[Ppnews] Pelican Bay - Tortured SHU Prisoners Speak Out - The Struggle Continues

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 9 11:26:29 EDT 2011

Tortured SHU Prisoners Speak Out
The Struggle Continues

[September 2011]

             For the past 10-40 years thousands 
of California prisoners have been confined in 
CDC-SHU units indefinitely based on status [E.G., 
a gang label – active gang classification, based 
on innocuous association activity, and 
allegations from confidential inmate informants] 
– wherein, they have been demonized as the 
worst-of-the-worst, in order to justify decades 
of human rights violations – including state 
sanctioned torture for the purpose of breaking 
the prisoners, and coercing them into becoming 
known informants for the state –thereby placing 
such prisoners, and their families in serious 
danger of retribution; as well as, the 
severe-permanent physical and psychological pain 
and suffering to these long term SHU prisoners 
and their families – directly related to CDCR-SHU 
policies and practices, all of which violate U.S. 
Constitutional, and international legal 
principles [as summarized in the prior formal 
complaint and 5-core demands available online].

             As of September 2011, these 
SHU-prisoners continue to be subjected to CDCR’s 
torturous human rights violations, in spite of 
the July 2011 peaceful protest via hunger strike, 
wherein thousands of prisoners of all 
races/groups united in their effort to bring 
mainstream exposure and force an end to such 
barbarous policies and practices. [CDCR has 
responded with more propaganda, lies, and vague 
double talk promises of change in time].

             SHU prisoners are dissatisfied with 
CDCR’s response to their formal complaint and (5) 
core demands, and therefore will continue to 
resist via peaceful protest indefinitely, until 
actual changes are implemented as summarized below.

1.     The Formal Complaint and Five (5) Core Demands

Beginning Feb. 5, 2010, dozens of PBSP-SHU 
prisoners and their family members and friends 
began sending copies of the formal complaint to 
numerous law makers, CDCR Secretary Cate, and to 
many organizations. CDCR’s response was,..”file 
and inmate appeal.” In May 2011, the formal 
complaint, notice of hunger strike for July 01, 
2011, and Five(5) core demands, were served on 
CDCR Sec. Cate, and Warden Lewis. There was no 
[notably, these documents were all posted on-line in March 2011].

2.     The July 1st Hunger Strike and CDCR’s Response(s)

The H.S. began on July 1st at PBSP-SHU, and 
quickly spread to other prisons- at one point 
more than 6,600 prisoners participated at 
thirteen (13) prisons across the state!

On July 14, 2011, CDCR Undersecretary Kernan 
spoke to the inmate representatives via phone 
conference, promising them that the (5) core 
demands would be addressed, with positive changes 
occurring over time. The reps asked Kerman to put 
details of the changes on paper for their review.

On July 15, 2011, the reps received the documents 
provided by Kernan and determined the documents 
were not satisfactory because they were very 
vague and did not specify any changes of 
substance in relation to the (5) core demands.

       On July 20th, Kernan and additional CDCR 
administrators met with the inmate reps in the 
PSB-SHU parole board hearing room. Kernan made 
more assurances about positive changes to SHU 
policies being in the works, and stated he would 
meet with the reps again in a couple of weeks in 
order to provide specifics as to each of the (5) 
core demands re: changes and progress made. As 
well as agreeing that, other than adding an extra 
day of visiting each week
the rest of the demands 
on (#5) re: programs/privileges, were reasonable 
and would be granted, as a show of good-faith on CDCR’s part.

       All of the reps (14) then met and 
discussed the proposals from Kernan, and then 
decided to temporarily suspend the H.S., in order 
to give CDCR “a couple of weeks” grace period to 
keep their word on the (5) core demands [per Kernan’s request and assurances].

       On August 19th, Kernan and other CDCR 
Administrators, met with the reps again, to 
follow up on the July 20th assurances re: 
specifically addressing the (5) core demands in detail.

       Kernan did not have anything on paper to 
specifically address any of the (5) core demands. 
The meeting consisted of Kernan’s words – in very 
vague, general terms, about CDCR staff working to 
come up with some type of step down program for 
inmates to get out of SHU, which does not require 
debriefing- informant status- and Warden Lewis 
stating (SHU) inmates would soon be allowed to 
purchase sweat suits, and have the use of a handball on the yard.

The reps pointed out that Kernan’s verbal, vague 
presentation was not what was agreed to on July 
20th. Kernan responded that “a step down” program 
will be operational by the end of this year, or early next year.”

