Category Archives: indefinite SHU confinement

Open letter to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Senator Loni Hancock from prisoners in solitary confinement in Corcoran State Prison

Reblogged from: SF Bay View
May 23rd 2014

by Michael R. Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham, Kambui Robinson and Jabari Scott

Dear Assemblyman Ammiano,

We write out of concern for the manner in which certain aspects of CDCR’s Step-Down Program (SDP) are being implemented.

The specific area of concern has to do with the self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy, which are two components of the SDP. Because the aim of these components is to change and restructure the subject’s thought processes – psychological reprograming – it is a mental health issue, which requires the involvement of mental health professionals in its implementation and oversight.

These aspects of the SDP require that an evaluation and diagnosis of each prisoner be made and a treatment plan be developed based on that evaluation and diagnosis. No such evaluations have occurred. In spite of this, a treatment plan has been developed and is being aggressively pursued.

The person who is entrusted with the responsibility for the implementation and oversight of the self-directed journals and cognitive behavioral therapy program is a “facilitator.” He has no legal certification or license to act in the role of a mental health professional.

Because cognitive behavior therapy is a mental health issue, a certified psychologist and/or psychiatrist should conduct the required evaluations, make the appropriate diagnosis and develop any treatment plan for those prisoners who warrant such treatment.

Under this circumstance, any information shared with clinicians is privileged and protected by patient confidentiality.

As it currently stands, there are no mental health professionals involved in these aspects of the SDP. Pursuant to §700.2, “Step-Down components,” the CDCR has developed a “treatment plan” – the self-directed journals and  cognitive behavior therapy – which is a one size fits all approach to psychotherapeutic reconditioning.

This is the best proof that CDCR custody staff are neither legally nor professionally qualified and certified to act in the capacity of psychiatric professionals. As it stands, any information provided under this circumstance is not protected by doctor-patient confidentiality and can be used in any manner CDCR deems fit – and this is illegal.

To compound the illegality of the policy, we are being compelled to submit to psychotherapeutic reprogramming by CDCR custody staff through naked coercion.

We are writing in the hope that legislators will affirmatively act to prohibit CDCR from continuing to violate the law. This practice, left unchecked, will only result in further legitimate criticism from human rights activists and the continued diminishment of the state’s human rights record in the eyes of the world.

At the minimum, we believe that participation in the self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy program should be discretionary – voluntary – as opposed to mandatory – involuntary – and placed firmly under the auspices of certified mental health professionals.

In closing, we would like to thank you for your understanding, courage and leadership demonstrated on this issue thus far.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Michael R. Dorrough, D-83611

J. Heshima Denham, J-38283

Kambui Robinson, C-82830

Jabari Scott, H-30536

The writers can all be reached at P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212. This letter was written May 6.
——- 
Open letter to Sen. Loni Hancock from prisoners in solitary confinement in Corcoran State Prison
May 23, 2014
From: SF Bay View
by Michael R. Dorrough, J. Heshima Denham, Kambui Robinson and Jabari Scott

Dear Sen. Hancock,

We write out of concern for the manner in which certain aspects of the step-down program (SDP) are being implemented by the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation).

Specifically, our concern has to do with the self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy, which are two components of the SDP.

Because these components have to do with changing and restructuring the thought processes – psychological reprogramming – of people, they involve mental health issues and require the involvement of mental health professionals in their implementation and oversight.

These aspects of the SDP require that an evaluation of each prisoner be made and a treatment plan be developed based on that evaluation.

No such evaluations have occurred, and no such treatment plans have been developed.

The person who is entrusted with the responsibility for the implementation and oversight of the self-directed journals and cognitive behavior program is a facilitator. He has no legal certification to carry out the role of a mental health professional. Because cognitive behavior therapy is a mental health issue, a psychologist or psychiatrist should be conducting the required evaluations and developing any treatment plan for those prisoners who warrant such treatment.

Under this circumstance, any information that is shared is privileged information, protected by confidentiality. Yet there are no mental health professionals involved in these aspects.

Pursuant to §700.2, Step-down program components, the CDCR has developed a treatment plan, the self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy, which is a one size fits all approach to psychotherapy. This is the best proof that CDCR custody staff are neither legally nor professionally qualified or certified to carry out the role of psychiatric professionals.

Any information provided under this circumstance is not protected by doctor-patient confidentiality and can be used in any manner the CDCR deems fit.

This is illegal. To compound the illegality, we are being compelled to submit to psychotherapeutic reprogramming by CDCR custody staff.

We are writing in the hope that the legislators will affirmatively act to prohibit the CDCR from continuing to violate the law.

This practice, gone unchecked, will only result in further legitimate criticism from human rights activists, and the continued diminishment of the states human rights record in the eyes of the world.

At minimum, we believe that participation in the self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy program should be voluntary and not mandatory and that it should be done under the auspices of certified mental health professionals.

In closing, we would like to thank you for your understanding and for the courage and leadership that you have demonstrated on this matter.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Michael R. Dorrough, D-83611
J. Heshima Denham, J-38283
Kambui Robinson, C-82830
Jabari Scott, H-30536

The writers can all be reached at P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212. This letter was written May 6.

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Power Concedes Nothing: A Discussion on CDCr’s Insidious Regulatory Semantics and Judicial Collusion in Maintenance of SHU Torture Units

Power Concedes Nothing:
A Discussion on CDCr’s Insidious  Regulatory Semantics and  Judicial Collusion in Maintenance of SHU Torture Units
From the N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU

“Revolutionary activity in every area of human existence will come about by itself when the contradictions in every new process are comprehended; it will consist of an identification with those forces that are moving in the direction of genuine progress. To be radical.. .means “getting to the root of things.” If one gets to the root  of things, if one grasps their contradictory operations, then the overcoming of political reaction is assured… hence, a critique can only be significant and have a practical value if it can show the contradictions of social reality were overlooked.”

          Wilhelm Reich, Ideology as a Material Force

Greetings Brothers and Sisters. The 3rd Law of Dialectical Change, “The Negation of Negation,” dictates once social conditions undergo a qualitative transformation there is also a corresponding evolution in the contradiction between opposing social forces. Over the course of the past 3 years progressive social forces in America (i.e. Decolonize & Occupy Movements, PHSS and SHU Abolition Activists, Strike Debt, BRLP, and other Revolutionary Scientific Socialist Formations, etc.) have waged a struggle to wrest cultural hegemony from the U.S. ruling class on multiple fronts and at multiple levels of society-including at its most desperate and wretched level: PRISONS. As a result, there has been a qualitative transformation in the consciousness of significant segments of society.
With this in mind, the most dynamic aspect of the peoples struggle against the maintenance and expansion of the Prison Industrial Complex is our current movement to abolish SHU torture units in America (and around the world), initiated by the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective. With the resolution of the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities,” the cooperative efforts of People from diverse cultural groups, socio-economic backgrounds, and schools of thought and the sacrifices of thousands here in California (and around the globe) in three Historic Hunger Strikes (the third being the single largest in human history) the People have seized the moral high ground on this issue, drastically narrowing CDCr’s base of support and room to maneuver.. .but not eliminate it.

