Corcoran SHU staff told to ignore legal mandate to protect lives of hunger strikers

From: SF Bay View and NCTTCorSHU:

April 22nd 2013

On Monday, April 8, they ran no yard on the 4B Facility in the Corcoran SHU (Security Housing Unit). We of course investigated as to why we were, yet again, denied yard access without explanation and discovered staff had all gone to some sort of “training.”

By chance, or design, one of the NCTT-Cor-SHU coordinators was under escort by two officers who, by happenstance or design, began discussing the nature of this training that would take another two days of additional training to complete:

In preparation for the July 8 peaceful protest action (hunger strike, work stoppage etc.), Corcoran SHU administrators are directing staff to dispense with California law and state procedures and policy regarding mass hunger strikes and instead institute a policy designed to raise the potential for maximum casualties (deaths) amongst prisoner participants, while negating the existence of input data or any health care services monitoring information.

CDCR staff at Corcoran have been directed that there will be no weigh-ins, blood pressure checks or other medical monitoring of hunger strike participants for the duration of the July 8 peaceful protest. Instead, a single officer will be given a video camera to “monitor” participants every few days or so.

The facility will be locked down, a state of emergency enacted and all yard, visits and medical ducats will be suspended. No one will leave the cells. No medical intervention of any kind, including health care services, daily nursing observations and weekly primary care provider evaluations as mandated by California Correctional Health Care Services Policy Manual Inmate Medical Services Policies and Procedures (IMSP&P) Volume 4, Chapter 22.2, will be allowed. [That chapter, “Mass Organized Hunger Strike,” can be read at http://www.cphcs.ca.gov/docs/imspp/IMSPP-v04-ch22.2.pdf.]

In preparation for the July 8 peaceful protest action (hunger strike, work stoppage etc.), Corcoran SHU administrators are directing staff to dispense with California law and state procedures and policy regarding mass hunger strikes and instead institute a policy designed to raise the potential for maximum casualties (deaths) amongst prisoner participants, while negating the existence of input data or any health care services monitoring information.

Once a participant loses consciousness, if he is discovered by staff before he expires (dies), he will then receive medical intervention in the form of force feeding (physician’s order for life sustaining treatment). Once this occurs the participant will be considered no longer on “hunger strike.”

[Editor’s note: According to the IMSP&P hunger strike regulations cited above, health care staff “shall not force feed” a prisoner unless he refuses to say whether he wants to be force fed or is unable to give informed consent. In addition, forced feeding “shall not take place except in a licensed health care facility by licensed clinical staff.” The regulations contradict all the “training” the officers described.]

Our cause is a righteous cause, our peaceful protest to realize the Five Core Demands just and fair. We cannot allow the state to undermine the purpose and impact of these sacrifices.

Many of you may see the obvious contradiction in prison staff being trained by Warden Gipson to intentionally violate the law and health care policy, with the complicity of prison doctors, nurses and technicians, to intentionally jeopardize the lives of peaceful protestors.

But what’s not obvious, and in our opinion most insidious, by willfully preventing input data to even be collected, eliminating visits and confining any proof of the hunger strike to correctional officer videography, CDCR can control the narrative completely.

With plausible deniability pre-structured, this approach allows CDCR to under-report actual hunger strike participant numbers, claim those on hunger strike are actually eating by recording on video non-participants who are eating, releasing the videos to the press characterizing them as hunger strikers who are not actually striking, and do all of this while denying protestors access to mandated health care evaluation and clinical monitoring, ensuring serious injury or death befalls at least some protestors.

When it does, just like with Christian Gomez, they can claim the victim was only hunger striking a day or so and instead died of a “pre-existing medical condition unrelated to the hunger strike.”

That this premeditated violation of their own policy is both illegal and immoral is a given, and in fact of secondary concern. That they are doing so to maintain this domestic torture program, with all its inhumane and arbitrary components intact, at the expense of your tax dollars, our minds, bodies and very souls is what should outrage us all.

Our cause is a righteous cause, our peaceful protest to realize the Five Core Demands just and fair. We cannot allow the state to undermine the purpose and impact of these sacrifices.

We are prepared to die to end great injustice. Should we not be allowed the dignity of these sacrifices being accorded the state’s policy and our opposition acting within the guidelines of their own law?

Criminals are defined not by what they are called, but by what they do. Who are the criminals in this case? The answer is as obvious as the question. All that’s left to be decided is if you will stand idly by as this crime is committed.

