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44 Years Later, Redd Comes Home – An Inside Account



By Ruby Wilks

At age 63 and during a pandemic, Paul Redd begins to build his life outside of prison after 44 years of incarceration.

A succinct but impassioned summary of Redd’s experience in the system can be found on his lawyer Danielle Harris’ Twitter feed.

But the gist is: back in 1975, a San Francisco jury found then 19-year-old Oakland resident Redd guilty of first-degree murder of a local drug dealer, and he was subsequently sentenced to seven years to life in prison.

One of the two other men arrested for the same crime pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and testified at trial that Redd committed the murder. For this deal, he served no time in jail or prison whatsoever.

This man’s testimony was the only evidence against Redd, who has maintained his innocence since the beginning.

Redd spent more than 30 of his 44 years of incarceration in solitary confinement. He was kept alone in a concrete, windowless, poorly-ventilated cell for between 22 and 24 hours a day.

“Paul lived in conditions that were at the time the worst prison conditions in the United States,” said Charles Carbone, a prisoner rights attorney who represented Paul and other inmates in a class action lawsuit.

Paul, said the attorney, was forced to live in an environment “designed to maximize sensory deprivation, designed to basically maximize mental suffering, pain, and anguish, and for individuals to mentally decompensate as a consequence.”

Prison officials claimed to place Paul in the SHU because, despite a lack of any real evidence, they deemed him a Black Guerilla Family affiliate.

More likely, Redd was subjected to the SHU because of his prison reform work and because of his possession of political writings and materials, not because of any prison gang-related activity.

This all-too-common practice, termed at the time “gang validations,” gave CDCR the legal license to place people in solitary confinement for decades on end, not based on any overt criminal or unlawful activity, but because of a supposed gang association.

And “association” could be as simple as “having artwork or a book that supposedly had gang connotations associated with it, talking in a law library, [or] communicating through mail with people who supposedly had gang connections, even if you’re talking about the most innocuous, ordinary incident,” pointed out Carbone.

During his time in Pelican Bay’s Secured Housing Unit, Redd participated in the 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes making national news and demanding attention to the inhumane conditions of solitary confinement.

He later became a plaintiff in a prisoner-led class action lawsuit, Ashker v. Newsom (2015), that, among other reforms, ended indeterminate solitary confinement and the practice of “gang validations” in California prisons.

Despite serious weaknesses in the case against him, his impressive prison record and resume, his serious health conditions, and his solid re-entry plan, he was denied parole more than 18 times before he lost count.

Through this writer’s work with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office’s Post-Conviction Unit, I had the opportunity to speak with Redd about his experience with release through PC § 1170(d)—a new pathway to resentencing and release outside of parole boards—and with re-entry into society.

When Redd first heard that his lawyers would not be pursuing a Franklin hearing—where an attorney asks for a recall to present youth-related mitigating factors that were not introduced at the original sentencing—he was disappointed.

However, a few days later, when San Francisco Public Defender Danielle Harris came to visit him and explained that they were, instead, pursuing release through 1170(d), he cried tears of joy.

Redd was hopeful about this new path to freedom, but he was also skeptical. As the COVID-19 pandemic widely delayed court hearings, he feared that his 1170(d) would get pushed back.

Harris, however, was undeterred. She quickly began to assemble a package, strengthened by supporting letters from nurses, psychologists, and others who worked in a prison hospice center with Redd. Harris then submitted the package to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin recommended the court recall Redd’s sentence.

“I want people out now,” said Harris. “I feel like every day is a miracle that all our clients who are in prison survive.”

By mid-May of 2020, Redd said, “we had a conference call with the judge, and everything else is history. The judge vacated my murder conviction, gave me manslaughter credit for time served, and ordered I be released immediately. Within four or five days, I walked out of Vacaville.”

Stressing the importance of legislation and progressive district attorneys, Harris explained: “There are two things that made Paul’s release possible. Number one, 1170(d) was amended in 2018 to give the District Attorney in the county of conviction power to recommend resentencing to the court, whereas, previously, the only actor with power was CDCR and, until recently, they weren’t really using that power at all.

