SARA KRUZAN, sentenced to life for killing pimp gets PAROLE! Gov. Jerry Brown will allow parole!

English: Photo of California Attorney General ...
English: Photo of California Attorney General (and former California Governor) Jerry Brown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Woman sentenced to life for killing pimp gets parole

UPI Sun, 27 Oct 2013 11:04 CDT
THANK YOU to Cal.Att.Gen. Jerry Brown!
Sara Kruzan

© Unknown

Sacramento, California – Gov. Jerry Brown will allow parole of a woman sentenced at age 16 to life in prison for killing a man who forced her into prostitution, his office said.
Sara Kruzan, 35, was convicted of first-degree murder for killing George Howard in a Riverside, Calif., hotel room. Kruzan has said he sexually assaulted her when she was 11 and forced her into prostitution when she was 13.
She was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in jail without the chance of parole, but a new law that went into effect in January has changed her sentence, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday
Sen. Leland Yee, D-Calif., started championing her case as an example juvenile offenders he thinks should have softer punishments.
Kruzan is the “perfect example of adults who failed her, of society failing her. You had a predator who stalked her, raped her, forced her into prostitution, and there was no one around,” Yee told the newspaper.
The law allows new sentencing hearings for juveniles sentenced to life in prison with no parole. In September, Brown signed a second bill requiring parole boards to review the cases of juveniles tried as adults who have served 15 years or more of their sentences, the Times said.
Under the new laws, more than 1,000 prisoners currently in the California prison system are eligible for parole hearings.


UN Top Torture Investigator Wants Access to American Prisons


UN Top Torture Investigator Wants Access to American Prisons


UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez wants access to California prisons to look into isolation units.


Photo Credit:

October 21, 2013  |

The top torture investigator in the United Nations  wants access to California prisons to determine whether prisoners’ rights are being respected. The official wants to specifically look into the practice of solitary confinement, which sparked a hunger strike over the summer in California jails.

In an  interview with the  Los Angeles Times editorial board, Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said that there should be “more justification” for placing inmates in isolation units. Mendez also said that “we should put the burden on the state that this is the proper way to do things, and we should all be a lot more skeptical.”

10,000 inmates are in solitary confinement in California. Advocates for prisoner rights’ say that many inmates are placed in isolation on flimsy evidence of belonging to a gang….

Read more, please:

Abuse of Mentally Ill in California Prisons – Video

New post on Solitary Watch

Video Shows Abuse of Mentally Ill in California Prisons

October 4, 2013  By

Solitary confinement at Corcoran SHU

Billy Sell committed suicide in Corcoran’s SHU. This is his drawing of the cell in which he lived for years. (Photo courtesy of Prisoner Express)

Videos of California prison guards pumping pepper spray into the cells of prisoners – some of whom were naked and screaming, all of whom suffer from mental illness – and then forcibly extracting them from their cells were shown at trial in a federal court room in Sacramento on Tuesday.

The trial, part of a federal case initially filed in 1991, marks the first day of a lawsuit brought by legal advocates contending that incarcerated people with mental illness are subject to brutal and inhumane treatment by the California prison system. The suit also alleges violations which include insufficient access to inpatient care for people held on California’s death row and inadequate treatment for people held in solitary confinement in California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs).

Reporting on the first day of hearings, the Los Angeles Times describes the graphic footage: “For nearly an hour Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton’s Sacramento courtroom was filled with panicked screams from videos showing prisoners in pain, begging for help and pleading for the spraying to stop, while guards shouted over and over, ‘Cuff up!’”

The Sacramento Bee describes a particularly disturbing incident during which a man is shown playing with his feces in his cell while refusing to take medication from a visiting psychologist. The video shows a team of guards in protective suits wearing gas masks and helmets waiting outside his cell door:

Almost immediately after the psychologist emerged, the team began pumping pepper spray through the food port of the metal cell door, repeatedly dousing the inmate between warnings that he better come out.

The team opened the door, dragging the inmate out and wrestling him to the floor as he alternately sobbed and screamed, “Don’t do this to me,” “help,” and “I don’t want to be executed.”

Expert witness Eldon Vail, former director of the Washington state prison system, recounts the brutal tactics used by guards during a cell extraction. As reported by the Associated Press:

One  shows a Corcoran State Prison inmate being sprayed repeatedly in his cell in a mental health crisis unit last year because he refused to take his psychiatric medication, according to court documents.

He “was not lucid or coherent enough” to follow guards’ orders that he allow himself to be handcuffed as he screamed in pain from the pepper spray… The guards then sprayed him again at close range.

By the time guards finally entered the cell, it was so slick with pepper spray that they and the inmate wound up in a pile sliding across the floor, according to Vail, the former director of the Washington state prison system.

Lawyers for the state argued that the videos were taken out of context and, as a result, were misleading. According to the Associated Press:

Lawyers representing the state said in opening statements that the force shown in the videos followed sometimes hours of clinical interventions and other steps to assist inmates. They said the inmates’ attorneys did not properly review the agency’s statewide policy for using force.

“There’s simply no pattern of practice of excessive use of force against the mentally ill,” said California Deputy Attorney General Patrick McKinney, adding that any use of force is later reviewed at several levels.

The state had objected to the videos should being shown in public: “Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration unsuccessfully sought to keep the videos from being shown in open court. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton denied that request and ruled that the videos can be shown publicly.”

During the hearing, experts hired by attorneys representing the prisoners described sweeping failures in the state’s prison system, including psychiatric units which were understaffed, excessive use of pepper spray – with guards blasting sprays at prisoners for petty infractions – and excessive use of force by guards, described by one expert as “brutal” and “inhumane.”

In fact, the state’s own expert witness stated under oath that guards were far too reliant on pepper spray. The Associated Press reports:

The state’s own expert witness, Steven Martin, a corrections consultant with 40 years’ experience as a guard, prison administrator and court monitor, said in sworn testimony that guards use pepper spray far too often and much too heavily because they lack training and because prison policies encourage its use…

[Martin] said he saw more pepper spray in a single California guard tower “than most prisons have for their entire prison.”

“I was stunned at the arsenal they had,” …[he] said in a deposition. He was shocked to see that a typical guard is equipped with a collapsible metal baton, a can of pepper spray large enough to control riots and two chemical grenades.

Most prison systems don’t need that level of weaponry to control their inmates, he said. Moreover, he said guards routinely use canisters of pepper spray the size of a fire extinguisher on unarmed inmates when a much smaller quantity would have accomplished the same purpose.


Long Beach cops caught on tape beating and tasing helpless man


Long Beach cops caught on tape beating and tasing helpless suspect

By David Ferguson

Police in Long Beach, California have opened an internal investigation about an incident involving a suspect who was tasered and brutally beaten by police even after he had been successfully subdued. According to the Los Angeles Times, 46-year-old Porfirio Santos-Lopez’ teeth were knocked out, his right arm was broken, his left lung collapsed and both of his legs had gashes requiring stitches.

Witnesses said that Santos-Lopez was one of two men involved in a fight outside of a liquor store in the Locust Avenue area. Police later identified a man on surveillance tape from the store as Santos-Lopez and say the video shows him striking another man in the head.

When police approached Santoz-Lopez shortly after 6:00 p.m. on Monday, he was reportedly acting irrational and not responding to officer instructions. In witness video — which later appeared on YouTube — police can be observed tasing and beating him with tactical batons, then continuing to do so once he was lying on his back on the street.

“It is too early to make any judgments,” said Police Chief Jim McDonnell to the Times. “The YouTube video is certainly disturbing. Any time you see someone hit with the baton, there is level of discomfort.”

Long Beach Police Sergeant Aaron Eaton said that police officers attacked Santos-Lopez a second time because he refused to roll on to his stomach after he fell to the pavement.

“It wasn’t that he couldn’t understand,” Eaton said. “He refused to go on his stomach.”

After being taken into custody, the suspect was taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where doctors re-inflated his left lung and splinted his broken bones. Santos-Lopez’ partner Lee Ann Hernandez told the Times that Santos-Lopez had been drinking before the incident, but contrary to what he said to police at the scene, he had not been using drugs.

Hernandez said that Santos-Lopez had been exhibiting signs of mental illness in the months leading up to the incident, hearing voices of people who aren’t present and becoming increasingly paranoid. He repeatedly called police and paramedics and begged to be taken to a psychiatric facility, but they refused, saying that Santos-Lopez was not a danger to himself.

“They had no right to beat him up like that,” she said. “They don’t need to be doing that to someone like that.”

Watch video about this story, embedded below via the L.A. Times:

Watch the beating video, embedded below via YouTube:

Repost.Us - Republish This Article
                This article, Long Beach cops caught on tape beating and tasing helpless suspect, is syndicated from Raw Story and is posted here with permission.


Site Meter



“California Prisons Chief Says Desperate, Hunger-Striking Prisoners Are Doing Just Fine”

Published on Alternet (

AlterNet [1]             /               By Alex Kane [2]

California Prisons Chief Says Desperate, Hunger-Striking Prisoners Are Doing Just Fine


August 6, 2013  |


A hunger strike in California prisons over harsh conditions of solitary confinement, abuse and horrid food has made headlines for the past three weeks. But the person running those prisons says the prisoners are treated just fine.

