Prisoners Report on Conditions in

California State Prison, Corcoran - California

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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.

[Legal] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 60]
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PLC Report from Corcoran SHU

Revolutionary Greetings,

This is my report about how the Prisoners' Legal Clinic here in the Corcoran Ad-seg/SHU is going. As a Clinic Coordinator, I've been responsible for showing inmates how to read and study the Title 15, which allows you to know what rights you have as a prisoner, and learn how to file a box. You'd be surprised to know, a lot of inmates don't understand the basics, but we've had minimal success. The accomplishments have resulted in (1) inmates getting their property in an orderly fashion, (2) getting allowable items that were granted from the hunger strikes, (3) receiving our program of yard & showers that we're being denied for lack of staff, (4) and being assigned a regular counselor to come by once a week to see if we need any assistance and making sure we get our NDS privileges (phone calls weekly or monthly & canteen draw of $165.00 instead of $55.00).

I've also filed a few written letters that have helped a few people get back to court, and allowed them to also be able to go to the law library once a week without having a case pending, which was the only way before. At this time we do not need any legal materials as we have enough at our disposal. This is a positive endeavor here, and this concluded my report.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The Prisoners' Legal Clinic is a serve the people program, made up of prisoners in the United $tates who are fighting injustice in the anti-imperialist movement. Through the PLC legally-savvy comrades offer legal assistance to others in their prison in exchange for some political work. And behind the scenes MIM(Prisons) provides the resources and support needed by our Clinic Coordinators. This program helps support necessary legal struggles of prisoners while also making the connection between these struggles and our broader political organizing. Write to us for more information if you want to coordinate a Clinic where you are at.

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[Special Needs Yard] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Changing Terrain in Corcoran as Populations are Transferred

The PO Box 3476 is the only SHU yard and Ad-Seg yard address now at CSP-Corcoran. The 4B yard is closed, and was supposed to open up as a GP mainline, but hasn't happened yet. All these buildings over here in 4A run a different program. My block is Ad-Seg, 4R is Ad-Seg with prisoners from SATF Corcoran. 3R and 3L are the debriefing buildings for the whole state of California, 2R and 2L are SHU blocks, and 1R and 1L are SHU blocks for people on medication.

...To answer your question on the SNY situation, yes and no. Most older folks are going for various different reasons. Some are giving up on the struggle, some have grudges with their comrades, and some youngsters are chasing drugs and don't want to be revolutionaries or political, and are allowing the oppressor to stir strife. Yes! it's mostly people coming out of the SHU and seeing a culture shock that is real sad and in poor condition. Then there's the changing of the guard, and the youngster's don't want to change, and neither do the older folks that have been out there all this time. Opportunities can still be created on both sides of the razor wire, be it GP or SNY. Because it's still up to the individuals how they want to live. Either combat change, or suffer defeat.

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[Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [Mule Creek State Prison] [California]
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Mail Returned for No Reason, Prevents Legal Struggles

I want to report another way the system tortures people in the Security Housing Units(SHU). Corcoran and Mule Creek State Prisons both throw away your legal mail. They do this in your face and behind your back.

I've tried to report this to the Inspector General and other offices. I filed a 602 grievance, but this don't work if your 602 arrive at the Office of the Appeal Coordinator. If you looking for help from the Office of the Ombudsman, this never happens, because the officer in both prisons tnrow away your mail in your face or they simply send back your envelope. The mail room has some yellow stickers that say "returned" and look just like those of the U.S. Postal Service, but it is easy to tell the difference if you look closely. They do this even when you have the correct address.

I lost my habeus corpus case because Mule Creek never sent out my extension time motion on 19 February 2015. I seen the officer throw it in the trash. At Mule Creek, officers Winkilend and Rechason do this a lot. Both officers are the only Black officers in the segregation building. Rechason likes to write "Refused signature", when that was never what happened.

The same thing happens at Corcoran. Here they often use the excuse that my name is written in a different order than in their database, even though they have the correct ID number. They don't deliver mail, magazines and even legal mail. Over here it is Officers Ponce, Lawrence and Padstoff who do that regularly.