“The second thing that happened is that San Francisco voters elected Chesa Boudin,” Harris added.

Prison guards only allowed Redd’s lawyer, Harris, to meet him at the CMF prison gate, so Paul’s family and the rest of his legal support team, along with several camera crews, welcomed him home at a nearby park.

After Redd’s release, Harris helped him connect with the Five Keys Re-Entry Program in Oakland, California. The program staff is helping Redd get his Social Security, Medical, medication, and driver’s license in order.

Redd speaks highly of his experience with the Five Keys Re-Entry Program thus far. As he put it, “The program seems to be geared towards helping people re-enter society and get back into the community.”

During our phone conversation, Redd briefly transferred to a different line to take an incoming call from the Five Keys Program, who were calling to check in on him.

In addition to programmatic support, Redd has a strong family network and has developed meaningful personal and professional relationships inside and outside of prison.

Redd’s niece and nephew have helped him get a picture ID, look for housing, fill out a variety of applications, navigate unfamiliar technology, and get from place to place with their car.

While in the process of securing his own apartment, Redd has been living with his nephew. Redd recently met with the manager of an apartment building. He told me the meeting went well and that the manager provided him with an application. The problem is, the application requires one to have a good credit score.

“I don’t have any credit. I don’t have bad credit, nor good credit—which, I guess, that, in that sense, is good,” Redd explained. He continued, “My nephew is going to help me get a secured card, so I can start working on establishing credit.”

Redd’s criminal justice reform work and reputation as a jailhouse lawyer resulted in multiple job offers upon his release. He ultimately decided to accept an offer from American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Oakland, a social justice and activism organization.

Redd intimated a sense of loyalty towards AFSC since, for years, staff members have been letting him know that he could work there upon his release.

Although COVID-19 complications have made starting his job tricky, Redd plans to begin his work at AFSC soon and is looking forward to learning about the technological world he has been excluded from during his decades in prison.

Since his release, Redd has also received an invitation to help create a cancer support group at the San Francisco Transitional Clinic.

In 2015, Redd found out he had a tumor on the top of his right lung and was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Battling cancer inspired Redd to create a cancer support group in California Medical Facility in Vacaville, where he was quickly beloved by the patients, nurses, and staff.

As Redd explained, “It took me two and a half years to get the Vacaville cancer support group started. But once it got started, a lot of the cancer patients that joined the group were glad that it happened because now they finally had someone to talk to who experienced what they experienced going through chemo. So, I would like to continue that out here if possible.”

The group at the Transitional Clinic will likely begin via Zoom.

Since his release, Redd has been focusing on his health. His age and medical history place him in the high-risk group for COVID-19. His lengthy prison sentence has weighed heavy on his health. While at the California Medical Facility, for instance, Redd’s CPAP machine, which he uses for his sleep apnea, was taken because prison officials claimed that it can spread the virus around in the cells.

“Right now,” said Redd, “I’m just trying to feel my way around and make sure I’m getting everything in order, so I can take care of my diabetes. Since I’ve been out, it’s been out of whack. I used to have to be on a schedule. Now that I’m out of prison, I don’t have that schedule because I don’t have my own place, so hopefully I can get my own place and get my schedule back into place and then get my sugar levels back down to normal. I want to enroll in a gym, so I start working out again.”

Redd was given a 30-day supply of his medication when he was released. Now that his Medi-Cal application went through, he informed me that he will be able to start chemotherapy sessions out of custody.

When I asked Redd if he received mental health support during his incarceration, he responded, “none, none at all.”

When Redd re-entered the general prison population after spending 30 plus years in the SHU, he was not provided with any mental health services.

Redd is still baffled that he, and many others, can do 30 to 40 years in the SHU and come back into the general prison population without ever speaking with a mental health expert or even having someone “just ask how you’re doing,” as Redd said.

When he later sought out mental health support at CMF, he was told that since he was not on psych medication—“what they call triple CMS,” he told me—he wouldn’t be provided with mental health assistance.

