Prisoners Report on Conditions in

California Prisons

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www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Control Units] [Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 46]
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Torture Continues: CDCR Settlement Screws Prisoners

CA UFPP

It's been over a week since we got the news on the settlement of Ashker v. Brown.(1) For a case that is so central to what we do as an organization we've taken our time to respond. We've read and re-read the legal documents and listened to the celebratory news coverage of the settlement. Yet our reaction remains the same, deep disappointment.

The settlement is a victory for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and it knocks out one of the three main legs of the campaign to shut down the SHU — the courts (the other two being public opinion and prisoners organized around their own interests). This case had a lot of the known anti-isolation lawyers and some influential long-time SHU prisoners behind it. It was an alliance that will be tough to beat any time soon.

The Maoist Internationalist Movement, along with many other organizations, has spent decades campaigning for the end to long-term isolation in U.$. prisons. We have long countered the public who question us with, "what is your proposed alternative?" with the simple answer, "not torturing people." Ending long-term isolation in U.$. prisons would be a simple reform that unites the lowest common denominator of prison reformers. Almost everyone agrees we should end torture, and that is reflected in the ongoing movement to do so. It is only the fascist-leaning cop-lovers and state bureaucrats that oppose the call. Actually, in many states the state bureaucrats support ending long-term isolation.

Yet through all the years of struggle here in California, somehow the CDCR has succeeded in painting the ending of torture as the extreme option, with the recent settlement as the sensible compromise. But they are wrong: the extreme option is overthrowing the state and replacing it with one run by the oppressed, where the real killers and exploiters are imprisoned and taught how to live collectively with other humyn beings, not thrown in isolation. Ending torture in prisons is the most basic, sweeping reform that would actually improve the conditions in U.$. prisons.

According to the New York Times, prison directors have become more supportive of reducing the use of solitary confinement after a man who spent 8 years in isolation was released in 2013 and went to the house of Colorado's prison chief, Tom Clements, and shot him dead.(2) Yet reducing the number of people in long-term isolation only serves to extend the life of its practice as it affects less people and there is less outrage. This reduction also suggests that some people still deserve to be tortured. That is why MIM(Prisons) has never supported measures to get only certain groups out of long-term isolation.

The Ashker settlement has been heralded as "effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement" and "setting strict limits on the prolonged isolation of inmates." Yet in the actual settlement we read,

"CDCR shall not house any inmate within the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison for more than 5 continuous years. Inmates housed in the Pelican Bay SHU requiring continued SHU placement beyond this limitation will be transferred from the Pelican Bay SHU to another SHU facility within CDCR, or to a 180-design facility at Pelican Bay. Inmates who have previously been housed in the Pelican Bay SHU for 5 continuous years can only be returned to the Pelican Bay SHU if that return has been specifically approved by the Departmental Review Board and at least 5 years have passed since the inmate was last transferred out of the Pelican Bay SHU."

That's it! That's the extent of the "strict" limitations on long-term isolation in California. So if you're in another SHU, or Ad-Seg or some other unnamed long-term isolation situation, which about 14,000 of the over 15,000 in isolation in California are, there are no limits.(3) If you're in Pelican Bay you must move to another SHU after 5 years. Five years later you can come back. Alternatively, you could spend 4.5 years in Pelican Bay, 2 months out, then go in for another 4.8 years, and on like that for the rest of your life. Does this really address the Eighth Amendment claim by the plaintiffs of cruel and unusual punishment? The length often cited for having serious mental affects on humyns is in the range of 15 to 30 days!

Now with the new Step Down Program prisoners are supposed to have a way to return to "a general population setting within three or four years." So the class of prisoners being represented in this case, those who have been in the SHU for ten or more continuous years, are being addressed adequately according to those who agreed to this settlement. But even moving forward there are exceptions for Administrative SHU Status, allowing people to be held as long as CDCR deems necessary.

There is one progressive concession given in the settlement: "CDCR shall not place inmates into a SHU, Administrative Segregation, or Step Down Program solely on the basis of their validation status." Additionally, "CDCR shall modify its Step Down Program so that it is based on the individual accountability of each inmate for proven STG [security threat group] behavior, and not solely on the inmate's validation status or level of STG affiliation." Finally, as a result of an ending to the indeterminate SHU sentences for prisoners "validated" as members of prison gangs, in the next year "CDCR shall review the cases of all validated inmates who are currently in the SHU as a result of... an indeterminate term that was previously assessed under prior regulations..."

This addresses the Fourteenth Amendment claim that the CDCR was violating due process with the validation system and the use of group punishment, at least somewhat. As we saw a couple years ago, the new STG policy actually opened up STG charges to a wider range of organizations than was covered by the previous validation system. The supposed upside is that the rules require actual STG behavior by the individual to justify placing someone in SHU, not just association. Yet, in the new SHU Term Assessment Chart we see that "Recruiting inmates to become an STG affiliate" is a SHU punishable offense.

As mentioned above, this settlement seems to eliminate the judicial strategy of ending solitary confinement in California for the near future. But it also strikes a huge blow against the strongest leg we have to stand on, the collective organizing of prisoners. Turns out, under the settlement you can expect to spend 12 months in SHU for "Leading a disturbance, riot or strike", and 6 months for "participation in a disturbance, riot or strike" or "Inciting conditions likely to threaten institution security" (for those not aware, the latter was a common charge made against those who peacefully refused food in recent years to protest long-term isolation in California prisons).

They are outlawing peaceful protest, and non-violent, passive resistance for the prison movement. Amerikans criticize other countries that torture people for peacefully protesting the government that is abusing and, well, torturing them. How is it that leaders in the prison movement have signed on to this?

As we have previously reported, the new STG policies still give prisoners points for things like tattoos, greeting cards and talking to certain individuals. So it is not really true that you can no longer be punished for affiliation. Abolishing this practice was part of the 2nd demand of the hunger strikes.

As a result of reviews (which were mostly underway before this settlement anyway) we have a number of comrades who are getting out of the SHU right now, without having to debrief (snitch). This will no doubt be a positive thing, as we expect many of them will stay politically active in their new locations where they will have more opportunities to reach out to others. Yet at the same time we've already seen the next generation of prison leaders going to the SHU. It seems that the youngsters are getting thrown under the bus here.

So this is a wake up call to those not yet in the SHU. In July 2013, 30,000 prisoners stood up against long-term isolation, recognizing their common interests in this demand, even though most of them were not housed in isolation themselves. This was an amazing demonstration that epitomizes the progress made over the last 5 years or so to consolidate the prison movement in California. This continues to be celebrated in the form of the Agreement to End Hostilities and the countless commemorations taking place today, September 9th, in the spirit of peace and solidarity in commemoration of the Attica uprising.

As this settlement was released, public statements from CDCR celebrated it as a continuation of their plan to reform the system after the SHU successfully broke the prison gangs that had taken over. Yeah right. These prison gangs were encouraged by the state who teamed up with white nationalist prisoners to oppress New Afrikans, and later enforced the north/south divide on the [email protected] nation. The continuation of and expansion of united action around the Agreement to End Hostilities is crucial to preventing the CDCR from returning to that status quo.

Leading up to the recent settlement we had one comrade building for a new wave of hunger strikes. As this settlement does not address the most important of the 5 Core Demands, ending conditions of isolation for all prisoners, this call remains valid. And while we've always warned comrades to build outside support for such actions, one lesson we can take from California is that such actions must be organized on the inside. Even California Prison Focus, who has been visiting prisoners in the SHU for decades, and who has lawyers with privileged access to their clients, was in the dark during the hunger strikes until the CDCR decided to pull in outside mediators. As always, MIM(Prisons) is committed to supporting the organization of prisoners and fighting to defend the First Amendment rights of prisoners (and ourselves) of speech and association. The ending of a policy that allows the state to torture people for belonging to certain organizations was a blow against the excessively repressive policies of the CDCR in relation to the First Amendment. With this settlement we find California in a similar situation to most of the rest of the country, where torture continues to be the method of choice for population control of the oppressed who do not walk in step with the oppressor.

And so, the struggle continues. Until solitary confinement is abolished, shutting down control units will be a central campaign for MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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Hours of Discussion to Comemmorate September 9

Well, I didn't receive a pack on Attica history, however, what I did for September 9 was I attempted to raise the level of consciousness here amongst the inmates here on a few issues:

1) I spoke on comrade George L. Jackson's untimely death at San Quentin. And his particular struggle at that time and what he went through. His transforming the colonial and criminal mind into a revolutionary mentality.

And how he vied to unify the blacks and other groups. But, the reactionary system wasn't having it one bit. So as a result of his struggles in prison he was assassinated.

2) I also spoke on Pinell, whom too was slain unfortunately during Black August. And what he stood for in terms of solidarity amongst progressive people. And that he spent 46 years in the SHU. And that he and comrade George were comrades in arms for prisoner's liberation.

And i spoke on Attica's uprising. Mao said, "one spark can light a prairie fire." And it definitely did.

3) I spoke on how it is vitally important to end all hostilities amongst all groups of prisoners and beyond. In spite of the fact that hostilities will be fomented by the reactionary state. We must continue to vie for peace, harmony and love amongst each other no matter what. The enemy will stop at nothing to foil our efforts.

However, it's part of the struggle to continue moving forward until our goals can be realized, and at that we can set more.

Also, I spoke to them about the importance of maintaining a study group here even after my departure from prison. And that each and everyone of them have an inherent obligation to conduct and maintain a study group amongst themselves. So, that they can continue on raising the social, and political consciousness of the prison class. It's essential to do so.

At any rate, I did what I could to commemorate September 9th. The discussion was for 2 hours. It turned out pretty well. Most of the participants didn't have a clue about these historical events and about the prison movement in general. And of course, some had questions. It was about 12 people who attended the group. Also, I did a thousand burpees myself to commemorate September 9th. It was exhilarating and refreshing at age 53 years of age. To continue to push forward in my 34th year incarcerated. Pamoja tutashinda uhuru sasa!

Comrade Real

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[United Front] [Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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High Desert September 9th Organizing Followed by Violence Month Later

It's been a blessing to learn and grow from each comrade that have engaged in a solidarity demonstration with the movement, Abolitionists From Within (AFW). As we came together for all the lost comrade and those that continue to struggle and united to break the chain of injustice.

1) We fast Sept 8 to Sept 9 in a show of solidarity. Also we study together reading books, with study questions, like Claiming Earth: Race, Rage, Rape, Redemption by Haki R. Madhubuti.

We study from the charter: "Missing Movement, Missing Fathers: Black male responsibility in the lives of children."

Also read material from Under Lock & Key #45 and the "September 9th Day of Struggle Study Pack."

After reading, we came up with questions from the material and off we went back to our cell. We also share the word with anybody who was willing to listen. Back in our cell i heard the cormades feeling like freedom revolutionary fighters and that's what's up! We stand in solidarity with the comrades who fought and died in the uprising at Attica. Continue to struggle with peace on our tongue.

Hear on "D yard" there was nothing but peace today in solidarity with the movement (AFW) and with the Attica Freedom Fighters.

One point in the charter from the book was Black Movement provided young African Americans a context for discovering identity and purpose, and it also provided them serious proposals for the future. The movement prevented many young men from being swallowed by the prison culture and that how I feel about the Under Lock & Key (MIM) movement in help us comrades who wanted change so I say stay struggling and think for your continued struggle with us prisoners.

Revolutionary Greetings!

UPDATE October 2015: As a soldier and politically conscious prisoner and the head member of the Abolitionists from Within (AFW) I foresaw this inviable self-destruction and prisoner-on-prisoner violence. It hurt because two of our members were struggling to end hostilities among "northerners" but it's not easy when you are surrounded by ignorance.

