Archives for category: human rights

A Life Apart – L. Y. Marlow 9780307719393

A Life Apart

L. Y. Mar

This is a historical novel dealing with race, World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, relationships of the black and white kind, and a love story. The title A Life Apart implies to the reader more than one meaning. The author is indeed a , and as she takes us deeper and deeper into the novel, complexities of other families, life of African-Americans, how they differ, and a coming to love. It’s gentle, and it’s a story about love, about skin color privilege and hatred, and human beings caught on the corners or jagged edges of history’s transitions. I’m from Boston, and went to secretarial school in Roxbury. I was born a little before World War II, and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I was oblivious to racial prejudice until I came to California in 1992, discovered the Baha’i Faith and the concept of the oneness of humankind.This book is important. There are no strident notes or harsh retaliations to the way whites treated our fellow African-Americans (grievously, beyond measure), and the author writes about these times, which are exceedingly important. If we are to know and love each other, and realize skin color is an illusion, we have to know of our insides, our hurts, our triumphs, frailties and joys. A Life Apart is a compelling story, and it works on many levels. I definitely recommend it. I read this book because I signed up for Blogging for Books, a worthy adventure in itself. Otherwise I might have missed A Life Apart. My life is enriched because of reading this. I think readers will hear more from L. Y. Marlow. She is also author of Color Me Butterfly, which I intend to track down as soon as I finish this review. Kudos to this writer! Thanks again Blogging for Books!

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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”My Mother’s Voice” border=”0″ src=”https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1359982576m/17324149.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice”>My Mother’s Voice</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/614105.Kay_Mouradian”>Kay Mouradian</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/886920404″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
<br>I met Kay Mouradian at a very crowded Author’s Day in Pasadena.  Their first such event.  We all had assigned spots at tables and then were free to wander to meet fellow writers.<br><br>My Mother’s Voice is a profound book and a must read.  Of course, it was a gripper, but perhaps that word shows a paucity of feeling;so many people go through such terrors, abuse, genocide, and in the western World, some of us can become numb to these conditions or simply are unable to read about any kind of suffering.<br><br>Nobility and anonymity are huge themes in my life, and I read about these people, always giving me a higher and higher standard to attain.  Then, become mine.  We have a history laden with heroes and heroines amidst the chaos of a world destined to come of age.<br><br>This is one such book.  My Mother’s Voice.  I haven’t checked amazon, Alibris for it, but its ISBN 978-1-4525-6169-1, Balboa Press, a Division of Hay house. This has received Honorable mention as a documentary and considered Best Documentary at a film festival in Toronto.<br><br>
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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

imagesCAUFKWM11359165214-protest-at-holloway-prison-supports-women-prisoners-rights_1750354The Uncaged Voice
4th QTR, 2013
Available free upon request at: elayneclift@gmail.com

Dear Family and Friends:
So much has happened this year, the fourth quarter is already here! We have been grateful for every blessing, and each of you is counted twice. Thank you for joining us on this journey of hope, faith, change, and personal growth.
In this issue, we asked a few inmates to write about their personal journey, with emphasis on the positive. We are very grateful for their willingness to be honest and forthcoming, using this forum as a stage to share from. One woman in particular requested that her identity be confidential, and as always, I will honor that.
I understand that many have questions about how my parole hearing with the BPH went on September 11th so I wrote a summary report that I hope makes the realities of that experience absolutely clear. It would not be clear without a little history that led to the decision; therefore, I included that, as not all readers have been privy to the facts.
As always, we hope this edition finds you doing well, safe from harm, and embracing each day as the gift that it is. We are grateful for your support, and ask that you continue to share this publication in any way available to you, even on Facebook, blogs, etc. Knowledge is to be shared. Each writer is a living testimony, as they too celebrate their uncaged voice.
Namaste,
TC & Mama P
SB-260 Update
When California Senator Loni Hancock introduced the Senate bill, SB-260, in March 2013, she knew it would be a battle. The bill recognized that juvenile offenders differ from adult offenders, mainly due to the lack of brain maturation. Hancock pushed this bill because she believed in experts like Lawrence Steinberg and advocates such as Human Rights Watch, who were speaking out about the barbarism in sentencing youth under the age of 18 to lengthy life sentences in adult prisons. I’ll refer to them as JOSAA.
SB-260 passed on May 20, 2013 by a vote of 27:11, and again on July 2, 2013 in the Public Safety Committee by a 4:2 vote. Whew! The big vote on September 6, 2013 by Assembly members was 51:21 in favor of passage. We’re happy to report that Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on September 16, 2013.
This does not mean that all juvenile offenders will automatically be released. It simply means that there will be an opportunity to be found suitable sooner than they would have using the adult matrix set term protocol. The matrix is determined by case factors. So far this is what we know:
• Any JOSAA with 15 years or more will be eligible for parole after 15 years, but only by a special BPH panel.
• Those serving life sentences will be eligible after having served the base term of their actual crime; this means minus the enhancements that got stacked on top.
• Adults don’t begin life term until they enter state prison, which means county time does not really count at first until after found suitable. JOSAAs will begin their life sentence or determinate term from the day of initial arrest and incarceration. All time credit counts.
o Example: A 16 year old, sentenced to 25 years-to-life for homicide, plus an additional 10 years for a gun enhancement, is received in prison in 1998. Her time begins at arrest in 1996, with the 20 year base of the life term, minus the enhancement. In other words, she is eligible for parole in 2016 instead of 2028.
For more information on SB-260 go to http://www.hrw.org or call Elizabeth Calvin: 310-477-5540. Thank you so much for all of your support in passage of this vital bill. Everyone who helped made the difference. Thank you!
Not Everything About Prison is Negative, by Cora Murry
My story begins on August 3, 2003 when I arrived at prison a very angry person. When I was sentenced to 24 years, I thought it was the end of the world. It seemed like a lifetime away. I had only one thought and that was to make a name for myself behind these walls. Fighting was an outlet for my anger until my dear friend, Shawn, reprimanded me. She bluntly got my attention with “Cora, you’re not going to succeed like that! What about our plans?” At that moment, the light came on. It was clear that if I was going to make it in here I wouldn’t get very far by fighting. From that day forward I managed more control over my emotions and began planning for my future.
About eight months later I obtained a job on the yard crew. I performed my duties so well that I was recommended for a seamstress job at my facility yard clothing room. All I knew about sewing was what little I had gained from watching my mother years earlier. However, I accepted the job offer to stay on course with reaching my ultimate goal of working at Joint Venture. In order to achieve that goal I needed to build a strong resume. I was hired as the clothing room seamstress.
After doing well in that job for six months I applied for a position at PIA Fabric, a warehouse setting very similar to the 1920s sweatshops. I was quickly hired but the position required that I move from B-yard to C-yard, leaving the very peers who had mentored me to that point. It was scary relocating like that, but I adapted to new people, roommates, and the yard change in general. If nothing else, prison forces adaptation and you can either resist or go with it, and in this case, it was a new path toward my goal. I left the seamstress job at $36/month for the PIA job at $75/month. My goal at that time was to receive my five cent an hour raises every three months in order to raise my earnings to upwards of $100/month. Given all of the overtime and Saturdays that I worked I was well on my way.
I added being a WAC member to my responsibilities. WAC stands for Women’s Advisory Council. I became a voice for the women who couldn’t, or simply did not know how, to speak up for their prison rights. I spent one year doing this, keeping myself busy with as many positive activities as possible. Life was good by prison standards – until May 5, 2004.
I had done well for myself and was reaching goal after goal. Then I received the call that every prisoner fears, which is to report to your counselor’s office for a personal phone call. That was the day that my family informed me that my beloved mother, Alma Murry, had passed away. My flame began to flicker as I felt the oxygen leave my body. I had never been more crushed. I cried for three straight days in my solitude of bereavement, and then I knew that I had to make a decision. I could pick myself up and move forward or rebel in my pain, losing my job while other inmates waited to fill my position. I did exactly what my mother would have wanted me to do: I pushed forward, refocusing on my goal anew. I didn’t quit.
Exactly one year later, on the anniversary of my mother’s death, I was hired at my prison dream job: Allwire Electric Company, operated under the prison title of Joint Venture. I had made it! I went from one goal to the next until I reached my then ultimate goal. I started at the legal minimum wage as opposed to pennies on the dollar and did well for three years until 2008, when 15 others and I were laid off due to reduced work production. Still, I’m grateful for all that I learned.
My next goal is to be hired at PIA Dental. I earned my GED on August 5, 2013 and now intend to pursue my AA degree. It hasn’t been easy but I’m living proof that hard work and dedication does hold priceless rewards. In sharing my story, I hope my message is loud and clear: a lot of positive things can be achieved in life, even in a place like prison. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved thus far, but I’m still a work-in-progress. You can do anything you set your mind to, and like me, you too can be your own success story.
What Happened?!?
There are a good many of our friends scratching their heads, trying to wrap their brains around what happened at my parole suitability hearing on September 11, 2013. Given my positive prison record and impressive C-file, many cannot grasp the idea that not only was I denied parole for three more years, but that I asked the panel to permit me to stipulate to such a decision. I will do my best to explain how that sort of thing happens.
First, we need to time travel backwards to the year 2005 when my first suitability hearing was held. Prior to any hearing, all lifers must submit to a psychological evaluation that not only digs into their past but assesses their risk for recidivism likelihood. The BPH relies on these reports, providing them with the professional opinion of a licensed psychologist, which carries a lot of weight in that room. I had 602’d the report for its inaccurate assumptions and biased declarations that I have since proven false, but my 2005 hearing was held with that 2005 analysis used heavily against me. I learned something that year: I learned to fight lies with real evidence. But, what lies?
My interview with Dr. Hartung had lasted all of 45 minutes, with three phone call interruptions, one of which was so private he had me step out of the room for about seven minutes. I had answered questions about my childhood including the ugly truth of abuse. I explained how when I was five years old I was a chronic bed-wetter and my parents had me see a doctor to fix the problem. I told him, “They scheduled me for surgery. A surgery that was not necessary, because I didn’t have a bladder problem; I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it. The smell of urine appalled him, so even at five years old I had figured out a way to protect myself.”
In his report, however, Dr. Hartung had said that I had completely fabricated the story about the surgery. He wrote that not only is such a surgery for chronic bed-wetting unheard of at such a young age, but that I was narcissistic to think that I could manipulate him into believing the story of a conspiracy against me by my parents and the doctor for this unnecessary surgery. I never said it was unnecessary in the cruel sense of a conspiracy. I said it was unnecessary because I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it.
Oh, it gets better.
During our interview, on at least three occasions, he asked me if I had ever set fires or tortured animals. I was annoyed when he asked the third time. I’m in prison for killing my stepfather, yes, but I’m not a serial killer, for Pete’s sake! However, in the printed report, the good doctor based part of his claim that I lied about the sexual abuse on the fact that I had denied being an arsonist or sadist. I was raised to respect other people’s property and everyone knows I love animals. I don’t know what textbook he got his theory from, but not all incest and rape survivors resort to arson and sadistic acts of animal torture.
In a nutshell, he called me a sociopathic, narcissistic, antisocial liar without empathy or remorse. He called me a freakin’ liar! I was so outraged to have my voice shoved to a dark corner like that I decided to put that anger to good use. Instead of acting out, I responded with a mission to prove that Dr. Hartung’s report wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. I had to find the evidence, so I wrote every hospital in the Bay area until I obtained my medical records, and I had the proof staring me in the face. I not only had records of what led up to the surgery and the surgery itself, but other medical records that, had my trial attorney done this research before the 1992 trial, the jury would have had an entirely different perspective. Armed with those documents, I was actually grateful that Dr. Hartung set my anger on fire because it sent me into action. No survivor likes to be called a liar. As a matter of fact, it is that very fear that prevents most victims from speaking out. It takes guts and raw courage to speak up and it is almost condemning to not be believed when you do. Thank God I was already ten years into my recovery when that happened; otherwise I may have just shut down. However, I had found my voice. I didn’t shut down. And I didn’t shut up.
In 2008 I had a roommate named Echo who advised me that I could put a free ad in the Craig’s List website to draw attention to our case. We certainly couldn’t afford legal counsel so I thought, why not place an ad? I asked Steve and Carolyn to place the ad for me and they did, using their email address for responses. There were several hits which eventually led to my mother and I both gaining pro bono legal representation.
In 2009 I was scheduled for my subsequent parole suitability hearing, therefore [sent] to see a psychologist to perform a new assessment analysis report. I explained that I had legal representation that was putting together a Writ of Habeas Corpus and that I had already waived my 2009 BPH hearing because of this. He agreed that holding the lengthy interview would be irrelevant if I was not holding my hearing and also seeking to go back to court. He excused me from the interview, then once I left he proceeded to evaluate me without my being present. He used the 2005 report as his test subject instead of using me for that purpose. If that is not illegal, it should, at the very least, be deemed unethical. In essence, the 2005 report was still haunting me.
Fast forward now to 2013. I had to tell you all of that in order for what I’m about to tell you to make sense. When changes were made to BPH policy after passage of Marsy’s Law, it was determined that all psychological evaluations of lifers up for parole would carry a shelf-life of five years. The 2009 report is still valid until about 3rd quarter, 2014.
Due to the unethical nature of the 2009 report, my state-appointed legal counsel, Michele Garfinkel, requested of the panel that I be allowed to postpone my hearing so that I can be re-evaluated for a fair and impartial hearing. The panel denied that request. Michele then asked to speak to me privately to review my options, which we did.
Okay, I could go forward with this hearing using that foul report full of false accusations and risk what could have amounted to about a five year denial of parole. Michele, however, patiently explained the benefits of option #2 which was clearly in my best interest. I chose to stipulate to the minimum denial of parole which was three years. By doing so, I could wait out the shelf-life of the 2009 report and then take my medical records and evidence of abuse into an entirely new interview process for a new evaluation. That should help nip presumed assumptions of sociopathic lying. Well, I’m hoping that seeing the proof will make a difference. After a year I can file a 1045A formal request to have my next hearing held prior to the three year wait. Yes, in other words, I still obtained a postponement to obtain a new evaluation, but we’re calling it a three year stipulation of denial of parole. It’s just part of the political process. Had I faced the panel with the warped 2004 report it certainly would have been freedom suicide. This is not a matter of manipulating the system. I see it as a matter of using their written policy as a means to pursue my path to freedom, even if it requires that I file extra paperwork in order to do so.
I’m very satisfied with my decision and definitely grateful to Michele for her careful explanation of the law and my legal options. She says she does BPH law because she believes in the process. Her demeanor and professionalism was evident that those were not just words. Any lifers interested in a competent and caring BPH attorney, contact Michele Garfinkel, 1611 S Street, Suite 202, Sacramento, CA 95811.
There’s Nothing Funny About It
While it is true that the California state prison system has become a warehousing debt maker to hold inmates bulging at the seams, it has also warehoused the mentally ill. With the closures of many of the psychiatric hospitals, those patients need to be placed somewhere to obtain the help they need. They are being housed in prison, where they may not necessarily receive the medical attention that they need. Budget cuts have decreased the available staff and options for the mentally ill are limited.
Inmates who hear voices walk the grounds here, arguing and socializing with those voices. Those of us who cannot hear their voices are clueless as to what they are going through. There is nothing funny about an individual who is struggling on the brink of sanity and insanity. However, there are those who point, laugh, and even mimic the women devoured by inner demons in a fight for control. It is sad. It is preventable. It is inappropriately on display to be ridiculed by those who are fortunate not to be one of the mentally ill, lost in a wasteland of voices and finger-pointing. It is a lot of things, but funny it is not.
I learned that prison has a pill-popping policy that is their answer to everything. Now mind you, I can grasp that in some cases people need a pill for this or that. In 1995 I was having trouble sleeping. I was battling my own demons of the past. The staff here in white jackets wanted to give me Elavil, a psychotropic medication. A mood changer. I didn’t need a pill, I needed to talk. However, being overworked and understaffed, they would rather give you a pill and send you on your way. Since I refused pills to numb my pain they removed me from the list to be seen. By the way, the guy who did that was eventually walked off the job for inappropriate sexual behavior with a patient. Need I say more?
There are a good many individuals who are doing well with the use of medications but what about the ones on the walkway who argue loudly with the voices in their heads? The ones who officers walk right past? The ones who are getting the short end of the stick? They don’t belong in prison. They belong somewhere where they can receive help. Real help.
CCWF has a policy in place called EOP – Enhanced Outpatient Program. There is a unit in the receiving yard that houses those not ready for assimilation into the general population of inmates. There are rooms in each of the general population units that have “step-up” rooms. They are called that as a means of stepping up [or transitioning] from EOP. If the women can’t make it there they are returned to EOP. What is sad is that there are many who really aren’t making it as opposed to barely hanging in there. Since these step-up rooms are in G.P., we are all mingled together. If the EOP/Step Up inmate attacks one of us, they get a pass. No repercussions because they are deemed mentally ill. If we defend ourselves we can get a write-up. So not only are they vulnerable in this situation, but we are as well.
There are a lot of things broken in the penal system, but especially at the level of incarceration. There are people who do belong here, most certainly, but there are way too many who should be in a different environment. Definitely not criminal isolation. So when you are saying your prayers, add one for the mentally ill prison population. Someone needs to care about them, and if it’s not the system, it needs to be us.
When You Complain, You Remain by Niki Martinez
Who among us just gets frustrated and walks around saying, “I hate this place!” or “I’m sick of being here!”? We all have those days. And it puts you in a crappy mood. But I need to remind you: when you complain, you remain! It tends to set the tone for your day, your attitude and your perspective. It is so easy to get caught up in the mentality of “I hate it here.” But what we need to realize is that it could always be worse. When we change our perspective, we change our attitude, and when we change our attitude, it affects our lives! Why walk around feeling crappy, making life worse than it has to be, because we choose to? We have to know what thoughts to ignore, and respectfully, what people to ignore.
Too many people are negative and discouraged because they don’t like where they are. It’s just not where they want to be. They missed the unlock, their roommate locked them out, they’re stuck at the gate, they want in, they want out, they can’t wait for the door to open to go program, they get to work and they’re still irritated. They want to shop, they come back and they’re mad about being locked out and not getting this or that! They are always fighting against something. They are always trying to be somewhere else. We really need to begin to understand that change begins in us, not in our circumstances. The wrong attitude will keep us right where we are! So often, we find ourselves fighting our way to happiness, thinking it’s some sort of destination. We’re always trying to reach somewhere else and then we will be happy. “Once I shop, I’ll be happy.” “If I could just move then I’d be happy.” “If I had that other job, if I could move off this yard…” Or the bigger one that all of us are so convinced of: “If I could just get out of this prison, then I’d be happy.”
When we think of it like that, it only holds us back from our own happiness. A better approach is “This is where God has me right now and until He moves me, I’ll be happy right now, right here.” It is our choice. Our happiness doesn’t involve our circumstances or our place of residence, it involves our perspective and our attitude. We have to be determined to enjoy our lives no matter where we are living them. And when we understand that God has us exactly where He wants us, and when we learn to be happy where we are, He will take us where we want to be.
If we want to see God open new doors, the key is to bloom right where we are planted. We cannot wait until everything becomes better before we decide to have a good attitude. We have to be the best we can be right where we are.
When we change our approach, slow down, and just enjoy the journey, or take in all the journey has to offer, we will arrive where we’re supposed to be, but our lives will be much more fulfilled. And then we will be blessed with the perspective that it was all worth it. Instead of looking at what w don’t have, be grateful for what we do have. Somebody in this world would gladly trade places with us. Somebody would love to able to breathe like us, or be able to walk like us or see like us. Somebody would love to living where we are living.
Complaining only delays better days.

Choices by Christina Francis
Life is about choices- good and bad, positive and negative – and the consequences of actions taken because of the choices we make. My own choices led to my being a juvenile offender sentences as an adult. I entered State prison only three months after turning 17 years old. At that time I was the youngest person housed at CCWF, not exactly the claim to fame one strives to reach. I was instantly defined as a lost cause and led to believe that this was true. My truth. Not knowing any better, I embraced that [stigmata]; that is how I began serving my life sentence.
Through many trials and tribulations, today I now know that this is not true. That it need not be my legacy. I’ve learned in my own way to turn that around and to re-evaluate my views and values. Incarceration really is the biggest time out ever. It has brought me face to face with the here and now. Although I am separated from the outside world, prison has offered me the grand opportunity to stop and think about the natural flow of life, and to reflect on my place in it.
It has not been easy to grow up in a women’s prison. To be raised in such a volatile and angry environment. My vision, hope and faith were distorted by the daily madness; I simply let it envelop me and became a part of it. I somehow settled it in my mind that not only would this be where I will die, but that I was okay with such a desolate reality.
Over the years, however, that 17 year old kid has grown up, and in that development process I forced myself to look deeper into my core issues. I did not do this alone, but with the help and support of good friends who had pure motives and who hoped to see me reach my true potential. It took time but I found that it really is possible to overcome challenges. It took all the super-human dedication and effort that I could muster, but I grew tall enough mentally to see over the mountains of what I perceived as impossible. I’m content with the struggles that I’ve encountered. In life, every struggle, every circumstance of pain and chaos is in itself a lesson in progress. I have gained wisdom and personal strength through this philosophy and it allows me to perceive and respond to things as they are.
Growth requires limitless courage and through the experiences that taught me that I now believe that anything is possible. Before I could ever take control and rebuild my life I needed a firm desire to make my wishes sincere and real in every way. The more progress I made, the closer I drew toward becoming a useful person with a purpose in life. I learned that making excuses for not growing and feeling sorry for myself and my predicament was wasted energy. The negative sources of stagnation that I surrounded myself with only delayed my growth process – time I can never get back. When I hear someone say that I never had half a chance, I hear a voice of knowing that says, “You create your own chances, or lack thereof.” And I know this is true. At least for me it is.
I am a true believer that an inner drive for growth will push you forward; I’m living witness to how you can conquer many obstacles by demanding such commitment to personal growth. Being incarcerated, I have little control over many aspects of institutional life, but I have control over myself, how I see things, and most certainly, how I react to all of it. We can choose to advance or sit in our self-pity and rot. The choice is ours. As for myself, I keep putting one foot in front of the other and progressing forward. Doing so has made all the difference. A difference I now embrace.

I Saw God Today by Patti Garrison
I saw God today,
In the sunrise;
Beautiful hues of pink and purple,
Brush strokes in the clouds;
Painted by a master painter.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is beautiful.

I saw God today,
In the forest;
Awed by the majestic trees,
Which have stood against
Winds and storms, yet stand proud.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is strong.

I saw God today,
In the eyes of a man;
He rises early to feed the hungry,
And help the needy,
His only reason being that help is needed.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is kind.

I saw God today,
In the actions of a woman;
She stopped to help a homeless man.
She extended her hand and he was hesitant,
Until he saw her smile.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is compassionate.

I heard God today,
In the laughter of a child;
So pure and sweet,
Filling the air,
With happiness and innocence.
Yes, I saw god today,
And I can tell you, He is joyous!

