Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Pelican Bay State Prison - 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.

[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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PBSP Strike Update - CDCR Still Breaking Laws

1 October 2011 - As of September 26, 2011 we have re-started our hunger strike. It was evident that Scott Kernan isn't going to uphold his end of the original agreement on the 5 core demands from our first hunger strike, so action was necessary.

As of September 29, 2011, CDCR removed all representatives in the short corridor as well as the organizers of the hunger strike. They were all placed in Ad-Seg (that's the story CDCR is giving). No one has access to them. We don't know what their condition is, because they are also on the hunger strike.

Scott Kernan issued a memo stating that "Inmates who participate in the hunger strike will be disciplined." On September 29, 2011, Pelican Bay staff started pulling prisoners out of their cells, so they could take all food out of their cells. Even those prisoners who couldn't participate in the hunger strike because of poor health and serious medical needs. Their canteen and food was taken away as a result of the hunger strike.

Today is October 1st, 2011, and we were just told by CDCR staff that prison visits are cancelled due to the hunger strike. This is a direct retaliation by CDCR. It's obvious that Scott Kernan doesn't want information to leak out to the public about how this situation is beyond his control. By CDCR denying our family and friends direct access to us they place uncalled for stress on them as well as a financial burden.

So far CDCR is still using old standards to keep us validated as gang members/associates. I received 1030s stating "other prisoners were caught with my name in their cell," so CDCR is using that to validate me, along with drawings that have a huelga bird on it.

I have to file a 602 on these issues, because in the 2005 Lira v Herrera case, the courts decided that laundry lists and drawings are not to be used as active gang material. So I have a lot of legal research to do on this.

Also, I have just filed a 602 on CDCR for "withholding" a letter from MIM(Prisons). They cited that MIM is asking prisoners to disrupt daily operations of CDCR. So I'm in litigation to get CDCR to give me that letter.

I have to say, our daily struggles from behind the walls will continue as long as this corrupt system continues to abuse the mass of the prison population who are wrongly accused of gang ties, etc.

Long term and indefinite isolation is by all standards inhumane and excessive punishment for any person no matter what his crime is. This places serious stress on any person's psychological and mental state of mind. I personally have experienced a lot of this oppression and abuse by CDCR for the past 12 years here at Pelican Bay SHU.

Things have to change. The current cycle of abuse and the systematic way in which it's applied is more than any human spirit can take. It's a miraculous accomplishment that so many of us still housed here at Pelican Bay SHU still have our sanity.

Well it's no surprise that CDCR just told all those on the hunger strike that they will not be allowed to see/talk to their visitors because their visits were canceled. But those prisoners who didn't take part in the hunger strike will be allowed to visit their loved ones. It's a sad disturbing turn of events, but it's our reality.

My viewpoint on this hunger strike is that these material items such as sweats, photos, colored pens, etc., are not what we really want, but rather are items that should have been part of the established curriculum for the SHU all along.

I am a lifer, as you know, and I can't imagine having to spend the rest of my life living here at Pelican Bay SHU. And I don't want to see youngsters brought to the SHU behind CDCR lies and have to suffer the same fate we are all suffering now.

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[Political Repression] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Retaliation in Ad-Seg for Participation in Hunger Strike

4 October 2011 - Hello and greetings from the concrete tombs of Pelican Bay! This is my first time writing. I came across your most recent publication, it was very helpful, being that I'm currently on a hunger strike since 9/26/11. I was able and fortunate to be able to partake in this worthy cause.

At the moment I am being housed in an overflow unit (Ad-Seg). Every one of us is either validated or serving an indeterminate SHU, we all are awaiting bed space in the SHU. I started my hunger strike on 9/26/2011 in solidarity with all prisoners who are in the same struggle. On 9/29 the cops came around to all those on the hunger strike and announced that all who continue on hunger strike will be given disciplinary "write ups," so a lot of guys accepted their trays and ended their HS. That evening the cops came by again and said all those who are on HS will not only be "written up" but also have all their property taken immediately, so unfortunately only 3 of us out of 64 are currently still on HS.