On 12 October 2015, Columbus Day, all hell broke out on D-yard upper and lower, including about a 100 prisoners. Prior to this a proxy war broke out on the upper yard. Members of the groups tried to end the hostilities but there were no compromising due to administrative stool-pidgeon that led to a racial riot between Black and "Northern", and as of today we are on lock-down. As I struggle with peace on my tongue to end hostilities.

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[Abuse] [Salinas Valley State Prison] [California]
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Lock Downs as Group Punishment in Salinas Valley

On 19 July 2015, "B" Facility Captain P. Sullivan and agents under him unlawfully confined the whole population to a cell for a Crips, Hoover Melee for 10 days, without no disciplinary action of due process pursuant to CCR, Title 15 & 3312 (3). Instead they stepped out of their scope of duty as a peace officer, to subject "B" Facility's whole population to corporal punishment, which is a violation of CCR, Title 155 & 3281, and a known terrorist act.

On 3 August 2015, "B" Facility Captain P. Sullivan and agents under him unlawfully confine "B" Facility whole population to a cell again for Crips/Hoover melee, without no disciplinary action or due process pursuant to CCR, Title 15 & 3312 (3). Instead they stepped out of their scope of duty as a peace officer again to subject "B" Facility's whole population to more "corporal punishment," which is a violation of CCR, Title 15 & 3281, 3322(a)(c), 3330(a)(e), and 3331(h), and a known "terrorist act."

Everybody is being punished again for Crips/Hover problem. Also, we are being denied yard, service, canteen, dayroom, packages, and phone calls (see attached program status reports).

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Salinas Valley State Prison, Warden W.L. Muniz and agents under him are fostering the code of silence to mock their own policy and procedures, CCR, Title 15 & 3001, 3004(a)(c), 3291(a), 3322(a)(c), 3330(a), 3331(h), 3391(a), and 3413(a)(2); in order to commit terrorist acts of torture.

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[United Front] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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End to Hostilities Holding, September 9th Plans Small

As we're all aware, in order for the end to hostilities to become a reality, all prisoners should promote it or encourage it to other prisoners who are just arriving to the system. In my location (Pelican Bay SHU), all have adhered to "ending hostilities" even though it's been evident the pigs have tried to crack it by putting certain prisoners in compromising circumstances, such as opening the wrong cell when one comes back from yard. It's done in a manner that's obvious. I've witnessed this happen at least 3 times in a year, but with no incidents as all are adhering to the End of Hostilities!

Now that a federal oversight to release SHU prisoners from indefinite solitary confinement has been implemented we can only anticipate CDCR to create scenarios where prisoners will be placed in vulnerable or compromising circumstances in order to report incidents to the federal courts to justify their need for suppression. Over 1100 prisoners have been reported to have been kicked out from solitary confinement, yet the proposed actions will be of releasing many into small units or yards of their own just like main lines, but integrated with validated released SHU prisoners.

The news is fairly new, but what we know is that we're all being released and there is now a time limit on how long we can be housed in solitary confinement! All was made possible through a collective effort and peace building!

Although September 9th is a historical day in prison history in California prisons, we now have a July 8th where we can reflect on to see our efforts transcend expectations.

To sum up in my area the end to hostilities is adhered to and a lot of class conscious conversations are constantly being addressed. Everything pertaining to prisoner rights to the abolishment of solitary confinement is a hot topic where ideas are matched, debates and polemics are welcomed with respect. Our lives are affect by all our actions. It just helps more when we're all on the same page. I cannot say that a grand meeting will be held on September 9th or anything else as we do have class consciousness, but not all are receptive to political/revolutionary discussions and being that my unit is very small, I will probably be the only one participating in a solidarity fast on September 9th. My revolutionary solidarity goes out to all other USW comrades.

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[Culture] [California] [ULK Issue 46]
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Strugglen Artists Association Call for Propaganda Workers

Cards Demo
Sample greeting cards from the SAA
California prisoners can buy greeting cards from their facility canteen. They cost $1 and come with commercial messages of: birthday (female), birthday (juvenile), birthday (general), I love you, thinking of you, blank, missing you, and the current holiday. Prisoners must have an active trust account of course, and the message rarely varies from capitalist definitions.

