Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Brief Discussion on the Reality and Impact of SHU Torture Units-- Letter from Corcoran SHU

A Brief Discussion on the Reality and Impact of
SHU Torture Units in the Wake of the August 23rd
Legislative Hearings, From the N.C.T.T. - COR-SHU

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
everywhere...We know through painful experience
that freedom is never voluntarily given by the
oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

-Letter from Birmingham Jail, 4/16/63
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These sage words by Dr. King are both appropriate
to the discussion we'd like to have with you on
indefinite SHU confinement, and cautionary as to
who we are as a society in these troubled times.
This 2nd point is very relevant to this
discussion and we hope you'll stick with us as we
explore subject matter that is both broad and
disturbing which requires us to share some inconvenient truths.

Security Housing Units, SHUs, like those in
Pelican Bay, Tehachapi, and this one here in
Corcoran are torture units. They are used to
indefinitely house human beings in solitary
confinement, under constant illumination, based
on an administrative determination that they are
"gang" members or associates, with an impetus
towards breaking their minds in hopes of
eliciting information, coercing them into
becoming informants or active agents of the
state. The torture units are the living tombs of
not only alleged "gang" members or associates,
but political and politicized prisoners, human
rights activists, critics of the prison industry,
jailhouse lawyers and most anyone who in the sole
determination of Institutional Gang Investigators
(I.G.I.) and administrators, are not content to
accept and submit passively to their role as
commodities in the prison industrial complex. The
United States, and many of it's media outlets
such as the "New York Times" and "San Diego Union
Tribune", prior to the U.S. "War on Terror"
routinely criticized China, Turkey, Burma, Syria,
and other nations for holding prisoners in
indefinite solitary confinement, under conditions
of constant illumination and/or sensory
deprivation, etc. for expressing contrary
political views. They universally condemned the
practice as torture, citing the United Nations
Human Rights Commission Treaty. Their hypocrisy
was of course revealed soon after the policy of
U.S. sponsored torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo
Bay, and numerous secret C.I.A. blacksite prisons
was exposed. Yet America's dirty little secret
is, state sponsored torture in the U.S. is
neither new or exclusive to it's "War on Terror".
Years before Abu Ghraib and "Gitmo" they were
murdering prisoners in San Quentin's Adjustment
Center, boiling men alive at Pelican Bay-SHU, and
holding murderous bloodsport style bouts in
Corcoran-SHU all along holding alleged "gang"
members and left wing political ideologues for
decades in sensory deprivation torture units at
Pelican Bay, Corcoran, and Tehachapi SHUs. Yes,
indefinite solitary confinement and constant
illumination is being used right now in
California SHU units, in conjunction with a
program of systematic isolation and experimental
behavior modification to torture prisoners
everyday ... with no end in sight. The California
Supreme and 9th Circuit courts, in blatant
indifference to constitutional and international
law, have repeatedly refused to intervene on
behalf of prisoners at Pelican Bay and Corcoran
SHU who've lived under these psychologically
torturous conditions for 10, 20, 30, and even 40
years straight, This is unadulterated hypocrisy,
wherein your public officials are torturing
fellow citizens in your name. The United Nations
Convention Against Torture and other cruel and
degrading treatment or punishment defines
"torture" as: "any state-sanctioned action by
which severe pain or suffering, mental or
physical, is intentionally inflicted for
obtaining information, punishment, info,
intimidation, or discrimination." This virtually
defines the validation, indeterminate-SHU, and
debriefing processes, which are all
interconnected. We are told, quite frankly at ICC
hearings, "You'll only get out of SHU if you
parole, debrief, or die." The parole board is no
different for those of us in SHU with determinate
life sentences where we are told, "If you want a
parole date, you may want to think about
debriefing." To debrief one must become an
informant, an active agent of the state, and
decades of such torture and withholding of
freedom are powerful state sanctions to break
men's minds, compel them to lie, make something
up, or simply parrot what they are told to say by
state handlers to support a law enforcement
agenda in order to escape the SHU. In at least 2
recent online articles, one by the notoriously
pro-prison industry "Sacramento Bee", we see
debriefers doing just this: actually advocating
the merits of the very SHU torture units that
broke their minds and made them thralls of prison
industrialists, the C.C.P.O.A. and all those with
an economic and political interest in maintaining
the symbolism of these torture units as the abode
of "predatory gang leaders and organized
criminals" and other exaggerations. The U. N.
