The Coastal Post - April, 1996

Letters Apr 96

Tremendous Profits In War On Drugs

As a pharmacist licensed in California since 1947 and as a student-in-retirement at College of Marin, I applaud and agree with your March 1 lead article "War On Drugs A Bloated Loser."

The tremendous profits in illicit drugs keep the cycle going of drug abuse. A "smart addict" gets a "new user" addicted, and charges the new user twice the price of his habit. Simply put, the new user is paying for the "smart addict's" habit. When the new user catches one, he will then find another "newer user." And the big bucks associated with drug procurement encourage repetition of this cycle.

Smart Addict gets New User

New User becomes Addict

Addict pays Smart Addict twice the going price

Addicted becomes Smart Addict

(repeat of initial line)

But this is only one of many strings of profit in a drug procurement chain. I merely list it as the one which keeps the system going. The next potential user is what the system is about. Reflect: if the user line were shortened, the profit intervals would decrease.

It appears that requisite of a workable plan for drugs: (full details beyond scope of present article)

1. Manufactured by a current producer of a scheduled drug. (Regulations already set in place.)

2. Manufacturing overseen by present authorities who also oversee distribution.

3. Distributed through state licensed pharmacies (subject to present rules and regulations).

4. Pricing much cheaper, allowing for legal competition.

5) A one person Czar should be appointed to run the whole thing. Pay him/her well and, then, a committee should remove him/her if he/she does not perform as desired. Bureaucracy discouraged.

6) Legalization of the whole process. Prescription not required. Strict records per item 3 above required.


Corte Madera

Murderer To Remain In Prison

Alan Fredericksen will remain in prison in Vacaville for another five years before his next parole hearing. Mrs. Evans' family thanks the many people in Marin County who sent letters urging against his release. The Board of Prison Terms needs to know the feelings of the community because California law dictates that convicts be released into the county in which the trial occurred. A strong public opposition in that county influences the Board's decision. The names and addresses of the writers of such letters are not made available to the prisoner.

Thank you.



On Midlife Hormones For Women

Re. "Natural Therapies for Midlife" in the March issue:

It's true women should educate themselves about menopause treatments, for some internists or gynecologists do not have sufficient knowledge to prescribe the right hormone replacement therapy for each individual woman, and for some women, HRT may not be necessary.

But for those for whom it is, it should be pointed out that the "drugs" being prescribed are not substances foreign to the body or something designed to suppress symptoms, like cold medicine. Hormone replacement therapy is just that: replacing hormones the body no longer provides in sufficient quantity for optimum functioning.

Consequently, menopause symptoms are drug withdrawal symptoms, withdrawal from a substance the body has been infused with since puberty, and this withdrawal is torturous to women who are severely affected.

It should by now be common knowledge that progesterone is as necessary as estrogen, and that a woman need not suffer monthly periods with HRT, but can take the same dose of hormones each day of the month and be protected from the side effects of each hormone taken alone, as well as be freed from monthly blood flow.

The two hormones taken together not only ease menopause symptoms but also protect against cancer of the uterus, osteoporosis and heart disease.

What is not so well known is that testosterone is equally critical, and estrogen with testosterone prevents the loss of libidio and unfavorable genital changes, and in the correct, minute dosage, does not in any way masculinize a woman's body.

Each woman's body is unique, and each midlife woman must find her own way. If one therapy, medical or natural, doesn't work, don't give up and settle for misery. If you use HRT, tell the doctor what you think is best for you, and don't stick with the first prescription if it yields less than satisfactory results. If the doctor won't listen to you, change doctors.

This current generation of midlife women are pioneers in midlife health care, and it is up to us to take responsibility for protecting and enhancing the second half of our lives.



Grateful Readers

We look forward to your publication!


San Rafael

Cut Non-Productive Med Force

Why should there be any profit-making corporations running hospitals, doctors and productive parts of medical care? Why not greatly reduce non-productive, high-salaried administrators and paperwork for productive providersÑdoctors, nurses, hospitals, etc.

Happy to renewÑyou do a fine job.


San Anselmo

Jesus Is Just Alright

A note of correction to Jim Scanlon's March article "Angels and Insects (and Incest)":

Christianity may very well be anti-social and dangerous, but Jesus Christ is not responsible for his followers' actions. Just so the infidels, at least, know the difference.


Mill Valley.

