Prisoner Set Up, Shot At
We Demand Our Grievances are Addressed in California
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.
No doubt even throughout the global community many have heard of the infamous "3 Strikes Law." In California if someone gets 3 felony convictions they face a sentence of LIFE in prison. The law has created quite a bit of controversy and there's been a few token reforms to it that mean about as much as calling San Quentin (SQ) a "Correctional Center" instead of a prison.
SQ's Adjustment Center (AC) is also in the midst of controversy and in the process of implementing reactionary token reforms in much the same way. They also implemented what could be called "The 2 Strikes Law." The SQ oligarchy calls their oppressive tool of retaliation Operational Procedure (OP) 608 Section 825 A.4. Here's how it gets implemented:
On 25 December 2015 while en route to group yard Sergeant Rodrigues waved a piece of paper in a prisoner's face, after asking him if he remembered refusing to show his asshole to officer C. Burrise the other day. Rodrigues tells the prisoner he is going to the AC for receiving two serious Rules Violations Reports (RVRs) within 180 days of each other. A death row prisoner receives an indeterminate SHU term for that.
The two RVRs involve the prisoner's refusal to submit to unclothed body search procedures either prohibited by OP 608 Section 765(2) (local prison rules) and state law, or not applicable to East Block (EB) prisoners. In fact, before either of these RVRs were fabricated the prisoner had filed several staff complaints citing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and alleged "sexual harassment under the guise of security." The prisoner also wrote an informal letter to Specialized Housing Division Facility Captain J. Arnold asking him to abolish his "Perversion Enforcement Team Training Project" (PETT Project). That got the prisoner a punitive cell search response resulting in the confiscation of a loaner TV and theft of art supplies valued at $48. So now you know the motive. But let's see what else this means for ALL death row prisoners thinking Seigle & Yee are to the rescue.
Seigel & Yee are the attorneys currently representing the "AC class" regarding the long-term/indeterminate SHU program conditions experienced by death row prisoners in the AC. One prisoner who corresponded with Seigle & Yee attorney Emily Rose Johns in early 2014 from his recently acquired EB (SHUII) cell reports advising her a wave of prisoners formerly doing indeterminate SHU terms in the AC was flowing into EB and being assigned to the "Sun Deprivation Program."(1) This prisoner came over to EB just ahead of that wave. Johns's response to our dilemma was, "We intentionally kept the scope of the case narrow for many reasons, including out of respect for the experience prisoners in the AC had with the Thompson case."
So now it's about time that someone points out that experience prisoners in the AC had with the Thompson case, including not rescinding the 2 Strikes Law, and that OP 608 Sec. 825 A.4. is still being used as a revolving door into the abyss of indeterminate SHU terms. How leaving that door wide open could be hailed as a reform or "respect for the experience of prisoners in the AC had with the [SQ/Seigel & Yee] case" remains to be seen by a lot of prisoners literally LEFT IN THE DARK for years.
This unfolding experience brings to mind an article from a recent issue of Under Lock & Key.(2) It sets the record straight, explaining in detail the "reforms" hailed in the media regarding indeterminate SHU terms with respect to prisoners subject to the cruel and unusual conditions in the Pelican Bay gulag. Just as the so-called reform left the doors wide open to every other SHU in California's gulag system, merely limiting the time spent doing an indeterminate term at Pelican Bay to 2 years. It's nothing, NOTHING different than SQ's 2 Strikes Law being intentionally contested. Torture cannot be reformed. So the practice of long-term isolation must be ABOLISHED. The construction of more SHUs at SQ must stop because it is torture.
The bastards concocted a local rule called San Quentin Death Row Operational Procedure #608, section 650. It voids clergy confidentiality, allowing the attorney general to compel testimony against only male, death row, at San Quentin. Females and anyone not at this prison are exempt. Non-condemned are exempt.
The rules in play are 15 CCR 3212, which creates the confidentiality of clergy in prisons in California. Then they want to have clergy compelled or allowed to rat on us, saying we are not good reborn bible thumpers, as we pretend... so kill us all.
I won it. Clark v. Chappell, CV 14 02637 ygr.
The new acting warden was told by the attorney general to feign surrender, and issue a memo voiding that rule. The problem is, the minute the federal court judge looks away they can re-instate the rule. It is an at whim rule, he can redo it. I am going forth to get not just a surrender but declaration that it is and always was discriminatory, undue process, unequal justice, and such. So we won the present day, and I will puruse the retroactivity to 1977, date it was put in place, to protect all the old guys.
Guard One was implemented in the middle of June per mandate of a court-appointed mental health expert in Sacramento. The device resembles a pipe about the size of a closet pole cut to an 8" length. It either flashes or beeps to indicate a welfare check has been recorded. Similar devices are in use throughout selected prisons, especially in the Security Housing Units (SHUs) where statistics reveal most prison suicides occur.
While it is being promoted as a high-tech device able to create an electronic record that prison guards are actually performing their assigned duty of half-hourly welfare checks at each cell, it is also supposed to be showing how much CDCr cares about reducing the number of suicides on its four death row SHUs at San Quentin.
In San Quentin's SHU II D.R. the sensor which the beeping pipe must make contact with is attached to each cell's food port. That's a small metal door on hinges which is padlocked closed unless the cell has no occupant, the prisoner is attending some other program, the cleaning bucket is being used, or there is a phone in use. When the food port is open, for whatever reason, it must be lifted to the closed position so contact can be made with the beeping pipe. Normally, upwards of 100 food ports are left open every day between the hours of 9am and 1pm as various programs are in session. During that time there is continuous banging, clanging and beeping. That's hardly conducive to anyone's mental health!
At around 9pm the beeping pipes are traded in for a non-beeping Guard One device. So between the hours of 9pm and 5am the padlocked metal food port doors continue clanging each time a contact is made. The banging of food ports on empty cells as they're lifted and dropped also echoes throughout the night while the prison guard flashlights would probably remind you of a prison break scene from an old movie as the spotlights search up and down for prisoners crawling the walls. Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of mental and physical health issues.
By 5:30am the beeping starts up like a small brood of electronic rooster chicks fighting for dominance in a cast iron coop and a few cocks get to crowing about the "easy money overtime" coming from the taxpayers.
Many prisoners have died in their cells due to heart attacks, cooking, or other things which might not have been fatal if they had received timely medical attention. So these must be some of the factors considered by the "expert" who armed prison guards with these devices seemingly designed to preserve prisoners and create jobs. I hope I separated the truth from fiction for you.
We call for the elimination of the Guard One device because it is causing more torture and anguish for prisoners.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the criminal injustice system implementing new costly practices in response to serious problems, but the new practices do nothing to help prisoners. In this case, it is a real problem that prisoners die due to medical neglect. But spending lots of money creating more jobs for guards and increasing sensory torture for prisoners is not a solution to this problem. We can never expect the injustice system to reform itself or address its problems fundamentally. We must continue to demand an end to torture like long-term isolation and these new devices, while we build a broader movement that can attack the fundamental injustice of a system that uses prisons as a tool of social control.
A recent study concluded that even a moderate deficiency of vitamin D results in a 53% increased chance of developing dementia. The most abundant source of vitamin D on earth comes from a chemical reaction that occurs naturally when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight.
Sunny California's torture units feature dog run style walk-in closets called "walk alone" or "small management yards" (SMY). These usually consist of four solid walls and a plexiglass or metal grating for a roof, both of which obstruct sunlight. Depending on the time of day, a prisoner may not get any direct sunlight at all.
The SMY torture cages designed for Grade A and B death row prisoners warehoused in San Quentin's East Block (SHU II D.R.) are especially cruel and unusual. Unlike the torture cages in the SHU III D.R. (The Adjustment Center) which are completely exposed to the elements with no protection whatsoever, the SHU II D.R. torture cages have a corrugated steel cover over 1/4 of its top and every one of these 40 or so cages are under a gigantic modified metal pavilion which could be comparable to a rusted metal circus tent. The only direct sunlight penetrating this bizarre big top of the CDCr circus pierces through rust holes in the massive metal canopy.
True to form, California's mad scientists conducting the world's most infamous death penalty experiment in numerous SHUs across the sunshine state prefer their own blend of pharmaceutical cocktails to solve the problems they themselves are mass producing. CDCr's "chemical solution" aims to obscure and/or delay known side effects of this particular experiment which subjects humans to sunlight deprivation torture indefinitely. CDCr prescribes Vitamin D/Calcium supplements and "psych meds."