So, Redd was forced to rely on his own devices. He used his “ability to socialize and to communicate with people” to aid his transition into the general population. On the outside, Redd continues to rely on the skills and mental strength he developed to survive in the SHU.

When asked how Paul managed to remain hopeful after decades of injustice, rejection, and denials, Carbone stated, “Paul’s humanity expanded as a consequence of being treated like an animal. And that’s a rare individual, who’s put in a cage in isolation who can come out and be even more kind, more approachable, more engaging—and that’s the rarity of Paul Redd.”

In Harris’ words, “He’s a really special person. Paul’s story writes itself. His resume is incredible.”

“As to how Paul survived and managed to thrive in the way that he did,” continued Harris, “I have no idea. I’m sure I wouldn’t have fared as well as he did under those conditions. One thing our systems of torture have proven is that human begins are so incredibly adaptable, and I’m constantly amazed by it.

“We did not find a broken person. We did not find a person who is uncomfortable with human connection. We found a warm and kind and generous person who loves life and people,” Harris explained, referencing the first time she met Redd in prison.

Redd’s prison reform work will continue now that he is out. He hopes to help others find a way to freedom through 1170(d). Additionally, he has some organizing in the works.

“One, I want to see if I can put together a team to work with me to file a class action lawsuit for money damages for all those decades they kept us in solitary confinement, like they did. It contributed to a lot of our health problems today—the sleep apnea, the cancer, etc.”

“The second thing I want to do,” continued Redd, “is to talk to a couple oncologists because I want to file another class action lawsuit on behalf of cancer patients that I believe developed cancer from asbestos exposure.” Redd has reason to believe that his cancer could have been caused by asbestos in the prisons.

As San Francisco Public Defender Danielle Harris wrote so perfectly in a Tweet about Redd, “Despite every effort made to break this man, he would not break.”

Redd’s resilience, his determination to advocate for justice on behalf of himself and similarly-situated others, and the strong support system inside and outside of prison walls that he has built and maintained can teach us a lot about how re-entry can work.

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Bad Credit

Loans for Bad Credit: Alternatives to High-Interest Loans



In the face of unexpected events, most Americans don’t have enough cash to cover their needs. Statistics estimate that more than half of all Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account.

It’s challenging to get through everyday life without expecting anything to go wrong. Any emergency — be it a car accident, a hospital visit, or even a broken refrigerator — will put Americans in trouble.

To add insult to injury, poor credit can make an emergency even more challenging. That’s where installment loans come in.

For consumers that have a bad credit score (below 630), installment loans can be the best option to get quick money. Installment loan funds are distributed all at once. Afterward, the repayment of the installment loan follows either a fixed monthly payment.

Online installment loans are ideal for emergencies as access to fast cash. Here’s everything you need to know before taking out an installment loan.

Online Installment Loan Basics

Installment loans are actually a broad category that includes many different kinds of loans, such as mortgage loans, car loans, and other personal loans. They tend to be long-term loans that require credit checks.

Payday loans are another type of installment loan. However, its structure is different. They must be repaid over a shorter period, have higher interest rates, but require no credit checks.

Installment Loans

As stated above:

  • Installment loans deliver quick cash in one lump sum

  • Installment loans require a credit check

  • Installment loans describe many different loan types

Furthermore, installment loan terms depend on the type of loan and can range from 3 years for car loans to 30 years for mortgage loans. In contrast, a personal installment loan lasts for approximately 12 months.

To get approval for any of the above loans, the individual will be subject to a credit check (more to know on that here: ) and a fairly long application process.

Installment loans offer an APR of 36% or below, and user payments can be made online, over the phone, or by check.

Another advantage of installment loans is that they help borrowers improve their credit rating — as long as they pay on-time. It provides immediate access to cash, while at the same time, it’s a means to an end toward recovering a bad credit score.

How well individuals can do often depends on the terms of the installment loan that they receive. Keep reading to get more advice on how to choose an installment loan that is right for you.

Choosing an Online Lender

Like any other loan, picking a lender requires a fair amount of research and work. It’s not going to be a simple task, and there are several factors that individuals need to look out for when picking the right loans.

