by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, principal negotiator, Prisoner Human Rights Movement

Sitawa gets a visit from his sister, Marie Levin, on Feb. 27, 2017. She worked tirelessly for his release from solitary and triumphantly gave him his first hug in 31 years during their first contact visit in November 2016.

For years now, I have endured threats, both overt and covert, from the mouths and hands of CDCr’s (California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation’s) OCS (Office of Correctional Safety), ISU (Investigations Services Unit) and IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations), all of them paramilitary services that boast they are a gang and call themselves the Green Wall. (See my article “Sitawa: Exiting solitary confinement – and the games CDCr plays.”)

This pressure has intensified ever since, following our 2013 nonviolent, peaceful hunger strike, negotiations between Gov. Brown’s designated CDCr high officials, such as Corrections Secretary Scott Kernan, Under Secretary R. Diaz, Director K. Allison and others and the four principal negotiators – myself, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), Arturo Castellanos, Todd Ashker and George Franco – became seriously heavy.

And every prisoner who has been released to the general population (GP) from solitary confinement, from January 2012 to the present, has struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Solitary Confinement (PTSD-SC). (See “PTSD SC: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Solitary Confinement” by me and Baridi Willliamson.)

It has been clear that the ISU and IGI personnel here at SVSP (Salinas Valley State Prison, popularly known as Soledad Prison) knew this and harassed, intimidated, tried bad jacketing (spreading false rumors) and tried locking many of our class members back up in solitary confinement. And they knew that I was the first principal negotiator who had been released to a Modified General Population (MGP) yard. CDCr and its OCS, ISU and IGI were keeping track of where we four principal negotiators were housed and our movement overall.

Every prisoner who has been released to the general population (GP) from solitary confinement, from January 2012 to the present, has struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Solitary Confinement (PTSD-SC).

On Oct. 13, 2015, I arrived at SVSP Receiving and Release (R&R). Upon my exiting the CDCr Transportation bus and entering the R&R, I was met by the wicked ISU-IGI Welcoming Committee, guards T.J. Smith, M. Hernandez and DeAnza. They escorted me into a dark property storage room and let me know that I was not welcome at their prison – a failed attempt to intimidate me.

Now since that date, the “Green Wall” is alive and well here at SVSP. I have been threatened by those older prison guards face to face, while younger guards stood in their gun tower, hoping I would react to one of those Green Wall guards so that they could say, “I got that Dewberry” (i.e., Sitawa).

One such instance occurred in 2016 during the holy month of Ramadan. While I and other prisoners were entering the mosque, there stood one of those Green Wall corrections guards, named McClean, who threatened my life while his supervisors – sergeants – and other old guards – Green Wall correctional officers – stood by and listened. C/O McClean said to me, “We will get you, Sitawa, off C-yard somehow. You won’t be around here for long!”

My response was directed to the two sergeants standing nearby. I asked them, “Are you going to discipline your guard?” They answered, “We’ll talk to Officer McClean.” The other older Green Wall guard instructed all prisoners to enter the mosque. Now I had to restrain the Bruthas, because this guard McClean, along with his Green Wall buddies supporting him, threatened my life!

The “Green Wall” is alive and well here at SVSP. I have been threatened by those older prison guards face to face, while younger guards stood in their gun tower, hoping I would react to one of those Green Wall guards so that they could say, “I got that Dewberry” (i.e., Sitawa).

The above challenges are just a drop in a lake against me and the revolutionizing work that the Prisoner Human Rights Movement has done inside CDCr, especially over the past seven years, 2011-2018. Through our movement, we have changed CDCr.

I stand with the prisoner movement that is currently challenging SVSP’s Green Wall (ISU and IGI) guards’ eavesdropping on our legal phone calls, racial discrimination, racial imbalance and worker discrimination, about which prison officials have been notified through appeals, grievances, complaints and letters between 2015 and the present. (Note to the reader: Please stop and re-read the above once again. And allow the above information to soak in before you continue reading!) This is a classic case of retaliation, harassment, intimidation, and overt threats and acts.

On Jan. 11, 2018, while I was waiting to be released for my work assignment, I looked out the cell door and observed a guard, later identified as Lt. J. Ortega of SVSP’s ISU, and his subordinate, T.E. Flores, a K-9 officer, heading toward our cage. Lt. Ortega informed me that he and Flores were conducting a “routine” cell search.

