Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Photo by Tnarik Innael via Flickr Creative Commons

I just received the article you sent that was in the Fresno Bee, a reprint from the Sacramento Bee by Charles Piller, “The Public Eye: California Prisoner’s Rights Often Trampled.”

I did not read the article previously, but I had been told about it. I wanted to comment on Piller’s piece. First off, I think it’s great that a mainstream newspaper just did what the Community Alliance has been doing for years: telling the public about the abuses in California’s corrupt prison system the way its supposed to be done.

Let me point out a few things that were included in Piller’s
article that you (the Community Alliance) have already
published (in some cases several times).

1.    Prison staff filing false and misleading reports.
2.    Destroying documents.
3.    Suppressing prisoners from contesting allegations.
4.    Threats and intimidation by prison staff.
5.    Prison staff’s miscreant behavior.
6.    Appeals officer rejecting legitimate complaints.
7.    Cover-ups and manipulation.
8.    Preordained “guilty” findings at disciplinary hearings.
9.    Lifers being denied parole because of vindictive, false reports in their Central files.
10.    Dumbing-down prisoner complaints to trivial “program issues.”
11.    Punishing prisoners by transferring them to remote locations.
12.    Prisoner beatings.
13.    Racial profiling of prisoners.
14.    Conspiracy.
15.    Shoddy and/or incomplete investigations or the lack there of.

These are the problems the Community Alliance has been heralding about the prison system for years. It’s as if Charles Piller read some of my articles and summed them up in his article. Good for him, we (prisoners) need all the media attention we can get about this corrupt system.

Boston Woodard

Stop the Wars!

We the people must take it upon ourselves to stop the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we must show our government that we will not allow more wars and no money for them!

Our people in Congress and the President must see that we will not be stopped! Too many people have been killed, too many of our young people have come home in boxes.

And our children are not taught in school about what is going on or what has gone on in the past, so how can they know about getting killed and all that. They have not been taught what is important!

Diane Corbin

Humanitarian Solution Needed in Afghanistan

I have grave concerns that pulling out of Afghanistan will leave women and children and other vulnerable people subject to cruelties, murders and torture. Witness the cover of Time magazine showing an 18 year old girl having her nose and ears cut off for fleeing abusive in-laws. We need to do more community building. If we pull out rapidly, I believe we will further tarnish our humanitarianism efforts. Are we going to settle for “peace” on the backs of the most vulnerable in Afghan society?

With Iraq, I have a different reaction. We should not have gone there in the first place.

Keith Woodcock


Excellent issue of the Alliance cover to cover, by the way. It’s been an honor to hand it to people. David Swanson’s article was top rate.

Ken Hudson
Squaw Valley

Enabling the Homeless

I wish to take this opportunity to thank you and all of your kind staff for your tireless efforts on behalf of the homeless as you strive to make individual apartment living for them a reality. Your efforts are most admirable, and I am sure God is smiling down upon you as you work undaunted toward this end.

I ask that the four corporate sponsors (of the City’s First Step Homes effort)—Saint Agnus Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente of Fresno, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Union Pacific Railroad—who have graciously donated thousands of dollars toward addressing homelessness be sure to “earmark” their earnest donations to go directly toward building self-contained apartments units (watered down versions of SROs and Eco-Villages just won’t do) to include a kitchen and a bath. To offer the homeless less is tantamount to abuse. I am sure that all but a few are quite capable of handling a kitchen and bath. The homeless need to stop being treated like objects to be pushed around and instead be treated like subjects with their own life to live.

There are plenty of “services” available in the community that the non-homeless avail themselves from the comfort of their own home and the homeless must be enabled to do the same as well. The dichotomy must end. I also ask that each city resident who donates $1 a month to the homeless “earmark” that their donation go directly toward building apartments for the homeless (no exceptions!). The funds must not be used in any way, shape or form to defray administrative costs incurred by the initiative to address homelessness. City staff, leaders and volunteers, etc., are quite capable of handling the initiative. Homeless shelters need to be a thing of the past and the sooner the better. Babylon needs to exit and Saint Francis, advocate for the homeless, poverty, animals and the environment needs to be ushered in—pronto!

Paula Savino

I’m so sorry for Paul. I have an issue and hope someday that I may get help eventually. I am in the process of trying to find a new place to live, and I pray and will try to get somewhere with finding a new place to live as well as some of them homeless out there. I will pray for them too.

Rafaela Verdialez

Social Security a Victim of Short-Term Memory

I wonder about a lot of things. In my last letter to the editor, I wondered why people have such short memories. Let’s face it. If we are a forward-looking country, we have to base it on something—may I suggest based on what went before? Sort of wanting to be at the top of a ladder and on the way up to forget that we need the rungs under us to get down.

So I wonder why we don’t seem to remember that in the early 1980s a Social Security Trust Fund was set up so that everybody would pay a little more into Social Security and that extra would go into that special fund. It was set up so that at a time when a lot of baby boomers would get on board, the trust fund could take care of the sudden surge in payouts without having to worry about rocking Social Security itself.

And so what happens? Extremist voices start screaming, and convincing an enormous number of people, that the Trust Fund for Social Security is running out of money. My, oh, my. It was set up as a hedge for just these years and it is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Apparently, fear mongering is still working with many people of short memory, or a will to think for themselves.

Elly Orin

Ending the Death Penalty with Life Imprisonment

If life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) abolishes capital punishment, it is a major step in the right direction. Stanley Tookie Williams would be alive today—mentoring to the youth. Cameron Todd Willingham of Texas would be alive and exonerated. Todd was executed in 2004 for an arson that killed his three children in 1991.We now know through forensics that the fire was not an arson; Texas executed an innocent man. Nothing could be more of a nightmare and a miscarriage of justice than for the American people—through its government—to execute an innocent person.

There are innocent people languishing in California’s golden gulag. “The state of California may be about to execute an
innocent man,”wrote Judge William A. Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Fletcher might have been describing my situation, but in this case he was speaking of Kevin Cooper. LWOP would halt the next execution of an innocent person. Capital punishment is perfectly final and fatally flawed.

Before you finalize your position on capital punishment, consider the words of the American Law Insitute (ALI). The ALI drafted the model statute for the death penalty 50 years ago to ensure a fair death sentence. Even though its model statute for the death penalty is practiced today, last fall the ALI withdrew their support from the very law they created.

The ALI stated that the system they fashioned does not work and cannot be fixed. The ALI further determined that we cannot devise a death penalty system that will ensure fairness in process or outcome—or even that innocent people will not be executed.

The ALI has over 4.000 members consisting of judges, law professors and lawyers—America`s pre-eminent legal minds. Compelling evidence that the death penalty is being administered unjustly.

“Replace the death penalty with a term of permanent incarceration, which will serve to protect the public, provide swift and certain justice for victim`s families, and save the state and estimated $1 billion over the next five years.” This position has been incorporated into the 2010 California Democratic Party platform.

In California, every execution costs $250 million. In these difficult times, who is able to pay the price to execute the over 700 California death row prisoners? LWOP is legitimate, justified and necessary to replace capital punishment on every level. Can California afford to support this dysfunctional killing

Executions in California are via lethal injection—at the hands of an anesthesiologist. As of 15 February 2010, the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) has opposed anesthesiologist involvement in capital punishment on the grounds that their profession is dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so. Hence, an anesthesiologist may not participate in capital punishment if they wish to be certified by the ABA.

Patients should never confuse the practice of anesthesiology with the injection of drugs to cause death. Physicians should not be expected to act in ways that violate the ethics of medical practice, even if this act is legal.

All major religions oppose capital punishment or request a moratorium on executions due to high error rates with a consensus that it is inherently fallible and imperfect. Most religions find capital punishment repugnant.

With 139 and counting death row prisoners exonerated, and for the many other innocent death row prisoners awaiting execution across the nation, we must pursue justice. For those who have been victims of racial and class disparities in sentencing, we must pursue justice.

At least 88% of criminologists verify that the death penalty is not a deterrent to homicide (Journal of Criminal Law an Criminology 2009). Whereas no evidence has marshalled to indicate with any persuasiveness that capital punishment serves as a deterrent to crime—LWOP.

Furthermore, recognizing the very real horrors inflicted on victims of violent crime by individual criminals, some of whom for reasons of circumstance or biology will never be able to safely interact in the public arena—life imprisonment without parole.

Donald Ray Young
San Quentin


Well, Prop 8 has been overturned. The world will now come to ruin. There will be more crime, hunger, joblessness, pollution, sickness, homeless children, terrorism and water shortages. It is the end of civilization as we know it.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will have the wisdom to override this attempt to return America to the ideals of equality, freedom and justice. Since when should minorities of any kind have the same rights as others, especially if their religion isn’t straight? (no pun intended)

We all know that keeping religion and government separate is a stupid idea. Look at Iran, for example, where religious leaders have the power to impose their will on the people! Now there’s morality in action!

I personally feel threatened by government which can so easily remove our God-given right to oppress minorities through the initiative process. Remember some years back the theater owners got an initiative through to ban pay TV? Overturning that made the court look pretty foolish, too. We all know what garbage we now have on pay TV! Now the court has gone and done it again. I say, let the people rule and those that don’t like it go fish!

Bill Warner

Where Will the “Papers Please” Law Lead?

Did I read wrong? I wrote a theme once when I was in college under the GI Bill in my English class. It was about the Constitution. One line item that I took notice was that citizenry could move about without fear of been asked for Identification by police or government officials as they traveled freely in this country.

I was so proud that the Founding Fathers of 1776, after living under a repressive government (England), would feel that this selection of words would be added to the Constitution. “Citizenry to travel and move freely with out fear of Authorities.”

Then after doing my report, I became aware that this makes sense as no country gives its countrymen this right. Our Founding Fathers could maybe see a foretold future and added a safety feature in case we allowed leaders to become like the English that once ruled America.

We are the only country that people do not have to carry passports or identification on them if they choose not too. I remember as a kid riding my bike or walking to school and not having any identification on me until I entered the Navy.

I bet it is a great feeling when survivors of the “Killing Fields” that are now U.S. citizens go to sleep in their beds knowing that in the middle of the night their door would not be busted open by a People’s Army Volunteer. They feel safe to be here in the USA. Lately, it’s the Iraq persons that have been allowed in. They know that spending time in a shopping center or market they will not fear a bomb going off. What a good feeling.

Let’s hope this Arizona law does not start another front. But this is really close to me as I do look Mexican.

George Madrid

Water Bond Delay Deceptive

The proposal by Schwarzenegger, Steinberg, et al. that the bond vote be delayed until 2012 amounts to an admission that the passage of the bond bill by the Legislature last November was an effort to hoodwink the public in order to benefit their corporate agribiz buddies. All the conditions that they cited to now delay the vote were in existence last November, e.g., a $19 billion budget deficit, a lousy economy, etc. They simply got caught and are now afraid of a bad defeat this coming November.

If they hope to put the same pork laden $11.14 billion bond on the 2012 ballot, they are just doubling up on their arrogance and disregard for the real interests of the public. What should happen is a full repeal of the current bond proposal and a careful rebirth of its only two elements worth considering— some money to fix the Delta and some money for some real meaningful water recycling. The total for those two elements in the current proposal is $3.25 billion. A new bond proposal should not exceed that.

Jerry Cadagan


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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