Human Rights Commission has stated prolonged
solitary confinement, especially for purposes of
extracting information, is prohibited as torture.
SHUs are, by definition, torture units; and
specialty ultra-supermax isolation units like
Pelican Bay's D-Short Corridor and Corcoran SHUs
for 4BIL-C-section, are specifically engineered
to warp reality for purposes of breaking men's
minds. Such torture, no matter the supposed
justification, is never an acceptable practice
for a humane society. The UN Convention Against
Torture states, "no exceptional circumstances
whatsoever, whether state or threat of war or
political emergency" may be invoked as a reason
for torture. As it stands, your correctional
department and courts, some of your elected
officials and all law enforcement agencies do
feel torture is justified as long as it's applied
to those they deem "gang members". But there is a
much more insidious, socioeconomic and political
motivation for the maintenance and expansion of
SHU torture units and indeterminate SHU
confinement based on "gang" validation. It is
sustained by manipulating your perception of
truth and humanity; by controlling your
perception of these things the prison industrial
complex dictates your actions, reactions, and
inaction to their impact on lives and communities
yours included.

As you may be aware we embarked on a historic 21
day hunger strike in July in solidarity with the
Pelican Bay SHU-D-Corridor Collective and the 5
core demands recognizing our basic human rights.
We were joined by some 6,600 other prisoners
across the state, countless others across the
nation, and garnered the support of principled
people all over the world. On August 23rd, 2011 a
hearing was held by the legislative Committee on
Public Safety in response to these issues. I want
to take this time to highlight some of the
distortions, misrepresentations of fact, and
outright lies by CDCR Undersecretary Scott Kernan
[a key prison industrialist], to illustrate just
what we're talking about here. There is an
articulable economic basis upon which state
sanctioned torture units are maintained in
California and throughout the U.S. Before we get
into Mr. Kernan's comments it's necessary for you
to have a clear understanding of what they are
to understand why he would contradict himself
and openly lie to a legislative oversight committee.

A central purpose of SHU torture units (and
"gang" validations resulting in indeterminate SHU
confinement) is to ensure your financial and
political support for the expansion and
maintenance of the prison industrial complex, by
maximizing your fear and capitalizing on your
ignorance of these issues. The foundational
cornerstones of their success is convincing you
that "gang" members (or at least those they've
labeled as such) are these depraved, inhuman
monsters hell bent on rape, murder and predation
of innocent people; and only they, the "gang
experts" know who these monsters are and how best
to "protect" you from them. These allegedly
malevolent, irrationally violent, and predatory
organized gangs are the source of all societies
ills and the very origin of crime in our
communities. By maintaining these torture units
and proclaiming they are the abodes of the "worst
of the worst", they have a symbolic manifestation
of the validity of their claims. No one can
refute their accounts or characterizations
because transparency is non-existent in CDCR
Prisoners have no public voices. The C.C.P.O.A.
successfully lobbied to ban media interviews with
prisoners so the public is left to a unilateral,
one-sided view of prison conditions and their
discontents. This allows them free reign to
perpetuate the myth of the "inhuman gang member",
and with tacit media support, dehumanize an ever
growing segment of the underclass community. Have
you not noticed when your local news reports on a
suspected offender, parolee, or even a victim of
police brutality the first thing said as he or
she is paraded across the screen is they are a "
validated gang member" of this or that 'gang', as
though this designation somehow diminishes their
human worth. When incidents occur in or around
our schools, the school is put on "lockdown", a
term derived from the California prisons to
denote a prison yard being "locked down" after a
riot or other incident. These terms, consistently
employed by authority and media figures,
inevitably lead to the formation of a particular
social psychology. When you hear the term "gang"
or "gang member" it automatically conjures images
of innocent drive-by shooting victims and prison
rapes inspired by shows like "Oz" and other
cinematic visions, divorcing these men and women
from the human condition, dehumanizing them.
These people, more often than not, were saddled
with these characterizations because of the
communities they come from, and may well have
never committed a violent or predatory act in
their lives. But you don't know that. All you
know is what you've been told by the anchorman,
police, or CDC spokesman. They know that, because
they've used millions of your tax dollars to
engineer it what way. The truth of the matter is,
there are no malevolent, irrationally violent,
predatory gangs roving the streets of your cities
or the prison yards of CDCR; only desperate men
and women forced to the bottom rung of society
through institutional disparities in economic and
race based distribution of educational,
employment, and employment opportunities at
virtually every level of human activity in the
U.S. Do gangs exist? Of course. That's not the
issue here. The issue is why do they exist and
where are they prevalent? "Gangs", and more
centrally gang violence and high crime, are
prevalent primarily in underclass communities.