Instead of a definitive transformation in the culture of prison torture resulting in an abolition of indefinite SHU, the contradiction has now evolved, with CDCr releasing its new regulatory policy language governing “Security Threat Group Management,” and the 9th Circuit Courts releasing two pro-torture rulings, which viewed in their interconnections, represent the state’s response to our challenge to their cultural dominance. The message is clear: “You are slaves; we will continue to treat you as slaves; and we refuse to have our socio-political dominance challenged by slaves.”
The reactionary view of reality shuts its eyes to its own authoritarian contradictions and the conditions of the people. Political reaction reflexively makes use of those social forces that oppose progress; it automatically consolidates to defend its dominance over the People’s lives. Instead of capitulating to progressive social forces and ending torture in SHU units, the state has closed ranks and seeks to redefine the nature of the conflict itself by redefining the language  (i.e. semantics) in its policy governing STG validation and torture unit confinement. In true reactionary fashion they’ve adopted language that reduces (and in some cases eliminates) its burden to establish a factual basis of genuine criminal behavior on the part of those subject to these policies, while simultaneously increasing the burden on prisoners, and  the People, to avoid falling prey to these new regulations which in essence criminalize anything those “validated” as STG’s do, say, or think…. all with the explicit support of the courts. To truly understand the degree of political reaction at play here, we must first acknowledge the role of authoritarian institutions in U.S. society. Authoritarian society reproduces itself in the individual structures of the masses (through its economic system, ideology, and culture) with the help of authoritarian institutions (i.e. school, courts, church, prison, etc.). It thus logically proceeds that political reaction has to regard and defend these authoritarian institutions as the foundation of the state, culture, and capitalist civilization itself.
When these authoritarian institutions are challenged in the arena of public opinion-and are found lacking as they have been in this stuggle -the very foundation of the authoritarian social order is undermined, and a corresponding shift in the consciousness and character structure of the People follows. This, in turn, threatens the authoritarian mass psychology in America. The state can not allow this, and so their reactionary defense response is to delegitimize, to criminalize, to vilify those actors and activities who, in their view, are making a significant contribution to this process; in this case, activists, politically conscious prisoners, and their contemporaries. This policy is the state’s effort to forestall our continued contributions to changing the dynamics of cultural hegemony in the U.S., and the language of the regulations makes that clear.
The offensive content in the newly released regulatory language is far too voluminous for us to address each and every point. Instead, we wish to share with you some of the grosser contradictions in hopes you will not only see the contrapositive aim of the state (to maintain SHU torture units as coercive leverage to psychologically bend or break prisoners), but also gain a deeper understanding of the social forces acting upon us all. The language of CDCr’s STG/SDP Management policy (released as a Directors Rules Change), like the irrational character structure of reactionary man upon which the state is based, is a study in contradictions. CDCr’s “Background” and “Purpose”-language for the new policy on the one hand contends,

“California (STG’s) are routinely and consistently connected to major criminal activities in communities, including such crimes as homicides, drug trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, and extortion…(STG’s) are largely responsible for criminal activities within institutions, to include the trafficking of narcotics, committing and/or directing violence.. and directing criminal activity…”

