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Should $12 and a Knife Cost a Life?

A letter mailed in February was answered in September by Los Angeles County. It denied the release of a peaceful elderly prisoner who has served over 30 years for stealing $12 while holding a knife. Yikes.

Justice is not always just.

Covid-19 is in the prisons and jails.

Can we reform the prisons and legal system yet?

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Read his story in his own words:

https://inmatewisdom.blogspot.com/?m=1

Desperate Quiet Dignity at Project Roomkey

I am sitting at the Sportsman’s Lodge in SFV just by the entrance.

To my right are a handful of round dining tables with umbrellas. Resting there are women and men, leaning back and smoking. What are they smoking? Your guess is as good as mine, the air is pungent with a mix of nicotine and marijuana.

Occasionally someone skitters over to a corner and others slowly follow to engage in a transaction – something for drugs.

Laughter burbles and erupts as the table sitters watch and gossip.

Purposefully a few folks stride by – off into the world on a mission. A skinny youth with a guitar on his way to a gig, a chubby man off to work at a store, a girl on her way to teach yoga in the park.

From within the gate by the housing staff a scream of rage travels to me. An older man is yelling “I hate this place, I don’t know which one of you done did it, but on my first day you stole my watch. Every time I sit on the toilet you knock on my door. I am f***ing miserable!”

Dogs and their owners stroll by- some pups stopping and straining for the petting of the security guards.

A few folks approach me to ask if I can give them a free telephone or if I am here from the Unemployment office. When my answer is “No” they stay to chat for a few minutes before fading back to their lives.

There is an air of desperation here. In 2 months this Project Room Key site will close and folks will have nowhere to be and they will head back to the streets for the coldest part of California’s year. They have survived Covid in this location but will die of exposure and desperation.

Kindness in action

As this lady was walking around and looking for cigarette butts and change on the ground, the local bus pulled up. A woman who works at a restaurant exited the bus with a bag full of individual sizes and servings of soup.

She smiled and waited patiently to be noticed and offered soup to our friend in the bunny ears.

It’s lovely to see kindness in action

Study: California’s homeless students could fill Dodger Stadium 5 times | KTLA

https://ktla.com/news/california/study-californias-homeless-students-could-fill-dodger-stadium-5-times/

This breaks my heart. Each of these students has a parent, so 10 Dodger stadiums filled with young families.

Give a little and clutch your pearls less, Arcadia California

I am still on the city of Arcadia’s Facebook page for residents and people who have been old school residents of that little city, 19 miles east of Los Angeles.

I loved growing up there. It was a perfect place to be a kid. I did little league, dance classes through the community, I volunteered at the library during the summer, I was a member of the international order of Joe’s daughters of the Masonic Temple, my church was there, and I met my mother at my elementary school.

The city is pretty financially well off. People who live there have means and opportunity to grow and have financial solidity.a large portion of the population is Asian and their money is in imports and exports from China. My oldest daughter went to school there until she was a sophomore in high school and she hated it so she transferred to North Hollywood High for her junior and senior years.

Today somebody was posting about a homeless person they saw. They posted that they called the police and complained and the police said there wasn’t much they could do. This is because it’s not illegal to be homeless. Some lady named Araceli mentioned that you should just ignore the person and not look at them and hope that they go away because they are probably dangerously mentally ill.

Homelessness is a trauma, that is for certain. Mental health issues are a severe and important factor in the increasing number of homeless people that we see. But not all people who are mentally ill are dangerous. People who have depression are mentally ill but they’re not dangerous. People can have all kinds of mental health issues like ADHD and that doesn’t make them dangerous. It may make it difficult for them to hold down a job and make enough money and keep housing and that could lead to homelessness. But the assumption that all homeless people are dangerous and therefore should be ignored is terrible.

If you’ve been here for a while with me then you know how I feel about treating all people with dignity.

I stated that what this person should do is assess the needs of this person and also assess the person by doing the following.

  • Look Look at them
  • Catch their eye and smile and see if they will return the response. People who are homeless are so used to being invisible it’s almost like being a ghost. They might be surprised that you noticed them at all
  • Try to talk to them. Have normal small talk about the weather, or traffic, or ask them how they are. If they respond in a clear coherent way and you feel safe, ask them what they might need from you.
  • If they need shoes or clothing or socks, consider giving it to them. Ask them first. They may not need these things and you might be burdening them with more items for them to carry from spot to spot.
  • If If they need food, give it to them. Or, tell them where the unity center is in Monrovia or other places where they can get food.
  • Let let them tell you what they need. They probably don’t want to be there just as much as you don’t want them there

I got a lot of frown face reactions and angry reactions. People thought I was advocating that this person put herself in danger because she wasn’t a policeman or a train social worker.

