by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington and Nube Brown of the Liberate the Caged Voices Coalition
Peace and blessings, sisters and brothers!
There is a saying among the Muslim brothers: “Want for your brother what you want for yourself.” In the case of Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, principled thinker, leader, brother, son and community member, we want freedom for him.
Last year in July 2019, Malik was granted parole by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In July 2020 we want to see the Parole Board in the state of California grant our Brother Sitawa his freedom when he goes before the board after five previous denials and 39 years of captivity, 32 of those years spent in solitary confinement.
It is not just a plea based solely on Elder Sitawa’s physical health. He is of a particular class of politicized prisoners subjected to decades of the torture of solitary confinement seen only in California, with rare exceptions in other states such as the decades of solitary endured by the Angola 3 in Louisiana.
And yet, Sitawa remains a stellar example of what positive transformations a human being can undergo in the most inhumane environments. Sitawa inspires us!
Many people fail to recognize that Sitawa, along with three other strong and principled leaders of the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective, inspired 30,000 courageous prisoners, who, in their struggle for freedom from the torture of solitary confinement – or the threat of it – chose to shun violence and rather embrace a peaceful strategy in order to bring about much needed change in CDCr (California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation) by implementing the powerful tenets of the Agreement to End Hostilities, an agreement that holds today, despite non-cooperation by CDCr.
Rather than being systematically punished for his leadership and commitment to the community on both sides of the wall, Sitawa should be rewarded with freedom and the opportunity to thrive and empower the community from which he was taken and show the world he is undaunted in his quest for change and peace.
We cannot and will not remain silent while CDCr uses a “death by incarceration” tactic on Sitawa and numerous other elders and leaders trapped in state prisons all across the United States.
Our respected Elder Mujahid Faria of Release Aging People in Prison taught me the slogan: “If the risk is low, let them go!”
Sisters and brothers, we suggest strongly that this should be our battle cry in 2020 for all incarcerated elders. Sitawa is a human being who deserves and has earned not just a national show of support, but an international freedom campaign, and we plan on helping to lead the way! Will you help us?
We leave you all with a quote from Victor Frankl that we would like all of you to meditate on – with the hope that it resonates in your heart, mind and soul. Perhaps it will motivate you to join this Freedom Campaign today:
“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed … for what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform personal tragedy into a triumph.” – Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Washington Square Press, New York 1969
I, Malik, have faced the reality that being an outspoken New Afrikan man in Amerika means I must accept being despised and hated. How I respond to the hate is totally up to me! Today I choose a path of peace and love.
Activist Nube Brown says that love is the most powerful force in the universe. Let’s see if we can collectively tap into the power of love and encourage the state of California to FREE SITAWA in July 2020.
Meanwhile, as we organize the campaign and Brother Sitawa recovers from a stroke, please send him some love and funds, to Freedom Outreach, c/o Marie Levin for Sitawa, Fruitvale Station, P.O. Box 7359, Oakland CA 94601.
Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win! All Power to the People!
Nube Brown is a New Abolitionist and activist working with California Prison Focus and facilitator of Liberate the Caged Voices. She is actively co-leading the Free Sitawa! Campaign to promote the Prisoner Human Rights Movement and hosts Prison Focus Radio on KPOO 89.5 San Francisco and KPOO.com every Thursday 11:00 to noon. Nube is a proud member of the human race and seeks to dismantle the prison industrial slave complex and replace it with a transformative, healing justice paradigm. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Feb 1, 2020
Normalizing death inside Texas prisons
by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington, Chief Spokesperson, End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement
“The media’s double standards about showing corpses is a clear illustration of the brutal necropolitics to which so many black, Muslim, indigenous, colonized and refugee lives are subjugated – that is, under the threat of, and in proximity to, death and disposal. As the first scholar to use the term, Achille Mbembe stressed that necropolitics does not reside only in the exercise of sovereignty via the power to kill, but the power to organize others’ lives so that they are perpetually exposed to death, or experience a living death of slavery, imprisonment and segregation.” – from Natasha Lennard, “Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life,” pg. 102
The intentional murder, suicide or even “accidental” death of Texas prisoners has now reached the point of an out-of-control epidemic.
