A Voice From Pelican Bay — Support the Hunger Strikers

A Voice From Pelican Bay — Support the Hunger Strikers

A Voice From Pelican Bay -- Support the Hunger Strikers

Reblogged from: The Beat Within / New America Media, First Person, artwork and text: Michael Russell, Posted: Jul 13, 2013

There is a stark contrast between the majestic mountain scenery that surrounds Pelican Bay State Prison, and the utter desperation of life that exists behind its walls. Most of the men here wear the look of those crushed under years of carrying a heavy burden. Their faces tell a story all their own — one of unrealized potential, punishing consequences, and possibilities of future success that no longer exist.

Pelican Bay State Prison is a maximum-security prison, where many men spend years in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) — 23 ½ hours a day, locked in a windowless cell. I’ve spent a quarter of my life in this prison’s cages, in its mud, learning to deal with the loud rhythm, the madness and isolation, the absence from my family and friends that has turned me into a total stranger, with so much empty uncertainty. I don’t sit here and cry. Nobody does.

The full character of a man shows itself in the SHU, where there is nowhere to hide. And today, I stand proudly back-to-back with all those strong respectful men, whose choice it is to now venture into a hunger strike and work stoppage, in peaceful protest.

michael-russell-oppression2.jpg

The revolution has started — a fight for our rights. And our five core demands should not be overlooked:

1. Eliminate group punishments and administrative abuse for individual rules violations.
2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
3. Comply with the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.
4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.
5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates.

To share a quote from Shane Bauer, an American who was imprisoned by Iran for more than two years after being apprehended there in 2009:

“The more one is utterly alone, the more the mind comes to reflect the cell; it becomes blank static… Solitary confinement is not some sort of cathartic horror of blazing nerves and searing skin and heads smashing blindly into walls and screaming. Those moments come, but they are not the essence of solitary. They are events that penetrate the essence. They are stones tossed into an abyss; they are not the abyss itself… Solitary confinement is a living death. Death, because it is the removal of nearly everything that characterizes humanness; living, because within it, you are still you. The lights don’t turn out as in real death. Time isn’t erased as in sleep.”

Stand and be counted. Let your voice be heard. Support our peaceful protest.

Michael D. Russell
Pelican Bay State Prison, SHU

July 8th: Peaceful Protests of refusing food in CA SHU’s and elsewhere will resume if demands are not met!

Please spread this flyer, thank you! Also follow NCTTCOrSHU.org, Californiaprisonwatch.org (one of our network blogs), Stopmassincarceration.org, SFBayview.com, Prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com, and other sites with updates.

Also actions of solidarity are planned in other states (Louisiana for one, Ohio may follow). CDCR should at least hear and talk with the prisoners and their representatives!

Latest on CDCR’s proposed new ” STG” program is that NONE of the prisoners in the units in at least Corcoran-SHU 4B 1L have signed a “contract” that CDCR has installed to push prisoners to comply with their new solitary confinement punishment rules.

Join Us in Stopping Torture in US Prisons!

The Prison Watch Network endorses the following call for Solidarity:

Tens of thousands of people imprisoned in the US are being subjected to torturous, inhumane conditions.  Many are:


·       Held in long term solitary confinement; locked in tiny, windowless, sometimes sound proof, cells; cut off from fresh air and sunlight for 22-24 hours every day and given small portions of food that lacks basic nutritional requirements. 
·       Denied human contact and violently taken from their cells for petty violations.
·       Put in solitary arbitrarily, often because of accusations of being members of prison gangs based on dubious evidence, and have no way to challenge the decisions of prison authorities to place them in solitary.
Many are forced to endure these conditions for months, years and even decades!  Mental anguish and trauma often results from being confined under these conditions.  Locking people down like this amounts to trying to strip them of their humanity.
These conditions fit the international definition of torture!  This is unjust, illegitimate and profoundly immoral.  WE MUST JOIN IN AN EFFORT TO STOP IT, NOW!
People imprisoned at Pelican Bay State Prison in California have called For a Nation-wide Hunger Strike to begin on July 8, 2013. They have also issued a call for unity among people from different racial groups, inside and outside the prisons.  People who are locked down in segregation units of this society’s prisons, condemned as the “worst of the worst,” are standing up against injustice, asserting their humanity in the process.  We must have the humanity to hear their call, and answer it with powerful support!
A Nation-wide and World-wide Struggle Needs to Be launched NOW to bring an End to this widespread Torture Before those in the Prisons Are Forced to Take the Desperate step of going on hunger strikes and putting their lives on the line!
                                                                                               
To the Government
We Demand an Immediate End to the Torture and Inhumanity of Prison House America – Immediately Disband All Torture Chambers.  Meet the demands of those you have locked down in your prisons!
To People in this Country and Around the World
We Cannot Accept, and We Should Not Tolerate This Torture.  Join The Struggle to End Torture in Prisons Now!
To Those Standing Up in Resistance Inside The Prisons: 
WE SUPPORT YOUR CALL FOR UNITY IN THIS FIGHT, AND WE WILL HAVE YOUR BACKS!
June 21, 22 and 23 Will Be Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture!  There will be protests, cultural events, Evenings of Conscience, sermons in religious services, saturation of social media – all aimed at laying bare the ugly reality of wide spread torture in US prisons and challenging everyone to join in fighting to STOP it.
Send Your endorsements (name . and if you wish, organization and/or title,  to:
For more information and to join in this struggle contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at:

Court Must Intervene to End Torture of Solitary Confinement, Attorneys Argue

A court hearing took place on March 14th in Oakland on behalf of Pelican Bay SHU prisoners. 
Here is the press release by the Center for Constitutional Rights:

press@ccrjustice.org

March 14, 2013, Oakland – Today, lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged a federal judge to reject California’s attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit challenging prolonged solitary confinement in California prisons.  The case was filed on behalf of prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent between 10 and 28 years in solitary confinement and who staged two widely publicized hunger strikes in 2011.  It alleges that prolonged solitary confinement violates Eighth Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the absence of meaningful review of SHU placement violates the prisoners’ right to due process.  CCR lawyers argued today that nominal, temporary reforms by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), which the defendants cited as grounds for dismissing the case, have had little to no effect on the conditions challenged in the lawsuit and, thus, the case must proceed.

“The CDCR’s reforms are nothing more than window dressing.  They are riddled with the same constitutional problems challenged in this lawsuit, they have had no effect on any of the plaintiffs and, in any event, they are set to expire in two years,” said Center for Constitutional Rights President Jules Lobel, who argued today.  “The most important similarity, however, is that this pilot program is the third time the CDCR has promised meaningful reforms and failed to deliver.  At this point it is clear that a court must intervene.”
SHU prisoners spend 22 ½ to 24 hours every day in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell.  They are denied telephone calls, any physical contact with visitors, and vocational, recreational and educational programming.  As of 2011, more than 500 Pelican Bay SHU prisoners have been isolated under these conditions for over 10 years; more than 200 have been there for over 15 years; and 78 have been isolated in the SHU for more than 20 years.  Solitary confinement for as little as 15 days is widely recognized to cause lasting psychological damage and is analyzed as torture under international law.  The pilot program implemented by the CDCR still allows for prisoners to be confined in extreme isolation for decades.
Said plaintiff and Pelican Bay SHU prisoner Luis Esquivel, “I have joined this lawsuit as a named plaintiff because I am interested in the welfare and human dignity of all people in the SHU, not just my own situation. All SHU prisoners are in this struggle together. We all want to be treated like human beings, but are not.”
Additionally, CCR attorneys argued today that the pilot program does not ameliorate the due process violations alleged in the complaint, as it still does not provide any meaningful review of prisoners’ SHU placement, rendering their isolation effectively permanent.  Prisoners can still be placed and held in the SHU absent any gang activity, violent conduct, or serious rule infraction; they may still be labeled gang “affiliates” and confined in isolation for activities such as reading about Black history, creating or possessing cultural artwork, or writing in Swahili; and they still must wait years between each opportunity for review.  Moreover, even since the pilot program was implemented, some of the plaintiffs have been denied release from the SHU explicitly under the old policy.
Said attorney Charles Carbone, “The pilot program is already in a tail spin. The prisoners have rejected it and it does nothing to stop long term isolation or torture. The only real fix here is to end indefinite solitary confinement in California.”
SHU assignments disproportionately affect Latino prisoners.  The percentage of Latinos in the Pelican Bay SHU was 85% in 2011, far higher than their representation in the general prison population, which was 41%. 
“I’ve been in solitary confinement for 16 years,” said plaintiff and Pelican Bay SHU prisoner Gabriel Reyes.  “I have learned here to hope for the best, expect the worst. I hope common sense and justice rule the day, so my family and loved ones can touch and hug each other and be a family again someday. My pillow keeps getting smaller and smaller from squeezing it so much.”
                                                        
On March 12, 2013, CCR submitted written testimony on solitary confinement in the United States to an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) thematic hearing on the use of solitary in the Americas.  The testimony is available here.
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone are co-counsel on the case.
The case is Ruiz v. Brown, and it amends an earlier pro se lawsuit filed by Pelican Bay SHU prisoners Todd Ashker and Danny Troxell.  The case is before Judge Claudia Wilken in The United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Write a letter:

Synopsis

Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners have organized to combat cruel conditions of confinement, and have launched two hunger strikes to raise attention to their demands. (Learn more about this here)

Tell the California Governor Jerry Brown to honor the demands on the prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU.
Description

In mid October 2012, members of the Pelican Bay hunger strike movement issued an open letter to Governor Jerry Brown asking for his support and intervention on their behalf, demanding substantive policy changes to their conditions of confinement, and citing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)’s failure to meaningfully commit to agreements made following the hunger strike. We ask you to take action in solidarity with these prisoners and please write to Governor Jerry Brown asking for his support and intervention on their behalf.
Take Action Now: Tell Governor Brown to intervene on behalf of Pelican Bay SHU Prisoners.

A HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM

We hope it is not too late (it is never too late to join a pen pal group and be one!)

Received via email:

Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P) is hosting a new project we hope will spark interest among activists and people of conscience alike.  Join us in a Human Rights Pen Pal group, a program combining prison correspondence, political education, and sharing what you’ve learned. See below for a detailed description.

Please consider becoming a pen pal to a person imprisoned in California’s solitary confinement cells and fighting for their human rights.  If interested, please contact Denise at deniselynn777@gmail.org by March 8 to receive an application.

And please help us spread the word to other interested folks.

In solidarity,

Denise Mewbourne & Molly Batchelder
Occupy 4 Prisoners

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A HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM:
A Project of Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P)

WHAT IS THE HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM?

“How can any of us stand idly by while our public officials stride the world stage touting the inalienable rights of man, and criticizing other nations for their alleged human rights abuses, when the US is operating the largest domestic torture program on earth in SHU’s like Corcoran?”
-New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Collective Think Tank, Corcoran SHU

“A wall is just a wall;
It can be broken down.”
-Assata Shakur

The Human Rights Pen Pal program is an anti-racist, grassroots organizer training program in solidarity with incarcerated activists fighting for the human rights of people imprisoned in California’s solitary confinement cells. It is based on the model created and piloted this year by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition, and promotes principled relationships between people in solitary confinement and supporters outside the walls. The program combines solidarity practice, political education, community organizing skills, and evaluation.

The Human Rights Pen Pal program is specifically intended to support the ongoing work of Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P), as well as the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition. O4P arose as a powerful coalition combining the powerful new energy of the Occupy movement with established Bay Area activist groups working in solidarity with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. The PHSS works to end solitary confinement, otherwise known as SHUs (Security Housing Units) and Ad Segs (Administrative Segregation), as well as to address the human rights of people imprisoned in these torture chambers.

WHAT WILL THE HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM LOOK LIKE?

Solidarity: The program is designed to foster pen pal relationships between people inside and outside the walls, in the interest of a mutual exchange of support, shared information and inspiration. We will energize each other in this struggle! It also assumes that developing relationships will lead to a growing commitment of those ‘outside the walls’ to work in solidarity with activists on the inside and their human rights campaigns.

The ‘outside the walls’ O4P group will be limited to 10-12, with each pen pal writing to one or more people in solitary confinement, from prisons with SHUs throughout California. The pen pals group will meet monthly, and the meeting will have two major components: political education and social/logistical support for the act of corresponding itself.

Political Education: The political education component will include readings and discussions about California prisons, solitary confinement, the history of resistance by incarcerated people, and strategies of solidarity used by local and national anti-prison organizations.

Supporting each other: This includes: sharing in the group what we’re learning from our pen pals (without necessarily using their names); exchanging ideas for responding to their letters; discussion of tactics and support for spreading awareness about solitary confinement to our friends and family; evaluating our work together. In order for this work to be as sustainable as possible, the group will include emotional support as needed.

Sharing what we’ve learned in the larger world: We intend to foster human connections and the understanding that when anyone is tortured and oppressed within a society, it reverberates throughout the entire culture as social trauma. The humble act of letter correspondence with imprisoned people, especially when we share what we have learned with others, is crucial to breaking down the societal compartmentalization that enables this kind of oppression to endure.
‘OUTSIDE THE WALLS’ PEN PALS WILL BE ASKED TO COMMIT TO:

(1) Regular correspondence with your ‘inside the walls’ pen pal(s) twice monthly.

(2) Attending a three hour monthly meeting. These meetings will continue from March through August (6 months). The Oakland location is TBD, and rides will be organized if needed.

(3) Actively participating in the interactive political education component, which consists of reading suggested short essays, preparing questions for discussion at the group meetings, and keeping abreast of O4P, PHSS and other anti-prison events and activities.

(4) Sharing your experiences as a pen pal participant with your own friends and networks.

(5) Consider continuing your correspondence with your prisoner pen pal for at least a year, with discussion of whether or not the structured pen pal program should continue and, if so, in what form.

HOW TO APPLY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM
(Deadline March 10)

For more info and to receive an application, contact Denise at deniselynn777@gmail.com Leave your email address and phone number. Deadline for returning applications is March 10. The first Pen Pal meeting will take place the fourth week of March 2013.

Sacramento hearing exposes CDCR’s hidden agenda

From: SF Bay View, March 5th 2013

by Denise Mewbourne
Almost two years later, the ripple effect of the 2011 hunger strike organized by the Short Corridor Collective in Pelican Bay prison continues to reverberate throughout California. In protest of solitary confinement torture in California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs), 12,000 people in prisons throughout the state participated in the hunger strike.

Assembly hearing on SHUs Daletha Hayden speaks at rally 022513 by Denise Mewbourne, web
At the rally outside the Capitol in Sacramento before the Assembly Public Safety Committee’s hearing on solitary confinement Feb. 25, Daletha Hayden, one of many prisoners’ loved ones who came, spoke passionately about her son in the Tehachapi SHU. He has not been able to see or touch his 15-year-old son since he was 3. “This is painful, and it tears families apart,” she said. “We have to fight so our loved ones can be treated as well as animals! My son needs medical treatment, and SHU officials refuse for him to have it.” – Photo: Denise Mewbourne

California currently holds 12,000 people in some form of isolation and around 4,000 in long-term solitary confinement. Around 100 people have spent 20 years or more in these hellholes, including many who are activists against prison abuses, political thinkers and jailhouse lawyers. People imprisoned in the SHU have described it as “soul-crushing,” “hellish,” a “constant challenge to keep yourself from being broken” and “a concrete tomb.”

As a result of the strike, the first legislative hearing in Sacramento occurred in August 2011, and at the grassroots level family members of those inside formed California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement (CFASC) to continue the work they had done during the strike. The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) began strategizing how best to provide support well in advance of the hunger strike and continues its mission of amplifying the voices of people in the SHUs.

The strikers’ five core demands around abolishing group punishment, eliminating debriefing, ending long term solitary confinement, adequate and nutritious food, and constructive programming are still far from being met, although the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) claims to be implementing new policies on how people are sentenced to the SHU as well as how they can exit.

The hearing in Sacramento on Feb. 25, 2013, provided an opportunity for legislators in the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. The occasion also featured a report back from the Office of the Inspector General about onsite inspections conducted at Pelican Bay, as well as a panel of advocates.

Chaired by Tom Ammiano, the committee had a chance to question the panelists, and at the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input. Attendance of grassroots activists, including family members and formerly incarcerated people, was organized by California United for a Responsible Budget (CURB). The CURB coalition focuses on reducing the number of people in prison as well as the number of prisons throughout California.

The rally

Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion.

Assembly hearing on SHUs rally crowd 022513 by Urszula Wislanka
Prisoners’ families and advocates turned out for a rally followed by the Assembly hearing Feb. 25. The next opportunity to persuade state lawmakers to “stop the torture” is bound to draw far more of the hundreds of thousands of prisoners’ rights supporters from around California. – Photo: Urszula Wislanka

The opening of the letter Gilbert Pacheco read from his brother Daniel in Corcoran Prison summed up the solidarity of the day: “Allow me to expend my utmost respects along with my utmost gratitude and appreciation to all of you who are out here supporting this struggle and allowing mine along with thousands of other voices to be heard! Gracias/Thank you.”

Family members from all over California spoke about loved ones who were being unjustly held for 10, 15, even 25 years or more in solitary confinement, how they were entrapped into solitary and the conditions they face. Marilyn Austin-Smith of All of Us or None, an organization working for human rights of formerly incarcerated people, read a statement from Hugo Pinell, surviving and resisting solitary confinement for 42 years.

Daletha Hayden from Victorville, Calif., spoke about her son who has been in SHU in Tehachapi for four years. He has missed 12 years of his 15-year-old son’s life, having not been able to see or touch him since he was 3. She said, “This is painful, and it tears families apart. We have to fight so our loved ones can be treated as well as animals! My son needs medical treatment, and SHU officials refuse for him to have it.”
Karen Mejia’s fiancé has been in SHU for six years. She stated that to her knowledge, the CDCR never got input from anyone imprisoned in the SHUs regarding their new policies. She went on to say that “if they followed their own policies, the SHU would be half empty, and they don’t want that because of their salaries and budget.”

Recently, they subjected her fiancé to particularly humiliating treatment. After she visited him, they punished him for being “sexually disorderly” with her. She said, “They painted his cell yellow and forced him to wear a yellow suit, which they do for sex offenders. In general population, he could have been killed for that.”

Assembly hearing on SHUs rally Sundiata Tate, Marilyn Austin-Smith reading letter from Hugo Pinell, Bato Talamantez 022513 by Azadeh Zohrabi
Marilyn Austin-Smith of All of Us or None, flanked by Sundiata Tate and Bato Talamantez of the San Quentin 6, read from a letter by Hugo Pinell, recognized internationally as a political prisoner and the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison – now for over 42 years in solitary confinement, most of it in the dreaded Pelican Bay SHU. His name was raised repeatedly in public testimony at the hearing. – Photo: Azadeh Zohrabi

Looking at the hypocrisy in the U.S. around torture and human rights, Dolores Canales from CFASC angrily noted that in a recent case, “All it took was a federal order to stop chimpanzees from being held in solitary confinement. It has been determined it’s detrimental to their mental and physical health, because they are social animals and have a need to see, hear and touch each other. Aren’t humans also social beings?!”

Luis “Bato” Talamantez, one of the San Quentin 6, said, “Sending your love to the people inside and helping them to stay connected and spiritually alive is the most important thing you can do with your life right now.”

The rally ended on a positive note with Luis “Bato” Talamantez, one of the San Quentin 6, saying, “Sending your love to the people inside and helping them to stay connected and spiritually alive is the most important thing you can do with your life right now.”

The crowd then filed into the hearing room, which filled up quickly, so around 40 people viewed it in an overflow area. For the next three hours, a few of the legislators, the human rights-focused panelists and the public in attendance did their best to sort through the obfuscations, omissions, misrepresentations and outright lies told by the CDCR and colleagues.

The lies from CDCR

One mistaken idea the hearing quickly cleared up was that any real oversight might come from the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board (CROB) in the Office of the Inspector General.

Speaking from CROB was Renee Hansen, who became executive director of the board in 2011, after 20 years of working for CDCR. Perhaps that explains the board’s less than thorough attempt at a real investigation of conditions in the SHUs and the glowing report she gave. When asked by Ammiano if they had conducted any surprise visits, she replied they had not.

Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing on SHUs 022513 by Sheila Pinkel, web
Every seat was filled for the California Assembly Public Safety Committee’s historic hearing on SHUs Feb. 25, and dozens more watched on TV in an overflow area. Besides the legislators in the hearing room, many more watched in their offices and said they were aghast at what they heard. – Photo: Sheila Pinkel

One of the myths the CDCR uses to justify SHUs is that they house the “worst of the worst,” and this hearing was no exception. Michael Stainer, CDCR deputy director of facility operations, testified: “The offenders in the SHU are 3 percent of the entire population. They have an inability to be integrated because of violence, and are affiliates of dangerous prison gangs. It’s necessary to isolate them to protect the other 97 percent.”

But Canales said: “My son is in there, and he has certificates in paralegal studies and civil litigation. At Corcoran he was Men’s Advisory Council representative, when one person from each ethnic group gets voted in by their peers, and others go to them for help with prison issues.” And it’s not just her son who doesn’t fit the “ultra-violent” profile. “A lot of the guys in there have all kinds of education and are helping others with legal work. Many of them have been using their time to educate themselves.”

Hansen testified they found no evidence of retaliation for the hunger strike. Yet Charles Carbone, a prisoner rights lawyer who testified on the panel, said, “Make no mistake about it: Participating in a hunger strike can get you in the SHU.”

Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell asked, “How can participation in an act of peaceful civil disobedience like a hunger strike be construed as gang activity?” Ominously, Kelly Harrington, associate director of high security transitional programming (STP) for CDCR, said, “Hunger strikes can be viewed as violating institutional security.”

