Prisoners Report on Conditions in

California Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out

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.

[Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
expand

This ain't TV, there's no justice here

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), High Desert State Prison (HDSP) and Lassen County Superior Court are working together to ensure that prisoners' rights continue to be violated! The prison industry and the injustice system stay true to form. According to the propaganda that the U.$. continuously pushes out, "if you seek justice, you should allow the system to work for you." We see this mentality on all the popular TV shows such as Law and Order, NCIS, Judge Judy, etc., as well as in newspapers and magazines. But how can anyone consider a system "just" that fails to protect the basic rights of the people?

You can't, and most people on the outside (that have never dealt with the prison industry) do not and (most) can not comprehend the abuses and atrocities that go on behind the walls, committed by the prison administration and the courts. Take for example the mass validations and blatant violations of prisoners' rights that continue to occur here at High Desert in the administrative segregation unit (Z-unit). I was personally targeted and validated during last year's goon squad sweep. However, I did not sit still and do nothing, no sir, instead I filed an inmate appeal and followed it all the way to the director's level and was denied. Then I filed a petition for habeas corpus and was denied. Now I have to appeal to the appellate courts and we'll see what happens there. Now CDCR validated me as an associate of the NS prison gang, however none of their so-called points that were used against me meet state guidelines or laws. My three supposed points were two lists of names which are considered laundry lists (CDCR agreed to stop using laundry lists in the 2004 Castillo v. Alameda settlement) and one point was I told investigators I had "no comment" during an investigation.

My story is the normal practice here at HDSP and consistently occurs with just about all those who have been validated. And when you turn to the courts, they close their eyes and turn their heads and let the injustice continue uninhibited. So how can we receive justice? We can't, not as long as this capitalist society continues to think about the almighty dollar instead of the needs of the people. And since prisoners equal money to California, the courts and legislators will continue to allow these violations and others to go on until revolution forces a change.

chain
[National Oppression] [High Desert State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
expand

Appeals Denied on Mass Validation

I sent the grievance petition to the Director of Corrections [in the California Department of Corrections (CDCR)] on the flawed grievance system and how prison officials are purposely violating our rights by using oppressive tactics to stop and hinder us in filing administrative appeals. I received a letter back via a Redding CC II supervisor of high security and transitional housing, stating my letter was received and that the office of the inspector general has the authority to investigate complaints of officials of the CDCR for acts of administrative wrong doing. Basically, the CDCR isn't going to investigate said allegations but I'm welcome to try and get somebody else to. I'm going to strike up an administrative appeal on this issue for I have had a lot of appeals screened out for arbitrary reasons that in some cases can't be met, appeals lost, and just given the run around when trying to get my issues heard. But the appeals coordinator has previously screened out an appeal on him for arbitrarily screening out one of my appeals saying that the appeals coordinator's decision to screen out an appeal "can't be appealed" so I already know filing any kind of an administrative appeal on such an issue will be an uphill battle.

I am one of the 50 to 60 northern hispanics who were wrongly swept up in a mass validation sweep on High Desert State Prison's (HDSP) C-yard and placed in Z-unit (Ad-Seg) on false, unreliable, and insufficient information that doesn't amount to "some evidence" that I'm a prison gang associate. HDSP and CDCR are continuing to deny our administrative appeals, when we can show clear violations of their regulations and the law in how they validated us. I currently have appeals in on my validation. The fact is that they are not allowing us to receive our appliances in Z-unit when our privilege group allows such, the inadequate law library herein, and the fact that we are being held in Z-unit for years and not being transferred to the Security Housing Units. HDSP staff acts as if they're above all laws/rules and can do whatever they want.

I would also like to comment on the false snitches HDSP is breeding. For example, I was placed in Ad-Seg due to Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) claiming they had sufficient evidence to validate me. But when I was given my validation package it was seen that I was placed in Ad-Seg when I only had one point towards my validation and I didn't receive the other two points that they needed for almost another month. Now IGI was hoping that someone would break and be willing to say anything to get out of Z-unit. You see when someone starts snitching they are moved to a building that allows them to have their appliances and other extra privileges that we are denied here in Z-unit so people desperate to get out of Z-unit will tell the debriefers exactly what they want to hear, be it true or, in most cases, false. Further, the prisoners snitching are usually validated, meaning they went through the whole process, know what the prison officials want to hear and the wording/terms to implicate someone. This system is highly unreliable for anyone can name a prisoner, give h a label/title and prison officials will validate themj just on that type of information.