… while on the other hand the “STG Disciplinary Matrix” (p. 43-) they’ve developed is dedicated largely to elevating petty, innocuous, non-criminal activities and matter to the level of “criminal STG behavior.”
Why would their public propaganda hype these serious and violent crimes as the focus of state interest, while the policy itself focuses primarily on criminalizing things which are in fact notcrimes? The answer is as obvious as it is condemning: MOST PRISONERS VALIDATED AS “STG AFFILIATES” AND CONFINED TO SHU TORTURE UNITS HAVE NOT COMMITED ANY SUCH CRIMES WHILE IN PRISON, AND MANY HAVE IN FACT DONE NOTHING AT ALL.
Never the less, the state must re-create a basis upon which the primary end of the SHU torture unit will not only be maintained, but reborn : The aim of breaking men’s minds. However, the reactionary politician can not divulge his actual intentions in his propaganda. We doubt if anyone (even other reactionaries) would have responded positively to a CDCr statement of intent to break some men’s minds, brainwash others, and indefinitely torture the rest. In political propaganda- which much of this new STG policy is -it is a question of producing a psychological effect in masses of people. In you. One that seeks to legitimize what is clearly the maintenance of torture by another name, and your support for that legitimacy. Let’s take a look.
The “STG Disciplinary Matrix” (§3378.4) (pp. 43-46) criminalizes “conversations,” “greeting cards,”  “clothing,” “communications with offenders/others,” “group exercise,” “handshakes,” “artwork,” and believe it or not, a “color.” That all of these “behaviors” are left to the imagination and interpretation of prison staff only increases the arbitrary standard attached to criminalizing activities and matter which are not of themselves “criminal.” It makes sense, after decades of presiding over the brutalization and degradation of validated SHU prisoners, that these staff members maintain a vested interest in ensuring imprisoned human rights activists remain isolated or broken.
To be sure, new §3378.2(7) allows to “staff visual and audible observations” (p. 22) to be actionable as “STG Offences” which can and will land you in (and/or keep you in) a SHU torture unit.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law..  abridging the freedom of speech,” yet apparently CDCr can, and is doing just that. They have included new language, specifically intended to criminalize peaceful protest action against SHU torture units, SHU abolition activists, and rights groups as “STG Behaviors or Activities.”
New language in §3315(a)(3)(AA) (p. 11) prohibits protestation, while §3315(a)(3)(Z) gives CDCr a basis to charge representatives as protest “leaders.”
New §3323(h)(12) (B) (p. 14) prohibits “communication between offenders/others in support or furtherance of STG activities or behaviors,” which includes letters or discussions surrounding peaceful protest actions against SHU torture units. To be sure, they have even introduced language which criminalizes visits between prisoners and Human Rights groups who do, or have in the past, supported peaceful protest actions against SHU torture units.
On p. 9 of the policy (§3378.7(9)) [3378.2(b)(9) on p. 37] outlines violations for “visits from persons or entities that are documented as willfully promoting, furthering or assisting STG affiliates in activities associated with the STG.” In every hunger strike-related 115 issued, and in countless pro-P.I.C. articles, CDCr and some mass media elements, have consistently reduced it to “gang activity.” This means the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, P.H.S.S., C.F.A.S.C., Our Lives Matter, Prison Watch Network, C.P.F., L.S.P.C. and countless other progressive human rights entities, journalists and individual activists who oppose the preservation of torture in their society are subject to “validation” as an “STG,” and those prisoners conferring with them are in turn subject to sanctions.
The First Amendment prohibits any regulation “Abridging the…right to peaceably assemble, and to petition government for a redress of grievances,” yet again CDCr seems to have not gotten the memo. In the circuitous logic of irrational authoritarian man they seek to create new laws to protect their capacity to violate established law. Organizing to resist state-sponsored torture is not a crime. So again we ask you, why does CDCr’s “Initial Statement of Reasons” cite this litany of serious and violent crimes, yet its regulations focus on activities and matter which are not themselves criminal?
Under the language in this policy CDCr can (and surely will) criminalize anything prisoners- and some of you in ‘society’ reading this now- say, think, or do. The only “safe” activity we may possibly engage in is exiting our cells and taking a breath… however, if one were to take 2 deep breaths, one may be cited for “STG Harrasment-Directly or Indirectly,” because some CDCr staff person may be intimidated by how your breathing. To be sure, they’ve actually introduced an unspecific category of STG misconduct in §3378.4(a)(3)(M) termed “Unique Behaviors” that is actually whatever the state wants it to be.
CDCr, making their authoritarian political position clear, posits in its “Statementof Reasons”  surrounding §3378.4(c)(7) that behavior need not be actionable as a rules violation to be used to validate prisoners or retain them in SHU torture units (see p.31 of the policy). CDCr has included this language despite having touted to every media outlet and public official who would listen that they are “moving to a behavior based model.” It is a contradiction, wrapped in a lie, cloaked in semantics.
Yet as fundamentally contradictory and irrational as it is to criminalize activity and matter which is not criminal, to increase the magnitude of petty offences and observations which can land prisoners in a SHU torture unit; what’s equally offensive is they’ve actually lowered the bar for themselves in proving if such matter is actually “STG”- related. If you go to p.23, at §3375.3-CODE G, CDCr can establish STG association withouthaving to show direct contact with a validated STG affiliate. Exactly how anyone can rationally demonstrate how someone is associating with someone else without having to show they’ve associated at all is mind boggling. Yet, if we move to the new language on “Direct Links” (for validation purposes) on p.35 we find that unilateral action by either party is sufficient to demonstrate a “direct link” to an STG, and CDCr staff need notestablish that the subject knew the other was ‘validated’ as an STG, or knew each other at all. Under this rubric, any of you reading this right now could write an N.C.T.T. coordinator here in Corcoran or at Pelican Bay SHU, having never met or known us outside of reading this article, and find yourself “validated” with a “direct link” to an STG. Does this strike you as a means to combat “homicides, narcotics trafficking, and extortion,” or a means to combat political progress, to criminalize and sanction segments of the population who’ve exposed and damaged their inhumane agenda politically and socially?
Throughout the regulatory language there has been a great emphasis on “criminal STG behavior,” even making things which are not behaviors “behavior” (clothing, artwork, handshakes, etc.) -yet contradicting this all, on p.35 they create a loophole for themselves (just in case the STG Disciplinary Matrix isn’t enough) stating placement in SHU/SDP, or validation as an STG affiliate, does not need to occur with behavior, “source criteria” alone is enough. To be sure, though they contend they’ve put a 4 year cap on the “age” of “source criteria” (information) used for STG purposes, they have included another loophole for themselves on the same page which actually expands the time frame for using “source criteria” to “anytime in the individuals personal STG history.” How they are able to assert such contradictions under color of law is a riddle which should concern every citizen and inhabitant of the U.S… Unfortunately the answer to this riddle is even more disturbing.
Judicial Collusion
It is the fact of judicial collusionwhich allows for such abuses. For example, CDCr has made a great deal about the new provisions which are supposed to ensure confidential informants/information used to validate or place prisoners in SHU under STG regulations must be independently  corroborated before it can be used. However, new §3321(b) (1) includes language which completely undermines this by stating, “other circumstantial evidence” may be used to “corroborate” confidential informants/information (1030’s). We have recently discovered “investigation” is sufficient “corroboration” under this “other circumstantial evidence” standard. In other words, they can have an informant say you had plans to blow-up a gun tower, and that informant becomes “corroborated” when they “investigate” this baseless lie. Under this logic, “corroboration” is just empty semantics.
However ridiculous this sounds, they have no fear of the courts striking such an absurdity down because in a recent ruling on Brother Zaharibu’s 9th Circuit appeal, the courts took the position THE ACTUAL  EVIDENCE DOES’NT  EVEN HAVE TO EXIST – AS LONG AS THE RIGHT BOXES ARE CHECKED ON THE 1030 form, THAT’S “SOME EVIDENCE.” The evidence the 1030 is supposed to be based on does not have to exist at all. The ‘word’ of CDCr staff, according to the courts, is good enough for them. Mind you, this ruling comes on the heels of the third Hunger Strike, only days before recent legislative hearings on SHU torture units, and almost simultaneously as these regulations were being released. As it stands, IGI/Prison Staff can say anything on a 1030, check some boxes, and you’ll receive a 115 and a 4-year to indefinite SHU term in CDCr’s SDP-and the courts will support this.
Judicial collusion in the maintenance of SHU torture units is long standing and pervasive in the U.S., and in California in particular, (see, Ruiz v. Estelle, Coleman v. Wilson, Madrid v. Gomez, In Re Castillo, Koch v. Lewis [AZ], etc.). Despite the massive public outcry against the perpetuation of SHU torture units in America, the 9th Circuit court (in apparent reactionary support of CDCr’s maintance of the practice) is actually reversing progressive District court rulings when they favor  prisoners subjected to long-term SHU torture.
In In Re Griffin the District Court ordered CDCr, on three separate occasions, to release Griffin to the general population (G.P.), or a less restrictive environment than SHU. After several moves to mock the court’s ruling, such as moving Griffin from Pelican Bay SHU to Corcoran SHU, which failed miserably after the District Judge toured Corcoran SHU and told CDCr they were not in compliance with the order, CDCr basically took the position they’d go to jail before they released him to the G.P.. The 9th Circuit finally weighed in. The Attorney General, representing CDCr passed on to the court some speculative information provided by OCS, and the 9th Circuit in essence took the position the District Court made an error by abiding by the Constitution in Griffin’s case. The 9th Circuit Court rebuked the District Courts’ findings that over 2 decades in the SHU, simply because one would not debrief, does in fact violate the Eighth Amendment. The 9th Circuit Courts position is that torture Is not cruel and unusual as long as it’s a validated prisoner on the receiving end, and further held (based on whatever information OCS trumped up) that Griffin could “earn his way back into Pelican Bay.” They made no move to enforce the District Courts order to release Griffin to the general population or to sanction CDCR for repeatedly disregarding the order.
That CDCr has been maintaining the largest collection of torture units in the U.S. is the best proof the courts will defend the integrity of authoritarian institutions before it upholds its own ‘law.’ Which is why it should come as no surprise that CDCr can assert in its “Evaluation of Consistency/ Compatability WithExisting Laws/Regulations” (p. 2) that: “The Department has researched existing statutes and regulations and has determined that these proposed regulations and has determined that these proposed regulations are not inconsistent…with existing laws”… then turn around and violate the very statutes it cites as its controlling language with impunity. To state that many of the provisions of this policy violate the 1st, 8th, and 14th Amendments is too obvious, and frankly too easy. Let’s go for the less obvious.
If we look on p.3 of the “Initial Statement of Reasons,” CDCr cites Castillo v. Alameida  [Castillo v. Alameida, Case No. C-94-2847-MJJ (N.D.Cal.) ] as controlling case law, yet throughout the policy “laundry lists” of every sort (i.e., membership lists, enemy lists, roll-call lists, etc, see-p.14, §3323(h)(12)(E); p.22,§3375.3(a)(4)(B)(3); p.36, 0378.2(5); p.45, STG MATRIX, Sec.6(g), etc., etc.) are cited as legitimate “source criteria.”
The ‘Castillo’ settlement agreement expressly prohibits the use of such laundry lists for validation/SHU placement purposes. The ‘Castillo’ settlement agreement (CIVIL NO.C-94-2847) on p.7, at point 21 states, “Defendants (CDCr) agree that “laundry lists” shall not be relied on as a source item,” yet in spite of this they’ve added new provisions for additional “laundry list” classifications, such as ‘roll-call lists.’ CDCr’s regulatory semantics and the courts collusion in their maintenance and perpetuation must be seen for what they are: This is THE STATE’S— response to the Protest Movement responsible for exposing its contradictions and inspiring resistance from multiple segments of society. As one apparatus of the authoritarian state becomes intransigent in the face of change, others leap to support it (in this case the courts, the Govenor’s Office, conservative mass media, and The Dept. of Justice) on a broader and broader basis giving the appearance of a shift back in the struggle for cultural hegemony in their favor.
This, of course, results is a further deepening of the contradiction in the peoples character structure between reactionary and freedom loving tendencies; not simply among the broader masses but those actively engaged in, or supportive of, the struggle as well. However, such vacillation is insufficient to reassert continuity in the authoritarian order… or to halt determined spirits from actively seeking to transform the nature and structure of capitalist society and structure of capitalist society and it’s institutions in America. Therefore, the state must resort to other measures: Enter the Step-Down Program.
CDCr’s Step Down Program, as we’ve already explained in a series of dissertations, is simply a sham system by which CDCr seeks to leverage indefinite torture in SHU to coerce those subject to it to submit to psychological reprograming consistent with the social values of the authoritarian state. According to these new regulations, should you resist this ideological (re)assimilation you will remain in the torture unit indefinitely-and you (not the state) are then “responsible” for your own torture. On p.41 of the policy (3378.3(a)(2)) they state,

