In our fifth year of the Agreement to End Hostilities, it’s time for Gov. Brown and CDCr to recognize our humanity!

by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Principal Negotiator, Prisoner Human Rights Movement

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa in a photo taken in July 2016

We are within our fifth year of the August 2012 historical document, the “Agreement to End Hostilities.” Its release was followed by the Prisoner Human Rights Movement’s third and largest hunger strike in the state of California and larger than any prison hunger strike in history in either the federal or state prison systems in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. At its peak, 30,000 prisoners here in California participated – prisoners in solitary confinement and the general population.

With the Agreement to End Hostilities, we in the Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM) have decreased California prison melees by half over the past five years with NO assistance from CDCr officials at Salinas Valley State Prison, Pelican Bay, New Folsom, Kern Valley, SATF, Lancaster, Centinela or High Desert state prisons, among others.

These historical acts of courage were led by the four principal negotiators: Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671, Todd Ashker, C-58191, and Antonio Guillen, P-81948, along with 16 well-known representatives and our unsung heroes throughout CDCr.

We salute our fallen heroes

We shout out to the families of those who died during the historical 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes and to the families who lost loved ones during the AEH struggle for equal justice. Our fallen heroes are Christian Gomez, Alex Machado, Alonzo Hozel Blanchard, A. “Baby Paya” Morales, Billy “Guero” Sell, Johnny Owen Vick and Hugo “Yogi” Pinell.

Sitawa gets a visit from his sister, Marie Levin, on Feb. 27, 2016. She worked tirelessly for his release from solitary and triumphantly gave him his first hug in 31 years during their first contact visit in November.

To quote from the Agreement to End Hostilities, this is the third point: “We also want to warn those in the general population that IGI [Institutional Gang Investigators] will continue to plant undercover Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY) debriefer ‘inmates’ amongst the solid GP prisoners with orders from IGI to be informers, snitches, rats and obstructionists, in order to attempt to disrupt and undermine our collective groups’ mutual understanding on issues intended for our mutual causes (i.e., forcing CDCR to open up all GP main lines and return to a rehabilitative-type system of meaningful programs and privileges, including lifer conjugal visits etc. via peaceful protest activity and noncooperation, e.g., hunger strike, no labor etc.). People need to be aware and vigilant to such tactics and refuse to allow such IGI inmate snitches to create chaos and reignite hostilities amongst our racial groups. We can no longer play into IGI, ISU (Investigative Service Unit), OCS (Office of Correctional Safety) and SSU’s (Service Security Unit’s) old manipulative divide and conquer tactics!”

CDCr Secretary Kernan, Undersecretary Diaz, Adult Institutions Director Allison, High Security Prisons Director Alfaro and Gov. Brown have all been notified of the crisis here at Salinas Valley State Prison C-Facility. Without rehabilitative programs, such as vocational carpentry, SVSP and the entire system remains dysfunctional.

Those within the Prisoner Human Rights Movement here at SVSP C-Yard who were released from solitary confinement over the last three years have created our own juvenile diversion program called LIFE-CYCLE, Careless Youth Corrected by Lifers’ Experiences, and this program has successfully for the past 15 months conducted five seminars, bringing in at-risk youth from the local Monterey County to guide them, while mentoring other prisoners. During the seminars, the youth share their thoughts and understandings of not wanting to come to prison and what their goals are that they will set for themselves to prevent that from happening.

The PHRM prisoners have realized that CDCr has caused harm to us over the past two, 10, 20, 30-40 years of solitary confinement. We, as class members of the PHRM here at SVSP C-Facility, realize the negligence and adverse impact of that devastating ordeal coming out here to what is partially general population (GP). And we realized once again CDCr failed to acknowledge the harm that they caused to us; therefore, we took it upon ourselves to establish our own supportive Men’s Group in order to cope with the devastating harm that was caused by solitary confinement.

The purpose of this Men’s Group is to serve as a diverse multi-cultural support group for both those prisoners in and being released to the GP from solitary confinement to help them successfully settle in and be provided access to rehabilitative self programs, especially to prepare for SB 260/261 or lifer parole hearings, where we are required to complete a certain number of vocational certificates in order to be eligible for release. CDCr and SVSP are mandated to make them available to all GP prisoners.

The primary purpose of the Men’s Group is for the participants to mentor and aid one another. Our group’s vision brings a sense of community, respect and responsibility that springs from the 21st century insight of collective minds who have united in solidarity and have mutually agreed to end hostilities among racial groups. This historic agreement will continue to bring about substantive changes to the CDCr system of non-rehabilitation.

On Nov. 3, 2015, the PHRM had discussed with Warden Muniz, Chief Deputy Warden Hatton and Associate Warden Bienkale about the need for this type of support group to address the cause and effects of solitary confinement upon our re-entry into the GP. These administrative officials’ response was positive and was witnessed by the outside citizenry activists hosting the event, Mary Lou of Barrio Unidos in Santa Cruz, actor Danny Glover and Mr. Kahn of the Peace Academy.

We were told to prepare and submit our proposed self-help support group to A.W. Bienkale via SVSP Community Resource Manager Carol Hernandez, which we immediately completed.

However, ever since November 2015 until now, April 2017, CDCr and SVSP has continued to not address these serious matters of concern. Although, on the occasions when we speak with Muniz – and with Bielkale in November 2016 – they say they are supposedly going to initiate the Men’s Group, according to Bienkale, but to date they have failed to approve it, which has left hundreds of prisoners suffering from the effects of solitary confinement with no administrative support.

CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan, CDCr Undersecretary Ralph Diaz, Adult Institutions Director Kathleen Allison, RECOGNIZE OUR HUMANITY and correct your staffers’ old culture mentality here at SVSP forthwith.

We of the Prisoners Human Rights Movement have been integrated into some of the worst CDCr 180- and 270-designed prisons in the state, not considering these same men were held illegally in solitary confinement up to 40-plus years and their humanity is now again being disregarded by new Green Walls, reflecting the old culture. Yet, prisoners held at SVSP C-Facility face bigotry and prejudice by the senior correctional officers and supported by their sergeants and other supervisors who allow for all new correctional officers to be trained and taught the old culture, continuing Green Wall repression and disrespect.

CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan, CDCr Undersecretary Ralph Diaz, Adult Institutions Director Kathleen Allison, RECOGNIZE OUR HUMANITY and correct your staffers’ old culture mentality here at SVSP forthwith.

In solidarity,

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry C-35671), principal negotiator for the Prisoner Human Rights Movement – Local Council (PHRM-LC)

Send our brother some love and light: Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671, SVSP C1-118, P.O. Box 1050, Soledad CA 93960. Learn more at and