Liberate the Caged Voices

Pelican Bay Prison Guard George Sherman, perched in his “control booth,” carries his assault rifle whenever a guard enters an eight-cell pod. Pelican Bay, the world’s first “supermax” prison, is designed as if the prisoners are an imminent threat to the guards, a ridiculous notion. The dramatic design is to convince the public and the participants that the Short Corridor prisoners are “the worst of the worst,” an absolutely untrue description that the prisoners particularly resent. –Photo: John Burgess, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Introduction by Editor Nube Brown

There is little to say in my introduction because this booklet, written in 2010 by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Mutope Duguma, speaks so powerfully – and painfully – to what these 200 plus men, heroes, principal leaders, political prisoners, survivors of the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor endured before organizing to put their lives on the line to stop the torture of decades of solitary confinement and psychological torment. These men are the Best of the Best. 

Meet Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, principal author of “The Evil Dehumanizing Practice Within the Short Corridor Torture Chamber,” written in 2010 and republished here on the 10th anniversary of the California Hunger Strikes that began in July 2011. Sitawa went on to become one of the heroic “four main reps” who guided 30,000 prisoners to join the hunger strikes at their peak. The strikes were deliberately multi-racial, led by one Black prisoner, Sitawa, two Mexican prisoners and one white prisoner. The leaders reminded mainline prisoners that so long as any of them could be sent to the SHU, it was a threat to them as well as to those already confined there. In the past two years, Sitawa has survived a major stroke and COVID-19. While still in the custody of CDCR, he is housed in a recovery facility.

They represent a particular class of prisoners subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and other torments, while uplifting their humanity and maintaining their dignity. Though they won their release into the prison’s General Population ending indefinite solitary confinement through the Ashker v. Brown class action lawsuit, and ultimately a 60-day Hunger Strike involving 30,000 people by the third strike, most of these men continue to be caged and denied their freedom by multiple parole denials decades beyond their original dates. It’s time to bring them home!

Meet Mutope Duguma; this photo was taken Sept. 2, 2014. When Mutope and Sitawa wrote this booklet in 2010 while they both were still confined to a single cell in the Short Corridor Torture Chamber, they had been denied photos of themselves during their entire time in the SHU. Not only could their loved ones not see them, but they could not even see themselves; they had no mirrors. The deprivation made photos extremely precious.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first of three historic California Hunger Strikes, consider this a history lesson, a revealing of the truth of crimes against humanity perpetrated against our loved ones and a call to action – Liberate our Caged Elders! https://liberatecagedvoices.wixsite.com/site; Uncage California! www.prisons.org

The Evil Dehumanizing Practice Within the Short Corridor Torture Chamber

by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Mutope Duguma

This article is a clear depiction of the constant torture that we and many other prisoners endure day in and day out here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU) in the Short Corridor Torture Chamber (SCTC) – torture administered by prison guards to prisoners who are the husbands, brothers, sons, fathers, cousins and uncles of loved ones who need us at home. We wish not to exaggerate but to speak clearly to the suffering and the helplessness that exists when we are unable to defend ourselves against pure power.

This power is the system of institutionalized racism that everyday men and women correctional officers (COs) who are no different than you and I have embraced. They have been brainwashed to see us as their enemy or the scum of the earth. 

Therefore, the COs play right into the process that leads to the mistreatment of prisoners and validates the torture. In an in-depth rundown, we will show how, through prison daily functions, we are suffering at the hands of our captors.

The history of CDCR melancholy of 1969 to 1978

Most people don’t care if humans are being tortured at the hands of other human beings, especially if those human beings are considered to be in the obsolete class of human beings marginalized by institutionalized racism. History has always had a funny way of repeating itself, so before going into the current torture and suffering of human beings in 2010, here is a reminder for those of you who may have forgotten about the history of torture inside California state prisons.

They were unarmed and their only true crime was that they were New Afrikan men who did not accept the beatings, disrespect and inhumane treatment.

In 1970, Jan. 13, the California Department of Corrections (CDC), now called California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr), murdered three beautiful New Afrikan men in cold blood, in a fixed race riot set up by CDC officials when a racist correctional officer named Opie G. Miller, a gunman and marksman at Soledad State Prison, took out W.L. Nolen, Alvin Miller and Cleveland Edwards – one shot to each man – fatal only because the COs let each man bleed out until they were dead. 

They were unarmed and their only true crime was that they were New Afrikan men who did not accept the beatings, disrespect and inhumane treatment from racist prison guards in Soledad’s “O-Wing” solitary confinement. The COs hated these men simply because they existed.

In 1970, Aug. 7, the cruel and inhumane treatment and torture of George Lester Jackson led his 17-year-old brother Jonathan, aka Manchild, into a Marin County courtroom to liberate his brother and comrades from the vices of such torture. 

New Afrikan men William Christmas, James McClain and Ruchell Magee were all in the courtroom while George L. Jackson was intentionally kept behind at San Quentin. In the courtroom, Manchild liberated James McClain, Ruchell Magee and William Christmas only to be confronted with a hail of bullets by racist CDC and local police officers. 

