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Zip Gun

by Boston Woodard (c/o allianceeditor [at]
An inside view of what is really going on inside the Prison Industrial Complex.
Zip Gun
The New Overtime?
By: Boston Woodard

California citizens receive news about what goes on behind prison walls from routine "main stream" media outlets: The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times and many TV and radio sources to name some. Most prison related stories (if not all of them) are based on watered-down "press releases" prepared by prison administrators then tailored by prison public information officers for public consumption. If that were not enough to alter a story and distort the truth, main stream newspapers "politically correct" what's left of the story.

So, instead of the whole truth and nothing but the truth being proffered, the public loses out by reading or hearing of an altered account of what really transpired inside a particular prison. More often than not, serious or dangerous events behind prison walls are never reported to the public.

Those incidents concealed front public knowledge are customarily suppressed by prison officials to cover up wrong—doing1 illegal activity or incompetence by prison staff.

An example of a worthy news story that was silenced by the California Department of Corrections (CDCR), local prison officials and the California Correctional Peace Officer's Association (CCPOA) occurred on March 22, 2008- Easter weekend - inside Solano State Prison in Vacaville California-

A "Program Status Report Plan of Operation/Staff Inmate Notification" (official memorandum) dated 3/22/08, was distributed to the prison's general populations At the top of the memo are four boxes that can be checked measuring the seriousness of an incident. Depending on what box is checked determines what the prisoner's program will be throughout the institution~ Box #1 indicates Normal Programming, Box #2 is a Modified Program, Box #3 is complete Lock—Down status and Box #4 is a State of Emergency. Depending on the seriousness of the incident various programs and activities will be effected such as prisoners visiting with their families, feeding, showers, yard activities, phone calls etc.

At the bottom of the Program Status Report is a section marked - "REMARKS." Written in that section was; ‘On 3/22/08, Culinary staff discovered an anonymous note indicating that there is a possibility of a ‘ZIP GUN' being within the facility III area." A possible gun was on prison grounds!

The prison was placed on a "Modified Program" according to the Program Status Report. Not a Lock-Down or a State of Emergency, but a Modified Program. A Modified Program (according to the memorandum) means there is controlled feeding, some (prisoner) movement, and what are called “critical workers” are utilized. Critical worker jobs are usually the jobs guards or other staff would have to do during Lock-Downs or a State of Emergency. When the guards do not want to pick up garbage after meals, mop floors, cook or work the prison’s laundry, etc., that's when the critical worker comes into play. This is routine in many prison populations in California. Many prisoners refuse to buy into the critical worker ruse which is almost always followed by more retaliation by prison staff. Prisoners who refuse to work are usually issued damaging disciplinary action for not following a direct order. This action could be the cause of a loss of good time credits.

During the search for a gun under the modified program status, many of the critical workers were ordered to the culinary (kitchen area). The culinary is where the alleged note was found regarding a ZIP—GUN at large in a specific area inside Solano State Prison- The question is, why would prison officials approve prisoners to work in the very area that information was received that there was a gun on prison grounds?

For more than three days prisoners were allowed to work, go on ducats (movement pases), have visits for two days and more; all while an alleged gun was somewhere in the institution. Was there a gun? If prison officials thought for a minute a gun really existed, Solano State Prison would have been locked down tighter than two elephants in a footlocker.

After facility III, one of four yards, was completely "shook down" with no trace of a gun, out comes another Program Status Report announcing that: "On Thursday, March 27, 2008, information was received indicating a ZIP—GUN still exists within Level II area. Specifically, the ZIP—GUN was moved from Facility III to Facility IV."

So now, on another yard separated from where the illusive ZIP-GUN was supposed to have been (according to the anonymous note found in the culinary) another Program Status Report read: "On March 28, 2008, at about 0900, a .22 caliber live round was discovered, uncontrolled on the Facility IV yard, in the grass area in front of the dining hall eight exit door.”

Ok, an anonymous note claiming a gun in a particular area of the prison proved to be false after the shake—down. ABRACADABRA! Up pops another note now claiming that the ZIP—GUN made it's way onto one of the other prison yards, that very same day, probably to perpetuate an ulterior motive.

In a March 25, 2008 Sacramento Bee editorial, talk of an overtime cap for correctional staff passed by the Legislature in 2003 that was never enforced. The CDCR distributed a letter informing all prisons that as of March 10, 2008, prison staff (guards) "no longer will be allowed" to work more than 80 hours of overtime per month. Critics say even this cap is still way to high.