Crime and the formation of gang violence
conditions are like water they flow to areas of
least resistance and emptiness in this case
economic "emptiness" (poverty). The national
unemployment rate (not counting the
under-employed or those who've stop looking)
stands at 9.1%; yet in the New Afrikan (Black)
community it's 17% and in the Latino community is
14.5%; those without a high school diploma stand
at 16% unemployed, while those with a bachelors
degree a mere 4%. New Afrikans (Blacks) and
Latinos make up 90% of the prison population but
a scant 26% of the national population. The
origin of crime is not "gangs" , "gangs" are a
social symptom of that origin. The origin of all
crime is the disproportionate distribution of
wealth, privilege, and opportunity in our
society. This is not by chance or happenstance,
it is by design. Wage based employment and
entrepreneurship are the only ways to "legally"
create wealth in this society when social
conditions are such that a community contains a
large population of surplus labor (either
unemployable due to their lack of education or
marketable skills or the market simply can not
sustain that population of workers) the only
alternative to survive is the underground economy
(be that illicit services such as narcotics, the
sex trade, or gambling, or predatory crimes such
as extortion, robbery and identity theft). There
is a corresponding sense of socio-political
impotence which accompanies the innate insecurity
of poverty. Young men and women who have no
power, no hope, no impact on their world and
little to no love in their lives, form community
based, lumpen organizations to fill that
socio-political void in their existence. These
the state calls "gangs" and has declared war on
them. One of the reasons so few people vote in
underclass communities is these disparities are
institutional and systemic to U.S. capitalist
economics no matter who is in office, their
plight doesn't change. Because these communities
are a marginal constituency, public officials
extend a corresponding indifference to their
plight and instead of "protecting and serving"
these communities, law enforcement, judicial,
correctional and some legislative officials all
too commonly have a containment, suppression, and
adversarial relationship with these communities
and those who come from them. Yet the Bell Curve
theorists' rhetoric and notions that young men
and women want to stand on a street corner
selling crack or want to risk their lives and
freedom by engaging in unprovoked gang violence
are simply untrue. You pick any prisoner in these
SHU units validated as a "gang member" and offer
him a job making $20.00 an hour, I can guarantee
you he won't break the law. But the environment
in these communities, and most assuredly the
environment in CDCR prisons, are not structured
to produce such success or opportunity. Which
brings me to my next point: The California
correctional system is an environment designed
and maintained by its administrators. CDCR
effectively retards rehabilitation, especially
among SHU prisoners (those, who by the state's
own admission, most need rehabilitation), by
withholding the vital tech-based vocational
training and higher education opportunities
needed to compete in today's high-tech world. It
was primarily through the successful efforts of
the CCPOA that funding through Pell grants for
higher education was taken from prisoners.
Predictably, what followed this repeal of the
inmate Bill of Rights was an unprecedented boom
in prison building and expansion of the prison
population by 800% in the last 20 years. Racial
antagonisms are encouraged to preclude broad
class cooperation amongst prisoners, like the
unprecedented unity shown in the recent hunger
strike. Underdevelopment while in prison, coupled
with an emphasis on seeking most any impetus for
violation by parole officers once out of prison,
is designed to preclude successful reintegration
into society, maximize recidivism rates, and
undermine the underclass communities from which
these x-offenders hail. All to maintain the
steady social dysfunction and economic
desperation in these family units so a consistent
flow of bodies is exiting these communities and
entering jails and prisons, court systems and
probation departments, ensuring a recession-proof
industry of profit and expansion for the prison
market and those who depend on your tax dollars
to sustain their privilege. The very structure of
CDCR regulations is designed to promote
dependency, destroy ingenuity and
self-determination, and deter unity. They
actually have rules which bar prisoners from
creating or running a business, which always
boggled our minds in an economically depressed
capitalist economy. If there are prisoners with
the insight, talent, innovative ideas, and
entrepreneurial acumen to make a meaningful
contribution to this state's economy and job
market men and women who the courts have
determined owe some debt to society, why would
you codify a basis for them not doing so, outside
of the same "potential for impropriety" rhetoric
they use to justify accepting unsubstantiated
confidential information and mere suspicion as a
basis for SHU confinement, there exists no
justification for such a regulation. The only
basis that follows reason is to prevent
independence and promote dependency on the state,
thus perpetuating institutionalization. If you
combine all of this with the psycho-social
decimation of men's minds resulting from
prolonged, in some cases endless, isolation in
conditions such as these, is it any wonder
psychiatrists + psychologists universally agree
that this type of torture effectively destroys
ones ability to function in society? Which is the
point. As we've stated before, the modern
criminal justice system in the U.S., and
California in particular (where the CDCR is
concerned especially), is the biggest conflict of
interest in U.S. history: those entrusted with
reducing the number of criminal offenders and
protecting public safety have their potential
profit margin directly attached to maximizing the
number of offenders under their control at any
given time. This is why the CCPOA fought so had
to stop out of state transfers to comply with the
medical receivers orders. The more prisoners
under their control the larger their budget, the
greater their salaries and benefits, and the more
overtime hours they can bill to your tax dollars.
