearly working for the CDCR, not their best interest. Those foreign nationals who received the unwanted passes were told if they did not show up for the pass, disciplinary action would be leveled against them, thus, being forced into the transfere scheme. The use of “priority passes” to coerce prisoners to meetings where they are to be prepared for illegal and possibly unconstitutional transfers is criminal.

On August 9th, hundreds of foreign nationals were summoned to a meeting in one of Solano State Prison’s “chow halls” for a “meeting” with representatives from the Tallahatchie County Detention Facility in Tutwiler, Miss. These men of multiple nationalities; Cambodian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, Cuban, Laotian, Jamaican, Haitian, African and others, were forced to stand in long lines outside, in close to a hundred degree weather, for hours waiting to be forced fed a bunch of raw—hooey about how “wonderful” it will be when they get to the Mississippi prison.

According to a recent article in the Sacramento Bee by staff writer Andy Furillo, “CCPOA [the guard’s union] spokesman Ryan Sherman characterized the Tallahatchie County prison in Mississippi, operated by the Corrections Corp. of America, as one of the most troubled in the country. There have been numerous articles detailing the disturbances at the prison dating back to2003.

One of the questions Sophanareth and many others want answered is, why foreign nationals were specifically targeted for these transfers. Like hundreds of others, Sophanareth has taken advantage of the programs available immersing himself in an honest effort to do the right thing and be prepared to live the proverbial “productive life” after release from prison.

The transfer of foreign nationals, the only group of prisoners targeted, is clearly discriminatory.

Sophanareth Sok has stepped up to the plate and filed a “Group Appeal” on behalf of dozens of foreign nationals who are vehemently objecting to these forced transfers.

Sophanareth’s contention is that rules have been violated and laws ignored by Gov. Schwarzenegger and prison officials to expedite these transfers.

The rush-job being put on these transfers is an effort to dupe the public into believing that the CDCR and the governor’s office are doing something of substance to relieve overcrowding. This is nothing but spurious smoke—and—mirrors being used again at it’s best by the arrogant, self—serving, pretentious flesh mongers of the CDCR to sell prisoners throughout the United States. State corrections officials signed a three year, $22.9 million contract last year with Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), which also operates the private prisons housing California prisoners in Tennessee and Arizona.

Because of the ten—of—thousands of prisoners in countless county jails waiting for a prison bed, the bogus violating of ex—cons with no new charges, the lack of real attention toward rehabilitation by prison officials, obnoxious noise from the right-wing nut base, the malfeasance and incompetence coupled with the lack of stable leadership inherent throughout the prison system, and a long list of other reasons are why these transfers will be for not. The illegal transferring of “foreign nationals” as a commodity to private prisons throughout the United States is absurd and boarders on lunacy.

Sophanareth Sok will continue his fight to try and stop his transfer. “It’s not only what is happening to me, it’s more about what it will do to my family after I’m shipped thousands of miles away” he asserts.

Boston Woodard is a prisoner/journalist serving his sentence in Solano State Prison. He wrote for the San Quentin News, The Soledad Star, and edited The Communicator. Prison officials have silenced all prisoner written and published newspapers in California.


Previous articles by Boston Woodard:

" H 0 R R I F I E D "

"Unacceptable Material"

The Parole Conundrum

The Ongoing Wave of Secrecy

They Don't Triple Bunk Dogs!

Votes From Within

Public/Media Access to the Prison System
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by Stephanie Gooding (realsimple778 [at]
This Friday, Sept 7 on the North Side of the Capitol Building in Sacramento, 9 am (no later than 10 am) emergency rally held by United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect regarding support for the sentencing commission, compassionate release bill for sick and dying prisoners, the mother of Timothy Souders a mentally ill prisoner who was killed by abuse featured on 60 Minutes twice this year, the California Nurses and a number of other families whose loved ones are suffering and dying will be there. A crowd is needed as the Governor's aides says he has no intention of signing the sentencing bills (see today's We must show that a voting lobby of intelligent reformers exists that can get out the vote. Greyhound Bus is four blocks from the Capitol, bring ice water, protest signs and lots of people. MRSA potentially fatal flesh eating disease has now infected nurses, prison guards and 40 prisoners alone at Old Folsom, it has leaked out into the community, it is time to rally in large numbers. Print the flyer off here <a href="" target="new">
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