This is a book about choices and the most important choice a person can make — the choice between right and wrong, between good and bad. And whatever choice a person makes, they must do all that they can do avoid a stay in prison in California. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CEDCR) does nothing but provide a soul-crushing, mind-altering, and counterproductive experience.

This book is intended for all people, whether they are criminals or not. It seems that ignorance is no excuse and therefore this book will attempt to eliminate ignorance with “real talk” and empower people to understand the realities of crime and punishment in California circa 2020.

Of course, there are dozens of books already out there related to crime and punishment, including the well-written “The California Prison and Parole Law Handbook” by the Prison Law Office at San Quentin ( But none of these books tells you all that you really need to know.

What you really need to know is that the system that you rely on for fairness is unfair. Then when you enter the CDCR you enter into a world of illogicality. I don’t mean that the CDCR is illogical either. Each individual part may seem reasonable, but the reality of the actual operation of the CDCR is what is illogical. From the endless meetings and implementation of flawed policies to the resultant impact on people’s lives, it can really be summed up thus: the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.

And sure, all this could give you the idea that this book is nothing more than crazy talk from a disgruntled customer of the CDCR. But it isn’t. You see, there are things in this book that rationalize and illustrate that a person must do everything in their power to avoid incarceration in the clutches of the CDCR.

So, from your first interaction with a peace officer all the way through release from CDCR parole, this book attempts to provide that “real talk” which details what the law really says, how it is applied, and what you can expect if you decide to violate the safety and security of your fellow Californians.

While the goal of this book may seem to be the enabling of people to commit and get away with crime, that could not be farther from the truth. Through persuasive dialogue I hope to incentivize people to properly evaluate their options in life based on the totality of facts which are available so that they can ultimately make better choices.



I am ambitious for sure, and I am not sure what lies ahead, but I could use your support. Whether it be comments, suggestions, or critical analysis, I want to hear from you. I am also seeking financial assistance so that I may buy paper, pens, typewriter ribbons, and of course, food. Moreover, I am seeking financial assistance so that I can pay my publisher.

I have been blessed with three Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks) and I have put them to good use, as you can see by this website, But I need more help if I am to fully complete my mission to inform my fellow Californians what is really going on in the CDCR.

Please help me in any way you can. Write, blog, or spread my message if you agree with my efforts. I especially look forward to comments from those who have been frustrated or wronged by the oppressive criminal justice system.

Thank you!

The Thesis

Mass incarceration is an oppressive criminal justice system policy which targets people, especially people of color, and is akin to a new era of Jim Crow laws. Many prisoners in California’s state prison system are people of color, and many of those have, in fact, committed serious crimes which warrant serious punishment. Many others are victims of nefarious governmental actions. But when punishment completely destroys a person’s opportunity to succeed in life, what is the punishment to society?

Success, it can be argued, is really measured against and based on a person’s ability to assimilate into society and the sharing of their attributes toward the benefit of all. Thus, a person who is successful benefits society as a whole. But if society, through the oppressiveness and racial bias in our current criminal justice system, strips a person of any chance for success permanently, they inherently strip society of the opportunity to benefit from that same person’s success.

And so, what is left? A person who can’t get a job, a person who can’t get credit, a person who can’t vote, a person who can’t build wealth. These are but a few of the negative effects on people, especially people of color, accused of criminal activity in today’s society. Lately there has been a lot of political rhetoric from all sides stating that reform is needed and rehabilitation is the answer. But this is a much deeper issue than appears on the surface. More than simply making a person “better.” So, what then is rehabilitation, and what is the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) doing exactly?

Rehabilitation in the CDCR is basically “reprogramming” and can only occur when all the possibilities of success are provided such as stable housing, employment, credit, and the like. The CDCR does very little if anything toward this end, but even if it did, there is no guarantee of success. All impediments to success must be acknowledged and countered in order to “reprogram” people. One impediment to success is substance abuse. Another is situational. A third would be attitudinal. There are others, but let’s take these three impediments and explore them further.

Substance abuse is argued to be the number one impediment to success by a wide range of society. But these same people often have a cocktail before dinner or a beer with their pizza. They more often than not have control over themselves and do not abuse alcohol or drugs. With the legalization of marijuana in many states, including California, it is suddenly more acceptable to partake. And there are many who do and do so at a functional level of use. Clearly, The People of California have spoken on this issue.

So, now consider that a person in prison, completely devoid of any hope for success, is being told that he or she can never get high or have a beer ever again. Talk about soul crushing. Stone cold sober is the only way to succeed according to the oppressive criminal justice system. This is the same system that likely caught up a prisoner on a bogus drug charge to begin with. How is sobriety an even realistic or reasonable goal when most of society cannot and does not remain sober? Imagine that if you got high or drunk you would go to jail. That is the reality of parole for many caught up in the oppressive criminal justice system. The making of a “better” person often involves the acknowledgement that people can have substance abuse problems and learn how to manage them and subsequently be successful.

The argument most often preached by the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous members in prison is that we are powerless to control our addictions or ourselves. This is hogwash. We not only can control our addictions, and ourselves, but we can take control and create our own destinies with just a little help. “Free will” fundamentally dictates who we are based on the choices we have made and will make.

