A rebuttal to: A day on San Quentin’s death row

Anderson, James P.



A Rebuttal to: "A Day On San Quentin's Death Row" By: James P. Anderson--January 17, 2016 (A/C) Allow me to suggest that readers first visit the, "PACIFICSUN.COM" (January 6-12, 2016) website and review the article, "A Day On San Quentin's Death Row" in order to obtain a perspective for this rebuttal. As a wrongly convicted and actually innocent death row prisoner of over thirty five (35) years, I simply couldn't allow the Pacific Sun article to be absorbed by the public as "the truth" about death row, especially "all" of those that are housed in the Adjustment Center. First and foremost, the Pacific Sun article portrays everyone on death row as undisputed murderers and killers -- that even under some of the strictest security (always being watched by at least two guards -- wielding batons and pepper spray/mace) that prisoners are, "on constant lookout for that tiny crack in security, that opportunity to commit violence, to exploit an opportunity." His article actually suggests that it was "he" that was looking for an opportunity to exploit. While there are some death row prisoners (all are males--but not all are men) that have committed hideous and insane crimes, most simply want to be left alone to live out their remaining days in some degree of peace. Some will be trying diligently to prove their innocence (and have files of court documents and records that unquestionably prove prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, as well as the usual gross incompetence of their appointed attorneys, ect. --as does this writer). Others will make efforts to educate themselves and obtain college degrees, others will absorb themselves in watching and talking about sports, while others will pass their time by watching TV programs or listening to music, political radio talk shows, ect. Some will work diligently to maintain family relationships, while some will engage in the visual arts, writing poetry or books (such as the writer's co-authored, "Tears From Heaven; Voices From Hell" -- with Diane Robertson) and of course there's the physical exercise, while others' entire existence revolves around what prisoners are doing or talking about (they are institutionalized to various levels and depths). But in any event, the options and opportunities for real growth are extremely limited by a system that likes to refer to itself as the "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation" (CDCR). But the question to be asked is a simple one, "How much 'rehabilitation' can anyone expect or hope for from a system that only allows a prisoner to have twelve (12) books (all paperback) in his cell at any given time. "12". Anything above this number can be considered as "excess property" and confiscated at any time. "The Adjustment Center" (the hole) is also known and called by some as "Little Gitmo" (As in "Guantanemo Bay"--Cuba). Anyone that knows the history of Guantanemo Bay will know that it was established by "selected" president George W. Bush, specifically so that the United States could imprison anyone that the "powers that be" deemed to be a threat to the United States, it's "interest" or allies--and without the prisoner(s) being charged with any crime. The prisoners have also been tortured in a vast number of ways, and the U.S. government could not be held accountable or responsible for any of these acts or human rights violations. The same applies legally to "Little Gitmo", in that, any "corrections officer" (as they like to be called "officer" as it gives them a sense of authority) can "allege" that a prisoner "said or did" what would be considered a "rules violation", and whatever the officer documents in a disciplinary report is as though it was spoken from the mouth of God. Prisoners are often taken from their assigned cells (or the exercise yard) and escorted to Little Gitmo without any kind of investigation into the "alleged" rules violation -- without any kind of hearing -- and without any kind of disciplinary report being issued, in short, basically "kidnapped". All of the above (investigation, printed 115 disciplinary report, classification committee and hearing) will happen "later", but in the meantime the prisoner is rehoused in the hole without any of the personal property that was in the cell he occupied, and only "some" of his property will be issued to him in Little Gitmo. The prisoner will seldom know "who" removed his property from the cell that he occupied as both "officers" and "prison block workers" remove the personal property. As to the items that will be missing _ _ _ _ _ _ o-well. If you've had a pair of headphones for ten (10) years, you'll have to prove (with receipt) that you had them, and the process for being compensated for your "lost" (never stolen) property will require a "year" of paperwork being processed. For those that care to know, these "missing--stolen--lost" property items often and "mysteriously" find their way into the hands of informants. Radios, C.D. players, equalizers, TV's, CD's, beard trimmers, hot pots, tennis shoes, sweat suites, canteen and quarterly package items are often taken from one prisoner and given to an informant