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Apr 01, 2013
keywords: patriarchy, sexism, homophobia, capitalism
The great divide between humans and animals provided a standard by which to judge other people, both at home and elsewhere. If the essence of humanity was defined as consisting of a specific quality or set of qualities, such as reason, intelligible language, religion, culture, or manners, it followed that anyone who did not fully possess those qualities was “subhuman.” Those judged less than human were
seen either as useful beasts to be curbed, domesticated, and kept docile, or as predators or vermin to be eliminated.” (1) What We are going to do here is direct your attention to the pathology of oppression, but not simply as you are used to reading about it. The obvious points of contention will inevitably be touched on as they relate to attendant ills. To the subject at hand, however, We will try to keep our focus - and your attention – trained on the issue in play! Please bear with us as We move along to connect the dots. We want to talk about homophobia – the fear and oppression of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. And We want to discuss this because as revolutionaries it is our duty to deal with all socio-economic and political phenomena that engage our reality (past, present and future). The obligation of the revolutionary is to make the revolution. That is to change oneself, encourage the people to change and then change the current system that oppresses. Of course, it would be ideal if, in 2012, We didn’t have to even deal with this matter. We wish that these issues had been resolved during the last hightide of consciousness. But sadly, that was not the case - and so here We are. No matter, the sooner begun, the sooner done, no? Right on!
We are learning as We go to recognize, overstand, isolate and deal with maladies as they arise, but have just begun to tie all these into the oppressive matrix of patriarchy as the origin of major ism’s that crush, kill, disrupt and destroy – as they oppress and exploit. It’s unfortunate, but We’re having to sometimes start from scratch every 30 or 40 years because We lack a continuity of consciousness in our struggle against capitalist – imperialism. And while issues of sexism have been dealt with in large part by women, it’s necessary We think to broaden the scope of the discussion of sexism to include homophobia and heterosexism. We are not in any way claiming to be experts on this issue. We are studying and struggling around the same things that most revolutionaries are – which is to say, We are looking for clues at the scene of the crime. Trying to connect the dots as they relate to individual, national and global oppression. We are, in essence, looking for ways to get free and stay free. Free, that is from all forms of oppression.
Here’s the thing, really, if people are being oppressed because of who they naturally are (and We know this to be true), which may not fit into a patriarchal gender box, then this is due to a “sex” (or gender) issue. So We feel this still covers sexism. In other words, that patriarchy (male dominated systems of oppression) create categories for people to fit into in order to exploit and oppress. Therefore, so-called genders then become classes. A class of men, the dominant – masculine, violent, god, father, king president, boss, etc. – and a class of women, the dominated – feminine, passive, holy ghost, homemaker, whore, etc. Oppression by “sex” is the oldest form of oppression on the planet. Older than institutionalized theocracies like Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Theocratic regimes institutionalized male dominant systems of oppression thru laws, state bureaucracies and social relations. In fact, men deal with women and children as they did livestock.
“Nowhere is patriarchy’s iron fi st as naked as in the oppression of animals, which serves as the model and training ground for all other forms of oppression.” (2)
Pathological Progression of Patriarchy
Why is it necessary to speak about patriarchy if We are discussing homophobia? And, why begin with the oppression of women and children if this is about oppression of gender outlaws? Well, what We have to do is a bit of excavation – some radical anthropology, if you will, because the fact of the matter is, We know that things don’t fall from the sky or magically appear out of thin air. We are looking for connections, contradictions and from these We’ll be rewarded with the truth of origins and the internal dynamics in the life process of the thing. The “thing” in this particular study is oppression as manifested thru the system of patriarchy – which We contend is the origin of a vast array of other forms of oppression. Which is precisely why We brought in the domestication of animals. We are learning that the same techniques used to domesticate animals were also used in the colonization of women and children and eventually every culture they encountered. Breeding, birth control, castration, segregation, exploitation and mass murder were methods learned first on animals and then on humans. And there was always a symbiotic relationship of know-how used between the two areas of domestication of animals, including their mass killing for capitalist markets and the mass production of commodities, such as cars, in the development of capitalist industry: “In his autobiography My Life and Work (1922) Henry Ford revealed that his inspiration for assembly line production came from a visit he made as a young man toa Chicago slaughterhouse. ‘I believe that this was the first moving line ever installed,’ he wrote, ‘The idea [of the assembly line] came in a general way from the overhead trolley that the Chicago packers use in dressing beef.’” (3) Capitalism came out of patriarchy, but We know that it is not exclusive to capitalism. It was a good ol’ boy network before capitalism is recognized to have created modern classes. It was the same good ol’ boy network under soviet so-called “socialism” and it was a good ol’ boy network in the civil rights movement and to a large degree, in the Black Liberation Movement. Patriarchy positions itself above all as the reason, the answer and the solution – all to the detriment of women and children, but that’s not all. Patriarchy is a pervasive system of oppression that reaches far and wide into the minds and actions of all. It produces sexism, of course, but more insidiously it relies upon its victims to perpetuate and promote it. Again, there’s no magic involved here. These things are knowable - and it follows that if We can identify, expose and challenge these things We can defeat them. Or, be defeated. And, should We do nothing, this will most certainly insure that things get worse.
Often times We miss the boat on overstanding the subtle ways We go about reinforcing patriarchal relationships in our daily lives. See, because domination is but one aspect of patriarchy. That’s just the obvious aspect of it. You know, like when Conquistadors pushed up in the Inca Empire, or the English vamped on India. The domination was obvious. But then came the missionaries, the laws, the state – the colonial culture. These caused the second, corresponding aspect, of patriarchy: Dependency. The colonized were made to feel that they’d been chosen as subjects for a great, all encompassing “civilizational” leap forward. That the invaders were sent by the “Great Father” in the sky, who’d sent word to the King, who in turn instructed the invaders to save the heathens from their wretched selves! Bring them into the modern world – by dint of canon and bayonet if necessary:
“Aristotle maintained that man’s domination over animals extended to slaves and women as well, another view that mirrored the political reality of the day, since human slavery and subordination of women were the norm in Ancient Greece. In his Politics, Aristotle wrote that such ‘uncivilized’ people as the neighboring Achaeans and Thracians ‘are slaves by nature, as the body is to the soul, or as beasts are to men.’ Aristotle believed it was as permissible to enslave people who did not possess ‘reason’ as it was to enslave the common, and for the most part live at random.” (4)
Legitimized thru Longevity
The same patriarchy which first oppressed women, (after having perfected the methods on animals) as “inferiors”, went on to evolve into the judeo-christian and Islamic institutions or theology that have scorched the planet today.
This is why in every major religion god is a he or him – Father, i.e. male (according to “gender”). The last messenger, prophet, offspring and the last one god supposedly spoke to – yep, you guessed it, men. Coincidence? Natural? Not a chance. To make matters worse, as if patriarchy could even be content with one form of oppression, Euro-Supremacists went a step further than some unseen spirit in the sky—they painted a picture of their godfather’s son in their image. They in effect became the prototype of the son of god image and thus in the direct lineage from god himself. Plato, Aristotle’s teacher created the idea of the Great Chain of Being this formalized the belief of the Greeks that they ranked higher than non-Greeks, women, slaves and of course animals. “Medieval Christendom translated Plato’s image into a ladder which had God at the top and European Christian on the highest rung, a position that granted them a divine mandate as God’s overseers and stewards to rule over the rest of the ladder below. The idea that European man, flawed and sinful though he might be, occupied a position on earth comparable
to God’s position in the universe became a central idea in the religious and philosophical thought of Western civilization regarding man’s place in nature. Thus Europeanism had virtually unlimited authority to rule the natural world as ‘the vice regent and deputy or almighty God’.” (5) And because of this “virtual unlimited authority” there’s a very dark, wretchedly oppressed and colonized Indian women in Bombay with a picture of a prototypical European man on her wall who she believes is the son of god – her Lord and Savior – who died for her sins. And yet although he died for her “sins”, she is still paying a perpetual debt she never owed. And this scene is replicated a million times over across the planet in homes, hovels, huts, churches and prisons – in every colony. The theocracies are heavily invested in the business of patriarchy – in domestication and colonization. And the colonial subjects respond with fealty and dependency. Women tell their sons to “be the man of the house.” Men tell their wives to “stay in a woman’s place”. Men who show emotions are said to be “acting like little girls.” Women who exert themselves as humans are called “dykes and bulldaggers or butch.” Violence is masculinized and passivity is feminized. This is so because patriarchy has created two exclusive genders. Two neat little boxes to insert all of humanity. And this has been legitimized by theocracy and capitalism thru longevity and a corresponding dependency by the masses on a grand distortion of nature itself.
The longevity We speak of here has to do with people divesting themselves of the responsibility of social investigation. Of simply allowing abnormalities to persist without challenge because “it’s always been this way” or “that’s just the way it is”. No, that’s not just the way it is – it’s the way it’s been made. It hasn’t fallen from the sky, or been miraculously blinked into existence. This oppression is man-made (literally) – it serves someone’s interest. The people relinquish their power to oppression when they default on social investigation of curious and questionable systems. Patriarchy and its attendant ills slither on uninterrupted:
“Patriarchy is a form of social organization that produces what we commonly recognize as sexism. But it goes well beyond individual or systemic prejudice against women. It is, first of all, the false division of all people into two rigid categories (male and female) that are asserted to be natural and moral. Patriarchy attempts to destroy, socially or even physically, anyone who does not fit into one of these categories
or who rejects this “gender binary”. Patriarchy goes on to define clear roles (economic, social, emotional, political) for men and women, and it asserts (falsely) that these roles are natural and moral. Under patriarchy, people who do not fit into or who reject these gender roles are neutralized with violence and ostracism. They are made to see and feel ugly, dirty, scary, contemptible, worthless. Patriarchy is harmful
to everybody, and it is reproduced by everyone who lives with it.” (6)
In addition to patriarchy going on to “define clear roles for men and women,” it also set in motion the ill definition of races. In creating itself first as a class of men, to domesticate and rule over animals, women and children, it was a logical progression of patriarchy to define all humans as being of different “races”. For a plurality of races made it that much easier to justify, implement and sustain Plato’s earlier design of the Great Chain of Being. Because patriarchy is necessarily hierarchal, it was but a short trip to the lunatic fringe of racism, though actually it was really euro-supremacy. To call it “racism” would, in essence, subtly reinforce the false social construct of a plurality of races on the planet. When, of course, this is not true. So, We’ll call it what it is – eurosupremacy. Euro-supremacy is also euro-centricity. Though, just as patriarchy is not exclusively a capitalist thing, nor is it exclusively a European thing. It’s a man thing. It is highly contagious and must be combated constantly. It fastens a sense of entitlement that lends itself to taking liberties with other people’s lives and existence based solely on what is perceived to be “difference”. We focus our attention on eurosupremacy as an attendant ill/side effect of patriarchy because it was them (English, French, Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch, Belgians, etc.) who weaponized paternal relations in myriad conquests across the globe. It was the British Empire upon whom it was said “the sun never set”. In other words, its domination was global. And it is a fact that 99% of the borders between countries, nations and states were drawn by European colonialism.