I thanked God today,
For allowing me to see and hear Him,
In the simple, yet beautiful everyday things,
Which surround us all,
If only we take the time to notice.
Yes, I thanked God today,
And I can tell you, I am blessed.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving by Strictly Anonymous
I, like anyone else, have a story to tell. I believe we are all the walking proof of our pasts. While my story may not be pretty, the truth is that for prisoners it never really is.
In high school I never really had very many friends. The jocks all thought they were gods, the cheerleaders were total snobs, and the in-crowd could see that I was more out than in. I felt like an outsider looking in to a world that didn’t care if I even existed. I felt alone in the world.
And then I met him. He made me feel like I mattered. He actually wanted my time, my attention, to hear my own thoughts; he even asked about my dreams. His name was Jeff. I was 16 years old and in the 11th grade. Jeff, however, was 21; he worked as a forklift operator at a large warehouse. He made money that he readily spent on me. I had never felt so special in all my life. For the first time, I felt loved.
Because of our ages we had to keep our relationship a secret. Even from my sister, who almost always knew what I was up to due to her snooping nature.
We had been dating for over a year when Jeff hit me for the first time. I never saw it coming. He kept it invisible to the peering world by leaving marks only where clothing hid the bruises. Somehow he had convinced me that it was my fault. That I made him so mad at me I had it coming. I actually believed that.
In a relationship like that things never get better. Ours got worse and when he realized he had gotten me pregnant, he expected me to get an abortion. Hiding the relationship was one thing, but hiding an abortion from my devout Catholic parents was a whole other idea. Jeff and I argued over this. I was 17 years old by then and he kept telling me how he could get in trouble if I didn’t get the abortion. The final straw was when he began to threaten that he’d kill the baby himself. I imagined his kicking me in the stomach. I agreed to the abortion to escape that sense of a beating. The next day I disappeared from his life.
Jeff couldn’t contact me at school and he couldn’t contact my family for fear of statutory rape charges. What he didn’t know was that I’d told my parents the truth. It was all I could think of to do. First I told my mother, then with my mother’s support, my father too. I went to live with my aunt in southern California and spent my son’s first two years under her roof. She was my saving grace. I was able to get a job and my GED with her help and daily encouragement. I made a life for myself in southern California and life was good. Jeff was only a memory.
When I was 24 years old, my son Dalton was six and in school. I was working at an office building that had a front desk with security personnel. One day I was called to come down from my office to see a visitor at the front desk. I was told his name: Jeff had found me. I felt my breath get trapped in my lungs. The walls were closing in. I couldn’t even speak for the first few seconds. Reluctantly, I agreed to meet him at the front desk, but I warned Perry, the security officer, on the phone, “This may not end well. Please stay nearby.” Perry assured me and I reported to the desk.
Well, this story actually did end well. Jeff asked me to sit on a couch in the lobby with him and he proceeded to tell me how he had found me. It wasn’t very hard; I had never changed my name. He assured me that he had grown up, changed his ways, and was a better man than the immature person I had left behind. He apologized and then he asked, “How is life? Tell me about the baby.” I told him he had a son. I gave him ten minutes, and then had to return to work, but agreed to meet him in a very public place – a restaurant. I showed him photos and literally let him see his son grow up in pictures. Our son. My intuition was that Jeff really had changed.
Although Jeff and I never got back together again, we were able to maintain a personal relationship of respect and I introduced him to Dalton. After about three months, Jeff relocated to southern California to be closer to his son. They have formed a beautiful bond and I am grateful for that. Had I held on to my anger, hatred and mistrust of Jeff, I would have robbed my son of the privilege of knowing his father. I chose to accept Jeff’s apology, and I truly forgave him. Once I did, I was freed from the past.
A few years ago, I took the law into my own hands against a coach, to protect Dalton. The law didn’t like my idea of a mother’s love and I was sentenced to 16 years in State prison. However, Jeff brings my son to see me twice a month and on holidays. My one act of forgiveness has come back to me over and over again.
When I began telling my story, you may not have expected this ending, but what it amounts to is this: Life is beautiful, even in prison.

Hey, Sports Fans!
Joe had tickets for the Super Bowl with a seat on the 50-yard line. As he sat down he noticed that the seat next to his was vacant. He asked the man on the other side if anyone was sitting there.
“No,” the man replied. “That seat is empty.”
“This is incredible!” Joe said. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super bowl and not use it?”
The man looked up and said, “Well, it actually belongs to my wife but she passed away. This will be the first Super Bowl we haven’t been together since we married 23 years ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Joe. “Couldn’t you find a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?”
The man simply shrugged, saying, “No. They’re all at the funeral!”

From the Heart
I remember my first trip to Yosemite National Park in 1982 with a few of my co-worker friends. We drove late at night so didn’t see much scenery going through Mariposa. We couldn’t see much more than darkness around us beyond the bit of road in the headlights. It wasn’t until daybreak that we really saw the beauty of the valley floor. It was nearly intoxicating.
After checking in and locating our canvas tent cabins the four of us set about exploring the park. We headed straight for the tourist spot of the magical and fantastic Yosemite Falls. The way the mist kissed your face you knew you were somewhere special. I wasn’t the most religious person in the world and even I felt as if I’d been misted by God.
Garfield, Lynn and Lori were good company as we hiked up the fall, the slippery wet rocks beneath my boots. We could feel the change in altitude taking effect, the higher we went. I think it was my legs that felt the burn equal to what Garfield’s lungs did. That’ll teach her to smoke! Lori and I wanted to go up higher but Garfield couldn’t make it, and well, abandoning her wasn’t an option. We did make it to a high pool where we could sit on some boulders and just take it all in for a moment. It was absolutely magnificent. Here was clearly a landscape that paintings could not do justice to, for it was a creation not of man, but of a power greater than that.
In those few minutes before we trekked back down the falls I took it all in. I breathed it in. I soaked it up like a sponge and I have kept it all these years. It was one of those experiences that photos cannot convey but can only capture frozen in time. In those few minutes, I truly appreciated that I had the opportunity that not everyone does. I’ve met many women here that never had that chance. And every time that I do, I feel blessed all over again.
So I say from the heart to you: Don’t ever take anything for granted. Not your knowledge, mobility, senses, or next meal. Don’t take it for granted that you can breathe or talk or have clothing and clean water to drink. It is said that the best things in life aren’t things, but everything. I agree. When you struggle, it is part of your life’s blueprint, and even the butterfly must struggle out of the cocoon before it can fly. A woman goes through pain when her child is being born but she is grateful for the priceless gift. Stop and think about the people you haven’t spoken to or seen in awhile. Then tell them that you’re thinking of them. You just may make their day. Better yet, they are given the opportunity to make yours. Works for me. May you all have a safe, healthy, happy holiday season.
Love and Peace,
TC and Mama P
T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 (514-16-04U) W45120 (514-15-02L)
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508 Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508

(In typing this newsletter, some minor edits were made for clarity. Words in brackets indicate that the handwritten version was unclear.)

Funny.  From the blog Embracing Homelessness – this person is an incredible writer, and I am privileged to know her.

eloquent, nonpartisan, well-considered response to corruption!

Mel's Madness

The headlines overwhelm me. The financial markets. The NATO rioting. Our own politicians’ posturing about the debt “crisis.” I have grown weary of the political forums on Facebook and elsewhere. The caricatures of Obama as monkey. The tar baby references. The Right tells gays they are abominations.  The left talks loudly about dildos in response. The Right blames Obama. The Left blames eight years of George W. Bush. For everything. Believe it or not Ayn Rand is STILL being talked about though she never had anything to say. Every year teens “discover” her and use her as an excuse to not clean their rooms or take the trash out or babysit their little brothers and sisters.

A pop singer’s nipple was exposed during Good Morning America. Why do I care? We spend $13 billion on porn every year in the United States and girls are sold into sexual slavery

View original post 2,428 more words

l  a n g u a g e  a f t e r  t h e  1 0 0  y e a r  w a r

 

The Nouns were in control in the neighborhood of Verbiage.

Adjectives were forced to end their 100 Year War.

This war was known as the Great War of Planet Earth in the Days of Rhetoric Only.

Verbiage, like a fireplace bellows of yesteryear,

had simply exhausted its wheeze and could no longer

control the Nation.

Politicians would no longer be described adjectively.

Thus, our President could be described by the Press as, “A   

man whose eyes narrowed when a syllabic word entered the

toy store of his mind; a man whose Rubber Ducky drowned

when his bath water became higher than what is necessary for

the average leader; or, a man who could bob eternally on the

Ocean of Platitude.”

This leader called up his country’s Reserve Marines again.

These Marines were sent to a land which resembled a cannon

to which they would become fodder. They would obey their

mission, climb into these cannons, and be shot out over the

land of buildings which no longer resembled buildings.

Naught would be seen but structures of rubble which resembled

cookies crumbled in the hand of a monster as tall as the

sky.

The Congress would not be allowed to use descriptions

which included the much abused adjective. This caused some

consternation, for our Congress knew of the paucity of adverbs

when running for election. The Congress member

would no longer be able to crawl into that vat of adjectives

filled with words guaranteed to portray an individual Congress

person righteously and puffily. These adjectives, I might

add, are thrown carelessly into this vat, like screen plays in

Los Angeles, like potato chips in a Lays truck which had escaped

from their Bag Containers.

The Nouns issued an edict: “Stick to the Facts, Jack.

Straight Facts for a Straight Land,” a land which had lived adjectivally

and splendiferously for too long, thereby wreaking

an ecological knowledge gap of a very long five years. Politicians

had appeared on the NewsHour program with Jim

Lehrer, and on what used to be Peter Jennings’s NewsHour,

and on Tim Russert, to reveal Sunday after Sunday (or was it

Monday after Monday?) narrow gamboling minds and nuances

of the political dance. These very same politicians verbally

trolled linguistically along to thinly expand titles such as

“Theatre of Operation,” “War Games” and, last but not least,

the most abused noun in the world, Democracy—Democracy

became a gutted, slutty word, misused and stretched like

hardened taffy in a candy machine after the summer crowd

had gone home.

A rape of the Nouns had occurred. What choice did the

Nouns have but to take over the Nation? They cried out,

“Aack, aack, aack! No more.”

And so as this tale is difficultly told, but blessed for its attempts,

all the while failing in adverbial splendor, time will tell how language

controlled its environment so that facts and integrity might emerge again

 children of the world forget that “Truthfulness is the foundation

of all human virtues” (Ruhi Book 1 – Reflections on the Life of the Spirit)

http://educationunderfire.com/the-vision/

Rainn Wilson did a college tour, not for the sake of comedy, but for that of human rights. Along with other panelists from Amnesty International, Education Under Fire, and the Bahá’í faith,Wilson spoke to a packed auditorium about a serious topic: the religious persecution of over 300,000 Iranian members of the Bahá’í faith.

The history of Bahá’í persecution dates back to the group’s inception. However recent government-sanctified systemic disenfranchisement (or as it’s called in polite circles, the passing of discriminating laws that bar Iranians identifying as Bahá’í from basic human rights like public services and education) has escalated to the point of attempts to shutter the underground university, Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, and mass arrests of BIHE professors.

Many teachers are serving 4-5 year prison sentences from their arrest in May, 2011.

But why is the funnyman on a college campus for something so grave? “My family is Bahá’í. Had our family been living in Iran, my 7-year-old son would not be allowed go to school.”Wilsonhas appeared in Baha’i conferences before, but it was the events in May that helped organize these groups together. Amnesty International had been trackingIran’s human rights violations since the overthrow of the Shah during the 1970′s. Another group produced its namesake documentary, Education Under Fire, was born from the reactions of volunteers to keep the secret school operating and to spread the news of the persecution. The team spoke at several local Boston colleges like Boston University,Wheelock College, Harvard, and Tufts.

                       

Director Jeff Kaufman, actor Rainn Wilson, BIHL graduate Mojdeh Rohani , and Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International Joshua Rubenstein .

The documentary screening and subsequent talk was intended to be a call to action.Wilsontold the audience, “Go and ask your schools to accept BIHE credits or help teach an online class.” Flyers given to attendees listed over a dozen ways potential activists could help their cause. But perhaps the best testimony came from a BIHE graduate, Mojdeh Rohani, now a graduate of BU’sSchoolofSocial Work.

“I still love my country. But when I’ve been asked to go and help them with disasters they find out I’m a Bahá’í, and I am rejected immediately. I have not been able to go back.”

The panel disbanded, and Wilson was whisked off towards the next stop of his tour, the airport.

To find out more about Education Under Fire, check out their website.

I hope people can respond to this! Thank you, Esther

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

stunning, epid, riventing

"The Orphan Master's Son is a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption and casual cruelty..."

The Orphan Master’s Son is a major book; a major read. It is epic; almost an oratorio, notes of which float over incredible deprivation, struggle, and an exceedingly oppressive society. . I could not put it down. Someone once asked, “Why do you read such books as this? My answer for that day as “If we believe mankind is one, i.e., we are one people, one planet, and we know of peoples’ horrendous suffering,” then we cannot be silent.  I must speak about it even if only in a book review.

This novel pulls from the reader gasps of horror, Adam Johnson’s novel relentlessly pursues a systolic drive to the center of the North Korean world  whose outer shell is constructed of a rigid totalitarianism, and whose  inner core reveals an absolute and moribund corruption.  Its core is rotten. Yet, slivers of nobility, slivers of courage from different individuals emerge.

One critic said, “This is not the real North Korea.”   Perhaps not.  However, books are appearing on the landscape, one of which is the Aquariums of Pyongyang  verify an appalling state of society, and a nightmarish existence in North Korea’s prison camps,  and also in the general society.  We live on a planet where forces of light and darkness lick each others shadows. If we cannot speak for the silent ones, what can we do?

I feel an awe regarding Adam Johnson’s novel .  I believe this novel goes far beyond Pulitzer awards. It is through fiction such as this that truth shines.

Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University.  His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, Granta, and Playboy, as well as The Best american Short Stories.  His other works include Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us.

1. Please tell us about you the person and the author:

Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

3. Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally

No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue dye, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

4. Please tell us about your book and how did you come up with the idea for it.

As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

5. Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

6. What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable? Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

7. Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

8. What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California.The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

9. Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

10. Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

11. What current projects are you working on?

I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

11. What do you want your legacy to be- to have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day?

First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music – Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, and, and

‘Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall my loved ones.’-Baha’u’llah

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Nov 07, 2010 10:31am

http://educationunderfire.com/multimedia/

The T.C. & Mama P Newsletter – First QTR, 2012      Free online at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,

It is with great exultation that we bring in 2012. Why? Well, because it means we all got through 2011. It also means that we have a lot to look forward to. There are lifers receiving parole grants and most of them are definitely going home. Jerry Brown is letting the Board of Prison Hearings do their job. Good ol‘ JB is OUR governor!

This year Mama ´P´ is once again going to appear before the BPH to seek a parole grant. There really isn‘t any legal reason for them to deny her parole. She will be represented by Elisabeth Peterson at that hearing, which will likely be held in October.

While her legal team is seeking parole, my team is seeking a new trial for myself. A Writ of Habeas Corpus is being filed at the first level as a form of appeal for relief. That level is the Superior Court that held our make believe trial. In a nutshell, my Public Pretender should have had me psychologically evaluated and probed an investigation once allegations of abuse were raised in testimony. Legally, she was obligated to provide me with an adequate defense, but she tied my hands and sealed my mouth. And, we all know that I‘ve found my voice and will not deny the past any longer. My fight could take months or over a year. It all depends on how far we need to take this battle.

In either scenario, 2012 holds hope for each of us. It also holds hope for the many lifers who have served well past their matrix. It costs far more to keep productive, aging, lifers in prison, that to release them to a second chance and allowing them to integrate back into society. We can assimilate. Really, we can. There may be a tad of culture shock after decades in captivity, but that is to be expected. Maybe JB can put The Happy in our New Year. Let us hope so.

Namasté

T.C. & Mama P

Help Is Available

For the many lifers reading this newsletter, I believe that knowledge is to be shared. As you strive to achieve whatever you can to impress the BPH, they really show favor to any self-help that you seek or accomplish. I want to help you add a little more ammunition to your arsenal for the battle ahead.

I already covered in previous newsletters, the vital necessity of insight into your crime, and that the BPH finds book reports on self-help programs available through correspondence efforts listed below.

Turning Point was created and is conducted, by ex-cons. They offer a total of 20 lesson plans in which you can earn a series of certificates. BPH favors this program.

Creative options offer Parenting, Anger Management, and other studies, also by way of correspondence. Like Turning Point, this one is free.

The PASS Program offers two semesters of courses on a variety of topics from Victim Awareness, Addiction, Domestic Violence, Conflict Resolution, and Re-entry into society, just to name a few of the ten topics. This program however, costs $500. What prisoner can afford that? If you can, I suggest that you enroll and get your achievement certification in Personal Psychological Development. Yes, BPH favors this too.

Turning Poing                                 Creative Options                              PASS Program

2049 S. Santa Fe Ave.                  P.O. Box 808                                       P.O. Box 2009

Los Angeles, CA 90021                                Lyons, OR 97358                               San Francisco, CA 94126

What It‘s Like For Me by Cora Lee Lee

It was a morning, like any other. I was on my way to my work assignment, saying hello to a good many women that I had said good night to about twelve hours before. It was like any other morning until the words I heard stopped me dead in my tracks. I must‘ve looked like a trapped animal with nowhere to turn. My mind was reeling. This wasn‘t how I wanted to start my day.

„Mrs. Cora! I was looking for you. I just got back from court and I rode up with your sister. Y‘all look just alike! She says she loves and misses you. She can‘t wait to come over the wall to see you.“ She. Can‘t. Wait. To see you.

This woman went on and on about mys sister, but all I could hear at that point, were my own thoughts. I was caught up in the thougth that this could not be and that I didn‘t really need this in my life. I mean, was I being punished? The idea that she was here – my sister – tightened my stomach and had my mind whirling with spontaneous anxiety. My entire being was distress. I acknowledged this woman‘s words, but my smile was feigned.

Before I go any further, let me stress that this is not one of those cute prison formed relationships. There‘s your prison mom, which you met here. She didn‘t give birth to you, nor did you know each other in the free world. So, there‘s prison mom, or sister. Then, there‘s the real deal. Bloodline. The sister in question here is my bloodline. That makes a world of difference. And unless you‘re a lifer or long-termer doing time, and you have a family member in prison with you, I doubt you can say you know how it feels, even if you empathize.

I‘ve been down a decade now with ten more years to go. It‘s been a struggle to take care of myself and survive. Each day may seem the same, but sometimes there are challenges. For instance, the cells hold eight women, but more often than not, at least ten or more personalites. Prison is a stressful place. I will not sugar coat it. And people have a really nice way of getting on your last nerve … without ever trying. So, who needs the added stress of, „Hey, your sister is here, and she wants to see you?“

Please don‘t misunderstand me … I love my sister. What I don‘t like, is that she did the same thing to me that other people have done. You see, this isn‘t her first trip to prison, it is her second. On her first round, she made parole promises of how she‘ll never forget what prison is really like, and she‘d be there for me once she got home. Parole promises includes taking pictures and sending not only photos, but money and writing regularly. A parole knows all too well that prison is a lonely place that can make a heart feel desolate and empty inside. Parolees know that mail call is a lifeline to the outside world and it takes money to survive in here. The chowhall food is inedible, they don‘t provide adequate clothing for the inclement weather, and they consider indigent status to be one dollar or less. If you have one penny over a dollar yes one lousy dollar, then you‘re not considered indigent. You can‘t even buy two bars of soap for one dollar, let alone the necessary hygine items for the mouth. My sister knew this. She experienced this. And then, she left me with false promises and a broken heart, for I fel abandoned and forsaken. I have had my share of phony parolee promises made to my face, only to become added disappointment in the reality of prison life. I just didn‘t expect it from my own flesh and blood.

Two years in society may feel like, well, two years. Ah, but a couple of years at CCWF can feel like double that. Yet, here she is two years lated, „I‘m back!“ Yes, back and disarrayed from the life she chose out there to be in the predicament she is in now. Back at CCWF looking worn from the wear of her decisions. However, while she‘s been gone, I‘ve been working diligently on myself to be reassimilated back into society. As I watch women return to prison over and over again, I strive to get out. It‘s insulting when they act like it is funny, yet I scratch my head with a WTF look on my face. They act as if they just don‘t care about their freedom. Well, I care about mine, and I‘ve come to not only learn, but to accept, that I‘m doing this trip alone. I‘m the one who‘s working on me. I‘ve been really steady about avoiding the many distructions that can impede progress … and then my head was spinning at the news of the arrival of my sister.

I do not receive halftime credits. I am working everyday to one day to be free. In the meantime, I join others to fight for the rights of women, and to battle Battered Woman Syndrome. Lifers and long-termers fight to be freed, yet parolees find humor in „I‘m baaaack!“ Like T.C. says – it‘s a slap in the face of freedom. And it breaks our hearts, because all we want is a chance to get back out there to our loved ones, and not see the inside of these walls again. That‘s all we want. We work tirelessly toward that goal.

So, taking all of that into consideration, what does it feel like to see a loved one come to prison? It hurts deep down inside. It hurts so deeply that you want to go into the shower and cry your eyes out. That‘s really the only place that is semi-private in which you can go for a personal bawl release. You want to just let it out before it dominates you. It hurts folks. It hurts like hell.

So, for all of you sisters and mothers, cousins and nieces and so on, please do not feel offended by my bluntness and honesty. We would rather that you‘re in a world that we are painstakingly working hard to return to, that for you to be a number behind these walls. That‘s why they offer a visiting room for us to meet. The free world is where we both need to be … where I long to be. And that is where I want to be reunited with my loved ones without anyone telling us that our time is up. If you‘re reading this from the free world, stay there. I hope to not be too much longer. Don‘t give up on me. And Sis, I love you. Thank you for your blessing to share this message. You never know who needed to hear it.

Anything Is Possible

When I was just a kid, I never really considered what I would do with my future. I think I was just hoping I‘d have one. I think the first time I considered my future was when the recruiters made their rounds my senior year in high school.

I almost did it, you know. I almost signed the final document that was the equivelent of selling my soul to Uncle Sam. Now, don‘t get me wrong. I love my country. My heart bleeds red, white, and blue. I support your troops. I even pledge allegiance to a flag I have hung over my cell door. God, she‘s beautiful. However, if I joined, it would have been too final.

The Army. I nearly joined the Army after being fed that bogus storyline about how my best friend and I could go in on the Buddy Program. Why Army? I wanted to be all I could be. Well, to be honest … Navy was out because I‘m water challenged, and the recruiter fed us lines about traveling to exotic lands, meeting new and different people, and trying new and unusual foods. I raised an eyebrow. Foods? I love food, but nothing still alive staring up at me, and nothing slimy. I despise slimy.

I didn‘t sign the document. Not only because I knew he was insulting my intelligence about the Buddy System, but because I would have joined for the wrong reason. It wouldn‘t have been for love of country, but necessity of escapism from my childhood at home. But, my core reason was that I didn‘t think I was capable of killing complete strangers. I just never really liked guns anyway.

Well, look at me now! I‘m on my 23rd year of captivity in the death of my stepfather. I never could have predicted this at 18 years old. I‘d have told you that you‘re crazy if you thought I could take a life. Anything is possible.

Stuff doesn‘t just happen. People make it happen by choices, decisions, and actions. Right about now I wish I was in some third world country eating something slimy, because slimy is better than this. Howevere, like everyone else here, I made a choice and I‘m living with it. But, do you know what? This place has helped me to be all I can be. The government still got me, but I probably would‘ve been more productive in the Army.

Moral of the story? Choose wisely. Your future depends on it.

Comfort Care Where? By: La Donna Robinson, A CCWF Hospice Volunteer

I have spent nearly every Monday night for the past four years, and eleven (11) months, in the Skilled Nursing Facility in the CCWF Treatment Center. I am a Comfort Care Hospice Volunteer, and I would be lying if I said that the comfort and the care are always present.

The Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is a scary, lonely place to be. Many have passed on from there to a better world. Of course it is never easy to see one of our own die from an incurable illness. We silently pray that it doesn‘t ever happen to us, hope that they die a painless death, and sit patiently in wait until they pass to the other side.

These women are often referred to as „The Forgotten“, as some of them have never been seen by those in the General Population area of the prison, and are often not included in the special event s provided by the institution. Some are wheelchair bound, and some simply can not leave the SNF because immediate medical attention must be readily available should something go wrong. I know for a fact that just because they are forgotten by some, does not mean they are forgotten by all.

The General Population inmates pulled together and provided many personal items for Christmas presents for these ladies. There were hats and scarves (it is usually cold in SNF to aid in the reduction of germs), hygiene items, stationery and stamps, and much more. The G.P. inmates went out of their way to ensure that these ladies knew they were in our hearts during the holidays.

The SNF is not what it once was, and as with anywhere and anyone; one bad apple shouldn‘t spoil the whole bunch. Of course there may sometimes be a nurse who is having a bad day, or doesn‘t exactly like the idea of sharing her space with inmates, but for the most part, our sisters in the SNF are treated with loving care. When they aren‘t they make sure it is known so that we, together with the staff, can make it a more comfortable place for them. After all, for most of the women in SNF, it is a permanent home. Our job as Comfort Care members is to provide exactly what the name says; Comfort and Care. We are not junior nurses and it is never our intent to compete with the medical staff, or to dole out advice to patients. It is only our intent to ensure that our sisters who are often left excluded, do not die alone in a place designed to prepare for death.

I thank the women of the General Population for supporting the Comfort Care Memebers in our endeavor. They are always waiting with a kind word, or a question about their peers who they seldom see, but hear of quite often. You too, are appreciated, and your concern, prayers, and efforts to not go unnoticed.

Sincerely,

La Donna Robinson

A Letter To God

Dear God,

I‘ve had my heart broken with the loss of a friend who never hurt me like other have. He was one of the few men that I could feel comfortable being alone with. He never betrayed my trust or took my kindness for granted. He never abandoned me when it felt like the world had come crashing down. He never made me feel unnatural, although I was more of a square in his round peg world. His heart was always true.

I know that for all of us, our time on earth is temporary. I accept that you cross our paths with others for purposes we may often not be privvy to. When you crossed my path with Wolf‘s, you not only blessed my life, you filled a void in my heart. In the aftermath of my arrest over 22 years ago, he stood by me and the though of abandoning me was unthinkable. Just like the true nature of his name, he was loyal, protective, and one of Your most precious gifts to this world. Although our time on earth is temporary, love knows no boundaries … at least not in my heart.

Lord, thank You for the years that I was blessed with Wolf as my friend, teacher, and Big Brother. He accepted my contrasting lifestyle and joked that I was a big marshmallow on the inside. He was 100% of a 1%. He was betrayed and left for dead, but eventually found Carley, the love of his life. God, how she filled the emptiness of his broken heart. I don‘t know if she‘ll ever know how much he loved her, but she was his everything. She‘s probably the only reason he fought so long to stay in this world, but his time ran out, the road ended, and he left us. Our hearts are broken, but thank You for the many years that You blessed each of us with Wolf.

It was my hope to enjoy Burger King and wine coolers with him again. It would have been nice to just sit together and acknowledge that we each survived this long journey. While it saddens me to not have that opportunity, it disheartens me to think of all of the people who never had what I had with Wolf. All of those people who never knew him. Boy did they miss out!

Lord, do You think You can be a little patient with him? He‘s been separated from his Harly and his pit bull for quite a long time. He‘s going to want to enjoy both for awhile. He may be a little late to Orientation.

Thank You for the years, the memories. Thank You for the kinship, the relationship that was stronger than my own bloodline. It hurts to lose him, but I trust he‘s in good hands. Oh, and can You please tell him that he still owes Shorty ride down Calaveras Road? Thanx.

Endless Love,

Your Daughter,

Teresa Christine

Shout Out!

If there are any inmates reading this that want to contribute with an essay, opinion editorial, or share thoughts, experience, or give readers something to ponder about, talk to T.C.

Yep, I‘m the easiest person to locate. We all have something worthy to contribute. Sometimes, we just need to be invited to step atop the platform and let ourselves be heard. Don‘t worry if you‘re not the best writer. I will gladly proof and polish anything considered for print.

Crime After Crime Available on DVD

Deborah Peagler, AKA Tripp, had a story that needed to be told. By doing so, it may save lives. Yoav Potash documented Tripp’s life into a film that is now available on DVD. The documentary tells of her legal battle to seek freedom after being sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison. I have shared her story and release in this newsletter before, as I also sadly informed of her death due to stage IV lung cancer. Tripp did not die in prison. She had nine awesome months of pure freedom before she lost her final battle, but she embraced each and every moment knowing that God smiled upon her.

I want you to know my friend. I want you to hear her story, from her perspective. Please support this film by going to www.crimeaftercrime.com and ordering a copy and watching it. I cannot stress it enough; You need to hear her story, which involved perjury evidence and prosecutorial misconduct. Think you know the legal system? This film will get you to think twice.

And She Calls us the Criminals!

Ever heard the term, “who’s minding the store?” Yeah, well, it goes to question who is in charge of who or what. Inmates have been saying for years that half of the psychologists in the prison system need a shrink themselves. I recall Dr. Majid, not sure of exact spelling. I called him Disco Daddy in reference to his unprofessional misconduct. He wore his wildly colored satin shirts open to mid-chest with his dark curly chest hair exposed within numerous gold chain necklaces. They had this creepy looking fellow conducting a sexual abuse survivor group in which he allowed one girl in particular to expose herself two sessions in a row. The only reason he prevented a third attempt was because the other women complained of being victimized by her aggressive attention seeking behaviorism. Oh, and I should mention he was eventually fired for of all things, sexual misconduct.

Then enters the picture of questionable antics of social behaviorism, Courie Ann Martinez. She is a CDCR Senior Psychologist Supervisor. Her employment duties included overseeing a team of clinicians at CSP in Sacramento, AKA New Folsom. That team treated inmates with mental issues, but I’m not certain if she had any rules in documents that may have influenced the Parole Board’s denial to any lifers. It is possible at the very least, given her title of authority.

In April 2011, Martinez had used sandpaper to rub raw her hands, torn her blouse to expose her breasts, had her friend punch her in the face wearing boxing gloves, and cut her own lip with a pin. She then called 911 to report that she had been beaten, raped, and robbed. She even urinated on herself to appear that she had been beaten unconscious. It was rather convincing.

Why would she do all of that? To set-up someone? No, not even close. Martinez wanted to manipulate her husband into moving to a safer neighborhood. Yes, this all concocted to get hubby to move out of their Sacramento home to a place more desirable. I’ve seen women in prison do some pretty ridiculous things to get a bed move, but Martinez really outdid herself. She may have even gotten the idea from an inmate who actually needed to be relocated for protective custody due to a sexual attack. Martinez, her friend, and two co-workers told police of the scheme in December 2010, resulting in the arrest of Martinez and her friend, Nicole Snyder. They are charged with criminal conspiracy.

So, in the end, Martinez has lost the respect of her colleagues, once convicted, will lose her job, and she also lost her husband who filed for divorce upon finding out of her scandalous play acting. It also makes on question just who is watching who in the prison system. Ain’t it nice to know where your tax dollars are going, though?

“Why Didn’t She Just Leave Him?”

“Why didn’t you just leave him?” is a question that many victims of sexual abuse are asked by people who don’t know any better than to ask that question. Anyone who hasn’t been abused cannot possibly understand what it is truly like to be a victim. They can empathize to a significant degree, but to truly know what it is like is not possible. I can read of a soldier’s experience in wartime, but I will never know what it’s like to be under enemy fire like that. Sadly, you had to have experienced it to know the depth of ignorance in a question like, “Why didn’t you just leave him?”

There are hundreds of women in the California prison system that couldn’t leave their abuser, or may have tried to, only to face the wrath of no mercy. My mother is one of those women. She knew that leaving my stepfather was the unthinkable act of suicide. There were a few times when she could care less about her own safety, but had to contemplate the consequences to my sister and myself. Abusers are skilled at brainwashing their victims into believing that they are worthless, uneducated, and most importantly, that “If you leave me, it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.” You see, they make leaving an option equivalent to death.

From the time that she was born, My mother never stood half a chance. She was passed from one abuser to the next, right up to her second marriage to my stepfather. I asked her why she didn’t leave him. I didn’t know better at the time. She did her best to explain that she loved him, and that she’d be lost without him. In the next breath she would tell me of his threats to not let her leave him. It’s all very confusing for both the victim and those who love them and want to help them to a safe place, wherever that may be.

The threats were real. So was the abuse she suffered. It was all as real as the black eye that George and Rick testified to seeing, and the bruises that spotted the canvas of her body …  an ugly portrait of domestic violence.

From time to time, I’ll hear someone say that they can rest assured that their children are safe with family while the prisoner does their sentence. Yeah, okay, but 93% of the time it is someone that the child loves and trusts that betrays and violates them. Do we ask children why they didn’t just leave the home or circumstances? No, of course we don’t. That would be irrational and insensitive. They are vulnerable and easy prey, as are victims of any abuse, regardless of age. Abusers attack those who appear to be, or are simply vulnerable. The victim doesn’t see escape as an option without dire consequences.

Picture if you will, an elderly man who runs the corner liquor store. It’s been robbed three times in the last two years. It’s always possible that on any given day, he could be robbed again. He could even lose his life in a robbery. So, why doesn’t he just close up shop? It’d be safer to not stay, right? He stays because he loves the store and he hopes that it won’t happen again. And even if it does, nobody looks at him like he’s stupid for staying, or tells him he brought it on himself by not leaving.

Why didn’t she just leave my stepfather? Well, for one she loved him for who he used to be, and hoping he’d stop being who he had become. She stayed because I never told her that he sexually abused me for so many years. She didn’t leave because she had been a kept woman all of her life and was always under the thumb of a male dominant figure from childhood. She kept hanging on to the hope that it had already gotten worse and that it  was time for it to better. My mother had no self-esteem in her tank and believed him when he told her she’d never make it without him. My mother didn’t leave him, because she didn’t know that she could, and she certainly did not know how.

If you know someone that is being abused by someone they love, don’t ask why they don’t leave. Be a friend and ask, “What can I do to help?” For someone in mom’s shoes, just offer your heart, and the rest comes naturally.

… But I‘m Okay

As a child I did not know,

Any better than I do now.

I wanted to escape my path,

I just didn‘t know how.

There are times I can feel his fingers,

Wrapped tightly around my throat.

Most times he cannot reach me,

For I hold onto hope.

In the early seps of recovery,

I felt adrift like flotsam.

I had no idea that,

This day would ever come.

It may not always be easy,

But I know the Survivors battle cry.

We will not raise the white flag,

And our spirit will never die!

It‘s been a long, long, road,

The journey a struggle now and then.

But, I‘m not that once fractured victim,

And I‘ll never be her again.

I breathe in hope with faith,

Seeing the brightest color on the palest day.

God, it feels so good to be alive!

The past left its mark, but I‘m okay.

From The Heart

I want to tell you a story about a little boy named Joey. I‘ve written of this experience in my memoir as well as in personal correspondence. In the process of writing this newsletter, the memory of Joey crossed my mind as I felt his footprints run across my heart. I‘d like to believe that is God‘s way of telling me that the story needs to be told again. So, here we go.

It was about December 1982. I had gone to Yosemite with several of my co-workers, and my best friend, Lori. I was only 18 years old. We had one of those heated cabins in Curry Village in the valley floor not far from the infamous Yosemite Falls. The cabins were meant for no more than four people, but there were five of us in the cramped space. All was good on the first night until somebody lit a cigarette in the cabin. I couldn‘t breathe. For anyone that knows my history, cigarette smoke is a trigger for me. It messes with me mentally and emotionally, puttin me back into the backseat of my stepfather‘s 1964 chevy. In 1982 I had still concealed my secret, and my co-workers didnt know better. Lori knew the trigger was somehow related to my stepfather, but never pushed me for too many details. She knew enough to not attempt to stop me from charging out the door of the cabin into the snow. And as a friend, she knew to not let me go out into the dark alone. She grabbed our jackets and joined me.

Once outside, I was able to breathe again. I couldn‘t tell her why it happened, but she saw the relief on my face. I began to walk toward the parking lot and edge of the tree line. Our feet left deep impressions in the packed snow; I could feel the cold through my hiking boots. She asked where I was going, and I honestly did not know. I simply felt moved to keep walking, and so she walked beside me.

As we came to the edge of the lot, that‘s when I heard it. I didn‘t know what I was hearing at first, so I asked Lori to be quiet so I could listen. Being that she knew my nature to play practical jokes, she insisted that I not do so out in the dark of night in the woods. She was picturing Jason and Michael Mayers in those slasher films. I insisted that I was serious. I held my finger to my lips, and that‘s when she heard it too. Crying. We heard somebody crying. We walked around the trees into the parking lot and that‘s when we saw him. He was about eight years old and all alone. My heart broke.

He looked up at us, two strangers looking down at him. He was croushed beneath a tree, surrounded by bushes. It was as if he were hiding. I knew from experience that hiding doesn‘t always work, and I feared what he my be hiding from. I introduced myself, crouching to his level. It took all of a few seconds to get him to trust us. That made me grateful that it was us that found him, and not someone else more sinister.

He told us his name was Joey. He had left the cabin that his family was staying in, because his parents had begun to argue. They argued a lot. Joey felt responsible for this particular argument because he knew why they were fighting. Apparently, it was his birthday, and he could go werever he wanted for his birthday. He chose Yosemite, but that‘s not what his father wanted. His parents were arguing over where his father felt they should have gone, while his mother defended Joey‘s choice. I almost didn‘t know what to say. Almost.

I got Joey to stand up and walk with us to the ice rink at the other end of the dark parking lot. The area was well lit, and there were lots of people around. His parents had to have noticed him gone. If they begin a search anywhere, my best guess was that they‘d go to the rink and ranger‘s office. I recall looking around the lot that could‘ve held danger for any child, especially one as distraught as Joey. Our paths crossed for a reason. He was shivering, so I gave him my jacket.

When we reached the rink a short time later, Joey walked directly to a space where a controlled fire sparked flames of warmth. He sat before the fire, his small hands up, palms flat toward the flames. My eyes scanned the area, but not a single park employee in sight. The ranger office was closed until morning. Joey took his little blue gloves off to feel the fire‘s heat more directly. We sat and talked about how he felt bad that his parents were fighting, and Lori and I kept telling him that it wasn‘t his fault. I must‘ve thought of my own stepfather. By that time I had learned that my parent‘s arguments were not my fault.

After a short while before the fire, and with Lori‘s not being able to locate any staff personnel, we decided to walk Joey back to his cabin. We weren‘t two sure of what to do, but his parents would certainly want him back, right? We couldn‘t take him to our cabin, we couldn‘t find a ranger and we certainly couldn‘t leave him abandoned in the night. We headed for the cabins, hoping we weren‘t going to make matters worse for an eigh-year-old boy.

Near the edge of the lot as you enter into the treeline, was a line of logs that encircled the boundary. The whole area was slushy from melting snow and mud mix. I had Joey climb on my back as I carried him piggyback across the slush and up the hill. In the distance we heard voices, but jubled together, shouting. The we heard it clearly, „Joey! Joey!“ being shouted by a woman‘s hysterical voice. He got excited, explaining that the woman was his mother. As we came up the hill a little more, we could see her in the snow, not knowing which way to search. He yelled directly into my ear, „Mom!“ I bent to let him slide off of my back, and he ran through the snow to reach her. What a sight! They embraced, and my smile suddenly faded when I saw him. The father. Lori and I made our way towards them and explained where we found him and that there weren‘t any rangers to contact or notify the parents. I explained that the though it was his fault that anyone may not have been happy that night. They embraced him together, telling heim what we told him: children are not responsible for the actions of an adult, no matter what the circumstances.

Joey‘s parents thanked us for returning their son safely to them. Before parting ways, his mother handed me my jacket, and thanked me again before we all called it a night.

The next morning, as we stepped outside of our cabin, we noticed Joey and his family leaving the park. They were far off in the distance, but they had their belongings in hand, just reaching the lot. I hoped in my heart that he would have a safe journey, both home and in life. Lori stood beside me and watched as the wather warmed the care up to leave. It was chilly, and I dug my hands into my jacked pockets, and I felt it. The soft yarn of Joey‘s little blue gloves were shoved into my pockets. He had put them there while around the fire. As I removed them, the car pulled from the lot, and I clenched those gloves, putting them back into my pocktes.

My path crossing with Joey‘s wasn‘t by chance, but by the grace of God. That little boy didn‘t just leave his gloves in my pockets, he left his name in my heart. I see that face from time to time when the cold forms in winter. I see that dark curly hair and tender eyes filled with tears. I see pure innocence. Every now and then, his little feet run across my heart and remind me that tenderness and humanity are the greatest gifts wrapped in love that we can give to the world. He also reminded me that in childhood, we are all innocent. All of us. Yes, even me. That little eight year old boy is an adult now. I often wonder how he is, where he is, what life delivered him in spiet of his home life. And I pray for him. Still, to this day, I pray for Joey.

I kept those gloves in a safe place clear up to the day of my arrest in 1989. The were blue with white snowflakes on them. They were a memory of one day when my humanity and compassion where tested. They were a reminder of a child‘s innocence.

So, I say from the heart to you … You dont have to wait for a child to be lost to show your own sense of humanity or compassion. You do not need to wait for an invitation to participate in an endeavor of the heart – just go find a cause that could use two more hands, and get involved. There‘s no need to wish you could make a difference, just go out and do it. There are soldiers returning from Iraq and elsewhere. Show them that you love them as much as they love their country. Don‘t know were to begin? Contact your local V.A. Hospital, and ask what you can do to help. There are millions of people who could benefit from a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, just someone to talk to. It could be a stranger, or someone as close as home. From the heart, I cannot say it enough, a little love goes a long, long, ways. Just imagine if we all did it together. Yes, what a beautiful, beautiful world!

Always From The Heart

T.C. & Mama ´P´

T.C. Paulinkonis                                                                                             Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U                                                                                       W45120 514-16-41

PO Box 1509                                                                                                    PO Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                                                  Chowchilla, CA 93610

 From You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-Detally – on Lulu.com., Amazon, and   Author’s possession 

Children of the Stolen Ones
(for Gloria Haithman—December 2, 2004)

“Greens” makes me think of Ola Mae’s Greens, down in my belly, in Olean,New York, as crowds of us burst into Ola Mae’s Restaurant on a regular basis to shoot the breeze, eat her famous Greens, and just to feel all’s well with the world.  Here in Pasadena,California, the subject of greens and chitlins came up.  I thought of Ola Mae, the camaraderie, her corn bread too, and just feeling part of the woodwork welcomed by her open heart and Best-Greens-Cook-In-The-World self.

In Pasadena, on a Wednesday night, Gloria talked about the same thing, but went a step further.  She spoke of soul food on another level, the spiritual teachings of love, hope, and faith.  She spoke to our insides where there are no colors.  Gloria said, “We were not colored when we were born.  Yeah, I thought, we came in that way, and no one crayoned some in, or bleached others out.

What if, instead of calling the dark ones, the Negroes, the People of Color, names given by history book scribes, say, “Black or African-Americans?” Then a phrase measured out, by Gloria, entered our gathering, all the while she was telling of a story of friends who called themselves The Sisters.  These Sisters went to South Africa, honoring their roots, and seeking answers to their identities.  On the trip they were constantly greeted by groups of women who would sing to them.  One day they met some African women who had the “Who are You? Where are you from?” look in their eyes, all the while staring at The Sisters.

One of the South African women said, “They are Children of the Stolen Ones.” Back in Pasadena, sitting on the orange velvet couch, those small noble words, “The Stolen Ones,” bombarded my heart as I felt my soul sink into a place of utter knowingness, of a reverence and majesty revealed.

As a white lady, an older one, who learned of our essential oneness some forty years before and humbly stayed on the thorny and pitted path of discovery and unity, I sat there stunned.  I repeated the phrase over and over to myself.  “Children… Children of the… Children of the Stolen Ones….”

Yes, and for me it was a rightful and merciful appellation.

Finally, dignity and solace packed into five words.  Measure it out on the tongue, slowly: “The Stolen Ones… Children of the Stolen Ones.” Feel your heart melt as if a great and timeless grief has finally been acknowledged.

My heart bowed a humble bow to the true nature of an incredible people, their majestic endurance, their ancestors.  I’m no artist and don’t know my colors, and I live in a world that thinks it knows its colors, and colors inside the lines, not outside—the “lines” being the operative word.

Well, I’d say in this year of 2004, “Maybe we should hear The Sisters, our sisters’, call from South Africa,” and use lines to wrap around: Majesty, Dimension, Endurance, Courage.  Name every quality our sisters and brothers of African heritage carry with fortitude, and you come up with, in my book, “The Chosen Ones.” And, what if God and his Messengers and Prophets saw that these Chosen Ones endured trials similar to the Minor Prophets? And what if Bahá’u’lláh knew His love for His Chosen Ones, knew they suffered the banishment, the chains, the whippings, as He, in the Path of God?

So here’s the final what if—what if this planet really was a testing ground to see who could show courage under fire, love of God, love of people despite that the Stolen Ones and their kin were also robbed? But wait, here’s another view.  I think the Children of the Stolen Ones are the Morning Glories of our age! Their children; their children’s children.  It’s the story Morning Glory.

Let’s proclaim, let’s shout, and let us bow in reverence to our ancestors, ransomed so we might reframe our hearts and join each other in history’s future where lines are a thing of the past and colors are loved-filled stripes of every hue.

Skin Color

At the Black History Parade, put on by the Jackie RobinsonCenter, one cold, but sun-emerging day, paralytic agony stops my nouns, verbs and adverbs describing skin color or lack thereof.  Pain fills my heart as my eyes Braille the sadness of a man’s face, deep rivets line his cheeks, highlighting generational discounts and the pitter patter of white voices.

Numbness clots my throat at this morning’s Parade, while those in other parts of the city, those from White gulags, tuff lawns, buff cars, and spread glossy interracial magazines, photo ops on tables, never viewed by the living.

Brown vs. Board, wasn’t that inTopeka?

In Idaho, Bill and I share a table with a Nigerian psychiatrist.  It’s lunch time in a hospital cafeteria,  and Bill asks a question which floats over our salads:

“Do you have to emphasize your African heritage”?

An acknowledged “Yes.”

A rueful, half-stated reply, “My children will not have that advantage.”

On the broad palettes of television’s life experts on society, are noticeable by their absence of color. Hey, what about The News Hour with Gwen Ifill?  Yeah, and Colin Powell, and… Yeah?  Hey guys, take the tour of Any City, USA, where two separate neighborhoods exist—bookends of ideological contrast.  One is spacious, forgiving, and tolerant, with wide streets, large houses and gracious plants, suggesting it’s easy to feel benevolent.  The other part contains narrow streets, boards on windows, hunger at night, restless poverty, and shootings.  Skin color privilege cuts its wide swath.

I can say no more.

Image

A string of laughter is all the trees lining our long driveway, the bamboo, the eucalyptus, all laughing, small nasty chuckles, because once again, I am thatched headed, in pjs and not walking.  It was a choice, but then the lure of words, the Zen of quiet air pushing out of the fan under my laptop; which if you really must know, I found this fan at a garage sale for $1.00, mighty fan.

A string of laughter makes me think of kites flying over Afghanistan, that land of dust and caves, and cities, and brave women’s hearts, and children’s tears, and when the kites are allowed, they fly into the air, twisting, turning, colors.  What are the colors of kites in the Afghan air? And someone’s heart exults, and then of course, there’s the birds.  They were banned during the time of the Taliban, and now I hope they are back, and I will sit back, and stop clickety clacking across the a, ;.s;. k, dk’s and think in peace you can’t own the sky..  It’s been tried, but the sky is ours, and then a heavenly invisible low long drawn out chuckle, like God was a Westerner with a Cowboy Hat, and then a belly laugh which translates into winds over the mountains, cleansing air, and Scattering Angels of the Almighty seeking the hearts of righteous men (generic of course); women too, and then what do I think.

Hmmm, a string of laughter is a word sky, where the sun and the moon negotiate, because now there’s lots of new solar stuff out there, and it might be a night game of “Olly, olly oxen free… ready or not, here I come.” Or maybe lawn bowling will be the game of choice, except it would be sky lawn ball, and then there are balloons, another topic altogether. Some balloons laugh, go up on a string, and twist out of grasping hands of greed.

You can take a lot of things away from people:  money, a place to live, shoes, health, but laughter always springs from some invisible source, and laughter moves the ribs up and down and up and down, and you can’t take that away.

how to be a racial transformer

from Colorlines.com, Hatty Lee’s infographic, ARC toolbox, research, activism, media, Rinku Sen, ARC President – arc@arc.org.

This organization gets things done; they put “hope” back in the horizon! I hope it’s okay to publish this

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in …

1

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

The T.C.
and Mama P Newsletter – 4th QTR, 2011Available free at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,

Here we are, fourth quarter
already! This year seems to have passed by quickly, well for mom & I at
least. Hopefully 2012 does as well, taking us steps closer to freedom. Good
things are happening for lifers these days, so perseverence has its benefits.

Although many readers of this
newsletter have knowings for years, there is the occasional question of what it
is like to be a lifer. Some are amazed at the audacity of the legal system to
sentence kids to life in prison, let alone how a teenager accepts, adapts, and
matures in captivity. We will touch on these topics in this issue.

As a lifer myself, it is a sense
of vulnerability to open one‘s self up to the risk of forming and building
bonds in such an environment. The hardest part isn‘t telling the true hearts
from the vultures … no the most difficult thing is having to say so many
good-byes. People pass through here like water running downhill. Some are the
rare exception that remain in your life once they parole, but most do not. So,
good-byes are the hardest part, except when the one you say adios to are
another lifer. Those are the best good-byes ever! We have some of those to
report on as well, so let‘s get started here.

May this issue find you healthy,
safe, and feeling loved. We wish you a pleasant holiday season.

From
The Heart

T.C.
& Mama P

 

The Lost Child (By La Donna
DeLane Robinson)

There were approximately 25 of us … seated around the long brown table in
the dayroom at Los Padrions Juvenile Hall. It was dinner time. I was one month
into the age of 17 years old and my 16 year and 3 month old codefendant sat
loyally by my side.

I looked up from the Styrofoam plate where all the food was mixed together,
forming some sort of multi-colored daleidoscope of inedible forms and textures,
and gazed around the table at all the lost young souls such as my own. I then
suddenly screamed at the top of my lungs, „I´m never going home!“ You could
have heard a cotton ball hit the floor it was so quiet in the room. Then
another juvenile facing a life sentence quietly said, „Me neither.“

My codefendant instantly began crying because she knew that if I felt I
wasn‘t ever going home, she wasn‘t either. Cries and wails began resonating
around the room, as 10 of the 25 came to the same realization. We were the kids
who would never see daylight in a free world again. Counselors ran from all
over in an attempt to comfort us all-to no avail. There is no comfort for
children who are penitentiary bound, quite possible for the rest of their
lives.