Along comes an alleged ZIP-GUN note which will automatically generate gross amounts of overtime. One staff member was heard saying, ‘we are working double-shifts, not overtime.' What the hell does that mean?

Let's get back to the bullet briefly. Six days AFTER a bullet was discovered, that area was never shook-down-Does priority ring a bell?

On April 1, 2008, (this is not an April fool's joke), ten days after word of a gun being on prison grounds, rumors are now being spread by the guards to the prisoner population, that we are on Lock—Down because prisoners have too much personal property and they have to come into a "six-cubic-feet" property compliance rule. WHAT?

You can't make this stuff up! ZIP—GUN, Bullet, Too Much Property; pick a problem! What a genius way to get more overtime under the guise of a made up serious situation. Man!

Prison officials would have you (the public) believe that the bullet found in the grass, while all prisoners were locked in their dorm buildings, was put there by a prisoner.

First off, not one of the nearly 6,000 prisoners behind these walls have access to bullets. All food packages entering the institution are from special security vendors, there are no furloughs (temporary leaves) in or out of this prison, and the bullet probably was not dropped by a low-flying liberal sea-gull. Prison officials are quick to use the worn-out explanation that the bullet (or drugs, or cell phone, or weapons, etc,) had to have been smuggled in through the prisoner's visiting room. This is virtually impossible for the following reasons:

All visitors are searched and ordered to remove all metal (objects) from their person then are slowly walked tnrough a very sensitive metal detector which can detect metal items including very tiny earring posts; it would definitely detect a bullet.

Also, the entire visiting room is equipped with multiple "high resolution" cameras which monitor every inch of the visiting area. Then there are the guards who stalk and monitor all visitors and prisoners making it nearly impossible for nefarious activities. Lastly1 all prisoners returning from a visit are strip searched and subjected to cavity searches chat include, yes, the guards peering into the rectums of all returning prisoners.

Prison official's claims that visitors bring in all contraband are unsubstantiated, baseless and meritless. The only way those types of contraband items make it behind prison walls is almost always by a prison staff member who walk in and out of these prisons routinely, untouched and
never searched. When prison staff get caught, it's kept from the public at all costs. Do the math.

To further justify their claims of how a bullet (or other contraband) found it's way into the prison1 some prison staff simply make up all sorts of stories of how a prisoner had to have been responsible. Have prisoners ever introduced contraband into the prison? It's possible- Did a prisoner have anything to do with the -22 caliber bullet conveniently found in the grass? It's highly unlikely. Staff have been caught many times in the past bringing contraband into this and other prisons- To bad the main stream news people don't use some of their energy investigating and 4uestioning that fact and inform the public.

While Solano State Prison was searching for a gun1 there was a "walk away" of two prisoners from a minimum security prison ranch a few hundred yards away at the California Medical Facility (CMF), also in Vacaville- After the two men breached the ranch's security, all the local news stations reported on every news cast, for three full days~ that the two men who walked away were "not armed" or "dangerous" and were Just two drug addicts who need not be feared-

Two harmless druggies are all over the news for days wnile the search for a gun in a prison just yards away receives no news coverage what so ever- Is anyone listening?

There are some numbers that can't be guantified regarding episodes such as the ZIP-GUN snitch note, and that is the number of times prison officials are responsible for the cause off an incident that was blamed on prisoners- Because the public only hears one side of the story and the free-world media is guided by the very source that needs scrutinizing1 the prisoner's side of the story (if it does get out) is the only whole account of events that the public may yet. A prisoner's account is not prepared, watered down, altered or distorted like those with a vested interest in this multi-billion dollar cash cow — the CDCR.

In April 1996, corrections officials and Gov. Pete Wilson banned media access on specific prisoner interviews and the benefit of confidential correspondence between prisoners and news sources. This greatly limited legitimate media to fully investigate and report their findings to the public-

As of this writing, April 3. 2008, Solano State Prison staff are now saying the prison is on Lock—Down (as opposed to a Modified Program) because prisoners may have too much personal property. Looking for a gun is less important (according to the institutional Program Status Reports) than a prisoner having too many pairs of socks. Sounds like they might stick by that story. Maybe...


Boston Woodard is a prisoner/journalist who wrote for The San Quentin News, The Soledad Star and edited The Communicator. The CDCR has pulled the plug on all three publications.

Boston Woodard, B-88207
CSP—Solano, 13-F-8-L
P.O. Box 4000
Vacaville, CA. 95696-4000
§Boston Woodard
by Boston Woodard
§Reply from Boston
by Boston Woodard (c/o allianceeditor [at]
A few weeks ago, my editor Mike Rhodes of The Community Alliance (, posted two articles I authored. The first one was about an alleged ‘Zip-Gun” on Solano State Prison grounds in Vacaville California. The second article called “Shake—Down” described the vicious and cruel treatment infirmed and elderly prisoners had to endure during a retaliatory search of the prison.

