Support SF BayView
Donate or Subscribe to SF Bay View
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

Secret torture unit at San Quentin

July 21, 2013

by a California Death Row SHU prisoner

The Adjustment Center (AC) is the politically corrupt designation given to the death row Security Housing Unit (SHU) at San Quentin (SQ) which also serves as Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) overflow housing. But for all intents and purposes the AC is a secret torture unit at SQ and the fraternal twin of CDCR’s other torture units now partially exposed by media attention resulting from the 2011 peaceful hunger strikes at Corcoran, Pelican Bay and Tehachapi.

San Quentin Adjustment Center by National Geographic
This is the infamous San Quentin Adjustment Center, made legendary when George Jackson took over a tier and was assassinated on Aug. 21, 1971, the signal event commemorated every Black August. – Photo: National Geographic
Public Affairs Officer Sam Robinson conducts tours of SQ and would tell you with a straight face the AC is overflowing with the “worst of the worst.” But you’re not allowed inside. That’s because the torture unit overlords, who include but are not limited to Chief Deputy Warden W.A. Rodriguez, his cohort Assistant Warden J. Corzon and their loyal-as-an-attack-dog Facility Capt. Robertson, claim it’s a “security risk.” Truth be told, we do see how it would “risk” exposing them and the asinine antics common to their clique, how it would cost them the “security” of their jobs and perhaps land a few of their asses in prison.

All this begs the question, “Who is really in the AC and how do they end up there?” Here is an inside perspective: On May 7, 2013, shortly after “YARD IS CANCELLED DUE TO MAINTENANCE” was gleefully blasted over the excessively loud PA system in East Block, where the majority of death row prisoners are warehoused, two prisoners in neighboring cells get confronted by a goon squad comprised of a red-faced Sgt. Reynolds and four henchmen, all barking furiously, “Don’t touch anything and strip out!” As if at random these two prisoners were selected to be under suspicion of possessing cell phones.

After being detained for over an hour in cages about the size you might expect to see a pair of pet macaws swinging in, they were again humiliated by being staged in their cells, but just long enough to see how everything in them had been tossed like salad during the frantic search that turned up no cell phones or contraband whatsoever, then relocated to the AC indefinitely pending the outcome of an “investigation.” No Rules Violation Report (RVR), property remains in a shambles at East Block and this ride began over three weeks ago. For one of these two unfortunate prisoners, his ride through this not-so-fun house began in the dungeon.

Cells 1AC63-1AC67 are called “the dungeon” because a barred and padlocked gate separates them from the other 12 cells on the tier. The dungeon cell floors, concrete bunks and walls are cracked, not level, and flaking. Another bizarre feature is partitions extending about 5 feet or so from the cell fronts dividing them like horse stalls.

Entrance to San Quentin East Block Death Row 0313 by LifeoftheLaw.org
The entrance to San Quentin’s East Block Death Row – Photo: LifeoftheLaw.org
The dungeon is primarily used to torture marginalized or hated prisoners, especially those already obviously suffering from mental disorders acquired at some point during their ride through this torture unit at SQ or at one of the many others operating within the prison industrial complex. Could anything really be so medieval in modern times?

Shane Bauer spent months doing an “Iranian SHU program.” A short time after his release he blew the cover off gang validation policies and SHU conditions in California prisons. He reported Pelican Bay SHU was not identical to its Iranian twin but worse, and in Iranian prisons no one has served more than two years in solitary confinement! Getting held hostage in this torture unit for a couple years, decades or more is business as usual at SQ, just as in others operating in the U.S.

In my opinion, one of the most diabolical ways they keep us on this ride is the “fabrication and rejection process.” In short, this means getting RVRs fabricated against us, being found guilty at hearings where due process is considered a thing of the past, then having our appeals rejected. Prisoners cannot appeal a rejected appeal. That, of course, is by design, intended to delay and, if possible, preclude exhausting administrative remedies, a requirement before prisoners can access the courts. The torture unit overlords really want to have their way with you and do all they can to get you to hang yourself in their noose-shaped loopholes. Could that be anything other than the designs of sadistic criminal masterminds?

Consider the following, which describes an exceptionally violent combination of mental and physical torture. See how the aforementioned “fabrication and rejection process” is being applied to cover up criminal activity and human rights violations:

On Sept. 3, 2012, as Robert Frazier lies unconscious in 2AC57 from several days of sleep deprivation caused by a custody staff-influenced medical decision to discontinue various permanent chronos, a goon squad comprised of henchmen Anderson, Calderon, Morris and Yanmastrigt storms into his cell. Upon entry they proceed to beat Frazier into a semi-conscious state, drag him bleeding from wrists and ankles down the tier in excessively tightened handcuffs and shackles, bounce him down two flights of stairs, then from the AC entrance all the way to the triage treatment area (TTA) hoist him by the chains and/or drag him by them for about 100 yards as a med-tech pushed a wheelchair alongside at a distance.

Carmen Ward, 7 years in San Quentin Adjustment Center 0313 by LifeoftheLaw.org
Carmen Ward has been confined to the San Quentin Adjustment Center for seven years. – Photo: LifeoftheLaw.org
I want to interject here to point out this is documented as an “emergency medical cell extraction” executed during a lockdown initiated approximately 12 days prior due to an alleged slashing/stabbing of two AC officers which had nothing to do with Frazier but might have fueled the goon squad’s madness.

The “emergency treatment” Frazier received consisted of being thrown into a cage built into the corner of a TTA cell and left crumpled there for three hours or so. All that time Frazier screamed in agony, forced to endure excruciating pain as the handcuffs and shackles cut deeper into his skin. He wasn’t even seen by a physician on that day nor would Dr. Grant agree to examine, document or treat his injuries anytime during Frazier’s 16-day hunger strike – all Frazier could think of doing to get seen by medical – but the goon squad beating injuries, re-damaging preexisting injuries and the skin condition which was the major contributing factor leading to his sleep deprivation, were ignored.

A few days after Frazier attempted to file an emergency petition for writ of habeas corpus in Marin County, an RVR was fabricated alleging Frazier battered the goon squad. Frazier’s two healthcare appeals have been delayed without reason in excess of 90 days so far and his RVR hearing appeal, citing denial of all witnesses except the reporting employee, has been rejected by CDCR Appeals Coordinator J.D. Lozano.

Surely these experiences come off sounding sensationalized and extreme, but they are nonetheless classic examples of what untold thousands in SHUs throughout the U.S. are reportedly subjected to at an ever-increasing rate. Who are the real lying bunch of murderers?

The CDCR has proven over and over to be masters of media manipulation and propaganda wizards. Don’t allow them to operate secret torture units like the AC or make them appeal to be something they’re not – NECESSARY. Please don’t allow your tax dollars to reward and secure impunity for sadistic, corrupt prison officers whose goal is to build more torture units in your backyards.

Call, write and email

  • Gov. Jerry Brown: phone (916) 445-2841, fax (916) 558-3160, write to him at State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814, or email http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php.
  • Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard, Ph.D.: phone (916) 323-6001, fax (916) 442-2637 or write to him at 1515 S St., Fifth Floor, Sacramento, CA 95811
  • SQ puppet Warden Kevin R. Chappell: phone (415) 454-1460 or write to him at San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, CA 94974

to demand they shut down the AC and all torture units. Also please contribute generously to this publication helping us to have our voice heard from within, keeping the struggle alive.

CDCR’s hunger strike playbook: Premeditated malice

List of Death Row hunger strikers San Quentin Adjustment Center 0313 by LifeoftheLaw.org
Guards kept a list of Death Row hunger strikers in March 2013 protesting their confinement for many years in the San Quentin Adjustment Center. – Photo: LifeoftheLaw.org
After three days we’ll officially be hunger strikers (OP608, Sec. 419 B.1.). [This was written shortly before the beginning of the July 8 hunger strike. – ed.] Within only two days we’re getting set up to be declared “leaders” by a sergeant or lieutenant under the guise of negotiations (OP608, Sec. 419 B.k.). By Day 5, the facility captain starts sweating us (OP608, Sec. 419 B.1.).