I felt like I had no reason to do anything positive. I had zero esteem,
zero motivation, and zero positive outlook on my future. I was ashamed that my
mother had to come visit me in juvenile hall every weekend for two
years-something missing church, which was her lifeline, to do so. As if that
wasn‘t bad enough, I had a list of ´demands´ that I wanted fulfilled each and
every week. The judge had given me court orders for shoes, personal jeans,
weekday visits (whenever needed), phone calls (whenever needed) and may others,
and my need for these items were merely a juvenile game I played to see who in
my family felt the guiltiest for my situation. I got bored with that, and like
all kids too, I found something else to play with … God. But during my time
of playing around in church, which was my only means of seeing all my friends
and the boys who wrote me kites during the week, a man named Makadoo came to be
a guest speaker at church one Sunday. I can‘t say he immediately changed my
life, but he had a big impact on it. He was a parolee who had served many
years, and said it was God that saw him through his time and into freedom. He
started telling us all the self-help groups, classes, vocations and
accomplishments he had achieved. I wanted that.

As soon as I got to the Youth Authority, I got my G.E.D. (I had just
finished the 11th grade when I was arrested). I received my certification in
Airline Reservations and worked as an agent for TWA for three years. I became a
certified animal groomer, and continued to take numerous groups and classes.
When I was one month shy of turning 25 years old, I was sent to state prison to
finish out my time because I had been tried as an adult, but I kept striving
when I got here. And even though I‘m not quite where I want to be, I‘m far from
where I was. I‘m not a scared kid anymore with now view of the future, I‘m a
strong dedicated, determined, grown woman … ready for the world.

 

Liz and I Were Talking, and
…….

I was speaking to Elisabeth
Lozano recently about the status of SB9. As many readers have already learned
in previous issues, Liz is a juvenile offender sentenced to an LWOP sentence as
a teenager. As a matter of fact, she didn‘t even kill anybody, but was
sentenced as an adult under the felony-murder rule (she was there, that‘s all
it took). SB9 would drop an LWOP sentence on a juvenile offender like herself
down to 25 years-to-life if said juvenile offender has merited good behaviour
and proven rehabilitation. Well, the legislators voted on SB9, and once again
there were holdout votes to do the right things. Some legislators are downright
leary of appearing soft on crime, even if it is to demonstrate some level of
leniency and mercy on kids who made irrational decisions at age 16 or 17 years
old. Don‘t get me started on their brain capacity! However, it‘s not over.
There is still hope. The bill will be reconsidered in January, and hopefully
everyone can meet in the middle and quit bickering over the fine print and
restrictions. To further educate yourself on this topic or to see how you can
become involved in much needed revisions of the law, please visit these
websites! www.fairsentencingforyouth.org and www.juvies.org

Liz also wanted to share her
thoughts on the release of lifers this year. „In the almost 17 years that I‘ve
been here, I have never seen so many lifers go home! The most I had seen prior
to this year, was two. Two lifers in 17 years, then 12 this year alone, and one
more next week (before we went to press).“ Liz kept a list of the lifers that
were finally recognized for their transformation and rehabilitation, they are
as follows: Emily, Leeann Nabors, Marcia Bunney, Karen Narita, Sadie, Molly
Kilgore (who loves you, girl?), Fabi, Linda Rodrigues (you‘re in our prayers),
Mary Shileds, Gina Sirgent, Gilda Duran, Alicia Hanna, and by the time you‘re
reading this, Jasmine Brandl will also be released.

Lifers have been political
prisoners for years, but now we‘re marching to the beat of a different drum …
that drum is to the beat of Jerry Brown. He‘s letting the Parole Board do their
job and not second guessing their every decision. After all, that‘s why they
get paid over $100k a year plus benefits. Brown is not using the prisons for
human warehousing of lifers like his predecessors did. He‘s letting our prison
record speak for itself, and how ironic is it, that THAT is the law? A governor
that follows the law. What a concept!

It should be noted that the
recidivism rate for lifers released on parole, is less than 1%. We aren‘t the
problem. We aren‘t the ones incurring court costs, arrest fees, and all of
those secure transportation tabs. No, we‘re just doing time, trying to get out
of here, and watching that revolving door of parole violators. We are ready to
prove that it is completely possible to be released from captivity, adhere to a
productive role in society, and not violate parole. If anyone is gungho about
proving it, it is a lifer. All we need is a second chance. Just one second
chance. And believe me, we can do it. Whether sentenced to life in prison at
the tender age of 16 or 17 year old, or as an actual adult at age 25, we can do
this. The year 2011 has been just the beginning. We embrace the new year and
what 2012 has to offer. I‘m telling you folks, things are lookin‘ up!

 

Book Reports for BPH

The Parole Board has been very
open and welcoming for lifers doing and presenting book reports at their parole
hearings. They of course, are interested in any self-help topic such as
depression, suicide, domestic violence, varions forms of abuse, and so on.
They‘re particularly interested in any material related to the life crime. I‘m
fed up being on waiting lists for counseling, but never receiving any such
groups. So, I do book reports to fill that void. It at least demonstrates
effort towards self-help. The Board wants to see such an effort.

I created a Book Report form to
present a uniform presentation. Are you a lifer that needs a hand? Talk to me.

 

Why Do Lifer Support Letters
Need To Be Updated?

The average non-lifer parolee
usually doesn‘t have a job lined up before they are released. A good percentage
of them scramble for somewhere to live, if not crashing on a relative‘s couch
until they can. Not a single non-lifer parolee has to prove that they are a
changed person, have a job, a place to live, or the support of citizens in a
free societly. They do not have to have their transformation validated, let
alone documented. Maybe that‘s why they are more likely than lifers to return
to custody. Let‘s remember, lifers have less than a one percent recidivism
rate. Funny though, we‘re the ones who are constantly having to prove
ourselves. For years, it felt like a dress rehearsal for a dinner party that would
likely not happen. Things however, are looking‘ up!

Why must family and friends
write letters to support of a lifer‘s release? It is evidence that we have a
network of shoulders to lean up on and real people who see the value in us.
Allies are vital in any battle.

Why is one letter written in
2005 not still good in 2009 and 2012? Well, the Parole Board technically would
like to see letters updated every six months as a show of consistency and
solidarity in the lifer‘s personal relationships. It goes to demonstrate strong
ties and the likelihood that we may not be so antisocial after all.

Does it need to e an entirely
new letter each time? No, you can simply resubmit a previous letter with a
current date. However, should the prisoner have any additional achievement that
have been acquired since the date of last letter, such as counseling,
vocational training, GED, college courses and whatnot, it is imperative to
include that as an appendage to the existing document.

The more letters a lifer
receives for each parole hearing, the more elevated their chances of a parole
grant.

 

Recently Asked Questions

Q:  Is Valley
State Prison going to house men instead of women?

A:  It appears
that the rumors are true, although Sacramento Big Wigs are steadily denying any
such plans. The local community agreed to a women‘s prison, but not a men‘s
prison. The Supreme Court ruling mandated that the state reduce their prison
population, so in an attempt to comply, VSP will be closed to females by or
before May 2013. To reduce male prison population without excessive early
releases, it is likely that VSp will house anywhere from two to three thousand
male prisoners. Sacramento however is denying it as local residents have
participated in very public opposition.

Q:  Is there an
Assembly or Senate Bill to reduce lifers sentences?

A:  That is a
verbal rumor that has yet to produce any documented proof from the Bill Room at
the state capitol. So, it is safe and best to say that NO such bill exists. I‘d
be more than happy to be proven wrong with clear documentation.

Q:  Is there a
hold on money orders now, like on personal checks?

A:  Yes,
thanks to some fraudulent individuals, there is a 30 day hold on all money
orders and checks. The only monetary contributions to an inmate‘s account that
goes straigth through and is accessible to spend within 2-3 days of
transaction, is an electronic financial transfer from your credit card. All you
need is our first and last name, booking number, and internet access to either
Jpay.com or inmatedeposits.com. all donations are welcomed and appreciated.

Q:  To correct
the horrors of your institutionally prepared meals, is it not possible to
arrange a surprise Health Dept. visit?

A:  No, for
security reasons (or excuses of convenience), all such on grounds visits must
be pre-arranged. That allows officials time to cover the truth, present a
facade, and pass all tests.

Q:  Will CCWF
be serving holiday meals Thanksgiving and Christmas?

A:  Yes, it‘s
actually two of the best meals all year long. It may not be like at home, and
we won‘t have the company of the ones we prefer to be with, but we will be
surrounded by some pretty darn good people, so can‘t complain too much.

 

What It‘s Like

At least once in the last few
years, each of us has heard somebody else say, „But you don‘t know what it‘s
like to be me!“ It is true that we may not know what it is like to be the next
person, but in the same breath, they do not know what it is like to be us. We
may be able to have empathy for one another, and in some situations, to relate
to given experiences and remarkable circumstances, but what is it like to be a
lifer? How many people want to grow up to aspire to go to prison and become a
lifer? The high school yearbook has a title caption for Most Likely To Succed,
but not Most Likely To Go To Prison, let alone be a lifer. It‘s just not
rational.

So, what is it like to be a
lifer? Well, to begin with, you have to wonder who your true friends are once
you‘re sentenced and all of those high hopes of freedom are dashed. The reality
is that it is easy to be a friend when the world around you  is good, but who is really willing to stand
in the rain and be your umbrella? Who won‘t care that the mail carrier sees
that they receive malil stamped in bold print that it is being sent from a
prisoner? One of society‘s misfits? Who is left when the crowds and media are
gone, and is willing to keep the lines of communication open? After all, life
can be busy and hectic, so if you‘re worth 15-30 minutes of their time to write
even a one page note or simply sign a card, count yourself richly blessed. I‘m
telling you folks, you want to know who your friends are? Just get arrested.
Want to know who your true friends are? Receiving a life sentence will deliver
a sober and lucid message like none other. Anyone can be a fair weather friend,
but it takes effort and loyalty to be a true friend.

As the years pass away, a lifer
will have seen dozens times of roommates filter through their cell like water
through a seive. We see a multitude of faces, hear a myriad of ficitious
stories, and get lost in the countless names – far too many to remember. Almost
all of my cellies over the years have had five years or less to serve, and
nearly all said that this was their last trip. At least 2/3 of them whined
about their sentence and whimpered over how much they miss their children –
children being raised either by other family members or the court system. They
are all boo-hooing, „My babies, my babies, I miss my babies!“ Not everyone
comes back, but when those same prisoners violate parole, you gotta ask, „what
about your babies now?“ As a lifer, we hear a lot of B.S. and the manifestation
of well spoken promises that equate to broken hearts of innocent children. I‘m
not judging them, I‘m just saying … we wish we had that chance. Non-lifers
make us wish we could swap sentences and show those repeat offenders how it is
done. Recidivism can be erased, and we‘re the ones to prove it possible. Nearly
every life term prisoner is a first offender. All any of us wants is a second
chance. And we would certainly make the most of it.

If it‘s not the parade of parole
violators or the phony stories about the make-believe houses that they have in
the free world (while they‘re on indigent status here), it is the day-in,
day-out monotony that gets tiring. Wake up, go to work or shcool, return to
your unit at day‘s end, and occupy your mind and time. How you occupy that time
is a matter of choice. Most of us are doing whatever we have to do to get out
of here, which includes, but is not limited to, group networking such as 12
steps meetings or going to the law library. Some are working on college
courses, while others are finding themselves in various church services. A
lifer doesn‘t just do the time, they do productive time. We want it to count
for something other than the resulting punishment for violating society‘s
mores.

You may not know this, but
many-a-lifer honestly lives with a sincere balance of remorse and regret. We
must live each day knowing that because of our actions, there is another who
does not. Speaking for myself, I still see flashes and still frames of that
horrid New Year‘s Eve when I killed my stepfather. There are fragments of
memory still missing, but I remember enough to grasp the realization that he‘s
not alive because of me. Not because of his actions, but because I chose to
stand up to him to protect my mother. And trust and believe, about the week
before New Year‘s Eve, I‘ll go through anxiety and experience nervous energy
and guild-ridden restlessness. It‘s pretty much an anniversary thing. I believe
a good many lifers go through this when the anniversary of their own crime
comes around. It reminds us that we‘re human, and that we have a conscience …
and we pray that you never know what it is like to live with lifer‘s guilt and
regret. If you do not know how it feels, we can honestly say that you don‘t
know what it is like to be us. That‘s a good thing.

While we live with our choices
and pray for the family and friends who lost a loved one, we also take great
efforts to find ourselves. I‘ve done more growing up in prison than I ever did
in my freedom days. It has a lot to do with letting go of my personal baggage
and looking beneath the temporary bandage I placed over the open wound that my life
really had become. I let down walls of denial, I finally looked into the mirror
at my reflection, and changed course. I needed to cease whishing I had a better
past and just accept that I could have a brighter future. It sounds so simple
when I word it like that, but it took years of self-help recovery and a
dedication to change the way I thought. Any educated person will tell you that
life is a matter of perspective, but what about when you‘re looking through
someone else‘s eyes? All of those self-help gurus really can teach you a fresh
way to view things. An open mind is an amazing thing. Many of us may have
arrived here with a chip on our shoulders or a protective shield put up, but
time can fade that as maturity kicks in. We grow, we learn what self-absorbed
pain blinded us from seeing, and we develop into better people that we‘d like
to call a friend.

So, what is it like to be a
lifer? Well, you wake up each day knowing it won‘t be much more different than
the last, but you face it with hope. You feel the burden of not being with your
family on the holidays – or any other day, and you know there are hearts broken
because of this. The average lifer harbors emotional turbulents that only they
can put into words, but the lack of any real therapy in this facility causes
them to turn to the only ones who really understand them: other lifers, a
kindred of sorts. What is it like to be a lifer? We watch parolees leaving
everyday who don‘t have to have a parole plan, while we struggle to obtain
housing and employment from behind these walls. We watch people leave through
the revolving door of recidivism, and we have no guarantee of when we will
leave, but we do have hope. I believe it is hope that keeps me striving, and
faith that keeps me sane, otherwise this experience would have driven me crazy
by now.

„You don‘t know what it is like
to be me,“ is something you should be grateful for.

What is it like to be a lifer?
I‘ll tell you, it‘s not easy, but we‘re doing the best that we can. The truth
of the matter is, we couldn‘t possibly do it without you. You are our lifeline.
You mean everything to us. It‘s not as easy course to sail, but it‘s a whole
lot easier knowing that after the storm, you‘ll be there on the solid ground of
the shore to welcome us home. What more could a lifer ask for? I‘m telling you
folks, you make all the difference, and we love you!

 

A Letter To God

Dear God,

When it comes to thanking You,
where do I begin? I know, believe, and accept that nothing is possible without
You. That no matter what the situation, Your hand is in it. So, where does a
girl begin?

Thank You, and I truly mean
that, for my mother, I would have gladly sacrificed my many other gifts
througout life just to have been blessed with her. You made certain that my
sister and I were protected from any harm by placing her in the role of
protector and mother, both synonymous of each other. So I guess if I begin
anywhere, infancy is a good place to do so.

When I was at Kaiser Hospital at
the age of two, turning blue in my mom‘s arms and the nurse told her to wait
her turn in the waiting room with the other people, thank You for putting that
Mama Bear growl into her. I‘m not lucky I survived that both of spinal
meninitis … I was blessed. I was blessed by mom‘s being adamant that I be
seen and saved, and by Your hand that mercifully brought me back from the brink
of jeopardy. Thank You.

I didn‘t realize in the fourth
grade that it was Your doing that I was more intellectually advanced than the
other kids. I didn‘t quite understand why I kept completing my work too
quickly, or how I came to write poetry at age nine, but I did. Thank You for
Mrs. Halverson and the dictionary and thesaurus. It wasn‘t easy being the
abnormal fourth and fifth grader, the odd one out, but I sure am grateful now.
I promise to put what You‘ve blessed me with to good use in positive and
productive ways.

I remember that day on the dock
at the San Leandro Marina … You know the one. I think that is when I was at
my darkest, most desolate place in my life. I‘ve never returned to that abyss
since. I don‘t even know how to swim. It would‘ve been all over for me had I
jumped into that dark, cold water. In the pounding rain without a soul in
sight, I was moments from complete forfeit, when You whispered into my ear,
„You really don‘t want to die yet … you just don‘t want to live the life that
you are living. It gets better, so get up and go home.“ It took awhile before
it got better, but of course You were right. Thank You for the soft wisper that
saved my life. I never felt that alone since.

Do You remember that day on
Palameras Canyon Road? Of course You do! That was a close call! I guess I
wasn‘t alone after all, and I don‘t mean You, I mean him. Whoever that sinister looking guy was that came over
the ridge from the creek bed. When I peeled dust out of there and saw him in my
rear view mirror coming towards my tailgate, I knew in an instant that it was
You that warned me. Some call it sixth sense or intuition, but either way, You
put it there. Thank You.

You seem to have had to come to
my rescue several times now that I look back on my life. I kept my Guardian
Angel busy, huh? You kept extricating me from what would have been an early demise,
because You had plans for me. Plans I could never have imagined. You crossed my
path with so many others that I otherwise would not have had the privilege of
meeting. Every connection I‘ve made has had purpose and life lessons to teach
me. You‘ve had me be both student and teacher, and it has been an honor.
Somehow, Thank You seems somewhat insufficient, but it is all I have to offer,
for You already have my heart … so thank You, God … Thank You.

I know that I‘m still a work in
progress and that there is much You still ask of me. Please, use me as a tool
and vessel at Your will. Take the gift of words you‘ve blessed me with and
guide me to where and how You wish me to put it to instrumental use. I don‘t
know the plans You have in store for me, but I have faith in Jeremiah 29:11, so
hey, I‘m waiting. I have so much to be thankful for, including friends and
their loving support, and my aunt and uncle in Long Beach that haven‘t forsaken
us. I can never thank You enough. Never.

We‘ll talk again real soon.

Your Loving Daughter

Teresa
Christine

 

Skilled Nursing Facility?
… Yeah, Right!

If you were a patient at a
hospital that showed visible signs of uncleanliness that could lead to
cross-contamination and quite possibly MRSA, staph infection, and God knows
what else, would you discharge yourself from that hospital to go to a more
sanitary one?

If you were left unattended to
lie in soiled bedding because the nursing staff didn‘t adequately check on you
in timely intervals on a schedule of rounds, would you call for a nurse? Would
you feel like you were inconveniencing them? If the nurses simply could not be
bothered, would you elect to leave that hospital for a more sustained one?

If you answered in the
affirmative to those questions, please imagine that you are an inmate at the
Paris-Lamb Hospital, which is the infirmary here at CCWF. They have the nerve
to call it a Skilled Nursing Facility. There are dozens of patients on a
regular basis that are subjected to medical neglect and conditions that can be
lead to disabling, if not deadly contaminants. There are those who live in
daily humiliation and degradation, who cannot find a voice to speak out. They
fear retaliatory action that could only result in their situation worsening. I
have tried for over a year now to find someone brave enough to speak out. I
will change the names of the patients, nurses, and my source to protect their
identities and privacy (and retaliation). What you are about to read,
unfortunately, is all too true.

 

TC:  For this
interview, I‘ll refer to you as Bobbi. What makes you a reliable source to
speak out about the inhumane medical treatment at Paris-Lamb Hospital at CCWF?

Bobbi:  I
am assigned to work at the so-called Skilled Nursing Facility. I went to shool
twice a week to be trained in how to be a housekeeping porter there. I also
received hands-on training. I see a lot that goes unreported.

TC:  Are you
certified in this work?

Bobbi:
Yes, as a specialist in Housekeeping and Janitorial.

TC:  What are
some of your duties?

Bobbi:  To
prevent cross-contamination of diseases, high levels of bacteria, and cleaning
the patient‘s rooms, crisis center, Administrative offices and soforth.

TC:  What would
you say is your most important rule there?

Bobbi:
Acting as if everything is exemplary of a five star hospital. Putting on
a show whenever the Warden or Sacramento Big Shots come to do a walk-through.
Other porters and myself have to go through great efforts to make the odor of
urine and feces diminish with overpowering scented cleaners.

TC:  Urine and
feces?

Bobbi:
There is a check-in paper on each patient‘s door that states the patient
was checked on by a nurse in 15 minute interval walk-throughs. But, when you go
to their room to see if they need their linen changed, the smell of an outhouse
hits you in the face! The check sheets are all lies. If the nurse really did
check on the inmate, why did she not stop to get clean linen on that bed? Why?
Because they don‘t care. It‘s nothing more than a paycheck. The inmate patients
are nothing but job security to them.

TC:  Is it your
job to assist the patients?

Bobbi:
No, I was told not to. I was warned that I could be fired for my acts of
humanity, but I do it anyway.

TC:  Give me an
example, would you?

Bobbi:
Okay … I heard Ms. Cason yelling for help one day, and nobody could be
bothered. She was a double-amputee that could not get to the toilet on her own
accord, so to help prevent her soiliing herself in her bed, I assisted her to
the toilet. There‘s also April, who is under weight and had a stroke. She needs
help to the toilet, and in certain times of desperation, she has managed to
somehow make it to the hallway with feces running down her legs, her nightgown
soaked, and sadly, even her hair.

TC:  Where are
the staff durin all of this?

Bobbi:  In
a lounge area without a care in the world.

TC:  Have
patients received flesh infections due to this?

Bobbi: Absolutely! The acid in the waste eats at
their flesh.

TC:  Let‘s say
April soiled herself – does she get bathed?

Bobbi:
I‘ve seen it more than once … the nurse will take a patient to the
shower without their shower shoes to protect their feet from the infectious
floor. I‘ve offered to go get them and the nurse will say that they themselves
were going to go retrieve them. Oh really? And leave the patient unattended in
the shower? I‘ve even had to go grab the patient‘ shower basket so they‘d
actually have soap to bathe as opposed to a simple rinse off.

TC:  That‘s
disgusting.

Bobbi:
Tell me about it. You know what else is disgusting? They wash the crisis
center gowns with the dirty mops in the same load of wash. And while you‘re
making faces, it gets worse … All soiled linen goes in a large garbage bag,
and by soiled I mean all bodily fluids like urine, feces, vomit, and blood.
Then the porters must reopen those bags and count all the items. It‘s horrid!

TC:  They
couldn‘t pay me enough to do that!

Bobbi:  If
you refuse to do it, that‘s a refusal to program that results in a CDC-115
write-up and punishment. Worse yet TC, you‘re a lifer. You can‘t afford to take
a 115 or a refusal to omply to authority, before the Parole Board. You would
have no choice. We are only inmates. We don‘t matter to the powers that be.

TC:
Aren‘t  they supposed to use yellow
and red bags? When I worked in laundry, we had yellow contamination bags.

Bobbi:  So
does the infirmary, but they must be part of the budget cuts because they throw
all the soiled stuff into regular trash liners and make us sort it all out.
You‘re supposed to use yellow water soluable bags that can be tossed directly
into the wash mashine in the bag, which breaks down with contact to water.
Bloody items go into red bags that only staff is supposed to handle.

TC:  And that
doesn‘t take place?

Bobbi:
Never. They just put it all together and wash it in one load. Nothing
gets destroyed.

TC:  Bloody
contaminants are routinely incinerated in a furnace at a real hospital.

Bobbi:
This isn‘t a real hospital.

 

This isn‘t a real hospital. It
is a hospital in name only. There are patients with bed sores from not being
turned over regularly. There are blind patients who hear the meal tray being
delivered and dropped off in front of them, but nobody tells them what is on
the tray, or what portion is what on the tray. Given the contamination in the
kitchens and infirmary, would you eat what you couldn‘t see without some level
of fear?

The sad truth is that there is
little that can be done to prove these human violations. Whenever the warden or
big shots plan to visit the facility, they need to make notification. That
allows the authoritarian figure heads to mandate that Bobbi and the others
clean house and make the staff look good. The place looks and smell clean, but
more than that, the patients suddenly receive adequate treatment, although only
temporarily. It is impossible to surprise attack the infirmary due to red tape
and policy protocols that prevent a true revelation from ever occurring. It‘s a
matter of self-preservation.

What we need, is for someone with
a real spin for the truth to pose as a patient at Paris-Lamb. Not even the
warden would be privy to the fact. Maybe a reporter who wants to do a real
investigative piece. The only way to see the truth, is to come to it. As strong
as my immune system is, even I‘m not brave enough to volunteer residency in the
infirmary. I‘ll report from a distance, not matter how disturbing the truth may
be. Sometimes, it‘s the only way to tell the world.

 

From The Heart

Many years ago, I began reciting
a different version of the Serenity Prayer that felt closer to my heart. The
word THINGS is changed to PEOPLE. The prayer goes like this:

Lord, grant me the serenity to
accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the
wisdom to know that it is me.

I did not come to prison to
change how others think, feel, or most certainly behave. As a matter of fact,
human behaviorism is an individual decision regardless of any exterior
influences. I came to prison as part of my life blueprint. This is a place of
soul searching and personal growth. It can also be a place of self-stagnation
for some. It is said that we need to think outside the box. I say, we need to
think outside of ourselves. While what others think of us is a variable in our
psyche, if we can think outside of ourselves and see through the eyes of
others, then and only then, are we capable to fully evaluate ourselves.

