[Pnews] PTSD SC: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Solitary Confinement

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 27 10:45:51 EST 2018


http://sfbayview.com/2018/02/ptsd-sc-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-solitary-confinement/ 



  PTSD SC: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Solitary Confinement

February 26, 2018
------------------------------------------------------------------------

*/by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Baridi J. Williamson/*

California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) had been 
locking classes of prisoners up in solitary confinement since the ‘60s 
as part of CDCr’s para-military low-intensity warfare, to break the 
minds and spirits of its subjects, California’s prisoner class. CDCr’s 
solitary confinement has two operating components: 1) punishing you and 
2) physically and mentally destroying you.

In the 1970s, CDCr’s report to then Gov. Ronald Reagan on revolutionary 
organizations and gangs resulted in Reagan ordering the CDCr director to 
lock up all radicals, militants, revolutionaries and jailhouse lawyers 
who were considered “trouble-makers.”^[i] <#_edn1> And a 1986 report by 
the CDCr task force stated that during the ‘60s and ‘70s, California’s 
prisoners became “politicized” through the influence of outside 
“radical, social movements.”

And conscious prisoners began to “demand” their human, constitutional 
and civil rights,^[ii] <#_edn2> as exemplified by those politicized 
prisoners of war (PPOW) like W.L. Nolen.^[iii] <#_edn3> In the late 
‘60s, Nolen and other PPOWs filed a civil rights class action case 
challenging the inhumane, degrading conditions and institutional racism 
that was prevalent at Soledad Prison’s solitary confinement O-wing,^[iv] 
<#_edn4> as well as throughout CDCr’s prison system to date.

The 1986 CDCr task force report recommended that CDCr build “supermax” 
prisons for this politicized class of prisoners, which was echoed by the 
California prison guards’ union (known today as CCPOA) in continuing 
their low-intensity warfare upon California prisoners up into and 
through the ‘80s.

Shortly thereafter, California government through its apparatus CDCr, 
built its solitary confinement torture sites, such as Security Housing 
Units (SHUs) and Administrative Segregation (Ad-Segs) at Tehachapi in 
December 1986, New Folsom in December 1987, Corcoran in December 1988 
and at Pelican Bay State Prison in December of 1989. All were designed 
with the malicious intent to destroy human lives through their 
diabolical low-intensity warfare scheme of mass validation – group 
punishment – indeterminate SHU classification and enhanced “debriefing” 
interrogation, known as “snitch, parole or die!”

Each of California’s governors and CDCr cabinet secretaries from 1977 to 
2015 knowingly enhanced their system to become more repressive upon the 
prisoners held in solitary confinement in the SHUs. We prisoners have 
known for the past decades that California citizens have not condoned 
the torture of California prisoners. Nevertheless, since the ‘60s, each 
state governor and legislature knowingly sanctioned solitary confinement 
torture.

California’s CDCr – with the winks and nods of lawmakers and judges – 
has held countless prisoners in solitary confinement, whether it is 
called Ad-Seg, Management Control Unit, Adjustment Center, SHU or 
Administrative SHU, longer than any prison system within the United 
States, ranging up to 45 years of torture and acts of racial 
discrimination from Soledad Prison’s O-wing to PBSP’s new form of 
solitary confinement torture.

The case of Madrid v. Gomez was the first acknowledgement on the part of 
California authorities and judiciary recognizing the harm that CDCr had 
been causing – mental torture – to those held in solitary confinement 
across the state’s prison system.^[v] <#_edn5>


      We prisoners have known for the past decades that California
      citizens have not condoned the torture of California prisoners.
      Nevertheless, since the ‘60s, each state governor and legislature
      knowingly sanctioned solitary confinement torture.

The Madrid case touched on the harsh conditions and treatment toward the 
solitary confinement prisoners at PBSP. It is a clear fact that during 
the years 1989 to 1994, PBSP had one of the most notorious Violence 
Control Units (VCUs) in the U.S. CDCr-PBSP officials utilized the VCU 
for to violate prisoners’ human, constitutional and civil rights by 
beating us and destroying the minds and spirits of so many of us for years.

An example of how some prisoners would find themselves forced into 
PBSP’s VCU is when the CDCr bus would arrive at PBSP and park outside 
the entrance doorway to solitary confinement – Facilities C and D. A 
squad of goons dressed in paramilitary gear with black gloves, shields 
and riot helmets would be there waiting. They called themselves the 
“Welcoming Committee.”

These guards, describing themselves as the Green Wall guard gang, using 
“G/W” and “7/23” as symbols for “Green Wall,” would roam through the SHU 
corridors assaulting, beating and scalding prisoners. See Madrid v. Gomez.

The Welcoming Committee would select one or more prisoners and pull them 
off the bus – usually choosing those the transportation guards accused 
of “talking loud.” They would take each one to the side and jump on him, 
then drag him off through the brightly lighted doorway.


      These guards, describing themselves as the Green Wall guard gang,
      using “G/W” and “7/23” as symbols for “Green Wall,” would roam
      through the SHU corridors assaulting, beating and scalding prisoners.

When the rest of the prisoners were escorted off the bus into the 
corridor to be warehoused in the general SHU cells, they would see those 
beaten prisoners dragged off the bus “hog-tied”^[vi] <#_edn6> and lying 
on their stomachs or crouched in a fetal position, sometimes in a pool 
of blood.^[vii] <#_edn7> Later, they were dragged off to the VCU, where 
they were targeted with intense mind-breaking operations.

When these prisoners were eventually taken out of VCU and housed in the 
general SHU cells, they mostly displayed insanity – smearing feces all 
over their bodies, screaming, yelling, banging cups, throwing 
urine.^[viii] <#_edn8> And it was only when prisoners began to go public 
about the VCU at PBSP that CDCr ceased those practices.^[ix] <#_edn9>

The effects of solitary confinement at PBSP compelled CDCr to establish 
Psychiatric Service Units (PSUs) in response to the Madrid ruling for 
remedying the conditions that were destroying the minds of all prisoners 
who were held captive from the time of the Madrid ruling in 1995 through 
2014, but they were poor and ineffective. Those released to the PSU from 
SHU fared no better than others held in solitary confinement at PBSP.

Prisoners in SHU continued to suffer mental, emotional and physical harm 
with no remedy made available by CDCr until we were released out to 
General Population units by the Departmental Review Board (DRB) between 
2012 and 2014 and the Ashker v. Brown class action settlement in 2015.

These released prisoners were coming from a torture chamber, where by 
necessity they created coping skills like self-medicating. Typically, 
when coming out of solitary confinement, women and men prisoners show 
signs of depressive disorder and symptoms characteristic of 
self-mutilation, mood deterioration and depression, traumatic stress 
disorder, hopelessness, panic disorder, anger, obsessive-compulsive 
disorder, irritability, anhedonia, fatigue, feelings of guilt, loss of 
appetite, nervousness, insomnia, worry, increased heart rate and 
respiration, sweating, hyperarousal, serious problems with 
socialization, paranoia, loss of appetite, as well as cognitive issues, 
nightmares, muscle tension, intrusive thoughts, fear of losing control, 
and difficulty concentrating.^[x] <#_edn10>


      Prisoners in SHU continued to suffer mental, emotional and
      physical harm with no remedy made available by CDCr until we were
      released out to General Population units by the Departmental
      Review Board (DRB) between 2012 and 2014 and the Ashker v. Brown
      class action settlement in 2015.

The California prison system realized that these prisoners held 
initially at PBSP and subsequently at Tehachapi and throughout the 
system had their constitutional rights violated under the Eighth 
Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the 14th 
Amendment guarantee of due process of the law, for decades.^[xi] <#_edn11>

Jules Lobel of the Center for Constitutional Rights and lead counsel in 
Ashker stated:

“The torture of solitary confinement doesn’t end when the cell doors 
open. California’s continued violation of the Constitution and new 
evidence of the persistent impact of prolonged solitary confinement 
requires CDCR to make essential changes in their conduct and 
rehabilitative programs, and, more broadly, demonstrates the urgent need 
to end solitary confinement across the country.”^[xii] <#_edn12>

The Ashker v. Brown class action, settled in 2015, is a historic lawsuit 
exposing those violations and the harms they cause. We, as California 
prisoners and citizens of this state, deserve to be treated for the 
intentional cruelty caused by state-sanctioned torture. This is 
especially so for the hundreds of solitary confinement prisoners who 
have spent more than 27 months in any form of solitary confinement, 
which constitutes torture, according to the Ninth Circuit.^[xiii] <#_edn13>

CDCr has continued to shun its governmental responsibilities and has not 
effectively remedied the pain and suffering of thousands of solitary 
confinement prisoners who have been released to General Population 
through the DRB and Ashker. All of them are suffering from various 
aspects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Solitary Confinement (PTSDSC).


      We, as California prisoners and citizens of this state, deserve to
      be treated for the intentional cruelty caused by state-sanctioned
      torture.

If you are reading this, join us in writing, emailing and calling Gov. 
Brown (916-445-2841 or jerry.brown at gov.ca), Secretary of CDCr Scott 
Kernan (916-324-7308) and Sen. Holly Mitchell (916-324-7308 or 
http://sd30.senate.ca.gov/e-mail-holly), who chairs the Public Safety 
Committee overseeing CDCr, and demand the following government actions 
be taken to remedy the decades of damage done to us:

  * That CDCr provide statewide men’s and women’s PTSDSC support groups
    modeled after the “Men’s’ Group” program we created at Salinas
    Valley State Prison Facility C, which has been approved by the
    administration – wardens, community resources managers (CRMs) – for
    our PTSDSC class and is only awaiting locating a sponsor to get started;
  * That CDCr allow all PTSDSC prisoners to go through this six-month
    relief program at their respective GP locations;
  * That CDCr provide effective in-service training of staff in fairly
    and respectfully dealing with PTSDSC class members, including in
    appeals, disciplinary and medical matters;
  * That CDCr adopt all recommendations in the 2017 report of the Human
    Rights in Trauma Mental Health Lab at Stanford University, detailing
    the ongoing negative health consequences that Ashker class members
    have suffered following their release from long-term solitary
    confinement into GP:
      o Provide peer-facilitated support groups for all PTSDSC class
        members; and
      o Provide independent psychiatric care for all PTSDSC class
        members to receive PTSDSC mental and emotional health and
        psychological services in this form.
  * That Gov. Brown and the California legislature order the Board of
    Parole Hearings to stop denying our PTSDSC class members who are
    serving life sentences a fair opportunity to be released home,
    thereby doubly punishing and torturing us because we were unlawfully
    kept in solitary confinement without due process and exercised our
    constitutionally protected right to peacefully protest with hunger
    strikes to be released, refusing to debrief and become their snitches.

In struggle!

/Prisoner Human Rights Movement/

©Dec. 1, 2017, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Baridi J. Williamson. Send our 
brothers some love and light: Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (R.N. Dewberry), 
C-35671, and Baridi J. Williamson, D-34288, SVSP C-118, P.O. Box 1050, 
Soledad CA 92960.

[i] <#_ednref1> See “CDCR Task Force Report on Gangs, Violence and SHU,” 
1986, citing CDCr’s 1971 “Report to Gov. Ronald Reagan on Revolutionary 
Organizations”

[ii] <#_ednref2> Same as above

[iii] <#_ednref3> See “Melancholy History of Soledad Prison,” by Min Yee

[iv] <#_ednref4> See case of /W.L.Nolen, et al. vs. Fritzgerald, Warden 
of Soledad Prison (1969)/

[v] <#_ednref5> See /Madrid v. Gomez (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D.Cal., no. 
c-90-3094), 889 F.Supp. 1146 (1995)/

[vi] <#_ednref6> See /Madrid,/ above, at footnote 5

[vii] <#_ednref7> See article, “Potty Watch: PBSP Human Rights 
Violations” by the Freedom & Justice Project, published in /Prison Focus 
/April 2011

[viii] <#_ednref8> See /Madrid/

[ix] <#_ednref9> See PBSP SHU prisoners’ letters and interviews, Pelican 
Bay Information Project (PBIP)

[x] <#_ednref10> See 2017 Stanford University lab report by the Human 
Rights in Trauma Mental Health Lab, detailing the ongoing negative 
health consequences /Ashker/ class members have suffered following their 
release from long-term solitary confinement into the general prison 
population.

[xi] <#_ednref11> /Ashker v. Brown/, class action (U.S.N.D.Cal. no. 
09-cv-05796-CW) settlement 2015

[xii] <#_ednref12> Walker, Taylor, “Two Years After End of Indefinite 
Solitary in CA, CDCR Violating Terms Of Settlement, and Inmates 
Experiencing Lasting Psychological Effects, Says Center For 
Constitutional Rights,” 11/22/17, WitnessLA, witnessla.com

[xiii] <#_ednref13> See /Brown v. Oregon Dept. of Corrections/, 751 F.3d 
983, 988 (9th Cir. 2014)

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