What made euro-patriarchy weaponized, aside from the obvious, was that it created not only races of others, but made itself a race – a “white race” sitting atop the global food chain – the Great Chain of Being – doing their Fathers’ work on earth. “Whites” polar opposite became, of course, the “blacks.” Afrikans were made into the “black race”. Asians became “yellow” and North American indigenous nations became “red”. Having already had a few centuries of practice domesticating animals, women and children in Europe, it was but a small tactical adjustment to train their cutlasses, ropes and cannons onto the “colored” people they encountered. The pivot was such that it needed only to hoist the same inferior attributes it used against its own people onto the indigenous cultures it smothered. Everyone was demonized and maligned as “subhuman”, “animalistic”, “heathen” and in need of either elimination, colonization or paternalism. Genocide, oppression or protection (dependency). In any event all encountered cultures had to come under the influence of euro-centric patriarchy. Which is to say the culture of the invaders – the crown, the religion, the laws. Social conditioning and gender placement was, in essence the first human test run, the forerunner to, genetic engineering.
“People who do not fit into or who reject these gender roles are neutralized with violence and ostracized.” Who are the people who would reject these gender roles? Certainly they would be those who overstood patriarchy, colonialism, and who had a sense of self and kind so strong that they went determined to assert themselves and be natural. Gender outlaws. Those who acted (and thought) outside of the box – the patriarchal gender box. However, when grand patriarchy came onto the scene, as a weaponized euro-supremacy, all indigenous people, male and female, became inferiors. Indigenous men were domesticated under grand patriarchy just as women had always been. And to ensure this, a constant, blatant and open hostile state of terror and siege was used to blanket any notion to the contrary. Euro-supremacy smothered everything. Every male not a European became “boy”, “buck”, “son”, or worse. They were explicitly forbidden to look a European male in the eyes. Grand patriarchy recognized one man – the European male. This was eventually utilized in the colonization of every encountered culture of the planet.
But not even this form of pervasive oppression eradicated patriarchy among those dominated. Oppressed men, those forbidden to be “men” under grand patriarchy, still would oppress oppressed women. Thus women felt a double blow of oppression under grand (on a national level) patriarchy and minor patriarchy – individually, in personal social relations. What’s more is, this individual patriarchy – now sexism – was compounded with the introduction of the colonizers’ religion into the mix as a chain of control. Western religion in the colonies became “force-multipliers” for patriarchy. Another weapon used in the war. Once indigenous men had been taught that this new god had given men dominion over women and children, these fell further down the Great Chain of Being (as created by Plato and reconfigured by Euro-Christians). Women, too, however reciprocated this travesty by believing this foolishness to be true, making it that much easier for their oppression to continue.
But isn’t it odd that the same religion that propelled the Euro-supremacists out of Europe and against the world in a war driven culture of conquest, made the people they encountered docile and meek? That instead of the indigenous males using the bible to oppress women they could have used it to push back against the invaders… What happened? It was perhaps the overwhelming military ability of that time. In any event, in a paradoxical twist, the colonized people served to reinforce the grand patriarchy with a spiritually ordained patriarchy of their own – even at the bottom rung of the ladder. Even under old colonialism where it is said that “Whole nations became as classes”, the ills of patriarchy persisted and found expression. Tho’ hardly to the extent it did on the grand level. Still…
Patriarchy in Neo-colonialism
Class, gender, race and bourgeois law all stem from patriarchy. The illusion that men (“Father”) knows best. To ensure this doesn’t escape anyone, man created religion in his image as well and endowed god with all the human attributes of a brutish man: jealousy, greed, vengeance, indifference, callousness and authoritarianism. When it’s said that “god created man in his image”, it’s actually the reverse of that: man created god in his image. Class, gender, religion, race and bourgeois law – homophobia and heterosexism too – are all created of patriarchy. These, to look at it in another way, are the walls constructed in the global mansion of patriarchy to keep the Great Father safely sequestered away from those buried under the floor, in the closet, used as domestics, maintenance workers and beasts of burden. To escape the gender box is, in essence, to become an outlaw of sorts. For one’s escape from such restrictive confines is a protest – for one’s ability to be natural. Out and away from the stifling confines of patriarchy’s colonialism. But to protest is but one side of the equation. To protest is to go away from for self’s sake. An overstandable thing. But to rebel is to go against the malady in an attempt to destroy it. Protests are usually non-violent. A tactical method using hope as a morality play on power to have it change itself. Rebellion however is an active and often violent lunge at the power’s heart to start the bleeding and stop the breathing. But even this is but a tactic and must be educated if the action is to bring about change.
Under old colonialism gender outlaws were smashed on by church and state. Sharp shooting ideologues riled up the masses to reject “ab-normality” for morals superior to such “deviance”. Old colonialism, the general representative of patriarchy, used to push a line of gender authoritarianism. Even on a socio-economic level, old colonialism squatting dominantly over internal colonialism, however, has changed everything, but altered the perception of most things in order to continue to hold its empire together and reap benefits from oppression. The U.S. ruling class has, in its new and enlightened age of colonialism, come out as the main protector of civil rights against sexual, racial and religious discrimination. It bills itself as the force to make all “citizens” equal. Of course the paradox here is what We must focus on to find the truth. You see because as the ruling class goes about claiming to be interested in protecting civil rights it is, in actuality, promoting and reinforcing patriarchy. It’s the tactic of problem-reaction-solution. It’s a Machiavellian ruse of traditional state craft. Patriarchy created “gender” which begat sexism that leads to “sexual discrimination.” Patriarchy created “race” which begat racism and leads to “racial discrimination.” Patriarchy created religion – male dominated theocracies – which leads to “religious discrimination.” In other words, the very problems the masses are running to the state (representative of grand patriarchy) to solve, the state created and will then offer a solution to. Which without question will only strengthen the grip of patriarchy. It’s the symbolic reapplication of the ties that bind which keep the masses tethered to the machine. Orwell anyone?
We, as seated so close to the epicenter of empire, patriarchy and all that this entails, are without question, thoroughly contaminated. Cross-pollinated social interaction and conditioning has exposed us all to such a degree that We can hardly recognize our sickness. It all seems “normal” and “natural” doesn’t it? That’s because We’ve gone to colonial schools, been socialized by its mass media, the propaganda of its many wars (even those against us), bourgeois elections, its culture of arrogance, smugness and indifference, etc. Because of this, and our inability to make sense of it, We act as unconscious shock troops of its colonial edicts when confronted with ideas and actions which appear to run counter to its mores. Being homophobic is one such thing. And of course racism is another. The animalized names the dominant culture has used to denigrate us all with We’ll turn around and use them on each other and ourselves to justify a sense of difference in imitation of patriarchy.
But you see, the neo (new) colonialism doesn’t mind if its patriarchy is being imitated. That’s a plus for it. That means it’s working. It means people aren’t trying to stop it, they are trying to like it. They don’t want to end patriarchy, they want to be card carrying members of the club. Have you seen the ex-correctional officer, rapper Rick Ross, with his shirt off? The idiot has huge tattoos on his torso of U.S. currency - complete with Franklin’s face, Jackson and Jefferson! He wants in so bad he’s a walking billboard - “Will Beg For Membership.” That’s how patriarchy stays afloat and operable - by being legitimized, replicated and practiced by the unconscious masses. Neo-colonialism has found it expedient to ease up on the blatant authoritarianism and to let the colonial masses “do their thing.” As long as it is within the established framework of the game - of bourgeois law and order. So, while breaking out of the gender role is objectively wrong in the eyes of the patriarchy, it hasn’t the time nor inclination to pursue such outlaws at this time. Actually, what the state has done under neocolonialism is act as if it’s okay and has gone on the offensive in trying to ensure the people that all is well. First it was “smash on sight.” Then it was “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Now it’s “come on in grab a gun and help defend the empire.” Same way it did with New Afrikans, Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans and Indigenous Nationals. ‘Member that? Sure, it went like this: old colonialism, black codes, jim crow, segregation, civil rights and neo-colonialism - as integration. This who refused to join the club were what? “Neutralized with violence and ostracized”. Today We call them Martyrs, Prisoners of War, Political Prisoners and exiles. Those who joined We call neo-colonialists, petty-bourgeois, sell-outs and collaborators - enemies of the people. The choice is now ours. What are We going to be? Projectiles for the people or projectiles against the people?
That is the question.
Neo-colonialism has put the colonies on autopilot. And the masses have been confused by this, thinking that they are somehow on a flight towards freedom. Because the establishment forces aren’t actively smashing on what used to be obvious causes for reaction, the people think a general sense of new freedom has blanketed the situation. As Oprah has her own TV network, Jay Z wines and dines with Warren Buffet, Magic Johnson owns the L.A. Dodgers and Rock Bottom is in the whitest house. But the usual reins of state control and reaction have not been relinquished they’ve only been delegated to accommodation intermediaries to run the flight plan for the ruling class. The coordinates have been programed into the console, the flight is on autopilot, those the masses think are in control are only maintenance workers and sky marshals, flight attendants and observers, as the jumbo dream liner continues uninterrupted across this neocolonial terrain of war and class, amerikkkan style.
