I've read the articles about the gate on Sinaloa Road and the access to the Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve. I went there yesterday to have a look at what all the fuss was about.
First, I would say that my map of Marin County - by Compass Maps Inc. -quite clearly marks Sinaloa as a public road open to everyone.
Secondly, there are two, not one gates blocking access to the road. The first, as you approach from Resaca Avenue, appears to have been erected by the residents. It can be opened, true, but its covered in warning notices implying that it is trespassing to pass the gate. The second gate, presumably the one that has been the subject of the articles, is further uphill and has a camera pointed at it. Notices attached to the gate imply that people passing the gate may be photographed. How's that for an invasion of privacy?
My opinion is that the Knights moved into a house, subsequently didn't like the fact that people were exercising their right to use Sinaloa, and have rather selfishly sought to exclude the public from using it. I wont comment on the legality of their actions but they appear selfish at best and bordering on the paranoid at worst.
Honestly, Sinaloa is so remote, how many people would ever use this access point?
Sausalito, CA 94965
A Message Received From Australia
I am in almost terminal shock at the revelation by the Republican Party that a politician lied to the public. And it was such an important lie. So much more important than Jack Kennedy's firm statement that the USA was not involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
So much more important than Dwight Eisenhower's denial that U-2 spy planes were passing over Russia. So much more important than Lyndon Johnson's statement that a US ship had been attacked by a North Vietnamese torpedo boat.
So much more important than Richard Nixon's denial of any involvement with the Watergate burglary, and more important than Ronald Reagan's lies about almost everything.
All of that is trivia. The Republicans have nailed Clinton on something that really matters: a sex act! An act that threatens the national security of the United States of America.
I always thought a gentleman was supposed to lie about such things.
Surely you wonder what impression all this is creating in other countries.
The whole thing has been summed up by a letter-to-the-editor in Australia. In a letter to the Sidney Morning Herald, a writer nailed it in one line:
Thank God we got the convicts and they got the Puritans.
t article on IRAQ by E. Miller.
Doesn't Agree On Limiting Bike Access
Welcome back from the southern hemisphere. It must have been nice down there. The reason I write though is to comment and question your focus on Sinaloa. I have lived near there for many years and although I agree that the sheriff's department is vastly in the wrong for persecuting the Knights I don't agree with the basic premise that access should be limited to the most perfect hiking area. I believe that anyone should be able to enjoy that area and for the most part the people I meet hiking there are healthy happy people.
You must realize that the rural nature of Sinaloa was preserved by restrictive zoning of the county which with the Knights battle ,and by the people, the voters which the Knights wish to restrict. If these forces were not present the Knights and there neighbors would be burdened not with hikers but cars going by there paradise at all hours of the day and night. The Knights purchased there home with the intent of using the restrictive zoning to there advantage while hoping to restrict others from enjoying this area, I don't consider this noble as you do, I consider it commonly selfish
Hippies Vs. The Establishment
In the 60s there was a culture rift; a clash of generations with different values. The Hippies were opposed to the Vietnam War and opposed "The Establishment" who supported it. The Hippies believed in "Make Love, not War. The Establishment believed in "Make War, not Love". Eventually the Hippies won and we got out of Vietnam, and Nixon was impeached.
But that wasn't the end of the battle between the system and the counterculture. In the 1980s Ronald Reagan and his cronies tried to shift society back to the right and discredit the 60s generation. But in 1992, to their surprise, the Hippies came back to elect a draft dodging dope smoking president. Not only did this anger the establishment that he was elected, but it really angered them that he was successful. Much more successful than the Reagan / Bush administration that almost collapsed the economy and dropped us into an infinite debts spiral. Clinton accomplished what the establishment only talked about.
