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On Dec. 14, 2018, families of prisoners and supporters traveled to Sacramento to rally in front of the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation’s (CDCr) headquarters against the CDCr-induced violence that many of their loved ones are experiencing. The next rally is Friday, Feb. 15, 1 p.m., in front of CDCr Headquarters, 1515 S St., Sacramento.
I begin this six-month update on the activities of CDCR and the CCPOA with my utmost thankfulness and respect for the San Francisco Bay View. I thank your staff and readers for continuing to shine a bright light on the injustices that occur daily behind enemy lines, as it pertains to human beings who are marginalized as prisoners, defined as slaves by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but yet full citizens of this country! I have now been housed in Pelican Bay Level II SHU for six months, and the situation has not progressed but has rapidly deteriorated.
After the court order to shut down D-unit, CDCr administration has implemented a scheme to get around the court order by housing general population prisoners (Level II) in a SHU (Security Housing Unit) that is designed for maximum security and only allows for movement that is grossly restricted. The implementation of this scheme by CDCr and CCPOA [California Correctional Peace Officers Association] to refill these housing units, was only to receive the multi-millions of dollars Pelican Bay lost with its closure.
It is very important that you all clearly understand the depth of human torture to which I was subjected for 30-plus years by CDCr and CCPOA.* The torture was directed at me and similarly situated women and men prisoners held in California’s solitary confinement locations throughout CDCr, with the approval and sanctioning of California governors, CDCr secretaries and directors, attorneys general, along with the California Legislature for the past 40 years.
The CDCR is proposing new regulations on “security threat groups” or “gangs,” which will be implemented after a regular public hearing, to be held on April 3. The Step Down Program, which CDCR has been executing as a pilot program, is apparently being added to CDCR’s vast number of regulations. The implementation of the official Step Down Program comes while a second legislative hearing on Feb. 11 has been organized.
The positive response to this idea has been quite remarkable. The agreement to end all group hostilities that our reps reached and made public must be upheld. Reach out to your family and friends and urge them to educate themselves about, and become involved in, the democratic process, to vote according to their interests and, when the time comes, forward a contribution to our PAC in whatever amount you can.
I am compelled to share with your readers the evidence I have uncovered while doing research into my own case after I was framed by corrupt guards and convicted of murder at Folsom Prison in 1984. I have uncovered the real intentions behind the implementation of the deadly “integrated yard policy” and its bloody history at Folsom Prison.
Merely days after the suspension of the historic California Prisoner Hunger Strike of 2013, which lasted an unprecedented 60 days and saw record prisoner support across the state, the task of tactical and strategic re-assessment is well underway. We are gearing up for the upcoming battles in our overall struggle to abolish the state’s practice of long-term solitary confinement in both the political and legal arenas.
When the California prisoner hunger strike began, CDCR officials were repeatedly quoted telling the world that CDCR does not negotiate with prisoners. CDCR portrays the organizers as gang leaders – terrorists whose demands are unworthy of consideration. But on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, the warden at Calipatria State Prison did negotiate with prisoners in the Administration Segregation Unit.
On Aug. 12, 2012, the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) in all prison and juvenile facilities and called for its extension to our communities. The strategic and material benefits for our ongoing human rights struggle, thousands of prisoners and their families, is obvious. Less obvious is the unprecedented opportunity for social progress and community development represented by this AEH.
Hundreds of people held in California prisons are expected to launch their third large-scale hunger strike in two years today. The current strike, announced by leaders at Pelican Bay State Prison on Feb. 14, is seen as a resumption of the large-scale strikes in June and September 2011, when thousands of prisoners across the state stopped eating for days or weeks in order to press for the five demands laid out by the strike organizers.
The battle over the future of Tamms became the most visible and contentious example of a phenomenon seen around the country: Otherwise progressive unions are taking reactionary positions when it comes to prisons, supporting addiction to mass incarceration. And when it comes to issues of prisoners’ rights in general, and solitary confinement in particular, they are seen as a major obstacle to reform.
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano decried Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto yesterday of legislation that would have returned openness to California’s prison system. Ammiano’s bill, AB 1270, would have restored, not expanded as noted in the veto message, media access to the level that existed in 1996 when the CDC clamped down on the press’ ability to interview specific prisoners.
Update: Gov. Brown signed AB 1270 Aug. 31, restoring the conditions that existed before 1996, when corrections officials cut down on reporters’ ability to report on prisons and prisoners. “With passage of AB 1270, legislators have voted for transparent and accountable reporting of the state’s 32 prisons and the more than 130,000 prisoners locked inside their walls.”
AB 1270, legislation that would increase transparency and media access to California’s notorious state prison system, is currently facing opposition in the Senate Appropriations Committee. CDCR is formally opposing the bill, citing cost as their main concern. There are two ways that you can help: Attend a Lobby Day on Aug. 9 or phone committee members from home before Aug. 13.
The prison officials believe that they have a right to subject us prisoners to physical and psychological torment simply because we choose to fight peacefully for our basic human rights. These officials fail to realize that prisoners are committed to the peaceful struggle and by no means do we plan on giving up, under any circumstances.
In the past year we have witnessed a succession of murderous assaults reflecting a common character structure: The authoritarian psychology: Jason Smith beaten to death by racists in Louisiana; Trayvon Martin murdered by a racist vigilante in Florida; Christian Gomez allowed to die on hunger strike by prison guards in California; 17 people, nine of them children, slaughtered in Afghanistan; Kendrec McDade slain by racist police in California; Gerardo Perez-Ruiz murdered by border vigilantes in Arizona.
In 1989 the California Department of Corrections opened Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). Their primary stated reason for its construction was to reduce prison violence by isolating “alleged” gang leaders and members, but contrary to their stated purpose, prison violence has both rapidly and dramatically increased. California prisons are more violent now than before the opening of Pelican Bay.
Today, residents throughout the state celebrate as AB1270, a bill to lift the media access ban in California prisons, passed the Senate Committee on Public Safety in a 4-2 vote. Since 1996, media have been prohibited from choosing their interview subjects inside prisons, and nine versions of this bill have been vetoed by three different governors.
CDCR has released its “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy,” which proposes new gang validation and SHU step down procedures. “The biggest issue with the stakeholder review is that the most important stakeholders, the prisoners who have been validated and are currently in administrative segregation or the SHU, are not included,” says Jerry Elster.
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