What to the Black third striker is your Parole Board hearing?! A warped call and response

Mass incarceration is not a glamour contest.

Introduction by Editor Nube Brown: We don’t often get the chance to witness a response to a Parole Board letter by a prisoner. On the daily, outspoken prisoners, freedom fighters and inside organizer-activists are fighting for their human and civil rights only to have them curtailed and dismissed by the oppressive, dehumanizing and genocidal actions of the Parole Board.

What hard-fought policies and laws that are in place that might benefit prisoners are often simply ignored as wardens, guards and state and board officials manipulate language and undermine – or outright disregard – judicial orders for change or relief. Simply put, the Parole Board is another corrupt instrument used against the people and a sham. It must be abolished and replaced with a Strategic Release-minded community board.

See SF Bay View for January 2021, Liberate the Caged Voices: Strategic Release.

by Ronnie Winn

From: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Board of Parole Hearings, P.O. Box 4036, Sacramento, CA 95812-4036

Dated: July 14, 2020

Ronnie Winn:

This is in response to your letters received by the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) on Feb. 10, 2020, April 20, 2020, and June 17, 2020. In your letters, you request information regarding the parole suitability hearing process for indeterminately sentenced inmates pursuant to Proposition 57.

As an initial matter, Case Records Services of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has qualified you as a nonviolent third-striker pursuant to Proposition 57. However, you appear to have received incorrect information about the requirements that Proposition 57 established on the Board of Parole Hearings and the meaning of the legal definition for how to determine who qualifies as a nonviolent offender and how to calculate their nonviolent parole eligible dates.

First, when Proposition 57 was passed by California voters in 2016, the effect was to create a new section in Article I of the California Constitution requiring CDCR to promulgate regulations to establish a process through which nonviolent offenders could receive “parole consideration” by the Board. 

“Excluding” means, the indeterminate alternative three strikes sentencing cannot be used for any purpose, specifically the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH).

Parole consideration is not automatic parole requiring release at a specific date or after a specific period of time. Rather, parole consideration requires a process through which an inmate can be evaluated to determine whether, based on the inmate’s record, the inmate can be safely released back to society.

In accordance with Proposition 57, CDCR first passed regulations establishing the parole consideration process for determinate sentenced nonviolent offenders. Subsequently, CDCR passed separate regulations establishing a different parole consideration process, as authorized under Proposition 57, for nonviolent offenders with life sentences. 

This is likely the “new nonviolent process” for life inmates that you referred to in your letter. These regulations were approved, meaning they now have the force and effect of law, and are found in the California Code of Regulations, Title 15, division 2, sections 2449.30 through 2449.34, and division 3, sections 3492 through 3497. 

Under these regulations, the parole consideration process for an indeterminately sentenced nonviolent offender is for that offender to receive a parole consideration hearing before the Board.

Thus, because Case Records qualified you as an indeterminately sentenced nonviolent offender, you were properly scheduled for a parole consideration hearing under the law. During the initial parole consideration hearing, the hearing panel reviews the inmate’s complete record and elicits testimony from the inmate to determine whether the inmate continues to pose ongoing risk or is now suitable for release to the community. 

If the inmate is granted parole and the decision is not overturned during any statutorily required decision review periods, the inmate will be released on parole despite not having reached any prior minimum statutory parole eligibility dates. However, if the inmate is deemed not currently suitable for parole, the hearing panel will impose a period of denial in accordance with Penal Code section 3041.5, subdivision (b).

You also expressed confusion of the word ‘excluding’ in the Proposition 57 language and how that word applies to modify your sentence. Again, you have received incorrect information about Proposition 57. 

Systemic racism, structural racism, institutional racism and white supremacy are the main ingredients and foundation that operate and function within the Parole Board’s system.

The word ‘excluding’ is found in the following provision of the California Constitution, Article I, section 32, subdivision (a)(1)(A), as enacted by Proposition 57: “For purposes of this section only, the full term for the primary offense means the longest term of imprisonment imposed by the court for any offense, excluding the imposition of an enhancement, consecutive sentence, or alternative sentence.” 

