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Oct 20, 2017


By Sitawa, Arturo Castellanos, Todd Ashker, George Franco Arturo Castellanos Todd Ashker George Franco


Prison Focus Issue 53
Fall 2017

Oct 14, 2017 marks the 2 year anniversary of the approval of the Ashker settlement. We celebrate our victory in the Ashker case, in which virtually all of the over 1600 prisoners then languishing in indeterminate SHU were released to General Population. This victory was achieved through 3 hunger strikes and the non-violent legal and political action of thousands of California prisoners, their families, supporters, and their attorneys.

However, unfortunately our general monitoring is due to run out after two years unless the Court grants an extension. We believe that CDCR is still engaged in constitutional violations that deny prisoners due process and seeks to put us back in the hole, for many, indeterminately under the guise of Administrative SHU. Our attorneys will seek an extension of the agreement due to CDCR’s systemic violations of the constitution. We don’t know what the court will do, but we do know that prisoners and their families have to re-energize our human rights movement to fight against the continuing violations of our rights. Examples are:

-CDCR’s continued misuse of Confidential Information to place prisoners back in the SHU, particularly with bogus conspiracy charges;
-The lack of out of cell time, programming and vocational programs in Level 4 prisons. The last letter of CDCR stands for rehabilitation, and there is almost no rehab programs or opportunities in the level 4 prisons. They function like modified SHUs;
-The denial of parole to lifers and Prop 57 prisoners who have clean records simply because of old, unconstitutional gang validations and CDCR’s illegally housing us in SHU for years;
-The turning of the Restrictive Custody General Population Unit which was supposed to be a GP unit where prisoners who had real safety concerns could transition to regular GP, into a purgatory where the only way out is to either debrief or die;
-CDCR promulgation of new regulations which gives the ICC discretion to put people back in the SHU, allows for many prisoners to be placed in the future in indeterminate Administrative SHU, or to be placed in the RCGP on phony safety concerns.

We must stand together, not only for ourselves, but for future generations of prisoners, so that they don’t have to go through the years of torture that we had to. We need all prisoners – young and old -to make our collective outcry public to ensure that the victory that we have won is not reversed by CDCR behind closed doors. Ultimately, we are the ones who are responsible for leading the struggle for justice and fair treatment of prisoners. That is why we entered into the historic Agreement to End Hostilities, and why it is so important that the prisoner class continue to stand by and support that agreement. We cannot allow our victories to be nullified by CDCR’sabuse of power, and may have to commit ourselves to non-violent peaceful struggle if CDCR continues on its present path.

We need everyone- prisoners, their families and the public - to send comments on CDCR’s proposed regulations to, send emails and letters urging Gov Brown to sign Assembly Bill 1308, make sure that prisoner complaints about unfair treatment are publicized, and to work together to rebuild our prisoners human rights movement.

We cannot let CDCR increase its use of prolonged solitary confinement either by misusing confidential information to place prisoners in SHU on phony conspiracy charges, or through increasing the use of Administrative SHU. As the Supreme Court stated over one hundred years ago in the 1879 case of Wilkerson v. Utah, it is “safe to affirm that punishment of torture… and all others in the same line of unnecessary cruelty are forbidden by that [the Eighth] Amendment.” The admired historian Howard Zinn noted the application of that decision to the modern SHU: “All we need then, is general recognition that to imprison a person inside a cage, to deprive that person of human companionship, of mother and father and wife and children and friends, to treat that person as a subordinate creature, to subject that person to daily humiliation and reminder of his or her own powerlessness in the face of authority… is indeed torture and thus falls within the decision of the Supreme Court a hundred years ago.”

Oct 01, 2014


Kim Rohrbach

keywords: Prison Searches

From Prison Focus Issue 44
Fall 2014

In late September, the CDC announced draconian new
regulations promulgated under the guise of an emergency.
These regulations purport to authorize the use of
dogs and electronic drug detectors to indiscriminately search
all persons entering institutional grounds for contraband, as
well as the CDC’s wards. The public was given short notice
of the new regulations—we were only given about five days
to submit public comments to the Department—but word
quickly got out, and a large number of comments opposing
the regulations were submitted.

Although the “emergency” regulations nominally apply to
all persons, they require that only visitors and those incarcerated
endure strip-down searches in the event of “positive canine
alert” (employees and contractors receive nothing more
than a pat-down.) Moreover, penalties attach to anybody
who refuses a strip-down search and/or does so repeatedly.

To what extent these regulations have been implemented,
and the time-line for implementation, are unclear. Meanwhile,
on October 17, and on October 31, respectively, the
CDC issued Notices of Change to Regulations regarding
both electronic drug detection equipment and canine searches.
The Department contemporaneously publicized, “Recognizing
the ongoing problem with drug use and trafficking
within the institutions, CDCR must focus on undertaking a
comprehensive approach to prevent the introduction of drugs
and contraband into the institutions.” The Department further
noted that there were 4000 documented incidents recorded in
2013 related to drugs in California prisons.

