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PBSP update: Assessment of meetings with assistant warden

September 17, 2012

Two letters follow: The first describes the current situation; the second describes what the prisoners were promised a year ago

by Mutope Duguma

Pelican Bay State Prison is in Crescent City – 2010 population 7,643 – a fishing town surrounded by forest on the Pacific coast just 20 miles from the Oregon border. The climate is cold and wet, yet prisoners have fought for decades for clothing to keep them warm in their uninsulated cells. On Oct. 1, 2011, in the midst of the second hunger strike, supporters rallied at the prison gate to encourage the strikers.
Our four principal negotiators/representatives here in the Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor remain steadfast toward achieving our five core demands, which has been an ongoing struggle. There has not been much that we as a collective would lay claim to, but one is aware of the manipulative games that CDCR and wardens are playing to attempt to discourage any future demonstrations on a collective level.

Our four reps have been in an ongoing dialogue with the associate warden, appointed by the warden here at PBSP SHU (Security Housing Unit) to deal with our Core Demand No. 5 exclusively. This is something that started in the month of February and continues to this day.

But sadly, there have not been any substantial programs or privileges authorized by the warden, who chooses to maintain the solitary confinement prisoners in a NON-productive state of programming, while offering small concessions on canteen and packages, which is something that was supposed to have been given to us over 23 years ago. Outside of that, we have not been able to get any cooperation from prison officials.

We have caught them in many lies in respect to these meetings and how they all conspired to mislead our representatives, who saw very quickly through their games but decided to go through the process so that the public can see that the mentality that oversees these procedures will never see us as human beings.

There have not been any substantial programs or privileges authorized by the warden, who chooses to maintain the solitary confinement prisoners in a NON-productive state of programming, while offering small concessions on canteen and packages, which is something that was supposed to have been given to us over 23 years ago.

For the last 25-plus years, we have been subjected to these solitary confinement units – Ad Seg, SHU – the result of administrative placement, whereas for the most part we have been model prisoners for those amount of years, while being deprived of any meaningful programming or privileges. Yet in the current meetings, the heartlessness that is shown toward our collective is something that one must see as a personal attack that has nothing to do with prison security or policy.

Providing us a decent meal three times a day should be a human right. Our captors don’t think so.

Holding us in solitary confinement units indefinitely is in violation of our civil and human rights. Our captors don’t think so.

Depriving us of any meaningful – or any – contact with our families, friends and associates is denying us a natural right, as well as a civil and human right. Our captors don’t think so.

Subjecting us to NO programming or privileges whatsoever, when our behavior has been above prison requirements, is unacceptable. Our captors don’t think so.

Acting Warden Greg Lewis fields reporters' questions in August 2011 about Pelican Bay State Prison's policies of indefinitely confining validated gang members in isolation units. Rarely are reporters allowed inside prisons – though that will change if Gov. Jerry Brown signs the media access bill on his desk – but last year following the first hunger strike, a few were invited to Pelican Bay. They were not allowed, however, to talk with any of the hunger strikers. – Photo: Julie Small, KPCC
What they think is that we should remain in the worst mental and physical state imaginable until we rot and die in these hell holes for doing nothing.

Providing us a decent meal three times a day should be a human right. Our captors don’t think so.

But being the kind of human beings they are, they have a history of hating. As Laura Magnani put it during the mediation team meeting in April in Sacramento with George Giurbino [representing CDCR] and legislative aides, “(We notice) that you all are making decisions over the lives of New Afrikans and Mexicans, who are more than 85 percent of the prison population and solitary confinement units, in California. Yet there is not one (such) person present in this room who is in the CDCR decision-making process.” The same can be said for our meetings with the assistant wardens, where there is not one human being who is New Afrikan or Mexican in the decision-making process.

Holding us in solitary confinement units indefinitely is in violation of our civil and human rights. Our captors don’t think so.

Here at PBSP SHU, it’s impossible to treat people like human beings if you have an inherited history to treat them like animals. This is why we have been made to suffer for 20-plus years here without even being given proper clothing for a very cold climate, until we subjected ourselves to a hunger strike in which three prisoners died. This is HATE – NOT about gang activity or violation of prison policy, rules and regulations. It’s about HATE by those who are in a position of power to do as they please and they subjectively do just that.

Depriving us of any meaningful – or any – contact with our families, friends and associates is denying us a natural right, as well as a civil and human right. Our captors don’t think so.

The meetings, in my opinion, are only a front so that the administration can come back later and say that they did this and that, when actually they did nothing; you dig? It’s an attempt to manipulate the Amerikan people into thinking that they are not torturing prisoners, because the prison is catering to their every need.

Subjecting us to NO programming or privileges whatsoever, when our behavior has been above prison requirements, is unacceptable. Our captors don’t think so.

