Corcoran Strike for Medical Care Leads to Hospitalization of Diabetic

From an email, Oct 9th, 2014

After a week of hunger striking by three men inside Corcoran SHU and organizers calling and writing to the prison, we are happy to report that Kambui Robinson has been moved to the Acute Care Hospital in Corcoran for his diabetic complications, and the hunger strike is now ended.

Thanks to everyone who called, wrote, or circulated the message—but our fight is not over!

Advocacy is still needed for the following issues:

Kambui Robinson’s health is in a dire state and he needs to be permanently moved into a medical care facility such as the one in Vacaville. Diabetic complications have left his eyesight so bad that he has not been able to read for several weeks, and he is has been experiencing stroke-like symptoms for
the past several weeks.

Michael Durrough is still without an extension cord for his CPAP machine, which is necessary for his sleep apnea. Without this cord, which is allowable property but currently withheld on warden’s discretion, Michael risks the possibility of stopping breathing while sleeping every night.

Heshima Denham needs immediate attention to severe pain he is experiencing on his right side. He is in constant pain and it has become extremely disruptive to daily activity. He needs an MRI as well as kidney and liver tests in order to diagnosis this pain.

We need adequate medical care for everyone in CSP-Corcoran!  At this time, please continue to contact the below officials alerting them to the immediate needs of Kambui Robinson (C-82830), Michael Dorrough (D-83611) and Heshima Denham (J-38283).  Calls to the Receiver’s office are especially welcome.  (The receiver’s office will call you back and will tell you that they can’t give out peoples’ personal medical info, but all you need to do is reply that you’re not asking for such info and are just asking that the individuals you have called about receive appropriate and timely care).

Contact information for CDCR officials:

Dave Davey
Corcoran Warden
559-992-8800 (extension not known)
dave.davey@cdcr.ca.gov

Medical Receiver
California Correctional Healthcare Services
916-691-3000
CPHCSCCUWeb@cdcr.ca.gov

Cherita Wofford
Office of the Ombudsman
916-324-6123
cherita.wofford@cdcr.ca.gov

Sara Malone
Office of the Ombudsman
916-327-8467
Sara.Malone@cdcr.ca.gov

Diana Toche
Undersecretary for Health Care Services and Undersecretary for Administration
and Offender Services, CDCR
diana.toche@cdcr.ca.gov

They circle like vultures

In: SF Bay View
October 27, 2012

by Alfred Sandoval

The Department of Corruption’s draft of the Step Down Program [for release from SHU without “debriefing,” i.e., snitching or inventing information about other prisoners to be used as evidence for their validation and SHU confinement] – well, it’s crap! I really believe that it was intended to get a negative reaction – because in the new version, it would actually take five years, whereas their last proposal was four years!

The new draft allows for any CO (correctional officer) or staff member to have any prisoner placed in SHU for anything they deem necessary, citing safety and security and public safety, even without any disciplinary action. Many of us have seen first hand the abusive nature of sadistic, racist and misogynistic CO staff who fabricate information to “break” prisoners.

Of all the alleged changes to the policy, not one allows for real scrutiny of the information used to indefinitely house prisoners in the dungeons of California’s prison system – the SHUs. But then look at how much money – taxpayers’ money – is made off of one prisoner’s SHU housing.

The so called shareholders are reaping in money hand over fist while prisoners in the SHU are routinely mistreated and denied medical care. I really was not surprised when Gov. Brown vetoed the media access bill. Imagine having an Abu Ghraib exposed on his watch!

Many of us have seen first hand the abusive nature of sadistic, racist and misogynistic CO staff who fabricate information to “break” prisoners.

Right now I have a civil suit pending in the Northern District Court – Sandoval v. D. Barneburg et al, No. C12-3007 LHK (PR) – citing excessive use of force by PBSP IGI (Institutional Gang Investigation) unit. The DVD that documented all the injuries inflicted on me disappeared from an evidence locker. But I knew it would; these COs have a well formed code of silence that guarantees impunity to all COs and staff who abuse prisoners.