4000 incidents is not such a high number, when put into
perspective. On December 25, 2013, the CDCr’s total incustody
population, according to its reported statistics, was
134,243. Thus, based on the latter figure, for each one hundred
people in custody, about 2.98 reported drug-related incidents
were documented in 2013. (One wonders how these
statistics compare with statistics out on the streets.) This is
by no means intended to minimize the problems and risks
associated with the presence of illicit drugs within California’s
prisons. However, the situation hardly justifi es a
policy allowing highly invasive and indiscriminate searches
of visitors and those in custody. Staff and contractors, who
typically go into work without so much as passing through a
metal detector (or so this writer has observed), have the most
unfettered access to those in custody, and the greatest ability
to introduce contraband unnoticed.

From Prison Focus Issue 44
Fall 2014

CDCR deliberately lied about their implementation of
the Security Threat Group (STG) Step Down Program
(SDP) sanctioned by Gov. Jerry Brown. We
prisoners, the Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM),
all our supporters, all state legislators and all citizens of
California are being lied to and manipulated by Gov. Jerry
Brown, CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard, George Giurbino of
the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI), Suzan Hubbard of
DAI and the Departmental Review Board (DRB), Tehachapi
Warden Kim Holland and Chief Deputy Warden W. Sullivan
as they continue their torture tactics from Pelican Bay to
Corcoran to Tehachapi state prisons.

Gov. Brown and CDCr administrators are currently violating
our United States constitutional rights, the California
Code of Regulations and other rules, laws, policies and standards
with the intent of breaking down and destroying men
and women prisoners, family bonds and moral ethics here in

On July 11, 2014, I was transferred from Pelican Bay State
Prison to CCI, better known as Tehachapi State Prison. During
my journey, I had a week long layover at DVI, Tracy,
from July 11-17, 2014. I continued my journey on July
17 and arrived at Tehachapi on that same day.

My week long journey was pretty much uneventful, but
I was able to touch base and educate a few young up-andcoming,
politically conscious prison activists to a better
understanding ceasing hostilities and where we stand in our
protracted peaceful protest.

Upon my arrival here at Tehachapi, it immediately became
clear to me that my next two years were going to be another
form of modern day slavery and that the past four years of
protest – all we fought through and accomplished – had fallen
on deaf ears here at Tehachapi with Warden Kim Holland.
My very first run-in with these backward, mountain dwelling
slave drivers was during my journey from DVI.

The mail I received there was put on the transportation
bus. Upon my arrival at Tehachapi, the transportation sergeant
gave my personal mail to Tehachapi Receiving and Release
staff with instructions to give it to me when they found
housing for me. I was later walked approximately 125 yards
from R&R to 4B-7C housing, where I and two others were
placed in 7 Building’s holding cages.

I reminded the correctional officer of the transportation
sergeant’s instructions and that the large envelope contained
my personal mail and I would like to have it before being
placed into my assigned cage. His response was, “You’ll get
your stuff!” When he walked away, I knew I wouldn’t see
him or my mail again; and to this day, I have yet to receive
my personal mail.

This hellish modern day slave camp and all its staff have
been brainwashed and indoctrinated into an old, prehistoric,
backwards prison mentality of the 1960s and 1970s, minus
the physical violence, which has been replaced by a new
form of violence, mental assault through every facet of this
institution and its offi cials. All of the rights that have been
rightfully ours as prisoners since long before Oct. 12, 2012,
are denied.

Warden Kim Holland’s staff knowingly violate daily every
rule, policy, law, standard and constitutional provision that
has been written to provide prisoners with their basic human
rights, and they do it as though they have no conscience at
all and it is their normal way of life, that we prisoners should
be thankful for and accept with a smile and “thank ya, sir.”

With that, they flex their muscles as though they stand on
the absolute power of virtual impunity that allows them to
constantly get away with the crimes they commit upon us
prisoners daily. Thus, they boldly think we should bow to
their whim.

On July 17, 2014, as I was being escorted to my cage, just
about every prisoner in 4B-7C (whom I had never met) was
yelling out at me to check my laundry roll for sizes. I wasn’t
sure at the time why they were yelling this to me, but through
my many years of experience, I knew it was a warning.

Therefore, as soon as I was in my cage and was un-cuffed,
I immediately began to check my laundry roll. I held up
the boxer underwear so that the correctional offi cer (c/o)
could clearly see that the boxer underwear I was holding up
couldn’t have been any bigger than a large.

The c/o looked at the boxers and looked at me, then said,
“and,” as though I was either supposed to just accept them
without any argument or what was he supposed to do about
it. This foul show of disrespect got my blood boiling. I responded
“What in the hell is this?” holding the boxers closer
to the door.

With that, I picked up what looked like a T-shirt. It was
so dirty and small that I really wasn’t sure if it was a T-shirt
or rag to clean my floor and toilet with. It, as well, couldn’t
have been any bigger than a large. Looking at my size and
the size of the boxers and T-shirt, it was crystal clear that I
couldn’t have fit any of these items in my teen years, and if I
could, I wouldn’t put my body in nothing that dirty.

Therefore, I asked the c/o to go find me something I could
fit – something around a 4XL for both the boxers and T-shirt.
When he left my door, I took a good look at these super
small, dirty boxers and T-shirt, and was, well, bowled over
how this prison enforcer responded to my dilemma. It was
clear to me that this administration utilizes the methods of
dehumanization by stripping prisoners of their dignity, one
layer at a time.