A luta continua.

NCTT-Cor-SHU (NCTT stands for the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation (NARN) Collective Think Tank) is a people’s think tank comprised of New Afrikan (Black) prisoners held in solitary confinement in California’s Corcoran State Prison Security Housing Unit. The mission of the NCTT is to create, develop, review and implement programs, initiatives and concepts with and for individuals, groups and community activists across the U.S. to realize 10 Core Objectives as articulated by the think tank. Learn more and contact the NCTT at ncttcorshu@gmail.com, @NCTTCorSHU, on Facebook and on their website, at ncttcorshu.org.

Pelican Bay prison hunger strikers declare victory – support from many places including Youngstown, Ohio

Source: Sharon Danann, in: Workers World
Published Jul 27, 2011 4:22 PM

Leaders of the hunger strike in the Security Housing Unit at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison accepted an offer July 20 from the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation and have ended their weeks-long action. Members of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition confirmed reports of the hunger strike’s end after speaking with some of the prisoners involved. (prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com, July 22) The CDCR reported that as of 1 p.m. on July 20 all those who had been fasting at Pelican Bay had resumed eating. (www.sfgate.com, July 22)

Having been without food for 21 days, the leaders opted to “live to fight for justice another day,” according to mediator Dorsey Nunn. (times-standard.com, July 22) The CDCR offer included expanded educational programs, wall calendars and all-weather caps. The CDCR also committed to a review of SHU and gang-related policies.

A key accomplishment of the hunger strike has been to bring attention to the issue of torture in U.S. prisons. Currently inmates at Pelican Bay cannot be transferred out of their confinement in the SHU unless they turn in someone else for gang-related activities. Prisoners opposed to doing so on principle or in fear of retribution, or who have no such information, including those in the SHU for political beliefs, have been locked in SHUs indefinitely. Black Panther members incarcerated in the 1970s are among the inmates who have spent decades in isolation.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has stated that long-term solitary confinement is in violation of prohibitions against torture, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Supporters of the courageous prisoners continued to hit the streets with rallies July 22 and 23 in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Chino, Calif.; and in Los Angeles, Chicago and Montreal. Plans are going forward for a march on CDCR headquarters in Sacramento, Calif.; a rally at the California State building in San Francisco; and a meeting with family members and loved ones of prisoners in Oakland.

High-spirited activists marched up the quarter-mile driveway of Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 23, drumming on paint buckets and pots, until they were turned back by guards near the gate to the Supermax. In Baltimore on July 21, the blazing heat did not stop protesters outside the city jail from drawing support from passersby, who responded positively to the “Jobs not jails” theme.

Struggle against torture continues

The hunger strike has continued at three California state prisons. More than 400 inmates are refusing food at Corcoran and more than 100 at Tehachapi. The PHSS blog quoted a friend of a Calipatria prison hunger striker as saying, “I’m 100 percent sure that at least 300 prisoners are still supporting each other and going strong, refusing food and demanding the CDCR change conditions of solitary confinement and policies around gang validation.” (July 20)

According to a spokesperson for the court-appointed receiver overseeing prison health care, an inmate at Tehachapi had lost 29 pounds. (Los Angeles Times, July 19) The CDCR claimed to be medically monitoring 49 prisoners who had lost more than 10 pounds, but prisoner advocates disputed both the numbers and the quality of medical attention, most of which was “drive-by checks.” (PHSS conference call, July 18)

The PHSS was aware of “dozens” of hunger strikers who had lost over 20 pounds and who were experiencing fainting or irregular heartbeats. Nunn stated that the prison hospital at Pelican Bay was filled with inmates receiving fluids by IV. Some had “started to refuse water,” but many others were having trouble keeping ingested water down. Nunn added, “It is truly a matter of luck and/or untiring spirit that nobody has died so far.” (colorlines.com, July 20)

PHSS is encouraging solidarity actions to continue to make sure the CDCR makes good on its promises and to prevent retaliation against hunger strikers. Hunger strikers not in SHUs have been thrown in solitary as punishment for acts of solidarity. (PHSS blog, July 22)

This historic hunger strike of 6,600 inmates, uniting without regard to race, religion, ethnicity or group affiliation, has inspired prisoners and supporters to new acts of courage and defiance. Support the California hunger strikers and build the prisoners’ movement everywhere!