At this point our peaceful action shows potential exposure of human rights violations due to imminent media attention, so prison officials hoping to cover things up deem this a disruption to facility operations, while part of their clique forms an Institutional Classification Committee (ICC), which then threatens a subsequent Rules Violation Report (RVR) we’re going to receive based on their wild stretch interpretation of 15 CCR 3315(a)(2)(L) that makes each of us a documented, validated participant in a Security Threat Group (STG) action (OP608, Sec. 419 B.m.n.).

If that fails to halt the advance of our struggle for basic human needs, CDCR’s playbook then calls for an intensified sensory deprivation program to be implemented (OP608, Sec. 419 C., Sec. 816). All this clearly demonstrates CDCR’s premeditated response to our peaceful action is the continuation of violent torture methods with malice under the guise of “security.”

Course of action: Everyone simply states they have nothing to say. Thus, nobody provides evidence of being a “leader” or an “organizer” through individual testimony. The open letter with its list of demands speaks for itself on behalf of us all, participating or not, while our nonviolent participation in the struggle is an action which speaks louder than mere words. We’re simply allowing CDCR’s twisted response to unravel, thus exposing their premeditated malice which they have reworded in the OP608.

Note: All OP608 and 15 CCR citations are available at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/regulations/adult_operations.

Putting it in writing

The big picture includes me but is not all about me. “We” are in a struggle for basic human rights whether “we,” “they,” “he/she” or “you” choose to be or not. It is what it is.

Guards begin cell extraction to search for letters being passed on tier 0313 San Quentin Adjustment Center by LifeoftheL
Officers prepare to forcibly remove a prisoner from his cell in the Adjustment Center while they search his cell for letters being passed by prisoners on the tier. – Photo: LifeoftheLaw.org
Prior to the 2011 hunger strikes to the present, this is still a root cause of the dilemma in common. Evidence demonstrates the struggle to gain basic human rights moves forward by using as many nonviolent tools at one’s disposal as possible to tighten down the screws on those giving a thumbs-up to the variety of torture methods CDCR uses and obscures.

The court turns its head, the system writes it off into the corner with censorship. This particular way described in a petition circulated by MIM silences the many by denying the ability to exhaust administrative remedies required by the courts.

Not everyone is a jailhouse lawyer, but the law seemingly requires prisoners to be in order to get their grievances addressed! This petition gives a voice to everyone being exploited, and it exposes the violations at both an individual level and collectively.

You can obtain copies of the petition by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: MIM (Prisons), P.O. Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140. Request an information package for a grievance campaign in your state.

This story was transcribed by Adrian McKinney.

 

Tags

Filed Under: Prison Stories
Tags:

20 thoughts on “Secret torture unit at San Quentin

  1. Matt

    I think your article would come off much better without uses of terms such as "goon squad", and "puppet". Terms like those show your bias and reduce credibility to your article.

    Reply
  2. Luis

    This reporter just copied the ranting and ravings of an angry death row inmate. He did not take the time to research anything ! A huge bunch of LIES!

    Reply
  3. Luis

    This reporter just copied the ranting and ravings of an angry death row inmate. He did not take the time to research anything ! A huge bunch of LIES!

    Reply
  4. dan jay

    How about researching the psychological impacts places like this have before making sweeping ignorant statements(luis). Get to know someone there… actually bother to put investment behind your shallow opinion. This article speaks truth others want to hide.

    Reply
  5. KPDiaz

    Who cares? Did these inmates give a damn when they brutally murdered their victims? They deserve to be tortured.