The head of California prisons is warning you: don’t believe the hype about the hunger strike rocking California prisons. Jeffrey Beard, the head of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, took to the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page today [3] to say that the hunger strike is “dangerous, disruptive and needs to end.”

Beard claims that what you’ve been told–that the prisoners are striking for better conditions and changes to the solitary confinement regimen–is a lie. “Many of those participating in the hunger strike are under extreme pressure to do so from violent prison gangs, which called the strike in an attempt to restore their ability to terrorize fellow prisoners, prison staff and communities throughout California,” Beard writes.

What Beard doesn’t tell you is that the strike was organized by prisoners agitating for more respect and rights. His claims of gang pressure are made without evidence.

And while Beard says that the prisoners do not suffer from solitary confinement, others like Amnesty International disagree. “Over a thousand prisoners continue to be held in indefinite isolation, confined for 22-24 hours per day in small, often windowless cells, and deprived of meaningful human contact.  Hundreds have been held in these ‘Security Housing Units’ for more than ten years,” the human rights group said in July. [4] What’s more, these conditions can have a severe impact on the psychological health of inmates. Prolonged confinement like what happens in California prisons can cause insomnia, headaches, nervousness, hallucinations and more. The UN’s special rapporteur on torture has said that prolonged confinement for more than 15 days is damaging and should be prohibited. …

Read more:

Celebrities Join Prison Strikes in California, Protest Isolation

Aug 02, 2013 03:16 PM EDT

Celebrities Join Prison Strikes In California, Protest Isolation

By Bianca Facchinei

A-list celebrities including Gloria Steinem, Jay Leno, Jesse Jackson, and Bonnie Rait have joined in on hunger strikes to protest solitary confinement in California prisons, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Solitary confinement has become a method to control prison gang violence. The group of celebrities diasgree with the practice, claiming in a letter addressed to Gov. Jerry Brown that isolation units are “extensions of the same inhumanity practiced at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.”

The letter was put together by the National Religion Campaign Against Torture, a Washington-based organization, and local supporters. There will be a demonstration on Tuesday at the Capitol.

Other famous signers include Noam Chomsky, Robert Thurman, and Peter Coyote.

The organization is working to close 13 solitary confinement units across the US. According to Executive Director Rev. Richard Killmer, isolation is a type of torture.

In response, corrections spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman suggested that solitary confinement units “serve a vital role in state prisons, keeping staff and other inmates safe from the same violent gangs leading the hunger strike and terrorizing communities across California.”

Singer Bonnie Raitt, who once performed at a prison in San Quentin, credited interactions with wardens and prisoners as having a “profound impact” on her, according to spokeswoman Annie Heller-Gutwillig. Some of the other signers have visited different California prisons….

Please, read more…

Reality TV Show Catches Detective Lying Under Oath

Partial front page of the Los Angeles Times fo...
Partial front page of the Los Angeles Times for Monday, April 24, 1922, displaying coverage of a Ku Klux Klan raid in an L.A. suburb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reality TV Show Catches Detective Lying Under Oath

by ThinkProgress
July 27, 2013
9:00 am

Written by Aviva Shen, ThinkProgress

Police officers are usually the heroes in the reality television show “Bait Car,” which follows undercover cops as they catch car thieves. But the show caught one Los Angeles sheriff’s detective lying on arrest reports and in court, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. A district attorney’s investigation found that lead detective Anthony Shapiro deliberately lied about reading suspects their Miranda rights before they made incriminating statements that could later be used against them in court.

“Bait Car” focuses on the controversial tactic of leaving secretly tracked cars unlocked with keys in the ignition in hopes that passersby will be tempted to steal them. Keenan Alex, 28, was one such ensnared suspect. Though Shapiro claimed under oath that he read Alex his rights, video footage from Bait Car shows the detective only vaguely asked him if he watched TV. Alex had to stand trial after Shapiro’s testimony, but the case was eventually dismissed once the prosecutor realized Shapiro had lied.

In another case, footage belied Shapiro’s report that he read suspects Daniel Mezaponse and Jorge Ponce their Miranda rights before interrogating the two. Both plead guilty and were sentenced to 180 days and 90 days in jail, respectively.

Despite the video evidence, the DA will not file criminal charges against Shapiro. The sheriff’s department is also conducting an internal probe that may result in some discipline.