While this may seem like a bunch of psychobabble, or philosobabble, as it were, the reality is that “free will” is a conservative and traditional values-based concept which teaches personal responsibility and accountability. This all flies straight in the face of the “gotta stay sober” crowd. Remember, they said we are powerless. Not only are we not powerless, we are powerful, and with proper life skill development, a person who has been to prison can occasionally get high or drink alcohol and still “succeed.” Therefore, the forced sobriety of the oppressive criminal justice system dooms most if not all prisoners to failure.

Prisons are filled with people who haven’t learned that they have the power to control their addictions or themselves. Self-control, the result of reasoned choices derived from patient reflection and carefully considered so that we can instinctively respond to situations positively, truly determines who we are. And if a prisoner, or a person for that matter, learns self-control and self-discipline, they can learn to control a seemingly overwhelming desire to “chase the dragon” instead of success.

There exists an achievable balance between substance use and substance abuse whereby a person can leave prison and never return again while still being able to celebrate like a normal person. Taking it day by day and leaving the hope of an unlimited tomorrow intact means that a person leaving prison doesn’t have to decide their whole life today.

Another impediment to success, which is just as debilitating as substance abuse, is situational. This often shows up as homelessness or as a crime-filled neighborhood which houses a large number of former prisoners, often people of color. This situation is created by society at large in a rent-based world where the ability to accrue and build wealth is elusive at best. Sure, society creates options for some, but to a prisoner of the oppressive criminal justice system, prison is a war zone. Being caught up in prison is bad. Really bad. There is not way to sugarcoat it with flowery prose or anecdotal stories of success. That is all propaganda.

In prison there is constant conflict between prisoners and guards. There is also conflict between prisoners. Quite often the conflict between prisoners is orchestrated by guards in the name of “drama.” Many conflicts are mental, not physical, and the ramifications are substantial. In reality, the guards in the CDCR treat people exactly how people in society have said that it is acceptable to hate prisoners. Therefore, it is the guard’s job, no, his or her duty, to see that prisoners suffer. But why do the prisoners have conflict with each other? More often than not, it is rooted in racism and classism. More often than not, prisoners are taking out their hatred and frustration with the oppressive criminal justice system under the disguise and label of racism and classism. It is all completely unnecessary.

These inherent facts of life permeate the prison culture. But they also permeate society at large as well. True rehabilitation could and would occur if the rhetoric of rehabilitation ended and the action of reconciliation and education occurred, rendering racism and classism obsolete. These rehabilitative concepts are crucial to a prisoner’s ability to succeed, which really means their ability to benefit society.

Society as a whole should abolish racism and classism to be sure, but in terms of the “rehabilitation” discussion herein, that a person caught up in the oppressive criminal justice system does not have a chance to “succeed,” it is readily apparent that the abolition of racism and classism in prison would provide a more sensible “situation” for “rehabilitation” to occur.

But prison, in its current iteration, is hardly a sensible situation. Violence, intimidation, retaliation, and substance abuse are a few of the many issues that lead directly to a dysfunctional situation. And a dysfunctional situation is a situation for which you not only can’t prepare, it is one in which it is very hard to “succeed” in as well.

With that being said, the ambience of prison is dank and filled with hopelessness. Many prisoners say, “to heck with it.” Situationally, this despair, combined with all the violence and other issues working against a person in prison, leads them to fail and not benefit any form of society. The oppressive criminal justice system and its form of society is designed for people to fail. Especially people of color. People of all races are in prison, though, and they are warehoused and openly hated in plain sight. Many times those same prisoners are setup by those with power over them just so they can be punished.

In California, many prisoners “lose time” through illegal and contemptuous Rules Violation Reports, or “115s.” These take away good conduct credits earned for time that a prisoner has stayed out of trouble. Of course, trouble can come in a variety of flavors in prison. Suffice to say, prisoners stand a good chance to lose time over situational incidents that are beyond their control.

This doesn’t mean that a prisoner is powerless to control their destiny. Instead, it simply means that a prisoner is susceptible to oppression. The wielding of power by a person of authority for the purpose of discrimination is exactly what the guards in prison do. Every day. And they are heavily rewarded and incentivized.

First, there are the financial rewards of working for the CDCR. But even more so than the financial rewards is the incentive of pure, blood-lust power. This intoxicates many guards and incites them to be rude, aggressive, insulting, antagonistic, and degrading to all of the prisoners. This, once again, is because society has deemed it acceptable to discriminate against prisoners by ridicule and hate. And hate begets hate.

The guards hate the prisoners. The prisoners hate the guards. And the prisoners take out their hate predominately on other prisoners. This vicious cycle of corruption-fueled hate will only end when the situational impediment is acknowledged and countered, and society, both inside and outside of prison, is allowed to benefit by the education and reconciliation of prisoners caught up in the oppressive criminal justice system. Traditional racism and classism, innate to our country’s beginnings, should not be accepted in any society, traditional or progressive.

The third, and perhaps most decisive, impediment to success is attitudinal. To analyze a person’s attitude in prison at first glance, it is usually quite obvious they have a bad attitude. But why is this so? Is it because they are not free? Sure. But it is also because society has basically said, “We hate you, we don’t believe you can get better, and ultimately, you cannot benefit nor even become a functioning member of society, ever.”

A prisoner’s attitude is controllable, though, and is only an impediment when a person in prison says, “To heck with it, I don’t care.” By having something tangible to care about, to hope for, a prisoner is motivated, or incentivized, to learn and reconcile themselves, and thus, develop a better attitude.

