The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

AV tech, streaming experience? We're searching for someone to manage the behind the scenes of an anti-imperialist podcast. help out
[Political Repression] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 23]
expand

Corcoran Represses Strikers: Denies Salts, Sugars, Liquids

I am writing from 4B1L C Section short corridor isolation unit. It is October 9, day 13 of the second hunger strike in support of our Five Core Demands and the abolition of SHU torture units as a means of manufacturing informants, crushing progressive political ideas, and maintaining the status quo for the prison industrial complex.

At this writing all New Afrikan and "southern" Mexican prisoners in this isolation unit are fully participating in the hunger strike, while our "northern" Mexican and white brothers are providing their moral support. We have not eaten since September 25 and the administration here has unleashed an unprecedented wave of retaliatory reprisals against us, aimed at breaking the hunger strike and provoking a violent reaction. This of course would undermine the non-violent basis of this peaceful effort, and they have thus far failed.

In response to this second effort, on September 29 CDCR revised its medical evaluation policy for hunger strikes to minimize the amount of medical data gathered and maximize the chance of serious injury or death to those on hunger strike by ceasing the taking of vital signs (blood pressure, heart rates, temperature) altogether and only weighing us twice a week — unless it appears you need it. It was only because myself and another prisoner have lost so much weight since this began (over 10% of our body weight from the first weigh in on September 30) that our vital signs have been taken. Others who've requested it or asked in connection with complaints of dizziness, weakness, light headedness, etc., have been told to "put in a sick call request," which will cost $5.

Canteen purchases for hunger strikers have been restricted to hygiene and stationary items only; no food or drink. On or about October 3 they raided 4B1L C Section and removed all food and drink items (even coffee and salt packs) from the cells of hunger strikers. A short time later this warden and her entourage arrived in our section, laughing and joking like it was a day at the fair, and ordered sandbags placed in front of each of our cell doors to prevent any fishing [sharing between cells]. This was an attempt to prevent non-hunger strikers from getting coffee or Kool-Aid to those on hunger strike.

Human rights attorneys were barred access and we have been denied access to yard, and the law library. The warden even directed IGI [the "gang" unit] to open and/or confiscate legal mail for hunger strikers here. They have been dismissive and outright verbally disrespectful to some hunger strikers in a blatant attempt to provoke us. Earlier this week, pursuant to a 1030 confidential informant chrono alleging that two of our "southern" Mexican brothers here "ordered the hunger strike," those two brothers had their visits taken by the administration for 90 days. This is an absurd and blatant abuse of power clearly designed to provoke a violent reaction.

This is a peaceful human rights initiative supported across racial lines. It is impossible for any single group, let alone individual, to "order" anything. We are all participating of our individual free will guided by a collective desire to see an end to this systematic torture and industrial profiteering at our expense.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This statement from NCTT went on to express support and solidarity with the "Occupy Wall Street!" (OWS!) movement currently taking place across the United $tates. OWS! is essentially a movement to save the Amerikan dream, which is a nightmare for most of the world's people. In most parts of the country this movement has regularly appealed to cops as being "one of them." They call themselves the "99%," when in reality Amerikans are all members of the top 13% of the world in wealth; a position they maintain at the expense of the exploited Third World peoples.

While more progressive elements participating in OWS! in California have proclaimed support for the prisoner hunger strike, this mostly serves to Black/Brown-wash a movement that is openly about the enrichment of a group of people who built their wealth on the exploitation of Black and Brown people. From day one the Amerikan nation has been a supporter of colonialism and later imperialism, which in turn depends on Amerikans to expand its exploitation among other nations. For the oppressed people of the world, the awakening of Amerikans to action should be worrisome, as their demands for more translate into further tightening around the necks of Asia, Africa and Latin America, where their wealth is extracted from.

chain
[Control Units] [Campaigns] [Political Repression] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
expand

Struggle Remains Strong and Steady in Corcoran SHU

"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.

chain
[Campaigns] [Control Units] [California]
expand

Support the Statewide Mobilization

[Excerpts from a Statement of support for the August 23rd Statewide Mobilization to Sacramento]

"The humaneness of a society can be judged by its prisons." - James Doare

On August 23rd, San Francisco Rep Tom Amiano and the Public Safety Committee in the state assembly held an informational hearing on conditions and policies at Pelican Bay - SHU (and we assume the SHUs here at Corcoran and Tehachapi as well). The NCTT Corcoran-SHU wishes to express our support for the people and organizations who have mobilized to lend their voices to this vital human rights initiative which began with our July 1st hunger strike and will not end until the 5 core demands have been appropriately addressed, the fundamental human rights initiative which is acknowledged, and the basic inhumanity of the prison industrial complex's use of sensory deprivation torture units is exposed and abolished.

