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Arturo Castellanos’ update on Pelican Bay’s response to hunger strike demands – positive and negative

April 25, 2014

by Arturo Castellanos

Authorized Personal Property Schedules

Letter dated March 3, 2014 – I’m one of the four main SHU reps here at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). I’m writing this brief article about the positive outcomes during our meetings with Sacramento and PBSP officials since the end of our last hunger strike.

They have been pretty straightforward with us on many issues concerning the possession of personal property and visiting. We now have the three-hour visits we demanded and Sacramento officials have completed and issued the Authorized Personal Property Schedules (APPS) Matrix that allow all SHU prisoners the opportunity to order and possess a lot more personal property items that we demanded and have not been allowed since before 1989.

Arturo Castellanos 050509 by CDCR, cropped

Arturo Castellanos in a photo taken by CDCR on May 5, 2009

However, at our last meeting with Sacramento officials we did raise some issues with the new APPS. We were assured that they are going to tweak it where, for example, they were going to remove the wording “clear case” earbuds and “clear case” AC-adaptors and adding the necessary electronic accessories to it even though they are automatically implied in the Matrix, and to change the allowable 15.5-inch flat screen TV to under 16-inch. Walkenhorst vendor provides a good quality 15.6-inch RCA flat screen TV, which is good for the aging prison population.

These and other additional changes to the APPS are very important to us because, even if the prison wardens approve certain items, the approved vendors will not mail items unless they are approved on the Matrix or Sacramento officials send them a memorandum about it. Sacramento also stated that they will review the APPS once a year to stay current.

On Feb. 20, 2014, we reps also attended the second quarterly meeting with this administration since the last hunger strike regarding issues pertaining to this prison. The memos of that meeting should be issued soon. Officials did address all the issues and concerns we raised and those that other SHU and Ad Seg prisoners sent them.

Note: If PBSP SHU and Ad Seg prisoners wish to have their local issues addressed at the next May-June meeting, send them to the SHU associate warden’s office or to this publication in early May 2014.

The following are just some of the many issues raised at this meeting: Officials are working on obtaining better quality mattresses. They did issue us three white towels and a half blue towel to keep our cell clean. The prison’s bakery has been re-opened and is producing better baked goods. The loaner recreational book program will soon be operational again.

The state is issuing incoming Ad Seg prisoners crank wind-up radios for the first 21 days to use, and if a prisoner stays longer, they can hold on to it as long as another new arrival doesn’t need one. We argued that enough of them should be purchased for all Ad Seg prisoners for their entire stay in Ad Seg or allow them to purchase and possess their own crank radio until they finish installing the electrical outlets, cables and shelves.

They have been pretty straightforward with us on many issues concerning the possession of personal property and visiting. We now have the three-hour visits we demanded and Sacramento officials have completed and issued the Authorized Personal Property Schedules (APPS) Matrix.

Still, this is a great improvement in Ad Seg from September 2013 and 2011 when we were there. This administration has also agreed to implement a procedure to remove all speakers from all new incoming radios and as long as the AC-adaptor works on the radio we order, non-clear AC adaptors will be allowed here. Of course, as stated, the vendors will not send these items unless Sacramento directs them to.

Also, canteen items lists for all SHUs have been expanded and will continue to expand in the future and we are pushing for expanded canteen electronic accessories: typewriter ribbons, T-antennas and matching transformers to hook up the T-antenna, flat digital antenna adapters, Y-adaptors, earbud extension cords, L-cable hook-ups and Sony or Panasonic earbuds.

As one can see above, I chose to focus on the cooperation we have received from Sacramento officials and PBSP’s new administration on just the “tangible” items that do affect every SHU prisoner. So all prisoners’ efforts have not been in vain. This is also so other prisoners can address similar issues with their prison’s administrators, such as extended visits.

Note: If PBSP SHU and Ad Seg prisoners wish to have their local issues addressed at the next May-June meeting, send them to the SHU associate warden’s office or to this publication in early May 2014.