By the time they stopped shooting there were four dead: Jonathan Jackson (Manchild), William Christmas, James McClain and Judge Haley; and two badly wounded: Ruchell Magee and assistant District Attorney Gary Thomas. The hate for these three beautiful New Afrikans led the CDC to shoot recklessly killing four and seriously wounding two.

On Aug. 21, 1971, guards at San Quentin state prison assassinated Comrade George L. Jackson, who had been tortured for 10 straight years by a CDC system which has to this day signified their hate of New Afrikan men. In the system, institutionalized racism of hate can be seen in the prison’s policies, particularly through the continual gang validating of any and all men who celebrate their spirit or read George Jackson’s books, “Blood in My Eye” and “Soledad Brother,” or who have participated in the commemoration of our Black August Memorial where we celebrate these New Afrikans’ spirits, who reject and resist torture and the system of institutionalized racism, enduring vicious beatings, being spit on, being called niggers, finding urine and feces in their food – you name it, they suffered it.

Many New Afrikans have been given indeterminate SHU sentences and labeled Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) members and associates simply for celebrating and remembering these New Afrikans: W.L. Nolen, William Christmas, Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, Alvin Miller, Cleveland Edwards, Jeffrey Khatari Gaulden, George L. Jackson and countless others during our Black August Memorial. (The term “indeterminate” as used by CDCR means indefinite; thus an indeterminate SHU sentence is perpetual, never-ending – guards taunting the prisoners by saying the only way out of the SHU was to “parole, snitch or die.” – ed.)

The racist officer who killed W.L. Nolen, Alvin Miller and Cleveland Edwards was cleared of all charges and the incident was ruled justifiable homicide. The shootings of the New Afrikan men at the Marin County courthouse, Manchild, William Christmas, James McClain, were ruled justifiable homicide and so on. 

When George L. Jackson had enough of the cruel and unusual treatment in which he suffered physical and psychological torment 24/7 for 10 years straight, he too, would resist the system of institutionalized racism – and when the smoke was clear, Comrade George L. Jackson would be dead in front of the San Quentin Adjustment Center Yard, Aug. 21, 1971.

Not one word was mentioned in the press of the many years he suffered at the hands of a racist justice system, starting with the court who gave Comrade George life in prison in 1960 for a commercial burglary. Their hate was so raw they had to torture him every year until they murdered him in cold blood. 

But because he left a trail of their blood alongside his, it infuriated the CDC even more, which is why the present day CDCR uses an anti-George L. Jackson campaign to dispel this history.

After suffering a head injury, which was a deliberate injustice, New Afrikan Jeffery Gaulden was left to die while waiting for hours for medical attention for the injury. 

In the 1970s, the CDC developed the gang validation system in order to oppress any New Afrikans who value their legacy and spirit, because the racist CDC officers who were present during these horrible times when evil was rampant are the overseers who run CDCR today, i.e., old prison guards, sons, daughters, etc., so nothing has changed. 

The sole reason for the racism shown to W.L. Nolen, George L. Jackson, Khatari, Manchild, William Christmas and more, is that their mentalities are of resistance and those of us who possess the same mentality are automatically deemed a threat.

Anybody who knows the history of the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalists (NARN) or the Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalists (RNAN), knows that they were not gang members but Political Prisoners who were politicized by a racist system that tortured these New Afrikan brothers throughout the United States. 

The Attica uprising was in protest of the G.L. Jackson killing and the torturous, inhumane conditions the men suffered at Attica as well. These are just a few of many deaths that occurred at the hands of racist prison officials. Yet, the prisoners are demonized as if they were the cause of such conditions and treatment.

Therefore, we leave you with the knowledge that comrade Jeffery Khatari Gaulden was left to die at the hands of prison officials after suffering a head injury, which was a deliberate injustice that occurred on Aug. 1, 1978, because he was labeled as the commander in chief of the BGF. This New Afrikan was left to die while waiting for hours for medical attention for a head injury. 

Now these incidents have occurred a hundred times over since 1970 when the slaughter of these first three New Afrikans occurred on Jan. 13, 1970, and well into the present day. So, when you read this article, know that history is definitely repeating itself within the current torture chamber. 

Pelican Bay State Prison, designed to drive men crazy, looks from above like a surgical wound cut into one of Earth’s most beautiful places, a forest of towering redwoods outside Crescent City in the far northwest corner of California on the windswept Pacific Ocean coast. The town is home to fishermen, loggers and prison guards.

Malicious practices through illegal covert operations 

Those who are responsible for compiling the list for indeterminate SHU placement in the Short Corridor are (IGI) Institutional Gang Investigators, (ISU) Investigative Security Unit, and (OCS) Office of Correctional Safety. These are their roles:

IGI – Deals with the investigative side of the allegations against prisoners, in which they do cell searches, harassing, intimidation, gathering of information on prisoners, manipulating and falsifying documents, holding interviews with informers, rats, snitches and turncoats and using them to fabricate lies in order to validate and target subjects. IGI is subordinate to ISU.

