The Bay View keeps it real for prisoners

Eric-Martin, The Bay View keeps it real for prisoners, Behind Enemy Lines
Eric is a writer and former prison newspaper editor and former law library clerk. He continues to speak out about prison injustices. Eric also exemplifies the idea that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution – and why we here at the Bay View remain committed to uplifting the voices of our caged community members. Abolition Now!

Greetings Bay View staff,

May this letter find all Bay View staff enjoying the best in life and having success in all endeavors. Also, I hope that you all are doing the smart things to keep the Coronavirus out of your lives. 

As a longtime reader of the Bay View – and I do mean every single article – usually one shared with me by other prisoners, I truly admire the work that you brothers and sisters do to produce this newspaper.

From time to time, the urge hits me to write about some topics of interest in one way or another. Because you folks do such an extraordinary job at bringing the real to the people, perhaps the following thoughts can be helpful or motivational to some readers and/or may be read by someone in the right position to get something done to actually make a difference on these prison sentence issues. 

We can all make a difference on these unjust laws by bringing forth what needs to change to the state Legislature, which makes the laws.

Sentence enhancements keep prisons full and destroy decades of many prisoners’ lives

As a prisoner who has now served a number of years in the California prison system, me and many others have seen numerous laws passed and/or changed in this state which have only made crime worse and which are racially discriminatory against Black and Brown people. Very recently, only a little has been done by bill or by proposition intended to relieve prison crowding.

Even with the deadly threat of the Coronavirus pandemic, not enough is actually being done to release prisoners early to improve prison conditions or to save lives. People who have been incarcerated 20, 25 or even 30 years or more are excluded from release without mercy. 

And now that prisoners are being vaccinated against Coronavirus, the state figures there is no need for releases.

What little that has been done or passed to bring about releases has only minimally been put into effect and has only applied to very few people in California’s 35 prisons. It has barely made a dent in the overall population, although it was made to appear as if many releases were going to happen. 

The truth is that predicting “future crime” is the stuff of movies and is an impossible task.

The so-called non-violent, non-serious convicted persons released early has been a farce and sham from the get-go. Those same individuals who are deemed non-violent, non-serious and were released because of their current conviction, which happened to be a crime of little consequence, could actually be the most dangerous of persons. 

Thus, the current standard for releasing prisoners is nothing more than a fantasy made to look like real criteria scientifically studied to predict the possibility of future crime. However, nothing and nobody can predict future crime.

The truth is that predicting “future crime” is the stuff of movies and is an impossible task. It should not be used to determine who gets released, but it is. 

The only way to make sentencing laws equitable and just is to repeal and eliminate all sentence enhancements and prior conviction enhancement laws. Such laws amount to sentencing a person twice for a previous conviction already served.

Unless and until sentence enhancement laws are repealed, thousands of men and women will go from young to old suffering many years, even decades in prison excessively, with many dying behind prison walls. 

This amounts to a mass death penalty – or even a form of genocide – and cruel and unusual punishment on a mass scale.

If you do run this, it is ok to use my address in case someone wishes to share thoughts on these issues.

Send our brother some love and light: Eric Martin, B60373, CMF, P.O. Box 2000, Vacaville, CA 95696.

Editor’s note: Mr. Martin went on to make a few other requests that may be familiar to readers on the inside and requests that you may have in common and are experiencing or have even expressed to us at an earlier time that we’ll answer here for the benefit of all:

1. Please remove listed attorneys from the Bay View’s Black Pockets Directory.

It is requested that the Bay View please remove all the attorneys listed from the Black Pockets page of the paper. Other prisoners and I have personally written to all of the attorneys listed, and more than once, but none have ever responded.

Most recently, I wrote to them all again due to the recent death of my mother seeking probate case assistance, or referral to a probate attorney in Oakland. However, again, none of them ever bothered to respond. 

For all of these attorneys to refuse to respond to prisoners in need demonstrates a concerted aversion to even responding to the incarcerated, which runs against the mission and position of the Bay View. 

Please remove the attorneys, and any other businesses that are purposely unresponsive to the people. Imagine all of the letters that have been wasted in time, resources and hopes by writing to them.

2. Addresses of Black-owned banks

Back a few months, I believe you ran a brief article which was enlightening of the fact that there are actually some Black-owned banks out there. Who knew? Certainly not me. Many people are not aware of this. 

Here are two Black-American owned/led banks with a base or branch in California:

OneUnited Bank, 3683 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016, https://oneunited.com/

City First Bank of D.C. National Association (headquartered at 1432 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009): Exposition Park Branch, 4001 S. Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90037; Inglewood Branch, 170 N. Market St., Inglewood, CA 90301

3. Add me to your mailing list.

Please add me to your newspaper mailing list to receive the Bay View. I have resisted asking for a long time, but now I definitely would like to receive my own copies each month. The info in your paper is just too informative to pass up any longer. Thank You!

With sincerity,

Eric Martin

Send our brother some love and light: Eric Martin, B60373, CMF, P.O. Box 2000, Vacaville, CA 95696.