My brother's life at risk

James Earl Rivera Jr. was about to turn 17 year old in 2010 when Stockton, Calif., police fired a hail of bullets at him as he was driving, hitting him 19 times. Since then, his family has been organizing to demand answers from police and win justice for James.

But James isn't the only family member who is a victim of the criminal injustice system. His father, James Rivera Sr., is imprisoned at Salinas Valley State Prison, where he fears for his life after threats from prison staff. Here, James Sr.'s sister, Regina Sanders, speaks out about the abuses her brother faces locked up in the California prison system.

A California state prisonA California state prison

MY NAME is Regina Sanders, and I am writing on behalf of my brother, James Rivera Sr., whose life is being threatened by the California Department of Corrections.

In 2010, James' son and my nephew, James Rivera Jr., was murdered in cold blood at the age of 16 by the Stockton police. Now James Sr. is facing abuse and threats on his life at the hands of the California justice system.

James Sr. is an inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison. He was housed in B facility. The captain on B facility, D. Asuncion, and the assistant warden along with other staff have made an attempt to kill him and his cell mate, Craig Kevin, for successfully challenging an unlawful and unwarrantable write-up, or 115.

Already, my brother has sustained injuries, including a broken leg, since beating this 115. The prison staff placed James and Craig in administrative segregation (ad-seg) and are now conspiring with the ad-seg staff. Since they have been in ad-seg, the staff has driven another inmate to hang himself.

Now that James' time is up in ad-seg, the staff is trying to put him on the worst yard in the prison so that they can finish off what they didn't achieve. James and his cell mate need to be transferred from Salinas Valley State Prison before they are killed. The staff members who have violated my brother's rights need to be stopped immediately, before another inmate's life is taken.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

TO MAKE matters worse, the prison staff have repeatedly misled and disrespected me and my family on our visits to see James Sr. Recently, when I set an appointment for a contact visit, they gave me an appointment, but told me to be there 45 minutes early.

When my mother and I arrived at the prison an hour before the visit, the guard in the booth told us we were too early and to come back 15 minutes prior to our appointment. I told her that we were told to arrive 45 minutes early, and that I had the e-mail with the appointment on it, but she didn't want to see it.

When we got to the visit processing department, we were told that visits are first-come, first-serve, even if you have an appointment. So we stood in the line as instructed at that time. When they got to us, it was 45 minutes after our appointment. When we gave the officer our names, we were told that we weren't on the list.

I had to walk to the car and get the letter showing proof of the appointment. The officer gave us a number. When the processing officer got our information, she told us that our visit was terminated because we were an hour late, and that since my brother was in ad-seg, we were supposed to be there an hour early!

I explained everything that went on since we had arrived at the prison, and she gave me the worst attitude a person could give someone. So I asked to speak to the person in charge, and she too wasn't going to let us visit because my brother was in ad-seg, and he had to visit behind the window.

When I showed her the e-mail showing that the appointment was a contact visit, it turned out that she was actually the one who set the appointment as non-contact, but failed to state that it was a non-contact visit in the e-mail. She gave me another appointment to visit. I was finally able to visit that day.

For another visit, we arrived an hour early again and had no problem getting to the visiting process station. Five of us were there to visit. The officers asked for our names and the inmate's name. They told us that only three can visit and that my mother couldn't wear a necklace that didn't have a religious symbol on it, even though she got in with the same necklace during the last visit. We also saw other visitors with necklaces on that didn't have a religious symbols.

I put our IDs, certified letters and the birth certificate on the counter like they asked. We were the fourth people to get a number, but the last to be processed. I told the processing officer that we had a non-contact visit, but he still processed us last. When he called us up to the counter, I had my nieces with me, along with the proper paperwork.

At that point, the officer said to another officer that if he knew he had to enter children in the computer, he would have called in sick and then they started laughing. He also told me that my niece didn't need her ID and that he usually would throw them away but he would hold it this time, and the next time I come to visit I needed to have one of their forms so they would know that the letter was legit.

He was very rude and unprofessional. These are the problems I have to deal with just to get a visit with my brother.

Please help me stop the abuse and mistreatment of prison inmates. Contact Warden Randy Grounds at Salinas Valley State Prison and demand that the abuse stop and that James Rivera Sr. be relocated to another prison:

Randy Grounds, Warden
31625 Highway 101
Soledad, CA 93960