[Ppnews] A Brief Discussion on the Reality and Impact of SHU Torture Units

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 11 10:33:03 EDT 2011

A Brief Discussion on the Reality and Impact of 
SHU Torture Units in the Wake of the August 23rd 
Legislative Hearings, From the N.C.T.T. - COR-SHU

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice 
everywhere...We know through painful experience 
that freedom is never voluntarily given by the 
oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

-Letter from Birmingham Jail, 4/16/63
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These sage words by Dr. King are both appropriate 
to the discussion we’d like to have with you on 
indefinite SHU confinement, and cautionary as to 
who we are as a society in these troubled times. 
This 2nd point is very relevant to this 
discussion and we hope you’ll stick with us as we 
explore subject matter that is both broad and 
disturbing which requires us to share some inconvenient truths.

Security Housing Units, SHUs, like those in 
Pelican Bay, Tehachapi, and this one here in 
Corcoran are torture units. They are used to 
indefinitely house human beings in solitary 
confinement, under constant illumination, based 
on an administrative determination that they are 
“gang” members or associates, with an impetus 
towards breaking their minds in hopes of 
eliciting information, coercing them into 
becoming informants or active agents of the 
state. The torture units are the living tombs of 
not only alleged “gang” members or associates, 
but political and politicized prisoners, human 
rights activists, critics of the prison industry, 
jailhouse lawyers and most anyone who in the sole 
determination of Institutional Gang Investigators 
(I.G.I.) and administrators, are not content to 
accept and submit passively to their role as 
commodities in the prison industrial complex. The 
United States, and many of it’s media outlets 
such as the ‘New York Times’ and ‘San Diego Union 
Tribune’, prior to the U.S. “War on Terror” 
routinely criticized China, Turkey, Burma, Syria, 
and other nations for holding prisoners in 
indefinite solitary confinement, under conditions 
of constant illumination and/or sensory 
deprivation, etc. for expressing contrary 
political views. They universally condemned the 
practice as torture, citing the United Nations 
Human Rights Commission Treaty. Their hypocrisy 
was of course revealed soon after the policy of 
U.S. sponsored torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo 
Bay, and numerous secret C.I.A. blacksite prisons 
was exposed. Yet America’s dirty little secret 
is, state sponsored torture in the U.S. is 
neither new or exclusive to it’s “War on Terror”. 
Years before Abu Ghraib and ‘Gitmo’ they were 
murdering prisoners in San Quentin’s Adjustment 
Center, boiling men alive at Pelican Bay-SHU, and 
holding murderous bloodsport style bouts in 
Corcoran-SHU all along holding alleged “gang” 
members and left wing political ideologues for 
decades in sensory deprivation torture units at 
Pelican Bay, Corcoran, and Tehachapi SHUs. Yes, 
indefinite solitary confinement and constant 
illumination is being used right now in 
California SHU units, in conjunction with a 
program of systematic isolation and experimental 
behavior modification to torture prisoners 
everyday ... with no end in sight. The California 
Supreme and 9th Circuit courts, in blatant 
indifference to constitutional and international 
law, have repeatedly refused to intervene on 
behalf of prisoners at Pelican Bay and Corcoran 
SHU who’ve lived under these psychologically 
torturous conditions for 10, 20, 30, and even 40 
years straight, This is unadulterated hypocrisy, 
wherein your public officials are torturing 
fellow citizens in your name. The United Nations 
Convention Against Torture and other cruel and 
degrading treatment or punishment defines 
“torture” as: “any state-sanctioned action by 
which severe pain or suffering, mental or 
physical, is intentionally inflicted for 
obtaining information, punishment, info, 
intimidation, or discrimination.” This virtually 
defines the validation, indeterminate-SHU, and 
debriefing processes, which are all 
interconnected. We are told, quite frankly at ICC 
hearings, “You’ll only get out of SHU if you 
parole, debrief, or die.” The parole board is no 
different for those of us in SHU with determinate 
life sentences where we are told, “If you want a 
parole date, you may want to think about 
debriefing.” To debrief one must become an 
informant, an active agent of the state, and 
decades of such torture and withholding of 
freedom are powerful state sanctions to break 
men’s minds, compel them to lie, make something 
up, or simply parrot what they are told to say by 
state handlers to support a law enforcement 
agenda in order to escape the SHU. In at least 2 
recent online articles, one by the notoriously 
pro-prison industry “Sacramento Bee”, we see 
debriefers doing just this: actually advocating 
the merits of the very SHU torture units that 
broke their minds and made them thralls of prison 
industrialists, the C.C.P.O.A. and all those with 
an economic and political interest in maintaining 
the symbolism of these torture units as the abode 
of “predatory gang leaders and organized 
criminals” and other exaggerations. The U. N. 
Human Rights Commission has stated prolonged 
solitary confinement, especially for purposes of 
extracting information, is prohibited as torture. 
SHUs are, by definition, torture units; and 
specialty ultra-supermax isolation units like 
Pelican Bay’s D-Short Corridor and Corcoran SHUs 
for 4BIL-C-section, are specifically engineered 
to warp reality for purposes of breaking men’s 
minds. Such torture, no matter the supposed 
justification, is never an acceptable practice 
for a humane society. The UN Convention Against 
Torture states, “no exceptional circumstances 
whatsoever, whether state or threat of war or 
political emergency
 may be invoked as a reason 
for torture. “ As it stands, your correctional 
department and courts, some of your elected 
officials and all law enforcement agencies do 
feel torture is justified as long as it’s applied 
to those they deem “gang members”. But there is a 
much more insidious, socioeconomic and political 
motivation for the maintenance and expansion of 
SHU torture units and indeterminate SHU 
confinement based on “gang” validation. It is 
sustained by manipulating your perception of 
truth and humanity; by controlling your 
perception of these things the prison industrial 
complex dictates your actions, reactions, and 
inaction to their impact on lives and communities – yours included.

As you may be aware we embarked on a historic 21 
day hunger strike in July in solidarity with the 
Pelican Bay SHU-D-Corridor Collective and the 5 
core demands recognizing our basic human rights. 
We were joined by some 6,600 other prisoners 
across the state, countless others across the 
nation, and garnered the support of principled 
people all over the world. On August 23rd, 2011 a 
hearing was held by the legislative Committee on 
Public Safety in response to these issues. I want 
to take this time to highlight some of the 
distortions, misrepresentations of fact, and 
outright lies by CDCR Undersecretary Scott Kernan 
[a key prison industrialist], to illustrate just 
what we’re talking about here. There is an 
articulable economic basis upon which state 
sanctioned torture units are maintained in 
California and throughout the U.S. Before we get 
into Mr. Kernan’s comments it’s necessary for you 
to have a clear understanding of what they are – 
to understand why he would contradict himself – 
and openly lie – to a legislative oversight committee.

A central purpose of SHU torture units (and 
“gang” validations resulting in indeterminate SHU 
confinement) is to ensure your financial and 
political support for the expansion and 
maintenance of the prison industrial complex, by 
maximizing your fear and capitalizing on your 
ignorance of these issues. The foundational 
cornerstones of their success is convincing you 
that “gang” members (or at least those they’ve 
labeled as such) are these depraved, inhuman 
monsters hell bent on rape, murder and predation 
of innocent people; and only they, the “gang 
experts” know who these monsters are and how best 
to “protect” you from them. These allegedly 
malevolent, irrationally violent, and predatory 
organized gangs are the source of all societies 
ills and the very origin of crime in our 
communities. By maintaining these torture units 
and proclaiming they are the abodes of the “worst 
of the worst”, they have a symbolic manifestation 
of the validity of their claims. No one can 
refute their accounts or characterizations 
because transparency is non-existent in CDCR 
Prisoners have no public voices. The C.C.P.O.A. 
successfully lobbied to ban media interviews with 
prisoners so the public is left to a unilateral, 
one-sided view of prison conditions and their 
discontents. This allows them free reign to 
perpetuate the myth of the “inhuman gang member”, 
and with tacit media support, dehumanize an ever 
growing segment of the underclass community. Have 
you not noticed when your local news reports on a 
suspected offender, parolee, or even a victim of 
police brutality the first thing said as he or 
she is paraded across the screen is they are a “ 
validated gang member” of this or that “gang”, as 
though this designation somehow diminishes their 
human worth. When incidents occur in or around 
our schools, the school is put on “lockdown”, a 
term derived from the California prisons to 
denote a prison yard being “locked down” after a 
riot or other incident. These terms, consistently 
employed by authority and media figures, 
inevitably lead to the formation of a particular 
social psychology. When you hear the term “gang” 
or “gang member” it automatically conjures images 
of innocent drive-by shooting victims and prison 
rapes inspired by shows like “Oz” and other 
cinematic visions, divorcing these men and women 
from the human condition, dehumanizing them. 
These people, more often than not, were saddled 
with these characterizations because of the 
communities they come from, and may well have 
never committed a violent or predatory act in 
their lives. But you don’t know that. All you 
know is what you’ve been told by the anchorman, 
police, or CDC spokesman. They know that, because 
they’ve used millions of your tax dollars to 
engineer it what way. The truth of the matter is, 
there are no malevolent, irrationally violent, 
predatory gangs roving the streets of your cities 
or the prison yards of CDCR; only desperate men 
and women forced to the bottom rung of society 
through institutional disparities in economic and 
race based distribution of educational, 
employment, and employment opportunities at 
virtually every level of human activity in the 
U.S. Do gangs exist? Of course. That’s not the 
issue here. The issue is why do they exist and 
where are they prevalent?  “Gangs”, and more 
centrally gang violence and high crime, are 
prevalent primarily in underclass communities. 
