Humiliation and loss: Mass cell searches at Corcoran SHU

May 31, 2014
by Ajamu Watu (Terrance E. White)
In: SF Bay View

Revolutionary greetings!

As of this writing, I’m finally getting situated from another mass cell search being done here at the Corcoran SHU by Gestapo police. This is supposed to be a once a year ordeal, so they searched the whole yard. Well, if so, then why do we get searched so often at different, unexpected times and why do they use K9 dogs and the metal detectors on us and our mattresses?

This cell search had to be my most humiliating one yet, because we were escorted from our housing units in our boxers, T-shirts – or no T-shirt if you chose – and our shower shoes all the way to R&R visiting room to walk through the metal detectors after we were strip-searched at our cell doors before we came out. There was also female staff assisting with this so-called protocol, and I was told COs (correctional officers, or guards) even came from other yards to help out.

We had our mattresses scanned through the electronic metal detector but were not given any new bed linen when this ordeal was over. Of course our cells – our living quarters – were trashed so bad that it took a lot of us two days to get back somewhat comfortable.

The long walk in the hot sun around the whole yard and being locked in our stand-up yard cages all day with some cages not having running water and us not being able to bring our lunches with us caused medical problems for those who are up in age – 40-plus. I’ve just gotten over a two-day migraine from the ordeal.

I was informed – and found out it to be true – once I returned to my cell that the fascist oppressors were taking all extra clothing, any alleged appliances such as a TV that may be missing any parts to it, with no regard to you still being able to use it or if you have another one on the way. If you’re using two cable cord antennas or loose wires, they’re taking that too.

In some cases, you need more than one antenna to pick up the digital channel because it’s hard to do so in some cells due to the reception or your digital antenna’s cord is not long enough to reach your back wall where the reception is better. In my case, my ground antenna was snatched from the wall by these Gestapo fascist pigs with no regard as to why, when it was very unnecessary since my cable outlet was not missing the metal plate that covers it.

We haven’t been given our cell search slips yet, but I’ve already started my 602 appeal form that I will still be processing to note the unprofessional way my cell was handled in this search. When I had the section CO look at my cable outlet, he informed me it was broken off. I informed him my TV signal wasn’t working but my radio was.

He then told me to 602 it but made no attempt to retrieve another cable cord to hold me until the opportune time when I can purchase another one which is what it’s gonna boil down to because they’re not gonna replace it. When this happens – the cell searches lasted all week but I think they’re still not finished with a few more buildings – we get no program, no yard, showers, laundry or access to the law library, which they’ve cancelled unless you have a court date approaching, and in some cases you may still not be able to go.

The excuses are always the same: short on staff who really don’t feel like doing anything and since the S&Es do the medical escorts, it gives the building COs time to sit down on their lazy behinds and collect a paycheck. I’m sure you all will get more mail from inmates here at Corcoran with these stories of how this cell search affected these buildings. I’m positive some were handled worse than others depending on who was doing the search.

This to us is just another day living in the concrete tomb known as the Corcoran SHU graveyard. The struggle continues …

One love, one movement!

Ajamu Wadu, a servant of the oppressed people

Send our brother some love and light: Terrance E. White, AG-8738, Cor SHU 4B-1R-26L, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212.

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Please grant the requests of California SHU-prisoners in CSP-Corcoran-SHU 4B-1L-C Section and 4B Facility

To be delivered to: Connie Gipson, Warden, Michael Stainer, Cherita Wofford, Ombudsman, and Sara Malone, Ombudsman


Petition Statement

These requests to the warden are basic, modest  and do-able, all pertaining to local issues like food, cleaning of the unit, visiting, and tv-access paid for by the prisoners themselves.

Petition Background

This petition asks you to review and respond to a few simple requests that prisoners in Corcoran-SHU have asked us to negotiate for on their behalf:

See the added list of 13 items, all very logical and humane, modest, none are undoable or unreasonable. They wrote these requests in a letter they sent you more than a month ago (around September/October 2013), to which you have yet to respond.

Some of these demands were negotiated successfully at Calipatria ASU. For instance, on the Memorandum of Sept 3rd 2013, the warden of Cal stated: “expanded the Canteen list effective September 2013…” Also: “two phones are installed in A5 pending activation.”

13 Local Requests of 4B-1L-C Section and 4B Facility, CSP-Corcoran-SHU

To: The Warden, Mrs Connie Gipson
Facility Captain
cc: Ombudsman Cherita Wofford, Sara Malone

1) Visiting
We are requesting that visiting be increased to 2 1/2 hours, and 3 1/2 hours for visitors who travel 100 miles or more.

2) Additional TV-stations
We are requesting that the administration add eight (8) additional stations to the basic package made available to us.
We are requesting that a contract with a cable service provider (such as Direct TV) be established with money from the Inmate Welfare Fund.

We were told that this was supposed to have occurred well over a year ago. By contracting with a cable service provider it would improve the quality of the picture on several stations (channels: 2 (PBS), 6 (NBC), 8 (My TV), 5 (CW). The picture is, always, so bad that they cannot be watched.
We would like to request that the following stations be added to the basic package: …

3) Packages
Policy changes to the title 15 now allow those of us in segregated housing to be issued clothing items, a bowl and tumbler, as well as religious items.

We are requesting that we be allowed, consistent with the new rules and regulations:
one (1) special purchase, “non-food”-package per year.

In the alternative we are requesting that the Administration establish a “grace period,” and in this grace period allow us to receive one (1) special purchase “non-food”-package.

4) Food
While the CDCR policy does require that we be provided with a “heart-healthy diet,” we are not. The quality of the food is so bad that on more than one occasion the food during the evening meals has been referred to as “looking like brains.”

In the alternative, if the administration will not require that changes be made in the quality and quantity of the meals, then we are requesting that we be provided the opportunity to order two (2) annual food packages a year.

We are also requesting that the administration include in the lunches more variety. Processed lunched meat and peanut butter are all that we are issued. The only fruit that we receive are one (1) apple or banana. The apple and banana are routinely rotten / overripe.

Canned fruit, peaches, pineapples, pears can be provided and are available.

Tuna fish, cheese and meat spreads can be provided instead of the processed meat is that we are routinely given. It has been established that processed foods do contribute to increased health risks. (see for instance: Harvard School of Public Health: “Beyond Willpower: Diet Quality and Quantity Matter”, page visited on 12/2/13).

5) Yard
Rarely do we receive our ten (10) hours of yard per week, as policy requires.
One reason for this is because the concrete yards in this building are not used.
If two (2) cells are allowed out to the concrete yard, three (3) times a day, it would go a long way toward our having an opportunity to receive our ten (10) hours of yard per week.

Even on those occasions in which regular yard is not allowed, the concrete yards can be.

This has been done over the years on the 4B-yard. And was being done in this building, briefly, last year.

6) Additional canteen items.
Particularly in light of the food department’s failure to provide us with a heart-healthy diet, as well as a diet that lacks any qualitative or quantitative value, we are requesting that additional canteen items, similar to those items that were on the canteen list previously (tuna, chicken breast).
And that chili-flavored soup be included on the canteen list.
And that one other or additional cold cereal be included on the canteen list.

7) Showers.
Presently, the showers are only cleaned three (3) times a week. We are requesting that an additional shower cleaner be allowed to come out so as to ensure that the showers will be cleaned six (6) days a week, as they should be.

8) Telephone calls.
We are requesting that one (1) non-emergency phone call per month be allowed for all SHU prisoners.

9) TV accessories.
We are requesting allowance of TV-accessories that are approved for privilege group D (earphones, headphone extension, splitters, RCA signal amplifiers).

10) Cleaning.
We are requesting authorizing , in addition to the showers to be cleaned six (6) days a week, that the section be cleaned three (3) days a week (swept, mopped, as well as cell fronts, stairs and rails, and holding cages inside of section).

11) Step Down Program
We request to have the time in the Step Down Program reduced.

12) Step 3
We request STEP 3 for prisoners who are validated as STG1 member or associate, and who has been housed in solitary confinement for a minimum of five (5) years.

13) Contact Visits.
We request contact visits pursuant to paragraph 3334 (K) of the Title 15.

We have been told on several occasions that each of the approved vendors (Walkenhorst’s, Access, Union Supply and Golden State Packages) have been contacted and informed that we are allowed to purchase and possess additional personal property items as well as religious items. However, only one of the vendors, Golden State Packages, will send all of the items. None of the other vendors have been notified of any changes.

Also, we are no longer allowed to receive tennis shoes. This prison has reneged on this altogether. They have told us that the vendors would be contacted over the past two (2) years.

In closing, we would like to thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter. And hope that we might hear from you in an effort to resolve this.

Respectfully,
On behalf of 4B 1L-C-Section, and 4B Facility. 

Prisoner in Corcoran SHU Dies While on Hunger Strike

We are very sad and very concerned that this has happened. We wish everyone who was a friend, comrade, fellow prisoner, family member, consolation. As the person who reported the news wrote, “his life mattered.” 

For Immediate Release–July 27, 2013

Prisoner in Corcoran SHU Dies While on Hunger Strike
Fellow Prisoners Mourn, Advocates Raise Questions About His Death 

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Ph: 510 517 6612

Oakand–
Mediators working on behalf of hunger striking prisoners have received disturbing  news that Billy Michael Sell, known to his friends as Guero, died while on strike at Corcoran State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) [housed in 4B-3L of the Corcorcan SHU] on Monday, July 22.  His death is being ruled a suicide by prison officials.  

Fellow prisoners have reported that Sell was participating in California’s massive statewide hunger strike–now in its 20th day.  They further reported that Sell had been requesting medical attention for several days prior to his death.  They described Sell as “strong, a good person” and  openly questioned the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) ruling his death a suicide, saying it was “completely out of character for him.”   

Advocates are outraged at Sell’s death, noting that it could have been prevented if CDCR had negotiated with strikers. 

Mediators are working to get further accurate information and accountability from the CDCR.  “This story is deeply troubling and contradicts the assurances that the hunger-striking prisoners are receiving appropriate medical care,” Says Ron Ahnen, of California Prison Focus and the mediation team representing striking prisoners. 

Mediators have made an official inquiry to the federal receiver overseeing California’s prisons.  This report comes amid growing concern for the medical care strikers are receiving, along with continued condemnation of the CDCR’s response to the strike and Gov. Brown’s total silence on the issue.

###

Updates from Pelican Bay State Prison SHU and Corcoran SHU hunger strikers

California Prison Focus News Digest – July 25, 2013
From Pelican Bay SHU prisoner in Ad Seg and HS rep 7/21/13
Arturo Castellanos
I hope this short note finds you and all our supporters in high spirits.  Myself and the rest of the Reps are doing ok in ASU although they do have cold air blasting through the vents.  We covered them but as time goes by on this HS the lack of warm air circulating in these cells will cause adverse effects.
Also you must remember that some or most of the Reps are over 50 and are considered high risk for medical complications because of their chronic illnesses like high blood pressure.  And what adds to the risk is that Doc. Sayers *again* discontinued all medications, even the baby 81 mg aspirins… Even though he is no longer head medical official, it is obvious he still contains some power here among medical staff who distain him.
However, our spirits are high and our determination is solid and we will see this through until CDCR officials settle our Demands in our favor.  And our strength and positive attitude is even greater with all the news on how our outside supporters, including those in other countries, are putting pressure on Gov. Brown and Secretary Beard to bring a settlement offer that we can accept for real changes to long term confinement, which destroys one’s mind and health and relations.  So all our love and respect goes out to all our supporters.
And, even though the numbers go down—last count was 1200—we are not discouraged, we have broken the record and put another wake-up call where general population also see the STG-SDP as a threat to them once it gets placed in the CCR Title 15.
————————————————————-
[from prisoner at PBSP SHU, 7/20/13]

He was moved from Corcoran SHU to PBSP and does not know why.  Not put in PB SHU, but rather in ASU—with hunger strikers.  If someone takes a tray, he’s moved out of ASU.
_____________________________________
[from prisoner in CCI SHU, 7/17/13]
Staff in 4B of CCI SHU are still using sandbags about 5’ long and 6” wide to seal people in their cells. Also, cells are ransacked every time a prisoner leaves, e.g. for showers, medical, or visits.
Some prisoners are doing rolling HS: a week on, a few days off, back on.
Prisoners have received no incoming mail in the last week, and visitors have said they have received nothing from inside. (He thinks legal mail is unaffected but is not certain.)
Some guards are “threatening to pepper-spray any cells  caught passing food through open tray slots.”
_____________________________________
[from prisoner in PBSP SHU, short corridor]
An officer threatened today that whoever doesn’t eat will be moved to AdSeg or to C12—where debriefers and informants are housed. 
The ombudsman Jean Weiss visited, but he got no information of value from his 20-minute talk with her. 
He said that “the Mediation Team reported” on ch. 9 “that [prison staff] were reading all our legal mail.”
_____________________________________
[from prisoner in PBSP SHU, 7/18/13]
A C/O said as of 7/18 there were 200 inmates on HS in the SHU.  The letter writer gave these numbers:  In D1: 13 or 14.   In D5: 25.   In D6: 7.  In D9: 20.
“Sergeant came around this evening telling staff plans were underway to move inmates still participating to C-12 (Debriefing Block – three or four pods are supposedly regular SHU inmates).  Inmates believe this is a tactic to get inmates to stop their fast.  No one wants to be associated with a block of debriefers.  It may also be an attempt to incite violence as many inmates would resist such a move.  Please ensure that this is addressed.  I figure it is a bluff.  There are many inmates hanging on.  Don’t  know about general population or Ad Seg.  I know CDCR is having daily conferences between Sacramento and 4 prsions with SHUs.”
—————– 
Here are some updates from hunger strike prisoners in California SHU’s:

[from Corcoran SHU prisoner 7/21/13]

“Here’s an update on the hunger strike here in Corcoran.  Since our last letter the following has occurred:

*The RN has been making daily rounds and checking all inmates’ vitals.  Also weigh-ins started on the 15th.

*Showers started for all on July 17th

*Still not yard or law library.  Solely paging service is being run for PLU inmates

*Medical runs to 4B clinic is operative, however, one inmate at a time into clinic, so no communication among inmates.  So this does slow the use of the clinic down.

*This week they (CDCR) have been shipping inmates to new Folsom SHU from 4B yard here.  Reason unknown!  We assume to break up the spirit of the protest.  C.O.’s have actually come to our cells and asked us if we want to go voluntarily, if not they will pick and you must go.  Many of us have declined to move.

*Also we are being issued write-ups (115s) for the hunger strike.”
[from prisoner in Corcoran SHU via lawyer visit 7/25/13]

A phone call from a lawyer who met with his client on Thursday morning (July 25) reports that his client had counted at least 10 times when they heard calls for “man down” which required men to be taken out for hospitalization.  Showers were denied at Corcoran for ten days straight, but were recently reinstated, though without hot water.  Most of the water pressure comes from the hot water, however, so it’s only a small amount of cold water that is available.  At other times not during a hunger strike, hot water is available.

The air venting system is problematic.  It is blowing air, but not cold air.  The current temperature in the prison is hotter now than it was during the extreme heat wave in June.  It is also hotter than it normally is.  Prisoners are still being denied law library, and only started to get yard against last Saturday after being denied.

Prisoners on hunger strike had all food out of their cells confiscated [as per the regulations].  As of July 24, no one in 3R is being weighed.

Prisoners are being informed that they have a 115 [Serious Rules Violation] without going through the stipulated process of asking for a investigative officers and being able to respond to the charge.  Apparently the officer is simply stopping at the door, informing the prisoner that they are receiving a 115 and finding them guilty immediately.
—- 
[from Corcoran SHU prisoner 7/21/13]

“Since the resistance of the hunger strike has begun, various tactics to break, disarm, dismantle the spirit of the struggle has been a consistent theme conjured up by the officials as a combative movement against a peaceful protest.
“Allow me to fill you in.  To disrupt the peaceful protest the officials have resorted with false propaganda saying so-and-so in such-and-such building are eating so you all should as well.  They (officials) have become confrontational and verbally combative to all those participating as if those participating in the peaceful protest have offended them (officials) personally behind it all.  The officials continue to utilize the (non-program) of not receiving yard, lack of a shower program and even passing out of canteen to those who are not participating in the peaceful protest allowing (five to seven) days to pass before even passing it out.
“If you complain they always project the bad program out to the hunger strikers rather than them just taking the responsibility for not doing their job.
“Those who began the hunger strike but couldn’t fulfill the longevity due to medical reasons were still written up for a 115 (serious) rules violation, stripped of yard and canteen privileges without the due process of the 115 even being process.  The officials stress that per captain’s orders even if you participated in the peaceful resistance for one day you will be issued a 115, not allowed showers, no yard, no canteen until the peaceful resistance is over…”
— 
[from Corcoran SHU prisoner 7/16/13]

A prisoner reports that they are not being evaluated except that they weighed them once after the 8th day.  He reports they have not received showers
—- 
[from Corcoran SHU 7/19/13]

At first hunger strikers were told they could request to see the doctor, but then they were told that was changed and that they would only be seeing prisoners every seven days.  They were told “We might do Monday, 7/22.”

He also reported receiving a 115 through their slot and being told that they would not be assigned an investigative officer or have a chance to respond.  He notes the 115 have language on them that he suspects will be used for further validation as it says that “..ordered by STG1 [Security Threat Group 1] members housed in PBSP and Corcoran,” “Gang related activity,” etc.  The administration also wants to confiscate televisions as retaliation for the hunger strike and single cell protests.  The staff are constantly repeating the rumor that the “Director” and “Sacramento” are not going to “negotiate.”  “Every time we go to medical the Commanding officers are putting this in our ears.”
——– 
[from Corcoran SHU prisoner 7/15/13]

“Hello, very tired and very weak on the 7th day.  Today a bus full of inmates were taken from their cells and sent to Sacramento (Folsom).  I can only assume the bus was full of inmates Corcoran believes instigated and are probably switching them with inmates in Sacramento.  What CDCR does not understand is that this is not a gang issue.  This is a human rights issue and we are a collective of all races who will not rest, will not stop, until we have put an end to long term isolation and false validation procedures.”
They transferred the prisoners without their property, which usually is shipped to the new institution within 14 or 15 days, but often some property gets broken or goes missing in the process.  The first time he was offered to be weighed was July 15.

Update – July 16.  They took another bus of inmates today and offered to weigh us again.
“We appreciate all the help and concern.  I’m very tired and extremely dizzy.  I’m not sure how long my body can go, but I will not eat.  I know some have stopped.  We will go until they find us unresponsive.  Just so future inmates don’t have to suffer a never ending isolated torture…. (that is against the law to being with.”

To date:  staff/C.O.’s have:

1)      thrown away personal property

2)      denied showers, yard

3)      shipped inmates to other prisoner without their personal property

4)      taken pain medications:  so that inmates with chronic pain have no reprieve.  This is equivalent to beating inmates—deliberately putting inmates in pain.

5)      Shut down property: I have been waiting for a book for almost three months.

6)      Write ups threatening the hunger strike as gang activity.
##

From Corcoran-SHU: Zaharibu Dorrough: we are being isolated in Corcoran-SHU! No medical checkups! Stripped of property!

From a letter by Zaharibu Dorrough to a friend:

From a letter by Zaharibu Dorrough to a friend:
7/14/13
Forgive me for not being able to write sooner. It has been very, very tiresome. [Thinking of you
all has been quite the motivator]

On Thursday, 7-11-13, the warden here ordered the supposed leaders of the protest be isolated from good people. That meant that the reps from each cultural group from the section that we were in: 4B-1L, C section have been moved. Myself, H., two Southern Hispanics, and two Northern Hispanics.

We are now housed in: 4A-3R. [And three of the guys have been housed in 4A-3L] These blocks are designated as SNY/PC buildings . All of the guys in this building [as well as 4A-3L] are informants. They have debriefed.

A day after we were moved here, mattresses were placed in front of our cell. This we designed to re-enforce, psychologically, the feeling of being isolated. And, I guess, to prevent us from receiving food or beverages from anyone. It’s so silly that is borders on being offensive. We have absolutely nothing at all in common with any of the people housed in the building. There is no reason at all to communicate with or accept anything from them. As is said, it’s a building full of stool pigeons. This is the CDCR’s version of sending us to a black site. The conduct of these guys would be comical were it not so disrespectful. You cannot help but hear the idiot shit that is directed at us. And it’s not just daily, it’s all day.

It’s an Absolute Madhouse.

Moving us down here was an extremely tense situation. The warden did authorize that force be used to move us. And it came very close to that happening. It was incredibly irresponsible of the warden. And a clear case of trying to provoke us into a military posture.

We were naturally stripped of our property. And, just as predictable, some of our personal property items came up missing. Thermals, photos [they took the only two copies of the photo I had of me],dictionary, stationary. I’ll have to replace some of it when I am eligible for my package. The Prison Focus, Bayview, gone! At this point it’s the kind of thing that causes you to think and say-when it’s too hot for everyone else, it’s just right for us!-

We have not been to yard in almost 2 weeks. We have not been allowed to shower in a week.

We received no medical attention. NO WEIGH-INS, NO vital signs checks-nothing. A nurse came to the cell this morning, stood approximately 3-4 feet from the cell, stated “drink plenty of water”, wrote something down and walked away. I called her several times in an effort to explain to her that we are both experiencing [assuming this is Zaharibu and Heshima] light headedness, extreme fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, cold chills, dizziness. The nurse just ignored me and kept walking. It was very obvious that she was reading from a script that she, perhaps all of them have been given. And it is either to not say anything at all to us-or only the bare minimum….

Ordinarily, efforts such as those being made by the state now [Everyone was issued a 128, a Chrono alleging that our participation in a statewide hunger strike with gang members and associates in support of “perceived overly harsh SHU issues”, is gang related activity. And our continued participation will result in progressive disciplinary action] occur in response to efforts, just as enthusiastic, by those of us who have been under the yoke of tyranny for far too long, resisting.

I know that it has been said before, but it is worth saying a thousand times …you all are amazing, brave and inspiring people. Whatever victories that result from this struggle will, in no small measure, be because of your contributions, support, and commitment.

                                                Please take care
                                                 Always with you

                                                             Love, hugs   Zaharibu

Prisoner Undocumented Immigrants…The Nightmare of the American Dream

This letter was received, typed and emailed to CaliforniaPrisonWatch.org amongst its recipients, and is being posted here and possibly elsewhere:

By Juan Carlos Molina
CSP-Corcoran-SHU

I would like to take this moment to possibly enlighten you to a situation we as Hispanic Mexican Nationals would like to share with all of you. Our hope is to create discussion and ultimately change this sad reality. Due to being such a small population in California prisons, the majority do not understand or even realize (much less consider). Hopefully with this essay I’m able to express correctly, sufficiently, and effectively these little known conditions and bring attention to this issue. We suffer and struggle daily in a foreign land, where many of us do not even write, understand, or speak English.

This struggle not only involves Mexican Nationals in California, but also all undocumented immigrants in prison around this nation. Some of us are here doing life terms with no family or friends support (mentally, emotionally, economically, physically, etc.), the most basic of human conditions to be social. Think about this for a minute. For family members to visit us from Mexico requires an incredible amount of patience and hard work, and huge obstacles at the US-MEXICO border. 

For example, on my situation I haven’t seen my father, brothers, and some of my sisters since 1996. Why??-because my family couldn’t process the visas for them and couldn’t afford to pay the expenses to travel. In the past, I used to see my mother once a year. My family had to work and save money for my elderly mother to be able to come visit me just one time every year. Unfortunately, since 2007, my family couldn’t afford it anymore. So I haven’t seen the rest of my family since 1996, which is 14 years total and counting. 