Most vitally, however, is the more prisoners
held, and for ever greater durations, the more
assured they are of their long term job security;
no matter the fragility of the economy in the
current crisis. To be sure, an economic downturn
to the rest of U.S. is an economic upturn for
those in the prison industry. It means an
inevitable increase in human commodities:
prisoners. According to CDCR they spend an
average of 78 thousand dollars to house us in
these SHU cells each year perhaps a little more
due to the added isolation features in the
Pelican Bay-SHU D-Short Corridor and Corcoran SHU
4BlL-C-section torture units. We assure you it
does not cost 78K to feed us the 2 small trays
and 1 sack lunch we receive each day, or to keep
this light burning 24 hours, or to power our
small 13" TVs. Besides being escorted to the K-9
dog cages for "yard" 3 times a week in chains,
and 5 minutes in the shower 3 times a week we
never leave these cells. So I assure you that
money is not being spent on prisoners housed in
these torture units no it's spent on guards.
It's spent on their salaries, benefits,
equipment, training, guns and bullets not us.
Of fiscal interest they (the I.G.I/I.S.U.) took
$5,000 from the inmate welfare fund to erect a
giant green wall. (Yes, the irony did not escape
us.) To cut 4BIL off from the rest of the yard
this was prisoner money used to expand the
isolation environmental of same. The guard
working the SHU makes more money and with the
overtime they can get, can in essence write their
own checks on your buck and at expense of our
minds, our bodies, and sometimes it feels our very souls.

During the August 23rd legislative hearing the
CDCR panel representative, Undersecretary of
Operations Scott Kernan made some of the most
baseless overly simplistic and outright false
statements concerning prison existence related to
SHU and so-called "gangs" that they must be
debunked. He stated "gangs" were "responsible for
ordering rapes..." in prison and are the "primary
threat" for such heinous acts. This is not simply
an outright lie, but in fact quite the opposite
is true for the vast majority of men housed in
these indeterminate SHU torture units. Taking
liberties, or the forced sexual subjugation of
anyone, especially another human under these
conditions, is not simply prohibited by most SHU
prisoners, but forcefully opposed. Mr. Kernan's
assertion that men housed here would even condone
such sickness is a testament to the fear and
dehumanization based rhetoric which has become
the staple of prison industrialist propaganda
over the past 20 years, and is an insult to our
humanity. The N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU, collectively have
over 100 years of experience living in the most
dysfunctional and violent prisons in California
and can state with definitive confidence that the
vast majority of the "8000 assaults or stabbings
the department has each year" has little to do
with "gangs", as Mr. Kernan said, and everything
to do with overcrowded facilities, limited access
to jobs, viable vocational training, and
effective educational programs on yards
throughout the system. Most of these altercations
are the result of idleness related frustrations,
limited space, and how CDCR administrators have
structured these prisons historically; be it a
dispute on the basketball or handball court, an
unpaid gambling debt, a cross word said in
frustration at overcrowded conditions taken as
"disrespect", or a race based rumor started by
some guard these things have little to do with
"gangs". Those instances where a "gang" member
may be involved in a personal dispute (and
according to CDCR, everyone in CDCR "runs with
some gang'), the staff report it as "gang
related" when the "gang" in fact had nothing to
do with the initial incident. He went on to state
millions of tax dollars were "wasted" each year,
"and gangs would be identified as the primary
problem". Mr. Kernan has no factual basis for
this statement and we can't even conceive of the
rubic by which he would venture this opinion when
targeted educational and economic development
programs in underclass communities and in prisons
have been proven effective means by which to
reduce both predatory and market based crime
rates, and reduce recidivism amongst prisoners.