These are issues that I'm currently dealing with and fighting and I thank you for reading it and also giving it some exposure in your newsletter.

MIM(Prisons) adds: The petition this comrade is referring to is part of the campaign to demand an answer to grievances that are often ignored, destroyed, or screened out for arbitrary reasons. Currently comrades have created petitions specific to California, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma. If you know prisoners who are having their grievances ignored, get in touch with us to get involved in this campaign.

chain
[Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
expand

Response to my critic in SNY debate

During the past 25 1/2 months I've been physically, verbally and emotionally assaulted, degraded, etc. I've fought several successful legal battles during this time also. Some have been denied all the way up to the State Supreme Court. Either way, I have shown full support to our comrades in arms and ink, unlike some of MIM(Prisons)'s correspondents, specifically one who replied to a previous article I wrote on unity. This particular comrade's response to me was published in ULK 14 (May/June 2010).

In my article, I stated that all comrades must put aside our petty politics of Special Needs Yard (SNY) vs. mainline crap. I am on SNY and have not had a bunch of other prisoners forcing me to do things just because they say it's to be done. I no longer have to fear reprisals for being my own man, or going to groups, religious services or law libraries to help with legal work.

Each person is their own person on SNY, free to do and be what they choose, not through fear, but choice.

The comrade who rips into my article claims it's SNY prisoners that further the Green Wall in prisons. That's pure speculation. It's a fact that mainline and SNY don't really affect that Green Wall either way. Sure, SNY yards aren't perfect. Yes, a lot of creeps run around also. But there is greater freedom and unity on SNY. A forceful riot with violence under threat of punishment on the mainline yards due to active prisoner politics is not even close to a voluntary sit down/riot/strike/protest/etc. by SNY prisoners, nor will it achieve the same results.

I was an active skinhead for well over 7 years in prison. I participated in no fewer than 6 riots/protests under duress. What was accomplished was barely worth my time. It continued the racist segregation, deprived prisoners of even the barest necessities, programs, visits, access to legal libraries, educational and rehabilitative services, and more. This in turn made guard's jobs easier, and allowed them to do less work for the same pay. No great accomplishments.

Not that it's all great on SNY, but I've witnessed greater accomplishments out of an SNY protest. As an SNY prisoner I've been a part of 3 nonviolent protests and 2 riots, each on a voluntary level. The lack of fear helped unite prisoners longer. The camaraderie was more intact, the benefits more noticeable. During one of the nonviolent sit-downs, we accomplished higher wages for the workers in all the Prison Industry Authority factories here, though still not fair wages compared to those of general society.

In another case, a violent riot involving SNY prisoners against guards at Lancaster prison, due to being unfairly denied program and visits for petty crap like "lack of staff to run prisons," a riot involving weapons, was a small success in itself. One guard and 3 prisoners were hospitalized. However, our program was returned to normal, our visits returned, store returned.

To hear this comrade talk shit about how he'd rather be in Administrative Segregation at all times rather than have to go to SNY is not showing unity. If this comrade wishes to do that as his own form of protest, fine. That's on him. If he wants to be confined to a cell 23 1/2 hours a day, lose his privileges, visits, family visits, usual store, and program, fine. I personally think it's nuts, but I will never tell him he's wrong.

He automatically labels a SNY prisoner "his own worst enemy." He says SNYs are full of cowards who afraid of programing. This is false. I tried to stay active when I first attempted to get out of the skinhead gangs, but when the other prisoners attempted to jump me daily, label me a "snitch" when I never told a soul a name other than mine, when I was threatened with being stabbed with a knife due to defending myself from racist politics to further benefit my life, it's a common sense issue to do what I did to survive and get back to my family, the people who I know truly care for me.

