Home / Localpage 13

Local

Vigil for Shaylene “Light Blue” Graves Held at Women’s Prison Thursday Night

CHINO-CORONA, CA- On Thursday, June 1 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., advocates and families will convene a vigil and rally at the prison, California Institution for Women (CIW) in Chino, marking one year since the devastating death of 27-year-old African American, Shaylene “Light Blue” Graves. Graves was imprisoned at CIW at the time of her death and was only six weeks away from release.  For days, Graves begged guards to move her to a different cell when she felt endangered, but CIW staff ignored her.  Since 2013, at least 15 women have died at CIW due to multiple forms of abusive practices which amount to psychological torture.  These practices include ignoring desperate pleas for help by imprisoned people in mental health and medical crisis.  Despite changes in CIW’s top administration in 2016, reports of ongoing psychological torture at CIW continue.

Sheri Graves, mother of Shaylene, has been working with advocates at the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) to bring more attention to the human rights crisis at CIW.  “CIW staff failed to protect my daughter’s life,” she stated.  “The fact that Shaylene’s death is part of an ongoing pattern of disregard for human life at CIW makes this loss [even] more devastating. Shaylene was an exceptional person with a big heart and so much promise. She was looking forward to her release and was working on her vision to begin a non-profit organization called Out of the Blue to support people coming out of prison. In memory of Shaylene and all the people who have lost their lives at CIW, we demand full transparency, full accountability, and an end to these torture practices.”

CIW’s suicide rate is more than 8 times the national rate for people in women’s prisons, and more than 5 times the rate for all California prisons.  “Shaylene’s death is part of a pattern of neglect and psychological torture at CIW,” said Colby Lenz, an advocate at CCWP.  “CIW uses “suicide watch” confinement as another form of solitary confinement, which has been identified as a form of psychological torture by incarcerated people, human rights experts, and legal advocates.  As part of this torture, CIW punishes people in “suicide watch” confinement with intensive isolation that blocks them from visits and calls from families and friends.  CIW also regularly fails to notify families about the status of their endangered loved ones, including blocking access to their legal and medical files even after death.  Currently, “suicide watch” is overcrowded and CCWP continues to receive weekly reports of suicide attempts at CIW.”

Shaylene Graves died shortly after 35-year-old Erika Rocha hung herself at CIW in April 2016 after being forced in “suicide watch” solitary confinement. “I don’t want any other family to go through what my family has gone through,” stated Rocha’s sister, Freida Rocha.  Advocates and families demand the end of all forms of psychological torture within CIW, including the end of “suicide watch” confinement practices.  As part of fulfilling the demand for transparency and accountability, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) should make available public reports on compliance with the August 2016 Coleman settlement court order regarding mental health services and suicide prevention protocols.  They also demand that those in confinement have full access to visits and calls from families and friends, and the immediate transfer of all medical and legal information to family members if their imprisoned loved ones are in life-threatening situations or have died while incarcerated at CIW.

County Nutrition Program Partners with Faith Based Community to Promote Health & Wellness at Gospel Jam

Gospel Jam VendorsIn efforts to impact chronic diseases like obesity and Type 2 diabetes among low-income populations, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Program is partnering with the faith-based community to host a series of events and activities on June 4 that support healthy lifestyles and communicate positive health messages. 

Ecclesia Christian Fellowship will host a free Body & Soul Health and Wellness Gospel Jam that will feature gospel singers, delicious healthy food samplings from the Champions for Change Soul Food Cookbook, praise dancers, and free goodie bags for all attending. Dr. Joshua Beckley, Senior Pastor, Ecclesia Christian Fellowship, will be the event’s keynote speaker. The Jam begins at 5 p.m. at the church’s 1314 E. Date Street location in San Bernardino.

“The Body & Soul program is designed to raise awareness among faith-based organizations about the serious health disparities that put their parishioners at greater risk of obesity and other chronic health issues like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and certain types of cancer,” said Teslyn Henry-King, Program Coordinator for the county’s Nutrition Program. “We want the entire San Bernardino community to join us for this free event as we both reflect on our current condition and rejoice in the power to change for the better.”