for "services rendered", all very clandestinely. The Pacific Sun article would have you believe that Little Gitmo (the Adjustment Center) is the only unit in the prison for the baddest of the bad, "The A/C is home to the worst of the worst offenders -- it's the deepest hole you can find yourself in at San Quentin." These statements are very much like the original police reports of the Chicago, Illinois Police Department's "justification" for shooting Laquan McDonald sixteen (16) times and killing him. But the video (released a year later) tells a completely different and opposite reality. The point being is that with just a little research of some of the disciplinary reports of prisoners that have been housed in "A/C", the records will reflect that more than a few prisoners that have been rehoused here were found "not guilty" of any rules violation (This writer included -- 2013 fraudulent disciplinary report and district attorney referral for felony prosecution). Another unfortunate reality is that just as there are never any reprimands or accountability for police that shoot and kill innocents in the free world, there are never any repercussions for corrections "officers" that concoct fraudulent and false reports on prisoners (including district attorney office referrals for felony prosecutions) and just as in the free world, these corrections officers are often "promoted" or assigned to the cushy positions that literally require very little actual work. There's also a nepotism factor at play here, if you have the right last name, you're automatically one of the "favored few" and there are three names that everyone is aware of. Needless to say, the falsely accused prisoners are never compensated for the "time" they've spent in the hole, or the personal property that they've lost in the process of being rehoused, reclassified, etc. There's also the little known reality that whenever a prisoner is rehoused to the hole, he is "forced" to have any "excess" property mailed "out" of the institution, or "donated to the prison." I don't know of a single death row prisoner that has ever been afforded the opportunity to review a listing of "who" or "where" all of the thousands of personal property items are donated in the thirty-five (35+) years that I've been here. Touching again on the disinformation of "The A/C is home to offenders -- It's the deepest hole you can find yourself in at San Quentin," records will show that there have been (and continue to be) prisoners housed in this unit for a simple "dirty drug test" (positive urine test for "possible" drug use). "Possible" being the optimal word as another unfortunate reality and form of collateral damage for prisoners, is that there's a certified listing of "over the counter drugs" (such as "Advil"--"Aleve", "Alka-Seltzer Plus", "B-2 vitamins", "antibiotics", "Dimetapp", "Excedrin", "Ibupin", "Motrin" and chemicals found in "toothpaste") all of which can contribute to a "false positive" drug test, but as prisons are very well known for "making up their own rules", they reject these certified doctors test results (www.askdocweb.com/false positives) and death row prisoners are never given the benefit of using any of the "false positives listings" in their defense. The Prison Law Office (www.prisonlaw.com) will have documents of a currently housed death row prisoner (Little Gitmo) found guilty of a dirty test (The only dirty test in 21 years of imprisonment) but was issued a 115 disciplinary report for "drug possession"! The ripple effect of such a fraudulent and falsified disciplinary report effects a prisoner's "contact visits," exercise yard assignments and being placed on a "hot list" for regular cell searches and urine test (more of the same faulty urine test that resulted in the prisoner being housed in the hole from the beginning) so the collateral damage cycle continues, and this is part of what Californians' tax dollars are paying for. Excuse me for a moment, but what was that the Pacific Sun writer was saving about "on constant lookout for that tiny crack in security, that opportunity to commit violence, to exploit an opportunity?" A thinking person would wonder and question, "Where are these death row prisoners appellate attorneys and how do they allow the prison's administration to falsely accuse and charge their clients with these fraudulent disciplinary reports and sometimes additional felonies? The reality is that there are "very few" appellate attorneys that will assist their clients with "prison related matters," even though the attorneys are obligated (by law) to assist their clients with any matter that effects the prisoners' well being, mentally or physically. And then there's also the reality that the appointed attorneys do receive their "paychecks" from the same entity that the prison's employees receive their paychecks from...the state of California (so they don't want to make any waves or expose these kinds of truths). The writer of the Pacific Sun article exaggerated numerous aspects of death row beyond belief, an example being his words, "From 7:30am to 1pm, in the rooftop yard, with its stunning views of San Francisco Bay". Well, from wherever he was standing, he may have had a "stunning view of the San Francisco Bay, but what didn't convey in his article is that the actual rooftop exercise yard is "recessed" about five (5) feet lower than the actual rooftop. For a prisoner to actually see the water in the Bay, he must stand up on a table then pull himself up onto a horizontal bar (neither of which is allowed -- and there's always a guard there -- armed with a 38. and mini-14). A prisoner is able to see the mountains simply by standing on the yard, but the "stunning views" requires some real efforts (I did it several times in the early 1980's). As to the sheet metal fencing being there to "protect the privacy of inmates from binocular--welding gawkers" (who would've ever thought that the prison "cared" so much for death row prisoners?)