Decades of “good behavior” not enough for prisoners in California’s SHU’s according to CDCR: Proposed policies include mandatory cognitive restructuring programs

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is proposing new regulations on “Security Threat Groups” (STG) or “gangs,” which will be implemented after a regular Public Hearing, to be held on April 3rd.  The Step-Down-Program, which CDCR has been executing in a pilot program, is apparently being implemented into CDCR’s vast number of regulations.
The implementation of the official Step-Down-Program comes while a second Legislative Hearing on February 11th has been organized, where CDCR’s “gang management” policies will be discussed, or as it is officially called on the agenda: “CDCRs Proposed New Policies on Inmate Segregation.” 
What is worrying about all these regulations and rules when we scan through them to see if there are any ameliorations for those inside the SHU’s  is, that CDCR keeps spinning the fact that human rights are being abused by keeping people inside lockdown units, in segregation, not only for months, but years, even decades on end, without there being any violent behavior by those people kept in these secure housing units. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, wrote a statement in 2013 in which he stated that these prison units can amount to “torture:” 

The independent investigator on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment urged the US authorities to ensure that “solitary confinement is only imposed, if at all, in very exceptional circumstances, as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and with established safeguards in place.” In Mr. Méndez’s view, “its application must be subject to independent review, and inmates must undergo strict medical supervision.”

One example of someone in one of the California SHU’s is Hugo Pinell, who has been incarcerated since 1964, and who has been in solitary confinement for four decades. He has not had any disciplinary infraction in 32 years. There is no reason to keep him in the Secure Housing Unit other than that CDCR is waging a war of propaganda against people like Pinell and so many others, for instance like the prisoners who started the 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes protesting indefinite solitary confinement, who have been critical and outspoken of the prison industrial complex. The latest news is that in early February of this year, Hugo Pinell was allowed to make a phone call to his family for the first time since 40 years…
Jeffrey Beard: This is not solitary confinement
In response to an increasing display of criticism on SHU-policies used by CDCR, Secretary Jeffrey Beard wrote an op-ed during the hunger strike in August of 2013, in which he made a few bold statements without documentation on which he based the quotes used.

Beard tried to portray the SHU’s in three prisons as having “windows in the cells that allow for direct sunlight.” He also wrote: 

“At Pelican Bay, all SHU cells have skylights. In all of the facilities, inmates in the SHU have radios and color TVs with access to channels such as ESPN. They have weekly access to a law library and daily exercise time. Many have cellmates; they can earn degrees; they can send and receive letters; and their family and friends can visit them every weekend. SHU inmates receive the same meals and portions as general population inmates. This is not “solitary confinement,” in that prisoners can have visitors and, in many cases, interaction with other inmates.”

Of course all the examples Beard mentions can be countered by the experiences of prisoners and their families and friends in their daily lives in the real prisons in California. But Beard, whose theories do not seem to be tested to real life in the SHU’s he directs, was hired by CDCR to provide spin and propaganda, countering claims of torture. His job is to see to it that CDCR gets its money and feeds its union members in the powerful CCPOA-lobby(California Correctional Peace Officers Association), which even pays Governor Jerry Brown so that he will do as the CCPOA tells him.
In a statement on CDCR Today, a blog which posts CDCR’s press releases, the following was also stated on August 26th 2013:

CDCR does not utilize “solitary confinement.” Additionally, the length of an indeterminate SHU assignment is now determined by individual inmate behavior. It is now possible for an indeterminate term to be reduced to 3-4 years. Moreover, STG associates will no longer be placed in a SHU based solely upon their validation.

Behavior
We can ask ourselves why a person in prison who has been without disciplinary infractions for 32 years, can’t be commended and should have been transferred to a place where he can have contact visits and a less harsh environment? This logical and humane thought was also one of the demands of the hunger strikers, who formulated 5 core demands, of which nr 1 is:

End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse – This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status, and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.

The response given by CDCR to this first of the core demands was:

Individual Accountability. Response. This issue has already been addressed through implementation and adoption of the STG and Step-Down programs.

But of course this short answer to the decades of torturous conditions in the SHU’s is a spin to make us all believe CDCR really listens to demands. In fact, CDCR has come up with a different idea of “behavior change:” Cognitive Restructuring, making the Step-Down-Program very long and without guarantees that people will actually be removed from these tortuous conditions. There are also no safeguards, such as an independent commission to oversee CDCR’s managing of their Step-Down-Programs.

Coercive journaling, or ‘Cognitive Restructuring’-propaganda

Under these mandatory Cognitive Restructuring programs, prisoners in the SHU have to fill out ‘journals.’ These  journals were derived from Cognitive Restructuring theories that seek to ‘correct wrongful thinking.’ Some law enforcement groups have taken this programming over: for instance the American Community Corrections Institute (ACCI) works with these programs.

In New Mexico, Cognitive Restructuring was a cause for ACLU-NM to take action against it being implemented in supermax prisons.

“What is disturbing, and at the root of the ACLU lawsuit, is the use of segregation in concert with this program: if you don’t give the right answer, you get more time in lockup. … It is sold as a self-imposed hypnotism for quitting habits, overcoming insomnia and bettering life. Put in a prison situation, where the wrong answer nets an inmate punishment in the form of time in solitary, cognitive restructuring becomes brainwashing.” (The Hate Factory, by G. Hirliman, p.xi).