The truth is, that every one of us has what is needed to end homelessness and human suffering in our neighbors. We need to use compassion and common sense. We need to think about how we can help other people even if that means that we have a little less for ourselves.

I’m not asking you to donate your heart while you’re still trying to live, I’m asking you to look for ways that you can meaningfully make a change. That might mean going into family shelters and reading to the kids. That might mean creating hygiene bags and handing them out. That might mean raising money for your local homeless shelter. That might mean sewing face masks for the project room key sites. That might mean collecting dog food and giving it to homeless shelters to give to the clients you have animals.

There are a thousand and one ways you can help someone who’s homeless and on the street under a blanket.

Calling the police on them because you don’t like to see them is definitely an option that you have. It is not an option that you should be proud of if you don’t try something else first.

Art , feelings in chalk

The room where I normally do therapy at the homeless shelter was busy today. There was no room for me.

So I went to the 99 cent store and bought some sidewalk shock. I should have thought about what I was wearing and not been wearing a dress when I decided this would be a good idea.

I sat down in the back part of the covered patio at the shelter and started to draw. Eventually someone saw me and came over and joined. Then one after another people brought their chairs or set on the ground or set up the picnic tables nearby and joined in the art and conversation.

I think that when people are doing art they are less focused on what they’re saying and more honest about what’s going on. We can talk about how the art relates back to feelings. How the art reflects their beliefs. Or just how nice it is to be colorful and a time of blackness.

A Memory of Eddie Van Halen

We were at the Ellen show and they had just finished “Jump”. I’d been with them for 3 days while they were in rehearsal. After it was over, Eddie came to me and kissed me on my cheek. Right on my right cheek. He said thank you for all you’ve done for us. -B.B

B.B. is a former roadie and stage hand for performing artists. She is currently homeless and living in our shelter.

From Heather Cox Richardson

Hi, let me preface this post that I’m sharing by telling you that I am a Republican and have voted Republican for a very long time. I was a fan of Trump’s but I did not vote for him for president because during his election I got an insight to what his true character is and I couldn’t do it. I have become angrier every single day since. Not just angry at Trump, because it’s hard to be angry at a 3-year-old who needs to be put into time out. I’m angry at the people around him and the people who support him. I’m scared for my country. I will be showing up to vote and I hope that you do too.

Trump put Ben Carson in charge of homeless services and housing, and that was such a monumental mistake that I don’t think I would forgive him for that alone.

Here is a post that I found on Facebook. I don’t know who she is but I like her words.

“September 23, 2020 (Wednesday)

Today Americans were roiled by an article in The Atlantic, detailing the method by which the Trump campaign is planning to steal the 2020 election. The article was slated for The Atlantic’s November issue, but the editor decided to release it early because of its importance.

The article’s author, Barton Gellman, explains that Trump will not accept losing the 2020 election. If he cannot win it, he plans to steal it. We already know he is trying to suppress voting and his hand-picked Postmaster General is working to hinder the delivery of mail-in ballots. Now Trump’s teams are recruiting 50,000 volunteers in 15 states to challenge voters at polling places; this will, of course, intimidate Democrats and likely keep them from showing up.

But if those plans don’t manage to depress the Democratic vote enough to let him declare victory, he intends to insist on calling a winner in the election on November 3. His legal teams will challenge later mail-in ballots, which tend to swing Democratic, on the grounds that they are fraudulent, and they will try to silence local election officials by attacking them as agents of antifa or George Soros. The president and his team will continue to insist that the Democrats are refusing to honor the results of the election.

Gellman warns that the Trump team is already exploring a way to work around the vote counts in battleground states. Rather than appointing Democratic electors chosen by voters, a state legislature could conclude that the vote was tainted and appoint a Republican slate instead. A Trump legal advisor who spoke to Trump explained they would insist they were protecting the will of the people from those who were trying to rig an election. “The state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power. We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state,’ ” the adviser explained. The election would then go to Congress, where there would be two sets of electoral votes to fight over… and things would devolve from there.

They would likely end up at the Supreme Court, to which Trump this morning said he was in a hurry to confirm a new justice so there would be a solid majority to rule in his favor on the election results. “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices, and I think the system’s going to go very quickly,” he said. “Having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation.”

