It’s time to replace prison oppression with prisoner solidarity

From: SF Bay View

January 19, 2013
by Ajene Nkrumah, Abdul O. Shakur, Sondai Kamdibe, Abasi Banda and Mutope Duguma
It’s time that we prisoners take advantage of this End All Hostilities Agreement between our racial groups and our internal hostilities, because many of us already know that many of our conflicts have been engineered by the CDCr* officials and officers.
There are many pressing issues that must be addressed by our prison class, and one hopes by taking advantage of the time in which we find ourselves in solidarity that we can serve the interests of the prisoners, as opposed to the empowerment of an oppressive prison system – i.e., CDCr and the prison industrial complex (PIC) – our oppressor. CDCr officials and officers have been ruthlessly diabolical and outright cunning in their attacks against us prisoners.

Photo (cop.) Anthony Turner, 46, serving 25 years to life under Three Strikes, who yearns to go home to the child whose note shows how much he misses and admires his father, the king, is contemplative in this photo taken June 6, 2011, just before the hunger strikes began. Since then, the plan to obtain relief if not release that hinges on prisoners ending all hostilities among themselves is spreading and inspiring hope throughout California prisons. – Photo: Lucy Nicholson, Reuters

We have seen thousands of racial riots, thousands of lockdowns, too much internal strife, and the eroding of our programs and privileges. Many of us who come out of the neighborhoods – the ghettos, barrios, rural and urban areas – have for the most part made our way utilizing the tools at our disposal and, unfortunately for us, that wasn’t a sustainable arsenal, because those tools were predicated on three motivating factors: 

1) Ignorance (i.e., no education), 2) Drugs and alcohol, and 3) Violence, generation after generation being raised in these sub-cultures, dominated by these three factors.

We need not speak to the calamities, devastation and terror that is prevalent throughout our lives. We all know very well that we are the “pawns” in this game of horror – i.e., genocide. Drugs, alcohol, guns and inadequate educational institutions are not manufactured by us, but they are definitely weapons of mass destruction, designed for us specifically.
Prisons are only an extension of the manifestation of an orchestrated, diabolical plot to control human beings in highly confined areas, ultimately toward their extinction.
Many prisoners are removed off general population because of their ability to resist the attacks being waged against us by deliberately contrived CDCr policies. For years, CDCr has used these methods in order to build their empire – i.e., the prison industrial complex – that serves the interests of CDCr and CCPOA, the guards’ union.
Violence is a valuable tool that serves to establish a justification for coalescing us prisoners under conditions that are self-destructive. We who are held in solitary confinement, under sensory deprivation, in administrative segregation (Ad-Seg) and security housing units (SHU) have come to experience some of the protracted physical and psychological attacks while in these isolated “torture chambers” throughout California and the United States.
Our physical and psychological torture is a concentrated torture, because we happen to be held in isolated units and are made to suffer until we break down and snitch – i.e., de-brief – in order to get from under such horrible conditions. Many prisoners have broken, only to find themselves stuck in their same reality with a few small amenities. It is safe to say that any institution practicing such treatment on prisoners in solitary has created the current realities in which prisoners throughout CDCr are trapped in a “vortex of violence.”
We prisoners in the Short Corridor have studied these contradictions and we can look back all the way from 1944 to 2012 and point out the wicked hand of CDCr that has pushed us prisoners to be involved in racial violence, gang violence and internal violence. Remember, we are prisoners under the control of CDCr officials and officers, and we are going to reflect or exemplify exactly what it is they desire us to be. When we deviate from this order is when we become subjected to their many forms of attacks. And general population prisoners are not exempt from this reality.

Violence is a valuable tool that serves to establish a justification for coalescing us prisoners under conditions that are self-destructive.

Therefore, we say that the only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first. We are far from naïve because we understand that this is prison and some problems will occur, but we know also that prisons are environments for men – and for women in women’s prisons – and problems should be handled as such.
If your problem involves 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 to 100 innocent prisoners, then you and whoever you got into it with need to end that problem through other means, if violence was ever an option.
But if we plan to change the oppressive prison conditions, then we have to reconstruct the whole way we co-exist behind these prison walls because it has allowed CDCr to exploit us toward their interests. Therefore, by embracing the Agreement to End Hostilities, we can change our prison oppression into a more productive prison environment that serves the interests of us prisoners, as well as put an end to the policies that are inhumane.