Crime and the formation of gang violence 
conditions are like water – they flow to areas of 
least resistance and emptiness – in this case 
economic “emptiness” (poverty). The national 
unemployment rate (not counting the 
under-employed or those who’ve stop looking) 
stands at 9.1%; yet in the New Afrikan (Black) 
community it’s 17% and in the Latino community is 
14.5%;  those without a high school diploma stand 
at 16% unemployed, while those with a bachelors 
degree a mere 4%. New Afrikans (Blacks) and 
Latinos make up 90% of the prison population but 
a scant 26% of the national population. The 
origin of crime is not “gangs” – “gangs” are a 
social symptom of that origin. The origin of all 
crime is the disproportionate distribution of 
wealth, privilege, and opportunity in our 
society. This is not by chance or happenstance, 
it is by design. Wage based employment and 
entrepreneurship are the only ways to “legally” 
create wealth in this society – when social 
conditions are such that a community contains a 
large population of surplus labor (either 
unemployable due to their lack of education or 
marketable skills – or the market simply can not 
sustain that population of workers) the only 
alternative to survive is the underground economy 
(be that illicit services such as narcotics, the 
sex trade, or gambling, or predatory crimes such 
as extortion, robbery and identity theft). There 
is a corresponding sense of socio-political 
impotence which accompanies the innate insecurity 
of poverty. Young men and women who have no 
power, no hope, no impact on their world and 
little to no love in their lives, form community 
based, lumpen organizations to fill that 
socio-political void in their existence. These 
the state calls “gangs” and has declared war on 
them. One of the reasons so few people vote in 
underclass communities is these disparities are 
institutional and systemic to U.S. capitalist 
economics – no matter who is in office, their 
plight doesn’t change. Because these communities 
are a marginal constituency, public officials 
extend a corresponding indifference to their 
plight – and instead of “protecting and serving” 
these communities, law enforcement, judicial, 
correctional and some legislative officials all 
too commonly have a containment, suppression, and 
adversarial relationship with these communities 
and those who come from them. Yet the Bell Curve 
theorists’ rhetoric and notions that young men 
and women want to stand on a street corner 
selling crack or want to risk their lives and 
freedom by engaging in unprovoked gang violence 
are simply untrue. You pick any prisoner in these 
SHU units validated as a “gang member” and offer 
him a job making $20.00 an hour, I can guarantee 
you he won’t break the law. But the environment 
in these communities, and most assuredly the 
environment in CDCR prisons, are not structured 
to produce such success or opportunity. Which 
brings me to my next point: The California 
correctional system is an environment designed 
and maintained by its administrators. CDC“R” 
effectively retards rehabilitation, especially 
among SHU prisoners (those, who by the state’s 
own admission, most need rehabilitation), by 
withholding the vital tech-based vocational 
training and higher education opportunities 
needed to compete in today’s high-tech world. It 
was primarily through the successful efforts of 
the CCPOA that funding through Pell grants for 
higher education was taken from prisoners. 
Predictably, what followed this repeal of the 
inmate Bill of Rights was an unprecedented boom 
in prison building and expansion of the prison 
population by 800% in the last 20 years. Racial 
antagonisms are encouraged to preclude broad 
class cooperation amongst prisoners, like the 
unprecedented unity shown in the recent hunger 
strike. Underdevelopment while in prison, coupled 
with an emphasis on seeking most any impetus for 
violation by parole officers once out of prison, 
is designed to preclude successful reintegration 
into society, maximize recidivism rates, and 
undermine the underclass communities from which 
these x-offenders hail. All to maintain the 
steady social dysfunction and economic 
desperation in these family units so a consistent 
flow of bodies is exiting these communities and 
entering jails and prisons, court systems and 
probation departments, ensuring a recession-proof 
industry of profit and expansion for the prison 
market and those who depend on your tax dollars 
to sustain their privilege. The very structure of 
CDCR regulations is designed to promote 
dependency, destroy ingenuity and 
self-determination, and deter unity. They 
actually have rules which bar prisoners from 
creating or running a business, which always 
boggled our minds in an economically depressed 
capitalist economy. If there are prisoners with 
the insight, talent, innovative ideas, and 
entrepreneurial acumen to make a meaningful 
contribution to this state’s economy and job 
market – men and women who the courts have 
determined owe some debt to society, why would 
you codify a basis for them not doing so, outside 
of the same “potential for impropriety” rhetoric 
they use to justify accepting unsubstantiated 
confidential information and mere suspicion as  a 
basis for SHU confinement, there exists no 
justification for such a regulation. The only 
basis that follows reason is to prevent 
independence and promote dependency on the state, 
thus perpetuating institutionalization. If you 
combine all of this with the psycho-social 
decimation of men’s minds resulting from 
prolonged, in some cases endless, isolation in 
conditions such as these, is it any wonder 
psychiatrists + psychologists universally agree 
that this type of torture effectively destroys 
ones ability to function in society? Which is the 
point. As we’ve stated before, the modern 
criminal justice system in the U.S., and 
California in particular (where the CDCR is 
concerned especially), is the biggest conflict of 
interest in U.S. history: those entrusted with 
reducing the number of criminal offenders and 
protecting public safety have their potential 
profit margin directly attached to maximizing the 
number of offenders under their control at any 
given time.  This is why the CCPOA fought so had 
to stop out of state transfers to comply with the 
medical receivers orders. The more prisoners 
under their control the larger their budget, the 
greater their salaries and benefits, and the more 
overtime hours they can bill to your tax dollars. 
