September 11, 2017
Stop the Inhumane Prison Transfer of Manuel Syphanh Khiobouakham
By: Diverse Elders

by Phat McGlothlin. This post originally appeared on the Asian Prisoner Support Committee.

Manuel with his mother and siblings (Photo credit: Phat McGlothlin)

Stop the inhumane prison transfer of my son.

My name is Phat McGlothlin. I am the mother of Manuel Syphanh Khiobouakham, who is currently serving a 7-year state prison sentence.

About two months ago, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) transferred my son from Vacaville, California to Eloy, Arizona — ripping apart my family’s connection to my son.

I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand during the aftermath of the American War in Vietnam and the Secret War in Laos. During the Secret War, Laos was bombed more heavily than any other country in history: nearly one ton of bombs were dropped for every person in Laos. My family came to the U.S. when I was just two years old. My family experienced the traumas that come from war. But still, we built a new home for ourselves in northern California. Keeping our large family and tight-knit Laotian community close together played a huge role in adjusting to our new lives after the war.

Regular visits from Manuel’s loved ones are key to his growth and our family’s healing.

Manuel began serving his sentence at CMF state prison in Vacaville, CA, about a 30-minute drive from my home in Martinez. He received weekly visits from me, his siblings, and friends. Consistent support is crucial in helping a young man continue his personal growth, maturation, and education while he is in prison, especially as he prepares to reenter his community. CDCR stripped this away from us when they transferred him to a for-profit private prison in Arizona.

CDCR’s transfer has traumatized Manuel, our family, and our entire community, particularly his grandparents.

Manuel was raised in part by his grandparents, and because of the transfer, they are no longer able to see him in person. Manuel’s grandmother suffers from dementia and is wheelchair-bound. She used to visit Manuel often and would become lucid and focused upon seeing him, but now she may never see her grandson again. Manuel’s grandfather is gravely ill and has been hospitalized for the past couple weeks. Manuel must be returned to California so that he may be with his family during this dire time.¬†Manuel’s transfer is inhumane.

According to CDCR’s regulations, Manuel was ineligible for transfer.

  • Title 15 Section 3379 also states that involuntary transfer priorities include inmates who have not had a visit with a family member in the past year. Manuel has had consistent visits in the past year from me, other immediate family members, and close friends.
  • Title 15 Section 3379 states that an inmate is not eligible for involuntary transfers if the inmate has a serious medical condition. Manuel has a permanent metal fixture in his leg where he lost 50% of his bone mass, and he also has had tumors that required removal and medical monitoring.


Take Action!

Write or call Scott Kernan (CDCR Secretary) requesting that Manuel be transferred back to California

Sample template for e-mail:


Dear Scott Kernan,

I am writing in support of Manuel Syphanh Khiobouakham [CDCR# BB6561] to be transferred back to California so he can be with his ailing grandfather and family. Manuel has recently been involuntarily transferred from CMF to a private prison in Arizona.

While at CMF, Manuel received weekly visits from his family and friends. Manuel’s grandparents are in frail health, and his grandfather has been in the hospital for the past several weeks, where family members stay by his bedside 24 hrs a day. Manuel was raised by his grandfather who is a national hero for having saved so many Laotians by bringing them to Thailand. Manuel must be returned to California so that he may be with family at this dire time. Manuel’s successful parole and return to his family and larger Laotian community community requires close family ties, not banishment to Arizona.

This transfer harms Manuel, his family, and the Laotian community to which he belongs.

Please act humanely and rescind the transfer in a timely manner.


[Your Name]


Sample template to call:

Call Counselor I. Cameron at 916-464-3520

Sample script: I am calling on behalf of Manuel Khiobouakham [CDCR# BB6561] to request that he be transferred back to California so he can be with his ailing grandfather and family. While at CMF, Manuel received weekly visits from family. Family members and community advocates have consistently stated the importance of in-person family visitation to people who are incarcerated. Research studies indicate that family contact during incarceration reduces the chances of recidivism.

For more information, contact the Asian Prisoner Support Committee at



The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.