“Each step provides progams and privileges and,  it is the responsibility of the affiliate to demonstrate they can be released to a less restrictive environment while abstaining from STG behaviors If the offender chooses not to progress through any step of the program the offender may be returned, by ICC, to one of the previous steps until they demonstrate appropriate behavior for movement into the next step. Any time the inmate wishes to begin participating in the SDP, they may notify their assigned counselor…”

As we’ve already demonstrated, “abstaining from STG behaviors” is next to impossible under these new “regulations” which criminalize everything from a hand shake to a conversation, but when they speak of “appropriate behavior,” exactly what are they talking about? For the answer we must go to the “SDP Notice of Expectations” [p. 41]. There is a “Notice” for each step (1-5), with each containing 5 to 7 ‘expectation’ points, depending on which step you’ve been assigned to. The most obvious and glaring contradictions of the SDP, and what actually reveals the states true motivation here, is the fact that only 1 of the expectation points has any association to legitimate penological interests as it relates to “behavior” in prison: “Remain disciplinary free adhering to all Departmental rules and regulations.”
Now if CDCr were sincere in their assertion that “The SDP will be a individually behavior based program” one would need only “remain disciplinary free” for 4 years and be released to the general population in step-5. This however is not the actual intent of the SDP… subordinating the population to the authoritarian dictates of the state is.
Under this new policy you can be disciplinary free for decades (as most current indeterminate SHU prisoners are today) and never be released  from SHU. This is not simply a “behavior based” program (despite the term “behavior” being such an ambiguous term to CDCr) as you are also expected to “participate in and successfully complete all mandated educational and cognitive (restructuring) instruction (including self-directed journals), as well as risk-educational assessment, as determined by ICC.”
They also expect you to “follow all staff recommendations and directions,” as a part of “positive” SDP participation. Since we’ve already made a definitive analysisof the cognitive restructuring and forensic profiling components of §700.2 of the SDP and COMPAS assessment in 3 previous NCTT-Cor-SHU analyses, there is no need to do so again here. What is necessary for us to discuss here is why this duplicitous contradiction is so necessary to the state’s efforts to reassert political reaction in populations currently committed to progressive struggle.
Our struggle to abolish SHU torture units is inextricably linked to the broader struggle to seize cultural hegemony in the U.S. from the ruling class and it’s tool, the state. This struggle has contributed to progressively changing attitudes in society and prisons. Our collective efforts have repeatedly exposed the state’s contradictions and sparked the Peoples appetite for freedom and new social relationships. These activities undermine the reactionary character structure upon which authoritarian society is based. These actions are thus revolutionary. “Revolution” is, at heart, “a war for the minds of the masses,” it moves us positively from one way of life and set of social values, to one more conducive to principles of collective life. The state makes no secret in this new policy that reintroducing its  “social values” is central to their SDP’ strategy. On p.2 of its “Initial Statement of Reasons,” it states its “strategy is designed to [last point] “provide programs designed to promote social values and behaviors in preparation for the offender’s return to the community.” (p. 2)
It is only as a result of seeing the masses organize and resist its callous inhumanity that the state now seeks to force the restructuring of the “social values” of prisoners at the source of this resistance to more closely reflect the dominant mass psychology (i.e. ideological conformity). It is only when the suppressed segments of society begin to organize themselves, begin to fight for socio-economic and political improvements and raise the cultural level of the broader masses, that moralistic inhibitions set in; only then do ruling elements, and their tools, begin to show concern for the “values” and “morality” of the oppressed.
As organized resistance rises, so does a contrary process activate in direct proportion from the state: The ideological assimilation to the ruling class. However, such a process among the prison class and lumpen strata (where oppression is a constant of existence) is simply not as easily achieved as it is in the middle class. Consciousness, relatively speaking, is directly proportional to oppression. Couple this fact with the lumpen strata’s desperate historic relationship to the productive system and the daily assaults on our humanity that all prisoners endure, and the prospect of conforming to authoritarian dictates, or being ideologically assimilated by mundane means to just accepting the role of oppressed man is simply unrealistic to say the least. Thus the need, the requirement, the mandate of the state that all prisoners subject to the SDP must submit to cognitive restructuring or face the prospect of continued indefinite torture.
If we view the state’s response in these regulatory and judicial positions within their correct social, political, and historic context it becomes clear this is an automatic, reactionary gambit to reawaken contrary structural tendencies which lie active, dormant, or repressed (depending on your relative degree of political maturity) in all of us who’ve developed in the patriarchal-authoritarian miasma of capitalist America. Concessions in this struggle, on the part of the state, have thus far been superficial and cosmetic. The view of authoritarian institutions is power does not concede-it compels.
We have demonstrated here how these policies and judgments are a collection of contradictions justified by lies. As resistance to the dictates of authoritarian ideology continues to spread and flare across the surface of the American social structure, truth begins to intrude rudely upon the hypocrisies and irrationalities at the foundation of authoritarian society. The lines between the socially hostile microcosm of prison and the politically reactionary macrocosm of society are being blurred as progressive activists across the spectrum begin to join hands across the walls with progressive and Revolutionary prisoners, producing new social relationships, new political perspectives, and moving toward truly Revolutinary (i.e., rational) character structures and ideology. As we speak, ideas, rational ideas based in truth, like the Sustainable Agricultural Commune, the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movements’ First Amendment Campaign, and the Agreement to End Hostilities are finding resonance among the People, and taking root in communities in society at large. These ideas are influencing -to a greater or lesser degree- the mass psychology in America, and the state must move to stop it, to prevent these ideas being fully manifested into a social force of even greater transformative quality. Power thus reveals its nature in its contradictions.
Wilhelm Reich, in his treatise, The Human Struggle for Freedom observed:

“The dilemma is this: Without the power to put them into practice, truths are of no use. They remain academic. Power, no matter what kind of power it is, without a foundation in truth, is a dictatorship, more or less and in one way or another, for it is always based on man’s fear of the social responsibility and personal burden that “freedom” entails. Dictatorial power and truth do not go together. They are mutually exclusive… “power” always means the subjugation of others.”