I am no coward. In fact, it takes a lot of balls to do what I did, to go against the grain, and to better myself. Since then I have educated myself in several areas: basic education, philosophy, religion, politics, and legal issues to give myself a better chance to succeed in life.

I'm not knocking the comrade that criticized my previous article, but it is my personal opinion that s/he isn't informed well enough to speak on the subject of SNY with any authority. I am. I spent a long chunk of time on active yards as a skinhead, as well as on SNY yards, not out of cowardice as this other comrade implies, but as a drop-out skinhead who wished to succeed in life so as to 1) be able to lower the recidivism rates of CDCR, 2) be able to better assist other comrades who aren't as fortunate as I am and 3) return to my friends and family as they need me there with them far more than they need or want me subjected to slave and torture conditions in prison.

Instead of offering up viable options, this critic ostracizes prisoners and comrades, who a lot of the time just want away from situations that are not useful to any reasonable objective. Actives primarily only want gangs, drugs, racism and politics. They claim to be better than SNY. They preach racism and fighting between prisoners and do nothing that thwarts the Green Wall's efforts at instigating those same tensions. At least on the SNY side, these racist, gang and political differences are virtually non-existent, which requires the Green Wall pigs come up with other ways to instigate things.

I spent nearly a decade on active yards, and I've seen no more than 3 guard stabbings by prisoners. In 4-5 years on the SNY side, I've documented 7+ that I've actually seen. Prisoner assaults on guards are up also, not that it was the best way, it just occurred.

So if this criticizing comrade honestly wishes to help the overall goals of other comrades, maybe he should man up and spread the word instead of wasting his breath on things he doesn't know about well enough. Stop hindering comrades trying to do real helpful things. I may be on SNY but I help both actives & SNY. I'm literally responsible for 4 successful legal suits resulting in the state and CDCR paying out over $12.2 million dollars with over 3 of it going to active prisoners who were abused, including 2 illegal use of force and 1 wrongful death due to negligence.

I ask this other comrade "what have you done for the cause?" I still am in process of 3 other suits, 2 with fair possibilities of victory. Put your money where your mouth is comrade. One day you just may get called upon, one way or another. Both sides of the fence have their issues. But it's not really a problem unless comrades allow it to be, as this other comrade does.

MIM(Prisons) adds: For years, leaders in the lumpen organizations (LOs) in the California Prison system attempted to organize peace summits. These meetings were sabotaged by CDCR intelligence higher-ups, the leaders were further isolated in Security Housing Units, and many hand-picked leaders were given free reign in the mainline. Like we've said before, staying true to your LO does not necessarily mean staying independent of the K9s (the state). It is often the exact opposite. But it is also the case that the LOs are in such a sad state of affairs because of state intervention and manipulation. The LOs do have more potential than most are currently demonstrating, but they have already lost many of their best youngsters who have seen the current errors of their ways as this comrade has.

chain
[Control Units] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California]
expand

Unlock the Box in New Folsom ASU

I'm writing in response to your Unlock the Box survey. in my 22 years of incarceration in California prisons I've spent over 13 years in control units.

While I cannot provide accurate statistical analysis that you request, or much historical background concerning some of these control units, I can at least tell you my personal observations from first hand experience.

California State Prison - Sacramento (aka New Folsom) Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU): I was first placed in this ASU in September 1991 for "inciting" (i.e. participation in an institution food strike protest by writing to the ACLU). The ASU back then consisted of A-facility, housing units 5,6, and 7 (with 8 sometimes used as overflow), with 64 cells in each unit at double cell capacity (except in isolated cases of "single cell" status).

I would say at least 50% of the control unit was, and usually is in any control unit, Latino, the other 50% is divided by varying degrees between Afrikans and Europeans, with a small percentage of "others" (i.e. Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, etc.). The most common reasons for ASU placement include assault on other inmates or staff, drug possession or trafficking, gang affiliation, enemy or safety concerns, weapons possession, or conspiracy investigations. Sometimes inmates are sent to ASU based on bogus confidential information or some other fabricated reason as a form of retaliation by prison officials.

