Ripple effects of Corcoran ASU hunger strike

by William E. Brown Jr.

Written Jan. 16, 2012 – We here at Corcoran State Prison, prisoners in ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit), went on a united hunger strike, aimed straight at the beast: injustice and negligence. As a named petitioner, I was targeted for being a litigant and a spokesman for myself and the other Afrikans who are seeking justice and equal protection.

While we are going through the “due process” of Corcoran’s imperial domination, here are the ripple effects of our strike. The first slap in the face arose when they made the biased and discriminatory decision to send the ASU1 sergeant to move me and my young KAGE brother [another Black prisoner] away from our ASU cell F169 to a mental health building that’s used only for CCCMS (Correctional Clinical Case Management System) mentally ill inmates.

Since our protest was presented peacefully, we refused to partake in any violent resistance after being threatened with possible cell extraction, then an additional 115 citation for rule violations. As an older brother wise to CDC(R)’s trickery, I felt more than responsible not to lose control of the incident, which could have aggravated me and my young Black brotha’s present circumstances.

After allowing others alike involved to know that we will carry on strong and keep the revolt lit in honor of our united front, we agreed to move straight ahead.

The next slap in the face arose when an email came on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, 6:42 p.m., to [prison officials] Arnold Cruz and Vincent Marmolejo in hopes to use this coercion to end our civil rights to a peaceful protest. The email read:

“Can you speak to inmates Ryoo and Brown [the Corcoran ASU hunger strike petition was signed by Pyung Hwa Ryoo, Juan Jaimes and William E. Brown]? Please let them know the hunger strike is over and resolutions to some of the issues they presented (in the petition) are forthcoming, as I had discussed with Ryoo last week. The inmates in ASU-1 ate tonight and declared hunger strike over. Let me know what happens. Thanks.”

On Dec. 31, 2011, the prison officials came and pulled us from our cell and took our personal property based on illegal grounds. We continued our peaceful protest! After threats and more coercion, we both pondered our wellbeing and the odds were stacked against us, meaning harsher retaliation. We came to an adult understanding with Lt. Rush, who in exchange personally walked an emergency copy of our 602 inmate appeal (complaint) to the warden’s office.

The third slap in the face came when I was served an additional CDC 115 (Rules Violation Report) charging a violation of CCR Sec. 3005(a) and citing the specific act of “inciting and leading a hunger strike.” I’m like “Wow!” Under “Circumstances,” the 115 reads:

“On Friday, December 30, 2011, the Southern Hispanic, Black, and Other inmates in ASU1 participated in a mass hunger strike to address grievances in ASU1. Due to the ‘Hunger Strike,’ there was a disruption in the ASU1 program. A list of demands was sent to staff, and you inmate BROWN T-58106 (ASU1-169) were listed as one of the instigators of the Hunger Strike. Your actions caused a disruption to the normal operations of ASU1, and possible health concerns for the inmates involved. Your actions created additional work for staff, and time delays in which it was necessary for staff to address your issues. Attached is a list of demands with inmate RYOO F-88924, inmate JAIMES V-08644 (ASU1-165), and inmate BROWN T-58106 (ASU1-169), listed as the signers for the inmate grievance. Based on this information you are deemed as leading the Hunger Strike and causing the disruption in ASU1.”

Prior to this whole incident, all we had done was submit a peaceful civil rights/human rights group petition reflecting the colorful complaints of all races, and all we got is retaliation. CDC(R) fails and refuses to comply with our demands, which are protected by case law as well as federal and state law, California Code of Regulations Title 15 and CDC(R) Department Operations Manual (DOM).

For many years, we’ve been dirt under the rug, left for dead by those in society who turn a blind eye, only to be cast as outlaws and black, brown, yellow and white trash. Even now as I humbly await my next 115 hearing to be conducted, I’m preparing a civil suit.

For many years, we’ve been dirt under the rug, left for dead by those in society who turn a blind eye, only to be cast as outlaws and black, brown, yellow and white trash.

Those same biased prison officials continue to violate many more inmates’ due process by failing or refusing to allow certain evidence or documents or even answer relevant questions pertaining to our defense. Many times we are refused access to witnesses who could possibly assist with our defense in hopes of a much greater outcome than the guilty verdict.

Just because the official has the power, there’s never a preponderance of the evidence standard considered when a hearing officer is labeled as being unlisted as having gone “through the procedure of the State Bar.” How could it not be determined that a hearing officer hadn’t made an impartial decision in his or her fact finding when he has not been through the training of the State Bar to legally enforce an order without a predetermined belief system.

These underground rules are being used as a gateway to target certain inmates who CDC(R) considers too active, or to later validate them as alleged gang members for inciting or leading certain racial groups. This is to discourage further litigation, advocacy – standing against the very injustice that Martin Luther King and others alike marched for. As King stood against genocidal environments, me and my brothers will continue to rattle the KAGE.

These underground rules are being used as a gateway to target certain inmates who CDC(R) considers too active, or to later validate them as alleged gang members for inciting or leading certain racial groups.

There are three possible aims of punishment: restraint, revenge or reform. Capitalism only seems to succeed at the first two. As we the prisoner advocates for justice know, the retributive and vengeful “justice” of the present system has been a total and utter failure.

Attempting to reform people through coercion and force can never succeed. Arguments based on fear and terror are never convincing. The institutionalized murder – the death penalty – has never had the slightest effect on violent crime figures. It amounts to no more than revenge.

If prison achieves anything, it tends to perpetuate crime with minor offenders who often go on to commit greater crimes. The motto then goes, Why not re-offend if nothing has changed?

Capitalism cannot solve the problem. It creates the very conditions which lead to most crimes. The supposed system of justice amounts to a closed cast of judges and legal professionals who are initiated into a tangled web of complex rules and regulations, where any concept of justice or fair play intrudes purely at random.

Because the beast is on its knees, because the moment is ripe, I’m approaching the oppressor’s gates with unity like the ants, the heart of a lion and the rage of a bull to liberate my people. I won’t lose ambition so long as I’m still breathing. Mandela stayed strong for 28 years. Huey P. told us we bear rights. “Wait” sounds too much like never.

GLJ [George Lester Jackson] was a Soledad brother who made the jailhouse rock, saying, “You’ve got to find a way to make people know you’re there.” That’s crucial, whether in terms of making career gains, letting our families know we care or, like Malcolm, sending a message to our elected officials. I recommend that everyone read “Stride Toward Freedom,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s first published book.

Send our brother some love and light: William E. Brown Jr., T-58106, P.O. Box 8800, Corcoran CA 93212. See his page.