Book Recommended

I heartily recommend Opposing the System, by Charles A. Reich, author of The Greening of America, and The Sorcerer of Bolinas Reef.

It is a current release and I'm sure many of your readers are familiar with Charles Reich and his work.


Black Point

America Subsidizes Mass Murder In East Timor

While the American people are distracted by other matters, the Clinton administration is quietly negotiating the sale of 20 F-16 fighter jets and another $60 million in other weapons to the Indonesian dictatorship. This sale would support a regime whose record of atrocities and disregard for human rights has rarely been equaled. Torture, rape and murder by the Indonesian military are commonplace in East Timor, a tiny island nation illegally occupied by Indonesian troops since 1975, despite U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for its withdrawal. Two hundred thousand Timorese men, women and children, one-third of the population, have been killed by the Indonesian military, mostly with U.S. supplied weapons.

President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger were in Indonesia the day before the invasion of East Timor, and later directed the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. to "make certain that whatever measures the U.N. undertook (to halt the invasion) proved utterly ineffective." Military aid to Indonesia was soon doubled despite reports of increasing Indonesian atrocitiesÑmurder of civilian men, women and children, rape, mass immolation, torture, etc. Succeeding U.S. administrations continued to subsidize the mass murder with increasing amounts of military aid and weapons sales, even though the killing has reached genocidal proportions.

Today in an effort to dominate and control a nation where they do not belong, the Indonesian army is continuing its brutal tactics. A recent visitor to East Timor related that every family he encountered had at least one loved one who was a victim of torture, rape or murder by the Indonesian army. Watching some youths play basketball in the hot sun, he inquired why they did not remove their shirts and was told they were embarrassed to reveal their torture scars.

Why has the U.S. collaborated in this genocide? Perhaps White House strategists considered a free East Timor might spread the notion of freedom to Indonesia's oppressed millions, thus putting at risk the commercial advantages to American multi-national corporations of Indonesia's slave labor conditions and readily exploited abundant natural resources. Such strategists would consider the people of East Timor expendable, like the Jews were expendable under Hitler. Will we, like the German people, acquiesce in our government's enthusiasm for mass murder? Is our image of America as a moral, ethical and peace-loving nation just self-delusion? Of will we take the time to contact the White House and protest this policy of support for international aggression and genocide? The Timorese are still struggling for freedom and self-government; let not the U.S. continue to support their oppressors.



Legal Help Sought

Thanks for posting my letter of March ("Police Persecution"). I was hoping perhaps somebody could see some standing merit and grounds for suit in the incident described, and go to bat for me on a contingency basis. You don't have to be a magna cum laude to see Marin General Emergency did me wrong. That is just a mere splinter in the two by four of life that got swung in this arena of circumstance upside my head. I wrote to Lawyers on Duty, 818 5th St., San Rafael. You should see their ad in the Marin phone book. Look it up! They sent back a letter saying, "We feel great empathy for your dilemma," and "If you do not hear further from us, it means that we could not find an attorney for you." Signed, Fred A. Rice Hurvich, attorney-at-law.

Don't nobody care. Legal Aid is a joke, too. I filed a case against New George's on January 12 of this year. Folks don't seem to take kindly to upstarts filing in form pauperis. The audacity of one woman in line there at the Municipal Clerk's office to flirtatiously suggest I come by Legal Aid. I told her I was well aware of Legal Aid, thank you. Now I got a letter (after writing to Legal Aid from jail) saying, "In general, Legal Aid is not able to represent plantiffs in civil actions." What is that? Another tokenistic organization I find to be highly offensive. The penal code, section 2601(e) recognizes the rights of inmates to initiate civil actions. Just be a broke-down dog in the pound and try and initiate a civil proceeding. You will not find an attorney who will help. Not from jail, at least. You might find one in a bar or on a golf course provided you have enough wit and charm about you and can ply your case through sheer humor and amusement to make it seem attractive enough to be lucrative to the esquire.

I was hired by a rich cowboy to write articles in the Press Democrat just after my July incident. This old boy had a battery of attorneys draining him for all the dragged-out hours spent slinging ink in fancy offices. Cowboys (especially rich ones) are prone to co-dependency inherent in their very nature. That firm he hired, Dewey, Cheetham and Howe, has a real fancy office between Petaluma and Penngrove. They milk their cash cow because they got the sheepskin with the law degree slung up on the wall. I dug how green with envy they must be at a rich cowboy. Hey, is there life out there? Write!


