The Board of Parole denied Reginald Samuels his freedom for sharing the SF Bay View

Open-Season-Wesley-Clark-1, The Board of Parole denied Reginald Samuels his freedom for sharing the SF Bay View, Behind Enemy Lines News & Views
I gasped when I first laid eyes on this piece of art – and I was only seeing it online! I have nothing more to say, so I’ll leave it to Wesley and Reginald’s sisters: “Frustration. Hope. Beauty. Pain. Constant trauma with few periods of respite … How do Black Americans find their equilibrium in a country that refuses to reconcile with past and present traditions of violence against their skin; assaults against their character; and who has socialized racism?” – Wesley Clark. “People of color do not stand a fair chance once stigmatized and labeled in the system. The system is not trustworthy.” – Rhonda and Rosalyn. Art: Wesley Clark 

by Nube Brown

Editor’s note: There are many reasons the Board of Parole needs to be abolished and replaced with a Community Release Board that consists of people who have a much greater capacity to recognize the humanity in the people before them and act accordingly. What you’ll read below is one of those reasons. Reginald Samuels and his family sent the SF Bay View their letters and parole transcripts thinking their documented experience with the Board of Parole Hearings would make a good story – we think so, too. 

To: Bay View Newspaper, Oct. 21, 2021

I hope and pray all is well.

My name is Reginald H. Samuels. I’m 63 years old. I’m a nonviolent third-striker for residential burglary with zero violence in my past.

I had a subscription to your Bay View newspaper for two and a half years here at Soledad State Prison. I recently had to cancel. 

The reason: When I’m finished reading my newspaper, I let other inmates read my paper, and I never ask for it back. Well, they did a cell search on some inmate, and one of my Bay View papers was in his cell. This inmate was an STG-BGF (Security Threat Group-Black Guerilla Family) member. This institution gave me a 1030, a confidential memorandum, as you can read in this letter.

He went on and on about how bad that newspaper was. Yes, I was denied parole.

On Sept. 8, 2021, I went to my nonviolent parole board hearing under Prop. 57. This 1030 was talked about a lot by the commissioner. He was really upset that I was reading a newspaper like the Bay View. He was telling me that the Bay View talks a lot about killing police officers. He went on and on about how bad that newspaper was. Yes, I was denied parole. 

That 1030 was highly prejudicial against me in my hearing. He also said that if I’m denied parole, it won’t be because of the paper. That commissioner was really upset. I should have never received a 1030 in the first place. It’s a public newspaper – anybody in the world can get a subscription.

You tell me, were my constitutional rights of freedom of speech, liability, discrimination and privacy violated? There is more to this story, too much to write.

They’re also discriminating against your newspaper. There are people in here that don’t want to be seen reading one.

My family and I need outside help because this was just not right.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Reginald Samuels

P.S. I really liked reading your newspaper. I’m sorry I had to cancel it; You can understand why.

Following is a simile of pages 21-28 of the parole transcript of Reginald Samuels. We tried to keep as much of the authenticity as possible, changing none of the wording, grammar, spacing etc. We have added colored highlights where Reginald’s sisters had done so, though we used red instead of the light green they used, as it worked better for our purposes here. It is our hope that you will be moved to join the dialogue to build a Community Release Board.

Statement by Rosalyn Goe, sister of Reginald Samuels, sent to the Bay View in January 2022

I subscribed to the Bay View Newspaper for my brother housed in CDCR Soledad, a few years back. Had I known that particular paper would have cost him his freedom via his parole hearing in 2021, I definitely would not have sent it to him. 

The parole board member mentioned this paper in my brother’s hearing. It should not have been brought up, being that there was no rule or regulation within CDCR guidelines (Title 15) stating he could not receive it. Even I was mentioned in his hearing, questioning why I had it sent to him. 

I feel the outcome of my brother’s parole hearing was primarily based on the content of the Bay View newspaper and my brother having used that to his benefit. He met all the expectations required by CDCR to have had his parole granted, i.e., substance abuse education, being a model prisoner with absolutely NO violence in his history, nor gang affiliation all his life. 

They’re also discriminating against your newspaper. There are people in here that don’t want to be seen reading one.

This has affected our family in so many ways – how the system has failed in acknowledging the positive attributes he has maintained and used the unsubstantiated negatives against him to deny his parole. 

They played on his mental disability, as noted in his record, with questions that did not pertain to the criteria needed for his parole release. We have completely lost faith in the system that maintains that it stands for California Department of Corrections and REHABILITATION, key word being rehabilitation.

Reginald’s three sisters went on to write six letters addressed to the Board of Parole, Office of Appeals and CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison – every single one going unanswered. Only the Office of Ombudsman replied to a letter sent to that office in October 2021. Below is the last letter sent in what feels like utter exasperation and a last attempt to find redress:

The last letter sent to Board of Appeals, Office of Appeals and Gov. Newsom, Jan. 28, 2022

Re: Inmate Reginald Samuels, AR1719

Honorable members – to whom will take precedence, give consideration and attention to this matter; No response or action taken from your office for letters dated: Sept. 21, 2021, Sept. 27, 2021, Sept. 30, 2021, Oct. 25, 2021, Nov. 1, 2021, and Dec. 9, 2021. 

Response time elapsed due to your lack of concern to take interest in a timely manner to respond to Mr. Samuels’ claim appealing the denial decision. Proof of corruption and dishonesty on behalf of the system – your office does not follow the practice of the rules and regulations, the “Vision, Mission, Values and Goals” mentioned on your website; Your office does not follow the guidelines of the “Suitability of Parole” factors.

People of color do not stand a fair chance once stigmatized and labeled in the system. The system is not trustworthy.

Changes need to be made in the selection of Board members and panel members. [The Board should be] diverse and balanced, not biased or prejudiced, [and include members with a] cross-reference of duties, [who undergo] background checks, and maybe [it should include] a mediator. 

[The Board should be made up of] members with integrity, of decent character, who thoroughly analyze the individual record, time of events, the good vs. the negative. Commissioners should not be scolding, intimidating or harsh during a hearing. Not all inmates, or any person, can articulate when in a brutal, uncomfortable situation.

There should be a statute of limitations considered in an inmate’s parole hearing, such as not bringing up past years of history to be considered. Makes no sense to grant parole to violent offenders and not a non-violent 63-year-old.

Our family is still in disbelief of the outcome, the corruption and the violation of civil rights. We are in pursuit of a civil service attorney and a class action lawsuit.

Rhonda King, Rosalyn Goe

Send our brother some love and light: Reginald Samuels, AR1719, Soledad CTF, P.O. Box 689, Soledad, CA 93960.