Letters to the Editor

[Editor’s note: Following are letters we received from prisoners in March. We provide every prisoner who requests one a free subscription to the Community Alliance newspaper. In a recent letter, we asked our subscribers inside the Prison Industrial Complex why they read the Community Alliance. I was amazed at the response that we received. In addition to the letters below, many of them included postage stamps to help us keep publishing, but more is needed. If you want to help make it possible for us to continue sending this newspaper to every prisoner who requests a free subscription, please send your contribution to the Community Alliance, P.O. Box 5077, Fresno, CA 93755.]

I’m very grateful to have the privilege of receiving the Community Alliance for as long as I have. It is the best, unbiased, truthful and helpful progressive newspaper that I have ever read. Prisoners often do not have resources to purchase subscriptions to magazines, newspapers, etc. You, however, provide a service that most do not. A free subscription to the Community Alliance keeps inmates informed on what’s really going on out in the real world. Your paper is truly a great asset to the free world community and the incarcerated community. Anyone who may read this letter and has the resources to help fund and support the Community Alliance, I urge you to please do so. Best wishes for a successful future with the Community Alliance.
Michael E. Haynes
Avenal State Prison

I greatly value your very informative newspaper and would like to stay on your mailing list.
S. Taggart
Avenal State Prison

In full support of the Community Alliance, I’ve enclosed a book of stamps-it’s all I have. I am originally from the Central San Joaquin Valley (Hanford) and for me, receiving the Community Alliance is being part of a family. The Community Alliance publishes the consciousness of the Central Valley, even when that is not popular. You give a home to the homeless! You give a semblance of freedom to the prisoner! Protection for the immigrants! Equality for the LGBT community! A megaphone for the workers and community groups! A stage for the activists! A voice for the voiceless! An eclectic family linked together in the struggle against injustice! Continuing the Community Alliance…INVALUABLE!
Donald Ray Young
San Quentin

To all the Community Alliance readers I would like you to know that this Community Alliance newspaper is to us (inmates), who are behind the prison walls/county jails/and juvenile halls, a window wide open for us to view what is going on in the outside world. Mr. Mike Rhodes not only is very impartial and fair when presenting to the public outside issues that it needs to solve/justice to be done/and a voice to those that cannot speak for oneself, but he also cares as well for the homeless/inmates who are being mistreated/and fights like a lion when required.

I’m blessed to received his free Community Alliance subscription and all this is done thanks to people like yourself outside that provide the Community Alliance with financial support/free will donations/and prayers so it can be given free to us (inmates), to homeless, and to those that cannot afford to purchase a copy for ourselves. With this in mind, I personally encourage you and anyone else that can provide financial support to Mr. Mike Rhodes of small or large donation, please do so. We all benefit plentiful from this awesome Community Alliance newspaper.

Myself, I will write to friends and family members outside to provide as well financial support, so people like myself who cannot afford to purchase a yearly subscription can continue to receive free issues too.

We inmates on death row are not allowed to work to profit and getting a free Community Alliance newspaper yearly subscription is a blessing. Keep me on your list to receive your newspapers if you have the means to do so. On the other hand, I assure you of my daily prayers for you/your family/your Community Alliance newspaper staff/and all the readers. God bless you all!
Ramon Salcido
San Quentin

I’m here at San Quentin State Prison. A friend of mine let me read a copy of the Community Alliance, and I really enjoy reading it. Also, I’m from Fresno. I’ve been there all of my life, 56 years, so I was wondering, will you please start sending me the Community Alliance?
Eugene Jefferson
San Quentin

I am writing to you today because I sincerely wish to continue receiving the Community Alliance in the future. I feel it is wonderful that I have been given the opportunity to receive your outstanding newspaper, which has been sent to me here in prison out of kindness and incredible generosity!

It is truly rare that a prisoner is shown either of those attitudes in today’s society, especially with the current financial status most people are in. I hail from Fresno, and it’s really great to receive a newspaper that presents a lot of articles that aren’t reported on in the mainstream media outlets. Often times, the articles focus on issues that aren’t so pretty but they need to be given some attention. I know the daily news on television shows is very slanted and obviously biased reports when it comes to such issues as the homeless and the poor, or anyone who opposes the war in Iraq or who cries out for police oversight.

I applaud and admire you and your fellow reporters who report on issues like those so that people have a chance to see things from a different point of view. I am also grateful to you for giving a forum to prisoners to report on the dismal state of affairs in the incredibly expensive prison system of California. The notion there’s any “rehabilitation” being focused on in the prisons is ludicrous, and you would think there would be a lot of focus on that considering the billions poured into it each year and the fact our recidivism rate is the highest in the nation. I doubt seriously any mainstream media agency would print a report on that news from a prisoner’s perspective, but you have. So, thank you, Mike!

