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Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Support Freedom of Association in Prisons!

Unkle Sam

On this fourth day of July, Amerikans all across the country are celebrating their freedoms with beer and bangs. Yet in the same country there are more people locked in tiny cages for 22 to 24 hours per day, with little or no access to the outside world, than in any other country in the world. In Pelican Bay State Prison in California many are in such "control units" because of who they associate with, and they were put there based on secret evidence. For any student of the U.$. Constitution or the Bill of Rights it is obvious that the promised freedoms of Amerikkka are not granted to its internal semi-colonies.

Today we are sending dozens of signed letters from residents of California who share our concerns for prisoners forced to live in these torturous conditions and who support those in Pelican Bay engaging in a peaceful hunger strike.

Warden Greg Lewis
Pelican Bay State Prison
P.O. Box 7000
Crescent City, CA 95531-7000

5 July 2011

Dear Warden Lewis,

Included with this letter are dozens of letters from residents of California who are concerned for the welfare of the prisoners in Pelican bay State Prison. We are sending these letters to you in support of the prisoners on hunger strike. The letters are asking you to do all that is within your power to do to change the conditions in PBSP to meet the strikers' demands.

We have also forwarded copies of these letters to CDCR Internal Affairs and CDCR Office of the Ombudsman.

Sincerely,

MIM Distributors
P.O. Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

To view a copy of the general letter that people signed, click here.

Please stop any abuses that are going on inside the prison complex.
- Oakland, CA

Stop locking up prisoners who need other kinds of help (drug, etc.) P.S. Wasting my tax dollars 4 real!
- Berkeley, CA

P.S. U.S. signed the Convention Against Torture. It has been ratified. It is the law of the land. Please do not violate our laws! Thanks.
- Richmond, CA

Please attend to this!!! NOW!
- Oakland, CA

I just don't understand how people in this day & time are still so devilish, when they got power & it's a very fucked up feeling because we are human beings & you all treat us like shit!
-Oakland, CA

Dehumanizing prisoners is sickness; you are helping commit crimes against humanity by abuses and deprivation of basic rights and needs of prisoners.
-Eureka, CA

In the letters to Warden Lewis, the California cities of Hercules, San Francisco, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Stockton, Napa, Chula Vista and Vacaville were also represented and supporters have forwarded letters they wrote from as far as BC, Canada.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Pelican Bay Prisoner Joins Hunger Strike to Protest Sensory Deprivation

On June 21 I received the [Hunger Strike] campaign update and I do truly admire your organization attempting to liberate not only confined prisoners but all oppressed people within the nation. Thank you!

Tomorrow, on July 1, I will most definitely be participating in the mass hunger strike here in Pelican Bay State Prison. I'm under lock and key isolated in administrative segregation awaiting transfer to Corcoran SHU for over 17 months now, and this inhumane, dehumanizing and repressive treatment of these control unit prisoners must come to an end. I am tired of being targeted and psychologically tortured in solitary confinement, which causes severe mental harm to the point of having conversations with myself. This is a form of sensory deprivation and must stop immediately.

Another reason why I will be protesting along with the SHU prisoners is because here in CDCR there are no simple programs such as tattoo removal programs. Some prisoners like myself were incarcerated as juveniles and tried as adults, and we made mistakes by putting tattoos on our bodies. So by attempting to truly rehabilitate myself I want all my tattoos removed. As a prisoner I should have access to programs like this. It makes me question, does California Department of Corrections deserve the title of "rehabilitation?"


MIM(Prisons) responds: There's no question about it, they do not deserve the title "Rehabilitation" which was added years ago without any change in their practice or policies to justify the term. Former prisoners who spent years in these isolation cells can attest to that. The lucky ones have family or find organizations with the resources to support them. But too many are stuck in destructive cycles. Meanwhile, there is a criminal mentality that penetrates the whole populace in the United $tates based in capitalist individualism. It is up to revolutionaries to develop independent institutions that can truly address the rehabilitation needs of the oppressed lumpen who have more interest in revolutionary change than most Amerikans who sit idly by while hundreds of thousands of people are tortured in their country.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Prisoner in CSP-Sacramento Calls on Warden to Address Hunger Striker Demands

Dear Warden Lewis,

I'm writing to express my concerns for the inhuman treatment being inflicted on these disciplinary-free prisoners housed at Pelican Bay State Prison's short-corridor Group D. The conditions there must change because of the nature of the situation. Please allow these people room to have phone calls, send pictures to their loved ones, etc. If we have no respect for the U.S. Constitution how shall I, as a free man one day, respect or honor the rights of others, after witnessing these wrong doings? I'm facing a real challenge when I return to society in September 2011. If we continue to strive to solve problems we must begin in our community and this is one of the largest communities I've ever been a part of and I believe that the strike on July 1, 2011 will begin the process for a collective change as one unity.

