[Pnews] The other death sentence: Deliberate indifference at California's Corcoran SHU

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 28 11:58:47 EDT 2015


  The other death sentence: Deliberate indifference at Corcoran SHU

*/by Kambui Nantambu Jamaa and Joka Heshima Jinsai/*

/“Do no harm.” /– Hippocratic Oath

/“Being in physical distress locked in a cell turns into a truly 
terrifying experience when you can hear the cops banter with each other 
about you being a ‘crybaby’ … It’s especially terrifying when you are 
experiencing symptoms you don’t understand and you have witnessed others 
calling for help only to learn that person didn’t survive.”/ – Sonja 
Marcus, former prisoner

“Deliberate indifference” is defined as “the act(s) or omissions of a 
prison official who knows that the prisoner faces a substantial risk of 
serious harm or significant pain and disregards that risk by not taking 
reasonable measures to abate it.” But what happens when deliberate 
indifference is longstanding, pervasive, well documented and expressly 
noted by officials over the course of time. Yet the state does nothing 
to correct it?

What happens is prisoners die. Prisoner deaths, especially in SHU, are 
almost a “tradition” at Corcoran. While the Gladiator Games and other 
state sponsored horrors here are most notable in the public memory, they 
are NOT the most lethal. That distinction belongs to deliberate medical 

We would like to take this time to give you our perspectives on this 
phenomenon, in hopes this discussion will prompt a closer look at the 
curious case of Corcoran Health Care Services and its discontents.

      *Kambui’s statement*

 From my heart, soul and every fiber of my being I greet you and trust 
that the reservoir of love, solidarity, human decency and revolutionary 
compassion continues to build, strengthen and move the people towards 
this united front to change the imbalance of the many injustices our 
beautiful people experience. I also extend my love, respect and highest 
regards to all my brothers (reps) for their fearlessness and courageous 
effort in coming together and bringing this movement to life! I also 
extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the families, friends, loved ones 
and coalition members as well as to the families and loved ones we’ve 
lost along the way in the foul pits of these hell holes.

I’m writing this because I feel the many of you out there in so-called 
“society” who have supported me should know what’s going on here with me 
and the medical negligence, deliberate indifference and callous 
disregard I continue to be subjected to here in Corcoran’s 4B yard SHU.

I will begin by saying I’m a Type 2, insulin dependent, very brittle 
diabetic, with high blood pressure, neuropathy in my extremities – 
mostly in my feet, lower legs and neck – and now it has spread to my 
right hand in my index and ring fingers. Neuropathy is a very painful 
form of degenerative nerve damage. I was diagnosed in 1992 at Pelican 
Bay, where I spent the first 10½ years of the 24 years I’ve been in 
solitary confinement, believe it or not!

My diabetes has been out of control from 1993-2015. I am vision 
impaired, and for the past two years my Hbc A1C has been 9.3; normal is 
6.0 or lower. And in spite of all this, the warden, Dave Davey, the 
chief medical officer and the yard MD continue to say they can treat me 
and my diabetic needs are being met. Yet I’ve been rushed to the ER for 
hypo/hyperglycemic events on numerous occa­sions.

On every 602 (appeal or complaint form) I’ve filed, Sacramento (CDC 
headquarters) simply dismisses my concerns and agrees with Corcoran. Be 
it for better treatment for diabetics, special diet, medications or any 
other accommodation, they’re just rubber-stamped and denied.

Now I’m damn near blind because these quacks refuse to treat my diabetes 
or even transfer me to a medical facility that can treat my diabetes. I 
think they want me dead. Even some of the correctional officers around 
here have stated, “They’re going to kill you one way or another!” or 
“How come they don’t transfer you?” I’m at the point now where I think 
these devils are really trying to kill me.

All the instances of being rushed to the ER, only to be brought back to 
the same diabetic program, or lack thereof, is not only deliberate 
indiffer­ence but attempted murder! As we have told these MDs, you can’t 
place a brittle diabetic on a fixed insulin dosage and tell them to pick 
and choose what to eat and what not to eat in a standard prison diet – 
with no supple­mentation for what’s missing.

I have been exercising at times and not know­ing my blood glucose level 
is 31, and that’s because I had nothing to repl­ace what I didn’t eat, 
which causes my blood sugar to drop. This is very dangerous and can 
cause diabetic coma.

There’ve also been instances where my glucose level was over 500 and the 
glucose monitor read “HIGH – check ketones” and Corcoran Medical sent me 
back to the cell without treatment in clear hyperglycemia – without 
giving me insulin or taking urine to measure ketone levels in my system. 
This can kill me, and on several occasions it nearly has.

      All the instances of being rushed to the ER, only to be brought
      back to the same diabetic program, or lack thereof, is not only
      deliberate indiffer­ence but attempted murder!

This was evident one day in 2013 when I had to go “man down” and call 
for medical aid because the correctional officer who was doing first 
watch count ignored my request to summon a nurse, because he thought I 
was faking and trying to get them to open my door so I can hit (assault) 
one of them. When it was clear I was sick and vomiting – the cell light 
was on and uncovered – he left.

Two hours later, I tried to call the control cop. Someone in the section 
overheard me, and began to shout out to control. Finally, the control 
cop opened the window and shouted, “He called the medical staff, but 
they have an emergency on 4A.” We all knew this was bullshit.

An hour or so later, two sergeants and about eight cops, along with an 
LVN in military attire, pulled me out into the rotunda. While I 
straddled the chair, I was literally surr­ounded by all these cops. I 
didn’t know if I was about to be jumped, so I stayed as alert as I could 
in the event I had to defend and protect myself.

As I began giving my symptoms, I start heaving, about to vomit, and one 
officer grabbed a small trash can. The LVN went into the office and 
called the ER, and then took my vitals. Ten or 15 minutes later, the 
paramedics arrived and admitted they could not get my blood pressure 
down, and my glucose level was so low they had to pump glucose (sugar) 
into me intravenously.

This was the third or fourth time I was nearly killed by Corcoran SHU 
medical incompetence and the second time by custody’s slow response to 
my medical emergency and condition.

With diabetes, if it’s not managed properly, its complications progress 
dangerously. This is what I am suffering now, and if this continues not 
only will I be blind, but amputation, kidney failure and heart disease 
will happen sooner than later.

I’ve been held captive in these SHU dungeons, Pelican Bay and Corcoran, 
for the past 24 years now. I’ve seen how healthy, mentally stable men 
suffer the years of being held back here by developing medical 
conditions that go untreated.

Not only are we denied constitutionally mandated medical care and 
nutritious food, but at least 20 of us here with 10-20-plus years in SHU 
as validated so-called “gang members” have been skipped over for a DRB 
(Departmental Review Board) hearing. (The board has the power to release 
people from SHU. – ed.)

Brother Heshima and I have not been taken to the DRB though we have a 
combined 40 years in SHU, ensuring our subjection to this lethal 
deliberate indifference is open ended.

      *Heshima’s statement *

What Kambui has described here is a pattern of strategic medical 
indifference, which I’ve witnessed – and experienced firsthand – over 
the course of the l6 years I’ve been confined here at the Corcoran SHU 
torture unit. I’ve watched as Corcoran medical staff allowed a brother’s 
infected tooth to turn into a green pustule or abscess, then to sepsis, 
and finally I watched the brother die.

I watched as a brother whose common cold was allowed to progress into 
the flu, and though he complained of chills, fever and difficulty 
breathing, they just gave him Motrin and again sent him back to his tomb 
(cell). Three days later, he passed away of pneumonia.

We all watched as Billy “Guero” Sell died while hunger striking against 
indefinite torture as guards ignored cries for help from an entire unit.

I watched as my Comrade and Brother Zaharibu repeatedly requested 
monitoring and treatment of his degenerative disc disease, and after 
years of them dismissing his concerns, when a spinal x-ray was done, not 
only had the degeneration in his lumbar and sacral vertebrae progressed 
to virtual desicc­ation, but it had spread severe spondylotic spurring 
into his cervical vertebrae (neck), compromising his equilibrium and 
leaving him in perpetual pain.

On at least five occasions I can recall, I’ve had to yell to get 
emergency medical attention as my Comrade and Brother Kambui went into 
diabetic shock, so severe that he was near death. On at least one 
occasion, Kam’s blood glucose level was a low 44, and instead of giving 
him an emergency glucose tube, this numbnut nurse actually INJECTED HIM 
WITH INSULIN, sending him into instant hypoglycemic shock. We’re damn 
lucky he’s not dead.

As for myself, I severely damaged my cardio-vascular, muscular and 
connective tissue during the three hunger strikes – 2011 and 2013 – and 
coupled with my age, it has me on “chronic care.” Though I’ve gone to 
medical and chronic care appointments MULTIPLE times about the pain in 
my right side, beneath my rib cage, since the close of the first hunger 
strike, they’ve yet to even diagnose, let alone treat it.

Though we adhere to a strict exercise and training regimen, the physical 
structure of Corcoran SHU cells affords little space to move. Yet we 
MUST in order to combat the quasi-sedentariness SHU imposes. The damage 
to my body has had one disturbing side effect for me: I find myself more 
susceptible to injury.

To give you an example of why this is such a dangerous prison, recently 
I injured my left knee and right side of my back while working out. 
Though related to the connective tissue damage I sustained, it was so 
severe I could not function – or even walk – normally. Two days later I 
went to my chronic care appointment, not with my normal MD but with a 
nurse named Rouch.

As I attem­pted to explain the severity of my pain, and how the Motrin I 
had was proving ineffective, she kept putting me off, stating: “That’s 
not what you’re here for. Fill out a sick call slip!” She then asked me 
why I was on chronic care, as she stared at the computer, which stated 
in bold print why I was on chronic care: severe musculoskeletal pain and 
tissue damage.

I ignored the question as I examined her. I was on chronic care for the 
very thing I was complaining of, but part of the core contradiction with 
Corcoran health care services is the vast majority of its employees are 
right wing conservatives from the Central Valley who openly complain 
about prisoners receiving health care in prison that many on the street 
have to pay for with insurance – as though we asked to be subject to 
imprisonment and civil death – and this often translates in how – or if 
– care is delivered.

Wanting to ensure that I understood her position clearly, I asked: “I am 
in debilitating pain which is impairing my ability to function or even 
walk normally, I’m sitting in a medical clinic full of health care 
“professionals,” and you’re telling me I have to fill out a sick call 
slip, wait weeks in pain to be called, and then you’ll treat me?”

She stated, “Yes, you’re not here for that. Fill out a sick call slip 
when you go back.” Realizing she did not understand – or even care – 
that her response was a per se violation of the Eighth Amendment’s 
deliberate indifference standard, I had no interest in further dialogue. 
Nor was I interested in indulging in reactionary anger. Her position did 
not surprise me; this is Corcoran health care, where incompetence, 
deliberate indifference and death are the standard prescriptions.

When she finally got up to take my vitals, she saw my leg extended and 
asked me why. I looked at her with empty eyes, and in my best “Are you 
kidding me, lady?” voice, I said quietly, “Because I’m in pain.” She 
stated she’d give me some Motrin, but I needed to fill out a sick call 
slip to be treated. I simply ignored her, waiting to be returned to my cell.

One of the first things I had told her was Motrin was ineffective for 
the pain, and I knew something was wrong because my pain threshold is 
very high. It was clear she’d dismissed it as soon as I said it.

      This is Corcoran health care, where incompetence, deliberate
      indifference and death are the standard prescriptions.

When I returned to the cell, I immediately filed a medical 602 on the 
incident. To clearly demonstrate how secondary actual health care 
delivery is here in Corcoran SHU, in relation to the primacy of its 
authoritarian dictates, the appeal was cancelled by the health care 
appeals coordinator.

In some of the most irrational and convoluted logic I’ve seen in some 
time, the appeals coordinator stated I “brought up concerns beyond the 
purpose of my chronic care appointment” and I should “fill out a sick 
call slip as instructed and wait to be called.” As such, they were 
“interpreting the staff complaint as an ‘anticipated action,’” so the 
appeal was cancelled.

That I was appealing a clear instance of deliberate indifference is so 
obvious as to warrant no explanation. What is of note is their response 
to it. I sent the appeal and cancelation to Prison Watch Network, as it 
is a matter of public interest, employed a week of reiki and focused 
meditation (Sha) until the pain in the injured areas of my body was 
manageable, then continued our work. I refuse to kow-tow to state 
torture or authoritarianism – not now, not EVER.

Our experiences here at Corcoran SHU and the accounts of tens of 
thousands of others around the nation reveal that deliberate 
indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners is a collateral 
consequence of the expansion of the Prison Industrial Slave Complex in 
Amerika, but it is one we will NEVER accept. Health care is a HUMAN 
RIGHT, no matter if you’re free or bond. What we cannot overlook is its 
clearest expression is targeted so keenly at political and politicized 
prisoners – and has ALWAYS been.

It is no coincidence that Kambui, Zaharibu, myself and many, many other 
political and politicized prisoners are subject to this political 
terrorism. Phil Africa of MOVE was recently murdered by state medical 
indiff­erence; Mumia Abu Jamal was recently nearly killed by a glycemic 
event eerily similar to those Kambui has endured; Leonard Peltier, 
Marilyn Buck and far too many freedom fighters have been murdered, 
injured or degraded by state deliberate indifference.

As we gear up for the Free Speech battle of this generation, we hope you 
will consider questioning the wisdom of releasing the CDCr from federal 
medical receivership and, more centrally, what type of society uses 
deliberate medical indifference as a weapon to kill, injure and torture 
segments of its population who simply oppose the oppression of man and 
woman by man and woman.

Think on these things. They are worthy of great meditation.

/Send our brothers some love and light: Kambui Nantambu Jamaa, s/n T. 
Robinson, C-82830 CSP-COR-SHU 4B1L-28, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 
93212; and Joka Heshima Jinsai, s/n S. Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU 
4B1L-25, P.O. Box 3481 Corcoran, CA 93212./


My Brother Eric Garner, we didn’t know you

but we watched you die

Standing on the street trying to feed your family

and make ends meet

Them pigs didn’t give you a chance to

But we saw your dear wife tell your

story with tears in her eyes

Them pigs knew who you were

because they had been in your face

harassed you before trying to give you a case

My Brother Eric, your death was not in vain

You gave rise to Black Lives Matter

Oscar, Trayvon, Mike and you stand tall

The people will bring justice to you and all!

This racism thing, injustice in Amerikkka, is widespread

and you wonder why your citizens run off to aid other countries in

putting your ass to bed

Hijacking planes filled with beautiful, innocent people

and flying them into your World Trade to stop your evil!

So, Brother Eric, you didn’t die alone

Part of us is with you – New Afrikans stay strong!

– Kambui Nantambu Jamaa

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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