Below are the most important features that individuals need to keep in mind when choosing an online installment loan.

Compare Rates

All the different installment loan options out there are going to offer different percentage rates. These range from 6% to 36%, and you should sift through all possible options to get the most favorable rates.

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Ideally, individuals should opt for the lowest rates to ensure that the monthly payments are as low as possible.

Online lenders can offer potential borrowers their interest rates ahead of time. This usually requires a soft credit check, which does not impact a borrower’s credit score.

However, applicants need to be careful, as different vendors have different requirements. Understanding these requirements will help avoid any mishaps.

Understand All Fees

Every vendor has different fees, these fees might have different names like an “organization fee” or a “service fee,” but they generally range from 1% to 6%.

In contrast, other vendors might charge a prepayment fee for early repayment. Under no circumstances should a borrower agree to a loan deal before the lender discloses all fees.

It’s up to the individual to be as vigilant as possible because certain vendors will keep some fees to themselves, and may not disclose them until the last minute.

To avoid any excess costs in the future, make sure to go over the contract in its entirety.

Choosing Manageable Terms

Installment loans offer a lot of advantages for needy consumers:

But, one thing to remember is this: the longer the loan term, the higher the interest individuals will pay. Taking longer terms might give borrowers more time to pay, but it also means that borrowers will have to pay more interest.

In contrast, shorter terms are harder to manage, but it means paying a lower interest rate. When choosing the right installment loan, individuals should calculate the monthly payment based on the term length.

Many online vendors offer software that automatically calculates the amount. Everyone should employ a strategy to assess different term lengths to see what monthly payments are the most manageable.

Vendor Perks

Not all vendors are the same, and it’s already established that they offer different rates for different prices. However, while already offering different rates, vendors also offer different perks — specific features tailored to the individual.

If the individual is consolidating debt, certain lenders will send loan money to creditors on behalf of the loanee. Other vendors offer the ability to change due dates or provide hardship plans if the borrower encounters any financial difficulties.

It’s crucial to consider all these factors before taking out an installment loan. It’s best to have everything working to your advantage with an already poor credit history before taking out an installment loan.

Our Top Picks for Online Installment Loans

There are hundreds of online installment loan options out there, and looking through all of them can be a hassle. Furthermore, those new to the industry won’t be able to identify scams or loans meant to exploit.


Upgrade is one of the best installment loan vendors for those with a bad credit score. They accept a minimum score of 600 and will provide potential applicants with an offer in minutes. Their APR rates range from 7.99-35.97% depending on the amount, duration, and purpose of the loan. Users can easily apply for loans and get ideas on rates using the company’s website.

Simple Fast Loans

Simple Fast Loans is also among the best installment loan vendors for individuals that have a bad credit score. They offer loans ranging from $200-$3,000. These loans have terms up to 5 years.There’s no prepayment penalty, and applicants will also get next day funding. To get an idea of the rates, users can easily apply using their website.


For users that have a credit score below 600, a great option to choose is LendingPoint. They accept a minimum credit score of 585 and offer loans for $2,000-$25,000. The APR rates for these loans are on the higher side ranging from 9.99-35.99%. Money becomes available to the applicant the next day, and there’s no prepayment penalty on the loan.


Another installment loan vendor for users that don’t have a good credit score is Avant. They require a minimum credit score of 580 and offer loans for $2,000-$35,000. The APR rate is between 9.95-35.99%, and they offer the ability to change payment dates. However, applicants will have to pay a loan origination fee, and there’s no option to include a co-signer on the loan.

Online Financing Options to Avoid

Online installment loans are a great option for individuals with bad credit scores, and, if used correctly, are a way to improve credit scores.

However, the same can’t be said for all online financing options, and certain ones are important to avoid.

Payday Loans

Payday loans function similarly to installment loans. In addition, they have recently been rebranded as short-term installment loans.

The loans are usually under $1,000 and are due on the next payday. With payday loans, an individual will have to either submit a post-dated check or provide access to the bank account.

