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The solitary confinement profiteers

July 14, 2012

by Mutope Duguma

A guard peers through the perforated steel wall between a Pelican Bay SHU cell and the hallway. SHU prisoners have no privacy. They are locked in their cells around the clock except for 60-90 minutes a day in a tiny, concrete-enclosed exercise yard that is often denied and are handcuffed and chained whenever they’re outside their cell. So the guards have little to do and face little danger. The guards’ powerful union, CCPOA, favors placing a far greater number of prisoners in SHUs to offset the loss of funding and jobs caused by the federal court-ordered prison population reduction.
Imagine someone trying to interfere with your economic interest. Would you sit back and accept it? Or would you do all in your power to counter such an attack? When the average working person who has responsibilities – children to feed, clothe, school and house – sees a threat to his livelihood, then what do you think would happen? He would fight in order to save his interest.

Prisoners are obsolete people, and the prison industrial complex (PIC) is a “corporation” whose sole commodity is prisoners. The corporation’s objective is to profit. The surplus from which prisoners are sought is the Amerikan people, especially New Afrikans. The CCPOA – prison guards union – works for the prison industrial complex. They, like any other workers, will do what it takes to keep their jobs because, as I said, they have their responsibilities.

The state government uses taxpayers’ money to fund CDCR – California Department of Corrections (and Rehabilitation?) – allocating $9.2 billion. Annually. There’s nothing the CCPOA union or administrators won’t do to maintain a steady paycheck. The progression of exploiting taxpayers out of more and more money will continue to manifest itself within the CDCR because it is driven by greed.

This is why you have solitary confinement units throughout this nation. In California alone they pay up to $20,000 more per solitary confinement unit than for a general population unit. This keeps officers working, which is why they become willing pawns who have an interest in oppressing prisoners.

Prisoners’ struggle is one of life and death because this greedy corporate prison industrial complex is profit driven, and there’s no limit to what those who oversee these modern day slave plantations – which include all races today – will do in order to earn more profit. This is why prisoners are seeing our food, medical, housing, mail etc. being deplorably depleted and our humanity devalued.

Another serious element that must be spoken to is the fact that there are exclusively white male prison guards – a patriarchal puritanical military industrial complex element – who have been given carte blanche over the internal functions of the prison industrial complex. This element has a fixation on how the founders of this country instituted crime and punishment and the submission of forgiveness, which can only occur through some religious awakening under Christian tenets.

Prisoners’ struggle is one of life and death because this greedy corporate prison industrial complex is profit driven, and there’s no limit to what those who oversee these modern day slave plantations – which include all races today – will do in order to earn more profit. This is why prisoners are seeing our food, medical, housing, mail etc. being deplorably depleted and our humanity devalued.

That is why prisoners who have been sentenced for a crime have to also go through punishment handed down by their captors, who adhere to these puritanical Christian tenets. Unfortunately for the captives, when the captors cannot command order around these Christian tenets, where captives are expected to beg for forgiveness for their wrongdoing, i.e., sins, only then will that punishment take a turn for the worse and those captives will be subjected to torture as we see now in California and prisons throughout this nation. One can under NO circumstances expect such a system to change itself.

Episodes of courage will only sustain you for so long. We have to be courageous all the time.

Abuse of power

There has been a series of monthly meetings taking place here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit, which started in February 2012. These meetings are to deal exclusively with local prison issues: i.e., program privileges in solitary confinement units, which are demands 4 and 5 of the five core demands issued last year [4. Provide adequate and nutritious food; 5. Expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status inmates].

These dialogues are carried out by our four representatives. The prison warden, G.D. Lewis, has designated an associate warden to carry out the meetings in hopes to resolve some of these deplorable internal issues.

Episodes of courage will only sustain you for so long. We have to be courageous all the time.

There have not been any substantial changes in our internal conditions because, in my personal opinion, the Pelican Bay SHU officials, officers and personnel have their own psychological issues around the following characteristics: 1) racism, 2) in-humanism, 3) chauvinism, 4) obscurantism and 5) irrationalism. These five traits become entrenched during their public service with CDCR.

It is these five traits that make the process so difficult toward changing the cruel practices against prisoners. We prisoners have been subjected to attacks daily based on the mindset of the employees. From 1989 to 2012, prisoners have been continually under threat by prison officials, officers and employees. I have personally seen how prisoners from 1993-1997, 2001-2003 and 2007-2012 here in Pelican Bay have been tormented by those responsible for overseeing their care.

Those of you who seem to always seek evidence of the mental damage on prisoners, go to the PHU (Psychiatric Housing Unit) or the EOP (Enhanced Outpatient Program) yards and you’ll find the men who have been removed from the SHUs by the enforcement of the courts. They are heavily medicated, walking around like zombies. Inside these prisons, this is the “silent option” that many have, outside of the choices of whether to snitch, parole or die, to get out of solitary confinement.

The Pelican Bay SHU officials, officers and personnel have their own psychological issues around the following characteristics: 1) racism, 2) in-humanism, 3) chauvinism, 4) obscurantism and 5) irrationalism. These five traits become entrenched during their public service with CDCR.

The five traits are prevalent throughout the SHU and they are the principle practices that lead to the SHU prison populace being tortured. The CDCR and PBSP administrators cannot justify taking away the programs and privileges that prisoners are having monthly meetings to regain right now, especially since the prisoners held in solitary confinement alone for years on end have been role model prisoners, causing no problems whatsoever, which is why these programs and privileges being requested should have been given to PBSP SHU prisoners in yesteryears.

Core demands 4 and 5 can easily be implemented by Warden G.D. Lewis, by the stroke of a pen. Core demand 4 is a request that every human being should be entitled to, unless you suffer from in-humanism, because food is a human necessity. To use it to physically and psychologically torture the SHU populace speaks to the inherited in-humanism which these PBSP SHU cooks demonstrate in their actions against SHU prisoners.

You’ll find the men who have been removed from the SHUs by the enforcement of the courts. They are heavily medicated, walking around like zombies. Inside these prisons, this is the “silent option” that many have, outside of the choices of whether to snitch, parole or die, to get out of solitary confinement.

I find it ABSURD that we prisoners have to go through a monthly process for the following, in respect to our annual package of chocolate candy (no limits), meats (any kind), spices, garlic, pepper, paprika etc., cereal, raisin bran. This is nonsense because prior to CDCR monopolizing the annual packages, or packages period, taxpayers had a say on how their money was spent for prisoners, but now they are cut out of the process. The CDCR only works with those who will give them the best deal or contract.

Television programs have been changed over to the local area, and in these small towns that happen to be non-diverse communities for the most part, their programming meets the needs of their audience. Therefore, there is NO inclusivity with respect to that programming. For example, in order to catch Tavis Smiley, a PBS-KEET program, one would have to stay up until midnight. Before this new arrangement, we got our PBS from the San Francisco Bay Area, which had very diverse programming throughout the day and prime time.

We have a good, diverse radio station, KHSU, which is informative and met the musical diversity preferences of many, no matter your race or taste. It was taken away from us around 2009. They used some lame excuse to justify their actions and it’s important to know that the PBSP officials outright lied to Secretary Kate and UnderSecretary Kernan and told them that we get 23 channels when we only get eight.

Pelican Bay SHU prisoners walk to the law library chain-gang style. They are often denied library access for months and even years, regardless of impending court deadlines.
Pelican Bay officials are the only officials who set out to deliberately remove all our educational programs and privileges in order to create a dismal environment for SHU prisoners, which has been done to try to create more “debriefing,” because the gang intelligence (?) unit thought or believed that if they can make our lives more miserable, “then they will debrief.”

This became a blessing in disguise, because the fact that we had lost all this years ago, these blatant attacks on our physical and psychological being, forced us prisoners to respond with our peaceful hunger strikes. Especially the continued attacks that our families were subjected to routinely demonstrated that the gang intelligence (?) unit was trying to criminalize our families for associating with their own family members, by using words only, nothing else, in order to threaten them away from their own blood family. This CDCR bully machine is made up of public service workers who literally want to be more than what their job description requires.

So for us to discuss local issues, like educational programming and privileges, food, exercise equipment, canteen, packages, TV programming, phone calls, TV-radio combinations etc., should not be something that prisoners have to fight for. Prisoners’ international and national human rights are being violated by being held indefinitely in solitary confinement for nothing – no offenses, no misbehavior during our horrible stay in solitary confinement – yet our human rights continue to be violated.

This, to me, explains why we PBSP SHU and general population prisoners have to by all means fight against the warehousing and shutting us out of the world, by not affording us meaningful TV programming and up-to-date educational programs that allow us to keep up with the 21st century.

General population, SHU and Ad-Seg prisoners should reject food that is poorly prepared and served anywhere throughout CDCR. We have to stay collectively committed to changing these horrible conditions that offer nothing to prisoners but a miserable existence. For Ad-Seg and SHU prisoners who have been committed to Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS), there should be four principle representatives in each prison for GP, Ad Seg and SHU that are dealing with their local issues.

Prisoners’ international and national human rights are being violated by being held indefinitely in solitary confinement for nothing – no offenses, no misbehavior during our horrible stay in solitary confinement – yet our human rights continue to be violated.

One should not get the local issues confused with our struggle to be liberated from solitary confinement units. While our four principle reps are working diligently daily with our mediation team, which is our ultimate objective, we must all be aware of the political minds that oversee California prisons, which adhere to the politics of the ultra-right conservatives who believe in the system of exploitation, i.e., capitalism and imperialism, especially against the poor humans of the world. It is this mindset that is a threat to us all.

The brutal retaliatory attack we sustained here during our peaceful hunger strike did not deter us one bit. We will remain committed to being liberated from these modern day slave quarters by all means and each and every one of us continues to be dedicated to our cause.

CDCR has to be given the benefit of the doubt because they are supposed to be law abiding citizens of this nation, but we have to allow the public citizens – i.e., the people – of this nation to see that the CDCR lives far outside their own laws. Instead they are enemies, exploiters of the California taxpayers.

The brutal retaliatory attack we sustained here during our peaceful hunger strike did not deter us one bit. We will remain committed to being liberated from these modern day slave quarters by all means and each and every one of us continues to be dedicated to our cause.

I am no threat to no one, yet I am held here in solitary confinement at a cost to taxpayers of $70,000 annually. Multiply that by 14,000 prisoners held in conditions just like me. This is the fleecing of local, state and federal funds – taxpayers’ funds.

One love, one struggle,

Mutope

Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma (James Crawford), D-05996, PBSP SHU D1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532. The statement entitled “The solitary confinement profiteers” was transcribed by Kendra Castaneda; the statement entitled “Abuse of power” was transcribed by Penny Schoner.

 

2 thoughts on “The solitary confinement profiteers

  1. Reader

    Nice photos too bad you downloaded them from Internet photos and added in your own captions. But the public wouldn't know better right. Don't believe me, search for them yourself, inmates, gang, prisons their all there.

    Give your readers the respect they deserve with accurate, truthful information
    Try again….

    Reply

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