I'd like to speak in regards to the Special Needs Yards (SNY) situation. It's synonymous with the plight of my comrades, relatives and brothers detained in Pelican Bay, Tehachapi and Corcoran Security Housing Units (SHUs), from which I was released in 2010.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Institutional Gang Investigations (CDCR IGI) squad uses insidiously foul tactics, involving "validating" or "associating" an "active" [gang member] who isn't really active. Somewhere within my 16.5 years on this joke, many, including myself, lost our sense of direction and consciousness. Because we've lost our direction, the CDCR has found flaws in our infrastructure as a collective.
All of the tactics you hear about to validate or get homies to debrief are true. After being detained for an assault on a faulty comrade, a SHU term was assessed and completed. After numerous incidents on Corcoran's integrated yard, and relationships with individuals of other acknowledged sects, IGI tried to seize their opportunity with interrogations. They were met with my defiance, then, they manifested a "packet".
What was troubling is that these silly goons were adamant of an alleged association with a sect that literally would be treason, had I been linked to them. Now my existence is in jeopardy.
After consultation with a selected few of my infrastructure, I had to denounce my legitimate association with whom I truly move to subterfuge the fabricated trash the IGI spawned. Pride was hard to swallow, but the flaw in their system relegated me to fall back without compromisin' comradz.
The procedures to become SNY depend on the administration at each institution, and it's at their administrative discretion. For me, in Corcoran SHU, I denounced my legitimate gang association without debriefing in order to rebuke a false alleged association. Once the process begins you are infected like a plague, whether you've debriefed or not. So I chose to drop out without debriefing, but the outcome is the same: SNY. With that label, the assumption is that I've either snitched/debriefed or I am some kind of "victim." There are now many prisoners in the SHU who are SNY and pending or are validated because someone on SNY can join the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) for mentally ill prisoners, and get his SNY status revoked to be re-integrated into the EOP/GP program. EOP basically was SNY prior to the implementation of SNYs.
There seems to be a plague, a misconception that all are debriefing on SNY — no! Nor is it legit for the validated homies to only have the lesser option to debrief in order to obtain civility and humanity in prison. That's not an option.
I now find myself in the eighth month of an 18 month SHU term. Initially, there was shame in my decision, yet I been kickin' dust from Calipat to the Bay; my gangsta, my manhood, my integrity is and always will be solidified. I'm still pushin' and movin', and was surprised to see many reputable comradz and relatives on SNY too! Don't let the fence in the middle misconstrue reality: it's us vs. them!
Do not lose consciousness, whatever side you're on. I agree, most SNYs are faulty. There's an influx of kids who tapped out without ever walkin' any line, even for a hot second! Real spill. Now, consciousness is lost when homies are unconsciously toten' "burners" and gettin' caught? Fumblin' missives? Harborin' hooks? Politicin' with emotions as opposed to rational thinking? C'mon, we've all done it. The infrastructure must be tightened. Why do you think all these young homies needed on the line are now on SNY?
Again, not everyone is faulty; they weren't groomed right. We are responsible for us, so as the homies in these SHU complexes hunger strike and resist, our lack of consciousness is inconsiderate to the struggle. The lack of consciousness only perpetuates the offensive of the CDCR.
So, yeah, I've spoke on it. I am SNY, but don't think I ain't still active!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is referring back to the long running debate in Under Lock & Key about SNY yards and whether or not we should work with people in SNY who want to get involved in the fight against the criminal injustice system. We agree with the author that we've come across good comrades who are doing good work in SNY. We judge individuals by their actions, not by their prison-imposed classification. However, we would not glorify the activities on the street that lead to prison. We do need to educate the youth, but kids coming to prison aren't going to be more political because they did more street crime. Our job is to turn that energy against the system, preferably before they are locked up by the system.
There are deep contradictions within the lumpen organizations (LOs) that are alluded to by this comrade in his calls for self-criticism and evaluation. He echoes our previous points that the LOs are playing a big role in pushing people into SNY. Right now the SHU prisoners are leading the way, showing how to gain power and respect without being predators on each other, or other oppressed people. Internationalism means not just looking out for your group or clique. When the oppressed unite internationally, then self-determination can be real and power will no longer be fleeting as it is in current U.$. prison culture.