--even a "telescope" on a boat wouldn't allow a "gawker" to see six (6) stories (floors) up, on top of a roof--and five (5) feet down into a recessed area, it's literally and physically impossible . And if it were "that" easy for a gawker to see into the original death row, common sense dictates that someone would've done it many years ago, or better still, simply find a six (6) story building and see how difficult it is to see any part of its roof, (it's not rocket science). Reflecting again on "The A/C is home to the worst of the worst offenders". A death row prisoner was rehoused here in Little Gitmo for having a straightened "paper staple" attached to the eraser end of a regular pencil (tied with the thread from a bed sheet) and used to put little holes in legal documents, which a regular paper staple was placed to hold the pages together. As a paper stapler isn't readily available to prisoners (many) do this to keep their legal filings together and neat (not to mention that when some guards search prisoners' property, they have absolutely "no regard" for leaving the cell in the same condition that they found it. Legal documents are often mixed with other papers, ect., to the extreme that it could require two (2) days to put files back in order. In any event, a paper staple tied to a pencil can be deemed "dangerous contraband" or "manufacturing a weapon", and yes, documents will reflect that several prisoners have been sent to the hole something like this. I've had my share of this kind of immature harassment and vindictive behavior by guards that had their own "issues and demons" to deal with, and what better place to release your life's frustrations, disappointments, short comings, ect., than on a death row prisoner that seems to be relatively content (even under the worst circumstances). In 2008 I was sent to the hole for having the little aluminum ears from a manila envelope (inserted into an empty pen filler) and used to etch designs, initials, symbols, etc. into/onto chicken bones, which is an ancient art, and I've had these pieces of jewelry displayed at art exhibit (Red Door Art Gallery -- www.eastbayexpress.com/Berserkers). The little tools were written up as "dangerous contraband" and it's just one of the many examples that have been documented on how any prisoner can be sent to the hole on the whims of any "frustrated -- I'm miserable and I want you to be miserable too" officer at any time. Which brings this rebuttal to the subject of "excess personal property" -- "alleged altered property" and "contraband," as these are usual alleged rules violations that are used and abused by officers to "confiscate" (steal) prisoners' property, as well as send them to the hole, if for no other reason (excuse) than harassment. It should be noted and understood that guards will sometimes harass prisoners with the simplest and most childish antics, such as stepping on the back of a prisoner's shoes while being escorted from point "A to point B". It's one of those things that no one else would notice (even if it's done in hopes that the prisoner will "go off" and "say or do something" that will result in an actual justifiable reason to be sent to the hole). It happens in many similar little "unnoticeable" ways much more often than the public would like to think or believe. In the same ways that had it not been for people capturing police abuses of authority and murders, the families of the victims wouldn't have any "evidence" of the abuses/murders, Oscar Grant -- Sandra Bland -- Mario Martinez -- Jordan Davis -- Steve Salinas and the list really does go on and on and on and on. The Prison Legal News monthly publications reflect these realities much better than I could ever attempt to articulate them in this rebuttal (www.prisonlegalnews.org). Another brief example of how prisoners have been harassed and had their property "confiscated" is an example that I'm sure everyone can relate and understand. Everyone knows that stereo earbuds usually obtain "shorts" (from normal use) where the wire enters the earbud or at the back end of the male input jack. A small piece of masking (or any other kind) tape will usually "hold the wire in place" which will allow the sound to come through. That little piece of tape Is enough for the prisoner to be harassed and the earbuds "confiscated" as "altered property" -- and the earbuds will not be returned. You sit in your cell with a radio or TV without