As a counter to this messaging, the Strugglen Artists Association (SAA) has emerged as a culture project of United Struggle from Within. Through the SAA prisoners can send out unique messages that reflect the transformation they've made from parasites to productive people and leaders.

I displayed the [email protected] greeting cards at the last dayroom with a few [email protected] prisoners who i read the bible with (illustrating Christ as a socialist :) ). They were impressed and the entire ten cards I laid out are spoken for; just have to collect the stamps!


MIM(Prisons) adds: The above report comes from a Propaganda Worker of the Strugglen Artists Association (SAA). The job of a Propaganda Worker is to spread revolutionary culture amongst those at their locale, and help fundraise for the cultural arm of the SAA. At the time of our July 2015 Congress, the SAA had raised $44 on top of the expenses to run the project! These funds are slotted to be used to expand the SAA.

Building revolutionary culture is an important task for our movement. We know that even after a successful socialist revolution the people won't instantly learn to be selfless and automatically focused on serving the best interests of society. It will take many years to counter the reactionary culture of imperialism even after the economic system has been revolutionized. We saw this in the long struggle of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) in China, which mobilized people to attack leaders who were using positions of power for personal gain. A new bourgeoisie was forming within the party, and the GPCR was an ideological attempt to defeat it. The cultural work we do today is part of the broader cultural revolution that will extend into the construction of socialism.

You don't have to be an artist to help spread revolutionary culture; you can sign up to be a Propaganda Worker. We have blank greeting cards with revolutionary images; bookmarks with themes of spreading peace and overcoming drug addiction and alcoholism; coloring book pages to help reach children and illiterate folks, and to provide a creative outlet for those who do better with color than lines; and small posters to remind us to stay focused on a correct vision.

MIM(Prisons) is not selling these items outright; we are only sending them out in small bulk packages to be used as organizing tools. We know our subscribers have lots of skills for hawking and hustling. So why not put those skills to good use for the communist movement against all oppression? Write in for more info on how to become a Propaganda Worker.

This article referenced in:
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[United Front] [Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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AFW Joins UFPP, Plans Demo for Sept. 9

As a loyal comrade who is committed to the struggle I have utmost respect for Under Lock & Key and I appreciate all that they/you contribute to the revolutionary struggle that is taking place today for those inside these concentration camps in the United Snakes. As the leading member of the Abolitionist From Within (AFW) I do support MIM and embrace as a group the five core principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

While AFW may not agree with every political issue MIM advocates, it is the issues that we both support that bring us together in this revolutionary struggle. AFW recently had our first demonstration at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), bringing together a cohesive front in reflecting, fasting and uniting to honor those nameless and faceless men of Black August and Attica(1971) by coming together in solidarity. We brought up the issues of the day affecting us and we all offered solutions from each individual's perspective. It was a beautiful and righteous energy as we synergized listening to each other and offering suggestions and the best of ourselves during this time. We will meet again on September 9th and try to agree on the best solutions in attacking and combating the issues that are inflicting us today from the first meeting.

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[Control Units] [National Oppression] [Racism] [Political Repression] [United Front] [Folsom State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 46]
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CDCR Lackeys Assassinate Leader of Prison Movement

Hugo Yogi Bear Pinell
On 12 August 2015, Hugo "Yogi Bear" Pinell was murdered on the yard at California State Prison — Sacramento in Represa, also known as New Folsom Prison. Yogi was in solitary confinement a week prior to his murder, having spent 46 years in solitary confinement. Yet somehow someone on the yard had enough beef with him to murder the 71-year-old man in cold blood? Not possible. Yogi's blood is on the hands of the state officials in charge of CSP-Sacramento.

