Category: General
Posted by: freemans
1093 Comments
On February 8th, 2008, the American Bar Association conducted its Midyear Meeting, which focused on “Wrongful Convictions: Engaging in Critical System Reform.”

One of the panelists, a law professor at Pace University in New York stated, “We know why wrongful convictions occur.” The major reasons she identified are:

False confessions coerced by police
Mistaken identification by prosecution witnesses
Witnesses who embellish or trim their testimony to please prosecutors or gain a promised benefit
Discovery violations that deny defendants and their attorneys access to exculpatory evidence

Defense attorneys need to do their jobs. With hourly rates of $300-$1000 per hour, it is not unreasonable to expect your attorney to investigate and procure adequate discovery to litigate your case. (Whatever happened to Perry Mason?)

We have laws to compel prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. It’s called Brady evidence (Brady v. Maryland, 373 US 83, 1963) and prosecutors are required under Brady to turn over any and all exculpatory evidence. So, it’s funny that the American Bar Association even has to have this discussion. Obviously, this very important law is not being enforced.

One defense attorney testified that, after he was unable to exonerate a client in a capital murder case, as he was suing for civil rights violations, he received much more exculpatory evidence at the civil level than he did for the criminal proceedings.

This begs the question: what was the prosecutor trying to do? Convict an innocent person? And how prevalent is this problem?

It’s prevalent enough that on February 11th, the American Bar Association’s policy-making House of Delegates voted to amend Model Rule of Professional conduct 3.8. The amendment would now require prosecutors to take action when they learn of evidence indicating that a person convicted of a crime may not have actually committed that crime.

Incredibly, the Justice Department asked that the motion be postponed.

Whatever happened to the tenet that justice delayed (or, in this case, postponed) is justice denied?

Another issue addressed at the meeting was prosecutors’ requests for the subject of an investigation to waive attorney-client privilege in order to be deemed “cooperative.”

Why would they want us to give up our rights in order to be considered cooperative?

Think about it.
Category: General
Posted by: freemans
107 Comments
We are a warring nation. We declare war on anything – War on Terrorism, War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on Contagious Disease, etc. Now it seems like we’ve declared War on Education. 15,000 California educators were given notice last week that they might not have jobs this next school year so that we can afford to fight the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. If this president has his way, we will have a war with Iran before he leaves office.

A February 2007 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts stated that if federal, state and local policies and practices do not change, taxpayers are expected to pay as much as $27.5 billion on prisons alone from 2007 to 2011 on top of current corrections spending! The Pew report was compiled by the Center on the State’s Public Safety Performance Project.

There are currently more than 2 million (2,319,258) Americans in jail or prison. One out of 100 American adults is in jail or prison. 32% of African American males will enter state or federal prison during their lifetime. Advocacy groups say the War on Drugs and changes in sentencing laws – not rising crime rates – explain America’s ballooning prison population. We didn’t declare war on drugs; we declared war on American citizens on American soil. We are by far the world’s leader in inmates per capita, with 750 per 100,000 people in prison. That puts us ahead of China, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc nations which make up the top-ten list for incarceration rates.

Of those incarcerated, recent studies show that more than 50% are either functionally illiterate or have marginal education skills. 40% of released prisoners lack a high school diploma or GED – more than twice the rate of the general population over 18 years of age. These statistics clearly indicate that a lack of education is directly related to incarceration, and yet the rate of increase for prison costs is six times higher than the increase of funds for higher education. We are preparing our next generation to be inmates.

I urge you to contact your congresspersons and senators to express your opinions. Tell them what you think about reducing funding for education while increasing funds for incarceration. Ask them to support H.R. 4283, THE LITERACY, EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION ACT. This bill is intended to reduce recidivism by promoting literacy and vocational education training to prisoners while they are incarcerated so they leave prison and re-enter society as productive members. Let’s get our priorities straight.

To contact your representatives, download GovernMail 1.22 (0.9 MB): go to http://www.governmail.com/ and scroll down to the bottom of the page for a free download.
Category: General
Posted by: freemans
24976 Comments
I would like to take this opportunity to dispel the notion of “Club Fed.”