The old cultural and values rift of the 60s is still with us here today. The establishment can't conceive of keeping a president in office who had sex and lied about it. To them, sex is immoral. They are as baffled that Clinton survived as the Hippies were in 1987 when Reagan was caught selling arms to Iran to support and illegal war in Nicaragua. In spite of the fact that Reagan was clearly caught, even admitted it, he wasn't impeached. To the Hippies, war is immoral. The Hippies can't understand War, the Establishment can't understand Love. The same culture gap still exists. The only difference is that instead of the saying, "Don't trust anyone over 30", it's now, "Don't trust anyone over 65."
A Little Question Of Selective Enforcement?
Dear Members Of The Board Of Supervisors
Regarding the Open Session discussion of the impending closure of a Mill Valley care facility, I appreciated your efforts to help these residents and their families in a most difficult situation. They surely will be grateful if you are able to intervene.
Another item on the Agenda, however, left me puzzled. This was #7, The resolution to provide enforcement of the California Vehicle Code on the specific roadways in Oceana Marin, Dillon Beach CA. These are private roads, whose enforcement has been paid for privately by the residents of Oceana Marin at $10,000./year. I can sympathize with their plight - hoards of cars parking in a private development, carrying surfers to the beach. If I were one of the 10 or so residents in attendance at today's meeting, I would have been relieved at the Board's decision to pay the cost of that enforcement and, perhaps, increase it.
What I do not understand is: How can you justify paying for enforcement of State laws on private property when you will not pay for enforcement on public lands within Marin County? I specifically refer to The Marin County Open Space District and the multiple specific requests which have been made to you over several years' time - with no action provided by you. Furthermore, surfers do not cause damage to the ocean; however, mountain biking causes tremendous damage to the Open Space.
Further to this, I was glad to hear the report of Kallie Kull, Resource Planner from FishNet 4C, who advised that President Clinton's budget has provided $100 Million for local governments to help restore the Salmon population in West Coast waters. I hope that in her study of Coho and Steelhead populations that she will analyze the effects of accelerated erosion all around San Anselmo and Cascade Creeks on these fish due to recreational overuse of these areas.
I would appreciate receiving a reply to my enforcement question at your earliest convenience.
Governor Davis is not really the best one to apologize for the unimaginable indignities his predecessor inflicted over the last six years on the people of Mexico. So instead of going to Mexico to undo the damage he said Governor Wilson wreaked, perhaps David should have stayed here and wrung a few apologies out of those responsible for what virtually every newspaper in the state calls Wilson's "insensitive" policies towards our neighbors in Mexico.
As a Republican elected official during those eight years of the Wilson governorship, perhaps I should begin.
First, I would like to apologize for our national immigration policy that requires people from other countries to get our permission before coming here. Yes, neighbors usually call before coming over, and sometimes even bring a gift of food or drink. Even so, it was not really neighborly of us to put the millions of Mexicans into INS jails before deporting them just because they forgot to let us know they were coming. Or if they could support themselves when they got here.
Sorry we caught them.
Second, I would like to apologize for Proposition 187, which at the time, I enthusiastically supported. This ballot measure said that only people who had a right to be here should be allowed to get free stuff from us. Stuff like schooling, health care, welfare benefits, and all the amenities our state taxes have created for us. And yes, it should be pointed out that we occasionally found the same people who broke our federal immigration laws also had a difficult time understanding our traditions that prohibit crimes against property and people. So we had to put them in jail, too.
In fact, some people even pointed to the high proportion of undocumented aliens in our jails as proof positive that we needed more immigration guidelines, not less.
Sorry about them. We'll hear no more of that insensitive blather for at least four more years.
At the time, Prop 187 sounded good. And perhaps we should have known that people without the good manners to let us know they were coming would, once they got here, expect the best in free food, clothing, schooling, and housing. I used to think that providing unlimited services to this kind to illegal immigrants would necessarily mean that there would be less of these same services to people who were entitled to them. Crowded classrooms, limited resources, and all that.
I now know that was insensitive and I am sorry (though I hope our neighbors to the south will forgive me for pointing out that when their southern neighbors seek to cross into their country, they, too, can be a tad insensitive by the way they arrest them, and even beat them, while they languish in prisons that even by Pete Wilson's standards are not very appropriate).
