My more than five decades of continuous
imprisonment qualifies me, I believe, to express [to
Governor Newsom] on behalf of CDCR prisoners in
general, how grateful we are to you for the extraordinary effort you have led in Califonia’s response to
the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. I can’t actually
speak for all the State’s prisoners, of course. However,
I’m confident that in the views of most, your team’s
management of this unprecedented crisis has struck
the balance between being rapid enough to meet
the dire needs brought on by the threat, while being
measured enough to reduce some of the sense of
panic many of us felt initially. Moreover, your compassionate concern for the homeless and for incarcerated
persons and their families has not gone unnoticed.
Based on personal experience, a worry long endemic
among prisoners is that in the event of a major crisis,
such as a direct attack from a foreign country or a
pandemic viral contagion, incarcerated criminal offender
populations would be locked into their cells and dormitory
housing units and left there to rot and die. To dismiss
such fears as irrational would be a dismissal on the basis
of an oxymoron; fear by its very nature is irrational (as
I know only too well by the role it played in the violent
crime I committed putting myself in here). And maybe
it’s not so irrational that prisoners may tend to think
along these lines when you consider that, historically,
American society’s solution to the threat imposed by
crime has largely been the “lock’em up and throw away
the key” approach we’ve all become so familiar with.
I chose to write this letter because [Gov. Newsom] deserves to be informed about how some of his remarks have affected those of us experiencing incarceration during the current crisis—in stark
contrast, by the way, to some of the remarks coming
out of the White House of late (science matters!).
When [Gov Newsom] was speaking to the citizens of
California during some recent television addresses,
his remarks specifically targeting the concerns of
prisoners and their loved ones were reassuring and
well-received heartfelt thanks to [him] for doing that.
Be assured that in the views of most if not all prisoners confined by the state, [his] outstanding ability to lead a robust response to the COVID-19
outbreak in California has earned great respect.
With Profound Gratitude,