Marilyn McMahon with California Prison Focus reports letters from people in SHUs about food quality going down and portion sizes shrinking, especially after the administration heard of the potential resumption this summer of the hunger strike. “I suspect,” she said, “they may be trying to get them very hungry before the strike, so they will have less desire to do it.”

Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing on SHUs panel, legislators 022513 by Sheila Pinkel, web
Assembly Public Safety Committee members Nancy Skinner, Holly Mitchell and Reggie Jones-Sawyer listen to Charles Carbone, Laura Magnani and Irene Huerta (Marie Levin, also on the panel, is out of view) on the prisoners’ advocates panel. Assemblywoman Mitchell’s understanding of the prisoners’ situation and tough questions for CDCR were a highlight of the hearing. – Photo: Sheila Pinkel

In another bold mockery, CDCR claimed their new policies include substantial changes in the process of “gang validations,” the categorizing of people as “gang members or associates,” resulting in SHU placement for indeterminate sentences. In the past, the validation process has been based on points given for tattoos, possession of books or articles the CDCR deems gang-related, having your name on a roster, and/or the confidential evidence of a “debriefer,” another desperate soul who has identified you as a gang member to get out of the SHU himself. Three points is enough to send you to the SHU. According to many reports from SHUs around the state, it often happens that people get sent to there for things that are purely associational and in complete lack of any actual criminal behavior.

In point of fact, items given points toward validated gang status are often related to cultural identity and/or political beliefs. Some examples are books by George Jackson or Malcolm X, Black Panther Party books or articles, materials about Black August commemorations, the Mexican flag, the eagle of the United Farm Workers, articles on Black liberation, political cartoons critical of the prisons, Kwanzaa cards and Puerto Rican flags, just to name a few.

The CDCR gave a list of their own officials when asked who was doing the gang classifications, and Ammiano noted they were all internal to CDCR, with no independent verification. Family members at the rally spoke of many unfair instances of gang validation points given to their family members. Irene Huerta’s husband was validated for a “gang memo” that was never found!

Carbone confirmed in his testimony that there was no real change in the source items given points, that still only one of your point items even needs to be recent and the other two can be 20 years old, and that “the new program actually expands rather than restricts who can be validated, by the addition of two categories. Initially we just had gang ‘members’ and ‘associates,’ but now we also have ‘suspects’ and ‘to be monitored.’” He went on to say “only the CDCR could call expansion reform.”

Charles Carbone, a prisoner rights lawyer who testified on the panel, said, “Make no mistake about it: Participating in a hunger strike can get you in the SHU.”

As Pacheco says from Corcoran Prison: “This validation process is not about evidence gathering that contains facts. It’s hearsay, corruption and punishment to the point of execution. It’s close to impossible to beat these false accusations on appeal. They know how to block every avenue. In other words, there is no pretense that rights are respected. Shackled and chained we remain.”

The centerpiece of the CDCRs deceptive “reform” is the “Step Down Program,” in theory a phased program for people to get out of the SHU. The program would take four years to complete, although they said it could potentially be done in three. It involves journaling, self-reflection and, in years three and four, small group therapies.

In a statement issued for the event by the NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation) Collective Think Tank or NCTT at Corcoran SHU, the writers roundly condemned the program, saying that CDCR “has, in true Orwellian fashion, introduced a mandatory behavior modification and brainwashing process in the proposed step down program.”

Abdul Shakur, who is at Pelican Bay and has been in solitary confinement for 30 years, calls it the “equivalent to scripting the demise of our humanity” in his article “Sensory Deprivation: An Unnatural Death.”

Assembly hearing on SHUs Marie Levin, Irene Huerta 022513 by Becky Padi-Garcia, web
The passionate testimony of Marie Levin and Irene Huerta will help bring an end to the torturous entombment of their loved ones in the Pelican Bay SHU. – Photo: Becky Padi-Garcia

At the hearing, Laura Magnani from the Friends Service Committee strongly agreed. Magnani pointed out that only in the third and fourth year does very limited social interaction start to happen, that having contact with one’s family continuing to be seen as a privilege instead of a right is fundamentally wrong and that the curricula itself is “blame and shame” based, an approach proven to be damaging. To add insult to injury, she said that what you write in the notebooks can be used against you.

Marie Levin with the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition spoke about her brother Sitawa N. Jamaa at Pelican Bay, a New Afrikan Short Corridor Collective representative and a political thinker. He told her his concerns about the step down program: “The workbooks are demeaning and inappropriate. No one with a gang label will be reviewed for two years of the program, and no phone calls for two more years is far too long.” He’s concerned about CDCR evaluative power over journals, fearing they won’t allow progression if they don’t like the answers, or that they will accuse people of insincerity.

Sundiata Tate, one of the San Quentin 6 and a member of All of Us or None, said: “In terms of CDC, it seems like they’re trying to put a cover on what they’re actually doing. If you take someone who’s been in the SHU for years or even decades and say they have to go into a step down program that will take four years, that’s really just adding cruelty to cruelty. It’s actually more torture.”

In an attempt to deflect blame from the destructiveness of their own policies, Kelly Harrington, associate director for high security transitional programming, admitted that some people did not want to participate in the step down program. When asked why, he said, “We have intelligence that people are being instructed not to participate in the program by leaders.”

Canales noted that CDCR is trying to cast blame on the leaders, when in reality the program itself forces people to sign a contract agreeing to become an informant.

Assembly hearing on SHUs overflow 'room' in hallway 022513 by Dolores Canales
About 40 people who couldn’t be seated in the hearing room watched in the hallway, the closest thing the capitol could come to an “overflow” room. The activists agreed that prisoners’ families should have first priority for the hearing room. – Photo: Dolores Canales

The contract is arguably the most insidious part of the step down program. In order to complete the program, people would be forced to sign it in Step 5. It includes the stipulation that the signer become an informant on gang – or, in the new language, “security threat group” (STG) – activities, making it in effect no different at all from debriefing and putting the informant in danger of retaliation.

In the CDCR’s defense, there’s one lie they didn’t tell – that they care about people in the SHUs being able to have a supportive relationship with their family members. It’s very clear they don’t. One of the more frightening elements in this expansion disguised as reform for families with loved ones in the SHU is that the new STG classification is no longer for just inside the prisons.

Family members are wondering if they will at some point be “validated” as gang members on the streets. If that happened, they could be barred from visiting or writing to their loved ones in the SHU, even more completely isolating people in solitary confinement and cutting them off from an important source of support in case of hunger strike.

Of watching the CDCR representatives speak at the hearing, Manuel La Fontaine of All of Us or None said it was “so infuriating and very hard to watch. Honestly, it was re-traumatizing for me. Although comparisons can be dangerous, I began to imagine the feelings of a survivor of the holocaust watching the Nazi regime justify their actions.”

Jerry Elster, also of All of Us or None, said: “They pretty much showed who the worst of the worst really are. The guys inside are calling for peace and an end to hostilities between races, and the guys (at CDCR) have complete disregard for human suffering.”

Jerry Elster, also of All of Us or None, said: “They pretty much showed who the worst of the worst really are. The guys inside are calling for peace and an end to hostilities between races, and the guys (at CDCR) have complete disregard for human suffering.”

The most powerful moment of the public comment portion of the hearing came when Cynthia Machado spoke of her late brother Alex. Formerly a bright and articulate man who helped others with legal work, he was driven to suicide after years of paranoia, degrading conditions and mental deterioration. She said: “We received letters from him indicating he was afraid. He reported seeing demons. Although they knew he was allergic to peanuts, they gave him peanut butter to eat.

“He wrote the family a suicide letter in February 2011 and attempted it in June. On Oct. 24, after screaming for 24 hours, he was found hanging in his cell.” Looking at the legislators, she demanded to know, “Where is the rehabilitation in that? Where is it?”

The missing framework of torture

Sundiata Tate said after the hearing that “some of the assembly members asked good questions and the CDC tried to say they were changing. But they aren’t even addressing the question of torture! That really stood out for me. They aren’t recognizing it as such. The only way they will is if their hands are forced, by the courts or the legislature or the people. I really think the CDC should be forced to release all those people and pay them damages.”

Assembly hearing on SHUs 'Stop the Torture' poster 022513 by Bami Iroko
“Stop the torture” was the topic around the Capitol during the hearing on Feb. 25 and Lobby Day on Feb. 26. – Photo: Bami Iroko

People imprisoned in the SHUs and those who advocate for them have a deep understanding that solitary confinement is a horrific form of torture with long-lasting and highly detrimental emotional and physical effects and as such needs to be abolished. Their family members also have a bone-deep knowledge of this, feeling keenly as they do the pain that comes when loved ones are suffering unjustly.

In addition, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, the U.N. Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International, among others, all recognize solitary confinement as a form of torture whose use should be extremely limited if used at all. The U.N. Special Rapporteur has state 15 days should be the maximum.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, the U.N. Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International, among others, all recognize solitary confinement as a form of torture whose use should be extremely limited if used at all.

So the question many are left with after the hearing in Sacramento is what will it take for the California legislature to catch up with this knowledge? And, more than that, what will it take for them to act to create some genuine accountability for the CDCR officials who are perpetuating the torture? And to act eventually to abolish the practice?

Lobby Day

The following day around 40 people remained to lobby the legislators in teams, speaking to them about solitary confinement as well as upcoming legislation relevant to organizations within CURB. All of Us or None in particular was supporting AB 218, another version of the Ban the Box bill that would take the “Have you ever committed a felony” checkbox off initial job applications, and AB 149, mandating when people are released from incarceration they be informed of their voting rights and given a voter registration card. Senate bills supported included SB 61, limiting the use of solitary confinement for juveniles, and SB 283, restoring CalWORKS and CalFresh to those released after serving time for drug-related felonies.

Lobby Day after Assembly SHU hearing 022613 by Emily Harris, web
Activists from all over California who attended the Feb. 25 hearing on solitary confinement joined with women from the Center for Young Women’s Development who came for lobbying day. Back row: Dolores Canales, Margaret Laffan, Milton Rudge, Marilyn Austin-Smith, Denise Mewbourne, Sundiata Tate, Andrés Abarra, Jerry Elster, Acacia Ainsworth, Elizabeth Evans, Daletha Hayden. Middle row: Sheila Pinkel, Penny Schoner, Margaret Ramos, Kenya Taylor, Paula Robles, Nicole Powell, Keithia Martin, Brittany Jones. Front: Emily Harris, Elvira Zayas, Marlene Sanchez, Diana Zuniga

One of the highlights of the day was the attendance of a group of young women from the Center for Young Women’s Development in San Francisco, an organization working “to empower young women who have been involved with the juvenile justice system and/or underground street economy to create positive change in their lives and communities.” They got their first experience that day of talking to legislators.

At the end of the day many of the teams reported lots of talk around the capital about the hearing the previous day and that many of the legislative aides they had spoken to said they honestly had not known what kind of abuses were happening with solitary confinement in California.