Learning in prison takes place in a variety of ways. Prisoners are sometimes given tablets, TV programming, and other tools to improve themselves academically. But what about those heavily ingrained behaviors learned by rote through their life experiences long before they ever got to prison? These behaviors often need improving on, yet the CDCR does nothing but punish. Many prisoners need to relearn social, emotional, and interactional skills in preparation for a world yet to be, not a world as it once was.

This relearning, or preparing to “succeed” and benefit society, fundamentally requires respect. And that is the mantra of the prison culture. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It is a required and enforced behavior in prison by the prisoners, and so it goes without saying that at a basic level prisoners know how to control themselves and their behavior. By learning to understand ourselves and each other we can not only learn to respect on another we can learn to love each other as well. The biggest lesson learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is that we are all in this together. This holds true for all societies, whether they are within or without prison. And at a core level, respect at all times to all things means nothing more than compassionate understanding for those around us who are less fortunate.

And therein lies the rub. Society, by failing to understand compassionately, and by failing to provide an opportunity to succeed to those entrapped in the oppressive criminal justice system, is creating an impediment to a better society. When everybody succeeds everybody benefits.

With all that being said, the takeaway is this: Mass incarceration does not benefit society and it must be considered a detriment to all; people of color are systematic targets by those in society stuck in the past; and the oppressive criminal justice system, rooted in the racist and classist undertones of our nation’s founding, actually punishes society itself and stunts homogeneity by relegating a large segment of society to failure. Therefore, the CDCR in its effort to “rehabilitate” should consider and counter the discussed impediments and provide realistic opportunities for “success” so that not only are prisoners afforded the opportunity to “better” themselves they are prepared to succeed, and thus, benefit society.

The Antithesis

Mass incarceration can also be described as a necessary evil designed to thwart crime and violence and ultimately prevent society’s descent into chaos and anarchy. Certainly, discrimination based on racism and classism is wrong, but discrimination against those who offend the civilized decency of society is warranted and corrective action must be taken. However, society does not benefit when a vast swatch of people, mostly people of color, have no means to be successful, and so the question begs: What is society’s obligation to those who don’t want to abide the rules of an ordered society and contribute to society’s success?

Success can be measured in more than one way. The success of society is often measured by its ability to sustain and grow itself, both materially and spiritually. Families play an important role in society’s success. It is plainly evident that families are required in order to further the human race on our beautiful planet. But when the oppressive component of society limits the success of families by incarcerating important members thereof, an inherent flaw emerges. Families become splintered and impotent to sustain and grow themselves.

Once a member of a family is incarcerated the price is manifest and obvious. Failed marriages, kids dropping out of school, substance abuse, and welfare are but a few of the repercussions of mass incarceration on the families. Society wants to help those who help themselves, but what about those who simply do not care what happens to them or their families? What is society’s obligation to them? And is this the fault of the oppressive criminal justice system and mass incarceration, or is it the reason for it?

Thus, another important question looms: Who is the arbiter of fairness and opportunity in deciding who needs help and who should be discarded as unworthy of trust? Clearly, the arbiter is society. And this is where it gets tricky since there are many viewpoints in society. There are many people of color who in fact are successful and abide the rules of society. Many of those same people feel that young people of color should strive for success regardless of the impediments in society. But how is this possible when there are no opportunities for success afforded them due to racism and classism and the resultant mass incarceration caused by the oppressive criminal justice system?

Society does not owe anybody anything and each person is expected to take this life that they have been blessed with and get the most out of it. This is the conservative and responsibility-driven viewpoint anyway. Many philosophers believe we are tested in this life and how we handle the test determines who we are. Others have differing thoughts. Irrespective of this, society has many opinions and viewpoints, and they are often at odds with one another.

Coherence and cohesiveness of society is the key. Mass incarceration is a necessary evil perhaps, but it should serve a purpose. Rehabilitation can therefore serve this vital purpose if society does in fact have an obligation to those who do not wish to conform to the coherence and cohesiveness of society and its ultimate goal of material and spiritual growth.

But realistically, rehabilitation needs to go far beyond the incarcerated person of color victimized by the oppressive criminal justice system. People of all colors, within and without prison, often need to be “reprogrammed” due to society’s inability to provide a proper path to success for all. Sure, impediments exist, but what about the forgotten or ignored need for opportunity, especially to disadvantaged people of color?

The ability to build wealth and credit, the ability to own a home and transportation, the ability to live in a safe and wholesome neighborhood are but a few of the opportunities that society should provide to all citizens, not just incarcerated people seeking to reintegrate into society. But many in society today see the opportunities described herein as a function of families themselves and neighborhood groups.

Any grand effort by the government to pave the way for success is seen as socialism and/or communism. This is especially true when people are perceived as getting a handout. For example, when people started getting $600 a week on top of their weekly unemployment check, many people were outraged despite the substantial need to boost the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people pointed out that those receiving additional funds would stop wanting to work. Many hardworking Americans were offended by the perceived handouts. However, what is an actual fact is that many recipients of the additional funds started businesses. They weren’t averse to work they just needed a hand up. A handout may stifle growth, but a hand up always empowers people regardless of their background. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf makes a valid point when she argues that everybody deserves a baseline ability to feed and house themselves.

When families and neighborhoods lack the resources to provide that baseline support it means that society has an obligation to step up. Not in the name of socialism or communism, but in the name of coherence and cohesiveness. Thus, society’s obligation is to all and encompasses even those who do not want to contribute to society’s success.

