DONOVAN READER APPRECIATES SQNEWS’ LGBTQ+ COVERAGE
Dear SQNews: My name is Yvette Blake, and I am an incarcerated transgender woman at R. J. Donovan. I wrote recently and want to thank you for giving my people, the LGBTQ+ community, a page of news stories. I am honored and humbled by your thoughtfulness and would like to make a donation from my trust account. I’m encouraging other incarcerated LGBTQ+ people to donate as well.
We are a strong community who only want the same respect and dignity as anyone else.
We’re all human and have the same struggles as our peers.
Please thank those who wrote such terrific stories about my people. Are they allowed to receive floral deliveries at the office?
I am so proud right now I cannot wipe away the smile of joy this brought me. On behalf of the entire LGBTQ+ community, thank you, and God bless you all. Pleased to write,
—Yvette Blake RJD Correctional Fac. San Diego, California
Hi, Yvette! Thanks for writing back.
The LGBTQ+ community is indeed a strong one. It is also one of the most overlooked and underserved communities in the entire American criminal justice system.
At SQNews, we strive to serve our entire readership. Most of the feedback we get is extremely positive, but sometimes we get letters that are somewhat less than enthused. We are so grateful anytime an unhappy reader’s mind has been changed, as yours has.
Thank you again for writing, and for your heartening words. It means a lot to everyone on the SQN team.
PS: Sorry, while we appreciate the sentiment, please don’t send flowers to the newsroom. Instead, please submit your articles for possible publication in either SQN or Wall City magazine. (See page 3 for our submission guidelines.)
CAN GOV. NEWSOM’S “CALIFORNIA MODEL” REALLY WORK?
The announcement of Gov. Newsom’s commitment to implementing [California-version of the] “Norway Model” is an opportunity to tackle endemic problems identified in the survey questions 3, 4, and 7 that make lasting CDCR changes difficult. Some of the problems relate to cultural/ demographic differences in Norway. Others are internal factors like Solano Prison’s delay implementing the Delancey Street restaurant program because participants were told they couldn’t go to the yard again. Alternatively, California currently has a $31 billion deficit.
Closing more prisons may help mitigate these budget pressures, but ultimately a commitment to permanent change along the lines of processes embraced decades ago by manufacturing and health services is what I would like to see. Management and workers involved in improving processes to maximize efficient production and quality output, while minimizing waste. Nurses and doctors need to talk with each other, share perspectives on patient care. We must do it now.
It will take time and many at first will not embrace the evolving process. Incarcerated will face peer pressure and the institution can use ways to pollute the incarcerated mindset. Eventually, the business model (total quality management) can pull recidivism, learned helplessness toward total transformation.
—Wendell Bigelow California Health Care Facility Stockton, California
PROPOSAL FOR BPH HEARINGS PROCESS
On July 26, 2023 at 10 a.m. a group of men at Folsom State Prison will be hosting a discussion and proposal on impediments and deficiencies existing within the California Board of Parole Hearings. These men will be touching on issues they perceive are problematic with the BPH process as a result of their own personal experiences and those shared by other of their peers. More importantly, this group of men have carefully undertaken the task of
formulating non-personalized, rational solutions, many of which most people misperceive as already in effect and part of the process.
Proposal topics such as but not limited to include: parole consideration reforms; BPH state appointed attorneys; BPH appointed clinicians; non-violent lifer parole consideration hearings; conflicting terminology. —Antonio Calles Folsom State Prison Represa, California
RESENTENCING RECOMMENDATION FLAWS
According to California law, a staff may recommend an incarcerated person to be eligible for early release, if the individual meets the criteria and is displaying good behavior, PC 1172.1(a). CDCR states that it may recommend to a sentencing court that the sentence be recalled only if the agency Secretary or Board of Parole Hearings is specifically making the recommendation.
You are expressing to voters that upon good behavior and staff recommendations, residents have the ability to receive early release.
From what I have witnessed, CDCR overlooks numerous staff recommendations. The justification is because the recommendations come from custody or the free-world staff.
It seems to me that the staff in the prison with us on a daily basis would be more knowledgeable about an incarcerated person’s growth and conduct within the same facility.
People who work in Sacramento, who never leave a tiny board room, who only know what they read, may take one encounter with an incarcerated person as an indicator that all are the same. They know nothing about our change or growth. I feel the details and regulations should be clearer to everyone.
—Sarah Marie Sims CCWF Chowchilla, California