It might sound relatively okay, but the issue with payday loans is that it’s nearly impossible to pay them back. Lenders will let individuals roll over the loans with more interest to pay the next day. Interest rates are typically 400% APR on these loans, and individuals get caught in the payday loan debt cycle.

No Credit Check Loans

These loans might seem like a good idea for those with bad credit scores, but they’re essentially just a debt cycle. The combination of high-interest rates, short terms, and lump sum repayment means that borrowers are stuck in a cycle of ever-increasing debt. It’s best to find loans that offer some sort of credit check and security to get the best terms.

Upfront fees

While certain loans might require a small percentage to process the application, some can be a complete red flag. There are plenty of up-front loan scams, and there are several signs that borrowers need to address. If a vendor asks for money upfront, then there’s a good chance it’s a scam.

Additionally, these issues tend to arise the most with vendors that don’t offer credit checks. Lastly, do enough research to recognize an offer that seems too good to be true.


Keeping all these things in mind, online installment loans are the best option for borrowers with a bad credit score. They are a useful resource and, if managed correctly, are a path to recovering a good credit score.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes

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Bad Credit

Build Mastercard Credit Card Review



When you have bad credit, it can be extremely hard to build it back up. To rebuild your credit, you need to open a new credit account, pay your bills on-time and keep it in good standing. But when your credit is bad, there are very few companies that are willing to approve you for a new credit card account. However, the Build Mastercard is specifically designed for people with bad credit. Let’s take a look at this card and see how it works.

How the Build Mastercard Works

This card is designed for people who have had serious credit problems, and it charges setup and maintenance fees to offset that risk. It is marketed as an affordable alternative to payday loans for customers who are trying to establish, strengthen or rebuild their credit history. It promises customers clear upfront pricing, no hidden fees, and tools that help them use and build credit wisely.

To open a new account, you will have to pay a one-time account setup fee of $53 and a membership fee of $72 annually. These set-up and maintenance fees will be charged to your account before you begin using your card, and will reduce the amount of credit that will be initially available. For example, if you receive a $500 line of credit, then your initial available credit will be $375, which is $500 minus the $72 membership fee and the $53 account setup fee.

Top Features:

Reports to major credit bureaus; initial credit limit of $400; fast application process with results in seconds

The late payment and returned payment fees are each $35, but thankfully, there are no over-the-limit fees or foreign transaction fees imposed on charges processed outside of the United States.

Another important aspect of the Build Mastercard is that it has no grace period. With most credit cards, you can avoid interest charges by paying your monthly statement balance in full. The period between the statement closing date and the payment due date is known as the card’s grace period. Since the Build Mastercard has no grace period, it will begin charging interest on purchases and cash advances on the date of the transaction. The standard interest rate for purchases and cash advances is 29.9% APR, which is a variable interest rate that can rise or fall with the Prime Rate.

As a Mastercard, this card is accepted worldwide at millions of merchants in nearly every country. Mastercard also offers a Zero Liability Protection policy. This means that even though the Fair Credit Billing Act allows card issuers to hold customers liable for a maximum of $50 in the event of fraud, you’ll never be responsible for any amount in the event of an unauthorized transaction. To utilize this policy, just take reasonable care to protect your card from loss or theft and promptly report any loss, theft or unauthorized charges to your card issuer.

Build Mastercard Advantages

This card is designed for applicants with bad credit. If you’ve had credit problems, then you will be far more likely to be approved for this card than you would for a card that wasn’t meant for those with bad credit. Unlike secured cards, the Build Mastercard doesn’t require that you pay a deposit and it will start off most accounts with a $500 line of credit (which will be reduced to $375 until you’ve paid the $72 membership fee and the $53 account setup fee).

The Build Mastercard is also a full fledged credit card, which will make it easier to rent a car or check into a hotel room. In contrast, those who have debit or prepaid cards can have difficulties when traveling and may have to submit a cash deposit to rent a car or check into a hotel.