As far as I know, this unit was first opened in 1985 or 86 as a Security Housing Unit (SHU) during the statewide crackdown on prison gangs. It has since been expanded to include a psychiatric Services Unit (PSU) in housing units 1-4 and a stand alone ASU building behind B-facility, with ASU-EOP in A-5, and ASU-CCCMS in B-4.

The state has recently implemented new control units in some prisons called the Behavioral Modification Unit (BMU), which I don't have much information on at this time. Additionally, most level 4 prisons have built separate "stand alone ASU" facilities which are modeled after Pelican Bay SHU to impose maximum sensory deprivation. In fact, these control units are worse than Pelican Bay SHU because of the deprivation of inmates televisions.

chain
[Censorship] [Abuse] [High Desert State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 14]
expand

Abuse in High Desert hits mainstream, ban lifted

In May 2010, the Sacramento Bee published a series of articles detailing abuses of prisoners in long-term isolation in several CDCR prisons, including at High Desert State Prison (HDSP). (1, 2) On 10 May 2010 they reported on the American Friends Service Committee's attempt to have the brutality claims brought against High Desert investigated by the state Senate, in hopes that an official investigation would lead to restrictions on the use of long-term isolation. (3) We commend the Sacramento Bee for bringing such an important issue to their mainstream audience. (Although judging from the comments left on the article at sacbee.com you would think members of the CCPOA are the only people who read it.)

These articles by the Sacramento Bee reconfirm much of the information published in Under Lock & Key and on www.prisoncensorship.info since January 2008 that staff at HDSP commit a long list of atrocities against prisoners to manipulate them into submission, or for just plain fun. These abuses include, but are not limited to: tampering with mail, privileges, food, and medical care; calling prisoners racist names; tampering with/discarding/ignoring grievances; and the sweeping use of excessive physical force and sexual coercion. (4-6) Recently we received reports of a racist, oppressive lockdown of so-called "northern Hispanics", which further proves that these injustices are still going on today.

As an outside organization sending literature to prisoners inside, the form of repression MIM(Prisons) is most familiar with at HDSP is their strong commitment to keep prisoners isolated by using arbitrary, outdated, and illegal censorship practices. They have consistently returned mail to us unopened. When asked for an explanation, they cited an outdated ban that was overturned in a settlement between Prison Legal News and CDCR in April 2007.

In a letter from HDSP Warden Mike D. McDonald dated April 23, 2010, he uses poor writing skills to ambiguously admit that there is no ban on MIM literature, while still maintaining that all mail from "MIM Publishers" is a threat to security.

"High Desert State Prison has been receiving MIM Publications [sic] from your company which contains information that could pose a threat to the safety of staff and inmates. This publication is in violation of California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15 and the Department Operations Manual (DOM).

". . . All MIM publications that are sent to this institution will be reviewed on an issue-by-issue basis. If it is found that a publication has violated our policies it will be disallowed and the inmate will receive a CDCR-1819 Notification of Disapproval."

Even though Warden McDonald avoided answering the direct question laid out in the letter he is responding to ("Why was MIM Theory 8: Revolutionary Nationalism returned to us with 'Disallowed Item' stamped on the envelope and no further explanation?"), it is still a step in the right direction for him to allege that lit from MIM(Prisons) will be reviewed on an issue-by-issue basis in the future.

Thanks to the articles in the Sacramento Bee, public pressure on the administration at HDSP is at a high point. We look forward to hearing from prisoners in HDSP regarding their receipt of ULK 14, or those promised 1819s!

notes:
(1) Piller, Charles. "Guards accused of cruelty, racism" Sacramento Bee. May 9, 2010.
(2) Piller, Charles. "California prison behavior units aim to control troublesome inmates" Sacramento Bee. May 10, 2010.
(3) Piller, Charles. "Advocates call for probe of prison abuse allegations" Sacramento Bee. May 20, 2010.
(4) "Response to psycho-sexual warfare article" by a CA prisoner. Published in ULK issue 6.
(5) "High Desert, CA Control Units" by a CA prisoner. Published at [url=https://www.prisoncensorship.info
]www.prisoncensorship.info
(6) "High Desert bans MIM, falsifies reports on prisoners" by a CA prisoner. Published at [url=https://www.prisoncensorship.info

]www.prisoncensorship.info

chain
[Organizing] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
expand

SNY prisoner: How to stop snitching

I'm sad to say that the CDCR is winning the struggle so far. They have managed to keep us too paranoid to trust the next man. But every time a guard walks down the tier talking about one of us, spreading propaganda, the majority of the prisoners will believe what that guard said. It can be completely fabricated.

