Prisons are not the place for the promotion of peace, especially in their maximum security and solitary confinement housing units.
Recently us United Kings Against Genocidal Environments (KAGE) refused to settle and dismiss our 42 U.S.C. §1983 suit for the infringement of our First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as violations of our Religious Land Use Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA) rights. Pelikkkan Bay State Prison officials have failed or refused to eradicate the implicit racial bias imposed upon New Afrikans, or Blacks – those of us who petitioned and structured the PEACE programs with an ancient Egyptian yoga focal point.
I left CDCr wondering how PBSP could remain in shambles after 22 years of court oversight. As I started educating myself about prison reform, I stumbled upon Keramet Reiter’s 2016 book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.” Within those pages, I found validation and some disturbing answers. I wish this book had been available to me before I started working in CDCr.
The SHU, the wars, the times and obviously the love and hate he experienced made Yog who he was. When I met him in 2001, I of course had read about him and heard the stories, but I was definitely not prepared to meet anyone like that. One of the letters in the Bay View said Yog taught him how to “time travel”; that sounds about right. Yog was a hot mess in that regard; his mind was not always grounded but that also was one of his strengths. He had his own world in there.
Having been one of the many who have been let out of the control units (SHU), I can say that there is some victory in this development, but there is much work to be done outside the SHU and still a ways to go before victory is complete. This accomplishment of opening the gates of SHU for many simply means we face new forms of oppression; it changes in form but not in essence.
Here is a brief update on the continued disrespect that CDCR is showing to brothers involved in the Aug. 12, 2015, attack on Yogi (Hugo Pinell). The same ICC (Inmate Classification Committee) that ignored the threat on Yogi’s life is now harassing the inmates that came to Yogi’s aid – the ICC that prisoners call “The Committee.” There are six inmates in Z Unit Ad Seg. Five of us have been released back to general population, but ICC refuses to send us back to a mainline.
Dr. Everett D. Allen’s testimony to Sen. Richard Durbin’s United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights at its hearing on “Solitary Confinement as Torture” on June 19, 2012, was previously published by the Bay View, and this testimony was presented to the second hearing, held Feb. 25, 2014.
I have taken the position to shut down this fake SDP (Step Down Program) crap. So all of Step 4, who have the most to lose – we all agree that these latest types of 115s, or RVRs (CDCR Form 115, Rules Violation Reports), are just another way to keep us held in SHU or a means of bringing us back once we make it out to the General Population mainline, and we’d rather take our stance now!
Greetings of solidarity and respect to all similarly situated members of the prison class unified in our struggle to end long term solitary confinement and win related long overdue reforms to the broken California prison torture system! As one of the four principle prisoner class representatives, I am presenting this further update on where things stand with our human rights movement from my perspective.
If Black lives matter, make it clear that your just outrage extends to and will not tolerate the “con game” being run on the public and California Legislature by the PISC, CDCR and PBSP, wherein men like Ricky Kaidi Matthews, Sondai Ellis and others continue to be held hostage in tortuous solitary confinement awaiting sham case-by-case reviews after having been lied to repeatedly by prison administrators.
This is a summarized version of a letter I sent to Mike Stainer, director of Adult Institutions, July 28, 2014, in order to address the long standing U.S. constitutional violations at CCI-Tehachapi and bring this prison under the current SHU standards forthwith. My purpose is to establish monthly meetings between CCI-Tehachapi officials and the four prisoner negotiators who shall speak on behalf of the Tehachapi SHU prisoner class.
At first glance the question, What is solitary confinement? appears to be rhetorical, if not insulting, but you would be surprised, if not incredulous, how many prison rights activists are at a loss when I pose it to them. Even more perplexing, many prisoners are only able to provide the standard but antiquated response, which is: a prisoner in a cell behind a solid door, in which he/she is isolated from other prisoners and human contact.
This is for the moms and pops in East Oakland or any other urban neighborhood in honor of the African union of Marcus Books, from a prisoner political action committee to being a member of the formerly incarcerated people’s policy academy or the freedom plan of United KAGE Brothers (UKB), from the urban freedom schools focused on real life Block Reportin’ of “Unfinished Business.” This is for my brothers of the NCTT Cor SHU and all supporters of our hunger strike coalition.
Two letters from Arturo Castellanos, one of the four main SHU reps at Pelican Bay State Prison: March 3, 2014 – I’m writing this brief article about the positive outcomes during our meetings with Sacramento and PBSP officials since the end of our last hunger strike. March 23, 2014 – I write this to update you on the positive cooperation we received from this new administration and on the Departmental Review Board hearings.
My reality of the last 13 years is concrete and steel and that’s it; no normal human relations for me. CSP-Sac was wide open. People were everywhere, 24/7, doing everything. I enjoyed every single bit of my human interaction. I talked more in a period of 12 days than I had in my whole 13 years of solitary confinement.
I am very familiar with the serious medical issues involved with the long term and short term care of these SHU patients in solitary confinement that are both very deleterious to human health and not very visible to people who are not insiders and familiar with this environment at PBSP. Many of these issues have not penetrated the ongoing public discussion of the ongoing and created health care consequences of solitary confinement in the SHU at PBSP.
I’ve been asked several times how it was possible that rivals from different racial and/or regional groups were able to see past differences and come together to form the Human Rights Movement. The Human Rights Movement is a concerted effort to end long term solitary confinement and make better the living conditions in all SHU and Ad Seg housing facilities across the state of California and the nation as a whole!
I come before you with the first of what may be a series of speed bumps and roadblocks in our path towards accomplishing the initial goals set forth: the five core demands. The other small demands being met are just a distraction to appease those of the prison masses long enough. Don’t be fooled! When the smoke clears, those small demands granted will be once again revoked.
These particular officials who set out to provoke violence by attacking prisoners are not only committing criminal acts but grossly violate the authority entrusted to them by the public. For too long CDCR and PBSP have been abusing their authority, which each official took an oath to uphold – arbitrarily applying their prejudiced and racist views by attacking prisoners.
Efforts over the past month to discuss or mediate the prisoner’s concerns with the CDCR have not resulted in any changes in policy and we are therefore now writing to request that you urgently consider conducting an on-site visit to one or more California prisons, including Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) to interview prisoners (now on the 38th day of their hunger strike) and prison officials.