Letters to the editor
Before These Walls
Before these walls, I laughed out loud and freely
After these walls, my laughter sounds strange and forced Before these walls, I loved first and doubted later
After these walls, I rarely love and always doubt
Before these walls, I saw the best in everyone
After these walls, I seek what’s below the mask
Before these walls, I smiled at my mirror’s reflection
After these walls, I see a stranger staring back at me Before these walls, I managed my healthy fears of tomorrow After these walls, I see a fuzzy future just out of my view Before these walls, I enjoyed the company of friends
After these walls, I am reluctant to call any “friend” Before these walls, I sat content in a world I earned
After these walls, I wait for charity (for even necessities) Before these walls, I was a whole woman awaiting motherhood
After these walls, I fall asleep
looking at pictures of my stranger child
Before these walls, I had a full life
After these walls, I have a hollow shell
Dorothy Maraglino CCWF
Greetings from a locked down OG, I’m writing this letter to give thanks and praise to Richard Richardson and Lt. S. Robinson and the many others (which is too many to name) who make the SQ News possible. The SQ News is very informative and entertaining especially to those of us in reception, ad seg (administration segregation) and the SHU (Security Housing Unit).
For some of us this is our only source of information and entertainment to an outside world, which is yet behind the walls. I want to bring up a topic about the murals on the walls in the San Quentin chow halls. I got to experience those works of art in 1988 at the age of 22 when I walked into SQs West Block reception for my first term. And the cable car and medusa are two of
the many attractions in SQ that have always stuck in my mind. SQ has so many more good and bad that our young bucks will never get to experience. OGs you know what I am talking about. But these works of art (which I believe should be in a museum) are hard to explain to someone. These are works of art that he or she has to experience for themselves. Can you please print a photo for all the readers around the world to experience who
would otherwise never get the chance to see them.
One last thing for all the OGs who know how different the system is today with all the classes and vocations and self-help programs that are offered that allows us the opportunity to change and be the men and women our society can be proud of. We as OGs, it’s our job to encourage all the young bucks to take advantage of all the opportunities, vocations and self-help programs that are offered today. Because they have a chance that we never had and if we as OGs do our job then maybe our young bucks won’t have to sit here years from now with the title of OG.
Love and respect to all, Donny (olskool) Oliveira
Donald Oliveira Tracy DVI
Dear San Quentin News,
Thank you for the articles about CDCR’s “Black Letter” authority to recall sentences pursuant to Penal Code Section 1170(d), codified at Title 15, Div. 3, Section 3076 Et. Seq. (Au- gust 2019). Also, I wanted to bring Title 15, Div. 3, 3076(a)(2) to your attention, which authorizes the Secretary of CDCR to request a recall of an inmate’s sentence “if information was not made available to the court in pronouncing the inmate’s sentence [and the information] is brought to the attention of the Secretary [of CDCR], who deems the information would have influenced the sentence imposed by the court.”
I, and I think many inmates, would live to learn how to initiate these Section 3076(a)(2) requests. Thank you for your time and keep up the great work!
Rogelio V. Morales CMC East
Letters to the editor
Dear San Quentin Staff Members,
First and foremost, I would like to say how proud and excited of the great work you all do in providing us with all updated in- formation of what’s going on in our society.
My name is David Esparza. I’m incarcerated at Pleasant Valley Prison. I’ve been incarcerated since 2001. I’m serving a 35-year to life sentence, 10 years for the attempted murder and 25 years to life for a gun enhancement. In 2016, I came across San Quentin News where you guys did a survey about the gun enhancement punishment. I wrote back about that survey and your staff writer Mr. Rahsaan Thomas had responded back to my letter.
I know that they passed SB620 in 2018, but it’s not retroactive so it doesn’t apply to me since I’ve been incarcerated for 18 years. It would be highly appreciated if you can share some update in- formation about the gun enhancement.
Continue on your hard work and dedication it’s very important and appreciated. Thank you kindly for your time.
David Esparza PVSP
Let me just say, your article, Landmark Prop. 57 Ruling in re McGhee was very promising and McGhee has been very blessed to have Mr. Rudy Wilkins as a bro! I ‘m on my 4th (prison) num- ber. I’m in Valley State Prison with nonviolent criminal threats. Last year, while at CIM (California Institution for Men), my case went to Sacramento.
At that time, I had nothing to bring to the table B.P.H. (Board of Parole Hearings). This time I’ve got (I think) all my ducks in a row. Group milestones, self-help, a vocation in computers and what I did not have last time, a letter from me, explaining what my future plans are and how I would be a good choice for them to accept me as someone who isn’t a threat to my community and that I should be paroled.
And get this, my own dear Mom, who was the plaintiff, also has written the B.P.H. too! I don’t know, but I’ve done all I can. You guys please keep your fingers crossed, and Mr. McGhee, good luck too!
John Ernst VSP
To the Editor:
As I’m considering the duties of the governor’s new appointed heads of CDCR; Ralph Diaz, the Secretary of CDCR, Kathleen Allison, the Undersecretary of CDCR, Connie Gipson, the director of adult institution for CDCR, I begin to wonder about the duties of the institution heads.
What came to mind was the effectiveness of the grievance process, and now that the governor has three new appointees, what changes on behalf of the inmates living conditions and treatment from C/Os (correctional officers) will occur as a result of their new occupation?
Not that I’m proud to admit this, but out of all the correctional and sheriffs in-custody facilities, I have never seen where inmates, especially indigent did not receive shower shoes.
