From: Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/05/09/2737459/the-public-eye-guards-accused.html
By Charles Piller
Published: Sunday, May. 9, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 9, 2010 – 12:09 pm
First of two parts
Jason Brannigan’s eyes widened as he relived the day he says prison guards pepper-sprayed his face at point-blank range, then pulled him through the cellblock naked, his hands and feet shackled.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Brannigan recalled gasping in pain and humiliation during the March 2007 incident.
“They’re walking me on the chain and it felt just like … slaves again,” said the African American inmate, interviewed at the Sacramento County jail. “Like I just stepped off an auction block.”
Brannigan, 33, said the incident occurred in the behavior modification unit at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, where he was serving time for armed assault. He is one of more than 1,500 inmates who have passed through such units in six California prisons.
A Bee investigation into the behavior units, including signed affidavits, conversations and correspondence with 18 inmates, has uncovered evidence of racism and cruelty at the High Desert facility. Inmates described hours-long strip-searches in a snow-covered exercise yard. They said correctional officers tried to provoke attacks between inmates, spread human excrement on cell doors and roughed up those who peacefully resisted mistreatment.
Many of their claims were backed by legal and administrative filings, and signed affidavits, which together depicted an environment of brutality, corruption and fear.