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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: January, 1991

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Volume 2, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. Editorial (p 1)
  2. Prison/Community Alliance (p 1)
  3. Non-Stenographic Depositions (p 2)
  4. Attention ISRB Prisoners (p 3)
  5. Rich Get Richer, Poor Get Poorer (p 3)
  6. Prison Cells, Only $30 a Night! (p 3)
  7. Psychiatry Can't Predict Violent Behavior (p 3)
  8. Reviews (p 3)
  9. Walla Walla IMU Stops Using Fire Hoses (p 4)
  10. Prisoner Wins Ban on Military Catalog (p 4)
  11. Attorney General Uses Erroneous Information (p 4)
  12. Florida DOC Offers Settlement (p 4)
  13. Problems That Can't Be Cured in Prison (p 5)
  14. Federal Court Upholds Slave Labor (p 5)
  15. Who's in Prison in America (p 5)
  16. Failure to Disassociate Noninfractable (p 5)
  17. Four Out of Ten Get the Slammer (p 5)
  18. Notice of Appeal Filed When Given to Cops (p 5)
  19. Money Down the Drain (p 6)
  20. Convict Entitled To Have Officer Called As Witness At Hearing, And To Have Independent Evaluation Of Informant's Allegations (p 6)
  21. Tread Carefully With Sex Offenders (p 6)
  22. Furlough Facts (p 7)
  23. Prisons - An Expensive Stone Wall (p 7)
  24. A Lesson To Be Learned From The Soviets (p 7)
  25. The Price of Resistance - Is It Worth It? (p 8)
  26. Book Request System Inadequate (p 8)
  27. Rejection Process (p 9)
  28. Breeder Reactors (p 9)
  29. Foreign Letter (p 9)

Editorial

Editorial Comments

by Ed Mead

Welcome to issue #1 of the second volume of our little newsletter. With the new year you will notice that we have added a more polished look to the paper. In the past Paul and I would type up the paper and paste in graphics from our respective cells; today we have a volunteer doing the desktop publishing for us. We may go back to doing the paper by hand at any time, as our new look is little more than an experiment at this point.

When we started the PLN it was going to be for a four to six months trial period, just to test the waters. The experience of publishing has taught us that there is a need for a newsletter addressed to the interests of prisoners and their loved on the outside. We will continue putting the paper out for as long as that interest remains. We are presently producing 300 copies of the newsletter for U.S circulation. We plan on obtaining a bulk mail permit and with it slowly increasing the number of PLN readers to around 500.

We will continue being directed toward Washington State prisoners, as it ...

Prison/Community Alliance

An organization, the Prison/Community Alliance will be registering with the State of Washington as a non-profit organization in January. The people involved in this organization have several objectives in mind.

The first and most important objective is to be the contact group for the upcoming initiative to have all pre-SRA offenders resentenced by the courts in accordance to the Sentencing Reform Act. It is the goal of the initiative to eliminate the need and functioning of the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board. This initiative is still in its early stages and there may be some constitutional and/or legislative problems involved. It is planned that the initiative be filed this year but solely for the purpose of working through these problems. The actual initiative will be filed and petitions circulated in time to get the initiative on the ballots in 1992. There will be more information in the Prisoners' Legal News on this initiative.

It is very important for all of us "outside the walls" to become organized. There are many groups and organizations who are interested in prison issues. We just don't know of each other. If you are in a group somewhere in our state, or know ...

Non-Stenographic Depositions

By Paul Wright

The most crucial part or process of a civil rights suit is the discovery process. In prison suits the defendants, i.e. prison officials, have almost sole possession of the evidence that you will need to prove your claims. Many prisoners do not do much or any discovery, essentially relying on what documents they have already or may be on interrogatories. Extensive and good discovery is essential to win any case. The attorney general's job is to hide and obscure the facts to protect their client, the Pro Se litigant's job is to uncover these facts and bring them to the court.

Interrogatories are useful in cases where the information needed is policy numbers, specific dates, etc., as it gives the defendant a chance to look through their records and verify the information. The drawback is it gives the defendants 30 days to go over the questions, get their answers in order, etc. Interrogatories can only be served on parties to the lawsuit.

Depositions are used to verbally question witnesses and parties in lawsuits. The advantages are obvious: the witness has to answer the questions then and there, in the event of an evasive reply ...

Attention ISRB Prisoners

If you have a "technical violation" and have received an "excessive sentence" and/or have been max'd out, or if you have been taken before the ISRB for an 0.100 hearing and have had your minimum term extended, send copies of your reasons and decisions to: Ms. Patricia Arthur, Evergreen Legal Services, 101 Yesler Way, Suite 301, Seattle, WA 98104.

Ms. Arthur and her associates are trying to do away with the 0.100 hearings. Ms. Arthur needs examples of the Board's abuse of discretion with regards to sentencing on technical violations in order to convince lawmakers to make changes in the system.

Rich Get Richer, Poor Get Poorer

In 1990, the richest 1% of the people have almost as much in after-tax income as the poorest 40%. To put it another way, 2.5 million rich people each take home 36 times as much as each 100 million poor. In 1980 it was 19 times as much.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report on July 23rd with these figures, basing its results on data prepared by the Congressional Budget Office.

The report found that "income gaps increased substantially during the 1980s, as wealthy Americans reaped large income gains, the incomes of the middle class stagnated and poor households fell further behind."

It is not that before 1980 the U.S. distributed wealth equally. Far from it. But the Reagan and Bush administration cut taxes for the rich, raised taxes on the workers and cut social services for the poor. The number of homeless sleeping on park benches or in doorways, the hungry lining up at churches for a free meal, make it obvious that capitalism has failed the poorest portion of the population. Bush's proposed cut in the capital gains tax would once again boost the rich and squeeze the poor.

From: Workers ...

Prison Cells, Only $30 a Night!

Prison Cells, Only $30 A Night!

Although the government spends over $30 billion per year on the prison system, some states have laws giving counties the authority to charge prisoners for the privilege of being locked up and deprived of their civil rights and liberties (not to mention their ability to work and earn money).

Several counties in the state of Michigan will soon be implementing such a program. Inmates will be charged for the room, board and medical expenses incurred during their stay in the luxurious cell provided by the state. The starting rate will be $30 per day, plus a processing fee and any additional medical costs. It may seem harsh, but prisoners will be relieved to know that Visa and Mastercard will be accepted.

From: MIM Notes

Psychiatry Can't Predict Violent Behavior

In a 1982 amicus brief to the U.S. Court, the American Psychiatric Association concluded:

"...that the unreliability of psychiatric predictions of future dangerousness is by now an established fact within the profession...The large body of research in this area indicates that, even under the best conditions, psychiatric predictions of long term future dangerousness are wrong in at least two out of three cases." In a legal brief submitted to the California Supreme Court, the American Psychiatry Association pleaded:

"Study after study has shown that this fond hope of the capability accurately to predict violence in advance is simply not fulfilled."

The A.P.A. flatly denied that mental health professionals are in some way more qualified than the general public to predict future violent behavior.

Reviews

By Paul Wright

Sentencing Guidelines Commission Meetings. The SGC meets about every month or so to review how the SRA is working, its effects on prison and jail populations in the state of Washington, what recommendations to make to the legislature, trends in prison population due to sentencing, etc. The meetings are open to the public and family members can attend. The minutes are offered free and give a run down of what is discussed at the meetings. They usually have interesting information in each issue. Write: Sentencing Guidelines Commission, 3400 Capitol Blvd., Mail Stop QE-13, Olympia, WA 98504.

Political Review is a quarterly publication of the Political Review Japan Committee published in English. It is anti-imperialist in outlook and carries news on events in Japan as well as Japan's role in the outside world. It also carries articles by the JRA. It's free to prisoners and they want to exchange with similar publications. Write: PRJC, c/o Unita,

l -52Jinbo-Cho, Kanda, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo, Japan.

Southern Coalition Report is a quarterly journal that focuses on prison conditions in the southern U.S. Each issue usually has a lot of coverage on the death penalty, as the South is ...

Walla Walla IMU Stops Using Fire Hoses

By Clark Stuhr

Within the last few months I have noticed that WSP IMU staff no longer use the fire hose to discipline outraged inmates. No my friend, instead these outraged prisoners can plan on getting a healthy lung full of what else but "Capstun!" With the large number of mentally ill prisoners in IMU the guards have used this Capstun quite a bit lately.

But wait, that's not all. Once Capstun is applied it's out to the yard you go to get a water hose shoved into your face that is sure to leave you gagging for air. Now of course, what fun would all this be without getting thrown into a strip cell and fed sack meals for ten days. Yes, I kid you not, I have had this done to me twice and I have seen it done to other prisoners as well. To say the least, not much can be done about the use of Capstun, but I have filed a lawsuit against the use of the strip cell and sack lunches by IMU staff. I'll be sure to let PLN know how the suit turns out.

Prisoner Wins Ban on Military Catalog

A prisoner filed a civil rights complaint alleging that his constitutional guarantees were violated by prison officials refusing to allow him to receive a military surplus catalog. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff on the catalog issue, awarding him $1 in damages.

On appeal the court upheld the ...

Attorney General Uses Erroneous Information

A former inmate of the Reformatory filed a personal restraint petition because Earned Time credits had not been applied to his sentence once he had served two-thirds of his sentence. The petition alleged that he should be entitled to regain earned time credits that were denied previously (33 days).

During the course of this litigation, Assistant Attorney General Therese Wheaten requested numerous extensions of time in which to respond to the petition. When she finally did respond, earned early release documentation was altered to support the Docs position.

The inmate became outraged that the Attorney General would use such tactics defending a case that clearly warranted relief. As a result, the inmate filed an official complaint with the Bar Association that alleged "Therese Wheaten used altered documents that she knew to be inaccurate to keep Mr. James past his lawful release date."

The case regarding earned time and the Attorney General complaint are currently pending a determination and updates will be reported.

Florida DOC Offers Settlement

In 1988 the Florida Justice Institute filed a class action suit on behalf of PC (Protective Custody) prisoners. The suit challenges the fact that PCs aren't allowed to work, thus can't earn good time which extends their prison sentence; are locked down 23 hours a day, can't smoke, exercise, etc. The suit claims the PCs were being punished for seeking protection.

Florida offered to settle by implementing a $10 million prison plan that would have allowed the PCs to use dayrooms, work and have privileges "as close as possible to the rest of the institution." Prison officials hope that by implementing the changes immediately, they can stop the trial scheduled for December in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Florida DOC attorney claims he fears prison officials will be flooded with PC requests because the conditions will be so "attractive."

Prisoner attorneys say the plan, while an improvement, falls far short of constitutional standards and they plan to take the case to trial.

Problems That Can't Be Cured in Prison

Problems That Can't Be Cured In Prison

Our society's criminal justice system is being used to treat or hide some serious social ills. Poverty, drug addiction, and alcoholism are intimately tied to the crimes for which most inmates in the federal system are serving time. Of those sentenced to federal prison in 1987, 42% were sentenced for drug related crimes. Yet resources are not available - in or out of prison - for programs that address these ills directly. The Justice Department, for example, recently reported that nine out of ten people who seek treatment in drug abuse programs are turned away for lack of space.

Federal Court Upholds Slave Labor

Can a Mississippi prisoner collect damages for a violation of his constitutional and civil rights because he was forced to work on private property without pay? The U.S. Court of Appeals says no, even in the face of a state law prohibiting inmates from doing private work.

The court held that "[c]ompelling an inmate to work without pay is not unconstitutional. The thirteenth amendment specifically allows involuntary servitude as punishment after conviction of a crime." The court said this was the case even when a prisoner is being compelled to work on private property without pay and in violation of state law. Murry v. Mississippi Department of Corrections, 911 F.2d 1167 (5 Cir. 1990).

Who's in Prison in America

Who's In Prison In America?

The overwhelming answer: young black males. Why? Racial and economic biases which are integral to the U.S. prison system. At this time, one of four black men, aged 20-29 (23%) are subject to the criminal justice system. The figure is 6.2% for white males and 10.4% for Hispanic males. Nationwide, the imprisonment rate for African-Americans is nine times that of white Americans.

For young black men there is a clear interplay of racial and economic factors which contribute to their high rate of imprisonment. Low-income defendants are twice as likely to receive prison sentences as higher income defendants. For African-Americans, whose unemployment rate is twice that of white families, economic disenfranchisement puts young black males overwhelmingly in the category of low-income defendants.

At every stage of the criminal justice system - arrest, charges, prosecution, sentencing and parole - discretion on the part of the police, judges and prosecutors profoundly influences a defendant's fate within the criminal system. African-Americans are especially vulnerable to the random nature of discretion, particularly when it is inevitably informed by race bias so integral to our society.

So it is easy to believe that three of four people ...

Failure to Disassociate Noninfractable

A prisoner sought judicial review of a disciplinary hearing finding him guilty of advocating, creating, engaging in or promoting a disturbance.

There was indeed a disturbance, the court found, but a violation of the rule is only shown by an inmate engaging in "some affirmative action" related to the disturbance. In this case, the hearing officer found only that the prisoner failed "to dissociate himself from the disturbance." Evidence was that prisoner merely remained sitting on his bunk. This was insufficient to support a finding of violation of the rule. Murphy v. OSCI, 790 P.2d 1179 (Ore. 1990).

Four Out of Ten Get the Slammer

Four Out Of Ten Get The Slammer

A Bureau of Justice Statistics study tracked 536,000 felony offenders in 12 states in 1967. The study found that out of every 10 people arrested on felony charges, eight were prosecuted, six were convicted of the original charge or lesser offense, and four were sentenced to a jail or prison term.

Among offenders sentenced to prison in the 12 states, 27% were convicted of a violent crime, as were 14% of those sentenced to serve time on probation in the community. About one out of four persons sentenced to prison or jail had been convicted of a drug crime, as were one out of eight sentenced to probation. About 86% of all those convicted of felonies in the 12 states were male, 61% were white, and 64% were less than 30 years old.

A copy of the Bureau's bulletin, Tracking Offenders, 1987 (NCJ-125315), may be obtained from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Box 6000, Rockville, MD 20850.

Notice of Appeal Filed When Given to Cops

Notice of Appeal Filed When Given To Cops

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a pro se prisoner's notice of appeal from the denial of a civil law suit or habeas corpus relief is considered to have been filed at the point at which he delivered it to prison authorities for forwarding to the district court. The court noted that prisoners are forced to rely on prison officials to forward their notice of appeals, and are hard pressed to prove that such officials were at fault for any delay. Indeed, the court said, "prison authorities would have greater incentive to delay the processing of Section 1983 suits, since such suits often target prison officials." Hostler v. Groves, 912 F.2d 1158 (9 Cir. 1990)

Money Down the Drain

Money Down The Drain

A special American Bar Association committee has concluded that the millions of dollars Americans pour into hiring more police, expanding the justice system and building more jails may by money down the drain because punishment is not an effective deterrent.

What does work, the ABA found, is to teach prison inmates to read and write so that they are more likely to be able to earn an honest living.

Richard Lynch, ABA literacy program director, told a recent meeting of Washington State judges that about three-fourths of prison inmates are illiterate. Yet, less than 1 percent of prison budget is spent on educating them.

Michael Hemovich, ABA law and literacy chairman, was blunt about the dim prospects of controlling crime by more punitive methods. "Unless we do something about illiteracy...then I think it is hopeless," he told the judges.

Official vengeance may satisfy personal urges to punish wrongdoers, but if books and bars are more effective at stopping crime than bars alone, it is stupid to deny them.

Convict Entitled To Have Officer Called As Witness At Hearing, And To Have Independent Evaluation Of Informant's Allegations

Convict Entitled To Have Officer Called As Witness At Hearing, And To Have
Independent Evaluation Of Informant's Allegations

A prisoner at Sing Sing filed a federal civil rights suit challenging the constitutional sufficiency of the disciplinary hearing which found him guilty of assault on another inmate. The hearing officer had refused the prisoner's request to call the investigating officer as a witness, on the basis that he already knew the substance of this testimony because it had been presented at another inmate's hearing. The inmate also complained that the hearing officer had failed, at an earlier hearing held on the matter, to independently evaluate confidential information provided by informants.

The court noted that failure to call the investigating officer was not justified by "either institutional safety or correctional goals" and state a claim for denial of the inmate's due process right to call witnesses.

The court also held that a prison disciplinary hearing should not rely on information from a confidential informant without an independent effort to establish the reliability of the information, in order to avoid an arbitrary determination. Because the prison had not yet rebutted the prisoner's claim that no such independent evaluation ...

Tread Carefully With Sex Offenders

Tread Carefully with Sex Offenders

By Mark LaRue

I have followed Ed Meads' series on the sex offenders and I'd like to respond by offering critical support for what he has said. By that, I mean to say, I see no reason for sex offenders to be locked away in S-wing and it wouldn't bother me personally if they were free to roam the general prison population with everyone else. After all, prisoners here are going to associate with who ever they want to and they're definitely not required to associate with a sex offender from S-wing.

As you may have guessed I don't like sex offenses. And I don't believe there's any way to justify those crimes. I point this out because other crimes can be justified, i.e., sodomy, adultery, prostitution, murder in self-defense and even theft. I also believe it's important to understand the difference in these crimes.

As I see it the sex offender discriminates because his victims are mostly women and children. As Ed pointed out there are a few women sex offenders as well, but their numbers are really insignificant when compared to men.

In view of ...

Furlough Facts

By Ed Mead

Whatever you decide to do with your life you should try to do it well - be a professional. I'm a professional prisoner. I do time. I've got 15 years in and figure to retire in another 5, maybe sooner if I have some luck in the courts. Then I'll spend my time with loved ones, fixing computers and carrying signs for one cause or another.

Like all professionals, doctors, lawyers and such, it is necessary for me to stay on top of the latest literature in my chosen (?) field. The other day I was reading a journal for "Correctional Professionals" that had some interesting statistics on furloughs I'd like to share with you.

Furloughs got a bad name during the 1988 presidential campaign. Massachusetts's prisoner Willie Horton was serving life without parole when he escaped from a furlough. Ten months later he terrorized a Maryland couple, raping the wife and stabbing her husband. While the Massachusetts furlough program had been started by a republican governor, Bush accused his democratic opponent, Governor Dukakis, of being "soft on crime." Thirty-second TV sound bits featuring Willie's picture made "furlough" into a dirty word.

Anyway ...

Prisons - An Expensive Stone Wall

This monolithic "solution" is becoming more and more costly to society. Yet, in spite of its expense and its dubious role in crime control and prevention, the prison response is being used with increasing frequency. In the last decade, the prison population doubled nationwide. The number of women in prison tripled, and the number of people in federal prisons almost tripled.

The cost of new prisons is staggering. In the next five years, the cost of building new federal prisons is expected to exceed $70 billion. In addition, the amounts that must be spent to maintain prisoners in confinement are also substantial. A 30-year prison sentence is equivalent to a $1 million investment in an individual. The total cost of incarceration, at the federal, state and local levels amounted to $20 billion in 1988 alone.

A physician once testified before a California legislative committee when it was considering the construction of more prisons. He said that, as a doctor, he would be driven from the profession if he provided a single remedy for every ailment, regardless of its complexity or symptoms. He urged the committee to consider that there should be more than one response to crime.

Alternative punishments are ...

A Lesson To Be Learned From The Soviets

In Soviet prisons for women, inmate mothers give birth in the maternity ward and see their children daily in the child care center until they are two years old. Soviet officials are considering raising this age to three years old.

Since 1985 the country has seen a variety of changes in its penal practices. The results? A more than 50% decrease in the female inmate population, which continues to shrink. Three prisons have already been closed and others are being converted for use as alcohol- and drug-treatment centers.

The current sentencing trend is to have less dangerous criminals work on big construction sites in settlements where they live with their families, work in their professions, and even have a limited right to travel.

Allowing inmate mothers to retain their parental rights, and allowing inmates in general to retain a little self-respect and preserve family ties is paying off for the Soviets.

The Price of Resistance - Is It Worth It?

By John Perotti


A comrade and brother, Ed Mead, recently wrote his opinion and analysis of the definition of POW and the continuing controversy of "Freedom Now." In it he raised the issue of how political prisoners traditionally do their time - either: a.) quietly doing it with the objective of early release; or b.) doing it by raising political consciousness in your fellow prisoners and building a revolutionary resistance movement.

While I can not and do not claim to have the background or dedication Ed does, I have to agree with his choice by building a revolutionary resistance movement. What wasn't elaborated on was the fact that the most vocal, violent and /or effective of us must expect to pay the price of our beliefs. When I finally became politically conscious no one informed me of the consequences. I write this to those who are in this stage of transition, not to detract from the transition, but to let your know the facts, so you are prepared.