Shapiro’s misconduct is the latest strike against the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, which is also under federal scrutiny for systematically targeting black and Latino residents. A two-year investigation recently found that Los Angeles officers regularly conduct illegal searches in minority neighborhoods, arbitrarily detain domestic violence victims and minor traffic violators, and make overtly racist comments.

But the LASD is hardly the only department plagued by misconduct. Officers in other cities like San Francisco and New York have admitted that police routinely lie under oath, often to justify illegal searches. A longtime murder detective in Brooklyn was recently accused of manufacturing confessions that landed many men in prison for decades, even when they tried to retract their statements. Chicago police made a policy of torturing predominantly African American suspects with cigarette burns, suffocation, or beatings until they confessed to crimes. In all of these cases, police abuses have cost cities millions of dollars in civil rights lawsuits.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

Read more:

Around 30.000 inmates held in prisons across California have taken the first steps towards …the largest hunger strike in state history

30,000 California prisoners launch largest hunger strike in state history

Published time: July 09, 2013 17:13
Edited time: July 10, 2013 00:15


Around 30,000 inmates held in prisons across California have taken the first steps towards engaging in what could become the largest hunger strike in state history.

Prisoners at 11 state facilities began refusing meals early Monday, after months of plotting a demonstration which they hope will bring change to a number of longstanding grievances against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – particularly the practice of indefinitely housing some detainees in total isolation.

In a letter obtained by the LA Times, protesters reportedly demanded that the state retire its current solitary confinement policies and allow inmates accused of prison gang involvement to spend a maximum of only five years in isolation. Currently there is no limit on how long inmates thought to be connected to internal gangs can spend in Segregated Housing Units (SHUs). According to the LA Times, 4,527 inmates at four state prisons are now living in such units – including 1,180 at Pelican Bay State Prison in northern California, where the demonstration was hatched.

“The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement do hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume today…consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms),” reads the letter, which is posted on Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website.

The media report states that inmates are also seeking education and rehabilitation programs, as well as the right to make monthly phone calls.

Prisoners in California have held similar protests before, including a 2011 hunger strike which originated at Pelican Bay and eventually accumulated the support of 6,000 inmates across the state.

That hunger strike eventually led to a class-action lawsuit being filed against the corrections department, which has recently entered a mediation phase. But two years after the lawsuit against the state originated, prisoners still aren’t satisfied with the response they’ve received.

“While the CDCR has claimed to have made reforms to its SHU system — how a prisoner ends up in the solitary units, for how long, and how they can go about getting released into the general population — prisoners’ rights advocates and family members point out that the CDCR has potentially broadened the use of solitary confinement, and that conditions in the SHUs continue to constitute grave human rights violations,” reads their latest letter.

The state does not officially recognize a hunger strike until participants have refused nine consecutive meals. On Monday, corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton told the LA Times that 30,000 prisoners skipped breakfast and lunch, putting them on course to launch an actual strike by the middle of the week.

Despite gearing towards what could become the largest hunger strike in state history, Thornton said that “everything has been running smoothly.”

“It was normal. There were no incidents,” at Monday’s protest, Thornton said. But according to the newspaper’s Paige St. John, around 2,300 prisoners aren’t just skipping meals – they’re also beginning to skip work and class.

Ms. Thornton did not immediately respond about the status of the budding strike when approached by RT early Tuesday.

According to the inmates, the California prison system currently holds over 10,000 prisoners in solitary confinement units, including dozens who have spent more than 20 years each in isolation. Gabriel Reyes, who has spent 16 years in an SHU, wrote a letter published this week by Truth-Out. “I understand I broke the law, and I have lost liberties because of that. But no one, no matter what they’ve done, should be denied fundamental human rights, especially when that denial comes in the form of such torture,” he wrote.

Reyes is currently serving a sentence of 25-years-to-life for burgling an unoccupied swelling. He says that the prison’s determination of a “gang affiliation” has left him spending 22.5 hours a day in isolation.

Solitary Watch

Solitary Watch/

As California Implements Some Solitary Confinement Reforms, Prisoners Remain Skeptical

January 25, 2013 By dsc_0514_jpg_960x10000_q85Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had begun the process of implementing reforms the Department has crafted over the past year addressing the long-term solitary confinement of gang members in the California prison system.