Some actually belong to the PBSP “honor guard.” Since the hunger strikes, the COs and IGIs have continued to attempt to incite conflict between prisoners, but we all know it’s a divide and conquer tactic. Many of us have 20-30 years in the SHUs and many have actually grown up together through the system, so we know what’s what and know when we’re being played by the COs and staff.
The warden has made it clear that he will not sign any order for the items agreed to during the mediations because he is retiring in January with a full pension.

Since the hunger strikes, the COs and IGIs have continued to attempt to incite conflict between prisoners, but we all know it’s a divide and conquer tactic.

Recently many prisoners have been reclassified as “high risk medical,” but it’s a sham to give prisoners false hope of actually getting medical care that is not overseen by the IGI unit. The chief medical officer will state the prisoner can be treated here, thereby nullifying the “high risk” portion, but PBSP will get the extra state funds to house us here until we die.

Many of the prisoners who are dying refuse to go to the clinic. Most wait until the very last minute because the clinic rooms are nasty, without reading material or TV or anything but a single bed. So once you’re taken to the clinic, you just sit on the bed and wait to die. It’s a guarantee that the IGI will stop by to ask if you’re ready to debrief before you die. They circle like vultures.

Send our brother some love and light: Alfred Sandoval, D-61000, PBSP SHU D4-214, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532. This letter was written to and transcribed by Kendra Castaneda. It was written on Oct. 21.

[photo: Imagine your life encased in a 7-by-11-foot cage with no window, the light on 24/7 and no privacy, under the watchful eyes of people paid to break your spirit – and your body – all because they fear you have influence with other prisoners. – Photo: North Coast Journal]

My bogus validation and torture at Calipatria ASU

From: SF Bay View, Sept 25, 2012
by Gualberto Lopez

In June 2002, when I was 21 years of age, I arrived at Pelican Bay State Prison. That is the institution where I was housed at after I left LA County Jail. I was at Pelican Bay for eight to nine years, most of the time in the SHU. At each Institution Committee hearing I had, the SHU ICC (Institutional Classification Committee) would always tell me, “We know you are associated with a prison gang.” They tried to make me accept it and force me to accept I was a part of a prison gang many times when I never was. I never bit into PBSP/CDCR’s game that they tried to play with me.