This is just my example. Many more undocumented immigrants/Hispanics in prison suffer the same fate. Under life terms and some of us validated in the Security Housing Units (SHU), we may very well never see or hug our immediate family and friends. Imagine the suffering and heartache we endure??? Living life sentences inside ‘the grey box’ (SHU), under this daily struggle, under this psychological and physical torture 23 hours a day we wait to hear and receive news from our family back home.

Many of us came to the U.S. from very rural towns with little or no education and severely economically challenged areas in Mexico. As we can agree, many who come to the U.S. do so for the ‘American Dream’: Land of opportunity and a better way of life. A sacrifice for ourselves and our families back home. 

Due to having to put education on hold early in our youth to work and contribute to our family’s welfare, ultimately basic reading and writing much time is lost and thousands of us risk our lives and cross the border (breaking U.S. laws) and some of those thousands end up in prisons, detention centers, and jails across the nation. Fewer still get life terms that cuts off communication with family and limits it to phone calls (when rare monetary ability allows a phone call home) and letters (for those who can read and write).

This is some of what we endure and struggle with, maintaining communication: hope of seeing, speaking to, hearing the familiar voices, or hugging a family member one more time. Whatever the reason or situation, we as prisoners got caught up in the huge justice system of this mighty and powerful nation. Illiteracy, sadly, caused some to sing plea agreements for life terms unknowingly and unintelligibly and so, here we are, for life we exist… in prisons far away from family and friends back home in our country of origin. Not knowing how their lives are going (basic social interaction in an advanced, immediate access, social technical world) for years on end sometimes, is an exhausting struggle we endure. 
Not knowing English accentuates this lonely existence. We suffer alone, unable to afford even toothpaste or deodorant, indigent with no outside support.

Accordingly, I’ll now share the heavier and further sad facts affecting us undocumented immigrants (Mexican national prisoner class) in California prisons. Prison officials incorrectly clam us as gang-related, even though we (historically) no not involve ourselves with any gangs. 

Because we socialize with other Hispanics who speak our own language, we are now getting validated and segregated as participants or associating with prison gangs incorrectly by CDCR. As we all know, this is an extremely difficult and complicated situation as there is an already limited ability to challenge the validation and segregation or understand the already poorly worded rules and regulations.

Because we are only a few of the thousands validated and segregated we are still subject to these torture chambers, anti-social conditions, indeterminately housed in the SHU. As gang associates (incorrectly by CDCR), our already poor communication abilities with family and friends in our country is made worse by constant IGI interference and delays in mail distribution. These are the facts and the issues. We Hispanic Mexican nationals doing life terms seek your support and assistance along with and in solidarity with the prisoner’s peaceful Hunger Strike and the Core Demands.

We are as one within this struggle and in unity we ask all to include our one demand in solidarity with us….Which is a call for CDCR to simply comply with and for us to be identified under the international Treaty of Vienna Convention. The treaty was adopted by the United Nations conference held at Vienna on the twenty-fourth day of April in one thousand nine hundred and sixty three (April 24, 1963). Agreements that both the U.S. and Mexico signed. We also want to be included in the U.S./Mexico prisoner exchange program (currently as lifers, we are ineligible). We are a prisoner class that is in need of the humane and just treaty.

We Mexican nationals, seek this demand in solidarity with California prisoners: For lifers to be included in the prisoner exchange treaty and for CDCR to comply with the Vienna Convention international law. And our rights to be free from torture of indefinite solitary confinement (in the SHU).

Lastly, the California Prison Reduction and Cost Saving bill past recently and federal courts are mandating CDCR comply with it. We want included as a key issue, Mexican nationals and all undocumented immigrants be returned to their own country to do their time. Yet again, lifers are surely excluded , and not only that, but also CDCR will exclude us in segregated housing under erroneous gang labels.

The conditions and practices that imprisoned man, women, and children experience are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

U.S. prison practices also violate dozens of other international treaties and fit the United Nations definitions of genocide.

See this article of the US Human Rights Network for the following citation:

Article 1 of the U.N. Convention Against Torture prohibits policies and practices that “constitute cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment”. The history of international attention to this issue is compelling.

In 1995, the U.N Human Rights Committee stated that conditions in certain U.S. maximum security prisons were incompatible with international standards. 

In 1996, the HRW special reporter on violence against women took testimony in California on the ill treatment of women in U.S. prisons

In 2000, the United Nations Committee against Torture roundly condemned the U.S. for its treatment of prisoners, citing super-max prisons and the use of torture devices, as well as the practice of jailing youth with adults. The use of stun belts and the restraint chair was also cited as violating the U.N. convention against torture. 

In May 2006, the same committee concluded that the U.S. should “review the regimen imposed on detainees in super-maximum prisons. In particular, the practice of prolonged isolation”.