Amidst the flurry of concern over The Atlantic piece, a reporter this afternoon asked Trump if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election. “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.” He went on to say: “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”

In response to this shocking rejection of the basic principles of our government, Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted, “This is how democracy dies.” He said: “This is a moment that I would say to any republican of good conscience working in the administration, it is time for you to resign.” But only one Republican, Mitt Romney (R-UT,) condemned Trump’s comments as “both unthinkable and unacceptable.”

On Facebook, veteran journalist Dan Rather wrote of living through the Depression, World War Two, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, Watergate, and 9-11, then said: “This is a moment of reckoning unlike any I have seen in my lifetime…. What Donald Trump said today are the words of a dictator. To telegraph that he would consider becoming the first president in American history not to accept the peaceful transfer of power is not a throw-away line. It’s not a joke. He doesn’t joke. And it is not prospective. The words are already seeding a threat of violence and illegitimacy into our electoral process.”

There is no doubt that Trump’s statement today was a watershed moment. Another watershed event is the fact that Republicans are not condemning it.

But there are two significant tells in Trump’s statement. First of all, his signature act is to grab headlines away from stories he does not want us to read. Two new polls today put Biden up by ten points nationally. Fifty-eight percent of Americans do not approve of the way Trump is doing his job. Only 38% approve of how he is handling the coronavirus. Voters see Biden as more honest, intelligent, caring, and level-headed than Trump. They think Biden is a better leader.

Trump’s headline grabs keep attention from Biden’s clear and detailed plans, first for combatting coronavirus and rebuilding the economy, and then for reordering the country. The Republicans didn’t bother to write a platform this year, simply saying they supported Trump, but Trump has not been able to articulate why he wants a second term.

In contrast, Biden took his cue from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and has released detailed and clear plans for a Biden presidency. Focusing on four areas, Biden has called for returning critical supply chains to America and rebuilding union jobs in manufacturing and technology; investing in infrastructure and clean energy; and supporting the long-ignored caregiving sector of the economy by increasing training and pay for those workers who care for children, elderly Americans, and people with disabilities. He has a detailed plan for leveling the playing field between Black and Brown people and whites, beginning by focusing on economic opportunity, but also addressing society’s systemic racial biases. Biden’s plans get little attention so long as the media is focused on Trump.

The president’s antics also overshadow the reality that many prominent Republicans are abandoning him. Yesterday, Arizona Senator John McCain’s widow Cindy endorsed Biden. “My husband John lived by a code: country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost. There’s only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is [Biden].” She added “Joe… is a good and honest man. He will lead us with dignity. He will be a commander in chief that the finest fighting force in the history of the world can depend on, because he knows what it is like to send a child off to fight.”

McCain is only the latest of many prominent Republicans to endorse Biden, and her endorsement stings. She could help Biden in the crucial state of Arizona, especially with women. “I’m hoping that I can encourage suburban women to take another look, women that are particularly on the fence and are unhappy with what’s going on right now but also are not sure they want to cross the line and vote for Joe. I hope they’ll take a look at what I believe and will move forward and come with me and join team Biden,” McCain said.

That McCain’s endorsement stung showed in Trump’s tweeted response: “I hardly know Cindy McCain other than having put her on a Committee at her husband’s request. Joe Biden was John McCain’s lapdog…. Never a fan of John. Cindy can have Sleepy Joe!”

And, of course, Trump’s declaration has taken the focus off the Republican senators’ abrupt about-face on confirming a Supreme Court justice in an election year. The ploy laid bare their determination to cement their power at all costs, and it is not popular. Sixty-two percent of Americans, including 50% of Republicans, think the next president should name Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement.

The second tell in Trump’s statement is that Trump’s lawyers confirmed to Gellman that their strategy is to leverage their power in the system to steal the election. Surely, they would want to keep that plan quiet… unless they are hoping to convince voters that the game is so fully rigged there is no point in showing up to vote.

Trump’s statement is abhorrent, and we must certainly be prepared for chaos surrounding this election. But never forget that Trump’s campaign, which– according to our intelligence agencies– is being helped by Russian disinformation, is keen on convincing Americans that our system doesn’t work, our democracy is over, and there is no point in participating in it. If you believe them, their disinformation is a self-fulfilling prophecy, despite the fact that a strong majority of Americans prefers Biden to Trump.

Trump’s statement is abhorrent, indeed; but the future remains unwritten.

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