The program is like a forced conversion to a religion, the religion of Cognitive Restructuring, with Stanton Samenow (author of Inside the Criminal Mind) as its high priest.

Prisoners in the SHU have written about this psychological belief and spoke out against making this mandatory inside the SHU’s in order to progress to “general population.” Here they write:

“And while the new policies will result in some prisoners being released to general population, these new policies do not represent a pathway to general population or even a less restrictive housing environment, as the CDCR is quick to claim for certain prisoners.

Specifically though, it is the CDCR’s attempt to brainwash us all through their behavior modification program. And that is exactly what the cognitive restructuring program is.We have had the opportunity to see and read the self-directed journals. They are insidious.”

Was this what the people inside California’s SHU’s went on three hunger strikes for?
On Jan. 31st,the Sacramento Bee posted an article about the proposed Step Down Program regulations, in which we read:

“The new program lets gang associates have their gang validation removed from their record after completing the minimum three-year rehabilitation program and going six additional years without a disciplinary charge related to gang behavior.

Those who are considered gang leaders would have to complete [sic] remain without a gang-related disciplinary violation for at least 11 years after completing the program before the gang designation could be removed by a prison committee.”


Those locked up in SHU’s in California’s prisons can ask themselves: ‘Is this what the three hunger strikes to protest the policies that lead to indefinite solitary confinement, being locked down permanently, were suffered for?’ To still do 11 (14) years under threat of being returned to the SHU, until a prisoner no longer has a picture of a dragon or an Aztec God in his or her cell? Also, what is a “gang-related disciplinary violation”? A ‘wrong’ book or drawing in your cell? That is not an act of violence people on the outside might consider a danger to security.

CDCR is spinning the whole story their way again, of how they have labeled people in a gang a “Security Threat Group,” and have created solitary confinement units to (so they try to convince us) combat gangs, while convincing the people using propaganda which can be summarized as “Look how evil ‘gang members’ are. You, STG-member/Associate can be saved, sinner!” CDCR wants us to believe in their supreme religion of Cognitive Restructuring, and the need to place people in lockdown/segregation/solitary confinement indefinitely.

With this coerced journaling, CDCR attempts to manipulate the thoughts of those inside, many of whom are 40+, have been educating themselves, and do not need to be ‘restructured.’ What kind of a new belief is this? Not all people inside are and think alike, which is another dogma CDCR wants us to believe.

Of course people need to get out of the SHU if they can. But the CDCR has been playing a game to set their agenda and it is not as good as it sounds, because basically this will cost a lot more time, money (for instance, for the journaling: each journal costs $2.70) plus they use this method to tell the people outside: “look, with the help of these cognitive restructuringprograms, they have a chance to become better again.” (see for instance for a background and examples of questions in these journaling tactics here).

As Mutope Duguma (47), who himself is incarcerated inside the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU, already wrote in 2012:

“If anyone thinks that those of us held in solitary confinement units need to go through gang management programs at the ages of 40 to 70-plus years, they are only fooling themselves.

There are NO gang members or gang bangers in the “short corridor” at Pelican Bay, only grown men who came into these institutions at very young ages, who have educated themselves, and who in many cases were never gang members from the get go. What you have back here are political prisoners, jail house lawyers, strong minded influential prisoners who understand the games correctional officers and officials play. 

Those of us who did come into these prisons with a backward mindset do not adhere to that gang nonsense anymore. It’s crazy to tell us, who’ve been in solitary confinement units from 10 to 40 years, that we’ve got to go through a “step down program,” or SDP, in order to get out, when we’ve been held illegally and subjected to physical and psychological torment throughout our stay in these torture chambers.”


It would not be surprising at all if Jeffrey Beard, who himself has an education in Psychology, was behind this and had the Change Companies, who publish these journals, step in as ‘saviors.’

If CDCR wanted these programs and really wanted people to move through step-down programs, they could have done so decades ago, but they apparently did not want this.

Three hunger strikes were necessary to get CDCR to reconsider its indefinite SHU / solitary confinement / permanent lockdown plans.

Therefore, CDCR has had to come up with this Step-Down-Program to look good, in the propaganda of a tax-payer-funded Department, and not to let down their powerful lobby of the CCPOA. CDCR should have talked with the prisoners and listened, and they should have acknowledged, that being kept in solitary confinement / administrative segregation / indefinite lockdown for a month, a year, a decade, or more, is torture and not something a judge ordered in a court of law.

It would be good if everyone was aware what games CDCR is playing with their propaganda-machine. This is an evil game. It is based on convincing the public outside and inside to believe CDCR, the torturer, is the only party to have a say in how to solve a torture program they have been conducting since decades. We should demand decency and honesty from CDCR.
 Feb. 10, 2014
By CaliforniaPrisonWatch.org

CDCR Implements New Brainwashing Tactic, [possibly] Mandatory ‘Journaling,’ as Part of Step-Down Program

Reblogged from: NCTTCorSHU.org:

Dec. 18, 2013

This piece was written as a follow up to two previously published essays (see: Legislative alert: CDCR’s Step-Down Pilot Program is in fact systematic, mandatory brainwashing  and: Creating Broken Men, pt 2) on the mandatory brainwashing by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) of thousands of people confined in Secure Housing Units (SHU’s). 
——————————-
A recap of the discussion we started here:
1. One of our brothers who has been in the SHU for 25 years was taken to the review board and they attempted to bribe him with the promise of transfer to another prison and contact-visits in Step 3 of CDCR’s Step-Down-Program (SDP) if he agreed to participate in Step 2 for six months – most centrally the “self-directed journal” outlined in Section 700.2 [p.42-45] of CDCR’s “Security-Threat-Group-Pilot-Program” – their hope being if he does it, then countless other younger, more vulnerable prisoners can be herded into this brainwashing program. He of course refused.
2. We had an opportunity to review one of the journals (The Con Game) and it’s even worse than we thought – well, more accurately, it’s exactly what we knew it would be: a blatant character invalidation and brainwashing tool.
3. Most disturbing of all, they’ve announced a director’s rules change to provisions of CCR Section 3040, which introduces mandatory brainwashing for EVERY PRISONER IN CDCR – called “cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)” – and attaching it to this same regulation that governs mandatory work and education assignments while confined to CDCR.
I think I may have been unclear as to what we were speaking of as it relates to these journals. “Interactive journaling” (for which “The Change Companies” has a registration in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) is just one component of the “Cognitive Restructuring ” [or “brainwashing”] Program” described in paragraph 700.2 of the Step-Down-Program (SDP) p.42-45.
The 21 Journals are simply the first phase of  “… an integrated, cognitive behavior change program…” If this first Journal theme is any indication, the primary purpose of these Journals is “character invalidation,” validating conservative authoritarian views as “responsible thinking and beliefs,” and developing a psychological profile by which to alter the core psychology of the subject.
There is much more involved in this, but these primary components are necessary in any form of brainwashing. What makes this so insidious is they use language that actually seeks to characterize sociological phenomena like poverty or educational underdevelopment as absolutely irrelevant factors in the subject’s decision to violate the state “law” or rebel against personal property – and it’s solely and completely the subject’s “fault;” and this runs contrary to all objective sociological and economic research and evidence available. For example, the Journal The Con Game begins by stating:

“Changing your criminal behavior is a tough job… in order to begin making positive changes to the way you think and act, you must first break through your con game. This journal will help you recognize your faulty beliefs and encourage you to change your behavior. .. Be careful! Answer honestly. Don’t be a victim of your own con game.”

It goes on to a section “Don’t fall for myths… that support the con game,” which is a collection of conservative, right-wing political views on social issues overly simplified and couched in unambiguous absolute language.
For example:

“ Myth: Criminals are the victims of society. They are products of dysfunctional families, abusive childhoods, bad neighborhoods, poor schools, and an unfair economic system. “My criminal behavior isn’t my fault. I just learned to survive the best way I knew how.” Truth: Each person is responsible for his or her own thinking and behavior. Many people grow up in difficult circumstances and lead responsible, crime-free lives. Task: Explain how you have practiced this myth in the past.”

The real truth is, both of these views have a direct impact on the viable choices and ultimate decisions of the underclass whether “the law” is a barrier to their survival. The choice between starvation and theft is an easy one – the human imperative of survival will always win out. There are not “many” people who grew up in underclass communities who lived “crime-free lives” –  the underground economy in most underclass communities is as legitimate as the “mainstream” economy. This is a sociological fact. This absolutist view – this black and white notion of human survival in capitalist America is the sole province of the conservative right and simply ignores empirical socio-economic data and proof.
These journal-authors continue to seek to impose a supply-side solution to a demand-driven problem; this covers 2 very different types of social behavior: predatory crimes (robbery, home invasion, car-jacking) and market-based crimes (drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling, etc.) – neither can be significantly reduced from the supply-side. “Supply & demand” in this case is a question of social conformity vs. human need. “Supply” in the case of ‘predatory’ crimes is the number of people (poor) beyond the threshold of social conformity due to economic need and “demand” is the relative socio-economic conditions and/or desperation compelling them to act to relieve that economic distress.
As long as the conditions (social & economic, i.e. poverty, disproportionate concentrations of wealth, lack of opportunities, hopelessness, etc.) which compel low income populations to commit predatory crimes exist, there will be enough of the poor willing to “break the law” to meet their needs….  And they know this.
At the same time, there has never been a single case in history where a black market was defeated from the “supply”-side. From prostitution to prohibition, from gambling to illicit drugs – the story is the same. Supply-side controls act, much like price supports in agri-commodities, to encourage production and increase profits. At best a few mid-level intermediaries get knocked out of business. But as long as demand persists, the market is served more or less as before. In the meantime the failure to “win the war” on this or that vice becomes a pretext for increasing police budgets, expanding law enforcement powers, pouring more money into the voracious maw of the prison industrial complex, and apparently funding wholesale brainwashing programs to condition guys to believe none of this is true and it’s just all their fault.
These journal-editors go on to explain your “barriers to change…” They state, 

“If you want to make lasting, positive life changes, you will want to carefully cultivate your thoughts and behaviors. The first step is to recognize those negative or criminal traits… If you don’t make a strong and consistent effort to change these beliefs and behaviors they will continue to lead you towards … criminal activities.”

They list 8 “barriers” (entitlement, insecurity, manipulation, selfishness, lying, cutting corners, superiority, and dominance) then ask you to read their descriptions of each, admit you conduct yourself like this, then “Give an example of how you might think of act this way.” This is a classic character validation – to successfully complete this section you must state you are an insecure, entitled, manipulative, selfish, lying, superior, domineering, corner-cutter – a piece of scum.
They go on to state: 

“Go over your answers you have given in this section, now use the space below to describe those areas you are willing to change today to drop the con game.”

