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Power concedes nothing: A discussion on CDCr’s insidious regulatory semantics and judicial collusion in maintenance of SHU torture units

March 28, 2014

by NCTT-Cor-SHU

“Revolutionary activity in every area of human existence will come about by itself when the contradictions in every new process are comprehended; it will consist of an identification with those forces that are moving in the direction of genuine progress. To be radical … means ‘getting to the root of things.’ If one gets to the root of things, if one grasps their contradictory operations, then the overcoming of political reaction is assured … hence, a critique can only be significant and have a practical value if it can show the contradictions of social reality were overlooked.” – Wilhelm Reich, “Ideology as a Material Force”

'Dare to Struggle' art by Carlos Ramirez, P-69993, PBSP SHU C9-106, web
“Dare to Struggle” – Artwork: Carlos Ramirez, P-69993, Pelican Bay SHU C9-106, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
Greetings Brothers and Sisters. The Third Law of Dialectical Change, “The Negation of Negation,” dictates once social conditions undergo a qualitative transformation, there is also a corresponding evolution in the contradiction between opposing social forces. Over the course of the past three years progressive social forces in America – i.e., Decolonize and Occupy Movements, PHSS and SHU abolition activists, Strike Debt, Black Riders Liberation Party and other revolutionary scientific socialist formations etc. – have waged a struggle to wrest cultural hegemony from the U.S. ruling class on multiple fronts and at multiple levels of society – including, at its most desperate and wretched level, PRISONS. As a result, there has been a qualitative transformation in the consciousness of significant segments of society.

With this in mind, the most dynamic aspect of the people’s struggle against the maintenance and expansion of the prison industrial complex is our current movement to abolish SHU torture units in America and around the world, initiated by the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective. With the resolution of the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities,” the cooperative efforts of people from diverse cultural groups, socio-economic backgrounds, and schools of thought and the sacrifices of thousands here in California and around the globe in three historic hunger strikes – the third being the single largest in human history – the people have seized the moral high ground on this issue, drastically narrowing CDCr’s base of support and room to maneuver … but not eliminate it.

Instead of a definitive transformation in the culture of prison torture resulting in an abolition of indefinite SHU, the contradiction has now evolved, with CDCr releasing its new regulatory policy language governing “Security Threat Group Management” and the 9th Circuit courts releasing two pro-torture rulings, which, viewed in their interconnections, represent the state’s response to our challenge to their cultural dominance. The message is clear: “You are slaves; we will continue to treat you as slaves; and we refuse to have our socio-political dominance challenged by slaves.”

The reactionary view of reality shuts its eyes to its own authoritarian contradictions and the conditions of the people. Political reaction reflexively makes use of those social forces that oppose progress; it automatically consolidates to defend its dominance over the people’s lives.

Instead of capitulating to progressive social forces and ending torture in SHU units, the state has closed ranks and seeks to redefine the nature of the conflict itself by redefining the language – the semantics – in its policy governing STG validation and torture unit confinement. In true reactionary fashion they’ve adopted language that reduces – and in some cases eliminates – its burden to establish a factual basis of genuine criminal behavior on the part of those subject to these policies, while simultaneously increasing the burden on prisoners, and the people, to avoid falling prey to these new regulations which in essence criminalize anything those “validated” as STGs do, say or think … all with the explicit support of the courts.

The message is clear: “You are slaves; we will continue to treat you as slaves; and we refuse to have our socio-political dominance challenged by slaves.”

To truly understand the degree of political reaction at play here, we must first acknowledge the role of authoritarian institutions in U.S. society. Authoritarian society reproduces itself in the individual structures of the masses, through its economic system, ideology and culture, with the help of authoritarian institutions, such as schools, courts, churches and prisons. It thus logically proceeds that political reaction has to regard and defend these authoritarian institutions as the foundation of the state, culture and capitalist civilization itself.

When these authoritarian institutions are challenged in the arena of public opinion – and are found lacking as they have been in this struggle – the very foundation of the authoritarian social order is undermined, and a corresponding shift in the consciousness and character structure of the people follows. This, in turn, threatens the authoritarian mass psychology in America.

