My name is Arturo Castellanos. I am presently being housed in the PBSP’s Administrative Segregation Unit, along with the remainder of the brave men who came together and volunteered to peacefully protest the Department of Corruption and No-Rehabilitation policies of locking individuals up forever, with little or no evidence of gang activities, in indefinite SHU.
In retaliation for our peaceful protest, the security housing unit sergeant, B. Davis, drafted up a memorandum on July 8, 2013, saying that Pelican Bay State Prison will be following “regulations per DOM 54030.20.5 which allows book/ publications limit of five (5) books maximum.” This is what PBSP calls rehabilitation.
Families of loved ones on hunger strike in Pelican Bay SHU have successfully regrouped and found a new recipient for a campaign to donate their loved ones’ food symbolically: a local soup kitchen in Crescent City. The symbolic donation says a lot to counter the perception they’re all “the worst of the worst.” It shows they’re human beings at their best, thinking of others and being generous even despite their own circumstances.
In spite of the AMA protocol on torture, the CDCR’s medical and mental health physicians have yet to offer California prisoners any qualitative medical or mental health treatment, intervention or service. And they have been present and dead silent on the issue of how we prisoners have been tortured in CDCR’s SHU and CMU, where social deprivation – torture – has been the norm for the past 10 to 40-plus years.
Hundreds of people held in California prisons are expected to launch their third large-scale hunger strike in two years today. The current strike, announced by leaders at Pelican Bay State Prison on Feb. 14, is seen as a resumption of the large-scale strikes in June and September 2011, when thousands of prisoners across the state stopped eating for days or weeks in order to press for the five demands laid out by the strike organizers.
I remember entering into prison back in 1995 for the first time and learning about our struggles from various New Afrikans. We as youngsters learned about Comrade George L. Jackson by reading “Soledad Brother” and “Blood in My Eye” and understood the struggles and that by studying we too could learn how to change our conditions.
The Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement First Amendment Campaign stands in solidarity with the Stop the Torture Campaign, as our goals and objectives are mutual. We aim to eliminate torture in all of its many forms. In 2006, the CDCR created a Communications Management Unit at PBSP that literally reinforces their totalitarian rule by dehumanizing prisoners through social deprivations.
It is time that I fire a published poetic nuclear warhead at you. This has to be fundamentally sound to rejuvenate the spirit and souls of those who still walk upright and with dignity to be counted as men within the depths of legalized oppression. My message will be two-fold, addressing one of several lawsuits that I am aggressively pursuing and CDCR’s ongoing twisted campaign of validating and isolating prisoners.
The only defense that can protect the people is to assemble the power of the people. We are our only defense. We have suffered enough injustice at the hands of a very evil system – CDCr and PBSP – and it is time that we prisoners express that pain and suffering by all means at our disposal, because CDCr and PBSP are censoring SF Bay View in order to censor prisoners, because we are exposing cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners. We collectively commend and value the courage and commitment as well as the principled stand that the SF Bay View is taking to speak truth to power.
Fascist repression can only flourish when the voices of its victims have been brutally silenced and isolated within the concrete confines of a man-made construct where the scrutiny of the media cannot transcend the walls. But contrary to the fascist intent, the voices of resistance reverberated within the depths of this concrete hell as New Afrikan revolutionary prisoners since our arrival have refused to remain silent and have waged a continuous campaign to put an end to this racial injustice. And for over 20 years the San Francisco Bay View has played a critical role in allowing our voices to be heard.
You, Gov. Brown, not the Legislature, recently received a document from prisoners currently confined in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) entitled “Peaceful Protest to Resume July 8, 2013.” The additional grievances in this current communication build on the Jan. 27, 2013, document as these grievances are also an important part of what’s driving the scheduled peaceful protest.
The much-publicized brutality and inhumane conditions suffered by prisoners in solitary confinement worldwide has once again sparked global debates on the unprecedented urgency of prison abolition and, by default, on the implementation of community-led restorative justice programs. Over the past two to three decades, the global penal system has turned increasingly roughshod and its practices have grown greatly abusive.
If the intention of the prison system is rehabilitation so when prisoners are released they do not return, then we surely must object to solitary confinement. If we believe in basic human rights and dignity for all human beings, then we surely must object to solitary confinement. If we object to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, we surely must object to solitary confinement in the U.S.
The following assessment is far from being complete; it is a brief analysis compelled by a question an activist posed to me: How does sensory deprivation (S.D.) impact the psyche of those prisoners who have been subjected to long-term solitary confinement? Actually, this text is but a modified letter that I wrote in response to the above question.
The only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first. By embracing the Agreement to End Hostilities, we can change our prison oppression into a more productive prison environment that serves the interests of us prisoners, as well as put an end to the policies that are inhumane.
It has been more than 13 months since we agreed to suspend our non-violent, peaceful protest hunger strike actions in response to CDCR’s top administrators’ admissions that all of our Five Core Demands were reasonable and would be responded to via substantively meaningful changes to the policies and practices at issue. This has NOT HAPPENED.
The new “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification, and Management Strategy” will instigate new and more aggressive attacks against prisoners and their families, friends, associates and communities, who are already being victimized by our institutionalized racist system and the prison industrial complex. It is just one of their many policies to persecute prisoners incarcerated in solitary confinement units.
The new draft Step Down Program allows for any CO (correctional officer) or staff member to have any prisoner placed in SHU for anything they deem necessary, citing safety and security and public safety, even without any disciplinary action. Many of us have seen first hand the abusive nature of sadistic, racist and misogynistic CO staff who fabricate information to “break” prisoners.
Gualberto Lopez and German Cabrera, both in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at Calipatria State Prison as "alleged associates of a prison gang," write about the inhumane, torturous treatment in segregation, Institutional Gang Investigators and the corrupt validation process, as well as the targeting of Mexicans/Latinos/Hispanics.
Two letters follow: The first, by Mutope Duguma, describes the current Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor situation. The second, by Pelican Bay inmate and hunger strike leader George Franco, is reposted here and now so readers can compare prison officials’ promises with the situation described by Mutope Duguma a year later.