Self-evaluation has been a major
facet in the remolding of who I was, into who I have become. I used to be
self-absorbed in my own emotional turmoil from a past I had no control over. I
used to question my own value to the human race as a whole and where I fit into
the Master Plan. I once felt inadequate to speak up and be heard, yet I
developed a voice that not only spoke up, but spoke out against abuse and
violence. I metamorphosed from pain in the shadows harboring an open wound, to
an advocate for a good cause. I still self-evaluate myself on a regular basis,
but instead of looking for the bad, I look for the good. It is what you seek
that you will likely find.

Part of my growth process these
last 22 years, has involved self-inventory and evaluation. However, it has also
required both acceptance and tolerance … lots and lots of tolerance. While
this is truly a „house of healing“, there are still some diabolical
personalities in the mix no matter where you are in life. When I was a teenager
my mom made it clear that I would become whoever I hung with, so I made mostly
conservative decisions within my small circle. I still do that to this day.
After all, i am working on getting out of this camp. Any illogical choices
would be paradoxical to my design for freedom. So, I tolerate the intolerable
and insidious, while I embrace the genuine attributes of some of the most
wonderful women I‘ve ever had the privilege of knowing … yes even in a place
like this … especially in a place like this.

So, I say from the heart to you
… whether you‘re reading this on your computer screen or a hardcopy delivered
to you, you‘re pretty darn special to us. If somebody that we gave a copy of
this newsletter to has chosen to share it with you, then you‘re pretty darn
special to them, and they wanted to share that message with you. It makes no
difference your religious following, education, or the size of your bank
account, you have a major role in someone‘s life. I‘m grateful for every single
person in my life. Each of you has been a teacher, and I‘ll be a student till
my last breath. Regardless of what I have ever found in my self-evaluations or
the poor decisions I have made, you have stood by me. You have stood by my
mother. If another lifer is sharing this with you, you have stood by them. As
we continue to pursue betterment within ourselves, as we strive to come home,
we are grateful for you. So, when we say Happy Thanksgiving, please know it‘s
all about you.

Namasté

T.C.
& Mama ´P´

 

T.C. Paulinkonis                                                                                  Pauline
“Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U                                                                           W45120
514-16-41

PO
Box 1509                                                                                        PO
Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                                         Chowchilla,
CA 93610

amazing dystopian thriller

It is just fantastic to see a new writer emerge. Mudbound was Pasadena’s One Author One Read book, and now first week of November I believe she’s going to speak, not at Vroman’s, too small but at Cal Tech. Kudos to Hillary Jordan!

The Barbarian Nurseries: A NovelThe Barbarian Nurseries: A Novel by Héctor Tobar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicious, fantastic, delicate, strong prose, and author nails a view of life from combinations of views. A Mexican immigrant maid and a clueless, but well meaning family, said family totally unaware of the lives around them, or for that matter, each other.

His writing is fantastic. A profound book which needs to be inhaled by all. I inhaled it, yes I did. I am now going to look for Hector Tobar’s other books – Translation Nation and the Tattooed Soldier. Mr. Tobar is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, is a Pulitzer prize willing journalist and a novelist. Writers would “kill” for his phrases – Barbarian Nurseries is a must read!

View all my reviews

Awakened to cup of coffee in bed; staggered to computer; am on Word Press this am with thatched head, but Persecution of a Christian Minister in alarm shot my body full of, “Post this on SorryGnat,” and lo and behold, good old Word Press offered a prompt: When you are most happy?

Dear WP Question Person,

I am most happy when I drive up my driveway and my husband comes out of our small pool house and is just there, but then of course there are days when I spot pug dogs through my inner radar and Kismet, by the end of the day, I am sprawled on a pavement, petting said beastie, even though my friends shake their heads at my constant devotion to Pugs, and still I am most happy when I see writers emerge from their cardboard boxes which were labeled “I don’t write, I can’t write,” and like last night, offer revisions of the Three Little Pigs, turn the story on its head by having the first pig (of straw, and lazy, darned lazy if you ask me), and find out this little pig had invested in derivatives, and now, only now, when red stiletto heel click along New York streets, in huff puff, click, click, hurry to my job, don’t know how long it will last,” all the while these red stiletto heels, which if you want to know, can have outer soles of turquoise and magenta print, if the person, wearette of said stiletto, is well heeled financially, and now on to more than feet, because this is about happiness, and I’m most happy when I think some day, despite the crocodile kingdom here on earth, and dripping juicy mouths in political power (not all) (there are nice cats and dogs in the mix in leadership in this country), but back to the question, my tummy and my heart, and my soul are in sinc (not sink) (another day, another tale) when I see on the horizon, signs, not of Humvees built as slug bugs for war and destruction, but hands, thin hands, old hands, wrinkled hands, long tapered fingernails, fingers bumpy and sludgy and chewed, tough hands covered, dark hands, covered with dust, Kardashian hands pampered and isolated, but all hands, get to the point, writer, reaching out around this Parker’s Pen Color of Blue Ink Planet hold one another, some grasping one another, and despite a world gone tilt, bonkers, and a world which may be screaming, “I miss my hormones,” is lurching towards maturity, even though the crocodiles, hereinafter called The Crocs, salivate and slide towards a fugue state of power, illusive and unattainable, because some day we will be one, and every baby born (visualize Kunte Kinte(sp) holding his richly brown velvet baby son to the sky, and someone in Idaho lifting a peaches and cream baby up to trees stretching as if hands up in praise to their unseen Divine Essence (Higher Power too Germanic in tone to put here), and that day when each baby will be perceived, cherished, regarded as a “Trust of the Whole,” and we will get about our planetary work, and that’s a good Tuesday morning reason for being happy, because happiness is not an outside thing in that it’s just about pleasure, but reader, if you have been patient enough to go through this all, would you consider that abiding joy, and release from oppression and We Are One is our divine right?

This isn’t to say there are not a gazillion other reasons, like listening to a young doctorate in realization of astrophysics, skate across the sky and explain planetary dust in such a fascinating way as she reads in a basement in a store called fair trade, on Lake Avenue, in Pasadena, if you want to know, where a bunch of us writers laugh and cavort and toss bon mots of principles, concerns and an occasional jello recipe around – that makes me happy, and one other thing, because I’m on my way there – giving people voice; how on God’s Green Earth did I get so lucky to teach at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, said WR is an offshoot of Friends in Deed, an ecumenical group, and the WR is a day haven for women to take showers, do laundry, get decent food, most to commune with one another, and to participate, those who wish, in writing and slipping on their newly acquired writing voices to the cheers and huzzahs of the group, (we are way beyond Vogue and Marie Claire magazine), and I guess I can sum all of this “oh how we dance” piece in it’s about service, “walking the mystical path with practical feet” and helping one another and seeing everyone as a soul in progress or process and realizing we are just at the beginning of this journey. So those are my Tuesday morning reasons. (Quotes I’ve used come from Baha’i Writings or my own stuff reader, and if you know how to use spell check on this here Word Press, I’d be grateful till the end of the day.-E)

Baha’i International Community calls for release of Christian pastor facing death sentence

GENEVA, 4 October 2011 (BWNS) – The Baha’i International Community has joined the call for the release of Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor from Rasht, Iran.

Pastor Nadarkhani, who is the father of two young children, leads a network of house churches. He was found guilty of apostasy – “turning his back on Islam” – and “converting Muslims to Christianity,” and sentenced to death in September 2010.

Iran’s Supreme Court recently asked for a re-examination of the case to establish whether or not he had been a practising Muslim adult before he converted to Christianity. The court ruled he was not but, nevertheless, is still guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.

The case has sparked strong condemnation from governments, organizations and religious leaders around the world.

Then on 1 October, following this global outcry, Iranian state media suddenly reported that Pastor Nadarkhani had in fact been sentenced for other reasons – including violent crimes, extortion, Zionism and being a traitor. These charges had never once been mentioned throughout the entire period when Pastor Nadarkhani was charged, tried, sentenced, up to and including the most recent court hearing.

Statement from the Baha’i International Community:

We join with the global chorus of condemnation protesting the sentencing of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, and calling for his release.

For a court of law to rule against someone from Muslim ancestry who has freely chosen to be a Christian is yet another instance of the brutality being meted out by the Iranian authorities on their own people.

The recent public proclamation reporting that the charges against Pastor Nadarkhani have been changed – as a result of the global outcry at his conviction – only further exposes the arbitrary nature of decisions made by the judiciary system of Iran and the transparent injustice of the situation.

The sentence he faces is not only reprehensible; it is a violation of every legal, moral, spiritual and humanitarian standard.

Which temporal government in the world can reasonably decide it has the power to curtail freedom of belief? Belief is not something that can be taken away or bartered; it is a matter of conviction, of the heart, the mind and the soul, beyond the realm of any government’s control.

The Baha’i community understands well the challenging circumstances facing minorities living in Iran today. And now it is evident that those minorities which are nominally recognized by the state are as equally subordinate to the majority as those who have no rights.

There is little need to rehearse here the endless list of executions, torture, imprisonments, privations and other afflictions that are being meted out on the sorely-tried people of Iran.

Everything that country’s representatives profess on the world stage is contradicted by their treatment of their own people at home. Yet, its officials travel freely to other nations where they are offered a platform from which to broadcast their untruths, denying the callous treatment of their own citizens while displaying pretensions of good will for the people of the world.

There is much to be done to alert the people of the world to the hypocrisy of a government which is widely and continually oppressing its people.

There is much to be done for humanity to be alerted to what is going on inside Iran and to be awakened to the appalling memory of what can occur when we fail to act against state-sponsored, campaigns of hatred.

“To All” – A message from Troy Anthony Davis.

Below is the text of a Huffington Post article, with links to further
information

The Trials of an Educator in Iran
Anthony Vance, Director of External Affairs, Baha’is of the United States

“If your tea is too sweet, you can stir it the other way.” This kind of
quip was typical of Mahmoud Badavam and of Persian humor in general. I saw him
frequently as a college student in the mid-1970s in Cambridge,
Massachusetts where he gained a reputation for a quick, wry sense of humor. At that
time, Iranians were few and far between in the U.S. So, it was an eye-opener
to be exposed to the exquisite courtesy, humor, and hospitality that can be
so prevalent in Iranian culture and that certainly was not lacking among
the handful of Iranian students studying in universities in the Boston area
at the time. None of us suspected then that revolution in Iran was just
around the corner. With the large number of political and religious refugees
it would bring in its wake, exposure to Iranian culture would soon become
common place. But, at the time, Mahmoud and a small handful of others were
novel and made a deep impression on me. I met Mahmoud in Baha’i meetings — a
religious faith we both shared. He returned home just before the
revolution and chose, despite the difficulties it created for Baha’is, to stay.

On May 21 of this year and the days that followed, during raids on over 30
Baha’i homes in four cities in Iran, Mahmoud was one of 18 people arrested
for teaching in or administering the Baha’i Institute for Higher
Education. In late July, after the release of some of those arrested, Mahmoud and 7
others were reportedly charged with “conspiracy against national security”
and “conspiracy against the Islamic Republic” by “establishing the illegal
Baha’i Institute for Higher Education”. The first of the trials is
reportedly set to start this Monday, September 12. For years, he had used his
Masters degree in engineering from M.I.T. and his earlier training in Iran to
provide classroom instruction to Baha’i youth who had been barred since the
revolution from Iran’s system of higher education. The arrest on May 22 was
not his first. He returned to Iran in 1978, married shortly thereafter, and
held a job as an engineer in the government. Soon after the Islamic
Revolution, he was fired, lived with relatives in different cities, was arrested
for being a Baha’i and imprisoned for about three years.

In revolutionary Iran, among the many forms of persecution directed at
their community, Baha’is were dismissed from university teaching positions and
students were dismissed from institutions of higher education. After
numerous failed appeals to the government to correct this injustice, in 1987 the
Baha’i community organized what came to be known as the Baha’i Institute
for Higher Education to provide university-level instruction to its youth.
In recent years, BIHE was a central part of Mahmoud’s life with regular
classes in his small apartment in Tehran and administrative and curriculum
review meetings held late into the night. He spent most evenings and weekends
correcting homework and preparing for his classes. If planning with others
to educate young people can in some contorted worldview equate with
conspiracy against national security, I suppose Mahmoud and anyone else who has
ever transferred skills in the arts or sciences to a student is guilty as
charged — and unabashedly so. Over the years, others in Iran and abroad
learned about this endeavor and volunteered to assist with it.

Similar raids and arrests on BIHE were recorded in 1998, 2001, and 2002.
The official government position was documented in a 2006 letter from Iran’s
Ministry of Science, Research and Technology addressed to 81 state run
universities and institutions of higher education and in a 1991 Memorandum
signed by Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani, the secretary of the Supreme
Revolutionary Cultural Council, with a signature endorsement of the Supreme
Leader, Ali Khamenei. Each of these documents specifically mandates the expulsion
from Iran’s system of higher education of any student who is discovered to
be a Baha’i.

The banning of Baha’is from higher education is a violation of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to which Iran is a
State Party. I hope that such a grievous assault on an entire minority
group consisting of about 300,000 people will not go unprotested by the world
community. In the meantime, from the bleakness of Evin Prison, far from the
beautiful summer to fall change of seasons in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
Mahmoud Badavam can only pray that some day he will get back to correcting
homework, preparing for classes, and perhaps even coming up with a new
witticism about tea from time to time.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anthony-vance/the-trials-of-an-educator_b_9546
42.html

http://iran.bahai.us/

Available free on request at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,
Welcome to another issue of our quarterly newsletter. Your feedback regarding additon of other writers to introduce additional perspectives, has been upbeat and positive. We have continued to request submissions by other prisoners and hope to keep providing new writers in each issue.
In the years that we‘ve published this newsletter, we have only ever once dedicated an entire issue to a single person. That was to Deborah Peagler, AKA TRIPP. Well, that‘s about to change. This issue is being dedicated to Molly Kilgore. Yes, that‘s right Molly! This one is for you!
When Molly received her 7 years-to-life sentence, I was in the eigth grade. She had no idea she would need to witness seven Presidential terms, two wars, and a parade of governors before hope would be rewarded. She stood tall through it all. If you look up the word perseverance in the dictionary it should list names like Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, and now … Molly Kilgore. You have no idea what it has been like for her. I‘ve only been locked up 22 years compared to her 33 years, and I can only imagine.
Another think that I can only imagine is the elation that filled her as she was reunited with her family on June 20th. I can only imagine what was going through her mind as they drove her off State property to freedom. Yes. Friends, Molly Kilgore is finally free on parole! It took 33 years, a world of hope, a heart of faith, the support of good family and friends, and most of all, the mercy of God.
On Molly‘s behalf, I would like to thank each and every one of you who wrote those letters to the Parole Board and the Governor. Thank you for signing her petition on the web site that was set up to aid in her plight. Every last letter and signature made a difference. Not only the night before, but the morning of her release, Molly gave me far too much credit. She credits our featuring her in the newsletter as a vital turning point in her battle. While we stood together united to support and plead for her release, it is Molly who served the sentence. It was Molly who never put down her shield and kept facing the dragon in battle. I guess it just made it easier when she had a small army behind her. It inspires and reinforces hope. That‘s a terrible thing to lose, hope is. But she gave us too much credit. It is she who persevered.
So, I say to each of you – thank you for helping us, help Molly. Thank you for being a spoke in the wheel of change. God bless each of you for your prayers and assistance in helping the freedom fight of our Friend Molly Kilgore.
And Molly? Yes, I‘m talking to you, girl. You simply amaze me. There are short timers here sniveling about a parole violation and a lousy ten months to serve. Girl, they aint got nothin‘ on you! I‘m so glad you never gave up. I‘m so happy your family was here to embrace you at the gate. It has been our honor and privilege to help you. It has been a true blessing to call you a Friend. We believe in you. You have so much potential, so much to accomplish yet. Take it one day at a time and don‘t let things overwhelm you. Girl, you already beat the dragon. Now is the time to celebrate your life. Congratulations!
Love, Light, Prayers & Hope T.C & Mama P

Mail Delays
Thank you for your patience and understanding regarding the delay in our responses to your incoming mail. The mailroom is understaffed and slow as molasses in January. A 602 was filed to resolve the problem. We hope for the best.

My Friend Molly Kilgore – Respectfully submitted by: La Donna Robinson

Congratulations Molly, I keep hearing people say, „I want to be like Molly!“ Well, I‘m not one of those people. I don‘t want to be like Molly. I don‘t want to give the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 32 years, 6 months, and 5 days, of my life. Does anyone remember the phrase „Cruel and Unusual“? Well, it is still cruel, that hasn‘t changed at all. But it certainly isn‘t unusual. It has become habitual and routine in the state of California to hold prisoners who are sentenced to an inderterminate sentence, to 20, 30, even more that 40 years in some circumstances. Some of these inmates were sentenced to only 2 years to life, 5 years to life, 7 and 15 years to life long before the mandate of completing the base term even came into effect. In Molly‘s case, she was sentenced to 7 to life, but served the time of someone who was sentenced to two first degree murders. Her prior grants for parole by the Board of Parole Hearings were subsequently overturned by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Molly will forever be loved and remembered by me and will live in my heart for the rest of my days. As the saying goes, „Bye Molly! See ya…but most definitely do not want to be ya.“

Making Amends submitted by Angel Meza
Sometimes, we as humans lose ourselves on the highways of life. We fall short of our direction of just who we truly are, or the values our mother, father, grandmother, and others taught us as we were growing up. So, today let‘s make a difference by making amends.
For years I have struggled with trying to atone for the harm that my actions have caused others. This goes for those that I have harmed both directly, as well as indirectly, through my poor example.
I have a gnawing guilt for those that I misguided through my actions, and whose futures I feel I have robbed by way of my example. Whenever I see or hear about a youngster coming to prison, I am reminded of the painful fact that my own actions contributed to the negative culture that influenced that individual. This awarness …. insight if you will … provides the fuel for my desire to atone.
Over the years I have come to understand that making amends is not an act, but rather a way of life. It is a spark that ignites within you (remorse) and empowers those around you.
As the saying goes, „You can give without loving (an act), but you cannot love without giving (a way of life).“ Making amends is exactly that. You can make amends without being remorseful, but you cannot be remorseful without making amends. Writing a letter to your victim is an act of amending; having the nature of character that seeks to contribute to others is a way of life. One is fleeting, while the other is lasting.

In making amends I cannot undo what has been done, but I can do better than I did. In other words, while I cannot change the past, I can affect the future. By improving on my self, I can positively impact those around me as opposed to the negative results of my previous behaviour. I can be ever mindful of my ability to influence those around me in a more positive manner. Especially the incorrigible youth offenders coming to prison nowadays. It gives me the opportunity to honor my ability to encourage change. Not when I get out, but now. Nothing like the here and now.
We may not be able to fix all of our past mistakes, but we can address the ones we can. I cannot express enough how making the smallest amends can make the biggest difference. Anything doen from the heart is always worth the effort.
Always.

Nothin‘ Like Friends In Low Places
When I first arrived at C.C.W.F., I was warned that you don‘t have friends in prison. I was told that people will use me and take any kindness for weakness. I have been there many-a-time both in the free world and this concrete paradise. I know I‘m not alone, you probably have been used, manipulated, and had your heart broken too. With each relationship, regardless of being platonic or more intimate, I have gained knowledge moreso about myself than other people. Each circumstance was a life lesson that was part of my personal blueprint. Each scenario resulted in a personal inventory.
To this day I still hear that you don‘t have friends in prison. They prefer to say that you have associates. Yes, while I have many associates, I still have friends that are at home in my heart. If you were to ask me what I thought of or feel for Dee Dee, Pops, Niki, Belinda, Tanisha or Molly, i lwould tell you that they are my friends, and I love them. Ah, there is that L-word that is thrown around all too loosely in prison. I hear „I love you“ so much that I now joke, „oh, so much love in prison!“ I‘m telling you, if there was half as much love in the middle east as there is in prison, we never would have gone into Afghanistan or Iraq.
What is love anyway? My definition includes being when you care more about someone else than you do your own self. It is unselfish and kind, it is given without expectation of reward. It can be in the smallest actions or compassionate deeds. It is when Dee Dee needs to talk, and no matter how dog-dead-tired I may be, I‘m right there. That‘s what I mean by putting someone before yourself. It‘s when Pops missed Huera when she paroled, and needed a shoulder to lean on, so I volunteered on weekends to work even when it was windy as Chicago and cold as Alaska. It was when Niki needed help with her case to see if she could get a reduction in her ridiculously lengthy sentence. I didn‘t really know a lick about legal research or where to even begin, bu I‘ve learned to navigate my way around the law library and find case law that may be of relevance in her freedom fight. What else would a true friend do? Yes, you do have friends in prison. I have friends in prison, and I love them. Yep, the L-word.
No matter where you are in life … free society or prison, people are people. They are like pebbles on the shore, each unique in their own way. It doesn‘t matter what their ethnicity or background is. Some of the nicest people can be found in prison. There are many people in society that probably shouldn‘t be, so it makes no matter where you are. All that really matters is who the person in the mirror truly is.
To open myself up to another person invites the reality of vulnerability. It requires that I open the door and let them in. While I have my own trust issues due to my own childhood and personal relationships that scarred my heart, I still find and believe that there‘s something good in everyone. When I look back on my life once it is over, I would hope to see what looks like a road map. I want to see my own path having crossed many more in this life‘s journey. With each crossing comes insight, growth and wisdom. There may be hearthbreak along the way, but even an airplane is safer on the ground than in the air, but that is not what it was created for. You have to be willing to take the risk, otherwise you‘ll never know what you are missing. The same is true of love and friendships.
So, whenever I hear someone tell me that you don‘t have friends in prison, I just gotta smile, because they are wrong. I know that I have friends, I have friends in prison. And I honestly believe that they know that they have a friend in me. Just goes to show that you shouldn‘t believe everything that you hear. There‘s always going to be a Dee Dee, Pops, Niki, Belinda, Tanisha, Molly or lil ol‘ me to prove them wroing. Why?? Well, don‘tchu know? There is so much love in prison!

*August 7, 2011 is National Friendship Day
So, if you received this in the e-mail or saw your name in print, please know that I am your Friend … and I hope I‘m the kind of someone you‘re glad to call a Friend, and not just an associate. I‘m here for you … and I always will be.

„Da Brain! Da Brain!“

Let‘s talk about the human brain. You know? That thing that weighs about 3 pounds and has about 100 billion neurons with another one trillion supporting cells. The brain has several sections, or structures, all with their own purpose. My focus is on the frontal lobe.
The frontal lobe is where the prefrontal cortex is located. This is where judgment, rational decision making, reasoning, and the logic and understanding of consequences originates from. It governs one‘s capacity for abstract thought, aggression, goal setting, and impulse control. Sounds pretty important, doesn‘t it? It is the power house and command center for cognitive flexibility, however, it is not fully developed until about the age of twenty-five. It is one of the last areas of the brain to mature.
Now, let‘s discuss the temporal lobes. Please, just bear with me, I do intend to make a point. This area contains the limbic-reward system, which includes the amygdala, which regulates emotions that are essential to one‘s survival. This can include fear, pleasure and anger.
The brain is composed of axons, which are like little messengers that communicate across a synapse to a dendrite of a neuron. What T.C.?! In simpler terms, there is a constant circuitry of impulses with a bunch of actions and reactions taking place making it possible for you to read this right now. The axon has a coating on it called the myelin layer, which is like insulation that permits all cognitive funtions. Myelination is a continous process as well, that begins before birth and takes place gradually until adult age.
Okay, so now that you know all of that, let me explain why I presented a biology lesson. You see, there is scientific empirical evidence that the above is all true. We now know that the adoloscent brain is not maturely developed until age 25, with special emphasis on the prefrontal cortex. We are aware that juveniles react emotionally centered (amygdala) because they lack a mature prefrontal cortex that would better regulate emotions in given stressful situation. In realistic terms, a 17 year old is not capable of thinking like an adult, so why is it that our collective society allows retributive justice to be carried outon juvenile offenders, equal to that of more mature adults? The Supreme Court ruled in Roper V. Simmons to ban the death penalty in all juvenile offender cases due to, in their own words, „The court observed that juvenile‘s lack of maturity and comparatively underdeveloped sense of responsibility ofen result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions. Juveniles are more susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, and that the character and personality traits of juveniles are more transitory and less well-formed.“
We live in a society that has heard the evidence, yet lacks the will to help reverse the error in law that they voted into existence. With new emerging science that clearly shows that youth rely upon their emotional center of the brain, which in turn can result in negative consequences, I have to wonder how you can read this and not get mad. I mean, what if were your kid, right? Did you know that between 1992 and 1999, every state except Nebraska passed laws making it easier to try juveniles as adults? Twenty-three states have no minimum age, and last I heard, Kansas and Vermont can try 10-years-olds as adults. Are we still calling ourselves civilized? Is that not barbaric by any measure?
Back to the brain, people. If a 15, 16, or 17-year-old doesn‘t have the biological mental capacity to rationalize a situation in a matter of minutes, let alone the blink of an eye, how can we call them adults? After all, if you sentence them as an adult, you‘re calling them an adult. Want to make a difference? Get involved. Burying our heads in the sand will not fix the problem. Only action on your part will. Go to http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org or write to them at:

Human Rights Watch
11500 W. Olympic Blvd. #441
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Q & A with T.C.