The only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first.

Through litigation and peaceful demonstrations we can:
  1. End all solitary confinement in sensory deprivation isolation housing.
  2. End the Three Strikes policy.
  3. End the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
  4. End indefinite sentences, such as LWOP (life without the possibility of parole) and lifers with a cut-off age of 60, so that they can program back into the free world.
  5. End the whites-only composition of the BPH (Board of Parole Hearings).
  6. Reinstate the Inmates’ Bill of Rights, which was implemented around the 1960s and 1970s, and for which prisoners fought and died. Later, in the 1990s, for prisoners’ brave and creative actions, Gov. Pete Wilson and his cronies eroded it.
  7. Win adequate nutritional food. The CDCr practice of using prisoners to experiment with effects of genetically modified foods should not be allowed.
  8. Win adequate medical treatment.
  9. Win adequate education, including in trades and vocational programs.
  10. Win adequate recreational programs to keep prisoners physically fit.
  11. Win adequate family, friends and spouses program, starting with family visits for all prisoners, without creating circumstances where pedophilia can occur.
  12. Win adequate pay for prison labor.
  13. Win adequate access to technology, including computers. We live in a very technical society.
  14. Win adequate prison libraries, in which all prisoners have access to a plethora of books.
  15. Win adequate law libraries for all prisoners.
  16. Win release dates for all prisoners who have been held on one year to life, 5 to life, 7 to life, 15 to life and 25 to life, who have been in prison over 25 years. We know they have been rehabilitated.
  17. Win adequate religious services for all religions.
  18. Win holiday meals. Funds have been allocated for CDCr to provide prisoners with holiday meals, but in places like PBSP SHU, we are not provided with them. We request that the CDCr provide us with designated holiday meals. We equally request that Muslim prisoners within the SHU be able to purchase religious ceremonial food, such as meat, breads, dates and nuts, as well as tea.
  19. Support minority businesses. The CDCr has not adequately provided minority businesses access to the prison population. There exist a number of minority owned businesses that provide a variety of food items, from meat to health food, that we should be allowed to purchase. Many of these small businesses find themselves struggling in these tough economic times. Providing them access – without exploitation – to the CDCr prison population would serve as an effective strategy towards economic recovery.
  20. Win access to being kidney donors to anyone the prisoners consent to give a kidney to. Thousands of people die annually due to not being able to get a kidney, and we prisoners have heard numerous sad stories; we wish we could have contributed a kidney to save someone’s life. All expenses would be paid by the patient, unless they are poor, in which case the expenses would come out of our Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF), which has an annual budget of $50 million.
  21. Win the right to publish our writing and artwork. Prisoner publication is a legal right. Approximately 15 years ago, the IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) and ISU (Investigative Services Unit) at PBSP arbitrarily reinterpreted the policy on prisoners getting their manuscripts published into books. Under this re-interpretation, to publish prisoner writings is now considered an unlawful business practice. We are requesting that we be allowed to have our manuscripts published into books, as long as the manuscripts are not about the alleged crime that brought us to prison. This would also allow prisoners the opportunity to pay their restitution. We also request to profit off our talents – our artwork, writings etc.
We prisoners need to coalesce our energy around these 21 policy changes. It is clear that we have allowed politicians, prison guards and the judicial system to treat us inhumanly, like wild animals, because we did nothing to change these conditions in which we have been placed. And the prison oppressors do not stop. They get more oppressive with each and every passing day. It is their nature to exploit the poor and vulnerable human beings in our society.
We are not poor nor are we vulnerable when we exercise our minds toward our interests. As we said, ourInmate Welfare Fund alone produces $50 million a year. Imagine what our actual spending is. Yes, we as a 21st century prison class are far from poor and vulnerable.
It’s just time that we politicize ourselves.
Send our brothers some love and light:
  • Ajene Nkrumah (Joe Valentine), C-47779, PBSP SHU D4-212L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Abdul Olugbala Shakur (James Harvey), C-48884, PBSP SHU D1-119L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Sondai Kamdibe (Randall Ellis), C-68764, PBSP SHU D1-223L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Abasi Banda (Clyde Jackson), C-33559, PBSP SHU D2-107L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Mutope Duguma (James Crawford), D-05596, D1-117U, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
*The acronym CDCr, for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is sometimes written with a lower case “r” to indicate that the rehabilitation part of its mission has been abandoned in recent years.

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