FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Letter from the Los Angeles County Jail

by VONNIE EDWARDS

The old Law Library at the Central Jail that closed on June 11, 2005, consisted of books with ripped, torn and missing pages, an electric pencil sharpener and a mail scale. The audio and video player’s are located in the attorney visiting room, which hinders pro-per’s access. [A pro-per is an inmate representing themselves in court proceedings.] Also pro-per inmates have to be escorted by deputies to the old Law Library, which shaves off hours in library time weekly by delay, lockdowns or late running deputies. The mail system is inadequate for pro-pers because it takes an average of 15 days for inmates to receive incoming legal mail while outgoing legal mail is being read and delayed by deputies. Essential services are inadequate for indigent pro-pers. Jail officials are not consistently providing legal materials known as pro-per kits, and law library phone accounts for pro-pers are delayed averaging 16 days to post before an inmate can make calls.

Not much has changed since the new Law Library opened June 14, 2005. Touch screen computers that freeze up periodically. The only equipment in the library now is the pencil sharpener. The ten touch screens are flawed and sometimes only half are working. Inmate groups sometimes range from 8 to 13 pro-per inmates, leaving some inmates without computers to use, consequently having no “law library” access. The two hours required time often becomes less because of showers, meals or deputies running late. No clocks exist, not even on the computers, leaving inmates no way of proving how much time they are being cheated out of. Old law books with torn pages from the previous law library were placed in the new law library on 10-31-05, to give the impression that the law library is adequate. During the holiday season of 2005 (Christmas and New Year’s) there were no legal forms in the library, no pro-per funds were posted to pro-per phone accounts, and a number of inmates actually had funds missing from their personal accounts.

In addition, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department has instituted a new policy eliminating the practice of providing pro per-inmates with ten stamps per week. This is based on the fact that legal mail is supposedly free. However, outgoing mail to civil and prisoner rights organizations is not considered legal mail. Panel-approved (hand-picked) private investigators assigned to pro-per defendants are overbooked, subjected to unreasonable delays before being allowed to confer with clients (inmates), and in many cases the loyalties of the panel-approved investigators are definitely suspect.

As a result pro-per inmates are not prepared in court and prosecuting attorneys take advantage of pro-per inmates. This situation denies pro-pers due process and equal protection under the law, which translates into easy convictions for prosecutors.

In conclusion, the Los Angeles County Jail has gradually but effectively eliminated communication between pro-per inmates and outside resources. The Los Angeles County Superior Courts are aware of the afore-said practices but have remained silent. As a result of the inadequate law library, violent atmosphere, limited communication and various other conditions, many inmates throughout the county jail system–including pro per inmates–plead guilty because prison is a little safer and less stressful.

VONNIE EDWARDS is currently an inmate in the Los Angeles County jail. He can be reached at: capnnic@aol.com

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Woman’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail