Tuesday, March 28, 2006

This Wednesday and This Saturday!

Wednesday March 29, 2006
12PM – 1PM (Lunch served)
UC Davis School of Law – Martin Luther King Jr. Hall, Rm 1008
Shortly after the U.S. was shaken by the 9/11 attacks, John Walker Lindh, dubbed "The American Taliban" by the U.S. media, was taken into custody by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Come and hear attorney Frank Lindh, John Lindh's father, speak about his son's experiences, constitutional rights, and pending request for clemency.

Saturday, April 01, 2006
9:30AM - 3:30PM
(Breakfast and lunch served)
UC Davis School of Law – Martin Luther King Jr. Hall, Rm 1008

9:30am - Breakfast, registration

10:00am - The Making of a Criminal: Welcome Address
Susan Jordan, 3L, UC Davis School of Law

10:45am - Rights of Prisoners
Mona Cadena, Amnesty International
Charles Carbone, California Prison Focus
Holly Cooper, UC Davis School of Law Immigration Clinic
Steven Fama, Prison Law Office

12:00pm- Lunch

12:30pm - Gender Issues in the Prison System
Andrea Bible, Free Battered Women
Ari Wohlfeiler, Justice Now

2:00pm- Reform and Alternatives: What is the Real Purpose of Incarceration?
Rhodessa Jones, Medea Project
Beth Waitkus, Insight Garden Project at San Quentin

Funders and Co-Sponsors
Office of the Dean
King Hall Annual Fund
Law Students' Association
Agricultural Law Society

*Both events, FREE and open to the public, are located at:
UC Davis School of Law -
Martin Luther King Jr. Hall

Directions to King Hall (Law School), UC Davis
From San Francisco:
80 East
Take Exit 71 (UC Davis) towards the Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center
Turn left at the stop sign (Old Davis Road).
Pass the parking structure.
Turn left at the stoplight.
Go past the stop sign, left at the roundabout, and park in front of King Hall.

From Sacramento:
80 West
Take Exit 71 (UC Davis) towards the Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center
Turn right at the stop sign (Old Davis Road).
Pass the parking structure.
Turn left at the stoplight.
Go past the stop sign, left at the roundabout, and park in front of King Hall.

Questions? Email prisonsymposium@gmail.com

Official Press Release -- The Making of a Criminal: A King Hall Prison Law Symposium

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: prisonsymposium@gmail.com



Davis, CA -- On Saturday, April 1, 2006, the UC Davis School of Law at Martin Luther King Jr. Hall will present “The Making of a Criminal: A King Hall Prison Law Symposium.” King Hall 3L and second-time prison law symposium co-organizer Kyanna Williams explains, “We chose this theme because we want to explore how society ‘creates’ criminals by criminalizing certain people, communities, and behaviors. As a society, we have gendered, racialized, and classist perceptions of how criminals behave and look.” Taking place in King Hall Room 1008 from 10:00am until 3:30pm, this second annual prison law symposium is free and open to the public.

Speakers from a diversity of backgrounds and expertise have been invited to present on three panels: prisoners’ rights, gender issues in the criminal justice system, and reform of the criminal justice system. The first panel will include Holly Cooper, a King Hall graduate and supervising attorney for the Immigration Law Clinic on campus, and Mona Cadena from Amnesty International, who will discuss prisoners’ rights from an international perspective. Charles Carbone of California Prison Focus and Steve Fama of the Prison Law Office will also speak on the panel. Ari Wohlfeiler will be presenting on the second panel on behalf of Justice Now, an organization that works with women prisoners and local communities to build a safe, compassionate world without prisons. The second panel will also feature Andrea Bible from Free Battered Women, which seeks to end the re-victimization of incarcerated survivors of domestic violence as part of the movement for racial justice and the struggle to resist all forms of intimate partner violence against women and transgender people. The final panel will feature Beth Waitkus from San Quentin’s Insight Garden Project -- which has involved a team of local landscapers, gardeners and community members, as well as prison inmates and staff have to build and maintain an organic, native California garden on San Quentin's medium-security prison yard -- as well as Rhodessa Jones, founder and director of the award winning Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, is a performance workshop that is designed to achieve personal and social transformation with incarcerated women.

As a supplement to the symposium on Saturday, the organizers have also scheduled a noontime event on the preceding Wednesday. On Wednesday, March 29, attorney Frank Lindh will speak about the experiences of his son, John Walker Lindh, who had been dubbed “The American Taliban” by the U.S. media and taken into custody by U.S. forces in Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001.

The idea for the first prison law symposium last April (“The Truth Unlocked: A California Prison Law Symposium”) originated in a Judicial Process seminar taught by King Hall Professor Bill Hing. Always seeking to supplement coursework regarding the judicial system with other issues of legal significance, last fall Hing sought the assistance of Susan Jordan, a 2L at the time, to present to the class regarding her expertise in the criminal justice system. A group of students in that class became inspired to create a symposium exploring the very timely and provocative issues and gathered support and funding to realize their vision for two years in a row.

With generous funding provided by the King Hall Annual Fund and the Law Students’ Association, lunch will be provided on Wednesday, and breakfast and lunch will be provided on Saturday. The schedule for the symposium and more information about this effort can be found at the symposium blog: http://makingacriminal.blogspot.com.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Who are we comfortable visualizing in Andy Warhol's electric chair?

Bennett Capers has written an essay for the forthcoming California Law Review exploring the relationship between law, art, and social discourse, specifically with respect to our society's collective response to Andy Warhol's Electric Chair paintings.
The essay contends that the paintings, and their iconic status in our culture, call attention to our fascination with death in general, to state-administered death in particular, to the spectacle of capital punishment, and to our history of obtaining pleasure by gazing upon death. It also argues that Warhol poses an important question, one that implicates race and gender and religion and disability and age and comfort: Who are we comfortable visualizing in the chair?
Via CrimProf Blog.

Police beat and jail Black and Muslim De Anza College students

(This post is being copied and pasted from an email forward. If you own the copyright and have concerns about the full text being published here, please email prisonsymposium at gmail dot come and it will be taken down accordingly.)

by Aman Mehrzai
Three of the Black and Muslim students shown here were later brutally
beaten and arrested.
Photos: tbg, Indybay.org
Muslim students of various hues were part of the protest.
These cops look hungry for action. Police from several jurisdictions
were present.
A Black student is thrown down and beaten by the police.
Another Black student is hauled off to jail. One white protester was
arrested, but only Blacks and Muslims were beaten and jailed.

Eight people were arrested, mostly college students, in a violent
protest against former Secretary of State Colin Powell Friday night.
Protesters gathered at De Anza College in the South Bay starting
Wednesday to kick off a three-day rally with visitors such as Cindy
Sheehan and Yuri Kochiyama present.

Chants such as, "Whose College? Our College. You get out," and "This
is what democracy looks like. This is what a police state looks like,"
were heard while police attacked and beat certain protesters.

Police have been accused of using racial profiling and excessive force
while arresting activists during the demonstrations.

Friday night's protest gained the most attention when protesters who
had not been there the previous days joined the rally, leaving damage
to police vehicles and school property in their wake. Police car
windows were smashed and symbols associated with anarchists were spray
painted on the back of some local media vans. The message, "Paris
Rising," was tagged on the back of one police bus.

In the process of dispersing the crowd, fully armed riot police in
multiple groups of 15 to 20 spread out and chased anyone who was
present, including reporters and legal observers. One group of riot
police moved the remaining crowd down the campus, pushing them through
bushes and assaulting them with their gear.

Another group of troops crossed the street into commercial property,
forcefully creating a corridor around the block in order to peruse and
arrest certain protesters they had spotted earlier in the crowd when
they were on their way to their cars.

Some of the protesters went inside a local coffee shop across campus
out of fear of the riot police who were quickly approaching them. "At
one point, the riot police surrounded the coffee shop, and one
undercover officer with an earpiece came inside and waited outside the
bathroom door and was staring at me when I was going in," said
protester Susan Barrientos. Barrientos is a Muslim convert who was
dressed in Islamic attire.

Some protesters who were arrested had previously been refused access
to their cars when they wanted to leave and were later beaten and
captured in plain view of many eyewitnesses and legal observers.

Out of seven of the protesters who were arrested outside of the Flint
Center, six were Muslims of Arabic and African descent. Some were
members of the Student Muslim Association.

"They [police] saw that we had the most energy and were not afraid of
them and were riling up the crowd," said De Anza student Hanni Zaki,
22, who was hospitalized for injuries to the head from police, who
stepped on his face and beat him with their batons. "They couldn't
stand that we were dressed in Palestinian and Arabic clothes and
weren't afraid of them.

"They wanted revenge, so they chased down every one of us who were
Muslim, until they could beat and arrest us. That's what they were
waiting for. That's why they wouldn't let me go to my car."

A member of De Anza Students for Justice, Mark Anthony Medeiras, asked
police for permission to go to his car and was allowed to leave
minutes before Zaki was beaten and arrested. Zaki, who parked in the
same garage as Medeiras, was refused access to his vehicle. And when
he asked how he was supposed to leave, he was told, "You should have
thought of that earlier," by one of the riot police, who leaned over
with his baton to start the attack by multiple officers.

De Anza student Abdul Kareem Al-Hayiek, 19, was chased by two officers
on their dirt bikes until they knocked him down and pepper sprayed him
in the face. Al-Heyiek began choking while officers jumped on top of
him; he soon after lost consciousness.

Another De Anza student, Aiman Eltilib, 17, who had just gotten out of
class that night, pleaded for the officer to get off of Al-Hayiek and
was also pepper sprayed in the face and told by an officer, "Do you
want to end up like him?" Eltilib responded by asking the officers to
let Al-Hayiek go, saying, "He didn't do anything."

The officer then put his left arm around the minor's neck and choked
his Adams apple with the fingertips of his right hand until he
collapsed to the ground. Shakir Eljurf, 19, who had attended the same
night class with Eltilib, walked towards his classmate in concern,
with books still under his right arm, when a third officer from behind
twisted his left arm behind his back without warning.

Suddenly, that officer was alarmed to find an angry mob pursuing them
from behind. All three were then quickly released, as the officers
retreated to take cover from the approaching mob.

Two other Muslim students, Mohammad Abdo, 23, and Adonnis Graves, 22,
ran towards the local media vans for safe haven after riot police hit
Graves in the face with a baton and forced him through a high bush,
only to be rescued by Abdo, who pulled him to safety.

The two nearly made it to the news reporters but were blocked off by
officers on motorcycles who told them to get off campus. They crossed
the street and walked through a public park to get to their cars,
where officers apprehended and arrested them both.

Elgrie Hurd, 24, an African American student from San Jose State
University was asked by officers to back off the edge of a street.
Although Hurd was complying, officers dragged him forward by his shirt
and arrested him in plain view. Many photographers took footage of the
incident. He was charged with battery on a peace officer and false
report of a bomb.

Protester Brian Helmle was the first to be arrested inside the Flint
Center earlier that night, during Powell's speech, and was charged
with disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Helmle, who is 27,
stood up while Powell was speaking about the virtues of American
kindness and yelled out "Liar, liar, murderer, murderer," and blew his
whistle until officers carried him across the stands to arrest him.

Helmle, who later met with other arrestees, was shocked to find that
they were treated with such harshness and brutality and that he was
the only Caucasian to be arrested that night. "I think that this is
all about white privilege," said Helmle.

"I wasn't treated with any harshness whatsoever by the police. The
fact is that the eyes of the white crowd were on a white male doing
strange things inside. What happened to those outside in the protest
is ridiculous and racist. All they were trying to do was leave and get
to their cars. I was intentionally trying to get arrested."

Police released Helmle by 1 a.m. that same night without taking him
into custody. The seven others who were arrested outside the Flint
Center were taken into custody, including the minor Eltilib, and
detained overnight in harsh conditions. Al-Hayiek is the only one
still in custody awaiting an arraignment for bond.

