Corcoran SHU prisoners start hunger strike for decent healthcare; support needed now

Sept. 28th, 2014
From: SFBayview

On Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, three men locked inside unit 4B-1L of the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) of California State Prison-Corcoran started a hunger strike:
Heshima Denham (J-38283), followed on Sept. 27 by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough (D-83611), and Kambui Robinson (C-82830) will join them the following day for a few days or as long as he can considering his poor health.

Why?
The medical care at Corcoran SHU is so bad that life-threatening situations have occurred on too many occasions to the people in the SHU and possibly also elsewhere at CSP-Corcoran that they have had to resort to a hunger strike, the ultimate nonviolent protest, in order to make this point known to the warden, the medical receiver appointed by the court to oversee California’s notoriously bad prison healthcare, and the administration of the California Department of Corrections (CDCr).

Several factors made the three decide to protest the lack of healthcare now: Kambui has diabetes that is very badly regulated with a HBA1C of 9.3 – far too high for diabetics, especially with those already suffering loss of eyesight and neuropathy – and Zaharibu has dangerous, untreated, extremely high cholesterol, making him very vulnerable to stroke, and he has untreated gall stones and a CPAP machine [for sleep apnea, can cause strokes] without an extension cord to work effectively.

Custody staff interfering with medical staff is causing dangerous situations.

What can you do to help?

Ideally we want Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough and Kambui Robinson moved to Vacaville or New Folsom medical facilities. Kambui’s situation is most critical:

He needs more control over his insulin-dependent diabetes – better regulation, prevention of more complications, and a special diet for diabetics, with sufficient carbohydrates, low fat, whole grains, access to glucose and daily exercise outside his cell. He also needs a diagnostic scan to determine nerve damage in his brain.

For Michael Dorrough (D-83611): normal access to the CPAP machine, treatment for high cholesterol levels and treatment for gallstones.

[Note: Both Michael Dorrough and Kambui Robinson also need to be moved away from the Central Valley due to Valley Fever!]

Finally, for Heshima Denham (J-38283), we need an MRI-scan to make a diagnosis of the pain in his right side and treatment for whatever is causing it. Heshima was recently also diagnosed with PTSD.
Please keep in mind these are medical issues that should be treated with discretion.

Although I concentrate on these three people who are on a hunger strike, they have expressed that they are striking for all people with a disease or injury needing better care, chronic or not, at CSP-Corcoran.

Although I concentrate on these three people who are on a hunger strike, they have expressed that they are striking for all people with a disease or injury needing better care, chronic or not, at CSP-Corcoran.

Call or write to the Corcoran warden, or leave a message with his secretary. Below is a proposed script:

Call or email Warden Dave Davey, at 559 992-8800 or dave.davey@cdcr.ca.gov, or write to him at P.O. Box 8800, Corcoran, CA 93212-8309.

[Please cc emails to: Dr Clarence Cryer, clarence.cryer@cdcr.ca.gov , Chief Executive Officer in charge of health care at CSP-Corcoran.]

Call or send a copy of your letter or email to Diana Toche, Undersecretary for Health Care Services and Undersecretary for Administration and Offender Services, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Correctional Health Care Services, P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001, 916-691-0209, Diana.toche@cdcr.ca.gov.

Also send a copy to the Medical Receiver, California Correctional Health Care Services, Controlled Correspondence Unit, P.O. Box 588500, Elk Grove, CA 95758, CPHCSCCUWeb@cdcr.ca.gov.

Finally, contact the Ombudsman, at Cherita.Wofford@cdcr.ca.gov.

Suggested script for your phone call, email or letter:

I am contacting you concerning the lack of specialized healthcare for people inside the CSP-Corcoran SHU, especially those with chronic diseases. I would like to make you aware of the fact that there is a hunger strike going on inside to demand that people with diabetes or sleep apnea and in need of special diets and other mental and physical healthcare get treated as they would when not incarcerated. Insulin-dependent diabetics with complications and patients with CPAP machines, mental illness such as PTSD and other mental challenges should not be in the SHU but in a medical facility.