                                                          Respectfully
                                                        In Solidarity,
Juan Carlos Molina #K30854
C.S.P. COR-SHU 4B-2L-47
P.O. Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

Solidarity with the 30,000 from across the world

Solidarity with the hunger strikers from across the world: 

“The policy of isolation exposes the ugly face of these false democracies that are guilty of occupation, tyranny and social repression…
I fought in a hunger strike for 66 consecutive days against the policy of administrative detention, my detention without charge or trial. I announce my full solidarity with my 30,000 oppressed brothers in the American prisons…” – Khader Adnan

From Ohio:
7-1-13 For Distribution:

Why should a prisoner in Ohio or Minnesota, or New Mexico, support California prisoners as they move into a crucial stage of struggle for their just do?

My humble opinion is: how could any prisoner think that these apartheid-style policies being used in California won’t come knocking in Florida, WV, Illinois, or any prison system, at any given time? Remember California is said to be a liberal (in terms of political policy) state. How many conservative governors are envious of such harsh prison policies right now?!

I urge all of you in every prison and your able-bodied supporters (each of you can ask one of your friends, supporters outside who are in good health) to support this July 8th hunger strike in some form, but don’t wait till this kind of policy pays you a visit…

Remember Lucasville

Greg Curry (Ohio State Penitentiary)
————-
Nora’s blog – Electronic Intifada
Prisoner solidarity from Palestine to Pelican Bay
Via: ElectronicIntifada, July 8 2013

Persons incarcerated in Pelican Bay prison in northern California are preparing to go on a mass hunger strike starting today, 8 July, demanding the end of human rights violations including long-term solitary confinement.
Palestine activism groups are also launching days of action in support of the US hunger strikers in California, strengthening solidarity between Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons who are calling for an end to the similar methods of mass incarceration, abuse and torture inflicted upon them.

This is not the first time prisoners inside California’s Pelican Bay will go on hunger strike to demand the end of abuses. In July 2011, approximately 6,000 prisoners across twelve prisons in California took part in a three-week mass hunger strike that was launched by persons imprisoned inside Pelican Bay. The California Department of Corrections (CDC) pledged to implement reforms, and the hunger strike ended.

But later that year — after the CDC failed to change their treatment of prisoners — another hunger strike was launched by prisoners across the state. This time, 12,000 persons took part in the mass hunger strike, which lasted from 26 September to 13 October 2011. Again, prisoners in Pelican Bay say that the state promised but ultimately failed to change their policies.

Today, Truthout published a testimonial by Richard Wembe Johnson, who is imprisoned in long-term solitary confinement at Pelican Bay. Johnson is a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights to challenge such practices.

Persons inside solitary confinement units are isolated for at least 22.5 hours a day “in cramped, concrete, windowless cells,” Truthout writes. “They are denied telephone calls, contact visits, any kind of programming, adequate food and, often, medical care. Nearly 750 of these men have been held under these conditions for more than a decade, dozens for over 20 years.”

In his brief testimonial, Richard Wembe Johnson writes that being in long-term solitary confinement has made him feel he could “descend into madness.” He adds:

It is a challenge each day just to remain sane. I experience a wide and shifting range of emotions, including depression, hopelessness, antipathy, anxiety and humiliation, and I have chronic insomnia. It is difficult even to concentrate from moment to moment; my thoughts are mixed and perplexing, even in my sleep (when I am able to sleep at all).
Under no circumstance should anyone be treated like this. We are human and should not forfeit basic human rights because we are in prison.  Of course everyone should be held accountable for their actions. However, punishment for a crime should never amount to torture. What’s more, [security housing unit] confinement is additional punishment, on top of imprisonment, not for any crime or violation of prison rules, but for unsubstantiated claims that we have associated with gang members.

Core demands

Representatives from inside Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) have initiated this latest call for a mass hunger strike and have notified California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, that such a protest will take place beginning today.
The prisoners’ core demands include:

  1. End group punishment & administrative abuse
  2. Abolish the debriefing policy, and modify active/inactive gang status criteria
  3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement
  4. Provide adequate and nutritious food
  5. Expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for those living in the SHU

In addition to the five core demands as laid out in the original 2011 protest, the prisoners have also presented forty supplemental demands that “are part of and/or related to our five core demands.”
They state in a press release posted on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website:

Governor Jerry Brown; CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard; and all other parties of interest,

In response to CDCR’s failure to meet our 2011 Five (5) Core Demands, the [Pelican Bay Stae Prison – Security Housing Unit] Short Corridor Representatives respectfully present this notice of, and basis for, our individualized, collectively agreed upon, decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest action on July 08, 2013.

The upcoming peaceful protest will be a combined Hunger Strike – Work Stoppage action. Once initiated, this protest will continue indefinitely—until all Five (5) Core Demands are fully met.