It is here finally, we strike at the “root” of the matter: The state’s preservation of dictatorial power is the origin of the lies and contradictions within the new STG regulations and the judicial collusion which allows them to move forward as a material force.
With all this in mind, state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has sponsored a bill to cap “administrative” SHU confinement to a 3 year determinate term. We’ve no doubt Mr. Ammiano is sincere in his genuine desire for progressive change. However, CDCr, and the state they both represent, is not. As we’ve demonstrated here, semantics is as viable as reality to the state. If there is no explicit language stating the bill applies retroactively, those who’ve been here for 10-40 years will have to spend another  3 years here. CDCr can take the position, the SDP is “segregated housing” and not SHU (though it is none the less in the SHU and your torturous living conditions are no different) and continue to hold you in the SHU for another 5 years to forever. Because the bill speaks exclusively to validated SHU prisoners, with this new regulatory language in mind, which manufactures an entirely new reality for “behavior” (transforming non-criminal activity and matter into “crimes”), it’s a simple matter of having validated prisoners housed in SHU issued repeated petty 115’s-which could hold prisoners in SHU indefinitely. SHU torture units are real, the human misery they are responsible for is real, and the intent of the state to maintain this practice is equally real.
There are some of us, despite this bill, that the state is simply not going to release to a mainline. To be sure, these new regulations contain provisions whereby, “…STG affiliates who are… in segregated housing for non-disciplinary reasons with privileges associated… with step-4 if they have completed the SDP but were retained for non-disciplinary reasons.” In other words, you can jump through every hoop in the SDP, and if they feel you have too much influence, or for other Non-disciplinary reasons, they can keep you in step-4 (in the SHU) indefinitely (see “InitialStatement of Reasons,” p.12, §3044(j) through§3044(j) (2)(H)). With this in mind, if the legislature will not consider restoring the “Prisoners Bill of Rights,” perhaps at least they will consider including contact visits for those housed in SHU for non-disciplinary reasons?
In the final analysis it is our collective determination to not simply abolish SHU torture units, but to transform the sick culture and warped ideology of this society which has allowed them to endure for so long which, in turn, will realize a victorious Revolutionary change. The Prison Industrial Complex is but one cog in the machinery of the authoritarian order. Truly dismantling it requires striking at the very foundation upon which this world is currently organized: THE AUTHORITARIAN MASS PSYCHOLOGY OF REACTIONARY MAN/WOMAN. By changing our minds and actions, we will change the world. This kind of change, a Revolutionary change, only progresses in the crucible of struggle. Come struggle with us.
We wish to leave you all with the wise words of Arundhati Roy: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way; on a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”

Until we win or don’t lose.

N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU
For more information on the N.C.T.T.-COR-SHU, contact:
Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough D-83611, 4B1L-#43
J. Heshima Denham J-38283, 4B1L-#43
Kambui Robinson C-82830, 4B1L-#49
Jabari Scott H-30536 4B1L-#63
CSP-COR-SHU
P.O. BOX 3481
Corcoran, CA. 93212
Online @: NCTTCorSHU.org
Twitter: Twitter.com/NCTTCorSHU
Facebook: Facebook.com/nctt.corshu.3

                                                                                                                     

Resistance to Torture is not a Game

A reply to Debra J. Saunders from the NCTT in COR – SHU
“Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man, its publication is a duty.” 
 Anne Louise Germaine de Staël
Here’s how you know corporate mass media journalists like San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders are simply the public mouthpieces of the state’s authoritarian apparatus:  the U.S. Prison Industrial Complex has been maintaining the single largest domestic torture program on planet Earth in SHU torture units across the nation, with 12,000 of its 80,000 victims in California and instead of every investigative reporter in the nation researching and reporting on the existence of systematic torture in U.S. prisons it barely gets a mention in mainstream media and when it does, it is nothing more than a recycled version of the same distortions and mischaracterizations issued by the very prison administrators responsible for the inhuman practice.  Because of the blatant distortions and outright lies contained in the Op-Ed piece masquerading as “journalism” such as Debra J. Saunders “Prison Hunger Strike Is a Dangerous Game” (S.F. Gate 8/23/13), we feel compelled to correct them with the truth.
A good place to begin this discussion, because it was so thoroughly mocked by Ms. Saunders and CDCR masters, is settling once and for all the fact that indeterminate SHU confinement is torture, and why.  It is a three-prong, systematic process including “validation, indeterminate SHU confinement, debriefing,” which taken together is by definition torture.
Let us first define torture. The U.N. Convention Against Torture (C.A.T)of which the U.S. is a signatory, defines “torture” in Article 1 as,
”Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purpose as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of, or with the consent of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”
Let’s begin with, “Any act which pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted…”
The body of evidence cataloging the severe mental pain irreparable physical and psychological damage of prolonged and indefinite sensory deprivation confinement is so overwhelming, so irrefutable that it stretches back over 100 years in U.S. science and jurisprudence alone.  In 1890, the Supreme Court ruled, In Re Medley the court observed of the practice,
“A considerable number of prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to rouse them, and others became violently insane; others still committed suicide, while those who stood the ordeal were non-reformed, and in many cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of subsequent service to the community.”
(U.S. Supreme Court, In Re Medley, 134 U.S. 160, 168  (1890) ). In Great Britain, as in other countries, public sentiment revolted against this severity, and by the Statute of 6 and 7, William IV, Chapter 3, the additional punishment of solitary confinement was repealed.  (In Re Medley, 134 U.S. 160, 168, 170 (1890)).”
Experts in the field of psychology, psychiatry and human behavior from Bonnie Kerness, Craig Haney, to Doctor Stuart Grassian have universally determined even brief stays in sensory deprivation confinement causes significant psychological injury: 
To quote Craig Haney of U.C. California, Santa Cruz,

“There is not a single published study of solitary or super-max-like confinement in which non-voluntary confinement lasting longer than ten (10) days, where participants were unable to terminate their isolation at will, that failed to result in negative psychological effects, including such clinically significant symptoms as hypertension, uncontrollable anger, hallucinations, emotional breakdowns, and suicidal thoughts and behavior.” 

The SHU torture units in California were uniquely designed for this purpose, and as CDCR spokesperson, disguised as a journalist, Debra. J. Saunders, seeks to reduce prisoners’ legitimate resistance to indefinite torture to “a game”, men like Billy “Guerro” Sell and Armando “Baby Paya” Morales are being driven to hang themselves right here in Corcoran SHU because these conditions in fact do intentionally inflict mental and physical pain and suffering of such severity that men kill themselves to escape it. 
50% of all California prisoner suicides occur in SHU, though it houses only 5% of the prison population. The cause of this disproportionately lethal impact has been crucial and articulated by experts in the field ad-nauseum, with universally agreed-upon findings, that long-term SHU confinement causes severe mental and physical suffering amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or…torture.  Instead of relying on the overwhelming body of  scientific evidence and the leading psychological experts in the field of solitary and supermax-style confinement – CDCR groupies – like Debra J. Saunders rely on baseless opinions and outright lies of prison industrialists like Jeffrey Beard, who say that neither solitary confinement or torture exist in California.  