Here, in “reception”, where we’re being housed in cells that ab- sorb heat, and are in limbo for two to three months waiting to be endorsed, we are being subjected to entering communal showers and risking the high possibility of acquiring some aggressive case of athlete’s foot. Once we’ve discovered we caught it, then how long would it be until we obtain, and fill out the medical slip and receive treatment? Why did the administration heads decide to discontinue issuing out those 49-cent Styrofoam flip-flops in the first place?
Perhaps, now that there are legislative changes occurring and Proposition 57 being realized, there might be a change in the social environment inside and outside of these institutions and empathy being applied in advancing true social justice.
C. Edwards CIM
In reading the book “Transcending Reflections of Crime Victims”, I notice that all of the victims suffered from relatively the same kind of pain and grief regardless of what type of crime that were committed against them. Whether it was rape, robbery, murder, kidnap, burglary, or other so-called minor crimes, the hurt, pain and suffering was basically the same.
There are four stages of grief on the death of a loved one: the first if disbelief, the second is anger, the third is depression and the fourth is acceptance.
The loved ones of the victim often suffers from grief and pain which range from rage, anger, revenge, hatred, sadness, depression, hurt this is known as the ripple effect. This ripple effect, affects the victim’s children and the children of the victim’s children, and everyone who knows or hears about what the offender has done.
Now that I understand the impact that my crimes had on the victims, my responsibility also apply to all the home invasions I committed, I have devastated multiple lives. I can only imagine the counseling and therapy…my victims had to go through and it’s possibly that their hate and fear extends to all African American men because of what I done. I took away joy and happiness from all my victims and caused them misery.
One of the stories from the book “Transcending Reflection of Crime Victims” was from Ms. Wilma Derksen. She blamed herself because her daughter called her to pick her up, but she was busy and told the daughter to walk.
Ms. Derksen said blame is a cousin of anger, meaning that when you blame someone for something- you are actually angry with that person. Also, blaming yourself for something causes you to be angry with yourself and your anger is released on family, friends and people who have nothing to do with what your anger. (Guilt and blaming yourself cause anger) You have to be willing to forgive yourself and others in order to overcome the anger that’s caused by guilt and blame.
Gary Johnson CTF
by Tom Rudderow
It was August 24, 2006. Even though I have a brain injury from this experience and a very damaged memory, I will likely never forget that date That day I was talking with my friend’s fiancé. “What is up with kids?” I asked her, meaning black kids. They had been becoming more and more abusive to me, pushing me around, taking my stuff, while I was wait- ing at a bus stop. I had been noticing this increasing over the past year. She is African American and talked to me about racial anger that gets carried from generation to generation. “Interesting,” I thought. “Let’s talk about this more later.” then off I went.
It was about 9:00 as I walked down the dark street leading to the BART when a young man approached me and said something about what they were about to do to me and then said, “I’m sorry we have to do this.” “Oh shit, I’m in trouble,” I thought as, like a deer in headlights, I was taken by my shoulder and guided off the road where, I presume, his part- ners were waiting in hiding.
When I woke from a coma three days later, which they were unsure I would survive, I must have remembered there had been more than one attacker as a friend, who was sitting by my bed, said I suddenly sat up and said, “James, I’ve got to forgive these guys. How do I do that?” Then I fell back asleep. When I woke again it was done. I have never had a moment of anger or vengeance toward these four guys, just concern, compassion, and curiosity. How could someone do something like this to someone they didn’t know? The police caught all four not long after the incident. Three of them said that they just knocked me down to rob me, as they had been doing to others. The fourth guy, they said, had kept kicking my head until they thought they were leaving a dead guy.
So, I began the long trek of dealing with a brain injury plus PTSD. (What a strange world that is. I was thinking about making a tee shirt, “PTSD. I got it but I don’t get it.”) What felt real was how I would often wake up in the middle of the night hearing someone calling my name, and I knew it was Ray, the youngest of the four the other three blamed. “What is this connection I seem to have with this guy?”
During the first year I had many questions going around in my head, why? how?, and I would make up answers (as I have discovered is a common thing for crime victims), until I did meet him and I was able to ask the only guy who might know the answers to my questions, which the State does all it can to prevent us from having any interaction. After we met, the questions in my head stopped. If he don’t know ain’t nobody knows. Now I can let it go. One question I had, though, was how could this have happened to me?
Almost a year after the incident I was informed that Ray was to be sentenced, having accepted a plea bargain, and I could write a letter and have it read to him in court. My letter said that I wanted him to know that the person he is going to prison for holds nothing against him, that I was hoping he would use this time for healing himself. And, I said, I’m very concerned about him so I will be trying to find a way to meet him. I spent the next 3 1/2 years trying to find a way to meet Ray. Finally I connected with a VOD (Victim Offender Dialogue) facilitator Jack Dison who contacted Ray and said that the guy he nearly killed would like to meet him in a VOD.
For the next year and a half, Jack met with Ray and spent time with me, preparing each of us to meet. Jack said I needed to talk about how I’ve been harmed. I didn’t want to do this. It wasn’t my intention to rub Ray’s face in it. Jack had a hard time believing I held no animosity toward Ray, and didn’t want it suddenly coming out unexpectedly during the Dialogue. I was grateful for this process because I wasn’t sure myself if something was hiding in there. Maybe my miraculous forgiveness experience was all a result of the brain injury or PTSD. We discovered together that it was real. I always say that I never believed much in miracles until one happened to me. I consider the forgiveness I was given a full blown miracle. It changed my life, and Ray’s.