The soupposed rehafilitaion system: California Department of Corrections “and Rehafilitaion” of the United States of America

Zaragoza, Paul



The only truth to the words used by the Department of Corrections in the sentence they use to identify the name - California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is the California and the Department. One because the state is California and I guess they have a Department somewhere! I have been a prisoner now for almost 8 years and have not got my issue of corrections nor rehabilitation which I am still hoping I do get, given the fact that according to the Judge that sentenced me, I need a full 33 years of it! I am not going to sit here and cry and try to explain my case....make a long story short, I carjacked a person with a gun. No one got hurt, but the "system" threw the book at me. [Illegible] order for me to give anyone who cares an understanding of the prison system, I have to take you guys back to about 1998 which was when my whole ordeal (Hole or Deal) began with the system. Which by the way, back then I had (only) the slightest idea of "our system" here in the United States of America. So there I was a kid of about 14-15 years of age! Enjoying life to the fullest. Everything began in the city of San Diego in California. The neighborhood is called Encanto. To me it is a nice neighborhood. To others it's one of the worst parts of town at that time. You can say people there are poor! That I did not know until now. OK, so life in Encanto was good to me. Like most kids around me, I only had my Aunty and my mom; me being the oldest and everyone else being girls, I was the man of the house. Well, let's get back to the topic at hand. There I was playing street football with all my little friends - Francisco, Jose, Arturo, Oscar, David, Miguel and a few others. It was fun. Every day after school we would play until nightfall which, by the way the rules at my Aunty's house was, I had to be home before the sun went down or I would get disciplined. Which sometimes the games were so good then I would fly and I knew I did not make my curfew, and knew what I had coming. Anyhow out of nowhere one day a cop starts coming around to our little group of friends. Since no one had ever been arrested there was no fear. No one was on probation or parole. We were kids having a good time "so I thought." Next thing you know this cop is lining everyone up, taking pictures and writing our names down. I personally did not think much of it since I had done nothing wrong. Plus if I had, sure he would call my mom or arrest me right? Well a few months go by...maybe a year. But this cop and every other cop known had a big folder with our pictures and names. By now we are teenage boys and girls and yes we did party at the park, at someone's house, but that was about it, mostly drinking. Here and there someone would smoke weed, but that was that. Let's fast forward now. Most of us are driving and have little jobs, yes here and there we party. One day I get pulled over. The cop tells me that I am a known gangster from Encanto. That was news to me because I never did anything to be from the "said gang." You know, like get jumped in or beat someone up. I guess since I lived in Encanto all my life, I was now a part of the neighborhood VELS Gang - Varrio Encanto Locos... When the cops cut me loose I called my best friend. Guess what [Peter?] aka [pert?] we are officially Encanto gangsters (drawing of "bewildered" expression) He asked why? for say that! I am like, "the cops just told me..." My friend, being a goofball is like "Fuck it. I always did want to be a gangster. Didn'tknow it was that easy" (drawing of "bewildered" expression). So that's how I became this gangster. Next thing you know, Francisco is now - "Midget." Jose is "Pelon," Arturo is "Trigger," and so on. Everything was fun and games until I turned 18. One day I gt arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. I ended up in the county jail, housed with all the gang members. By now I am just rolling with it, that I am from Encanto. Since that "cop label," all the paperwork in the computer system as a gang member, I had to go with it. I try saying I was no gang member but the cops tend not to believe people that have committed the slightest crimes, so I had no option given the fact that everyone around me was from a gang. There I was doing my time. Now I am told by the inmates that every one from a southern gang is considered a "SUR13" gang member no matter what! I am like "I am already from a gang "Encanto" VELS." They are like, "Yes, but in the system we all represent SUR13. You are with us or against us???" I am like, "No no. I am with you! Just asking. I want to make sure what's going on. Don't worry SUR13 it is." So I go to court. The Judge gives me a little slap on the wrist. 