by Jose Villarreal
Recently I was put up for a six year inactive “review” here in the Pelikkkan Bay SHU. For those who do not know what a six year “review” is, it is a process that SHU prisoners go through every six years. In this “review” the Pelican Bay Gestapo, aka IGI (Institutional Gang Investigators), is supposed to go through a prisoner’s file, search his cell and, if nothing is found, then we are supposed to be released to the general population. This is what is supposed to happen.
I thought the people, particularly those out in society, would find it interesting how this process works, where thousands are kept in these torture chambers. So I wanted to share my experience with these parasites so that people can get a snapshot of how folks are held for so long in these camps.
On Jan. 23, 2014, at around 6 a.m., which is even before breakfast is served, a unit of jack-booted Gestapo ran up to the door of my cell and opened the tray slot in my door yelling, “Cuff up, cuff up!” All the while they were pointing a flashlight on me and pointing a can of mace at me through the tray slot.
I was a little disoriented because it was so early and I’m not used to having a White man screaming at my door at 6 a.m. My first thought was to disarm this fool because I couldn’t see who he was. He then began to yell, “Don’t flush nothing! Don’t destroy evidence!” While he yelled in my cell, his buddy was turning off my water in the small utility room next to my cell door.
He then yelled, “Cell search!” So I complied and cuffed up and was led out to the pod dayroom, where I was stripped of my socks and shoes and searched while I was in handcuffs pushed up against the wall. My mouth and nose were thoroughly searched.
Meanwhile the Gestapo were in my cell bagging up all my property. Photos were taken of me and then I was taken back to my cell where I was told this was for my six year “review.”
Those who raided my cell were Burris, Medina, Milligen and Sgt. Countess who are all IGI. I had never seen them conduct a cell search for a six year review in this way nor has any other prisoner that I talked to. They conducted this raid in an attempt to find me with something that they could use in order to prove that I needed to be held in these torture chambers for more years, but their operation was fruitless because I had nothing to be found and used as evidence of gang activity.
Later this same day, the Gestapo brought back my property – which was quick being that I have over 40 manila envelopes full of everything from legal work, writings, study notes to book manuscripts. When they came in my pod with a cart full of my property, they came in around 10 deep. I thought this was odd because I’ve never seen 10 IGI walk in a pod just to give someone their property through a tray slot.
Something just didn’t sit right with me so I asked, “Is this the new procedure to come in like this just to pass out property?” Just as I asked this question, the IGIs ran to my neighbor’s cell, told him, “Cuff up!” and opened his tray slot. This is as an IGI was handing me back my property through the tray slot.
My neighbor cuffs up and he’s taken out of his cell and all his property is now taken. Nothing is found in his property either. I figure they thought maybe he had some of my stuff, but again their weak ass repression tactics bore no fruit.
So what is their Plan B?
In understanding this house of horrors it is important that people understand repression, because Pelikkkan Bay SHU is the biggest whip in the oppressors’ arsenal outside of neutralization in California prisons. Solitary confinement is like the torture rack in some old medieval castle where those who threaten or resist the emperor are stretched out on the rack until they break or draw one last breath. This is old hat and has been employed on the rebellious folks for ages and under many moons around the world.
We know that this torture camp has produced many twisted responses to these horrendous conditions. Many have lost their minds, others resist and, well, some become informants and work for the state – our oppressor. It is also important to note that informants plaguing dungeons is not just a California problem. It’s a problem everywhere.
In understanding this house of horrors it is important that people understand repression, because Pelikkkan Bay SHU is the biggest whip in the oppressors’ arsenal outside of neutralization in California prisons.
Indeed, it was reported that one in eight federal prisoners has informed on others in order to obtain a reduced sentence (Heath, 2012). A story in USA Today around a year ago (“Federal prisoners use snitching for personal gain”) that showed how federal prisoners were selling information to other prisoners who would then contact the D.A. with said information in order to obtain reduced sentences.
Keep in mind it wasn’t even known to be correct information, but hearsay. SHU prisoners have long grasped this via the validation process, where most of the time the “evidence” (of gang membership or association, justifying SHU confinement) is nothing more than the Gestapo selling snake oil and coercing others to collaborate with them.
