Sunday, September 15, 2013

The History of the Mexican Mafia vs. Nuestra Familia; A Shoe War & 45 Years of Senseless Violence & Hate

It seems hard to believe that the theft of a pair of shoes could literally lead to the loss of hundreds of lives and tens of thousands more lives being wasted while locked up, but it is true. In 1968, there were a series of violent incidents that took place at San Quentin Prison, which ignited a brewing distrust and hate of Mexican Mafia (EME) members mainly from Southern California. The rivals were Nuestra Familia (Mexicana) affiliated inmates from Northern California, with some supporters and leadership from the southern portion of the state, who rebelled against La EME.
Many gang members that presently claim SUR13/Sureño or Norte14/Norteño have little idea why they hate each other. The feud is kind of like the Hatfields and McCoys who fought for so long that they forgot the original reason why they started fighting in the first place. Like those American folklore families who battled years ago over relatively trivial matters until both sides were almost decimated, Hispanic street gang members today will attack and dehumanize the other side so they won't feel guilty when killing or maiming people who they have much in common with. It is much like a sad self-hating, self-genocide, tearing communities and families apart. Miserable in their own conditions, they lash out at those nearest to them instead of analyzing what they are doing to themselves or improving their plight and seeking a better future for their children. Somehow, the justification for their actions comes from a twisted thinking that by harming their own "Raza" they will come out as ultimate victors in a senseless war. But, in realty, it is a lose-lose game of tit for tat.
To understand how gangsters could ever come to such a state of mind, blog readers may want to check out two separate books just released by Gang Prevention Services; "The History of the Mexican Mafia"; and "The History of Nuestra Familia" now available on-line at the following links:

These books not only tell the story of how each group evolved, but also provide some solutions on how we might stop the violence and prevent future generations from falling to the same fate.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Are Prison Gangs Behind the California Hunger Strike?

In early July, 2013, thousands of California system prisoners, including most of those in lock-down Security Housing Units (SHU), went on a “Hunger Strike” after they deemed that their earlier “5 Core Demands” were not met:

1. Eliminate group punishments. Instead, practice individual accountability. When an individual prisoner breaks a rule, the prison often punishes a whole group of prisoners of the same race. This policy has been applied to keep prisoners in the SHU indefinitely and to make conditions increasingly harsh.

2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Prisoners are accused of being active participants of prison gangs using false or highly dubious evidence, and are then sent to long-term isolation (SHU). They can escape these torturous conditions only if they "debrief," that is, become informants on other prisoners. Debriefing produces false information (wrongly landing other prisoners in SHU, in an endless cycle) and can endanger the lives of debriefing prisoners and their families.

3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to longterm solitary confinement. This bipartisan commission specifically recommended to "make segregation a last resort" and "end conditions of isolation." Yet California keeps thousands of prisoners in isolation units. Some prisoners have been kept in isolation for more than thirty years.

4. Provide adequate and nutritious food. Prisoners receive tiny quantities of spoiled or undercooked food on dirty trays. There is no accountability or independent quality control of meals.

5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates. The hunger strikers are pressing for opportunities “to engage in self-help treatment, education, religious and other productive activities..." The prisoners also listed other specific needs. Since the 2011 hunger strike, they have won some of these, including: correspondence courses, if they pay for them themselves; wool caps; the right to buy sweatsuits (the cells and exercise cage can be bitterly cold); the right to buy some art supplies. They still do not have the right to worship together, talk to each other, receive vocational training or education from the prison, or hug or talk on the phone with their families.

Local TV, Radio, and Printed Media soon stated, “We’re learning more about the large hunger strike going on behind bars of several California prisons. State prison officials say the whole thing was orchestrated by prison gangs in order to sell drugs and make money.” The Los Angeles Times reported per CDCR Officials that, “top tier members of the Black Guerilla Family, Nuestra Familia, (EME), and the Aryan Brotherhood started the strike which encompassed dozens of lockups across the state.”

Is this true?

To understand the two opposing views, blog readers should first see:

According to supporters of the Hunger Strike, CDCR has demonized them, but in reality their past criminal record and behavior while incarcerated attributed to the bed that they now lay in.