There should be an opportunity for all to own a home and the ability to sink roots into their communities which benefits families and society as a whole. Further, there should be investment into those neighborhoods whereby business support and infrastructure are created equally throughout society. Many people of color live in blighted neighborhoods which lack the infrastructure and investment, and political power, that are equal to white neighborhoods.

In many instances property values dictate the tax base and from that the formula for investment is derived. Within this schematic of financial solvency is the underlying bias of capitalism. The taking advantage of those less fortunate. So, to take out the ills of society on the oppressive criminal justice system and mass incarceration belies the ultimate truth that racism and classism are inherently involved in the overall structure of society.

Truly, society itself is to blame for the need for mass incarceration because it has denied an equal opportunity for success to many and created its own impediments which guarantee continued oppression under the guise of criminality. Nevertheless, mass incarceration is a flawed yet necessary evil unless the root causes are quashed.

The Synthesis

Without a doubt, there needs to be a solution to the problem of mass incarceration due to the oppressive criminal justice system, and that solution is rehabilitation. The oppressive criminal justice system as it relates to fairness is blind, all right. Blind to freedom and equality. Blind to safety and security. For a civilized society there is a vested interest in rehabilitative programs which provide opportunity and growth for all its members equally. Of course, there must be some form of punishment for those against whom corrective action must be taken. That is a given. But in an ordered society it is also a given that there must be mercy.

Mercy begins with compassionate understanding of those less fortunate around us. It goes without saying that some people are not as understanding as others, and so there is tension within society as to what constitutes mercy. Even so, society’s interest in providing mercy through compassionate understanding extends to the provision of rehabilitative opportunities to those who have need to make changes in their lives. This is because it is easier to help people than it is to correct them. Through the balance of corrections and rehabilitation, or justice and mercy, people want to feel safe. The purpose of government and law is to settle disputes between parties and protect the common good. To provide safety and security.

So, at a core level liberal and conservative people should agree, there must be order. From this agreement it can be inferred that there must be structure as well, for without structure orderliness is not possible. Regardless, the underlying point is this: Where in the oppressive criminal justice system (which has caused mass incarceration) is there structure and order? The structure can be described thus: interview, arrest, convict, incarcerate, rinse, and repeat. The goal, it seems, whether by design or happenstance, is to eliminate those who are less fortunate from society.

But what about the basic structure of society itself? Of life? There we find birth, growth, learned behaviors and emotions, and opportunities for those with the ability or desire and who have the aptitude to realistically pursue their dreams. Sure, for some there is structure.

How about everybody else, you ask? Often people who have “tried hard” and wound up with a lot going for themselves in one area of their lives will make poor choices in other areas. These mistakes can subject them to strife and possibly lead to participation in the oppressive criminal justice system. This is one of many causes of mass incarceration for those who are often less fortunate, who are often people of color.

Over 70 million Americans have some type of criminal record. They have been accused and convicted of crime. And so, a large portion of America knows all too well how unfair the oppressive criminal justice system is. At every level. This is the current “structure” of the oppressive criminal justice system.

You can indict a ham sandwich in America today. And a jury is, as it always has been, a crapshoot. You never know what’s going to happen. Just when you think it should go one way, it will go the other way. O.J. Simpson. Casey Anthony. And then you throw into the mix the fact that over 90 percent of criminal cases “plead out” with a settled conviction. Often this occurs with no exclusive proof of guilt, just oppressive tactics which cause tremendous fear based on conjecture. All the structure to save time and money rather than provide all the rights afforded to every person by the state and federal constitutions. And so, justice needs some balance by way of mercy, or compassionate understanding. Or at least a fundamental knowledge of the issues in play.

There are thousands of cases on LexisNexis that show a basic structural flaw in the application of constitutional rights in an equal manner. Aside from all the underlying unfairness inherent in the current structure of the oppressive criminal justice system, a defendant is usually prevented from presenting his or her best defense (from the defendant’s perspective) and is most often appointed a public defender attorney. They are then forced to unknowingly relinquish all their rights as to trial strategy and tactics. This denies a defendant the opportunity to present their own personal theory of their defense until well after trial and appeal. It is entirely up to appointed counsel to determine what, if any, defense to present. An appointed attorney has many responsibilities to the court and other clients based on the financial limitations they are facing. Added to this is the responsibility to ethics which supplant their obligation to their client. Of course, attorneys must be ethical, but when they are facing a choice between presenting a defense based on a defendant’s wishes and their own take on the veracity of that very same defendant, the attorney makes the call. A defendant’s alibi often goes uninvestigated in order to get a quick and financially rewarding resolution of the matter. This may seem absurd to many and a conspiracy theory run amok, but it is an actual occurrence in the ordinary structure of the oppressive criminal justice system.

For a person rich enough to hire his or her own attorney there are many other options available to force an attorney to present a defense in line with the defendant’s wishes. Ethics still control, and rightly so, thus a defendant is always told to not say anything until after their case is concluded. More often than not they are told not to testify and to rely on the obscure chance that the jury will find that The People have not proven their case. This is ridiculous. A defendant’s life is in ruin and they are told not to explain themselves. The rich defendant can usually afford to post bail and can then assist in preparing their defense. They can also get their story out right away if that is in their best interest despite the ethical limitations of an attorney. Basically, attorneys are self-serving and are officers of the court and thus work for the oppressive criminal justice system. I will leave this issue for another time, though, and move back to the main issue presented here — rehabilitation in the CDCR.