Who will dare to fathom the impact this state-sanctioned torture has on prisoners in the United $tates, and on the prison system's medical and mental health costs. This is a system already overloaded and still under federal receivership.
The bottom line is this is where getting involved in the grievance campaign would be a wise choice. Also keep in mind that no matter what your current classification is, it's always subject to change. Just being in a California control unit is all it takes to become a test subject in this already out of control experiment. Don't think you are somehow immune to this twisted chemical warfare.
Several of us prisoners filed a grievance on sexual misconduct against us by a correctional officer. The investigators here did not take this complaint seriously or investigate thoroughly, and even told me maybe the officer was joking around. They then intimidated most to drop out of the complaint. Now there are only two of us who refuse to be intimidated and give up, but we have faced much reprisals. Both of us have been removed from our jobs and many officers here stop and search me almost every day. I have been discriminated against and called racial names by several officers.
I continue to file complaints on many staff here but it seems to do no good. When I go the wrong route and disrespect them back, I get written up and disciplined. There is much corruption at California Medical Facility and most prisoners are afraid to do anything because they do not want to lose their jobs and property, and have their cells searched and tossed up.
I complained all the way up the ladder and they all do nothing to rectify the situation. The supervisors think their officers can do no wrong.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Enclosed with this letter was a copy of the author's first, second and third level appeals regarding employee sexual misconduct:
"I've been working in kitchen for over 3 years. I have not had any major issues. Until CO Liggett took over as culinary supervisor. He continuously makes sexual remarks, like you going to suck me off, and he rubs. You can interview all inmates in kitchen/dining halls and I'm sure most will agree with these allegations."
"I believe the ISU and COs here are not taking this seriously. Myself and another inmate [X] have been retaliated against for filing this and other 602s [grievances]. We have had our work cards confiscated and are not allowed to work. I believe the right thing to do is to remove CO Liggett from his supervisor position."
The matter was referred to Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) for an investigation. The third level decision denied the appeal, but mentions the OIA inquiry which is still pending on the outcome of the investigation.
Finally, after the third level appeal decision, the author wrote a letter to the Warden requesting his intervention. The Warden responded "A review of your appeal record indicates no staff complaints have been submitted regarding your situation, and this matter should be handled through the appeals process."
This response appears to be a form letter, completely dismissing a very serious issue without any real investigation. We have seen copies of the appeals from the prisoner and the appeals decision from the prison, so this suggestion that the Warden's claim that no staff complaints have been submitted is just ridiculous. The Warden could not have missed this extensive paper trail if he had actually looked at the record.
This blatant disregard for sexual harassment and abuse of prisoners comes as no surprise in a society where sexual assault in prison is seen as a legitimate punishment and something to joke about. While in general when we talk about gender oppression and sexual harassment we are talking about men abusing wimmin, in prison the prisoners are put in a position of submission and powerlessness that leaves the majority, including the men, subject to gender oppression.
In today's world we're seeing the courts and media minimize the fact that U.S. prisons are run by criminals worse than the so-called worst confined within them. They have attempted, and have succeeded to a degree, in demonizing the prisoners being tortured and thereby desensitized the general public on that subject.
This is why it also seems the jury in the court of public opinion is still out regarding what process is due, and how the experimental implementation of political censorship known by its official misnomer "Obscene Materials Regulations" is already in progress on San Quentin State Prison's (SQ) four death row Security Housing Units (SHUs). The normalization of censorship in all its forms continues right before our eyes in SQ and beyond.
Consider how an invasion force imposes their will upon their victims preserved alive. One of the first things it does is knock out all means of communication. After installing a puppet governing body it then promotes its own agenda through the mass media. The San Quentin Antenna Cable System (SQACS) can be described as a one-sided propaganda bomb with a signal jamming warhead. It is a weapon of mass corruption in the hands of terrorists embedded in the Calincarceration Corrupted Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) and other affiliates using the CDCR as their puppet to lord it over in the micro-societies of prison. Their fee for this is deducted from your paycheck, education, and social services for the disabled and elderly.