Most vitally, however, is the more prisoners 
held, and for ever greater durations, the more 
assured they are of their long term job security; 
no matter the fragility of the economy in the 
current crisis. To be sure, an economic downturn 
to the rest of U.S. is an economic upturn for 
those in the prison industry. It means an 
inevitable increase in human commodities: 
prisoners. According to CDCR they spend an 
average of 78 thousand dollars to house us in 
these SHU cells each year – perhaps a little more 
due to the added isolation features in the 
Pelican Bay-SHU D-Short Corridor and Corcoran SHU 
4BlL-C-section torture units. We assure you it 
does not cost 78K to feed us the 2 small trays 
and 1 sack lunch we receive each day, or to keep 
this light burning 24 hours, or to power our 
small 13” TVs. Besides being escorted to the K-9 
dog cages for ‘yard’  3 times a week in chains, 
and 5 minutes in the shower 3 times a week – we 
never leave these cells. So I assure you that 
money is not being spent on prisoners housed in 
these torture units – no – it’s spent on guards. 
It’s spent on their salaries, benefits, 
equipment, training, guns and bullets – not us. 
Of fiscal interest they (the I.G.I/I.S.U.) took 
$5,000 from the inmate welfare fund to erect a 
giant green wall. (Yes, the irony did not escape 
us.) To cut 4BIL off from the rest of the yard – 
this was prisoner money used to expand the 
isolation environmental of same. The guard 
working the SHU makes more money and with the 
overtime they can get, can in essence write their 
own checks on your buck and at expense of our 
minds, our bodies, and sometimes it feels – our very souls.

During the August 23rd legislative hearing the 
CDCR panel representative, Undersecretary of 
Operations Scott Kernan made some of the most 
baseless overly simplistic and outright false 
statements concerning prison existence related to 
SHU and so-called “gangs” that they must be 
debunked. He stated “gangs” were “responsible for 
ordering rapes...” in prison and are the “primary 
threat” for such heinous acts. This is not simply 
an outright lie, but in fact quite the opposite 
is true for the vast majority of men housed in 
these indeterminate SHU torture units. Taking 
liberties, or the forced sexual subjugation of 
anyone, especially another human under these 
conditions, is not simply prohibited by most SHU 
prisoners, but forcefully opposed. Mr. Kernan’s 
assertion that men housed here would even condone 
such sickness is a testament to the fear and 
dehumanization based rhetoric which has become 
the staple of prison industrialist propaganda 
over the past 20 years, and is an insult to our 
humanity. The N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU, collectively have 
over 100 years of experience living in the most 
dysfunctional and violent prisons in California 
and can state with definitive confidence that the 
vast majority of the “8000 assaults or stabbings 
the department has each year” has little to do 
with “gangs”, as Mr. Kernan said, and everything 
to do with overcrowded facilities, limited access 
to jobs, viable vocational training, and 
effective educational programs on yards 
throughout the system. Most of these altercations 
are the result of idleness related frustrations, 
limited space, and how CDCR administrators have 
structured these prisons historically; be it a 
dispute on the basketball or handball court, an 
unpaid gambling debt, a cross word said in 
frustration at overcrowded conditions taken as 
‘disrespect’, or a race based rumor started by 
some guard – these things have little to do with 
“gangs”. Those instances where a “gang” member 
may be involved in a personal dispute (and 
according to CDCR, everyone in CDCR “runs with 
some gang”), the staff report it as “gang 
related” when the “gang” in fact had nothing to 
do with the initial incident. He went on to state 
millions of tax dollars were “wasted” each year, 
“and gangs would be identified as the primary 
problem”. Mr. Kernan has no factual basis for 
this statement and we can’t even conceive of the 
rubic by which he would venture this opinion when 
targeted educational and economic development 
programs in underclass communities and in prisons 
have been proven effective means by which to 
reduce both predatory and market based crime 
rates, and reduce recidivism amongst prisoners. 
