Photo by David Prasad via Flickr Creative Commons

Letters to the Editor – June 2013

Fresno County Jail’s Barbaric Treatment of the Mentally Ill

(Editor’s note: These are some of the comments that we received in the first two days following the distribution of our Special Edition, “Freefall into Madness,” published on May 17. This article is printed as a Special Section in this month’s newspaper; see pages 17–24. These comments arrived by e-mail, Facebook and on our Web site.)

This is what good reporting and a free and independent press is supposed to do: Keep those with power over the lives of others from quietly and secretly abusing that power. This should provoke extreme concern and outrage. These horror stories can impact any family as mental illness strikes without prejudice. It could be our own loved ones being abused and tortured this way, and it costs us all dearly.

Jan Balcom

*****

This is beyond shocking. This has to qualify for criminal neglect on the part of everyone involved, particularly the sheriff, several members of the Board of Supervisors, the jail psychiatrist and those in charge of the jail itself. We need a recall for the sheriff and several of the Board of Supervisors, starting with the heartless Judy Case (a nurse, amazingly).

David E. Roy, Ph.D.

*****

So deeply sad but worse such barbarism, lack of humanity! No possible excuse and as far as I am concerned absolutely criminal! In addition, how frightening is this whole situation? Who is the keeper and who is the kept? How to tell the difference? Unbelievably unconscionable! Cruelty personified!

Sam Patten

*****

Thank you for shedding light on one of the darker problems faced in our County Jail. In a stress filled, jam packed and crowded place it affects everyone, Staff included. Allowing prescription medication for those who need it would benefit everyone, inmates, employees and families. Why not do something helpful?

Gloria Kontos

*****

What a prolific expose on the torture of the mentally ill! How can they return to their communities as better citizens if they are traumatized and maimed in jail? These practices ultimately endanger the public safety because most of them will come home. When a prisoner is having an episode, the staff is at risk too. What a stupid thing to do, deny prisoners meds. Well done Prof. Arax and students.

B. Cayenne Bird

*****

We’d like to think what we don’t, or don’t choose to, know won’t hurt us. But clearly these things we would not know without the Community Alliance are killing people. We dare not stay ignorant, our souls depend on it.

John Auer

*****

One of the best stories I’ve read anywhere about this barbaric situation in Fresno. People of compassion need to get involved and put pressure on the county and on the sheriff to make sure these human beings get the medications they need. Otherwise, the county and its citizens are guilty of barbarism.

Leonard Adame

*****

Police State Tour: Take a Ride Down 99; What You’ll See Is Not Divine

Not long ago, I went to jury duty at the courthouse in Merced. I was among 14 random jurors sitting in the jury box. When it turned out that fully half of the assembly were related to, friends with, married to or intimate with cops, I pointed out to the judge that those numbers (fully 50%) indicate we live in a police state. He asked me to leave.

Actually, all the signs that we are living in a police state can be identified by taking a drive from Merced to CSU Fresno. Look down Main Street as you head out of Merced and notice the empty boarded buildings that say “Once there was economic freedom here.”

On the highway going south, notice the billboards. They are predominantly lawyers advertising that they’ve got your magic (not free) “get out of jail” card. Except for one sign advertising a coming golf community, one from a tasteless restaurant telling the drivers that they are drooling on their steering wheels and one pointing to a women’s prison, all the signs on Highway 99 are pumping litigious services supporting our pay-to-play democracy.

Once you exit 99 and get on Shaw Avenue, then you get to see the human signs. You know, those people standing outside businesses in hot animal costumes, waiving away like it’s a day at Disney. Yes, the human signs always make me cross myself and say “Please God, release your children from this slavery.”

Go to CSU Fresno and hang out a bit. Helicopters buzz around on random nights, shining powerful beams on every corner, every walker, every jogger, looking for trouble. The police hide on their motorcycles in the bushes in order to buzz out in full regalia and apprehend jaywalkers. (A jaywalking ticket at CSU Fresno is $200!). The Sisters prepare special ceremonial blessings for the children we send away to Universities because the colleges here in California operate as classic police state institutions.

These outward signs mask a deeper, more sinister happening. Beneath these obvious signs, we have counties working very hard to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor. Before long, if it isn’t happening already, you will see children being taken away from functional families by CPS, in order to up the numbers and receive more federal aid when they eventually replace the children in horrible homes. My prediction is that poor people of color with lots of kids will be targeted first.

Before long, if it isn’t happening already, we will have the sheriff’s departments clamoring for federal aid to bust everyone and anyone who grows more than a 10-foot by 10-foot plot of weed. It is my prediction that they will gain those funds from the federal government under the guise of dealing with the menacing cartel but will use those funds in a manner more easy to implement: against John Q. Public. Think about it: All of Merced County’s budget problems would go away if the sheriff can just arrest 10% of the adult population and take their homes, kids and assets.