A Mexican Aztec drawing is used as a “source item” by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to label a “Southern Hispanic” as a prison gang associate and put him in segregation (SHU/ASU) for decades calling him “worst of the worst.” Gualberto Lopez is Mexican, and CDCR is persecuting him based on his ethnicity and culture.
Once I finally got out of the SHU at PBSP in 2008, I was allowed to go to general population for about a year and a half given clear status; then I was given a transfer to Corcoran for five to six months. After I did those few months at Corcoran without any 115 write-ups, I was transferred to Calipatria State Prison. In 2010, I arrived at Calipatria, and I was on general population for about six months until I was picked up by Institutional Gang Investigator E. Duarte based on artwork that PBSP tried to use on me when I was there in 2006 to try and validate me.
The IGI’s put me in Administration Segregation (Ad-Seg/A5) at Calipatria for this bogus validation saying that I was involved in prison gang activity when I never involved myself in any such conduct. The reason for me transferring down to a prison further south was to be close to home and to have a better time with all the rest of my family. I wasn’t going to jeopardize that by receiving a 115 write-up now that I was able to be closer to them. But when I was transferred to Calipatria and while in general population, I realized it was harder to receive visits from my family because they had to go through the approval process all over again at Calipatria after being previously approved from Pelican Bay.
When I was served with the bogus validation paperwork, about six to eight IGIs were telling me that they were after me since I was previously from Pelican Bay State Prison. The Calipatria IGIs falsely told me that a confidential informant told them that I was in a prison gang. I was programing just fine and there was no evidence of a confidential informant and the evidence the IGIs tried to falsely slam me with was not strong enough to validate me and was false.
In Gualberto Lopez’ committee hearing report after he was taken into segregation at Calipatria State Prison, the committee members found that Gualberto Lopez cannot be on the general population yard and is a “Threat to the Safety and Security of the Institution.” But this ruling is not due to any confidential information from an informant, and Gualberto Lopez doesn’t have any enemies. It is due to IGI E. Duarte stating he believes Gualberto Lopez is in a prison gang. The committee members include a doctor and associate warden, and the chairperson who signed this committee report for Gualberto Lopez to be kept in segregation is current Warden G.J. Janda.
During this process of this bogus validation, I lost three family members; my family called the prison a few times so I could get the news of the passing of my loved ones. Calipatria never gave me that message while I was in Ad-Seg. The IGIs kept it from me and I had to find out later.
The IGIs at Calipatria, they took away all of my legal documents for my case I was working on and they trashed them. During my first two weeks in ASU, I was given a chrono 1030. It was put in my file by officers without me knowing. I had to ask for an “Olson Review” in the month of June 2011 to find out what they placed in my file.
Then in April 2011, IGI E. Duarte at the ASU unit planted two weapons in my cell on purpose while I was out to yard. I was given a 115 CDCR write up for those weapons placed in my cell by IGI Duarte. My mail is always being tampered with and trashed by officers. All the IGIs, they mess with us by harassment mentally and physically by putting us in cuff tie ups, giving us small portions of food and ripped up clothes, trashing our outgoing mail, planting specific artwork in our cells while we are at the showers or yard that is used later to validate us. The IGIs go into our cell and put toothpaste in our sink with our pictures in the toothpaste and shampoo in our food mixed together.
During the second hunger strike last year in September-October 2011, I was rushed to the hospital and in the emergency room the medical RN staff tried to take blood out of me for the second time in a week. While they were trying to take blood out of me, the nurse didn’t see that she broke the needle in my arm within the view of a lot of fellow prisoners.
At this moment I’m being denied proper “medical attention” for the pain in my feet. I have them all cracked from the bottom. It has been going on for many years. Last month in May, many of us inmates here at Calipatria ASU were finally allowed to be seen at an outside hospital for the first time in years. I was prescribed medication, but CDCR is denying all my medication I was prescribed for my feet by this outside doctor. Also I think my TB is acting up, but Calipatria is not hearing my pleas.
This is how this inhumane, torturous treatment in segregation makes me feel, so depressed, angry, sad, enraged. I’ve lost focus and changed from how I used to be. I don’t see people for how they are now or how I used to see them. My thinking is very different than before. I can’t be around too many people now. I have lack of sleep, and I have trouble concentrating.
All of my communication with my family has been cut off now because either my mail doesn’t get to me or I’m too afraid to worry my family of what’s really going on with me. I’ve been going through this for the last two years here at Calipatria State Prison ASU and I am up for transfer to Pelican Bay State Prison again to be placed in the SHU for years due to this bogus validation.
How long do I have to be tortured for? Will I be rehabilitated? Where are the programs available to rehabilitate me instead of torture me? I don’t know.
Only the governor and the state Assembly have the power to change it. But until then, all I know is that I am being mistreated in this crooked, broken system called California Department of Corrections and “Rehabilitation.”
Can somebody hear me out there?
Send our brother some love and light: Gualberto Lopez, T-81282, ASU-160, P.O. Box 5008, Calipatria, CA 92233.
The Office of Correctional Safety Special Service Unit’s special agents John Zinna and Jim Moreno approved the evidence submitted by IGI E. Duarte on Gualberto Lopez. The evidence used to label Gualberto Lopez as a prison gang associate – the “worst of the worst” – was an Aztec cultural drawing, two tattoos and a family member’s address in a telephone book. Gualberto Lopez was validated in May 2011. Since then, he has appealed this false validation with CDCR through the court and has been denied all appeals. That means Gualberto Lopez is labeled a “Threat to Safety and Security of the Institution” and is currently on a waitlist to be sent to the SHU at Pelican Bay for the next decade or more due to these four “source items.”

The address in a telephone book of a member of Gualberto Lopez’ family who has no gang ties was used against him by IGI E. Duarte as a “source item” to validate him as a prison gang associate. When the Institutional Gang Investigators search an inmate’s cell, they take the inmate out of the cell and it is easy to plant evidence or write numbers in a telephone book, which is exactly what happened with Gualberto Lopez.


My bogus validation under CDCR and the inhumane treatment/torture I have endured at Calipatria State Prison ASU

Received via email.