In this era of neocolonialism the main homophobes are the masses themselves. Where it used to be the state, the church and other rabid ideologues of patriarchy, now it’s athletes, rappers and the idiot down the tier who somehow feels as if his so-called “manhood” is threatened by how or who another
person lives and loves. The unconscious shock troops of patriarchy become the gatekeepers for their oppressors.
That’s why patriarchy can feel so comfortable with putting the colonies on auto-pilot. The inmates have assumed control of the asylum and all is well on the Western front. Never mind that the very culture of oppression that they are holding up by becoming little oppressors themselves is the actual threat to them. It’s an animal farm trip, really. Or a Stockholm syndrome type of situation. Where the entity doing you the harm you side step to attack the one on your side - while loving your tormentor. Psych meds, anyone?
Harmful to Everybody
To overstand homophobia and heterosexism as oppressive fools of the patriarchy is to come to grips with one’s own reality. A reality that shouts its existence not from the confines of your own head or intellect - or even your culture. It’s a reality put on you by an offending order of parties who wish only to control and exploit you to their delight and benefit. Those “shouts of reality” We speak of are from a distance of centuries past, and their antiquity gives them an air of prestige and legitimacy, but you mustn’t be fooled. For this is the culture that ripped apart your ancestors - this is it. It’s shinier now, has more pixels and is in high definition, but it is the same culture that pushed up on those shores and was mistaken as god. It is the very same system of control, too. The gatekeepers complexions have changed - We can see the madness thru the lens of BET and Univision now instead of just CBS and NBC, but look carefully and listen, it’s the same old thing - patriarchy, class, gender, race, colonialism. The same slings and arrows aimed at gender outlaws today are the same ones flung at us first when patriarchy drove up. We were the abnormal ones then. And now, what, We’ve become so “normal” (amerikans) that We are oppressors, too? We’ve been amerikanized to the point where We can’t even recognize We aren’t even ourselves anymore. Yeah, “amerikkkan me”.
In prison, the concentration of the patriarchy pathology is on steroids - even tho’ there are no women in men’s prisons. Not as prisoners anyway. No need really, cause patriarchy is also homophobia and heterosexism, so it finds expression in this way. Whether thru predation or hate outright, ill vibrations play out against gays or transgender prisoners as, invariably, they are referred to as “punk”, “faggots”, “bitches” etc. The hierarchical structure of prison groups preclude any form of socialization or respect with, or towards, gay prisoners. They are treated as “abnormals” - as less than human. They are usually “neutralized with violence and ostracized.” Groups forbid their members from aiding any such person. And even tho’ the prisoners are placed with nationals from oppressed and colonized nations, oppression and prejudice of gays and transgender prisoners goes on uninterrupted as patriarchal “morals” are imitated and replicated across the board.
The odd thing, tho’ one which points up the patriarchal reality in vivid fashion, is in most prison cultures the only party in a gay encounter that’s considered gay is the one assuming the so-called passive or feminine role. The masculine one, the top, is considered “the man” which somehow excludes him from being gay, or bi. It’s his prerogative to fuck something, huh? And, much like sexism, out in Babylon, where the woman is considered less than, so too is it in prison with the gay or transgender prisoner. Tho’ more so since the homophobia and heterosexism is driven by the “morals” of religion. Of course patriarchy escapes mention altogether. Nevertheless, the pathology of patriarchy plays itself out even in the most oppressive situations imaginable. The fact of the matter is, We can talk about this until We are out of breath, but until gays and transgender prisoners, and people at large, take their lives and existence into their own hands, organize and defend their reality, they’ll continue to be victimized and exploited and that goes for any form of oppression. The oppressed have the responsibility to get free. Freedom is not given or granted - it’s taken! The federal government is not going to legislate your safety into existence. The prison administration cannot - nor will it - protect you from hostile homophobes or predators. You have to organize yourselves in concert with methods that reflect your reality. We know that in the state prison at Walla Walla, in Washington, the revolutionary comrades organized Men Against Sexist Shit (MASS) to combat homophobia and heterosexism there. Revolutionaries should be on the front lines of combating all forms of oppression. We have to organize with the oppressed to strike for freedom or the neocolonialists will organize. Them against us and continue on.
Apr 01, 2013
keywords: shu, step down program
“I would like you to think of brainwashing, not in
terms of politics, ethics and morals, but in terms of the
deliberate changing of human behavior and attitudes
by a group of men who have relatively complete control
over the environment in which the captive populace
—Dr. Edgar Schein to U.S. wardens and social scientists,
Greetings, Brothers and Sisters. We’ve had an opportunity to review the over 100 pages which constitute
CDCR’s STG Pilot Program, and felt compelled to discuss provisions of § 700.2 (the Step Down Program) in the wake of our last discussion on “Creating Broken Men.” There should be no doubt indefinite solitary confinement is torture. Yet in § 700.2, the CDCR has devised an insidious program whereby they can leverage this torture to coerce validated SHU prisoners to submit to brainwashing in lieu of debriefing; the end result being qualitatively no different: the production of a docile, submissive, quasi-informant population who reproduces in themselves the values of the same authoritarian order responsible for mass incarceration and the domestic torture program. In other words, “broken men” will be created by a new process.
In § 700.2 of the STG Pilot Program, CDCR outlines, beginning in step 3, a requirement that prisoners complete “12 months of journals... that lead to responsible thinking and behavior.” This behavior modification program (and that’s exactly what it is) is preparatory, designed to condition the minds of the targeted population to accept cognitive restructuring. This intent is clear in the themes of the journal. For example, “Values guides prisoners through an evaluation of the criminal values that have influenced their lives and help them weigh the consequences of living a life based on criminal values versus responsible values.” This presupposes everyone currently confined to these torture units holds true to “criminal values.” An absurd notion. The overwhelming majority of validated SHU prisoners have committed no criminal act(s) or rules violation(s) (a natural outgrowth of so-called “criminal values”) to be confined to SHU by CDCR’s own admission. Many are in SHU on purely ideological grounds: for holding revolutionary attitudes or socialist values which oppose authoritarian social control and exploitation of the underclass.
This begs the question, What are “criminal values” and who defines “responsible values”? Surely it’s “criminal” to hold a population captive under conditions of indefinite torture unless they become informants or submit to having their “values” modified. Are we to assume an entrenched industrial interest that has intentionally manufactured the legislative and physical conditions (in prisons) to perpetuate mass incarceration to establish their own labor aristocracy, while presiding over the largest domestic torture program on the planet, are now going to be the instiller of “responsible values”? The answer is: No, of course not! The Self-Directed (S-D) Journals component of the SDP is replete with other
Orwellian themes like “thinking errors,” “social values,” “responsible thinking/healthy personality,” and “peer relationships.” These themes constitute classic “character invalidation,” an essential Schein model brainwashing technique employed to induce guilt, self-loathing, anxiety, irrational fear and suggestibility, while simultaneously providing social and emotional supports which reinforce the new subservience/docility.
This is in fact an improvement on the original Schein behavior modification model outlined in his paper, “Man Against Man: Brainwashing,” the basis for previous SHU best practice. Up to now, torture unit administrators, IGI, and OCS have relied on staff and their specialized SHU training to observe prisoners’ behavior patterns, record them in the “daily activity log” and utilize this data to calculate a prisoner’s sensitivity to pressure, or vulnerability to the same, with a degree of precision. This is one way the IGI is able to anticipate and target specific SHU torture victims who are prepared to—or on the verge of—debriefing. They now intend to use the prisoners themselves to provide additional input data to facilitate and reinforce their own brainwashing.
Section 700.2 states, “Personal reinforcement check sheets... will be used by the inmate to monitor weekly/monthly program participation and progress. In addition, Individual Change Plans will be initially completed by the inmate after 6 months in the SDP.... These documents will be submitted to the Correctional Counselor II and may be used ... in determining an inmate’s movement between steps.” You are not only expected to submit to brainwashing in order to escape indefinite torture, but you must actively participate in your own cognitive restructuring or be trapped indefinitely in the torture unit’s “steps.” This is “Skinnerian operant conditioning,” the rewarding of submission to the character restructuring encompassing the brainwashing objectives by easing the pressure on the subject in this by moving them along to the next “step.” But in truth, this is no “reward” at all. As previously stated, the S-D Journals are only preparing the subjects’ minds for complete restructuring, while weakening (or removing completely) any psychological resistance to the more intense behavior modification techniques to come. These are introduced in step 4, and as if aware of the pliancy (in this context, easily influenced) and desperation of those prisoners willing to submit to these techniques, the state makes no attempt to conceal their intent. The text states clearly, “Step 4 will include an integrated, cognitive behavior change program that will include cognitive restructuring...” For those of you not familiar with this language, this means brainwashing. The exact nature and composition of the step 4 “cognitive restructuring program” has been intentionally left vague and ambiguous. It is designed for “small groups” of subjects, and will no doubt be a modification of techniques already tested in other SuperMax torture units which include Synanon attack therapy (a form of character invalidation for a group setting), transactional analysis, and encounter group sensitivity sessions.
This progressive step-based approach ensures maximum control for therapeutic administrators to prevent subjects having contact with anyone not sympathetic to the reconditioning methodology, disorganizing group standards among prisoners which are not pro-conformist, all within the confines of an environment that is prohibitive/restrictive towards any activities or ideas which are not supportive of the brainwashing objectives. In the end, the conditioned subject is psychologically no different than the debriefer: a broken man/woman.
What must be understood is participation in such a system of behavior modification on any level exposes any mind to the prospect of restructuring, primarily because most of these techniques target the subconscious mind. We do not want to get overly technical, but we believe it is important and we will simplify it as briefly as possible with a single example. The conscious mind makes judgments on what is real and correct or illusory and incorrect. But the subconscious mind accepts all information introduced into it as fact. The conscious mind, unfortunately, only functions when you are “conscious” of a thing or are aware; the unconscious mind always functions—it never sleeps. The conscious mind is simply “the computer;” the unconscious mind is “the computer programmer.” If one can bypass or circumvent the conscious mind and go directly to the subconscious, the conscious mind can be made to believe whatever has been introduced into the subconscious. For example, recall our explanation that the self-directed journal models in step 3 require you to complete a theme on “values” which presupposes you function from “criminal values” and need to [acquire] “responsible values.” Your conscious mind, of course, would disagree that your values are “criminal.” However, by participating in this exercise, you expose your mind to contextual adaptation to carry out the exercise (“contextual” referring to a set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.). Your subconscious mind will not make any distinction in the validity of the presupposition, only that some of your values may contradict those defined as “responsible” and thus by relational context, must be “criminal.” The thought divergence (separation) will manifest itself subconsciously as “character invalidation,” though you’ll not note this consciously.