Yet funding from such initiatives, due primarily
to lobbying efforts of the C.C.P.O.A. and their
political cabal, has been repeatedly diverted to
prison custody budgets under the auspices of
"public safety" an oxymoronic application of
the term if ever there was one. Mr. Kernan went
on to state, it's "only 3000" validated SHU
prisoners in a population of 165,000, "that's a
very small number." It's this type of thinking
that led to the use of C.I.A. black sites in
Uzbekistan, Egypt, Pakistan, and yes Libya to
imprison under extraordinary interrogation
conditions terror suspects, and torture them for
years continuing still in the U.S. war on
terror. 3,000 torture victims in a population of
165,000 is 3,000 too many. Mr. Kernan went on
to state, "We won't allow media to talk to
individual inmates for fear of them
sensationalizing their crimes, like Charles
Manson or Scott Peterson", a patently absurd
notion he knew full well was untrue. No one here
wants to "sensationalize' their criminal
convictions or past lifestyles in truth there
is a significant segment of the indeterminate SHU
population, such as the N.C.T.T. and those of
like mind, who have dedicated their lives to not
only atoning for the damage done to our
communities as a result of our ignorance and lack
of consciousness in the past, but for the damage
putting forward meaningful programs and
initiatives to improve the lives of the people in
underclass communities as a whole. The only
prisoners in the SHU Mr Kernan allowed the media
to access, and the only ones such media outlets
like the "Sacramento Bee" seem to be interested
in quoting, are debriefers, informants, and
agents of the state. Mr. Kernan did not allow
media access to the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor
collective or 4BIL-C-Section Collective because
he did not want socio-politically conscious
prisoners articulating the true basis and reasons
for the hunger strike and the inescapable
deteriorating psychological effects of SHU. This
is simply another example of state-controlled
media in a society that purports itself to be
free and open. Yet another manifestation of
CDCR's successful gambit to monopolize the
discussion. We found it ironic that Mr. Kernan
attempted to dismiss and re-direct the blatant
human rights violations which torture units
represent, by stating "the violence the gangs
perpetuate is the human rights violation", when
the vast majority of the "8000 assaults and
stabbings" occurring in the modern CDCR are
occurring on Sensitive Needs Yards (SNY) by the
very debriefers and protective custody prisoners
IGI has relied on, or broken, to manufacture
uncorroborated and unsubstantiated "confidential
information chronos" to put, and keep, other
prisoners in indefinite SHU confinement. To be
sure, the most violent "gang" in CDCR currently
is 2.5 (1/2 of 5.0), the prison gang made up of
debriefers and informants who directly work for
I.G.I., I.S.U., and law-enforcement agencies. Mr.
Kernan was adamant that "the courts have upheld
the validation process and though harsh the SHU
is not torture." That's not exactly true either.
That SHUs are torture units is uncontestable, yet
California courts, most of the judges being
elected with the backing of C.C.P.O.A. lobbying
dollars, rarely uphold the Constitution where
prisoners, and especially SHU prisoners, are
seeking human rights protection. Yet, in the Koch
v. Lewis case that the Supreme Court took
addressed the indeterminate confinement in the
equally harsh SMU-II Torture Unit in Florence,
Arizona, the court found that Koch's solitary
confinement violated his right to due process
under the 14th Amendment because there was no
evidence that Koch had committed any overt act to
warrant such torture. The claim that he was an
Aryan Brotherhood member was insufficient.
