by Brian Keith Barnett
Yes, the public is gullible and has been for years as demonstrated by the fact that the “three strikes” law has not been amended or repealed. The public has been given provocative innuendo for the purpose of perpetuating the myths that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) approve – which has recently been demonstrated as the state’s most dangerous and supposedly most hardened prison gang leaders preferred to use nonviolent means of protest in the form of deprivation of self.
The state’s law enforcement has thought for years that gang leaders have been calling hits and directing gang activity from within the state’s most secure, most oppressive gulag and that violence against California’s citizens is the reason the CDRC needs to operate and maintain special Security Housing Units (SHUs) in addition to what has been an unquestioned free hand in how prisoners are treated.
Regulations prohibit work stoppages and wildcat-type strikes, which would affect the profits of the prison industry authority and joint ventures as well as the property belonging to the wealthy that prisoners risk their lives to protect during fire season. Such protests would be violently put down and multiple rule violations would be charged. There would be seizures of personal property and loss of good time credits and privileges at the very least. Only the prisoner would suffer a loss.
Yet the hunger strike took all of the prisoncrats’ usual options off of the table since even the moving around of prisoners would not be effective. Without their normal options, prisoncrats began to feel impotent.
The so-called prison gang leaders are promoted and demoted by custody for their purposes and, contrary to the spin of CDCR officials, do not think in terms other than of violence as a means to an end – be it direct violent attacks on correctional staff and officials or their families and friends when they can be identified and found – so as to force change through fear and intimidation by way of the typical street thug mentality that, ironically, prisoncrats have adopted.
The secretary of the CDCR, Matthew Cate, issued a prepared statement in which he said, “Hunger strikes are dangerous and ineffective” – the inmate appeal process is dangerous and ineffective – “as a means for prisoners to attempt to negotiate.” However, what the secretary did not say but is only obvious is the fact that the hunger strike has resulted in additional overwhelming medical problems with attendant expense on an already overburdened prison healthcare system, which for the CDCR is more costly than the shooting and gassing of prisoners, violent or nonviolent, with their customary zeal.
Prisoncrats, as any conscious prisoner knows, couldn’t care less about the health of any prisoner. But they do care about the expense of the constitutionally mandated medical care that they must provide to all prisoners, which is quite costly. And the prisoncrats, while the hunger strike ended on Wednesday, July 20, 2011, went to extreme lengths to ensure that all prisoners knew it – which included a notice on the institutional information channel, where the prisoncrats contend that they enlightened the hunger strikers in the Pelican Bay SHU of their alleged plans – that they claim to have had since January – to review and change some policies that, frankly, have only recently been privy to the prisoncrats, to this well-informed writer’s knowledge.
It is highly unusual for prisoncrats to openly admit to anything and accountability is a very well ignored responsibility, to the point of being an institutionalized joke, yet the secretary has claimed that some policies relative to SHU prisoners and alleged gang management need some rethought. This is positively specious since, over the past 20-25 years, prisoncrats have invested a lot of effort in promulgating a highly disingenuous gang culture in California prisons that has, in most cases, been manipulated to perform tasks at the prisoncrats’ whims.
That’s what the new generation of self-proclaimed actives – or active gang members on the line and in the SHU and Ad Seg – have adopted and the politics of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) encourages, which keeps prisoners feuding with each other for prisoncrat amusement and benefit in addition to being bought and sold by their prisoncrat controllers.
The prisoncrats do not want to eliminate what they have encouraged in this prison system to justify its excessive budget. The hunger strike may have only lasted 20 days but it was like a shot across the bow of the CDCR’s battleship by an enemy the prisoncrats cannot mobilize their massive might, violent resources and infrastructure against.
The hunger strike may have only lasted 20 days but it was like a shot across the bow of the CDCR’s battleship by an enemy the prisoncrats cannot mobilize their massive might, violent resources and infrastructure against.
Yes, the hunger strike was a success and it got their attention in such a way that their burgeoning healthcare pocketbook was being robbed by the Service Employees International Union rather than the CCPOA. That means the customary violent responses of custody personnel were, for that time, rendered impotent and they do not have any real workable contingency for dealing with a nonviolent form of protest that they cannot crush with a violent response. So yes, the strike was a success, as are solo hunger strikes in solidarity and struggle.
Send our brother some love and light: Brian Keith Barnett, T-38323, Corcoran SHU 4A-112-041, P.O. Box 3476, Corcoran CA 93212-3476.