[Pnews] CA prisons - 4 years since our hunger strikes began, none of our core demands have yet been met: Our protracted struggle must continue
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jun 22 15:32:23 EDT 2015
*Four years since our hunger strikes began, none of our core demands
have yet been met: Our protracted struggle must continue*
June 21, 2015
by Mutope Duguma, Pelican Bay short corridor
Let’s not forget that CDCr can lock you up for being an alleged leader,
as an influential individual – on just this alone.
2015 marks four years since we collectively got together and launched
our peaceful protests to end long term solitary confinement. We have not
been able to get any policy, outside of STG (Security Threat Group) 1
and 2 and SDP (Step Down Program), which we have to keep in mind is
again CDCr continuing to violate our civil and human rights by holding
men and women in these solitary confinement torture chambers – SCTC –
Prisoners been held for over four decades for no other reason than a
prison label called prison gang validation, based on confidential
information provided to prison officials by snitches, rats, informers,
turncoats etc. And in looking into a lot of these cases, we would learn
that it was the prison officials who manufactured this information in
order to subject prisoners to a life of hell.
We have been able to examine, evaluate and investigate the STG and SDP
policies and we unanimously reject them, because, simply put, they are
more of the same. They empower the previous policies that we were
initially peacefully protesting.
We all will continue to be vulnerable to the validation policies, even
though they are for non-behavior issues, and this means confidential
information will continue to place us in these SCTC and hold you here.
It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are; these policies take the good
with the bad.
The individual accountability Core Demand No. 1 (End group punishment
and administrative abuse) was crucial for establishing a fair and just
policy. CDCr’s power stems from the threats that they place over
prisoners by labeling us with groups and holding us responsible for the
actions of that group.
That practice is flawed; other than a gang title by which the group or
individuals are labeled as members or associates, simply based on the
group’s alleged gang title, nothing else allows for CDCr to blatantly
target racial groups and individuals. Prison officials want these
targeted individuals off of General Population in order to subject them
to SCTC. But individual accountability, satisfying Core Demand No. 1,
would have put an end to this policy, where predominantly white prison
gang officials target mostly New Afrikans and Mexicans – racism.
These validations are a matter of life and death, because to subject and
isolate prisoners for indefinite periods of time in SCTC takes a serious
toll on our health and mental stability, regardless if we appear to be a
reflection of strength. We see how young human beings can naturally
develop into strong men and women under natural circumstances. We also
see how, if able to grow older, they develop eventually into fragile
individuals, so as you age, it’s a matter of life and death.
Even if you’re being provided the proper nutrition and socialization –
we know this is not the case for prisoners, especially those of us held
in SCTC, where the isolation deprives us of natural sunlight etc. – SCTC
has an adverse effect on one’s life and it is these grounds that should
end SCTC use. The CDCr has the responsibility to protect each and every
prisoner, regardless how the authorities may feel about us.
CDCr officials have allowed the six-year review procedures to stand,
despite STG 1 and 2 and the SDP policy, so far, for two years and
counting. We remain on a dual policy. When your six-year active/inactive
review date comes, you will go before an IGI (Institutional Gang
Investigator) and OCS (Office of Correctional Safety), who will
determine if you are active or inactive. If you are active, you are to
be retained in SCTC pending your case-by-case review with DRB
(Departmental Review Board). If you are inactive, then you are referred
to DRB and seen relatively quickly.
Now the process is that IGI collects the alleged information and
prepares it for the OCS, and the OCS determines if this information is
sufficient for an active or inactive re-validation. Then the DRB, which
makes the final decision, decides if you will be detained or not,
regardless of what OCS recommends.
Active or inactive
After six years of waiting to go before the DRB, a prisoner should be
referred and seen, regardless if it’s an active or inactive
recommendation or if it’s a validation as active, and should see the DRB
immediately. To tell someone who has been deemed active that he or she
has to wait for their DRB case-by-case review, which the same CDCr
official refers you to, is a grave injustice.
I believe it’s a 14th Amendment violation under the equal protection
clause, because prisoners being reviewed for active/inactive
re-validation should also be seen by OCS and then the DRB, which makes
the final decision based on the OCS recommendation. This would not allow
CDCr gang officials to discriminate against prisoners they want to
retain in SCTC, because under the new policy, whether you like it or
not, as soon as you are in a SDP Step 1-4, you are on a three-year
course toward getting the hell out of the SCTC.
Whether you are released or not is irrelevant, but you cannot even begin
to challenge the new contradictions (problems) with the system if you
are not afforded the right to be processed into the new Step Down
Program policy. Plus, we cannot deny that these steps do afford
prisoners privileges: most importantly a phone call with family. Many of
us have not talked to a family member in over 10 years, which is
especially painful when family members – or the prisoner – are very ill.
My six-year active/inactive review was on Dec. 10, 2014. This is my
second one. If I am to be deemed active, I don’t get referred to the
DRB, but instead would be held on that active recommendation, or
re-validation, pending case-by-case review by the DRB, which can take
months or even years. But regardless of the position the DRB takes, when
IGI reviews you, you still will be placed in a step.
We, in our Core Demand No. 2, demanded in part, an end to the
active/inactive review, because it retains prisoners indefinitely in
SCTC without any real due process or procedural due process. The
debriefing policy is still in effect and its sole purpose is to have
prisoners snitch on one another for a release from the SCTC that they
are held on indefinitely. We understood that the State power can create
situations for or in our lives that render us vulnerable to the
authority/ power that they have been entrusted with by the People, and,
it is the abuse of this power/ authority that has allowed CDCr to
structure up a system of torture for thousands of Human Beings held in
these SCTC, unjustly.
We, in part of our Core Demand No. 2 (Abolish the debriefing policy and
modify active/inactive gang status criteria), have demanded an end to
this debriefing policy that tortures men and women for information on
other men and women by using state sanctioned powers to carry out their
We continue to be held indefinitely in long term solitary confinement.
The new policies do not negate this fact. Humans who have been in
solitary confinement for 20 or 30 years are now being placed in Step 1
under the new STG and Steps 1 and 2 under SDP (the steps furthest away
from relative freedom in General Population).
This speaks to the inhumanity of the CDCr officials who are heartless to
the fact that these prisoners have endured enough suffering. The placing
of anyone into Step 1 on the basis of frivolous confidential information
is unjust and cruel and unusual. So, if you been in SCTC for 30 years
and you are placed in Step 1, that’s three more years added to that 30
years, an extension of long term SCTC.
I personally have witnessed individuals who we all know will easily
transition into General Population, but they are placed in Steps 1
through 4 due to political material which is protected by the First
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which the CDCr supersedes, and
confidential information. The SDP is another scheme to hold countless
individuals in long term SCTC.
Long term solitary confinement
We, in our Core Demand No. 3, demanded an end to long term solitary
confinement. We see that CDCr has basically just condemned us to three
more years in SCTC, which amounts to torture and long term solitary
National and international opinion clearly deems long term solitary
confinement torture, but these laws are not respected by CDCr, which
reduces these laws to opinions. We continue to see prisoners die due to
medical neglect and inadequate medical treatment.
Health care and food
We all hear the horror stories – and have our own that have routinely
been allowed to occur – where countless men and women have died in
agonizing pain due to not being diagnosed or not treated for medical
conditions that eventually manifest into deadly diseases that the
prisoners suffer the rest of their stay in SCTC. In part, we have
demanded in our Core Demand No. 4 that inadequate medical treatment cease.
We continue to be fed non-nutritional foods and issued regularly
disproportionate servings, so that prisoners held in long term solitary
confinement go hungry and become unhealthy, since it is a concrete fact
that nutritional foods maintain one’s good health. CDCr continues to
defy this documented fact under the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
2010,” from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services.
The case can be made that the food being fed to prisoners routinely is
not only non-nutritional but unhealthy for consumption, especially
pancakes and waffles with sugar-free syrup and peanut butter with
sugar-free jelly. Turkey, beef and chicken is all by-product meats,
meaning there is a small percentage of the original meat present.
So we are eating mostly soy and pink slime, which is why you don’t get
meat texture, but instead a flimsy piece of meat. It is questionable
whether the soy is safe, let alone healthy for consumption. And let’s
keep in mind this is the worst form of processed meat you can eat.
The milk is 60 percent water; it truly has no nutritional value. The two
ridiculously small servings of vegetables we get a day is insufficient
to maintain our health.
And those on Halal diet here at Pelican Bay State Prison are deprived of
much of their food simply because they have opted to be on a diet that’s
consistent with their religion or principles with respect to how their
meat is prepared. They are retaliated against and denied side dishes
with these meals frequently; their dinners can be under 400 calories.
I can go on and on about the inadequate food prisoners are forced to eat
– or starve; much of it provides no nutritional benefits. In part, our
Core Demand No. 4 demanded an adequate, balanced, nutritional diet be
provided and an end to the small servings.
Education vs. warehousing
We are still held inside these solitary confinement torture chambers
(SCTC), where no meaningful educational programs and privileges have
been implemented that could encourage our mental stability and physical
development. When we talk about educational programs, we are talking
about CDCr changing their routine practice of just warehousing prisoners
in these SCTC, but instead giving them access to modern world
technologies that can be provided at a prisoner’s expense or state expense.
We definitely need to bring in limited computers that can provide
national and international geographies and cultures we can study. The
outdated educational programs that CDCr provides at PBSP serve no
educational purpose whatsoever.
The world is getting smaller and smaller and prisoners are like
dinosaurs in our thinking, especially those of us who have been in 25
years or longer – and it’s worse for those of us held in these SCTC. We
need to be exposed to the many new social and cultural developments that
have occurred over those years.
A lot of us, out of being uniformed, have no clue as to how far the
world has advanced, and continued isolation is a tragedy – and this
refers to all prisoners in respect to outdated educational programs that
provide us no education – especially when CDCr tells the public it is
True rehabilitation would mean transforming all prisons into colleges
and universities. Tapping into the thousands of mentalities behind these
prison walls may discover prisoners, who, once given the opportunity,
can become the world’s best scientists, doctors, lawyers, philosophers,
judges, cooks, teachers, computer geeks, biologists, dentists,
architects and artists.
We need real courage and a commitment to real education for prisoners.
Allowing our mental energy to die or waste away in these man-made tombs
does nothing for anyone. I’d prefer to be studying for a doctorate than
to be just sitting here wasting away like this. And once we earn our
degrees, we should be afforded the opportunity to serve humanity
nationally and internationally.
But, if CDCr only intends to warehouse prisoners until we are dead, then
we prisoners have to demand an end to the senseless killing of prisoners
by proxy. Humans are a resource, and the state can invest in them
positively or negatively. The current investment in prisoners is
negative, relegating the human being to nothing.
Privilege is simply allowing prisoners access to activities that enrich
our lives. This can only be a benefit to everyone. Family visits and
contact visits are privileges, even an hour visit out of 24 hours a day
on two days, Saturday and Sunday, and in some prisons, just one day for
PBSP afforded an hour and a half and, after our peaceful protests, now
three hours. But traveling to PBSP is like going to another state, so
even three hours is insufficient considering the distance. We should be
allowed five or six hours.
Privileges should always contribute to one’s social development. The
more exposed we are to positive programs, the more we apply what we have
learned in practice. That’s the natural process for us and all humanity.
We have, for the last 50 years in California, been conditioned around
violence, and violence has been a regular practice throughout our stay.
Thanks to our Agreement to End Hostilities, a lot of this violence has
been deterred to some extent.
But what will keep this violence at bay? Because it definitely won’t
sustain itself if prisoners’ energy is not being challenged in the
educational programs and privileges that would hold their attention and
produce the development that will enrich their lives.
Our Core Demand No. 5 (Expand and provide constructive programming and
privileges for indefinite SHU status inmates) demanded that in order to
deal with the idle time and the physical and mental development and
social development of each and every prisoner, there must be real
None of our core demands have been met! We are at a stage in our
protracted struggle where we have to ask ourselves a tough question:
Where do we go from here?
CDCr has afforded some of us access to the General Population who should
have never been held in these SCTC in the first place and have been held
for far too many years. Our class action lawsuit was filed to end
indefinite, longterm solitary confinement for all of us.
However, CDCr can render our class action lawsuit moot by placing
everyone in the SDP, especially those of us who’ve been here in PBSP SHU
10 years or more, which is the only requirement of the lawsuit. (CDCr’s
effort to defeat the suit by placing plaintiffs in the Step Down Program
and moving them to other SHUs has been derailed by the court since this
was written. – ed.)
So, considering the slow pace of progress in the Legislature and the
possibility the lawsuit may not succeed, the responsibility to make
change will come back to us prisoners. So we have to start strategizing
around what we have to do in respect to our peaceful protests in order
to end the continued abuse of authority.
CDCr has turned up its attacks, making it worse for each and every
prisoner and his or her family. New regulations on personal property and
on “obscenity” – actually censorship, a direct attack on free speech –
have been implemented, and the proposed regulations to use canine
searches of visitors – a direct attack on our families – are not yet
approved but are in effect “on a temporary basis.”
These new regulations are about nothing other than prison officials
abusing their position of power in order to retaliate against all of us
who participated in the three hunger strikes and against all prisoners,
activists and our families who supported us. The fact that CDCr can use
the power that has been entrusted to them by the people to attack the
people for their peaceful protests speaks volumes to how CDCr officials
have no respect for the offices they hold.
We prisoners need to prepare for a massive peaceful protest and work
stoppage if prison officials don’t change 1) The culture to which
prisoners and their families are subjected: so much mental and physical
torment; 2) End long term solitary confinement, as they promised; and 3)
Implement our five core demands. If not, we have to think about our
immediate future and long term future behind these walls. Too many
humans are suffering who don’t need to be suffering.
We also have to begin to educate prisoners on how to file writs and
civil complaints in the state and federal courts in the interests of
prisoners, ending the routine abuses that have been systemic throughout
the state. The work stoppage, if necessary, should last anywhere from a
month to years.
Our support committees need to release a report on the health
consequences that many prisoners suffered during our last hunger strike,
such as when we were temporarily taken to New Folsom. Many prisoners
suffered immeasurable consequences in the name of our peaceful hunger
strikes – the most recent having lasted from July 8, 2013, to Sept. 5,
2013 – that I personally recorded. We lost six lives, and we continue to
One Love, One Struggle!
Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma, s/n James Crawford,
D-05996, D2-107, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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