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.

[Gang Validation] [Legal] [California]
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STG Pilot Program Primer

Editor: Clearly there is nothing in these new rules that could be considered an advance for the plight of California prisoners who face torture (and the threat of torture) in the Security Housing Units. We print this for informational purposes for those facing this repression and hoping to understand it better.

This is in regards to "the new rules for deciding who is a gang member or associate and whether those prisoners are placed in a Security Housing Unit."

Prisoners in California: you must request and insure that your institution makes the new rules concerning "gang validation" available to every prisoner as they are not currently making them so. In the meantime if you wish to receive them independent of CDCR, then you can request them directly from the California 'Prison Law Office.' You should also request the new 'Pilot Program Memorandum' concerning the new validation process as this has also not been made available to many prisoners. You can also request the newly revised criteria for the 'Step Down Porgram' (SDP) as the Title 15 California Code of Regulations has not yet been changed to reflect these changes. "The new rules are being phased in between October 2012 and summer 2013 and will be in effect at all CDCR prisons. The pilot program will last for two years while the CDCR evaluates whether it is "effective."

What are the main changes under the Pilot program?

  1. The validation and housing rules now refer to a broader category of "security threat groups" STG which includes prison gangs, disruptive and/or street gangs;
  2. When validating prisoners as STG affiliates, the CDCR will continue to take into account similar types of "source items" as under prior gang validation rules. However, there is a new "point" system by which different sources carry different weights. There must be three source items adding up to at least 10 points to validate a prisoner as a STG affiliate, replacing the old rule that just required three source items. To be current, evidence of STG behavior must have occurred within the previous four years.
  3. STG behavior or possession of STG contraband are now listed as administrative rules violations. STG related directing, controlling, disruptive or violent behavior is a serious rule violation. STG behavior is that which promotes, furthers or assists a STG. There is a matrix setting forth the consequences of STG related rule violations on housing and program status for validated STG affiliates or former affiliates.

What will happen to prisoners who were validated as gang affiliates before the pilot program took effect?

"According to CDCR headquarters staff, the DRB (Departmental Review Board) reviews will be conducted at each prison and prisoners can attend their review hearings. The reviews have already started, but it is not known how long it will take to complete review of approximately 3000 prisoners who were validated as gang affiliates prior to October 2012. Although there are no rules regarding when current SHU prisoners will be reviewed, it appears that the CDCR is starting with the associates who have been in the SHU the longest.

"Prisoners who are released from SHU as a result of the case-by-case DRB reviews (or who were released from SHU under the old rules for inactive gang members) can be placed in SDP for confirmed STG behavior, for getting one serious STG-related rule violation, or for getting two STG-related administrative rule violations within a 12 month period. Prisoners can also be sent to the SDP based on newly received information from other law enforcement agencies or from outside CDCR's jurisdiction; the STG behavior must have occurred within the last four years and the source information must total at least 10 additional validation score points.

"Validated prisoners who were already serving indeterminate SHU terms prior to the enactment of the pilot program will not be re-validated under the new process and criteria. Instead each of those prisoners will be reviewed by the DRB to determine if the prisoner will remain in or be released from the SHU."

What are the criteria for validating prisoners as STG affiliates under the pilot program?

"Validation as either a member or an associate requires at least three independent source items with a combined weighted value of 10 points or greater coupled with information/activity indicative of membership or association. At least one of the source items must be a direct link to a current or former validated STG member or associate, or to a person who was validated within six months of the activity described in the source item.

"The types of validation source items that can be considered are the same as those used by the CDCR in the past. However, the different assigned so that some items are weighted more heavily than others. The points assigned more heavily than others. The points assigned to the various categories are as follows:

"Two points: symbols e.g., hand signs, graffiti, distinctive clothing), written materials that are not in the personal possession of the prisoner (e.g. membership or enemy lists, constitutions, codes, training material)
Three points: association with validated STG affiliates information information, debriefing reports
Four points: written materials that are in personal possession of the prisoner, photos that are no more than four years old, CDCR staff observations, information form other agencies, visitors known to promote or assist STG activities, communications (e.g. phone conversations, mail, notes)
Five points: self admissions
Six points: crimes committed for the benefit, at direction or in association with an STG, tattoos or body markings
Seven points: official legal documents showing STG conduct"

What is the process for validating prisoners as STG affiliates under the pilot program?

