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Open letter to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano from prisoners in solitary confinement in Corcoran State Prison

May 23, 2014

by Michael R. Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham, Kambui Robinson and Jabari Scott

Dear Assemblyman Ammiano,

We write out of concern for the manner in which certain aspects of CDCR’s Step-Down Program (SDP) are being implemented.

The specific area of concern has to do with the self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy, which are two components of the SDP. Because the aim of these components is to change and restructure the subject’s thought processes – psychological reprograming – it is a mental health issue, which requires the involvement of mental health professionals in its implementation and oversight.

The hundreds of supporters who rallied outside Corcoran State Prison on July 13, 2013, to encourage the hunger strikers during the first week of the largest hunger strike in world history were loud enough so many of the prisoners inside the massive concrete complex could hear them, and a few caught a glimpse of them. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

The hundreds of supporters who rallied outside Corcoran State Prison on July 13, 2013, to encourage the hunger strikers during the first week of the largest hunger strike in world history were loud enough so many of the prisoners inside the massive concrete complex could hear them, and a few caught a glimpse of them. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

These aspects of the SDP require that an evaluation and diagnosis of each prisoner be made and a treatment plan be developed based on that evaluation and diagnosis. No such evaluations have occurred. In spite of this, a treatment plan has been developed and is being aggressively pursued.

The person who is entrusted with the responsibility for the implementation and oversight of the self-directed journals and cognitive behavioral therapy program is a “facilitator.” He has no legal certification or license to act in the role of a mental health professional.

Because cognitive behavior therapy is a mental health issue, a certified psychologist and/or psychiatrist should conduct the required evaluations, make the appropriate diagnosis and develop any treatment plan for those prisoners who warrant such treatment.

Under this circumstance, any information shared with clinicians is privileged and protected by patient confidentiality.

As it currently stands, there are no mental health professionals involved in these aspects of the SDP. Pursuant to §700.2, “Step-Down components,” the CDCR has developed a “treatment plan” – the self-directed journals and  cognitive behavior therapy – which is a one size fits all approach to psychotherapeutic reconditioning.

This is the best proof that CDCR custody staff are neither legally nor professionally qualified and certified to act in the capacity of psychiatric professionals. As it stands, any information provided under this circumstance is not protected by doctor-patient confidentiality and can be used in any manner CDCR deems fit – and this is illegal.

To compound the illegality of the policy, we are being compelled to submit to psychotherapeutic reprogramming by CDCR custody staff through naked coercion.

To compound the illegality of the policy, we are being compelled to submit to psychotherapeutic reprogramming by CDCR custody staff through naked coercion.

We are writing in the hope that legislators will affirmatively act to prohibit CDCR from continuing to violate the law. This practice, left unchecked, will only result in further legitimate criticism from human rights activists and the continued diminishment of the state’s human rights record in the eyes of the world.

At the minimum, we believe that participation in the self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy program should be discretionary – voluntary – as opposed to mandatory – involuntary – and placed firmly under the auspices of certified mental health professionals.

In closing, we would like to thank you for your understanding, courage and leadership demonstrated on this issue thus far.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Michael R. Dorrough, D-83611

J. Heshima Denham, J-38283

Kambui Robinson, C-82830

Jabari Scott, H-30536

The writers can all be reached at P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212. This letter was written May 6.

 

One thought on “Open letter to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano from prisoners in solitary confinement in Corcoran State Prison

  1. Angie

    These men are brilliant and we keep them locked away. They can contribute so much to society, but yet we let them rot in a single cell all day every day for cdc’S own personal vendetta. Corcoran Shu, May God Bless you all. The words spoken by you is absolutely true, the Step Down Program is illegal and WE THE PUBLIC ARE NOT GOING TO LET CDC GET AWAY WITH THIS.

    Reply

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