I soon learned that Receiving and Release SHU Property
Offi cers were also a tool of reaction that this administration
uses against us and that this offi ce regularly practices the art
of intentionally destroying and or making prisoners’ property
disappear, while keeping a straight poker face, acting as
though it never existed or it never came though the property

We were informed by IGI Counselor V. Ybarra and all of
4B-7C staff that the property policy is: Your property follows
you soon after you step off the transportation bus, meaning
we no longer have to wait 10 days after our arrival or after
we have gone to Classification or after a long 30-day waiting
period. Now it’s immediately after your arrival, your property
is broken down and sent to your assigned location. Thus
if all the above staff are well aware of this property policy,
then it is quite clear that the R&R property offi cer is well
aware of it as well, when property is his responsibility.

My cellie, Jabari Scott, arrived here on Sept. 2, 2014,
and as of Sept. 23, he still has not yet received his property.
Therefore, you have a policy that’s not being adhered to or
enforced and a property offi cer doing what he wants, when
he wants, no matter what rule or policy he breaks.

Note to all prisoners who are scheduled to be transferred
to Tehachapi State Prison: Make sure to get an accurate and
complete, itemized inventory slip of every item in your property
before signing and transferring.

All California state prisons are mandated by statute to provide
each and every prisoner in the prison system, whether
you are in SHU or in Step 1 through 4 of the SDP or in general
population, with the required allotment of clothing and
housing supplies to keep themselves and their living quarters
clean and to practice good health habits essential to the
maintenance of physical and mental well-being.

State mandated clothing allotments are one pair of shoes,
six pairs of socks, four boxers, four T-shirts, two pillow cases,
four sheets, three towels, two washcloths, two fl oor towels,
two jumpsuits, one denim jacket, one beanie, two blankets,
one laundry bag, one pillow, one mattress, one solid
plastic coffee mug and one solid plastic spoon.

State mandated weekly laundry exchanges require that all
state prisons provide prisoners a one-for-one exchange limited
to three T-shirts, two sheets, three pairs of socks, three
boxers, one pillow case and two towels.

Upon your arrival at Tehachapi, each prisoner is issued
one clothing roll and one bedding roll, which is your one and
only issue for the duration of your time here.

The clothing roll consists of one pair of socks, one boxer,
one T-shirt, one towel and one fl oor rag. The bedding roll
consists of two sheets and two blankets.

Laundry exchange: Keep in mind that no issued laundry is
new, and all of it is very battered and used. Weekly laundry
exchange goes by a one full clothing roll for one full clothing
roll in return, which means that you can only exchange
full rolls – a clothing roll consisting of one T-shirt, one boxer
and one pair of socks or a bedding roll of two sheets – or
you can choose not to exchange anything at all. You don’t
have a choice on what size you receive in return. All laundry
rolls are pre-made, and size is not considered; therefore, it’s
a take-it-or-leave-it exchange and luck of the draw on sizes.

Housing supplies: All SHU prisoners here at Tehachapi are
issued one small paper dixie cup and one small plastic picnic
spoon. Supply exchange is every two to three weeks, if we
are lucky; thus, you must be real careful in the maintenance
of your dixie cup and picnic spoon to ensure they last until
the next supply exchange.

Cleaning supplies: Each prisoner is issued one yellow
cleaning rag, and once a week an offi cer will yell out, “disinfectant.”
At that time, all prisoners are expected to push their
yellow rags out under their door. Then the officer will walk
by, pouring disinfectant onto the yellow rags. You have to
sop up as much disinfectant as possible, then squeeze it into
some sort of milk carton or container to preserve as much of
the disinfectant you sopped up as you can. This practice is so
disrespectful and degrading that we refuse to participate in it.
Those are the only cleaning supplies that Tehachapi provides
its prisoners with. State mandate requires that all state prisons
provide three ounces of uncut disinfectant, plus one cell
cleaning rag and one scrub pad, weekly.

TV stations: We struggle to get all the following basic stations:
ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, MY13, COZI, two Spanish
stations and four church stations. The struggle is that some
stations are blurry and very hard to see; others go in and out
all throughout the day, every day, and others just black out
for about 30 to 40 seconds. TV access starts at 6:48 every

Pillows: Tehachapi does not issue pillows and the floor of-
fi cers will write you a rule violation if a home-made pillow is
found in your cell. Therefore, we roll up our jumpsuits, towel
and blanket and put them in a T-shirt at night, then unroll
them every morning.

Mirrors: There are no mirrors whatsoever in any cell. We
have a very small mirror in each shower and it is the only
place and time we have access to a mirror.

Containers: They are not allowing us to have or possess
any canteen containers and some plastics. They argue that
because we have in-cell electric plugs, we could use them to
make weapons. Their argument makes it clear that Tehachapi
refuses to advance out of the Stone Age and embrace the future.
Thus, they are going to fi ght tooth and nail on adhering
to SDP policies.