It will manifest itself in contradictions in your thinking, speech, and conduct too subtle for you to note overtly until the thought divergence progresses. Yes, they are truly insidious. The only sure method of resistance (outside of contraconditioning techniques) is not to expose yourself to brainwashing therapy in the first place. But some will, and some of those who do will become tools of the state, entering the
general population or their communities and reproducing these attitudes in others. From the perspective of the state, if some of these have influence, all the better for the prison industry. It’s the reason these techniques were included as mandatory aspects of the pilot program. Following the hunger
strikes, CDCR did not see victimized prisoners united to end their collective torture, but instead an opportunity to transform the most advanced and influential into broken men and creators of the same; an environment where the orderly extraction of taxpayer dollars in proportion to prisoner commodities
is inflated by SHU confinement but uninterrupted by pesky concerns like human rights, international law, or the Constitution. That they will fail is not of import—that they are trying this is.
Which leads us to the core of the matter. There exists no moral or legal basis for compulsory brainwashing in civilized society. With all of the self-inflicted behavior modification in the capitalist consumer culture from Weight Watchers to anti-smoking products like Nicoderm, US society has become acclimated to being brainwashed, to say nothing of social automation. But camouflaging Dr. Schein’s abhorrent techniques under misleading language that not only conceals its meaning and intent from prisoners, but the public as well, does not make them any less illegal. The very assertion by the state that one’s political ideology and cultural values are “criminal,” or are somehow a legitimate pretext for indefinite solitary confinement torture, violates the First Amendment, just as holding the threat of indefinite SHU torture over a prisoner’s head unless they become an informant violates the Eighth Amendment. But coercing a population into submitting to a brainwashing program that most don’t even understand, and passing it off as a “social good,” is not simply illegal, it’s evil. These provisions laid out in § 700.2 not only violate the First and Eighth Amendments, but also the UN Convention Against Torture, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners, and most disturbing of all, the Nuremberg Code.
The first principle of the Nuremberg Code states: “Voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; ... able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of ... the subject matter involved ... to make an understanding and enlightened decision....” (In this instance, indeterminate SHUs, indeed SHUs themselves, are torture units.)
CDCR has made it clear that no one is going to escape these torture units unless they submit to the techniques. Their new mantra is thus, “Parole, debrief, submit to brainwashing, or die.” Most prisoners, and for that matter most citizens in the US, have little to no understanding of the Schein, Levinson, Skinnerian cognitive restructuring model, or its intent.
This should outrage us all.
The best, the clearest proof of the CDCR’s intention can be found by reviewing a document issued by the CDCR entitled, “Security Threat Group Pilot Program Information.” [This is a pamphlet that was handed out to some or all SHU prisoners. –Ed.] Page 4 of this document states, under “Reporting STG Involvement,” in the first paragraph, “You have the responsibility to report STG or criminal activity when known or observed by you.” It goes on to state that this process is not intended to compromise your safety, but to enhance your safety through the identification and removal of those involved in STG or criminal activity.” Of course, you would have to be brainwashed/broken to believe and subordinate yourself to this. If it was true that snitching does not compromise the informant’s safety, it would not be necessary to separate (known) informants from the non-SNY/PC general population. Once a person debriefs, that person is automatically assigned to SNY.
It has been demonstrated time and time again that the abuse of your tax dollars by the CDCR is based upon the lawlessness of the CDCR. A lawlessness that includes a complete disregard for those of us housed in these madhouses. And in particular for those who would dare oppose the disrespecting of our humanity. The humanity of us all.
The Agreement to End Hostilities by the Pelican Bay representatives is a crucial step in our reclaiming our humanity and creating opportunities to put an end to the efforts to destroy us all. We must take advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate to the world that we are willing and capable of being the history makers that this opportunity now provides us all.
That the state has actually created a whole new bureaucracy to manage this brainwashing program within an already existing domestic torture program designed to grow under this policy should compel us all to act, as this new bureaucracy will be funded by your tax dollars. Are we as a society going to stand idly by and listen to our politicians stride the world stage criticizing other nations for human rights abuses while this Orwellian, pseudo-scientific torture initiative is carried out in your name within your national borders? We need each other if we are to be free. We can all reclaim our humanity by demanding that the humanity of all be respected.
Let us reclaim it together.
Love and struggle,
Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough #D83611
PO Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212
Heshima Denham #J38283
PO Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212
Kambui Robinson #C82830
PO Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212
Jabari Scott #H30356
PO Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212
Apr 01, 2013
keywords: shu, hunger strike, adseg
From Prison Focus Issue 39
In response to CDCR’s failure to meet our 2011 Five (5) Core Demands, the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives respectfully present this notice of, and basis for, our individualized, collectively agreed upon, decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest action on July 08, 2013.
The upcoming peaceful protest will be a combined Hunger Strike [HS] – Work Stoppage [WS] action. Once initiated, this protest will continue indefinitely—until all Five (5) Core Demands are fully met. Here’s why.
1. The Basis for Our Decision to Resume Our Peaceful Protest
The basis for our decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest has been made individu ally, while presented collectively, on behalf of ourselves, and all similarly situated prisoners, as well as non-prisoners, who are adversely affected by the inhumane policies/ practices at issue. Governor Brown’s, and CDCR Secretary Cate’s, failure to make the changes agreed upon during the July/October 2011 negotiation process, has forced us to resume our nonviolent hunger strike/work stoppage protest.
During these negotiations, CDCR’s Undersecretary Kernan, et al, acknowledged the reasonableness of our Five (5) Core Demands and asked us to suspend our hunger strike in order to give the CDCR time to implement timely and meaningful changes of real substance, in response to our demands. We agreed—while CDCR has failed to do their part. Before we began our July 01, 2011 peaceful efforts to bring about the long overdue reforms to the CDCR system, we presented Governor Brown, CDCR Secretary Cate, and many others, with our “Formal Complaint” spelling out the reasons why we are willing to put our lives on the line in order to bring about the necessary changes. Along with our “Five (5) Core Demands,” wherein we made it clear that we can no longer, complacently, accept the policies and practices that have subjected us, as well as thousands of other prisoners, and loved ones outside these prison walls, to decades of torture within these solitary confinement SHU/Ad-Seg Units, based on innocent associations and unsubstantiated allegations of involvement in illegal activities.
The undisputable [sic] fact is that many of us have been held in solitary confinement for the past 10 to 40 years, based on fabricated information provided by prisoners who have been tortured to the point where they provide false information to IGI, in order to get out of the SHU/Ad-Seg. Few of us, if any, have ever been formally charged with, or found guilty of a single illegal, gang-related act. (To review our Formal Complaint, go to: prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/formal-complaint. For the 5 Core Demands, see: www.prisons.org/documents/FinalNoticewith5CoreDemands.doc). We have demonstrated our commitment to our cause through our hunger strike actions – from July 01 to July 20, and from Sept. 26 to Oct. 13, 2011. We remain 100% collectively committed today!
We have kept our word, while patiently waiting for the CDCR to keep theirs. However, at this point, it is clear to us that the CDCR has no intention of implementing the substantive policy changes that were agreed to fifteen or sixteen months ago – based on their highly touted “Security Threat Group” proposals [March and June 2012], and the much hyped “STG Pilot Program” [October 11, 2012], the CDCR has clearly demonstrated their bad faith; because their alleged changes to the policies/practices at issue are a sham. In reality, the proposed changes will greatly expand upon the number of prisoners who will be subjected to long-term isolation in torture cells; all the above is detailed in our written Rejection/Oppositions to the March and June proposals. As well as the October 11, 2012 Pilot Program. (See them at: www.prisonart.org/images/!Newsletter/Rock2_1 and at: www.prisonart.org/images/!Newsletter/Rock1_2. The entire Pilot Program is at: www.sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/CDCR’s-Oct.-11-2012-Security-ThreatGroup-Pilot-Program.pdf.)
Another recent example of the CDCR’s refusal to honor the agreement is PBSP’s Warden Lewis’ refusal to allow a test run – visiting pilot program for additional visiting time on the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18; such additional time was agreed to during negotiations with Undersecretary Kernan [see his August 2011 memo]. Thereby, Warden Lewis has directly violated the agreement on this point too! There are a number of additional examples that have been, and can be, pointed out to demonstrate the CDCR’s nonresponsiveness/unwillingness to make meaningful changes to the current policies. Therefore, based on the CDCR’s failure to meaningfully address our Five (5) Core Demands, we presently have no available alternative avenues to obtain the long overdue changes, in a timely manner, other than giving the CDCR until July 08, 2013 – as a deadline – to meet our stated demands.
Failure to come to a legally enforceable agreement will be deemed as just cause for us to resume our indefinite, nonviolent, peaceful protest action(s) until the changes are made, as exemplified below.
2. Our Five (5) Core Demands (with Supplements)
At this point, the CDCR’s willingness to implement meaningful changes to the current policies/practices at issue lacks credibility. Thus, the CDCR’s empty promise to effect such changes is not acceptable.
Therefore, the CDCR will be required to sign off on a Consent Decree in US Dist.Ct., N.D. Cal., case #C 09-05796 CW, spelling out the specific terms of the policies to be immediately enacted – pursuant to our five (5) Core Demands [see: www.prisons.org/documents/FinalNoticewith5CoreDemands.doc]. The consent decree will be subject to enforcement by the federal court; it is the only way we have of ensuring the CDCR’s compliance, now and in the future. This is, therefore, mandatory and non-negotiable! The specific terms in the consent decree will be provided by our attorneys, for the above referenced case, in the not-too-distant future. A few examples of what this consent decree will include are:
(a) SHU confinement shall be solely for determinate terms, per guidelines of CCR Title 15, Sections 3312-3321, and 3341.5(c)(1)(B), “Determinate SHU Segregation” [no more indeterminate SHU terms!];
(b) Ad-Seg confinement shall be solely per guidelines of CDCR, Title 15, Section 3335 regarding placement for legitimate investigative purposes—not to exceed eleven (11) months, absent formal charges being filed;
(c) Step Down Program shall be for a maximum duration of eighteen (18) months, and available for the purpose of enabling prisoners an opportunity to shorten the duration of their determinate SHU term.