"The process for validation under the pilot program is quite similar to the CDCR's previous validations process, although the titles of some of the staff and the names of the forms have been changed."

Where are validated STG affiliates housed?

"Under the pilot program, some STG affiliates must be placed in the Step Down Program which generally requires placement in SHU. However, some STG affiliates can remain in the general population. Where the validated prisoner is housed will depend on the level of STG involvement and/or the prisoner's behavior:

"An STG-1 member will be placed in the SDP

"An STG-1 associate will be placed into the SDP if any of the validation source items involve serious rule violations for STG behavior that are SHU-able offenses.

"An STG-II member or associate will be placed into the SDP if at least two of the validation source items involve serious rule violations for STG behavior that are SHU-able offenses. Otherwise, and STG II member or associate shall be housed in the general population or other appropriate housing (This also applies to the previous STG-1 definition)

"And STG-II member or associate will be sent to the SDP if found guilty of two STG related rule violations which are SHU-able offenses per 15 CCR 3341.5 (c) (9). Prisoners can also be moved to higher validation levels based on newly received information from other law enforcement agencies or from outside CDCR's jurisdiction; the STG behavior must have occurred within the last four years and the source information must total at least 10 additional validation score points.

"Once a prisoner is in the SDP he/she must complete four steps to return to non-segregated housing. However, a prisoner does not need to acknowledge or admit to being an STG-affiliate"

Can validated STG affiliates debrief?

"...Prisoners who are validated as STG-II affiliates can debrief while they are in the SDP, although they may also be allowed to debrief if they are housed elsewhere such as in general population or a regular SHU. The procedures for debriefing are somewhat similar to those under CDCR's previous rules in 15 CDCR 3378.1 through 3378.3. One important difference is that there is no longer a requirement that a debriefing prisoner serve an observation period prior to being in the Transitional Housing Unit (THU).

Note: "In a recent court case, a court held that a jailhouse lawyer's possession of a validated gang associate's chronos for use in preparing legal documents could not serve as validation source item. Since CDCR rules say that prisoners can possess other prisoners documents to assist them with legal work. Because none of the other source items in the validation packet provided a direct link to gang members, the court vacated the validation and ordered the CDCR to release the prisoner from segregation." See: In re Villa (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 838 (a de-publication request and consideration for review are pending as of 12/17/12)

The aforementioned new criteria and rules and regulations as listed here is in no way comprehensive, but is merely the most pertinent to the prisoner population. For a more comprehensive copy of the new STG validation, placement and debriefing memo get at your MAC reps and make them do their jobs! or do it yourself and request these documents from the administration at your prison or write the prison law office at:

Prison Law Office, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964-0001

And once you get a copy, try to make enough copies for every building, dorm, etc. on your yard and put them somewhere everyone can see them, such as the dayroom; and spread the word!

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[California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Day 30 Hunger Strike Update from San Quentin

As day 30 of our hunger strike comes to an end with nothing being resolved it was good to hear that our plight is being heard and shared out there. Also it strengthens us to hear all the b.s. that our captors are doing just to discourage us. Yet, many of us have learned from prior experience that they would stop at nothing to quiet down our movement. Despite it all we continue with it all.

The recent update is that close to 50 remain and almost all of us, except a small number, have gone "man down" and taken to be placed on IV support in the infirmary here. Only to be brought back a few hours later, feeling a little better and continuing on (in agony) on hunger strike. Though we've received promises of change, we have yet to see anything on paper. Until then we shall continue, I just hope no more have to perish because these captors refuse to be human.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Hunger Strike Day 23 Report from San Quentin

On 7/30/13 (day 23 of the hunger strike) at approximately 1pm, prisoners on my tier began alerting adjustment center custody staff that one of the hunger strike participants was unresponsive. Prisoners kept yelling "man down, man down!" and banging on their doors until a goon squad was formed. One member of that goon squad was Officer Persaud, who sarcastically ordered the semi-conscious man down to come to the door and cuff up. During this potentially life threatening delay, the man down actually found strength to get his hands behind his back and through the solid door's food port. The prisoner reports he was then held by his wrists and then by the cuff chain as a mechanical issue getting the cell door to open ensued. Ultimately Persaud let go of the cuff chain and the prisoner then explains he fell face first into the concrete floor. The door was finally opened and the goon squad stormed in as if pouncing, ordering the prisoner to stand up.

