I am a California State prisoner incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) of Corcoran State Prison. The ASU where I am housed is currently undergoing a hunger strike in support of the one kicked off in the SHU. I am in support of it as well, for I believe solidarity is needed amongst the oppressed to resist and fight against the oppressor. Many people do not see that when it comes down to it, there are only two sides, but these past few months have done a lot to enlighten and educate many behind these concrete walls.
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?
One of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) current problems is not enough bed space inside the psychiatric housing units. As a result of this consistent problem prisoner's health and federal rights are being compromised more and more. Currently there are 4900 prisoners in Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) programs, but a large number of EOP prisoners have been awaiting admission into the CDCR Psychiatric Services Unit (PSU) for way too long.
This problem could have been solved by the prison administration a long time ago, but with the CDCR, money takes precedence over prisoner's health and well being. They just do their best to camouflage that fact creating legal technicalities to prevent liability. EOP Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners who are currently in the PSUs are suffering and paying the cost of overcrowding. Due to the prison administration's desperation to create bed space for EOP SHU offenders awaiting admission to the PSU, many EOP prisoner's level of care is being lowered without regard to their medical needs by the interdisciplinary treatment team (IDTT) committee members.
Recently a fellow prisoner comrade of mine went to his IDTT hearing, which are held every 90 days. At the hearing he was told that because he is "high functioning" his level of care would be reduced back to Correctional Clinical Case Management System (CCCMS). He told them that he has many medical reasons to stay on EOP level of care to help control his symptoms, including hallucinations and inconsistent changes of behavior. They ignored his medical history and dropped him from the EOP program.
The CDCR takes a mental health patient who isn't functioning well at a CCCMS level of care, and changes his level of care to EOP, to help the prisoner function better. Then they see the positive changes the prisoner has made due to the level of care change, and so they decide to change him back to CCCMS. But there is no help for these prisoners to sustain their progress on CCCMS. That's what the IDTT members are doing to current PSU EOP prisoners simply to make bed space. There's a huge difference in treatment given when in CCCMS compared to being in EOP. there is no possible way a prisoner that requires an EOP level of care can cope at a lower inadequate non-suitable level of care CCCMS! That's medical malpractice! It's the same as forcing a disabled prisoner that can't walk to be restricted from using a wheelchair!
As a United Soldier from Within member I'm asking for the EOP prisoners who are experiencing this type of medical malpractice to come forward by sending a letter to Under Lock and Key and let us know your situation. If we can demonstrate that this is indeed a pattern someone from United Soldiers will be assigned to look into the matter and work on putting a cease to this form of injustice and inadequate medical care.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade demonstrates well the failure of the health care system in Amerikan prisons.
First there is the failure of care in general: prisoners receive abysmal health care services that amount to outright neglect. This got so bad in California that a federal judge put California prisons in receivership under a mandate to fix the health care services. Denial of adequate care leads to an unknown number of deaths and illnesses every year in Amerikan prisons.
In this case, the author is talking about inadequate mental health services. It's important to understand what is meant by "mental illness" under capitalism to put this neglect in context. Prisoners who are locked in isolated cells for years at a time are going to lose their ability to function in society. This is just one example of how the criminal injustice system literally drives people to mental illness.
We don't see mental illness as a fixed situation but rather a result of society. And in fact the definition of this "illness" changes based on who has power in a society. There are many examples in history of communists being labeled "crazy" for their beliefs in the equality of all people. Further, those who are angered and depressed by the exploitation, murder and oppression of the majority of the world's people are given drugs by the capitalist doctors to help make them happier.
There are many people in prison who have been abused by society and then abused by the criminal injustice system. And it should be no surprise that they now have difficulty functioning. We are under no illusions that a little "mental health" treatment is going to fix this problem. But neglect and punishment is certainly only going to make things worse. And the casual moving people from program to program with little regard for their well being described in this article is just a financial and numerical exercise for the prisoncrats.
As we have described in other articles on mental health, we need to keep in mind that we can't rely on the enemy to solve our problems. The criminal injustice system is behind many of the mental health problems in prisons. And so they can not be counted on to provide the solution, which requires more than some capitalist counseling and drugs. We support our comrade's call for adequate health care, but we know that this must be a part of the larger fight against the imperialist system, because the imperialists are the cause of many of our health problems.
I write to let you know that I and all races here at Delano State Prison Ad-Seg participated in the hunger strike from the 26th to the 1st in support of our brothers in SHU placement because of validation.
Can you please keep me updated on all the current actions that are happening because of the hunger strike? If there is anything else that I or my brothers around us can do in support, please do not hesitate to let me know.
3 October 2011 - Today we close our 8th day of this hunger strike. The ASU here at Calipatria State Prison was the last to stop during the July 1st, 2011 hunger strike. Some prisoners went 27 days. They ended up going to Centinela prison central health for treatment (IV and observation). I myself lasted 16 days. Fell out on the 7th day and was given an IV for a few hours.
This hunger strike is crazy! But living in ASU/SHU for years is straight torture. It changes a person. More than half of us here at CAL-ASU are validated waiting to go to Pelican Bay SHU. I've been waiting a year and a half. So we all got together, and once again have joined the movement.
Last time CDCR retaliated by not giving us our liquids (milk/juice). We 602ed [institutional appealed] it and won. This time around they were forced to give us our liquids. Not much but it's progress. We're supporting the Bay's 5 core demands, but we also have our issues here. We're SHU prisoners therefore entitled to SHU privileges: TVs, radios, shoes, etc. Here we're given nothing. We've argued, demanded, 602ed, and yet we have nothing. CDCR's run around and usual response, "we'll look into it," or plain denials is all we get.
I drafted a group 602 for our TVs/radios. It's been done before, but I did it so I'll be able to write a writ once it's denied. It may work, it may not. I refuse to just sit on my ass. If I gots to fight CDCR with paper and pen, I will. If I gots to starve myself for a better tomorrow, I have, and am, and will.
Last hunger strike we received many promises from Calipatria officials. The only one they honored was to give us some of our canteen items (chips, rice, beans) in their original packaging. We used to get them on paper lunch bags. We're demanding those promises be met! Mainly the issuance of TVs.
The movement is strong here, we all try to motivate one another. Many showed their support for a few days but their health prevented them from continuing. Many continue believing in the movement, so they're holding strong even though they hear their stomach rumble. I've lost 10 pounds in 5 days, the last weigh in we had.
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.
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.
"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.
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