Top Features:

Reports to major credit bureaus; initial credit limit of $400; fast application process with results in seconds

And although this card has numerous fees to open an account, it has no foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards, and even some premium reward cards, still charge a 3% foreign transaction fee on all charges processed outside of the United States. So whether you are making a quick trip across the border, or taking a vacation overseas, you can use this card anywhere without being assessed an additional fee for each transaction.

Finally, the Zero Liability policy is one of the best protections offered by a credit card. This allows you to use your card with the confidence that you won’t have to pay any of the cost of fraudulent transactions.

Build Mastercard Disadvantages

The $72 membership fee and the $53 account setup fee are expensive, and some applicants may want to consider a secured card instead. There are plenty of good secured cards listed here. While you may have to pay an even higher deposit to open a secured card account, that money is refundable when you close your account in good standing. The 29.9% APR interest rate is high, but not out of line for a card marketed to those with bad credit. Finally, the lack of a grace period means you will always have to pay some interest on your charges, even when you pay your statement balance in full.

Bottom Line

The Build Mastercard is specially designed for people with bad credit, and it has its own distinct advantages and drawbacks. By carefully understanding how this card works, you can decide if it is right for your needs.

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Bad Credit

Are There Mileage Limits on Rent to Own Cars?



Rent to own cars, also called lease to own vehicles, don’t come with mileage restrictions. They can be a good option for bad credit borrowers who need a car fast. We cover how these agreements work, and how they’re different from other vehicle buying options.

Rent to Own Cars and Mileage Limits

Are There Mileage Limits on Rent to Own Cars?Traditional leased cars come with mileage limits, but rent to own vehicles don’t come with this restriction. Traditional leasing companies place mileage limits on their cars to preserve their value, typically so that they can be sold at a later date as pre-owned vehicles.

Many people think that leasing and rent to own cars are similar, but the truth is that they’re very different. Leasing involves making payments on a vehicle for around two to three years, and then returning it at the end of the lease. With rent to own cars, the main goal once you make all the payments is ownership.

Another large difference between leasing and rent to own vehicles is that leased cars are almost always brand-new vehicles. Rent to own cars are always used.

How Rent to Own Vehicles Work

To get into a rent to own vehicle, you need to find a dealership that offers in-house financing, also called buy here pay here (BHPH) used car lots. These dealers are also lenders, so they don’t rely on third-party lenders for financing. This also means that you usually get to skip the credit check.

Since there typically isn’t a credit pull, borrowers with poor credit may have a better chance of qualifying for a rent to own vehicle than a traditional auto loan or lease. The biggest factor that determines your eligibility for these agreements is your income. Some rent to own cars don’t require a down payment, but the payments are likely to be higher than an auto loan in the long run.

You also don’t have to worry about interest charges because rent to own agreements aren’t loans. You’re not borrowing an amount from a lender to pay for a vehicle – you’re making payments on the car to the dealership until you’ve paid what you owe.

Bad Credit Auto Loans vs. Rent to Own Cars

A big downside to rent to own vehicles is that there sometimes isn’t a chance for credit repair. If the dealer didn’t check your credit reports to determine your eligibility for the car, then they may not report your on-time payments. Anything that isn’t reported on your credit reports doesn’t impact your credit score, so it doesn’t help improve it.

Bad credit auto loans from subprime lenders, however, are always reported. These lenders do check your credit reports, but they consider more than that. Sometimes, credit reports can’t tell the whole story, so subprime lenders use other facets of your situation to determine your ability to repay a car loan. They examine your income and residence history, require a down payment, ask for personal references, and more.

Subprime auto loans are crafted for bad credit borrowers who want to get on the road to credit repair. While rent to own vehicles are a good short-term solution, it doesn’t usually solve the bigger issue: bad credit.

Repair the Root of the Problem With a Car Loan

When you’re struggling with poor credit, it’s tempting to go for a quick solution like a rent to own car. But if you want to repair your bad credit, consider subprime financing. These lenders are signed up with special finance dealerships, and we can help you find one in your local area.

Here at Auto Credit Express, we have a network of special finance dealers all over the country. Get matched to one near you by filling out our auto loan request form. There’s never an obligation, and we’ll get right to work!

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