On the abolition of solitary confinement

by the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU Short Corridor Main Representatives

Greetings to all of our supporters who stand with us in solidarity for our collective struggle to force an end to CDCR’s indefinite Security Housing Unit/Administrative Segregation (SHU/Ad-Seg) policies and practices.

More than a year has passed since our July 1, 2011, peaceful protest hunger strike actions, calling for an end to decades of SHU/Ad-Seg abusive confinement; and we’re still waiting for CDCR to meet our five core demands, all of which CDCR’s top administrators admitted were reasonable! Thus, at this stage of our struggle, we believe your outside support efforts should focus on pushing CDCR to grant one or two of the most important main issues relevant to our core demands.

At this point, these are the non-negotiable demands that CDCR must grant, as follows:

1. CDCR must abolish “intelligence” based SHU/Ad-Seg confinement!

This is short, attention grabbing and goes to the heart of our first three core demands, because most of us are in SHU/Ad-Seg based on alleged gang-activity “intelligence” and can be followed up with the following explanatory summary.

For more than 25 years, CDCR’s policy has been to place or retain thousands of prisoners classified as gang members or associates in SHU/Ad-Seg indefinitely, based on so-called “intelligence” indicating alleged gang activity. Now it’s important to note that CDCR’s definition of “intelligence,” as applied to and used for “sanctionable gang-activity” purposes by CDCR, is in reference to innocent associational activity, political type activity and/or unsubstantiated allegations of involvement in gang activity by confidential prisoner informants.

Most of these prisoners have never been found guilty of committing a gang-related criminal act, while spending decades in SHU/Ad-Seg, subject to the torturous conditions therein, with no end in sight.

For more than 25 years, CDCR’s policy has been to place or retain thousands of prisoners classified as gang members or associates in SHU/Ad-Seg indefinitely.

Equally important to note is the fact that CDCR’s NEW proposed gang management policy changes claim to be behavioral based, i.e., sanctions will be imposed upon those found guilty of “criminal gang behavior,” implying one has committed, been charged for and found guilty of a criminal act.

However, the truth is that CDCR will continue to rely on “intelligence” based information to keep alleged “members” in SHU/Ad-Seg indefinitely, without any requirement for CDCR to formally charge them with a rule violation. See, e.g., CDCR’s March 2012 proposal at pages 7-8 and 25 re “intelligence” references and pages 19-24 re “intelligence” categories. This equates to ZERO change from the present “inactive gang status” policy that’s proven to be a SHAM for 13 years!

Most of these prisoners have never been found guilty of committing a gang-related criminal act, while spending decades in SHU/Ad-Seg, subject to the torturous conditions therein, with no end in sight.

Such policy and practice re “status-” – gang-label and intelligence – based indefinite SHU/Ad-Seg confinement for decades amounts to TORTURE, condemned by the international community, and WE collectively condemn this practice in California.

We hereby demand an end to this illegal practice immediately! SHU/Ad-Seg confinement should be reserved for prisoners found guilty of committing a serious rule violation that merits a SHU term – period.

2. A four year step-down process is too long!

Any step-down program should be no longer than 18 months MAX, and the incentives need to be meaningful, e.g., contact visits, etc., ASAP.

These are two solid points to focus on and leave CDCR with no wiggle room. These are non-negotiable, mandatory reforms, while the rest of our core demands (including our supplemental demands) are open for negotiations after the above referenced two demands are met!

In solidarity and with respect,

Todd Ashker, Arturo Castellanos, Sitawa N. Jamaa, Antonio Guillen, PBSP SHU Short Corridor Main Reps

Mail to Arturo Castellanos and Antonion Guillen is severely restricted, but Todd Ashker and Sitawa Jamaa would welcome your letters: Todd Ashker, C-58191, PBSP SHU D1-119, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532; Sitawa N. Jamaa (s/n R. Dewberry), C-35671, PBSP SHU D1-117L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.