Vow of Silence

The very presence of a person in silence can cause a myriad of responses but invites us to think more deeply, as silence removes anything to push against except our own inner turmoil.

by Ronnie Lashan Winn

Today there is not a prisoner in the state of California like Ronnie Lashan Winn. Ronnie emerged in CDC (California Department of Corrections) in 2000 and assumed a new posture of freedom; however, he never deprecated agitation.

In 2001, Ronnie protested with the first “Vow of Silence” in CDC’s history, challenging his conviction and the Three Strikes Law. 

Subsequent to that protest, Ronnie committed to two other silent protests for one year, one in 2007-2008 and then in 2010-2011, consisting of three years total without talking to elucidate the systemic racist, draconian Three Strikes Law and his wrongful conviction of involuntary manslaughter – a nonviolent, nonserious offense that occurred on May 28, 1999. 

Ronnie has maintained his innocence for 21 years and is now incarcerated at CMC West Prison in San Luis Obispo.

Today, because of Ronnie’s ferocious, intense due diligence, the Innocence Project of California Western School of Law, on March 6, 2020, sent Ronnie a brief missive informing him they are reviewing his case of wrongful conviction.

The interest that compelled the Innocence Project to review Ronnie’s claims of innocence is based on overwhelming forensic medical evidence provided by Dr. Evan Matshes of the NAA (National Autopsy Assay) Group of Forensic Medicine. Dr. Matshes says, “Mr. Ronnie Winn causes me to be very highly concerned that a miscarriage of justice has occurred.”

We are used to getting loud to express our grievances. Might it be a radical act of activism to be silent? Imagine a gathering of 10,000 people in silence against systemic racism, imperialism and white pathology, aka white supremacy.

Dr. Evan Matshes promulgated on Nov. 11, 2019, an overwhelmingly medical forensic summary to the Innocence Project, characterizing the miscarriage of justice against Ronnie L. Winn from a forensic pathologist perspective. This forensic summary solidified Mr. Winn’s actual and factual innocence.

Today, Ronnie is charging Jennifer Shaffer, the Board of Prison Hearings and CDCR with systemic racism and white supremacy. Prop 57 established the release for all nonviolent Third Strikers who have served and completed their full determinate nonviolent term. 

Prop 57 “excluded” the indeterminate sentencing law that sent Ronnie Winn and thousands of others to prison who were convicted of nonviolent, nonserious crimes, pursuant to California’s racist, draconian Three Strikes indeterminate life in prison “forever” law that was choreographed and directed at a particular segment of society – that society became the apprehension of thousands of Black men and Black women primarily.

Jennifer Shaffer, the executive director of the Board of Prison Hearings, and her cohorts, have unilaterally decided not to comply with Prop 57, Article l, Section 32, that would ensure the release of all nonviolent, nonserious Third Strikers who have served and completed their full determinate nonviolent term forthwith.

Jennifer Shaffer continues to flagrantly ignore the specific wording of the California Constitution Article l, Section 32. Article l, Section 32, does not order nonviolent, nonserious Third Strikers to appear or adhere to the board’s actions.

Furthermore, the Board of Parole Hearings process is predicated upon white supremacy and systemic racism, especially as it concerns people of color, specifically Black people.

Jennifer Shaffer, the executive director of the Board of Prison Hearings, and her cohorts, have unilaterally decided not to comply with Prop 57, Article l, Section 32, that would ensure the release of all nonviolent, nonserious Third Strikers who have served and completed their full determinate nonviolent term forthwith.

The supreme participants in these parole hearings concerning Black people are predominantly white people – white attorneys, white psychotherapists, white commissioners and a white board panel. If this is not white supremacy coupled with systemic racism concerning a Black person, then what is it?

Ronnie Lashan Winn will not comply with this White Citizen’s Council masquerading as a fair, non-racist board hearing with the power over life and death concerning nonviolent, nonserious Black Third Strikers who have exhausted their nonviolent, nonserious sentence multiple years and decades over. 

Ronnie Winn will once again commit himself to another “Vow of Silence” protest against systemic racist board policies implemented by Executive Director Jennifer Shaffer and her racist cohorts.

Ronnie Winn’s silent protest will not conclude until Jennifer Shaffer and her cohorts comply with the California Constitution, Article l, Section 32, and release all nonviolent, nonserious Third Strikers forthwith. 

Jennifer Shaffer, the BPH and CDCR continue to perpetuate systemic racist, draconian “policies.” Prop 57, Article l, Section 32, is the antithesis of Jennifer Shaffer’s systemic structural racism! Article l, Section 32, of the California Constitution is the LAW.

Jennifer Shaffer, from the wise words of Frederick Douglass: “Let me give you a word of philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. 

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. 

“The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” 

White supremacy and systemic racism must be eradicated forthwith.

“I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T BREATHE!” – George Floyd

Send our brother some love and light: Ronnie Lashan Winn, P82076, California Men’s Colony F-14-6-L, P.O. Box 8101, San Luis Obispo, CA 93409. This story is dated July 12, 2020.