a means to "listen" to either. The unfortunate reality too, is that CDCR has absolutely no consideration, regard or respect for the fact that when death row prisoners appeals are granted and prisoners are returned to the county that they were sentenced, that any and all of the fraudulent and/or falsified disciplinary reports and "D.A. referrals for felony prosecution incident reports" are all a part of the prisoners' files, and that prosecutors "do" use these files to try to influence juries that the defendant/prisoner is in fact a bad man. That the prisoner continued criminal/non conformist conduct while on death row. San Quentin Prison never contacts or informs the Marin County District Attorneys Office that a prisoner has been found to be "not guilty" of an alleged rules violation and that the disciplinary report has been "dismissed". Yet, San Quentin's administration doesn't waste any time in filing "D.A. referrals for felony prosecution" cases on many prisoners -- which is an extravagant waste of tax payers' money. If there's any doubts in anyone's mind about the extent of the financial fraud that takes place in the CDCR, simply obtain a copy of a "Judge Judy" TV program -- "August 20, 2012", case number one (1), "Loan For Love", in which an actual CDCR employee exposes the fraud in detail and directly (yet, in an effort to not answer a relevant question asked by Judge Judy). There's a list of published articles (Forbes Magazine -- Webster Tarpley -- San Francisco Bayview Newspaper, NBC and KTVU News TV stations, that all reflect the same multi-bi11ion dollar fraud. It's amazing (and depressingly shocking) how the writer of the Pacific Sun article allowed himself to become fixated and obsessed on a little "bent rusty nail". He stated, "I couldn't stop thinking about a bent, rusty nail that "I saw on a landing in the North Seg yard". I don't doubt he actually say a bent rusty nail on the landing, but I seriously doubt that the nail was "on the yard" (where prisoners had direct access to it), the nail was on the landing. He wrote, "as we filed back onto the landing, I looked down and spotted the nail just sitting there on the ground". The writer describes the rooftop yard and landing in the same way a writer would describe locations in a city (that the readers have never seen or been to), but keep in mind that while the actual "rooftop" (where the writer of the article was actually standing), the landing and "recessed yard" are all in the same general area, they are not the same place. But just for the sake of the argument, let's say that he did actually see the nail "on the yard". It being rusty is an indication that it's been there for a substantial amount of time--years, at least one (1) of the sixty (60) death row prisoners housed there would've seen the bent, rusty nail, yet it was still "just sitting there". If everyone on death row were actually "on constant lookout for that tiny crack in security, that opportunity to commit violence, to exploit an opportunity", the nail would've been used a long time ago to assault someone, duh! Then there's the fact that the yard is "suppose" to be searched by an officer everyday before prisoners are allowed to go to the yard, so the question to be asked is, "How many different officers didn't do their jobs by not seeing the nail and removing it over the years?" Then there's the question of "Why or how would a average, 'normal' thinking person even 'think' of passing a potential lethal weapon to an already convicted death row prisoner?" As the average, and "normal" person would think of how to dispose of the nail. However, the writer did also state, "There is something about San Quentin and an encounter like this that stimulates one's inner deviant," (Hopefully the public won't be seeing the writer on the 6 o'clock news and the "inner deviant" released itself?). It's also rather strange and disappointing that the Pacific Sun writer didn't do any research on how many men on death row that have died since 1978, or "how" they died? It's been over a year since the last two (2) death row prisoners have died (Jones and Seaton), yet, on CDCR's website these deaths are listed as "pending" (as in "pending investigation"?). There's also Timothy Pride, Sammy Marshall and Bronte Ulright, just to name a few that I'd known quite well, their families, children, parents, sisters and brothers, but perhaps the bigger and more "just" question to be asked is, "Why haven't the same laws that were applied to Enron's Kenneth Lay (Wall Street Journal article of July 7, 2006 -- "Kenneth Lay died an innocent man") dying in prison, been applied to these and other death row prisoners that "died" before their appeals were reviewed or exhausted? An appeal is an appeal, the social or financial status of the appellant shouldn't matter, that is, if you truly believe that there's real and true "justice" in America, or "just-us" in America (Just-us that can't afford proper and competent legal representation). James P. Anderson January 17, 2016

Author: Anderson, James P.

Author Location: California

Date: January 17, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 7 pages

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