3. In Addition to Our 2011 Five (5) Core Demands, We Present the Following Forty (40) Supplemental Demands That Are Part of and/or Related to Our Five (5) Core Demands.
(1) Order that all past Rule Violation Reports [RVR] issued to CDCR prisoners for their participation in the last two 2011 peaceful Hunger Strikes [HS] be rescinded and expunged from all prisoners’ files.
(2) Order that no RVR be issued to any CDCR prisoner in violation of any rules and/or in retaliation for participating and/or leading the July 08, 2013, or any future peaceful HS/WS.
(3) Order that CDCR prisoners who do participate in the July 08, 2013, or any future peaceful HS/WS, not be retaliated against by placing any of them in Ad-Seg, nor have any of their personal property removed, appliances disconnected – including those already in Ad-Seg – or be moved to other cells, etc.
(4) Order that the PBSP-SHU D-Facility visiting room also be reopened, like it was during the early 1990’s when this prison first opened—it was specifically built for D-Facility visiting—and that funds be provided in order to accomplish this. This way, all C-Facility and D-Facility SHU prisoners and their families/friends can again have that additional space and time available for visiting, where they will again receive 4-6 hours per visit on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. And not the present 90 minutes or less, especially for those families and friends who have to travel over 200 miles.
(5) Order and issue a memo to all SHU prisons that all SHU prisoners are to be permitted to make one (1) weekly phone call as part of their SHU program. And that the memo be posted in all SHU unit sections.
(6) Order that the CDCR’s Department of Operations Manual (DOM), the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, DOM Supplementals and/or Operational Procedures (OP) be revised where it states that, all SHU/Ad-Seg prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess art/hobby supplies from the prison canteen store and approved vendors; and shall be allowed to take one (1) picture per year as part of their program, without having to first be disciplinary free. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.
(7) Order that CCR Title 15, Sections 3192; 3100 through 3108; the CDCR DOM and DOM Supplementals be revised, stating that, all CDCR prisoners – especially those in SHU/Ad-Seg – shall be permitted to sell, convey, or give away as gifts any artwork or artistic expressions to any prisoner or the public in general – without being penalized/ restricted and/or disciplined. The CDCR now allows SHU and Ad-Seg prisoners to order and possess art/hobby supplies. In addition, while in SHU/Ad-Seg, artwork sometimes becomes a prisoner’s only form of income, not to mention keeping their minds occupied on something positive. So, they should be allowed to sell or give it away to anyone, including prisoners. PBSP’s IGI is presently confiscating and/or issuing RVR’s just for giving drawings to other prisoners as gifts for their families and friends. That is just real petty and fundamentally wrongheaded! Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.
(8) Order that all SHU/Ad-Seg and G.P. recreational book libraries be funded from either the CDCR’s budget or from our Inmate Welfare Funds [IWF], and restocked at least once a year. For example, PBSP’s has not been restocked since 2008 and the books are falling apart from so much use. Yet the prison claims there’s no funds for it. What is our IWF being spent on then?! Issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.
(9) Order that more funds be provided for education, either from the CDCR budget or from our IWF, to provide real rehabilitation programs such as college, GED, vocational training, etc., so that all CDCR prisoners, especially indigent ones, can have real opportunities to educate themselves. Moreover, these programs can and will help those who are released from prison to be productive citizens, where they are no longer stuck on the same gear that caused them to go to prison in the first place.
(10) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3161, “Inmate Owned Legal Materials,” be revised to comply with the Prison Legal News (PLN) Settlement Agreement (as DOM Article 43, Sec. 54030.10.2 does]. At present, the language is so vague and confusing that most CDCR staff purposely use that Title 15 section to mislead prisoners to believe all law books, law periodicals, etc., are to also be counted towards the ten (10) book limit – where instead they should be considered “legal materials” and should only be counted towards the combined six cubic feet of state-issued and personal items, excluding bedding and appliances. [Id. Sec. 3190(c)], plus one cubic foot of related legal materials of an active case [Id.Sec.3161]. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting the PLN Settlement Agreement at page 4, section (g) [formerly cited as PLN v. Schwarzenegger, now cited as PLN v. Brown].
(11) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplementals and/or OP be revised to state that, whenever a CDCR prisoner purchases a new appliance, he or she shall be permitted to donate their old personally owned TV or radio appliance to another CDCR prisoner who is indigent – where that used appliance is officially placed on the indigent prisoner’s CDCR Form 160-H, “Inmate Property Control Card.” This way, prison staff cannot arbitrarily confiscate it on a whim. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.
(12) Order that the CDCR DOM and CCR Title 15 be revised to increase all D-status prisoners’ maximum canteen draw from $55.00 to $65.00 per month. Ever since it was raised to $55.00, the canteen prices have dramatically inflated. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.
(13) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplementals and/or OP be revised where it states that, all SHU and D-status prisoners shall also be permitted to participate in donating funds to good outside local charity causes via “Charity Food Drives,” just like the ones held for General Population [GP] prisoners. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.
(14) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3190 (j)(3), CDCR DOM Article 43, DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that, all SHU D-status prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess one clear-cased typewriter [hardwired or manual] under the same security measures that are currently being followed by prison staff for allowing TV, TV-radio combos and radio appliances [Id. Sec 3190(k)-(m)]. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR-prisons [and all approved vendors] to be posted in all unit sections approving this.
(15) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3190 (j)(3), CDCR DOM Article 43, DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that, all SHU, D-status prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess a total of two (2) approved appliances; for example, one TV and one radio, one TV-radio combo and one typewriter, one TV and one typewriter, or one radio and one typewriter. (All SHU cells are equipped with four (4) electrical outlets.) Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons [and all approved vendors] to be posted in all unit sections allowing this.
(16) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplemental and/or OP be revised where it states that all CDCR prisoners in Ad-Seg shall be permitted to possess their personally owned TV and/or radio appliance in their cells with or without fire sprinklers. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this. And ordering Prison Maintenance/Plant Operations departments to make sure fire sprinklers are immediately installed in all Ad-Seg
cells, including all SHU cells.
(17) Order that the CDCR DOM, Title 15, Section 3117(b) (2), DOM Supplemental and/or OP be revised to where it states that, all GP life-term prisoners shall again be permitted “family overnight visits” with their immediate family members. Right now, in all of the CDCR, only life-term prisoners who have become CDCR’s debriefer/snitches are allowed family visits. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this under the prior amended CCR Title 15 regulations.
(18) Order the California Prison Industry Authority [CalPIA] to produce decent quality mattresses. The current 100% cotton air-filled ones, which are not densely packed cot ton core mattresses, do not have a way to keep the cotton evenly distributed like the old ones did. And where, after a week of two of sleeping on it, on all-concrete bunks, a new mattress literally turns into a flat lumpy torture mattress, due to cotton shifting and the cotton not being densely packed. Where instead, PIA makes these cotton mattresses just appear as ones that are thickly/densely packed. But, in truth, the cotton itself is just puffed up with air – another PIA rip off of taxpayers’ monies! In addition, a prisoner has to liter ally lift these flat lumpy mattresses from one end in order to pack it down to the other end, in order to make it a little thicker. But, by doing this, the mattress ends up 1-2 feet shorter, leaving our feet on bare concrete because the mattresses have are then too short! Also, with the old ones, a prisoner held onto them for 3-4 years with no problem. But, with these new ones, a prisoner exchanges them every six (6) months – a lot sooner if we were allowed to do so [6-month wait is mandatory]. Which, in turn, means a lot more inferior mattresses have to be produced to keep up with the demand. Where only PIA is literally reaping the benefits at $60.00 per mattress, while prisoners in solitary confinement are being further tortured with these fl at, lumpy, short torture mattresses! Therefore, demand that PIA stop ripping off the taxpayers’ monies, and that they either produce better quality ones, or start producing better quality 4-6 inch densely packed 100% all-foam mattresses to immediately replace the present air-filled cotton torture mattresses. That a memo be issued and posted in
all CDCR prison unit sections that this was ordered and will be remedied ASAP!
(19) Order the Cal-PIA to also produce boxer shorts with longer inseams to at least 9-inch inseams. The present ones have a very short inseam mode for women prisoners, where male prisoners have no choice but to order them 3-4 sizes bigger and hem them at the waistline just so they can fit correctly. This has been a continual problem for many years now and also needs to be corrected. That memo be issued and posted in all CDCR unit sections that this has been ordered and will be remedied ASAP!
(20) Order that the CDCR DOM, CCR Title 15, Section 3044 (g)(4)(E) and 3190(i), DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that all SHU and Ad-Seg, D-status prisoners shall also be allowed to order, in addition to one annual 30-lb. food package, a second annual non-food special purchase package [i.e., such items like art/hobby supplies, sweatpants/shorts, shoes, thermals, earphones, etc.], just like we used to be allowed to do. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.