I am also sorry for Proposition 209. If you do not live in Mexico, you may need reminding that the laws of California used to require that people from Mexico or of Mexican descent receive preferential treatment for government jobs, admission into schools, contracts, and all sorts of other good things. All because of the indignities they or their ancestors received, or at least felt bad about. (Curiously, news of the prison-like condition of this country never filtered back to Mexico, where people still dream of giving up their family, their homes, their everything, just for a chance to make it here.)
They called this affirmative action. When Governor Wilson backed Prop. 209, the City Council of Tijuana declared Wilson was no longer welcome in their city. (Talk about insensitive immigration policies!) At the time, I used to think that giving people special treatment because of their race meant that while it was good that some people got ahead, it was bad others were left behind, just because of their skin color.
But when I learned that my great-grandfather had probably done something to make me deserve this-or in the case of the newly-arrived Asians who also suffered from these policies but who also deserved it on general principles that people who work and study are generally suspicious and should be watched-I realized an apology was long overdue.
There are so many apologies and so little time. What about Enrique Camarena, the DEA agent who was tortured and killed by Mexican drug lords. Sorry we got a little upset about that and tried to bring these criminals to justice. Sorry we did it in such a way that upset so many members of the government class in Mexico. I did not understand at the time that long-term principles are often more important that short-term justice. Nor did I know what those principles were. I know now.
It won't happen again. Promise.
I know there are many other items that have upset relations between some people in our two countries over the last few years. Some of the top bankers and politicians in Mexico were caught up last year in a misunderstanding that some mistook for laundering drug money. Once again, the politicians in Mexico were upset over our insensitivity towards their national sovereignty.
On top of that, we now require children of Mexican descent to speak English in our schools.
Once again, let me apologize.
But take heart: The new Governor is working hard to make sure none of these things ever happen again.
In Defense of Charles Foley
In March of 1998, Charles Foley was arrested by the Novato Police Department and charged with child pornography. In statements released to the press, the D.A.'s office depicted Mr. Foley as a monster. It's not true; he is a decent and generous man.
I met Charles Foley in 1977, when he was 21 years old. I've known him all of his adult life. For nearly the entire time, he was a productive and useful member of society. In the early 1990's, both his marriage and a long-term association with a religious community ended simultaneously. He soon began drinking. Over the next several years he became clinically and alcoholically depressed. He lost his ability to make rational decisions.
Mr. Foley is accused of, and admits to, committing a fairly reprehensible act: on four separate occasions, over a period of several months, he took sexually suggestive nude photographs of four under-age girls. That is the entire extent of Mr. Foley's crime.
The news media, however, have reported many false accusations. I cannot fault the media since they simply report the facts as given to them. I cannot even fault the police or district attorney since they are under no obligation to be accurate or even truthful with the news media.
The police and district attorney reported that there were nine girls involved, that sexual intercourse occurred and that Mr. Foley intended to publish the pictures. None of those charges are true! Mr. Foley never did any of those things, nor is there any evidence that he ever intended to do any of those things. Mr. Foley did not rape, molest or in any other way abuse those girls. He did not, nor did he intend to publish or profit from the pictures in any way.
If the D.A. had evidence of any of those things, he would have included those charges in the official record, which he did not. And consequently, Mr. Foley never pled guilty to any such charges.
The district attorney also said Foley pled guilty without a plea bargain in place. Also untrue: Foley's bargain was with the judge, not the district attorney.
Even though there were only a few incidents, the prosecution has charged Mr. Foley with 72 separate felonies and at one time asked that he be given three consecutive life sentences for his crime. Pornography is not a capital offense and should not entail a death sentence. Why does the district attorney want to put Mr. Foley in prison for the rest of his life?
Charles Foley is not a serial child molester, nor is he a fixated pedophile. He is a temporarily disturbed man who is in serious need of therapy. By putting him away in prison, we would only be spending tax dollars not protecting anyone.