Water: The water here is so bad that every correctional
officer here refuses to drink it and every one of them brings
his own water to drink. The water is treated with so much sodium
that it leaves a thick white deposit caked on all our sink
nozzles that is as thick and hard as cement. And when you
run your water in your sink for about 10 to 14 seconds, you’ll
start to see the sodium deposit build up, foaming around the
edges of the water.

Turn the water off, as it dissipates, it leaves behind a
thick white film that hardens on the inside of your sink. This
thick, white sodium film sticks to the inside of your cups and
bowls, too, as well as to your body, which leaves you with
an itchy feeling.

Now if this sodium film deposit is sticking to everything
water touches, what is it doing to the inside of our bodies after
we consume it, especially when you’re drinking the eight
recommended cups of water a day? Tehachapi is well aware
of this water issue but it is of no concern to them, because to
them, we are only prisoners! And they don’t have to drink it.

Yard: Buildings 4B-7 and 4B-8 share a total of 24 yard
cages, 12 cages per building. Each building has 64 cells, and
Tehachapi SHU only runs one yard a day for SHU prisoners
for three and a half to four hours. Therefore, it could take
five to seven days for the yard to make a full rotation. Thus,
each cell is not getting its 10 hours a week allotted yard and
exercise time, which is mandated by law.

Medication chronos: Me, my cellie, Jabari Scott, and
many other prisoners were taking various different medications
and had various different active medical chronos that
were prescribed by medical doctors in our previous prisons
to alleviate pain and bring comfort to disabilities. All have
been taken by a rogue doctor employed by Tehachapi – another
tool of reaction deployed against us.

H. Tate, M.D., is an old war veteran who has a fi rm grip
on his old war roots. He has a high threshold for pain and believes
that everyone else should too. Thus he follows a firm
practice of “If it’s not killing you,” he will save CDCr some
money in not treating you.

All my pain meds were taken and all my cellie’s pain meds
were reduced to regular over-the-counter Tylenol that we can
buy from the canteen. We both are in so much pain that we
are not sleeping through the night, nor can we perform many
of our daily activities and functions. And many other prisoners
are experiencing the same discomforts at the hands of
Dr. Tate.

Programming: The big con, The Big Lie, the scheme,
sham, bogus Step Down Program Steps 3 and 4 at Tehachapi
State Prison – the whole conspiracy was sold to us by Secretary
Jeffrey Beard, Undersecretary Martin Hoshino, Adult
Institutions Director Michael Stainer, Departmental Review
Board Director George Giurbino, Adult Institutions Deputy
Director Suzan Hubbard, Corrections Counselor II C. Vargas
at Pelican Bay and Warden Kim Holland of Tehachapi and
sanctioned by Gov. Jerry Brown as if it was a beautiful Hawaiian
vacation. It all was a lie – a hoax – and this was never
a functional or functioning step anything program.

This is the worst SHU in California. Nothing that resembles
a step down program is functioning here, nor can it be
for quite some time, because it was finally admitted and is
a fact that Tehachapi SHU will have to go through a major
overhaul and retro-fitting to be able to secure both prisoners
and guards. It was as well revealed that there are far too
many blind spots that the gun tower cannot see.

Thus, as we speak, only one cell at a time is allowed to
come out to what they are calling and selling as group dining,
and thus far, only four prisoners have been approved for
group yard. Steps 3 and 4 are only allowed to walk to the
showers with no cuffs once a week. The other two times a
week, we are escorted and cuffed.

The STG/SDP was forced upon us Oct. 12, 2012, as a token
given by CDCr in hope that it would wash away all the
years of torture and foul deeds subjected on us. This supposed
token became our only means of escaping our torture.
For us here at Tehachapi, that token became our new form of
torture, only with a new name, Tehachapi, and what we have
come to realize is that the supposed token of good faith has
twin evil heads – one that stares you in the face, while the
other is biting you on the ass!

The facts are concrete and crystal clear that Beard, Hoshino,
Stainer, Giurbino, Hubbard, Holland and Chief Deputy
Warden W. Sullivan all knew from the beginning that Tehachapi
State Prison SHU would not be a match made in
heaven and was, in fact, incompatible with the concepts of
Steps 3 and 4 of the SDP, which is why it fails entirely in its
bogus attempt to align itself with those policies and principles.
Knowing this is fact, Tehachapi continues to be sold
to the public, legislature and prisoners as an up and running,
operationally functioning program with all of the privileges,
opportunities and amenities intact.

IT IS A SHAM! Warden Kim Holland would never even
attempt to embrace the concepts of human dignity and a prisoner’s
basic human rights, because she has turned a blind eye
throughout her tenure, refusing to address and assure anyone
that her prisoners are treated with the smallest air of dignity
and that their basic needs – mandated by law – that express a
concern for humanity are met.

Pelican Bay SHU, Corcoran SHU and many other SHUs
are making big strides in lining themselves up with the Title
15 matrix, standardized SHU and SDP policies. But Warden
Kim Holland continues to hold the same immoral ground of
the past, keeping Tehachapi in the chattel slavery era. And
Gov. Brown, Secretary Beard, Undersecretary Hoshino, Director
Stainer, Director Giurbino and Director Hubbard all
continue to feed Warden Holland the power to hold such an
immoral position that basically shatters the very foundation
of the SDP, which they themselves built.