(Texas Tad)

Marin County Jail

San Rafael

National Anthem Glorifies Violence

There is more than one way to respond to the religion of Nationalism (it is most certainly a religion in any meaningful sense of the word), to its rituals and hymns.

Although I am not a Christian any more than I am a Moslem, Jew, or Hindu, when I visit a Christian church service, I have no problem standing and singing hymns with those around me. I sit or stand quietly during recitations of prayers or benedictions. While these rituals have no serious meaning for me, as they do for the church members, I have no wish to upset these people I respect and care for.

If the U.S. national anthem began with the words, "O beautiful for spacious skies," etc., I could follow this ritual in the same spirit. It would be a simple thing to do.

But I draw the line at standing in respect for "the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air." Whether or not this is their intent, those who stand for these words, or the tune with which these words are identified, are actually expressing their respect for bombs and war, the most violent of human activities.

The Star-Spangled Banner glorifies violence. At a time when we are vainly trying to wean our youth from the use of violence, we are telling them, on the other hand, that violence on behalf of our nation (religion, tribe, gang) is not only reasonable, but glorious.

When I remain seated during the national anthem (as I always do, and urge others to do the same), I am not adverse to upsetting those around me. When people are upset, they are more likely to pay attention to our national violence, to argue, discuss and re-think obsolete, harmful traditions.

The world's children are constantly the sacrificial victims of the Nation-God. When will we ever learn?



False Campaign Information

I am concerned that some of my constituents may have received a campaign mailer endorsing my re-election, as well as taking a position on the various propositions before the voters on Tuesday.

I want to clearly state that I had no part whatsoever in initiating this mailer, that I had absolutely no knowledge that the mailer was being sent, nor was I ever asked my opinion on any of the propositions. In fact, the mailer does not accurately reflect my positions.

In response to this, I will be working on legislation that will put a stop to this type of campaign abuse. I am firmly committed to represent the 6th Assembly District with honesty and openness, and I will not be a part of any misuse of our system.


Assemblymember, 6th District

San Rafael

Mandatory Parental Preparedness Urged

There is no job in the world more important than parenting, and for that there is no education or training required! Most persons at legal age don't even seem mature enough to choose a partner for life and to become parents. Few have had the fortune of being raised consciously and consistently and without having been abused in one way or another. And how many have chosen to learn everything they can and need before having children, particularly young men?

As a woman's place is no longer in the home only, even homemaking and nutrition must become more equally shared responsibilities. The general quality of our most basic and important institution, the home, has been deteriorating as more and more women have been forced to or have chosen a career outside the home. As a whole, our society has not understood the importance of the home and home economics and therefore valued it little, including homemakers.

In today's society with so many single-parent homes and where most mothers or fathers can't stay home and raise the children even if they wanted to, our need for well-educated and quality childcare workers is imperative. If all teens were educated in child-rearing and development, we would not only have better parents, but also better quality childcare workers, who now at the most have 12 units of early childhood development. We could then offer such well-educated teens and young men and women practical and meaningful jobs in daycare and childcare, while still keeping the wages relatively low.

Learning about a most important aspect of life, the development of a human being, should not be left to chance, trial and error or to some natural instinct to guide parents. Even animals exhibit a form of love or their offspring, but human beings must acquire the growing knowledge and understanding of their children and of how to best raise them. This ought to be taught where it is most needed and can do the most good: in mandatory parental preparedness classes starting in 7th or 8th grade, and including hygiene and home economics.

No wonder we have so many dysfunctional individuals and families, so much violence and abuse, and so many troubled youths in our society. Look at our culture, or the lack of it, and what children are being raised on. Remember that the first five years of a person's life are the most formative and impressionable. The world is not inherently evil, only as good or as evil as human beings make it, and nobody is born a bad or evil person. Everyone once was a pure and innocent little baby. Of course we all have choice and a responsibility for changing ourselves and our society for the better, but everyone obviously doesn't have the wherewithal to do so. We must seek to understand the root causes of our problems and work to correct and prevent them by educating ourselves and our children better.

These days we hear many politicians and others talk about family values while our government has been preventing adequate funding for education as well as enough time for most parents to spend with their children and families in order to teach and share family values. Are parents supposed to be material providers only?

