by Mutawally Joka Kambon

It has been a few months since my release from 20 years of solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison (SHU) to Step 5 of the Step Down Program (SDP). I thought I should pen this communique with an update on my travels from one place to another – the new location, experience, encounters and situations – as everything has unfolded.

This photo of Mutawally Joka Kambon, taken Oct. 5, 2012, was his first in 20 years. “We can’t stop! We won’t stop!” he notes on the back of the picture.
This photo of Mutawally Joka Kambon, taken Oct. 5, 2012, was his first in 20 years. “We can’t stop! We won’t stop!” he notes on the back of the picture.

The result of our collective efforts and the many complaints regarding the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), human rights violations and our bold action to end the years of state-sanctioned torture via long-term solitary confinement have forced the CDCR to review their policies regarding prison gang validation and long-term solitary.

On May 14, 2014, I was brought before the Departmental Review Board (DRB) for what is called a case-by-case review and placement consideration. During the one-and-a-half-hour hearing, my entire CDCR prison history and case file was analyzed and discussed by Suzan Hubbard, director of the Division of Adult Institutions.

The discussion that was relevant to the promotion of gang activity was then determined to only rise to the level of an administrative infraction pursuant to the disciplinary matrix. Hubbard then commended me for my educational achievements, the obtainment of 15 various self-help and educational certificates, including a general business and a religious education degree that I achieved doing my 20 years in PBSP solitary confinement.

The DRB determined that I should be released to Step 5 of the Step Down Program (SDP) and transferred to the general population (GP) at Salinas Valley State Prison with a 12-month period of observation. Once that’s completed, I could request a transfer to another prison.

Take note: Upon my arrival here at SVSP, the Unit Classification Committee (UCC) and Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) told me I will have to complete two years of observation due to my CDCR score of 179.

The result of our collective efforts and the many complaints regarding the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), human rights violations and our bold action to end the years of state-sanctioned torture via long-term solitary confinement have forced the CDCR to review their policies regarding prison gang validation and long-term solitary.

On June 27, 2014, my travel from PBSP to SVSP began. It would take the transportation bus five days to arrive here at SVSP with two layovers at New Folsom and San Quentin Prison.

There were two other New Afrikans riding with me on the transportation bus. Both, like myself, were given Step 5 release to a general population after 20-plus years of being housed in SHU solitary confinement.

Each of us had a different prison destination, but we enjoyed the ride together down to New Folsom, opening dialogue on some of our long-term deprivation and restricted privileges that we have been subject to while living in SHU and how absolutely imperative it is that we don’t allow the length nor effect to distance us from the general population or play a negative role in reconnecting with family and loved ones.

We can’t stop! We won’t stop!

We recall CDCR’s response to our complaints and protests against human rights violations caused by their illegal policies and practices regarding arbitrary, indefinite SHU placement. CDCR told big lies, claiming all validated prison gang affiliates automatically “pose an immediate severe threat to the safety and security of all general population prisoners,” calling us the worst of the worst.

Well, I’m glad to report that through my travels I have experienced nothing but love coming from the general population of convict prisoners, and they haven’t deemed me a threat to their safety or security. The young homies have put me through a serious crash course of the latest hip hop sounds, sounds we wasn’t able to hear in solitary confinement.

No doubt everyone who has ever conversated with me about music knows I have the highest respect for the hip hop rap nation, and I listen to it all for different reasons. As it stands, the young homies got me gravitating to the gangster style and particularly cats like 2Pac, J-Stalin, The Jacka of the JOB (Mob Figaz), Kendrick Lamar and a few OGs like E-40, Snoop Dogg, Westside Connection, Askari X and the intrepid Too Short. I hear and love all their sounds, but I must warn those coming out of solitary confinement that my rap brothas are serious.

I’m glad to report that through my travels I have experienced nothing but love coming from the general population of convict prisoners, and they haven’t deemed me a threat to their safety or security.

The sun’s rays have restored the pigment that colors my skin (faded from decades without sunlight – ed.) as the melanin continues to absorb all positive energy! Do know that all is well with me. It’s time to pull up. Got to run this track.

We can’t stop! We won’t stop!

Send our brother some love and light: Mutawally Joka Kambon (Coooperwood), C-46411, SVSP C3-126, P.O. Box 1050, Soledad, CA 93960. Transcribed from handwritten letter by Adrian McKinney.

 

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