Long-held Texas prisoner and highly respected jailhouse lawyer Michael “Basir” Lane states that in the year of 2019, approximately 15 human beings died at the H.H. Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, the largest state prison in Texas.
It is ironic that in the year of 2019, Texas Rep. Jarvis Johnson, a Democrat from Houston, Texas, fought passionately for a piece of legislation which would have created independent oversight for this morally bankrupt agency known as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
I began this essay with a remarkable quote from scholar, activist and author Natasha Lennard. Ms. Lennard uses the term “necropolitics.” In the state of Texas, necropolitics, the politics of death, has been perfected and organized by a cadre of willing conspirators.
It is important for you to know that the necropolitics, the normalization of death inside Texas prisons, is not something that has just recently happened. On the contrary, this is how Texas does business.
This is not an attack on party affiliation, because both the Democrats and Republicans in Texas have been willing participants in this organized scheme to liquidate and exterminate those who have been deemed unworthy of our compassion.
As I said, this scheme is very organized, and it has “actors.” People who hold the most respected and highest stations in Texas have aided in the proliferation and cover-up of these horrible violations of human rights.
Exposing the actors
I arrived in the H.H. Coffield Unit in September of 2015, and I had already rung the alarm that prisoner deaths were being orchestrated and covered up inside Texas prisons. It was actually the work and activism of Kevin “Rashid” Johnson which got my attention and made me realize that this normalization of death inside Texas prisons was being condoned, protected and promoted at the highest level of the Texas state government.
In 2013, the Texas attorney general was Gregg Abbott, who has since become the governor. Rashid had been purposely brought to Texas by Abbott’s office, and Abbott then conspired with TDCJ and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to have Rashid housed at the Bill Clements High Security Unit in Amarillo, Texas.
Right away, Rashid discovered that placing him at Bill Clements was an attempt by Abbott and then-TDCJ Director Brad Livingston, to kill Rashid and finally silence his revolutionary voice. Rather than become a willing victim, Rashid became a champion of those housed at this death trap, the infamous Clements Unit, located in the “Klan-handle” of Texas.
I remember the names of all the prisoners who died or who were killed by TDCJ employees at the Bill Clements High Security Unit: Theodore Schmerber, Chistopher Woolverton, Arcade Joseph Comeaux, Alton Rodgers and more!
In the state of Texas, necropolitics, the politics of death, has been perfected and organized by a cadre of willing conspirators
Attorney Jesse Quackenbush tried to get some justice for the families of these deceased Texas prisoners, but Jesse was up against the entire corrupt criminal justice system in Texas! We are talking about the judges, district attorneys, and even the coroners and medical examiners – all doing their utmost to downplay and cover up the loss of life at the notorious Bill Clements Unit.
Many people don’t realize how corrupt and sinister this fraternity and sorority of murderous public servants is – they don’t realize how far the tentacles reach. Attorney Jesse Quackenbush would find out.
In 2017, a homeless drunk attacked Jesse Quackenbush’s daughter in the state of Tennessee. Jesse’s daughter was trying to get to her vehicle, but she was blocked by this man who was very angry and obviously deranged. Jesse’s daughter had a gun, she used it in self-defense.
Now, normally white women in the United States of America are given a pass when they use a firearm in self-defense – especially “well-to-do” white women like Jesse Quackenbush’s daughter. However, for some strange reason the Tennessee state attorney sought to charge Jesse’s daughter with attempted murder. Think I’m lying? I highly recommend you do your own research (see for instance https://www.amarillo.com/local-news/news/crime-and-courts/2017-09-12/daughter-local-attorney-jesse-quackenbush-charged).
Texas and Tennessee are part of the Good Ol’ Boys’ network. What we are dealing with here in Amerika is wickedness in high places.
Now, let’s go back to the H.H. Coffield Unit and the Eastern District of Texas. In 2016, while I was housed at the H.H. Coffield Unit, I began a civil lawsuit which alleged that I had become the victim of retaliation for engaging in what the U.S. Supreme Court refers to as protected conduct. The defendants in my civil complaint were all employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
I remember their names: Senior Warden Jeffrey Catue, Mailroom Supervisor Schylece Dorsey, Safe Prisons Sgt. Rhonda Smith, Law Library Supervisor Gaye Karriker, Security Threat Group Sgt. Robert Walker etc.
There were 17 defendants in total. The complaint was assigned to U.S. Magistrate K. Nicole Mitchell. Remember when I said that necropolitics is organized? In 2016, I raised the alarm about deaths at the H.H. Coffield Unit, and the “good” and “honorable” K. Nicole Mitchell ignored everything I said!
It is not just U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell who is culpable; now we have a “who’s who” of state employees, as well as members of the media, activist community and legislators who are all willing participants in the normalization of death inside Texas prisons.
Remember Jennifer Erschabek from TIFA (Texas Inmate Families Association)? For years Jennifer had the wool pulled over our eyes! Jennifer was figuratively “in bed” with high-ranking TDCJ prison officials like Bryan Collier. The first time ever that a TDCJ executive director appeared on the iconic Prison Show on KPFT 90.1 FM, Jennifer performed like a well-trained seal at Sea World.
I listened while Jennifer told Bryan Collier how wonderful he was, while refusing to hold him and his murderous colleagues accountable for the numerous prisoner deaths inside Texas prisons! Our “good friend” Jennifer, who charges us an arm and a leg for parole packets. A schemer and violator of the public’s trust. Shame on you!
I have always been critical of TDCJ Correctional Institution Division (CID) Director Lorie Davis. Davis specializes in targeting any prisoner who attempts to exercise their U.S. constitutional right to access the court. The pressure has been mounting for the ouster of Lorie Davis as the director of the TDCJ CID. In 2019, she took a special interest in the H.H. Coffield Unit, where prisoner deaths have become commonplace.
[P]rison in Texas is a microcosm of the “free” society outside
Senior Warden Jeffrey Catoe was relieved of his post. The numerous deaths and suicides on “Catoe’s watch” were cited as the main reason he was relieved.
Ms. Schylece Dorsey, mailroom supervisor, was fired by a federal marshall who found Dorsey had been tampering with, as well as obstructing, the legal mail of prisoners housed at Coffield Unit. Most of the security captains who were at Coffield Unit when I was housed there have been demoted or fired.
Nonetheless, the normalization of death at Coffield Unit continues unabated. Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston, Texas, as well as his colleague and buddy Sen. Joan Huffman, engage in this ongoing conspiracy to ignore the humanity of Texas prisoners.
All those years of serving on the Texas Senate, and John Whitmire will be leaving soon as a disgraced fool and puppet of the far-right ruling party! That will be your legacy, John! At one time you had me fooled, too, but now I am no longer blind to your hatred of oppressed people.
You folks shouldn’t have sent me to the feds. You should have shipped me to the moon! That way you may have escaped this scathing critique.
Prison slavery in Texas still exists, but one day it will be abolished!
Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people!
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Oct 18, 2019
Greetings Comrades in struggle,
Understand that this publication acts a continued resistance to racialized capitalism and the torture and abuses taking place within our prisons, jails, and detention centers. Our support of the Prisoner Human Rights Movement and the abolition of prisons which maintains modern-day slavery, as codified by the exception clause to the 13th Amendment, is our counter.
Here we stand by the voices and leadership of our caged community members and their families and loved ones. Please listen and learn from them as we act in solidarity to keep this movement alive.
From Spring 2013 Issue #39:
CREATING BROKEN MEN 2
A Discussion on CDCR’s New Brainwashing Mandate for SHU Torture Units
By the N.C.T.T. COR-SHU [NCTT stands for NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation) Collective Think Tank.]
“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 con- trol over the environment in which the captive populace lives.”
—Dr. Edgar Schein to U.S. wardens and social scientists, 1962
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 contra- conditioning techniques) is not to expose yourself to brain-washing 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, N.C.T.T. COR-SHU
Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough #D83611
Heshima Denham #J38283
Kambui Robinson #C82830
Jabari Scott #H30356
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Oct 12, 2019
People Wisen with Age. Why Can't Our Criminal Justice System Do the Same?
This is a letter from our latest issue #59. Clearly there is still much work left to be done...
To whom this may concern at California Prison Focus,
I’m most appreciative to receive the info that your organization puts out and I’m glad that someone out that is putting in the work to change things . . . perhaps ya’ll will wake some people up to the fact that change is needed.