During the Body & Soul Jam program, the Nutrition Program also will release the findings from a quantitative health assessment that surveyed approximately 150 parishioners from three partner churches.  The initial findings, which indicate a significant presence of hypertension, obesity, diabetes and stress among the congregations, will be used by church leadership and health ministries to guide and influence the development of programs and initiatives to address the health issues identified in the survey.    

Henry-King added, “We believe that understanding the health conditions we’re facing in our community will better prepare us for making healthy change happen. We wanted the Body & Soul Gospel Jam to also be a time for assessment and self-improvement, as well as a time for beginning to build a legacy of health in San Bernardino County.”

The Public Health Nutrition Program is also calling on all faith-based leaders throughout the county to participate in Perfecting the Temple Sunday on June 4 by delivering inspirational messages that connect healthy living with spirituality and encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles.

“We want faith-based leaders regardless of their religion or denomination to partner with us and our Perfecting the Temple Sunday by delivering important messages that will help people throughout San Bernardino County live healthier lives,” said Bronica Martindale-Taylor, Health Education Assistant for the county’s Nutrition Program. “Because so many families are touched by faith-based organizations, we see them as very important partners in our fight against chronic diseases in the county.”

She added that for this year’s event, five churches already have pledged their support and plan to participate in Perfecting the Temple Sunday. Those churches include The Light Church, San Bernardino First Church of the Nazarene, Ecclesia Christian Fellowship, The Kingdom Worship Center, Our Lady of Hope, and Ecclesia Spirit Lead Fellowship of Churches International. The Nutrition Program is also working with churches on other healthy lifestyle programs ranging from weight-loss programs, community walking events, church gardens, to mobile vans used for health screenings.     

According to Martindale-Taylor, the Nutrition Program plans to make Perfecting the Temple Sunday an annual event.  “Over time, we want Perfecting the Temple Sunday to help us create a legacy of health throughout San Bernardino County,” said Martindale-Taylor. 

The Countywide Vision, www.sbcounty.gov/vision, identifies wellness as one of the key elements of a complete county. The Vision is emphasizing wellness in its recently lunched Vision2BActive campaign, http://wp.sbcounty.gov/vision2bactive/.

For more information about Perfecting the Temple Sunday, the Body & Soul Health and Wellness Gospel Jam, and the health assessment survey, contact Donna Panganiban, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, at 909-388-5689, or Bronica Martindale-Taylor, Health Education Assistant, at 909-649-6900.

The Champions for Change Body & Soul program is funded by USDA SNAP-Ed, an equal opportunity provider and employer. Visit www.CaChampionsForChange.net for healthy tips.

 

90th Commencement Ceremony of San Bernardino Valley College-Graduation Class 2017, A Reflection of Great Beginnings

Alumni, whom are also professors at San Bernardino Valley College. (Photo Credit: Lou Coleman)

Alumni, whom are also professors at San Bernardino Valley College. (Photo Credit: Lou Coleman)

By Lou Coleman

On Friday, May 26, San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC) bid farewell to another Graduating Class.   It was a wonderful graduation – the largest class of seniors, great speeches, a huge crowd, many alumni in attendance, plenty of emotion, and no rain as we gathered in the heart of the campus.

The graduation ceremony was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by students from many cultures, countries and walks of life. Many have overcome personal, financial or other barriers to achieve their success and now have reached their graduation from SBVC, a venerable 90-year old institution.

We salute the graduates from all the different schools and divisions of San Bernardino Valley College and we look forward to seeing them follow in the footsteps of thousands who have made a difference in the community, the city, the country and the world.

“Sending you a day full of sunshine, a heaven filled with rainbows, and a pocket full of dreams. May the future ahead of you be as wonderful as you are.” [Judith Wibberley]