Your tour is done. Take a bath. Then join an activist group. A police state is like cancer. Every day it goes unchecked, it grows.

Sister Occupy
Merced

*****

Police Accountability

In California, the Peace Officers Bill of Rights needs to be reviewed and revised. Especially Section 3007 and others.

This article in the Orange County Register, “California laws strengthened wall of silence around officers” (http://shar.es/lITUZ), says it all.

Wherever you are, in California or not, you can do “something” in your own jurisdictions on the issue of holding all levels of law enforcement, security, military, etc., accountable for the oath they are sworn to uphold.

It’s a shame when we have the tools, but they are not being fully utilized. I very much thank and admire the agencies that are using the appropriate tools to help prevent officers from breaking the very laws they are sworn to uphold.

Patricia Donalds

*****

Help Kids Achieve Their Dream

A group of middle-school students—6th, 7th and 8th graders from Raisin City—are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., during the week of June 9 to study the Constitution, learn about the history of our country and see the White House. They won’t be able to make the trip, though, unless they raise enough money.

So far, they have raised about half of the money needed, and the time is getting close. Most of that, almost $7,000, was contributed by an anonymous donor, a member of the nonprofit El Concilio of Fresno. They are still about $5,000 short of their goal.

The children come from families who work in the agricultural fields and could not finance the journey without donations.

For additional information or to make a donation, contact Rebeca Rangel at Blue Sky Youth Empowerment Program at 559-459-0337, ext. 124, or rrangel@kingsview.org.

Rebeca Rangel
Fresno

*****

Poverty Creates Gangs

Well, here we go again, and again, and again: and where it stops nobody seems to know?

Fresno, my place of birth, is simply a metaphor for what has happened, and for what continues to happen across this great land called America, and also for what happens in other countries as well, where civil/human rights are ignored and authorities such as the FPD, and their minions, police chiefs included, engage in violations and abuse of power and the trust they are supposed to have.

And, also, poverty creates gangs, and we shouldn’t condone the poverty that largely engenders gangs and gang culture.

Finally, the question that others have asked in this situation: Who do you call when the gang wears blue and drives cars with the logo: To Serve and Protect?

Rudy Razo Chavez

*****

Fresno Trash Crisis: Speaking Truth to Power

The use of centralized power was recently demonstrated by the U.S. Senate when it voted against a piece of gun control legislation which the polls showed was supported by some 90% of the American people. It was an arrogant use of power. Similarly, in Fresno the centralized power in City Hall chose to outsource trash collection without allowing the community to vote on the issue. And due to the alertness of the citizens of Fresno, in June they will have the opportunity to vote on the trash issue.

In her book, The Communal Mind and the Master Artifice, Professor Helen Sullivan traces with scholarly precision the rise of parliamentary government in cooperation with capitalism, from 16th century Spain, with a special emphasis on England. The author calls this process the Master Artifice. She continues: According to Webster, the term artifice has a denotative and obsolete meaning as in “skillfully contrived work.” Its more usual modern meaning connotes an element of deception.

In Chapter 3, Professor Sullivan continues: We may call the process by which the Master Artifice was the Master, was constructed a process of centralization. If the hypotheses are correct, we may also say that the results of centralization were incorporated into the enduring psychological structure and value systems of the people subjected to the centralizing experience. If that is true, the concealed centralization remained operative throughout the liberal era and is still vigorous today.

It is impossible for someone to read this remarkable book without applying it to the contemporary scene in regard to politics and economics. The present worldwide economic crisis makes Professor Sullivan’s book valuable for today’s reader.

The question could be asked: What does a citizen do when a centralized power decides not to respect the members in a community? A democracy cannot exist without the vigilance of its citizens to be able to detect a Master Artifice and demand a vote of the people when necessary. The people of Fresno should be commended for calling for a referendum so that all its citizens can vote.

Alex Vavoulis
Fresno

*****

The article by Leoncio Vásquez Santos, “Why Does Our Struggle Continue?” is right on point. The European, White exploitation of our indigenous peoples has not ceased since 1492. It continues to date, unrestrained. As indigenous people there is no government to protect us from the daily, ceaseless ruthless exploitation by the ruling elite. Please continue printing articles by Leoncio Vasquez Santos and of others with the same perspective, like Jamie San Andres who poses a workable immigration program based on justice and dignity in his article “March of the Butterflies: Immigration Reform 2013” and who points to our millennial-old indigenous culture spanning from the Aleutians to Patagonia. Thank you.

Aurelio De Los Santos Ortiz
(also very indigenous)

  • 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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