The guards also have other strategies to spread false propaganda. They'll walk to the loudmouth on the tier and for extra food he'll put out on the tier whatever the guard wants him to say. The loudmouth doesn't understand that whatever the guard wants him to broadcast is because the guards want to direct a message at certain individuals.

I'm a SNY prisoner. Over the years the SNY yards and population have grown a lot, especially with the level IV. The bottom line is we're all prisoners suffering the same oppression from guards. There's no such thing as I'm better than so and so, because I'm this and you're that. That's all propaganda from guards telling the mainline.

If someone snitches on you, that's your fault for exposing your hand to individuals you didn't trust or know. Any sensitive issue should never be told to anyone, anyways.

After being in Calipatria for 10 years and going through several problems with staff, I decided to get on the CCCMS program and make a quick exit out of that joint. The CCCMS is a mental program and once you get in the program and you take some type of depression medication the prison has 30 days to transfer you because it's so hot and any type of psych meds can't be taken in that climate. Well I got away from a bad dream only to go into a nightmare!

Since 70 or 80% of the population here in RJD prison are on some type of psych meds, we're considered "J-Kats." The 602 inmate appeals process is non-existent. Any serious grievance you filed gets thrown away: a violation of our constitutional due process!

chain
[Abuse] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
expand

Suicide attempt leads to pepper spraying

On January 21, 2010 I was feeling suicidal due to facing an arson charge which could've given me a third strike and life in prison, when I only had less than 6 months until my parole date. In fact, it was my celly who had set the fire in order to get me emergency medical attention. I have severe and chronic back issues with several-inch-thick files documenting my issues. I stood up, my back gave out on me, and I fell and hit my head on the wall knocking myself partially unconscious. For over an hour my cellmate yelled "man down," "emergency," etc. The responding officer approached our cell, saw me laying unconscious on the floor, and said "I won't do shit because he's faking it." So my celly set fire to the cell in order to get attention for me.

I was later found not guilty of the arson due to my celly's admission to setting the fire, and medical documents supporting my claims. However, the following day, when still facing a third strike case, I was feeling suicidal and cut my left wrist in three places. When the first watch officer, Sgt. Limon, saw me he contacted Sgt. Badgett and he brought several officers with him including CO Lonczewsky. Limon and Lonczewsky asked to see my hands to verify they held no dangerous objects. My hands were empty and I was asked to stick my hands out of the food port.

However, these 2 officers are very corrupt. They claimed I was still trying to harm myself and ended up pepper spraying me with a can of Oleo Resin Capsicum (OC) spray. I spent 11 days in crisis bed afterwards. The COs assaulted and used excessive force on a prisoner in need of psychological help.

Since this incident I've filed a grievance against the officers but I can't even get a copy of the incident report. CDCR administrative officials know their personnel are in the wrong so they are trying to make it that much more difficult for me, and are finding stupid reasons to prevent me from obtaining any material to help in my future lawsuit. CDCR administration knows that I have helped at least 3 other prisoners win millions of dollars and that I am very capable of filing successful litigation. I have been granted $63,000 for medical negligence lawsuit.

Recently my cellmate had to get the attention of these same COs due to a possible suicide attempt in our neighbor's cell. Limon approached our cell and noticed my information tag. When he saw it he called for Lonczewsky to "come see who it is." After approaching our cell both officers asked my cellmate, "are you feeling suicidal?" "do you need to get sprayed too?" while shaking an OC spray can.

chain
[Control Units] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
expand

Unlock the Box: Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility has 2 Ad-Seg buildings, 7 and 8.

I've been in it since 5/16/2010 for non-disciplinary reasons. Approximately 400 prisoners are housed in buildings 7 and 8, and only 7 and 8 are currently Ad-Seg units.

Approximately 30% Black, 25-30% Latino, about 30% white, and 10% other.