In closing, I want to thank you all at the Community Alliance newspaper for being concerned about the people who would be overlooked if not for your attention to their plight.
Ron Chappell
Avenal State Prison

The Community Alliance gives a voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless. As a conscientious person, I recognize and commend that.
Tim Young
San Quentin

I wish to thank you and your staff for your generous support and contributions to the public in general and prisoners in particular since we are a class unto ourselves, the prisoner class. But I specifically want to thank you for the personal contribution you’ve made to me for all these years. This generosity has enabled me and many others to ascertain facts, balanced opinions and provided an added window into the free world we are forcefully separated from.

Many prisoners are actively involved in fighting the political/judicial system where it is inherently unjust. The Community Alliance, then, serves as an aid or indicator of the political/judicial climate allowing us to wage a more balanced argument in their efforts to help themselves and others as well.

Also, the Community Alliance, because of its information concerning political action groups, provides an address for us by which to make contact, so that we can be even more politically active by providing input to such groups. So, we thank you for your invaluable contribution to the prisoner class.
Achilles Williams
San Quentin

My initial contact with the paper was an article written by Boston Woodard-awesome! I’ve since discovered so much more and look forward to each month’s paper. I deeply appreciate receiving the Community Alliance and the level of honesty you print.

Please bring Boston back!
Liesl Hale
Chowchilla VSPW

Every time I read your paper, I have HOPE! Every time I read an article from an inmate, I have HOPE! Hope that someday society will open their eyes and see that WE are humans too! Hope that someday people in society will stand up and say, “Enough,” to the foul treatment of humans behind bars!

I have HOPE that someday us humans behind bars will not be used for “political stepping stones” in another human’s career! Has anyone ever wondered why inmates are not allowed to vote? Could it be, we have our eyes opened, from being in here, and really paying attention to elections and who is running and who says what! Should I not have the right to vote on issues relating to my child’s education, health, etc.? Should I not be allowed to vote on issues that would help my own mother and father, like healthcare insurance? If inmates were allowed to vote, then this B.S. would not be happening to our families!

I have HOPE that society starts holding people in authority to higher standards! If they break a law, (like Police Chief Jerry Dyer), they should be sentenced to 7-fold, what someone who does not make a living, that requires them to know the law of the land!

Right now, I am a lifer (25-life), who knows, no matter what, I will die behind these bars! As I am a “political stepping stone” for people that steal from children!

It gives me HOPE.
Donnie Ray O’Neal Jr.

I deeply appreciate the free subscription to the Community Alliance, which I’ve received monthly since May 2007. A product of the benevolence of supporters of this paper, which I will never meet face to face, but thank greatly.

My present situation of confinement now in year seven with 20 more to serve has truly caused a great deal of personal inventory taking toward changing the once destructive paradigm of choices and actions which have exiled my life to an abyss of regret.

Along with other positive life changes, reading the Alliance ensures my consciousness is continually expanding and raised to understand-we are all doing time (be it bound or free, a dolt or a genius, poor or wealthy and certainly no one is an island to themselves).

At least this publication gets some media-level focus and input out to its readership that may result through cause and effect to bring about awareness, then change. Change begins in the reshaping of attitudes that in turn impacts behavior(s) and choices.

I don’t know how much longer the Alliance will or can provide a state prisoner such as myself with this greatly appreciated free subscription as I’m completely indigent. The Department of Corrections provides my basic needs, i.e., soap, toothpowder, etc. When I have had a way to give back to this paper I have sent the editor $2 in unused postage stamps once, to help out with mailing cost. I would rather be a homeless pauper in Haiti than an indigent inmate of the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation because at least I’d have the wealth of being free! This publication helps to liberate my heart, mind and soul. It’s a part of my migration toward humanness. Thank you for your support.
Bernard Henderson
Coalinga (Pleasant Valley State Prison)

I’ve been on the mailing list for some years now and have read and or followed several articles the newspaper covers. Aside from being an indigent inmate who can’t afford a subscription to an expensive newspaper, Community Alliance allows the true meaning of “Freedom of Speech.” You don’t get that from other newspapers. It’s a blessing to continue to receive your monthly newspaper. The state doesn’t afford high paying jobs, or in my case, a job at all.

I so appreciate all the hard work you all do to continue to supply newspapers to the community.
Leslie Garcia

I want and need to continue receiving the paper because I have zero money and it is and has been my only source of news. I have been here 5 years on 8 with « because I bought a stolen vehicle I had a Bill of Sale and because I was charged with possession of stolen property. I had to take a deal. Going to trial would have been worse because there was no way to win.

Speaking of the overcrowding here – if we would do the same as Oregon, our people would go to a release center one year to the date they are in a « way house. Similar to our old work furlough programs, only run by 1 or 2 guards and prisoners go to and from work and become established back into the community the day they parole. Starting a life with only $200 is crazy. That is why the prisons are full – because re-entry into society is to go live in a homeless shelter or on the streets only to get re-arrested and come back. God Bless!! With the upmost respect.
Selina Sanchez Marquez
Chowchilla State Prison

I was reading one of my friend’s newspaper that you sent her and I was learning a lot so I would like to know if you would send me a free subscription to your newspaper. Thank you and Gog Bless you.
Wanda Williams
Chowchilla State Prison


  • 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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