Taking a good look at the facts and seeing them for what
they truly are, one would have to say this whole thing reeks
of conspiracy, and it’s clear that there is way more to these
tactics than we know and see. But we still must press the
questions: Why is a rogue warden, Warden Kim Holland,
given such power? Why is a rogue institution, Tehachapi
SHU, being allowed to operate? Why have all the above
clear violations gone unnoticed for all these years?

If SDP is truly a program that CDCr administrators want to
succeed, then why haven’t Secretary Beard, Director Stainer
or any of the other staff taken a look into these violations
and resolved them in a humane manner that would refl ect
anything close to the SDP re-entry program that they have
been selling since Oct. 12, 2012?

Why did Secretary Beard, Undersecretary Hoshino, Director
Stainer, Director Giurbino, Director Hubbard and Warden
Holland attempt to establish a Step 3 and 4 of the Step Down
Program in a prison that is not structurally capable of accommodating
such a program? And why force bodies into a Step
3 and 4 program in a prison that they knew would not offer
those prisoners the privileges, opportunities and amenities
outlined in the SDP policies that would afford them their basic,
fundamental rights that promote human dignity?

Bottom line is CDCr has knowingly lied to state Sen. Loni
Hancock and the other legislators about the entire SDP and
how well it is functioning. Sen. Hancock should come and
pay a visit to Tehachapi State Prison so she could see for herself
the lies CDCr sold her and the Legislature, catch them
in the game they are playing with prisoners’ lives and shut
Tehachapi SHU down.

Tehachapi has no business attempting to establish any
step of the Step Down Program here, nor should it house
regular SHU prisoners here until this prison has completed
a full overhaul from top to bottom, from its structural insuf-
ficiencies to all its staff, starting with Warden Kim Holland,
Chief Deputy Warden J. Gutierrez, Capt. Mayo, Lt. Parrett,
V. Ybarra, Dr. H. Tate, the R&R staff and all those that refuse
to divorce themselves from that old style slave-driving

We call on all of the officials to respond swiftly to this
human crisis. If just one of you possesses just a morsel of
empathy and believes that no prisoner should be subjected
to torture and cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment, then put
a STOP to the foul practices that continue to violate every
rule, law, standard, policy and constitutional provision ever
written to protect the fundamental rights of human beings.

To our countless supporters and those who ceaselessly
fight for justice on our behalf, we thank you all for your
boundless support – that driving spirit that keeps us pushing
forward – and we thank you for your great effort. Your successes
have proven mighty enough to move that great mountain
of torture that kept us isolated and voiceless for way too
many years.

Words cannot fully convey how great it is to have so many
amazing people join our fight. Although we have much to
stand proud about, we still have a long way to go and we still
need you all even more.

Thus, spread the word, push the word, shake that great
bush that attempts to hide Tehachapi and Warden Kim Holland’s
horrors until we have shaken them all to the ground
and that bright light of the people’s justice reveals all their
foul deeds. Call, tweet, text, write all your legislators, all
CDCr administrators, Tehachapi State Prison Warden Kim
Holland and Chief Deputy Warden W. Sullivan and express
your desire for change, for justice, for humanity! And ask a
friend, family member and loved one to join us.

And a special call-out to our New Afrikan community,
civil rights leaders, human rights leaders, all religious leaders,
our lawyers, actresses, actors, sports fi gures, musicians,
entertainers and all those in the business sector: We need you
all to get involved to make a difference in your community’s
future, and together we will rebuild justice on the foundation
of a new morality that is the heart of the people.

To all those prison rights activists and those who stand
for what is right in Corcoran State Prison SHU, Zaharibu,
Heshima, Turi, Griff, Amondo, we owe you all a great deal
of gratitude for your courageous stance of defi ance against
CDCr’s implementation of its criminalizing journals that
do nothing towards aiding rehabilitation or arming men and
women with the necessary tools to succeed on a mainline or
in society.

Your act, many acts, of defiance were critical and effective
in catapulting us forward into the position we are in right
now, to enable us to shine the light of justice on and expose
the foul, torturous conditions of this institution, Tehachapi
SHU, that reeks of the mentality of Robben Island, South
Africa! Deeply appreciated! Keep pushin’! To all U.S. citizens
and our world community, support those who struggle
to support themselves!

Oct 01, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: “Out of Control” by Nancy Kurshan

Kijana Yashiri Askakri


From Prison Focus Issue 44
Fall 2014

Every aspiring prison rights activist, both captive and
non-captive, that has a desire to qualitatively learn
and to develop themselves into becoming a professionally
trained activists, so as to be effective through the
course of their line of work, must read and study Nancy Kurshan’s
book “Out of Control.” I highly suggest that study
groups be formulated, so as to advance and build upon the
organizational framework she has provided for the people,
to which has been conceptualized in simple and easy to read
language. The book at its core, illustrates countless examples
of mutual-aid-and-cooperation, along with emphasizing the
importance of having clearly established goals and objectives
that can be reasonably achieved.