In 1984, Santa Clara County was sued by the law offices of Carpenter
and Mayfield when police illegally detained a large number of
protesters at De Anza College during a demonstration against Ronald

One officer who was at the protests on Friday night said, "Although
profiling shouldn't happen, when certain people dress the way they do,
they become a target. It shouldn't happen, but the reality is that
when most officers see someone dressed in that kind of clothes [Middle
Eastern], they associate that with terrorism."

The officer said that they regularly attend terrorism training classes
and that many officers associate such garb with terrorists because of
the training videos they see in which "terrorists prepare themselves
for Jihad and martyrdom."

Multiple legal organizations are investigating the allegations that
police singled out the Middle Eastern and African American protesters
even though the majority of the violence was conducted by others.
Excessive force allegations will also be a focus of the

Email Aman Mehrzai of La Voz and the De Anza Muslim Student
Association at aman.mehrzai@gmail.com. This story was written for La
Voz, the De Anza College student newspaper, and was also published by
South Bay Mobilization for Peace and Justice at
The Bay View thanks Junya for forwarding it. At
http://powelldeanza.blogspot.com/, the story is posted with this note:

While the author's account of Friday night is more accurate than any
mainstream press coverage, it should be noted that the allegations of
rock throwing are as of now just that, allegations. It has been
established that someone, not an anrachist or a Muslim, was giving
out/throwing eggs. The difference between throwing an egg and a rock
is substantial both in motivation and legal consequence. No incidents
of rock throwing were directly observed by any of the demonstrators or
legal observers. In addition, it should be noted that the rally itself
was non-violent, and the alleged actions of a few should not be used
to characterize the intent of the many people who attended, chanted
and caused disruptions, which did not in any way threaten the safety
of either police nor the audience.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Police Mistreatment of Transgender Women

A Women's E-News feature here discusses some of the issues transgender women face in terms of profiling by the police and other injustices within the criminal justice system.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Plea

From the synopsis of the PBS documentary, The Plea:
It is the centerpiece of America's judicial process: the right to a trial by jury system that places a defendant's fate in the hands of a jury of one's peers. But it may surprise many to learn that nearly 95 percent of all cases resulting in felony convictions never reach a jury. Instead, they are settled through plea bargains in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.
The 90-minute documentary can be downloaded in six parts right here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Torture = Mass Destruction

It's very sad to think how many lives could have been saved if the U.S. refrained from torture and international war crimes. From an article posted at Chander.com:
Sunday's New York Times carries a story about Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda prisoner captured shortly after 9/11. According to a newly declassified memo, not only did al-Libi provide us with false information suggesting that Iraq had trained al-Qaeda to use WMD, but U.S. intelligence had a pretty good idea the information was false as early as 2002. Colin Powell nonetheless presented this to the UN as credible evidence of Iraqi WMD programs in February 2003, shortly before we invaded Iraq.

Via Atrios, it turns out that we had excellent reasons to be skeptical of al-Libi's testimony. As Newsweek reported last year, al-Libi was one of the first test cases for Dick Cheney's campaign to introduce torture as a standard interrogation technique overseas, replacing the FBI's more mainstream methods:

Al-Libi's capture, some sources say, was an early turning point in the government's internal debates over interrogation methods...."They duct-taped his mouth, cinched him up and sent him to Cairo" for more-fearsome Egyptian interrogations, says the ex-FBI official. "At the airport the CIA case officer goes up to him and says, 'You're going to Cairo, you know. Before you get there I'm going to find your mother and I'm going to f--- her.' So we lost that fight."

No wonder DIA was skeptical of al-Libi's information. Not only did the details of his testimony seem inconsistent with known facts, but DIA knew perfectly well he had given up this information only under torture and was probably just saying anything that came to mind in order to get it to stop.

As Mark Kleiman points out, this is the pragmatic case against torture: not only is it wrong, but it doesn't even provide reliable information anyway...

American Timeline: 1801-2004

Though this is not prison-related per se, I think it is a great piece to frame the mentality that the U.S. government has historically harbored for various citizens of the world. It is certainly not an exhaustive or fully representative timeline; discussion in the comments is welcome.

View it here.