(21) Order that the CDCR DOM Article 43 “Property Matrix” and DOM Supplementals all be revised, if they haven’t been already – which states that, all CDCR SHU/Ad-Seg Dstatus prisoners shall also be allowed to order and possess all the additional following items; (a) no limit on chocolate candy bars; (b) no limit on sugar-free hard candy; (c) all Asian soups; (d) all trail-mix products; (e) all cheeses; (f) all dry jerky meats [i.e., sausage, chorizos; all nuggets and slices of beef, turkey, pork, pepperoni, salami, chicken]; (g) all seasonings; (h) all powdered sugar-free beverage drinks in any kind of containers; (i) all tea and teabags; (j) one 12-foot earphone extension cord; (k) all art/hobby supplies [i.e., color pen fillers, 12-24 packs of pastels/woodless color pencils/watercolors/charcoal sticks, 3 drawing art pads of any thickness, and art erasers]; (l) one sweatpants and one sweatshorts (2 total), and sweatpants/shorts with “cords” [we are presently allowed to possess shoestrings and our new laundry bags have 9-inch, thick cords already attached, proving that the cords are not a security threat]; (m) all Dickies thermals, tops and bottoms; (n) hair grease; (o) lotion; (p) laundry soap; (q) 6 bars of soap; (r) 1 soap dish; (s) 1 tumbler (16 oz.); (t) 1 food container bowl; (u) zip-lock bags; (v) paper mirrors; (w) 4 pairs of boxer shorts and 4 pairs of T-shirts (gray or white; long sleeve or short sleeve), which will ease cost on CDCR to purchase these for prisoners; (x) earplugs; (y) 1 watch cap (gray or white); (z) 1 pair of wool gloves; (aa) three (3) typewriter ribbons; (bb) six (6) typewriter correction ribbons, and (cc) typewriter paper. All these items need to be added in the CDCR DOM Article 43 Property Matrix and/or a memo sent to all approved vendors or they will not send them when we order our packages. Ad-Seg (and all other D-status prisoners) should also be included for these items because most wait years in Ad-Seg before they are sent to SHU, where Ad-Seg literally becomes a SHU overflow. It should also be noted that ever since the first HS in 2011, CDCR headquarters representatives have come to PBSP and repeatedly stated to us that Article 43 was being revised to add most of these items but, to date, it has just become another broken agreement, because it has not been done. Thus, until it is revised to add all the above, issue a memo to all “approved vendors,” and to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections approving all these items for all SHU/AdSeg and all other D-status prisoners.
(22) Order that the Cal-PIA no longer be allowed to produce or provide any food products to any CDCR prisons. Ever since they began doing so, the overall quality of prison food has dramatically decreased and the costs have dramatically increased. As well as causing prison and local community bakeries and butcher shops across the state – who were a lot cheaper – to close behind PIA forcing the CDCR to buy from them. Prisoners also working for $1-4 a day used to produce good fresh quality baked goods. Now it’s pre-baked and shipped from PIA where the goods have either been stale or spoiled. For example, the bread is packed in plastic with industry-manufactured pinholes, causing the bread to spoil. And the lunch meats are now shipped from PIA in sealed pockets filled with nasty-smelling preservatives. We also know for a fact that PIA attempted to force CDCR to buy all dairy products from them in order to supply PBSP – which would have also been more costly – which nearly drove the local dairy supplier Humboldt Creamery in Fortuna, CA out of business. And the only reason PIA failed was because the dairy products would spoil during transport, etc.. The whole sordid story is public record and reported in the local paper, “The Triplicate” [www.triplicate.com]. PIA already produces all other CDCR products from shoes to the very poor quality mattresses. We don’t need or want them to also now control what we eat, period!
(23) Order that all CDCR food-ounce servings be raised two (2) ounces (for example, 3 oz. of eggs raised to 5 oz. of eggs). As well as raising our present two portions of fruit per day to four portions. And, start reissuing us the old real syrup and jelly packets and stop giving us the new unhealthy PIA artificial ones that nobody likes or eats. Thus, raising our overall daily calorie intake with solid non-PIA foods, and not with extra Kool-Aid packets, etc. We are grown men and women, so stop feeding us children’s portions that some fatcats, so-called “nutritionist” sitting in Sacramento decides we should have. Maybe they should be forced to first eat this
PIA junk and small food portions for a year, in order to make a correct informed decision. That a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this
(24) Order that the CDCR DOM, CCR Title 15, Section 3220.4 and DOM Supplementals be revised where it states that, all uncut, R-rated movie/videos shall be permitted to be shown to all CDCR prison populations. At present, we are only allowed up to PG-13 movie/videos. We are not 13-year old children, nor in juvenile detention centers. Again, we are grown men and women in adult state prisons. Therefore, we should be allowed to watch uncut R-rated movie/videos. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections approving this.
(25) Order that the CDCR DOM and CCR Title 15 be revised to state that all CDCR prisons shall provide – if they have not done so already – their prison populations with the minimum of twenty quality “entertainment channels.” Especially for prisons like PBSP that are so isolated that they can’t even receive one TV channel over the air, not even with a digital antenna. Presently, this prison only receives eight low-quality Charter Cable channels consisting of 3 cable and 5 network channels. Less than all other SHU prisons across the state. And, where there’s constant signal interruptions. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prison wardens – especially to PBSP’s Warden Lewis – ordering this, and to be posted in all CDCR unit sections.
(26) Order that all CDCR prisons use the funds are specifically designated for enter tain ment and recreation purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to immediately purchase all the necessary equipment, storage sheds and any needed digital antenna towers, etc. These funds should also be used to pay the monthly fees and costs to cable companies to add the above-mentioned minimum twenty channels to all CDCR prisons.
(27) Order that all CDCR prisons use the funds that are specifically designated for exercise equipment purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to immediately be used to purchase and install all the promised dip and pull-up bars on all SHU/Ad-Seg and Death Row yards.
(28) Order that CDCR prisons use the funds that are specifically designated for exercise equipment purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to also be used to purchase weight-lifting equipment for all GP yards again, as they once had, so prisoners can have something to look forward to on those GP yards other than dip/pull-up bars, handballs and looking at each other.
(29) Order that all arbitrary contraband (“potty”) watches be stopped immediately. Especially order that the PVC tube torture restraints that are currently being used here at PBSP – and maybe at other prisons – as some kind of twisted torture experiment on prisoners that some CO conceived and made in his garage, be immediately stopped and abolished forever! [See Rock newsletter vol. 1, no. 12, Dec. 2012, at p.4, “Freedom, Justice and Human Rights.”] And that all prisoners that prison staff reasonably suspect – not on some whim – have hidden contraband in cavities, first be given the option to be X-rayed to prove they have nothing hidden. Because, for the past couple of years, prison staff have “intentionally” not given that option in order to arbitrarily and systematically use these PVC torture tube restraints to punish and torture prisoners! This is a barbaric and humiliating practice! Also, immediately order that when a prisoner does provide a bowel movement, that it be done in a closed-room environment, not in the damn hallways and side corridors leading to and from Visiting or law library, like they do here at PBSP-SHU, where everyone from the outside prison tours, to prisoners being escorted, can see him giving a bowel movement like some farm animal! As they walk by just feet away from him. Not to mention all our food carts that are pushed by them, too! That a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons – especially to PBSP Warden Lewis – to be posted in all unit sections ordering all these human rights violations to be immediately stopped!
(30) Order that Dr. Sayre be immediately removed as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at PBSP, or at any CDCR prison – if it hasn’t been done yet – and that he never hold any position of authority over any prisoner’s health and medical treatment. He is behind countless medical negligence and civil rights complaints going back more than a decade. He is also behind not allowing prisoners the option of getting an X-ray, forcing them to go through the “potty watch” torture-tube restraints “therapy,” referred to at (29) – claiming it was too costly to give the X-ray option. This is the worst of the worst doctors in all of the CDCR and he must be removed!
(31) Order that all CDCR prison cells that have not been painted (i.e., Corcoran, Folsom, etc., and all Ad-Seg cells, etc.) be painted so the cells are not the present drab, depressing, bare gray concrete cell walls. PBSP-SHU cells have been painted since before it was opened. So all other cells should also be painted with a coat of paint! Order Maintenance and Plant Operations departments to do this ASAP. Issue a memo to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.
(32) Order Maintenance and/or Plant Operations departments at PBSP to finally fix the original flawed-design ventilation system that we have been complaining about in 602 appeals since the day this prison first opened, where they have repeatedly come around and basically did a whole lot of nothing to it. For example, in SHU, these cells only have out-take vents – no intake vents. The only intake vents are the giant ones above the control booths that sound like a jet engine when turned on, where prison staff and prisoners can’t hear anyone talking to them. Thus, it’s never turned on unless there is smoke or a prisoner got pepper-sprayed multiple times in the cell or section. And, the intake vents that are turned on 24/7, that are supposed to suck in any accumulated heat on the second tier, are those right above the top step on the second tiers. However, during the winter months, when this place first opened, and the heaters were turned on, those intake vents proved to be extremely inadequate, where the heat only rose and accumulated on the second tiers – where those prisoners, and even the cops feeding up there – complained of the heat. So, as stated, a whole lot of nothing was done. Where, to date, the heaters are never turned on! And, year round, air barely comes out of the ventilation systems, where we have to ask the Control Tower guard to open the yard door in the mornings prior to yard and when the yard is not being used, just so we can get some fresh air in here – even if it’s ice cold air! Therefore, order PBSP’s Maintenance and/or Plant Operations to at least replace the intake ventilation motors with those with a lot higher R.P.M.s, so, when the heaters are ever turned on again, those intake vents can maintain the heat at the proper levels on the second tiers. And, order them to keep the air levels turned up 24/7 where it properly circulates in the units. Especially in those cells that have their fronts covered with Lexan/Plexiglass that become
suffocating during the summer months. Issue a memo to PBSP to be posted in all unit sections that reflects the above order.
(33) Order Maintenance and/or Plant Operations at PBSP, and other prisons that have it, to cut one (1) foot off the bottom of the Lexan/Plexiglass coverings on all cells that have them so air can properly be allowed to circulate in those cells [see (32) above]. And, that ‘if’ a prisoner is housed in one of those cells who is not on “Lexan status,” to give those prisoners the option of having it removed. [Note: Some prisoners prefer it because it’s a lot more quiet and warmer in the winter months.] Thus, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.
(34) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3097, “Inmate Restitution Fine and Direct Order Collections,” be revised where the restitution rate is reduced from 55% back to a reasonable level of 33% that a prisoner has to pay on all incoming monies. At present, prisoners are paying 55% of monies their loved ones send them – especially with the lack of prison paying jobs – so, in reality, their loved ones are the ones paying the full amount, not the prisoners, so a lot of prisoners no longer ask their loved ones to send them any funds. Thus a lot less additional funds get paid into the Restitution Fund. Until these revisions are done, issue a memo to all prison Trust Account Offices, and to be posted in all unit sections, ordering the restitution rate of all incoming monies be reduced to a total of 33% that a prisoner has to pay on all incoming monies.
