I'm one of the prisoners struggling to stop the torturous Security Housing Units (SHU) practice on prisoners in California. It is only right. In Calipatria State Prison Ad-Seg they're calling this peaceful hunger strike a disturbance strike. A memorandum was passed to urge prisoners to stop or else they would get a serious violation write-up. The following day a large quantity of prisoners with a couple of serious rule violations started accepting their trays in order to avoid getting an indeterminate assignment in SHU. Which is understandable. But, nonetheless a lot of prisoners are still going strong.
In Calipatria State Prison Ad-Seg, hunger strike prisoners are participating peacefully. They're in compliance with the COs and medical staff, so this does not meet the criteria of a disturbance. The memorandum was another tactic of reprisal towards the prisoners who are participating. I hope for a positive outcome for all the prisoners in SHU confinement and for all of us here in Calipatria Ad-Seg. Along with the struggles of the SHU prisoners, we're looking for something positive. In Calipatria we're asking for what Ad-Seg is supposed to have. Nothing more, nothing less.
I'm reporting back to you about this fascist penal system here at Chino minimum yard. They have put up a memo about the food strike and they are threatening us by saying that if we participate, they will move us off the yard and put us in Ad-Seg!
I told the comrades to keep on doing what we are doing and to hell with the fascist pigs! We will not stop, until our comrades are let out of the SHU! I told the comrades to keep the faith and if these pigs send us to the hole or the SHU, always remember, it's just another part of the prison.
In the struggle, from the belly of the beast!
MIM(Prisons) adds: The list of facilities that have reported hunger strikers reported by the CDCR does not include the California Institution for Men in Chino, bringing into question their count of hunger strikes at 4252 as of Thursday, September 29. There was not as much advance notice this time around, so the word that the strike is back on is still spreading.
2 October 2011 UPDATE:Latest reports are that around 12,000 prisoners were participating on September 28. This higher number includes people who have participated at any level, and includes prisoners transferred out of state.
"Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression." - Malcolm X
As most of you may know, we are engaged in a protracted struggle to secure our liberation from perpetual torture and uphold our human rights. On July 1st the Pelican Bay SHU D-Corridor Collective called for an indefinite hunger strike to peacefully protest the decades and decades of subhuman conditions we have endured in these sensory deprivation torture units. The NCTT, along with 6,600 other prisoners and untold thousands the world over answered that call. We did not eat for 21 days. I personally lost 42 pounds and had to be rushed to the emergency room at least once. Men older and less physically resilient than myself, some with chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma and cancer survivors, made these same sacrifices, and we are prepared to make those sacrifices again, taking them to their ultimate conclusion if necessary, to achieve what is by right ours already.
This makes the events of 16 August all the more perplexing, even though we were forewarned and expected it. At approximately 08:00 on 16 August 2011 some 20 to 25 Correctional Officers (COs) and some 10 to 12 ISU and IGI ["gang intelligence"] officers converged on 4B1L-C-section under the pretext that they'd received a "kite" alleging New Afrikan and/or "southern" Mexican partisans in 4B1L-C-section were going to "assault staff."
For months, IGI has been attempting to manufacture fear and reactionary resentment amongst building COs that New Afrikans were planning to attack staff during Black August memorial. Mindful of the daily injustices visited upon indeterminate SHU prisoners, and already fearful of the dreaded retribution, some staff actually bought into this absurdity. There was no threat, there was no "kite" found — this was simple unadulterated retribution for the hunger strike and the unwanted public attention it has brought to the domestic torture camps they are managing at Pelican Bay, Corcoran and Tehachapi SHUs.
We were all stripped down and escorted out of the building and placed in the small management yard caged (imagine a K-9 kennel cage — that's what our yard is). For approximately 6 hours they systematically tore our cells up, cut open mattresses, tore down or trod upon personal photos, confiscated any item they felt would hurt us on a personal level, with abject disregard for personal property regulations. Coffee and tooth powder was strewn over personal letters and laundry was taken or trod underfoot. We were brought back to our cells only to find what I can only describe as the leavings of a tornado of F-5 proportions.
That this was done as retaliation was itself insulting, how it was done was blatant disrespect — but what perplexes the mind is what did they hope to gain by such a transparent reactionary response? We are, and have demonstrated historically, that we are fully prepared to die to secure our human rights and dignity. So surely this could not be some act to deter resistance. Perhaps it was an act of provocation, an attempt to engender a reactionary military response to a psychological and political attack? But no, this couldn't be the case because unlike the blindly violent monsters they would make us out to be, the truth of the matter is that we are men of principle who believe in self-defense and clearly exhausting all legal and peaceful means of protest. Unlike the state, for us violence is a last resort and we are not, and cannot be, compelled to react to provocation or allow such to deter us from the legitimate struggle for our, and the people's human rights and dignity.
