Sacramento, California (June 27, 2007) The family members of our UNION traveled from as far away as San Diego to be at the Federal Court in Sacramento, Wednesday, in order to show support for a prison cap. Not everyone present has a loved one in prison, many UNION people are doctors, teachers, nurses and social workers in the professions who are united in the philosophy that prisons are doing more to create crime than to prevent it.
UNION Director Dr. B. Cayenne Bird believes that prison reform is coming about too slowly in proportion to the suffering and dying that is taking place inside. After more than a decade of lobbying the legislators, she believes that most of the politicians were put into office with the dollars and votes of law enforcement labor unions who are there to serve their needs only. Here is her statement.
“Rewarding a failed agency with more tax-payer dollars is a silly idea especially when they can’t fund the institutions that are in operation” stated Dr. Bird. The Governor has repeatedly turned down many good reform bills because his tough-on-crime image is obviously more important to him than taking actions that would benefit public safety, such as the prevention of mental illness and elimination of poverty.
The Receiver is focused on cleaning up one institution right now, San Quentin, which will hopefully serve as a model for the rest. Meanwhile healthcare appears to be getting worse at the other 32 prisons and certainly the pleas for help that come into me have not subsided.
What I see is a crisis. The mentally ill are being put into conditions which causes them to break down, act out and then they are being criminally prosecuted for reacting. They have the courts full of mentally ill people caught masturbating in their own cells, which I find utterly ridiculous given the overcrowding. A sane person would break down and lash out in such inhumane conditions.
The families of the UNION have filed 28 lawsuits for preventable wrongful deaths and permanent disabilities. We are supporting a bill to re-sentence and release terminally ill and permanently disabled prisoners which passed both houses of the legislature last year but was vetoed by the Governor.
It’s only a philosophy that is keeping paraplegics, quadriplegics, those with cancer and other terrible conditions in prison, a very expensive, wrong philosophy that will end up costing the taxpayers millions more since it is unconstitutional to lock people up and deny them medical care, which is what is happening now.
The only thing worse than denying any American medical care is to keep on denying them medical care. Many more lawsuits are on the horizon because when an image is more important than human life and extreme suffering the three million Californians attached to the prisoners have no choice but to seek court intervention.
I’ve been voicing this loudly for a decade, the families have been too uneducated to organize and take law enforcement’s politicians out of office in the past but the UNION is doing everything to change that, it’s very sad to see so many people devastated, confused and frightened of retaliation if they talk to the media about what’s going on inside the prisons.
Not many people at this level understand how the system works and the legislators are notorious for ignoring them unless there is a ton of press coverage. The wardens and prison guards are literally getting away with murder.
So much inhumanity and most people there come back much worse off then before imprisonment. We can never thank Judge Henderson for what he’s done enough but the families affected must a some point realize that nobody can keep on rescuing them, they must take the people who have voted against all reforms out of office with the power of initiative campaigns and at the ballot box. Robbing our education dollars to throw money into the black hole of more prisons doesn’t make sense to most thinking people. But are they out registering the poor to vote to stop this slave labor industry, this is the big question.
The legislators freeze out advocates that have encouraged lawsuits and speak too much truth about this situation, they have banned the media from being able to witness the atrocities, even the media allowed inside the Capitol is a very controlled situation. It’s very disturbing to see this type of inhumanity taking place in my native state of California. We are limited on funds, many of the victims of this type of government abuse can barely read or write so they don’t know how to speak out to the media for themselves, they just watch their loved ones slowly deteriorate and often die without lifting a finger to organize against the abuse. In 2007 we are controlled by people who are punishers and not healers and they’re no better than most of the inmates, criminals wearing badges and those they elected to office to do their bidding. It’s insane and we have only voter apathy to blame for the entire mess.
We support putting a cap on the prison population and urge that some of our uncreative leaders turn to technology as better industry with which to finance their bureaucracy”