It goes without saying yet must be: some people are not correctable, some people are not capable, some people are not safe to be around, and other people are simply in need of a hand up. For all of these people there must be structure and a path of progression, provided by society, which is a realistic path that enables and incentivizes opportunities by providing the baseline support required for baseline living. This includes the baseline structure for enabling advancement and growth.

C’mon. Everybody needs a home, food, heat, etc. Regardless of a person’s views on birth control or personal accountability based of choices made in life, it is nothing more than compassionate understanding to see that everyone has their basic needs met. This isn’t a socialist concept. This isn’t a communist concept either. Based on safety and security concerns it is an evolutionary reality that we all must come to terms with. In order to be progressive there must be progress. Government must be responsive to its citizenry. But it must also be in control.

Sure, that sounds oppressive per se. But the truth is that there must be control for there to be freedom. All things in society are in opposition. Good, bad. Right, wrong. Rich, poor. Well-fed, hungry. For every success story there is a contrasting failure of some sort. Government, in its response to the needs of its citizens, must consider the pleadings by many that the current regime of mass incarceration is nothing more than racism and classism disguised as discrimination against those accused of breaking the law. This issue has been thoroughly explored in Michelle Alexander’s provocative book “The New Jim Crow.”

I am not breaking ground on these issues being presented here. I get that. I am proposing to do some “way out” thinking for these “way out” times though. I am suggesting that the CDCR bifurcate into two entities, one for corrections and one for rehabilitation.

This is not that drastic an idea if the following facts are considered. Many prisoners in the CDCR want to be rehabilitated and provided realistic and meaningful opportunities to reintegrate into society. Many prisoners are unable to “succeed” in society because they lack the proper foundation of educational, experiential, and social skills necessary to function in a nondependent manner. Many prisoners are proud to be “convicts” and they negatively impact other people’s lives, especially those people in prison trying to rehabilitate. Many people who leave prison “rehabilitated” by the CDCR regain their freedom only to be rendered homeless and unemployed. The CDCR goal to provide healthy, educated, and employable people upon release from prison is hyperbole. They do nothing to enforce that dogma.

The CDCR policy which combines “convicts” with rehabilitative-minded “programmers” in a cost-saving policy demonstrates the CDCR’s total disregard of a prisoner’s specific needs. Especially when they are trying to “better” themselves. The CDCR is woefully unable to administer the reality of their responsibility to society. The CDCR approach is that California is safe if we don’t let prisoners out of prison, and if they get released, then the CDCR is absolved of any responsibility as to the success of a person released. The CDCR is too big. The CDCR is a monopoly and as such should be split up just like any monopolistic business would be when it negatively affects society.

This doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be locked up for offending the common decency of society, but it does mean that the corruption, the disregard for people, and the unwieldiness of the CDCR’s one-size-fits-all solution must be examined. Their policies, which are extremely costly to society and prisoner’s lives as well, serve no real penological goal other than to keep people out of society. There is no other purpose that can be honestly discerned. Prisoners, as well as those unfortunate souls who need a hand up, need a facility with structure where they can develop skills and attributes through education, experience, and relationships which is based on a step-by-step path of progression. These people should be allowed to benefit from a well-reasoned and structured plan implemented by professionals for the exclusive purpose of a person’s integration and adaptation into society which completely addresses the needs of many. This is all based on people’s specific needs and not based on conjecture in pursuit of simplistic one-size-fits-all solutions.

This new rehabilitation department should be designed to scale from serving those graduating from penal corrections or mental health facilities all the way through helping those who are simply homeless or otherwise in need of a hand up. These various new rehabilitation facilities would offer a “step” program which incentivizes and rewards people and ultimately adapts their abilities, desires, and behavior to benefit society. This will enable people to progress from a dependent person to an independent person. An important corollary to this new provision of services is to help people create dreams and hope from which a realistic plan of attack can be formulated.

It is the carrot-on-a-stick approach. If a person has hope they will take the next step, right? Taking the next step is in the best interest of everybody--person, family, society--especially if there is to be a nexus between ability, desire, opportunity, and ultimately, behavior.

Life is a progression and therefore the structure of life is just as important as its rules. Rewards and penalties create order. Order comes from proper structure. Ask any third grader. Line-up and walk to lunch is done to perfection by every eight-year-old every day because of the structure and expectations in their existence.

Freedom is wonderful, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of structure and order so that pure agency and chaos reign supreme. No. It means that there must be a pathway to pure freedom and independence based on the structure of opportunities that society should provide to all equally. Because of this, order will be achieved.

The primary method of reducing criminal activity should be to eliminate the need for people to rob and steal and thereby create safety and security. It seems so simple, really. People who have their baseline needs met and are living in a safe environment do not commit as many crimes as people who have nothing and live in a dangerous place. My experience living for over 30 years in Mammoth Lakes, California has shown me that people living comfortably do not commit crime. Anecdotal as this evidence is, everyone knows it is true. However, there are people who have nothing and live in a dangerous place and society not only knows this is true, but it has an obligation to do something if for no other reason than to reduce crime and create safety and security in society as a whole.

What exactly are these people’s stories who have nothing and live in a dangerous place, anyway? Does society even care? What can be done to meet their needs specifically? It should entail more than simply throwing money at an oversized bureaucracy with a generalized one-size-fits-all approach based on endless meetings that does nothing to meet the specific needs of specific people. People need structure and a path to “success,” and it comes with a step-by-step approach tailored to each specific person’s needs and which addresses the overall family needs, thus benefitting society, not the bureaucracy itself. Society needs to identify and respond to people, not conjecture, and provide a pathway to “success” for all equally.