California currently holds over 3,000 inmates in segregation units due to being identified by prison officials as being members of “security threat groups,” or, criminal prison gangs. In California, prisoners validated as members of the Aryan Brotherhood, Texas Syndicate, Mexican Mafia, Northern Structure, Nuestra Familia, Black Guerilla Family, or the Nazi Lowriders have until recently been subject to indeterminate terms in segregated housing units. Three prisons in California–Pelican Bay State Prison, Corcoran State Prison, and California Correctional Institution (Tehachapi)–contain Security Housing Units, where validated prison gang members are subject to at least 22 1/2 hours of isolation in their 8×10, often windowless, cells a day. Until the recent reforms are fully implemented, in order to be released from the SHU, inmates must either engage in “snitching” on other gang members and renounce gang activity or serve six years in the SHU without any evidence of gang activity before being considered “inactive” and can be returned to the general population. Inmates in these units have significantly greater chances of committing suicide and the deleterious effects of sensory deprivation and isolation on inmates mental health has been heavily documented.

CDCR argues that these units are critical in maintaining security in prison institutions and preventing criminal activity in the prison system. However, critics of the current system of dealing with gang members, including Amnesty International, have argued that reforms to the system are needed. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, among others, has argued that prolonged solitary confinement amounts to torture. The conditions of the SHU prompted two large scale hunger strikes in California in 2011, in which thousands of California SHU and general population prisoners refused food for three weeks in July and September/October. The strikes prompted the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee to hold a hearing on solitary confinement. In February 2012, in a smaller scale hunger strike at Corcoran State Prison, one inmate, Christian Gomez, died.

In March 2012, the California Department of Corrections announced a package of reforms to the Security Housing Unit. Among them was the creation of a Step Down Program, in which SHU inmates could transition out of solitary confinement and back into general population housing within four years, in a system of gradually lessened restrictions and greater incentives (e.g., greater property and out-of-cell time).

The CDCR also indicated that as part of reforms there would be a review of inmates in the SHU as to whether or not continued SHU placement was appropriate. According to the LA Times reporting, 88 inmates thus far have been reviewed as of January 4th. Of them, 51 were to be immediately removed from the SHU and placed in general population. Twenty-five others were to be placed in the Step Down Program, and the remaining dozen inmates were to remain in status-quo segregation.

Despite these reforms, there remains significant criticism of the CDCR, particularly from people in prison themselves.  Inmate leaders of the 2011 hunger strikes have insisted that the reforms are inadequate, arguing that placement in segregation amounts to torture and that segregation should only be used as response to behavioral problems, not simply involvement in prison gangs. In a letter dated December 3rd, from inmates in the Pelican Bay SHU, it is stated that failure to address inmate concerns “will be deemed to be just cause for our collective resumption of our non-violent, peaceful protest action(s).”

 This echoes letters written to Solitary Watch in prior months, among which one inmate in Corcoran SHU, who participated in the 2011 hunger strikes, wrote: “The reality is there is a significant number of us for whom death holds no real fear, in fact, in some ways—as an alternative to another few decades of this—it holds some appeal. If it becomes necessary to take up peaceful protest again—and it’s unfortunately looking that way—you may be writing a lot more Christian Gomez articles…”

Pending in federal court is a lawsuit filed in May 2012 by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of prisoners held for longer than 10 years in California SHUs. Over 500 inmates in California have been in the SHU for longer than 10 years, and 78 for over 20 years.

The CDCR reforms can be read in full here:

YOU could make a huge difference: Prop34 to replace CALIFORNIA´S DEATH PENALTY

[California delegates cheering on stagecoach a...
[California delegates cheering on stagecoach at the 1912 Republican National Convention held at the Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois, June 18-22, 1912] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
Help us replace the death penalty!

Dear Friend,

Prop 34 to replace California’s death penalty is surging in the polls, and momentum is on our side!

A wide range of endorsers — 1,464 in total, including the state’s biggest newspapers, law enforcement, victims’ families, faith and community leaders, and more — have already lined up behind our initiative for justice that works in California. But we can’t stop now.

Millions of voters are still undecided on Prop 34 — and a personal recommendation from a friend or family member like you could really make a huge difference.

Click here to share the image below with your friends on Facebook, post to Twitter — or just forward this email to every California voter you know. *

Share this image now!


These millions of undecided voters hold the key to Prop 34. If we sway enough of them in these final 100 hours, we’ll win. If we don’t, we’ll lose.

It’s really that simple — and it all comes down to these final days.

One of the biggest questions these undecided voters are asking is, “Who supports Prop. 34?”

And you can tell them.

Share this image on Facebook so all your friends know that 1,464 endorsers — from the Los Angeles Times to the California Catholic Conference to the California Nurses Association — all support Prop 34 to replace the death penalty with justice that works for everyone.

With your support — and a few clicks of your mouse right now — I know we can win a huge victory for California by passing Prop 34.

Don’t forget to head to the polls and VOTE on Tuesday!



Natasha Minsker
Campaign Manager
Yes on 34

    *(please, note: perhaps You have to move to the original-website)