During the shake-down, thousands of prisoners had their personal property confiscated, damaged or lost. Housing units were ransacked and left in total disarray by the guards. On April 25, 2008, days after the articles appeared on-line, I was taken to an administrative office and questioned about “allegations” I made in my articles; I believe this interrogation was an intimidation tactic by Solano Prison Officials. One of the interrogators told me that “The warden sent us here to question you about your article.” Further investigation, and questioning of other prisoners, proved my written accounts of what happened to these men to be true. Prison medical records also confirm what I wrote about was true and accurate.

I read many of your comments and for those of you who had kind words and understanding of what it is like dealing with these miscreants (“public servants”) who are sucking up all your tax dollars. Prison officials continue to administer punitive treatment toward prisoners and our families. I encourage you to write, call or text message prison officials in Sacramento and demand more public media access into California’s prison system, and demand independent investigations into the unlawful practices that abound behind these prison walls. The California Code of Regulations Title 15, Section 3260; “Public Access to Facilities [Prisons] and Programs” explains that these prisons belong to you, the tax payers, and you have an absolute right to inquire as to exactly how your money is being used; or in the case of California’s prison system, wasted.

I also want to thank Mike Rhodes who has helped me get the other side of the story out from behind these walls for more than three years. The Community Alliance and other progressive media outlets need our support for affording myself and other prisoners a forum from behind these walls.

Thank you again for all your kind words and encouraging comments.

Boston Woodard


Boston Woodard, B-88207
CSP-Solano, l3-F-8-L
P.O. Box 4000
Vacaville, CA. 95696-4000
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by Michael (mikewestmoreland [at]
This is a prime example of why the taxpayers are wasting money on the whole concept of prison. There is no evidence anywhere that locking people in cages and treating them worse than animals does one thing to benefit society. Let's hope the families learn to organize shortly so that we can force changes via initiatives and incredible noise at the news sites. The prisoners cannot fight for themselves, others must do it.
by Rocky
Great article. Prisons always want to blame it on the visitors! It is the guards who bring all the contraband in the prisons. Why don't they check the guards like they do the visitors. The visitors just want a peaceful visit with their loved one.
by Buchanan
Hopefully Boston, the truth will someday be heard. I pray, sooner than later. The families of the inmates know the truth, the prisoners know the truth. Thank you for writing about the truth. On behalf of us all. We owe you our support and gratitude.
by Trudaughter
This is happening at SATF also and the "unofficial modified" programs and "emergency counts" are significantly on the rise. When will the California taxpayers get a clue? Are they really concerned about education and social programs who's budget are cut to fund this Hunter Green monster CDC (do not use the R- there is NO rehabilitation). Officers are not accountable to management and the state by virtue of their obscene union contract...

California - you got what you wanted, and if you want things to change you have to change the way that CDC is allowed to do business. They are pushing men and women up against the wall and there will be dire consequences to all. Our loved ones were locked up as punishment, they are not sent to prison to be punished and brutalized by their captures...

If you are lucky one who does not have someone you care about in a facility, you better knock on wood, because if they have their way - it's going to continue to grow. Otherwise - stick you head back in the sand and quit complaining about how the state spends YOUR tax dollars!

by Richard
All I can say is this is a perfect example of the California Prison system corrections officers corruption that go on every day and every minute. Think about it like this if these CO's are capableof doing these type of things you can just imaginr the abuses, totures and set ups that these do on a regular basis. I know there are a lot of good CO's but the hand full at every prison make it bad for all others putting the safety of all in jepordy.. Salinas valley State prison is another perfect example of the abuse and torture that gopes on all of the time ( CO's gang known as the Green wall its a fact and has been documented) Not only the prison guards CO's are corrupted and are made up of gangs The Lynwood Sherrifs had their own lil gang known as the Knights look it up people and I can tell you the Lynwood Sheriffs havent changed patrolling all of the city of Compton putting people against one another... too much to say some one the feds or some one needs to regulate these gangs with badges and guns putting the goo dpeople in danger. a concerned citizen
by Tracey deVeyra (deveyra4life [at]
3mos. I waited for my family visit which was to have been on April 03,2008 only to get a call a week before telling me it had been cancelled now I have to wait until July 03,2008!! Hi Boston ....Ray told me about this for a reason ....I got a big mouth and I never shut up!
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