The word ‘excluding’ in this sentence does not operate to modify an inmate’s sentence by excluding any portion of the sentence from needing to be served. Rather, that sentence serves to explain how an inmate’s nonviolent parole eligible date (NPED) – meaning the date on which a nonviolent offender may begin receiving parole consideration evaluations from the Board – must be calculated. 

Specifically, under the law, CDCR Case Records must review what a nonviolent offender’s sentence would have been if any enhancements or alternative sentencing (such as three strikes) had not been included to determine the full term of the inmate’s primary offense. That full term then establishes the date on which the inmate can begin receiving parole consideration by the Board. However, the inmate’s original life sentence remains intact until the inmate is deemed suitable for release on parole and the decision is not overturned during any decision review periods.

In your case, Case Records properly determined what your sentenced would have been had you not committed prior strike offenses and received the alternative sentence for your life crime under the three strikes provisions. Following this review, Case Records calculated that your NPED occurred in 2003, which is a past date. Because these laws were not enacted until 2017 and the legislature anticipated that some nonviolent offenders would already have past NPEDs, the laws expressly created legal provisions for how to deal with inmate cases when the newly calculated NPED was a past date. These provisions required CDCR and the Board to hold the hearings for these inmates by no later than Dec. 31, 2021. Therefore, since your NPED was a past date, the Board properly scheduled you for a hearing prior to Dec. 31, 2021, in accordance with current law.

Please note the Board is not the agency tasked with the legal authority to determine whether you qualify as a nonviolent offender or calculate your NPED. If you have any concerns with these issues, you must raise your concerns with CDCR. However, a review of your case indicates that you have been properly qualified as a nonviolent offender, and appropriately scheduled for your initial parole consideration hearing prior to Dec. 31, 2021, in accordance with current law.

I hope that I have answered your questions.

Sincerely,

Heather L. McCray, Assistant Chief Counsel Legal Division

The majority of people targeted for sterilization were deemed of inferior intelligence, particularly Black people, poor people and all people of color.

Response from Ronnie Winn

July 22, 2020

To: Heather L. McCray,

I received your letter dated July 14, 2020. I will be brief. Your attempt to use legerdemain, misdirection and sleight of hand fails. You know exactly what the word “excluding” means, and so do I. The indeterminate alternative three strikes sentencing cannot be used for any purpose, specifically the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH).

Executive Director Jennifer Shaffer and her systemic racist cohorts continue to present the false narrative that this non-violent, nonserious Black man, who is also a wrongfully convicted third striker, should celebrate the Parole Board date, July 19, 2020, as if it was the 4th of July, and given the ultimate opportunity to appear before a racist Parole Board to be verbally castigated and tortured by a white racist panel with the ultimate power to determine at their capricious whim whether or not this non-violent, nonserious, innocent Black Man is a current danger to their society. 

What is the underlining factor that would compel this non-violent, innocent Black Man to celebrate the systemic racism perpetrated by the Board of Parole Hearings? Absolutely nothing!

Pardon me, Heather L. McCray and Jennifer Shaffer. Allow me to ask, “Why am I called upon to speak at your racist, draconian Board of Parole Hearings? Perhaps you mean to mock me. For what do I have to do with your BPH? 

What to this non-violent third striker is your BPH? I answer, a day that reveals to me, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which I am the constant victim.

To me, your Board of Parole Hearings is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns; your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to me, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy; a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages (inspired by “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass).

It’s obvious systemic racism, structural racism, institutional racism and white supremacy are the main ingredients and foundation that operate and function within the Parole Board’s system.

Heather McCray, Jennifer Shaffer etc. are the quintessence of white supremacy and systemic racism. The both of you are cruel enough to inflict the severest punishment, artful enough to descend to the lowest trickery and obdurate enough to be insensible to the voice reproving conscience.

With best regards,

Ronnie Lashan Winn

Non-violent third strikers are understood, quite literally, to be slaves of the state.

Please take notice!