The same day a second man down situation followed, with a similar response. Custody staff are expressing blatant resentment and disrespect toward participants in the hunger strike. It is my suggestion to those pigs that if their current job is not to their liking they should go back to "Bob's Burgers" or convince their torture unit overlords to grant the reasonable requests for basic human needs set for in the open letter, instead of throwing vigilante green wall style shit fits.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran SHU Sentiment Opposes CDCR Step Down Program as Hunger Strike Continues

29 July 2013 - The hunger strike seems to be struggling along. Corcoran Security Housing Unit stopped running yard for about a week. CDCR seems to be about to implement the "step down program" here at California State Prison - Corcoran SHU. And its so-called "conditional inactive release, monitored status" for guys who are being reviewed for inactive status by CDC DRB (review board). From what I've heard, guys aren't biting on the "banana-in-the-tailpipe" bullshit.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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CCI Prisoners Hunger Striking for Long Haul

29 July 2013 - On July 8th the hunger strike went as planned and continued until Friday. On Saturday 7/13 prisoners ate and also on Sunday. However, again on 7/15/13 some resumed the hunger strike [at California Correctional Instiution].

Medical personnel are coming by to check on us here hunger striking. We are not getting our weight taken nor blood pressure. Medical staff are just asking us if we're ok. A memo was given out before the strike saying we are able to get 2 appliances, a typewriter and other various items: shorts, bowl, tumbler, unlimited soups in canteen. But this stuff cannot be realized or verified as I haven't seen anybody get a lot of soups, radio/typewriter or cup and bowl.

No prison official has come by to ask of what's going on or what, although a C/O came by and asked if we are hunger striking and if so what for. I haven't heard of anyone going to medical so far. Mail is going slow and only about a couple pieces a section are getting passed out.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Gang Validation] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Day 15 Hunger Strike Report from San Quentin

Day 15 of the Death Row SHU (adjustment center) hunger strike. Almost 50 participating and the administration is scratching its ass in frustration, using every dirty track in the book (operational procedure [OP608]).

After 3 days we're official hunger strikers. Within only 2 days we were getting set up to be declared "leaders" by a sergeant or lieutenant under the guise of negotiations. By day 5 the facility captain started sweating us. At this point our peaceful action shows potential to expose human rights violations due to imminent media attention, so prison officials hoping to cover things up deem this a disruption to facility operations while part of their clique forms an Institutional Classification Committee (ICC) which then threatens us with a Rules Violation Report based on their wild stretch interpretation of 15 CCR 3315 (a)(2)(L). This makes each of us a documented/validated participant in a Security Threat Group (STG) action (OP608, sec419 B.m.n.). If that fails to halt the advance of our struggle for basic human needs, CDCR's playbook then calls for an intensified sensory deprivation program to be implemented (OP608, Sec. 419 C/Sec. 815). All this clearly demonstrates CDCR's premeditated response to our peaceful action is the continuation of violent torture methods with malice under the guise of "security."

Course of action: everyone simply states they have nothing to say. Thus, nobody provides evidence of being "leader" or "an organizer" through individual testimony. The open letter with its list of demands speaks for itself in behalf of us all, participating or not, while our non-violent participation in the struggle is an action which speaks louder than mere words. We're simply allowing CDCR's twisted response to unravel, thus exposing their premeditated malice which they have reworded in the OP608.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran Conditions Worsen As Strike Advances and Many Stand Strong

11 July 2013 - As you well know we are demonstrating and will continue until demands or compromise is met!

As of now everything is running smoothly! All basic modified program - regular medical ducats, regular nurse/pill rounds, regular C/O security checks, nobody in my general area has complaints of negligent or abusive behavior.

Just got word of cell extractions being done to certain individuals in some buildings.

They've passed out CDC 128A forms regarding future discipline if behavior persists.

I received a letter from California Prison Focus in Oakland, it was almost one month 1ate! An obvious stall tactic. It was in regards to the 7/13 rally/march in front of CSP-Corcoran asking to let loved ones/friends know.

No weight checks or medical checks as of now (5:00 pm). Institutional procedure not being followed.

Thank you.

13 July 2013 - Day Six: No weight/med-health checks as of now. Man down response time was thirty minutes yesterday. Rally/march is active outside the walls!