The state cannot allow this, and so their reactionary defense response is to delegitimize, to criminalize, to vilify those actors and activities who, in their view, are making a significant contribution to this process; in this case, activists, politically conscious prisoners and their contemporaries. This policy is the state’s effort to forestall our continued contributions to changing the dynamics of cultural hegemony in the U.S., and the language of the regulations makes that clear.

The offensive content in the newly released regulatory language is far too voluminous for us to address each and every point. Instead, we wish to share with you some of the grosser contradictions in hopes you will not only see the contrapositive aim of the state – to maintain SHU torture units as coercive leverage to psychologically bend or break prisoners – but also gain a deeper understanding of the social forces acting upon us all. The language of CDCr’s STG/SDP management policy, released as a Director’s Rules Change, like the irrational character structure of reactionary man upon which the state is based, is a study in contradictions.

CDCr’s “Background” and “Purpose” – language for the new policy – on the one hand contend, “California (STGs) are routinely and consistently connected to major criminal activities in communities, including such crimes as homicides, drug trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking and extortion … (STGs) are largely responsible for criminal activities within institutions, to include the trafficking of narcotics, committing and/or directing violence … and directing criminal activity,” while on the other hand the “STG Disciplinary Matrix” (Page 43) they’ve developed is dedicated largely to elevating petty, innocuous, non-criminal activities and matter to the level of “criminal STG behavior.”

Why would their public propaganda hype these serious and violent crimes as the focus of state interest, while the policy itself focuses primarily on criminalizing things which are in fact not crimes? The answer is as obvious as it is condemning: Most prisoners validated as “STG affiliates” and confined to SHU torture units have not committed any such crimes while in prison, and many have in fact done nothing at all.

Nevertheless, the state must recreate a basis upon which the primary end of the SHU torture unit will not only be maintained, but reborn: The aim of breaking men’s minds. However, the reactionary politician cannot divulge his actual intentions in his propaganda.

We doubt if anyone – even other reactionaries – would have responded positively to a CDCr statement of intent to break some men’s minds, brainwash others and indefinitely torture the rest. In political propaganda – which much of this new STG policy is – it is a question of producing a psychological effect in masses of people. In you. One that seeks to legitimize what is clearly the maintenance of torture by another name and your support for that legitimacy. Let’s take a look.

Most prisoners validated as “STG affiliates” and confined to SHU torture units have not committed any such crimes while in prison, and many have in fact done nothing at all.

The “STG Disciplinary Matrix,” §3378.4, on Pages 43-46, criminalizes “conversations,” “greeting cards,” “clothing,” “communications with offenders/others,” “group exercise,” “handshakes,” “artwork” and, believe it or not, a “color.” That all of these “behaviors” are left to the imagination and interpretation of prison staff only increases the arbitrary standard attached to criminalizing activities and matter which are not of themselves “criminal.”

It makes sense, after decades of presiding over the brutalization and degradation of validated SHU prisoners, that these staff members maintain a vested interest in ensuring imprisoned human rights activists remain isolated or broken. To be sure, new §3378.2(7) allows “staff visual and audible observations” (Page 22) to be actionable as “STG offences” which can and will land you in – and/or keep you in – a SHU torture unit.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” yet apparently CDCr can, and is doing just that. They have included new language, specifically intended to criminalize peaceful protest action against SHU torture units, SHU abolition activists and rights groups as “STG behaviors or activities.”

New language in §3315(a)(3)(AA) on Page 11 prohibits protestation, while §3315(a)(3)(Z) (same page) gives CDCr a basis to charge representatives as protest “leaders.”

New §3323(h)(12)(b) on Page 14 prohibits “communication between offenders/others in support or furtherance of STG activities or behaviors,” which includes letters or discussions surrounding peaceful protest actions against SHU torture units. To be sure, they have even introduced language which criminalizes visits between prisoners and human rights groups who do, or have in the past, supported peaceful protest actions against SHU torture units.

On Page 37 of the policy, §3378.2(b)(9) outlines violations for “(v)isits from persons or entities that are documented as willfully promoting, furthering or assisting STG affiliates in activities associated with the STG.” In every hunger strike-related 115 (Rules Violation Report) issued, and in countless pro-prison articles, CDCr and some mass media have consistently reduced it to “gang activity.”