Q: Did that story about the trip to Yosemite really happen?
A: Yes, it did. I had the time of my life!
Q: What is all the hoopla over releasing prisoners early?
A: On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that overcrowding conditions in California‘s 33 state prisons is a violation of our Eighth Amendment rights in regards to cruel and unusual punisment. It had mostly to do with the prison system‘s failure to provide minimal care to prisoners with serious medical conditions. A three-judge panel in a lower court had stated that „it was an uncontested fact that an inmate in one of California‘s prisons needlessly dies six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies.“ The U.S.S.C. has given Governor Brown until May 2013 to reduce the prison population down from 144.000 inmates to 110.000. The prison were built to house only 80.000 people. Only non-violent feons will either be released or transferred to county jails. There are already about 10.000 inmates who have been shipped out-of-state over recent years, but more can fit into such a proposed plan. So in a nutshell, NO they are not releasing murderes, child molester‘s or savage beasts that are in custody for violent crimes. Those news reel bites are mostly of over zealous tough on crime advocates that think every prisoner is another Charles Manson or Richard Ramirez. Without proper data and hard cold facts, people can create the worse scenarios in their heads.

Q: You forgot to list the medical hotline info in last issue.
A: Ooops. To contact the California Prison Health Care Services people in Sacramento regarding your concerns about an inmate‘s inadequate health care, phone (916) 324-1403.

Q: Why are you overcharged so much at your special sales?
A: The fundraiser is a privilege for us to taste or obtain select items that as a prisoner, we would otherwise not receive. We recently had a KFC and Costco bulk item sale, which raised over $9k for charity. Any charge over the actual item price goes to a charitable organization. So if you think about it, a fundraiser/special sale is a win-win for both us and the organization receiving theproceeds. Right soon we are expecting two more sales by or before October. One is Little Caesar‘s Pizza … and who doesn‘t love pizza? The other is another Costco bulk items sale.

Q: What is going on with Marsy‘s Law?
A: Marsy‘s Law, which was ignorantly voter approved using scare tactics, permits the Parole Board to deny a lifer seeking a release date, far up to 15 years until their next possible parole hearing. An inmate named Michael Vicks (not the Pit Bull fighting football player) filed a writ when the BPH denied him parole using Marsy‘s Law as their justificationfor a lengthy denial. Because Vicks was in the system before the passage of the „Let‘s screw over lifers“ law, the BPH should not have applied it to Vicks. The court agreed when they heard his case. Marsy‘s Law only can legally apply to prisoners sentenced to life terms after the law was enacted. In more simpler terms – it does not apply to any lifer given a life term prior to the law‘s passage, January 2009.

Q: Is it true that more lifers are being released now than before Jerry Brown became Governor?
A: Yes. He has made it clear that if the taxpayers are payiing the BPH decision-makers over $100k a year each in salary, plus all of those ridiculous travel expenses, then he will need to trust that they can do their job. He‘s not treatening them like Wilson & Davis did, nor is he insulting them like Arnold did. He‘s not running for any higher office, so he has no personal agenda that would cause him to trample on a lifer‘s hopes. Ole J.B. was in office in the 1970‘s. Yes, he was Governor when Molly became a lifer prisoner, and he‘s Governor to release her. Do you like apples? How about them apples? Yeah!

One of the Things I‘ve Learned in Prison by Jennifer Hall
I‘ve been incarceratedat CCWF since 1993. Over the years I have particiapted in workshops, self-help groups, and numerous other classes which have enabled me to grow as an individual. By far, the most rewarding and challenging class I have taken, is ASL-101 (American Sign Language).
Not only am I learning another language, but it has opened up the door to an entirely new world for me. It takes patience and tolerance to teach this class. My teacher, Ms, Vonnie, is outstanding – not only as a teacher, but at understanding a group of people and being able to transfer that knowledge over to us. What she has taught me I could never have learned from a textbook.
I am learning more than just sign language. I am learning life lessons that are invaluable and will stay with me forever. The compassion Ms. Vonnie has for the deaf community has had a profound affect on me. I‘m looking forward to completing her Religious Signs class, and am excited in taking her ASL-102 class in the fall.
There are many things one can learn in the prison environment … some negative, some positive. I choose to seek the latter of the two. What I‘m learning in these classes offered to prisoners here, has opened my eyes, mind, and heart in new ways for a better tomorrow.
Ms. Vonnie, you rock!

Best Friends For Life:
To Molly May Kilgore, From Vickie Lee George
Molly, I want to tell you (and the world) how much I love you for being a family member to me while I have been in prison. When I first arrived at CIW (California Institute for Women in Frontera for all readers outside of California), I believed in my heart that I would do my 25 years-to-life alone … but then I moved in with you into your cell, and I felt that I was not alone. And I wasn‘t.
Molly, thank you for helping me learn how to do my time by both sound advice and demonstration. Not every new lifer is so blessed. When I count my blessings, I count you twice.
Now that you have left CCWF for new horizons, frontiers and a better life … a well earned life, it takes some time getting used to the fact that your prayers were truly answered. I look down A-Wing and after a minute I realize allover again that you are no longer there. When I was you go throgh the R&R door and you waved good-bye to me, I turned and said „thank you, Lord, for putting my best friend in my life.“
Molly, I wish you the very best out there. You‘ve worked so hard and waited so long for this freedom you‘ve been allowed to embrace. My Friend, I believe in your true potential. Yes, I miss you, but I wouldn‘t want it any other way. Besides, give me a minute … I‘ll be joining you soon.

Love Always – Your Friend – Vickie George

The Kindred

A new roommate moves into the cell and introduces herself. You discuss the house rules – simple structure of common courtesy and respect. They‘re always happy when I tell them that they don‘t have to remove their shoes before entering. More than happy actually … more like relieved. Once they settle in and realize that I don‘t bite and I most likely have all my shots (well, the ones that count), they ask that one question. You know? THE QUESTION. Sooner or later they ask, „so, when are you going home?“ And half of the time they don‘t comprehend when I reply, „I don‘t know.“
Being a lifer is an experience, not for the weak. We are a strong breed. It may have a little something to do with the road that got us here, but it has a lot to do with how the system has affected us too. If you were to ask me what it is like to be a lifer, it would take more than a simple sentence or minute to explain. To say that you‘d have to be one to understand is an understatement.
As a lifer, I have seen more roommates parole from my cell than I can even guess to number. I‘ve been in this same cell for the last 16 years of my 22 years of incarceration. What can I say? I play well with others. There are times when someone on the walkway will get annoyed that I don‘t remember them. They will try to make me remember their being my cellmate six, ten, twelve years ago. Really?! More people have passed through my cell like water through a seive than I can count. If anyone should be annoyed, it is the lifer who watches the parole violators keep coming back through the revolving door. It is like a slap in the face of freedom.
As a lifer, I know that to get close to anyone in here automatically requires trust. The reality though of getting close to a non-lifer, is that the other prisoner will eventually parole. It‘s gonna happen eventually. Our reality is that we watch many others get a second (third, fourth, and often tenth) chance, when all we want is half a chance. When it happens to someone that we care about, we have mixed emotions. On the one hand we are happy for them that they get to leave this place. On the other, it almost feels like a small part of us has died, as they take that part of our hearts with them. We don‘t want to be selfish, and so we let go. With each good-bye, we let go. It hurts … it hurts like hell. Can you imagine saying so many good-byes over a couple of decades? Unfortunately for the lifer, we need not imagine it. If anything, many avoid it by keeping their hearts guarded. Even hardened. However, like the storm clouds in April, a calm comes over you and life goes on.
Ironically, most of my prison friends are lifers. The ones I‘m closest to at least. They understand what it is like to wake up in here every single day and not know when they‘ll go home. They know what it is like to stress with anxiety the preparations of a parole hearing and to be abused by the panel (emotionally, mentally). They have the same fears of either dying in here or being stuck in here when their loved one dies … and not being able to attend the funeral. They have forgotten the feel of a real bed on Christmas morning and the taste of the home cooked meal that only mom could make. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged, condemned, and misunderstood. They comprehend that to quit is to die, and same question what the hell there is to even live for after all. They understand. They are my kindred. They are just like me, but also different.
So, when are you going home?
I don‘t know.

Umm … huh? I‘m a lifer

Oh, I‘m sorry. Why are you sorry?

I don‘t know. My point, exactly.

From The Heart
In the summer of 1978, I spent two weeks at Mt. Cross, a Christian faith based summer camp tucked in the Santa Cruz mountains. I didn‘t go there alone, but with my best friend Nancy. It had the usual campfire sing-a-longs at night, arts and crafts, and whatnot. The first week we were there, we heard about the hike to the summit, a good two hour hike one-way. We passed on it the first week, but come week two, we were gung-ho about making the trip. The thin was, we didn‘t want to look like wimps if we couldn‘t make the grade, so we decided on taking our own practice run. We thought that if we could hike uphill for about half the run, then we were good to go. So, we make plans, told our cabin counselor, Bear, and set out that late morning.
We headed up the incline path behind our cabin, which was set at a short fire line that separated the woods from the line of cabins. On the way up, we had to climb over a couple of downed trees, and around at least one too large to climb. After about fifteen or twenty minutes, we came to a clearing set aside for night campfire. We had met everyone there the week before. It was large enough for a good fifty people to sit on the logs that encircled the fire pit in the middle. Nancy dicided she wanted to take a break and she headed into the circle. I followed her into the wide open space and sat on a log. That‘s when she pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and I reminded her she wasn‘t supposed to smoke in the woods. Camp rule. She claimed she‘d be careful and lit up anyway. I can‘t stand cigarettes, and anyone who knows me, knows why. So, I stood up and as I did, that is when I felt it. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My stomach flipped with anxiety and dread. In an instant, I knew we were not alone. We were not safe. My strong sixth sense said, „RUN!“
I stepped directly in front of Nancy and whispered only loud eonugh for her to hear, „You know how I sense things?“ She said she did. I continued, „Don‘t look around. Don‘t do anything unusual. Just put out your cigarette and lets head back to the cabin.“ She just looked at me like I was pulling a joke on her. „Nancy, we‘re not alone. I‘m leaving. You coming or what?“ I headed to the circle‘s entrance and turned back downhill. Nancy was behind me, uncertain of wheter or not to believe me. Finally, she said, „Teresa – I swear, if this is a joke …“ I turned toward her over my shoulder to tell her that it wasn‘t, and that is when I saw him.

Behind Nancy, higher on the incline, but on the path, was a man. He had white clothing on, dirty and torn. He looked like he crawled out from under a rock. But hat wasn‘t the first thing I noticed. No, the first thing I noticed in the three fastest seconds of my life, were his eyes. Almost not even human. All I could do was yell, „RUUUUUUNNNN!!!“

It wasn‘t until later that I found out that Nancy afforded herself a quick glance overher own shoulder before she began to run behind me. I‘m telling you folks, it doesn‘t just happen in the movies. There‘s always that girl who will ask, „Run? But why?“ One look and she was like the wind on my heels.

I wasn‘t sure if he was chasing us, but I wasn‘t about to slow my pace to find out. What if he wasn‘t alone? I could hear Nancy behind me mumbling jibber jabber all the way down the mountain. The mysterious man bought us a little space when we heard him stuble over on of the downed trees, not landing very gracefully. The clean air burnt my lungs, but I kind of liked being alike, so I kept running.
As we neared the cabins, I began to yell the only thing I could think to yell: our cabin counselor‘s name. Nancy began yelling too. The funny thing is that everyone came out of their cabins because we were screaming „BEAR! BEAR!“ They all thought we were being chased by a bear. Our counselor, Bear, stood with them and grateful to see a crowd all I could do was point into the woods behind us. Nancy was ghost white drained of all color. She couldn‘t even yell anymore. Nobody understood what we were trying to tell them, then suddenly their faces all lifted, looking into the forest at my back. Their eyes displayed amazement and fear all at once. I turned and locked eyes with Mystery Man. His were black as far, possibly also the color of his soul. He made a wide panoramic sweep of the crowd left to right, then right to left. And then he locked eyes with me. He got this crazy little smile on his face, and the he turned and walked back into the woods. He never said a word. I don‘t recall anyone else saying anything either, let alone trying to follow him. He just disappeared out of view.
It didn‘t take long before Pastor Crowley had us called into the dining hall to meet some police looking guys. Forest Rangers or State Police? I don‘t know. They had those Smokey the Bear hats on. Nancy and I were shown a few photos. Instantly, we recognized the guy in the ice cream man uniform. Turned out he had recently escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. I really know how to have a good time don‘t I?
The moral of the story is, always listen to your gut instinct. It is like a compass that will always point you to the North. God put it in each of us to help us, protect us, and guide us. It is when I ignored my gut instinct that life dealt me some of the hardest blows.
So, I say from the heart to you … no matter what you may be going through, regardless of what other may think, always follow your gut. It tells you what is best for you. It is allabout you, and well, you‘re kind of a big deal. The world is a far better place with each of you in it. And if you ever feel a little lost or overwhelmed, call a friend, or, just yell at the top of your lungs. „BEAR!“ Trust me, someone will come running to see what is wrong. Worked for me. Namaste -T.C. and Mama P. me.for

T.C. Paulinkonis W45118 514-16-4U. PO Box 1509, Chowchilla, CA 93610

Pauline (Barbara)
W45118 514-16-4L
PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

HAPPY NATIONAL FRIENDSHIP DAY!

III John, verses 13-15

T.C and Mama ´P´ Quarterly Newsletter, 2nd QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,

It is our hope that this issue of the newsletter finds you doing well. As time goes by, more and more readers have joined us by the sharing of distributed copies with others. We would like to encourage each of you to pass it on to others to read. Esther has posted it on her blog while others have e-mailed their e-mail versions to their friends. Knowledge is to be shared. In some pieces, it may be more perspective than scientific fact, but there‘s nothing wrong with sharing that too. Please feel free to make copies and share with others. For anyone who wants to automatically recevie this quarterly newsletter via e-mail, all you need to do is to send your request to Anna Ingolfsdottir who resides in Iceland. She is my typist and publisher, yes, but she is my friend first. E-mail is annaing@centrum.is

I have asked several other „writers with a number“ to join forces with me by making submissions to include in this quarterly report. Some did not meet the deadline, so maybe next time. In this issue you will be introduced to Gia, a volunteer Health Peer Counselor and breast cancer survivor that helps educate other inmates on health related issues. I‘m proud to have you meet La Donna, a woman I met about 13 years ago in the U-Turn prison prevention program directed at youth-at-risk. Donna Lee, an LWOP prisoner, choose to write on the topic of parole. Her piece was most informative, but I had to edit it to fit in this format, while hoping I kept it well in tact.

Thank you for not judging us. I mean, if you‘re reading this, you‘re either a prisoner or you know one. To those of you who‘ve stood by us over the years, please know that it truly is your strong shoulders that we lean on. Thank you for ever stuff!

Namasté

T.C. & Mama ´P´

What Is D.I.D.?

Have you seen the movie, „Sybil“? Sybil had what was termed MPD, or Multiple Personality Disorder. Over the years MPD got a pretty bad name as a defective title for a person who is totally messed up. The MPD was for the most part, replaced with D.I.D., Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Now, I‘m not a psychologist, but I‘ll explain this the best I can.

When an individual is subjected to trauma, and their conscious mind (present tense person) cannot deal with said trauma, they may dissociate. That means to mentally check-out, leave their conscious mind and hide in the safety of the subconscience. When that happens, they may appear changed, or in some cases, in a daze. In those instances when one has dissociated, another personality often referred to us an alter, is developed. That alter personality can be male or female, even genderless. They can be of any age, and not age as the host does. You, being the host. D.I.D. is most commonly brought on in childhood sexual abuse cases. In my case, when I could not deal with the trauma that I was subjected to, I checked out. When she couldn‘t handle it, she checked out and another stepped in. That‘s why they referred to it as multiples.

Each personality has their own memories. Where I have lost time, is when I checked out. The alter that was present is the one holding those memories. In recovery, you attempt to pull the memories together. Trust me, that requires professional counseling. Think of it as a huge jigsaw puzzle, and each piece is a memory. The pieces however belong to more than one personalty. The idea is to piece the picture together. In my case, I really don‘t want to recall whatever I don‘t remember. All that really matters to me is that I know now what I didn‘t know back then, and that is that I did nothing wrong to get D.I.D.

Did You Hear About the Super Jail for Kids?

In the last issue of this newsletter, I asked who would lock-up teens for life and throw away the key. The answer quite simply was: our legal system. Lady Justice wears a blindfold supposedly to not see defendents by race, gender, culture or any other means by which prejudice can be measured on her lopsided scales. Personally, I think she wears the blindfold to avoid seeing how terribly bent the system really is. I mean, how can you not want to fix it once you see it? I discovered an answer to my question that took place in my own backyard, Alameda County. The facts are appalling.

In the late 1990‘s, the state legislature voted to reallocate federal funding that was meant to support the construction of new prisons and to renovate and expand local juvenile correctional facilities. The general concensus was that local juvenile detention facilites were in a state of disrepair. Many of the existing buildings were at least 50 years old and inadequate living conditions. The chief Probation Officers Accociation tried to get voters to agree to a bond measure to remeoly the conditions, but California voters adamantly rejected not only bonds to improve detention centeres, but clearly did not support expanding juvenile facilities or building new adult prisons.

President Bill Clinton‘s administration began making federal grants to partially defray the building of new prison facilities. California‘s share of the pie was a whopping $275 million a year. Almost all of the money was used for renovations and improvements to adult lock-ups, but the grant mandated there be some expansion in custody beds.

The BOC, Board Of Corrections, was given the task of either improving or building new juvenile detention centers. It wasn‘t enough that the adult rate of incarceration was a booming economy for the state, lets add juveniles to the melting pot of the prison industrial complex. The counties all wanted some of that money and began applying for grants to the BOC for their cut. Of the 58 counties, 40 received grants. In the end, it ws a tidal wave of madness that proposed expanding the juvenile bed capacity by 3150 new beds, a 50% hike in total. It should be noted that this took place in the late 1990‘s when juvenile arrests had been on a continuous decline. Hmmm …. follow the money.

Alameda county operated a 299 bed facility in the northern part of the county near the neighborhoods where most of the youth lived. Technically, the place was in such bad shape, it should‘ve been illegal to house mice there, let alone 299 kids. To consider their options, the county hired a firm out of Georgia to evaluate the situation and help prepare an analysis for just cause to build a new juvile center with even more beds. That firm proposed the plan to build a new 540 bed juvenile hall to be located on the site of the old adult county jail, SANTA RITA JAIL (SRJ). The old SRJ was shut down in September 1989, just two weeks before our arrest. It was a rat motel at best. Yeah, lets remodel it and put kids in there. Are they nuts?

Well, that‘s when things became interesting. The site was in Dublin, across from a federal prison, the new SRJ hi-tech county lock-up, and out in the boondocks, meaning it would be more difficult for those youths to receive visits. Public transportation is fairly limited to that area. The site was justified due to the acreage of land. The need was further supported by false data that showed an increase in juvenile arrests. Alameda county applied for funding, having secured nearly $30 million for renovations and an additional $3 million to subsidize bed expansion. The funds only covered a small percentage of the costs for the new facility. They must have figured that once they began, grant money would certainly be given to complete such a big project. They never figured in the funding for staff and operating costs. That‘s like buying a fleet of cars that you can‘t afford to insure or put gas in. Where‘s the logic?

Finally, after all the hoopla, a small group of youth advocates called Books Not Bars (BNB) stepping in to oppose the madness. They pointed out that mostly minorities faced extreme detention, local budgets had taken away from youth programs, public schools and welfare, and that the super jail for kids was nothing more than a political investment for Supervisor Scott Haggerty, in whose district the new super jail would be built. His agenda was to bring a new source of revenue to his district by way of local construction businesses who were bidding for the contract. That‘s when the media got more involved. All coverage, was bad coverage, so the pressure was on. Dublin residents got involved, protecting the new super jail in their backyard. It took the tireless efforts of BNB, the center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the Youth Law Center, and several other juvenile justice advocates to shut down the maddening plan for what would have been the largest youth detention center ever heard of. Reasonable renovations and building did take place in Dublin, but not before the persons who sought personal gain at the expense of a bunch of kids where eliminated from the picture. This included personnel changes in high positions of both the Probation Dept, and the Juvenile Courts System.

Prison is an industry of making money. Everyone from building planners and builders, to staff, local businesses, and vendors that win state contracts, all profit from the incarceration of 33 state prisons. And they want to build more. By taking away funds from public education and after school programs, our budget planners reduce the chances that today‘s youth will succeed. It almost seems like a set up. It is long proven that humanities in the arts guarantees a kid a better shot at half a chance and higher self-esteem. So why are our legislators reducing their chances? There are many besides myself that think it is to increase the delinquency ratio, and pack our prisons. And with life sentences being handed out, how can you argue with that? Money is money, right? Even at the cost of today‘s youth. And that‘s a high price to pay.

Juvenile Offender Facts To Consider

· There are approximately 275 California youth presently sentenced ot life without the possibility of parole (S.F. chronicle 12/6/10)

· Within months of the passage of Proposition 21, San Diego was the first county to put the new law to the test charging eight middle class white students as adults for chasing down and beating some Latino immigrant workers. Being there were 8 of them, according to the text of Prop 21, that is defined as a gang.

· No other country outside the United States implements children to be sentenced to LWOP.

· In many cases where a youth was prosecuted with an adult for the same crime, it was the kid that received the heavier sentence.

· Many youth sentenced as adults, had no prior criminal history.

· Each youth offender sentenced to LWOP will cost taxpayers about $2,5 million.

· To continue incarcerating the 275 youth already sentenced to LWOP, will cost close to $ 700 million.

· The principal opponents to Prop 21 included juvenile court judges.

· Neuroscience studies report that children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than that of adults. This scientific theory was recognized by the supreme court in Roper V. Simmons as well as Graham V. Florida. The Graham case was ground breaking, as the U.S. supreme court held that it was unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to LWOP for nonhomicide offenses as well. The Graham case recently affected more than 100 juvenile offenders who received LWOP sentences for nonhomicide offenses.

Parole Denial in Federal Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court held in Swarthout V. Cooke, 562 U.S. (zoll) (Per Curiam, 1/24/11, case 10-333) that California lifer inmates have no right to federal habeas corpus under existing law to challenge a parole decision, based on the „some evidence“ rule. Federal writs are based upon the grounds that one is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. In a nutshell, this ruling states that federal habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors of state law. Period.

I Am One Of Many – submitted by La Donna Robinson

My name is La Donna Robinson, and I am serving a sentence of 15 years to life for 2nd degree murder. A murder that was committed at the ripe old age of seventeen. I am now forty years old, soon to be 41, in 3 months.

I don‘t pity myself, and I don‘t feign innocence for the crime of which I know that I am guilty. However. I know I have served my time-nearly double-than that of which I was sentenced.

I have appeared befoe the Board of Parole Hearings approximately eight times, and have been denied each and every time, regardless of the positive psychological evaluations that I have received, stating that I am a „low-risk“ of danger to society if found suitable for parole. I have been disciplinary free since my arrival, have become a certified Airline Rerservation Agent, a certified Animal Groomer, and have received all the necessary hours to become a licensed Cosmetologist. I have received my GED and an AA degree, and have completed too many self-help classes to count.

There are numerous juvenile offenders just like myself who are struggling every day to achieve their freedom. We program every day for up to eight hours, return to the houseing unit to be counted, and immediately report to some self-help class or another. We struggle to remain diciplinary free in a miniature world where we are constantly threatened with „how ´bout I get you a 115 to take to the board?“ We find the strength to support each other no matter how tired we get on our journey because as with any species, when one gets tired one will fall back and wait with hi until he has found the strength to move ahead. We have created our own makeshift family of juvenile offenders who have discovered that it makes it a little easier whenn you know there is someone struggling to paddle in a boat just like yours. We don‘t always like each other, but we love each other, and we are here for each other.

Thank you T.C. & Mama ´P´ for the opportunity to participate in something that reaches far beyond these prison fences. There are people who need to know that there is more than „convicts“ stuck in this place, ther are „prisoners“ who left society when they were too young to legally take a drink of alcohol, or to get a job, or to even marry. What about us? What is to be said for a state that will not allow you to take a drink until the age of 21, but will try you as an adult and lock you away for the rest of your life at the age of 14? There is a lot to be said. But no one wants to be the one to say it.

Juvenile Justice Reform Update – by Elizabeth Lozano

On April 5th, California‘s Public Safety Committee voted 5-to-2 for SB9, which is derived from SB399 that did not pass by two votes last fall. As I‘ve said before, this bill is not a get out of jail free card. SB9 is a bill introduced by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) to end life sentences without parole (LWOP) for juvenile offenders. It would require that I prove that I deserve to be considered for resentencing. As an LWOP juvenile offender, should SB9 pass, my fate would lie in the hands of a court judge.