ISU – Responsible for targeting and identifying New Afrikans who are revolutionary, who are nationalist, conscious-minded, political, ideological theoreticians and influential prisoners. These are the prisoners who have been removed off General Population because of their politics and unwillingness to cooperate with the racism by officials and also those prisoners who are judged by the COs to be intimidating to them. 

They are then targeted for SHU validation. The ISU gets all their intelligence from IGI and then they target who should be removed off the General Population. ISU is subordinate to OCS.

OCS – Responsible for overseeing and approving and disapproving all the intelligence that is submitted by the IGI AND ISU for prison gang validation for indeterminate SHU program. ISU must go through OCS in order to double cell prisoners in indeterminate SHU for alleged prison gang membership/association. Nothing behind these walls with indeterminate SHU prisoners can be done without going through OCS, which is the head intelligence unit for CDCR and based in Sacramento. 

IGI and ISU are inside the prisons. These agencies are run and controlled by profit driven, racially biased men and women who see prisoners as a surplus to exploit for their interests. They are dishonest, corrupt and criminal at best and they are able to get away with the mistreatment and torture of prisoners because they are able to hide behind the system of institutionalized racism. So, they have complete power to manufacture any evidence and establish any situation they desire behind these prison walls.

And they are big exploiters of taxpayers’ dollars by scamming the system, especially through overtime, and supported by lobbyists who push policy for their interests in establishing SHUs in order to influence the public to think that prisoners are a personal threat to society. 

Establishment of the Short Corridor at Pelican Bay

In January of 2006, Pelican Bay State Prison Warden Kirkland and CDCR in Sacramento approved the rounding up of over 200-plus prisoners to be placed in building D-l thru D-4 Security Housing Unit (SHU) in PBSP, which has become known as the Short Corridor at Pelican Bay. Those who were gathered up were already serving indeterminate SHU terms. Although there are over 700 prisoners serving indeterminate SHU terms in PBSP-SHU, only 200-plus were placed in D-l thru D-4.

A Pelican Bay official guiding an extremely rare media tour of the SHU welcomes reporters to the Short Corridor, but he would not allow them to enter. – Photo: LA Times

In preparing for the Short Corridor in 1989, the prison staff emptied D-l through D-4 in three days and placed the new, 200-plus prisoners in this isolated area. Prior to being moved to their new cells, the indeterminate SHU prisoners were already dealing with day-to-day problems just being in the SHU. 

We would soon learn that we were targeted subjects for three primary reasons: 1) Isolation from other SHU prisoners and General Population (GP); 2) For psychological and physical warfare by staffers who hoped to influence us to debrief, snitch, rat, become an informer or turncoat; and 3) For the guards to have an opportunity, covertly, to exterminate us by any means necessary if they were able to brand us as influential and political prisoners.

We realized that the torture would be intensified based on the fact that CDCR and PBSP had set in motion their own policy to isolate us further to create their own supermax SHU, first in the state. But we did not know to what extent they would attack us, nor to what magnitude the CDCR and PBSP were willing to go. 

IGI, ISU manipulation of prisoner-family relationships

Family and friends are most important and are cherished by most prisoners. The administration – IGI, ISU and OCS – are well aware of our deep feelings and connections with our families, and they would be the first target of the COs in order to attack the Short Corridor prisoners. 

Tampering with mail to and from our outside contacts is a major invasion of privacy; and by manipulating the words in families’ letters to us, IGI and ISU intentionally speculate or assume gang activity. The word “intentionally” is what prison officials used to open the door to read prisoners’ correspondence. 

Family and friends have been brought in for investigations simply to be intimidated and harassed.

The COs then used CDCR’s 128-B form to insinuate that family and friends are involved in criminal activity and subject to a criminal investigation for promoting gang activity. So, with these methods, the IGI and ISU deliberately create tension between prisoners and their families because naturally one’s family and friends feel threatened. They consider what’s best for them to safeguard themselves is stopping all correspondence, because of the CDCR-128-B form. 

There have been numerous situations where family and friends have been brought in for investigations simply to be intimidated and harassed. Now imagine if you’re a prisoner and your mother or father is brought under a flawed investigation for corresponding with you based on something that a lying IGI or ISU investigative officer says or assumes, regardless if you’re challenging it or not. 

In subjecting them to investigation, the COs have succeeded in what they set out to do, which is to intimidate through insinuation that something criminal is going on. These are very effective attacks that have forced many families and friends to disassociate themselves from their loved ones in prison, and prisoners have disassociated from family and friends just to protect them from harassment.

The 128-B form was recently used in dealing with incoming mail that was forwarded to me by Rising Sun Press. Instead of IGI and ISU delivering the political literature to me, they labeled it promoting gang activity and deemed it to be a threat to legitimate penological interests. Therefore, it allowed them to confiscate said literature. But most of all, these IGI and ISU officials clearly labeled the New Afrikan Black Panthers as a gang, and we all know this is untrue. 

The IGI, ISU and OCS are hiding under the system of institutionalized racism in order to demonize New Afrikan political organizations as well as to intimidate our family and friends. Too often when our family or friends write to us, they are unable to say hardly anything before their mail is confiscated and they are sent a CDCR 128-B form for promoting gang activity in which the accusation is made that their letter is being retained by an investigative service unit for investigation and potential disciplinary action, or court proceedings, against us and our aforementioned family and friends.