The primary reasons for housing in Ad-Seg are disciplinary (approximately 70%), safety concerns (20%), debts, drugs, etc. (10%)

I am not sure when it first opened. It's expanded a couple times due to excessive Ad-Seg population to include Facility 2 building 8 as overflow, and Facility 4 building 16 overflow. Neither is used currently.

The guards here at RJD Ad-Seg are some of the most corrupt at the prison. They deny food, meal, clothing. They assault prisoners regularly despite video cameras. Guards verbally abuse nearly all prisoners. Administration continuously moves prisoners to keep them uncomfortable and from being able to relax. Not all guard, but at least 60-75% of them are corrupt. The rest refuse to snitch against co-workers and turn blind eyes, which shows them to be cowards and corrupt in their own ways. I have been the victim of numerous abuses by at least 4 or 5 guards personally.

chain
[Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 14]
expand

Regarding security in prisons

I want to comment on something I read in the March/April 2010 ULK 13. I note that the SNYs [Special Needs Yards prisoners] are complaining about how the picklesuits are doing an excellent job of keeping prisoners in California at each others' throats. I doubt that there is a prisoner in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) that hates/resists petty over-authoritated power as much as I do. But so many prisoners at the drop of a hat go SNY/PC(Protective Custody) that it created a mad rush for police defense for not just those who may need it for the few real reasons that may exist.

I'm in general population (GP) and I would stay in the hole before I would allow the pig to twist me up into that SNY/PC nonsense. I heard people in Administrative Segregation (Ad-seg) and the Security Housing Units (SHU) when I was there be proud to say in front of the pig that they are active this or that which is in effect volunteering intelligence to the pig. Then you got those seeking to gather intelligence to provide the pig and that is both in and out of SNY. While SNY may outnumber general population 3 to 1 it is clear to me that one's condition in prison will not in reality become much (if any) better. Seeking the easy way out creates a moral quandary in that the reality of prison in California has not changed and the exodus to SNY has provided the pigs with more leverage to abuse and play nationalities against each other to the detriment of the whole.

I do not sympathize with SNY conditions nor do I sympathize with the conditions of GP. The fact that so many have to run to SNY has made the Green Wall stronger, since you in SNY have run away from your responsibilities. There are some very sorry so-called men in these prisons nowadays and I personally can do my time on the line or in the SHU as I will never allow the pig to turn me into a passive submissive subjugated sheep.

Sun Tzu's Art of War emphasized knowing one's enemy and I believe that a SNY's own worst enemy is one's self. There's still a lot of so-called hard core gang members on the line that say "I don't want to go here or there cause I got enemies." What ever happened to dealing with an issue on sight or leaving the matter alone? Particularly when there is no real substance to the basis in which one claims enemies. I do not have any prisoner enemies; this is silly and to claim such to a pig is sheer stupidity as it is to tell the pig you are a gang member. However, this seems to have become the custom. Wherever you are, grow up and be a man and take responsibility for your actions and quit depending on others to fight your battles. Simply educate yourself on how to use real strategies and tactics in order to learn how to be brave, fortuitous enough to gravitate to those who have a selfless desire to make a difference for all of our brothers. Bias and prejudice exuded by those around you only works against you in the long run. Until one learns to unite for the true cause and quit telling on self or others, the nonsense will continue. It's easy to spot agent provocateurs and quislings, and observation will expose the creeps for who they are. Prisoners are an open book and if you use your brain you can find out accurate facts and there is an old navy saying that "loose lips sink ships." It's a fact, people who think, do not follow, they cooperate for mutual benefit.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The snitching discussion has brought a lot of interest from readers and is integral to a discussion of organizing strategy. Another important question for those under state supervision is creating space for organizing. The purpose of control units is to elminate the space within the prison system where study and agitation can occur.

We warn against an ultra-left stance that leads one to accept years in a torture cell with no access to other people and limited access to mail and literature just so you can toughly say, "I never submitted." Comrades in control units have a hard time doing work, which is the whole reason the SHU was invented. Comrades also suffer mentally and physically in ways that can affect their ability to be productive even after release. So telling people to take SHU should not be done lightly and SHU should not be taken as one's "duty" to the cause when you are really just setting the struggle back.

