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Hugo Pinnell press release

HUGO PINELL DENIED PAROLE
by Gordon Kaupp, Esq. with Kiilu Nyasha
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Board of Parole Hearing, for the 8th time, denied Hugo L,A. Pinell parole at a hearing held Tuesday, November 14, at supermax Pelican Bay State Prison, Crescent City.
Apparently, 42 years in California prisons, the last 36 in solitary confinement, including 16 in the windowless, hi-tech SHU (Security Housing Unit) with sensory deprivation in the extreme, was not enough retribution against Hugo Pinell, nicknamed Yogi Bear. They gave him two more.
PRESS RELEASE

HUGO PINELL DENIED PAROLE
by Gordon Kaupp, Esq. with Kiilu Nyasha

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Board of Parole Hearing, for the 8th time, denied Hugo L,A. Pinell parole at a hearing held Tuesday, November 14, at supermax Pelican Bay State Prison, Crescent City.

Apparently, 42 years in California prisons, the last 36 in solitary confinement, including 16 in the windowless, hi-tech SHU (Security Housing Unit) with sensory deprivation in the extreme, was not enough retribution against Hugo Pinell, nicknamed Yogi Bear. They gave him two more.

Since Hugo has had a clean record, no 115s, (rule infractions) for 24 years and his last crime was committed 35 years ago, it was a almost purely a political decision.

Hugo was part of the Black Movement formed in resistance to the deplorable conditions and unspeakable brutality that was exacted on prisoners, especially Blacks, in the 1960s and 70s. Born in Nicaragua, Hugo also resisted the Mexican/Latino segregation of Blacks. i.e., he broke ranks, identifying as Black instead of "Latino." That made him even more of a target and a bilingual threat.

It is indisputable that it was the prisoners' Movement led by George Jackson and W. L. Nolen, which brought attention to the appalling conditions and eventually Congressional oversight and overhaul of the California prison system. (See The Melancholy History of Soledad Prison, by Min S. Yee.)

The mandated changes that grew out of that struggle serve as an open and undeniable acknowledgment of just how bad it was and how necessary the resistance. Although it's difficult to imagine worse conditions than those in today's 5000 prisons and jails across the country, most grossly overcrowded -- yesterday's filthy dungeons, literal "holes," virulent hatred from racist guards and prisoners alike, officially sanctioned brutality, torture, and murder comprised more horrific conditions 40 years ago.

The stance Hugo Pinell took resulted in prolonged torture and isolation, plus a long record of 115s. E.g., Hugo often intervened physically when another prisoner was being beaten, getting beat up himself and thrown in the hole. Almost any Black person who has suffered guard or police assault knows that when the brutality stops, it's the victim who gets the charges or write-ups for assault, not the official aggressor.

At one point in the turbulent 60s, the Movement organized a hunger strike which lasted eight days. Hugo's file reflects eight 115s, one for each day and that was used against him at the hearing!

During the hearing, the Commissioners virtually ignored his 24 years of clean time, and tallied his 115s, counting well over 100. Although Hugo has not gotten a violation since 1982, the Board found a way to hold that against him too. Commissioner Shelton said something like, "when I see a man as violent as you and I see that you have not had a 115 for 24 years it makes me wonder, and it reminds me of a story I once heard. At a parole board hearing of an inmate who had received many 115s early on but hadn't received any in a long time, a commissioner asked him how he was able to stay out of trouble. The inmate told the Board, 'It's because I'm the shot caller on the yard and I can get anyone to take the fall for me.'" That story is incredible for several reasons: that a prisoner would even say such a thing; the fact that Hugo is never on the yard; and SHU prisoners are completely isolated, no phone calls, censored mail, restricted, monitored, no-contact visits.