Regular C.O./Sgt/Med staff checks have ceased. Most of us are single cell by choice and won't receive cellmates during demonstration. Nothing more we can do at this point. C.O./Sgt/Med staff definitely not following proper procedure.

Please contact my family if something happens to me.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Hundreds of people did rally outside of Corcoran State Prison on 13 July 2013 in the brutal heat to show support for the strikers inside. Those on the outside who want to support the struggle against torture in California prisons should contact state officials and voice your concerns and help spread the word through demonstrations and sharing information with others.

The reports above were delayed in reaching us, but is the most recent report we have from Corcoran. The latest from the CDCR is that 1,000 prisoners are still on strike in California early in week three. They reported over 12,000 who met their criteria for being on a hunger strike at the peak, and around 30,000 who participated on July 8th. They said only one prison had a significant work stoppage. There's no way for us to get any better numbers than these, but the drop in numbers correlates with the reports we've been getting from some. That said 1,000 people is a lot to take it for the long haul. Outside support continues to rally with more progressive groups and individuals signing on as supporters and making public stands with a coordinated one day fast being coordinated for the end of July.

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[Campaigns] [Hunger Strike] [Martinez Detention Facility - Contra Costa County Jail] [California] [ULK Issue 34]
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Martinez Hunger Strike Ends with Partial Victory

On 07-19-2013 all MDF hunger strikers suspended their hunger strike. Below are the demands that were met by MDF command staff:

DEMAND #1 was granted in full. Classification shall tell you in writing what you are being held in Ad-Seg for as well as program expectations to be released from Ad-Seg.

DEMAND #2 Command staff is working to come up with a free time schedule that follows title 15 standards. One part of this that is granted in full is that all detainees will be given an opportunity to empty their trash can EVERYDAY.

DEMAND #3 had 3 parts. Two parts were granted in full. MDF medical/mental health staff shall no longer conduct ANY type of appointment on the intercom system nor at detainees’ cell door where private medical issues are heard by others in violation of medical privacy laws (HIPPA). The third part of allowing Ad-Seg detainees’ to reach medical triage on the phone systems, as all other modules do, is still being worked on with command staff.

DEMAND #4 Command staff informed classification to ONLY house mentally ill inmates on D-module as a last resort.

DEMAND #5 was granted in full. ALL MDF detainees’ will be allowed to purchase ink pen fillers from canteen. Also necessary photo copies will be made for detainees’ filing court documents. These will be implemented in a reasonable time frame.

It is in good faith that we suspend our hunger strike and that MDF command staff will continue to implement our 5 Core Demands. MDF command staff has been very open to our ideas. With the exception of DR. DENNIS MCBRIDE who tried to guide detainees’ into refusing water as well as food.
We hope all other hunger strikers can get some much needed relief on their demands. If this does not occur we will resume our hunger strike.
Special thank you to our loved ones on the streets, all organizations and media outlets who covered our struggle, as well as Sarah Shroud, Shane Bauer- Welcome home & Dan Horowitz, Nicole, Lesli and Mikes sister.


MIM(Prisons) responds: See the original article announcing the Martinez demands where we address the shortcomings of their demands, which included segregating mentally ill prisoners. The victories here are small reforms riding on the coat tails of the central struggle here, which is to shut down long-term isolation. Control units were originally created to separate leaders from the general population. But this division has been two-fold in that now the interests of those in control units are not felt as dearly by those in general population. Even so, the last few weeks have shown a great level of consciousness among the whole prison population about the inhumane conditions those comrades in SHU and Ad-Seg face. We hope those who stood up in Martinez continue to support that struggle, which is really central to the prison movement itself. Without a prison movement, prisoners have no real means of addressing abuse, which can be so common in prison.

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Martinez Detention Facility - Contra Costa County Jail] [California] [ULK Issue 34]
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Martinez Ad-Seg Issues Hunger Strike Demands

To: Sheriff David O. Livingston, Under Sheriff Michael V. Casten and All Martinez Detention Facility Command Staff, Deputies and Officials

From: Pretrial Detainees, Inmates, Prisoners and Civil Commitments housed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) in D-Module at Martinez Detention Facility

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE:
On Monday 8 July 2013, detainees housed in Ad-Seg will actively be taking part in the hunger strike being implemented statewide by prisoners, inmates, detainees (etc.) confined under unconstitutional conditions in California state prisons and jails.