It’s important to know that none of these investigations have ever led to any court proceedings or disciplinary action against us and there are no conclusions to the investigations they open up. This is nothing but a constant practice that psychologically tortures our families and friends mentally, in which they fear being prosecuted for something that is non-criminal. 

It is nothing but a way to torment and intimidate them away from their family inside these prisons, yet prisoners are subjected to this torment and torture over and over again in solitary confinement.

The Short Corridor struggle against CDCR’s sole racial violence in prison

There are two ways the criteria for indeterminate SHU program can be met. Program failure is the first and the second is being validated as a prison gang member. 

The IGI and ISU use the gang validation process to define gang membership as supposedly starting while in prison. It’s important to know it’s irrelevant whether you’re a prison gang member or not, or a program failure, because it’s all about your activities. 

If prisoners are proactive behind the wall with their politics, enlightening and educating other prisoners or jailhouse lawyers or influential prisoners pushing a progressive New Afrikan line, then gang validation is the way in which IGI and ISU try to stop these efforts. 

For example, I, Sitawa, have been persecuted for my political beliefs as in the bloodline of New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism ideology. Those of us who stop racial riots and melees and the self-destruction of one another are high targets for validation and will be seen by the administration as standing in the way of their control measures. 

The bottom line is that the CCPOA union and CDCR conspire against the prisoners for their own profit.

The CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association) union has influenced the CDCR to back them up in their actions against prisoners in order to line their pockets with extra pay. Therefore, they need 100 percent control of the prisons because the prisoners who are validated in the Short Corridor are well seasoned prisoners. They know their rights and how to bring a writ of habeas corpus or Section 1983, or Section 1985 and 1986 Civil Rights lawsuits against the administration for violations of prisoners’ rights.

If we were allowed back into General Population, we could keep the peace on the yards as we have in the past and it would be next to impossible to have prisoners locked down for nine to 10 months out of the year on GP at the whim of a CO’s word, or to have prisoners stabbing or beating one another over propaganda devised by the COs in order to pit race against race. 

An example is how the administration creates these animosities between races using prison jobs, for instance, where they favor one race over another in order to play on our emotions, creating a hostile environment. They constantly use any differences between the prisoners to instigate and agitate conflict. 

Officers mingle with prisoners and manipulate them whenever or wherever they can. But the best example is when officers use one prisoner of one racial group to create a hostile environment by punishing a whole group for the actions of one prisoner. 

Let’s say prisoners have been waiting to pick up packages for months. One prisoner, who is in the shower too long, therefore becomes a convenient target. A control officer (gunman) would say: “Due to you taking all day in the shower, the package pickup will be cancelled.” This is a typical practice by prison officials and sadly it works most of the time on the prison population. 

Everything in a Pelican Bay SHU cell is made of concrete or steel. The prisoner has no access to windows either inside the cell or within his view. Imagine this being your entire world for decades. One prisoner, the beloved Hugo Pinell, a close friend of George Jackson, survived 46 years in solitary, mostly in a Pelican Bay SHU cell, only to be murdered in a guard set-up shortly after being released to general population. The hatred by the guards for these heroes is unrelenting. –Photo: Solitary Watch 

Although everyone is pissed off at the official for cancelling packages, they are also mad at the prisoner. Some of the prisoners do what they can to explain to those who misguide their anger, but it is the accumulation of incidents set up by prison officials that creates the hostilities between prisoners. 

Most prisoners are irrational and thus react illogically to these setups. They do not realize that the correctional officers, along with informers, play major roles in circumstances that lead to racial violence and melees. 

They’re known as rats, agent provocateurs, informers, turncoats, snitches, etc. – set up for the sole purpose of IGI, ISU, OCS and SSU’s personal utilization, which is an internal force of prisoners created by CDCR, IGI, ISU, SCS and SSU.

This is why the prison administration does not want progressive political prisoners who can read and understand the propaganda that the correctional officers propagate in order to create racial violence, gang violence and internal violence in the many social groups. The bottom line is that the CCPOA union and CDCR conspire against the prisoners for their own profit.

In 2000, after one of many deadly race riots in CDCR on PBSP-GP-B yard, where a prison guard fatally shot an unarmed prisoner, another prisoner by the name of Abdul O. Shakur, C-48884, became sick and tired of the many senseless deaths, where COs who are gunmen and marksmen get to murder prisoners “justifiably” or leave them maimed or crippled. 

They literally have lobbyists to assist in shopping policies that serve the interests of the CDCR and CCPOA union.

He decided to write to the warden, who was Ayers Jr. at the time, about putting a stop to the racial violence, bringing attention to the fact that the more experienced prisoners in solitary confinement could stop these incidents, not only at Pelican Bay, but throughout CDCR. The warden, Ayers Jr., then said: “Let me contact the director of CDCR Terhune in Sacramento.” Terhune then approved of the negotiations with the prisoners who were serving indeterminate SHU programs for alleged prison gang membership to assist in resolving prison race riots. 

