New STG Step Down Program is a Sham

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Calipatria State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 32]
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New STG Step Down Program is a Sham

I'm a prisoner at Calipatria State Prison in California. I've been housed in this prison's Administration Segregation Unit (ASU) for almost five years pending transfer to Pelican Bay's Security Housing Unit (SHU), due to my alleged association with a prison gang, now called Security Threat Groups (STGs). In recent days, Calipatria's ASU prisoners were given a 63-page instructional memorandum packet. This memorandum announces the implementation of an STG pilot policy which serves as a notice of program, behavioral and participation expectations in the new Step Down Program (SDP) for prisoners housed in segregation units.

Prison officials here have told us that in the coming weeks CDCR representatives from Sacramento will be reviewing the case file/validation package of all those who have been validated as associates of an STG here at Calipatria to determine their current and future housing needs in accordance with the new SDP placement option chart.

This new policy and SDP is a sham! It does not address the core issues and only gives the illusion that if a prisoner jumps through all their hoops he/she could escape these torture chambers. The fact of the matter is that even if the prisoner is able to gain his/her release back to the general population, s/he will be walking on very thin ice thereafter. Any infraction could bring him/her right back to these torture chambers for an additional six years minimum. If a prisoner has already been through the SDP they will have to serve two years in step one, instead of the one year for first termers in the program.

CDCR might as well place revolving doors at the entrance of every segregation unit, because this is exactly what the new policy offers. Maybe its going to take the sound of thousands of hungry rumbling bellies before CDCR listens to reason and begins to write policies that are humane and fair.


MIM(Prisons) adds: California has been housing prisons in long-term isolation for years under the guise of gang (aka security threat group) validation. The conditions in these units have provoked a number of protests from prisoners, and this prisoner refers to the upcoming July 8 strike against torture in California prisons.

In 2011, when 12,000 prisoners went on hunger strike to protest long-term isolation, the CDCR asserted that they were already working on the issue. This SDP was what they were working on. Previously they offered "gang validation" to prisoners deemed to be affiliated with one of a handful of "prison gangs" within the system. This new policy expands the gang validation, and therefore long-term isolation torture, to all sorts of organizations that are deemed "criminal" or even just "disruptive." Keep in mind that if prisoners stand up against staff abuses, this is considered "disruptive" behavior and such prisoners face regular retaliation. While none of this is new, it is now official policy. This is their idea of reforming the system.

While we know the whole system needs to be thrown in the trash, in the mean time we can at least do better than this. But it depends on prisoners organizing in unity to better the conditions of all prisoners. Work with MIM(Prisons) to support prisoner education and organizing.

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