On December 14, 1998, 27 people appeared in court on Mr. Foley's behalf. Among the dozen people who spoke were two teenagers and their parents. Both teenagers have known Mr. Foley all their lives and told how he had literally hundreds of opportunities to molest them and their friends over the years, yet he never did. The parents also said they would continue to trust Mr. Foley with their children in the future.
Why would people say those things? Because they're true. Charles Foley is not a monster. His crime was an aberration. He does to pose a threat to society in the future.
Is what the D.A. asking for in the interest of justice?
Attack On Prop. 13
At their January 26 board meeting, Marin County's supervisors declared war on California property owners, voting unanimously for a resolution by Supervisor Kress urging state legislators to start dismantling a basic protection provided by Proposition 13.
Still smarting from the November solid defeat of their sly scheme to circumvent Prop. 13 with their transit tax measure, the supervisors voted 5-0 to ask our Sacramento lawmakers to initiate efforts to revoke the two-thirds vote requirement for special taxes.
Marin property owners should be outraged by this arrogant attack on our Prop. 13 rights, and should write and phone the supes to express opposition to this assault on our Constitution, and to demand that the request to our legislators be rescinded. Their mailing address is Marin Civic Center, San Rafael 94903. The district and phone numbers of each are:
District 1-John Kress, 454-1695
District 2-Harold Brown, 456-4153
District 3-Annette Rose, 332-8533
District 4-Stephen Kinsey, 488-9465
District 5-Cynthia Murray, 898-7609
The BOS office phone for all of them is 499-7331. Don't hesitate to let them know how you feel about their tampering with our basic Prop. 13 protections.
* * *
In all the narcissistic, boastful self-adulation we endured in the President's annual show and tell speech, you may have noted one superlative he neglected to mention-that he has given us the highest taxes in the history of the nation.
And another-that he has done more than any president in history to circumvent, subvert, undermine and destroy the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution's Bill of Rights.
* * *
"When more of the people's sustenance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of Government and expenses of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion..." So said President Grover Cleveland in his Second Annual Message to Congress in December, 1886.
President Clinton gave us the largest tax increase in history and now offers us the largest budget in history, $1.77 trillion, with over 70 new tax increases and 16 loophole closings. He has also declared the largest surplus in our history-$2.41 trillion over the next decade, $117 billion in next fiscal year alone. That obscene surplus proves Clinton guilty of extortion.
"Unnecessary taxation is unjust taxation" was one plank of the Democratic Party platform in 1884. Why has the Party strayed so far from its earlier principles?
MUTA Secretary and Past President
Now that the Senate has dismissed the charges against Clinton, thereby highlighting the already obvious fact that this was all a colossal waste of taxpayers' money, here are a few modest proposals: (1) Fire Kenneth Starr and present him with an invoice for the public funds expended upon the failed inquisition; (2) withhold the pay of all elected representatives who encouraged and furthered the witch hunt for the equivalent of the entire time they wasted on this fiasco; (3) Sentence Starr, Hyde, and the other leaders of the Republican cabal to spend a full week locked up with Linda Tripp, watching continuous replays of their own self-righteous and hypocritical ramblings during this embarrassing episode.
Note: The first two suggestions are serious. The third would just be gravy.
* * *
If Y2K turns out to be a relative non-event, what will Kirby Ferris next use as an excuse to vent his obvious glee at the hope of a societal meltdown?
* * *
Terri Alvillar (February) charges that landowners have been the target of "oppression" by bikers. If you use a word too much and too trivially, it becomes meaningless. There are far too many truly oppressed people in this world to apply that word here-and just what is Alvillar's real beef? Is she or someone she is close to such a landowner who feels oppressed? And if so, shouldn't she be confined to writing letters instead of hiding behind some pretense (slight as it may be) of journalistic objectivity?
* * *
Here's another buck. Thanks for the great paper.
* * *
I'm working on an article/appreciation of Richard Brautigan. If anyone out there knew him, I'd love to hear from you: 561-0870. Thank you.