The greatness of a nation is not measured by its GNP only. Neither is the worth or greatness of a person only measured by how much money they make or have. What counts is how we make our money and how we spend it, i.e., righteously or not. We must get our priorities straight and spend a lot more on education. And we do need mandatory parental preparedness classes through high school, not licensing of parents.


San Jose

The Right-To-Carry Bill

Article I, Section 1, of the California Constitution says we have certain inalienable rights, including the rights to "defend life and liberty...and protect property." Some politically appointed police chiefs are sounding off in opposition to AB 638, the right-to-carry (RTC) bill. They would deny us the means to exercise those fundamental constitutional rights.

Remember this: Police don't carry guns to protect us. They carry guns to protect themselves from the same criminals those political police chiefs and their bosses want us to face unarmed.

Since its 1987 enactment of a nondiscretionary right-to-carry (RTC) firearms law, Florida has issued 314,938 carry permits issued through December 31, 1995. Only 57 have been revoked because of subsequent firearm-related crimes committed by permit holders. That's 0.018% (fewer than two one-hundredths of one percent) revoked for gun misuse. If any other law had a success rate as high as the 99.982% compliance rate of Florida's RTC law, lawmakers would be euphoric with joy.

Why do those chiefs and other RTC opponents in some states, such as California, continue mindlessly to oppose the nondiscretionary RTC law, when evidence is overwhelming that such laws bring reductions in violent crimes?


San Rafael

The Politics Of Food Scarcity

We can only hope that the rather optimistic predictions of Steven E. Wallis about the future effects of our planet's swiftly-expanding population come true. But one possible drawback, cancelling out future technological improvements, may be the failure of responsibility when attempting to defeat greed.

The recent report that industrial pollution in San Francisco Bay makes the fish dangerous to eat epitomizes part of the problem, which is exacerbated in cases where corporations hide behind a phalanx of attorneys and scurry to their congressional myrmidons in order to gut the watchdog governmental agencies that would make them pay their fair share of cleanup costs.

Moreover, the ability of a country to produce enough food is no guarantee against the risk of starvation when the poor lack the means to buy the food.

As revealed in the television airing of "The Great Irish Famine," there was enough food if it had been distributed in Ireland and not exported by a market economy undeterred by the government, but greed prevailed, resulting in abysmal numbers perishing from starvation and disease.

Even in the U.S., where we obviously have adequate food production, millions of children under 12 years of age experience the pangs of hunger each year because food relief programs do not reach all who are eligible because of lack of funds.

The February 7, 1982 San Francisco Chronicle carried a story, "The World's Cupboard Is Bare," by Orville L. Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. He writes, "It is estimated that 500 million people perished from malnutrition and starvation between 1972 and 1973. This could happen again at almost any time as matters now stand, reserve stocks are not adequate to meet a major shortfall in production."

Today, with a population that increased by billions, the world still does not adequately support its population. Millions are malnourished, lack clean water, are illiterate, unemployed, live in slums, and lack basic health care.

And in Brazil, because of inadequate birth control, there are now armies of children with no place to go, some living in sewers.



Asbestos Coverup?

Dear Grand Jury Members

Is there a "double standard" when it comes to the enforcement of environmental and health and safety codes of the State of California? Do municipal enforcement agencies "look the other way" when it comes to investigation of allegations against other County and City government agencies?

I have requested that the Marin County Grand Jury investigate the town of San Anselmo's recent library construction projects to determine the degree to which they violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the government secrecy codes (Brown Act), and the Health and Safety CodesÑby knowingly and intentionally withholding from the public and employees information about the presence of asbestos in the old Town Library. I hope that I will be allowed to present as evidence some 30 photographs and slides, physical evidence collected at the site and other related documents that I have collected.

I was employed there as a librarian. For four years, I worked every Monday and Wednesday. Between November 1994 and April 1995, on six occasions I was overcome by exposure to construction-related dust, smoke and fumes and was forced to leave my place of work. On the last occasion, I was ordered to leave and don't come back. I was never told about the asbestos (or lead paint dust) at the site.