Supporters say CDCR reports do not reflect any truth of what is actually motivating prisoners to go on hunger strike and has consistently motivated prisoners to go on hunger strike: the conditions of solitary confinement which so many are made to suffer. They say they just want to, “call attention to a number of conditions they say are inhumane. The prisoners are demanding changes to policies that allow the jails to hold inmates in solitary confinement indefinitely.”

The Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSSC), committed to amplifying the voices of prisoners on strike at Pelican Bay prison and other facilities in California, reported on July 22:

As the California prison hunger strike enters its 3rd week, reports of retaliation against strikers have increased.  Last week it was reported that prison officials had moved at least 14 strikers from the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay to Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), confiscated confidential legal documents, and forced cold air into their cells.  Later in the week, legal advocate Marilyn McMahon and one of her paralegals were summarily banned from visiting any California prison.  Reports that strikers have been moved to Ad-Seg or to entirely different facilities have also been coming from Corcoran State Prison.  The denial of medical care to strikers, especially those with preexisting health conditions, remains a widespread concern for families and advocates.”

Anne Weills, a civil rights attorney who this week visited Pelican Bay state prison, which is at the heart of the protest, said the temperature at the prison had been deliberately lowered, “They are the upping the ante in terms of cold. It’s clearly a tactic to make everything uncomfortable and in essence retaliate for the hunger strike,” she said. “They are freezing, these men. I could see them shivering in front of me. I had two sweaters on and I was freezing.” The cold was badly affecting smaller, thinner prisoners with little body fat, especially those weakened by their fast, she said. “They are suffering. This puts them at risk of hypothermia.”

Spokesperson for CDCR, Terry Thornton, completely denied allegations by prisoners that the cold air was being turned up to freeze them. Thornton told ABC News/Univision, “The cells in the security housing units and the administrative segregation unit at Pelican Bay State prison are 72 to 73 degrees,” Thornton told ABC News/Univision. And, “cell-unit temperatures are not something guards or correctional peace officers control.”

According to Amnesty International, prisoners at Pelican Bay are “allowed to exercise for an hour and a half a day, alone, in a bare, concrete yard.” California is “one of more than 40 US states to house prisoners in high security isolation facilities, often termed ‘super-maximum security’ prisons. “No other US state is believed to have held so many prisoners for such long periods in indefinite isolation.” And, “Some prisoners have spent more than a decade without visits from their family. They may correspond with their attorneys, families, friends and outside organizations, subject to certain restrictions. All visits are non-contact, taking place behind a glass screen.”

Inmates state that the situation in the SHUs and San Quentin-Adjustment Center/Death Row has only become worse, “With regards to the revisions that were done to SHU management gang policies, well, that is exactly what has taken place—revisions (e.g. ‘reform’). Hence, more of the same in that, the revisions have only strengthened CDCR officials power and ability to label and validate every prisoner in CDCR as belonging to a Security Threat Group–e.g. ’prison gang.’ At the crux of the revisions is a lack of a definitive and ‘behavioral-based’ criteria, as to what actually constitute as being gang activity. Meaning, any and everything can and will still be considered as gang activity, in spite of how innocuous the activity may be. In addition to this, we still have untrained and unqualified CDCR officers/officials determining and assessing what is ‘gang activity.’ And this point is critical for two very important reasons:

1) There are no qualitative oversight mechanisms in place, meaning there is absolutely nothing to prevent CDCR’s prison guards, gang unit, etc., from being vindictive, retaliatory, punitive, etc., via the application of these ‘revised’ gang management policies;


2) it has been proven that CDCR’s prison guards and their IGI gang unit staff do not properly investigate the evidence used in each prisoners gang validation–see Lira v. Cate. In conclusion, not being able to get out of solitary confinement is truly what is motivating this protest and not a desire by gangs to take over the prison and have their way with authorities. It is about being humanely treated while they serve time for committing whatever crime they are in jail for committing.”

Historically, Corrections isn't very good at "Transitioning to Community". Most will release one day!