Where do we go from here?

Ammiano has promised there will be more hearings, and Mitchell added she would like to see the next one delve more deeply into conditions inside the SHU. Attorney Carol Strickman from Legal Services for Prisoners with Children informed those at the rally that the class action lawsuit on behalf of those in solitary confinement for longer than 10 years at Pelican Bay – over 500 people – will have a hearing on March 14, 2 p.m., at the Federal Building in Oakland, 1301 Clay St. A rally will begin at 12, and the hearing is at 1:30.

“We need to let the world know that California is torturing their prisoners.”

CDCR will be arguing for a dismissal, and trial dates will be set. She encouraged people to attend if possible, to let them know the interest level of the public

Lobby Day after Assembly SHU hearing 022613 by Sheila Pinkel, web
The day after the hearing was Lobby Day. Dolores Canales of California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement reports: “CFASC had a very productive day lobbying with CURB and bringing up the hearing and the issue of solitary confinement. It was surprising to hear how many legislators were in their offices watching the hearing. Sen. Ron Calderon said they have ‘never seen a hearing like the one yesterday’ and ‘it was the talk of the offices; everyone was talking about it.’ ‘A lot of light was shed.’” – Photo: Sheila Pinkel

Many are calling for an independent review of the gang validation process, used as a rationale to place people in solitary confinement as well as to hold them there indefinitely. La Fontaine said: “This review needs to be placed in more objective hands. Dr. James Austin, for example, is a renowned corrections expert with a more impartial analysis – he would be a better consultant on this.”

To underscore the impossibility of an independent review internal to the CDCR, he said: “The prisons and the military have a lot of shared best practices. There are lots of CDCR goon squads, including the Institutional Gang Investigation guys, who are truly scary people. They’ve been hired into the system because they have military experience working against international so-called terrorists.”

Regarding further organizing, Marilyn Austin-Smith of All of Us or None said: “I do wish more people were there. It would be great to fill the whole lawn and take over the capitol for one day, so we can make them understand how many people care about this. We need to do community outreach to those most affected and encourage people to come out and support their loved ones. And we need to let the world know that California is torturing their prisoners.”

“What was most inspiring to me was the unity, the way everyone, all ethnicities, came together,” said Canales. “If the men in there have agreed to end hostilities, how can we not do our best to come together out here? As long as we can stay together, we can have victory. It’s especially important for Black and Brown communities to work together more closely around this and realize we do play a part in our own oppression.”

And if the prisoners’ five core demands remain unmet, people still suffering and continuing their resistance inside the SHUs will begin another hunger strike this coming July.

As the NCTT Corcoran SHU writers say in their statement for the event: “Will you allow them to erect this new bureaucracy and extort an ever greater portion of your tax dollars to enrich themselves and expand their influence in your daily lives? If freedom, justice, equality and human rights are truly values you hold dear, let it be reflected in the actions of your legislators. Each of your voices, when raised together, can tumble walls of stone. Remember Jericho. Thank you for your time, and our prayers and solidarity are with you all.”

“What was most inspiring to me was the unity, the way everyone, all ethnicities, came together,” said Canales. “If the men in there have agreed to end hostilities, how can we not do our best to come together out here? As long as we can stay together, we can have victory. It’s especially important for Black and Brown communities to work together more closely around this and realize we do play a part in our own oppression.”

Denise Mewbourne is a proud member of All of Us or None and Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P) and is currently launching a Human Rights Pen Pal group for O4P, based on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Committee’s model. She feels blessed to be part of a passionately dedicated Bay Area community working for racial justice and an end to mass incarceration with all its myriad evils. Denise can be reached at deniselynn777@gmail.com.

Does 22 1/2 hours alone in an 8-by-10 cell every day amount to torture?

This is an article by Michael Montgomery for Center for Investigative Reporting/KQED, from Feb. 25th, 2013 – they also have a video on the site.

“I haven’t seen the moon since 1998.”

That’s inmate Jeremy Beasley, talking to me while sitting – shackled – in an interview room at Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s highest security lockup.

Beasley, a convicted murderer, was clearly surprised by my presence – he told me he hadn’t met with a visitor since 1994, when he was incarcerated.

It’s not just the moon Beasley hadn’t seen in 15 years. During that time, in fact, Beasley rarely glimpsed the outside world. Before being transferred to another prison, he was held in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit, a windowless, bunker-like facility that houses more than 1,000 California inmates.

For 22-and-a-half hours a day, each inmate here is locked, usually alone, in an 8-by-10-feet cell. For 90 minutes the inmate is allowed to exercise in an adjacent room with 25-30 feet high walls. And that’s his entire day – every day.

“I’ve seen guys lose their minds back here,” Beasley tells me.

[photo: Units at Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Units have no windows so inmates’ only regular view of the outside world is through the top of the exercise pens.
Credit: Monica Lam/Center for Investigative Reporting]

Today in Sacramento, lawmakers will delve into a growing national controversy over special security units like Pelican Bay’s that are used to isolate thousands of inmates from the regular prison population. Civil rights groups say long-term isolation amounts to torture, while state corrections officials say the units are necessary and the conditions are humane.

Around the state there are four of these Security Housing Unit facilities. Pelican Bay’s is the most controversial.

Conditions in the units are one part of the debate. Many inmates are held in windowless cells and have been denied everything from calendars and sweatpants to phone calls. Also at issue: criteria that determine which prisoners are placed there and how they can get back into the regular population again.

Then there is the long amount of time some inmates spend in the facilities. More than 500 California prisoners have been locked in the special units for 10 years or longer, according to state data. Of those, 78 prisoners have been held inside for more than 20 years.

Over the years, authorities have allowed media into Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit, but access has been limited and the inmates carefully selected by the prison staff.

However, top corrections officials granted unusual access to a team of reporters and videographers from the Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED. We visited all areas of Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit except for a section that houses leaders of a 2011 hunger strike.

Using a small camera mounted to a wall, our team recorded Beasley exercising with a rubber handball in the small concrete pen (prison staff began allowing the balls last year). At all other times – day and night – he was held in his cell, alone. While skylights allow filtered sunlight into the units, there are no windows.

class-action lawsuit filed last year by a coalition of civil rights groups states:

California’s uniquely harsh regime of prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay is inhumane and debilitating. Plaintiffs and class members languish, typically alone, in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell, for 22 and one-half to 24 hours a day. They are denied telephone calls, contact visits, and vocational, recreational or educational programming.
Defendants persistently deny these men the normal human contact necessary for a person’s mental and physical wellbeing. These tormenting and prolonged conditions of confinement have produced harmful and predictable psychological deterioration among Plaintiffs and class members.
The solitary confinement regime at Pelican Bay, which renders California an outlier in this country and in the civilized world, violates the United States Constitution’s requirement of due process and prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, as well as the most basic human rights prohibitions against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Indeed, the prolonged conditions of brutal confinement and isolation at Pelican Bay cross over from having any valid penological purpose into a system rightly condemned as torture by the international community.

But state corrections officials maintain that conditions in the special units are humane; that they do not practice solitary confinement; that inmates are “segregated” but not “isolated”; and that there is a valid purpose for keeping prisoners in the units – protecting other inmates, staff and the public from men who have been linked to violent prison gangs.

“These are the men who are propagating the violence, the drug trafficking, the extortions and the murders throughout the larger communities of our state,” said Pelican Bay warden Greg Lewis.

Without conceding any shortcomings, however, corrections officials are embarking on a new policy to bring in more educational and self-help programs, and to reduce the amount of time some inmates spend in the units.

Since last October, officials have reviewed the cases of 144 inmates and determined that 75 should be transferred immediately to regular prisons because they were not active in gangs. Some of the inmates have been held in the special units for more than 20 years, according to Kelly Harrington, an associate corrections director.

Pelican Bay inmates who led the 2011 hunger strike, as well as some prisoner rights groups, have denounced the new policy and are threatening more protests this summer. Amid a long list of demands, they are seeking shorter, fixed terms for inmates in the special units (currently, most are held there on “indeterminate” terms), more programs and more frequent visits with family members.

[photo: Inmate Jeremy Beasley has spent nearly 15 years in the special security unit at Pelican Bay State Prison.
Credit: Singeli Agnew/Center for Investigative Reporting]

For his part, Jeremy Beasley said that while the conditions at Pelican Bay are awful, he doesn’t think they amount to solitary confinement. Although he can’t see other inmates from his cell (doors are made of perforated steel and face a wall), Beasley says he can carry on conversations with them.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “It sucks in here. I hate it. But some prisoners have found that they can get a lot of attention by exaggerating how bad it is.”

Beasley said he was an active member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white-power gang, and committed assaults on behalf of the group. He agreed to drop out and provide authorities with incriminating information about other members, a process known as “debriefing.” In exchange, officials recently transferred Beasley to a different prison.

“I believe that some people should be isolated. If they were to cut me loose before I debriefed and I went back to the mainline,” he said, using the term for the general prison population, “I would have killed somebody or at the very least I would have stabbed somebody else.”

Other Pelican Bay inmates see it differently.

“There is only one option to get out of here and that is to make up lies about other people,” said 39-year-old Henry Albanez, who is serving a 27-year sentence for kidnapping. Albanez said he expected the department’s new policies would fail.

“How do you expect to take all of these guys out of the SHU (Security Housing Unit) and throw them in the same yard and expect them to get along when you have all this sensory deprivation?” he said.
Still, Albanez said he probably would take part in a new step-down program that begins later this year. Corrections officials have said the program allows inmates to earn their way out of the special units in two to four years without being required to renounce the gangs they have been affiliated with. Instead, they must declare that they won’t participate in gang activity.

State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who visited Pelican Bay early this month, said he found the prison clean and professionally staffed but was troubled thinking that some inmates are locked up for decades in small cells with little or no regular human contact. Inmates must also be shackled whenever they are outside their cells and in the presence of another individual.

“I do think it’s psychologically devastating to be in such a tight space for so long,” Ammiano said.
What, then, about the question of torture?

Ammiano said the strangest thing he saw at the prison was a group therapy room where inmates are locked in small cages during sessions.

“Could I say that’s torture? Perhaps I could,” he said. “But did we witness any torture? No.”

You can listen to Michael Montgomery report from California’s most controversial, highest security lockup on The California Report, on the following stations around the state. The report will also be archived at the show’s website.

This story was produced in collaboration with KQED.

CA: Prisoners’ peaceful protest to resume July 8 if demands are not met

from: Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity and SF Bay View:
Feb. 14th 2013

ATTENTION: Governor Jerry Brown; CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard; and all other parties of interest.

In response to CDCR’s failure to meet our 2011 Five (5) Core Demands, the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives respectfully present this notice of, and basis for, our indi- vidualized, collectively agreed upon, decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest action on July 08, 2013.

The upcoming peaceful protest will be a combined Hunger Strike [HS] – Work Stoppage [WS] action. Once initiated, this protest will continue indefinitely—until all Five (5) Core Demands are fully met. Here’s why.