In June 2002, when I was 21 years of age, I arrived at the institution of Pelican Bay State Prison. That is the institution where I was housed at after I left LA County Jail. I was at Pelican Bay State Prison for eight to nine years, most of the time when I was at PBSP I had spent it in the SHU. While I was in the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison and at each Institution Committee hearing I had; the SHU ‘ICC’ would always tell me “We know you are associated with a prison gang and we want to know”. They tried to make me accept it and force me to accept I was a part of a prison gang many times when I never was. I never bit into PBSP/CDCR’s game that they tried to play with me.

Once I finally got out of the SHU at PBSP in 2008, I was allowed to go to General Population for about a year and a half given clear status, then I was given a transfer to Corcoran for five to six months. After I did those few months at Corcoran without any 115 write-ups, I was transferred to Calipatria State Prison. In 2010, I arrived at Calipatria State Prison and I was on General Population for about six months until I was picked up by the (IGI) Institutional Gang Investigator E. Duarte based on artwork that PBSP tried to use on me when I was there in 2006 to try and validate me in 2006/07. The IGI’s put me in Administration Segregation (Ad-Seg/A5) at Calipatria for this bogus validation saying that I was involved in prison gang activity when I never involved myself in any type of conduct. The reason for me transferring down to a prison closer south was to be close to home by my family and to have a better time with all the rest of my family. I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize receiving a 115 write-up now that I was able to be closer to them. But, when I was transferred to Calipatria and while in general population I realized it was harder to receive visits from my family because they had to go through the approval process all over again at Calipatria after being previously approved from Pelican Bay.

When I was served with the bogus validation paperwork, about six to eight IGI’s were telling me that they were after me since I was previously from Pelican Bay State Prison. They also were telling me that in here at Calipatria State Prison the IGI’s falsely told me that a confidential informant told them that I was in a prison gang. I was programing just fine and there was no evidence of a confidential informant and the evidence the IGI’s tried to falsely slam me with was not strong enough to validate me and was false. During this process of being validated on this bogus validation I lost 3 family members; they all past away and my family called the prison a few times so I could get the news of the passing of my loved ones. Calipatria never gave me that message while I was being placed in ad-seg, the IGI’s kept it from me and I had to find out later.

The IGI’s at Calipatria, they took away all of my legal documents of my case I was working on and they trashed them. While I was moved into ASU at Calipatria from A5, during the first two weeks while in ASU, I was given a Chrono 1030, it was put in my file by officers without me knowing. I had to ask for an “Olson Review” in the month of June 2011 to find out what they placed in my file. Then in April 2011, IGI E. Duarte at the ASU unit, planted two weapons in my cell on purpose while I was out to yard. I was given a 115 CDCR write up for those weapons placed in my cell by IGI E. Duarte. My mail is always being tampered with and trashed by officers. All the IGI’s, they mess with us by harassment, mentally, physically by putting us in cuff tie ups, giving us small portions of food, ripped up clothes, trashing our outgoing mail, IGI’s planting specific artwork in our cells while we are at the showers/yard (that are used later to purposely validate us), the IGI’s go into our cell and put toothpaste in our sink with our pictures in the toothpaste and shampoo in our food mixed together.

During the 2ndHunger Strike last year in September – October 2011, I was rushed to the hospital and in the emergency room the medical-RN staff they tried to take blood out of me for the 2nd time in a week. While they were trying to take blood out of me, the nurse she didn’t see that she broke the needle in my arm within the view of a lot of fellow prisoners.

At this moment I’m being denied proper “medical attention” for the pain in my feet. I have them all cracked from the bottom and have a few toe nail fingers in pain because of all the flesh cracked I have in my feet. It has been going on for many years. Last month in May, many of us inmates here at Calipatria ASU were finally allowed to be seen at an outside hospital for the first time in years. I was able to go to this outside hospital to get my feet checked out and I was prescribed medication but CDCR is denying all my medication I was prescribed for my feet by this outside doctor. I’m not being allowed that medication for my feet due to CDCR not allowing it and also I think my TB is acting up but Calipatria is not hearing my pleas.