I’ve been in prison now for almost 19 years for a crime in which no one was physically hurt. I’ll be 45 years of age in a few days. I’ve suffered a great deal during my time in prison as I’ve watched relationships fade - loved ones die - family become estranged. Although laws have progressively changed for the better, helped some get out and given others hope where there is none, there are still some like myself who remain stuck under draconian laws, such as 3 strikes.
Every time I tell someone about my situation they are left shaking their heads. Please bare with me as I explain. On 4-22-1993 a day after my 19th birthday I accepted a plea agreement for 8 years and 4 months in state prison for my involvement in some robberies. I was paroled in 1998. I had done a little over 5 years. Two years after my release I was arrested for another robbery and received a term under 3 strikes; I was given two 5 year enhancements for two prior prison terms, even though I only served one ... [T]he court looked at it like I had served two separate terms in prison. Also I got ten years for a gun enhancement. Giving me a total for 45 years to life in prison. The youthfulness of my crimes don’t help me, as I have been told that I do not qualify as a youthful offender despite the fact that I was under the age of 25 when my current offense occurred.
So - long story short - even with all of the changes occurring that have given prisoners renewed hope that they will be out sooner rather than later, individuals like myself still sit in prison hoping that another bill comes along that will change the three strikes law.
I’m aware that I am [was] a dumb ass for not learning my lesson the first time, and that I may be preaching to the choir but I just wanted to reach out to some like- minded people who know that people can change, and the system should reflect that change. Thank you for your time and all your efforts.
Sincerely, Mustafa, HDS
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Oct 5, 2019
CDCr — SVSP Retaliates Against Brutha Sitawa – With False Reports to Remove Him from G.P. Posted on 15 March 2018 by Prisoner Human Rights Movement
For years now, I have endured threats (both overt and covert) from the mouths and hands of CDCr Green Wall paramilitary services (OCS-ISUI -IGI, etc.). (See amongst others my article “Brutha Sitawa- Exiting Solitary Confinement” at http://www.sitawa.org), since following our 2013 nonviolent, peaceful Hunger Strike, when Governor Brown and his designated CDCr high officials (such as Secretary Scott Kernan, Under Secretary R. Diaz, Director K. Allison, etc.) negotiations with us (4 principal negotiators) became seriously heavy.
And every prisoner who has been released to the general population (GP) from solitary confinement (from January 2012 to the present) has struggled with “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Solitary Confinement” (PTSD-SC). (See article “PTSDSC: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” by me and Baridi Williamson, dated 12/11/17, at www.prisonerhumanrightsmovement.org).
It has been clear that the ISU-IGI personnel here at SVSP knew this and harassed, intimidated, tried bad-jacketing (spreading false rumors) and tried locking many of our class members back up in solitary confinement. And they knew that I was the first Principal Negotiator who had been released to a Modified General Population (MGP) yard. CDCr and its OCS-ISU-IGI, etc. were keeping track of where we four Principal Negotiators were housed and our movement overall.
On October 13, 2015, I arrived at the Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) Receiving and Release (R&R). Upon my exiting from the CDCr Transportation bus and entering the R&R, I was met by the wicked ISU-IGI Welcoming Committee: guards T.J. Smith, M. Hernandez and DeAnza. They escorted me into a dark-lit property storage room and let me know that I was not welcome at their prison, in a failed attempt to intimidate me.
Now since that date, the “Green Wall” is alive and well here at SVSP. I have been threatened by those older prison guards face-to-face, while younger guards stood in their gun tower, hoping I would react to one of those Green Wall guards so that they could say, “I got that Dewberry” (i.e., Sitawa).
One such instance occurred in 2016 during the holy month of Ramadan. While I and other prisoners were entering the mosque, there was one of those Green Wall corrections guards named McClean, who threatened my life while his supervisors (i.e., sergeants) and other old guards (i.e., Green Wall C/Os) stood by and listened. C/O McClean said to me, “We will get you, Sitawa, off C-yard somehow. You won’t be around here for long!” My response was directed to the two sergeants standing nearby. I asked them, “Are you going to discipline your guard?” They answered, “We’ll talk to Officer McClean.” The other older (Green Wall) guard instructed all prisoners to enter the mosque. Now I had to restrain the Bruthas, because this guard McClean (along with his Green Wall buddies supporting him) threatened my life!