1. The Basis for Our Decision to Resume Our Peaceful Protest

The basis for our decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest has been made individually, while presented collectively, on behalf of ourselves, and all similarly situated prisoners, as well as non-prisoners, who are adversely affected by the inhumane policies/ practices at issue.

Governor Brown’s, and CDCR Secretary Cate’s, failure to make the changes agreed upon during the July/October 2011 negotiation process, has forced us to resume our nonviolent hunger strike/work stoppage protest.

During these negotiations, CDCR’s Undersecretary Kernan, et al, acknowledged the rea- sonableness of our Five (5) Core Demands and asked us to suspend our hunger strike in order to give the CDCR time to implement timely and meaningful changes of real sub- stance, in response to our demands. We agreed—while CDCR has failed to do their part.

Before we began our July 01, 2011 peaceful efforts to bring about the long overdue re- forms to the CDCR system, we presented Governor Brown, CDCR Secretary Cate, and many others, with our “Formal Complaint” spelling out the reasons why we are willing to put our lives on the line in order to bring about the necessary changes. Along with our “Five (5) Core Demands,” wherein we made it clear that we can no longer, complacently, accept the policies and practices that have subjected us, as well as thousands of other pris- oners, and loved ones outside these prison walls, to decades of torture within these solitary confinement SHU/Ad-Seg Units, based on innocent associations and unsubstantiated alle- gations of involvement in illegal activities.

The undisputable fact is that many of us have been held in solitary confinement for the past 10 to 40 years, based on fabricated information provided by prisoners who have been tor- tured to the point where they provide false information to IGI, in order to get out of the SHU/Ad-Seg. Few of us, if any, have ever been formally charged with, or found guilty of a single illegal, gang-related act. (To review our Formal Complaint, go to: prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/formal-complaint. For the 5 Core Demands, see: http://www.prisons.org/documents/FinalNoticewith5CoreDemands.doc).

We have demonstrated our commitment to our cause through our hunger strike actions – from July 01 to July 20, and from Sept. 26 to Oct. 13, 2011. We remain 100% collectively committed today!

We have kept our word, while patiently waiting for the CDCR to keep theirs. However, at this point, it is clear to us that the CDCR has no intention of implementing the substantive policy changes that were agreed to fifteen or sixteen months ago – based on their highly touted “Security Threat Group” proposals [March and June 2012], and the much hyped “STG Pilot Program” [October 11, 2012], the CDCR has clearly demonstrated their bad faith; because their alleged changes to the policies/practices at issue are a sham.

In reality, the proposed changes will greatly expand upon the number of prisoners who will be subjected to long-term isolation in torture cells; all the above is detailed in our written Rejection/Oppositions to the March and June proposals. As well as the October 11, 2012 Pilot Program. (See them at: http://www.prisonart.org/images/!Newsletter/Rock2_1 and at: http://www.prisonart.org/images/!Newsletter/Rock1_2. The entire Pilot Program is at: http://www.sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/CDCR’s-Oct.-11-2012-Security-Threat- Group-Pilot-Program.pdf.)

Another recent example of the CDCR’s refusal to honor the agreement is PBSP’s Warden Lewis’ refusal to allow a test run – visiting pilot program for additional visiting time on the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18; such additional time was agreed to during negotiations with Undersecretary Kernan [see his August 2011 memo]. Thereby, Warden Lewis has directly violated the agreement on this point too!

There are a number of additional examples that have been, and can be, pointed out to dem- onstrate the CDCR’s non-responsiveness/unwillingness to make meaningful changes to the current policies. Therefore, based on the CDCR’s failure to meaningfully address our Five (5) Core Demands, we presently have no available alternative avenues to obtain the long overdue changes, in a timely manner, other than giving the CDCR until July 08, 2013 – as a deadline – to meet our stated demands.

Failure to come to a legally enforceable agreement will be deemed as just cause for us to resume our indefinite, nonviolent, peaceful protest action(s) until the changes are made, as exemplified below.

2. Our Five (5) Core Demands (with Supplements)

At this point, the CDCR’s willingness to implement meaningful changes to the current policies/practices at issue lacks credibility. Thus, the CDCR’s empty promise to effect such changes is not acceptable.

Therefore, the CDCR will be required to sign off on a Consent Decree in US Dist.Ct., N.D. Cal., case # C 09-05796 CW, spelling out the specific terms of the policies to be immediately enacted – pursuant to our five (5) Core Demands [see:http://www.prisons.org/documents/ FinalNoticewith5CoreDemands.doc].

The consent decree will be subject to enforcement by the federal court; it is the only way we have of ensuring the CDCR’s compliance, now and in the future. This is, therefore, mandatory and non-negotiable! The specific terms in the consent decree will be provided by our attorneys, for the above referenced case, in the not-too-distant future.

A few examples of what this consent decree will include are:

(a) SHU confinement shall be solely for determinate terms, per guidelines of CCR Title 15, Sections 3312-3321, and 3341.5(c)(1)(B), “Determinate SHU Segregation” [no more indeterminate SHU terms!];

(b) Ad-Seg confinement shall be solely per guidelines of CDCR, Title 15, Section 3335 regarding placement for legitimate investigative purposes—not to exceed eleven (11) months, absent formal charges being filed;

(c) Step Down Program shall be for a maximum duration of eighteen (18) months, and available for the purpose of enabling prisoners an opportunity to shorten the duration of their determinate SHU term.

3. In Addition to Our 2011 Five (5) Core Demands, We Present the Following Forty (40) Supplemental Demands That Are Part of and/or Related to Our Five (5) Core Demands.

(1) Order that all past Rule Violation Reports [RVR] issued to CDCR prisoners for their participation in the last two 2011 peaceful Hunger Strikes [HS] be rescinded and expunged from all prisoners’ files.

(2) Order that no RVR be issued to any CDCR prisoner in violation of any rules and/or in retaliation for participating and/or leading the July 08, 2013, or any future peaceful HS/WS.

(3) Order that CDCR prisoners who do participate in the July 08, 2013, or any future peaceful HS/WS, not be retaliated against by placing any of them in Ad-Seg, nor have any of their personal property removed, appliances disconnected – including those already in Ad-Seg – or be moved to other cells, etc.

(4) Order that the PBSP-SHU D-Facility visiting room also be reopened, like it was during the early 1990’s when this prison first opened—it was specifically built for D-Facil- ity visiting—and that funds be provided in order to accomplish this. This way, all C- Facility and D-Facility SHU prisoners and their families/friends can again have that addi- tional space and time available for visiting, where they will again receive 4-6 hours per visit on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. And not the present 90 minutes or less, especially for those families and friends who have to travel over 200 miles.

(5) Order and issue a memo to all SHU prisons that all SHU prisoners are to be permit- ted to make one (1) weekly phone call as part of their SHU program. And that the memo be posted in all SHU unit sections.

(6) Order that the CDCR’s Department of Operations Manual (DOM), the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, DOM Supplementals and/or Operational Procedures (OP) be revised where it states that, all SHU/Ad-Seg prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess art/hobby supplies from the prison canteen store and approved vendors; and shall be allowed to take one (1) picture per year as part of their program, without having to first be disciplinary free. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(7) Order that CCR Title 15, Sections 3192; 3100 through 3108; the CDCR DOM and DOM Supplementals be revised, stating that, all CDCR prisoners – especially those in SHU/Ad-Seg – shall be permitted to sell, convey, or give away as gifts any artwork or artistic expressions to any prisoner or the public in general – without being penalized/ restricted and/or disciplined. The CDCR now allows SHU and Ad-Seg prisoners to order and possess art/hobby supplies. In addition, while in SHU/Ad-Seg, artwork sometimes becomes a prisoner’s only form of income, not to mention keeping their minds occupied on something positive. So, they should be allowed to sell or give it away to anyone, including prisoners. PBSP’s IGI is presently confiscating and/or issuing RVR’s just for giving drawings to other prisoners as gifts for their families and friends. That is just real petty and fundamentally wrongheaded! Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.

(8) Order that all SHU/Ad-Seg and G.P. recreational book libraries be funded from either the CDCR’s budget or from our Inmate Welfare Funds [IWF], and restocked at least once a year. For example, PBSP’s has not been restocked since 2008 and the books are falling apart from so much use. Yet the prison claims there’s no funds for it. What is our IWF being spent on then?! Issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(9) Order that more funds be provided for education, either from the CDCR budget or from our IWF, to provide real rehabilitation programs such as college, GED, vocational training, etc., so that all CDCR prisoners, especially indigent ones, can have real opportunities to educate themselves. Moreover, these programs can and will help those who are released from prison to be productive citizens, where they are no longer stuck on the same gear that caused them to go to prison in the first place.

(10) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3161, “Inmate-Owned Legal Materials,” be revised to comply with the Prison Legal News (PLN) Settlement Agreement (as DOM Article 43, Sec. 54030.10.2 does]. At present, the language is so vague and confusing that most CDCR staff purposely use that Title 15 section to mislead prisoners to believe all law books, law periodicals, etc., are to also be counted towards the ten (10) book limit – where instead they should be considered “legal materials” and should only be counted towards the combined six cubic feet of state-issued and personal items, excluding bedding and appli- ances. [Id. Sec. 3190(c)], plus one cubic foot of related legal materials of an active case [Id.Sec.3161]. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting the PLN Settlement Agreement at page 4, section (g) [formerly cited as PLN v. Schwarzenegger, now cited as PLN v. Brown].

(11) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplementals and/or OP be revised to state that, whenever a CDCR prisoner purchases a new appliance, he or she shall be permitted to donate their old personally owned TV or radio appliance to another CDCR prisoner who is indigent – where that used appliance is officially placed on the indigent prisoner’s CDCR Form 160-H, “Inmate Property Control Card.” This way, prison staff cannot arbitrarily confiscate it on a whim. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.

(12) Order that the CDCR DOM and CCR Title 15 be revised to increase all D-status prisoners’ maximum canteen draw from $55.00 to $65.00 per month. Ever since it was raised to $55.00, the canteen prices have dramatically inflated. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(13) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplementals and/or OP be revised where it states that, all SHU and D-status prisoners shall also be permitted to participate in donating funds to good outside local charity causes via “Charity Food Drives,” just like the ones held for General Population [GP] prisoners. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.

(14) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3190 (j)(3), CDCR DOM Article 43, DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that, all SHU D-status prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess one clear-cased typewriter [hardwired or manual] under the same security measures that are currently being followed by prison staff for allowing TV, TV-radio combos and radio appliances [Id. Sec 3190(k)-(m)]. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR-prisons [and all approved vendors] to be posted in all unit sections approving this.

(15) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3190 (j)(3), CDCR DOM Article 43, DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that, all SHU, D-status prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess a total of two (2) approved appliances; for example, one TV and one radio, one TV-radio combo and one typewriter, one TV and one typewriter, or one radio and one typewriter. (All SHU cells are equipped with four (4) electrical outlets.) Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons [and all approved vendors] to be posted in all unit sections allowing this.