By this time at Pelican Bay, all racial groups had come together to work toward putting an end to racial violence. Once the program for negotiations was up and running, Warden Ayers Jr. saw clearly the effectiveness of this work. The prisoners were so successful with the peace attempt that the racist correctional officers in the control booths began deliberately opening the doors of different racial groups to see if prisoners would attack each other. 

True to form, prisoners in solitary confinement remained disciplined across all racial groups and no attacks occurred. 

By then, California Sen. Tom Hayden had gotten on board. A memorandum was drafted to clear any prisoners of any repercussions for their participation in trying to put an end to all racial violence – in opposition to what COs would counter by accusing prisoners of gang activity. 

So, the memorandum was written to safeguard the prisoners from such actions. Yet, still today, the CDCR, PBSP, ISU, IGI and OCS continue to erroneously propagate our peaceful actions as a threat to the security of the institution in order to keep us in indeterminate SHU. 

The COs know that racial violence would cease to exist if these indeterminate SHU alleged prison gang members were released from SHU and allowed onto the yards again. This is clearly not the CDCR’s objective – because the violence validates the existing Security Housing Units and future building of solitary confinement and SHU units that the CDCR continues to profit from. 

They literally have lobbyists to assist in shopping policies that serve the interests of the CDCR and CCPOA union. The citizens of California have been manipulated and played by CDCR and the CCPOA union, which see their society getting more and more violent and criminal through racial hatred, class warfare and ethnic strife. So, as long as profits are the incentive for prison guards, solitary confinement will continue to exist. 

PBSP/CDCR racist applications

Racist correctional officials have devised policies where strategies and tactics on how to destroy the prisoners by instituting techniques of physical and psychological torture that play on the deprivation of the prisoners’ five senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell.

We all are human beings and as human beings there are natural social and cultural behaviors in us all. We as prisoners naturally love our families and fellow human beings, so by CDCR instituting malicious anti-human policies through the system of institutionalized racism, most prisoners have literally lost all contact with their families, whereas prior to being placed in the Short Corridor Torture Chambers (SCTC) many of us had strong ties with families. 

The prison’s racist and biased policies have always been to break up prisoners’ relationships, no matter the nature of them. 

Prisoners of hue are placed in prisons in isolated, predominately white rural areas and subjected to all kinds of mistreatment by whites (hired as guards) who would never allow us people of hue to live in these rural communities, but welcome us as long as it’s in a prison! 

So, to be subjected to torture under a racist system at the hands of racist CDCR and PBSP officers should be no surprise, and since poor whites fall in the category of obsolete people, they too suffer under the system of institutionalized racism.

Cutting off their communications, visits or any means of support from outside allows the prison to treat the prisoner as they see fit because there are no other eyes to see the suffering.

In order to establish these supermax security housing units for the purpose of torture, there must be: 1) isolation, 2) secrecy and 3) humans who are willing to carry out the torture, which is why these prisons are built in areas where narrowly prejudiced and racist minded people exist. These prisons that torture prisoners are exclusively in white rural areas. 

In PBSP-SHU, SCTC, the majority of prisoners are 900 miles to 1,800 miles away from their homes, which means that if their family does not have the means to travel, then they are unable to make the trip. By the way, the majority of prisoners come from low-income homes and they are considered by the overseers of the system of institutionalized racism to be the obsolete people. 

Therefore, cutting off their communications, visits or any means of support from outside allows the prison to treat the prisoner as they see fit because there are no other eyes to see the suffering these prisoners suffer. Isolation sets the stage for torture, for PBSP SHU officials to do what they choose to SCTC prisoners. 

There has to be a certain level of secrecy for their actions, which constitute conspiracy. There are guards who are willing participants as well as those who are witnesses of such torture but neglect to stop it. They become part of the Short Corridor conspiracy.

Pressure by COs to get Short Corridor prisoners to debrief

Dl thru D4 is exclusively for those 200-plus prisoners selected for extermination by IGI, ISU, OCS and CDCR by forcing prisoners to debrief. There is a control booth in each building with a CO with an assault rifle and a 37mm block gun, one officer per booth. 

First Watch (shift): There is only one officer on duty, and he or she is responsible for early morning count, which is at 11 p.m., l a.m., 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Their shift starts at 10 p.m. and continues until 6 a.m. One CO counts all four buildings, which is the extent of what they do. 

Second Watch: There is a regular floor officer and security escort officer to help with breakfast-lunch, which is served between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. Their shift is from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. They pass out supplies every Monday morning, where we get two tablespoons of detergent, one bar of lye soap, one roll of toilet paper and a tablespoon of tooth powder. 

All of these supplies are expected to last seven days. Also, when the shift starts, the guards pass out packages and books. This is all they do, with three searches of cells each day. 

Third Watch: From 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. these COs are responsible for picking up mail and passing it out. They do showers from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.; control booth opens your cell door and shower and that’s it. They do the passing out of dinner from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. They do nothing else outside of this but wait to go home.