This bill has many stages to go through. Any support by way of phone calls, e-mails, or written correspondence to Assembly members and Senators in Sacramento would help immensely and be appreciated.

In another area of reform, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on March 23rd on whether police officers ought to consider a young suspect‘s age before Miranda Rights are read to them. (The right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, you know the drill). Currently under Federal Law, a suspect taken into custody is Mirandized. Certain uses of restraint such as prolonged interrogation, handcuffs, and restricted surroundings, add up to custody. Under court law if a „reasonable person“ would feel free to leave, then the rights need not be read. In this case and others like it, children are being expected to obey authority figures and have the thinking processes of an adult. Both technically and scientifically, that is unrealistic.

The case being argued is that of J.D.B. v. North Carolina. Detectives went to a middle shool and escorted 13 year old J.D.B. to a school conference room where officials awaited him. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in this case that since the door was not locked, and he began to speak after agreeing to answer questions, that he must have reasonably understood that he did not need to answer any questions regarding his involvement in property crimes. He was not Mirandized. The U.S. Supreme Court however, granted certiorari, creating what could be a ground breaking case to protect the legal rights of underaged suspect. So far, the last two cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court involving uvenile offender rights were ruled in favor of the juveniles. This case is pending decision.

For more information or to learn how you can become more involved in reform, please go to http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org.

Breast Wellness – contributed by Gia M. McClain

Let‘s talk about breasts, Baby. Yes, breasts. If someone were to gie you a free gift, wouldn‘t you accept it? Of course you would. I have a gift for you. It is information about self-breast examinations. Now, while both men and women can get breast cancer, the focus of this piece is on women‘s health.

Thousands of women die needlessly each year from breast cancer. Many women automatically assume that during a self-exam, they are looking for a lump. The purpose of the breast exam is to become familier with how your breasts naturally feel, so that when you feel something different, you wil lknow it. This can allow you to get to your health care provider in a timely manner. It will help to ask your healthcare provider for guidelines that are appropriate for your age group.

Within the prison environment, inmates are their own best defense, and in some cases, their own advocate to fight for their own medical rights for healthcare. As budget cuts have come down upon us, there has been a lack of doctors, replaced by nurse practitioners. However, regardless of whether you‘re a prisoner at C.C.W.F. or a citizen within the free society, here‘s my advice as a Peer Health Volunteer:

1. Do a monthly self-exam. It is best to do it about the same time of the month every month, and while you‘re not on your menses (period) or ovulating. You may experience tenderness and discomfort at those times and be less likely to do it properly, or at all.

2. Have a buddy check system, which is a friend or loved one that you contact monthly as a reminder to do the self-exam, and they in turn do the same for you.

3. When you see your healthcare provider, as for a clinical breast exam on a yearly basis. Using your birthday as an easy reminder can make it less likely to forget the last time you had one. Also, ask them to show you how to properly do a self-exam. Far to many women assume incorrectly, missing anomolies.

4. Get a mammogram, set by guidelines of American Cancer Society. Guidelines include age, ethnicity, and family history. Remember, the life you save, may be your own.

A Perspective of parole – submitted by Donna Lee

If you ask a lifer whether parole is a right or a privilege, most will say that it is both. If you‘re sentenced to a life term with the possibility of parole, that opens the door to your legal rights. However, being granted parole encompasses the respect of the privilege of a second chance at freedom.

Life prisoners are a special breed. They work hard to satisfy and meet the nine circumstances tending to show suitability criteria. They learn the rehabilitation tools needed to insure that they can succeed on parole and for therest of their lives. The lifer spends a majority of their time and energy in thinking about the factors that led to the crime and how they can avoid similar situations in the future. With age comes maturity, and the likelihood that the paroled lifer will not reoffend.

Like anyone else, the lifer inmate has goals. Usually, many. Some want to help support family and friends who‘ve stood by them over the years, while others dream of starting up businesses or families. Granted, one released after decades of confinement, the newly released lifer will experience culture shock. That is where re-entry programs like Crossroads can benefit them and help orientate them back into society. The goal however, is to be granted parole first.

The nine circumstances to become suitable for parole can be a challenge to meet, but is achievable. They include:

1. Lack of a juvenile record depicting career criminal behavior.

2. Stable social history that demonstrates you‘ll have the support of family and friends upon release, especially during transition.

3. Signs of remorse (a step in the insight issue)

4. Motivation for the crime (also part of insight)

5. Battered Woman Syndrome, if applicable.

6. Lack of criminal history, – first time offender.

7. Age.

8. Parole Plans, which include employment, housing, and counseling or support groups relative on a case-by-case basis.

9. Institutional behavior.

Even if you‘ve satisfied the criteria, there is a chance thatyou will not be found suitable for parole. It could be the psychological evaluation you were subjected to, or the inability to adequately answer to a panel question regarding insight issues. If found unsuitable, and you believe your rights have been violated in that denial, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus in your trial court. It isn‘t easy to do on your own without legal counsel, but there are a number of jailhouse lawyers who can help guide you through the process. It will not be easy. It can be quite stressful overall. However, when your personal freedom is at stake, you either step up to the plate or you walk off the field and guilt. I say look the pitcher in the eyes, because a girl‘s gotta do, what a girl‘s gotta do, Parole is possible. You just have to want it. You have to earn it.

Donna Lee, LWOP prisoner

Communicado

When we write in our letters, some prison slang or facility terminology comes out. There are words and numbers we use quite regularly, so let‘s define some of that here.

C-file: Central file. Our peersonal prisoner file that contains all of our achievements, write-ups, numerous documents.

UCC: The classification committee that evaluates us yearly.

Program: Well, like robots. To do a good program is to do as you‘re told and expected to regarding school or work assignment duties.

Hooch: Inmate manufactured alcohol, AKA PRUNO.

Recall: This doesn‘t relate to memory. It means return to our cells.

Insight: The Parole Board expects that we can see into various elements of our crime, the full impact and all aspects of it.

Canteen: Not a thermos. This is our local 7-11 store.

805: The infirmary (Bldg. number)

504: Administrative Segregation, death row, EOP (Bldg. number)

602: Appeals process (document number)

115: Disciplinary Action (document number)

EOP: Enhanced Outpatient Program for mentally unstable inmates

The Health Care Issue

Although the information is not plastered up in the clinics and 805, there is actually an Inmate Health Care Inquiry Line mainteined by the California Prison Health Care Services. It allows members of the public and families of inmates to report concerns in regards to our health care from behind prison walls in Chowchilla.

As a prisoner, it is my right to 602 any complaints that I have regarding medical services, or lack thereof. The first step in the complaint process is the 602 grievance form. They allow me only 15 days from incident of complaint to have the 602 filed. The form specifically states that they in turn also have that time limit, however, there is a loophole exception to the rule for administration that inmates do not have. Staff is afforded the right to a time delay. Their prison, their rules. I just live here.

What do we 602 on midical grounds? Per Title 15, Division 3, Article 8, Section 3350 Provisions of Midical and Dental Services, the prison is obliged by law to basically take care of our medically necessary requirements. That includes, but is not limited to reasonable care to protect life, prevent illness or disability, and alleviate severe pain. The problem with defining severe pain is that it has become a matter of opinion. Believe me, if I feel it is severe or chronic pain, I will file a 602 to seek a medical remedy.

I cannot find a section int he Title 15 (Prisoner‘s Bible of Legal Rights basically) that refers to the conditions in 805, where some inmates are housed indefinitely. Pour souls. There are partially paralyzed inmates who rely upon nurses to help bathe them and change their bedding. The problem is that many of those overpaid babysitters don‘t want to be bothered. The Health Peer Counselors that volunteer their time to those inmates on occassion, find themselves carrying out those nursing duties as a matter of an act of humanity. But, nobody wants to make waves. Nobody wants to speak out. And then there‘s me.

Tripp‘s dream

In the third quarter issue of this newsletter, we shared the plight and perseverance of our friend and sister in Christ, Deborah Pegler. We even dedicated that issue in her memory, as she had lost her brave battle with Stage IV lung cancer in June 2010. It has been almost a year since she joined the angels, and I find from time to time, she enters my thoughts like a fresh summer’s breeze. She was my friend, and I loved her like a sister, and I miss her as both.

Before her passing, Tripp, as many of us knew her, had the privilege of seeing a dream come true. She did not want her painful past to all be in vain. She believed that if she could help save just one life by telling her story, then her journey would be complete. Filmmaker Yoav POTASH made a documentary that detailed the repeated beatings, rapings, and torture that Oliver Wilson subjected Tripp to. Much of the abuse was to entertain his friends, but we all know that abuse is about control. Potash leads the viewer through the death of Wilson and Tripp’s 1983 murder conviction. But, it does not end there. The film tells the rest of her story. A story of recovery on several levels and the path she took to freedom. Tripp was incarcerated for 26 years, and was released in October 2009. She spent 9 months with her children and grandchildren before she left us. She did not fear death. She accepted it. She’s one of the most influential and courageous women I have ever had the honor and privilege to have met.

Tripp’s dream was for the documentary to be made. It was completed in time for her to attend a premiere prior to her death. The film debuted to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in February. It is called “Crime after Crime”. See crimeaftercrime.com for more details.

As I’ve said before, I imagine she’s giggling while riding a rainbow on the other side. Even now, she makes me smile.

From the Heart

As a life term prisoner, I know all too well what it is like to be judged – by those I thought were my family and friends, as well as some of the general public. Funny how people think that THIS could never happen to them. If they’re lucky, it never will, but one would have to have worn my shoes the first 24 years of my life to have any idea what it is like to wear them now. People judge people. It is a defect we’ve all been guilty of doing. I’ve long ago learned to shrug it off. I can handle the looks, gossip, assumptions, even the abandonment I’ve experienced from so-called friends, who judged my. Being that I was more of a square in my school years, I had a lot of practice feeling like an outcast. I sort of embraced it. I didn’t need to fit in. Lucky too, otherwise in spring 1989, I would’ve gotten my sensitive lil heart broken…

I was a time bomb inside of myself. I could feel it. I was guilt stricken by my life crime. I couldn’t sleep of rind any peace. I couldn’t erase the images in my mind. I needed to get away from the Bay Area for a weekend, so I asked BREE to join me, Bree was like a sister, but we were total opposites. She was 100% Biker chick. And I don’t mean Schwinn neither. I mean Harley-Davidsons, motorcycle clubs, bearded bedfellas, drugs, the whole nine yards. That includes the mouth, language, and “Are you talkin’ to me?” attitude that comes with it. In a word, Bree was a Badass.

We went to Yosemite National Park for the weekend. When we reached Curry Village, where I had made reservations for a canvas tent cabin on my VISA card, I was in for a shock. They accidentally gave my cabin to someone else for the first night, but we could have it the second night. When I asked where we were supposed to sleep that first night, Bree volunteered us to share that cabin. I kindly rejected. I’d sleep in the back of my mini-truck before I did that. The clerk gave us a room at the Ahwanhee Hotel for the first night. The cost difference was comped to us, so off we were to find this place.

We had to drive up an incline and around a mountain but we found it. Oh my gosh, it was beautiful! We were expecting a motel setting, but what we drove into was a country club setting. I felt like I had driven into the Twilight Zone. I pulled off of the highway into a dirt lot and parked my Dodge RAM 50 between a Mercedes and a Porsche. I saw the people playing that lawn golf game with giant hammers – what’s it called? Croquet. That’s it! I turned to Bree and said, “This should be interesting.”

I was wearing a black sleeveless t-shirt, SOL JEANS, hiking boots, a leather belt with a rodeo buckle, and a buck knife in the sheath. Bree was wearing a t-shirt that she fringed the sleeves off of, skin tight black jeans, knee high Zodiak boots, her arms and chest tattooed with enough ink to print the Sunday paper, and a large handbag hanging off of her shoulder. My hair was short, hers was wild. We looked like we just left the Sturgis Run, and as we left the lot to approach the main lobby, which was a good 100 yards away, all eyes were on us. We stood out, we didn’t fit in. One woman defensively pulled her croquet-playing daughter to her side as if we were hungry cannibals. I just smiled and kept walking. Personally, I think they were trying to recollect if they had seen either of our faces on a Wanted Poster. We were being judged by how we looked. No doubt about it. Someone call America’s most wanted, immediately!

Once we reached the front lobby, I could feel the holes burning into my back from their stares, as the clerk looked up from the front desk and did a double take. I could swear I heard him gasp and his neck crack. I knew what he was thinking. He asked if he could help us, and by that, he meant with directions to where the peasants camp. I explained that we had a reservation to which he said, “oh no…. there must be a mistake.” I handed him the paperwork. He immediately got on the telephone to call Curry Village, probably to cuss them out. Next thing I knew, he looked up over my shoulder with this absolute look of horror on his face. That’s when I realized that Bree was no longer at my side. It had to be her that caught his eye-bulging attention. Sure as water is wet, it was Bree alright. There was a complimentary table sat up in the lobby for guests checking in. It had bread rolls, crackers, cheeses, meats, and lemonade. Bree didn’t need their beverages, because she pulled out her bottle of Yukon Jack to wash down those little sandwiches. She was making little sandwiches and wrapping them up in the large fancy napkins, and stuffing a few in her handbag for the road. I swear it, I couldn’t take her anywhere, but in that moment, I saw her point! Treat us like we don’t belong, she’ll act like she doesn’t belong. However, she was just being herself. The clerk humbly apologized and gave me the key to our room, happy to see us leave his lobby. I bet he lost sleep over it.

After we settled in to our room, we returned to the valley floor for the day. Around 4 p.m. the dark clouds arrived and it began to pour rain. Darkness enveloped us as I drove up the mountain back to the hotel. It sat in complete darkness, as the storm had taken out all of the power. Before we got out of the truck, I opened the glove box and removed two flashlights and an extra package of batteries. We made our way to our room, walking along the outdoor wrap-around porch where people sat at tables with candles flickering as they played cards and chess. One older woman with a snotty attitude asked me, “Excuse me, but how do you rate?” I had no idea why she was so animistic towards me, and I simply said, “Excuse me?” She went on a tirade about how the clerk in the lobby said they only had complimentary candles that were for outdoor use, and how they should fix the lights or refund their charges. I didn’t know how to respond without being offensive. That is, until the rich grouch said, “So, how do you rate? Where did you get those flashlights?” As calmly as I could muster, I replied, “Ace Hardware,” turned, and went to our room. Bree was so proud of me. I’m a pretty nice person, but I had finally had it with the “we’re better than you. They may have been more financially set than either of us was, but at last I had the good sense to bring flashlights and extra batteries to the frickin’ wilderness! Hmpf!

This experience rally did happen. A whole lot more also happened that weekend, but the moral of the story her is…. no matter who you are or where you are, it doesn’t really matter what others think of you. What truly matters, is what you think of yourself. I can look at my reflection in the mirror and not be ashamed of how I treat others. I live my life with Hebrews 10:29 in mind, but I also live by one main philosophy: I make every effort to be the kind of person that I’d be honored to call a friend. And so, from the heart, I simply say, that if you are reading this, it is an honor to call you one.

NAMASTÉ,

T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41

PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Subject: Total Moral Victory in the World’s Worst Prison Today (For Friends, the Public, as well as the Media)

Dearest Family and Friends:

The following is a vivid testimony to the ultimate moral, mental, and spiritual integrity, dignity, and destiny of the Baha’is and indeed of the entire human race:

Ever since the most unjust and undignified imprisonment some three years ago, without a single crime, of the most innocent, the pure, and the saintly Baha’i Leaders in Iran called Yaran, and their subsequent transfer from the Evin Prison to the most backward and unusually harsh prison of Rajaei Shahr where some 5000 topmost killers, drug dealers, and others are kept in clusters under sub-human conditions, despite the lack of food, toilet, sanitation, and basic subsistence conditions, despite the dirt, filth, and illness, in pitiful conditions themselves, the two saint Baha’i ladies Mahvash and Fariba, as with the other five in the men’s quarters, have by the power of their Faith managed to support and uplift the minds and hearts of their fellow pitiful prisoners by giving them their relentless and genuine loving support to the poorer, the more needy, and the more frail fellow prisoners, seeing no evil in any soul, finding and nurturing dignity even in such a man-forsaken hell, and by such genuine constant manifestations of loving kindness, tact, and wisdom, they have now won, as a testimony to human moral triumph, the hearts and minds and the respect of the entire company of these same so-called “criminal” fellow prisoners, despite the moribond conditions and with all forms of dangers to their own very lives!

Over the months, whenever by token of the only good modern-day miracle of cell phone in the prison yard it was made possible for me to hear several times from Fariba herself, and on the one and only occasion when I got the chance and was so blessed by Divine Destiny to visit the two most precious ladies from behind their prison cabins two months ago for one hour myself, as well as from other family members and even directly from prison guard, I heard myself how miraculously the dangerous killers and criminals had been overwhelmingly moved and transformed by the vivifying souls of these two saintly Ladies.

One can recall the moving poem by Mahvash which shook the world, who, amidst the extreme pains of her own, backed against the withered single pomegranate tree in the prison yard, contemplates how the entire burden of these soul-and-body tortured fellow prisoners and indeed all the down-trodden suffering women of the World are now on her shoulder.

I am still amazed how for the entire three years during the rare occasions she could talk on the phone at various times, I never heard Fariba’s voice even once tremble slightly except for joy, with full faith, complete optimism, and total jubilation, as if walking in the highest Paradise all these long suffering days and months and years.

I still recall the moving sharing lessons of Fariba relaying to me how she had found the single remaining hidden spot of beauty and purity in each and all of these worldly despised and abandoned souls. I remember when she described to me the miracle account of how the most feared gang leader of the prison mafia, despite the huge body, knife-cut and broken face and other fearsome features, shun by all other killers and criminals, had been so moved by our twin spiritual heronies over time that she had on one occasion when Fariba had to pass a toilet dirt mud which had become watery sludge after rain, with their prison-customary slippers, she saw Fariba from far and told her from the distance “Please wait, please wait, may your holy feet not be touched and smeared by these dirts”, then, throwing her own slippers bode and insisted Fariba to kindly step on her slippers and pass by the place lest she be mired. No such things happen in any deadly criminal prison anywhere in the world, specially not in any place similar to this Rajaei Shahar, where only for the mere sake of prolonging an already issued death sentence with formalities paperwork procedures, often the killer kills one more unfortunate and helpless person often at random in the prison, days prior to the execution.

I remember how once Fariba was so overjoyed to tell me how one of her friends, where a few had died mercilessly by swine flu and cast and treated like swines by prison authorities, had first completely given up strong drug addiction, only to replace it with super heavy cigarette addiction, then, by the loving care of our two Baha’i Ladies, day by day she had been reducing smooking to the last one cigarette per day. Fariba told me how that day, just a month ago, Fariba hugged that lady, and rather than insisting or requesting her to give up the final cigarette, only told here gently how much she loved her and was proud of her who despite her years of bad luck in life turning her into a despised criminal, she had obtained the positive hope, the will power, and the supreme determination to accomplish what so many others in the free world had failed to succeed despite all facilities, toos, and support. Fariba told me how the lady, now a close friend, immediately threw to the ground the last final cigarette, crushed it with her heels, and, cried and said: Today I finally give up this addiction for the sake of love of you, as I feel and know that some day I shall visit you in your home and tell you and show you the effect of the loving transformation you have affected and created in me and our many other fellow prison mates!

This is how a candle can shine like the torch, nay as the mid-day Sun, in the darkness of desolation, pessimism and hopelessness, and selfishness that has overshadowed the human society.

Now, I just spoke to Fariba few hours ago on the phone who called from the Rajaei Shahr Prison.

For your information, as the latest news, by tomorrow the two most precious angelic ladies, and the crowning pride of future human civilization will be transferred to the worst section of the Prison entitled “The Under-Ground Dungeon for the Worst of the Villains and Criminals”.

This latest panic move by a remorsely helpless oppressor signifies an entirely unparalled scenario in the World History ever, even up to the present date; that is, for the holy and saintly riligious prisoners of conscience to be once more exiled within the prison, one more tier down from the already terrible exiled Prison allocated for the worst of criminals, killers, and drug addicts to the lower degree underground dungeon for the most dangerous criminals amongst them, just becasue these two already grossly-wronged innocent Saint Lady Prisoners, while in the prison under sub-human conditions, have by their shear Faith and their most pure love and consistent un-conditional tireless and selfless caring actions have transformed the prison-hell into a moral and spiritual Paradise, by moving the souls, changing the hearts, educating the minds and rectifying the conducts of the worst criminals, killers, and drug addicts to such a degree as to empower on the one hand many to give up their severe drug addictions simply on their own free will and by natural encouragement they so lovingly received rather than by persuation and without the need to appeal to any medicine or doctors or tools, or force while against all odds in such deprived hell-prison, and on the other hand enable most others to repent and wash their hands and hearts away from all crimes, purely through the power of real love and by the intense natural free persuation of mind and transformation of heart solely affected via the dynamic power of example of the Twin Tahirih’s of the Time!

Fariba said today on the phone that despite the repeated public prison loudspeaker announcements and stern warnings for all prisoners to stay and shun away, and do not associate with the Baha’i prisoners, groups upon groups of prison ladies thronged and gathered around their cell these past three days, with tearful eyes and warm hugging arms and in a unified supreme array of moral support and expressions of reciprocal love and as spontaneous sign of total unified allegience by all prisoners to the Two Saint Ladies whom they have grown to know as Angels from Heaven stationed in this human hell of a notoriously fanatic and repressive unhumane and dark Regime. Even in the oppressors, the Baha’is see light and apply the transforming and healing power of Baha’ullah’s Revelation which is the Most Great Elixir to ultimately
apply the unifying panacea to the ailing body of the World of humanity and finally affect the evolutionary transformation by God’s Will to the entirety of humankind.

“God hath, likewise, as a bounty from His presence, abolished the concept of “uncleanness”, whereby divers things and peoples have been held to be impure. He, of a certainty, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridván, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds. Consort ye then with the followers of all religions, and proclaim ye the Cause of your Lord, the Most Compassionate; this is the very crown of deeds, if ye be of them who understand.” Baha’u’llah; Aqdas #75

Just hours ago, Fariba in most happy tone of voice told me that one of the miracles of the Supreme Manifestation of God, Baha’u’llah, is that to the degree He gives His loved ones sufferings for the sake of the mental and moral and spiritual education and upliftment of humanity in this dark age of the transition to the collective maturity of the entire human race, to a multiple degree of that He also bestows upon them true felicity, joy, and jubilation; and that how truly happy she is that she is going down to the underground dungeon, with no fear nor a bit concern for imminent interrogations and torture.

This, reminded me vividly of her hand-written letter to me some thirty years back, in 1982 or 1983, posted from Babolsar to Boston, when our dearly beloved martyrs had just ascended to the Abha Kingdom, how she wished to be like the example of the root of the Cause of God, that Divine Tree which is neither of the East nor of the West, whose roots are firm in the earth (dark, cold, wet, lowly soil of the earth as she described), so that its branches and fruits, us, the Baha’is and all the people of good will in the outside world, can overshadow and benefit the entire human kind. Surely that Divine Tree is growing to overshadow the entire human race, now that the roots are going deeprer inside the darkness of human soul in order to bring and apply the world-wide healing remedy of Baha’u’llah.

What a sublime drama in the human history!

Speechless in awe and admiration, I remain.

Ya Baha’u’l – Abha!
(Oh Thou The Most Glorious Glory!)

(name deleted for safety purposes)

To my beloved friends worldwide, please pray for these noble souls. Gratitude, immense gratitude. Love to All, Esther

Baha’i World News Service to me
show details 2:24 AM (6 hours ago)

Grave concern for safety of Iran’s imprisoned Baha’i leaders

NEW YORK, 15 February 2011 (BWNS) – Iran’s seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders have been transferred to more brutal sections of their prison complex.

In the case of the two Baha’i women, the circumstances of the move have raised concerns that it may have been orchestrated as a means of creating an insecure environment that threatens their lives.

The Baha’i International Community has learned that one of them – Fariba Kamalabadi – has already been physically threatened by inmates since being sent to the notorious Section 200 of Gohardasht Prison.

“Apparently, the atmosphere is highly charged in this section, and there is a great deal of tension and animosity among the inmates,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

Mrs. Kamalabadi was transferred to Section 200 on Saturday 12 February, along with Mahvash Sabet.

“It is difficult to be certain about the reason for the move,” said Ms. Dugal. “However we believe that, since their arrival at Gohardasht, the Baha’i women – despite their own extremely challenging situation – have nonetheless been a constant source of comfort and hope to other inmates. The prison authorities apparently became alarmed that the two women began to receive signs of respect from a growing number of prisoners. As a justification for the increased harsh treatment, the authorities accused the two of teaching the Baha’i Faith.”