The reps asked for specific details to be 
provided on paper to all SHU sections so all 
inmates can have something tangible in their 
hands. And Kernan eventually agreed to begin 
providing this documentation within (2) weeks. 
Instead, on Sept. 02, a memo dated Aug. 25th, 
entitled gang mg. proposal was only issued to the 
(4) principle reps; this document is again, 
extremely vague and general. It is not adequate nor acceptable!

       On Aug. 23rd, Kernan appeared before the 
Calif. Assembly Public Safety Comm., to answer 
questions re: SHU policies and practices, that 
were exposed to the world via the H.S
to the transcript of this Aug. 23rd hearing, 
Kernan was very vague, general, non-responsive, 
and focused on propagating CDCR’s out right lies 
about PBSP SHU policies, and the inmates subject 
to the torture therein – examples are;
a.       “The courts have found PBSP-SHU policies 
meet constitutional standards.” [This is false- 
see e.g., Madrid v. Gomez 889 F. Sup. 1146, at 
1270, fn 217; see also, Griffin v. Gomez; Lira v. 
Cate, [cases cited in formal complaint!]. And, 
Chambers v. Florida, 309, U.S. 227, at 237-328 [1940].
b.      “SHU houses (3,000) gang generals, who 
spend 24/7 engaging in gang-activity which 
threatens prison and public safety; and, we need 
to isolate them in harsh conditions, to prevent 
them from ordering other inmates to kill staff on 
sight,” etc, etc, etc. [This is also false, There 
are no rule violation reports/or criminal charges to support this claim!]

c.       When asked directly by the Assembly if 
“debriefing places the inmate and his family in 
danger?” Kernan failed to answer! Notably Kernan 
stated that one certainty is CDCR’s plan to 
expand the number of prisoners subject to 
solitary confinement torture, by applying the 
policies and practices currently reserved for 
some suspected gang affiliates, to encompass all 
inmates categorized as party to any type of 
“disruptive group”[1] [e.g., the tens of 
thousands of street gang affiliates in CDCR 
prisons]; as well as, CDCR’s intent to continue 
to rely on information from “debriefing” inmates, 
to keep other inmates in SHU indefinitely!!

On Aug. 31st, PBSP-SHU staff issued (4) memos, 
addressing the allowance of the following; 
handballs on the yard; ability to purchase sweat 
suits; and, with (1) year free of disciplinary 
action and committee approval, the ability to get 
a yearly photo taken and purchase art pens and 
drawing paper from the prison canteen. [While 
said memos were being passed out, a Sgt. Was 
loudly telling staff to start writing up all 
prisoner’s for any type of reason they can think 
of, in order to prevent prisoners from getting their newly won privileges!]

3.     SHU Prisoner’s Dissatisfaction with CDCR’s 
Response to the Formal Complaint and Five (5) Core Demands;

PBSP-SHU inmates have considered all facts and 
circumstances, summarized above, and remain 
united in our dissatisfaction with CDCR’s lack of 
specific substantive action on our (5) core 
demands. Our dissatisfactions are summarized below;

d.      Re: Core Demands #1-3

Our problem with CDCR’s response to core demands #1, 2, and 3 is this

             #1. We remain in (SHU) indefinitely, 
deprived of our basic human rights – based on 
illegal policies and practices, that amount to 
torture; torture of us, as well as our family 
members and loved ones on the outside. CDCR 
remains in denial, and continues to propagate the 
lies re: “worst-of-the-worst” 3000 gang generals, 
etc. – in order to dehumanize/demonize us, so as 
to maintain the status quo, and “continue to 
hammer us” [per Sec. Cate’s press statement 
earlier this year], and subject us to “harsh” 
conditions [per Kernan’s Aug. 23rd testimony]. 
These terms “hammer” and “harsh” conditions, are 
used in place of the word torture – and the fact 
is, CDCR’s intent is to break us down, and coerce 
us into becoming state informants! A violation of 
international treaty law-period!! This is not acceptable!

             CDCR has failed to produce any 
documentation re: details of how their so called 
“step-down” program will work, who it will apply 
to, exceptions-exclusions etc.; and our problem 
”step down” from what”? When someone has been 
in (SHU) deprived of normal human contact- 
especially the lack of any physical contact with 
family/loved ones, for 10-40 years [based on a 
“label” without being charged and found guilty of 
illegal gang activity]; yet CDCR is dragging it 
out, coming with nothing but words, and vague 
which indicate we will have to 
remain in (SHU), jumping thru a bunch of CDCR’s 
security hoops, to advance through 
inspite of (3 to 25+) years free of any serious rule violations!