    Reply
  6. former employee

    this article was hilarious. So inconsistent with the reality of the AC. I worked there (inside the AC) for half of my SQ shift. It is not a dungeon chamber. It's solitary confinement (and for good reason), and consistent with policy. I only read this for amusement, to see what other colleagues of mine were mentioned, and to see if any photos shown were interesting (none were). It's not "Officer" Robinson, it's "Lieutenant" Robinson, a name well-earned, and he is excellent in his role of securing inmates to not hurt other inmates or staff (us). I've been in the AC when "press" wanted to get inside, they will never let press in b/c it puts them at risk (the "assasination" piece this writer was referring to is the incident where an inmate used a gun his lawyer smuggled in for him and and killed 8 Custody Officers). Everyone permitted into THAT particular unit goes through special safety training (by the ISU) – they won't let just anyone inside, especially press who will do anything for a great picture inside.

    Reply
  7. L mason

    You got a lot of nerve defending these prisoners, especially Frazier. I just pulled this up after watching on TV what he did to his murder/rape victim and you’re feeling sorry for this guy?!?! Give me a frickin’ break! He deserves everything he’s getting and more!!! They’re a bunch of low-life murderers! They deserve to be tortured. Were they concerned about their victims while they were torturing and murdering them? I don’t think so!

    Reply
  8. Kevin McGinley

    I’m a friend of bob frazier and I don’t agree with the crime he commited but torture is also a crime who are they to judge I hope you find peace in your life

    Reply
  9. c jenkins

    Hope Frazier is enjoying his torture, unlucky. Don't rape and murder if you don't want to be tortured, simple.

    Reply
  10. GeorgiaGirl

    You people make me sick. Do any of you even care about what these human scum did to their victims?
    If they’re sentenced to death it should be carried out, SWIFTLY.
    End of discussion.

    Reply
  11. Pennypacker

    Frazier was an idiot. He could have simply applied for a job with the government and committed all the violent crime his heart desired and gotten paid for it.

    Reply
  12. murry Houghtaling

    I was in the AC317 chapel side for close to 2 years……. It was the most horrifiic experience in my life….screams of terror…. And tourtured souls… All nite long…. Every night. If some of These men could touch you, they would kill you….. A demonic blood lust…. Nothing but Jesus can fix, clean, deliver ,heal and save anyone who sets a foot on this hell….. Choices put us in hell…. And a choice can deliver is from it.

    Reply
  13. James Smith

    I wonder if you would feel the same way if these inmates raped or killed one of your family members? I think it should be part of their sentience to be tortured for 24 7 for the rest of their lives.

    Reply
  14. Whateva

    Frazier bludgeoned a mother of 3 to death with a metal pipe in broad daylight at a park after raping and sodomizing her. I hate to say it, but maybe these people deserve what they’re getting. Sadistic, I know. I’m all for human rights, I truly am, but nothing angers me more than injustice. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to keep murderers alive. Sure, their freedom is limited, but they still get to live, make new relationships, and carry on with existing ones. They still get the chance to communicate with loved ones, write them, see them maybe. In contrast to what these offender’s have done and the people and families they have affected, I think they deserve the mistreatment. Is it right? No. It’s fucked up. I have sympathy. I’m human. It’s sad to think of anyone being tortured. This is such a controversial topic due to who the victims are, who in this case, are violent murderers, rapists, child molesters, mother killers, father killers, etc. Too bad “An eye for an eye” is an outdated law. There’d be no gray area. You kill someone, you die too. You spit on me, I spit on you. The end. Imagine all of the problems this medieval law would take care of.

    Reply
  15. Betty Whitman

    Yeah I pulled this up after watching what Frazier did to his victim. I’m having a hard time finding sympathy for him. Act like an animal, then maybe it’s justice to be treated as one. He showed no remorse for his victim. All I can say is, may God have mercy on his soul. Because he’s bound for Hell where he deserves to be.

    Reply
  16. robert

    Unless one has been in Prison and met anyone of those inmates don’t know what prison life is like. Those inmates in SHU are extremely dangerous. They don’t care about life. They are naturally born killers and must be treated as such. The bleeding hearts and sob sisters should try a visit in Stir just once to find out for themselves the attitude of life there. This author want to White Wash the ongoing system as inhumane and torture but they deserve it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements
San Francisco Comcast