Recently prisoners in California received the "new" instructional memorandum for the "pilot program for security threat group identification, prevention and management plan."
This is basically the "new" step down program that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has put together. According to the memo the term "security threat group" (STG) will "replace the terms prison gang, disruptive group, and/or street gang within the CDCR." On page 3 it states "CDCR manages the most violent and sophisticated security threat group members and associates in the nation." This is bullshit and propaganda, as we know from history the FBI once called the Black Panther Party the highest threat to the national security of Amerika, when in reality the BPP helped Black people the most in this country.
According to the memo, 3,150 people are currently validated prison gang members and associates and, as a result, are in the hole in California. Meanwhile, 850 prisoners are reviewed for validation each year in California.
According to this "new" program, STG members will, once validated, go to a Security Housing Unit (SHU). STG associates will remain in general population unless staff feel they are involved in STG behavior — which we know will be abused like the current validation process. It's the same old unfettered repression regurgitated. They can still use all the "violations" as before, even saying "hi" or "good morning" can still be used as evidence of associating with a STG. Only its now called "staff information" and is described as getting you 4 points toward STG and would be considered "STG activity" instead of the old "gang activity." So it's all about semantics here.
Section 400.2, validation procedure, on page 9 states in part that once someone is validated "CDCR staff shall track their movement, monitor their conduct, and take interdiction action, as necessary." Interdiction action is code talk for getting someone off the mainline by any means necessary — the set up! They can even still use a birthday card a prisoner gave you as "STG activity."
The step down program calls for 5 steps that we are told can lead us to general population. So-called "self help" classes must be attended, with names like "victims awareness" which point at oneself as being wrong. This is classic brainwashing that must occur if you want to go back to general population, so we were tortured for years and decades in some cases but now we are told by our torturers we must attend their brainwash camps and learn that we are responsible and guilty for bringing our torture upon ourselves. Our oppression is brought on by the state and no classes will change this reality.
We are also told in the memo that we will be given a course on the book Purpose Driven Life, which is a religious book. So the state is coupling their self-help brainwash with religion to cover up repression that the internal semi-colonies face from Amerika. What we are seeing is a re-shuffling of the same deck of cards where state officials are given way too much power over prisoners, with threadbare oversight, and a sadistic history of abuse. This of course is not a positive thing for those of us held in these dungeons, it is a continuance of a long rusted chain of oppression. The reality is we have way more power than we even know. We must remember that it was our action here in these torture chambers that forced the director of corrections and other high level officials to fly out here and beg those they call the "worst of the worst" into stopping the strike. As a result of our protests they have made superficial changes to our "privileges." Many times when dealing with the imperialists people become demoralized, whether they are dealing with imperialists at a higher level or via its many apparatuses on a lower level i.e. with the courts or prisons. But Mao put it very well when he said: "all reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful."(1)
As in the case with our efforts of 2011 when thousands of prisoners across the United Snakes went on hunger strikes we found that Mao was correct that they are paper tigers. The state capitulated, but quickly devised a way to temporarily slow down our momentum via deception like lying about what changes would come. Although they stopped the strike they did not erase the reality that we saw the state as the paper tiger it really is. Like Mao said they are not so powerful and in the long term it is the people or in our case the prisoners that are really powerful. One only needs to look at the last couple of years of prisoner struggles that the new prison movement has produced, where most strikes have resulted in better conditions for prisoners across the United Snakes.
The recent changes to the state's torturing of prisoners does not change the torture that me and the other fourteen thousand plus people in California are still held. Many will continue in this way for many more years, and some for the rest of their lives. But the people will have many more victories in the years to come as prisoners begin to really grasp the oppression we face and discover different paths out of this oppression.
The author Michelle Alexander said "The 'whites only' sign may be gone, but new signs have gone up - notice placed in job applications, rental agreements, loan applications, forms for welfare benefits, school applications, and petitions for licenses, informing the general public that 'felons' are not wanted here."(2)
What Alexander leaves out is that there is also a new sign that says Brown, Black and Red people are to be swept up and tortured en masse across the United Snakes of Amerika in order to attempt to break the back of resistance in our respective nations. And now a newer sign is going up in the SHUs, saying that after we are tortured for years and decades that we will also be tortured or brainwashed into believing that our torture was our own fault. Those who refuse the brainwashing will remain in these torture chambers for years or decades more.
Once prisoners decide that not only won't we accept the torture but that we will resist until we actually see prisoners walking out of the SHU, not falling for the state's lies and pacification program, only then will we be victorious in our efforts wherever our torture chamber is in this country.
Humyn rights should be afforded to everyone, even prisoners. Some believe the state's propaganda and begin to think we deserve this treatment or it is normal. But this is unacceptable, and it's only normal in a capitalist country where those who do not contribute to the capitalist system are introduced to genocidal treatment. At some point people realize that change will only come from our own efforts and if we wait for our oppressor to bring change we will be waiting the rest of our lives.