Nancy Kurshan does an excellent job of highlighting the
signifi cance of a 15 year (1985 to 2000) struggle, the was
waged and became manifest in their collective efforts to end
the lockdown at Marion Federal Prison, that is located in the
state of Illinois to which morphed into one of Amerikkka’s
notorious control unit and isolation-based torture chamber
(e.g. solitary confi nement).

As with any struggle that is geared towards movement
building, it begins with the idea of an individual and/or individuals,
which was the case with the Committee to End
the Marion Lockdown (CEML), when its founding members
Nancy Kurshan, Jan Susler, and Steve Whitman initially just
wanted to educate the people by exposing to the public, the
systemic practices of social, political, economical, and racial
injustices, that are inherent in the Prison Industrial Slave
Complex (e.g. PISC). And in addition to how these contradictions
impact and affect our communities. It wasn’t long
before their work took on a life of its own—a life molded by
their relentless strategic planning and organizing.

Unbeknownst to many in society, the construct of solitary
confi nement units, were originally modeled after the “diabolical
techniques” of the mad scientist Dr. Edgar Schein of
MIT, where he provided a blueprint on how to break and
brainwash the Chinese prisoners of war via his book “Coercive
Persuasion.” Nancy Kurshan excerpts a passage from
his book, wherein it states:

“In order to produce marked changes of attitude and/
or behavior, it is necessary to weaken, undermine, or remove
the supports of the old attitudes. Because most of
these supports are the face to face confi rmation of present
behavior and attitudes, which are provided by those
with whom close emotional ties exist, it is often necessary
to break these emotional ties. This can be done either
by removing the individual physically and preventing
any communication with those whom cares about, or
by proving to him that those whom he respects are not
worthy of it, and, indeed, should be actively mistreated.

I would like to have you think of brainwashing not in
terms of politics, ethics, and morals, but in terms of the
deliberate changing of human behavior and attitude by
a group of men over who have relatively complete control
over and environment in which the captive populace
lives.” Page 12 of “Out of Control.”

The context of this is relative to the CDCr’s gang validation
policies and practices, in particular, in relation to CDCr’s
newly created “How to Make a Slave” Step Down Program
(SDP), where prisoners have been targeted/persecuted
with the same purpose and objectives in mind—to break and
brainwash us! Pelican Bay’s counter intelligence unit (IGI)
has successfully destroyed/neutralized the only real outside
community support that I had, when they falsely accused my
beloved lil’ sista [Name omitted by Ed] of promoting gang
activity via a letter she sent me, to tell that Black Panther
Party (BPP) members were going to be attending/supporting
a community event, that was being held on my behalf, at Lil’
Bobby Hutton’s Park in West Oakland.
Instrumental in the CEML’s successful grass root
organizing was several key factors, such as:

1. Their multi-faceted approach, as to how they took
to accomplishing various tasks. They make a point of
not just up and involving themselves in activities—if
they could avoid it. This allowed them to preserve and
maximize their limited resources. For example, they
would initiate plans 3, 6 or 12 months in advance,
containing specifi c goals particular, in relation to
CDCr’s newly created “How To Mark a Slave” Step
Down Program, where prisoners have been targeted/
persecuted with the same purpose and objectives that
they wanted to achieve in their line of work. This provided
their personnel with organizational structure
(leadership), which armed them with the tools to modify
their tactics, when circumstances warranted such.
This point is significant, as many activists find themselves
becoming over-whelmed, burnt-out, and worndown
rather quickly, as they are often operating upon
their emotional subjectivity that is associated with being
outraged—over how the people they’re attempting
to aid and assist, is being oppressed by as racist and
diabolical system of government! This typically clouds
an activist’s ability to creatively assess the fact that victories
often won’t be achieved over night—especially
without any organizational structure in place to compartmentalize
their work.

2. Their collaborative work with political prisoner
like Sundiata Acoi, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Alejandrina
Torres, Bill Dunne, Safi ya Bukhari, Hanif-Bey, Carlos
A. Torres, Silvia Baraldini, and Susan Rosenberg, to
which later included the prisoners that were also being
subjected to various human rights abuses. The relationships
that were forged out of this crucible, enabled
human bridges to be constructed, wherein CEML
members were able to learn, hands on, of the contradictions
that plagued this slave kamp (Marion Prion), and
other like it. Thus allowing CEML to be equipped with
the necessary tools to achieve their objectives, while
providing substantive support to prisoners. Pivotal in
this exchange, was CEML’s functional appreciation
of Democracy, through the course of staying in contact
with the prisoners, but more importantly, including
the prisoners in the decision-making process when
strategizing for a particular action and or community
event. This protected prisoners from being left nameless
faceless, and voiceless, when the reality of the issues
directly pertained to prisoners being brutalized,
tormented, and dehumanized in every extreme by our

3. CEML understood the importance of having organizational
infrastructure, wherein they constantly distributed
pamphlets, leaflets, flyers, brochures, and other
propaganda based materials, wire their work. Shops,
seminars, study groups, etc. That they held to educate
the people, about their line of work. This insured the
basis of, clearly defi ne organizational expectations being
set for, which made it easier for CEML to receive
the support from the community by other people wanting
to become CEML members; volunteering her time
or donating funds and other essential resources for
their work.

4. CEML did not limit the focus of their primary objectives,
to just ending the lockdown at Marion, they
also instituted additional campaigns, they became interconnect
(secondary) to their pursuits. For example,
the prisoners at Marion were being forced to drink,
shower, and wash themselves in toxic polluted water!
The exposure of this contradiction, brought about outrage
from the environmentalist in our community this
allowed CEML to forge a united front with them. And
this was a pivotal tactic, when you account for the fact,
that, CEML only had 10 to 15 core members throughout
their entire 15 your struggle. This is extremely impressive!

Close this with a clenched fist salute to Nancy Kurshan
in the entire CEML staff for a job well done, but more
importantly — for having a wherewithal, to share their
struggle of life’s experience with the people. So again,
everyone to read and study Nancy Kurshan’s book “Out
of Control” for free on the Freedom Archives website, and
build upon the framework that she has provided us.

From Prison Focus Issue 44
Fall 2014

It is said that history repeats itself. There is some truth to
be found within this statement. All existing matter, be it
organic or inorganic, and social phenomenon alike, have
a history of endless development, a process of becoming, being,
and passing away and into something qualitatively new

But development does not, nor should it be misunderstood,
as proceeding along a straight line. Linearism is a product of
the human mind, a human construct, that fails to correspond
with the external material world and the laws inherent within
it that govern the direction and development of its endless

History, like every other existing thing in this world, develops
not in a straight line, like a recording on a reel that
repeats itself continually, but in a cyclical like ascendancy,
with each cycle repeating itself qualitatively distinct from
the previous one, or as V.I. Lenin described:

“A development that repeats, as it were, stages that
have already been passed, but repeats them in a different
way, on a higher basis (negation of negation), a development,
so to speak, that proceeds in spirals, not in a
straight line.”

At this particular stage in our struggle, we are coming full
circle as history is once again repeating itself. This is a critical
moment, and the life or death of our struggle is being decided
by our response to the Security Threat Group and Step
Down Program [S.T.G. and S.D.P. respectively] that we have
allowed the state to impose upon us.

The fact that we are assisting the state to perpetuate its policy
of social extermination under a new label directly reflects
the deterioration of our collective unity and the resurgence
of the vile individualism that has come to characterize the
prison population of the last two decades.

If we are to take a correct measurement of our current situation
and the trajectory we are now on, we must place the
S.T.G. and S.D.P within its proper historical context, and this
requires that we once again revisit the Castillo case with an
understanding of the 602 process and the function it serves.

The 602 process serves two main simultaneous functions:
First, by seeking relief on an individual basis, it distracts and
divides us from the issues that impact us as a group. Secondly,
the administrative process is dragged out for so long and
the petitioner is required to jump through so many hoops that
eventually most petitioners grow exhausted and abandons all
attempts at seeking relief from the violations committed by
the state.

Embodied with this statement is the age-old strategy of
“divide and conquer”, which the CDC has learned to employ
against us with great efficiency. And every time we utilize
the 602 process individually as the only means of achieving
transformation, like a ju-jitsu fighter we allow the state to
turn our own individualism against ourselves as a means to
deprive us of the unity and momentum necessary for waging
a successful struggle. More important, this strategy is not
limited to the 602 process alone, but is a common feature that
permeates all interactions between the state and ourselves.
This is inevitable being that the state’s apparatus of repression
in all of its various forms—the judicial system, police,
military, intelligence, etc., especially the prison system—is
an inherently oppressive institution by design.

As most of us can recall, the Castillo case was a long, arduous
legal battle that raged in the judiciary arena for some ten
years in a noble effort to eliminate the state’s inhumane practice
of “social extermination”, i.e., keeping us alive as living
and breathing empty vessels without the social intercourse
necessary for one to develop identity (emphasis added by
Ed). For reasons left unexamined we failed to complement
this legal battle with any other forms of direct resistance,
while IGI fascists and the CDC bureaucracy remained
adamantly consistent throughout in its own efforts to keep us
divided. Despite the absence of subjective conditions (a politically
conscious mass of prisoners), the state recognized
that nonetheless the objective conditions were conducive
for large-scale resistance. And once again, remaining true to
form, we allowed them to exploit our own self-interests in a
successful effort to prevent this potential from materializing.
When, as Anthony Artiaga pointed out in his recent article:

The six year “active/inactive gang status review” was
created and implemented. A policy requiring a validated
inmate to remain free of any and all gang related activity
and association “for no period less than six years in
order to reconsider (but rarely granted) general population

All hope for a unified resistance dissipated and “everyman-for-himself”
was now consolidated and set in stone,
with the initial release of a relatively insignificant number
of validated SHU prisoners back into general population,
we cultivated and insured our own further atomization from
each other as we pursued our search for escape on an individual
basis by way of the six year inactive review policy.

Despite the fact that group oppression necessitates group
resistance, the state has learned long ago that we are easily
defeated when we are tossed a bone that appeals to our selfinterest.
The state accomplishes this with little effort, sadly,
when it sold us on a false hope that we could all obtain inactive
status as individuals.

To reiterate, Joseph Dzhucashvili stated that dialectical
and historical materialism teaches us that: “…the process
of development should not be understood as a movement in
a circle, not as a simple repetition of what has already occurred,
but as an onward and upward movement, as a transition
from … the simple to the complex.”

