Restore our visitation, don’t break our family bonds

by Arturo Castellanos

I want to cover a very important issue that affects all PBSP-SHU prisoners and their families and friends. That is how for the past 20 years this prison has been allowed – until now – to get away from giving us the mandated minimum 12 hours of visits per week. It is specifically stated in CCR Title 15, sec. 3172.2 (a): “Each institution/facility shall provide visiting for no less than 12 hours per week.” Yet they’re only giving us about 90 minutes per visit, which adds up to three hours per week. Your readers must also be made aware of the fact that, even though visiting is a privilege, the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15 does give us certain rights, especially when using controlling words like “shall”; those are CDCR state-created rights.

This visiting deprivation all started when this place was first conceived in the mid ‘80s and opened in 1989. By now, everyone knows that it was built solely to psychologically, emotionally and physically break us all down in order to control us. Well, visits was one of those tools CDCR used.

Why else build this human dumping ground at the very edge of the Oregon border, instead of building it a lot closer to family and cheaper in a desert area down south? CDCR’s main objective was to make it so far and costly for prisoners’ loved ones and friends that the bonds between them will slowly deteriorate to a point of breaking up those relationships. No SHU prisoner here can deny that, but still, a lot of hearty family and friends continued to visit. So CDCR, in part, failed!

When this place opened in 1989, we used to go to the law library in those cells across from the main facility control booths, where they now put those on potty watch. And both C and D facilities had their own separate visiting room, where all prisoners were getting visits on weekends and holidays.

CCR Title 15, sec. 3172.2 (a): “Each institution/facility shall provide visiting for no less than 12 hours per week.” Yet they’re only giving us about 90 minutes per visit, which adds up to three hours per week.

Then PBSP had the bright idea of further depriving us by converting D facility visiting room into the D and C facility law library, and C facility visiting room was then used for both C and D facilities. This cut our visiting time down to about two to three hours. PBSP justified this by using the premise that they could not provide the court mandated law library access in the other area. But, the real motive behind it was to make less visiting space available!

Then in 2005, when PBSP-IGI created the short and long D facility corridors, they used “security threat” to justify further reducing visiting by splitting the available space into three time slots: 8:45 to 10:45 for D facility D5-D10, 10:45 to 12:45 for D facility D1-D4 and 12:45 to 2:45 for C facility C1-C12. However, again under the guise of security, they also first have to empty out the visiting room before they bring the next time slot visits. That shaves off a lot more time, where visits are now about 90 minutes long.

It’s important to note that during our hunger strike talks with Sacramento, their continual excuse in response to demand no. 5 on visits has been, “Yes, we’ll give you extended visits if space is available.” Which is straight out drag! Because, with the present three time slots and security claims where they don’t want any prisoner talking with those on the other time slots, there is no available space! As stated, all these stages in PBSP’s visiting deprivations were intentionally done as part of IGI’s overall goal to further destroy prisoners’ relationships with our loved ones in the outside world, who still continue to come visit.

However, because this prison used our right to access to the law library to justify this deprivation in the first place, I believe that issue is now moot because about two years ago over 22 computers were placed in the SHU law library booths, i.e., D facility visiting booths. And each contains up to date disks with all the case law that’s mandated by the courts.

And, because I am one of the four reps who goes to the monthly meeting with the associate warden, I have submitted a demand that they manufacture a holding cage and place one in each of the 22 SHU units. The law library computer can be used, meeting all security requirements. That will also allow the reopening of our D facility visiting room so both facilities can have their 12 hours of visits per week!

Finally, that is our visiting room, and that “available space” should be used for its originally intended purpose as our D facility visiting room, period! I and other reps will stay on top of it. And if we do decide to go on another hunger strike in the future, this will be one, among many, of the demands: that they re-open D facility visiting room so we and our families can have the four-hour visits mandated by CCR Title 15, Sec. 3172.2 (a).

I remain always in solidarity.

Send our brother some love and light: Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP-SHU D1-121, Crescent City, CA 95532. This story was transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.