When the Pelikkkan Bay Gestapo could not find any gang evidence or proof of gang activity in my possession, nor on folks around me, well, they went to Plan B. Their backup plan is what allows them to keep not only folks in SHUs across California slammed down for years but it is also how they are able to keep folks in the short corridor slammed down for decades with absolutely no real evidence of gang activity.
The Gestapo here has devised methods for manufacturing “proof” of gang activity. This Plan B, I assume, is replicated in prisons across America but is most acute in California. This heightened repression expressed itself in the 30,000-plus person hunger strike last year, but even though our hunger strike is over this heightened repression continues to push forward.
In my case the Gestapo employed Plan B by making up the “proof” that they needed to continue to torture me in SHU. Their fabricated evidence came in the form of a 1030 “Confidential Information Disclosure Form,” which stated that an unidentified prisoner went through the debriefing process and identified me as having sent word to some other prisoner, who I have never heard of, telling him some prisoner named “Reiscampos” was “bad” because, according to the 1030 form, Reiscampos debriefed.
What’s more, the 1030 form states that as a result of Reiscampos debriefing, “multiple” gang affiliates “were placed on contraband watch and re-housed.” I was denied my six year review.
First of all, I do not know who the hell this Reiscampos fool is! I never met this person and there sure in the hell ain’t no evidence that I ever spoke to this person. I never even heard this fool’s name, so their allegation that I told someone else about this fool is preposterous! What’s more, the person they claim I sent this “word” to is a mystery to me as well.
I tried to look for signs of how this could have happened because it’s not a question that this is all bogus. If they really had proof that one prisoner was telling others to harm someone, I’m sure the person would be prosecuted. Last I knew solicitation was a crime.
But manufacturing evidence on people is simple. They simply tell someone who is being debriefed that they need confirmation on a story. They then tell this person the story and get him to write down the story, names included.
It does not take a genius to understand how this crime is carried out. As I said I don’t know who this Reiscampos fool is, but I’m almost positive that whoever he is, he probably wouldn’t like knowing that IGI is passing out his name and CDC number on 1030 forms to validated prisoners with a description of him debriefing.
I was happy to participate in the hunger strike because I fully understand what the people have been enduring for decades. I also have identified our common oppressor in all its forms. Since 1848, when the land we stand on was stolen from Mexico, the Chicano people have been dealing with this same oppressor in one way or another.
Black folks have also been dealing with that oppressor for hundreds of years. But today, like our predecessors before us, those who resist the most are those who are targeted the most by our oppressor.
When my cell was hit by the Gestapo, a Chicano IGI was amidst the pickle suits. This Tio Taco (Chicano Uncle Tom) had the audacity to smile at me as he obediently packed my property up for his master. The sight of this was disgusting and made me want to vomit.
Here are these jack-boot wearing oppressors gleefully hemming me up in this terrorist raid, and this cat wants to smile. Selling his nation out for a paycheck.
Just like our oppressors have their Plan B, well, prisoners need ours as well. The five core demands (of the three hunger strikes) have still not been met and, as I recently found out, fabricating evidence to unjustly keep hundreds of us in these dungeons for decades continues as well.
The fact that our hunger strike did not accomplish all that was asked for adds to the reality that we also need a Plan B. More canteen items are cool and cosmetic changes. They took a dead dog and sprayed perfume on it or, to put it another way, we now have more radio stations to listen to while we are being water boarded.
The five core demands (of the three hunger strikes) have still not been met and, as I recently found out, fabricating evidence to unjustly keep hundreds of us in these dungeons for decades continues as well.
The heart of our oppression – indefinite housing in SHU – remains fully intact and has yet to be ruptured. Our Plan B should focus solely on their sacred cow and work toward getting fixed dates for SHU placement. This is where our real struggle will be.
At the same time we must learn from history in order to transform the future. Our Plan B should involve mobilizing our communities like never before. Only in this way will we reach victory. And only when our future hunger strikes and work strikes are coupled with strong activism in our communities will we have a successful Plan B.
The heart of our oppression – indefinite housing in SHU – remains fully intact and has yet to be ruptured in order to transform the future.
Anything short of this will only get us more candy bars, but we will continue to be sandbagged with fabricated “evidence” to keep us here. Our Plan B should free the people!
Send our brother some love and light: Jose Villarreal, H-84098, PBSP SHU C11-106, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.