So this leaves us with the obvious conclusion that like a petulant child or a bully who's been exposed for the sadist they are, they strike out blindly, to inflict whatever discomfort they can in an act of impotence and frustration; an acknowledgment of their weakness in the face of the people's power.
Men in ernest are not afraid of consequence. There exists no set of retaliatory actions, no sanctions they can bring to bear, that will deter our course, as long as we have you, the people, supporting us we will win. Together we can attain even greater victories than these. It is our sincerest hope that you continue to support this effort and open yourselves up to the prospect of more progressive initiatives to come. Stand with us and we will forge a brighter tomorrow.
This strike is being done peacefully, but yet one of my fellow prisoners in support of the hunger strike was assaulted by IGI [Institutional Gang Investigations]. Not once did he try to resist, and everywhere we go we are in restraints.
I've already lost 2 pounds, which is nothing yet, but I'm a man who will see this through till my body seizures. I'm well aware that my medical disorder (seizures) is something not to be playing with. I will stay positive and focus on the big picture of what's important: change. I'm not in Pelican Bay, but I've been validated and since March of 2009 I have yet to receive what I got coming.
This memo was given to us on September 27. No advance directive was given to any of us who are food striking [an advance directive form allows food strikers to designate a person to make health care decisions on their behalf in case they become seriously ill]. I requested an advance directive and submitted it on September 26. I also sent a copy to my family.
I'm not alone here in Calipatria fighting the struggle. There are over 70 of us validated here who have been stuck here for over two years. Last year there were over 80 cell extractions here in ASU. This was for TVs, jackets and laundry they are not providing us. Nothing is being fixed here. All Calipatria administration did was ship out 12 prisoners who they considered the organizers.
I know the Calipatria administration isn't taking this hunger strike seriously. And in response to the September 27 memo some prisoners got intimidated and decided to eat. Many do not see the bigger picture and feel it is a lost cause.
After we stopped the first strike in July all we got was harassment, cold food and laundry messed with even more. I've been asking about receiving some disinfectant and was informed that we are not going to get it anymore. And we get hand soap, watered down, in a milk carton once a week per cell. We live in dirty filth here.
The CDCR just had the accompanying (Sept 27) memos delivered to the prisoner population here at CSP-LAC. With respect to the memo titled "Review of Security Housing Unit and Gang Policies" I have to say that this is obviously a victory for all California prisoners and a victory wholly owed not just to the thousands of CA prisoners who participated in the mass hunger strike and various outside organizations who helped bring publicity and additional weight to bear to the states deplorable actions, but a victory which could never have come about if those courageous prisoners currently held in the SHU hadn't come together with their strong showing of unity of the oppressed. Indeed, we hope to see more of this in the future.
With that being said, I find it odd that the memo states that CDCR has been in the process of reforming its gang validation process since May 2011, well before the strike. Piece of shit Kernan is trying to give the impression that the reforms have been in the works since before the hunger strike, thereby attempting to deny the SHU prisoners their hard fought victory by making it seem that the reform were inevitable. Ha! Kernan fools no one. The capitulation to the prisoners righteous demands only helps prove MIM(Prisons)'s long standing line and materialist interpretation of history that there are no rights only power struggles. All power to the oppressed.
The second memo titled "Inmate Programming Expectations Relative to Hunger Strikes" is nothing more than the Killafornia Department of Corruptions attempt to threaten and discourage future hunger strikers and leaders from such actions as well as their attempt to encourage divisions within for defensive actions, but the CDC's posturing and threatening memos are futile because as long as there is oppression there will be resistance.
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!
As thousands of prisoners wrap up day five of round two of the California Food Strike, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has stepped up its repression and propaganda in response to prisoners' demands for basic humyn rights. They have even declared it a punishable offense to peacefully campaign the state for these rights by refusing state-issued food.
The bourgeois press has been repeating the CDCR's ridiculous claim that if prisoners went on strike again it might delay reforms in the SHU system. Their audacity is laughable. We all know the strike is nothing but a scapegoat, and not the cause of their "delay."
Meanwhile, they have indicated that they will make conditions worse on three main points of the original Five Core Demands. All three points address the systematic repressiveness of the whole California prison system.
MORE GROUP PUNISHMENT - Not only has the CDCR threatened that reforms will be slowed down by another round of hunger striking, but they have implied that non-striking prisoners will also lose their programming as a result.(1) This is in direct contradiction to the first demand.