Desperate is a term that quickly comes to mind because that is the emotion of fear resulting from the lack of hope. And this is a situation that our government should not only respond to but prioritize as a cornerstone to a progressive, and yet conservative, solution. Progressive for its outside-the-box thinking, and conservative for its responsibility- and accountability-driven pathways to “success.” Remember, it is all about a hand up, not a handout. Government’s current approach is more interested in penalization than in empowerment, discrimination rather than assimilation. It should be focused on incentivization.

There are two ways that society can approach this structural problem of equitable empowerment. It can pay for rehabilitation facilities that provide training and opportunity for all under the assumption that by providing a social program as an alternative to an oppressive criminal justice system people will choose the social program.

Conversely, society can pay by continuing down the path of discrimination based on race and class to incarcerate vast swaths of the very fabric of society itself. This self-defeating nature of the oppressive criminal justice system should be its Achille’s heel. There must be justice and mercy. To arrest our way out of problems in society today is no longer feasible or realistic.

Whichever way society chooses to pay, change must come from the communities and the families and the people individually in order to get a handle on the crime and violence so common in California today. The solution can’t be bought. The solution must be innovative and inspiring. When weighed in a cost-benefit analysis the solution should not only save money it should enrich people’s lives, and thus, society as well.

All the big-ticket talk about gun control, wage equity, racial discrimination, and even gender identity, are all in essence topics directly related to freedom. None of the talk ever focuses on the fact that you can only solve problems in steps. And those steps must include empowerment for all, equally. Just as this document started out as a list, so too should society start out with a list or an understanding that solutions to society’s biggest problems must have structure, purpose, and vision. Personal responsibility is key, thus starting at the individual’s level and expanding to include families and communities which form the basis of society. Remember, guns don’t shoot people, people shoot people.

Looking back in recent history, “white flight” was a term that was coined to describe the exodus of white families from the urban and suburban areas of America out into the remote and rural areas our country is famous for. There are plenty of wide-open spaces. There should be a new flight taking place today, “equality flight,” for those who want to escape the impediments of society. It is already underway for those who have successful careers and can work from home. There is a societal shift underway, post-pandemic, in which communities are changing. But this is only true for the well-off. What about those people who have nothing and live in a dangerous place as discussed earlier? They should be enabled to start new families in new communities, very similar to the way this country’s pioneers started it all. There is an evolutionary progression taking place called life. This progression illustrates the need for social programs that provide new opportunities while accepting the totality of the problems facing society today. One of the most profound issues facing society today based on the entrenched nature of society itself is that there exists isolated and concentrated pockets of people that are trapped with no opportunity for “success” as a fundamental right.

One would be remiss if the impacts of this suggestion weren’t discussed also. Sure, overpopulation, resource limitations, trade, and other issues are important, but as previously stated, solutions start at the individual level. A person needs to live and therefore they need to live someplace. It seems that each person has a right to life and liberty, yet a homeless person, who has a right to exist, has no right to exist in any chosen place if they have no resources or opportunity to do so. They must then exist where they are told to and the government, who is telling them they have to live someplace, fails to provide an opportunity for that someplace to even exist.

A key component to the solution suggested here is that new land be made available for rehabilitation facilities and new communities which would provide a whole new pathway of opportunity. This through the wholesale opening up of excess state and federal lands. Yes, this creates an environmental impact, but based on the growth of society through population increase there will always be an impact on the environment. But can this impact be mitigated while still providing opportunities for society to grow, adapt, and conquer its problems? This is perhaps the crux. At some point the wellbeing and “success” of society requires the use of resources. This is inevitable. As much as the environment needs protecting as an imperative to spiritual growth and respect for that which has been created or has evolved (depending on your perspective), there needs to be protected use whereby the resources can be utilized but in a much less impactful way. A way that reimagines the environment’s true benefit to society.

But amidst all this high-minded idealism, and with conservative responsibility-driven attention to detail, the first baby steps can be taken if the State of California creates an independent Department of Rehabilitation and builds facilities which can serve as the anchors for progressive new communities developed with burdensome and unused excess lands for the sole purpose of “equality flight.” It seems reasonable to suggest at this point that these excess lands, which are liabilities because of their potential to burn in a wildfire, could be more effectively utilized than simply as kindling production areas. Such rehabilitation facilities would excise the rehabilitation mirage perpetuated by the CDCR and allow the Department of Corrections to serve its basic purpose, which is to correct and penalize wayward souls so that individuals can adapt to their reality.

People who are amenable to the adaptation of their behaviors and are ready to integrate into society can be separated out and allowed to progress into rehabilitation facilities. Those who show themselves to be a danger to society and for whatever reason do not want to adapt to society’s laws can be segregated from others at levels directly proportionate to their willingness to not be a threat to the safety and security of others. The goal of corrections is ultimately to force people to adjust their behaviors in such a way that they stop and think before they act, and also that they take responsibility for their own actions. Short of this, the goal is to keep them separated from society.