My response was, “Lieutenant, you guys don’t do ‘routine’ cell searches.” Lt. Ortega escorted me to a table within the B-section dayroom where our assigned cell was located. And while we were at the table, Lt. J. Ortega observed me looking for his CDCr ranking label as a Lieutenant of ISU. He stated, “We don’t allow outsiders to see our ranking.” He went on: “There’s nothing personal about this cell search; it is a routine search.

“I have to cross our t’s and dot our i’s, because we [ISU and IGI] know that you’re the key negotiator in the Ashker v. Brown lawsuit. I heard about you, Mr. Dewberry, when you first came. You were the first one of the four representatives out of SHU and the last one back in.”

I realized at that moment that this cell search is in relation for the Ashker v. Brown class action lawsuit, which was the true purpose of this search. And this is a clear demonstration of retaliation coming from SVSP’s ISU and IGI personnel.

Lt. Ortega left and walked over to speak with Flores, then returned to the table where I was seated. He said, “Dewberry, you’re going to the hole for investigation. I replied, “For what? There’s nothing unlawful in my cell.” Ortega directed C/O Palacios to escort me to the holding cage inside the mental health area.

Lt. Ortega and Flores brought my celly in shortly after me. These ISU guards knew from the onset of this matter that I was innocent – with nothing unlawful in my cell. Yet Ortega ignored this knowledge and wrote a false lockup order to have me removed from MGP and put me in solitary confinement (SC).

I realized at that moment that this cell search is in relation for the Ashker v. Brown class action lawsuit, which was the true purpose of this search. And this is a clear demonstration of retaliation coming from SVSP’s ISU and IGI personnel.

I am now realizing that this Lt. Ortega (ISU) and his cohorts are driven to illegally place me/us in solitary confinement – officially called Administrative Segregation or Ad. Seg. – at all costs. I realized at that moment that those two ISU personnel were about to commit a crime by setting up myself and my cellmate.

Lt. Ortega and Flores have committed an unlawful act by planting contraband in my cage to make a false accusation in order to justify taking our property and later claiming they found dangerous contraband inside that allows them to prolong my isolation. They have a history of doing this at SVSP.

It was clear that Lt. J. Ortega’s superior was also informed of my innocence, yet Ortega was clearly aware of what he and his squad of ISU-IGI were doing: targeting me in retaliation for what I was doing to change the ol’ Green Wall culture here at SVSP Facility C. Myself and my cellmate were escorted to DI and placed in cage 228 Ad. Seg. with our lockup order forms.

The following evening, Jan. 12, myself and my cellmate received our personal property back from ISU-IGI, at which time they made no mention whatsoever of any “dangerous contraband.” They even admitted that they removed several Ashker v. Brown legal documents out of our property.

C/Os Franco and Flores from ISU both provided me with a CDC 128-B form to sign in order to expedite my Institution Classification Committee (ICC) hearing. I had requested a copy of the CDC 128-B but was denied. They gave the forms to their supervisor, Lt. Ortega, who was required to promptly provide them to his ICC superiors for my ICC hearing – but he did not.

I am now realizing that this Lt. Ortega (ISU) and his cohorts are driven to illegally place me/us in solitary confinement – officially called Administrative Segregation or Ad. Seg. – at all costs.

On Jan. 18, 2018, I went to my scheduled ICC hearing, where the committee consisted of CC II Meden, Associate Warden Solis, and Captain Gonzales. The ICC’s decision was to hold me in solitary confinement for approximately 90 days. I notified them that on Jan. 12, I had signed the 128-B. The ICC informed me that ISU personnel did not provide them with the 128B, which would have allowed them to make a more accurate analysis and return me back to the MGP.

It was apparent that Ortega and his ISU-IGI personnel did not want for me to be released to the MGP. And by withholding the mandatory CDC 128-B information from the ICC, they knew that I would not be released by the committee. The ICC informed me that they would be contacting the ISU-IGI staff as to why my due process was being violated and that the ICC would fast-track my case and place me back on the MGP. This ICC realized that there was no other purpose for ISU-IGI holding me in solitary confinement any longer.

On Jan. 19, 2018, Lt. Ortega appeared at my assigned cage door, informing me that they (ISU-IGI) were issuing us (my cellmate and me) a new lockup order. Now Ortega and his squad were falsely saying that they found dangerous contraband inside the property they had searched on Jan. 11-12 and returned to us on the 12th – a full week before.

I said to Ortega and his subordinate, ISU guard DeAnza, “Really. Come on, Ortega. You are doing this because yesterday your ICC superiors discovered that you withheld my signed CDC 128-B from the ICC so that they could not release me. So they got on your case. And now you’re bringing a new false lockup order claiming you found dangerous contraband a week ago.

“But you did not, because you would have both reported it in writing, and I let your ICC superiors know before yesterday’s classification hearing.” Ortega shrugged with a smirk on his face. My celly told him, “You knew he’s innocent from Day One. And you know it now. So why are you ignoring this truth? Just to keep him locked up and from returning to the GP.” We both refused to sign Ortega’s new lockup order, turned and walked away from the door.

On Jan. 23, I learned that my first fake writeup, the lock up order by Ortega and his ISU-IGI, was voided for due process violations. A new RVR was issued. But nowhere in Ortega’s writeup report does he identify any location in the cell where the “dangerous contraband” was supposed to be at.

This raises the question of how it was located inside Ortega’s ISU-IGI office and not in our cell. And why he waited a week after completing the search and returning our property – except my missing Ashker v. Brown legal case documents – to suddenly produce that contraband. And during that week made no mention of finding any “dangerous contraband” whatsoever!

On Jan. 25, I went before the ICC again on Ortega’s latest lockup order, at which time the committee extended my stay in solitary pending the disciplinary hearing, after which they would bring me back for my release to the MGP.

On Jan. 26, Ortega’s subordinate, Hernandez, sent the Ad. Seg. guard to escort us to the office to speak with him. We both asked, “For what? What do he want to talk to us about?” The guard shrugged his shoulders and said he “Don’t know.” And we exercised our constitutional right to remain silent and not talk to ISU/IGI.

On Jan. 30, while we were in the Ad. Seg. outside yard cage, Lt. Ortega approached the front of the cage and said, in an attempt to intimidate us: “You refused to talk with my officer?” We replied, “For what? What is it that you want to talk about? We know what you’re doing to remove me off the GP and try to keep me from returning. You have been disregarding and ignoring evidence of my innocence from the start on Jan. 11.”

Ortega said, “So you ain’t going to talk with us?” I answered, “For what? The writeup you falsified to put me in here was voided.” He responded, “I know, but if you don’t go talk with us, I will prolong your stay in here.” He then turned and walked off with that smirk on his face.

It was clear that Ortega and his ISU-IGI cohorts knew that they messed up with their planned scheme to set me up, remove me from the GP and keep me locked up in solitary confinement. And this is no single, isolated case.

What many of you on the outside may not know is the long sordid history of CDCr’s ISU-IGI-Green Wall syndicate’s pattern and practice, here and throughout its prison system, of retaliating, reprisals, intimidating, harassing, coercing, bad-jacketing, setting prisoners up, planting evidence, fabricating and falsifying reports (state documents), excessive force upon unarmed prisoners, stealing their personal property, including religious and wedding jewelry, as identified below.

What many of you on the outside may not know is the long sordid history of CDCr’s ISU-IGI-Green Wall syndicate’s pattern and practice, here and throughout its prison system.

Such as when the below-identified ISU-IGI-Green Wall “squad” ran into our Northerner (on B facility) and Southerner (on C facility) cells, assaulted and excessively forced them out, dragging them off the toilet and out of their beds, naked, down the iron stairs onto the concrete tier floor, degrading, humiliating and injuring them. And over just these last few years, these ISU-IGI-Green Wall guards have run around out of control, harassing and intimidating prisoners, especially those of our Ashker v. Brown class action legal case.

Much of this is documented in CDCr’s Internal Affairs, Appeals Office, and/or court cases – complaints, appeals and grievances, excessive force and/or employee misconduct. Presently the Prison Law Office is conducting an investigation of these ongoing patterns and practices of overt and covert corrupt, unlawful activities by CDCr’s OCS-ISU-IGI-Green Wall here at SVSP, especially Lt. J. Onega, Lt. M. Stern, I.J. Smith, Sgt. J. Vinson, Sgt. M. Valdez, Sgt. G. Segura, T. Flores, K.D. Melton, M. Hernandez, DeAnza, A-J. Franco, K. Castillo-Ruiz and unnamed others. (See investigative reports and records of the Prison Law Office and CDCR-SVSP’s Internal Affairs.)

And Gov. Brown’s designated CDCr officials – Secretary Scott Kernan, Under Secretary Ralph Diaz, Director Kathleen Allison, Associate Director Sandra Alfaro and Chief of the Office of Correctional Safety – are all aware of the ISU-IGI-Green Wall out-of-control long history pattern and practice of corrupt activities such as those I’ve described here at SVSP.

CDCr’s Green Wall guards and employees were exposed by the U.S. Northern District Court in the 1990s and 2000s. See Madrid v. Gomez, and “Report on Powers” by John Hagar, Judge Thelton Henderson’s appointed special master.