They (cops) came and took every single thing we had in our cells. It will be easier to tell you what we were left with, they left us with state issue clothes, nothing else, no toothbrush, no books, absolutely nothing. I was fortunate enough to come across this one piece of paper and envelope. Also remember that we haven't even received the "write up" yet, but our property was illegally taken three days after we began our HS.

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Strikers Continue until Debriefing Stops

The refusal of this prison to meet all of the five demands has resulted in yet another hunger strike here in Pelican Bay. The demand that was left untouched by prison officials was the debriefing process. This debriefing process has forced people to either snitch on someone or simply make up gangs in order to get out of the torture chamber known as Security Housing Unit (SHU), and this has gone on for decades.

Just think, most people in SHU are here for b.s. and are not even what the prison claims they are, do not really belong to gang xyz, etc. And so when someone can't take the torturous conditions and wants to get out of SHU, officials require them to debrief (inform) on others, yet this person may not even know anything to tell about even if he or she wanted to, so many times this persyn will make up his own random people while at other times this may be the time for personal vengeance like how men are sent to Gitmo often because their neighbor in Pakistan didn't like the loud music he played.

This pathetic way of "weeding out" supposed gang members or security threats is broken and changes nothing, the truth is SHU is a racist operation directed at the oppressed nations. In addition, guards are getting paid higher salaries for working in these units. Of all the people in SHU, none are the rich, the wealthy, no billionaire ever been validated as a gang member, I have yet to meet a millionaire in SHU. We are the poor, those coming from barrios and ghetto projects, those who can't even walk down the street in our hood without getting tracked by a predator pig and slammed against the wall threatened, beaten, or worse we of the oppressed nations are open game in the streets of the united snakes.

Today is the fifth day into the strike and there is no light at the end of the tunnel and most know this. Here in SHU conditions cannot possibly get worse, we are stuffed into solitary confinement boxes, locked into isolation for the rest of our days - what is worse than this existence?

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Relying on MIM(Prisons) for News on Hunger Strike

I am a prisoner at Pelican Bay State Prison in the ASU stand alone. As such, we are allowed no TVs and no radios as there are no electrical outlets. I am participating in the hunger strike. I had started July 1st, 2011 but took a step back and allowed the prison and the whole of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation a chance to conform to the demands/requests made. As you know, none of the core demands were addressed. Just more of the same old same old, hurry up and wait. Because of that, the hunger strike has started again, but I have no way to know the latest as I have no TV and no radio. Then like a godsend I receive your latest newsletter letting me know if I need updates, hey just write my friends at MIM(Prisons) and they will make me feel not at all alone!

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[Campaigns] [Organizing] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Unity and Organizing Challenges in Pelican Bay Strike

In regards to the hunger strike that resumed on September 26th, well it did in fact resume here in this part of the SHU which is C facility nine and eight blocks. There are around seventy people participating who are going to continue up to the thirtieth of September. As you know, the main setback is the lack of communication, as not everyone is on the same page this time. Some learned of this through their own points of contact but not everyone is fortunate enough to have such means. Also it must be understood that we are dealing with many different oppressed nations so unless one hears about it from their own progressive representatives then they will not simply act upon the word of another prisoner.

That's the world that we live in today and that's why the original hunger strike had such historic undertones because nothing like that had ever been done before in California. And that is why the oppressors fear such unity as well as conscious awakening of the masses. But then again you yourself know this and that's what I like about MIM(Prisons).


MIM(Prisons) adds: In spite of the difficulties in communication and organizing around the hunger strike it has still been a remarkable success in getting so many prisoners across California to come together. This is an important step in the right direction, and underscores the need for the United Front for Peace that will bring together lumpen organizations against the common enemy of imperialism.