The healthcare system in several California prisons is failing badly and we demand prompt action now:

Either move the diabetic patients and the CPAP-machine patients, as well as all other chronic disease patients, to a medical facility or improve the healthcare system, including the rules for, for instance, MRI scans in CSP-Corcoran.

MRI scans are only allowed when there is a physically visible wound. This is wrong!
Also, prevent custody staff from interfering with medical issues, please!

I respectfully insist you act this week to start making specific and general improvements to the healthcare in CSP-Corcoran SHU, before lives are lost.

Thank you.

From Corcoran-SHU: Zaharibu Dorrough: we are being isolated in Corcoran-SHU! No medical checkups! Stripped of property!

From a letter by Zaharibu Dorrough to a friend:

From a letter by Zaharibu Dorrough to a friend:
7/14/13
Forgive me for not being able to write sooner. It has been very, very tiresome. [Thinking of you
all has been quite the motivator]

On Thursday, 7-11-13, the warden here ordered the supposed leaders of the protest be isolated from good people. That meant that the reps from each cultural group from the section that we were in: 4B-1L, C section have been moved. Myself, H., two Southern Hispanics, and two Northern Hispanics.

We are now housed in: 4A-3R. [And three of the guys have been housed in 4A-3L] These blocks are designated as SNY/PC buildings . All of the guys in this building [as well as 4A-3L] are informants. They have debriefed.

A day after we were moved here, mattresses were placed in front of our cell. This we designed to re-enforce, psychologically, the feeling of being isolated. And, I guess, to prevent us from receiving food or beverages from anyone. It’s so silly that is borders on being offensive. We have absolutely nothing at all in common with any of the people housed in the building. There is no reason at all to communicate with or accept anything from them. As is said, it’s a building full of stool pigeons. This is the CDCR’s version of sending us to a black site. The conduct of these guys would be comical were it not so disrespectful. You cannot help but hear the idiot shit that is directed at us. And it’s not just daily, it’s all day.

It’s an Absolute Madhouse.

Moving us down here was an extremely tense situation. The warden did authorize that force be used to move us. And it came very close to that happening. It was incredibly irresponsible of the warden. And a clear case of trying to provoke us into a military posture.

We were naturally stripped of our property. And, just as predictable, some of our personal property items came up missing. Thermals, photos [they took the only two copies of the photo I had of me],dictionary, stationary. I’ll have to replace some of it when I am eligible for my package. The Prison Focus, Bayview, gone! At this point it’s the kind of thing that causes you to think and say-when it’s too hot for everyone else, it’s just right for us!-

We have not been to yard in almost 2 weeks. We have not been allowed to shower in a week.

We received no medical attention. NO WEIGH-INS, NO vital signs checks-nothing. A nurse came to the cell this morning, stood approximately 3-4 feet from the cell, stated “drink plenty of water”, wrote something down and walked away. I called her several times in an effort to explain to her that we are both experiencing [assuming this is Zaharibu and Heshima] light headedness, extreme fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, cold chills, dizziness. The nurse just ignored me and kept walking. It was very obvious that she was reading from a script that she, perhaps all of them have been given. And it is either to not say anything at all to us-or only the bare minimum….

Ordinarily, efforts such as those being made by the state now [Everyone was issued a 128, a Chrono alleging that our participation in a statewide hunger strike with gang members and associates in support of “perceived overly harsh SHU issues”, is gang related activity. And our continued participation will result in progressive disciplinary action] occur in response to efforts, just as enthusiastic, by those of us who have been under the yoke of tyranny for far too long, resisting.

I know that it has been said before, but it is worth saying a thousand times …you all are amazing, brave and inspiring people. Whatever victories that result from this struggle will, in no small measure, be because of your contributions, support, and commitment.