It has been roughly fifteen years since the Castillo case
settled, and the empty promise of the six year inactive review
policy was implemented—and here we are coming
full circle. Like in the Castillo case, the state has initiated
its imposition of the S.T.G. and S.D.P., pacifying potential
resistance with the release of SHU prisoners back into the
general population, although this time around the numbers
have been significantly greater and have included elements
from amongst the “leadership” thus creating an externally
superficial illusion of victory.

Throughout the hunger strikes we paid an extraordinary
amount of lip service to the necessity of collective unity,
and yet when the state employed its own counter-tactics to
create fissures and divisions amongst us once again, we assisted
them in their endeavor. Without any consideration for
long term consequences, or the immediate obvious fact that
our current circumstances, or the immediately obvious fact
that our current circumstances are far more dire now that
when we first initiated our strikes, we could not trip over
each other fast enough to sign release forms acknowledging
guilt of past association, or membership, “post facto” in our
scramble to get out. This fidelity to philosophic pragmatism
and its application will come back to bite us.

Within the last twelve months the state claims to have released
seventy percent of those previously held within the
tombs of the Security Housing Unit (SHU), and yet the number
of those in isolation have remained consistently steady.

Philosophically, idealism is a still a poisonous weed that
continues to distort the mind of many. In spite of those who
are proclaiming victory, reality is not determined by wishful

The demand to eliminate collective punishment was not
only not achieved, but true to its fascist inclinations the
CDC retaliated by making it policy and thus giving pseudolegitimization
to its practice, via the new STG with the SDP,
the IGI has extended its reach even further. Anyone having
belonged to any group, or street gang (past or present), or
possessing any political opinions reflecting a class position
other than their own, can be isolated indefinitely without any
connection to a particular prison gang. Our vulnerability has
increased in direct proportion to the increase of state power.

Like the six year inactive review policy, the number of
those now being released under the S.T.G. and S.D.P. will
decrease dramatically and ultimately taper off to a trickle in
correlation to our own struggle losing steam with the waning
of outside support. If we are to inject life back into our struggle,
we must absolutely understand the S.T.G. and S.D.P. for
what it is, i.e., another means to perpetuate indefi nite isolation
under a new label. We have not achieved our goal of
ending social-extermination. This is not a spiteful, nor rhetorical
question, but we must sincerely ask ourselves—“is
this truly a victory, or a failure being sold as a victory by
those reactionary elements amongst us?

With each state in the historical development of our struggle,
changes in policy alone have only amounted to a change
in label, allowing the state to maintain it trajectory without
interruption. If we are to eliminate social-extermination,
“abstract” changes in policy must be facilitated with “concrete”
transformations. We must transform the various Ad
Seg and SHU facilities from within, otherwise indefinite isolation
will continue unabated and the state will manufacture
a new label whenever circumstances necessitate, be in “program
failure”, “validation”, or the latest gem from the CDC’s
book of labels “S.T.G. and S.D.P.”, etc.

If we are to greatly reduce, or eliminate, their ability to
permanently isolate us, we must struggle for the installation
of two 4-man tables in each pod, phones, exercise bars (dip,
pull up, push up combo) designed and fabricated by prisoners,
cellies, Day Room time for social development and
preservation of the individual’s identity. Social intercourse
is a “human right” that needs to be established to facilitate
these changes—both in policy and practice. To accomplish
this, “limited association” must be our primary demand, and
if collective unity is to be more than empty rhetoric, then we
must likewise adjust our demands (which can be done without
compromising the original five) and address the interests
of those in G.P., such as weights, family visits, the question
of prison labor and wages, etc. These are issues that concern
all prisoners, S.N.Y. and solid alike, and therefore we
should be appealing and accepting support from all corners
of the prison system.

If we are to resuscitate life back into our struggle, we must
adjust our tactics to meet the changing conditions. If there
are any amongst the leadership or anyone politically conscious,
who are still dedicated to our original goals, I believe
we can achieve this with a small group of strikers consisting
of 10, 15, maybe 20 “volunteers” willing to fast consecutively
one at a time (or in pairs?) to the end. Each striker could
initiate his fast with a new striker on standby joining in at
20-day intervals. And with leadership guidance and blessing,
this could be complemented with a state with a statewide
prisoner work-stoppage and halt of all movement.

Pre-written and recorded statements, interviews, photo,
etc., of each “volunteer” could be provided to various media
outlets, TV, radio, newspapers, internet, etc., prior to each
striker initiating his fast, preventing the CDC from denying
or sweeping deaths under the rug with minimal publicity.

This may seem drastic but have we not already lost life
with each strike, while not accomplishing anything substantial?
Nonetheless, I know this is a controversial issue with
many sides and aspects to it and a proposal of this magnitude
needs to be put on the table and discussed. And although the
Comrade Ed and I are probably in more or less agreement
with my analysis, we have gone back and forth on the issue
of a smaller strike of dedicated “volunteers.” I believe that
we have both made valid points, but we would encourage
both the leadership and other potential volunteers for their
contribution to this discussion.

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