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers Hold Out for Real Change

I have enclosed the latest attempt by Scott Kernan to run the same ol' mumbo jumbo about the gang policies and procedures/validation process, being reviewed. The trivial concessions are just things that we should already have. The food remains disproportionate, cold, and of poor quality. All the items one can purchase well that's all good for those with money. People like me who are indigent won't be affected at all. Our concern is that of the re-validation based on b.s. evidence, which for years under the Castillo settlement had been banned. Those same policies continue to remain the same. I'm on the third day of strike and everyone in my area will hold out until we get some concrete clarity from those who are informed directly. Meanwhile thanks for sharing all and anything on your end!

This place has again changed procedures, despite verbally declaring I'm on "hunger strike" and not accepting a food tray on September 26th, they are not recognizing my declaration after 3 days, to monitor my health! Procedures state 3 meals. They continue to make up procedures as they go.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is one of a number of comrades we have been in touch with that are not being counted by the CDCR as being on hunger strike, indicating their counts don't reflect the real level of participation.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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PBSP ASU Hunger Strike and Retaliations

I'm writing to inform you about the food strike here in Pelican Bay. Everyone around ASU (administrative segregation) has been passing your articles around and I'd like to thank you and all of the protesters for showing us love and supporting us prisoners in PBSP. The strike has started and there's been a lot of traffic in ASU lately. We received a memo from undersecretary Scott (the liar) Kernan on September 27 stating:

"information has been received that a number of inmates have engaged in behavior consisting with initiating a demonstration/hunger strike event. The department will not condone organized inmate disturbances. Participation in mass disturbances, such as hunger strikes or work stoppage will result in the department taking the following action:... [See a complete copy of this memo in another article here.]"

Tomorrow, Friday [September 30], ASU stand alones start a stand and people here will be striking.

I've been put in ASU because when I was in the CTC a nurse disrespected me and I took a stand and received a false 115 for indecent exposure which never happened. I am currently in the 602 process of filing sexual harassment against resident nurse Joe Carr.

Let me take you on a step-by-step retelling of that fucked up day. After lunch time in the CTC infirmary I was being housed for a fractured jaw but after lunch I observed nurse Joe Carr making rounds so I called him over and asked nicely did he watch the game (football) on Sunday. I'm a big Raiders fan so I wanted to ask him the score. Carr got hostile and told me "none of my fuckin business, I went home on Sunday, that's what I did jack ass." Now I lost my cool and cussed him out so Carr tells me "You better get off your door or I'm gonna put you on strip cell suicide watch." I rebelled more and Carr said "get off your door or I'll write up some paperwork saying I seen you with your penis out masturbating." I told him he's a fuckin' liar and he says "my word against yours" and laughs.

The living conditions in ASU are those of a caveman: 3 showers a week, no phone calls, yard in a human dog cage, and no TVs because there are no plugs.

Quick note P.S.: Today, September 30th, while at yard in our cages, the police came and retaliated at the south siders in the strike. They denied yard and came in their cells and took magazines, books, toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo. The police are inhumane and this proves it.

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[Control Units] [Racism] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Strike, Litigate, Research, Organize - Prisoners Build Movement

As you are probably aware, Pelican Bay State Prison(PBSP) prisoners [and thousands of others across the state — editor] have resumed its Hunger Strike, due to the California Department of Corrections' (CDC) stopping negotiations around its validation process and long-term isolation. My actions, and participation in these actions are of great importance to me, not only because it's a just cause but because it exposes the CDC's long standing practices which strip us prisoners of constitutional rights. I am also fighting this in the Northern District Court.

I participated in the July 1st hunger strike, and was one of the 17 prisoners who were tortured via a 13 or 15 hour bus drive to Corcoran. Upon arrival I was given the Corcoran introduction also called the Corcoran welcome during which I was assaulted by 3 prison officers, then paraded around in disregard of my condition (weak from the hunger strike and leg injuries from the assault, which made it difficult for me to walk) until I blacked out. I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit on the 20th day. During my time at Corcoran I was denied all type of CDC forms and my assault injuries were ignored as soon as I mentioned staff assault as the cause. Upon arrival at PBSP I filed two CDC 602s alleging torture and assault, which are still pending.