Martinez Detention Facility (MDF) Ad-Seg detainees support the core and supplemental demands of our partners in Pelican Bay Prison Ad-Seg/SHU programs and we join them in opposition of their, and ALL, unconstitutional conditions of confinement in all California state prisons and jails.

MDF Ad-Seg detainees hereby also provide notice of our own 5 Core Demands to stop unconstitutional conditions of confinement blatantly enforced here at MDF.

CORE DEMAND 1

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice, and unofficial policy of placing detainees in Ad-Seg without any due process. Some detainees have been held in Ad-Seg indefinitely (over 5 years) without any notice, hearing or due process required by Constitutional Law. If a detainee submits a request or grievance on the issue, they receive a response from classification only stating "you are housed appropriately."

CORE DEMAND 2

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of locking detainees in filthy cells with no windows or light controls for 48 hours (or more) before being allowed out of our cell for 1 hour to shower, groom, use phone, exercise and inadequately attempt to clean our cells.

Detainees request that they be allowed out of their cells for at least 1 hour daily in the morning, afternoon or evening and also be allowed to shave daily as state regulations require.

Incorporated within this demand, detainees also seek a provision for a daily opportunity to clean their cells. Currently detainees are only allowed (every 48 hours or longer) a broom, dust pan, and a mop. They are not provided with disinfectant, toilet bowl cleaner, rags, or any other cleaning supplies to adequately clean cells. Detainees must also keep trash (from 6 meals) in their cells for 48 hours or more.

CORE DEMAND 3

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of daily holding medical and mental health appointments at the detainees' cell doors which allows all other detainees to hear the confidential medical/mental health issues. This is in violation of the "Medical Act and Privacy Rights." Detainees also seek the equal protection of a "TRIAGE" phone line as other MDF detainees on other modules are provided.

CORE DEMAND 4

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of improperly housing inmates with mental health issues among the non-mental-health-status Ad-Seg detainees. Currently all Ad-Seg detainees are subject to the behaviors, problems, actions and disorders of the mental health status Ad-Seg inmates which include:

  1. Loud yelling/banging all night, keeping detainees awake.
  2. Getting feces and urine thrown under detainees doors.
  3. Delusional actions/comments against or towards detainees.
  4. Spitting through detainee doors or on glass.
  5. Feces, urine, debris etc. in shower, hot water pot, on floor
  6. Breaking and/or destroying hair clippers/shavers, preventing other detainees from using for court, visits, etc.

CORE DEMAND 5

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of denying all MDF detainees access to pens to submit legal work to the courts, nor copying provisions for our writs and other valid legal documents to the court. Also, there is no readily continuous access to a pencil sharpener which is often broken, preventing detainees from writing legal documents and/or sending letters to family and friends for weeks.

There are many more unconstitutional conditions of confinement here at MDF. Those are 5 of the most egregious which we present as issues. Detainees will be hunger striking to correct, beginning Monday 8 July 2013.

Detainees peacefully and respectfully request that Contra Costa County Sheriff Office engage in swift and prompt actions to correct these unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

- MDF Hunger Strike Representative


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we support the hunger strike going on in Martinez Detention Facility, we would like to warn against creating unnecessary divisions between prisoners. We have reported in the past that mental health status is greatly exacerbated by the conditions of imprisonment generally, and especially of long-term isolation. Often times these prisoners are put in isolation (or even imprisoned in the first place) because of their disruptive behavior stemming from their mental illness, which does nothing to improve their condition.

Not only does imprisonment worsen the condition of those who already suffer from mental illness, but it can, and does, induce mental illness in people who would otherwise not suffer from delusions, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, sensitivity to light, noise, and touch, suicidal thoughts, etc. It is well documented,(1) and MIM(Prisons) has witnessed first hand, that the state uses long-term isolation as a tactic to specifically wreck the mental health of prisoners who are engaged in political work and organizing.

While we understand the impact that this disruptive behavior has on this contributor's ability to sleep and focus, we worry that a demand to send mentally ill prisoners "away" would lead to further isolation and deterioration.

Mental illness isn't caused by inadequacies within individuals, but is instead a symptom of all the irreconcilable contradictions in our society. Mental illness has systemic roots. Therefore, all short-term solutions to help people with mental illness in this country are just bandaids on gaping wounds. Reported in Serve the People: Observations on Medicine in the People's Republic of China, a book by Victor and Ruth Sidel, all mental health conditions in communist China under Mao were cured except for some extreme cases of schizophrenia, and those who had previously been suffering became productive members of society. Reasons for this turnaround include not only relief from stressors which had previously led people to mental illness — severe gender oppression, inability to survive or thrive, etc. — but also a flood of resources dedicated to mental health research and application which hadn't been possible before when society was organized based on the profit motive.