But why should you care? Why should you care - men are being systematically subjected to psychologically torturous conditions in your name and with your tax dollars? The answer to that question requires you to have certain facts and accept some inconvenient truths. Prison is a socially hostile microcosm of society itself; a concentrated reflection of the contradictions of it's myriad socio-economic and political relationships, composed primarily of the surplus labor segment of the U.S. population. The SHU is a prison within prison, and the ultra-high security isolation units like Pelican Bay SHU's D-short corridor and Corcoran-SHU's 4B1L-C section are CIA style, experimental, psychological torture units.

Following the temporary halt to our peaceful protest on July 20 to give CDCR time to make some meaningful changes in line with our 5 core demands, Scott Kernan's first act was to publish a statement in the Sacramento Bee characterizing us as "violent gang leaders who've committed horrible crimes against the people of California", as though we are not a part of the people. I think it is of vital importance that this, as well as the actual motive force underlying such thinking be addressed.

Over the last 20 years there has been a successful campaign to demonize those convicted of a crime in the U.S., and a degree of social indifference in how they are treated. Through the successful efforts of such lobbies as the California Correctional Penal Officers Association (prison guards union) and it's front groups such as 'Crime Victim United,' and with the assistance of mainstream media programs covering everything from America's Most Wanted to Cops; from Dateline to your local news. The public has been systematically indoctrinated to not merely fear "prisoners," but to effectively dehumanize us as some subspecies of not quite humanity.

Your entertainment programming is 75% crime and punishment content, from the Law & Order franchise to CSI, from Justified to Hawaii 5-O, which not only brings in millions of viewers and sells billions of dollars in products annually via advertising, but divorces the so-called "criminal" from the human condition and casts him/her in the role of perpetual villain in the subconscious mind, deserving neither rights, compassion, or basic humanity. This was not some unconscious effort on the part of your elected officials, public servants, and corporate entities, no, this was a conscious program to dehumanize a specific segment of the U.S. population in order to ensure the speculative profits of the burgeoning - and now well established - prison industrial complex would go unchallenged and unprotected.

The fact is the origin of crime is relatively simplistic: the origin of all crime can be inexorably traced to the disproportionate distribution of wealth, privilege, and opportunity in a society. So what we find here is not a matter of public safety proponents versus criminal fiends or "gang leaders", but more accurately an internal contradiction of the state itself which pits public safety versus social control and profit.

Contrary to the propaganda of politricsters such as Mr. Kernan, California SHU's are not inhabited by the "worst of the worst," and especially not in these ultra-high security isolation torture units like Pelican Bay SHU's D-Corridor or Corcoran SHU's 4B1L-C section. In fact a significant segment of this population has been consigned to these dungeons decades on end solely based on their political ideology and world views. Left-wing political ideologies and revolutionary scientific socialists are labeled "gang members" and tossed in the SHU with no thought to the contradiction this presents to the constitutional basis of freedom of speech, thought, and expression.

The truth of the matter is most here in Pelican Bay SHU D-Corridor and Corcoran SHU 4B1L C Section haven't had a rules violation, let alone broke a law, in decades. Institutional gang investigators claim to seek to mitigate the violence and socio-economic damage allegedly caused by "gangs" - yet the NCTT in Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHU over the course of the past 2 decades alone has developed and attempted to initiate numerous programs that would effectively do just that, and even more.

This hearing was a prime opportunity to declare, if the state will truly make rehabilitation their primary objective they may:

  1. Meet in full the 5 core demands of the SHU human rights initiative,
    acknowledging the dismal failure of their "lock em up - lock em up" philosophy and its fundamental social and economic unsustainability
  2. Restructure the entire correctional system and approach to imprisonment.
  3. Mandate safe, clean and healthy rehabilitative environments where higher education and viable wage job skills are offered to all prisoners ensuring they can compete in today's technology society, ensure parole suitability, and make meaningful contributions to the community, institute community based parole boards, where the communities prisoners hail from decide when they can return to them.
  4. Re-institute media access and transparency
  5. Re-institute community ties programs such as social and family visiting for all prisoners, especially those in SHU-indeterminate units
  6. Develop community reintroduction programs where prisoners have a community based support network that helps them re-acclimate to society and be re-integrated successfully.
  7. Disband the CCPOA's stranglehold on elected officials which range from DAs and judges to the governor himself.

If this were to occur, crime and recidivism rates would drop, prison populations would decrease drastically (as would the violence which plagues them), thus failing to justify the fiscal expenditure for all these prisons, cops, guards, prosecutors, judges and many industries which serve them. The CCPOA's power would wane as it's membership and dues decreases. The state will not make rehabilitation (which begins with humane conditions of existence) their #1 priority because this is not in their economic and political interests.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This NCTT statement does a good job exposing the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control with no real interest in actually addressing crime or rehabilitation. We do disagree with one point here: while the vast array of people working in and around prisons certainly are motivated to protect their high wages and benefits, prisons themselves do not make a profit and so can not be working to protect their "speculative profits." As this article notes, those working on the side of the prison system do have a strong motivation to sustain and even grow them, but this is for social control fundamentally.

chain
Go to Page 1
Index of Articles