Isolation Units within US Prisons, Panelist

Isolation Units within US Prisons

Featuring:

  • Alexis Agathocleous, Staff Attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – San Francisco Bay Area
  • Dr. Terry Kupers, M.D.
  • Keramet Reiter, JD, PhD Candidate Berkeley Law; and,
  • Eddy Zheng, Prisoner Rights Advocate.

Moderated by: Sara Norman, Attorney, Prison Law Office.

Event Details

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
The Women’s Building
Audre Lorde Room

3543 18th Street #8
San Francisco, CA

Co-Sponsored by:

  • Civil Liberties Defense Center
  • Solitary Watch
  • Freedom Archives
  • Arab Resource and Organizing Center
  • National Lawyers Guild – San Francisco Chapter
  • National Lawyers Guild – Boalt Hall Chapter
  • California Prison Focus
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund-Stanford University
  • Chapter and California Coalition for Women Prisoners
  • Anti-Racism Committee of the National Lawyers Guild-San Francisco Chapter
  • Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and Hastings Prisoner Outreach
  • Stanford Criminal Law Society
  • ACLU of Northern California
  • Prison Legal News
  • All of Us or None
  • Green is the New Red

Community Activist, Ex-Con Eddy Zheng Faces Deportation

by Jon Brooks, with reporting by Kyung Jin Lee, KQED News Fix

( read excerpted article online here )

Community Activist, Ex-Con Eddy Zheng Faces Deportation

At issue, according to Kyung Jin Lee, KQED’s reporter at the hearing, is whether a Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision to remove Zheng considered positive factors in addition to his prison record. Zheng spent 19 years in prison stemming rom a robbery-kidnapping he took part in as a teen.

In addition to his job working with at-risk youth, Zheng has also become known for his poetry and prison blog.You may remember that his incarceration became a cause celebre in the late 1990s, after then-governor Gray Davis ignored a unanimous parole board vote in his favor, refusing to sign off on his release. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger finally granted Zheng parole in 2005, but because his imprisonment had prevented him from becoming a naturalized citizen, he was taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security pending deportation proceedings. He was set free in 2007, but an immigration court eventually ordered that he be deported to China, where he lived as a boy. The appeal of that order was today.

Breathin’ – an Evening of Spoken Word and Music

About the Event

Facing deportation after 21 years behind bars, Eddy Zheng is grateful just to be breathin’. With music by DOSH and poetry by Paul Dosh, this artistic collaboration brings Eddy Zheng to the stage to tell the remarkable story of the movement he created that freed him from prison and now fights for the rights of Asian prisoners in California. A national advisory board member of the Asian American Law Journal, Eddy Zheng is the recipient of the Asian Law Students Outstanding Leadership Award and the Chinese World Journal Community Hero Award, the editor of Other: An Asian and Pacific Islander Prisoners’ Anthology, and now works for the San Francisco Community Youth Center.

Autobiography @ 33

I am 33 years old and breathin’

it’s a good year to die

to myself

I never felt such extreme peace

despite being mired in constant ear-deafening screams

from the caged occupants – triple CMS1, PCs2, gang validated,
drop-outs, parole violators, lifers,
drug casualties, three strikers,
human beings

in San Quentin’s 150 year old solitary confinement

I don’t want to start things over

 

@ 33

I am very proud of being who I am

I wrote a letter to a stranger who said
“You deserve to lose at least your youth,
not returning to society until well into middle age…”

after reading an article about me in San Francisco Weekly

I told him
“A hundred years from now when we no longer exist on this earth of humankind the seriousness of my crime will not be changed or lessened. I can never pay my debt to the victims because I cannot turn back the hands of time…I will not judge you.”

whenever I think about my crime I feel ashamed

I’ve lost my youth and more

I’ve learned that the more I suffer the stronger I become

I am blessed with great friends

I talk better than I write
because the police can’t hear my conversation

the prison officials labeled me a trouble maker

I dared to challenge the administration
for its civil rights violation

I fought for Ethnic Studies in the prison college program

I’ve been a slave for 16 years under the 13th Amendment

I know separation and disappointment intimately

I memorized the United Front Points of Unity

I love my family and friends

my shero Yuri Kochiyama and a young sister named Monica

who is pretty wanted to come visit me

somehow I have more female friends than male friends

I never made love to a woman

sometimes I feel like 16

but my body disagrees

some people called me a square

because I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs

I am a procrastinator but I get things done

I’ve never been back to my motherland

I started to learn Spanish

escribió una poema en español

at times I can be very selfish and vice versa

I’ve never been to a prom, concert, opera, sporting event

or my parents’ house

I don’t remember the last time I cried

I’ve sweat with the Native Americans, attended mass with the

Catholics, went to service with the Protestants, sat and chanted

with the Buddhists

my mind is my church

I am spoiled

in 2001 a young lady I love stopped loving me

it felt worse than losing my freedom

I was denied parole for the ninth time

I assured Mom that I will be home one day

after she pleaded me to answer her question truthfully
“Are you ever going to get out of prison?”

the Prison Industrial Complex and its masters attempted to control my mind

it didn’t work

they didn’t know I’ve been introduced to Che, Yuri Kochiyama, Paulo Freire, Howard Zinn, Frederick Douglass, Assata Shakur, bell hooks, Maurice Cornforth, Malcolm X, Gandhi, George Jackson, Mumia, Buddha,

and many others…

I had about a hundred books in my cell

I was internalizing my politics

In 2000 I organized the first poetry slam in San Quentin

I earned my associate of art degree

something that I never thought possible

I’ve self-published a zine

I was the poster boy for San Quentin

some time in the ‘90s my grandparents died

without knowing that I was in prison

 

@ 30

I kissed Dad on the cheek and told him that I love him
for the first time

I’ve written my first poem

I called myself a poet to motivate me to write

because I knew poets would set us free

in 1998 I was granted parole
then it was taken away

the governor’s political career superseded my life

some time in the 90s
I participated in most of the self-help programs

in 1996 I really learned how to read and write

I read my first history book “A People’s History
of the United States”

my social conscious mind was awakened

in 1992 I passed my GED in Solano Prison

I learned how to take care of my body from ’89 to ‘93

in 1987 I turned 18 and went to the Pen from youth authority

the youngest prisoner in San Quentin’s
Maximum Security Prison

I was lucky people thought I knew kung fu

 

@ 16

I violated an innocent family of four and scarred them for life

money superseded human suffering

I was charged as an adult and sentenced to life
with a possibility

no hablo ingles

I wish I could start things over

I was completely lost

 

@ 12

I left Communist China to Capitalist America

no hablo ingles

I was spoiled

in 1976 I went to demonstrations against the Gang of Four

life was a blur from 1 to 6

on 5/29/69

I inhaled my first breath.

 


1 Correctional Clinical Case Management System Mental health condition of prisoners
2 Protective Custody of Prisoners