Around 1971, the Sidels wrote,

The methods currently being used to treat mental illness are collective help, self-reliance, drug therapy, acupuncture, "heart-to-heart talks," follow-up care, community ethos, productive labor, the teachings of Mao Tse-tung, and "revolutionary optimism."

They go on to explain in detail what each of these methods consists of.

Similar to how feudalism in pre-liberation China led many wimmin to suicide, it is clear that most mental illness is a direct result of our capitalist and imperialist society. The most stark example of this being the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by at least 20% of U.$. veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars.(2) Hearing any account from a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, you can see that a large contributing factor to the PTSD is the unjust nature of these wars; killing for no reason. In People's War, the cause is just (self-defense) and the aim isn't to murder and intimidate, but to liberate the most oppressed and create a better world for everyone. That is quite a contrast.

We know it is difficult to organize in Ad-Seg, and we know it is especially difficult to organize with people who are in the middle of full-blown mental illness. But we still encourage our comrades to look for ways for prisoners to come together against their common enemy and to fight on behalf of the common good of all prisoners and oppressed people generally. A more progressive demand than number 4 above would be an end to solitary confinement for all prisoners. For more on our perspective on mental health, see Under Lock & Key 15 or MIM Theory 9: Psychology & Imperialism.


Notes:
1. Stuart Grassian, "Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement," Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 22:325 2006, p.325.
2. Veterans and PTSD

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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [Hunger Strike] [California] [ULK Issue 33]
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Week 2: Reports from CA Activists on Strike

july 8th hunger strike for humyn rights in CA prisons

The last week has seen unprecedented participation in the campaign to end torture in the form of long-term isolation in U.$. prisons. California is ground zero, where the state has reported at least 30,000 (20% of the prison population) in two-thirds of the state's prisons have participated in the strike and over 12,400 refused 9 consecutive meals. They said 2,300 skipped work or prison classes on July 8.(1) While we don't have much info on actions in other states, solidarity statements have been circulating from prisoners around the country. Meanwhile, street activism in the urban centers of the state have been hard to avoid, as have reports on Pacifica radio. Public officials, religious leaders, Palestinian political prisoners(2), a labor union and many humyn rights groups have championed the cause. To mark week 2, activists are trying to get 30,000 on the outside to call governor Jerry Brown to demand that California prisons abide by international law and stop this brutal treatment of prisoners.

Not everyone is in support of the strike. In typical pig fashion, Amerikkkans are flooding mainstream reporting of the strike with comments condemning the prisoners to suffer and die. One comrade in the Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor, where the thrust for recent resistance originated, reported guards saying,

"The bosses are redirecting us because of y'all's hunger strike and work stoppage and making us stay extra hours, so you guys have nothing coming!"(3)

The official word from CDCR is similarly discouraging. In an interview, spokespersyn Terry Thornton asserted that the CDCR does not believe that they are using solitary confinement. This conflicts with our surveys of prisoners, who report over 14,000 being held in conditions of long-term isolation in California. When asked about the debriefing process Thornton dis-ingeniously asserted that "none of these units are used for punishment." The CDCR also feels that "these reforms [the step down program] address every single demand made in 2011."(4) It seems the CDCR is the only entity to believe such nonsense.

Below are some other early reports we've received so far as we are going to print.


From a statement from another Pelican Bay comrade:

...As I prepare for this peaceful protest I know that I am forced to deprive my body of sustenance and endure possible harm, but this is necessary. It is as necessary as someone anywhere in the Third World who steps on the battlefield in order to fight the super parasite. This persyn does this because if this persyn don't do it no one else will. Yes there is support out in society from so many who see our oppression as the oppression of many throughout the world who stand with us, but any sort of change will ultimately come from prisoners ourselves who must raise awareness to the shameful conditions we face...

and more recently,

Today is the third day of the strike and everyone in my pod are participating for various different reasons. The morale and spirts are strong, i feel a little light-headed but i'm as determined asever and will continue. From what we gather we will start getting weighed in the next couple of days and we also expect our property to be inventoried. We hear on the loud speaker about "staff training" so e expect harrassment. Today we were asked, "Do you have food? Are you willing to relinquish it?" and told, "If it's found tomorrow you will not be counted as being on a hunger strike no more."


