From: Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/05/09/2737459/the-public-eye-guards-accused.html
By Charles Piller
Published: Sunday, May. 9, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 9, 2010 – 12:09 pm
First of two parts
Jason Brannigan’s eyes widened as he relived the day he says prison guards pepper-sprayed his face at point-blank range, then pulled him through the cellblock naked, his hands and feet shackled.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Brannigan recalled gasping in pain and humiliation during the March 2007 incident.
“They’re walking me on the chain and it felt just like … slaves again,” said the African American inmate, interviewed at the Sacramento County jail. “Like I just stepped off an auction block.”
Brannigan, 33, said the incident occurred in the behavior modification unit at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, where he was serving time for armed assault. He is one of more than 1,500 inmates who have passed through such units in six California prisons.
A Bee investigation into the behavior units, including signed affidavits, conversations and correspondence with 18 inmates, has uncovered evidence of racism and cruelty at the High Desert facility. Inmates described hours-long strip-searches in a snow-covered exercise yard. They said correctional officers tried to provoke attacks between inmates, spread human excrement on cell doors and roughed up those who peacefully resisted mistreatment.
Many of their claims were backed by legal and administrative filings, and signed affidavits, which together depicted an environment of brutality, corruption and fear.
Source: SF Bay View
There was a riot here at Ely State Prison that took place in the most restricted unit, 4B and 4A. It lasted from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. It was a battle!
There has been a lot of changes here at ESP that all started on Nov. 23, 2009. Rather than giving us anything to look forward to or any real incentive by implementing any constructive or productive programs, the administration has maliciously taken things away. Canteen privileges, appliances (radios, TVs, CD players and the like) and visits have all been stripped away from us so they can hold these things over our head and use them as a control method.
On Nov. 23, 2009, all of the prisoners who are serving “Disciplinary Segregation” were moved and placed in Unit 4, A Wing and B Wing, and Unit 3B. They intentionally made 4B the worst tier in this prison by strategically placing protective custody inmates and mentally ill inmates all around us on this tier, while taking appliances away, so that we have no choice but to be subjected to the everyday torture, sensory deprivation and psychological warfare deliberately placed on us by these PCs and mentally ill inmates, who constantly scream, bang, verbally assault other prisoners, snitch and inform on us and several other tactics they do to make us miserable that I cannot explain.
Not to mention the guards on this unit are the most strict, the most petty, spiteful, vindictive and retaliatory guards in this prison. These guards have intentionally gone out of their way to provoke us on several different occasions. They have taken appliances, including mine, away from inmates who committed rule violations prior to Nov. 23, 2009 – which is against policy – and prisoners who have been found guilty of minor and general write-ups have had their appliances confiscated, and even prisoners who were found not guilty of minor write-ups had their appliances taken away!
To top that off, prisoners who have gone two months without their appliances still have not had their appliances returned to them in spite of what the policy states, and the staff are not answering kites (written messages) or making any efforts to try to get the appliances returned to these prisoners.
Year after year it is take, take, take, and it has gotten to the point where we got fed up with this. We have said enough is enough. We needed to get things off of our chest!
Prisoners on 4B, including myself, kicked off a riot by flooding, burning, capturing food slots, popping sprinkler heads, forcing the guards to gear up and extract us from our cells so that we could fight with them! At least eight guards dressed in full riot gear and helmets would line up and run in our cells, trying to beat us into submission.
We fought hard and we took it to them. Many of us were successful at disarming them of their electrical shield, making sure to get our hits in before they wrapped us up and beat us down. One prisoner even got out of his cell and hit a guard so hard in the helmet that the face guard broke off!
When it was all said and done, there were over 16 cell extractions on both wings, totally three prisoners were sent to the infirmary, one of those prisoners was sent to the hospital outside of the prison because of head trauma, but the other two were returned back to their unit two days later. There was so much blood everywhere – in the cells, on the tier, in the sally port, in the hallway and on the walls – it was crazy! It was a battle!
Every guard that was on the extraction team received some type of injury. Each one had to see the nurse about something. One guard, allegedly, got stabbed during a cell extraction. He was laid out in the sally port being operated on by the nurses for about 45 minutes before he was carried out on a stretcher. After that, the guards’ spirits were deflated and they refused to run in on anybody’s cell. They showed their fear and defeat by their use of chemical agents from here on out.
We battled hard! Whites and several Latino prisoners from different factions all came together, successfully building an army in 20 minutes to fight together and take a stand! Guys that normally would not even talk to each other came together to take it to these swine.
Every one of us who got extracted received a black eye, bloody nose and many lumps and bruises, but we are proud of these battle wounds! At least I’m proud of mine! There were many foul and unprofessional acts done by the guards that directly violate the policies of the institution, and an investigation is being pursued. We are taking this as a victory.
The guards bowed down before we were ready to stop fighting. They extracted me from my cell. I quickly disarmed them of their electrical shield and got a few licks in before they wrapped me up. When they brought me back to my cell, Latinos, Whites and Blacks were all chanting my name and cheering me on. It felt good.
This is not my first riot but it was definitely the best. It’s so good to see solidarity in action, to see prisoners of different races and factions coming together like this. We need more solidarity before we can really start making positive changes in this system!
Resistance and sacrifice,
ABC-Nevada Prison Chapter, Ely State Prison