Substantive due process requires that evidence
used must bear a logical relation to the specific
deprivations. As Judge Moran stated, "the
labeling of Koch as a "gang member" does not
itself create legal concerns. Rather, it is the
placement in SMU-II as a result of this alleged
association that is constitutionally
significant." After hearing evidence of SMU-II
conditions (identical to Cal-SHU conditions) and
the psychological harm faced by prisoners, the
court not only found a significant liberty
deprivation but also that the very practice of
sending prisoners to supermax torture units based
on status alone with no charges or evidence of
misconduct violated due process. The court
concluded that there must be some evidence of
misconduct, some overt gang related act, to
justify placing Koch in SMU-II for an indefinite
term. Yet as Mr. Kernan stated, virtually
lifelong supermax detention for alleged "gang
members" in U.S. domestic prisons continues to be
judged constitutional here in California. It's
not that they, or he, does not know these torture
units violate basic tenets of humaneness they
simply have an overriding interest in their
maintenance: money and control. Your money, their
control. This assertion by Mr. Kernan that this
torture unit is not a torture unit is so
outrageous and insulting it recalls Bush era
admonitions that waterboarding, Abu Ghraib, and
CIA blacksites abroad weren't torture either. It
is an absurdity, and a dangerous one. Mr.
Kernan's dogged assertion that gangs, and more
centrally those of us housed in these SHU torture
units, are the source of perpetual violence in
CDCR ignores the inescapable reality of gross
overcrowding, intentional underdevelopment and
dependency, and the structural conditions they've
created in California prisons which is the actual
origin of prison violence. Until these structural
fallacies are addressed violence in California
prisons will continue no matter how many
prisoners are consigned to this gaol, and he
knows this. Mr. Kernan stated the process being
discussed by "all state law enforcement,
C.C.P.O.A., ( police) labor unions, (gang)
experts, and the legislature itself" would allow
prisoners "to earn a way out of the system by
behavior and require the department to document
when we feel not the case." There's 4 things wrong
with this approach:
* The determining body developing the policy
(outside of legislators) consists exclusively of
proponents of the prison industrial complex; thus
whatever policy developed will reflect the same
draconian, profit-driven, inhumanity that's
defined processes in these torture units thus far.
* Most of us have not had any rules
violations reports in decades. What do we need to
"earn" through our "behavior" that's not already
been earned through years long records of proven
disciplinary free behavior? Is it their
suggestion that we must subject ourselves to the
experimental behavior modification techniques
developed in the Marion Federal supermax torture unit?
* Indeterminate SHU confinement cannot be
allowed to continually be based on what CDCR
officials do or do not "feel is the case". The
primary issue here is the arbitrary nature of
"gang" validations and subsequent indeterminate
SHU confinement.
* What Mr. Kernan is suggesting here is no
different than the sham "6 year inactive review"
that's already in place.

Mr. Kernan stated the CDCR gang policy is
"intended to protect inmates we are charged with,
and staff". Yet anyone who's on this side of the
cell door knows that's a flat out lie. The CDCR
gang policy is intended to inflate and maintain
control of prison budgets, silence prisoner
critics, preclude prisoner unity, and continue to
scapegoat indeterminate SHU prisoners who've not
had a single instance of documented misconduct in
decades as a basis for extorting billions of
taxpayer dollars through overexaggerating the
"threat" posed by prisoners housed indefinitely
in SHU. As we've stated previously, if prisoner,
staff, and public safety were truly CDCR's motive
force they would have developed an environment
and programs geared towards true rehabilitation,
successful social reintegration and performance
in society upon release. Such an environment runs
contrary to their economic and political
interests and unfortunately it also runs against
a significant number of the peoples desire for
vengeance against perceived offenders. Now then,
a particularly disturbing lie Mr. Kernan relayed
was that "all evidence used to validate is
corroborated." Simply put, that was a flat out
lie. There is no independent corroboration of
confidential informants' statements or
confidential information chronos known as
"1030s". Why he would utter a lie that is so
easily debunked is truly beyond us. To give you
an example of what I.G.I. deems "corroboration",
they have little boxes on the 1030 chrono listed
a) through f) which states why they consider
such a source "reliable". In 2008, a "1030"
used to deny an indeterminate SHU prisoner
release on 'inactive' status, a debriefer who was
briefly in this individual's cell told I.G.I, the
individual spoke of the merits of socialism, the
history of political resistance to racism in
America, and the validity of the socio-economic
and political views of Frantz Fanon, Ho Chi Minh,