Certainly, this writer makes correct points about working with the state and how that plays into the overall oppression of oppressed nations. And certainly, there are cases where submitting to torture in a control unit is the best thing for the struggle. But as we pointed out in ULK 13, many are finding themselves in a situation where those who promised to serve their people are doing the state's dirty work themselves. As this comrade recognizes, conditions in GP in California aren't more commendable than what's going on in SNY. It was the lumpen organizations following CDCR leadership that made SNY possible by what they did in GP. They pushed people so far that they were willing to snitch on something they were once willing to die for. This is the reality of the situation now that we must deal with. And in that reality, we find comrades on both sides of the SNY/GP wall. If we do it right this time and eliminate all this fighting between the oppressed then we will start to deal with the problem of snitching in a material way. This comrade gets it right when he says it is silly for prisoners to claim they are enemies for no reason.

Finally, we disagree with the claim that agent provocateurs and quislings are easy to spot. It may seem that way when you are surrounded by lazy, self-interested people, but that is not always true, and the most dangerous agents are hardest to spot.

For more on the morality of snitching, see our accompanying article discussing "The situational ethics of snitching."

chain
[Abuse] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
expand

Repression at RJD

I'm a prisoner here in Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) in San Diego. I can relate to the story of the brother on your article in ULK 13 (Inspired by Mao, fighting legal battles). Like that brother, I've been sitting in the hole since November 2009.

I came to RJD on the CCCMS program [for prisoners who have been diagnosed as mentally ill]. I got on that program to get away from Calipatria prison. I was at the prison for 10 years and had enough of their corruptions. Little did I know that RJD is a lot more corrupt than Calipatria prison. Since arriving here last November I've filed numerous grievances to try to get sent to the Sensitive Needs Yard, but the 602s [grievance appeals] don't go no where. They mysteriously get disappeared. They said they would look into it and call me back to classification the following week. That was in January 2010. I've yet to go! I feel like I'm lost in this cell!

My mail comes late. I've yet to receive any of several magazine subscriptions I have. The guards don't pass books like they are supposed to. The few books I have I'm being forced to reread repeatedly to stay sane! Some of the prisoners don't have anything to read. It's no wonder why so many prisoners lose their sanity or attempt to commit suicide.

I look all around me and I say to myself, "This is not the big house. This is the crazy house!" For obvious reasons I've chosen to refuse cellies! In March, Captain Koen illegally tried to force prisoners in my cell. On both occasions I've fought them and get soaked in pepper spray; which was not legal. In the hole you have to consent to a celly before one is put there with you. On these two occasions I didn't consent. I don't know what to do. I've written the proper procedures to commence a lawsuit which begins by submitting a 602. I know the first ones got torn and thrown away. I've filed a third one, to the Director of Appeals, signed as confidential mail by a guard. I prey that made it out of the prison. Also I sent a letter to the Prison Law Office in the hopes they could assist me.

That day, there were several other incidents as well. You're right, oppression is getting worse and worse as time goes on. There's no unity whatsoever. It's so terrible here in Ad-Seg that the guards trade our showers for extra trays or lunch. We usually don't shower because we're all damned near starved. The food is just enough to keep you alive.

And for the last two or three weeks they've claimed they lost a gun so the entire prison has been on lockdown. It's all a farce as to what the real reason why we are on lockdown. It's plain to see - overtime. The CDCR is out of control and so are their guards. They believe that because we're in prison we're lesser humans than them.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Comrades in California have taken up a campaign to fight the useless system for processing 602s that leads to harassment and retaliation instead of resolution of the problems. According to the Department Operations Manual (DOM), Subsection 54100.2, the purpose of the Inmate/Parolee Appeals Procedure is to:

Provide a vehicle for review of department policies, procedures, practices, conditions, incidents and actions which may adversely affect an inmate's welfare, status and program," and to "provide for resolution for grievances at the lowest possible level with timely responses to the appellant.

Write MIM(Prisons) to get a copy of the petition and other campaign info to join this campaign being led by United Struggle from Within (USW) in California.

chain