This is how this inhumane, torturous treatment in segregation makes me feel, “so depressed, anger, sad, rage, loss of focus, change of how I used to be, I don’t see people for how they are now or how I used to see them, my thinking is very different than before, I can’t be around too many people now, I have lack of sleep, and I have trouble concentrating.” All of my communication with my family has been cut off now because either my mail doesn’t get to me or I’m too afraid to worry my family of what’s really going on with me. I’ve been going through this for the last “two years” here at Calipatria State Prison ASU and I am up for transfer on waitlist to Pelican Bay State Prison again to be placed in the SHU for years on end due to this bogus validation.

How long do I have to be tortured for? Will I be rehabilitated? Where are the programs available to rehabilitate me instead of torture me? I don’t know; only the Governor, State Assembly have the power to change it but until then all I know is that I am being mistreated in this crooked, broken system called California Department of Corrections and “Rehabilitation”…

“Can somebody hear me out there?”

Gualberto Lopez, CDC# T-81282, Calipatria State Prison ASU

Written on 6/7/2012, postmarked on 6/8/2012 

How the hunger strike started for me

The hunger strike in California is over for now, yet we still have to tell the public, and teach them, remind them of the plight the prisoners inside the “SHU’s” face on a daily basis. CDCR better become smart on crime than tough on crime, their “policies” have failed in so many ways…

Source: SF Bay View:

October 16, 2011
by Alfred Sandoval

I’ve been in the SHU since July of 1987 so I’ve lived through a lot of physical as well as psychological abuses. I was originally placed in SHU at San Quentin’s Adjustment Center. The first thing I noticed as I was being escorted past the sergeant’s office was a caricature of a boar hog dressed in a correctional officer’s uniform holding a noose with a hammer hanging from it posted on the wall. So, being Mexican, I knew what time it was. Slowly, the blatant racism was pushed into the politically correct broom closet but it’s never been thrown out.

In 2003, I was returned from court to Pelican Bay and told in no uncertain terms that I would die here.

When PBSP created the control unit – known as the short corridor – in early 2006, the goal of the Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) was made perfectly clear: Debrief or die! They implemented orders to the short corridor correctional officer (C/O) staff to apply pressure to targeted prisoners, and the gang unit (Institutional Gang Investigations, or IGI) became the overseers of the control unit and began to target prisoners’ families and friends and attempt to create discord by mixing up mail, withholding and delaying personal mail and restricting visits for as little as saying hello to another prisoner. Their goal is to isolate these targeted prisoners.

I had never believed in hunger strikes, thinking that they’re counter-productive. However, when the gang unit began to work in concert with the chief medical officer – the IGI actually decides the level of medical treatment prisoners in the short corridor receive – I decided to participate in this and the next hunger strike, but here’s why:

A few years ago, a close friend – his name was Jimmy – developed cancer. The medical staff, MTAs and RNs, explained that if he’d debrief, become an informant, he would receive better medical care. Now Jimmy and I had known each other since we were teenagers running the streets of East Los Angeles getting high and living the lifestyle that ended up with both of us in prison for life.

As Jimmy’s cancer grew worse, he began chemotherapy. Jimmy mentioned to me how the IGI would “show up” at the clinic and comment that he could have contact visits with his wife before he died if he’d debrief. He refused but that’s how he found out the cancer was terminal! Jimmy loved his wife more than anything and he wouldn’t tell her everything about the head games and bullshit like waking up from surgery still under anesthesia being questioned by IGI, but I had warned him of that because it happened to me and at least three other prisoners.

After one of the surgeries, Jimmy was returned to his cell after a brief stay at the Pelican Bay prison infirmary. Those cells are completely bare except for a bed and all you can do is lay there and wait. On the second night back in his cell, he awoke to a bad pain. He said it was a little after 2 a.m. and the staples had opened along his abdomen and he was bleeding. He was holding his intestines in, calling for the C/O. The C/O came and saw the blood and said he’d call the RN on duty.

The C/O came back approximately 30 minutes later with a roll of toilet paper. Jimmy was sitting on the blood-covered cement floor holding a towel soaked in blood against his stomach. The cop tossed Jimmy the toilet paper and said the medical staff would not come until the next shift and there was nothing he could do. Jimmy held his stomach closed in pain until almost 6 a.m. when the medical finally came and they rushed him to the hospital. He asked that I keep it to myself because that was his style.