and George Lester Jackson. The I.G.I. told the
debriefer this was "B.G.F. education", to which
the debriefer quickly agreed, framed it in those
terms, and parroted what his I.G.I. handler told
him to. Now this same guy the debriefer was lying
on wrote an article in California Prison Focus in
2003 critical of CDC, its use of validation on
political + politicized prisoners and some
leftist political ideas. They considered this
"more than one source independently provide(ing)
the same information, and part of the
information provided by the source has already
proven to be true." They of course gave him a
"1030" for the article itself, 5 years old, at
that same time for "providing" BGF education in
a California Prison Focus." This expression of
his political views and social criticism of
CDCR's practice of arbitrarily targeting and
punishing left wing political ideologues in
prison, in violation of the 1st Amendment and
California Code of Regulations Title 15 §3004,
was sufficient to earn him an indefinite
continuation in SHU. Not only is political speech
and expression supposed to be protected by the
Constitution, but it boggles the mind how an
article in a publication CDCR not only allows
into institutions, but staff deliver to our cell
doors, can possibly be corroboration of some
impropriety that's not a violation of law and
in no way corroborative of a coerced informants
scripted lies. This is what passes for
"corroboration" in Mr. Kernan's CDCR. The fact is
there is no corroboration and no way to verify it
if there was I.G.I. is the only ones who get to
see the evidence used to consign us to these
torture units. Mr. Kernan went on to state,
"These offenders are in the SHU with mountains of
documentation of illegal criminal activities both
out on the streets and public and in prisons is
vast...", and it's just these types of
irresponsible, intentionally dishonest statements
which have cowed courts and legislatures alike
into turning a blind eye to wholesale
psychological torture for decades in California
prisons. The truth of the matter is most
validated SHU prisoners haven't had a single
documented instance of misconduct of any kind -
(RVR, DA referal) for a criminal act in decades.
I assure you if such a "mountain of illegal
activities" was documented, you'd have a
corresponding, equally high mountain of rules
violation reports, district attorney referrals
and indictments. This is a lie specifically
designed to put forward a non-existent
justification for that which according to the
"rule of law" is unjustifiable: indefinite
psychological torture to coerce men into becoming
informants, agent provocateurs, and advocates for
the same heinous practice which broke their minds
and subsumed their wills. To be sure, Mr. Kernan
contradicted himself in his next breath by
stating, in response to the statistical data
showing that violence has only increased as
Sensitive Needs Yards (inhabited exclusively by
the debriefers, informants, and other protective
custody designees Mr. Kernan is singing the
praises of) have expanded, "the state's gang
problem has even increased, but separating those
offenders we have in SHU has led to a decrease".
Upon hearing this absurdity, even the assemblyman
had to call him on the contradiction as the
hearing wore on and the objective evidence in
front of the legislative oversight committee
continued to contradict the lies and distortions
Mr. Kernan was offering as authority he stated,
"Let's not lose focus on the real public safety
threat perpetuated by gangs in our system." It is
this narrow and intentionally ill informed
perspective on public safety that has produced an
800% increase in the California prison
population, a dysfunctional correctional and
rehabilitation system and led to the use and
expansion of domestic human experimentation,
torture units on the victims of a socio-economic
arrangement that has forced them from the bottom
rung of society to the bowels of Pelican Bay and
Corcoran-SHUs. Mr. Kernan, and the rest of the
prison industrialists can lay the blame for
society's ills at the feet of "gangs" all they
like, and the vicious cycle will only continue
ebbing towards the inexorable decline of Western
civilization. Until such time as we all accept
the fact that gangs are the inevitable outgrowth
of educational and labor underdevelopment in
underclass communities, and your political and
economic leaders unwillingness or inability to
address the gross disparities between the haves
and have nots as the true origin of society's
ills, gang violence and systemic criminality will
continue to be a part of the U.S. social fabric.
CDCR can make some significant contributions to a
new approach; but as the continued intransigence
of the department shows true public safety is a
remote concern of those you've invested with that
responsibility. The actual public safety threat
lies in the underlying socio-economic
relationship between poor communities and the
prison industry, our society's indifference to
that conflict, and the apparent dogged pursuit of
law enforcement and correctional policies which
are both a dismal, inhumane failure and
economically unsustainable. The definition of
insanity is pursuing the same course of action
repeatedly and expecting a different result.