Now men like us don’t even think this way, and to be honest, this process is aimed at these youngsters, not us.
The journal-editors go on to ask you to explain (give an example):


          You are good at convincing people of your point of view
          Are you good at coming up with things people want to hear most?
          Are you successful at getting people to trust what you say when you are lying?

As this goes on and on, basically you have to explain how you’re a manipulative liar – classic character invalidation; they even ask you to admit you’re like a reptile:

“A chameleon is a reptile that can change its color so as to blend in with its surroundings. How has your past behavior been similar to the actions of a chameleon? Explain.”

Et cetera for 22 pages. They even go so far as to instruct you to ignore your instincts to resist this conditioning, stating:

“Feelings of fear and doubt are part of being human. As you begin to make positive changes, these feelings will appear from time to time… It will be helpful if you fully accept who you are today… you have an opportunity to continue along the path toward responsible thinking and behavior. Maintaining positive change requires you to concentrate on continually challenging your beliefs and actions. All the work you are doing will allow you to reach a point of inner peace. Accept the real you, not the “con” you.”

Just the words themselves are chilling. I am a revolutionary, a progressive, a righteous man – my beliefs and actions are just and correct, they would subject much younger, less developed, and more impressionable men to this process transforming them into docile, subservient, broken slaves parroting the ideas and beliefs of the Tea Party Republican caucus.
Again, this is just the preparatory stage, conditioning the mind of the subject to accept he is just a scumbag because he was born a scumbag and his only hope is to acknowledge this, denounce himself and adopt their predetermined set of “responsible beliefs, thinking, and ideas” and you don’t have a choice in the matter.
This matter is so sick, they accompany the words with imagery designs to impress upon your subconscious mind the brainwashing objectives they seek you to adopt. As I told you in a previous communique “The Change Companies” have their copyright registration notice on page 2 which includes a trade-marked “process.” However, it has been redacted. It looks like this (see ill.):
A covered -up trademark “process”
So they don’t even want us knowing what process is being used against us. This is one of the reasons we need to get as much information as we can on “The Change Companies.” 

It is our understanding that they do have this same “process” being used in other states, but only California is making itcompulsory. If someone wants to subject themselves to systematic brainwashing techniques – by all means feel free; the U.S. has become ever more complacent in accepting behavior modification in their daily lives in everything from weight loss and anger management – to stopping smoking – but these things are both mild and most importantly voluntary– what we’re talking about here is a radical, 4 year long (1 year at minimum – if you start in step 4) alteration of the core psychology of tens of thousands of prisoners to reflect the attitudes and beliefs of authoritarian conservatism, of the state and interests of its ruling class (to be docile, submissive to authority, long suffering toward exploitation and socio-economic disenfranchisement, and above all to not seek any change in the system itself – to ask their status and role of oppressed man/woman).
I sincerely do not believe anyone has looked into the legality of this program – no more than they looked off into the NSA’s practice of spying on every American in the U.S. and most of the rest of the world either.
The COMPAS Program

The “Compas Program” (which is part of the “cognitive behaviorial therapy” initiative they’ve just made mandatory for everyone in CDCR with a release date) begins with a “compass assessment” quiz which’ answers will be used to not simply discern which brainwashing components to employ against the subject – but to build a forensic profile of the subject’s friends, family, and community. 

“Compas” stands for “Correctional Offender Management and Profiling for AlternativeSanctions.” This is truly sinister and diabolical what is going on here in California.
Some samples of questions this COMPAS assessment asks to people who have to do these journals:
Family of origin:
Question 3) How is your relationship with parents (parental figure) and / or siblings?
Peers:
Q. 11) In the last couple of years before this incarceration, how many of your friends / aquaintances were taking illegal drugs?
Substance abuse:
Q. 22) Did you use heroin, cocain, crack or meth as a juvenile?
Residence / Stability:
Q. 24) In the last 12 months before this incarceration, how often did you move?
Social environment:
Q. 34) In the neighborhood you lived in before this incarceration, did some of your friends or family feel they needed to carry a weapon to protect themselves?
Q. 37) In the neighborhood you lived in before this incarceration, was it easy to get drugs?
Education:
Q. 39) What were your usual grades in High School?
Vocation:
Q. 51) Thinking of your financial situation prior to this incarceration, how often did you have conflict with friends/family ove rmoney?
Q. 56) Thinking of your financial situation prior to this incarceration, how often did you have barely enough money to get by?
Leisure / recreation:
Q. 65) In your leisure time prior to this incarceration, how often did you feel bored?
Social isolation:
Q. 69) “I felt lonely.”
Criminal personality:
Q. 82) To get ahead in life you must always put yourself first.
Anger
Q. 83) Some peopel see me as a violent person.
Q. 86) If people make me angry or lose my temper, I can be dangerous.
Criminal attitudes
Q. 88) A hungry person has a right to steal.
Q. 89) When people get into trouble whti the law it’s because they have no chance to get a decent job. 
Q. 92) When things get stolen from rich people they won’t miss this stuff because insurance will cover the loss.
Q. 96) Many people get into trouble or use drugs, because society has given them no educatioj, job or future.
With this information they compile a profile to determine which brainwashing techniques and programs will best achieve the ends they seek – and then enroll you forcibly. If you refuse, they write you a 115 for “Refusing a direct order” – or in case of the Step-Down-Program  – leave you in Step 1. 
No better representation of authoritarian excess exists than CDCR’s brainwashing programs.
Not only do CDCR want to be able to march into those Legislative Hearings in February trumpeting how they have this program underway and men are going for it – they want to use men like us to convince all these other men that it’s okay to submit to this also.
Written on Dec. 18th 2013 in a letter to the webmaster. 
—-
What you can do:

Protest this making mandatory of psychological “therapy” that collects all personal information and uses it to manipulate the person in prison even more:
Write today January 7th (or just write and make your opinion known!):
There will be a public hearing on this on Jan. 7, 2014, at 10-11 a.m. in the Kern Room at 1515 S St., North Building, Sacramento.

To: CDCR Regulation and Policy Management Branch P.O. Box 942883 Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
RPMB@cdcr.ca.gov
Re: CCR Title 15, Section 3040 new rules changes relating to Section 700.2 of the Step Down Program [p.42-45]

CDCR Implements New Brainwashing Tactic, [possibly] Mandatory ‘Journaling,’ as Part of Step-Down Program

Reblogged from: NCTTCorSHU.org:

This piece was written as a follow up to two previously published essays (see: Legislative alert: CDCR’s Step-Down Pilot Program is in fact systematic, mandatory brainwashing  and: Creating Broken Men, pt 2) on the mandatory brainwashing by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) of thousands of people confined in Secure Housing Units (SHU’s).

Re: CCR Title 15, Section 3040 new rules changes relating to Section 700.2 of the Step Down Program [p.42-45]

——————————-

A recap of the discussion we started here:

1. One of our brothers who has been in the SHU for 25 years was taken to the review board and they attempted to bribe him with the promise of transfer to another prison and contact-visits in Step 3 of CDCR’s Step-Down-Program (SDP) if he agreed to participate in Step 2 for six months – most centrally the “self-directed journal” outlined in Section 700.2 [p.42-45] of CDCR’s “Security-Threat-Group-Pilot-Program” – their hope being if he does it, then countless other younger, more vulnerable prisoners can be herded into this brainwashing program. He of course refused.

2. We had an opportunity to review one of the journals (The Con Game) and it’s even worse than we thought – well, more accurately, it’s exactly what we knew it would be: a blatant character invalidation and brainwashing tool.

3. Most disturbing of all, they’ve announced a director’s rules change to provisions of CCR Section 3040, which introduces mandatory brainwashing for EVERY PRISONER IN CDCR – called “cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)” – and attaching it to this same regulation that governs mandatory work and education assignments while confined to CDCR.

I think I may have been unclear as to what we were speaking of as it relates to these journals. “Interactive journaling” (for which “The Change Companies” has a registration in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) is just one component of the “Cognitive Restructuring ” [or “brainwashing”] Program” described in paragraph 700.2 of the Step-Down-Program (SDP) p.42-45.

The 21 Journals are simply the first phase of  “… an integrated, cognitive behavior change program…” If this first Journal theme is any indication, the primary purpose of these Journals is “character invalidation,” validating conservative authoritarian views as “responsible thinking and beliefs,” and developing a psychological profile by which to alter the core psychology of the subject.

There is much more involved in this, but these primary components are necessary in any form of brainwashing. What makes this so insidious is they use language that actually seeks to characterize sociological phenomena like poverty or educational underdevelopment as absolutely irrelevant factors in the subject’s decision to violate the state “law” or rebel against personal property – and it’s solely and completely the subject’s “fault;” and this runs contrary to all objective sociological and economic research and evidence available.

For example, the Journal The Con Game begins by stating:

Changing your criminal behavior is a tough job… in order to begin making positive changes to the way you think and act, you must first break through your con game. This journal will help you recognize your faulty beliefs and encourage you to change your behavior. .. Be careful! Answer honestly. Don’t be a victim of your own con game.

It goes on to a section “Don’t fall for myths… that support the con game,” which is a collection of conservative, right-wing political views on social issues overly simplified and couched in unambiguous absolute language.

For example:

Myth: Criminals are the victims of society. They are products of dysfunctional families, abusive childhoods, bad neighborhoods, poor schools, and an unfair economic system. “My criminal behavior isn’t my fault. I just learned to survive the best way I knew how.” Truth: Each person is responsible for his or her own thinking and behavior. Many people grow up in difficult circumstances and lead responsible, crime-free lives. Task: Explain how you have practiced this myth in the past.

The real truth is, both of these views have a direct impact on the viable choices and ultimate decisions of the underclass whether “the law” is a barrier to their survival. The choice between starvation and theft is an easy one – the human imperative of survival will always win out.

There are not “many” people who grew up in underclass communities who lived “crime-free lives” –  the underground economy in most underclass communities is as legitimate as the “mainstream” economy. This is a sociological fact. This absolutist view – this black and white notion of human survival in capitalist America is the sole province of the conservative right and simply ignores empirical socioeconomic data and proof.

These journal-authors continue to seek to impose a supply-side solution to a demand-driven problem; this covers 2 very different types of social behavior: predatory crimes (robbery, home invasion, car-jacking) and market-based crimes (drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling, etc.) – neither can be significantly reduced from the supply-side.

“Supply & demand” in this case is a question of social conformity vs. human need. “Supply” in the case of ‘predatory’ crimes is the number of people (poor) beyond the threshold of social conformity due to economic need and “demand” is the relative socioeconomic conditions and/or desperation compelling them to act to relieve that economic distress.

 As long as the conditions (social & economic, i.e. poverty, disproportionate concentrations of wealth, lack of opportunities, hopelessness, etc.) which compel low income populations to commit predatory crimes exist, there will be enough of the poor willing to “break the law” to meet their needs….  And they know this.

 At the same time, there has never been a single case in history where a black market was defeated from the “supply”-side. From prostitution to prohibition, from gambling to illicit drugs – the story is the same. Supply-side controls act, much like price supports in agri-commodities, to encourage production and increase profits. At best a few mid-level intermediaries get knocked out of business.

 But as long as demand persists, the market is served more or less as before. In the meantime the failure to “win the war” on this or that vice becomes a pretext for increasing police budgets, expanding law enforcement powers, pouring more money into the voracious maw of the prison industrial complex, and apparently funding wholesale brainwashing programs to condition guys to believe none of this is true and it’s just all their fault.

 These journal-editors go on to explain your “barriers to change…” They state,

If you want to make lasting, positive life changes, you will want to carefully cultivate your thoughts and behaviors. The first step is to recognize those negative or criminal traits… If you don’t make a strong and consistent effort to change these beliefs and behaviors they will continue to lead you towards … criminal activities.

They list 8 “barriers” (entitlement, insecurity, manipulation, selfishness, lying, cutting corners, superiority, and dominance) then ask you to read their descriptions of each, admit you conduct yourself like this, then “Give an example of how you might think of act this way.” This is a classic character validation – to successfully complete this section you must state you are an insecure, entitled, manipulative, selfish, lying, superior, domineering, corner-cutter – a piece of scum.

 They go on to state:

Go over your answers you have given in this section, now use the space below to describe those areas you are willing to change today to drop the con game.

 Now men like us don’t even think this way, and to be honest, this process is aimed at these youngsters, not us.

The journal-editors go on to ask you to explain (give an example):

–          You are good at convincing people of your point of view
–          Are you good at coming up with things people want to hear most?
–          Are you successful at getting people to trust what you say when you are lying?

 As this goes on and on, basically you have to explain how you’re a manipulative liar – classic character invalidation; they even ask you to admit you’re like a reptile:

 A chameleon is a reptile that can change its color so as to blend in with its surroundings. How has your past behavior been similar to the actions of a chameleon? Explain.

Et cetera for 22 pages. They even go so far as to instruct you to ignore your instincts to resist this conditioning, stating:

Feelings of fear and doubt are part of being human. As you begin to make positive changes, these feelings will appear from time to time… It will be helpful if you fully accept who you are today… you have an opportunity to continue along the path toward responsible thinking and behavior. Maintaining positive change requires you to concentrate on continually challenging your beliefs and actions. All the work you are doing will allow you to reach a point of inner peace. Accept the real you, not the “con” you.

Just the words themselves are chilling. I am a revolutionary, a progressive, a righteous man – my beliefs and actions are just and correct, they would subject much younger, less developed, and more impressionable men to this process transforming them into docile, subservient, broken slaves parroting the ideas and beliefs of the Tea Party Republican caucus.

Again, this is just the preparatory stage, conditioning the mind of the subject to accept he is just a scumbag because he was born a scumbag and his only hope is to acknowledge this, denounce himself and adopt their predetermined set of “responsible beliefs, thinking, and ideas” and you don’t have a choice in the matter.

A covered -up trademark “process”

This matter is so sick, they accompany the words with imagery designs to impress upon your subconscious mind the brainwashing objectives they seek you to adopt. As I told you in a previous communique “The Change Companies” have their copyright registration notice on page 2 which includes a trade-marked “process.” However, it has been redacted. It looks like this (see ill.):

o they don’t even want us knowing what process is being used against us. This is one of the reasons we need to get as much information as we can on “The Change Companies.”

It is our understanding that they do have this same “process” being used in other states, but only California is making it compulsory. If someone wants to subject themselves to systematic brainwashing techniques – by all means feel free; the U.S. has become ever more complacent in accepting behavior modification in their daily lives in everything from weight loss and anger management – to stopping smoking – but these things are both mild and most importantly voluntary– what we’re talking about here is a radical, 4-year long (1 year at minimum – if you start in step 4) alteration of the core psychology of tens of thousands of prisoners to reflect the attitudes and beliefs of authoritarian conservatism, of the state and interests of its ruling class (to be docile, submissive to authority, long suffering toward exploitation and socioeconomic disenfranchisement, and above all to not seek any change in the system itself – to ask their status and role of oppressed man/woman).

I sincerely do not believe anyone has looked into the legality of this program – no more than they looked off into the NSA’s practice of spying on every American in the U.S. and most of the rest of the world either.

The COMPAS Program: Correctional Offender Management and Profiling for Alternative Sanctions

The “Compas Program” (which is part of the “cognitive behavioral therapy” initiative they’ve just made mandatory for everyone in CDCR with a release date) begins with a “compass assessment” quiz which’ answers will be used to not simply discern which brainwashing components to employ against the subject – but to build a forensic profile of the subject’s friends, family, and community.

This is truly sinister and diabolical what is going on here in California.

Some samples of questions this COMPAS assessment asks to people who have to do these journals:

Family of origin:

Q: How is your relationship with parents (parental figure) and / or siblings?

Peers:

Q: In the last couple of years before this incarceration, how many of your friends / acquaintances were taking illegal drugs?

Substance abuse:

Q: Did you use heroin, cocaine, crack or meth as a juvenile?

Residence / Stability:

Q: In the last 12 months before this incarceration, how often did you move?

Social environment:

Q: In the neighborhood you lived in before this incarceration, did some of your friends or family feel they needed to carry a weapon to protect themselves?

Q: In the neighborhood you lived in before this incarceration, was it easy to get drugs?

Education:

Q: What were your usual grades in High School?

Vocation:

Q: Thinking of your financial situation prior to this incarceration, how often did you have conflict with friends/family owe money?

Q: Thinking of your financial situation prior to this incarceration, how often did you have barely enough money to get by?

Leisure / recreation:

Q: In your leisure time prior to this incarceration, how often did you feel bored?

Social isolation:

Q: “I felt lonely.”

Criminal personality:

Q: To get ahead in life you must always put yourself first.

Anger:

Q: Some people see me as a violent person.

Q: If people make me angry or lose my temper, I can be dangerous.

Criminal attitudes:

Q: A hungry person has a right to steal.

Q: When people get into trouble with the law it’s because they have no chance to get a decent job.

Q: When things get stolen from rich people they won’t miss this stuff because insurance will cover the loss.

Q: Many people get into trouble or use drugs, because society has given them no education, job or future.

With this information, they compile a profile to determine which brainwashing techniques and programs will best achieve the ends they seek – and then enroll you forcibly. If you refuse, they write you a 115 for “Refusing a direct order” – or in case of the Step-Down-Program  – leave you in Step 1.

No better representation of authoritarian excess exists than CDCR’s brainwashing programs.

Not only do CDCR want to be able to march into those Legislative Hearings in February trumpeting how they have this program underway and men are going for it – they want to use men like us to convince all these other men that it’s okay to submit to this also.

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Written on Dec. 18th 2013 in a letter to the webmaster of NCTTCorSHU.org.

Brainwashing Techniques Used by the Oppressor

By Coyote, Coyote Calling

My greetings of solidarity and respects are extended to all comrades on both sides of the razorwire. I just wanted to take this time to reproduce this list of CIA brainwashing techniques that are being used against the imprisoned and the oppressors. This is going on in all prisons across the nation, but especially here at Ely State Prison, Nevada’s notorious maximum security lock-up. I’ve been here for over 11 years and I’ve seen all of these tactics being used against us; and so I felt compelled to make a reproduction of this list so that awareness can be raised!

Here’s a list of 25 tactics being used on us daily:

1) Physical removal of prisoners to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or seriously weaken close emotional ties.

2) Segregation of all natural leaders.

3) Use of cooperative prisoners as leaders.

4) Prohibition of group activities not in line with brainwashing objectives.

5) Spying on prisoners and reporting back private materials.

6) Ticking men into written statements which are then shown to others.

7) Exploitation of opportunities and informants.

8) Convincing prisoners that they can trust no one.

9) Treating those who are willing to collaborate in far more lenient ways than those who are not.

10) Punishing those who show uncooperative attitudes.

11) Systematic withholding of mail.

12) Preventing contact with anyone non-sympathetic to the method of treatment and regimen of the captive populace.

13) Disorganization of all group standards among prisoners.

14) Building a group conviction among the prisoners that they have been abandoned by and totally isolated from their social order.

15) Undermining of all emotional supports.

16) Preventing prisoners from writing home or to friends in the community regarding the conditions of their confinement.

17) Making available and permitting access to only those publications and books that contain materials which are neutral to or supportive of the desired new attitudes. While making it hard or impossible to gain access to radical, political, educational or empowering literature and books.

18) Placing individuals into new and ambiguous situations for which the standards are kept deliberately unclear and then putting pressure on him to conform to what is desired in order to win favour and a reprieve from the pressure.

19) Placing individuals whose willpower has been severely weakened, or eroded, into a living situation with several others who are more advanced in their thought-reform, whose job is to further undermine the individual emotional supports.

20) Using techniques of character invalidation, i.e. humiliations, revilement, shouting, to induce feelings of guilt, fear and suggestibility; coupled with sleeplessness and exacting prison regimen and periodic interrogational interviews.

21) Meeting all insincere attempts to comply with cellmates’ pressures with renewed hostility.

22) Rewarding of submission and subservience to the attitudes encompassing the brainwashing objective with a lifting of pressure and acceptance as a human being.

23) Providing social and emotional supports which reinforce the new attitudes.

24) Divide and conquer techniques to quell riots and disruptions. When one prisoner is acting out or causing disruption on the tier over an injustice being done to him, guards will go to other inmates’ door laughing, joking, slandering and defacing the character of the disruptive inmate, trying to turn the other prisoners against him. Those who go along with this and take the bait by laughing and joking with the guards, are in turn ostracized and looked down upon by the other prisoners.

25) Using food as a control method, “doggy treat” tactics”. “If you comply we will give you extra food that we would otherwise throw away.” Those who are extremely non-compliant, or who write grievances, might not get fed at all.

Those are just 25 of the brainwashing techniques being used on us daily. There are more though. But now that we know what is being done to us, it is up to us to figure out ways to defend ourselves against these tactics. The best weapon for anyone to have is knowledge. Knowledge of yourself, knowledge of your enemy, knowledge of your surroundings, knowledge of your culture, your history, knowledge of your purpose in life. Knowledge is a weapon. Arm yourself with knowledge.

My love goes out to all of those who keep the fire of resistance burning in their hearts! Peace.

Solidarity and Respects,

Coyote
January 25th, 2010
ABC Nevada Prison Chapter
Ely State Prison

ACLU Challenges Inhumane Treatment at New Mexico’s Supermax (2002)

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 Monday, October 21, 2002

ALBUQUERQUE– Today, cooperating attorneys working for the New Mexico chapter of the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of six prisoners in the New Mexico Department of Corrections regarding the State’s “Supermax” prison facilities.  The case is a proposed class action on behalf of all prisoners held in “Special Control Facilities” operated at the Santa Fe and Las Cruces state prisons.

The defendants are the New Mexico Department of Corrections, the wardens of the prisons at which the Special Control Facilities are operating, other corrections officials and former Corrections Secretary Rob Perry.  The suit alleges that the Special Control Facilities are just the latest in a series of unconstitutional initiatives initiated during the past few years by the Corrections Department.

The Supermax system is rife with inhumane conditions.  For example, when prisoners enter the system they are automatically confined to their cells all but six hours each week.  The confinement is not a result of a prisoner’s misbehavior but, instead, part of the Supermax’s psychological “education” program that prohibits family visitation, prison work assignments, education services, personal reading matter, radio and television and limits the inmate to possessing three letters, three photographs and using no more than five sheets of writing paper per week.
Prisoners are only released out of their cells five times per week for an hour in an indoor “exercise cell” and ten minute showers five times per week.

All this is part of the prison’s so called “Cognitive Restructuring” program.  The lawsuit alleges that the New Mexico program is unique in America because it combines the highly restrictive features of a “Supermax” prison with this program of behavioral change.  Prison authorities state that cognitive restructuring is designed to change or “correct” the thinking of inmates through the provision of lessons provided to the prisoners, followed by tests to determine whether the prisoner has learned the lesson.  Over a period of at least a year, the prisoners can move from being locked into their cells twenty-three hours a day through a number of “steps” and “levels” of gradually improving living conditions and opportunities to leave the cell. The program is not administered by psychiatrists, psychologists or any other mental health professional, rather it is administered by teachers employed by the prisons.  The suit alleges that this cognitive restructuring is a form of “mind control” which violates prisoners’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and thought.

The lawsuit points out that the Department of Corrections was notified that there is considerable literature regarding the harmful psychological effects of this type of isolation in a prison.  Dr. Craig Haney, a psychologist in California, and Stuart Grassian, a psychiatrist on the faculty at Harvard, have published a number of articles on the subject.  As the literature suggested, the need for mental health treatment at the Supermax has risen.  Despite the new designation of the pods as mental health facilities, the inmates within those units are still reportedly subjected to the same rules and the same conditions as those applied to non-disabled inmates.

Most of the plaintiffs had been diagnosed by the Department of Corrections as having mental disabilities before their placement into the facilities.
These inmates allege that their mental problems have been exacerbated by their placements in the program. Other inmates who were not previously diagnosed with disabilities allege that they are at risk of developing mental problems as a result of their isolation and the conditions in “Supermax.”  The suit also alleges that in 1999, corrections officials were notified in the Duran consent decree case, that the isolation imposed in the “Supermax” causes people to become mentally ill.

At the center of the lawsuit is a legal challenge to the prisoners’ classification into the Special Control Facilities; the lack of any process for appealing placement there; the denial of rehabilitative, educational, religious and social programs; the arbitrary loss of good time credits, which effectively lengthens prisoners’ incarceration; denial of family visitation; as well as the psychological harms they are suffering, without adequate psychological treatment, as a result of their placements.

When an inmate attempts to improve his conditions by writing an essay and his teacher simply does not judge the essay as adequate, the inmate can be subjected to even worse circumstances. 

The issue comes down to the prison’s definition of “punishment”.  If the prison authorities assert that the prisoner broke a rule of the Cognitive Restructuring Program or is alleged to have violated an “Adjustment Control,” or is alleged to have violated a provision of a “Behavior Control Program Contract”, then he loses every object within his cell which could occupy his mind and every other activity outside his cell including losing: all reading material, writing material, library books, religious items, recreation, visiting, telephone use, religious access, and legal access.  But because the prison system has not issued an actual misconduct report, there is no right of appeal. In other words, as long as the prison does not define the loss of these basic living conditions as a form of punishment, then the system need not offer any hearing or appeal system to the prisoner.  As it stands, there is virtually no system, no hearing officer, no court, and no prison official to whom the prisoner can turn to for help.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the First and Eighth Amendments, as well as violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires the government to provide “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities.

The prisoners are represented by the ACLU of New Mexico Co-Legal Director Phil Davis, and ACLU-NM Cooperating Attorneys Larry Kronen, Edwin Macy, Peter Cubra and Mark Donatelli, who were counsel in the Duran consent decree case.

Press Conference scheduled for Tuesday, October 22, 2002 at 1:30 p.m. at the Law Office of Phil Davis, 814 Marquette NW, Albuquerque, NM  87102.

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See also: UPI: New Mexico prison system under fire