NEW: Oregon's fires have wreaked havoc on the state’s incarcerated population, with thousands now packed into a single overcrowded prison that was already a major Covid-19 hotspot.

I spoke to families + attorneys about the worsening catastrophe:

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/s…
Some key points:

-1,450 evacuees were moved into the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), which already had more than 2,000 prisoners + has had 143 Covid cases.

-Evacuees are sleeping on the floor and on emergency beds throughout OSP in indoor facilities not used for housing.
-Problems are already escalating, with families reporting people packed into makeshift sleeping quarters, some struggling to breathe due to smoke, prisoners facing long waits for food, fights breaking out.

-Populations are reportedly mixing for meals + lines to make phone calls.
-The fiance of a prisoner who was evacuated to OSP, said her fiance was crowded into a sleeping area in a dirty wing that had not been used recently, and that the prisoners were given small mattresses that they slept on right next to each other.
-The evacuated prisons had pending Covid tests this week, meaning prisoners had been tested but were still waiting for results. One of the evacuated facilities had four prisoners in quarantine for Covid at the time of the evacuations.
The state's corrections department admits the cramped conditions at the facility could further spread the virus, with a spokesperson saying, “We did the best we could … but prison is just not designed to keep people 6ft apart and [the fires] make things more difficult.”
Early in pandemic, ODOC said Gov. Kate Brown had to release 40% of prisoners (5,800 ppl) if she wanted to allow distancing + reduce Covid risks.

Brown refused + instead granted 57 commutations.

As a result, Covid continues to spread inside + fire evacs make things much worse.
I ask the Governor's office if she is considering additional releases in the wake of fires + continued Covid threats. Brown's spokesperson said she would continue to make "case by case" decisions, but has ordered a second analysis of potential releases.

That's due Sept 18.
Groups like @carenotcops, @CR_PDX, @eughungerstrike
@blackandpinkpdx @ProjectSiskiyou are again demanding mass immediate releases.

“They have to act now to avoid killing more people,” said Rose Harriot, whose partner is incarcerated in eastern Oregon.

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More from @SamTLevin

14 Jul
I sat in on Britney Spears's new testimony today – more disturbing allegations + emotional pleas from the singer to end the conservatorship and remove her father.

“I’m here to get rid of my dad + charge him with conservatorship abuse ... I was always extremely scared of my dad."
She alleged that her hair vitamins and coffee were taken away from her “Ma’am, that’s not abuse, that’s just fucking cruelty. Excuse my language but it’s the truth.”

She added: “They were always trying to make me feel like I’m crazy, which I’m not.”
She alleged that her hair vitamins and coffee were taken away from her: “Ma’am, that’s not abuse, that’s just fucking cruelty. Excuse my language but it’s the truth.”

She added: “They were always trying to make me feel like I’m crazy, which I’m not.”
Read 11 tweets
12 Jul
NEW: I spent time with unhoused people at Venice Beach as the city moves to clear the boardwalk encampments.

Some are fearful + distrustful of the city's housing promises. Many are exhausted of the political attacks + anti-homeless campaigns.

(thread)

theguardian.com/us-news/2021/j…
Dawn and Kia Little have been living on the streets of LA for 16 months. The couple ended up at the beach after they were evicted from a different Venice encampment.

“If we’re not here, then I don’t know where we’ll go,” Dawn told me. “I guess we’d find another sidewalk.”
Dawn + Kia were part of the Penmar golf course camp, which faced intense backlash from neighbors. The city swept the camp in Nov, saying it successfully housed the 70 people living there.

But the couple ended up back on the street.

kcrw.com/news/shows/gre…
Read 23 tweets
14 Jun
NEW: maps of every anti-trans law proposed + passed in the US this year.

-37 states, more than 110 bills
-13 bills enacted
-Most targeting kids, banning sports access + healthcare
-others: bathroom bans + restricting ID changes

w/ @just_rashida

theguardian.com/society/2021/j…
The 13 laws that have passed: 8 sports bans, 2 healthcare bans, 2 bathroom bills and 1 birth certificate bill.

Tennessee leading with 4 anti-trans laws, 3 in Arkansas, 2 in Montana (click thru for details: theguardian.com/society/2021/j…). data compiled by @freedom4allusa for @guardian
SPORTS: At least 64 sports ban bills introduced in 36 states. Seven states now have laws banning trans girls or all trans kids from sports teams. In addition, South Dakota has an executive order banning trans kids from sports (click thru for details: theguardian.com/society/2021/j…)
Read 8 tweets
29 May
NEWS: Gov Newsom has pardoned Kao Saelee + Bounchan Keola, two formerly incarcerated firefighters facing deportation to Laos, which they fled as kids.

“This is all I wanted – a second chance. We came to this country to have a better life," Boun told me.

theguardian.com/us-news/2021/m…
This is huge for both men who spent decades in California prison for teenage convictions and then at the end of their sentences last year were transferred directly to ICE for deportation. Both told their stories from ICE jails, prompting national outrage + calls for their pardons
Both of them had fled persecution as children, resettling in the US after the Vietnam war. They grew up in poverty + under CA harsh sentencing laws, were sent away for decades over adolescent cases. While in prison, they served the state as firefighters making a few dollars a day
Read 9 tweets
24 May
I hung out with The Linda Lindas.

“It’s good because I get to scream a lot – all of the anger that builds up, it’s good to let it out.”

theguardian.com/music/2021/may…
“I grew up with the DIY culture of punk, going to punk shows, making mixtapes – with the idea that anyone can do whatever,” -Eloise, 13, finishing 7th grade. “Punk is anything we want it to be. I like DIY because it’s whatever you feel like. It doesn’t have to be a certain way.”
“It was my first experience of racism + I didn’t really know how to respond,” - Mila, 10, who wrote Racist, Sexist Boy with Eloise after a boy told her he was avoiding Chinese people. “The song lets people know they are not alone. It felt good to write. It made us feel better.”
Read 8 tweets
20 May
NEWS: Kao Saelee, the incarcerated California firefighter who was facing deportation to Laos, has been released from ICE. He spent 22 yrs in prison + then ten months in ICE jail, after CA handed him over to immigration authorities.

Today, he finally reunited with his family
Kao spent two yrs fighting wildfires as a CA prisoner, but due to @GavinNewsom's policy of sending people to ICE for deportation at the end of their sentences, Kao was flown to Louisiana ICE jail last year, instead of returning to his CA family. My story:
theguardian.com/us-news/2020/s…
Because CA partners with ICE, Kao has been stuck in detention during Covid, facing deportation to Laos, a country his family fled as refugees when he was two years old.

“I paid my debt to society, and I think I should have a chance to be with my family,” he told me last Sept.
Read 14 tweets

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