(35) Order IGI staff at PBSP, and other prisons, to stop being so extremely petty on everything from screening mail, visiting, and legal visits. Because, it seems like ever since the first 2011 HS – where IGI for the first time felt they lost total control – they have made it their mission in life to use extreme petty tactics to attack all those in SHU, including all their extended families and friends. Where they have now made an art of twisting any mail/ visiting/contraband, etc. rules and regulations until they “find” something to suspend visits, confiscate mail, etc. and/or issue RVRs for things they have never been known to do prior to the 2011 HS. Therefore, issue a memo to all IGI/ISU staff ordering them to stop being so vindictive and petty under the guise of security!
(36) Order that the following revisions be made to the Cal. Code of Regulations [CCR], which would state that, if an Administrative Rule Violation Report [ARVR] per CCR Title 15, Sec. 3314 hearing is not held within 30 days of issuing it [Id. Sec. 3320(b)], then no restrictions under Sec. 3314(e)(1)-(10) shall be imposed. And that if a hearing is not held within 60 days of issuing an ARVR, then the ARVR shall be ordered dismissed in its entirety and expunged from the prisoner’s C-file. Because, as it stands right now, even if an ARVR hearing is held six (6) months from issuing it, the hearing officer can still impose the same restrictions as if the hearing was held within 30 days of issuing it. This is not right! And there has to be some kind of accountability on CDCR staff for the countless unjustified delays in hearing ARVRs. Therefore, until it is revised, that a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this change.
(37) Order that the following revisions be made to the CCR Title 15, which would state that, if a Serious Rule Violation Report [SRVR] per CCR Title 15, Sec. 3315 hearing is not held within 60 days of issuing it, then the restrictions under Sec. 3315(f)(5)(A)-(P) shall not be imposed. And that, if the hearing is not held within 90 days of issuing it, then the SRVR shall be ordered dismissed in its entirety and expunged from the prisoner’s C-file. Because, as it stands right now, even if the hearing for a SRVR is not held within 30 days of issuing it, no good behavior credits can be taken. However, as in the ARVR, if a SRVR hearing is held six (6) months from issuing it, the hearing officer can still impose the same restrictions as if the hearing was held with 30 days
of issuing it. This is not right either! And there should also be some kind of accountability for the countless unjustified delays in hearing SRVRs. Therefore, until it is revised, that a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this change.
(38) Order that an independent audit/investigation be conducted into the expenditures of the Inmate Welfare Funds [IWF] for the past five (5) years. And, that a copy of that investigation, and an up-to-date itemized list of IWF monthly expenditures be posted in all prison unit sections so we, as prisoners, can have something tangible to see where our monies are actually being spent, and to ensure none of those monies are being diverted to other areas not in the prisoner’s interest or benefit. CDCR prisoners have the right to have this information posted in their sections. The IWF solely belongs to all CDCR prisoners. It was created to reimburse services to prisoners, including their training and education and to underwrite the prison canteens. Prisoners who are taxed for that purpose by the CDCR on purchases and the like, have paid every penny themselves that goes into the IWF. Those monies are not court-ordered restitution funds, nor do they belong to CDCR – even though they act like it does. Thus, issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.
(39) Order that all CDCR prisons’ associate wardens conduct monthly meetings with GP, SHU/Ad-Seg and Death Row prisoner representatives [not subject to CCR Title 15, Sections 3230-3232] in order to have open dialogue between prisoners and the prison’ administrations. And, more importantly, order that every associate warden who conducts these monthly meetings is given the prison warden’s full authority at these meetings, to address and grant/deny any grievances/requests from the prisoner reps right there and then, that can be dealt with at the institutional level -- where she or he is not later overruled by the warden – including, discussions on how our IWF should be spent. Thus, issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.
(40) Order that during any HS/WS negotiations—if CDCR does not meet the July 08, 2013 deadline—a member of our outside Mediation/Litigation Team and a member of the Press either be physically present and/or present by phone conference.
We are hopeful that Governor Brown, the CDCR, et al, will make the changes required in order to meet our reasonable demands – prior to July 08, 2013 – because we remain 100% fully committed to resuming our indefinite protest action(s) – to the point of our starvation resulting in serious permanent injury and/or death. To date, three prisoners have sacrificed their lives, and many more have suffered permanent damage, in solidarity with our cause!
We hope more deaths/injuries will not be required – but we are fully committed to our cause, and will accept nothing less than the changes to CDCR policies and practices referenced above.
In addition, be advised that since the 2011 Hunger Strikes, we have read many prison publications [i.e., the Rock and www.sfbayview.com, etc., etc.] where we quickly came to realize that we here in PBSP-SHU were not the only ones who have been tortured with solitary confinement and countless deprivations from the past 10 to 40 years. That, all our fellow men and women prisoners all across California, from all security levels 1 through 4 (where many of theirs have been included within the above demands), and all those across all of these United States, in both federal and state prisons, have suffered similarly to us here, in one form or another. But most have never had a voice or forum to lay their demands out for change. Therefore, we have placed the next two paragraphs here in full solidarity with all our fellow women and male prisoners across the country so they can finally be heard!
Therefore, expect your offices to also soon be receiving separate demands from all other CDCR male and female prisoner representatives from all security levels [1 through 4] on GPs, Ad-Segs, Death Row and from all other CA SHU prisons who will also join us on the July 08, 2013 HS/WS, if their demands are not met by that deadline. Which will be tailored to their own particular institutional needs that are not listed above–which we fully support.
As stated above, we are also offering this forum to all male and female prisoners across the U.S. prison systems (state/federal) as a favor to them in full solidarity, who otherwise will not have a voice, nor probably ever have this unique opportunity again, where, if they also wish to volunteer to join us on a “National Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage,” to peacefully protest solitary confinement and other deprivations and conditions in their own individual state and federal prisons for the past 10 to 40 years, or less, and if they also wish to be heard, we encourage all their prisoner representatives to also formulate their own separate demands tailored for their individual state and federal institutional needs, where they also serve a copy on their state governors, etc. And where they also set the same deadline for those officials to meet their demands, or they will also be starting their HS/WS on July 08, 2013, which we will fully support.
Finally, from today to the July 08, 2013 deadline, and/or during the HS/WS, we are willing to keep ongoing communications open with your Sacramento CDCR Administration, and/ or your office, Governor Brown, in order to negotiate all of our demands listed here that can be negotiated. With hopes that we can avoid having to resume our peaceful action(s) – or end it sooner – where we can all come to a reasonable Consent Decree. ●
– Todd Ashker, C-58191, PBSP-SHU, D4-121
– Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP-SHU, D1-121
– Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671, PBSPSHU,D1-117
– Antonio Guillen, P-81948, PBSP-SHU, D2-106
The PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives
Jun 01, 2010
keywords: shu, prison report, ad-seg, abuse
From Prison Focus #35
Pelican Bay State Prison Visit of April 29, 2010
Investigators: CPF and Bar None
1. Amount of food (calories) not enough to sustain weight. Those who can do so purchase supplemental food from the canteen.
2. Prisoners are told that they get a lower level f medical care because they’re in the SHU, and COs have even said in legal declarations that the quality of medical care depends on an inmate’s “custody level”.
3. Some legal mail is opened or withheld.
4. Due to inadequate space in the SHU for all the people being gang-validated, many spend a year or more in ASU waiting for a SHU cell. ASU is worse that SHU in some ways, such as allowing no TVs or radios.
5. Yard time has been cut to about 5 hours per week, despite legal requirement of 10 hours per week. Prison officials say it’s due to budget cuts and short-staffing (CPF believes it’s a deliberate work slowdown organized by the guards’ union, CCPOA).
In the Pelican Bay SHU, overflow is a serious problem. The SHU has been filled up with “gang-validated” prisoners, with the overflow being housed in the ASU – where prisoners cannot have TVs or radios and can have a more limited number of personal letters, photos, etc. Men are spending a year or more in ASU – some serve their whole “SHU” term there.
Despite the federal court having ordered CDCR to raise medical care to the constitutionally required minimum level, medical staff have told SHU residents that they get a lower level of care and must get out of the SHU to get better care.
Various other areas are apparently worsening, too.
Ad Seg: Prisoners are kept in Ad Seg just waiting for a bed in SHU for over a year. So those who have disciplinary terms there usually do the whole time in Ad Seg. They are allowed no appliances in ASU – i.e. neither TV nor radio. The ASU is so bad that last fall, one prisoner lit himself on fire to get to the SHU from ASU. It worked – a week later he was in the SHU.
Gang validations: Validations are being done based on both factually and legally questionable bases (possession of a publication, juvenile offenses, mistaken identification of a correspondent). Of almost 1200 cells in SHU (all full), no more than 100 are there for disciplinary reasons. Guards signed a declaration for court saying that only 75 to 80 had disciplinary terms and all the rest are gang-validated.
COs setting up fights: Frequent stories of COs putting a prisoner in a cell or in yard with known enemies or enemy gang members. When they inevitably fight, one or both are given SHU time or put on Potty Watch.
Potty watch: Worse than ever. Since late last year, more men are being put into PW, and they are kept there for 4-5 days. Changes: Now guards put tubes over your arms, do not allow handwashing, yet don’t give eating utensils.
Previously, guards needed “reasonable cause” to suspect contraband in order to put you on PW (whether aggressor or victim), with not even a pretense of contraband.
Food portions are way too small. Prisoners described them as half a normal portion, or as not enough to maintain your weight if you exercise at all.
Medical: Prisoners in the SHU are expressly told that they get a lower level of medical care because they’re in the SHU. They cannot get adequate medication for severe pain; they get only Tylenol or ibuprofen. Medical staff have even admitted in court declarations that the quality of medical care depends on an inmate’s “custody level.”
Medical care takes a long time to get and is often delayed even after being scheduled. Prisoners sometimes don’t get information about their care, such as lab results or diagnosis. Those transferring prisoners have to start all over to get the care and medicines needed, because they new prison ignores doctors’ orders from the old prison.
Mail: COs open even legal mail. They invent rules in order to say that it is not legal mail and to justify opening it. In Ad Seg, which is really mostly just a holding area for those headed to the SHU, prisoners aren’t allowed to get their legal mail unless they have a court date.
There are multitudinous rules that you learn only when you are sent a letter that breaks a rule and it’s not delivered to you. Also, sometimes enforcement of the rules is taken to ridiculous extremes. For example, a letter said that the recipient’s grandchild said hello; the letter was withheld because it broke the “third-party rule.”
