by Kendra Castaneda
Feb. 4 update: Independent investigators visit Calipatria
Progress in the Velarde vs. Duarte case: The court ordered CDCR to allow Attorney General staff, independent lawyers and experts inside Calipatria State Prison on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, into Facility B for cell inspections and to inspect elsewhere throughout the prison. All the inmates were watching them very carefully.
There’s no need for families and supporters to worry. The inspectors were sent to the prison; they were sent to help. They do not work with CDCR and they do not work with the prison officials. They are going above and beyond their usual role to get justice for the inmates who have been abused and mistreated in some form or another by IGI E. Duarte.
Jan. 28 update: Court gives green light
Many inmates at Calipatria State Prison have agreed to come forward and testify in court against Calipatria Institutional Gang Investigator (IGI) E. Duarte, for the courts have officially granted a trial. Not only will it be for the Velarde case, but the United States District Court will be hearing from inmates who have either been victims or witnesses to IGI Duarte using excessive force on an inmate, falsifying documentation on an inmate or planting evidence on an inmate to “validate” him as a “gang member.”
Testimony will limited to misconduct by Duarte that prisoners have witnessed; no other testimony will be allowed. Yes, there will be media attention, but none will focus directly on the inmates – only on the information they make public.
Again, if anyone wants to come forward about IGI E. Duarte’s misconduct and expose him, not only will it help expose the false charges, false validations and false segregation many men have endured at Calipatria ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit), but it could also help expose for the first time an IGI purposely planting evidence and falsifying documentation to get an inmate validated and sent to the SHU. It could possibly open the doors toward ending the corrupt CDCR validation process and help many more men in the SHUs and AdSegs throughout California. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original article, posted Jan. 17: Calipatria State Prison Institutional Gang Investigator (IGI) E. Duarte is currently under investigation by the United States District Court due to a complaint of excessive force on an inmate and complaints of falsifying legal documentation and planting evidence on inmates.
After IGI Duarte broke his leg, Harold Velarde had the courage to file a complaint with the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. It was originally denied, but in October 2011, the court ordered the case to be investigated.
Another prisoner, Jesus Macias, reports he has proof that IGI Duarte “fabricated evidence and lied in every report.” We are now calling for more evidence of Duarte’s wrongdoing.
If you know anybody who has witnessed Institutional Gang Investigator E. Duarte at Calipatria State Prison use excessive force, falsify documentation or plant evidence on an inmate, especially if it resulted in the prisoner being “validated” as a “prison gang member,” or if you know an inmate who has been targeted by IGI Duarte, please contact me as soon as possible at email@example.com.
Jesus Macias: IGI Duarte fabricated evidence that ‘validated’ me as a gang member
This letter from Jesus Macias, currently in Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at Calipatria State Prison, describes his experience with IGI Duarte. It was written to me on Sept. 25, 2011, one day before the California statewide hunger strike called by prisoners in the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU resumed. Prisoners at Calipatria joined in that hunger strike, and continued to strike after nearly all the 12,000 prisoners participating had stopped.
“I first like to thank you and all the good people helping us out to bring our situation here in Calipatria ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) and all SHUs (Security Housing Units) in California to light!
“My name is Jesus Macias, CDC E-14338. I am currently housed in Calipatria ASU and I’ve been serving a life-plus-five-year sentence for attempted murder in 1988. I was 18 years old at the time. I came into the prison system at a young age, so I was young, dumb and got myself into a lot of trouble.
“After my last SHU term in 2000, I realized this is not a life for me. I started programing, going to school, picking up my grades and getting a job, picking up a trade, and I’ve been programming ever since with NO ‘115 disciplinary actions’ at all! I am what an official would call a model inmate.
“I had been going to my board hearings and they told me I had a chance to go home to my family. Well, now that dream is shattered.
“On Jan. 11, 2011, at 1:00 a.m., I was awakened by institutional gang investigator officers yelling at me not to move and to follow their directions. After being cuffed, I was left in the shower while the IGI officers searched my cell.
“After two hours I asked IGI Officer E. Duarte, ‘Why are you searching my cell?’ He said it was routine. I asked him, ‘Did you leave a cell search slip?’ Looking upset at me, he said, ‘I’ll give it to you right now. Wait!’
“When he gave it to me, he said, ‘I’m going to get you!’ I asked him, ‘What do you mean?’ He didn’t answer me and left. Then, on Jan. 25, 2011, I was picked up by who else but IGI Officer E. Duarte for a validation package. All the so-called evidence they had on me was found that day, on Jan. 11, 2011.
“But I have that cell search slip IGI E. Duarte gave me, and there was no contraband or gang material ever found in my cell that morning! I wrote my rebuttal and 602 appeal telling them this IGI Officer E. Duarte fabricated evidence and lied in every report. I have his own cell search slip with his signature.
“They didn’t care and rubber stamped me all the way through OCS/SSU (Office of Correctional Safety Special Services Unit) and validated me! Since being back here in Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU), I found more inmates with similar situations with IGI E. Duarte. The sad thing about all this is nothing’s being done about it by their own supervisor, Warden Leland McEwen, who overlooks them.
“But I have that cell search slip IGI E. Duarte gave me, and there was no contraband or gang material ever found in my cell that morning! They didn’t care and rubber stamped me all the way through OCS/SSU (Office of Correctional Safety Special Services Unit) and validated me!”
“As for the conditions here in Calipatria ASU, they are the worst I have ever experienced within these 23 years in prison. Most of the time our food is cold and small portions, the staff does not clean the tier and it gets so nasty that we have to purposely flood the tier with water and shampoo just to try and keep it clean.
“As for clothes exchange, it’s rare if we get that. As for your basic supplies – toothpaste, toothbrush or simple things like a spoon – they are always short or they say they just don’t have any! There are boxes on all the exit doors blocking all the exits!
“That’s why I am hunger striking for my freedom out of isolation and being treated humanely, not tortured!
“Thank you for hearing me and giving me a minute of your time. God bless. – Jesus Macias
“P.S. Here is a copy of my cell search slip. There was nothing ever found, no contraband or gang material, which IGI E. Duarte says he found. I am just lucky I kept my receipt; it’s the only proof I have that he fabricated evidence and lied in every report. He says he found gang material that morning, Jan. 11, 2011, when my cell search slip says different.
“I would really like if you could post my letter out to the media so they can have a brief idea of what has been going on in Calipatria State Prison Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU).”
Harold Velarde: IGI Duarte broke my leg
Harold Anthony Velarde filed his complaint, Case No. 11-CV-0287-AJB-CAB, against IGI Duarte on Feb. 10, 2011. Initially denied, the judge has now ordered that Duarte be investigated.
“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.”
Velarde asserts in his complaint that defendant E. Duarte, who resides in Imperial, was acting under color of law “while performing his duties as security and investigations at Calipatria State Prison.” Velarde says Duarte “violated my Eighth Amendment rights [by] use of excessive force.”
Under “Supporting Facts,” Velarde, who is representing himself in this case, wrote:
“On Oct. 6, 2009, at Calipatria State Prison a riot occurred between Mexican inmates and some C/Os [correctional officers]. After the incident was contained and all inmates were restrained, from my cell door, inside my cell I saw C/O Magdaleno hitting a prone, restrained inmate in the back of the head with a pepper spray can. I yelled for the C/O to stop and my door was approached and I was told they’d be back for me. About two hours later two C/Os came to my door and ordered me to cuff up. The one with the spray pointed was Black and Duarte was the one who cuffed me.
“I comply with the C/O and cuff through the food porthole. After I’m cuffed, behind my back, my door opens and I’m ordered to back out and face the wall. C/O Duarte grabs my neck while I’m facing the wall and slams my face into it. I turn away from the wall ‘cause of the surprise and C/O Duarte puts his hands on my shoulders and pushes down with all his weight.
“My femur then snaps due to mobility issues from an old gunshot wound. I jump to the ground on my backside and tell the C/O, ‘You broke my leg.’ He responds, ‘I don’t give a fu-k.’ As soon as medical came, I was escorted to the hospital for surgery. They placed a steel plate aside my femur.
“C/O Duarte grabs my neck while I’m facing the wall and slams my face into it. I turn away from the wall ‘cause of the surprise and C/O Duarte puts his hands on my shoulders and pushes down with all his weight. My femur then snaps … They placed a steel plate aside my femur.”
“C/O Duarte never explains the gash under my eye from slamming my face into the wall in his reports. My injuries were documented by a lieutenant and sergeant with a video recorder. There are also so many witnesses.”
Velarde is requesting damages in the amount of $250,000 and punitive damages in the sum of $150,000. He wants a trial by jury.
Kendra Castaneda is a prisoner human rights activist with a loved one currently incarcerated in the Calipatria State Prison ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She asks anyone with information about Institutional Gang Investigator (IGI) E. Duarte to contact her right away.