                                                Please take care
                                                 Always with you

                                                             Love, hugs   Zaharibu

Open letter by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough (Corcoran-SHU): The road is long and hard and rough, but anything worth loving, is worth fighting for

Also published in the SF Bay View

“Dear Kendra,

Hello sis. It is my/our hope that you continue to be of sound health upon receiving this and that you will continue to maintain that magnificent fire that you possess. It is the difference between being committed to changing the inhumanities that confront us all and those who are just paying lip service to it. (you could never be confused with the latter group)

I did receive a copy of the legal decision that you mentioned. The Crawford case, in which it is stated that the CDCR cannot confiscate mail and claim that it contains some kind of “coded” message, without proving it. It’s an important case not only because it strips the CDCR of an (illegal) tool that it considered important in burying people in these dungeons.

Equally important is that a judge (finally) had the courage to actually uphold the law. For the sake of upholding the law and there was no trade off. No, I’ll do this in exchange for that (which is pretty routine when it comes to the rights of prisoners and criminal defendant’s). It really is foul and obviously so.

You cannot bury thousands of human beings under conditions that amount to torture (and you cannot leave it up to the torturer to establish the criteria for what constitutes torture. They never see anything wrong with what they do without violating the law and the humanity of people.

Correcting madness only requires courage. We are a Nation governed by bullies. The judge in the Crawford decision, like Crawford himself, had courage.

You, the Mary Ratcliff’s, your Husband, the Pelican Bay Representatives, the thousands who resist and supporters who have stood up, and continue to stand up and really stand up again the State, have courage.

We also received a copy of the latest proposal (version 7.0) of the STG program and it appears as if this will be the policy. I did not think it could get any worse. You can actually be given an additional SHU term for what is being called an “STG Handshake.” This is the 21st Century and a Nation defines itself as the greatest democracy on Earth and we actually penalize citizens, put them/us in isolation for shaking someone’s hand.

This is the best proof of how irrational the thinking is – people literally create their own reality. Give it a name, and then do with it as they please. There is no such thing as an “STG Handshake.” There is also a provision that makes it possible for a person to given a SHU term for “group exercise.” People are actually paid huge salaries to come up with this sh-t!

The sanity of these people should be called into question. The Pelican Bay Representatives and SHU population are absolutely correct, this must be resisted. To not do so, particularly in the face of such disrespect, would be deplorable. It would be weak! And nothing is as pathetic as weakness.

Our hope is that we might be able to come up with something to contribute something to the efforts being made by Mary, you, and others who have been so supportive and so inspiring, in the struggle.

However it is that we can contribute to any of your endeavors, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

The road is long and hard and rough, but anything worth loving, is worth fighting for.

Take good care, Strugglin’ with you. – Michael Dorrough

Michael Dorrough, CDC# D-83611, COR-SHU, 4B-IL-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212

Written on 10/10/2012 and postmarked on 10/12/2012 to Kendra Castaneda, She’s a prisoner human rights advocate whose husband, Robbie Riva CDC# T-49359 is being tortured in segregation at Calipatria State Prison ASU. This open letter was also transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.

Read about Michael’s case for innocence here.

Additional note about the updated version of the “STG” (Security Treat Group) policy to place people in solitary confinement (the SHU) in California and how people inside can go down security levels.
It is the 7th version of the text, and it does not look promising, since the prisoners are still dependent on the subjective will of the officers, with no oversight. This is from Robbie Riva, Kendra Castaneda’s husband, in Calipatria:

“Today I got legal mail containing the updated version of the “STG” policy. It’s straight bullsh-t! If anything the criteria is making it harder for us and easier for CDCR to confine us to their dungeons. They have way too much leverage and basically their discretion is undefined.

At anytime during the “STP” if they come across circumstantial evidence of you being in violation of their new “behavior matrix” they can start you over at Stage 1.” – Robbie Riva, CDC# T-49359, Calipatria State Prison ASU, written on 9/24/2012