Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Coalinga State Hospital Refuses U.S. Mail To Detainee

**UPDATE**: Coalinga State Hospital has today (Jan. 11, 2008) released the brochures without comment to Mike St. Martin (see below)

Administration has Civil Detainee, Mike St. Martin, reports today that Hospital administration has refused to give him brochures from Friends & Family of California Civil Detainees sent by the U.S. Mail.
(download brochure)

He was told that his mail would have to be further "reviewed" by the Administration before a determination could be made if he would be allowed to receive it.

The ostensible reason for this "review" was stated by Officer Wallace to be that the words "Coalinga State Hospital" and a stylized depiction of the institution (which is part of the "Friends & Family" logo) appear in the brochure.

"This is an ongoing policy of the Hospital which claims that Detainees have no civil rights and that we only have the civil rights that they (the Hospital) gives us', said St. Martin. "This is according to Lieutenant Sharon Rogers and previous Clinical Director Gary Renzaglia."

"Hospital administration is having a really hard time coming to grips with the fact that we DO possess civil rights including the right to send and receive mail and to keep it from being read without a court warrant. The U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that we are not to be punished and that we are to be held in the least restrictive manner possible. What part of 'No, you won't abrogate our rights' don't they understand?".

Not only is this latest abridgment of Detainee civil rights in contravention of U.S. Federal Statutes but is also in defiance of California Department of Mental Health's own rules governing mail:

"Unit staff will deliver the mail to the Individual to whom it is addressed and, in accordance with the hospital's rules, open and inspect incoming mail for contraband, without reading written material, and in the presence of the Individual". California Department of Mental Health Administrative Directive: "SUPPORTIVE SERVICES ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTIVE NO. 624

The Federal Law on the subject reads as follows:

"Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both." TITLE 18, PART I, CHAPTER 83, § 1702 Obstruction of correspondence
As of this writing, Executive Director Norm Kramer could not be reached for comment.

No comments: