CDCR’s Security Threat Group Pilot Program: a document intentionally designed to fail

From: NCTT-Cor-SHU:

Jan 17th 2013

California’s CDCR’s Security Threat Group Pilot Program (which includes its proposed step down program [S.D.P.] ) is a document intentionally designed to fail. It not only grossly deviates from the behavior-based intent the department swore to the public, legislators, and prisoners subjected to these torture units for the past 10, 20, 30, or 40 years – but actually codifies an expectation of all prisoners to become state informants in the service of maintaining these torture units in violation of already established law.

As you can see on the “Reporting S.T.G. involvement” segment of the “Step Down Program” in the official CDCR press release ( see illustration below, marked with our *, page 4), CDCR has codified an expectation that one becomes a “confidential informant,” qualitatively no different than debriefing. They state in clear language that prisoners “have the responsibility to report S.T.G.  or criminal activity when known or observed by you.”
This is informing, snitching, ratting and will result in someone else being subjected to years of torture. They go on to state:

“This process is not intended to compromise your safety, but to enhance your safety through the identification and removal of those involved in S.T.G. or criminal activities.”

This is an intentional lie. By CDCR’s own admission, one of the primary reasons they have maintained these torture units and created ‘sensitive needs yards’ is that such informing will incur violent retaliation against suspected informants. Their inclusion of this provision has a more insidious purpose related to their Schenerian behavior modification program, but for purposes of this discussion we’ll stick to the 8th Amendment violation inherent in this action by the state.

In Griffinv. Gomez, the U.S. Northern District Court held,

“The crushing conditions of the SHU present an overwhelming incentive for an inmate to risk debriefing… (and) [CDCR’s] refusal to reconsider the classification of former gang members who are unwilling to risk retaliation (for informing) renders their segregation effectively permanent (Docket no. 120, at 8). It is this mutual reinforcement that extended (prisoners) stay in the SHU for over 20 years… Further confinement is tantamount to indefinite administrative segregation for silence – an intolerable practice in modern society.”

The court accordingly found this compulsory requirement to inform violates the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, yet here we see CDCR not only expanding it outside the confines of the debriefing process, but codifying it as an expectation for inclusion in the S.D.P., something no principled man or woman currently consigned to these torture units will submit to under any circumstance, and CDCR is fully aware of this fact. They are fully aware that it ciolates established law. They are fully aware that it violates the U.N. Treaty against Torture and other cruel and degrading treatment… They just don’t care. They are counting on the disinterest and political apathy of youthe people – to turn a blind eye to their maintenance if these torture units in your name, with your tax dollars. The only question facing us as a society is: will you? Only you can answer that question.

Our solidarity always – N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU

“Reporting STG involvement”

They circle like vultures

In: SF Bay View
October 27, 2012

by Alfred Sandoval

The Department of Corruption’s draft of the Step Down Program [for release from SHU without “debriefing,” i.e., snitching or inventing information about other prisoners to be used as evidence for their validation and SHU confinement] – well, it’s crap! I really believe that it was intended to get a negative reaction – because in the new version, it would actually take five years, whereas their last proposal was four years!

The new draft allows for any CO (correctional officer) or staff member to have any prisoner placed in SHU for anything they deem necessary, citing safety and security and public safety, even without any disciplinary action. Many of us have seen first hand the abusive nature of sadistic, racist and misogynistic CO staff who fabricate information to “break” prisoners.

Of all the alleged changes to the policy, not one allows for real scrutiny of the information used to indefinitely house prisoners in the dungeons of California’s prison system – the SHUs. But then look at how much money – taxpayers’ money – is made off of one prisoner’s SHU housing.

The so called shareholders are reaping in money hand over fist while prisoners in the SHU are routinely mistreated and denied medical care. I really was not surprised when Gov. Brown vetoed the media access bill. Imagine having an Abu Ghraib exposed on his watch!

Many of us have seen first hand the abusive nature of sadistic, racist and misogynistic CO staff who fabricate information to “break” prisoners.

Right now I have a civil suit pending in the Northern District Court – Sandoval v. D. Barneburg et al, No. C12-3007 LHK (PR) – citing excessive use of force by PBSP IGI (Institutional Gang Investigation) unit. The DVD that documented all the injuries inflicted on me disappeared from an evidence locker. But I knew it would; these COs have a well formed code of silence that guarantees impunity to all COs and staff who abuse prisoners.

Some actually belong to the PBSP “honor guard.” Since the hunger strikes, the COs and IGIs have continued to attempt to incite conflict between prisoners, but we all know it’s a divide and conquer tactic. Many of us have 20-30 years in the SHUs and many have actually grown up together through the system, so we know what’s what and know when we’re being played by the COs and staff.
The warden has made it clear that he will not sign any order for the items agreed to during the mediations because he is retiring in January with a full pension.

Since the hunger strikes, the COs and IGIs have continued to attempt to incite conflict between prisoners, but we all know it’s a divide and conquer tactic.

Recently many prisoners have been reclassified as “high risk medical,” but it’s a sham to give prisoners false hope of actually getting medical care that is not overseen by the IGI unit. The chief medical officer will state the prisoner can be treated here, thereby nullifying the “high risk” portion, but PBSP will get the extra state funds to house us here until we die.

Many of the prisoners who are dying refuse to go to the clinic. Most wait until the very last minute because the clinic rooms are nasty, without reading material or TV or anything but a single bed. So once you’re taken to the clinic, you just sit on the bed and wait to die. It’s a guarantee that the IGI will stop by to ask if you’re ready to debrief before you die. They circle like vultures.

Send our brother some love and light: Alfred Sandoval, D-61000, PBSP SHU D4-214, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532. This letter was written to and transcribed by Kendra Castaneda. It was written on Oct. 21.

[photo: Imagine your life encased in a 7-by-11-foot cage with no window, the light on 24/7 and no privacy, under the watchful eyes of people paid to break your spirit – and your body – all because they fear you have influence with other prisoners. – Photo: North Coast Journal]

Update from Pelican Bay prisoners on the proposal of CDCR regarding Gang Management Policy Change

May 28, 2012

Greetings! Here’s a brief update on where things presently stand re: CDCR’s Gang Management Policy Change Proposal.

The bottom line is this; CDCR will submit their proposal to the office of Administrative Law (OAL), in the near future for a public comment period, and incorporation into the CCR Title 15.

Once the proposal is submitted to the (OAL), it’s a done deal… and absent peaceful direct action to force the mandatory major changes required in order to make any gang management policy changes acceptable, we’ll be stuck with CDCR’s version as is for the next 25 years.

Back in March, we rejected CDCR’s proposal in its entirety! And, people need to remember that as it stands now, CDCR’s proposal means that ALL prisoners classified as validated gang members (STG-1) will continue to be confined in the SHU, tortured in definitely based on the same sham “intelligence” based informational criteria that’s been used & abused by CDCR’s goon squads for the past 25+ years (e.g. confidential informant/debriefers claiming you’re involved in “criminal gang activity”, keeps you in SHU without being formally charged, etc…)

This is not acceptable for reasons spelled out in our March rejection of CDCR’s proposal… and it’s now time for people to present their views on what they believe would be the smartest, most effective peaceful action response to CDCR’s proposed changes; and the best time for it??

People can do this via word of mouth and use of the various periodicals covering these issues!

Also, a big shout out in solidarity and appreciation for the continuing support efforts from families, loved ones, and organizations including Mary Ratcliff of San Francisco Bay View, Kendra Castaneda, and California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement, to name a few!! The outside collective efforts & support of families, loved ones, and other people of conscience together with our collective efforts inside all comes together as a powerful force!!

Together we win, divided we fall!!

With respect & solidarity, Todd Ashker