Memorializing Yogi, his comrade David Johnson called him an "educator" and the "spirit of the prison movement."(1) Former Black Panther and long-term friend Kiilu Nyasha said the word that came to her mind was "love."(2) Most of the information in this article comes from Kiilu as well as Yogi's fellow San Quentin 6 comrades David Johnson and Sundiata Tate.(3) All recounted stories of his immense love, his prominent leadership, his indomitable spirit, his dedication to creating and becoming the "new man" and his role in educating others.

The state of California attacked Hugo Pinell for 50 years, from the time of his imprisonment on a phony charge of raping and kidnapping a white womyn, through to his death this week. He was one of a number of comrades involved in an incident on 21 August 1971, in which George Jackson was killed along with three prison guards and two prisoner trustees. Hugo Pinell was charged and convicted with slashing the throats of two prison guards during this incident, though neither was killed. One of these guards was known to have murdered a New Afrikan prisoner in Soledad and had gone unpunished. Those prisoners charged with crimes for the events of 21 August 1971 became known as the San Quentin 6. It was this incident, and the murder of George Jackson in particular, that triggered the takeover of the Attica Correctional Facility in New York by prisoners of all nationalities in response to the oppressive conditions they had faced there for years. Beginning on 9 September 1971, the prisoners controlled the prison for four days, setting up kitchens, medical support, and communications via collective organizing. Prison guards were treated with respect and given proper food and medical care like everyone else. It all ended on 13 September 1971 when the National Guard invaded the yard, killed 29 prisoners and 9 staff, and tortured hundreds after they regained control. It is the collective organizing for positive change that occurred during those four days that we celebrate on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity in prisons across the United $tates.

The prisoners in Attica acted in the ideals of men like George Jackson and Hugo Pinell who were well-respected leaders of the first wave of the prison movement. Jackson, Pinell and their comrades, many who are still alive and mourning and commemorating Yogi's death(1, 3), always promoted unity and the interests of all prisoners as a group. The Attica brothers took this same philosophy to a more spectacular level, where they flipped the power structure so that the oppressed were in control. Not long afterward, prisoners at Walpole in Massachusetts won control of that facility as a result of the events at Attica. In both cases prisoners worked together collectively to meet the needs of all, peace prevailed, and spirits rose. Like a dictatorship of the proletariat on a smaller scale, these prisoners proved that when the oppressed are in power conditions for all improve. And it is historicaly examples like these that lead us to believe that is the way to end oppression.

Following the incidents of August and September 1971, the Black Panther Party printed a feature article on Hugo Pinell, who they upheld as "a member in good standing of the Black Panther Party." It read in part:

"[Prisoners across the United States] began to realize as Comrade George Jackson would say, that they were all a part of the prisoner class. They began to realize that there was no way to survive that special brand of fascism particular to California prison camps, except by beginning to work and struggle together. Divisions, such as this one, like family feuds, often take time to resolve. The common goal of liberation and the desire for freedom helps to make the division itself disappear, and the reason for its existence become clearer and clearer. The prisoner class, especially in California, began to understand the age-old fascist principle: if you can divide, you can conquer.

"There are two men who were chiefly responsible for bringing this idea to the forefront. They helped other comrade inmates to transform the ideas of self-hatred and division into unity and love common to all people fighting to survive and retain dignity. These two Brothers not only set this example in words, but in practice. Comrade George Jackson and Comrade Hugo Pinell, one Black and one Latino, were the living examples of the unity that can and must exist among the prisoner class. These two men were well-known to other inmates as strong defenders of their people. Everyone knew of their love for the people; a love that astounded especially the prison officials of the State. It astounded them so thoroughly that these pigs had to try and portray them as animals, perverts, madmen and criminals, in order to justify their plans to eventually get rid of such men. For when Comrades George and Hugo walked and talked together, the prisoners began to get the message too well."(4)

Today the prison movement is in another phase of coming together, realizing their common class interests. It is amazing that it is in this new era of coming together that the pigs finally murder Yogi, on the three year anniversary of the announcement of the plans to end all hostilities across the California prisons system to unite for common interests. This timing should be lost on no one.