I write a lot, it's true, but that is my problem. I'm working on my case. Officer Ponce and Lawrence told me in my face "fuck you write a lot" and they said I had a lot of mail and can't continue like that. Wow! What?! Like that in my face.

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[National Oppression] [United Front] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Black August Organizing Focused on Popularizing Agreement to End Hostilities

We've been working hard to express the need to end all hostilities amongst all ethnicities. Us New Afrikans here in the belly of the beast known as the Corcoran SHU have just completed a beautiful BAM (Black August Resistance/Memorial) and we came together to struggle today [September 9th] for the purpose of unity. We exercised in a group that consisted of ourselves, a couple southern Hispanics, and a northern Hispanic. Our study habits still consist of revolutionary literature, economics, politics and some history where our cultural and social interactions are similar without division.

We don't have a short corridor anymore here in this concrete tomb, so with people arriving from the mainline just to do a SHU term we can educate them on the importance of the agreement to end all racial hostilities, and stay on guard because the fascist oppressors will always try to sabotage our collective struggle. A lot of these youngsters who come in here don't have a clue about the Attica uprising or Black August Memorial, and how could they when all the teachers of New Afrikans struggles are still anguishing behind enemy lines. The importance of us getting out of the SHU is to educate our youth about their history.

Today we had a group study session on the importance of revolutionary internationalism, which is the ideological expression of global revolutionary scientific socialism in service to the oppressed underclass of the world. We feel that revolutionary internationalism is the ideological vanguard of global liberation and source of theoretical development in coordinating disparate national revolutions. Also, keeping the permanent struggle of ideological mental warfare going in order to eradicate backwards and unprincipled thinking, or incompatible ideas or activities, and proving the correctness of the revolutionary party's views.

This weapon in which we speak is part of the dialectical processes that are ongoing and endless, until the principle contradictions of the oppressed and the oppressor are eliminated. Once this takes place you will see the transformation of the cultural values, practices and relationships of the people prepare and condition themselves for a revolution against the oppressor state. The outcome is uprooting and destroying the old oppressive rationale and mindset of colonial society and bringing into being new values which move the people outside of the colonial mindset and into that of the emerging revolutionary society. We can accomplish this through the agreement to end all hostilities. So we strive to do so. It's a long out-dated situation that produced no winners, and only losers, and that has also further pushed us into oppression. We realize that now, and since it's not too late to correct it, we struggle collectively to do so.

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[Mental Health] [Gender] [Abuse] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 40]
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Defining Rape

I have initiated a lawsuit alleging that Officer Mary Brockett at California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-Sac) subjected me to sexual harassment. This occurred in the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) which is part of the mental "health" services in the California Deparment of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). When I reported Brockett's predatory acts to other top ranking prison officials, they did not believe me because I'm Black, and Brockett is a white amerikan. They also did not understand why a prisoner would file a staff sexual misconduct complaint against an officer. As a direct result of Brockett's sexual misconduct against me she was terminated, but CDCR top ranking officials refused to have her arrested and identified as a sexual offender.

I requested an Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) investigation against Brockett for her predatory behavior towards me. In December 2003, I was interviewed by Special Agent Jill Chapman of OIA, and I agreed to assist her with an investigation against Brockett in order to prove my sexual harassment allegations. During said investigation, the OIA dropped the ball, and OIA agents allowed Brockett to sexually assault me four times after the start of the investigation.

On 15 January 2014, Judge Hunley of the United States District Court, ruled that officer Brockett's conduct violated clearly established law of which Brockett should have been aware. The court found that Brockett is not entitled to qualified immunity on my Eighth Amendment sexual misconduct claim.

My investigation has revealed that many other prisoners who reported rape and other forms of sexual assaults by CDCR personnel are sent to SHU as a form of retaliation and/or intimidation. My defense team and I have been able to identify many other cases of corrections, medical and mental health staff sexually abusing the mentally ill prisoners, plus many coverups by supervisors, at several California state prisons.