There’s been a recent change in handling of mail that has contraband. Old policy was that the contraband was removed but you got the rest of the piece of mail. Now the piece of mail is stopped entirely. Title 15 and DOM, however, say that allowable portions of the mail should be delivered.
602s: Many 602s disappear. Even when answered, are sometimes answered past the 15-day deadline prescribed by Title 15.
One recommendation is to send a copy of every 602 you file to (1) the Inspector General, (2) Internal Affairs, (3) the Director of Corrections, and (4) the Ombudsman. They will acknowledge receipt of the document and put it into the file. This gives you proof of submission of the 602 in case it disappears at the prison, and it also puts the prison administration on notice that other officials are aware of the issues.
Law library: Most prisoners prefer cell study, for various reasons, but mostly because they are not comfortable with doing research on the computer.
Despite a court order in 1974 that “free staff” rather than guards manage the library, management has been handed back to guards. Since this change, there have been more complaints about access to the library. Guards prevent many requests for access from reaching the library, as well as prisoners’ requests for interviews to find out why a request wasn’t granted, and also “lose” 602s about library access problems.
Regulations kept secret: The DOM (Department Operations Manual) says that “policy directives,” which include Director’s or Secretary’s Bulletins and Instructional Memos about program changes, should be in the law libraries. They are not. This amounts to a book about 7 inches thick of memos from Sacramento that prisoners cannot see. This problem is apparently at all the prisons.
Yard time/CCPOA work slowdown?: Instead of the legally mandated 10 hrs/week of yard time, they now get yard only 2 times/week for 2 or 3 hours each time. This is blamed on the “budget crisis” and the prison being short-staffed. CPF believes it is instead a deliberate slowdown organized by the CCPOA (guards’ union).
Short Corridor: Conditions in the Short Corridor are worse that the rest of the SHU in various ways. For example, Potty Watch is believed to be worse there. Black prisoners are not allowed to be celled near each other, nor to talk to one another. Generally, all communications are restricted, as in the federal Communications Management Units (CMUs), so the Short Corridor could aptly be called a CMU.
Wet cells/holding cells used as housing: Prisoners are housed for as long as two weeks in these cells, which are meant to be used only for a few hours (e.g. for haircuts). This means men are sleeping on an unsanitary floor covered with hair and finger- and toenail trimmings.
Jun 01, 2002
keywords: visits, ad-seg, shu, prison report
As anybody who has ever visited CSP-Corcoran knows, gaining entrance to the prison is a feat unto itself. In order to schedule a visit one must call at least two weeks in advance between the hours of 8a.m. and 1p.m., Thursday through Saturday. This task would appear simple, yet many Corcoran prisoners, friends and families who visit the prison report being unable to reach a live person or being told no actual visiting appointments are available. The process of gaining visiting access to the Security Housing Unit (SHU) poses an even greater challenge.
SHU prisoners report that visitors’ access has become increasingly difficult over the past two years. Two years ago SHU visits were scheduled at a rate of 12 per hour. Now only four to eight visits are scheduled per hour. Corcoran SHU houses over one thousand individuals, so for to eight visiting spots per hour is hardly an adequate allotment of visiting spaces relative to the potential number of visitors. Family members and prisoners alike testify that scheduling a visit can be impossible. One prisoner tells us his family called to schedule visits repeatedly over a nine-month period, to no avail. His family finally gave up resigned not to visit. Another family member reports flying in to California from out of state, yet visiting staff refused to schedule an appointment for her. Family members drive hundreds of miles or fly across the country to visit loved ones in the SHU and Administrative Segregation, and despite their efforts they run the risk of being turned away. The prison also reserves the right to close down visiting at any time. Family members have recounted stories of arriving on time for visiting appointments, waiting to see a loved one, and ultimately being denied the opportunity. If a family member flies across the country to see their lobed one, the least the prison could do is guarantee a visiting appointment.
As if the difficulties of scheduling a visit are not enough, the prison administrations also fails to maintain visiting facilities. During California Prison Focus’ January 18 investigation of the Corcoran SHU, nine of the twenty-two phones in visiting booths were found to be out of order. A correctional officer informed CPF that the phones had been out of order for months, and fixing them was not a priority for the prison. Of the four confidential attorney-client visiting booths, two of the phones were out of order. Prior to the investigation we were informed that the facilities would be inspected and any necessary repairs made. Like in the regular SHU visiting area, guards informed us that the attorney-client phones had been in disrepair for months and required rewiring. After we applied pressure, maintenance was called and in a brief period of time the attorney-client phones were made functional. The fact that the phones were promptly fixed attests to the prison’s ability to maintain its facilities. Several calls were made to follow-up on the maintenance of SHU visiting phones after the January investigation. Visiting staff were unable to answer questions regarding the maintenance of phones, and stated there was no way to access such information. The litigation office failed to return calls regarding this matter. One wonders how corrections officers and maintenance staff spend their days. Easy remedies are ignored. If all SHU visiting phones were maintained, prisoners would receive a substantially larger number of visits, dramatically improving their quality of life.
Observations from prisoners and visitors alike attest to the fact that guards can often be found reading newspapers, drinking from large slurpy cups, and hanging out talking. For all intents and purposes corrections officers appear to make every effort to remove themselves from the work environment, to divert their attention to discussions of recreation or family so as to pass the time. As a result simple actions that would better the lives of prisoners are neglected. The fact that basic tasks are neglected appears less and less about carelessness, and more about malicious intent. Prisoners are denied access to the outside world because the prison staff does not attend to their jobs with consistent care. Mail and quarterly packages can take up to one month to process, and money is not being placed into prisoners trust accounts in a timely manner. The neglect of simple tasks like these causes unnecessary tension and frustration to mount within the prison population. Staff members could easily dispel such tensions if they adhered to a consistent scheduling program. Imagine what it would be like if a visitor could call and schedule visits easily or a package could be received from a loved one in a few short days.
Often when we visit the SHU there are very few people visiting. According to prisoners’ family members, this is not for lack of their trying, but rather a lack of access. With the impending changes to the Visiting Regulations already limited access will be further curbed. SHU prisoners will only be permitted visits from attorneys or immediate family members. Decreasing prisoners’ access to the outside world continues to lighten staff workload while making terms of confinement increasingly unbearable and dehumanizing.
As increasing limits are imposed upon prisoners’ communication with the outside world, internal communication between prisoners, staff and the prison administration continues to deteriorate. The dissolution of the Men’s Advisory Councils (MACs) throughout Corcoran highlights increased efforts to deny prisoners a voice. The MAC was created with the intent to serve as a liaison between the prison administration and the prison population. It is a forum in which prisoners are able to recommend programmatic changes and voice the collective concerns of specific yard populations. In the past six months both chairmen of the MACs on 3A and 3C yards have been suspended from their respective positions.
Each MAC Chairman had retained his position for several years, approaching the work in a pragmatic, thoughtful and deliberate manner while serving as representative spokesman for his constituency.
Although many of the prisoners on the yard question the effectiveness of the MAC, the chairmen attempted to recognize individual and collective concerns as they proposed programmatic changes to alleviate tensions. The 3A MAC chairman filed a group 602 appeal on behalf of general population, protesting the inconsistent programming of yard activity. Approximately 400 signatures were obtained and proper procedures were followed. When the appeal was filed, staff became upset with the 3A MAC chair and attempted to intimidate him into rescinding the appeal. He refused, persisting with the appeal, only to end up in Administrative Segregation.
Similarly, the 3C MAC has been suspended from functioning 2 times in the past six months. The reason given for these suspensions were individual actions. In one instance a MAC member was said to have removed a small piece of cardboard from the hobby shop, in the other case the MAC chair was said to have had a radio in his possession that did not belong to him. In both cases the allegations were untrue and later retracted, yet the 3C MAC chair continues to be targeted a an instigator. He was recently accused of instigating a work stoppage, a charge that landed him in Administrative Segregation. Subsequently all charges were dropped, yet he continues to be held in Ad. Seg.
Despite the fact that the above allegations have been proven untrue, yard staff continue to undermine the efforts and effectiveness of the MAC by obstructing attempts to organize. In short, prison staff are attempting to utilize false allegations of the actions of individuals to undermine an institutional organization approved and created by the prison administration. According to Title 15, the MAC can only be suspended by the warden of an institution, yet yard staff have taken it upon themselves to orchestrate their own suspension of MAC. Despite ongoing efforts to have these matters investigated by the Warden’s office, no action has been taken by the prison administration. Guards continue to run their own kangaroo-court style programs without documenting their actions, thus leaving no trail through which to chronicle accountability.
Thus, prisoners voices are silenced. Voices that speak truth to power, voices that hold a mirror in front of the institutions face are erased. Why? Because the staff feels challenged by the truth of a prisoner’s observations and recommendations? Indeed a request by the MAC to discuss staff misconduct does not threaten the safety and security of the institution, nor do ongoing requests for the yard program to be better run. Yet it appears that the MACs’ persistence have been effective in shedding light on the chaotic and failed attempts by prison staff to run programs.
CSATF in Brief:
Not far from CSP-COR stands the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (CSATF). Prisoners housed at CSP-COR are transferred, sometimes en masse, to CSATF. During January prisoners organized themselves in response to actions perpetrated by correctional officers. Since that time the prison has been on lockdown. Despite the fact that the 25 individuals involved in the incident have reportedly been transferred out of the prison, black and white prisoners remain on lockdown, and all visits are on a non-contact basis. Family members report that only 22 visits are allowed per day, and despite having previously scheduled appointments, visitors are denied the opportunity to see their loved ones. Visitors report traveling over three hundred miles for scheduled visits, arriving at the institution ahead of time, and after waiting from 9a.m. until 2p.m. being informed that they will not be able to visit their loved ones. As a result family members are becoming increasingly hesitant to trek across the state to visit their loved ones. They are frustrated and demoralized by the disrespectful behavior they experience from prison staff. Prison officials seem intent on deterring visitors from gaining entrance to institutions, rather than encouraging sustained communication between a prisoner and his family. Continued visiting restrictions will only exacerbate the understandable frustrations and dissatisfactions of prisoners and family members.