This means the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, PHSS, CFASC, Our Lives Matter, Prison Watch Network, CPF, LSPC and countless other progressive human rights entities, journalists and individual activists who oppose the preservation of torture in their society are subject to “validation” as an “STG,” and those prisoners conferring with them are in turn subject to sanctions.

The First Amendment prohibits any regulation “abridging the … right to peaceably assemble, and to petition government for a redress of grievances,” yet again CDCr seems to have not gotten the memo. In the circuitous logic of irrational authoritarian man they seek to create new laws to protect their capacity to violate established law.

Organizing to resist state-sponsored torture is not a crime. So again we ask you, why does CDCr’s “Initial Statement of Reasons” cite this litany of serious and violent crimes, yet its regulations focus on activities and matters which are not themselves criminal?

Under the language in this policy, CDCr can and surely will criminalize anything prisoners – and some of you in “society” reading this now – say, think or do. The only “safe” activity we may possibly engage in is exiting our cells and taking a breath. However, if one were to take two deep breaths, one may be cited for STG harassment, “directly or indirectly,” (§3323(h)(11) on Page 14) because some CDCr staff person may be intimidated by how you’re breathing. To be sure, they’ve actually introduced an unspecific category of STG misconduct in §3314(a)(3)(M) (Page 10) termed “unique behaviors” that is actually whatever the state wants it to be.

CDCr, making their authoritarian political position clear, posits in its “Statement of Reasons” surrounding §3378.4(c)(7), cited on Page 51, that behavior need not be actionable as a rules violation to be used to validate prisoners or retain them in SHU torture units (see Page 31 of the policy). CDCr has included this language despite having touted to every media outlet and public official who would listen that they are “moving to a behavior based model.” It is a contradiction, wrapped in a lie, cloaked in semantics.

Organizing to resist state-sponsored torture is not a crime.

Yet as fundamentally contradictory and irrational as it is to criminalize activity and matter which is not criminal to increase the magnitude of petty offences and observations which can land prisoners in a SHU torture unit, what’s equally offensive is they’ve actually lowered the bar for themselves in proving if such matter is “STG”- related. If you go to Page 23, at §3375.3(a)(4)(B)7 Code G, CDCr can establish STG association without having to show direct contact with a validated STG affiliate. Exactly how anyone can rationally demonstrate how someone is associating with someone else without having to show they’ve associated at all is mind boggling.

Yet, if we move to the new language on “Direct Links” (for validation purposes) on Page 35 we find that unilateral action by either party is sufficient to demonstrate a “direct link” to an STG, and CDCr staff need not establish that the subject knew the other was “validated” as an STG or knew each other at all. Under this rubric, any of you reading this right now could write an NCTT coordinator here in Corcoran or at Pelican Bay SHU, having never met or known us outside of reading this article, and find yourself “validated” with a “direct link” to an STG.

CDCr can establish STG association without having to show direct contact with a validated STG affiliate.

Does this strike you as a means to combat “homicides, narcotics trafficking and extortion” or a means to combat political progress, to criminalize and sanction segments of the population who’ve exposed and damaged CDCr’s inhumane agenda politically and socially?

Throughout the regulatory language, there has been a great emphasis on “criminal STG behavior,” even making things which are not behaviors “behavior” (clothing, artwork, handshakes etc.). Yet contradicting this all, on Page 35 they create a loophole for themselves – just in case the STG Disciplinary Matrix isn’t enough – stating placement in SHU/SDP or validation as an STG affiliate does not need to occur with behavior; “source criteria” alone is enough.

To be sure, though they contend they’ve put a four-year cap on the “age” of “source criteria” (information) used for STG purposes, they have included another loophole for themselves on the same page which actually expands the time frame for using “source criteria” to “anytime in the individual’s personal STG history.” How they are able to assert such contradictions under color of law is a riddle which should concern every citizen and inhabitant of the U.S. Unfortunately, the answer to this riddle is even more disturbing.

Judicial collusion

It is the fact of judicial collusion which allows for such abuses. For example, CDCr has made a great deal about the new provisions which are supposed to ensure confidential informants and information used to validate or place prisoners in SHU under STG regulations must be independently corroborated before it can be used. However, new §3321(b)(1), on Page 12, includes language which completely undermines this by stating “other circumstantial evidence” may be used to “corroborate” confidential informants and information (1030s).