Triumph Of Our Democracy
Now that the will of the people has finally prevailed over the insidious and tenacious efforts of the Republican right-wingers to unseat a popular and effective president, the devil has to pay.
It is not enough that the Republican party has already paid dearly for its vicious witch-hunting tactics and persecution of the President. The downfall of the chief architects of that impeachment conspiracy was the result of their own cannibalistic instincts. The American people had no direct hand in their abrupt political demise. Their unceremonial exit was not prompted by a sense of honor as the GOP spinmeisters will want us to believe. They were booted out by the party's leadership simply because it had no further use for them. The party has a cunning way of getting rid of their members who have outlived their usefulness. There are a number of fresh bunglers who are now waiting in the wings to suffer the same fate in due time.
The 13 members of the prosecution team who acted as managers in the impeachment trial in the Senate are currently shaking in their over-sized boots. They realized the terrible price they will have to pay for having gambled in such high stakes and lost. They are presently making a lot of noise about a purported plan of President Clinton to go after them. Who are they kidding? They know fully well that the President does not have to dirty his hands in justifiably having to deal with them. Their dear party will definitely do that for the President. Their political demise is a given. As a matter of act, Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Livingston can assure them that as of this moment they are already politically dead.
Why it took 13 of them to prosecute their case in the Senate is a clear indication of their incompetence. They are not only a discredit to their profession as lawyers, but even more so, to their office in Congress as representatives of their constituents whom they have unabashedly betrayed. The pitiful septuagenarian who led their gung-ho charge could hardly walk on account of age; how could they have expected him to lead them to victory? For a bunch of guys who sounded like clergymen delivering sermons from a pulpit and out to castigate the President for reasons of adulterous behavior, it is inconceivable how they could have allowed a man who had stolen a fellow man's wife and begotten a bastard son from another lecherous adventure to lead them in such a highly-moralistic crusade. I guess it is because he is one among them who has committed his indiscretions too long ago for anyone to remember. Well, Mr. Flynt has still a lot to say about that.
It was pathetic to watch to top-notch lawyers of the President toy with the 13 bungling managers like a cat would first play with a mouse before eating it up. They were literally eaten up alive in that sad spectacle that transpired in the well of the Senate. The American people as well as the whole world watched in shock and awe as our constitutional process unraveled, demonstrating clearly the wisdom of the framers of our country's law of the land, who correctly predicted that some unscrupulous politicians will attempt to use its provisions to pursue their own selfish agenda. They now know better than to try and prove to be wiser than our founding fathers. What the Republicans do not understand is that our Constitution was written in a way that guarantees the protection of the people's will. From the very start, the American people were against the GOP's efforts to impeach President Clinton. As a matter of fact, it has developed as a battle of wits not between the Republican party and President Clinton, but between the Republican party and the American people. The Republicans simply refused to listen, thereby affording the American people the opportunity to see through their deception and trickery. It became clear that once given the mandate in Congress, they will ignore the interests of the people while in pursuit of their own selfish goals. They only needed the people's votes to be installed into power. Thereafter, the people's votes did not count, particularly if they are not in their favor. It was frustrating to watch the Republicans use their superior numbers in Congress to thwart the will of the people. This will never be forgotten by the American electorate.
While busy licking their wounds suffered from their ignominious defeat in the Senate impeachment trial, the Republicans are still hoping that the American people will forget their high-handed tactics and treachery in their handling of the President's impeachment, come judgment day in the year 2000. It is an insult to the American people's intelligence to even dream of such a scenario.
The Republicans went all out in their efforts to embarrass the President and hoped to stigmatize his legacy in history. Well, they succeeded in embarrassing him all right, but they failed to prove their accusations against him and he won in the impeachment trail. How can such a victory stigmatize his legacy? On the contrary, President Clinton will be remembered for his valiant and courageous fight against undesirable elements who attempted to usurp and circumvent our constitutional process for politicians gains. History will remember that he won in that historic battle and that he did so because the American people were solidly behind him. If we will call that resounding victory a stigma, we are unwittingly inviting our future presidents to do everything within their power to be similarly stigmatized.