Yet funding from such initiatives, due primarily 
to lobbying efforts of the C.C.P.O.A. and their 
political cabal, has been repeatedly diverted to 
prison custody budgets under the auspices of 
“public safety” – an oxymoronic application of 
the term if ever there was one. Mr. Kernan went 
on to state, it’s “only 3000” validated SHU 
prisoners in a population of 165,000, “that’s a 
very small number.” It’s this type of thinking 
that led to the use of C.I.A. black sites in 
Uzbekistan, Egypt, Pakistan, and yes Libya to 
imprison “under extraordinary interrogation 
conditions” terror suspects, and torture them for 
years – continuing still – in the U.S. war on 
terror. 3,000 torture victims in a population of 
165,000 – is 3,000 too many. Mr. Kernan went on 
to state, “We won’t allow media to talk to 
individual inmates for fear of them 
sensationalizing their crimes, like Charles 
Manson or Scott Peterson”, a patently absurd 
notion he knew full well was untrue. No one here 
wants to “sensationalize” their criminal 
convictions or past lifestyles – in truth there 
is a significant segment of the indeterminate SHU 
population, such as the N.C.T.T. and those of 
like mind, who have dedicated their lives to not 
only atoning for the damage done to our 
communities as a result of our ignorance and lack 
of consciousness in the past, but for the damage 
putting  forward meaningful programs and 
initiatives to improve the lives of the people in 
underclass communities as a whole. The only 
prisoners in the SHU Mr Kernan allowed the media 
to access, and the only ones such media outlets 
like the ‘Sacramento Bee’ seem to be interested 
in quoting, are debriefers, informants, and 
agents of the state. Mr. Kernan did not allow 
media access to the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor 
collective or 4BIL-C-Section Collective because 
he did not want socio-politically conscious 
prisoners articulating the true basis and reasons 
for the hunger strike and the inescapable 
deteriorating psychological effects of SHU. This 
is simply another example of state-controlled 
media in a society that purports itself to be 
free and open. Yet another manifestation of 
CDCR’s successful gambit to monopolize the 
discussion. We found it ironic that Mr. Kernan 
attempted to dismiss and re-direct the blatant 
human rights violations which torture units 
represent, by stating “the violence the gangs 
perpetuate is the human rights violation”, when 
the vast majority of the “8000 assaults and 
stabbings” occurring in the modern CDCR are 
occurring on Sensitive Needs Yards (SNY) by the 
very debriefers and protective custody prisoners 
IGI has relied on, or broken, to manufacture 
uncorroborated and unsubstantiated “confidential 
information chronos” to put, and keep, other 
prisoners in indefinite SHU confinement. To be 
sure, the most violent “gang” in CDCR currently 
is “2.5” (1/2 of 5.0), the prison gang made up of 
debriefers and informants who directly work for 
I.G.I., I.S.U., and law-enforcement agencies. Mr. 
Kernan was adamant that “the courts have upheld 
the validation process and though harsh – the SHU 
is not torture.” That’s not exactly true either. 
That SHUs are torture units is uncontestable, yet 
California courts, most of the judges being 
elected with the backing of C.C.P.O.A. lobbying 
dollars, rarely uphold the Constitution where 
prisoners, and especially SHU prisoners, are 
seeking human rights protection. Yet, in the Koch 
v. Lewis case that the Supreme Court took 
addressed the indeterminate confinement in the 
equally harsh SMU-II Torture Unit in Florence, 
Arizona, the court found that Koch’s solitary 
confinement violated his right to due process 
under the 14th Amendment because there was no 
evidence that Koch had committed any overt act to 
warrant such torture. The claim that he was an 
Aryan Brotherhood member was insufficient. 