             Plus, we’re certain that CDCR 
Administrators have no intention of ever giving 
most of us in PBSP short corridor, any real chance for general population!

             #2. CDCR has made clear that one 
certainty is, their plan to substantially expand 
on the use of “solitary confinement”, via 
targeting all prisoners deemed “disruptive 
groups” [security threat groups], which is 
defined as: “2 or more inmates who are 
collectively deemed to be a security threat” – 
e.g., all street gang affiliates, prisoners 
deemed political-revolutionary etc, etc, etc. 
[see also; CCR Title 15; sec. 3000 “Disruptive 
Behavior”] which with CDCR’s history of abuse of 
policies re:”prison gangs” in solitary 
confinement, it’s clear, things will get worse, 
not better. This new policy is a way CDCR plans 
to maintain their staff and funding status quo, 
in response to the Plata order to reduce prison 
population – it costs nearly double to house prisoners in solitary confinement!

             Our position is, CDCR’s “plans” to 
date, are not acceptable, and are another example 
of their intent to maintain, and expand on, 
“solitary confinement;” and demonstrate a failure 
of the entire CDCR management to make positive 
reforms! And, all long term (SHU) inmates should 
be released to general populations!! ASAP!!

             #3. Also, the medical care problems 
re: core demand #3, have not been resolved!! All 
PBSP-SHU inmates suffering from chronic disease, 
and denied adequate care at PBSP, due to 
deliberate indifference, and efforts to coerce 
them to debrief..should all be transferred to New 
Folsom Medical SHU, while waiting to be released to general populations!!

e.       Re: Core Demand #4

This issue concerns our poor diet, small portions 
– all watered down, dirty trays, etc
 and has not 
been fixed- in fact, its gotten worse since we 
came off the hunger strike on July 20th!! This 
lack of adequate nutritional food/vitamins causes 
all of us to lack energy and harms our 
mental/physical health – which greatly increases 
medical care costs! Plus, our lack of sunlight, 
and related lack of vitamin D, is a problem 
too..we need better food and portions, clean 
trays, and ability to purchase healthy food items 
and nutritional supplements ASAP!!

f.       Re: Core Demand #5

There remains a problem with many of our 
program/privilege examples listed on demand #5, 
not being implemented [e.g., phone calls, canteen 
and package issues; T.V./Radio – channels; extra 
visiting time- what about the ability to get 
photos in visiting room, wherein c/o takes 
picture of inmate and visitors thru the glass?]. 
And, the ones that have been implemented in 
PBSP-SHU, have been done in a way that it makes 
it real hard for most inmates to get a photo, or 
art pens/drawing paper, because the warden has 
state via memos, that inmates have to have (1) 
year free of discipline, and they must first 
“have to go to committee to get approved” 
[Kearnan’s Aug. 29h memo to all SHU Wardens does 
not say inmates “need to go to committee” for these.

And, having to get sweat suits in yearly 
packages, equals another 40-50 ounces of weight, 
which means less food items! This weight for 
non-food items takes a lot out of food amount; 
then, you add all the packaging [e.g. box, etc.], 
and we will end up with very little food items in 
our packages [e.g. packaging (50-ounces), tennis 
shoes (50-ounces), sweat pants, shirt, shorts (40 
ounces), thermals (18-20 ounces), equals 158 
ounces of a max weight of 480 ounces!] An easy 
fix for these non-food items, is that PBSP can 
return to their old policy of allowing us to 
purchase all “non-food” items, thru special 
purchase, just like we continue to do when ordering books and periodicals

In closing, to all SHU-prisoners and all our 
outside supporters,[2] we wanted to let you know 
[as you can see from this], that this is far from 
over..and once again, hopefully for the last 
time, we will be risking our lives via a peaceful 
hunger strike on Sept 26, 2011 to force positive 
changes. Thus, we still need your support to 
contact the governor, etc, to force CDCR to make 
fair and reasonable changes to their policies, and indicated here. Thank you.

and in Solidarity,

all PBSP SHU H.S. Reps.

[1] See Cal. Code of Regulations, Title 15, 
Section 3000, “Disruptive Group-1 means any gang, other than a prison gang.”
[2] “People” what’s right is right, and we the 
people, should not, and will not, compromise 
ours, and families, health, safety, and security, 
to le CDCR continue to violate our human and 
constitutional rights and U.s. international law. 
This is wrong, and we the people need to end 
these evil inhumane violations! If not now, when? The time is now!!!

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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