2nd ANNUAL REENTRY SUMMIT (9/19/07)
San Francisco can boast that when it comes to compassion our City imbibes the values of Saint Francis Assisi. Now, some may not agree with that - but by far most San Franciscans agree that we are an all embracing and very compassionate City, anyway. It is this extraordinary gift that we have which adheres us to so many - all over the world. Even the poor from other States will venture and have before to seek compassion. And many of these have been richer for making this choice.
What has this to do with the release of those incarcerated and others that need to be rehabilitated? Well, it has to begin with compassion - and if there is true compassion then the truth will be revealed and justice done to thousands of parolees and others that use various City facilities, visit Community Based Organizations, follow the course and a path taken by those released making an effort to contribute to society.
We are fortunate to have good people like Michael Hennessey and Jeff Adachi who have done so much to address incarceration and rehabilitation in San Francisco. These two have given a new face to the billion dollar incarceration business. While the majority seek to make money off human beings and incarceration these two genuinely seek solutions outside the box - and with few resources, primitive facilities, too much red tape - make some sense and give those seeking a change and affording an opportunity to contribute to society at large.
The chances of an African American going to jail in this Racist City, San Francisco are very high and so are the chances of any minority person. Not, so much Whites. In fact in the year 2007 the Civil Rights of many today are in peril - and adverse impacts suffered by minorities in San Francisco and the Bay Area are on the increase and beyond control.
Perhaps the high light of the Summit: Working Together to Support San Franciscans after Incarceration was best expressed by the key note speaker Luis J. Rodriguez the author Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. I think he really could speak to the topic simply because he is a minority - been there, done it and knows it fairly well.
It is pathetic that today's prison system has chosen to use segregation worse then that exercised in South Africa as means to punish and create monsters in the prison system. There is no doubt in my mind and that of others, experts in the field - human beings who go in the incarceration system for years come out as monsters.
And, now the issue that we all have to deal with is what to do with these monsters when they are given freedom. When, all the time those incarcerated in the many jails are abused because the Jail Guards abuse freedom and use license to ill treat and abuse those that they control and are defenseless. Others, peers use the systems to enforce a code of silence and violence, intimidation, and what ever it takes to survive.
Our prison systems have now reached a stage where over one percent of the Nation's population is incarcerated in jails. Further, many more women are going to jail and incarcerated with greater sentences because of very violent crimes to their credit. Leading the numbers are Latinos and African Americans.
It is strange that though we have a so called judicial system - the judicial system stinks to high heaven. It goes to the time when Native Americans were killed, abused and the land stolen. Then African Americans and other used as slaves within a justice system that served different folks with different strokes. Whites saw to it that they sat on the fence and jumped on that side where the grass was greener.
San Francisco is making amends after years of going with the flow. We must remember that San Francisco has never really cared about those that are branded criminals. Once incarcerated for years a person - man or woman was forced to live in society without certain rights. The way society saw any incarcerated person was with a branded mark - "once a jail bird always a jail bird."
All over the world and even in some undeveloped countries drastic changes are being made and most of this took place in the late 1970s. In the developed countries already in the 1960s drastic changes and a complete and renewed sense of rehabilitation took place in the 1960s.
It is only in the United States of America that we love our guns, use license, and love to incarcerate those that can least use the corrupt judicial system to defend themselves. It is a pity to see so many young African Americans many of them very intelligent sitting in and lingering in prisons.
The White man has created another plantation and another kind of slave kingdom only this time he is using the judicial system, diatribe, verbosity, and all sorts of machinations to justify the depopulation of young African Americans and other minorities - and thinks he can get away with such madness - behind the wall.
The Pacific Islanders, Asians, Latinos have no clue about the billion dollar business and who is really behind these machination. The trading for citizenship if one volunteers to go to fight in Iraq and other places. The corruption that defies justice when ploys are use to give one some freedom and take away life by putting thousands in harm way in far of place - pretending that they are doing service to this Nation.
America is the only place that has made a science of putting indigenous people on Reservations. Killing thousands by giving the Native Americans blankets laced with small pox. Invading the West and killing the indigenous people. Up until 1924 one could kill an American Indian and fetch $5 for a scalp - no questions asked. A lot of the edicts were sent out by White Judges and even California Governors.
This type of judicial biased psyche is still embedded in most judges and what makes it worse are Black and Asian judges that will not think out side the box but often time perpetuate the old so called normal bias way of adjudicating and screw minorities every single opportunity they get. I have watched this nonsense in many courts - too many times.
When it comes to youth no one will give a damn most of the time. No judge ever first thinks about the youth as a person. They are trained to use the flawed laws to make a case to save the judge's ass within a judicial system that is flawed. When you witness a judge talk less and listen more and think outside the box - it is such a breath of fresh air.
The 2nd Annual Reentry Summit gave me an opportunity to think about the many issues and difficulties, I have had understanding, comprehending, about fairness in the judicial system in America and California in particular that loves incarceration and really makes misfits of those that spend extended periods of time behind bars.
Given the circumstances it makes it very difficult for any one to enter society and really contribute to society. I take my hat off to those that are attempting to squeeze some water from a dry rock and I wish them the best.
Enjoy the photographs from the 2nd Annual Reentry Summit held at San Francisco State University - Jack Adams Hall Cesar Chavez Student Center:
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