Substantive due process requires that evidence 
used must bear a logical relation to the specific 
deprivations. As Judge Moran stated, “the 
labeling of 
 Koch as a ‘gang member’ does not 
itself create legal concerns. Rather, it is the 
placement in SMU-II as a result of this alleged 
association that is constitutionally 
significant.” After hearing evidence of SMU-II 
conditions (identical to Cal-SHU conditions) and 
the psychological harm faced by prisoners, the 
court not only found a significant liberty 
deprivation but also that the very practice of 
sending prisoners to supermax torture units based 
on status alone – with no charges or evidence of 
misconduct – violated due process. The court 
concluded that there must be some evidence of 
misconduct, some overt gang related act, to 
justify placing Koch in SMU-II for an indefinite 
term. Yet as Mr. Kernan stated, virtually 
lifelong supermax detention for alleged “gang 
members” in U.S. domestic prisons continues to be 
judged constitutional here in California. It’s 
not that they, or he, does not know these torture 
units violate basic tenets of humaneness – they 
simply have an overriding interest in their 
maintenance: money and control. Your money, their 
control. This assertion by Mr. Kernan that this 
torture unit is not a torture unit is so 
outrageous and insulting it recalls Bush era 
admonitions that waterboarding, Abu Ghraib, and 
CIA blacksites abroad weren’t torture either. It 
is an absurdity, and a dangerous one. Mr. 
Kernan’s dogged assertion that gangs, and more 
centrally those of us housed in these SHU torture 
units, are the source of perpetual violence in 
CDCR ignores the inescapable reality of gross 
overcrowding, intentional underdevelopment and 
dependency, and the structural conditions they’ve 
created in California prisons which is the actual 
origin of prison violence. Until these structural 
fallacies are addressed violence in California 
prisons will continue no matter how many 
prisoners are consigned to this gaol, and he 
knows this. Mr. Kernan stated the process being 
discussed by “all state law enforcement, 
C.C.P.O.A., ( police) labor unions, (gang) 
experts, and the legislature itself” would allow 
prisoners “to earn a way out of the system by 
behavior and require the department to document 
when we feel not the case.” There’s 4 things wrong with this approach:
    * The determining body developing the policy 
(outside of legislators) consists exclusively of 
proponents of the prison industrial complex; thus 
whatever policy developed will reflect the same 
draconian, profit-driven, inhumanity that’s 
defined processes in these torture units thus far.
    * Most of us have not had any rules 
violations reports in decades. What do we need to 
“earn” through our “behavior” that’s not already 
been earned through years long records of proven 
disciplinary free behavior? Is it their 
suggestion that we must subject ourselves to the 
experimental behavior modification techniques 
developed in the Marion Federal supermax torture unit?
    * Indeterminate SHU confinement cannot be 
allowed to continually be based on what CDCR 
officials do or do not “feel is the case”. The 
primary issue here is the arbitrary nature of 
“gang” validations and subsequent indeterminate SHU confinement.
    * What Mr. Kernan is suggesting here is no 
different than the sham “6 year inactive review” that’s already in place.

Mr. Kernan stated the CDCR gang policy is 
“intended to protect inmates we are charged with, 
and staff”. Yet anyone who’s on this side of the 
cell door knows that’s a flat out lie. The CDCR 
gang policy is intended to inflate and maintain 
control of prison budgets, silence prisoner 
critics, preclude prisoner unity, and continue to 
scapegoat indeterminate SHU prisoners who’ve not 
had a single instance of documented misconduct in 
decades as a basis for extorting billions of 
taxpayer dollars through overexaggerating the 
“threat” posed by prisoners housed indefinitely 
in SHU. As we’ve stated previously, if prisoner, 
staff, and public safety were truly CDCR’s motive 
force they would have developed an environment 
and programs geared towards true rehabilitation, 
successful social reintegration and performance 
in society upon release. Such an environment runs 
contrary to their economic and political 
interests and unfortunately it also runs against 
a significant number of the peoples desire for 
vengeance against perceived offenders. Now then, 
a particularly disturbing lie Mr. Kernan relayed 
was that “all evidence used to validate is 
corroborated.” Simply put, that was a flat out 
lie. There is no independent corroboration of 
confidential informants’ statements or 
confidential information chronos known as 
“1030s”. Why he would utter a lie that is so 
easily debunked is truly beyond us. To give you 
an example of what I.G.I. deems “corroboration”, 
they have little boxes on the 1030 chrono listed 
“a)” through “f)” which states why they consider 
such a source – “reliable”. In 2008, a “1030” 
used to deny an indeterminate SHU prisoner 
release on “inactive” status, a debriefer who was 
briefly in this individual’s cell told I.G.I, the 
individual spoke of the merits of socialism, the 
history of political resistance to racism in 
America, and the validity of the socio-economic 
and political views of Frantz Fanon, Ho Chi Minh, 