Depending on what type of person you are, you have a hard road to travel. But if you have truly achieved political consciousness you will know that the harder the road, the ...

Book Request System Inadequate

Many jurisdictions try to meet their constitutional obligation to provide segregated prisoners with adequate access to the courts through some sort of law book request system. This means the locked-down prisoner must send a written request to the prison law library asking for specific volumes of legal reference material. This restrictive practice has been struck down in yet another case, this one filed by protective custody prisoners in a New York prison.

A U.S. District Court judge outlawed the so-called kite system of doing legal research, saying "that the present book request system at Clinton PC does not provide plaintiffs with meaningful, adequate access to the courts."

The court went on to note that the said prisoners "are not able to browse through materials in order to compare legal theories and formulate ideas. This is a constitutionally impermissible situation and it is exacerbated by several factors, PC inmates experience delays in receiving books. They also, on occasion, receive books other than the ones they requested. Finally, their requests that citations by Shepardized are often completed improperly." While this case was decided on the basis of PC prisoners, the same reasoning has been held to be true for convicts being ...

Rejection Process

Last Thursday I got a rejection slip in the mail for PLN #7! The reasons listed were: 1) the mail contains threats of physical harm against any person or threat of criminal activity - then in quotes "chewing policeman's hand off', 5) The mail concerns plans for activities in violation of institutional rules - "solicits contributions of stamps, and 14) the mail contains information that threatens the security and order of facilities - "drawing of pig and pig barons."

I grieved it on the grounds that it is a non-profit organization and it's simply our choice to consume or not to consume and that not less than a week ago you let me receive #6. Much inconsistency with your policy and I guess I can understand why you would feel threatened. By denying me my rights you're admitting guilt.

I am going to tell them so, tell them I sent my copy of their rejection slip to my mom, she also receives the PLN and when she looks at your reasons and reads #7 you will have formed her opinion for her. Thank you.

Anyway, I liked "Prisoners can't be punished for refusing to perform unconstitutional assignments," "it costs ...

Breeder Reactors

Breeder Reactors?

Latest PLN just arrived - excellent issue - you should know that your piece on prison cost was even more correct than you let on. That prisons are, in effect, breeder reactors where young men come in and, by treatment, are turned into something much like plutonium. Since there is no real effort made on rehabilitation, more people who enter jail as grown men or women are trained and educated by pros to become further pros themselves when they get out. Once out, they can train the young and recruit them into criminal activity.

What with inflation and the upcoming economic collapse, there will be even more young people with no way of earning a living - along with a taxpaying population who will not want to pay $40,000 (which will increase with inflation) to house a junkie or mugger - did you say it would be cheaper to send prisoners to Harvard?

It seems obvious to me that changes in prison policy will have to be made quickly before the jails go bankrupt. If prisons try to compete economically with the outside world using cheap prisoner labor, they will only end up displacing "free" labor (as the term went back ...

Foreign Letter

I see the continuing of PLN; the paper is fairly legible. It seems, the malignity of the rulers in Walla Walla and Monroe with their quest to delay, restrict or even destroy the PLN are banned. In any case there are some news lately which are of interests.

Comrade Gerry Hanratty has been moved to the maximum prison Düsseldorf, Gerry McCeough was moved the Wuppertal shelter they are awaiting their court trial in front of our fascist Oberlandegericht Düsseldorf. (An anti-terrorism court) full of symbolic-racism, neither objective nor fair. The media had much of a subordination since the Comrades arrested. This would be an unjustifiable step to circulate reasons for suspicion.

The first day of negotiation is August the 16th. Anyway, there is a solid trial-information paper every two weeks, responsibility has the group - "Comhphobal Cumhact' (address in PLN #4) and some other supporters.

Furthermore, Pauline Drumm (Irish) who is imprisoned together with the two AD members (ActionDirecte) in Fleury-Mérogis Felale gulag, had to share a cell with an Aids-HIV woman, just to keep her quiet and cool. Especially her political beliefs and activities. Death punishment by the so-called French government. Legal murdered outlined by the leading judges and their ...

 

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