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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Sam Levin


California wastes tens of millions of dollars a year keeping people in prison long after they’ve been rehabilitated – denying parole for arbitrary reasons and destroying lives in the process.

by Sam Levin, East Bay Express

Part One: Cruel and Indefinite Punishment

Demian Johnson knows he has to be extremely cautious when he’s around his fiancée. He can briefly hug her when she arrives and maybe give a short kiss before she leaves. Sometimes, he can hold her hand, but they can’t have any other physical contact.

Johnson is 51 years old and is currently incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison, a men’s correctional facility in Ione, a small city in Amador County, two hours east of Oakland. His fiancée, Hilda Wade, a retired home health aide, tries to visit him every Saturday and occasionally stays overnight in a nearby hotel when she doesn’t want to do the ninety-minute drive to and from her Oakley home twice in one day.

Wade told me in a phone interview that they are careful not to break any rules when they talk in the waiting room of the overcrowded prison, which currently houses roughly 2,800 prisoners in a facility designed for 1 ...

Unfair Punishment

Unfair Punishment

by Sam Levin

Part One: Victim Discrimination

A state program that’s supposed to help crime victims denies people who have had run-ins with the law or are afraid of being victimized again.

The front door was wide open when police arrived at the home of Samantha Rogers at 3:21 a.m. on February 23, 2010. Inside the Stockton, California apartment, Rogers was alone, sitting on the kitchen table, wiping her face with a towel. The television was overturned and there was blood smeared across the living room carpet and walls.

Rogers didn’t think she needed to go to the hospital. “I was like, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m okay,’” Rogers, now 46, recalled. “They could see I was in shock.”

Rogers was not okay. Her whole face was swollen, she had a large cut under her eye and her nose was broken, according to a Stockton Police Department report and Rogers’ own recollection of the incident. Earlier that night, she and her boyfriend of three years had invited friends over to play cards and dominoes at their shared home. At one point, the couple got in an argument about money, and Rogers’ boyfriend started ...


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