and George Lester Jackson. The I.G.I. told the 
debriefer this was “B.G.F. education”, to which 
the debriefer quickly agreed, framed it in those 
terms, and parroted what his I.G.I. handler told 
him to. Now this same guy the debriefer was lying 
on wrote an article in California Prison Focus in 
2003 critical of CDC, its use of validation on 
political + politicized prisoners and some 
leftist political ideas. They considered this 
“more than one source independently provide(ing) 
the same information”, and part of the 
information provided by the source has already 
proven to be true.” They of course gave him a 
“1030” for the article itself, 5 years old, at 
that same time for “providing” BGF education” in 
a California Prison Focus.” This expression of 
his political views and social criticism of 
CDCR’s practice of arbitrarily targeting and 
punishing left wing political ideologues in 
prison, in violation of the 1st Amendment and 
California Code of Regulations Title 15 §3004, 
was sufficient to earn him an indefinite 
continuation in SHU. Not only is political speech 
and expression supposed to be protected by the 
Constitution, but it boggles the mind how an 
article in a publication CDCR not only allows 
into institutions, but staff deliver to our cell 
doors, can possibly be corroboration of some 
impropriety that’s not a violation of law – and 
in no way corroborative of a coerced informants’ 
scripted lies. This is what passes for 
“corroboration” in Mr. Kernan’s CDCR. The fact is 
there is no corroboration and no way to verify it 
if there was – I.G.I. is the only ones who get to 
see the evidence used to consign us to these 
torture units. Mr. Kernan went on to state, 
“These offenders are in the SHU with mountains of 
documentation of illegal criminal activities both 
out on the streets and public and in prisons is 
vast...”, and it’s just these types of 
irresponsible, intentionally dishonest statements 
which have cowed courts and legislatures alike 
into turning a blind eye to wholesale 
psychological torture for decades in California 
prisons. The truth of the matter is most 
validated SHU prisoners haven’t had a single 
documented instance of misconduct of any kind - 
(RVR, DA referal) for a criminal act in decades. 
I assure you if such a “mountain of illegal 
activities” was documented, you’d have a 
corresponding, equally high mountain of rules 
violation reports, district attorney referrals 
and indictments. This is a lie specifically 
designed to put forward a non-existent 
justification for that which according to the 
“rule of law” is unjustifiable: indefinite 
psychological torture to coerce men into becoming 
informants, agent provocateurs, and advocates for 
the same heinous practice which broke their minds 
and subsumed their wills. To be sure, Mr. Kernan 
contradicted himself in his next breath by 
stating, in response to the statistical data 
showing that violence has only increased as 
Sensitive Needs Yards (inhabited exclusively by 
the debriefers, informants, and other protective 
custody designees Mr. Kernan is singing the 
praises of) have expanded, “the state’s gang 
problem has even increased, but separating those 
offenders we have in SHU has led to a decrease”. 
Upon hearing this absurdity, even the assemblyman 
had to call him on the contradiction as the 
hearing wore on and the objective evidence in 
front of the legislative oversight committee 
continued to contradict the lies and distortions 
Mr. Kernan was offering as authority he stated, 
“Let’s not lose focus on the real public safety 
threat perpetuated by gangs in our system.” It is 
this narrow and intentionally ill informed 
perspective on public safety that has produced an 
800% increase in the California prison 
population, a dysfunctional correctional and 
rehabilitation system and led to the use and 
expansion of domestic human experimentation, 
torture units on the victims of a socio-economic 
arrangement that has forced them from the bottom 
rung of society to the bowels of Pelican Bay and 
Corcoran-SHUs. Mr. Kernan, and the rest of the 
prison industrialists can lay the blame for 
society’s ills at the feet of “gangs” all they 
like, and the vicious cycle will only continue 
ebbing towards the inexorable decline of Western 
civilization. Until such time as we all accept 
the fact that gangs are the inevitable outgrowth 
of educational and labor underdevelopment in 
underclass communities, and your political and 
economic leaders unwillingness or inability to 
address the gross disparities between the haves 
and have nots as the true origin of society’s 
ills, gang violence and systemic criminality will 
continue to be a part of the U.S. social fabric. 
CDCR can make some significant contributions to a 
new approach; but as the continued intransigence 
of the department shows – true public safety is a 
remote concern of those you’ve invested with that 
responsibility. The actual public safety threat 
lies in the underlying socio-economic 
relationship between poor communities and the 
prison industry, our society’s indifference to 
that conflict, and the apparent dogged pursuit of 
law enforcement and correctional policies which 
are both a dismal, inhumane failure and 
economically unsustainable. The definition of 
insanity is pursuing the same course of action – 
repeatedly – and expecting a different result. 