The Grand Jury should determine which Town Administrators knew about and decided to hold secret the report titled "Asbestos Survey Results, Town of San AnselmoÑLibrary" dated July 26, 1994. This report by Professional Service Industries, Inc., found asbestos in numerous locations in the library and offered to properly remove it for $25,965. Did the Town Council know of the report and decide in secret to keep it from public knowledge? Was the union "MAPE" kept in the dark about hazards to employees? Was the Library Board a party to this conspiracy to violate the Brown Act, the Health and Safety Codes and CEQA? Was this report also withheld from the contractor and his employees?

When, in April 1995, I asked the County Environmental Health Department to investigate this matter, they refused to conduct any tests and refused to post warnings to the public that they could be exposed to toxic and hazardous materials by using the library. How many thousands of trusting patrons were exposed? We will probably never know. How much asbestos and lead dust was in the air? No tests were conducted during dust-producing activitiesÑonly long after the asbestos was covered by new paint and a new floor.

People who were overcome by fumes and dust at the library and those who feel they should have been informed of such hazards should contact the Grand Jury to express their outrage. Ask why the library was not closed or relocated during construction. Was it too costly to protect the health and safety of the public and employees? (Would the library have lost more than $100,000 in State Library grant funds if it were closed?) Why wasn't the asbestos properly removed? Why were the two halves of the library not properly sealed during construction to protect the public and employees?


Consulting Librarian

San Anselmo

Of, "Buy" And For The Super Rich

Mother Jones magazine identified 400 millionaires who routinely shop at Uncle Sam's factory outlet to buy governmental favors and stock up on tax loopholes for their corporations or personal benefit. Our token social programs have not worked to lift the poor out of poverty, as these programs were designed to redistribute wealth from the middle class to the rich through the poor, while corporate welfare floats the big boats higher in the water. Whether Buchannan, Dole or Clinton is elected to national office in November matters little, as a super wealthy elite will continue to buy off government to maintain the status quo to the disadvantage of the American majority of the middle class and poor.

Campaign reform would help, but replacing the House of Representatives with a direct plebiscite of national electorate would ensure a more direct democracy and would do away with the current system of representative government by proxy. Representative government made sense in the days before the telegraph and pony express, but with secured computerized electronic voting, so-called representative government is redundant and naive. OkÑso keep the Senate, the Presidency and the Courts, but let the people govern themselves as a direct check on the other branches of government in ratifying or denying laws and legislation.

Years ago our foreparents kicked the stuffing out of an anti-democratic government bent on usurping individual liberty and spiritual and economic freedom. The question is whether we now have the right stuff of what it takesÑthe national self esteem to reclaim self-governance of, by and for all the people, by whatever means, including force if necessary. Are we all too busy "getting a life" to take back public democratic government from the unelected private economic government of, by and for the corporatocracy?


San Rafael


Hal Brown, Jr. is an outstanding Supervisor who has earned his return to the seat. In particular, Hal has been a wonderful source of support for the issue of medical marijuana. From the very first, when Mr. Giacomini and I introduced the Marin County Medical Marijuana Ordinance in 1992, Brown, then Chair, endorsed it immediately, and felt honored to be able to help the critically ill. He has personally assisted sick people from his District in trouble over their medical marijuana, and made a difference. Hal is a true humanitarian, he works very hard, is concerned about people's problems, and takes action whenever it's needed. I trust him and feel he deserves to be re-elected.

I urge all my friends and supporters to vote for Hal Brown, Jr. and continue his exemplary record of social justice and fair administration for the next four years.



Marin Medical Marijuana Alliance

No Conflict Of Interest

I am compelled to respond to an "item" which appeared in Betty Machado's column on March 1. in that column, Mrs. Machado suggests that I, an acting Director of the Novato Sanitary District and present candidate for re-election, have a "conflict of interest," since my family and I derive compensation from the Redwood Sanitary Landfill for easement use and sale of fill material from our contiguous property. Just what that suggested "conflict of interest" is, Mrs. Machado does not explain. For the record and the bare sake of the truth, let it be known that neither my family nor I participate in any profits of the Redwood Sanitary Landfill or in any way share in its revenues. We receive what anyone providing an easement and selling fill material would expectÑfair compensation for the access use provided by our property and for the quantity of fill materials that the Landfill takes, unconnected with any other form of consideration. Nothing more, nothing less.