In my current lawsuit I allege racial discrimination since the gang management targets Hispanic prisoners and validates and segregates them at disproportionate rates in comparison to any other race. I took this angle because most validation appeals are defeated by the courts application of the standard which only requires the "same evidence" to maintain a prisoner on indefinite segregation. In my angle of racial discrimination, a different standard of law will be applied of which will require more scrutiny of the CDC's actions. In order to prevail I need to show the disproportionate segregation of Hispanic prisoners, and as you know we cannot rely on the CDC's numbers. So I'm wondering if you can help in providing me with an actual number of prisoners in the CDC and their race, and then the actual number of prisoners in segregation and their race etc.? So that we can break down the numbers and show it to the courts.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this prisoner for taking multiple approaches to the fight against the injustice system. Legal and organizational battles are both important. While we are not familiar with his lawsuit or the legal requirements around claims of racial segregation, this fits right in with our work to gather accurate statistics on control units in prisons across the country. We will supply the information we have to this prisoner, and we ask others to help with this project by requesting a survey to fill out about their prison and any others they know well.

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 23]
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Censorship: Epic Battle in PBSP

I have recently been hit with censorship of your mailing sent on 9 September 2011. I did receive prior to that the letter you sent to activists, but then on September 9 I got two 1819 forms indicating disapproval of mail. I have previously won two 602s [grievances] on this very issue, yet they cite the old 2006 memo [a ban on MIM's mail that was overruled years ago].

What happened is the regular Correctional Officer (CO) already been 602'd by me and has seen the 602 granted at the Director level, but he only works five days a week. The other two days a floater works and is not aware of my granted 602. The floater sends it to Institution Gang Investigations (IGI), who says to deny me. I guess the temporary CO is not very fond of MIM. Anyhow, I am sure I'll win the 602 I am submitting, but I know if I do it will take months. If possible, can you send whatever it was again? It seems I'll be having problems getting my mail from MIM Distributors on the regular CO's days off.

I showed my previous 602 that was granted, but was told by the temp "I don't know. They tell us one thing and tell you another. We need to get it straight." This is obviously B.S. because when a 602 is granted, especially at the Director level, it is obviously "straight."

This is a constant barrage of censorship. It's nonstop. I get a 602 granted and then someone comes who don't like MIM literature and then I'm forced to wait months appealing this and missing out on my studies. It is a protracted effort to censor MIM. But nothing MIM(Prisons) says is bad; it's political literature! And why send it to the gang unit when it's political? In Amerika this is how political literature is handled; by labeling it "gang material." This only confirms what MIM(Prisons) says, that there are no rights in Amerika, only power struggles! What happened to the so-called "freedom of the press?"

This prison's population has just gotten done with a three-week hunger strike and now it seems, as one of the participants, I'm now being retaliated on by censoring my political science correspondence course. But I thought the administrators from Sacramento came saying they would work on bettering our conditions if we stopped striking and ate? And now this is the repayment — censoring the ability to think outside this cell, controlling my thoughts, and preventing me from learning anything besides the state's perspective. I can get all the Forbes, Wall Street Journal, National Review, USA Today, etc. that I want, but let me get something that speaks in the interests of poor people and I'm deprived.

This does not surprise me one bit, and I know how to go about the process of appealing. What pisses me off is thinking of all the prisoners across Amerika who also get this Gestapo-like treatment and who won't know how to appeal, or become discouraged and don't try. This is what pisses me off the most. But I know I got to go back to the legal front and go in for another legal battle.

This censorship in prisons is part of the reason prisoners went on hunger strike. This is why people starved; because of the years and decades of not being able to read history books, not being able to take correspondence courses, not being allowed to grapple with ideas. And when prisoners do try to understand critical thought, we are repressed. And when we protest torture, we are repaid with further repression! A society that creates dungeons and employs sadists to unleash all their sick methods on captive poor people, to torture and experiment on with their psychological abuses, is a society that is warped and morally bankrupt.

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