I’d like to address one final point Mr. Kernan 
raised as I believe it’s pertinent. He states “an 
offender that wants to rehab himself, he can’t, 
because of an inmate telling him to go stab 
someone or he will be killed...” This is both a 
misrepresentation of the truth and a dangerous 
exaggeration. There are numerous non-affiliates 
in the general population of CDCR and Mr. Kernan 
is well aware of it. Everyone in prison knows 
lumpen organizations or “gangs” in prisons don’t 
force membership onto non-affiliates because 
history has proven such prisoners always become 
informants, agents, or easily compelled to lie on 
those they formally ran with. But that’s not the 
core issue here, what is, is Mr. Kernan’s 
willingness to dispense such tripe as “facts” in 
hopes of somehow convincing the people that the 
perpetual torture of over 3000 human beings is 
somehow legitimate. This type of thinking and 
talk must be confronted and debunked. Indefinite 
solitary confinement of humans in California, 
across the U.S., and around the world must be opposed, resisted, and abolished.

In the wake of the atrocities of World War II, a 
document was drafted which stated “... the 
protagonists of the practice of human 
experimentation justify their views on the basis 
that such experiments yield results for the good 
of society that are unprocurable by other methods 
or means of study. All agree however that certain 
basic principles must be observed in order to 
satisfy moral, ethical, and legal concepts.” 
that was an excerpt from the Nuremberg code. Have 
we as a society descended so far into the miasma 
of fear, hatred, and dehumanization that we would 
condone the state sponsored torture of thousands 
of humans from your own communities, in your 
name? We began this discussion with a quote from 
the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to illustrate 
the slippery slope we are on as a society, 
irregardless of class or colonial status. The one 
consistent theme running through the accounts of 
Holocaust, internment camp, and other mass 
torture survivors or fellow citizens is they got 
on the trains, or the trucks, or discounted the 
rumors of torture and atrocities because they 
simply didn’t believe it could be happening there 
(here) in a “civilized society”. History has 
proven in times of social, political, or economic 
duress that civilization is a very thin veneer 
and effective dehumanization always leads to 
inhumane acts. The 100s of thousands of New 
Afrikans (Blacks) that were butchered, 
dismembered, lynched, imprisoned, or beaten 
during chattel slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil 
rights era by Americans were done that way 
because those doling out the abuse didn’t view 
them as “humans”. The U.S. Army was able to 
slaughter men, women, and children at Wounded 
Knee, Black Canyon, and Amirrilo Texas because 
they did not view Native Americans and Mexicans 
as “humans”. We are now comfortable turning a 
blind eye to government agencies and departments 
tossing human beings into indefinite solitary 
confinement on whatever basis they see fit – 
subjecting them to constant illumination, sensory 
deprivation, social isolation, political 
repression and much, much worse – because they 
are suspected “terrorists” or “gang members”. 
Because far too many don’t view “terrorists” or 
“gang members” as “humans”. When we swat a fly or 
step on a roach, we feel no moral outrage or 
empathy because these things are not human. The 
exact same psychological process is at play here 
and billions of dollars have been spent over 
decades to convince you that we are not humans, 
so turning a blind eye to our perpetual torture 
is no great Injustice ... But we are humans. We 
are sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, 
friends, and townsmen to people and communities 
whom we love dearly and who love us. Injustice 
and inhumanity anywhere – Yes, even here in 
Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHU, is a threat to 
justice and humanity everywhere! The struggle is 
just beginning. Don’t stand with us and against 
torture units because we ask it of you – no – do 
so because it’s the right thing to do and you 
would be on the right side of history. Do so 
because if you don’t, someone you love or – God 
forbid you yourself – may well be next. Do so 
because you want a new, safer, and more humane 
world in which to raise our children, share our 
lives, and enrich one another. Let your voices be 
heard! Call your legislators, join the coalition, 
speak about this on your college campuses, at 
your schools, and in your homes. Galvanize your 
churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and 
community centers. Educate yourself about all the 
companies, contractors, corporations, and 
industries benefiting from the imprisonment of 
your fellow citizens and explore the many 
alternatives to youth and adult imprisonment. 
Contact Amnesty International, the Center for 
Human Rights, your local congressman and 
senators, and voice your opposition to that which 
must be opposed. We here of the N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU, 
and those strong and determined men here with us, 
are fully prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice 
to bring an end to this man made perdition – to 
give our very lives, but even this we fear may 
not be enough. But what will tip the scales in 
favor of humanity and right is you. Despite all 
their money and power, there is one force even 
the prison industry must bow to: the power of the 
people. Your voice is stronger than all the money 
the prison industry lobby can bring to bear. It 
is our sincerest hope that humanity and right 
will prevail and you all will stand with us on 
the right side of history. Our love and 
solidarity to all those who love freedom, 
justice, and equality and fear only failure. In struggle – N.C.T.T.- COR-SHU

For more information on the Cal-SHU Hunger 
strike, the struggle to abolish torture units or the N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU contact:

Zaharibu Dorrough D-83611
P.O.Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

Heshima Denham J-38283
P.O.Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

Kambui Robinson C-82830
P.O.Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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