However, I will take some parting shots at the Security Threat Group-Step Down Program (STG-SDP) besides the statement we reps put out for the latest joint Senate-Assembly hearing. We strongly object to CDCR deleting the word “direct” from “direct nexus” to gang activity because it now makes it a lot easier for IGI, ISU and other alphabet bricks that make up the green wall to obtain make-believe statements from their debriefed-informant-slaves to continue to bounce any CDCR prisoner between Steps 1-4 and back, thus another main reason we reps pushed so hard for the additional tangible SHU property items.

Also, the SDP should only be behavior-based, not behavior and how many journal-hoops one can jump through. All prisoners and outside supporters pushed to get rid of the requirement of signing contracts. Now we need to push to get rid of these silly journals. And until we see how this plays out, our hopes remain on the present civil suit on solitary confinement and the new bills that are being pushed in the legislature. This will also do away with the need for any revolving door program like the SDP.

'Control Unit' drawing by unknown prisoner

This drawing by an unknown prisoner reveals how he feels living in what many prisoners in solitary confinement call a “concrete coffin.”

I personally feel that right now, on the SDP itself, until it’s changed or eliminated altogether by law or court, it should be up to each individual if they wish to go to the DRB hearings. I myself will go in April, even though I expect to be placed on Step 1 behind all the countless 1030s (informants) in my file. Most here in the Short Corridor are being placed in Steps 1 or 2 and those who have serious chronic illnesses are being sent to New Folsom no matter the step they’re placed in. And so far, some are also being placed on Steps 3 or 5. I have no illnesses, so I’ll remain here.

Finally, I wish to correct misconceptions about the origins of the STG-SDP. It did not originate from our hunger strikes. CDCR has had this on the back burner as a result of the Castillo case. The hunger strikes only forced CDCR to put STG-SDP on the table a lot sooner than they planned. So no one should try to lay that program’s origins at the hunger strikers’ feet, period!

In the ongoing struggle for positive change, I remain in solidarity with all those with like minds.

P.S. Mr. Clark Ducart is now the PBSP warden and Mr. R.E. Barnes is now the chief deputy warden. They switched jobs.

DRB hearings

Letter dated March 23, 2014 – As one of the four main SHU prisoner representatives here at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP), I write this to update you on the two issues I addressed in my last letter of March 3, 2014. First, on the positive cooperation we received from this new administration and, second, on the Departmental Review Board (DRB) hearings.

Regarding the first issue, it has now been over 30 days since we attended the meeting of Feb. 20 with this administration. Yet, to date, they have not issued copies of any of the promised memos to all the SHU buildings nor of what transpired at that meeting.

Pelican Bay SHU cell by Adam Tanner, Reuters

Readers may wonder what’s so important about frosting on a piece of cake. Imagine being confined to this tiny room for weeks, months, years, decades – never feeling a human touch except from a hostile guard, never breathing fresh air or seeing a blade of grass, never leaving your cell without being wrapped in heavy chains. In those circumstances, is it too much to ask for such a small human comfort as a little frosting? – Photo: Adam Tanner, Reuters

Also, I mentioned in my last letter that the prison’s bakery was up and running and that they were sending us better baked goods. Well, by the evidence so far, it gives the appearance that leading up to the Feb. 20 meeting, we were seeking good size pieces of cake (with frosting), biscuits, dinner and breakfast rolls and cornbread on the trays. But soon after I sent that letter out, the baked goods got smaller, cakes no longer had frosting or stopped being served to us at all (and the so-called fruit crisp is now just goop without the crisp). It’s almost as though the baker was fired soon after that meeting and replaced with someone who doesn’t know what the hell they are doing.

I just hope that the promised food surveys were issued to the two volunteer reps so that this administration can get feedback about this and the continual served slop. I feel for those of you who do not have the funds to purchase canteen items to supplement this food. I can go on with this issue but I’m sure this administration has gotten the point that we will point out the positive (like my last letter), as well as the negative.

It has now been over 30 days since we attended the meeting of Feb. 20 with this administration. Yet, to date, they have not issued copies of any of the promised memos to all the SHU buildings nor of what transpired at that meeting.

