Open letter to Contra Costa sheriff: Martinez AdSeg prisoners join hunger strike, issue demands

by Coby Phillips, MDF Hunger Strike Representative

To: Sheriff David O. Livingston, Under Sheriff Michael V. Casten and all Martinez Detention Facility command staff, deputies and officials

From: Pretrial detainees, inmates, prisoners and civil commitments housed in Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) in D-Module at Martinez Detention Facility

Please take notice

Contra Costa Sheriff badgeOn Monday, July 8, 2013, detainees housed in AdSeg will actively be taking part in the hunger strike being implemented statewide by prisoners, inmates, detainees etc. confined under unconstitutional conditions in California state prisons and jails.

Martinez Detention Facility (MDF) AdSeg detainees support the core and supplemental demands of our partners in CDCR Pelican Bay Prison AdSeg/SHU programs and we join them in opposition of their and ALL unconstitutional conditions of confinement in all California State prisons and jails.

MDF AdSeg detainees hereby also provide notice of our own “Five Core Demands” to stop unconstitutional conditions of confinement blatantly enforced here at MDF:

Core Demand 1

MDF AdSeg detainees demand that the sheriff and jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of placing detainees in AdSeg without any due process. Some detainees have been held in AdSeg indefinitely – for over five years – without any notice, hearing or due process required by constitutional law. If a detainee submits a request or grievance on the issue, he receives a response from classification only stating, “You are housed appropriately.”

Core Demand 2

MDF AdSeg detainees demand that the sheriff and jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of locking detainees in filthy cells with no windows or light controls for 48 hours or more before being allowed out of our cell for one hour to shower, groom, use the phone, exercise and inadequately attempt to clean our cells.

Martinez Detention FacilityDetainees request that they be allowed out of their cells for at least one hour daily in the morning, afternoon or evening and also be allowed to shave daily as state regulations require.

Incorporated within this demand, detainees also seek a provision for a daily opportunity to clean their cells. Currently detainees are only allowed – every 48 hours or more – a broom, dust pan and a mop. They are not provided with disinfectant, toilet bowl cleaner, rags, or any other cleaning supplies to adequately clean cells. Detainees must also keep trash from six meals in their cells for 48 hours or more.

Core Demand 3

MDF AdSeg detainees demand that the sheriff and jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of daily holding medical and mental health appointments at the detainees’ cell door which allows all other detainees to hear the confidential medical and mental health issues in violation of the medical act and privacy rights.

Detainees also seek the equal protection of a “triage” phone line as other MDF detainees on other modules are provided.

Core Demand 4

MDF AdSeg detainees demand that the sheriff and jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of improperly housing mental health inmates among the non-mental health AdSeg detainees. Currently non-mental AdSeg detainees are subject to the behaviors, problems, actions and disorders of the mental health AdSeg inmates which include:

  1. Loud yelling and banging all night, keeping detainees awake.
  2. Getting feces and urine thrown under detainees’ doors.
  3. Delusional actions and comments against or towards detainees.
  4. Spitting through detainees’ doors or on glass.
  5. Feces, urine, debris etc. in shower, hot water pot, on floor.
  6. Breaking and/or destroying hair clippers and shavers, preventing other detainees from using them for court, visits etc.

Core Demand 5

MDF AdSeg detainees demand that the sheriff and jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of denying all MDF detainees access to pens to submit legal work to the courts, nor copying provisions for our writs and other valid legal documents to the court. Also, there is no readily continuous access to a pencil sharpener, which is often broken by mental health inmates, preventing detainees from writing legal documents and/or sending letters to family and friends for weeks.

There are many more unconstitutional conditions of confinement here at MDF. Those are five of the most egregious which we present as issues. Detainees will be hunger striking to correct them beginning Monday, July 8, 2013.

Detainees peacefully and respectfully request the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office swift and prompt actions to correct these unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

Send our brother some love and light: Coby Phillips, 2008011408, MDF D-C-4, 901 Court St., Martinez, CA 94553-1700.