As a Nicaraguan, Yogi became hated by certain influential Mexicans in the prison system for ignoring their orders not to hang with New Afrikans. While the prison movement over the last half-century has chipped away at such racism, we also know that racism is an idea that is the product of imperialism. Until we eliminate the oppression of nations by other nations, we will not eliminate racism completely. But we work hard to fight it within the oppressed and in particular among prisoners, as Yogi, George and others did 50 years ago.

In the 1950s and 1960s the racism was brutal, with nazis openly working with correctional staff. The state used poor, uneducated whites as the foot soldiers of their brutal system of oppression that is the U.$. injustice system. Tate and Johnson tell stories of being terrorized with the chants of "nigger, nigger, nigger" all night long when they first entered the California prison system as youth.(1, 3) While we don't agree with George Jackson's use of the term "fascist" to describe the United $tates in his day, we do see a kernel of truth in that description in the prison system, and the white prisoners were often lining up on the side of the state. But the efforts of courageous leaders broke down that alliance, and leaders of white lumpen organizations joined with the oppressed nation prisoners for their common interests as prisoners at the height of the prison movement in California.

We recognize the national contradiction, between the historically and predominantly white Amerikan nation and the oppressed internal semi-colonies, to be the principal contradiction in the United $tates today. Yet, this is often dampened and more nuanced in the prison system. Our white readership is proportional to the white population in prisons, and we have many strong white supporters. So while we give particular attention to the struggles of prisoners as it relates to national liberation movements, we support the prison movement as a whole to the extent that it aligns itself with the oppressed people of the world against imperialism.

The biggest complaint among would-be prison organizers is usually the "lack of unity." Any potential unity is deliberately broken down through means of threats, torture and even murder by the state. Control Units exist to keep people like Yogi locked down for four and a half decades. Yet another wave of the prison movement is here. It is embodied in the 30,000 prisoners who acted together on 8 July 2013, and in the 3 years of no hostilities between lumpen organizations in the California prison system. Right now there is nothing more important in California than pushing the continuation of this unity. In the face of threats by individuals to create cracks in that unity, in the face of the murder of an elder of the movement, in order to follow through on the campaign to end the torture of long-term isolation, in order to protect the lives of prisoners throughout the state and end unnecessary killings, there is nothing more important to be doing in California prisons right now than expanding the Agreement to End Hostilities to realize the visions of our elders like Hugo "Yogi Bear" Pinell.

Notes:
1. Interview with David Johnson, Block Report Radio, 14 August 2015.
2. Interview with Kiilu Nyasha, Hardknock Radio, 13 August 2015.
3. Interview with Sundiata Tate, Block Report Radio, 17 August 2015.
4. "The Black Panther Party and Hugo Pinell," The Black Panther, 29 November 1971 .

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 47]
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"New" Torture Tactics at Pelican Bay

SolitaryIsTorture
I want to inform you about a new torture tactic being used here in the Security Housing Units (SHU). Since August 3 [2 weeks ago] the staff have been doing what has been termed "security/welfare checks" which entails staff walking by every prisoner's cell every 30 minutes 24/7 and pressing a button that has been installed next to our cells. Due to the design of the SHU the sound everyone and everything makes is louder than it should be and at night we are woken up every thirty minutes due to staff opening/closing the pod door, which is extremely loud, stomping up the stairs to the top tier and back down, and making a loud bang sound when hitting the button next to our cells as they are hitting metal on metal.

During the day it's the same thing except the wand makes a high-pitch beeping sound when hitting the button. So 24/7 it's non-stop excessive noise that doesn't allow us to sleep longer than 30 minutes without being woken up. I feel like I'm living in a dream 24/7 as I'm always stirred and feeling the effects of being denied sleep and not being able to go through my normal sleep cycles. Anyone with common sense can see this is cruel and unusual punishment. The ironic thing is staff say it's to prevent suicides. Yeah let's make a bunch of excessive noise all day and night and not let anyone sleep longer than 30 minutes at any given time, that should prevent suicides. If it's driving relatively stable prisoners crazy I'm sure it's pushing those with mental health issues over the edge.