Antonio R. Serna
Open Letter To Media And To US Senators:
I have heard several reporters, commentators and political pundits ponder the question, "Where is the outrage." I can tell you for sure that I am one outraged individual and I know for a fact that there are many others. The problem is that no one seems to care how the citizenry of this country feels these days. In fact, some of the Republicans in Congress have come right out and said that they will not be influenced by whether or not the people approve of what is happening. I have watched what is happening to President Clinton for at least five years now, and it is my opinion that this is a vendetta against the President. One scandal after the other has materialized, apparently out of thin air, calling for investigation on investigation, at an enormous cost to the taxpayers. The origin of these rumors is certainly in question at this point. Each of these baseless accusations against our President have been disproved except for Monica Lewinsky but, for all the hype each received, no one even murmured as each was found to be without merit. Do we now have a modus operandi of SCREAM GUILT, WHISPER (if you really have to) INNOCENCE?
Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Monicagate, Chinagate, Fostergate, etc., on and on ad nauseam. By inference and innuendo, with the able-bodied assistance of hate radio and the Christian (?) Coalition, some of our citizens believe that the Clintons have left a trail of dead bodies across the Nation. What a disgusting precedent!
I have watched the antics of the House of Representatives as they conducted their case in the media. I would say that most of them had their minds made up before they heard the evidence. They misled the people of this country, who were becoming upset, by saying that the trial would be conducted in the Senate and that it would be up to the Senate to decide guilt or innocence. They failed to say that they had control over what evidence the Senate got to see, what rules of evidence the Senate would have to follow, whether or not there would be witnesses, etc. In fact, it has become clear that they are running the House, White House and Senate.
I was working when Senator Harkins raised an objection on the floor of the Senate but, I have heard about it. Apparently, he was denied the right to speak. I find it interesting that I have not seen that snippet on TV either.
In the meantime, it appears that Congressmen Hyde, et al, Ken Starr and, perhaps others have obtained an order to bring Monica Lewinsky before them for a private little confab. How is this possible? Does no one have any power over these rogues? What can Monica add that would be of any value? She is going to say and do exactly what Ken Starr tells her to under threat of imprisonment, ala Susan McDougal.
I do not hold President Clinton responsible for what has happened to this country, i.e., the worst division I have witnessed in my lifetime. He tried to keep private matters PRIVATE. No one had the right to ask him about his personal life. He did not rape Ms Lewinsky. That would have been a different story. No matter how despicable, the right-wing pounced upon the salacious details and flooded the media, including the Internet day after day. How free a country is this if we have no right to a private life?
I talk with Europeans and Canadian quite often and they think that we have lost our minds. They see our President as an unusually capable leader and they wonder why we are totally preoccupied with his sexlife.
I have not touched on the abuses of power by Starr, Hyde, et al to any appreciable extent here, as you, having law degrees, know what they are better than I.
I feel that the people of the United States have been dragged against their will through an excruciating ordeal of 5 years duration. Our President and his family have been terribly wounded. Unconscionable and unspeakable violations of our trust have been perpetrated by those we elected and trusted (and paid) to have the welfare of the country as their first priority.
As a citizen of the United States of America I assert that all charges against our President should rightfully be dropped. Maybe in time, we will trust again.
Ray Dubuque & Friends & Family
East Haven, CT.
Outraged About Inhumanity Of Correctional Services
In response to Gary W. Bornam's gripe printed in the LA Times (appended below) 'Council Me Before I Leave Prison', I can only say that I am once again appalled, horrified and extremely angry at the incredible inhumanity and destruction that the 'Correctional Services' of this country offers to its prisoners and therefore to society.
For the past 20 years it seems as if this country (the 'human rights' bastion of the 'civilized' world - if you can call state sanctioned brutality and murder - civilized!) is spiraling into a pit of vengeance, degradation and dehumanization, coupled with greed and consumerism, running rampantly out of control.