Contrary to people’s perception, there are no golf courses (anymore) and no swimming pools…and it’s not a place where you can just relax and do your time. Federal inmates are required to work – in most cases, 7.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. The pay ranges from $5.25/month to a maximum of 40 cents/hour.

American Jurisprudence provides for incarceration as punishment for our misdeeds. It does not allow for punishment while you are incarcerated (unless you commit another crime while incarcerated) and yet, federal prison is punitive by nature.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons provides an interesting and carefully worded program statement, P.S.5270.07, Chapter 3, Page 1, to inform about “Inmates Rights and Responsibilities.” The first right states:
“You have the right to expect that as a human being you will be treated respectfully, impartially and fairly by all personnel.”

Your “expectation” of being treated with respect means nothing to the federal employees that work here. Let’s face it – federal employees are not exactly the cream of the crop. With minimal requirements (GED, high school equivalent) federal employees are afforded job security for otherwise unemployable individuals. With a most powerful union, once hired, it’s very difficult to fire.

In a Women’s Empowerment class here, one employee shares her own inspirational success story, which took her from working in a fast food restaurant and (through a clerical error) landed her the prestigious position of counselor in the FBOP. She had absolutely no qualifications to be a counselor and, in fact, she doesn’t do any counseling. This certainly gives women, many of whom are well-educated executives, something to strive toward!

We live in an old army barracks that is literally falling down around us and is in a constant state of being patched back together. There is no air conditioning in an area where prolonged triple digit heat is not uncommon. We live in a sea of body fluids, and, more often than not, without antibacterial soap to wash our hands or sanitary pads, and often run short on toilet paper.

There is a shortage of hot water in the building that houses Food Service, and therefore the dishwasher is an exercise in futility. Many women have been treated for H Pylori (when they get out), which is a bacterial infection of the stomach associated with cafeteria-style dining.

Medical Services are appalling. Many inmates choose to suffer rather than subject themselves to the counterproductive, ineffective program. Most cases, after waiting days (and in some cases, weeks) for an appointment, inmates are simply told to purchase over-the-counter medication available on commissary, and are charged $2.00 for this valuable service. Usually, by this time, the inmate has already illegally obtained medication from another inmate and has treated the symptoms. On one occasion, an inmate with a serious urinary tract infection was given a shot for pain without being seen by a doctor and without even checking her medical records. The shot interacted adversely with medications that she was already taking. If she hadn’t been rushed to the hospital, she would have died.

Treatment of infection is subject to the convenience of the medical staff and is not considered serious. Even if you are able to procure a prescription, it may be a week to ten days before you actually see the medication.

There is virtually no oversight. The FBOP polices itself. Regional inspections are announced months in advance so that everything appears to be perfect when the inspectors get there.

The cost to house federal inmates is $25,000 to $85,000 per inmate, per year, depending mainly on their age and health care needs. Women here at the camp, are housed in a minimum security facility with a minimum out-custody level. It costs American taxpayers millions of dollars to house these women, who, when released, present absolutely no danger to the community.

If you agree that incarcerating first-time, non-violent offenders is an incredible waste of taxpayer dollars, please contact your legislator at www.governmail.com Scroll to the bottom of the page for a free download of this valuable service that puts you in touch with the House of Representatives and the Senate.

--Stephanie Landa
Category: General
Posted by: freemans
960 Comments
In 1997, Sonya Singleton was convicted of cocaine trafficking and money laundering. A cooperating codefendant testified against her at trial. In exchange for his testimony, the government promised they would not prosecute him for "other offenses" and would bring his cooperation to the attention of the sentencing judge. It's called a 5K1.1, Substantial Assistance.

Ms. Singleton was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison. Her co-defendant's was reduced from 15 years to 5 years to run concurrent with another state charge he was facing.

Singleton moved to block her co-defendant's testimony because it violated the federal bribery status, which prohibits giving "anything of value to any person, for or because of the testimony" to be given by that person. The pertinent portion pf 18 U.S.C. Section 201(c)(2) specifically states:
(c) Whoever--...
(2) directly or indirectly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any person, for or because of the testimony under oath or affirmation given or to be given by such person as a witness upon a trial...before any court...shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than two years or both.

A panel of the 10th Circuit of Appeals reversed the conviction on the grounds that the prosecuting attorney violated the statue when he offered leniency to a co-defendant in exchange or testimony.