We have recently discovered “investigation” is sufficient “corroboration” under this “other circumstantial evidence” standard. In other words, they can have an informant say you had plans to blow up a gun tower, and that informant becomes “corroborated” when they “investigate” this baseless lie. Under this logic, “corroboration” is just empty semantics.

However ridiculous this sounds, they have no fear of the courts striking such an absurdity down because in a recent ruling on Brother Zaharibu’s 9th Circuit appeal, the courts took the position the actual evidence doesn’t even have to exist. So long as the right boxes are checked on the 1030 form, that’s “some evidence.” The evidence the 1030 is supposed to be based on does not have to exist at all.

The word of CDCr staff, according to the courts, is good enough for them. Mind you, this ruling comes on the heels of the third hunger strike, only days before recent legislative hearings on SHU torture units and almost simultaneously as these regulations were being released. As it stands, IGI and prison staff can say anything on a 1030, check some boxes, and you’ll receive a 115 and a four-year to indefinite SHU term in CDCr’s SDP – and the courts will support this.

Judicial collusion in the maintenance of SHU torture units is long standing and pervasive in the U.S., and in California in particular; see Ruiz v. Estelle, Coleman v. Wilson, Madrid v. Gomez, In Re Castillo, Koch v. Lewis [AZ] etc. Despite the massive public outcry against the perpetuation of SHU torture units in America, the 9th Circuit court, in apparent reactionary support of CDCr’s maintance of the practice, is actually reversing progressive district court rulings when they favor prisoners subjected to long-term SHU torture.

On Brother Zaharibu’s 9th Circuit appeal, the courts took the position the actual evidence doesn’t even have to exist. So long as the right boxes are checked on the 1030 form, that’s “some evidence.”

In In Re Griffin, the district court ordered CDCr, on three separate occasions, to release Griffin to the general population (GP), or a less restrictive environment than SHU. After several moves to mock the court’s ruling, such as moving Griffin from Pelican Bay SHU to Corcoran SHU, which failed miserably after the district judge toured Corcoran SHU and told CDCr they were not in compliance with the order, CDCr basically took the position they’d go to jail before they released him to the GP.

The 9th Circuit finally weighed in. The attorney general, representing CDCr, passed on to the court some speculative information provided by OCS, and the 9th Circuit in essence took the position the district court made an error by abiding by the Constitution in Griffin’s case. The 9th Circuit court rebuked the district courts’ findings that over two decades in the SHU, simply because one would not debrief, does in fact violate the Eighth Amendment.

The 9th Circuit court’s position is that torture is not cruel and unusual as long as it’s a validated prisoner on the receiving end, and further held, based on whatever information OCS trumped up, that Griffin could “earn his way back into Pelican Bay.” They made no move to enforce the district court’s order to release Griffin to the general population or to sanction CDCr for repeatedly disregarding the order.

The 9th Circuit court rebuked the district courts’ findings that over two decades in the SHU, simply because one would not debrief, does in fact violate the Eighth Amendment.

That CDCr has been maintaining the largest collection of torture units in the U.S. is the best proof the courts will defend the integrity of authoritarian institutions before it upholds its own law. Which is why it should come as no surprise that CDCr can assert in its “Evaluation of Consistency/Compatability With Existing Laws/Regulations” (Page 2): “The Department has researched existing statutes and regulations and has determined that these proposed regulations are not inconsistent or incompatible with existing state laws and regulations,” then turn around and violate the very statutes it cites as its controlling language with impunity.

To state that many of the provisions of this policy violate the First, Eighth and 14th Amendments is too obvious, and frankly too easy. Let’s go for the less obvious.

That CDCr has been maintaining the largest collection of torture units in the U.S. is the best proof the courts will defend the integrity of authoritarian institutions before it upholds its own law.