60 days with half, and a few programs, and a suspended license, make me promise not to do it again, and sends me on my way. 30 days later I am ready for the streets. But now I am Encanto/SUR13 gang member...Life was good for about 3 years. I stayed clean, out of trouble. But unfortunately I got hooked on methamphetamine, which landed me in the state prison. That's where my deal with the system comes in, when I went through the Hole Court system. The Jury was told I was a documented "gang member." Now let's do the math on this. The cops are the ones that made me a documented gang member. The cops are the ones telling the Jury to "aggravate" my sentence to the max. One fact alone in California, that's all it takes for the Judge to give you the max term - just one aggravated circumstance. I believe that from the gate, poor kids get these "labels" as gang members, so if and when they commit a crime, the State gives them more time. Who does the Judge work for? The State! Who does the DA work for? The State! Who does the Public Defender , or as we call it the Public Pretender work for? The State! Everyone is on the same payroll, so if you don't have the money for a private attorney, you are pretty much fucked. How is that a fair system? If from before you end up in a court room the deck is against you. From Day One, when that cop took our picture when we were kids, everything was against me and everyone that was there. In court the D.A. bringing in his little cops that documented you to testify. There is no law that prevents a cop from taking a picture and documenting a kid to a gang. Why is it that kids in La "Joya," "Beverly Hills" can hang around a rec center and talk, play, and not get documented as gang members???? But when it's a poor lad that has no rec center or park he can go to for whatever reason, they become gangsters!!! Now moving on so [four?] in prison, now doing for crazy amount of time, you talk to other inmates and find they are in prison for the same exact thing. Carjacking in LA gives you 6 years top. Carjacking in San Diego gives you 15 minimum. But if you're a gang member, you will get the Book - 33 years. Carjacking in California carries 3-5-9. In my case I got the highest term for being a documented gang member 9x2=18, 10 years gun enhancement for using it in a commission of a crime, and 5 years for felon in possession of a gun...=33 "years," not days!, not months!, 33 years! Everyone else from other cities would never get that much time for a carjacking where no one got hurt. Is that really a fair system??? Now let's talk about the prison system. When you get to prison, an active line "level 4" 2 "strike." The chances of you going home with a term of 33 years are slim to none. Everyone in a "level 4" prison (85% of level 4 prisons are life inmates) either a SUR13 or a NF14 Nuestra Familya = all gangs from Northern California. So you have to pick one, but you are one or the other. The cold part is that the system knows about this. They ask you themselves when you are in reception center. SUR or North? So now that once upon a time kid is from a prison gang with ties to the "Mexican Mafia." That's the next step. And you will do what they ask or plain and simple, you get your neck cut off or end up with multiple stab wounds. Now they have this "new" SNY yards - Sensitive need yard - from around 1995 or something. These yards are for people that don't want to be a part of SUR13 or NF14. You are supposed to be able to program without all the gang drama. The problem is that once you get over here, the committees label you as a "25" gang member, a "IR" or "NR" or "NF." 25="ex" southern 13 gang member IR= independent-rider mixer of gangs north and south NF - New flower, anyone that is against Mexican Mafia 12 and Nuestra Family 14. So this SNY yards are even worse because there's too many gangs for me to even remember them. But once again, the CO's=cop label you one or the other. Especially if you are young and try to stay active, working out, going to the yard. Your "counselor" is more like the "DA." The "warden" is the "Judge." The same process, only now its being done in prison. With all this going on, one thing they forget. You're there to get rehabilitation. Where or when? Will they give it to you? I don't know! Anyway, I have much more on the subject, but in the letter is says 15 pages double spaced, 5,000 words. I ran out of space, so I cut this here. (I was not sure if I could write on 15 pages front and back. What is the deal?) Paul Zaragoza G. Garcia

Author: Zaragoza, Paul

Author Location: California

Date: April 27, 2013

Genre: Essay

Extent: 18 pages

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