I was pissed! He had requested two hardship transfers to Corcoran because of its medical facility and he’d be able to see his wife and family more before he died. Both were denied and he was told to debrief and then he’d be transferred but he steadfastly refused. The cancer spread and the gang unit increased the head games, telling the medical staff to confiscate his shaded prescription glasses. But luckily, a Dr. Williams stepped in and told the medical staff to leave Jimmy alone as he was at end stage cancer. Jimmy chose to stop the chemotherapy and die. We’d talk through a steel door and discuss everything and nothing and plan out his funeral. He died in December of 2010 and I am proud and honored to have been his friend.

Shortly after Jimmy’s death, I was told that approximately eight of the older prisoners had been approved for transfer to the SHU medical facility at New Folsom, but the gang unit had those transfers stopped citing that those prisoners, all in their 60s and 70s, had not successfully completed the debriefing, thereby issuing a death sentence to all of these prisoners and denying adequate medical care.

I am 53 years old with incurable illnesses, Hep-C and Crohn’s disease, so I am participating in the hunger strike to expose how prisoners are being mistreated and medical treatment withheld as a coercion tactic.

The abuses, physical and psychological, the intimidations and harassments have a very well documented history here at Pelican Bay State Prison. They should speak for themselves.

Early 1990: Rumors of abuses at PBSP SHU come to light. The prison opens doors to media tour.
1995: Rumors of abuses citing C/Os extracting prisoners from their cells, stripping them naked and leaving them hogtied in the cold cells and on the cement yard overnight. Prison opens doors to media tours.
1998: C/Os accused of setting up inmates, opening cell doors in SHU.
2001: Prisoners began hunger strike to change debriefing process as it was not legal! Promises were made, Castillo case settled and reworded to be used against prisoners. Prison opens doors to media tours.
2006: California Inspector General’s Office issues memo for media release citing their investigation exposed that the PBSP internal affairs would avoid finding staff misconduct on excessive use of force and that some changes had been made but more are needed.

During this hunger strike, prisoners have been threatened with “progressive discipline,” which means the prisoners’ property will be taken out of the cells and they will only be allowed a pair of shower shoes and a pair of underwear until the administration deems the prisoner as “programming.”

The warden had a staff meeting before the last hunger strike telling staff that he would ignore the hunger strikers, which he did, violating the CDCR regulations and allowing prisoners to become ill. Grievances were returned unprocessed, so it never happened.

That is Pelican Bay State Prison. So now you know why I participate in the hunger strike.

Photo subscript:
The Pelican Bay warden opened the doors of the prison to a media tour on Aug. 17, following the first phase of the hunger strike, as wardens have in the past whenever the prison fell under public attention. A few mainstream reporters were escorted to a few parts of the prison, though not where the prisoners who organized the strike are housed, and they were prohibited from speaking with prisoners. They were told that this prisoner had decided to “debrief.” – Photo: Julie Small, KPCC

Send our brother some love and light: Alfred Sandoval, D-61000, Pelican Bay State Prison, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.

Shame on Mississippi! Article: For Two Sisters, the End of an Ordeal

For Two Sisters, the End of an Ordeal
By BOB HERBERT
Published: December 31, 2010
New York Times
I got a call on New Year’s Eve from Gladys Scott, which was a terrific way for 2010 to end.

As insane as it may seem, Gladys and her sister, Jamie, are each serving consecutive life sentences in a state prison in Mississippi for their alleged role in a robbery in 1993 in which no one was hurt and $11 supposedly was taken.

Gladys was on the phone, excited and relieved, because Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi had agreed to suspend the prison terms.

“I’ve waited so long for this day to come,” she said.

I was happy for the Scott sisters and deeply moved as Gladys spoke of how desperately she wanted to “just hold” her two children and her mother, who live in Florida. But I couldn’t help thinking that right up until the present moment she and Jamie have been treated coldly and disrespectfully by the governor and other state officials. It’s as if the authorities have found it impossible to hide their disdain, their contempt, for the two women.

The prison terms were suspended — not commuted — on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to Jamie, who is seriously ill with diabetes and high blood pressure and receives dialysis at least three times a week. Gladys had long expressed a desire to donate a kidney to her sister, but to make that a condition of her release was unnecessary, mean-spirited, inhumane and potentially coercive. It was a low thing to do.