 

Though surrounded by forest, the grounds around the Pelican Bay SHU are barren; the “landscaping” crew’s duty is to pull weeds, allowing nothing to grow. SHU prisoners never see the grounds, though, or even the sky. They hunger to see sunlight, a tree or any living plant. – Photo: Michael Montgomery
But the truth is in their actions, and there have been NONE in our favor thus far. We have been dealing with Demand No. 4 as well, and there has been nothing substantial on that. Demands No. 1, 2 and 3 are for the policies of the STG (Security Threat Group), and we have all seen what that is. We’re waiting on the revised version now.

As for health and medical issues, we have not even begun to address that, but it is good the federal government didn’t let CDCR get out from under their oversight.

It is also important to know that all reps/negotiators should have been in dialogue with their wardens at CCI (Tehachapi), Corcoran and New Folsom SHUs. I even encourage prisoners in general population to do this as well.

There is also a pattern where all the CDCR officials who have been dealing with overseeing our process – Undersecretary Scott Kernan, retired; Adult Director George Giurbino, soon to retire; Warden G.D. Lewis, soon to retire; and Assistant Warden P.T. Smith, soon to retire – all who have nothing to lose, which is why they are not sincere in their negotiating with our representatives. Instead, they are playing GAMES.

One Love, One Struggle.

Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma, s/n James Crawford, D-05996, PBSP SHU D1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

Prison officials say conditions will improve

On Aug. 17, 2011, Michael Montgomery was one of a small group of reporters invited to visit Pelican Bay. He wrote a story with this headline that was published the next day, about three weeks after the first hunger strike ceased because prisoners had been promised that their demands would be met.

At the end of his story, Montgomery posted a letter and enclosures he’d received from a prisoner, introducing it by saying, “Pelican Bay inmate and hunger strike leader George Franco wrote a letter warning of new protests if corrections officials don’t move swiftly on changes.” The letter is reposted here and now so readers can compare prison officials’ promises with the situation described above by Mutope Duguma a year later.

Mr. Montgomery,

I am in receipt of your postcard.

In a few words: He [Corrections Undersecretary Scott Kernan] promised the whole five core demands.

I thank you for taking the time out to write to me and it will be my pleasure to answer all your questions, because what we need out there more than anything is the truth.

In a few words: He [Corrections Undersecretary Scott Kernan] promised the whole five core demands.

Meeting I: On July 14, 2011, we had our first negotiation with the CDCR [Under]secretary Scott Kernan. It was me and three other negotiators. I personally represented the Mexican (Northern District – optional). Mr. Scott Kernan was very demanding and disrespectful towards us; therefore, the negotiations went “nowhere.” We explained to our mediation team [attorneys and other professionals supporting the prisoners] what occurred and what to do as a result of this meeting.

On July 8, 2011, in solidarity with the thousands of California prisoners on hunger strike, Bay of Rage marched from downtown Oakland to the North County Jail, where prisoners banged on their windows to show their appreciation. The strike started July 1 and ended July 21, when prisoners were promised their demands would be met. – Photo: Dave Id, Indybay
Meeting II: On July 8, 2011, CO [Correctional Officer] Ellery approached one of the negotiators saying that he was sent down to ask the three negotiators if they would meet with Associate Warden K.I. McGuyer, Capt. Wood, due to the New Afrikan negotiator being transferred early that morning on July 18, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. We insisted that we would not go out to meet with them unless there was a New Afrikan representative. The CO Ellery made several trips explaining our position.

Then the associate warden, K.L. McGuyer, came down himself along with Capt. Wood.

They asked one of the negotiators would they agree to meet with Undersecretary Scott Kernan tomorrow, on July 19, 2011. The negotiators said only if a substitute New Afrikan could take the place of the one you all transferred abruptly.

He said yes!

Meeting III did not take place on July 19, 2011, because Undersecretary Scott Kernan did not show up, but he did show up on July 20, 2011.

Meeting III: On July 20, 2011, in the Board of Prison Terms room, all four principal negotiators met face to face with Undersecretary Scott Kernan, along with the following officials: Director George Giurbino, Warden G.D. Lewis, Associate Warden K.L. McGuyer and eight correctional officers.

The first thing Mr. Kernan asked us to do is end the hunger strike, and we said we cannot do that without our five core demands being met. Mr. Kernan said it’s impossible for me to meet all of your five core demands with all that’s going on with the hunger strike. We said that we are making our sacrifice due to the 25 years of torturing and suffering we have endured.

Mr. Kernan then said: “I agree with all of your five core demands. Everything you all asked for you should have received/had a long time ago. But I cannot give you all five core demands overnight.”