I'd like to address one final point Mr. Kernan
raised as I believe it's pertinent. He states "an
offender that wants to rehab himself, he can't,
because of an inmate telling him to go stab
someone or he will be killed..." This is both a
misrepresentation of the truth and a dangerous
exaggeration. There are numerous non-affiliates
in the general population of CDCR and Mr. Kernan
is well aware of it. Everyone in prison knows
lumpen organizations or "gangs" in prisons don't
force membership onto non-affiliates because
history has proven such prisoners always become
informants, agents, or easily compelled to lie on
those they formally ran with. But that's not the
core issue here, what is, is Mr. Kernan's
willingness to dispense such tripe as "facts" in
hopes of somehow convincing the people that the
perpetual torture of over 3000 human beings is
somehow legitimate. This type of thinking and
talk must be confronted and debunked. Indefinite
solitary confinement of humans in California,
across the U.S., and around the world must be opposed,
resisted, and abolished.

In the wake of the atrocities of World War II, a
document was drafted which stated "... the
protagonists of the practice of human
experimentation justify their views on the basis
that such experiments yield results for the good
of society that are unprocurable by other methods
or means of study. All agree however that certain
basic principles must be observed in order to
satisfy moral, ethical, and legal concepts."
that was an excerpt from the Nuremberg code. Have
we as a society descended so far into the miasma
of fear, hatred, and dehumanization that we would
condone the state sponsored torture of thousands
of humans from your own communities, in your
name? We began this discussion with a quote from
the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to illustrate
the slippery slope we are on as a society,
irregardless of class or colonial status. The one
consistent theme running through the accounts of
Holocaust, internment camp, and other mass
torture survivors or fellow citizens is they got
on the trains, or the trucks, or discounted the
rumors of torture and atrocities because they
simply didn't believe it could be happening there
(here) in a "civilized society". History has
proven in times of social, political, or economic
duress that civilization is a very thin veneer
and effective dehumanization always leads to
inhumane acts. The 100s of thousands of New
Afrikans (Blacks) that were butchered,
dismembered, lynched, imprisoned, or beaten
during chattel slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil
rights era by Americans were done that way
because those doling out the abuse didn't view
them as "humans'. The U.S. Army was able to
slaughter men, women, and children at Wounded
Knee, Black Canyon, and Amirrilo Texas because
they did not view Native Americans and Mexicans
as "humans". We are now comfortable turning a
blind eye to government agencies and departments
tossing human beings into indefinite solitary
confinement on whatever basis they see fit
subjecting them to constant illumination, sensory
deprivation, social isolation, political
repression and much, much worse because they
are suspected "terrorists" or "gang members".
Because far too many don't view "terrorists" or
gang members as humans. When we swat a fly or
step on a roach, we feel no moral outrage or
empathy because these things are not human. The
exact same psychological process is at play here
and billions of dollars have been spent over
decades to convince you that we are not humans,
so turning a blind eye to our perpetual torture
is no great Injustice ... But we are humans. We
are sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins,
friends, and townsmen to people and communities
whom we love dearly and who love us. Injustice
and inhumanity anywhere Yes, even here in
Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHU, is a threat to
justice and humanity everywhere! The struggle is
just beginning. Don't stand with us and against
torture units because we ask it of you no do
so because it's the right thing to do and you
would be on the right side of history. Do so
because if you don't, someone you love or God
forbid you yourself may well be next. Do so
because you want a new, safer, and more humane
world in which to raise our children, share our
lives, and enrich one another. Let your voices be
heard! Call your legislators, join the coalition,
speak about this on your college campuses, at
your schools, and in your homes. Galvanize your
churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and
community centers. Educate yourself about all the
companies, contractors, corporations, and
industries benefiting from the imprisonment of
your fellow citizens and explore the many
alternatives to youth and adult imprisonment.
Contact Amnesty International, the Center for
Human Rights, your local congressman and
senators, and voice your opposition to that which
must be opposed. We here of the N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU,
and those strong and determined men here with us,
are fully prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice
to bring an end to this man made perdition to
give our very lives, but even this we fear may
not be enough. But what will tip the scales in
favor of humanity and right is you. Despite all
their money and power, there is one force even
the prison industry must bow to: the power of the
people. Your voice is stronger than all the money
the prison industry lobby can bring to bear. It
is our sincerest hope that humanity and right
will prevail and you all will stand with us on
the right side of history. Our love and
solidarity to all those who love freedom,
justice, and equality and fear only failure.
In struggle N.C.T.T.- COR-SHU

For more information on the Cal-SHU Hunger
strike, the struggle to abolish torture units
or the N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU contact:

Zaharibu Dorrough D-83611
P.O.Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

Heshima Denham J-38283
P.O.Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

Kambui Robinson C-82830
P.O.Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

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