Governor Barbour did not offer any expression of concern for Jamie’s health in his statement announcing the sentence suspension.

He said of the sisters: “Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott’s medical condition creates a substantial cost to the state of Mississippi.”

By all means, get those medical costs off the books if you can.

I asked Gladys how she had learned that she was to be released. “Oh, I saw it while I was looking at the news on television,” she said.

The authorities hadn’t bothered to even tell the sisters. After all, who are they? As Gladys put it, “Nobody told me a thing.”

I asked if she had seen Jamie, who is in another section of the prison, since the governor’s decision had been announced. She said no one had tried to get the two of them together for even a telephone conversation.

“I haven’t seen her or heard from her,” Gladys said. “I want to see her. I want to see how she’s doing and take care of her.”

I am not surprised at Governor Barbour’s behavior. He’s not the first person who comes to mind when I think of admirable public officials. The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., noted that the governor had been on the radio this week asserting that there was hardly anyone in prison who didn’t deserve to be there. It’s an interesting comment from a governor who has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to free prisoners convicted of the most heinous crimes.

The Jackson Free Press, an alternative weekly, and Slate magazine have noted that Mr. Barbour has pardoned four killers and suspended the life sentence of a fifth. So cold-blooded murder is no reason, in Mr. Barbour’s view, to keep the prison doors closed.

This is also a governor who said recently, while reminiscing about the civil rights struggle and the treatment of blacks in his hometown of Yazoo City, Miss., in the 1960s: “I just don’t remember it being that bad.” The comment was in an article in The Weekly Standard in which the governor managed to find some complimentary things to say about the rabidly racist White Citizens Councils.

Faced with heavy and widespread criticism, he later pulled back on the comments, describing the era as “difficult and painful” and the councils as “indefensible.”

The only reason the Scott sisters have gotten any relief at all is because of an extraordinary network of supporters who campaigned relentlessly over several years on their behalf. Ben Jealous, the president of the N.A.A.C.P., emerged as one of the leaders of the network. The concerted effort finally paid off.

Gladys Scott said her 16 years in prison have been extremely difficult and that she had gotten depressed from time to time but had not given up hope. “It was a very bad experience, ” she said.

What is likely to get lost in the story of the Scott sisters finally being freed is just how hideous and how outlandish their experience really was. How can it be possible for individuals with no prior criminal record to be sentenced to two consecutive life terms for a crime in which no one was hurt and $11 was taken? Who had it in for them, and why was that allowed to happen?

The Scott sisters may go free, but they will never receive justice.
————————
Many people helped to free the Scott Sisters, first and foremost their mother Mrs. Evelyn Rasco, Nancy Lockhart, Jim Ridgeway, many hundreds of grassroots supporters that  kept this the reality of the injustice done to them alive. 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/01/opinion/01herbert.html?ref=opinion
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on January 1, 2011, on page A19 of the New York edition.

Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour to free sisters sentenced to life in prison for robbery

Washington Post

By Krissah Thompson

Wednesday, December 29, 2010; 10:35 PM

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) announced late Wednesday that he will grant an early release from prison to two sisters serving unusually long sentences for armed robbery.

Gladys and Jamie Scott have each served 16 years of a life sentence. Their case had become a cause celebre among civil rights groups, including the NAACP, which mounted a national campaign to free the women.
The Scotts were convicted in 1994 for an armed robbery in which they led two men into an ambush. The men were robbed of $11, and their supporters contend that the Scotts, who are black, received extraordinary punishment for the crime.

Barbour said he decided to suspend the sentences in light of the poor health of 38-year-old Jamie Scott, who requires regular dialysis. The governor asserted that 36-year-old Gladys Scott’s release is contingent on her giving a kidney to her inmate sibling.

“The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society,” Barbour said in a statement. “Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott’s medical condition creates a substantial cost to the State of Mississippi.”
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous will meet with Barbour on Thursday, and the two men have scheduled a joint news conference.

“This is a shining example of how governors should use their commutation powers,” Jealous said in an interview, praising Barbour’s decision.

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