Aryan Brotherhood Leader Sues Sacramento Sheriff Over County Jail Conditions

Photo courtesy CDCR

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A 58-year-old man facing federal charges for a variety of illicit prison activities including murder conspiracy whilst serving as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood’s leadership commission is currently suing the Sacramento sheriff.

In a handwritten lawsuit filed last week from his cell at the Sacramento County Main Jail, Ronald Yandell accuses outgoing sheriff Scott Jones of violating his constitutional rights and isolating him for 23 hours a day, the Mercury News originally reported.

“Plaintiff was never given written notice or any type of hearing to be heard on why he was being punished with extreme isolation,” Yandell wrote, referring to himself in the third-person. “Plaintiff is facing a potential death penalty case and is not allowed contact visits with his legal team.”

Yandell, whose cell was raided last year on the suspicion of tampered locks, was named in two separate indictments among over a dozen alleged conspirators in 2019. He’s currently facing multiple murder conspiracy charges, with prosecutors citing evidence from the tapping of illegal prison phones. There was originally some conversation of Yandell possibly having access to an unregulated phone due to his legal representation of himself. He was extracted from his original confinement at the Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City and was taken into federal custody in Sacramento.

Yandell alleges the county jail’s visitation and phone systems are inadequate, barring him from meeting with his assigned co-counsel. He also says he’s been denied outside recreation since October of 2020, alleges harassment from jail employees, and says employees denied him access to a chaplain and vegetarian diet, which he says he needs for religious purposes. Federal prosecutors have denounced similar claims made by Yandell’s co-conspirators as “misleading” and “impossible to square with objective reality.”

Yandell previously penned an op-ed alleging retaliation from prison officials after he and numerous other alleged gang leaders led a statewide hunger strike that eventually led to the ending of California’s practice of solitary confinement as a punishment for gang membership. He says that the new federal charges he’s facing were brought against him as a form of ‘payback’ for the hunger strike.

He wrote in part “Until they set me up with bogus charges this past January, I was teaching the impact classes, which brought many of us closer, talking about things we never thought we would repeat to another person. Many of our stories are the same; different skin color is all.” He later hosted a successful interracial baseball game and sought to improve race relations in prison, showing an apparent renouncement of his racist past.

The federal charges Yandell and others face include a number of prison-originated plots including fatal stabbings of prisoners, smuggling of contraband such as methamphetamine and saw blades, and various murder plots.

If Yandell is acquitted in his federal case, he will be transferred back to Pelican Bay where he will serve out his life sentence for fatally shooting two 38-year-old men following an argument at a home in El Sobrante.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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