To all non-violent third strikers held captive within the cages of CDCR and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC), we have been viciously pimped. Our dignity and humanity have been lynched – there is absolutely no such thing as a non-violent Prop 57 board hearing.

In the event you reject what I’m sharing with you, then go ask someone within the prison with authority to explain or show you facts elucidating the non-violent third striker hearing process – it does not exist, period, and it never has. 

The only process the board has, is a suitability Parole Board process that’s identical to a convicted murderer’s Parole Board hearing. All non-violent third strikers must exercise their non-violent constitutional First Amendment rights to protest Jennifer Shaffer and the Board of Parole Hearings from compelling non-violent third strikers to appear before any parole hearing that does not mandate mandatory release for all non-violent third strikers who exhausted their non-violent sentence many decades over their non-violent offense. Their release must occur forthwith.

This Prison Industrial Complex is predicated upon, 1. Slavery, 2. Jim Crow, 3. Civil Rights, 4. tough on crime, 5. war on drugs, 6. crime bill and 7. mass incarceration. 

To eradicate systematic racism and white supremacy, we must agitate, agitate, agitate.

“I can’t breathe,” “I can’t breathe,” “I can’t breathe!” – George Floyd

by Ronnie Lashan Winn

The eugenics movement began in the United States in the early part of the 20th century.

Addendum

What is eugenics?

Eugenics is the philosophy and social movement that argues it is possible to improve the human race and society by encouraging reproduction by people or populations with “desirable” traits (termed “positive” eugenics) and discouraging reproduction by people with “undesirable” qualities (termed “negative” eugenics). 

The eugenics movement began in the United States in the early part of the 20th century; the United States was the first country to have a systematic program for performing sterilizations on individuals without their knowledge or against their will. It was supported and encouraged by a wide swath of people, including politicians, scientists, social reformers, parole boards and prominent business leaders, with other influential individuals who shared a goal of reducing the “burden” on society. 

The majority of people targeted for sterilization were deemed of inferior intelligence, particularly Black people, poor people and all people of color. Subsequent to the passage of the racist three strikes law in March 1994, non-violent third strikers, specifically Black non-violent third strikers, have been the primary targets for this racist scheme engineered by Jennifer Shaffer, BPH, CDCR and the Prison Industry Complex aggrandizing mass incarcerations.

Scandalous!

“All non-violent third strikers are being sterilized and castrated because of eugenics, systemic racism by Jennifer Shaffer and all the BPH” – Dynamite (Ronnie Winn)

Non-violent third strikers have absolutely no meaningful legal rights at this time, and no effective redress – non-violent third strikers are understood, quite literally, to be slaves of the state.

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had abolished slavery but allowed one major exception – slavery remained appropriate as punishment for a crime. In a landmark decision by the Virginia Supreme Court, Ruffin v. Commonwealth, issued at the height of Southern Redemption, the court put to rest any notion that convicts were legally distinguishable from slaves – and this includes non-violent third strikers.

All non-violent third strikers during his or her service in the penitentiary is in a state of penal servitude to the state. He or she has, as a consequence of their non-violent crime, not only forfeited their liberty eternally but all of their personal rights except those which the law in its humanity accords them. 

They are forevermore a slave of the state. They are civiliter mortuus – civiliter mortuus means dead – and their estate, if they have any, is administered like that of a dead person, civiliter mortuus.

P.S. To my Comrade Conrad Wilkerson A-W7936 aka Tatu,

It’s not frequent within this cage that I’m privileged to have a comrade and a friend who shines consistently with integrity, strength and, most of all, credibility. Tatu, these components are the ingredients of a man with a spiritual purpose. 

Do not allow yourself to be derailed from your purpose. Always remember, haters look through a microscope to magnify things that are deplorable. However, playas look through the telescope in order to explore things that are explorable.

Later, 

Unequivocally, Dynamite

Papa and mama Thurman, RIP, I will always love you, Scouts honor. What’s up, 40?

Send our brother some love and light: Ronnie Winn, P82076, CMC F14-6 L, P.O. BOX 8101, San Luis Obispo, CA 93409