Inmates should be able to send pictures to their loved ones if no gang signs are found in them. Family and potential re-unification is crucial for successful re-integration. As most inmates will be released someday, they are being set up to fail if certain things do not occur prior to release. Also, Religious Services has saved many older cons, but it must be monitored well to ensure gangs don’t take over. A process should also be set up for all inmates that are scheduled to be released to be placed in a reintegration process to assist with re-entry at a 1 year minimum whether or not they are housed in General Population or a SHU.

Many experts believe AB109 seems to be dumping people onto the streets without resources or tools to succeed. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to fix overcrowding problems, citing constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The court rejected California’s bid for more time and upheld a two-year deadline to drastically cut inmate population in its 33 prisons to 137.5% of capacity by May 2013. AB 109 shifted a lot of responsibility for incarcerating many low-risk inmates from the state to counties. This shift from state to counties was called “prison realignment.” But, the counties were not prepared for such an influx and programs in jails are generally found less stable than in prison and jail facility designs seldom have room for such programs. A paradigm shift has to take place inside and outside. There can always be system improvements without jeopardizing security.

So perhaps, there are some inmates who have remained disciplinary free for many years that are ready for release from the SHU? They should be able to participate in any programs that might help them readjust to General Population, and even more important, anybody that needs transition for eventual freedom to society that currently has a release date. Many people, including many authorities were surprised (and worried) that all four of the major prison gangs did not “fight on sight”, as they usually did for the past 45 years, after they signed an “Agreement to End Hostilities”, dated August 12, 2012. Prison authorities are monitoring the "hunger strike" situation closely. Many outside organizers said any agreement would not hold without some of the top shotcallers/PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Hunger Strike Representatives signing off on it as they did:

Presented by the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective:

•Todd Ashker, C-58191, D1-119 (AB)

•Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, D1-121 (EME)

•Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671, D1-117 (BGF)

•Antonio Guillen, P-81948, D2-106 (NF)

And the Representatives Body:

•Danny Troxell, B-76578, D1-120 (AB)

•George Franco, D-46556, D4-217 (NF)

•Ronnie Yandell, V-27927, D4-215 (AB)

•Paul Redd, B-72683, D2-117 (BGF)

•James Baridi Williamson, D-34288. D4-107 (BGF)

•Alfred Sandoval, D-61000, D4-214 (EME)

•Louis Powell, B-59864, D1-104 (BGF)

•Alex Yrigollen, H-32421, D2-204 (NF)

•Gabriel Huerta, C-80766, D3-222 (EME)

•Frank Clement, D-07919, D3-116 (AB)

•Raymond Chavo Perez, K-12922, D1-219 (EME)

•James Mario Perez, B-48186, D3-124 (NF)

To learn more about the growth and present status of the Big 4 Prison Gangs: Aryan Brotherhood (AB), Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), Nuestra Familia (NF), and Mexican Mafia (EME), search for books by author and former Folsom Prison Officer Gabriel C. Morales or see:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Case Study: Good Cop, Rogue Cop?