Statement of Solidarity with the Pelican Bay Collective Hunger Strike on July 1st and announcement to participate, by Corcoran SHU prisoners

Greetings,

I am writing from behind the walls of Corcoran State Prison and am in an isolation super max section (i.e. short corridor) behind political beliefs not compatible to the state, and therefore isolated not only from general population, but also other prisoners. I am writing to inform your organization that we prisoners here at C.S.P. Corcoran are going to take part in the Pelican Bay State Prison’s Hunger Strike.

I have enclosed a copy of our letter of solidarity and would kindly ask if you could make copies or submit it in one of your publications so as to inform the general public of our fight to change the inhuman conditions we are subjected to for our political beliefs or falsely identified as politically active in an organization. It would be greatly appreciated. Enclosed is a copy of our solidarity letter.

Haribu L.M. Soriano-Mugabi
C.S.P. Corcoran
P.O. Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

Statement of Solidarity with the Pelican Bay Collective Hunger Strike on July 1st.
From: the N.C.T.T. Corcoran SHU

Greetings to all who support freedom, justice, and equality. We here of the N.C.T.T. SHU stand in solidarity with, and in full support of the July 1st hunger strike and the 5 major action points and sub-points as laid out by the Pelican Bay Collective in the Policy Statements (See, “Archives”, P.B.S.P.-SHU-D corridor hunger strike).

What many are unaware of is that facility 4B here in Corcoran SHU is designated to house validated prisoners in indefinite SHU confinement and have an identical ultra-super max isolation unit short corridor modeled after corridor D in Pelican Bay, complete with blacked out windows a mirror tinted glass on the towers so no one but the gun tower can see in [into our cells], and none of us can see out; flaps welded to the base of the doors and sandbags on the tiers to prevent “fishing” [a means of passing notes, etc. between cells using lengths of string]; IGI [Institutional Gang Investigators] transports us all to A.C.H. [?] medical appointments and we have no contact with any prisoners or staff outside of this section here in 4B/1C C Section the “short corridor” of the Corcoran SHU. All of the deprivations (save access to sunlight); outlines in the 5-point hunger strike statement are mirrored, and in some instances intensified here in the Corcoran SHU 4B/1C C Section isolation gang unit.

Medical care here, in a facility allegedly designed to house chronic care and prisoners with psychological problems, is so woefully inadequate that it borders on intentional disdain for the health of prisoners, especially where diabetics and cancer are an issue. Access to the law library is denied for the most mundane reasons, or, most often, no reason at all. Yet these things and more are outlined in the P.B.S.P.-SHU five core demands.

What is of note here, and something that should concern all U.S. citizens, is the increasing use of behavioral control (torture units) and human experimental techniques against prisoners not only in California but across the nation. Indefinite confinement, sensory deprivation, withholding food, constant illumination, use of unsubstantiated lies from informants are the psychological billy clubs being used in these torture units. The purpose of this “treatment” is to stop prisoners from standing in opposition to inhumane prison conditions and prevent them from exercising their basic human rights.

Many lawsuits have been filed in opposition to the conditions in these conditions … [unreadable] yet the courts have repeatedly re-interpreted and misinterpreted their own constitutional law … [unreadable] to support the state’s continued use of these torture units. When approved means of protest and redress of rights are prove meaningless and are fully exhausted, then the pursuit of those ends through other means is necessary.

It is important for all to know the Pelican Bay Collective is not alone in this struggle and the broader the participation and support for this hunger strike, the other such efforts, the greater the potential that our sacrifice now will mean a more humane world for us in the future. We urge all who reads these words to support us in this effort with your participation or your voices call your local news agencies, notify your friends on social networks, contact your legislators, tell your fellow faithful at church, mosques, temple or synagogues. Decades before Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs were described by Congressman Ralph Metcalfe as “the control unit treatment program is long-term punishment under the guise of what is, in fact, pseudo-scientific experimentation.”

Our indefinite isolation here is both inhumane and illegal and the proponents of the prison industrial complex are hoping that their campaign to dehumanize us has succeeded to the degree that you don’t care and will allow the torture to continue in your name. It is our belief that they have woefully underestimated the decency, principles, and humanity of the people. Join us in opposing this injustice without end. Thank you for your time and support.

In Solidarity,
N.C.T.T. Corcoran – SHU
4B/1C – C Section
Super-max isolation Unit