From Pelican Bay to Palestine

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners’ Solidarity Network issued a call of solidarity with the US prisoners in Pelican Bay, and offered ways to take action.
Samidoun states:

[W]ithout progress over almost two years, the prisoners in California are launching their strike again. Prisoners continue to be sentenced to lifetimes in solitary confinement because they are labelled “gang affiliated” over such matters as tattoos, cultural art, or reading material. Youth prisoners in Washington have also announced their intention to join the strike.

Over 2 million people are imprisoned in the US and over 60 percent of those people are people of color, subject to a distinctly racialized system that routinely criminalizes youth of color, in sharp contrast to the crime rate, which has fallen while imprisonment has risen. Mass incarceration is deeply racialized, as 1/3 of young Black men are in the criminal justice system. The US holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners with 5 percent of the world’s population, and prisoner resistance and political action has been sharply repressed.

As we stand against apartheid, racism, and Zionism in Palestine, we stand against racism and oppression in the US and around the world. Solitary confinement is a mechanism of torture, from Palestine to Pelican Bay to Guantanamo, and we stand in solidarity with the courageous prisoners who challenge isolation and oppression. The US is Israel’s key international supporter, ally, and economic/military supplier, and maintains regimes of mass imprisonment for social control both in occupied Palestine and in its own prisons.
Take action and sign the Pledge of Resistance with the California Hunger Strikers.

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) also issued a call of support and solidarity with hunger strikers from California to Palestine.
IJAN states:

Members of IJAN have been following and supporting the organizing of California prisoners, who are prepared to go on indefinite hunger strike starting July 8 to demand an end to long–term solitary confinement and other abuses.

Both Israel and the US use policing, imprisonment (and especially solitary confinement), and surveillance as tools of political repression—often sharing technology and training. In the US, the prison industrial complex plays a central role in American racism—harassing and incarcerating Black and Brown youth, brutalizing Black and Brown bodies, and devastating communities of color.

Israel plays a significant role in the training of police forces in the United States and elsewhere in population control and Israel and the US share technologies and strategies of surveillance and repression across borders (for more information on Israel’s Worldwide Role in Repression follow this link).

As people who support the liberation of all peoples, and oppose all forms of racism, it is imperative that we stand behind striking prisoners, who are willing to risk their lives organizing for their rights and dignity.

… People who stand up to organize events on the Day of Action (or any other date) are asked to act in true solidarity by following these guidelines from the Coalition based on communication with the prisoners:

  1. Support the prisoners by advocating for the Five Core Demands rather than agitating for other goals or our own demands
  2. Remember that the prisoners chose a “nonviolent peaceful protest” and plan your solidarity actions with that spirit in mind
  3. Honor the strikers, their loved ones, supporters, and the larger community of prisoner-rights and anti-prison organizations by refusing to claim leadership of the solidarity campaign

Palestinian prisoners still on hunger strike

Addameer, the Palestinian prisoners’ advocacy organization based in the occupied West Bank, reported on 18 June that:

Individual hunger strikes of Palestinian political prisoners have escalated dramatically since the beginning of 2013, with over 33 prisoners engaging in hunger strikes for various reasons.
This week, Addameer has confirmed that four new prisoners have started hunger strikes. Currently, there are 13 prisoners on hunger strike in the Occupation’s prisons, the highest number of individual hunger strikers in over a year.

In a summary of their latest quarterly report, which came out last week, Addameer stated that:

Key issues this quarter were the Israel Prison Services’ (IPS) continued medical negligence, use of isolation, increase in raids, the military court’s use of Article 186 of Military Order 1651, detention and torture of child prisoners under the age of 16 and increased detention of journalists, Jerusalemites and human rights defenders.

Addameer maintains that increased international pressure and forceful actions must be taken to oblige Israel to act within international law parameters until the imminent abolition of the military prison system.

Yasiin Bey demonstrates Guantanamo force-feeding

In related news, more than 100 detainees languishing inside the Guantanamo Bay prison continue their hunger strike protest against the Obama administration’s ongoing policies of indefinite detention, the UK Guardian reports, adding:

More than 40 of them are being force-fed. A leaked document sets out the military instructions, or standard operating procedure, for force-feeding detainees.

Hip hop artist and activist Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, recently elected to experience force-feeding under the same conditions in which detainees at Guantanamo are being subjected. He filmed the shocking procedure in a four-minute video produced by the human rights organization Reprieve.
The Guardian adds in a related article:

The four-minute video, directed by Bafta award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, seeks to reconstruct the specific force-feeding instructions set out in standard operating guidelines from Guantánamo leaked to al-Jazeera. It shows a plastic tube being inserted through Bey’s nostril into his stomach. The “Medical Management Standard Operating Procedure” document leaked from the detention camp defines a hunger striker as a detainee who has missed at least nine consecutive meals or whose weight has fallen to less than 85 percent of his ideal body weight.

You can watch the incredibly disturbing — but important — video here.