An explanation of this innuendo of "conflict of interest" (with the item bearing that very title) is not the only thing missing from the excerpt. Although Mrs. Machado mentions in passing her candidacy for the Novato District, in the item preceding, she notably fails to make clear in her inaccurate and baseless charge of "conflict of interest" that she herself is vying for the very same seat on the Board to which I am seeking re-election. In other words, under the veil of journalism, Mrs. Machado is indulging in jingoism and pursuing her own self-serving political agenda. This is the rankest form of politickingÑand the very type of conduct that cannot be tolerated by the public and those legitimately involved in both journalistic and public service areas. Basically, it gives a bad name to both journalism and elective officeÑand interferes with the public's right to be responsibly informed.

Is it any wonder why Mrs. Machado is consistently rejected by the public at the ballot-box in her many unsuccessful campaigns for various public posts?



Abort Female Embryos Only

I, too, have been tossed between the horns of the moral and philosophical dilemma of abortion. I, too, have struggled with the arguments on both sides of this troubling legal issue, as summarized by Mr. Ferris.

The problem as presented to the legal system is whether one half of humanity, the women, are to be above the lawÑand be allowed to murder, if not a human being, at least a potential human being, on the grounds that this act is within their exclusive and personal domainÑi.e., within their body.

This proposition is morally dubious (and topologically false: poke your finger deeply into the surface of a loosely-inflated balloon and you will get the idea) because it elevates a biological happenstanceÑafter all, the fetus even though conceived by TWO persons can only be brought to term by one or another of themÑinto a legal, or extra-legal trump card.

On the other side things are nearly as shaky; the argument ultimately rests on the mandates of religion, conscience or Constitution to restrain those actions that are hostile to life, family integrity, and civic order.

One could simply say, as I have from time to time, that the government should simply be silent on the matter. What, after all, are they doing with their heavy hands, intruding into the most intimate matters? But seeing the widespread instinct (or weakness) expressed by Mr. Kirby, as "Certainly, if I believe it is immoral for me to do something, I would be willing to prohibit that act for others," that option is forestalled.

Much as I dislike moral compromise, I see no alternative if we are not to ride this merry-go-round from now until doomsday. And now, one of the miracles of modern science has given us the ability to determine the sex of unborn infants.

To settle the matter, I propose that if the sex of the unborn is determined to be female then let the abortion proceed; but if it is male then the abortion will not be allowed.

Over time, not only problem, but question will disappear.


San Anselmo

Take Back The Government

The reason we will not soon see real welfare reform is because the current system works for the "Fortunate 500" or so multi-millionaires who routinely shop at Uncle Sam's Discount Factory OutletÑbuying for pennies on the dollar, personal and corporate tax breaks and favorable government legislationÑregardless of political personalities or party in power. Indeed, were one to set out to design a welfare system, one could not design a better system for redistributing wealth from the middle class to the rich through the poor. This is why no one understands why we continue our current system of welfare which incentivizes unemployment with insufficient poverty maintenance handoutsÑbecause it rewards the rich, who puppet government to its own interests, regardless of the political affiliation of office holders.

A more democratic form of government, including campaign finance reform, would result in equalizing the voices of all American, regardless of social and economic status, and result in better government and a more democratic, efficient and productive welfare and economic system.

A more democratic government would not pay twice as much as government (we do) does now to "help" the needy and the poorÑto help profitable mega-businesses and predatory multinational corporations eat their competition through direct corporate welfare payments.

A reformed House of Representatives, reduced in size and function to debate and formulate legislation for ratification routinely by the national electorate by secured phone or electronic voting, would take the middlemen out of government and democratize out government and our economy and give everyone a more equal and DIRECT voice in important issues effecting the nation. The Senate, the Presidency and the Courts would remain as checks on each other and on the direct national electorate (the public), and the public for the first time ever would have a direct voice in legislation which effects us where we live. Democracy Direct. Dream America, then live the dream. Government by proxy, which made sense in the olden days before the telegraph and the pony express, but today in big money and special interest politics democracy itself is at stake. Our foreparents had the self-esteem and the mustard to take government away from their oppressorsÑdo we?


San Rafael

Strike Down Three Strikes

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on California's three strike law. I suspect that I have spent more time researching, studying and dissecting the strike law than the initiators of this cruel law. I believe it is a social law of revenge, a law directed at poor people. An angry, vindictive unjust law that removes the judicial discretion out of the hands of the judges and places it into the hands of California's extremist prosecutors (most of whom are politicians, but that's another frightening story).