The above challenges are just a drop in a lake against me and the revolutionizing work that the Prisoner Human Rights Movement has done inside CDCr, specifically over the past seven years (2011-2018), through which we have changed CDCr. I stand with the prisoner movement that is currently challenging SVSP’s Green Wall (ISU/IGI) guards’ eavesdropping on our legal phone calls, racial discrimination, racial imbalance, soms-workers discrimination, etc. (about which prison officials have been notified through appeals, grievances, complaints, and letters between 2015 and the present). Note to the reader: Please stop and re-read the above once again. And allow the above information to soak in before you continue reading!! The above is a classic case of retaliation, harassment, intimidation, and overt threats/acts.
On January 11, 2018, while I was waiting to be released for my work assignment, I looked out the cell door and observed a guard (later identified as Lt. J. Ortega of SVSP’s ISU) and his subordinate T.E. Flores (K-9 officer) heading toward our cage. Lt. Ortega informed me that he and Flores were conducting a “routine” cell search. My response was, “Lieutenant, you guys don’t do ‘routine’ cell searches.” Lt. Ortega escorted me to a table within B-section dayroom where our assigned cell was located.
And while we were at the table, Lt. J. Ortega observed me looking for his CDCr ranking label as a Lieutenant of ISU. He stated, “We don’t allow outsiders to see our ranking.” He went on: “There’s nothing personal about this cell search; it is a routine search. I have to cross our t’s and dot our i’s, because we [ISU-IGI] know that you’re the Key Negotiator in the Ashker v. Brown lawsuit. I heard about you, Mr. Dewberry, when you first came. You were the first one of the four representatives out of SHU and the last one back in.”
I realized at that moment that this cell search is in relation to the Ashker v. Brown class action lawsuit which was the true purpose of this search. And this is a clear demonstration of retaliation coming from SVSP’s ISU and IGI personnel.
Lt. Ortega left and walked over to speak with Flores, then returned to the table where I was seated. He said, “Dewberry, you’re going to the hole for investigation.” I replied, “For what? There’s nothing unlawful in my cell.” Ortega directed C/O Palacios to escort me to the holding cage inside the mental health area.
Lt. Ortega and Flores brought my celly in shortly after me. These ISU guards knew from the onset of this matter that I was innocent-with no knowledge of anything unlawful in my cell. Yet Ortega ignored this knowledge and wrote a false lockup order to have me removed from MGP and put me in solitary confinement (SC).
I am now realizing that this Lt. Ortega (ISU) et al. are driven to illegally place me/us in solitary confinement (that is, Administrative Segregation/ Ad. Seg.) at all costs. I realized at that moment that those two ISU personnel were about to commit a crime by setting up myself and my cellmate. Lt Ortega and Flores have committed an unlawful act by planting contraband in my cage to make the false accusation that contraband was found in order to justify taking our property and later claiming they found dangerous contraband inside that allows them to prolong my isolation. They have a history of doing this at SVSP.
It was clear that Lt. J. Ortega’s superior was also informed of my innocence, yet Ortega was clearly aware of what he, along with his squad of ISU/IGI was doing: targeting me in retaliation for what I was doing to change the ole Green Wall culture here at SVSP Fac. C. Myself and my cell mate were escorted to D1 and placed in cage 228 Ad. Seg. with our lockup order forms.
The following evening, January 12th, myself and my cellmate received our personal property back from ISU/IGI, at which time they made no mention whatsoever of any “dangerous contraband.” (They even omitted that they removed several Ashker v. Brown legal documents out of our property).
C/Os Franco and Flores (from ISU) both provided me with a CDC 128-B form to sign in order to expedite my Institution Classification Committee (ICC) hearing. I had requested a copy of the CDC 128-B but was denied. They gave the forms to their supervisor Lt. Ortega, who was required to promptly provide them to his ICC superiors for my ICC hearing-but did not.