If we look on Page 3 of the “Initial Statement of Reasons,” CDCr cites Castillo v. Alameida, Case No. C-94-2847-MJJ (N.D.Cal.) as controlling case law, yet throughout the policy, “laundry lists” of every sort – membership lists, enemy lists, roll call lists, etc. – are cited as legitimate “source criteria.” See Page 14, §3323(h)(12)(E); Page 22, §3375.3(a)(4)(B)(3); Page 36, §3378.2(b)(5); Page 45, STG Matrix, Section 6(g) etc.

The Castillo settlement agreement expressly prohibits the use of such laundry lists for validation or SHU placement purposes. The Castillo settlement agreement (Civil No.C-94-2847) on Page 7 at Point 21 states, “Defendants (CDCr) agree that ‘laundry lists’ shall not be relied on as a source item,” yet in spite of this they’ve added new provisions for additional “laundry list” classifications, such as “roll-call lists.”

CDCr’s regulatory semantics and the courts’ collusion in their maintenance and perpetuation must be seen for what they are: This is the state’s response to the protest movement responsible for exposing its contradictions and inspiring resistance from multiple segments of society. As one apparatus of the authoritarian state becomes intransigent in the face of change, others leap to support it – in this case the courts, the Governor’s Office, conservative mass media, and the Department of Justice – on a broader and broader basis giving the appearance of a shift back in the struggle for cultural hegemony in their favor.

This, of course, results in a further deepening of the contradiction in the people’s character structure between reactionary and freedom-loving tendencies – not simply among the broader masses but those actively engaged in, or supportive of, the struggle as well. However, such vacillation is insufficient to reassert continuity in the authoritarian order … or to halt determined spirits from actively seeking to transform the nature and structure of capitalist society and its institutions in America. Therefore, the state must resort to other measures: Enter the Step-Down Program.

CDCr’s regulatory semantics and the courts’ collusion in their maintenance and perpetuation must be seen for what they are: This is the state’s response to the protest movement responsible for exposing its contradictions and inspiring resistance from multiple segments of society.

CDCr’s Step Down Program, as we’ve already explained in a series of dissertations, is simply a sham system by which CDCr seeks to leverage indefinite torture in SHU to coerce those subject to it to submit to psychological reprograming consistent with the social values of the authoritarian state. According to these new regulations, should you resist this ideological (re)assimilation, you will remain in the torture unit indefinitely – and you, not the state, are then “responsible” for your own torture. On Page 41 in §3378.3(a)(2) of the policy, they state:

“Each program step provides progressive programs and privileges and it is the responsibility of the affiliate to demonstrate they can be released to a less restrictive environment while abstaining from STG behaviors. If the offender chooses not to progress through any step of the program, the offender may be returned, by ICC, to one of the previous steps until they demonstrate appropriate behavior for movement into the next step. At any time the inmate wishes to begin participating in the SDP, they may notify their assigned counselor …”

CDCr’s Step Down Program is simply a sham system by which CDCr seeks to leverage indefinite torture in SHU to coerce those subject to it to submit to psychological reprograming consistent with the social values of the authoritarian state.

As we’ve already demonstrated, “abstaining from STG behaviors” is next to impossible under these new regulations, which criminalize everything from a hand shake to a conversation, but when they speak of “appropriate behavior,” exactly what are they talking about? For the answer, we must go to the SDP “Notice of Expectations” on Page 41. There is a “Notice” for each step, 1-5, with each containing five to seven “expectation” points, depending on which step you’ve been assigned to.

The most obvious and glaring contradictions of the SDP, and what actually reveals the state’s true motivation here, is the fact that only one of the expectation points has any association to legitimate penological interests as it relates to “behavior” in prison: “Remain disciplinary free adhering to all Departmental rules and regulations.”

Now if CDCr were sincere in their assertion that the SDP will be an individually behavior based program, one would need only “remain disciplinary free” for four years and be released to the general population in Step 5. This however is not the actual intent of the SDP. Subordinating the population to the authoritarian dictates of the state is.

'Step Down Program' drawing by F. Bermudez, webUnder this new policy you can be disciplinary free for decades – as most current indeterminate SHU prisoners are today – and never be released from SHU. This is not simply a “behavior based” program, despite the term “behavior” being such an ambiguous term to CDCr, as you are also expected to “participate in and successfully complete all mandated educational and cognitive (restructuring) instruction (including self-directed journals), as well as risk-educational assessment, as determined by ICC.”