I had to hire a private investigator to assist me in light of the fact that going to ranking officials kept getting me put in lock-up units. Instead of charging Brockett with sexual assaults, the CDCR prison officials in Sacramento allowed me to be subjected to a series of retaliatory transfers attempting to intimidate me. On 8 September 2009, prison officials were informed about my lawsuit and that same day I was placed in administrative segregation (ASU) on false allegations of fighting. In December 2009 I was ordered placed in ASU pending a false prison gang validation. Retaliatory transfers are a violation of CDCR policy.

The evidence will show that correctional and medical and mental health staff sexual harassment and sexual assaults were not isolated incidents within CDCR's EOP. I would ask you to help me and my defense team to spread the word. Other victims are out there. My purpose of the lawsuit is to shed light on sexual abuse against the mentally ill in California, including torturing tactics through criminal activities and criminal organized crime within CDCR.


MIM(Prisons) responds: People usually conceptualize patriarchy as those biologically categorized as male oppressing those biologically categorized as female. But sexual assault of bio-male prisoners by bio-female guards is an example of how gender oppression is not necessarily linked to one's biological sex category. In the first issue of Under Lock & Key we wrote about prison rape, and using the best statistics available, we suggested that Black bio-men might be gendered female in the United $tates, largely due to imprisonment rates and the sexual abuse that comes with imprisonment. The abusing bio-female guards are certainly gendered male, and are part of what we call the gender aristocracy.(1) Amerikan (and especially white) bio-wimmin enjoy benefits in leisure time based on their national ties to white bio-men, based on a long history of lynchings, suffrage, and Third World oppression.(2)

Fighting sexual abuse through the courts can be difficult for anyone, and especially for prisoners. As this correspondent writes, white Brockett was not even charged for the sexual assault. When sexual assault cases do go to court, the judge/jury, like much of U.$. society, get hung up on the debate of whether the sex was "really rape," a subjective measure of whether the victim gave consent to the sexual activity or not. Prisoners are assumed by the courts and society to have a low moral standing, and this subjectivity bleeds into the judgement of whether they were "really raped," and whether they should be protected even if they are considered to have been raped. People have debated for decades about where to draw the line with consent, and this debate has recently resurfaced in First World Maoist circles.(3)

When deciding whether a sexual encounter was a rape, a tendency is to focus on whether the victim of sexual assault verbally said they did or did not want to have the sexual encounter, what words they used, in what tone, how many times they said it, if they were intoxicated, how intoxicated, their sexual history, what they were wearing, etc. Others even draw the line where "Most victims themselves intuitively recognize the difference between consensual sex and rape."(3) But all these criteria are based on subjective social standards at the time. Many people don't start calling a sexual incident a rape until months or even years afterward, because they have since learned more about sexuality and social norms, or the social norms have changed. The courts change their definition of rape depending on public opinion as well. When mini skirts were racy, it was considered by many an invitation for sex. Now that mini skirts are normalized as pants in our society, almost no one would make this argument. Social norms and subjective feelings are untrustworthy as measures of gender oppression. They focus too much on individuals' actions and feelings, ignoring the relationship between the group and the individual.

Rather than falling into this subjectivist trap, MIM(Prisons) upholds the line that all sex under patriarchy is rape. Among the general public, living in a highly sexualized culture with a long history of material consequences for granting and withholding access to one's sexuality, no "yes" can be granted independent of group relationships. This is especially true for a captive population; saying "yes" to sex as a trade for privileges, or to a guard who quite literally has your life in their hands, cannot be consensual, even if everyone involved "liked" it or "wanted" it. Power play is very tied up in leisure time to the point that a coercive sex act can feel pleasurable to all involved. Granting consent in a society with gender oppression is a moot point. People always behave in a way that is determined by group relationships, and this is no different for the gender oppressed under patriarchy.