Rogue Cop is a 1954 film noir based on a novel by William McGivern that co-starred Janet Leigh and George Raft. The film shows crooked veteran Police Detective Christopher Kelvaney (portrayed by actor Robert Taylor) who has no qualms about taking bribes and payoffs from criminals and his brother Eddie (played by Steve Forrest) as a younger member on force who is honest and uncorrupted. Another fictional Hollywood portrayal of a corrupt cop was Denzel Washington in Training Day. Some people have compared that role to that of discredited former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Officer Rafael Perez who was part of the CRASH Unit (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums). Perez was also a major figure in LAPD's Rampart Scandal.
Cops don't usually turn rogue overnight. On most occasions there have been a series of events that made them angry at the force, at the general public, or at both. Usually these types of officers have a high number of excessive force or fellow staff complaints. They may also feel that there was excessive discipline made by their departments or adverse action taken after grievances were filed. They often have a history of tampering with evidence. These officers may misuse agency vehicles, break the speed limit when there are no hot calls, just because “they can”. They may have a history of sick leave abuse or may work a lot of overtime which can lead to burnout and short tempers. They may use steroids to get a “street edge” or other illegal substances. This type of officer often drinks heavily after work, and sometimes even while on the job. They may have domestic violence issues or other flare-ups of anger while off duty.
There have been good cops and bad cops ever since there were cops. A lot of officers isolate themselves because they feel outsiders don’t understand their lot, but I think a large amount of the general public trusts that most law enforcement do their jobs to the best of their abilities. They understand that cops do a job most people wouldn’t or couldn’t do. There is no question that there are times when all cops have done some wrong, most of the time it is not intentional, but mistakes made on false assumptions or just human error. There are other times; however, when some cops go rogue and feel they are “above the law”.
Even though he was not a cop for very long, the February, 2013, case of former LAPD Of­ficer Chris­toph­er Dorner shows the kind of damage that a criminal with a badge can do. Dorner was also a former Naval Reserve Officer highly skilled in the use of firearms and claimed he was just out to “clear his good name” after he was unfairly dismissed in 2009 when a LAPD disciplinary panel determined he lied. He accused his field training officer of kicking a mentally ill man during an arrest. His department found the complaint to be unfounded but there have been many documented cases of retaliation of employees in all fields of work after they filed complaints and grievances, so anything is possible. Much of the general public, and a lot of staff, view Internal Affairs investigations as self-serving and mostly designed to protect the interests of the administration. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck promised to review the case again to determine if Dorner was in fact treated unfairly.
There have been historical cases of officers that have been run out or pushed off agencies for a lot less. But any sympathy from some people, who've faced similar circumstances, was lost when Dorner decided to exact vengeance on people who had little or nothing to do with his case. He obviously externalized all of the blame over his dismissal when his manifesto threatened “un­con­ven­tion­al and asym­met­ric­al war­fare” against all po­lice. He went on a murderous rampage and, in cold blood, ambushed over a half dozen people killing four of them all of which had law enforcement ties. Dorner finally killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head in a cabin located in the vicinity of Big Bear, CA.
Cops from all over the country condemned Dorner, as they should, for killing innocent victims. But, the general public also saw on Facebook and other media posts that while cops were extremely outraged over Dorner’s murder of fellow law enforcement, far less cops expressed outrage about police firing on innocent civilians who were in the wrong type of vehicle. Some even spoke about it as being "collateral damage". The individuals fired upon did not appear to present an immediate threat, two of them were female, they were of a different race, and did not even remotely resemble the suspect. This type of reaction fuels the belief in many minority communities that all cops are “trigger happy”. A White man named David Perdue also claims that his vehicle was slammed and that he was fired at without just cause. Perdue also looks nothing like Dorner.
Undoubtedly those two Asian ladies, a mother-daughter team who were out delivering newspapers, and Perdue have lawyers lining up to take their case to sue and they will get paid well. But again, many Americans have publically and privately stated that they feel there is a double standard when it comes to police and the public. Many of them also feel cops always protect their own even if they have to lie about it. This may lead some people to mistakenly think that Dorner did what he had to do in order to bring light to injustices on the force. Some pro-Dorner people also blasted the "inhuman decision to burn him out” by use of force when police firing tear gas into the cabin. All tear gas canisters are flammable so it wasn't a decision to burn the cabin, just a decision to deploy tear gas to make him exit for officer safety purposes. Instead he decided to take his own life. Some even called Dorner a hero. This is a gross mischaracterization.
America has an ugly racist history and many injustices have happened to many people. Racism and injustice still exists today, but few would argue that there have been great strides in both areas over the last few decades. Chief Beck says he is reopening the Dorner case to assure the public, and especially the African-American community, that his department has left its racist past behind. All of the facts in this case will likely be reviewed as they should be for training and future improvements on police matters. The criminal justice system should always seek improvement to better assure the public that justice is impartial. But let there be no doubt, bad cops and rogue cops give the vast majority of good cops who proudly serve our communities while upholding the law and keeping us all safe, a bad name. The dead cops, and cops like them who converged on Dorner, are the real heroes and continue to be so every day.