They also expect you to “follow all staff recommendations and directions,” as a part of “positive” SDP participation. Since we’ve already made a definitive analysis of the cognitive restructuring and forensic profiling components of §700.2 of the SDP and Compas assessment in three previous NCTT-Cor-SHU analyses (“Creating broken men?” “Creating broken men, Part 2” and “Legislative alert: CDCR’s Step-Down Pilot Program is in fact systematic, mandatory brainwashing”), there is no need to do so again here. What is necessary for us to discuss here is why this duplicitous contradiction is so necessary to the state’s efforts to reassert political reaction in populations currently committed to progressive struggle.

Our struggle to abolish SHU torture units is inextricably linked to the broader struggle to seize cultural hegemony in the U.S. from the ruling class and its tool, the state. This struggle has contributed to progressively changing attitudes in society and prisons.

Our collective efforts have repeatedly exposed the state’s contradictions and sparked the people’s appetite for freedom and new social relationships. These activities undermine the reactionary character structure upon which authoritarian society is based.

These actions are thus revolutionary. Revolution is, at heart, a war for the minds of the masses. It moves us positively from one way of life and set of social values to one more conducive to principles of collective life.

The state makes no secret in this new policy that reintroducing its “social values” is central to their SDP strategy. On Page 2 of its “Initial Statement of Reasons,” it states its strategy is designed to “provide programs designed to promote social values and behaviors in preparation for the offender’s return to the community.”

It is only as a result of seeing the masses organize and resist its callous inhumanity that the state now seeks to force the restructuring of the “social values” of prisoners at the source of this resistance to more closely reflect the dominant mass psychology – i.e., ideological conformity. It is only when the suppressed segments of society begin to organize themselves, begin to fight for socio-economic and political improvements and raise the cultural level of the broader masses that moralistic inhibitions set in. Only then do ruling elements, and their tools, begin to show concern for the “values” and “morality” of the oppressed.

As organized resistance rises, so does a contrary process activate in direct proportion from the state: The ideological assimilation to the ruling class. However, such a process among the prison class and lumpen strata – where oppression is a constant of existence – is simply not as easily achieved as it is in the middle class.

Consciousness, relatively speaking, is directly proportional to oppression. Couple this fact with the lumpen strata’s desperate historic relationship to the productive system and the daily assaults on our humanity that all prisoners endure, and the prospect of conforming to authoritarian dictates, or being ideologically assimilated by mundane means to just accepting the role of oppressed man is simply unrealistic to say the least. Thus the need, the requirement, the mandate of the state that all prisoners subject to the SDP must submit to cognitive restructuring or face the prospect of continued indefinite torture.

It is only when the suppressed segments of society begin to organize themselves, begin to fight for socio-economic and political improvements and raise the cultural level of the broader masses that moralistic inhibitions set in. Only then do ruling elements, and their tools, begin to show concern for the “values” and “morality” of the oppressed.

If we view the state’s response in these regulatory and judicial positions within their correct social, political and historic context, it becomes clear this is an automatic, reactionary gambit to reawaken contrary structural tendencies which lie active, dormant or repressed, depending on your relative degree of political maturity, in all of us who’ve developed in the patriarchal-authoritarian miasma of capitalist America.

Concessions in this struggle, on the part of the state, have thus far been superficial and cosmetic. The view of authoritarian institutions is power does not concede – it compels.

We have demonstrated here how these policies and judgments are a collection of contradictions justified by lies. As resistance to the dictates of authoritarian ideology continues to spread and flare across the surface of the American social structure, truth begins to intrude rudely upon the hypocrisies and irrationalities at the foundation of authoritarian society.

The lines between the socially hostile microcosm of prison and the politically reactionary macrocosm of society are being blurred as progressive activists across the spectrum begin to join hands across the walls with progressive and revolutionary prisoners, producing new social relationships, new political perspectives, and moving toward truly revolutionary – i.e., rational – character structures and ideology.

Concessions in this struggle, on the part of the state, have thus far been superficial and cosmetic. The view of authoritarian institutions is power does not concede – it compels.