The Gun Booth: For first, second and third watch, the COs in the gun booth do all the work, if you can call it that, because all they do is open and close doors all day. They run recreation yard from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Each prisoner is afforded 90 minutes on the recreation yard. The concrete yard is 26 feet by 10 feet with 20-foot-high walls and a security camera to watch you. Its perimeter is about 72 feet or 24 yards. 

The infamous Pelican Bay SHU exercise yard, which the prisoners call a “dog run,” measures 26 feet by 10 feet with 20-foot-high walls and a security camera. Even the top is covered, so all they can see is a small patch of sky. They gaze up in hopes of seeing a bird fly overhead, but they rarely do. They never see a blade of grass or any living thing besides a few guards and glimpses of other prisoners. – Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP

We get no trees to see, hardly any sun – if you’re lucky you’ll see it five times a year. Everything is censored to keep prisoners as little informed as possible.

The Short Corridor Torture Chambers are controlled by the intelligence security investigative officers who are identified as IGI, ISU and OCS; a majority are white men and women, mostly from Crescent City, Humboldt and Eureka, Calif. 

They do not oversee the physical functioning of the SCTC, but instead control and run the Short Corridor Torture Chamber through the regular floor officers who are instructed to the letter what to do. They, too, are white men and women with the exception of one to two people of color popping in every now and then. The SCTC is relatively quiet outside of the noise the floor officers make between talking with each other.

Most correctional officers have no college education, yet they are able to make up to $100,000 a year with overtime.

Many of the officers who work back here in the Short Corridor Torture Chamber are blind in that they do not see us as human beings, only as animals and criminals, which is why they can treat us as they do because they are irrationally orientated around racism, chauvinism and prejudices.

Their inhumanity is best described in their social function. One would think that based on the easy labor the correctional officers have that they would be all right with such a blessing of a job such as this where most have no college education, yet they are able to make up to $100,000 a year with overtime. 

Their base salary is from $40,000 to $50,000 a year ($56,000 to $93,000 plus generous benefits and, for guards at Pelican Bay, San Quentin and Salinas Valley State Prisons a bonus currently). So why is there so much hatred toward prisoners? Because many, if not all, have been sold on the propaganda that we prisoners need to suffer for the crime we have been found guilty of, instead of we’re here to do our time, not to be tortured. 

Plus, many are just basically racist and prejudiced toward prisoners. So, imagine being under such a system for the rest of your life where you are tormented each day you’re here. 

Isolation

Isolation of prisoners in the Short Corridor Torture Chamber is done deliberately in order to divide and separate prisoners from other SHU prisoners, including the General Population prisoners who come in and out of SHU all the time. The sinister aspect of the isolation is to mentally break the 200-plus prisoners specifically selected for PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Torture Chambers, in order to get prisoners to debrief – snitch, inform, rat, become a turncoat. 

New Afrikans in the Short Corridor Torture Chambers were further isolated upon being brought to the SCTC by being placed in one section per pod of eight cells. They are deliberately and specifically targeted for isolation, whereas Mexicans had four cells per pod and whites two or three cells per pod.

PBSP, ISU, IGI and OCS are responsible for housing us in SCTC cells – deliberate isolation of New Afrikan prisoners which highlights their racism toward New Afrikan prisoners by keeping us isolated from one another for the sole purpose of psychologically tormenting New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist prisoners for their politics and resistance to the system of institutionalized racism. 

By separating New Afrikans, prison officials attempted to play on the racial hatred in California prisons because the New Afrikan prisoners were the only race isolated once the 200-plus prisoners were placed in the SCTC. This practice continues to this day due to staff politics and ideological beliefs.

So, imagine being isolated for years at a time from not only the New Afrikans within the prison SCTC, but from your entire race where you can’t socially communicate around your culture, your language in which all of us speak our native African language, etc. 

The front of a Pelican Bay SHU cell is perforated steel rather than the usual iron bars. The perforations, which distort the view, are intended to disorient the cell inhabitant, confuse him and help drive him insane. 

CDCR PBSP officials have manufactured racial hostilities in California prisons for decades by playing one against another – 1960s to the present, pitting opposing races against each other – in order to achieve their objective, which is to show that the supermax SHUs are needed. They profit while at the same time exterminating prisoners through psychological warfare. 

By implementing racial discrimination against New Afrikans, prison officials attempted to play on the racial hatred among California prisoners by placing New Afrikans in isolated sections. But due to the maturity of all racial groups in D-l through D-4 SCTC, this attempt failed because of the humanity of all racial groups. 

New Afrikans were placed in separate pods, then isolated in the SCTC from one another for the purpose of social, cultural and racial deprivation by utilizing psychological warfare. 

Food

Prisoners have had their food reduced to mini meals literally where the prison devised a plan through a heart healthy diet plan that actually was manipulated to reduce the prison food by 50 percent from what it was when the following foods were removed from prisoners’ diets: all fruits except bananas, apples and on occasion canned fruits; tomatoes, onions, potatoes, various vegetables or any edible meat except fish, and that’s depending on which one the prison served. 