While Liberals are concerned with how we define rapists so that we can lock them up and ostracize them, we look at the systematic problem rather than essentializing individuals. We don't adhere to the bourgeois standard of criminality for theft, so why would we follow their standard for rape? Instead we want to build a socialist society that allows jobs for everyone, separate from the sex industry. We would then ban all sex for profit, all pornography for profit, and all sex trafficking. We wouldn't criminalize sex slaves or people choosing to have sex for their own subjective pleasure, but we would criminalize anyone making a profit off of sex work, especially the multi-billion dollar porn and abduction rackets. Low-level pimps and "self-employed" sex workers would at least need to go through self-criticism and reeducation and take a cold, hard look at how their activities are impacting others. Anyone who wanted to leave these anti-people industries would have other viable options, something we can't say for the vast majority of sex workers in the world today who were either kidnapped, or subject to manifestations of national oppression such as homelessness and drug addiction.

As with any form of oppression under imperialism, we encourage people to use the courts when we think we can win material advantages, set a useful precendent for other cases, or make a political point to mobilize the masses. But kicking Brockett out of the facility will just replace her with another gender oppressing officer. Ultimately we need to change the economic conditions that underly the coercive gender relations in our society and attack the system of patriarchy itself.

Notes:
1. For more on gender get ULK 1, ULK 6, and MIM Theory 2/3.
2. In contrast to the strand of class oppression which is based in work relations, the strand of gender oppression is based outside of work, or in what we call "leisure time." To speak of prison as "leisure" can sound odd because it's certainly not a day at the beach, but the point is that it is not labor time, and not based in class. See "Clarity on what gender is" 1998 MIM Congress Resolution.
3. Comments on "All Sex is Rape". 20 July 2014, LLCO.org. Write to us for a more in depth critique of this piece.

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[Hunger Strike] [Political Repression] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 35]
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Response in California a Hypocritical Farce

The battle against torture in California prisons is heading for a breaking point with unity running high among prisoners and resistance to change stiffening within the state. Since the third round of strikes ended in early September the promised state legislature hearing around the Security Housing Units (SHU) occurred and Pelican Bay SHU representatives met with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials. Yet the actions taken by the state in response to the protests have been the same old political repression that the SHU was created to enforce, not ending conditions of torture. One comrade from Corcoran reports:

I read in your latest publication that you guys hadn't had any news of the concessions Corcoran SHU made in order to bring our hunger strike to an end. For the most part, the demands made here are not even worth articulating, as they don't incorporate, in any way, the push towards shutting these human warehouses down completely.

The demands put forth here are simple creature comforts, which have not even been met by the administration, to pacify those who seem to have accepted these conditions of confinement.

Worse than the petty reforms, is the blatant political repression of strikers just as the world's attention is on them. The state knows that if it can get away with that now, then it has nothing to worry about. As another comrade from Corcoran SHU reports:

I stopped eating state food on 8 July 2013 and as a retaliatory measure I and a bunch of other prisoners were transferred from the Corcoran SHU to the Pelican Bay SHU. Only the thing is, when we got to Pelican Bay on 17 July 2013 we were placed in the ASU instead of the SHU, which made it so that we would have a lot less privileges and we couldn't even get a book to read. So we were just staring at the wall. On 5 August 2013 others and myself were moved to the SHU where we were again just staring at the wall. On 7 September 2013 we were again moved back to the ASU to sit there with nothing. On 24 September 2013 I was moved back to the SHU and I just received all my property last week.

So we were moved around and denied our property for 3 months or more. But that seems to be it right now and I can finally settle in. But I'm telling you that was a long 3 months. Other than that no new changes or anything else has happened around here. I did, however, receive a 115 rules violation report for the hunger strike, along with everyone else who participated, and in it it charges that I hunger striked as part of some gang stuff so it was gang activity. This is ironic since the hunger strike was about the CDCR misusing the validation process and what is considered gang activity. So now that 115 can and will be used as a source item of gang activity to keep me in the SHU longer.

While that comrade was sent to Pelican Bay, our comrade below is being "lost" in Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP). Organizing in California has gotten so advanced that the CDCR is moving people out of Administrative Segregation to isolate them. But with a third of the people actively participating in protests, there is no way for them to brush this movement under the rug.