In an August 13, 2013 Rolling Stone– article, citing the California Penal Code definition of torture, CDCR spokesperson Terry Thornton claimed this penal code didn’t fit the definition of torture, “The intent to cause cruel or extreme pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion, or for any sadistic purpose.” 
Oh, but it does fit that definition and countless personages over the last 100 plus years have reported just that. But before we get into the “purpose” aspect of SHU, we think it’s important for us to analyze the psychosis, which seeks to justify and has always sought justification for this type of inhumanity.
Authoritarian powers of the world, and those who support them, like Debra J. Saunders, have always cloaked their dehumanization and abuses of certain segments of the population in the name of “the law,” “nature,” and in some cases, “God.” The U.S. since its inception has been a nation founded upon the patriarchal authoritarian mass psychology, The cultural foundation of reactionary man in which the values, cultural mores and ideas of the ruling elite are reproduced in those they exploit. For centuries it was illegal for women to own property, vote, or have any meaningful control over their daily lives, their bodies, or their futures. When women resisted this patriarchal enforcement of their second-class citizenship, they were brutalized, jailed, reviled, and often killed.
Though the intimate oppression of women finds its origins in the development of the modern family unit, the economic role women played as sexual and domestic chattel, is equitable in most men’s minds to any other valued beast (cattle, sheep, horses, etc). This oppression was enforced with biblical scripture which cloaked women’s subjugation in “the word of God”. Laws flowed directly from the pulpits that mirrored the same. After centuries of resistance and progress this same patriarchal authoritarian mass psychology responsible for 19th century sexism, misogyny and brutality of women is the same psychosis responsible for its modern perpetration, and the creation of torture units across the U.S. prison industrial complex.
The same authoritarian psychosis which rationalized the systematic genocide of over 50 million Native North Americans as “the white man’s burden” in service to Amerika’s “Manifest Destiny,” is the same authoritarian psychosis that pits prisoners against prisoners in gladiator fights in Corcoran SHU, and boiled them alive in Pelican Bay SHU; is the same authoritarian psychosis that invoked biblical ”scripture” and “the law” to justify enslaving 100’s of millions of Afrikans in Amerika and murdering 100’s of millions more during the trans-Atlantic slave trade; is the same authoritarian psychosis responsible for Jeffrey Beard reducing tortured prisoners’ peaceful hunger strike to end indefinite torture, to a “gang  power play”; is the same authoritarian psychosis which stripped Jews in Europe of their rights under Nazi occupation before marching them to extermination camps; is the same authoritarian psychosis responsible for Debra J. Saunders advocating that the label ”gang member” is a justification for the U.S. prison industry to erect the largest domestic torture program on the face of the earth.
The authoritarian psychosis of reactionary men and women is infinitely capable of rationalizing its own evil and justifying it under “the rule of law.” The CDCR spokesperson, Terry Thornton, can bluntly say torture isn’t torture, and somehow convince herself of the delusion that it is the same way the Victorian-era preacher convinces himself the repressed woman is “happy,” docile and joyous in her submission, and it is the same waythe union soldier convinces himself he is “doing the  native savages a kindness by resettling them on a reservation to be taught the proper ways of civilization; is the same way the prison industry convinces themselves that the prisoner who “bed checked” in the same tiny cell for years, decades, deserves it because he is a validated prisoner; and it is the same as the District Court Judge today who convinces himself that the SHU prisoner has no 8th Amendment rights to be free of torture.
At Corcoran SHU there is a forced double-celling policy. The legal minimum requirement for the amount of cell space for two people in one cell is 60 square feet. In Corcoran SHU cells, because the beds sit next to each other here, there is no more than 15 square feet for two people. The toilet is less than 2 feet from the bed. The toilets are on metal and stick out into that space. Only 3 flushes are allowed every 12 minutes.  It is common for the cell and tier to reek of feces, including during morning and evening meals. We routinely have our yard privileges taken away and find ourselves regularly confined to the cells 24 hours a day almost every single day for weeks.
The c/o’s (correctional officers) also function under the same warped psychosis of the patriarchal authoritarian mass psychology. It is a psychosis, which is cultural in capitalist society and all encompassing.  In each case, dehumanization plays a central and necessary role in the function of the psychosis. To inflict inhumane treatment on another human, the mind forces the perpetrator to dehumanize the subject of his or her cruelty. In this instance, the justification for our dehumanization is the label “violent gang member”.  As some read these words, a part of your mind is automatically and irrationally skeptical and repulsed by anything, no matter how noble or correct you may feel you are, associated with the term “violent gang member,” and that’s because you’ve been conditioned that way over the course of the past 35 years. 
In that same time period, the U.S. prison population has exploded by 800%!  A monolithic, multi-billion dollar prison industrial complex has spread its tendrils into almost every aspect of economic, social, political, and cultural life in AmeriKa. SHU torture units have sprouted up in almost every state in the union, with more and more human beings consigned to them indefinitely for ever more arbitrary and nonsensical reasons, all fueled by your tax dollars and political will. They accomplished this the same way they accomplished the invasion of Iraq, by telling you enough lies, enough times, with sufficient intensity that in your mind it’s taken on the aura of truth. Even though it’s a lie. 

This brainwash has gone on so long that it’s now become the standard “go to” narrative of CDCR. Reality, veracity and common sense have little place in that narrative.  It is designed to frighten you by dehumanizing you, and by doing so they create the social illusion that you and I are separate and adversarial entities; that we lie outside the legal definition of ”person,” as though we did not come from and will not return to the same communities you now live in; the same communities our mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children and kin live and pay taxes in, right alongside you. It’s both insidious and evil, and more to the point, prohibits a basis for torture.