On January 18, 2018, I went to my scheduled ICC hearing, where the committee consisted of CCII Meden, Associate Warden Solis, and Captain Gonzales. The ICC’s decision was to hold me in solitary confinement for approximately ninety days. I notified them that on January 12th, I had signed the 128-B. The ICC informed me that ISU personnel did not provide them with the 128-B, which would have allowed them to make a more accurate analysis and return me back to the MGP. It was apparent that Ortega and his ISU/IGI personnel did not want for me to be released to the MGP. And by withholding the mandatory CDC 128-B information from the ICC, they knew that I would not be released by the committee.
The ICC informed me that they would be contacting the ISU/IGI staff as to why my due process was being violated, and that the ICC would fast-track my case and place me back on the MGP. This ICC realized that there was no other purpose for ISU/IGI holding me in solitary confinement any longer.
On January 19, 2018, Lt. Ortega appeared at my assigned cage door, informing me that they (ISU/IGI) were issuing us (my cellmate and me) a new lockup order. Now Ortega and his squad were falsely saying that they found dangerous contraband inside the property they had searched on January 11th -12th and returned to us on the 12th-a full week before. I said to Ortega (and his subordinate ISU guard DeAnza:
“Really. Come on, Ortega. You are doing this because yesterday your ICC superiors discovered that you withheld my signed CDC 128-B from the ICC so that they could not release me. So they got on your case. And now you’re bringing a new false lockup order claiming you found dangerous contraband a week ago. But you did not, because you would have both reported it in writing, and I let your ICC superiors know before yesterday’s classification hearing.”
Ortega shrugged with a smirk on his face. My celly told him:
“You knew he’s innocent from Day 1. And you know it now. So why you’re ignoring this truth? Just to keep him locked up and from returning to the GP.”
We both refused to sign Ortega’s new lockup order, turned, and walked away from the door.
On January 23rd, I learned that my first fake writeup/lock up order by Ortega and his ISU/IGI was voided for due process violations. A new RVR was issued. But nowhere in Ortega’s writeup report does he identify any location in the cell where the “dangerous contraband” was supposed to be at. This raises the question of how it was located inside Ortega’s ISU/IGI office and not in our cell. And why he waited a week after completing the search and returning our property (except my missing Ashker v. Brown legal case documents) to suddenly produce that contraband?? And during that week made no mention of finding any “dangerous contraband” whatsoever!
On January 25th, I went before the ICC again on Ortega’s latest lockup order, at which time the committee extended my stay in solitary pending the disciplinary hearing, after which they would bring me back for my release to the MGP.
On January 26th, Ortega’s subordinate Hernandez sent the Ad. Seg. guard to escort us to the office to speak with him. We both asked, “For what? What do he want to talk to us about?” The guard shrugged his shoulders and said he “Don’t know.” And we exercised our constitutional right to remain silent and not talk to ISU/IGI.
On January 30th, while we were in the Ad. Seg. outside yard cage, Lt. Ortega approached the front of the cage and said, in an attempt to intimidate us: “You refused to talk with my officer?” We replied, “For what? What is it that you want to talk about? We know what you’re doing to remove me off the GP and try to keep me from returning. You have been disregarding and ignoring evidence of my innocence from the start on January 11th.”
Ortega said, “So you ain’t going to talk with us?” I answered, “For what. The writeup you falsified to put me in here was voided.” He responded, “I know, but if you don’t go talk with us, I will prolong your stay in here.” He then turned and walked off with that smirk on his face.
It was clear that Ortega and his ISU/IGI cohorts knew that they messed up with their planned scheme to set me up, remove me from the GP, and keep me locked up in solitary confinement. And this is no single, isolated case.
What many of you on the outside may not know is the long sordid history of CDCr’s ISU/IGI/Green Wall syndicate’s pattern and practice (here and throughout its prison system) of retaliating, reprisals, intimidating, harassing, coercing, bad-jacketing, setting prisoners up, planting evidence, fabricating and falsifying reports (state documents), excessive force upon unarmed prisoners, stealing their personal property (religious and wedding jewelry), as identified below.
Such as when the below-identified ISU/IGI/Green Wall “squad” ran into our Northerner (on B facility) and Southerner (on C facility) cells, assaulted and excessively forced them out, dragging them off the toilet, beds, etc., naked, down the iron stairs onto the concrete tier floor, degrading/humiliating/injuring them. And over just these last few years, these ISU/IGI/Green Wall guards have run around out of control, harassing, intimidating, etc. prisoners (especially those of our Ashker v. Brown class action legal case). Much of which is documented in CDCr’s Internal Affairs, Appeals Office, and/or court cases – complaints, appeals/grievances, excessive force, and/or employee misconduct.