Prisons used to be a place where violent offenders were sent to for rehabilitation, education and protective care, a place where they were helped to rebuild their lives, so as to be able to re-enter society with a modicum of selfworth.
With the advent of the prison-industrial-complex, and America's lack of an evil bully, it seems as if corporations and 'corrections departments', with the helping hand of legislators and the fear-mongering media have decided that 'criminals' (mostly poor and minorities, 70% of them non-violent offenders) are now the big bully and so a war is now being waged on the citizens of this country.
The Bureau of Prisons response to this man, who has obviously seen more violence and inhumanity while in custody of the state, is nothing short of reprehensible, when it is clear to any thinking, common-sense citizen that the BOP (and legislators) have long gone given up trying to effectively rehabilitate or counsel the prisoners in this country.
In fact the BOP and corrections departments, not to mention Wall Street and all the construction companies, telephone companies, etc who make billions upon billions out of incarcerating citizens for longer and longer periods of time, have no intention of providing prisoners with any means of support, rehabilitation or education, because quite simply, there is no PROFIT in it (at least not to them, only to the poor prisoners and their communities and families).
This man, like many thousands others, is crying out for help, support, compassion and understanding, which he has probably never received in his tragic life.
When will legislators and the media realize and expose the inhumanity and oppression that is occurring in this country? When will they start to realize that some people need help, not violence and revenge? When will the media stop promoting violence as an answer to problems? When will legislators realize that in order to 'serve the people' (if that is really their aim), then we need to be building schools and community, not prisons and dis-association, we need to foster understanding and compassion, not hatred and fear?
The gulags of Siberia and their Stalinesque brutality have found a new home. Welcome to the United States of Prisons and Oppression.
Oakland, CA 94623
Saturday, February 13, 1999
Counsel Me Before I Leave Prison
By Gary W. Bornman
In little more than 14 months, in all probability I'll commit murder, perhaps even mass murder. That's when I'm due to be released from federal prison where I'm serving a seven-year sentence for bank robbery.
Having spent the better part of my life in and out of penal institutions, beginning at age 9 (I'm now 37), not only have I become institutionalized to the point where society is just an abstraction, but the very environment has engendered an intense hatred and resentment, which, when coupled with already existing emotional and psychological problems, wouldn't appear to bode well for society. Unfortunately, the federal Bureau of Prisons doesn't seem to think that my problems are all that serious-certainly not enough to warrant treatment.
They dismiss the notion that almost continuous exposure to the violence and brutality of prison from an early age could have had any adverse psychological effects on me; that having witnessed countless rapes, stabbings and even murders has somehow not been traumatic. They don't seem to find it significant that I suffer from mood swings, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, loss of appetite, feelings of worthlessness and difficulty sleeping. What little sleep I do get is filled with unremitting nightmares-violent dreams in which someone is either trying to kill me or I'm trying to kill them.
Prison officials aren't the least bit concerned that I have constant thoughts of harming others or that I fantasize about such things as assassinating the president or killing a bunch of them (prison officials) as they leave work, something which I already came to within a trigger pull away from doing in the past. Nothing wrong with me though that being dumped back out onto the street wouldn't cure.
All of this raises the question: Why, knowing this, won't the Bureau of Prisons provide someone like me with the treatment they need prior to releasing them? Very simply because to do so would be to open up a Pandora's box of recriminations revealing one of the system's dirty little secrets: that prison does more harm than good. Instead they choose to hide behind the fact that their only legal obligation lies in keeping the individual incarcerated until his sentence is completed.
What happens after that isn't their concern or, perhaps more important, their responsibility.
Of course, none of this is meant to suggest that I and others are not responsible for our actions; we are.
So the next time you hear of someone committing some horrendous crime, it could quite possibly be me they're talking about. Only don't say you weren't forewarned
Gary W. Bornman Is an Inmate at Lompoc Federal Penitentiary Amandla Awethu
Power to the People
I'm for truth, no matter who tells it.
I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against.
I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I am for
whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.
The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor, is the mind of the oppressed
You must be the change you wish to see in the world