We’d like to elaborate:
On August 23, 2011, former CDCR Under-Secretary, Scott Kernan, in response to several psychiatrists and psychologists’ expert testimony that indefinite SHU confinement was a violation of international standards prohibiting torture, responded, “The real human rights violation is the violence the gangs carry out.” This is the identical narrative of every CDCR spokesperson, official, and administrator, at present.  Current CDCR spokesperson Terry Thornton, who, in some of the most warped logic we’ve ever seen, put into print, stated in the wake of Billy “Guerro” Sell’s  alleged suicide here at Corcoran that the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition activists and Billy’s family members were somehow “exploiting his death”  in order to “mislead the public: about a hunger strike orchestrated by violent gang members.”  As previous analysis has already established, suicide is often employed to escape the torture of the SHU. 50% of all prison suicides occur in SHU, though only 5% of the prison population is housed there.  Implicit in such statements is, “So what?   We’re torturing them, they are “violent gang members,” so why should anyone care?”
This very rationale is prohibited under C.A.T., Article 2; and the Convention Against Torture, states, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture,”  that includes the label “violent gang member.” When the U.S. signed C.A.T. at the close of WWII they were conscious of this type of dehumanization, as they had just witnessed it in liberating the Nazi death camp footage; so inflicting it on their own citizens within their own borders proves the acts intentional.  We have established that indefinite SHU confinement causes “severe pain and suffering, both physical and mental.”
We have established that CDCR officials are actually aware of this, which brings us to the “purpose”aspect of the torture definition. CDCR has stated on multiple occasions, the purpose of indefinite SHU confinement is to “administratively segregate gang members from the general population so the other 95% of prisoners can program without the violence of gang members.” Since the beginning of the validation – indeterminate SHU – debriefing process in the mid 1980s, violence in CDCR facilities only increased exponentially. So this is either an outright lie, or “gang members” are not the origin of prison violence. This fact was one of the many contradictions former Undersecretary Kernan was confronted with by legislators at the August 23, 2011 Public Safety Committee Hearings in Sacramento, concerning the CDCR practice of “administrative segregation” which in actuality, does not necessitate indefinite confinement in SHU torture units. If indefinite confinement in solitary was truly not the aim of prison officials, a standard level IV 180 design prison yard setting exclusively housing “validated prisoners” could serve the same end for $24,000 less per prisoner per year.
Current costs per year are $78.000 per prisoner to house men in SHU, but only $54,000 per prisoner to house men on a normal level IV 180 design yard, annually.
No, the true purpose of indefinite SHU confinement is to break men’s minds; to coerce them through punitive sanctions to debrief; to provide information on yourself and/or others to prison officials; to become a state informant; to snitch. This process has been articulated, its etiology explained, its key architects named, in the NCTT-COR-SHU article, “Creating Broken Men.” The process is further analyzed in the article “Creating Broken Men 2” and mentions its current evolution in CDCR’s STG Pilot Program.
We encourage you all to review them at www.sfbayview.com or ncttcorshu.org  or in the newsletter Prison Focus #39, available on line at www.prisons.org along with the inspired thoughts by the many prisoners who have written on these issues. 
However, we can illustrate the CDCR’s methods briefly by using CDCR’s own language:  Article 22 of the Department Operating Manual (D.O.M.)(50270) of their governing “gang management” system.  In D.O. M. (52970.5), CDCR states their gang management strategy shall be to identify gang affiliated inmates and parolees; …take interdiction action, and apply sanctions.”   In D.O.M.(52070.5.4) “Gang activity sanctions: “inmates… in violation of criminal and administrative statutes shall be dealt with in the strictest possible…manner.  This shall include, but not be limited to loss of privileges, increase in custody, loss of work credits (read: loss of parole), enhancement of penalties; segregation from the inmate general population (read: indefinite solitary/sensory deprivation confinement).
Let’s stop for a moment; the language here is grossly misleading at its outset. The disturbing truth is, though CDCR uses language like “violent gang members” and  “violation of criminal and administrative statutes”, very few, if any “validated” prisoners were consigned to SHU for committing any act.  It is these alleged “administrative statutes” – the arbitrary standard – that allows this.  “Validation” is not, nor has it ever been about “behavior.”
The violent crimes that Debra J. Saunders definitively attaches to the D. Short Corridor Main Reps occurred 20 – 40 years ago.  Are any of us the same persons that we were two (2) decades ago?  Of course not.  Most validated prisoners have had no rules violations of any kind in years – or even decades. The “validated “ gang theory is predicated not on what you have done, but instead, like in the Tom Cruise Dystopian film, “Minority Report,” you are punished for what officials believe you may do; that just their suspicion that you are a so-called “gang member” is sufficient to determine you are predisposed to inevitably carry out an act of violent crime.  Such a systematic process in a supposed “open and democratic society” should horrify and outrage every citizen. Yet these dubious “gang activity sanctions” have been codified in CDCR regulations, “calculated to force an individual or group of individuals to comply with an obligation or submit to that authority, state or group of states; (2) a coercive provision of law or penalty designed to enforce obedience.”  In each case we see “sanctions” equated with force. But what is the end in this case?
We find out answer in D.O.M. 52070.29.2  “Role and Responsibility of the Gang Intelligence Operations. Debriefing Team,” which states, “the primary objective of the team shall be to debrief validated prison gang members housed in the SHU.”  Here we see “validated prisoners in the SHU” are identified as the primary focus of debriefing efforts by CDCR. The purpose provision of the torture definition under C.A.T., article 1 states:  “pain suffering… intentionally inflicted on a person for such purpose as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person… When such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”  This is the very definition of debriefing.  “To learn enough about the subject and the object’s current gang (D.O.M.52070.19.2)..Information obtained during a debriefing shall be documented on…a debriefing report.” (D.O.M. 52070.19.8) Validation/indeterminate SHU confinement/debriefing is all about gathering information, coercing the subject to become an informant on others (a third person), and this becomes a tool of the state. This is unequivocally torture by any definition.
Any narrative to the contrary, be it asserted by CDCR groupies like Debra J. Saunders or a CDCR spokesperson like Terry Thornton, you now know what you are hearing is sick people trying to justify torture.
The representation of “lies as truth” and the employment of state-controlled journalists to give those lies the air of legitimacy has always been the preferred method of the authoritarian order to maintain cultural hegemony, and the August 24, 2013, article by Debra J. Saunders is a prime example of this process.  Here we have a collection of completely uncorroborated sound bites by CDCR officials and outright lies being presented by a so-called journalist that has made no effort to verify the truth of any of her “fun SHU facts”. Obvious contradictions are often the first indication of state duplicity.  Ms. Saunders opens this pro-CDCR Op-ed piece (It is not serious journalism) by castigating the commitment of hunger strikers by noting participation went from 30,000 persons to 79 persons in 16 days, then 4 paragraphs later puts forward the absurd contradiction that so-called “gang leaders” have coerced everyone with threats to go without food. The truth is repression breeds resistance. We’re discussing indefinite torture. No one requires compulsion to resist torture, or the prospect of the same happening to them.  That CDCR, with the aid of irresponsible journalists like Ms. Saunders, were able to “force feed” that contradiction to Judge Henderson does not lend that false narrative any credence.
U.S. Courts have allowed this torture to continue in numerous cases for over 30 years knowing full well all the actual facts articulated in this piece, in consistent support of prison officials maintaining SHU torture units. Taking judicial steps to neutralize the lethal component is in the interest of the State, of which the Courts are a part.  A convenient lie was floated devoid of any verifiable evidence, it was accepted by the judge, and he pulled the fangs from the hunger strike. This tripe by Ms. Saunders is no more journalism than is “The National Inquirer.”  One of the standards of American journalism is to always verify sources; “facts.”  The entirety of the “article” posted on SFGate, is to justify CDCR employees telling Deborah J. Saunders one unsubstantiated lie after another, and Ms. Saunders just putting it into print without bothering to verify it, or if any of this even occurred.
Joyce Hayhoe, of the Federal Receiver’s Office, allegedly told Ms. Saunders one hunger striker would take food “if he could hide it” and yet another would eat “if he could be transferred”; yet neither Ms. Saunders nor anyone at the SFGate site bothered to contact, or even identify, these alleged prisoners to verify this, or if they even exist. Saunders quotes CDCR as reporting that “a hunger striking prisoner assaulted his cellmate who refused to share food,” yet the columnist did not seek to verify the existence of either prisoner, or even if such an incident occurred. This far surpasses irresponsible reporting, and is a smear piece masquerading as journalism, which is equitable to some state official telling a journalist that Barak Obama is really a member of the Taliban, that journalist having printing up the story, and the newspaper publishing it, with no attempt to verify this with either Barak Obama or the Taliban. That “journalist” would be fired, and rightfully so.
Debra Saunders goes on to state that CDCR employees gave all hunger strikers “Gatorade and vitamins”, but no such thing occurred here at Corcoran. If a hunger striking prisoner accepted Gatorade here, it would take you off the hunger strike. Officers not only did notmake daily rounds to see who needed medical attention, but custody staff went out of their way to not offer strikers any attention. It was the exclusive province of CCHCS medical staff and they were instructed by Chief Medical Officer, J. Wang, to ignore the CCHCS mass hunger strike, fasting, and re-feeding care policy (IMSP&P, vol 4,Chapt.22.2).  Daily rounds, consisted of nothing more than a nurse with a clipboard coming by your door and asking, “are you still on a hunger strike?,” then walking away. That’s it. 
We have 4 appeals with documentation of intentional medical neglect/deliberate indifference, by COR-SHU medical staff toward hunger strikers here. You would appear very thin, in the face of the July 28th, 2013, 68 page Corcoran State Prison Health Care Evaluation Report condemning Corcoran CCHCS as the worst in the state, that she would make some effort to determine if  “care” for prisoners was actually what CDCR was “reporting” it was. But again, that would imply serious journalism, and that’s simply not what we’re discussing here.
Here are some NOT so fun facts about SHU:
  • SHU does constitute “extreme isolation:, with or without a cellmate, as the conditions of sensory deprivation confinement, enforced idleness, sharing a space barely large enough for one person, let alone 2 (the physical structure of Corcoran-SHU cells affords even less room), and the inescapable psychological degradation that accompanies the horrifying realization that you will never get out of this tiny, monotonous, sterile space is universally experienced. None of this is mitigated (and is often exacerbated) by having a cellmate.  SHU is torture; SHU is extreme isolation, and that must be judged by its effects (which are objective and quantifiable), not by the sarcastic commentary of a CDCR groupie’s opinions, who could  not begin to fathom, let alone accurately report on, what a day in SHU is like.
  • According to the information CDCR spokesperson Terry Thornton provided Debra J. Saunders (accounting for its dialectic), 50% of Tehachapi SHU prisoners are in solitary confinement; 60% of New Folsom SHU prisoners are in solitary confinement; 65% of Corcoran SHU prisoners are in solitary confinement’ and 90% of Pelican Bay SHU prisoners are in solitary confinement  – and at the same time, she continues to insist, there are no prisoners in solitary confinement in California.
  •  SHU prisoners can purchase a small, 13” TV or am/fm radio, at their own expense. There is no “cable TV” in Corcoran SHU, and the reception fed to us from the antenna is so poor, you’re lucky to get 5 of 13 local stations they air to come in clear at any given time.  Corcoran needs cable service.  In other SHU torture units that may have a few cable stations, it’s due to the remote locations of these prison. Cable service is the only way you’ll get any TV reception at all (like Pelican Bay).  All TV programming, equipment, and service is paid for in full by prisoners from our Inmate Welfare Fund, not the state. As you read this, COR-SHU prisoner Reps are seeking to negotiate with the Corcoran administration to pay for our own wireless cable channels from our IWF, which is managed badly by the State.) 
  • SHU prisoners, with enough money, can pay to earn a degree; and this opportunity is only as a result of concessions realized after the 2011 hunger strike.  Prior to this, SHU prisoners were not allowed access to any education at all.  If you don’t have the thousands of dollars to pay for college courses, you will remain without it, and as woefully uneducated and unemployable as when you arrived in SHU, just as CDCR likes it.
  • In SHU, your mail is screened, and routinely withheld, by I.G.I. staff. Should they take exception with your political views, artwork, culture, or most anything they choose, your mail will be confiscated and you’ll be subjected to even more punitive sanctions by CDCR.
  • You can receive visits with your family on weekends; behind a thick pane of glass, talking over a telephone in the wall, for only an hour – no human contact. SHU torture units are by design, situated in remote, rural areas of California, far from the urban centers most SHU prisoners hail from, which makes visits difficult to impossible for most SHU prisoners to get any outside contact at all.

