Jul 092013

Good morning, San Leandro!

Here are your morning news, as derived from my tweeter feed 🙂

30,000 prisoners are in hunger strike in California.

Complaints center on state policies that allow prison officials to keep prisoners in isolation indefinitely by merely accusing them of having gang ties. When forced to actually look into the cases, prison authorities have had to acknowledge that at least half of them had no ties at all.

Solitary confinement is considered a cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment – though after watching a couple of documentaries on isolation (netflix has them), the more appropriate term is: torture. Yes, I know that those of us with the weakest values will jump and say “they are criminals, do whatever you want to them”, forgetting that the measure of our own moral worth is how we treat others. But even then, the Styner case should remind you that every day completely innocent people are falsely accused of horrible crimes and end up in prison.

So how about if you call, e-mail, facebook or tweet your representative in the California legislature and ask them to put an end to solitary confinement and other such cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in our prisons?  For San Leandro, Alameda & Oakland, contact Rob Bonta.   Hayward, Union City and Castro Valley, Bill Quirk.   North Oakland, Oakland hills, Berkeley, El Cerrito north to Pinole, Nancy Skinner.   Tri-Valley, Lamorinda and cities by 680 from Pleasanton to Walnut Creek, Joan Buchanan.   Fremont/Milipitas: Bob Wieckowski.  And don’t forget your state senators: Ellen Corbett (still without a FB page, 880, San Leandro to Fremont), Loni Hancock (880/80 from San Leandro to Pinole) and Mark DeSaulnier (eastern Alameda & CC counties).

– Talking about prisons, the Center for Investigative Reporting has a story on how women in California prisons have been coerced into being sterilized, in violation of California, US and international law.  The story is based on work done by San Leandro own’s Cynthia Chandler and her organization, Justice Now.

Again, if you believe that perhaps the state should not be in the business of telling women what to do with their own bodies, you may want to contact the legislators above.

– As for someone who the US really, really wants to put in prison and treat as inhumanly as humanly possible (and as one of my friends says “there is no limit to man’s inhumanity to man), Edward Snowden has accepted Venezuela’s asylum offer and now has to make it there.

Personally, I think if he’s not there or somewhere in South America already, he’s a fool.

– And helping any troublemakers (like me) make their way into prison is James Comey, Obama’s nominee as FBI Director, who is facing questions prior to what’s expected to be an easy confirmation.

So far he’s stated that he doesn’t believe sleep deprivation constitutes torture – though it has been found to be so by the UN Committee against Torture, the Committee on Civil and Political rights and numerous other international law bodies. To me this says he is fine with torturing people, and then arguing it’s not. More importantly, he acknowledged the FBI’s main role to be an “intelligence gathering” operation, rather than a crime fighting one. In other words: the FBI is there to spy on people in case they turn to be a danger to the government. Just like that “communist” Martin Luther King did. No, Comey did not say that outloud, but the people who really present dangers to the federal government are those who present a danger to the moneyed interests that support it.

I’d say to e-mail Feinstein and tell her to not vote for him, but I think, if anything, she probably thinks Comey is too soft.