No sugar, no salt, no seasoning whatsoever is in the food. It’s served bland – no flavor. We are issued a murky, liquid substance in our beans; the meat we do get is processed poorly and deliberately prepared that way. The food is hard to eat and very unhealthy, plus it’s served cold. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is packed like a “happy meal.” 

Therefore, if you don’t go to the store in the SCTC you will be hungry and sometimes even if you do go. If you are active with your exercise, then as a grown man, age 19 to 30, you need somewhere around 3,000 calories per day. If you are age 31 to 50, 2,800 to 3,000 calories per day, according to the World Almanac Book of Facts, 2007. (Current update: Eatright.org recommends 2,000-3,200 calories per day for men.) 

Therefore, we are being underfed tremendously by the prison officials, deliberately.

The “heart healthy” diet is a death diet because there is no nutritional value in the food whatsoever, and the dietician, Laura Maurina, has been deliberately allowing these prisons to feed prisoners unhealthy food that is actually a threat to their heart health. 

According to the prison, all healthy foods are a threat to institutional security.

The poor-quality food is part of why prisoners are suffering from life-threatening diseases, such as high blood pressure, hepatitis-A, B and C, thyroid inflammation or dysfunction and diabetes. The poor quality food is how PBSP and CDCR food personnel and officials save money while subjecting prisoners to a non-nutritional diet that compromises prisoners’ health. 

This is a clear violation of the USDA Dietary Guidelines and, on top of that, prisoners are not even allowed to purchase their own healthy foods with their own money. So, we eat calories for sustainability that do nothing for us at all!

According to the prison, all healthy foods are a threat to institutional security which is why the prison provides poor quality, non-nutritional foods and only allows prisoners to purchase unhealthy foods in their commissary packages, making sure that prisoners’ health continues to deteriorate or ensuring that they crave the junk food, the only kind of food that they are only allowed to purchase, along with a forced, deadly diet provided by the institutional food personnel.

But this scam is about fleecing the American taxpayers, where prisoners are placed on medications in order to deal with ailments that sufficient food could actually cure, or at least allow prisoners to maintain themselves – foods that supply protein, minerals, vitamins etc. 

This practice allows the prison medical personnel and prison officials to continue to fleece the state of California under this false medical treatment, in which they get billions of dollars for taking care of none of the prisoners’ medical needs. They are the cause of the medical problems by providing a non-nutritional diet to prisoners.

Food has been constantly used as a weapon against Short Corridor prisoners because it is diluted with a liquid substance in order to manipulate the weight. The kitchen cooks are required to serve you as per the prison menu – certain weights per serving. 

We have also found that we are being served a high soy diet and for many this is not good. Prisoners in solitary confinement have to check their food due to floor officers who drop bread or coke on the floor in the process of feeding us, and then placing it back on trays. 

Even if we have no rule violations, no violence, no offenses, nothing but the word of a prison snitch, many of us are condemned to death in solitary confinement. 

Prisoners must also watch out for vindictive prison guards who purposely contaminate our food with urine, saliva or other unsanitary substances, a common practice back here in SCTC where food is used as a weapon against prisoners. 

The food is deliberately prepared so badly that most times you have to disregard it altogether. This is done for the mere purpose of trying to emotionally and psychologically play on the minds of prisoners which causes physical harm and psychic trauma. 

This form of attack is effective against us when it is compounded with the other attacks in which prisoners in the Short Corridor Torture Chambers find themselves at odds and constantly in a state of war for their survival. 

Mail

In the Short Corridor Torture Chamber (SCTC), each building D-l thru D-4 has an assigned IGI officer that screens each and every piece of mail that comes in through the mail room. The IGI and ISU demand that every piece of incoming and outgoing mail is to go through them, including books, letters, pamphlets, cards, magazines, newspapers, embossed envelopes, blank paper, pictures, drawings and legal mail. 

The mail is used as a ploy to psychologically play on the prisoners’ psyche. The COs interpret wording in our letters in order to label our letters as political writings or gang activity or a threat to the security of the institution, when they know this is not the case. 

They use return-to-sender stickers to re-route prisoners’ outgoing mail back to them when they know the address is valid on the outgoing mail. They confiscate incoming mail without ever notifying the prisoner the mail came in, which is against CDCR policy. 

During a very rare press tour of the Pelican Bay SHU in 2006, a reporter took this picture of a cell search. The guards say they are looking for a binder clip that might be fashioned into a weapon. – Photo: Laura Sullivan, NPR

They use a stop-mail notice form, Form128-B, in order to try to intimidate our families, friends and associates who correspond with us. This they do to try and scare correspondents into believing that this is possible criminal activity and that both of you can be held accountable. It’s an intimidating process intended to discourage your correspondent from wanting to communicate with you – and again, it’s very effective. 

The COs run an investigation for identification on every correspondent you have for validity of the address and who lives in the residence the correspondence comes from. They check for criminal records and who is on parole or probation. 

They then forward this so-called intelligence or any information they deem relevant to other agencies, i.e., police, parole officers, probation officers to check into those in question, either covertly or overtly. They have even tapped telephone conversations and correspondents’ phones.