I fought a three strike case for almost a year in Marin County Jail. The D.A.'s office attempted to lock me up for the rest of my life for a petty crime, an offense against an automobile which could have been a misdemeanor.

The D.A. discovered two burglaries I had been convicted of 23 years ago and immediately amended my charge and began to threaten me via my attorney to a term of 30 to life. I contemplated this threat for a few days and it dawned on me that the D.A. was attempting to put me away forever because I allegedly attacked an unmanned automobile!

I decided that I would not lay down. I would participate fully in my case and I demanded from my attorney copies of all legal documents and to be included in all discussions and decisions concerning my case.

I began to utilize the law library to find a way out of this mess, because in my heart I knew that although I had not been an exemplary citizen in my life, I was not a hardened, dangerous criminal. And I also know that the two so-called convictions that made me a threes strike candidate were plea bargains: "If you plead guilty this morning we will let you out of jail this afternoon!" Hey, they didn't tell me that 23 years later they would use them against me.

Anyway, I began to prepare for a jury trial. I discovered that most judges despised the three strike law because it took away sentencing discretion from the bench and handed it to the D.A. Also that many judges disagreed and stated that the punishment of 25 to life outweighed certain offenses. One judge in Sonoma County refused to sentence a person to 25 to life for possession of "a joint of weed" and took a way out; he dropped the charge to a misdemeanor, which made the D.A.'s office extremely furious. But penal code 17B allows certain crimes to be "wobbled" down to a misdemeanor and more and more judges started using this out.

Legal devolvement in California has somehow made D.A.'s want to be in control of sentencing. Their job by law is to present a case, bring evidence and then sit down, and let the judge or jury decide sentencing on convictions.

The strike law has also created a widening gap in the communications between judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. In Marin County they fight and snipe at each other like school children.

The Assistant D.A. that I had against me is an interesting guy. Rumor has it that he was an Assistant D.A. a few years ago, that he went into private practice and failed, but he was hired back. He has a reputation of not being a bright guy. That trait became evident later in my case.

After months in custody, I began to suspect that something was not quite right, the D.A. kept postponing my pre-trail, a witness was on vacation, a cop couldn't attend, were some of the reasons I was given. Then this Assistant D.A. made an offer to my attorney: If I would plead guilty he would ask for only 12 years at 80% and drop one of the strike priors. I turned him down because I felt some kind of a trick. I began to research the two 23-year-old priors and my attorney hired an investigator for that purpose. We discovered that one of these priors was in fact not a strike prior under this new law. I believe the D.A.'s office knew this all along, and was trying to circumvent this evidence.

My attorney Carolyn Ruth prepared an excellent motion to dismiss one of the strike priors and we were granted acceptance without any flack from the D.A.'s table. I was no longer exposed to 25 or 30 to life, I knew that I would have another chance to live a positive, creative lifestyle. I felt like I had won my life back. But I still had a long struggle ahead. This assistant D.A. was still insisting that I faced 13 years maximum, but he expressed a willingness to bargain. I had already sold my soul to this type of person 23 years ago, so I would not consider a bargain with his person. Besides, we knew he was not a good lawyer. I continued on towards preparations for a jury trial. Soon my attorney discovered that the most time I was exposed to was seven years at 80%. The Assistant D.A. was once again wrong. It would not be the last time.

When sentencing discretion is available, the trial judge has an obligation to dispose of cases through plea bargaining. (Mostly to save the State and County the expense of jury trials.) The system would collapse if all defendants demanded a trial by jury, so the system must be flexible or face destruction as it stands today.

My attorney came to see me and stated the judge would be willing to sentence me to the lowest term under the law, which was 32 months at 80% in return for a guilty plea. I could not make a swift decision on this one because I had spent so much time preparing for trial by jury, and I was not preparing to lose. After a long discussion with my attorney, who I trusted and believed in, I made a decision. (She pointed out in complete honesty that I was in Marin County, that there was no way I would have even a slight chance to get a black person on my jury. She said she could not even remember the last time there was a black person in the jury pool. I was mildly surprised, because Marin County has a substantial population of blacks and Latinos. I then said that we would have to try and pick whites in the county that were progressive in thinking (which are many), but she stated Marin County's D.A. tries to insure juries are older, conservative people who cannot possibly understand what it's like to be black and poor. I knew that I was in a Catch 22 position, "damned if you do, damned if you don't." So after considerable thought, I accepted the judge's offer. I knew the Assistant D.A. would oppose this offer and fight me with his every resource. I also knew he wasn't a legal genius and he had a particular habit of rambling on and completely missing his supposed point. I was grateful to have him as an opponent.