The 10th Circuit Court, sitting en banc, later vacated the panel decision and held that 18 U.S.C. Section(c)(2) 'does not apply to the United States or Assistant United States Attorney functioning within the official scope of the office." The government's argument is that as it is acting in it's sovereign authority to prosecute, it is the United States and the United States is an inanimate entity, not a being. Therefore the word "Whoever" does not apply to the government.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear Singleton even though it would apply to almost every federal case. The use of testimony purchased by the government is the prevalent "tool" employed by federal prosecutes.

A 2004 study by the Northwestern University Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions, revels the 46% of wrongful death penalty convictions are due to "snitch" misinformation - making the snitches the leading causes of wrongful convictions in capitol cases. Tens of thousands of federal inmates are convicted and their sentences enhance based solely on the purchased testimony of a cooperating co-defandant "eager to please the government". Threatening defendants with incredibly enhanced prison sentences and then dangling leniency in front of them creates a tremendous incentive to fabricate and/or lie to save themselves.

The government's policy of purchasing testimony (besides being morally bankrupt) places them above the law and the constitutionality of this practice should be addressed by the Supreme Court immediately. This single issue would impact American Jurisprudence more then any other topic and is worthy of Supreme Court consideration.

I urge you to contact the Supreme Court directly to share your own feelings regarding this important issue.
Category: General
Posted by: freemans
1140 Comments
The telephone game is the only game that is well-played everyday. One rumor turns into another, from transfers to what is for dinner. It really doesn't matter what's for dinner, because the majority of women hate the food and smuggle what they want to the dorms so they can make their own concoction of something different.

Of course, there is only one microwave for 150 women, so you always find yourself waiting in line. When you are ready to finally take a morsel in your mouth, Mrs. Shakedown and Shut Up walks up to ruin your day. The officer takes everything you have made and saved from your locker and calls it contraband. This leaves you feeling stripped, and hungry.

It's bad enough we have to scavenge for a few vegetables and sneak them into our 2'x3' locker among our clothes, but to be shamed and embarrassed too and reduced to nothing!

Once again, I go to bed without dinner.

No chance of falling asleep as the fire alarm is ringing and buzzing loudly. I wrap a blanket around me and go down the stairs to wait outside and wait and wait...

Finally, someone has to go to the front gate of the other prison across the street to find the officer who should be in the office. After an hour or two later of freezing at 1 AM, we are allowed to go back to bed. When will they fix the wiring problem?

A bathroom update: Nothing has changed. We need toilet paper holders , soap dispensers and toilet seat covers. There is an outbreak of lice and staph because of the unsanitary conditions. If you need to wash your hands, their is a dirty piece of soap. It is disgusting! The water is so hard it makes your skin flake and your hair really dry. 150 women share one hot water, as the other is broken Guess what?---No hot water.

When you think there can be no more stress, the loud speaker announces 110 women will be transferred. This happens just as my only friend has settled in and started moving in a positive direction when her name is called over the loudspeaker. She thought she was getting into the next drug program, but instead, was hit with a transfer.

The laziness of the staff puts a damper on the situation. They have no idea what is going on in here or out there. The case managers say one thing and the counselors say something else. Then, there is the officer's opinion...

Confusion and frustration is felt by all. Every prison except this one has a 6 month drug program. The one here lasts 9 months and does not give the inmates the full time off they are entitled to.

My bottom line is you could save the taxpayers money by being on house arrest.

Keep writing, you are helping my spirit.

Your Friend,
Stephanie Landa
Category: General
Posted by: freemans
3730 Comments
After dozing off for the first time, the midnight count starts. Guards with heavy boots stomp by, wielding flashlights and shining them into your eyes to count bodies. Imagine dozing off again, then waking frantically at one a.m. to the loudest buzz that it makes your ears ring as everyone yells fire. Over one hundred groggy, sleepy women stumble down the stairs, side by side.

Every night, the fire alarm goes off due to a wiring problem. What happens when this place truly catches on fire? This place would go up in minutes, because this building is old and badly in need of repairs.

We all march out to the street in the freezing rain. and stand there shivering, waiting for the guard to clear the building and turn the alarm off. We then march side by side back upstairs to bed.

Two-thirty a.m.: Again the guards return to shine their flashlights in your eyes as they stomp their boots.

Three a.m.: I try to doze off again, but at four a.m. the same drill is repeated as the guards stomp their boots and shine their flashlights.

Forget sleeping, it is too hard to get comfortable. My pain level is at ten. The bed is hard. The pillow is even harder. Sleep deprivation is setting in...

Five a.m.: Work starts and I am wearing the same dull blue denim uniform and a pair of the most uncomfortable steel-toe boots I have ever worn. Working in the kitchen consists of bussing dirty traysa, wiping tables and emptying out the garbage cans dozen times after each meal. I am aching!

After 300 inmates stuff their faces and scavenge for even more food (as the servings are never enough), it is time to check in with a most unpleasant office, so she can give me some petty ass job to make my life even more miserable. By then, it's time for lunch, then dinner.

I am starting to hate food and it makes me ill to see how much is wasted. There is no recycling at all, as everything ends up as more fill for the dump. The federal government does not care about recycling nor about the taxpayers who pay their salaries here.

Profanity is the lingua francua here. Everyone spends their time talking about everryone else. Snitching and stealing are common practices that I cannot relate to.

The bathrooms are a vile ashtray of nastiness, as three or four prisoners in a stall suck cigarettes down to the butt, then snitch on one another afterward.

Toilet paper runs out at least once a day and if their is any, it sits on the back of the toilet (sometimes on the floor), with a quarter of it soaked with condensation. Every time the toilet flushes, the water in the shower becomes scalding hot. There's no room to dodge the spray, so I find myself screaming in pain. Standing in the shower would normally clear your head for a moment, but not in this institution.

You are required to take classes. Today's class was about writing up a will in case you die in prison, which is a high probability! Maybe some of the other classes will not be so depressing. I would like to live to see my family again.

Today, even the highlight of my day, mail call, left me crying tears of injustice --- no mail. Usually, I get mail, but today my name was not called. When I get mail my spirit soars, so please everyone, keep writing!

Flicker, flicker, it is ten p.m., the flourescent light blink and it is bedtime. Maybe I can get some quality sleep before midnight starts the day again.

No such luck, as an orchestra of snoring begins. One after another, the prisoners snore, some synchronized and some out of tune in a melody of annoyance that I can fall asleep to --- Not!

Please write to MMJ POW Stephanie Landa @
FCI DUBLIN
SATELLITE CAMP
Prisoner Stephanie Landa
Prisoner # 09247-800
5675 8TH ST
DUBLIN, CA 94568
Category: General
Posted by: freemans
1339 Comments
As many of you know, last week Stephanie was taken from the Santa Rita County Jail and put into the Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin, where she was held in such horrible conditions that her stint at county looked good in comparison.

Today, she was finally notified that she would be assigned space in a dormitory, which among other things, means she'll have a bed to sleep in instead of being on the floor tonight.

When I spoke with her this afternoon she was in great spirits. She'd seen daylight for the first time since January 4th and was able to walk in the open air for a brief period, until the cold drove her back inside.

She'd been allowed to check out a book from the prison library! She'd talked to Tom and learned she had money on her books! I'm telling you, the sense of joy and wonder she had at these small things, would have made mush out of the harshest of cynics.

She thought the county jail had thrown away all her correspondence when she moved. She was heartbroken because she'd been in the midst of writing back to everyone who had written to her.

But, today, Tom showed me three huge manila envelopes of mail. The county had bundled up all the correspondence, and sent it to the next of kin. And boy, have you guys been doing a good job writing, there was a ton of mail.

Tom sent the envelopes right back to the jail, it will take them awhile to read through so much, but eventually she will have all your letters.

Once again, thank you to everyone, for everything. If Stephanie made it through this period intact, it's because you, individually and as a group, kept her going.

You guys didn't just show compassion, you re-defined the word.

If you could forward the above to anyone who needs to know, Stephanie would appreciate it.

25/06: 12/08: Hello

Category: General
Posted by: freemans
Greetings,
My name is Stephanie Landa.
I'm going to try and write about my experiences as a medical cannabis patient and political prisoner and my persecution by the US Justice system.