I have faith you will resolve the problem.

Sincerely,
[a prisoner in California State Prison - Sacramento]

I will strike with these men in unity.

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[Censorship] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Isolation Already Loosening at Pelican Bay

MIM Distributors,

It is always my pleasure to reach out and re-establish lines of communication. I hope that you all are in the best of God's care. One can never be too sure in this line of work. I'm well, as i get ready for this July 1 2011 hunger strike for the cruel & unusual treatment we prisoners held in solitary confinement have endured. All the same it is an enduring struggle that we must fight in order to change our reality.

I am writing because i need you all to forward me that issue dated in the month of June 2011 called Under Lock & Key, because I did not receive it. So if it's possible that I can get a back issue I would sincerely appreciate it.

Now, I look forward to re-opening the lines of communications because although it's not been my thought that they were cut off we are beginning to track it better, so it's all good sometimes.

Sincerely,
a California prisoner


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer hadn't heard from us in over two years due to censorship in California. But as the hunger strike approached, the staff at Pelican Bay State Prison were on their best behavior. While the strike organizers were already having sit-downs with the Warden's office before the strike began, censorship has eased for the many organizations that struggle to get their mail to those being held there. A month ago, staff claimed to not even know their own policies in attempts to censor our mail. But the prisoners' struggle has already had an impact of loosening their attempts to isolate us from each other.

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[Campaigns] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Self-help Advocacy Group Supports Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers

Below is an excerpt of a letter that was sent along with a resource packet to the Pelican Bay Warden and Pelican Bay Institutional Gang Investigations.

Greetings from The Yard. I am a prisoner that is providing a service to my incarcerated peers. I provide resources for self-help programs, rehab, housing and career info. It is my understanding that inmates in the SHU corridor are going to strike due to certain demands that they are asking for.

One demand that interested me was the opportunity to receive self-help and religious materials. I feel that The Yard can meet that demand. I have put together a self-help and religious resource packet that can be given to an inmate requesting self-help, religious or parole resources. All of these programs can be utilized by an inmate through the mail without any type of facilitator or supervision... The resource packet includes an application for parole resources. SHU inmates most likely do not have access to these resources. They can send these applications to The Yard and dedicated peers involved themselves in self-help programs will fill them out and send them back. The Yard has an ever-growing data bank of up to date resources for all of California...

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[Campaigns] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Tehachapi SHU Prisoner Supports PBSP Hunger Strike

This letter is in response to the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) hunger strike. First I'd like to say thank you for not only your ongoing support for us prisoners but also your truthfulness of viewing the facts of the matter. I have passed on the info you mailed me. I have spread the word of actions being taken by prisoners at PBSP-SHU. I can not say for sure how many will join this protest. However I can speak for myself and I find one must be willing to lead and/or follow with common sense to ensure change. For only by us prisoners making a stand - not allowing this injustice to pass - can we stop it.

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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PBSP SHU D-Corridor Hunger Strike

tabling pelican bay strike

Attention: beginning July 1, 2011, several inmates housed indefinitely in PBSP-SHU D-Facility, Corridor Isolation, will begin an indefinite hunger strike in order to draw attention to, and to peacefully protest, 25 years of torture via CDCR's arbitrary, illegal, and progressively more punitive policies and practices, as summarized in the accompanying Formal Complaint. PBSP-SHU, D-Facility Corridor inmates' hunger strike protest is to continue indefinitely until the following changes are made:

OUR FIVE CORE DEMANDS:

  1. Individual Accountability - This is in response to PBSP's application of "group punishment" as a means to address individual inmates rule violations. This includes the administration's abusive, pretextual use of "safety and concern" to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status, and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.
  2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria - the debriefing policy is illegal and redundant, as pointed out in the Formal Complaint [IV-A, p. 7]. The Active/Inactive gang status criteria must be modified in order to comply with state law and applicable CDCR rule and regulations [eg, see Formal Complaint, p. 7, IV-B] as follows:
    1. Cease the use of innocuous association to deny inactive status,
    2. Cease the use of informant/debriefer allegations of illegal gang activity to deny inactive status, unless such allegations are also supported by factual corroborating evidence, in which case CDCR-PBSP staff shall and must follow the regulations by issuing a rule violation report and affording the inmate his due process required by law.