San Quentin update:

The San Quentin death row SHU (or Adjustment Center) always has it's 102 cells filled and there is always a higher percentage of Blacks and Latinos than whites or other nationalities. At least 25 are on hunger strike. We are filing group appeals. I for one will not be giving in to the pigs no matter what, and thank you for all the help.


from Corcoran State Prison:

I am participating in the ongoing demonstration with full intentions of ending this extreme corrupt treatment that we are constantly subjected to.

There are many around me who plan on making our voices heard. There is word of COs and medical staff who intend to disregard the proper procedure. That and the health of my associates is what I intend on recording step by step, making it public.

This struggle is for just cause and is intended to bring our humanitarian needs up to standard. We all know the system is blind to righteous modernism and will continue to end our lives as quick as it is to step on a bug. We must unite to bring back peace and order.

I submit this with the utmost admiration and respect, we look forward to all input and assistance.


Folsom State Prison:


Everyone who's aware of New and Old Folsom's history would be aware of the fact that there was once a time when the men behind these walls would stand together in solidarity if there was an occasion we were experiencing a common transgression brought on by prison administration. That era in solidarity has been dead for some time at New Folsom, but on July 8, 2013, it was as if that moment finally arrived. All affiliates, and races, once again at New Folsom on every yard, and every building, stood together in solidarity for a common cause! All prisoners at New Folsom once again joined together July 8 of this year to begin the "2013 Hunger/Work strike", all except for the prisoners who never stood for nothing a day in their life. Prisoners everywhere should only hope that this new change will be the beginning of a new era at a once vibrant, political shifting institution, and no matter what, July 8, 2013 will be remembered in history as "The Rise Again of a Once Political Empire."


Day 1 at Pleasant Valley State Prison:

I want to report that over here on A-yard at Pleasant Valley there is only one participant, me. And from what I'm finding out through the channels is that there is a good handful more doing their thing on the other yards. I don't know exact count, but B yard, I'm told, has about 7 or 8.

We are SNY. And I want to express to the comrades that this classification carries no weight or import when it comes to these acts of unity. One sergeant came to my door this morning and asked me why I was participating. After I told him he said "But you're SNY - that's active stuff going on." He even stated that he's going to submit a psych referral because it's odd that out of all 5 housing units, there is only me. I'm not tooting my own horn, I just want it known that although we're few, nevertheless we are here!

I only have one request: that there be direct correspondence with the known participants of this action, updates so that we are constantly aware of any progress or changes or news that is of substance and import to what's happening.

This morning they walked me to the clinic to take my vitals, check my weight, etc. As we know I'll be going every day. Hopefully others will come aboard, especially those I've been "witnessing" to. Hopefully they'll see my example.


Day 4 at Calipatria State Prison:

This is the fourth day of our hunger strike/work stoppage here in Calipatria mainline. Almost the whole yard participated. A couple of prisoners in my building headed off to work to go and do the pigs' bidding and undermine our efforts. However, the show of solidarity between all races is encouraging, especially between Blacks and Mexicans.

As you know there's a long history of conflict between these two groups in California prisons. Only a week after I got to this prison, less than a year ago, there was a racial riot between the two. Now they're standing together in righteous protest.

Before this began, CDCR officials started circulating their threats by way of an "Advisement of Expectations" outlining their latest repressive policies which aim to expand validation, making it extremely easy to target just about any prisoner for long-term isolation. When I read this document it was obvious that this was all an attempt to break our solidarity with prisoners in the SHU.

CDCR hopes to divide prisoners in the SHU by allowing some to escape those torture chambers while making it clear that it has no intention of even considering others for release. They also hoped to paralyze mainline prisoners with fear by letting us know that they can snatch any one of us off the line at any time and throw us in the SHU for the next five years. Needless to say, this hasn't worked. Our level of consciousness and commitment has been growing here in the mainline with every hunger strike.

MIM(Prisons) number one priority in supporting the current actions in California will be to provide regular updates to prisoners as we did in the previous waves of action. Meanwhile we encourage our outside readers and supporters to make phone calls, write letters and spread our articles on this important struggle.

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