Prisons

California prisoners end hunger strike after Bay Area legislators call hearings

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Bay Area legislators Tom Ammiano (D-SF) and Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) — who chair the Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees, respectively — played pivotal roles in today’s decision by California prison inmates to end their hunger strike after 60 days.Read more »

Prison hunger strike enters month two

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As a hunger strike staged across California prisons enters its second month, inmates and their advocates are mourning the loss of Billy “Guero” Sells, a Corcoran State Prison inmate who committed suicide on July 22 after 14 days of fasting.Read more »

California's refusal to reduce its prison population is a sign of deeper problems

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California just doesn’t get it when it comes to criminal justice. We have among the highest incarceration rates in the world (just below Russia's, and about four times the European average); our prisons eat up far too much of our state budget; they are shamefully overcrowded, secretive, and inhumane; yet politicians from Gov. Jerry Brown on down refuse to show the courage or leadership to try a different approach. Read more »

Inmates on hunger strike win support from California legislators

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The largest prison hunger strike in California history officially began on July 8, and though some California legislators have voiced support for state prison inmates, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) won’t cede an inch. Prisoners are in for a long battle.Read more »

Changing the metaphor

How I went from a Three Strikes lifer to participant in California's criminal justice reform movement

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With my partner-in-crime Keith Chandler at the wheel, we're driving through San Francisco on our way to Stanford University Law School for the Three Strikes Summit, a deeply personal topic to both of us. Three Strikes is partly why I served 15 years in prison, and Stanford's Three Strikes Project is a big reason why I was released earlier this year.Read more »

On KPFA, Gavin Newsom ducks the tough ones

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Gavin Newsom sat down for an hour with Brian Edwards-Tiekert of KPFA's Up Front, and the show is remarkable. Brian was a little less harsh than Steven Colbert, who (properly) said the Gavster's new book, Citizenville, needs "a bullshit detector" and that "everything in there could be carved on a stone and put in someone's garden," but he did a great job putting Newsom's book in the context of state and lo Read more »

Torture, for real

Giants fans, watching a close game ≠ the awful things that prisoners go through here in the United States

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OPINION Last week I walked into my favorite café in SoMa and noticed the barista wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the black and orange word "torture."

I froze. I knew I was holding up the line but I didn't care. I had to ask about that shirt.

"Oh, it's to promote the San Francisco Giants," he said. He continued speaking, not noticing my umbrage. "So do you want your coffee hot or cold today?"

I wanted to keep talking about that shirt, but I didn't know what to say. "I will have my coffee cold please," I told him.Read more »

Convict clinicians

How employing inmates and ingenuity can help the prison system really be about rehabilitation

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Editor's Note: Dey is an inmate at Soledad State Correctional Facility serving 25 years-to-life for his third strike.

Recidivism is like a circular river of criminality. After picking up toxic momentum in my neighborhood, deviance carves a path of destruction through yours. Being a participant in this tragic affair while defined indefinitely by a rap sheet from hell — it's a feeling worse than death.Read more »

Opinion: Let reporters into prisons

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As a young public defender, I represented an innocent man who was convicted of
murder.

John Tennison was serving a sentence of 25 years to life when, in 1997, I
contacted a 20/20 news producer, who agreed to feature the case.

Tennison had already lost seven years of his freedom. A national broadcast
exposing concealed evidence, perjury and misconduct by police and prosecutors in
the case could reverse his fate and reunite him with his family.Read more »

What will Jerry do?

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A few good bills have emerged from the madness of the end of the Legislative session in Sacramento -- including measures by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and Sen. Leland Yee -- and now we have to wait for the governor, who isn't thinking much beyond Prop. 30.Read more »