Adding to this discussion, it should be considered that there is a fundamental fight in play besides the financial and environmental impacts of the changes suggested here, and that is the safety-versus-freedom fight. There exists in society today a strong element of anti-policing rhetoric that belies the actuality of society’s need for protection. Of course, there is room for police accountability, but what about personal accountability? Shouldn’t we all be promoting safety and security and respect through compassionate understanding in every aspect of our lives? How is it that a society that relishes personal freedom blames all its ills on substance abuse when in reality the inequality and lack of opportunities to be in a private and protected home creates the substance abuse problem in the first place? How is it anybody’s business what somebody does in the privacy of their own home? And why doesn’t everybody have the sanctity and security of their own space to do as they wish? Freedom is a fallacy for those less fortunate.

It can be argued that there is total disdain for abusive police practices perpetuated by the oppressive criminal justice system by those very people who ironically need safety and security to be enforced. These people are right to be offended, and they are just responding negatively to oppression. This supports the contention presented here that the negative and pointless policies of the CDCR create not only unsafe situations in prison, but they create unsafe situations in society as well when they fail to rehabilitate individuals equally and completely or at all, as is the current case.

The length of a sentence really serves no distinct purpose since it is the reformation of an individual and their reconciliation with society, or lack of it, that determines the need for corrective action.

So then, the fundamental fight is exposed. Is the purpose of the CDCR to correct or rehabilitate? For reasons previously alluded to, the CDCR in its current state exists solely to correct despite the addition of the word “Rehabilitation” to their name some years ago. The CDCR does nothing constructively and with impact to rehabilitate. There are many in the CDCR who would disagree, and rightfully so, because there are many employees who want to help people succeed, and thus the structural weakness is exposed. The structure of the CDCR forces corrections and justice to control the application of mercy and compassionate understanding. Those CDCR employees who want to help people “succeed” are not allowed to do so. There is major tension within the CDCR between custody officers and rehabilitative-minded employees, and the police union controls the situation with an iron rod. The keystone to any solution must involve a realization that you can’t incarcerate everyone forever. Inlayed in this contention is the need to acknowledge that corrections, and the custody officers who are in control, can and often do create hardened criminals. So, what then is the solution?

Incentivization is the solution and rehabilitation is the method. The CDCR’s goal to correct is limited by their inability to “force” correct behavior. They can’t lock up people forever. They can’t beat them senselessly. They can’t subject prisoners to harsh conditions which are considered cruel and/or unusual in order to meet their goal. Or can they?

The oppressive criminal justice system is clearly the result of racism and classism for all the reasons presented thus far. Mass incarceration, especially of those who are people of color, is the direct result of racism and classism as well. And still people vehemently disagree as though all prisoners deserve what they get. But how do these same people who believe that criminals should get what they have coming know what it is exactly that they should get or what they are actually getting? How do these people know what they profess to know?

Racism and classism in the new millennium dictates opportunities for those of the right race or class just as it always has. Throw mass incarceration into the mix and you have blatant oppression of those less fortunate. Only with equal opportunity in every aspect of life as we know it will every person within their path of progression, whatever step they are on, be provided a pathway to growth and opportunity which will create a better society. Not perfect. Better.

This is nothing more than the basic meritocracy argument, I know. But it does lead us full circle back to the issue of mass incarceration and the decision which needs to be made: should people be rehabilitated or locked up forever? This is where it all starts and ends. Think globally, act locally. And what exactly is wrong with a meritocracy argument anyway when you are trying to incentivize people to “succeed” and contribute to society?

Obviously, the separation of the CDCR into two separate entities under different leadership with different purposes will benefit society. The only argument counter to this one presented will be that change is difficult and could be dangerous. But by separating the wheat from the chaff, by separating those who are truly dangerous from those who are actively trying to “better” themselves, the State of California could actually do a better job of protecting society. The CDCR could save money by reducing the need for redundant programs as is their current intention in the objective they have to create Non-Designated Programming Facilities (NDPF) in which the CDCR seeks to house and classify prisoners based on their supposed desire to program positively and reject violence as a solution.

This objective is all about saving money and ignores the need to specifically address individual needs and behaviors and focuses on forming generalized assumptions. The main assumption is that by throwing disparately-motivated individuals together in a stressful environment the prisoners will miraculously be prepared for reintegration into society. Nowhere in this financially-based objective is it stated that the CDCR seeks to provide a progression of skill development suited to an individual’s realistic end goals. This objective is nothing more than a fallacy disguised as an objective. Despite the rhetoric flowing out of Sacramento, there is nothing being done to incentivize, rehabilitate, or otherwise enable prisons to succeed in society upon release from the CDCR.

Prisoners, in the name of saving money, are being thrown together regardless of their contemptuous and conflicting ideologies or other factors which create animus and ultimately create risk for staff and prisoners alike. These conflicts are not easily resolved and often manifest into force and violence. This is often because of the mental and emotional limitations of many prisoners who are also racist and believe in classism.

Many instances of violence in the CDCR’s prisons are caused by the poor social skills of the prisoners combined with their many biases, and the CDCR does absolutely nothing to improve people’s social skills. This lack of concern by the CDCR and its oppressive nature causes emotionally and mentally unstable behavior, perhaps by design, and the CDCR refuses to identify or acknowledge it despite the abounding documentation that the CDCR’s policies, and the administration thereof, always creates risk for prisoners. This occurs when the CDCR fails to address specific factors related to specific individuals all in the hope that their cost-effective, one-size-fits-all policy, which is the result of generalizations, will somehow create a safe environment for prisoners and staff alike and validate their inability to do all that needs to be done.