Also by doing this, even though it's misguided and unnecessary, the CDCR is admitting that the SHU makes people more likely to commit suicide if they need to check on everyone every 30 minutes. I have filed an administrative appeal on this to have it stopped or modified and plan to file a lawsuit if we are not allowed to sleep normally again. In the mean time I'm writing friends/family to call the prison/CDCR head quarters and complain about this, and I'm writing all prison organizations and public servants to make them aware of this new form of torture being conducted.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This sleep deprivation torture tactic has been reported on from San Quentin for some time, and we recently received word from a comrade on pending litigation on this issue:

"I am challenging a blatantly obvious psychological torture program put in play by Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the gulag system in California, as a payback to the SHU guys for the hunger strikes. The CDCR had to throw us, death row, under the bus too, to make it less obvious who the target really is.

"There is a program whereby they come and shine lights in eyes, bang and yell, using a 'beeper' stick to hit the cell tray slots, every 20 to 30 minutes, all day and night.

"In my moving papers I proved it is utterly pointless as stated, as a suicide prevention program. Anyone knows you can commit suicide during the half hour between walks, and also in our unit it takes them over 20 added minutes to get the keys, get shields, and race in and pounce on a guy hanging by the neck. It is specious.

"So I filed saying this is far too onerous to be a mere act of stupidity, it is a malicious torture of the SHU units only (including PSU, psych wards, all lock-up units). If this does not cause suicide, what would? Ha!"

This latest tactic of inhumane sleep deprivation reinforces our point that the settlement of the Ashker v. Brown lawsuit will do nothing to end torture in California prisons. As the comrade above points out, this is not rogue COs, this is facility policy. We received reports over a year prior about the new Guard One torture program. As one comrade pointed out at the time, most deaths in cells are due to medical neglect.

Calling this a "new tactic" is a bit of a misnomer. This same exact system of "security checks" every 30 minutes has been used in recent history in Texas and North Carolina. Though in these cases they seemed more targeted, and the comrade in North Carolina grieved the abuse and won. In fact, this type of sleep deprivation dates back more than 50 years when prisoners suffered similar conditions in Walpole, Massachusetts. All these examples go to show that the system is inherently oppressive, and only by overthrowing imperialism will we ever begin to see humane treatment of prisoners.

We view the latest behavior by guards at Pelican Bay as a form of retaliation against the prisoners held in SHU, to show them who is in charge and that torture is alive and well in spite of the "successful" settlement. Exposing this consistent mistreatment of prisoners in California is a must to counter the narrative that the modern prison movement has succeeded in transforming the CDCR, or the conditions they submit their prisoners to, in any way.

The acute threat of this form of torture requires an immediate response.

A concerted effort has been taken up by a number of groups supporting the California prison movement to contact the warden to demand an end to this torture.

Write to:
Warden Clark E. Ducart
Pelican Bay State Prison
P.O. Box 7000
Crescent City, CA 95531-7000
email: [email protected]
call: (707) 465–1000 ext. 9040

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[Legal] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Tentative Victory on Clergy Confidentiality

The bastards concocted a local rule called San Quentin Death Row Operational Procedure #608, section 650. It voids clergy confidentiality, allowing the attorney general to compel testimony against only male, death row, at San Quentin. Females and anyone not at this prison are exempt. Non-condemned are exempt.

The rules in play are 15 CCR 3212, which creates the confidentiality of clergy in prisons in California. Then they want to have clergy compelled or allowed to rat on us, saying we are not good reborn bible thumpers, as we pretend... so kill us all.

I won it. Clark v. Chappell, CV 14 02637 ygr.

The new acting warden was told by the attorney general to feign surrender, and issue a memo voiding that rule. The problem is, the minute the federal court judge looks away they can re-instate the rule. It is an at whim rule, he can redo it. I am going forth to get not just a surrender but declaration that it is and always was discriminatory, undue process, unequal justice, and such. So we won the present day, and I will puruse the retroactivity to 1977, date it was put in place, to protect all the old guys.

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