Yet, decades later these CDCr officials have not only allowed this pattern and practice to continue here at SVSP, but are targeting the Ashker v. Brown class members to remove us off the GP, place us back in solitary confinement, and obstruct, interfere with and prevent those like myself and others within the Prisoner Human Rights Movement from our peaceful efforts to effect genuine changes, for rehabilitation, returning home, productively contributing to the improvement of our communities and deterring recidivism.

Any prisoners who have been subjected to harassment, retaliation, reprisals, being set up, evidence planted on them or in their property or work area, physical assault, excessive force such as cell extraction, theft of their personal property, falsification of documents, such as  RVRs, wrongful removal from GP to solitary confinement, denial of meaningful due process and so on: Contact the Prison Law Offce, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964.

Concerned citizens and members of the public and California state legislators can let high CDCr officials know that enough is enough and join in this collective concern by contacting CDCr and Gov. Brown and demanding:

  1. CDCr and SVSP shall cease their retaliations against Sitawa N. Jamaa (Dewberry) and the Ashker v. Brown class members at this prison;
  2. CDCr and SVSP shall immediately rein in and stop the out-of-control renegade Green Wall-ISU-IGI employees here at SVSP;
  3. CDCr and SVSP shall cease the acts, overt and covert, of retaliation, reprisals, intimidations, harassments, coercion, planting evidence, setting prisoners up, bad-jacketing, fabricating and falsifying reports (state documents), and withholding evidence;
  4. CDCr and SVSP shall hold their subordinates to account, including the chiefs of OCS, ISU and IGI, and Green Wall employees, including C/O J. Narvaez, C/O Sanquist, C/O Torres, C/O Guinn, Sgt. Howard, Sgt. Sandoval, C/O Santana, C/O Tonuto, C/O Vallejo, C/O Solnick, C/O McClean, C/O Sanitos and more;
  5. CDCr and SVSP shall cease its old culture and old thinking of OCS-ISU-IGI and Green Wall employees and order them to back off of Brutha Sitawa and those Ashker v. Brown class members working with him to change SVSP Facility C general population with rehabilitation;
  6. CDCr and SVSP shall conduct its departmental investigation into the above-stated OCS-IGI-ISU-Green Wall culture, code of silence and unlawful activities here at SVSP, and make their findings transparent and public, holding all involved SVSP employees accountable and responsible.

Also call the California legislature’s Public Safety Committee on Prisons and let Sen. Holly Mitchell and her committee know that there are a lot of prisoners affected by this longstanding corruption of the ISU-IGI at SVSP.

I am one of many who have been and continue to be affected by IGI-ISU-Green Wall’s blatant corruption!

In Struggle!

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry)

© Feb. 1, 2018, by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Prisoner Human Rights Movement principal negotiator. Send our brother some love and light: Ronnie Dewberry, C-35671, SVSP C1-118, P.O. Box 1050, Soledad CA 93960.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Cute story! I would say another exagerated story by some inmate, but i cant say some inmate because "Sitawa" happens to be one of the biggest BGF members in CDCR. For those who dont know, "BGF" is the Black Gorilla Family, the prison gang/organization who is responsible for 90% of all drug and violence involving black inmates in the California Prison System as well as the Federal Prison System. ISU's, IGI's, and OCS are all dedicated to stoping the gang influences these gang members use to intimidate the younger generation coming into the system. But nice attempt to bend the truth and exaggerate the circumstances to make yourself a victim.

  2. The way he describes the officer’s actions sounds so exaggerated. You don’t even see that in movies. I have a feeling he’s a liar, wait…Duh!!! He’s a career criminal!!! Good attempt at trying to make us feel sorry for you Dewdewberry, but I call bull shit. Enjoy life in prison.

  3. It is very obvious the three above comments are made by guards. I would never use the word "officers" to address any of them because they are low-lives, even more than the prisoners they babysit. They are the ones bringing in the drugs, and the cellphones [selling the phones that costs less then a hundred on the street for thousands to the prisoners who can come up with the money.] And continue to create among the inmates. What should happening is the attorney general office should be investigating "you guys". You are the ones that make these prisons corrupt. Your comments are only an attempt to try to get those reading this newspaper think these prisoners are lying, when in fact it is really you. Don't ever think we are ignorant as you are! PEOPLE DON'T BELIEVE THAT CRAP WHEN YOU SEE THOSE COMMENTS – IT IS MEANT TO TRY TO DISCREDIT THESE MEN AND COVER THE TRUTH.

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