318 Harrison Street, Suite 103, Oakland, CA 94607
Tel: (510) 271-0310 | Fax: (510) 817-4918
October 18, 2022
Kathleen Allison, Secretary
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Gena Jones, Acting Warden
Dr. Shereef K. Aref, Healthcare CEO
California Health Care Facility
Sent via Electronic Mail
Re: Urgent Attention for Ronnie Dewberry (C-35671) on Hunger Strike
Dear Secretary Allison, et al:
I write with urgent concerns regarding Ronnie Dewberry (Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa). Mr. Dewberry has been exercising his right to refuse food since September 29 and his right to refuse medication since approximately October 4 in protest of the cruel and improper treatment he has received since he was returned to prison from medical parole in August 2021. Most recently, medical staff at CHCF Stockton has refused doctor-ordered treatment and have taken other actions that directly jeopardize his safety and health. Set forth below is some background, along with a short list of specific demands by Mr. Dewberry. As soon as you notify me that you have received this letter and are considering these demands, Mr. Dewberry will suspend his hunger strike. Your immediate attention is critical here.
Mr. Dewberry has been incarcerated for more than 40 years and spent more than 30 years in the Security Housing Unit for reasons ultimately found to be invalid. He is a named plaintiff in the Ashker v. Newsom litigation and a principal author of the Agreement to End Hostilities between the Races. Sadly, in November 2019, Mr. Dewberry suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke, which left him totally medically incapacitated. Because of his inability to manage his daily living activities on his own, he was granted medical parole in the Summer of 2020, after which he was transferred to Asbury Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a skilled nursing facility in Sacramento.
After thirteen months at Asbury Park, a false confidential allegation resulted in his return to prison, a rule violation report, and a Board of Parole Hearings decision to vacate the parole grant he received in June 2021. The reports were initiated by Parole Agent M. Kis on August 25, 2021, and by T. Davis on September 1, 2021, and both were based on confidential allegations that investigating Sheriff’s Deputies had already determined were unfounded. Promptly upon his return to prison at CHCF, Mr. Dewberry was improperly placed on “Max” custody status and denied any physical or occupational therapy for months. This caused an immediate deterioration of the few mobility improvements he had experienced while at Asbury. His condition continues to worsen due to inadequate care.
Since his time back at CHCF, he reports that there is rampant discrimination against Black incarcerated people and that he has personally experienced three instances of attempted murder: once in September or October 2021 when two Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) pushed Mr. Dewberry toward the edge of his bed while the guard rail was not in place; once on August 10, 2022, when a physical therapist refused to hold Mr. Dewberry’s security belt while he was standing, which caused him to fall backward; and once on September 26, 2022, when a CNA refused to assist Mr. Dewberry in the shower and instead sent two white incarcerated volunteers to wash him.
All of Mr. Dewberry’s attempts to file grievances have been thwarted – either screened out or rejected by prison staff. This includes his grievance challenging his return to custody even before the false rule violation had even been issued; his grievances regarding correctional staff finding him guilty of the rule violation based on false hearsay statements from a non-witness while refusing to call any of Mr. Dewberry’s witnesses or submit any of his questions (C/O T. Campigli and Lieutenants E. Talisayan and B. Velasquez); his grievance regarding staff’s refusal to clean him for hours after a bowel movement; his grievance regarding a false and retaliatory counseling RVR when he complained about discontinued physical therapy; and his recently filed grievance regarding the refusal to follow doctor orders for physical and occupational therapy. Some of these grievances never received any response or log numbers.
Mr. Dewberry maintains that he is “an Educated Legalized Slave, who STANDS for people of color, specifically New Afrikans (i.e., Negroes, Blacks, Afro American, Coloreds, etc.).” He believes “CDCR, BPH, and medical staff must cease their white supremacist and discriminatory acts toward people of color,” and that no human being should be going through what he is experiencing at the hands of the state. I implore you to address these matters immediately.
Mr. Dewberry’s Demands
1. Initiate a formal investigation by the Inspector General regarding CDCR’s refusal to address the merits of any of Mr. Dewberry’s grievances and similar appeals from other people.
2. Issue a clear directive that Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy staff must follow all doctors’ orders regarding treatment unless and until those orders are changed or discontinued. Treatment for Mr. Dewberry shall be mandated unless and until those orders are changed by the Chief Medical Doctor.
3. Immediately transfer Mr. Dewberry to an outside facility to receive adequate care, including mandated Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.
4. Immediately reinstate and address Mr. Dewberry’s administrative appeals, including the following:
a. 602 Log #176985 (filed 9/20/21): appealing removal from nursing home and return to prison
b. 602 Log #213983 (filed 11/21/21): appealing abuse of authority by Parole Agent Kis
c. 602 Log # 205034 (filed 12/23/21): appealing due process violations related to 115 investigation
d. 602 HC (filed 8/2/22): appealing failure to clean Mr. Dewberry after bowel movement
e. 602 (filed 9/7/22): appealing false and retaliatory RVR
f. Any other appeals that never received any response or log number
5. Immediately disband the Inmate Advisory Council at CHCF and order a new and fair election process for the population to be properly represented.
6. Ensure accountability of the custody staff and medical staff who have tortured Mr. Dewberry daily and caused his continued suffering. This includes those who have directly refused to follow doctors’ orders, those who have lied and falsified documents, and those who have engaged in cruelty and neglect and otherwise failed to perform their duties in treating the patients in their care.
Again, please confirm that you have received this letter and that you are reviewing and considering these demands. Upon such confirmation, Mr. Dewberry will suspend his hunger strike, which has now continued for 20 days.
Thank you for your prompt response.
Attorney for Mr. Dewberry
cc: Governor Gavin Newsom