The SQACS (AKA SQTV) consists of expensive technology similar to that used by cable providers. Most cable companies receive their programming via satellite and then rebroadcast it on frequencies that boxes atop your television can receive. SQTV also consists of 14 converter boxes and several DVD players. As you may know, these devices require your TV be on channel 3 or 4 to operate. However, the SQACS rebroadcasts each on a different frequency. It even rebroadcasts free over-the-air digital signals on different frequencies in QAM (cable mode) and the UHF band.
Not only are the 14 now obsolete converters a huge waste of electricity (they've been on 24/7 nearly 5 years!) they also block free over-the-air broadcasts on the VHF channels they're rebroadcasted on. Contrary to popular belief prisons don't make money for the state. Only those working at prisons make the money and since the SQACS wastes YOUR money and not theirs, they don't care - especially when it can be used to give them job security.
Public broadcast stations KQED and KMTP are just two stations multicasting from Sutro Tower that are currently being blocked/restricted by the SQ administration under the guise of technical difficulties. I argue it is actually intentional because these provide programs such as World News, Democracy Now, and even documentaries denouncing the horrific practice of long term torture by indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons.
San Quentin is by no means the only California prison using this technology to censor over-the-air broadcasts that don't fit their oligarchy's agenda. Radio stations received via these systems at various SHUs have reportedly cut out as the hunger strikers were being commended for their peaceful protest. The broadcast was then turned back on when the CDCR representative began demonizing it.
As stated in the essay "Free your mind; reversing the effects of prison censorship" by S. Muhammad Hyland, "The bottom line is simple. The institutional restrictions on revolutionary political material are in place for a reason: to keep us from learning how to go about securing our freedom, and destroying the system responsible for our lack of success in Amerika."
MIM(Prisons) adds: Unlike most U.$. prisons found in rural areas, San Quentin is right in the Bay Area where, as this comrade points out, there are many sources of progressive information on television and radio. It is quite damning that the state finds it necessary to censor these channels, which anyone just outside of the San Quentin compound can watch and listen to just fine. It speaks to the truth that prisons are all about social control. And it underscores the importance of not just having control of our own independent media, but also fighting for our First Amendment rights to distribute and share that media. Distribution networks are constantly threatened by bourgeois interests, from eliminating public bulletin boards, to the attempts to prioritize corporate website traffic on the internet, to blocking television and radio stations within prisons. Under Lock & Key is perhaps the most censored news source in the Amerikan Criminal Injustice System, and we are always engagedin ongoing battles in many states. We need more jailhouse lawyers and legal help on the streets to help with this fight.
Grade A to the East Block from S.W.A.C.
Struggling with all my might
No official record of a 10 30
Nobody has flown a kite
I'm back in the SHU II D.R.
I'm talkin bout CDCR noise
Back in the SHU II D.R.
Been away so long they hardly knew my face
No parade or welcome home
Bought a good guitar could not afford clear-case
T.V. coming on state loan
I'm back in the SHU II D.R.
No sun on the out alone yard, boyz
Not in the SHU II
I'm in the SHU too
Back in the SHU II D.R.
Now the Ukraine psych doctor Anderchuck
She brings me peace of mind
No psycho pills make me scream and shout
But Jasmine's always on my mi mi mi mi mi mi mind [so it's on!]
[Solo/riff, repeat chorus 2 (lines 1, 2, 5) verse 3]
Yo California shut the SHU down north and south
U$A from east to west
You just gave them property that I'm allowed
No guitar but all the rest
Just like in the SHU II D.R.
Can't settle for C.D.C.R. ploys
Back in the SHU II D.R.
Three former California governors recently backed a petition for a ballot initiative which would dramatically accelerate the execution of death row prisoners. At the same time we have experienced a more extreme than usual delay in the processing of death row SHUII and III mail. As I will explain, there is an important connection between these events.
The main selling point for the proposed bill is saving loads of money by arranging faster executions of the 747 prisoners currently warehoused on San Quentin's four death row SHUs and the women all but forgotten in Cowchilla. In addition, death row prisoners would no longer be confined exclusively in the San Quentin and Chowchilla torture units. They would be placed among the general population.
It is noteworthy that the Calincarceration Corrupted Peace Officers Association (California Correctional Peace Officers Association - CCPOA) didn't give financial support for this bill. Many assume the lackeys, bullies and cowards who comprise that security threat group probably thought it wasn't in their best interest to all of a sudden meet face to face with the un-cuffed death row prisoners they've been torturing their whole career. But the fact of the matter is the higher ups in the CCPOA actually had enough sense to realize no amount of their support could buy enough votes to pass such political double talk into law in this state.
Acting proactively in case the bill passes, the CCPOA at San Quentin decided to mobilize in preparation. By citing wild interpretations of prisoner correspondence to give the public an illusion that the bowels of hell were opened upon them, the prison tried to transfer a large number of formerly grade A and B SHUII and III prisoners to other SHU programs across the state.
They almost had a window of opportunity to "justify" building more control units within existing prisons. But as of today the death row SHU expansion project in San Quentin's Carson section is stalled.
"Persons other than inmates should address any appeal relating to department policy and regulations to the Director of the Division of Adult Institutions. Appeals relating to a specific facility [like San Quentin or Chowchilla] procedure or practice [like excessive delays in the processing of mail to and from loved ones and prisoners' rights organizations] should be addressed in writing to the warden..." - California Code of Regulations, Title 15, 3137. Appeals Relating to Mail.
For more info go to: www.cdcr.ca.gov/regulations/adult_operations
See also page 12 of ULK for info on the grievance campaign.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is correct that the CCPOA has been entirely silent on this new ballot initiative to accelerate death row executions. But we don't agree with h interpretation that the CCPOA is just standing down because they don't think it has a chance of passing. Rather we see this position as lining up consistently with the CCPOA's primary goal: protect the jobs of the many prison workers. Faster executions would reduce the San Quentin prison population, and that would threaten jobs there, so it should not be surprising that the CCPOA is silent on this new ballot initiative. This is a rare case where their interests align with ours, and we can take advantage of the situation to stop passage of this reactionary bill.
Here at San Quentin's death row we recently won a small victory. The recent mass dis-allowing of all writing supplies sent via first-class mail to San Quentin's death row AC/SHU prisoners has been halted. But be advised, there is nothing in evidence to support the idea these terrorists in pig clothing have dropped their last propaganda bomb, or that their about face was motivated by guilty conscience dredged up by visits from three holiday spirits.
Consider some underlying facts: November 2013 San Francisco Bay View national Black newspaper reports significant influx of "stamp donations" from a drive discreetly organized by San Quentin death row prisoners. Mass disallowing of stamps coincided with the drive. As the drive progressed, the pigs' terrorist activities increased. Disallowing began in spurts around May 2013, capricious post-interpretations of the property matrix ensued, and by mid-September the pen's hierarchy went hog wild.
Appeal #CSQ-J-13-03205 was submitted October 27, explaining exactly how operational procedure 608 article 7 was being illegally circumvented. This appeal was rejected by appeals coordinator puppet M.L. Davis on November 1. Davis offered to process the appeal if appellant directed a CDCR 22 to the mailroom. Davis also demanded appellant remove copies of Article 7 and OP0212 which are in fact the official rules/directives regarding "items enclosed in incoming first-class mail."
At the same time the appeal was being drafted, various articles describing the terrorist attacks on everybody's right to freedom of expression were en route to local small presses, national news outlets, and global social networks by way of prisoner mail. Some articles included instructions on how everyone here, and outside ground zero, could inundate the pen's hierarchy with a barrage of "appeals relating to mail and correspondences" (15 CCR 3137).
This evidence suggests a combination of individual administrative appeals, and the imminent threat of having their pig-tailed asses exposed to the public, is what forced the pen's hierarchy to rethink their positions. This is also an example of standard pig-headed tactics designed to make resistance to their control unit torture tactics seem futile. Their undermining goal is to crush, kill, and destroy our will to organize against them in peaceful protest. Their motive was fear that the struggle is gaining momentum. In fact, their pig-headed terrorist tactics are evidence that it is! Yes, we are gaining momentum, making a world of difference into a world of solidarity which is not indifferent to the rights of anyone in it.
Enclosed with this "announcement of small victory" from the secret torture unit at San Quentin is five 46 cent stamps which were withheld since May 2013. That by itself is not much but if everyone of the global readership would match that contribution in stamps or cash to extend the reach of this publication which amplifies our voices, it would add significant momentum to the struggle.