[Ppnews] Hugo Pinell's Jan 17 Parole Hearing
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 5 10:52:16 EST 2009
Yogi Bear, 1982
Yogi Bear, 2001
Kiilu Nyasha interview with Hans Bennett
Political Prisoner Hugo Pinell To Have Parole Hearing on January 17
--Kiilu Nyasha, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Dan Berger call for support
by Hans Bennett
January 4, 2009
Earlier in 2008, I interviewed San Francisco journalist and former
Black Panther <http://www.myspace.com/official_kiilu>Kiilu Nyasha
about political prisoner <http://www.hugopinell.org/index.htm>Hugo
Pinell, the only one of the San Quentin Six that is still in prison
<http://www.abu-jamal-news.com/docs/kiiluyogi.mp3>(Listen to the
interview here). This audio interview complements
Nyasha wrote previously in 2004.
Today, in an email interview, Nyasha told me that "Hugo L. A. Pinell,
nicknamed 'Yogi Bear,' will go to Board again on January 17, 2009.
His last Board appearance was November 14, 2006 when he was denied
two years, despite having no rule infractions for 24 years. Make that
nearly 27 years clean time now. One of George Jackson's closest
comrades, Yogi has now been incarcerated in California prisons for
almost 45 years, nearly 39 in solitary confinement, the last 19 in
the Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit, or 24/7 lockup). The fact
that he is still in great physical shape and hasn't lost his mind
under such prolonged, tortuous conditions is testimony to his amazing
spiritual and physical strength. Please write a letter to the Parole
Board in support of Yogi's release -- at least to a mainline facility
near San Francisco so his mother, 85, and other family/friends can
have contact visits, and he can see the sun again."
As featured in the
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEtzTSH4Mrw>embedded video above, on
January 2, I interviewed Philadelphia-based activist and author
<http://www.danberger.org/>Dan Berger, who is featured in the new
Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free US
Political Prisoners. This segment about Hugo Pinell is part of a
longer interview with Berger that will be released in the coming months.
Below is an article written by death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal
from 2006, the last time Pinell was eligible for parole
<http://prisonradio.org/YogiHugoPinnellMumia.htm>(Listen to the
You can also, <http://prisonradio.org/HugoYogiPinnell.htm>listen to
the audio and read the transcript from the June 15, 2006 KPOO Prison
Focus discussion about Pinell with Luis Bato Talmante, Nedzada
[Handukic], Kiilu Nyasha, and Gordon Kaupp.
For more information, go to
<http://www.hugopinell.org/>www.hugopinell.org. Letters can be sent to:
California Board of Parole Hearings
P.O. Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036
ATTN: Robert Doyle - Chairman
Ref: Hugo L. A. Pinell - #A88401
[Col. Writ. 7/30/06] Copyright '06 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Few of us know the name, Hugo Pinell.
That's because the last time it was in the newspapers was probably in
1971, or 1976, when he was tried as a member of the famous San
Quentin Six, six young Black prisoners facing assault charges
stemming from battles with prison guards at the notoriously
repressive California prison.
Yet that wasn't the beginning, nor the end of things.
Hugo Pinell (known as 'Yogi' by his friends) came to the US as a
12-year old, from a small town on Nicaragua's east coast. If he knew
then the hell he would face in America, would he have left the land
of his birth?
We'll never know.
He came. And he spent the last *42* years in prison -- 34 of them in
solitary! He hasn't had a write-up in 24 years.
Now, his family and lawyer are seeking his parole after a lifetime in
some of the most repressive joints in America.
Why so long? Why so many years? The answer, not surprisingly, is
politics. Hugo was a student and comrade of the legendary Black
Panther Field Marshall, the late George Jackson, with whom he worked
to organize other Black prisoners against the racist violence and
prison conditions of the '60s and '70s.
Consider this: when Hugo was sent to prison, Lyndon Baines Johnson
was president, bombing in the Vietnam War was intensifying, and
Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive!
Of his introduction to the prison system, Yogi would later write:
"In 1964, a white woman accused me of rape, assault and kidnap. I was
19 years old. I turned myself into the authorities to clarify the
charges against me which I knew to be falsified. The deputies beat me
several times because the alleged victim was white, and the Public
Defender and the Judge influenced my mother into believing that I
would be sentenced to death unless I pled guilty. At their insistence
and despite my innocence, I pled guilty to the charge of rape, with
the understanding that I would be eligible for parole after 6 months.
When I arrived at the California Department of Corrections, I was
informed that I had been sentenced to three years to *life*."
California's notoriously unjust indeterminate sentencing has led, in
part, to the present prison overcrowding that now threatens to
bankrupt the system. California's prisons are roughly 172% over
capacity, and parole is a broken, nonfunctional agency.
That's not just my opinion, but California's state senator, Gloria
Romero (D.-Los Angeles) has called the present regime a "failure,"
particularly the parole system.
Despite California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2004 promises of
major reforms of the parole system, which would lead to significant
prisoner population reductions, the incarceration rate has soared.
Today, there are a record 168,000 people in 33 state prisons, nearly
double the rated capacity.
As Hugo Pinell seeks parole, California is spending $7.9 billion --
(yeah--with a 'b'!) in the next fiscal year, an increase of $600
million a year for a prison system that has one of the worst
recidivism rates in the nation (60%!).
Clearly, the so-called "Correctional and Rehabilitation" Department
has failed in its mission to do both.
Support parole for Hugo Pinell. 42 years is more than enough.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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