I am writing to say that it's been over 5 weeks since our peaceful protest was suspended. I am a petitioner in the Corcoran Administrative Segregation Unit 2011 strike and am a participant and a petitioner in this 8 July 2013 one. I have been moved around and retaliated against. I went from ASU-1 to Cor 3B02 on 24 July 2013. I was moved back to ASU-1 on 16 August 2013 and then on 19 August 2013 I was moved to where I am currently housed in isolation with no access to anything although I am not "EOP." I am being housed against my will and the correctional officers here tell me I don't belong here but that they can't do anything because it's above their pay level. No one seems to know anything about why I am being housed here but all come to the same conclusion: that someone above them has me housed here. I'd like to know if there is anyone out there that you may have heard of that find themselves in similar situations or am I the only one?

We haven't heard anything yet. But don't let their games get to you comrade.

Another indication of the strength of change in California comes from a story being circulated by representatives of the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective. Multiple versions have been circulating about a historic bus ride where these "worst of the worst" from "rival gangs" were left unshackled for an overnight bus ride. It was reported that not one of the O.G.'s slept a wink that night, but neither did any conflicts occur. At least some of these men self-admittedly would have killed each other on sight in years past.(1) This amazing event symbolizes the extent to which this has become about the imprisoned lumpen as a whole, and not about criminal interests.

The CDCR keeps telling the public that they are instituting reforms, while in reality they are torturing people for being "gang members" for reasons such as protesting torture. Outside supporters can up the pressure to end this system of repression by letting them know that we know what they're doing, that their words mean nothing, and that going on hunger strike is not a crime. There is a campaign to call the CDCR out on their hypocrisy by contacting:

M.D. Stainer, Director
Division of Adult Institutions
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento CA. 94283
(916) 445-7688
[email protected]

Those on the outside who want to do more after they make their phone call should contact MIM(Prisons) at our new email address.

As we reiterated last issue, it is prisoners who determine the fate of the prison movement. And the only way prisoners can actually win is by building independent power. As long as this is a campaign for certain reforms, the state will go back to business as usual as soon as the outside attention fades. Torture cannot be reformed, and neither can an exploitative economic system that demands it. Of course prisoners can't end imperialism alone, but wherever we are we must focus on building cadre level organizations that can support independent institutions of the oppressed.

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[Political Repression] [Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Gang Validation] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Political Repression Against Peaceful Protestors at Corcoran Continues

Administrative and medical retaliations continue by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) staff as retribution for any sort of participation in hunger strikes and/or show of resistance. Recent validation reviews have shown futile since CDCR is utilizing hunger strike and single cell write-ups as proof of [security threat group] association. Doctors first question, before denying all subsequent inmate request for pain management, is: "were you in the hunger strike?" 602s [grievance forms] are disappearing from inside locked metal boxes.


MIM(Prisons) adds:Control units were developed as a form of political and social control within the prison system, and this blatant political repression against prisoners who protested against them shows that social control is still their purpose. The review process is a sham to allow the state of California to continue to torture oppressed people while pretending to make changes.

We must continue the fight against these isolation units, but we know that real and lasting changes will only be made when we dismantle the criminal injustice system. In the short term we fight for reforms to improve the conditions of those locked in these torture cells, but the imperialists will not reform away their tools of social control. This is why we see the fight against the criminal injustice system as an integral part of the anti-imperialist struggle.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Medical Neglect as Another Hunger Striker Goes Down

On July 19th I was escorted to the medical clinic to request liquid nutrients, vitamins and proper directions on the re-feeding process after hunger strike. I was denied all requests. I was specifically told by nursing staff that CDCR officials have told all medical staff not to intervene in the on-goings of hunger strike patients until otherwise directed. I continued to request said items during daily nurse/medical rounds for the days leading up to July 21st only to be denied with some sort of unprofessional response.

On July 21, during my allotted rec time my body shut down. I fell, hitting my head on the concrete and knocking myself unconscious for at least two minutes. I was brought to the emergency prison hospital and once again provided with inadequate medical care. After blood/urine/vitals samples and testing I was told there was the possibility of death if I were to continue hunger strike for 24 hours. I obviously requested liquid nutrients/vitamins/etc. And I was denied. I was told by the doctor that CDCR officials are not letting med staff intervene in hunger strike participants and was told to go back to cell with no medical help.

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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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