Mr. Kernan was very agitated and anxious. He then said, “I will give you all your five core demands.” We said, “When?” He said, “In two to three weeks (from 7-20-2011) I’ll come back up and we will progressively attack this, but all five will be given.”

We said, “What can you give us right now before you come back up to implement 1 through 5?” He said, “You can have all five.”

The first thing Mr. Kernan asked us to do is end the hunger strike, and we said we cannot do that without our five core demands being met.

Many of us haven’t talked to our families in over 20 years and some in 10 to 40 years. Then he lied and propagated something else, i.e., calendar, proctor and watch cap [some of the less critical issues]. This pissed everyone off, but we remain united and ready. He did this to try and demoralize our support.

Mr. Kernan then said: “I agree with all of your five core demands. Everything you all asked for you should have received/had a long time ago. But I cannot give you all five core demands overnight.”

But if he don’t keep his word, all he did is played on CDCR administration, because we’re only waiting to see if he will keep his word. If not, we will reenact our hunger strike indefinitely, and there is nothing they can say to any of us, period.

Mr. Kernan was very agitated and anxious. He then said, “I will give you all your five core demands.” We said, “When?” He said, “In two to three weeks (from 7-20-2011) I’ll come back up and we will progressively attack this, but all five will be given.”

CDCR [Secretary] Cate and Kernan also put out fake five core demands; see enclosed memo he signed July 20, 2011.

Also see our real five core demands that we, the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement, stand by.

It should be clear that we negotiators had a three-and-a-half-hour meeting with Scott Kernan and his cronies.

In respect to changing SHU policy, he said that they were already in the process of changing policy as to long term solitary confinement. He’s a joke. He even went so far to tell us: “Let’s keep our business between us. We do not need a class action lawsuit. We can rectify this ourselves” – [meaning] just prisoners and officials. They’re attempting to exclude our mediation team.

They, CDCR, said they’re moving from information-based placement in solitary confinement to behavior/conduct placement into solitary confinement. But he said our five core demands will be implemented, bottom line.

Note: I’ve been in SHU on an indeterminate SHU [assignment] since beginning of 1992 for conspiracy to commit harm to others’ safety. This info was given by informant(s). Every six years I could appear before a committee to see if I’m eligible for the six years non-active so that I can be sent to a mainline. But before this six-year period, an institutional gang investigator (IGI) will search property in cell and for some reason will always use something – a picture, drawing, pattern, address plus some so-called valid info to use to extend the six year non-active period all over again. It’s a cycle we all go through.

If I choose to debrief – snitch, rat – I would be let out to a mainline, but that is not my belief. I would never have a person put in SHU. So, like I said, only option to get out of SHU is either snitch, die or parole.

They, CDCR, said they’re moving from information-based placement in solitary confinement to behavior/conduct placement into solitary confinement. But he said our five core demands will be implemented, bottom line.

The conditions and policies are so abused. I was put on mail restriction, meaning I have to appear before a special committee every six months with a list of names and addresses so they can consider having them put on my approved correspondence list. I was put on this mail restriction back on May 18, 2011. I was not given a write-up for any so called CDCR mail violations.

This is another tactic IGI uses to cut off our communications with family, relatives and friends. Us prisoners and our families, relatives and friends are accused and penalized for so called conducting illegal/gang activities. Children to grandparents have been accused of such.

With respect,

George Franco

Note [relating to the enclosures with the letter]: Please send copies of our original five core demands, also a copy of Kernan’s nonsense five core demands. Thank you.

One more item of evidence to present to you: This CDC 128-B chrono is what is given to us and a similar one to whoever’s mail got stopped by CDCR. Shot Caller Press pertains to having inmates compete for a financial prize on best poems, stories, literature. It’s harmless. You see on the left hand side all the little squares that IGI can use/abuse to cut off our communications. This tactic also scares off people to communicate with us further. This tactic is abused: It penalizes, violates people’s First Aamendment right. This form started being used when the Short Corridor was established. All these different options can be fabricated for violations in order to have our mail stopped/confiscated.

You can check with this Shot Caller Press in Portland, Oregon, to get a better insight of what they print.

Pelican Bay Prisoner Letter

One thought on “PBSP update: Assessment of meetings with assistant warden

  1. @carltoersbijns

    This could be a win win situation if the strategy is to be transparent and up front about its operations and policy making… one should view this as progress but with a slight amount of pessimism as this won't change overnight.. it will take years to change the culture that is the mindset of this agency and the media won't crack the silence unless it finds individuals willing to talk and tell the truth about happenings reported by both staff and prisoners.. It is however, a step in the right direction for many and will bring hope to what appeared to be an endless battle to reveal solitary confinement conditions behind these high walls

    Reply

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