My utmost respects are extended in full fashion. Let me get right down to this article. I’ll be brief and direct. Hope to make a direct impact in today’s network that has been evolving over these decades. I’ve read a prior article that was written about militarization of CDCR that is today’s darkest secret.
I’m sure your paper news media will as your slogan states report on things that will impact the whole population. Yes, it’s cool to read about different programs, milestones, so on and so forth. But the real impact is to touch on the other things going on all across the state.
Saul Garcia J57568
Delano Modified Community CF
To San Quentin News
I’m from Seattle, Washington, bound to move out to California upon my release. One bigger problem with correctional system: they don’t really correct you as a person or know their only successful function is to enforce corruption and to worsen you. But [we can] put our thoughts and minds together, combine forces as people to use each other’s ways and outside support from honest and caring people who will be dedicated to making our lives better and as good as free people.
Washington State Penitentiary
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North Kern State Prison
On a Tuesday afternoon, Frank and I were sitting across from each other in the day room. While people were busy talking or playing cards, we were busy with weighing out life, and how Frank came to be the man he is today. With all the hullabaloo around us, I felt very at ease when he answered the questions for this letter. But he fell back into his old lifestyle due to the pressures of life, on a day-to-day basis. After the first month Frank did a line of crystal meth. Frank felt he was being led by God towards a newness of life. He started attending groups like GOGI, Lifers’ Group, NA, and CGA. Frank stated, “We all can change, it is hard but satisfying work.” His favorite group is GOGI. This group has opened up his eyes to old behavior, and his life in general. It gives him insight on how to change his thoughts and actions. He now has tools from GOGI like breathing exercises and the five-second light switch. Frank has learned how to turn negative situations into positive ones.
High Desert State Prison
CCWF is in great need of IDAP pushers on all yards. Since the pay rate was seriously lowered, no one wants this job. It is a position that requires screening for exclusions and is a great service to the aging population at CCWF. It is a community service that should be recognized and validated with a pay rate that rewards the incentive to apply, the good behavior required, and in light of exclusions, not to mention one needs to apply for it. I am sure the BPH (Board of Parole Hearings) would think it commendable that an inmate would choose this job assignment.
Is there any way their pay rate can be increased so that inmates want to apply? The vacancies are not being filled because there is no one on the waiting list to fill them. That is simply sad when this can be so easily remedied. The staff at CCWF has been awesome in trying to get applicants, but the pay for this specialized work is a deterrent.
Inmates learn to work with people in general—both inmates and staff—and can gain skills that would help them on release. Please take this under consideration and do what you can for the entire state of California. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Central California Women’s Facility
I don’t know who writes your “News Briefs,” section or how you find out information for your paper. Let me just say, once again, women are still—and have been—overlooked…still in 2019. The first woman has made history, from Condemned Row, and nobody knows or printed it. Thank goodness you can fix this “overlooked woman” by printing and reporting it. On Friday, July 19, 2019, the first woman got her death sentence overturned at the state level of appeal… (not federal). Dora Buenrostro should not be in prison at all. But her life was saved on July 19 by the Riverside County D.A. who admitted to doing Dora wrong 22 years ago in giving her a death sentence. So he chose not to redo her penalty phase—giving Dora life.
This should be a wake-up call to all mental health advocates and prosecutors alike: do the right thing. Dora’s the sweetest person you’d ever meet. She’s not “evil,” nor is there an evil bone in her body. She has a childlike innocence about her. All of us women on the Row love and now miss Dora. We all pray for her peace of mind, safety and happiness in her future…LIFE. Dora singlehandedly brought us together in friendship, love and kindness on Death Row in Chowchilla (which now houses 22 women). God bless you, Dora.
From all of us,
Name withheld by request
Central California Women’s Facility
Ed. note: Thanks for making us aware of this story! It hadn’t come across our radar. We will be reporting on it fully in Wall City magazine. We do hear your concerns and apologize for overlooking our valued women readers. We are taking steps to be on the lookout for and report more stories related to women. We also look forward to considering any suggestions and submissions from you and any of our readers.
By LaTonya Stewart
I am the mother of two sons: Charles Stewart, who we called C.J., and his younger brother Aaron Stewart. I raised them both as a single mom, from when C.J. was nine and Aaron was 6. I worked full-time to keep them in a steady and stable home environment.
On Feb. 29th, 2012, I dropped my younger son Aaron off at his work, not knowing it was the last day I would be able to imagine driving him home again. About 6 o’clock in the morning on March 1st, I accepted a collect call from my son Aaron. He told me he had been arrested for murder.
The next two years were incredibly difficult, having Aaron in jail, waiting for his trial. And to make matters worse, at one point C.J. also found himself in the very same jail, Santa Rita, alongside his brother. Trying to be there for both my sons, finding emotional energy to support each of them, was very difficult.
On Oct. 24th, 2014, after a month-long trial that ended in April, Aaron was sentenced to three life sentences plus 72 years. He was 19 years old: a mama’s boy, a football player, a kid with a good heart. By trying to fit in with the in-crowd, trying to be accepted, he ended up out there in the street, and he made a bad decision that changed all of our lives forever.
On February 15, 2015, I received a call from my older son C.J., just saying hi, wanting some general conversation, checking on me. Right before he hung up, my child told me, “Okay, mom, I love you.” Later that night, I received a call from some of C.J.’s friends, saying my son had been shot. I rushed to Oakland, hoping that it was a mistake. After arriving at the crime scene, I fell to the ground, and I just cried. I said, “God, why? I already lost one son. Why is this happening to me? Please don’t let it be my son.”
Waiting at the scene, trying to get any information I could about C.J., I had all these thoughts going through my head, and I felt so empty. I thought, “This is really real. Why would somebody kill my son?” That night, C.J. was 26 years old.
And when it came time for C.J.’s murderer to face justice, despite a previous history of felony convictions, his murder charge was lessened to manslaughter, with a 15 year sentence, due to witnesses’ unwillingness to cooperate. I lost all faith in the criminal justice system. My son Aaron, who had no criminal record before his arrest, is left hopeless. And the man who killed my son is left with some hope for life after prison.
Healing from these traumas has not been easy, and I have some good days and some bad days. One powerful experience I have had is in participating in restorative justice circles with survivors and inmates. I only found out about restorative justice after my son Aaron graduated from a class called Restorative Justice at Lancaster. Aaron told the staff to reach out to me because I was a mom on both sides, because Aaron lost his brother, too. And so that’s how I got hooked up with Re:Store Justice.
I’ve witnessed men in restorative justice circles show real remorse and take responsibility for their crimes. And I’ve been able to offer forgiveness and compassion in exchange. The more I participate, helping to show the impact of crime and of the criminal justice system, the more I feel like I am walking in my purpose and exercising my belief in having faith, even if it’s just the size of a tiny mustard seed. Each time I tell my story, it helps me to heal even more. And the process brings everyone together to try and make the system better.
To everyone reading this who has a second chance to go home: make the decisions that will help get you there. Your decision-making will affect you, your family, your friends, the community – it’s not just you. Especially for people who are 18-25, if the system allows you a second chance for freedom, take advantage of the programs available, whether it’s getting your GED, or starting college (like Aaron is now, currently taking a class at Folsom College at Mule Creek), or participating in programs to help you rehabilitate yourself to be a better person when you’re allowed to go back to society.