(16) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplemental and/or OP be revised where it states that all CDCR prisoners in Ad-Seg shall be permitted to possess their personally owned TV and/or radio appliance in their cells with or without fire sprinklers. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this. And ordering Prison Maintenance/Plant Operations departments to make sure fire sprinklers are immediately installed in all Ad-Seg cells, including all SHU cells.

(17) Order that the CDCR DOM, Title 15, Section 3117(b)(2), DOM Supplemental and/or OP be revised to where it states that, all GP life-term prisoners shall again be permitted “family overnight visits” with their immediate family members. Right now, in all of the CDCR, only life-term prisoners who have become CDCR’s debriefer/snitches are allowed family visits. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this under the prior amended CCR Title 15 regulations.

(18) Order the California Prison Industry Authority [Cal-PIA] to produce decent qual- ity mattresses. The current 100% cotton air-filled ones, which are not densely packed cot- ton core mattresses, do not have a way to keep the cotton evenly distributed like the old ones did. And where, after a week of two of sleeping on it, on all-concrete bunks, a new mattress literally turns into a flat lumpy torture mattress, due to cotton shifting and the cotton not being densely packed. Where instead, PIA makes these cotton mattresses just appear as ones that are thickly/densely packed. But, in truth, the cotton itself is just puffed up with air – another PIA rip off of taxpayers’ monies! In addition, a prisoner has to liter- ally lift these flat lumpy mattresses from one end in order to pack it down to the other end, in order to make it a little thicker. But, by doing this, the mattress ends up 1-2 feet shorter, leaving our feet on bare concrete because the mattresses have are then too short! Also, with the old ones, a prisoner held onto them for 3-4 years with no problem. But, with these new ones, a prisoner exchanges them every six (6) months – a lot sooner if we were allowed to do so [6-month wait is mandatory]. Which, in turn, means a lot more inferior mattresses have to be produced to keep up with the demand. Where only PIA is literally reaping the benefits at $60.00 per mattress, while prisoners in solitary confinement are being further tortured with these flat, lumpy, short torture mattresses! Therefore, demand that PIA stop ripping off the taxpayers’ monies, and that they either produce better quality ones, or start producing better quality 4-6 inch densely packed 100% all-foam mattresses to immediately replace the present air-filled cotton torture mattresses. That a memo be issued and posted in all CDCR prison unit sections that this was ordered and will be remedied ASAP!

(19) Order the Cal-PIA to also produce boxer shorts with longer inseams to at least 9- inch inseams. The present ones have a very short inseam mode for women prisoners, where male prisoners have no choice but to order them 3-4 sizes bigger and hem them at the waistline just so they can fit correctly. This has been a continual problem for many years now and also needs to be corrected. That memo be issued and posted in all CDCR unit sections that this has been ordered and will be remedied ASAP!

(20) Order that the CDCR DOM, CCR Title 15, Section 3044 (g)(4)(E) and 3190(i), DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that all SHU and Ad-Seg, D-status prisoners shall also be allowed to order, in addition to one annual 30-lb. food package, a second annual non-food special-purchase package [i.e., such items like art/hobby supplies, sweatpants/shorts, shoes, thermals, earphones, etc.], just like we used to be allowed to do. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(21) Order that the CDCR DOM Article 43 “Property Matrix” and DOM Supplemen- tals all be revised, if they haven’t been already – which states that, all CDCR SHU/Ad-Seg D-status prisoners shall also be allowed to order and possess all the additional following items; (a) no limit on chocolate candy bars; (b) no limit on sugar-free hard candy; (c) all Asian soups; (d) all trail-mix products; (e) all cheeses; (f) all dry jerky meats [i.e., sausage, chorizos; all nuggets and slices of beef, turkey, pork, pepperoni, salami, chicken]; (g) all seasonings; (h) all powdered sugar-free beverage drinks in any kind of containers; (i) all tea and teabags; (j) one 12-foot earphone extension cord; (k) all art/hobby supplies [i.e., color pen fillers, 12-24 packs of pastels/woodless color pencils/watercolors/charcoal sticks, 3 drawing art pads of any thickness, and art erasers]; (l) one sweatpants and one sweat- shorts (2 total), and sweatpants/shorts with “cords” [we are presently allowed to possess shoestrings and our new laundry bags have 9-inch, thick cords already attached, proving that the cords are not a security threat]; (m) all Dickies thermals, tops and bottoms; (n) hair grease; (o) lotion; (p) laundry soap; (q) 6 bars of soap; (r) 1 soap dish; (s) 1 tumbler (16 oz.); (t) 1 food container bowl; (u) zip-lock bags; (v) paper mirrors; (w) 4 pairs of boxer shorts and 4 pairs of T-shirts (gray or white; long sleeve or short sleeve), which will ease cost on CDCR to purchase these for prisoners; (x) earplugs; (y) 1 watch cap (gray or white); (z) 1 pair of wool gloves; (aa) three (3) typewriter ribbons; (bb) six (6) typewriter correction ribbons, and (cc) typewriter paper. All these items need to be added in the CDCR DOM Article 43 Property Matrix and/or a memo sent to all approved vendors or they will not send them when we order our packages. Ad-Seg (and all other D-status pris- oners) should also be included for these items because most wait years in Ad-Seg before they are sent to SHU, where Ad-Seg literally becomes a SHU overflow. It should also be noted that ever since the first HS in 2011, CDCR headquarters representatives have come to PBSP and repeatedly stated to us that Article 43 was being revised to add most of these items but, to date, it has just become another broken agreement, because it has not been done. Thus, until it is revised to add all the above, issue a memo to all “approved vendors,” and to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections approving all these items for all SHU/Ad-Seg and all other D-status prisoners.

(22) Order that the Cal-PIA no longer be allowed to produce or provide any food prod- ucts to any CDCR prisons. Ever since they began doing so, the overall quality of prison food has dramatically decreased and the costs have dramatically increased. As well as causing prison and local community bakeries and butcher shops across the state – who were a lot cheaper – to close behind PIA forcing the CDCR to buy from them. Prisoners also working for $1-4 a day used to produce good fresh quality baked goods. Now it’s pre- baked and shipped from PIA where the goods have either been stale or spoiled. For exam- ple, the bread is packed in plastic with industry-manufactured pinholes, causing the bread to spoil. And the lunch meats are now shipped from PIA in sealed pockets filled with nasty-smelling preservatives. We also know for a fact that PIA attempted to force CDCR to buy all dairy products from them in order to supply PBSP – which would have also been more costly – which nearly drove the local dairy supplier Humboldt Creamery in Fortuna, CA out of business. And the only reason PIA failed was because the dairy products would spoil during transport, etc.. The whole sordid story is public record and reported in the local paper, “The Triplicate” [www.triplicate.com]. PIA already produces all other CDCR products from shoes to the very poor quality mattresses. We don’t need or want them to also now control what we eat, period!

(23) Order that all CDCR food-ounce servings be raised two (2) ounces (for example, 3 oz. of eggs raised to 5 oz. of eggs). As well as raising our present two portions of fruit per day to four portions. And, start reissuing us the old real syrup and jelly packets and stop giving us the new unhealthy PIA artificial ones that nobody likes or eats. Thus, raising our overall daily calorie intake with solid non-PIA foods, and not with extra Kool-Aid packets, etc. We are grown men and women, so stop feeding us children’s portions that some fat- cats, so-called “nutritionist” sitting in Sacramento decides we should have. Maybe they should be forced to first eat this PIA junk and small food portions for a year, in order to make a correct informed decision. That a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this immediately.

(24) Order that the CDCR DOM, CCR Title 15, Section 3220.4 and DOM Supple- mentals be revised where it states that, all uncut, R-rated movie/videos shall be permitted to be shown to all CDCR prison populations. At present, we are only allowed up to PG-13 movie/videos. We are not 13-year-old children, nor in juvenile detention centers. Again, we are grown men and women in adult state prisons. Therefore, we should be allowed to watch uncut R-rated movie/videos. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections approving this.

(25) Order that the CDCR DOM and CCR Title 15 be revised to state that all CDCR prisons shall provide – if they have not done so already – their prison populations with the minimum of twenty quality “entertainment channels.” Especially for prisons like PBSP that are so isolated that they can’t even receive one TV channel over the air, not even with a digital antenna. Presently, this prison only receives eight low-quality Charter Cable channels consisting of 3 cable and 5 network channels. Less than all other SHU prisons across the state. And, where there’s constant signal interruptions. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prison wardens – especially to PBSP’s Warden Lewis – ordering this, and to be posted in all CDCR unit sections.

(26) Order that all CDCR prisons use the funds are specifically designated for enter- tainment and recreation purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to immedi- ately purchase all the necessary equipment, storage sheds and any needed digital antenna towers, etc. These funds should also be used to pay the monthly fees and costs to cable companies to add the above-mentioned minimum twenty channels to all CDCR prisons.

(27) Order that all CDCR prisons use the funds that are specifically designated for exercise equipment purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to immediately be used to purchase and install all the promised dip and pull-up bars on all SHU/Ad-Seg and Death Row yards.

(28) Order that CDCR prisons use the funds that are specifically designated for exer- cise equipment purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to also be used to purchase weight-lifting equipment for all GP yards again, as they once had, so prisoners can have something to look forward to on those GP yards other than dip/pull-up bars, handballs and looking at each other.

(29) Order that all arbitrary contraband (“potty”) watches be stopped immediately. Especially order that the PVC tube torture restraints that are currently being used here at PBSP – and maybe at other prisons – as some kind of twisted torture experiment on pris- oners that some C/O conceived and made in his garage, be immediately stopped and abol- ished forever! [See Rock newsletter vol. 1, no. 12, Dec. 2012, at p.4, “Freedom, Justice and Human Rights.”] And that all prisoners that prison staff reasonably suspect – not on some whim – have hidden contraband in cavities, first be given the option to be X-rayed to prove they have nothing hidden. Because, for the past couple of years, prison staff have “intentionally” not given that option in order to arbitrarily and systematically use these PVC torture tube restraints to punish and torture prisoners! This is a barbaric and humili- ating practice! Also, immediately order that when a prisoner does provide a bowel move- ment, that it be done in a closed-room environment, not in the damn hallways and side corridors leading to and from Visiting or law library, like they do here at PBSP-SHU, where everyone from the outside prison tours, to prisoners being escorted, can see him giving a bowel movement like some farm animal! As they walk by just feet away from him. Not to mention all our food carts that are pushed by them, too! That a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons – especially to PBSP Warden Lewis – to be posted in all unit sections ordering all these human rights violations to be immediately stopped!

