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CDCR approves TVs to Calipatria ASU in response to last year’s hunger strike

May 6, 2012

by Kendra Castaneda

Calipatria State Prison covers 1,227.5 acres lying 184 feet below sea level in the Mojave Desert near the Salton Sea and the Mexican border, the hottest area in North America. The men in ASU have no air conditioning, even though temperatures can exceed 120 degrees in the summer. – Photo: Kendra Castaneda
Hundreds of men at Calipatria State Prison in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) participated last year in the Pelican Bay State Prison hunger strike that spread statewide in July and again in September. They starved themselves in unity with the five core demands from the Pelican Bay SHU, but the men at Calipatria added their own demand, which was to have an appliance – either a TV or radio – to stimulate their minds so long as they had to be forced to stay in segregation.

With help from articles that were published to expose the illegally extended years these men are serving in this “temporary” segregation unit, from loved ones pushing CDCR to have these men’s demand met, from the men themselves at Calipatria ASU who’ve had the courage to publicly describe the extremely inhumane conditions they are facing and after Warden Leland McEwen was removed from Calipatria State Prison, CDCR-Sacramento approved TVs for all the men.

On April 19, 2012, TVs were distributed around to every cell in the Administrative Segregation Unit. Finally the men have more to watch than a concrete wall. Considering how cruel CDCR is and that CDCR has yet to meet the five humane demands from Pelican Bay SHU, this is a huge breakthrough and a direct result of last year’s statewide hunger strike.

Update on the case against Calipatria IGI E. Duarte

Something very disturbing has been brought to my attention with the Velarde vs. Duarte case from Calipatria State Prison. The attorney general of Imperial County, who is representing IGI (Institutional Gang Investigator) E. Duarte, was recently allowed into Calipatria’s Administrative Segregation Unit. The AG’s staff was allowed by CDCR to “interrogate” the inmates specifically about me without any of these inmates’ attorneys present.

The county attorney general’s staff asked them who I am, which men do I write to in the prison, whether I have a personal relationship with Harold Velarde and so on. If the AG wanted to know about me as a human rights activist, then I am not hard to find and contact. He could have emailed me personally, for I know he reads these articles, and my email address is published at the end of each article I write.

He could have just talked to me directly without taking the risk of violating ethics codes that members of the California State Bar must follow, but instead his staff is interrogating men who will be testifying in court at the end of this year in their civil case against IGI Duarte. They say Duarte has used excessive force on prisoners, falsified documentation and planted evidence to “validate” them as “gang members.”

Prisoner advocate Kendra Castaneda fights together with her husband, Robbie Riva, consigned to the Calipatria ASU, for human rights for all prisoners. Robbie’s visting privileges were cut off over a year ago. This was one of their last visits together. Their daughter badly misses her daddy.
Once validated, they are labeled “the worst of the worst” and must endure the torture of solitary confinement indefinitely, until they “parole, snitch or die,” as the guards often remind them. Gang validation and indefinite solitary confinement terms – penalties that threaten every prisoner in the state – are at the heart of what motivated 12,000 California prisoners to starve themselves simultaneously at the peak of the hunger strikes last year.

It seems to me that CDCR, in allowing the AG’s staff to interrogate the men in Calipatria ASU, is not watching itself carefully, as its dirty tactics are getting extremely sloppy. And isn’t interrogating a plaintiff and witnesses in a current court case illegal?

The IGIs are known to retaliate against inmates who speak up exposing their inhumane conditions and abuses, and now the Imperial County AG’s staff member thought he wasn’t going to get caught interrogating the plaintiff, witnesses and other men who will be testifying in court in the case against IGI E. Duarte. If CDCR retaliates in any way against the men at Calipatria State Prison ASU who are involved in the Velarde vs. Duarte case or the families of these men, it will be released to the public and exposed at this court trial.

Kendra Castaneda is a prisoner human rights activist whose husband is currently incarcerated in the notorious Calipatria State Prison ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit). She can be reached at kendracastaneda55@gmail.com.

Kendra made these videos on July 24, 2011, as the first round of last year’s hunger strike was ending.

 

13 thoughts on “CDCR approves TVs to Calipatria ASU in response to last year’s hunger strike

  1. JLO1965

    Ace, really? You want to be called Ace? Ok, Here we go again from the pitchfork society ( A correctional officer in disguise, another form of public welfare ) Do you know when a correctional officer is lying? Their lips are moving. Told to me by a correctional officer. Funny haha. I am a widow . My husband was killed serving this country. He was a pilot in the Air Force. He's closest friend ended up in prison in a state I wont mention, not in California. In my deep mourning I flew to this state to meet the childhood best friend of my husband who was serving time. In time we fell in love and we married. At the time I just wanted to be close to someone that knew my husband. That is when I learned about the justice system in this country. How it's the new form of legal slavery. I went from a woman who was saluted by men in uniform to be treated like a scumbag criminal myself by men that I refuse to say wearing uniform because that deserves respect. I've not met a correctional staff member who deserves that . People like you are more evil than any prisoner I've ever met. I guess you don't understand how easy it is to end up in prison. Of course you do because you're a correctional officer. You need bodies in prison to keep your job. Just be in the wrong place at the wrong time for you other readers here. Think it can't happen to you ? If you don't think so you're sadly mistaken. I hope you have an extra $200k laying around to hire an attorney. Because a public pretender is not interested in justice. Here's an example.Maybe you are in a car with someone you don't know that well. They ask you to stop the car and they run into the store rob and kill someone. You have no knowledge they are going to do this. Do you think it's a crime ? Well it is. You will be charged will robbery and murder. Say you're leaving a bar to avoid a fight and someone follows you outside and you defend yourself. That person dies. You will go to prison. Happens all the time. Do there need to be prisons? Of course . There are some people that never belong in society ever again. That does not mean you need to lower yourself to their level. The reality is many people in prison are in for non violent offenses that don't really justify such harshness of sentences. 90% will be back into society. Do you want someone living next door to you that was treated like an animal by prison staff released into society. Or someone treated humanely ? After all we must be better than that. You can't become the monsters you fear ! That makes you no better than them !

    Reply
    1. Ace

      Sorry for your loss. My own father was murdered (shot to death), the killers never caught. I am an Army Veteran and have had both cousins and an uncle do time in California prisons, so I am not lying. JLO? Really?

      Reply
  2. Leo

    Ace jst google Robbie Riva. was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter, assault with a firearm and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle. Court docs show he CONFESSED to the shooting!!

    Reply
  3. sickofstupidpeople

    this is not a real victory. TVs are great for everyone…. it is nicest for the prisoner, but TV is known as the great babysitter.
    The guards gave them the one thing they themselves could also benefit from.
    I dont much like Kendra and the exaggerated credit (single handedly took the hunger strike on? seriously not!) she has been given in all this,but I do appreciate her efforts.

    Ace. you dont get what is going on here… as a wife of a SHU inmate, I can tell you facts that go against what you say are "onlys". Losing visitation is not about passing contraband only, but a game the staff like to play to make themselves be all powerful. I know people who have lost visitation for far, far less .
    Not everyone in prison is a murderer or even a criminal, because some prisoners got a raw deal in court due to lack of funds for a decent defense. and this goes for whites as well as blacks and mexicans.

    Reply
    1. JLO1965

      You're correct about TV's Sickofstupidpeople they want them uneducated and distracted from the injustice that is going on around them. My husband has amassed a law library and has used his time in prison wisely. He is in a facility where he can have a TV but refuses to own one. I was shocked in me research that we have only 5% of the worlds population yet 25% of the prisoners. We put more people in prison than any other country on the planet. Either we breed the most evil people on the planet or something else is going on. I believe the latter.

      Reply
  4. jim ellis

    I attended schools in Calipatria K-12. You have the elevation of Calipatria correct. However, showing Calipatria as part of the Mojave Deseret is incorrect. Best wishes with your research. Sincerely, Jim Ellis

    Reply
  5. Juan Macias

    I say let the animals in prison die!!! You inmate family members are a bunch of idiots, your innocent little johnny is a scum bag just like you idiots.

    Reply
      1. ANGIE

        I bet you wouldn't say that to one of them in there. As a matter of fact I bet you wouldn't have the balls to say that to my face. You are the scumbag I'm the girl with a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration who is calling you an idiot. Now you've proven to be a coward as well. ANGIE4PELICANBAY@gmail.com
        STOP THE INHUMANE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL TORTURE OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT RELEASE SHU INMATES FOR WRONGFUL VALIDATIONS.
        ANGIE

        Reply
        1. John

          SCUM BAG you say, you fit the criteria pretty well. Where do I send the cookies to celebrate your BA Degree since it seems that you are bragging about it. Don't get mad because I don't like your man locked up. You scum bag lovers are idiots and morons who only put out bias information. I hope your GBG gives you aids from the homo he's having sex with you skank.

          Reply
  6. ANGIE GONZALES

    CHECK THIS; I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND LIKE I SAID YOU WILL NOT SAY IT TO MY FACE. YOU ARE A COWARD. FUNNY THING… SLEEPING WITH ONE EYE OPEN… HAVING TO LOOK OVER YOUR SHOULDER EVERY TIME YOU STEP OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. MUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH BOO!

    Reply

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