  3. Comply with US Commission 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement - CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the US commission on safety and abuse in America's prisons final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:
    1. End Conditions of Isolation (p. 14) Ensure that prisoners in SHU and Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation) have regular meaningful contact and freedom from extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm. (pp. 52-57)
    2. Make Segregation a Last Resort (p. 14). Create a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and Ad-Seg [Administrative Segregation] the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious, and other productive activities relating to having a sense of being a part of the community.
    3. End Long-Term Solitary Confinement. Release inmates to general prison population who have been warehoused indefinitely in SHU for the last 10 to 40 years (and counting).
      Provide SHU Inmates Immediate Meaningful Access to:
    4. Adequate natural sunlight
    5. Quality health care and treatment, including the mandate of transferring all PBSP-SHU inmates with chronic health care problems to the New Folsom Medical SHU facility.

  4. Provide Adequate Food - cease the practice of denying adequate food, and provide wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals, and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.
    1. PBSP staff must cease their use of food as a tool to punish SHU inmates.
    2. Provide a sergeant/lieutenant to independently observe the serving of each meal, and ensure each tray has the complete issue of food on it.
    3. Feed the inmates whose job it is to serve SHU meals with meals that are separate from the pans of food sent from kitchen for SHU meals.

  5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates. Examples include:
    1. Expand visiting regarding amount of time and adding one day per week.
    2. Allow one photo per year.
    3. Allow a weekly phone call.
    4. Allow Two (2) annual packages per year. A 30 lb. package based on "item" weight and not packaging and box weight.
    5. Expand canteen and package items allowed. Allow us to have the items in their original packaging [the cost for cosmetics, stationary, envelopes, should not count towards the max draw limit]
    6. More TV channels.
    7. Allow TV/Radio combinations, or TV and small battery operated radio
    8. Allow Hobby Craft Items - art paper, colored pens, small pieces of colored pencils, watercolors, chalk, etc.
    9. Allow sweat suits and watch caps.
    10. Allow wall calendars.
    11. Install pull-up/dip bars on SHU yards.
    12. Allow correspondence courses that require proctored exams.

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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The Call

maoistcdcr
This is a call for all prisoners in Security Housing Units (SHUs), Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), and General Populations (GP), as well as the free oppressed and non-oppressed people to support the indefinite July 1st 2011 peaceful Hunger Strike in protest of the violation of our civil/human rights, here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU), short corridor D1 through D4 and its overflow D5 through D10.
It should be clear to everyone that none of the hunger strike participants want to die, but due to our circumstances, whereas that state of California has sentenced all of us on Indeterminate SHU program to a “civil death” merely on the word of a prison informer (snitch).

The purpose of the Hunger Strike is to combat both the Ad-Seg/SHU psychological and physical torture, as well as the justifications used of support treatment of the type that lends to prisoners being subjected to a civil death. Those subjected to indeterminate SHU programs are neglected and deprived of the basic human necessities while withering away in a very isolated and hostile environment.

Prison officials have utilized the assassination of prisoners’ character to each other as well as the general public in order to justify their inhumane treatment of prisoners. The “code of silence” used by guards allows them the freedom to use everything at their disposal in order to break those prisoners who prison officials and correctional officers (C/O) believe cannot be broken.

It is this mentality that set in motion the establishing of the short corridor, D1 through D4 and its D5 though D10 overflow. This mentality has created the current atmosphere in which C/Os and prison officials agreed upon plan to break indeterminate SHU prisoners. This protracted attack on SHU prisoners cuts across every aspect of the prison’s function: Food, mail, visiting, medical, yard, hot/cold temperatures, privileges (canteen, packages, property, etc.), isolation, cell searches, family/friends, and socio-culture, economic, and political deprivation. This is nothing short of the psychological/physical torture of SHU/Ad-Seg prisoners. It takes place day in and day out, without a break or rest.

The prison’s gang intelligence unit was extremely angered at the fact that prisoners who had been held in SHU under inhuman conditions for anywhere from ten (10) to forty (40) years had not been broken. So the gang intelligence unit created the “short corridor” and intensified the pressure of their attacks on the prisoners housed there. The object was to use blanket pressure to encourage these particular isolated prisoners to debrief (i.e. snitch on order to be released from SHU).

The C/Os and administrative officials are all in agreement and all do their part in depriving short corridor prisoners and its overflow of their basic civil/human rights. None of the deliberate attacks are a figment of anyone’s imagination. These continuous attacks are carried out against prisoners to a science by all of them. They are deliberate and conscious acts against essentially defenseless prisoners.

It is these ongoing attacks that have led to the short corridor and overflow SHU prisoners to organize ourselves themselves around an indefinite Hunger Strike in an effort to combat the dehumanizing treatment we prisoners of all races are subjected to on a daily basis.

Therefore, on July 1, 2011, we ask that all prisoners throughout the State of California who have been suffering injustices in General Population, Administrative Segregation and solitary confinement, etc. to join in our peaceful strike to put a stop to the blatant violations of prisoners’ civil/human rights. As you know, prison gang investigators have used threats of validation and other means to get prisoners to engage in a protracted war against each other in order to serve their narrow interests. If you cannot participate in the Hunger Strike then support it in principle by not eating for the first 24 hours of the strike.

I say that those of you who carry yourselves as principled human beings, no matter you’re housing status, must fight to right this and other egregious wrongs. Although it is “us” today (united New Afrikans, Whites, Northern and Southern Mexicans, and others) it will be you all tomorrow. It is in your interests to peacefully support us in this protest today, and to beware of agitators, provocateurs, and obstructionists, because they are the ones who put ninety percent of us back here because they could not remain principled even within themselves.

The following demands are all similar to what is allowed in other super max prisons (e.g. federal Florence, Colorado, Ohio and Indiana State Penitentiaries). The claim by CDCR and PBSP that implementing the practices of the federal prison system or that of other states would be a threat to safety and security are exaggerations.

The names of representatives of all major races listed as co-signers. The prisoners say they are “All races Whites; New Afrikans; Southern Mexs., and Northern Mexs.”

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Okaloosa Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Grievance Fight in Florida

In February I was taken to Captain Schwartz's office where he confronted me about writing grievances. I was then locked up, had 5 Disciplinary Reports (DRs) falsified on me, received 210 days of confinement time and lost 150 days gain time. After having been placed in the cell with a prisoner who had written a grievance on the warden for chewing tobacco in a state building, we were illegally gassed twice, made to sleep on raw steel for three days and nights with nothing but a pair of boxer shorts on, and then placed on a loaf diet for 7 days.

This is the second time that I've been under attack at this institution for exercising my first amendment right to write grievances and both times they started with the same captain and both times the Warden, Colonel, and Central Office of Appeal have backed him up. I have been under attack at two other institutions in the past for writing grievances and both times Central Office knowingly and willfully allowed me to be illegally sent to Close Management (CM) [Editor: term for isolation/control units in Florida].

I have high blood pressure and I suffer from asthma and I am not supposed to be gassed. When he gassed us the first time, I tried to tell him about my medical condition and when he saw me throwing up blood and blood running out my nose, he immediately gassed us again. Out of fear for my life, I have not eaten but two selective meals to stay mentally alert since February 22, 2011.

During this time, I was placed in the cell with another prisoner and he was threatened to be gassed and have DRs falsified on him because he refused to take my tray in the cell so it would look as though I was eating to the camera. Finally, an officer just threw a meal tray in the cell and wrote down that I ate that meal. I am definitely not going to let them get away with what they have done to me and are still doing to me. I would appreciate any help you may be able to give me and I would also like to start receiving your newsletter. I just received notice that they are trying to send me back to CM.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Because of the failure of the grievance process in prisons across the country, we have initiated a grievance campaign. If you are in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and California write to us to get copies of the petition and letter for your state, or if you are in another state write for a generic petition that you can modify for use in your state.

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