MORE SECURITY THREAT GROUPS - While the prisoners have demanded an end to the arbitrary and secretive system of giving people endless sentences in the Security Housing Units (SHU, long-term isolation) for "gang affiliation," the CDCR has publicly discussed broadening the "Security Threat Group" category to include street organizations. This will mean more people in SHU for indeterminate sentences.
MORE LONG-TERM ISOLATION - The third demand calls for an end to the torturous practice of long-term isolation. While the state has continued to assert that these practices are constitutional based on court rulings, they have promised to send more prisoners to Administrative Segregation and SHU just for participating in the hunger strike!
As laid out in the Five Core Demands, these are parts of a system of oppression that affects all prisoners. While comrades in SHU have the drive to put it down hardest because of their living conditions, the CDCR is making it clear that the implications will affect the whole system.
Even the reforms offered in the Gang Management Policy Proposal of 25 August 2011 allow the continued practice of keeping the most progressive and politically active prisoners in isolation indefinitely.(2) While this would put California more in line with what is done in most other parts of the country, it is hardly progress. This proposal highlights the political nature of the injustice system.
Even the Eight Short-term Action Items affecting prisoners in Security Housing Units listed in a 27 September 2011 CDCR memo(3) may not be granted to prisoners refusing to eat state-issued meals. They hope that by granting the more petty demands that they can break up the unity of California prisoners, convincing some to give up while they are ahead. The unreasonable actions of the CDCR during this whole conflict should convince any prisoner that such a move would be a mistake. There is no indication that California will be reducing its repression, and every indication that it hopes to heighten Amerika's war on oppressed nations.
State of California
Date September 27, 2011
To All CDCR Inmates
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Subject- INMATE PROGRAMMING EXPECTATIONS RELATIVE TO HUNGER STRIKES
Information has been received that a number. of inmates have engaged in behavior consistent 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:
Inmates participating will receive disciplinary action in accordance with the California Code of Regulations.
Inmates identified as leading the disturbance will be subject to removal from general population and placed in an Administrative Segregation Unit.
In the event of a mass hunger strike, additional measures may be taken to more effectively monitor and manage the participating inmates' involvement and their food/nutrition intake, including the possible removal of canteen items from participating inmates.
All inmates are encouraged to continue with positive programming and to not participate in this or any other identified mass strike/disturbance. These types of disturbances impact inmate programming and day-to-day prison operations for the entire population. While every effort will be made to continue normal programming for nonparticipating inmates, a large scale disturbance of this type will unavoidably impact operations. The Department will notify inmates and families when and if normal programming is impacted.
SCOTT KERNAN Undersecretary (A), Operations
cc: Terri McDonald George J. Giurbino R. J. Subia Kelly Harrington Tony Chaus Wardens
State of California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Date : September 27, 2011
To : All CDCR Inmates
Subject: REVIEW OF SECURITY HOUSING UNIT AND GANG POLICIES
In May 2011 the Department began the complex process of assessing the policies and procedures associated with the Gang Validation Process, Indeterminate Gang Security Housing Unit (SHU) Program, as well as privileges associated with inmates on Indeterminate SHU status. The purpose of the review is to improve our policies by adopting national standards in gang/disruptive group management. Before commencing this review, the Department received input from internal and external experts, other state and federal correctional systems, inmates, and other stakeholders While the process of policy review and change will take several more stakeholders to implement, much has already been done. In fact, a draft of the new policy should be ready for stakeholder review next month. In addition, several changes have already been made by the Department, including:
Short-term Action Items:
Authorization of watch caps for purchase and State issue. Authorization of wall calendars for purchase in canteen.
Authorization of exercise equipment in SHU yards (installation of permanent dip/push-up bars is still under review).
Authorization of annual photographs for disciplinary free inmates. Approval of proctors for college examinations.
Use of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) Ombudsman for monitoring and auditing of food services.
Authorization of sweat pants for purchase/annual package.
Authorization of Hobby items (colored chalk, pen fillers, and drawing paper).
Mid-term Action Items:
As noted above, the Department is conducting a comprehensive review of SHU policies that includes behavior-based components, increased privileges based upon disciplinary free behavior, a step down process for SHU inmates, and a system that better defines and weighs necessary points in the validation process. The initial policies will be completed shortly and upon Secretary approval will be sent for stakeholder review and comment. Upon receipt of this input, the Department will initiate any regulation changes in the administrative law process necessary and implement the first major changes to the validation process in the last two decades. Of course this work may be delayed by large-scale inmate disturbances or other emergency circumstances.
SCOTT KERNAN Undersecretary (A), Operations
cc: Terri McDonald George J. Giurbino R. J. Subia Kelly Harrington Tony Chaus Wardens
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.
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.