(30) Order that Dr. Sayre be immediately removed as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at PBSP, or at any CDCR prison – if it hasn’t been done yet – and that he never hold any position of authority over any prisoner’s health and medical treatment. He is behind countless medical negligence and civil rights complaints going back more than a decade. He is also behind not allowing prisoners the option of getting an X-ray, forcing them to go through the “potty watch” torture-tube-restraints “therapy,” referred to at (29) – claiming it was too costly to give the X-ray option. This is the worst of the worst doctors in all of the CDCR and he must be removed!

(31) Order that all CDCR prison cells that have not been painted (i.e., Corcoran, Folsom, etc., and all Ad-Seg cells, etc.) be painted so the cells are not the present drab, depressing, bare gray concrete cell walls. PBSP-SHU cells have been painted since before it was opened. So all other cells should also be painted with a coat of paint! Order Mainte- nance and Plant Operations departments to do this ASAP. Issue a memo to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.

(32) Order Maintenance and/or Plant Operations departments at PBSP to finally fix the original flawed-design ventilation system that we have been complaining about in 602 appeals since the day this prison first opened, where they have repeatedly come around and basically did a whole lot of nothing to it. For example, in SHU, these cells only have out- take vents – no intake vents. The only intake vents are the giant ones above the control booths that sound like a jet engine when turned on, where prison staff and prisoners can’t hear anyone talking to them. Thus, it’s never turned on unless there is smoke or a prisoner got pepper-sprayed multiple times in the cell or section. And, the intake vents that are turned on 24/7, that are supposed to suck in any accumulated heat on the second tier, are those right above the top step on the second tiers. However, during the winter months, when this place first opened, and the heaters were turned on, those intake vents proved to be extremely inadequate, where the heat only rose and accumulated on the second tiers – where those prisoners, and even the cops feeding up there – complained of the heat. So, as stated, a whole lot of nothing was done. Where , to date, the heaters are never turned on! And, year round, air barely comes out of the ventilation systems, where we have to ask the Control Tower guard to open the yard door in the mornings prior to yard and when the yard is not being used, just so we can get some fresh air in here – even if it’s ice cold air! Therefore, order PBSP’s Maintenance and/or Plant Operations to at least replace the intake ventilation motors with those with a lot higher R.P.M.s, so, when the heaters are ever turned on again, those intake vents can maintain the heat at the proper levels on the second tiers. And, order them to keep the air levels turned up 24/7 where it properly circulates in the units. Especially in those cells that have their fronts covered with Lexan/Plexiglas that become suffocating during the summer months. Issue a memo to PBSP to be posted in all unit sections that reflects the above order.

(33) Order Maintenance and/or Plant Operations at PBSP, and other prisons that have it, to cut one (1) foot off the bottom of the Lexan/Plexiglas coverings on all cells that have them so air can properly be allowed to circulate in those cells [see (32) above]. And, that ‘if’ a prisoner is housed in one of those cells who is not on “Lexan status,” to give those prisoners the option of having it removed. [Note: Some prisoners prefer it because it’s a lot more quiet and warmer in the winter months.] Thus, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.

(34) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3097, “Inmate Restitution Fine and Direct Order Collections,” be revised where the restitution rate is reduced from 55% back to a reasonable level of 33% that a prisoner has to pay on all incoming monies. At present, prisoners are paying 55% of monies their loved ones send them – especially with the lack of prison paying jobs – so, in reality, their loved ones are the ones paying the full amount, not the prisoners, so a lot of prisoners no longer ask their loved ones to send them any funds. Thus a lot less additional funds get paid into the Restitution Fund. Until these revi- sions are done, issue a memo to all prison Trust Account Offices, and to be posted in all unit sections, ordering the restitution rate of all incoming monies be reduced to a total of 33% that a prisoner has to pay on all incoming monies.

(35) Order IGI staff at PBSP, and other prisons, to stop being so extremely petty on everything from screening mail, visiting, and legal visits. Because, it seems like ever since the first 2011 HS – where IGI for the first time felt they lost total control – they have made it their mission in life to use extreme petty tactics to attack all those in SHU, including all their extended families and friends. Where they have now made an art of twisting any mail/ visiting/contraband, etc. rules and regulations until they “find” something to suspend visits, confiscate mail, etc. and/or issue RVRs for things they have never been known to do prior to the 2011 HS. Therefore, issue a memo to all IGI/ISU staff ordering them to stop being so vindictive and petty under the guise of security!

(36) Order that the following revisions be made to the Cal. Code of Regulations [CCR], which would state that, if an Administrative Rule Violation Report [ARVR] per CCR Title 15, Sec. 3314 hearing is not held within 30 days of issuing it [Id. Sec. 3320(b)], then no restrictions under Sec. 3314(e)(1)-(10) shall be imposed. And that if a hearing is not held within 60 days of issuing an ARVR, then the ARVR shall be ordered dismissed in its entirety and expunged from the prisoner’s C-file. Because, as it stands right now, even if an ARVR hearing is held six (6) months from issuing it, the hearing officer can still impose the same restrictions as if the hearing was held within 30 days of issuing it. This is not right! And there has to be some kind of accountability on CDCR staff for the countless unjustified delays in hearing ARVRs. Therefore, until it is revised, that a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this change.

(37) Order that the following revisions be made to the CCR Title 15, which would state that, if a Serious Rule Violation Report [SRVR] per CCR Title 15, Sec. 3315 hearing is not held within 60 days of issuing it, then the restrictions under Sec. 3315(f)(5)(A)-(P) shall not be imposed. And that, if the hearing is not held within 90 days of issuing it, then the SRVR shall be ordered dismissed in its entirety and expunged from the prisoner’s C-file. Because, as it stands right now, even if the hearing for a SRVR is not held within 30 days of issuing it, no good behavior credits can be taken. However, as in the ARVR, if a SRVR hearing is held six (6) months from issuing it, the hearing officer can still impose the same restrictions as if the hearing was held with 30 days of issuing it. This is not right either! And there should also be some kind of accountability for the countless unjustified delays in hearing SRVRs. Therefore, until it is revised, that a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this change.

(38) Order that an independent audit/investigation be conducted into the expenditures of the Inmate Welfare Funds [IWF] for the past five (5) years. And, that a copy of that investigation, and an up-to-date itemized list of IWF monthly expenditures be posted in all prison unit sections so we, as prisoners, can have something tangible to see where our monies are actually being spent, and to ensure none of those monies are being diverted to other areas not in the prisoner’s interest or benefit. CDCR prisoners have the right to have this information posted in their sections. The IWF solely belongs to all CDCR prisoners. It was created to reimburse services to prisoners, including their training and education and to underwrite the prison canteens. Prisoners who are taxed for that purpose by the CDCR on purchases and the like, have paid every penny themselves that goes into the IWF. Those monies are not court-ordered restitution funds, nor do they belong to CDCR – even though they act like it does. Thus, issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.

(39) Order that all CDCR prisons’ associate wardens conduct monthly meetings with GP, SHU/Ad-Seg and Death Row prisoner representatives [not subject to CCR Title 15, Sections 3230-3232] in order to have open dialogue between prisoners and the prisons’ administrations. And, more importantly, order that every associate warden who conducts these monthly meetings is given the prison warden’s full authority at these meetings, to address and grant/deny any grievances/requests from the prisoner reps right there and then, that can be dealt with at the institutional level — where she or he is not later overruled by the warden – including, discussions on how our IWF should be spent. Thus, issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(40) Order that during any HS/WS negotiations—if CDCR does not meet the July 08, 2013 deadline—a member of our outside Mediation/Litigation Team and a member of the Press either be physically present and/or present by phone conference.

CONCLUSION

We are hopeful that Governor Brown, the CDCR, et al, will make the changes required in order to meet our reasonable demands – prior to July 08, 2013 – because we remain 100% fully committed to resuming our indefinite protest action(s) – to the point of our starvation resulting in serious permanent injury and/or death. To date, three prisoners have sacrificed their lives, and many more have suffered permanent damage, in solidarity with our cause!

We hope more deaths/injuries will not be required – but we are fully committed to our cause, and will accept nothing less than the changes to CDCR policies and practices ref- erenced above.

In addition, be advised that since the 2011 Hunger Strikes, we have read many prison pub- lications [i.e., the Rock and http://www.sfbayview.com, etc., etc.] where we quickly came to realize that we here in PBSP-SHU were not the only ones who have been tortured with solitary confinement and countless deprivations from the past 10 to 40 years. That, all our fellow men and women prisoners all across California, from all security levels 1 through 4 (where many of theirs have been included within the above demands), and all those across all of these United States, in both federal and state prisons, have suffered similarly to us here, in one form or another. But most have never had a voice or forum to lay their demands out for change. Therefore, we have placed the next two paragraphs here in full solidarity with all our fellow women and male prisoners across the country so they can finally be heard!

Therefore, expect your offices to also soon be receiving separate demands from all other CDCR male and female prisoner representatives from all security levels [1 through 4] on GPs, Ad-Segs, Death Row and from all other CA SHU prisons who will also join us on the July 08, 2013 HS/WS, if their demands are not met by that deadline. Which will be tailored to their own particular institutional needs that are not listed above–which we fully support.

As stated above, we are also offering this forum to all male and female prisoners across the U.S. prison systems (state/federal) as a favor to them in full solidarity, who otherwise will not have a voice, nor probably ever have this unique opportunity again, where, if they also wish to volunteer to join us on a “National Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage,” to peacefully protest solitary confinement and other deprivations and conditions in their own individual state and federal prisons for the past 10 to 40 years, or less, and if they also wish to be heard, we encourage all their prisoner representatives to also formulate their own separate demands tailored for their individual state and federal institutional needs, where they also serve a copy on their state governors, etc. And where they also set the same deadline for those officials to meet their demands, or they will also be starting their HS/WS on July 08, 2013, which we will fully support.

Finally, from today to the July 08, 2013 deadline, and/or during the HS/WS, we are willing to keep ongoing communications open with your Sacramento CDCR Administration, and/ or your office, Governor Brown, in order to negotiate all of our demands listed here that can be negotiated. With hopes that we can avoid having to resume our peaceful action(s) – or end it sooner – where we can all come to a reasonable Consent Decree.

Respectfully Submitted,

– Todd Ashker, C-58191, PBSP-SHU, D4-121
– Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP-SHU, D1-121
– Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671, PBSP-SHU,D1-117
– Antonio Guillen, P-81948, PBSP-SHU, D2-106

The PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives

Pelican Bay Ordered to Cease Race-Based Punishment

From the blog of UC Hastings College of Law Students, California Correctional Crisis:

Jan. 23rd 2013

The California Court of Appeal has just issued a decision in re Jose Morales. The decision prohibits Pelican Bay Prison’s practice of race-based segregation and denial of privileges. From the decision:

Pelican Bay racially segregates prisoners and, during extended periods of perceived threatened violence, denies family visits, work assignments, yard exercise, religious services and other privileges to prisoners of one race while granting those same privileges to prisoners of other races. This habeas proceeding was brought by a Hispanic prisoner alleging that the prison’s policy of disparate treatment based on race and ethnicity denies him equal protection of the laws.

