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Ron Givens to deliver messages of the draconian three strikes law to New Zealand

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Message B. Cayenne Bird
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I really dread opening my email. After 12 years of taking complaints from 33 California prisons and helping scores of grieving families find lawyers for wrongful death lawsuits, I never have less than 27,000 emails in my inbox. The regular mail that is sent from desperate people each week is equivalent to ten grocery bags full. The problem is that there is no place in the bureaucracy to go for help in a life and death emergency, and because a prisoner dies every day. and we have sometimes won lawsuits in the past, my inbox is always overflowing.

A few weeks ago though, I received an email that was not the usual person looking for a rescue. It was from a high profile lawyer in New Zealand named Peter Williams, QC (Queens Counsel, the most senior level of attorney/barrister) asking me if I could do a speaking tour right away to help prevent the passage of the Three Strikes Law. You see, the Tories, equivalent to our Republicans, are telling all the people in New Zealand that the Three Strikes Law is a big success in California. They argue that because no legislation is being carried forward to amend 3 strikes and the people affected arent even marching, organizing and posting beneath news articles in great numbers that everyone is happy with this draconian law. The decadent Tories are taking that silence and using it as a selling tool for passing a similar law to the horrible one we have here in California. Barrister Williams and the visionary Howard League appealed for my help since the UNION members are the most outspoken in the news media.

I am totally booked up until June with commitments and, sadly, couldn't break away. I could certainly use a vacation to such a beautiful country as New Zealand after twelve years of one stressful day after another watching the bodies stack up at my feet but too much could go wrong with the vital lawsuits in progress in my absence. However, an appeal to help save an entire country because our citizens are too quiet about such widespread devastation taking place is not one that a responsible US citizen should ignore.

Plus, I was so impressed with the earnestness of Barrister Williams, a noted freedom-fighter and the people of the Howard League in New Zealand who surround him, that I agreed to send Rev. Ron Givens, one on our most dynamic UNION members, to tell them about the absolute financial and humanitarian destruction that the Three Strikes Law has caused to our State.

Rev. Givens experience as the past director of the State Chaplains Association, which has been hurt by all the firings of prison chaplains, and his many years of appearing before the legislature with and for me, his educational background and other experience makes him the perfect choice. I feel confident that he will do as well or even better than I in explaining what happened and why the law still exists, even though it is far more cruel than the one just passed around illegal immigrants in Arizona that brought such an outcry from our lawmakers this week.

Rev. Givens will begin a rigorous speaking tour in New Zealand on May 12 bringing the stories of how the law passed based on lies and he will be sharing letters written by our UNION families and professionals about the injustices that took place in their cases. We are working on the Power Point presentation now. With the legalization of cannabis in the news, I am wondering if anyone out there was sentenced to prison for life due to simple possession of marijuana and/or some tiny amount of drugs? If so please email me at so that we can include that story too.

If you lost a loved one to a three strikes sentence and you are not a UNION member, but would like to have our Ambassador Rev. Givens share your letter warning the people of New Zealand not to pass this law, please do feel free to send it to me. Letters are also welcome from people working within the system or from those who have retired. School teachers have been fired, entire neighborhoods have been wiped out but the Three Strikes Law lives on. We, the people, are the Government but only if we do the work of organizing and taking the right action at the right time. There will be no rescue except by we, the people, through the initiative process which requires at least one million dollars and 6500 actual field workers just to get it launched.

These articles at the links below that I wrote were published in various magazines in newspapers from 1998 to about 2002. The history of what happened and what was done or not done about it by we, the people, is very important for the New Zealanders to understand. You can help save a country who thinks that all of you are satisfied with the three strikes law since you haven't set up a large enough voting group to change it.

People in other countries and those making decisions only read what is posted beneath articles at news sites. If there aren't rallies and lots of posts on criminal justice, they assume everyone is happy.

Are you happy? No? Then please keep up with your posting beneath news articles, recruiting new people to the UNION to be trained as activists, voter registration and always be prepared to show up and bring people when one of our lawsuits needs support or a position needs to be taken against injustice. No one feels sorry for inactive or silent people. We must organize and fight to change laws, file lawsuits and elect the right people to office in the first place via voter registration. Vote for no one taking money from law enforcement labor unions if you want to see prison and criminal justice reform. This includes all of the Republicans and several of those who pretend to be Democrats. This part is our job as citizens, otherwise the punishers get into power.
Here are a few of the letters so far.

To The People of New Zealand:

I do not have a loved one in prison but my life has been affected by the Three Strikes Law. At the time it was passed, I never dreamed that one day I would be let go from my job as a school teacher so that prison guards could be paid instead of me.

I was trusting that our elected representatives would protect education, services for the disabled and other critical programs. Instead they passed more stiff laws that lock people up for minor reasons and now our education programs are slashed. There is little rehabilitation taking place in the prisons and almost no money spent on the prevention of mental illness.

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B. Cayenne Bird is a 45-year veteran op-ed journalist and publisher. A descendant of Mary Todd Lincoln, and General Andrew Porter, she is passionate about human rights and criminal justice issues. A mother and grandmother with advanced degrees in (more...)

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