Presently the Prison Law Office is conducting an investigation of these ongoing patterns and practices of overt/covert corrupt, unlawful activities by CDCr’s OCS-ISU/IGI/Green Wall here at SVSP (Lt. J. Ortega, Lt. M. Stem, I.J. Smith, Sgt. J. Vinson, Sgt. M. Valdez, Sgt. G. Segura, T. Flores, K.D. Melton, M. Hernandez, DeAnza, A.J. Franco, K. Castillo-Ruiz, and unnamed others). See investigative reports and records of the Prison Law Office and CDCr-SVSP’s Internal Affairs.
And Governor Brown’s designated CDCr officials-Secretary Scott Kernan, Under-Secretary Ralph Diaz, Director Kathleen Allison, Associate Director Sandra Alfaro, and Chief of the Office of Correctional Safety – are all aware of the ISU/IGI/Green Wall out-of-control long history pattern and practice of corrupt activities (described herein) here at SVSP.
Note: CDCr’s Green Wall guards/employees were exposed by the US Northern District Court in the 1990s-2000s. See Madrid v. Gomez, and “Report on Powers, etc.” by John Hagar, Judge Henderson’s appointed special master.
Yet, decades later these CDCr officials have not only allowed this patterned practice to continue here at SVSP, but is targeting the Ashker v. Brown class members to remove us off the GP, place us back in solitary confinement, and obstruct/interfere/prevent those like myself (and others within the Prisoner Human Rights Movement) from the peaceful efforts to effect genuine changes, for rehabilitation, returning home, productively contributing to the improvement of our communities, and deterring recidivism.
Any prisoners who have been subjected to harassment, retaliation, reprisals, being set up, having evidence planted on them or in their property/work area, etc., physical assault/excessive force/cell extraction, theft of their personal property, falsification of documents (RVRs, etc.), wrongful removal from GP to solitary confinement, denial of meaningful due process, and so on: Contact the Prison Law Office, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964.
Concerned citizens/members of the public, California state legislators, etc. can let high CDCr officials know that, enough is enough and join in this collective concern by contacting CDCr and Governor Brown and demanding:
1. CDCr/SVSP shall cease their retaliations against Sitawa N. Jamaa (Dewberry) and the Ashker v. Brown class members at this prison;
2. CDCr/SVSP shall immediately rein in and stop the out-of-control renegade Green Wall/ISU/IGI employees here at SVSP;
3. CDCr/SVSP shall cease the acts (overt and covert) of retaliation, reprisals, intimidations, harassments, coercion, planting evidence, setting prisoner up, bad-jacketing, fabricating and falsifying reports (state documents), and withholding evidence;
4. CDCr/SVSP shall cease their subordinates’ (OCS-Chief, ISU, IGI; Green Wall employees (to name a few, C/O J. Narvaez, C/O Sanquist, C/O Torres, C/O Guinn, Sgt. Howard, Sgt. Sandoval, C/O Santana, C/O Tonuto, C/O Vallejo, C/O Slnck, C/O, McClean, C/O Sanitos, etc.);
5. CDCr/SVSP shall cease its old culture and old thinking of OCS-ISU/IGI and Green Wall employees and order them to back off of Brutha Sitawa and those Ashker v. Brown class members, et al., working with him to change SVSP Facility C general population with rehabilitation;
6. CDCr/SVSP shall conduct its departmental investigation into the above-stated OCS/IGI/ISU-Green Wall culture, code of silence, and unlawful activities here at SVSP, and make their findings transparent and public, holding all involved SVSP employees accountable/responsible.
Also call the California legislature’s Public Safety Committee on Prisons and request Senator Holly Mitchell, and let her and her committee know that there are a lot of prisoners affected by this longstanding corruption of the ISU/IGI at SVSP.
I am one of many who have been (and continue to be) affected by IGI/ISU-Green Wall’s blatant corruption!!!
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry)
Prisoner Human Rights Movement principal negotiator