Monday, August 15, 2016

Daily Corrections Clips


Jim Miller, The Sacramento Bee

The rapid increase of illicit cellphones inside California prisons prompted state lawmakers five years ago to pass legislation imposing new penalties on inmates, as well as making it a crime for people to smuggle phones behind bars.

The 2011 measure followed years of warnings that inmates were using contraband phones to commit new crimes, from arranging murders of gang rivals to harassing victims and their families.

“Smuggled cellphones in our state prison system continues to be a problem, a problem that not only is dangerous but is growing,” then-state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, told colleagues as they considered Senate Bill 26 in June 2011. Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law and officials quickly put its provisions into effect.


Sarah Linn, KCET

In the early years of his incarceration, Guillermo Willie acknowledged, art was the farthest thing from his mind. “My thoughts were 'OK, I'm going to get some heroin. I'm going to get some speed. I'm going to get some drugs,'” recalled the Los Osos man, who spent 38 years in prison for assault and his role in the death of a fellow inmate before his release in 2008. “My intent was to be a bum, a criminal. I had no thoughts of making it out of there.”

But as he delved deeper into drawing and painting, his attitude began to shift.

“There was a length of time where I was reflecting, going inside myself, [thinking] 'What am I doing with my life?'” he recalled. “I wanted to be an artist and I knew what I was doing was a limitation on me being able to paint. I knew I needed to make a change.”

Jay Barmann, SFist

A Sacramento photography teacher who teaches a course in the history of photography San Quentin State Prison was recently shown a banker's box full of thousands of negatives, all shot inside the prison, mostly of daily prison life, between the 1940's and 1980's. Cal State Sacramento professor Nigel Poor tells criminal justice site The Marshall Project, "My heart just exploded. As an artist, or a photographer, or a collector, you couldn’t wish for a better box of treasures."

According to the Marshall Project:

    The pictures, for the most part, are prosaic, like outtakes from a yearbook photo shoot. One shows five members of an amateur rock band. Another depicts uniformed football players gathered for a team photo. In yet another, a man is shown carving an ice sculpture. Occasionally, though, the subject matter is much darker.

In an exclusive interview about her lawsuit, DeEtta Williams says officials know about pattern of assault at the California prison and ‘just don’t bother’ to stop it
Maria L La Ganga, The Guardian

DeEtta Williams is frightened every day. She stays inside as much as possible. She makes sure that she is rarely alone. She visits a therapist. She takes medication for anxiety. The man she said sexually assaulted her daily for six months is somewhere out there, and “he’s got nothing to lose”.

He raped her so often and for so long, the 45-year-old said, because she was serving time at the California Institution for Women and he was a prison guard there.

Williams has filed a federal lawsuit against officer Michael Ewell, who has since been fired, and the California department of corrections and rehabilitation. She wants her story told, she said, and she wants the world to know what happens behind bars.

Hillel Aron, LA Weekly

A former inmate at California Institution for Women filed a lawsuit last month against a correctional officer, who she says raped and sexually assaulted her on a daily basis over a six-month time period.

DeEtta Williams (sometimes called "Dee") claims Officer Michael Ewell also had previously sexually assaulted a female correctional officer while he was working at a men's prison. Even after that, according to Williams' complaint, Ewell was transferred to CIW, an all-female prison, where he impregnated an inmate — all before turning his attention to Williams.


City News

An inmate serving an auto theft sentence walked away from a Los Angeles County re-entry facility Friday, just three months before he was due to be released on probation.

Sarkis Akopyan, 33, had been transferred on Tuesday from the California Institute for Men to the Male Community Re-entry Program facility on South Grand Avenue, according to Krissi Khokhobashvili of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Jessica Firger, Newswek

Gregory Finney, then 37, felt extremely unlucky but in good physical condition when he arrived at Louisiana State Penitentiary in 2001. He had been shipped to the notorious maximum-security prison in Angola to serve 15 years for drug possession and shoplifting. Up to that point in his life, Finney hadn’t worried much about his health, in part because he was too busy scrambling to hold a job and avoid getting arrested.

It turned out his health should have been a main concern. Not long after he got there, the prison clinic informed Finney he was on a fast track to heart disease that could kill him—he was diabetic and had hypertension. Angola is the largest maximum-security prison in the U.S. and one of the most dangerous, so Finney suddenly realized he would now be fighting for his life in more ways than one. “I didn’t want to die in Angola,” he says.