The CDCR has no empirical data to support any of their positions regarding the NDPFs or prisoner safety. The CDCR has been very successful in the courts defending against suits of all types related to their obviously deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s individual right to safety and eventual liberty. The CDCR is Teflon® coated when it comes to scrutiny by the courts. The main flaw of the oppressive criminal justice system involves the prioritization of cost to the complete exclusion of the complete consideration of each and every individual’s rights. Subsumed in this cost discussion is that the CDCR is not only bound by state law but also federal law. Clearly established federal law as determined by the United States Supreme Court governs everyone. Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court is reluctant to determine clearly established federal law and they delegate these matters in controversy to the states under federalism principles too lengthy to elaborate on here.

The violation of rights by the CDCR is a battleground that is fought with the complicity of the courts. All involved in the oppressive criminal justice system are culpable and are to blame because the federal government has given the authority to the states to decide who or how to discriminate against. In having this authority, the State of California does a fine job of discriminating, all in the name of saving money.

The Prison Industrial Complex is not an illusion. It is the reason money is saved--they want all of it. It is heavily invested in maintaining the status quo of funding. You see, it is all about money. The CDCR staff is heavily invested as well in maintaining their lifestyle and dreams fostered by the generous compensation packages provided to CDCR staff.

There lies another conflict. If prisoners are rehabilitated or otherwise provided productive alternatives to crime and violence, then business goes down for the CDCR. Talk about incentivization. The CDCR needs prisoners, and so the rehabilitation implied in its moniker is false advertising. The CDCR is not required by any law, state or federal, to provide rehabilitation. Even so, the Board of Parole Hearings requires participation in rehabilitative programs in order to be released from prison when a prisoner is under review for release to a term of parole.

The power of the police union is unparalleled in state politics. This is because of society’s fears that the police are the only barrier to the complete degradation of society as we know it. And there may be some truth to that. However, even with all that power, and a lot of money, there is still crime and violence. It really is a racket.

“We can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem,” is a common refrain from the police, and yet they still try to. The oppressive criminal justice system churns out customer after customer for the CDCR. It’s not only a money game, it’s a numbers game as well. The correctional officers in the CDCR see nothing but new homes and trucks and lifetime pensions with free medical. And there is nothing wrong with that. But why would the CDCR want to give up its golden goose? Obviously, they don’t want to.

And so, let’s take a look at how the CDCR keeps its grip on its customers. The commonality of improper and contested Rules Violation Reports (RVRs or 115s) within the prison, which are almost impossible to defend against and which cause prisoners to serve additional time in CDCR custody, further solidifies the CDCR’s hold on its prisoners. Especially when these RVRs are used to deny parole and endlessly perpetuate a prisoner’s sentence without any realistic oversight. The courts are complicit in the oppressive criminal justice system, remember?

By splitting up corrections and rehabilitation society would eliminate the need to place as many employees in harm’s way and spend so much money on highly trained and specialized employees and replace them with adaptive social programs that may actually create healthy, educated, and employable members of society. There is a lot of traction today in the court of public opinion regarding social funding as a way to eliminate the counterproductive criminal justice system funding.

Of course, officers would still need to protect society and those people involved in the new rehabilitation facilities. There would need to be authority figures of varying degrees to administer to and secure all those involved as well. The balance between justice and mercy may swing towards the mercy side of the scale, but there will still be a need to provide safety and security in society because this suggested change within the CDCR is not a panacea to all that impedes the orderliness of society. Especially when you factor in the safety and security of millions of people in California who are in constant interaction with each other.

Security will become less burdensome though as more people succeed and take full advantage of all the opportunities a just and merciful society provides to all, equally. People utilizing these new rehabilitation facilities will be able to break free from incarcerated person to rehabilitated person. They will be ready to tackle all that life throws at them based on the skills, experiences, and relationships they will have developed there.

These are “wackadoodle” ideas to be sure, and they may be dismissed as California “hippie talk,” but the fact remains that in today’s world there exists no constitutional right to rehabilitative services. It is up to society to fix this.

Based on the totality of the reasoning presented it should lead to a valid and sound conclusion that there exists room for change. At least room for a discussion regarding changes that must be made to the overall structure of the CDCR, the oppressive criminal justice system, to society itself. The way things are going in the world today there definitely needs to be some changes made.

As has been alluded to herein, the changes should come in steps and lead to a seismic shift in the way we balance crime prevention and social need, justice, and mercy.

There is a fight going on for the future of our country and it is encapsulated in the premise and reasoning presented here. The separation of society’s mission to correct people who offend the reasonable and decent implementation of rules meant to provide for the free exercise of safety and security for everyone and the need to enable and empower all people equally so that they benefit the whole of society through the implementation of rehabilitative services to not only prisoners of the oppressive criminal justice system, but to those who simply seek to better themselves and earn a hand up needs to occur immediately.

This radical and far-reaching goal suggested for society starts with the understanding that we in California can once again set the pace with progressive yet conservative actions which separate the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation into two independent agencies—the Department of Corrections and the Department of Rehabilitation. I am sure that the state can spend a ton of time and money coming up with new names, but for our purposes here I have named them as I have.

These two agencies will have different objectives which must identify and react to the needs of society today. These needs have been articulated with these ramblings of an angry white man, but there are many others in society, and in California, who also argue that there needs to be a fundamental shift in the use of funding for policing and social programs which may actually result in the need for less policing.

There is going to be profound blowback to the concept presented for sure, but the truth is that it must be done, if for no other reason than to say we tried, and it all starts with the restructuring of the CDCR.