As we speak, ideas – rational ideas based in truth, like the Sustainable Agricultural Commune, the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement’s First Amendment Campaign and the Agreement to End Hostilities – are finding resonance among the people and taking root in communities in society at large. These ideas are influencing – to a greater or lesser degree – the mass psychology in America, and the state must move to stop it, to prevent these ideas being fully manifested into a social force of even greater transformative quality. Power thus reveals its nature in its contradictions.

Wilhelm Reich, in his treatise, “The Human Struggle for Freedom,” observed:

“The dilemma is this: Without the power to put them into practice, truths are of no use. They remain academic. Power, no matter what kind of power it is, without a foundation in truth, is a dictatorship, more or less and in one way or another, for it is always based on man’s fear of the social responsibility and personal burden that ‘freedom’ entails. Dictatorial power and truth do not go together. They are mutually exclusive … ‘power’ always means the subjugation of others.”

It is here, finally, we strike at the root of the matter: The state’s preservation of dictatorial power is the origin of the lies and contradictions within the new STG regulations and the judicial collusion which allows them to move forward as a material force.

With all this in mind, state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has sponsored a bill to cap “administrative” SHU confinement to a three-year determinate term. We’ve no doubt Mr. Ammiano is sincere in his genuine desire for progressive change. However, CDCr and the state they both represent is not.

As we’ve demonstrated here, semantics is as viable as reality to the state. If there is no explicit language stating the bill applies retroactively, those who’ve been here for 10-40 years will have to spend another three years here. CDCr can take the position, the SDP is “segregated housing” and not SHU – though it is nonetheless in the SHU and your torturous living conditions are no different – and continue to hold you in the SHU for another five years to forever.

Because the bill speaks exclusively to validated SHU prisoners, with this new regulatory language in mind, which manufactures an entirely new reality for “behavior” – transforming non-criminal activity and matter into “crimes” – it’s a simple matter of having validated prisoners housed in SHU issued repeated petty 115s, which could hold prisoners in SHU indefinitely. SHU torture units are real, the human misery they are responsible for is real, and the intent of the state to maintain this practice is equally real.

The state’s preservation of dictatorial power is the origin of the lies and contradictions within the new STG regulations and the judicial collusion which allows them to move forward as a material force.

There are some of us, despite this bill, that the state is simply not going to release to a mainline. To be sure, these new regulations contain provisions whereby “STG affiliates who are … in segregated housing for non-disciplinary reasons (are afforded) privileges associated … with Step 4 if they have completed the SDP but were retained for non-disciplinary reasons.” In other words, you can jump through every hoop in the SDP, and if they feel you have too much influence or for other non-disciplinary reasons, they can keep you in Step 4 – in the SHU – indefinitely. (See “Initial Statement of Reasons,” Page 12, §3044(j) through§3044(j)(2)(H)).

With this in mind, if the legislature will not consider restoring the “Prisoners Bill of Rights,” perhaps at least they will consider including contact visits for those housed in SHU for non-disciplinary reasons?

You can jump through every hoop in the SDP, and if they feel you have too much influence or for other non-disciplinary reasons, they can keep you in Step 4 – in the SHU – indefinitely.

In the final analysis, it is our collective determination to not simply abolish SHU torture units, but to transform the sick culture and warped ideology of this society which has allowed them to endure for so long. That in turn will realize a victorious revolutionary change. The prison industrial complex is but one cog in the machinery of the authoritarian order. Truly dismantling it requires striking at the very foundation upon which this world is currently organized: the authoritarian mass psychology of reactionary man/woman.

By changing our minds and actions, we will change the world. This kind of change, a revolutionary change, only progresses in the crucible of struggle. Come struggle with us.

We wish to leave you all with the wise words of Arundhati Roy: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way; on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

Until we win or don’t lose.

For more information on the NCTT-Cor-SHU (NCTT stands for NARN (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nation) Collective Think Tank) and to send our brothers some love and light, write:

  • Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough, D-83611, 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
  • J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson, C-82830, 4B-1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
  • Jabari Scott, H-30536, 4B-1L-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212

Learn more at NCTTCorSHU.org, Facebook.com/nctt.corshu.3, NCTTCorSHU@gmail.com or Twitter.com/NCTTCorSHU.

 

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