What's more, the Board violated Hugo's right not to discuss or admit to the crimes for which he was convicted. An in-depth look at Hugo's convictions reveals serious questions of reliability of evidence and basic fairness in the trials. Except for the original case that landed him in prison, all of Hugo's subsequent convictions were for acts against prison guards, reflecting the historic struggle referred to above. Nevertheless, one Commissioner did hold his denial against him and berated him for it, saying, "and you continue to show no remorse and you even deny doing those things." What good is the right not to admit to something, if your lack of remorse (for something you didn't do) can be used against you?

I'm reminded of the case of Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt) who spent 27 years in California prisons convicted of a murder for which he was ultimately exonerated. He faced the same reason for being repeatedly denied parole -- his refusal to show remorse for a crime he didn't commit. Similarly, Hugo's denial of guilt and lack of remorse was used against him, a clear violation of his rights under Cal. Penal Code Sec. 5011.

One of the requirements for parole is community support upon release. Forty letters from teachers, professors, human rights advocates, social workers, friends, family, and even the Public Defender, Jeff Adachi, offering Hugo San Francisco's new reentry program upon parole, were discounted and scorned by the Commissioners.

Another point the Board used against Hugo was his unwillingness to "program." Insistence on programming in reality is about domination and submission, since the extremely limited "programs" they provide do not produce truly marketable skills. SHU prisoners don't even have access to the programs available to mainline prisoners. They can only take certain correspondence courses or read self-help books to demonstrate their compliance.

Hugo's lack of submission to the system's programming has to do with his own program of survival under conditions designed to produce insanity. The supermax SHU is itself a human rights violation. The United Nations and Amnesty International assert that the conditions of the SHU are inhumane and in violation of the international conventions on the treatment of prisoners. Psychiatrists in the field of prison mental health have documented through dozens of studies since the 1970s that SHU conditions -- 23-24 hours a day in small cells with no natural light, no windows, no view outside their cells, no contact visits, prolonged isolation -- are always harmful. One such expert, Dr. Terry Kupers, author of "Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It," evaluated Hugo's mental health in 2004, and concluded that he is nothing short of amazing. Hugo has been able to maintain his sanity through a strict regimen of vegetarian diet, exercise, prolific writing to relatives and friends, and other forms of self care. This is a full time effort to be sure, and the result is that Hugo remains compassionate, mentally and physically healthy and alive against all odds. It's even more remarkable considering that in 2005, a record 44 prisoners killed themselves in California prisons; 70% of the suicides were in segregated units. In a national study of 401 suicides in one year, 1986, two out of every three people who killed themselves were in control units. (Hayes and Rowan 1988).

In summary, this Parole Board Hearing was anything but fair and impartial. We sit in a room in the SHU with the Commissioners facing Hugo and I (his attorney), three guards behind us and Hugo chained hands to waist, feet to waist. Openly hostile, the commissioners recounted the history of 115s, alleged attacks on guards over 35 years ago, with SHU guards looking at us, looking at them. It's unfair because the commitment offenses cannot change; only the prisoner can change.

Despite their unfairness, despite their violation of his rights, despite their refusal to display humaneness or common sense, and despite their utter rudeness and obvious contempt for Hugo, I must say my client remained strong and upbeat. I felt proud of him.

We were all but sure that they wouldn't grant him parole before going into the hearing, but we knew that we had to make a good record so that we could move into the second stage of the strategy to get Hugo Pinell out of SHU, out of prison.

We intend to file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with an outside court to appeal the Board's denial. We are announcing our search and need for a law firm with the resources to represent Hugo. If you know any law offices or friends in firms please ask them if they would be willing to take the case and to call or write me, his attorney, Gordon Kaupp, 115 1/2 Bartlett Street, San Francisco, Ca. 94110, (415) 285 8091. For more information on Yogi, go to www.hugopinell.org.

hugo pinnell 16.Dec.2006 11:21

former ffriend of his

Hugo pinnell is a murderous, savage, barbaric man who should never be released from prison. I, he, and others, know he participated in, planned, or committed at least 7 murders in cold blood. All this righteous shit about his poor incarceration should speak to some of the relatives of people he murdered.