On the second issue, the DRB hearings for the Short Corridor and others from both C and D facilities, in my last letter, I was told the next hearings will be held in April. Now they’re saying May of 2014 to be held every other month. To date, they have seen the first 25. In May they are supposed to see those numbered from 26 through 50, maybe more, because they recently added another 50 to the list numbered from 51 through 100. If any of you believe you are on this list, you can contact Corrections Counselor II Ms. Perez or Ms. Vargas.

Now, the following is very important. An attorney’s contact information can be found at the end of this letter. She should be contacted by those at PBSP SHU when you are first placed on these lists with your number on it when the CCII issues you the 1030s (confidential info) that the DRB members will be using at the hearing.

The following is very important. An attorney’s contact information can be found at the end of this letter. She should be contacted by those at PBSP SHU when you are first placed on these lists with your number on it when the CCII issues you the 1030s (confidential info) that the DRB members will be using at the hearing.

If possible, give the CCII, at that time, a signed trust to make a second copy of them to send to the attorneys. Of what transpires at your DRB hearing (what step etc.), take notes, and of your issues and complaints, why you object to any part of that process. And, if possible, file any writ on those issues, according to Title 15, Section 3376.1; those issues raised at those hearings are fully exhausted at the director’s level.

One does not go through the CDCR 602 appeal process on this. All of this vital info is important so the attorneys in our (all SHU prisoners’) pending civil suit on solitary confinement can use it to effectively counter any motions for dismissal or summary judgment the U.S. attorney general files later.

This info is greatly appreciated and the attorney assured us that all materials will be kept confidential. Also be sure that when you are placed on a step you stay in touch with the attorneys so they can monitor your progress, such as whether you are bounced from step to step and back. It’s also important for the rest of the SHU prison populations across CDCR that you send a general letter to these publications of what transpired at those hearings so others can be informed as to what to expect when they too go before the DRB.

Finally, some who were placed in Steps 3 and 4 were advised that Tehachapi Level 4 was closing the general population and were going to be used for those two steps. If this is true, and it’s a big if, CDCR shouldn’t have a problem giving those on Steps 3 and 4 contact visits. The resources and visiting rooms are already in place.

Contact Anne Butterfield Weills, Esq., Siegel & Yee, 499 14th St., Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612 with info on DRB hearings.

Send our brother some love and light: Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP SHU D1-121, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.

 

5 thoughts on “Arturo Castellanos’ update on Pelican Bay’s response to hunger strike demands – positive and negative

  1. a guest

    It is good to hear these changes are taking place at PBSP-SHU. However, the attorneys for PBSP SHU prisoners, like Ms Weill, have to also be concerned about prisoners in other shu's, who have been working and prrotesting just as hard. Please also help the prisoners in other prisons, some of whom were also added to the class-acton.
    For instance, in Cor-SHU property has not all been issued according to the new matrix, because staff is not always informed or willing to do so. Food, etc remains very bad. Medical also. People ' validated' at Cor-shu who have chronic conditions or who are ederly were NOT moved to New Folsom from Cor-shu. Just because they have no attorney. Many have simply refused to be forced to journal, and are being kept forever in " step 1" however low their tickets are. Just because someone else informed on them to igi.

    Reply
    1. clavier arab azerty

      hello , don’t do bad things you will be fine , criminals must go to jail and pay for the harm they are doing to society
      what do you think ? should they be treated like kings or what ??

      Reply
    1. Angie

      Rocco, ahhhhh hhaaaa he must not be to much of a loser if he has your attention. Wow you are in the free world and you spend your time posting negative comments, get a life. You are a little to old for name calling. I bet when you pushed the button to Submit Comment you felt like a bad ass. Well Rocco stick your chest back in you are not a bad ass. Clearly you have some jealously issues to deal with. May I suggest you focus your energy in a more positive mannerism and you shall find happiness within yourself as opossed to your negative comments towards a man whom is locked in a prison cell 23 hours a day every single day. He probably won’t even get to read your comment. Even if he did who cares we all know you would never say it to his face you coward!!! “Rocco You Are A Loser For The Cowards In Which You Represent”!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhh Haaaaa ANGIE W/G

      Reply

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