They are equally as invasive when prisoners serving life in solitary confinement simply communicate with another prisoner in the Short Corridor Torture Chamber. They keep dossiers of all prisoner correspondence. 

By implementing and instituting all these actions against prisoner correspondents, they are able to discourage as well as compromise all prisoners’ communications. They have also opened investigations on non-profit organizations that help political prisoners advocate for prisoners who are in supermax SHUs and the SCTC.

Legal mail

The COs open legal mail based on PBSP DOM (Department Operational Manual) Addendum chapter 50000 subchapter, 54000, section 54010.1a.3 (7), instituted through policy at the prison level, to go into prisoners’ legal mail. 

Incoming confidential correspondence must have the name, title and return address of one of the officials or persons listed in the CCR title 15, section 3141(c), per CCR title 15 section 3143. The name of an agency or firm alone is not sufficient. 

The return address must include the name or title of the specific attorney printed on the outside of the envelope. For example, the title “attorney at law,” without the name of a specific attorney or law office or not followed by the name of attorney(s) or the name of a law firm, is not sufficient. 

This drawing, illustrating some of the many torturous schemes invented at Pelican Bay to break prisoners’ spirits, comes from an empathetic imprisoned artist named Pete Collins far away in Bath Prison, Ontario, Canada. Prisoners around the world, including in Palestine, spread the word about the plight and the courage of the Pelican Bay hunger strikers.

This policy allows ISU and IGI to violate legal mail correspondence that is confidential, unless it’s mailed specifically as stipulated per policy. As a result, prison officials, ISU and IGI are reading prisoners’ confidential mail on a technicality. 

In some cases, they even go into legal mail that is required by prison policy simply because the prison IGI and ISU want to read the legal mail. They are arrogant and disrespect law and order and CDCR’s own policies.

Visiting

Many of the families of us in the SCTC cannot afford to go on visits due to the fact that we are being housed over 900 to 1,800 miles away from home depending on where we are from. We’re so far away from our families that it costs too much to even consider it for families hard-pressed for cash. 

But those of us who are fortunate enough to get visits are forced to go through a harassment that literally destroys the visit when you are placed under the surveillance of a camera and your whole visit is recorded per the order of the CDCR secretary and of PBSP and OCS. IGI officials are physically prowling throughout the visiting room harassing prisoners while they visit with their family.

Just like the mail, if you say something that can be misconstrued or manipulated by IGI officials, you will receive a CDCR 115 rule violation report, and your visit will be terminated. So, they make it next to impossible to enjoy your visit with your loved ones, which is their objective – to harass you and your family till you stop wanting to go out to visit your loved ones. 

The IGI knows that each visit costs $500 to a $1,000, and these are non-contact visits, so the harassment is again effective. There have been attacks on people’s families on their way home, where family members were being intimidated by being run off the road. 

Copies of the Bay View were in high demand in prisons around the country as word spread in early 2011 of an impending mass hunger strike in California. Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, then imprisoned in Virginia, heard and created this powerful logo; it was used everywhere during the strikes. Rashid, since then a regular contributor to the Bay View, is recognized as one of the most brilliant minds in prison since George Jackson and has the scars to prove it. – Art: Kevin “Rashid”Johnson, 264847, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 500, Carlisle IN 47838

These actions cause tremendous suffering for the visitor and the prisoners. Therefore, the compromising of prisoners’ families who come to visit and the constant harassment that our families have to endure trying to visit us while coming from miles and miles away is not worth the visit, especially if you can’t enjoy it. 

Phone calls

Prisoners housed in the Short Corridor Torture Chambers are not allowed phone calls unless someone dies in your immediate family, i.e., mother, father, brothers, sisters, your children and grandparents, even if they are your guardian – under these circumstances who wants that phone call? 

Unfortunately, when you have to place that call, you can’t show any emotions during the call because you are being screened for vulnerability; plus, who wants to show someone who has been torturing you for years their humanity, your vulnerability.

Indeterminate SHU

Prisoners are placed in solitary confinement simply for being political prisoners, influential prisoners and jailhouse lawyers, and based upon prison informers. IGI, ISU and OCS fabricate documents by using prison snitches to say that we’re prison gang members. 

Even if we have no rule violations, no violence, no offenses, nothing but the word of a prison snitch, many of us are condemned to death in solitary confinement. 

Prisoners are held in lock-up indefinitely. There are prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for 40, 30, 20 and 10 years straight, and being tortured psychologically and physically this whole time. If this is not inhumane, then what is???

(These were the writers’ addresses while they were in Pelican Bay State Prison: Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry, C-35671, PBSP-SHU Dl-117L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532, who is one of the four main representatives of the California hungers strikers, and Mutope Duguma, s/n James D. Crawford, D-05996, PBSP-SHU Dl-117U, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.)

Send our brothers some love and light: Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry, C-35671, Freedom Outreach Fruitvale Station, c/o Marie Levin, P.O. Box 7359, Oakland, CA 94601; Mutope Duguma, D-05996, LAC B5-141, P.O. Box 4490, Lancaster, CA 93539.