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California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) had been locking classes of prisoners up in solitary confinement since the ‘60s as part of CDCr’s para-military low-intensity warfare, to break the minds and spirits of its subjects, California’s prisoner class. CDCr’s solitary confinement has two operating components: 1) punishing you and 2) physically and mentally destroying you.
We are within our fifth year of the August 2012 historical document, the “Agreement to End Hostilities.” Its release was followed by the Prisoner Human Rights Movement’s third and largest hunger strike in the state of California and larger than any prison hunger strike in history in either the federal or state prison systems in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. At its peak, 30,000 prisoners here in California participated – prisoners in solitary confinement and the general population.
I hope all will know and embrace the true reality that I among millions stand strong and firm with the true and raw teachings of a real dedicated man, Yogi – yeah, Hugo Pinell. Yogi, the many moments and years I personally shared with you will never ever fade or be forgotten even as I pass away. We rocked together, sang together and even played b-ball together. Brother, you schooled me when I was mentally blinded with hate, stupidity and ignorance.
In the early days of the 2013 Prisoner Hunger Strike, Jorge Gomez refused up to 12 consecutive meals. The California Department of Corrections struck back by issuing him a Rules Violation Report. The same fate befell untold numbers of other prisoners who’d starved themselves to peacefully call attention to their torture. In an opinion filed on March 25, 2016, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Gomez was guilty of no rules violation for refusing meals during the strike.
We are coming up on three years since the End of All Hostilities with all races has been implemented. I’ve been seeing people from all walks of life and groups observing the Agreement to End Hostilities. What CDC could not do in 20-30 years, these brave men in the Short Corridor prison collectives accomplished in just a short period of three years. Yet CDC continues to label them “worst of the worst.” That’s complete bullsh-t!
Often when citizens of this nation think of “state repression,” images of Egypt, North Korea, Apartheid Palestine or Nazi Germany immediately spring to mind. U.S. state controlled media has become practiced at flooding our airwaves and attitudes with images of violent retaliation and systematic repression of dissent in other nations as a means to obfuscate the U.S. state’s engagement in identical activity in its own society.
There may be hope after all. Back in 1995, I was a juvenile, tried as an adult, tried and convicted of first degree murder. Senate Bill 260, which became part of the Penal Code effective Jan. 1, 2014, is called California Youth Offenders Parole. The new youth offender parole process in this new law applies to people who were under the age of 18 at the time they committed their crime, were tried as adults and sentenced to life or a determinate sentence.
This poem is dedicated to those individuals who are currently and previously have been victims of this nation’s torture chambers, otherwise known to the rest of society as solitary confinement (called the SHU in California) – also to the ones who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for change. Your decision to give your life for this noble cause has NOT been in vain. To the rest of us still standing for something, continue to fall for nothing.
“Sleep deprivation has many significant psychological consequences, including irritability and impairment of the ability to make rational decisions,” says Dr. Terry Kupers, a clinical psychiatrist and an expert on forensic mental health. “Because of the harm it causes, sleep deprivation has been described as torture by organizations such as Amnesty International.”
I refuse to believe that I should be treated like an animal so that prison guards and politicians can line their pockets. The prison system has made solitary confinement a lucrative business. Housing us in solitary confinement costs $30,000 more than housing us in the general population.
The death of Christian Gomez, 27, the first California hunger strike martyr, will be covered by Democracy Now! on Friday, Feb. 24, on 1,024 TV and radio stations around the country and online at DemocracyNow.org. His family is speaking out about the loss of their family member in the hope that similar incidents are avoided in the future. While CDCR emphasizes Gomez' conviction to discourage public sympathy, his sister contends his conviction was wrongful, and according to a late report, the assault charge that sent him to segregation was about to be dropped.