This particular proceeding was tied to a 2008 incident between Hispanic inmates, which led to a segregation of all Hispanic inmates’ access to programs, which apparently remained in effect for almost three years. The result of the effective lockdown on Hispanic inmates was that only inmates classified racially as “other”, meaning, mostly Asian inmates, had to work double shifts in prison. Other inmates were denied visitation, exercise, religious services, and other privileges. In short, no one won.

The decision relies on a Supreme Court case, Johnson v. California, which held that government officials are not permitted “to use race as a proxy for gang membership and violence without demonstrating a compelling government interest and proving that their means are narrowly tailored” to advance that interest.

The decision in Morales extends that logic to race-based punishment, giving prison authorities narrow leeway to separate inmates based on ethnicity only if prison security requires it, so long as it is done “[o]n a short-term emergency basis” and not “preferentially”.

One of the notable things about the decision is the judges’ sensitivity to the chicken-and-egg nature of race-based classification. While some administrative policies are a result of gang-related racial hostilities, the classification in itself threatens not only “to stigmatize individuals by reason of their membership in a racial group” but also, importantly, “to incite racial hostility.”

Another notable thing is the court’s attentiveness to nuance. While many inmates are affiliated with a gang based on their race, not all inmates are affiliated with a gang, and to assume otherwise is to discriminate.

One hopes that the combination of this decision, and the agreement to end racial hostilities in Pelican Bay, will transform carceral practices so that racial strife, whether stemming from gang animosities or institutional unfairness, will diminish if not end.

See also: the California Court of Appeal decision

The Pelikkkan Bay factor: An indictable offense

Published in: SF Bay View, Jan. 17th 2013
by Abdul Olugbala Shakur, Mutope Duguma, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Abasi Banda

Pacovilla graphic CCPOA chapter pres. Greg Kissick warning re Corcoran budget cuts 101112
Prior to 1987, the CDCR had a policy of segregating alleged members of rival prison groups while assigned to the Security Housing Unit (SHU) exercise yard. This policy was designed to minimize prison violence, and based on available statistics, this was an effective policy.

On Pacovilla.com, a blog for CDCR correctional officers, this  illustration for the Oct. 11, 2012, story headlined “Dark tidings: Communities warned of security cuts at Corcoran Prison” appears to hark back to Corcoran’s bloody first 12 years after it opened in 1988, when 30 prisoners were shot by guards. The excuse for the shootings were “gladiator fights,” as they came to be known after the public eventually learned, via 60 Minutes and much other mainstream coverage, that guards were coercing fights between prisoners of different races for the guards’ entertainment and gambling. Pacovilla’s caption reads, “Greg Kissick, CSP-Corcoran’s CCPOA Chapter President, notified the people of Middle Earth of looming danger in the realm.”

But 1987 marked a change in this policy, when New Folsom State Prison partially integrated their SHU exercise yards. This partial integration resulted in a visible increase in prison violence, but what most people in society were not aware of is the internal dynamics which were conducive towards the facilitation of that abrupt increase in violence. That internal dynamics were the new Folsom State Prison administration and staff micro-managing and orchestrating the conditions, designed to perpetuate both racial and rival group violence.

For example, let’s say a conflict breaks out between a New Afrikan and white prisoner. Instead of trying to contain the conflict, the pigs would move these same two individuals to another unit within the SHU, and now the conflict has spread to another unit. Now more people are involved, escalating the violence and racial conflict. The pigs would then move these same individuals to another unit, further escalating the violence. And being that prisoners are so caught up in the struggle for survival, we tend to become oblivious to the administrative manipulation of the conditions.

I became aware of staff manipulation when they attempted to insert me into the conflict, being that they knew that I had zero tolerance for New Afrikan prisoners being attacked. So they took me out of Bed Rock (i.e., Behavioral Control Unit), moved me in the cell with Brotha Fela, then they moved me in the cell with Brotha Abasi Banda. Then they moved everybody who was in the initial conflict into the section I was in. It became very intense. I, along with Brotha Abasi, became mediators for the conflicting parties.

What most people in society were not aware of is the internal dynamics which were conducive towards the facilitation of that abrupt increase in violence. That internal dynamics were the new Folsom State Prison administration and staff micro-managing and orchestrating the conditions, designed to perpetuate both racial and rival group violence.

Though we initiated a cease fire in that particular unit, the pigs were doing everything in their power to undermine our efforts. Their anticipation of me mobilizing an attack proved to be an inaccurate assessment of my character. At this point, the pigs moved more prisoners into our section who had been involved in the initial conflict. Truthfully, the yard was on the verge of exploding. Prisoners were allegedly being intercepted for allegedly trying to bring knives to the exercise yard. The pigs’ manipulation reached its desperation point one day when administration pulled me out to the front office and point-blank told me they would have the gunman leave his post and allow me and the Brothas to attack the whites.

The pigs were mad at the whites for allegedly stabbing a guard, and they wanted me to go after this one individual because he was scheduled for release. I stood up and cursed them all and told them to take me back to my cell. When I got back to the unit, I told everybody what had occurred. They didn’t like that.
About two days later, the gang unit raided our cells – my cell and the cells of the Brothas who associated with myself and Brotha Abasi. They also took us to the prison hospital for x-rays to determine if we had weapons in our rectum cavity. All the other Brothas were kept in holding cells indoors while our cells were being searched. I was kept in an outdoor holding cell approximately four hours. They took us back to our cells between 11:30 and midnight.

Them pigs had tore up our cells. Everything was on the floor, personal pictures as well as letters from family.
A little after midnight the gang unit came to our cell and told me I was being moved back to Bed Rock for a conspiracy. Everybody knew that this was a blatant lie. There were Brothas that night allegedly in possession of knives and hacksaw blades, but I was the only one sent to Bed Rock, and they found nothing in me and Brotha Abasi’s cell. But this was punishment because I had refused to spread this racial conflict and be their little pawn.

The pigs’ manipulation reached its desperation point one day when administration pulled me out to the front office and point-blank told me they would have the gunman leave his post and allow me and the Brothas to attack the whites.

People, the above story is very relevant. It exemplifies the orchestrated conditions manufactured by the CDCR, designed to ignite and perpetuate conflict between prisoners.

Being that the CDCR did not get the desired effect from this partial integration, toward the end of 1988, they fully integrated the SHU exercise yard. Those of us who had the capacity to resolve this conflict, the pigs placed us in Bed Rock under false allegations, and as a result, all hell broke out, the prelude to Corcoran State Prison. The conflict was being transported to the SHU yard at Corcoran SP, which resulted in the rapid increase in prison violence. Corcoran SP, at the peak of this CDCR-sanctioned conflict, was averaging two to four assaults a day.

At that time, most prisoners did not understand what was happening, but those of us who have been very active in the movement knew that something wasn’t right. We asked ourselves: Why would the CDC change their policy at this juncture, especially when the policy was proven to be effective? The answer appeared to be a simple one: to intentionally increase prison violence between alleged members of rival prison groups.
We soon discovered that it wasn’t that simple. We realized that the CDC was using us as a means to develop the statistics – propaganda – to justify the building of Pelican Bay State Prison and its over $200 million price tag.

The CDCR justification for Pelican Bay is rooted in two primary criteria: 1) to isolate the so-called worst of the worst, who have proved too violent to be held at other prisons, and 2) to presumably minimize prison violence.

The CDCR reported an increase in prison violence to the media on a number of occasions between 1987 and 1990. What the CDCR intentionally neglected to tell the public is that it was their policy, both in practice and intent, that was responsible for the rapid increase in prison violence!

Also, there were two other factors that must be considered. In 1987, the CDCR implemented a “shoot to kill” policy, and in 1988, they changed weapons and ammunition. The new bullet was designed to blow up in our bodies – a guaranteed kill!

Based on the evidence, the policies implemented at both New Folsom and Corcoran state prisons were not only a prelude to Pelican Bay State Prison but were specifically designed to justify and add credence to the CDCR campaign to build Pelican Bay State Prison. If there is any doubt in your mind about these allegations, ask yourself: Why would the CDCR integrate the SHU exercise yard at a time when they knew violence between the different rival groups was guaranteed to break out?

What the CDCR intentionally neglected to tell the public is that it was their policy, both in practice and intent, that was responsible for the rapid increase in prison violence!

The CDCR was not being pressured by state politicians or by a court order or by the public to integrate known rival gangs and group members. So what was the CDCR’s motivation? Also, consider this: The CDCR knew without a doubt that by integrating the SHU exercise yards, all hell was going to break out, so why would the CDCR adopt a “shoot to kill” policy at the same time the forced integration policy was being implemented? And then introduce a new weapon that was designed to facilitate the “shoot to kill” policy?

In a five year period, the CDCR murdered 27 prisoners. At least seven were murdered on the integrated SHU exercise yard at Corcoran State Prison and approximately five men on the SHU exercise yard at New Folsom. Compare this to the rest of the country’s state and federal prison system during the same five year period, where a total of only seven prisoners were murdered by prison guards in all other states combined!

Are the crimes of murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon – e.g., an assault rifle – justified simply because the victims of these crimes are alleged criminals or gang members? You, as taxpayers have also been the victim of a state-sponsored crime. The CDCR politically hijacked and extorted over $200 million from your hard-earned tax dollars to build the high-tech torture chamber. This prison was not even necessary. Keep in mind that it was the CDCR that escalated the violence.

Pelican Bay State Prison is rooted in deception, exploitation, extortion, violence and murder. It is a symbol of crimes against humanity!

Two-hundred and fifty million dollars could have been used to enhance the quality of learning in the so-called inner cities, provided funding for crime prevention and criminal rehabilitation programs, drug rehab, day care, prenatal care, job training and job placement, and INCREASE teachers wages. We can go on and on. These things alone could have a very positive and productive impact on crime and society at large!

As an attempt to end hostilities and abolish the Security Housing Units, as we know them, the malignancy – the Pelikkkan Bay Factor – has re-emerged with the intent to impede our progress towards justice and humanity. So it is imperative that we resist any temptation to capitulate our moral integrity and fortitude within our endeavors to obtain our Five Core Demands and end all racial and group hostilities.

Pelican Bay State Prison is rooted in deception, exploitation, extortion, violence and murder.

The factors that served as a prelude to Pelikkkan Bay State Prison are the same factors being employed by the CDCR to justify its continued existence. Though I provided only a brief illustration of the CDCR manipulation and micromanaging of both racial and group hostilities, I believe it is enough to assist us in navigating through the tricks and traps of the CDCR.

We must remain vigilant in pursuit of our righteous cause and ignore the rumors of war being cultivated and propagated by the pigs. Their desperation is a clear sign of how close we are to victory!

Send our brothers some love and light:

  • Abdul Olugbala Shakur, s/n J. Harvey, C-48884, D-1-119, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Mutope Duguma, s/n J. Crawford, D-05996, D-1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R. Dewberry, C-35671, D-1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Abasi Banda, s/n C. Jackson, C-33559, D-2-107, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532