Throughout their entire imprisonment, added Ms. Dugal, the two women have conducted themselves in a spirit of service to others. In early 2009, for example, they shared a cell at Evin prison with Iranian-Japanese-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who later wrote that they had helped her through her ordeal.

Last week, a general announcement was made to all prisoners that they were not to have any contact with the two Baha’i women. Undeterred, however, fellow inmates continued to seek them out.

“After the women were transferred, a number of prisoners made their way downstairs to visit them in their new quarters, despite efforts by the guards to restrain them,” said Ms. Dugal.

Mrs. Kamalabadi and Mrs. Sabet were told that – prior to the move – the inmates in Section 200 had been “warned” about them, she said.

Harsh and unsanitary conditions

The seven Baha’i leaders were sent to Gohardasht prison, 20 kilometers west of Tehran, in August last year. Having previously been incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison without charge for 20 months, they were accused of espionage and the establishment of an illegal administration among other allegations. All the charges were denied. After a brief trial, they were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

While Gohardasht is infamous for its harsh and unsanitary conditions, the Baha’i prisoners were at first kept segregated from some of the more violent elements at the complex. They also had relatively frequent access to outdoor exercise areas.

But over the past few weeks, all seven of them have been moved from the quarters they originally occupied into sections where conditions are much worse.

The five men were transferred three weeks ago to a wing set aside for political prisoners, known as Section 4, which is more crowded and reportedly under close surveillance. They are now suffering severe physical deprivations.

“Three of them are together in one cell, with the other two sharing another cell,” said Ms. Dugal. “There are two beds in each cell, so one of them has to sleep on the floor.”

“The inmates in this part of the prison are able to go outside for fresh air only at designated times, whereas previously they could do so whenever they wished,” said Ms. Dugal.

Appeal to governments

“In our open letter of 7 December 2010 to the head of Iran’s judiciary, we stressed that such an odious and degrading environment is unworthy of even the most dangerous criminals,” said Ms. Dugal.

“We say to the Iranian government once again – does it believe the principles of Islamic compassion and justice to be consistent with the imposition of such conditions on innocent citizens?”

“We continue to call upon governments and people of good-will throughout the world to take whatever action they can to impress upon the Iranian government that its actions are being watched, and that it will be held responsible for the safety of these and the more than 50 other Baha’is who are imprisoned throughout Iran,” said Ms. Dugal.

Dear All Out There – this newsletter is from TC Paulinkonis, and I have been corresponding with TC for 8 or so years. We met through the International Women’s Organization of Writers. She’s spunky, has integrity and I thought this letter important enough to put on my blog. Love to all, esther

The T.C. & Mama ´P´ Newsletter – 1st QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,
As we face the beginning of a new year and hopefully changes towards a better tomorrow, you will notice a change or two to the format of this newsletter. While I have had no problem making my voice heard in regards to prison politics and select injustices within the system, I thought that it may be interesting to add a few more voices to the true intents of this quarterly report. There are other prisoners who have more knowledge in certain areas, and I thought, „Why not bring them on board?“ So, I did.
In this issue you will be introduced to Liz Lozano, who at the age of 16 was sentenced to die in prison. I am appalled by the fact that our legal system is locking kids away with ridiculously lengthy adult sentences, including LWOP, which is Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Pretty much a detach sentence without the lethal injection. With new focus on legislation to provide those kids at least half a chance as a second chance, I wanted to dedicate attention on the subject. So, I invited Liz, who as both a writer and a jubenile offender sentenced as an adult, is the perfect candidate to take on this issue in each future issue, beginning with this one.
I have invited another prisoner to address healthcare service and the aging inmate population and their concerns. I hope to intoduce her in the next issue, as she was working on a piece about breast cancer when we had to go to press.
This newsletter is intented to address concerns, answer questions, and provide updates and relative knowledge. If you have any ideas to improve it, please feel free to share your thoughts. After all, it is for you, the reader.
May this be a good year, with a new governor, and opportunities for all of us on our paths.
Namasté
T.C. and Mama ´P´

Please Help Free Molly Kilgore
A couple of issues back, I requested support letters to be sent to Molly Kilgore‘s counselor to be shared with the Parole Board. Now, I need fo ryou to do something very simple. I‘m going to write a sample letter below that I‘m requesting each of you in turn write, copy, whatever … just get it mailed off to Governor Jerry Brown ASAP please. I‘ll let the letter speak for itself.

Dear Governor Brown,
I am wiritng on behalf of Molly Kilgore, W14177, currently incarcerated at C.C.W.F. in Chowchilla. Ms. Kilgore has served 32 years on a 7-years-to-life sentence. Like most young adults who received that sentence in the late 1970‘2, she was left with the impression that she‘d have been paroled long ago. It should be noted that not only did the courts recommend that she be released once already, but last year the BPH also found her suitable, only to have Governor Schwarzenegger reverse it. The BPH has once again found Ms. Kilgore suitable for parole at a January 12th hearing. I respectfully request that you support the panel‘s findings and grant the parole of Molly Kilgore.
Ms. Kilgore has a thick file of achievements, certificates, volunteerism, exceptional supervisor‘s reports, and extensive self-help participation in courses and groups alike. However, it is more imperative to point out that Ms. Kilgore has had 32 years to grow, change and gain personal insight into the full impact of her crime and victim, as well as the elements involved both directly and indirectly. She has been accepted by the crossroads re-entry program, and has made plans for a productive future that I hope you‘ll allow her to pursue. Please see relative decency in granting her parole in 2011.
Respectfully,
Your name & address
Send to: Governor Brown
State Capital Bldg.
Sacramento, CA 95814

A Second Chance
Where is a lifer to go if they have nowhere to parole to? That is a good question. I have an answer: Crossroads.
Crossroads is a long-term transitional housing program where newly released female parolees can learn how to readjust to life beyond prison walls. After a couple of decades in lock-up, one needs a re-entry program like this. It helps reduce culture shock and recidivism. They are taught substance abuse prevention and avoidance, education, life skills, and Crossroads also offers serious employment-related services. They even help you open a savings account to where you deposit at least ¾ of your paycheck to build up your own financial stability. At the end of yorur stay (about 6 months), you will be more suitable for once again becoming an independently responsible citizen.
Crossroads is ran by Sister Terry Dodge in Claremont, CA on October 26, 2010, she was one of five recipients of the Minerva Award, created by Maria Shriver in 2004. This award recognizes extraordinary legacies of service and contributions to California and the country. The other four recipients were Oprah, Sandra Day O‘ Connor, Carolyn Blaysek (who launched operation Gratitude to send personalized care packages to deployed soldiers), and Oral Lee Brown (who founded educational and financial support to at-risk school children). The Minerva Award winners receive $25k grants to further their work. First Lady Michelle Obama was amongst the many participants in The Women‘s Conference 2010, where the award was presented.
Mama ´P´has applied to Crossroads. This means that volunteers involved with the program will help write letters in support of her release to the Parole Board. They will tell the Board that not only do they have the perfect place for mom to parole to, but that they welcome her with open arms. It is next to impossible to line up a residence and employment plans from behind prison walls, but Crossroads is offering mom both at once. It is the perfect opportunity to help set her free.

Letters of Support Needed ASAP!
Mama ´P´and I are both soon to be scheduled on the calendar for a 2011 Parole Consideration Hearing. Mama in about November, myself in December. There is no way on God‘s green earth that the BPH will ever grant the both of us a release date in the same year, let alone one month apart. My #1 priority has always been that my mother be released first. She doesn‘t belong here. Therefore, while I‘m giving it serious consideration to waive my parole hearing again to take the spotlight off of myself, I‘m also advocating for her release. This is where you come in. I need your help.
If you can read this newsletter, then that means that you can write a letter. There are at least 60 people reading this. Every letter can make a difference. If everyone assumes that out of the other 59 people there will certainly be enough letters written, then we accomplish nothing. I want everyone to assume that NONE of the other 59 people are writing a letter, and start hitting the keyboard.
We aren‘t asking you for financial aid or housing to be promised in your letters. We are only asking that you point out mom‘s good record and clean C-file, and adamantly show support that the BPH allow her to parole to Crossroads. Your letter can include the following facts:
· How long you have known her
· The fact that she‘s been disciplinary-free her entire 21 years of incarceration, which is rare for a lifer
· Her volunteerism in the Sexual Abuse Awareness and prevention Workshops conducted within the prison‘s educational department (with emphasis on non-violent resolution)
· The fact that her dauther, Teresa, has gone on the record countless times accepting full responsibility for a crime that her mother neither committed, participated, or had any knowledge of until nine months after the fact, once they were arrested
· Include considering factors such as her age (she‘ll be 70 at time of hearing), deteriorating health, and the fact that it is costing California taxpayers over $80k a year to continue to imprison her
· You may want to include your personal feeling about what she has to offer society given her life experiences, and your thoughts on the injustice of a denial of parole
· Please include her current parole plans to go straight to Crossroads Re-entry Program directly from C.C.W.F.

There have been some of you who wanted to help in wirting a support letter, but just couldn‘t organize the words. I‘m about to help you with that be creating a sample letter. You can copy it, reword it, take parts of it to incoporate into your own letter, or simply use it as a guide. Whatever you do, please take this request seriously and write those letters and send to addresses below. Thank you!

Original to: Central California Women‘s Facility
Attn. CCI Burretta
P.O. Box 1501
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Copies to : Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis
Attn. Elisabeth Peterson W45120 514-16-4L
650 Page Mill Road P.O. Box 1508
Palo Alto, CA 9403 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Sample Letter To Support Parole Suitability
Dear Board of Parole Hearings,
Please allow me to address my concerns regarding the consideration of parole suitability for Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis, W45120, housed at C.C.W.F. 514-16-4L.
I have known Barbara for about (ten) years now, and given that her daughter, Teresa, has openly taken sole responsibility for the life crime (that Barbara only learned about after their arrest nine months later), it seems highly unjust to continue to keep her imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. She cannot be expected to make a false confession to seek her freedom.
While enrolled in the Sierra Vista Adult School, Barbara has completed two vocational training courses in Electronics and Graphic Arts. She was one unit shy of a completion in Upholstery when she was reassigned after an annual program review. She also completed courses in Parenting, Substance Abuse, Victim Impact Self-Awareness, and Breaking Barriers. Those courses provided insight into coping with anger management, cognitve awareness, communication, problem-solving, goal setting, victim impact and perception, healing & recovery, as well as resiliency and giving back to society. She added a second Parenting class to her resumé and has used her personal life experiences and traumas to volunteer in conducting dosens of workshops on sexual abuse and Domestic Violence Awareness/Prevention to promote healing options and non-violent resolution.
Barbara has remained disciplinary free her entire 21 years of incarceration. She would prove to be an asset to the many victims of abuse at vomen‘s shelters, where she hopes to commit to volunteer work. She has applied to Crossroads, a re-entry program that welcomes female lifers back into society with the structure to provide a second chance. I ask only that you too, give her that chance. Her prison record speaks for itself.
Respectfully,
Your name/address

Q & A With T.C.
Q: You often sign off letters & newsletter with Namasté. What does that mean?
A: NAMASTÉ is an ancient Sanskrit word that means this: The Divine light in me, greets and embraces the Devine light in you.
Q: What is a nexus in regards to parole suitability?
A: I‘ll use myself as an example. I have two disciplinary 115‘s for force and violence. The first was in 1993 against a bully classified as mutual combat. I couldn‘t just NOT stand up to her. The second was in 1998. That one was classified as a battery, a more serious charge. I didn‘t wait to get hit that time. I learned my lesson after receiving a concussion in the 1993 incident. In the latter, I knocked the other inmate‘s hand away from my face and shoved her backwards away from myself. I stepped away myself, not wanting to fight, however, by my knocking her hand away and her body away from me, I was found quilty of battery. This is where the Nexus comes in. Due to the fact that both 115‘s are directly related to violence (regardless of why), the BPH sees it as being the first place. That is the nexus. The connection. The legal grounds that the BPH will use to justify a denial of parole. They‘ll say the nexus proves that I still demonstrate a risk level of a threat to society.
Q: How does a lifer prepare for a Parole Hearing?
A: Technically, if you stay ready, you don‘t have to get ready. It helps to have all of your certificates, chronos for participation in groups and other commendable activities, Supervisor‘s reports, GED/Diploma, and letters of support all in a file and organized neatly. Many lifers go to their hearings unprepared. It takes months to prepare, not just the two weeks before the hearing.
Q: Are lifers required to relive their crime at the hearing?
A: No, not required. I‘ve done so at mine thus far. How will they know how I feel if I don‘t? Remorse is a vital key to true insight, and unless you can look at where you‘ve been and what you‘ve done, you can never truly do a personal inventory. However, at a certain point in hearing after hearing over the years, attorneys have stepped up and said to the panel, „we are not here to discuss the life crime itself, but the woman who committed that crime.“ In other words, your prison record, behaviorism, achievements, and personal growth. After all, that is the real reason behind the hearing: Your progress.
Q: What happens if the BPH denies parole based upon irrational nexus or other excuse not justifiable?
A: In the event you‘re denied, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, especially if the panel did not make a justifiably rational nexus as to why you CURRENTLY pose a risk of danger to society. All of the certificates, chronos and support letters you gathered in support of a favorable finding for a parole grant, can be included as exhibits for the writ.
Q: Can you please tell me again, what can I send in to you?
A: You mean besides all of your well wishes and good lovin‘? Sure, I‘m often asked this question due to the list getting misplaced or memory fading. Here is the list:
· 40 plain or embossed envelopes; white only, no colored envelopes or security type with print on inside of envelope.
· 20 postcards – picture type or postal embossed.
· 40 postage stamps maximum per mailing regardless of face value.
· 10 greeting cards with envelopes (white envelopes only). No musical or 3-D type.
· 4 writing tablets; white or yellow paper only.
· Up to 500 sheets of stationary paper (fancy & cute allowed).
· Money orders made payable to our full name and W#, or by credit card directly to our account via JPAY.com or WESTERN UNION. We receive it within 24 hours.

A Few Statistics To Chew On
· The number of women in prison has increased 800% within last three decades.
· 42% of incarcerated women never completed high school or earned GED.
· Two-thirds of women in prison are mothers.
· More than 147.000 minors have mothers in prison.
· 24% of incarcerated women are diagnosed with a mental illness.
· Most incarcerated womenwith a psychiatric disorder do not receive treatment.

A Simple „Thank You“
Mama ´P´ wishes to thank whomever has continued to anonymously subscribe her weekly issues of TV Guide. She‘s received it for years now, unaware of the person‘s identity. Your gift has made her TV planning schedule much more convenient, and she thanks you.

Quaker‘s Cancelled Stamps Mission
Since Brad Hathaway began the cancelled stamps project well over a decade ago, the Quaker‘s Friends Meetings have collected stamps of all shapes, sizes, values and countries. The stamps are sold to collectors, with the profits going to worthy causes that include third world countries that don‘t have fresh water to drink, let alone any medical clinics. Through the stamp project it has been possible to build a clinic in Kenya and provide the daily necessities to the needy that we all too often have taken for granted ….. like shoes, or mosquito nets, or food. The project has successfully collected nearly $80k in aid for those in need. Please make a difference. Keep sending me your cancelled stamps off of your mail, careful not to cut or damage the stamp. This is a never ending project. You may not know who you helped, but you‘ll know that you did.

Who Sentences Kids To Life In Prison?
Back in the early 1990‘s in the state of California, there were teenagers being sentenced as adults, and hardly anyone thought twice about it. I was delivered to CCWF in July 1992 unaware of the wave of juvenile offenders that would face the same fate as myself. In may cases, they were dealt a bigger blow than I was. And for some ridiculous reason, it was legal.
An onslaught of liberal legislators wanted to turn their tough on crime focus onto youth offenders. They argued for the passage of AB136, saying that it would only affect a small percentage of youths. In the state of California, in 1994 there were 234 arrests of youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 for homicide. During that time, there was a rise in gang affiliated violence, but not all violence was gang violence. However, leave it to the Republicans to make it appear so.
After the enactment of AB136, future legislative sessions brought forth even more bills to make it all the more easier to try and sentence teenagers as adults. The list of juvenile offenses expanded to include everything from the penal code that could result in an adult prosecution. Futhermore, the burden of proof switched from the prosecutor to the defense team to show just cause why a juvenile offender should not be transferred from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court. Now, I had a Public Defender, so I know what it is like to have an attorney not fight for you. Imagine being 16 years old and having your fate int he hands of an attorney who just doesn‘t dive a damn. I can tell you, I have friends here at CCWF that don‘t have to imagine it. They are the victims of bad laws.
In March 2000, voters were asked to approve a ballot measure called „The Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime prevention Act.“ In ballot terms, it was Proposition 21, which rewrote over 50 pages of law related to the California Juvenile Justice System. This includes the decision to try juveniles as adults at the sole discretion of prosecutors without any judical review or hearing.
Prop 21 mandated secure confinement and stronger panalites for a wide range of violations, including vandalism. However, and this is scary, it clarified that juvenile offenses would count under the existing adult Three Strikes Law.
While it was the California District Attorneys Association that advocated for years a law such as Prop 21, Pete Wilson, the governor during this reign of madness embraced it. He made it a big part of his political agenda. He had his sights set on the White House, and his path looked positive, so of course corporate supporters jumped on his bandwagon to help the „Yes on 21“ campaign. They hoped for political favor down the road. Corporations like ARCO, UNOCAL 76, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Hilton Hotels all made a healthy $50k contribution. Chevron contributed $25k. It is not that these corporations wanted tougher laws against youthful offenders; they simply wanted to be in Wilson‘s back pocket if he made it to the White House. Once they were confronted by the public opposition, many withdrew their moral support, but their money was not refundable.
Once Wilson left office, Gray Davis became the new governor and continued to push for the passage of Prop 21. He had a little help from the CCPOA, the prison guard‘s union. They plopped down another healthy contribution of over two million dollars. For them, it is job security. In the big house, the more inmates , the better. It didn‘t really matter if they were kids or adults, just fill the beds!
Most voters do not research the propositions that they vote on. Many go according to the TV ads and press coverage. They thougth that Prop 21 was asking them to endorse a measure to prevent uvenile violence and street gangs. If they knew what it really ws, it would‘ve had less support. Opponents could not raise the big corporate dollars that governors can, and Prop 21 was passed by a large majority of voters. Most, knew not what they had done.
Adolescents, with their frequent cynicism, arrogance, sarcasm, and tough minded approach, may seem to have the analytical and formal thinking skills of a young adult, but neuroscience has proven that the opposite is true. They can be naive, overy sensitive to criticism, and have a lack of understanding to their own egocentric demeanor. At about the age of 14 or 15, they are begin making conclusions using deductive and inductive reasoning. Piaget described analytic thinking as „requiring a certain level of intellectual maturity, brain capacity, motivation, and practice.“ They are still developing impulse control, capacity to plan and strategize, and that doesn‘t include coping skills. When it comes to weighing risks and consequences, things such as personality, culture, and the given sitation, should all be taken into account! Risk taking behavior increases from age 11-18. The younger the youth is, the more serious their consequences of risk taking. A year in prison is far more detrimental to a 16 year old than a 40 year old. Why am I telling you all of this? Because these are the very individuals that Proposition 21 and AB136 focused on. They could have been your son, or daughter, sister, or brother. Heck, they could‘ve been you.
There are prisoners here with me at CCWF that were arrested as teenagers and tried as adults with adult sentences. At the ages of 16 and 17 years old, with no prior criminal history, they received life sentences. There are quite a few with LWOP – Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Who gives a kid a sentence to die in prison and throws away the key? I once read that it is easier to help a kid than to repair an adult. What were those judges thinking? When you give a youth 25, 35, 45 and 50 years to life, I gotta ask, „How do you sleep at night?“
There are over 200 individuals serving LWOP sentences in California prisons, that were basically sentenced to die in prison for crimes committed as juveniles. They weren‘t considered old enough to vote and in some cases, to even drive a car, yet same idiot decided they were competent to be treated as an adult once the DA had them in custody. One of those kids was Liz Lozano. I‘ve asked her to make a quarterly contribution to this newsletter as the voice for youthful offenders sentenced as adults. By joining forces, maybe we can get the word out there and get you involved too. All I‘m asking is that you keep an open mind, listen to the facts, look at the inhumane laws, and hopefully you‘ll agree that to lock up a kid and not give them a second chance is deemed cruel and unusual punishment. One bad decision as a juvenile should not constitute locking them up and throwing away the key. Please, read on, get involved, and be a spoke in the wheel of change …..

Youth Offenders Sentenced As Adults by Elizabeth Lozano
My name is Elizabeth Lozano, I’ve been incarcerated for 16 years here at CCWF. I’m serving a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for a crime that happened when I was 16 years old. I’m sentenced under the murder felony rule, a person convicted under the murder felony rule is not the one who physically committed the murder. The law does not require the person to know that a murder will take place or even that another participant is armed.
Approximately 227 youth have been sentenced to die in California’s prisons. They have not been sentenced to death: the death penalty was found unconstitutioal for juveniles by the United States Supreme Court in 2005. Instead, we have been sentenced to prison for the rest of our lives, with no opportunity for parole and no chance for release. Our crimes were committed when we were teenagers, yet we will die in prison. Remarkably, many of the adults who were codefendants and took their part in their crimes received lower sentences and will one day be released from prison. Youth LWOP is an effective death sentence carried out by the state slowly over a long period of years. In fact, most of us juveniles serving life sentences without any hope of ever being released feel it’s worse than death.
Neuroscience has found that teens continue to develop in ways particularly relevant to assessing criminal behavior and an individual’s ability to be rehabilitated. The focus on this discovery has been on teenagers’ limited comprehension of risk and consequences, and the inability to act with adult free will. Societies make decisions about what to weigh when determing culpability. California’s law as it stands now fails to take into consideration a person’s legal status as a child at the time of the crime. Those who cannot buy cigarettes or alcohol, sign a rental agreement, or vote are nevertheless considered culpable to the same degree as an adult. Experts say that even at 16 and 17, when compared with adults, juveniles on averages are more impulsive, aggressive, emotionally volatile, likely to take risk, reactive to stress, vulnerable to peer pressure, prone to focus on and overestimate short-term payoffs and underplay long term consequences, and likely to overlook alternative courses of action.
So why is our country so quick to throw away their youth??? In fall 2010, California had the opportunity to give youth sentenced to LWOP a second chance at life; a glimpse of hope, by supporting and passing SB399, a bill that would have resentenced LWOP youth to 25-to-life. Instead, legislation shot the bill down by TWO VOTES!! This bill was not a get out jail free card, it would have only let us get our sentence reduced to another life sentence, and even then we would have had to meet certain criteria to prove we deserved it. Today Senator Yee and other Senators that believe in us youth offenders changing have indroduced a new bill the same like SB399; it’s SB9. It would only have our cases reviewed by a judge who would make the decision to reduce our sentence or leave us at LWOP. To support SB9 or for more information please go to the Human Rights Watch web page: http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org

Elizabeth Lozano
W65013 515-3-3L
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, Ca 93610-1508

From The Heart
There are many of you that have told me time and again that you don’t know how I do it … this life sentence. You are amazed at my spirit and how I haven’t let the reality of my situation become an unbearable burden. While you’re amazed at me, I’m amazed at some of the women around me …..
There’s Liz, whom I already introduced to you. Imagine if she were your daughter or sister. Wouldn’t you be disappointed in the system? Okay, so that’s putting it lightly, but feel free to use whatever word you want, you know what I’m saying. If you met her, you’d be amazed at her spirit as well.
There’s Molly Kilgore, who let me tell you, has not let Arnold’s decision to make her prove herself suitable for parole yet again, deflate her good nature. She’s quick to smile and greet me and if I ever witnessed faith in anyone other than Deborah Peagler, I see it in Molly’s eyes. You’d be amazed by her as well.
Then there’s L.R. who has done everything that the Parole Board has asked of her. She’s jumped through all of their hoops, and they finally granted her a release date, only to have Arnold reverse it. Still, she holds her head up, she continues to help those in need, and she fights her fight to return home to Michigan one day. You’d love her spirit!
Oh, let’s not forget all of those kids forced to grow up in Youth Authority and State Prison having been sentenced as adults. Their strength and preserverence leaves me amazed. If you heard some of their stories, you’d be appalled by their sentences, but amazed by their adaptability, spirit, and maturity from the experience. I was almost one of them, and I quess that is why I’m so moved by their raw deal.
So, I say from the heart to you, get involved. I know this issue of the newsletter asked for support for Molly, mom and juvenile offenders, but I wouldn’t ask if my heart wasn’t in it. I ask only that you put yours into it too.
NAMASTÉ
T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-4L
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

http://media.causes.com/1005500

I humbly suggest if this concerns you, not to react with hate or anger towards anyone, but to find Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, and go to page 285, and Paragraph CXXX. “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generaton, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

thank you, esther