Four years ago prisoners in California – led by those in the control units of Pelican Bay – organized a hunger strike to demand an end to the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. Two more strikes would follow, with over 30,000 prisoners taking united action in the summer of 2013 – both in isolation and in general population in nearly every California prison. Current prison organizing continues a historic legacy of struggle.
I have taken the position to shut down this fake SDP (Step Down Program) crap. So all of Step 4, who have the most to lose – we all agree that these latest types of 115s, or RVRs (CDCR Form 115, Rules Violation Reports), are just another way to keep us held in SHU or a means of bringing us back once we make it out to the General Population mainline, and we’d rather take our stance now!
We prisoners need to prepare for a massive peaceful protest and work stoppage if prison officials don’t change 1) The culture to which prisoners and their families are subjected: so much mental and physical torment; 2) End long term solitary confinement, as they promised; and 3) Implement our five core demands. Too many humans are suffering who don’t need to be suffering.
Some nine months after allowing certification of two classes in Ashker v. Brown, Judge Claudia Wilken issued her written order granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Leave to File a Supplementary Complaint on March 9, 2015. Pursuant to the order, a supplemental class of plaintiffs – those who’ve spent 10 years or more in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU but have recently been transferred to other California SHUs – may proceed with their Eighth Amendment claims as class representatives.
On Jan. 29, 2015, my travels began with a wakeup call at 2:30 a.m. I was told by the first watch unit officer to be ready in 30 minutes. Myself and a total of 17 prisoners were all rounded up like chattel slaves and placed in the SHU’s C-Facility visiting room holding cells ‘til we boarded the bus at 6 a.m. In hitting the highway, my sensibilities immediately went through the whirlwind cycle of “shock and awe” via the vivid reminder of what freedom used to entail.
In order to successfully advance in each step of CDCR’s newly enacted Step Down Program (SDP), prisoners are expected to fill out and complete a series of thought policing or brainwashing workbooks. One such workbook is entitled “The Con Game” and purports to elucidate for the prisoner via “self-directed journaling” the ways in which he either consciously or unconsciously is a con artist and criminal.
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.
Men at Calipatria on general population yards A, B and C can show the same courage as the hunger strikers, who are honored around the world, by pledging to respect the Agreement to End Hostilities and stop all fighting and riots between racial groups. The Agreement must continue to hold within all California prisons and unity needs to spread across the state. Only then can justice be won.
CDCR tried their hardest to deceive the public by defaming our peaceful movement. They labeled us and attacked our character as a collective. Our peaceful protests have nothing to do with furthering “gangs” or “prison politics,” which CDCR loosely reported. They have ALL to do with amplifying our voices to let the world know that the bodies this nation holds captive in its isolation chambers are human beings too.
For the past two years we’ve heard the state claim it’s reforming its long term segregation policies and practices by implementing a Security Threat Group (STG) Step Down Program (SDP). Officials claim the program is a significant move towards a more behavior-based system, yet they remain extraordinarily vague about the “ultimate conclusion.” What exactly is “gang activity”?
You, Gov. Brown, not the Legislature, recently received a document from prisoners currently confined in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) entitled “Peaceful Protest to Resume July 8, 2013.” The additional grievances in this current communication build on the Jan. 27, 2013, document as these grievances are also an important part of what’s driving the scheduled peaceful protest.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, which is torture, which is us prisoners being held in solitary confinement indefinitely, without ever breaking a prison rule or state or federal law, anywhere from 10 to 40 years, under conditions of sensory deprivation, isolation, etc., etc. The fact that solitary confinement is torture is recognized by the U.N. – but not by the U.S., yet.