We prepared a sentencing motion, based upon mitigating circumstances of the crime and my life. I was interviewed by a probation office who must also make a report and a recommendation, which usually carries substantial weight to determine a judge's decision. This guy talked to me for a total of five minutes. How he can make a fair decision about me in five minutes and three questions is beyond me, but I knew what time it was. It would be myself and my attorney, and the judge's tentative offer, against Marin's legal gauntlet.

I prepared a statement I would make, my attorney prepared well for any response to the Assistant D.A. or probation officer.

The Assistant D.A. stood up and rambled on and on as expected. He even mentioned the Oklahoma bombing as a reference to a point he tried to make, but missed. He went on for an extraordinary amount of time, ending with his demand that I be sentenced to six and one-half years at 80%. The probation officer then gave her spiel, which was about three minutes, and asked for a sentence of prison at four years at 80%.

My attorney then responded to the Assistant D.A.. pointing out his misinterpretations, not even bothering to respond to some of his strange statements. Then I made my statement. Now I knew the judge was no softy; she was appointed by a Republican, and she had just sentenced a guy to prison for 35 to life in another case. But I knew that she would be one to sentence me to a fair sentence. One that fit the crime and my history. She went against Marin's Assistant D.A., and probation department, and gave me 32 months at 80%. She wished me good luck, I hugged my attorney and glanced over at the Assistant D.A., who was mad as hell.

Back at the jail, all the other inmates celebrated my victory. I was only the second person charged with a three strike case at the time to beat them with their own ambiguous laws. The first person who won had his charge dropped down to a misdemeanor by the judge following suit of the Sonoma County judge.

A judge in Southern California was so pissed at the strike law that he told the Assistant D.A., "How can you expect me to sentence this guy to 25 to life when a year ago he would only have gotten a county jail term for this offense?"

Two days later I arrived at San Quentin, a month later I received some legal mail from the appeals project notifying me that the Assistant D.A., Mr. Posey, was appealing my sentence. He seemed to think the judge had to give me more time under the strike law. This guy would not give up.; I was appointed an appeals attorney who told me that the Assistant D.A. was full of shit and that he would lose in appellate court. The appeals court refused the Assistant D.A.'s contentions and the appeal was dismissed.

Many appeals are now in appellate court concerning three strike cases, but I don't expect the law to be ruled unconstitutional. But it is cruel and soon the people of California will not be able to afford the effects of the law. Punishment should fit the crime, and the judges should be administrators of sentencing, not district Attorneys.

As I said before, this is a social law against a certain class of people, directed at poor people, people who have been duped by Assistant D.A.s in their past. It's a revenge law. I would like to see all people charged with any crime take their chances with the jury system, but that's unrealistic at this time. I can only pray for people "unreasonably charged" with a strike case that they be as lucky as I was and have an Assistant D.A. like Mr. Posey of Marin.



S.C.C. State Prison

P.O. Box 617 (Dorm 4-15)

Jamestown, CA 95327


2<Y ” ° ± Ï   ÿ


–&3ysmgsmgmsgmamamama@€€$€3 67Hp–—´Üÿ"?@Rj}žysymysymysymysymygy@€$€žµ»×D`b">"T"U"g%÷&)•)¤+¸+Ã+á+ëysysmsgsmsgsysysmsm€$€@+ë+í,0ü12Ù2ö2÷35ã5ñ666[email protected]=W=wA:ABCiysymygysygygysymymy€@€$CiClD\DoDqD‰F FVIwI“I•I³O*O4R'R?RQRi^†^˜ysmsgsysmsgsysmgmsm€$€@^˜^­^¹^»^Ü^ß^ìff1f3f?i—i¥iÑiéqÚqôqöryçysymygysymysymysymy@€$€yçzzzƒ3ƒHƒIƒc‘Ê‘Î’

’ ’*’Lªƒª“ªÇªÜªèysmsysmsgsgsgsysys@€$€ªèªëªðªöªøµ2µ=µ?µGµQµ[µzµ€ysmmsmmmmmgm€@ 2î