[Pnews] Jesse Perez prevails: Prison guards found liable for retaliatory abuse of California’s solitary confinement policies

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 15 11:43:48 EST 2015


    Jesse Perez prevails: Prison guards found liable for retaliatory
    abuse of California’s solitary confinement policies
    <http://sfbayview.com/2015/12/jesse-perez-prevails-prison-guards-found-liable-for-retaliatory-abuse-of-californias-solitary-confinement-policies/>

December 14, 2015
*http://sfbayview.com/2015/12/jesse-perez-prevails-prison-guards-found-liable-for-retaliatory-abuse-of-californias-solitary-confinement-policies/*
*/
by Jesse Perez/*/

San Francisco, Dec. 13, 2015/ – In what amounts to an improbable 
plaintiff victory, a federal jury unanimously found several Pelican Bay 
State Prison guards liable for retaliating against a prisoner in 
solitary confinement for successfully exercising his first amendment 
right to file a prior lawsuit against other guards. In the case, I was 
the prisoner plaintiff alleging that after favorably litigating a near 
decade‐long federal suit challenging my placement in Pelican Bay’s harsh 
isolation unit as a “gang associate,” the guard defendants conspired to 
retaliate and did retaliate against me.







The guards’ unlawful conduct, I claimed, was also spurred by my 
participation in peaceful civil disobedience actions that included the 
2011 and 2013 California prisoners’ hunger strikes as well as my 
authoring articles <http://sfbayview.com/?s=Jesse+Perez> critical of the 
department’s solitary housing policies and advocating for the scaling up 
of prisoners’ engagement in the public political process.

The retaliation at issue in the case was exacted in various forms. 
Specifically, I accused the guards of stripping me naked, trashing my 
cell, improperly taking legal documents relevant to my prior lawsuit 
(ongoing at the time), vocalizing threats about pursuing lawsuits 
against department employees and falsifying a disciplinary report with a 
gang nexus intended to keep me in solitary longer.

In defending against the lawsuit, the defendants – all guards assigned 
to the gang squad at Pelican Bay – denied the retaliatory accusations 
and argued that they were merely “following orders” and “standard 
procedures.”

On the stand, however, the factual testimony, spurious safety issues, 
ignorance asserted of the regulations governing their acts and 
rationalizations trotted in support of their defense contained gripping 
inconsistencies, inherent incredibility and were ultimately unpersuasive 
– at best.


      I accused the guards of stripping me naked, trashing my cell,
      improperly taking legal documents relevant to my prior lawsuit
      (ongoing at the time), vocalizing threats about pursuing lawsuits
      against department employees and falsifying a disciplinary report
      with a gang nexus intended to keep me in solitary longer.

Following the parties’ decision to rest their respective cases, a 
gender‐balanced jury of eight – acting in their fact‐finding role – 
retreated to deliberate for two days. After considering the evidence and 
counsels’ arguments, the unanimous verdict returned was against several 
of the guard defendants.

The jury saw plenty of evidence to convince them that the guards’ 
actions were not the bumbling creature of ignorance and error – but, 
rather, the well‐designed and malicious strategy to retaliate against me 
for pursuing constitutionally protected legal action in court contesting 
my placement in isolation.

While prisons are ultimately about public safety, this case lifts the 
cloak of secrecy to provide a rare window for the public to see how the 
department’s Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI) violate the public’s 
trust and abuse the practice of solitary confinement in which the state 
continues to engage.

The large number of prisoners released from isolation since the class 
action Ashker v. Brown was settled also reflects the IGI’s heavy handed 
influence in placing and retaining prisoners there under the now 
discredited and empty rhetoric of safety and security.

There is also a compelling underlying truth here, I believe. What was 
proven at trial is necessarily emblematic of a deeper pathology existing 
within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, one 
pointing unerringly to the sheer inefficiency of the “leadership” of the 
agency’s administration, and the public frankly deserves better.

This is particularly so when prison officials willingly violate the 
constitution and refuse to remedy those violations, instead choosing to 
engage in protracted litigation – which only results in greater cost for 
taxpayers.

This alone is basis to ratchet up the tempo in the growing drum‐beat 
calling for substantive reforms to the state’s correctional system.


      The large number of prisoners released from isolation since the
      class action Ashker v. Brown was settled also reflects the IGI’s
      heavy handed influence in placing and retaining prisoners there
      under the now discredited and empty rhetoric of safety and security.

The plaintiff’s prevailing case was presented at trial by the 
outstanding team from the WilmerHale law firm, attorneys Randall Lee, 
Matt Benedetto and Katie Moran. They were assisted in its preparation by 
Jessica Lewis and Tiffany Tejada‐Rodriguez as well as other incredible 
support staff that contributed to the favorable outcome.

/Send our brother some love and light: Jesse Perez, K//‐42186, PBSP 
A5-106, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532./

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