In the final analysis, misinformation disseminated by pro-torture activists like Debra J. Saunders moves beyond the realm of “irresponsible journalism”: and into active support for systemic torture. In U.S. capitalist culture, the news is a powerful tool of the ruling class and the State to a degree that misinformation is now par for the course, but that doesn’t make it correct. Misusing it in such a way as to justify a practice dependent on dehumanizing and brutalizing other humans to achieve its ends, is neither “objective” nor in the public interest.
When such reporting is grounded in lies, intentional distortions, and rampant mischaracterizations, it becomes complicity in these human rights abuses themselves.  Article 4, section 2 of C.A.T. states in part, “Each State party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law (and) shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to any act by any person which constitutes complicity…in torture.”  This “article” by Debra J. Saunders places her in violation of article 4, section 2 of C.A.T. and makes her complicit in torture.  If there is any justice in this world, when pro-torture prison industrialists are judged by the people, Debra J. Saunders and her ilk will be right with them. For now, history has already judged them, and they have been found wanting. 

NCTT– COR-SHU
For more information on the NCTT-COR-SHU and its work product, contact:
Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D83611
J. Heshima Denham, D38283
Kambui Robinson, C82830
Jabari Scott, H30530

Address for all is: 

CSP-COR-SHU 4B-1L
P.O. Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212

NCTT Corcoran SHU responds to new Security Threat Group management proposal

From: SF Bay View: http://sfbayview.com/2012/nctt-corcoran-shu-responds-to-new-security-threat-group-management-proposal/

March 26, 2012

by J. Heshima Denham and Zaharibu Dorrough, NCTT Corcoran SHU

This banner led the July 23, 2011, march in Santa Cruz in solidarity with the hunger strikers. – Photo: Bradley, Bradley@risedup.net

Written to Kendra Castaneda on March 16, 2012, postmarked March 19 – 

For decades the California Department of Corrections (and Rehabilitation) has, with the support of the U.S. government, operated a domestic torture program in California SHUs – at Pelican Bay, Corcoran and CCI state prisons – whereby men are consigned to indefinite solitary confinement, sensory deprivation and constant illumination with the sole intent of compelling these state victims to become state informants.

This domestic torture program employs as its key feature the “validation process,” by which innocent “source items” – a tattoo, address, group exercise etc. – which evidence no “overt unlawful acts” in furtherance of a “gang.” And the arbitrary and subjective determinations of a staff gang investigator of these “source items” is the entire basis for consignment to indefinite confinement in these sensory deprivation torture units.

Following unprecedented peaceful, non-violent hunger strikes by tens of thousands of state prisoners and a global social outcry, CDCR has submitted a new “Security Threat Group” management proposal that states its intent to move to a “behavior-based model” that focuses on prevention of actual gang related criminal acts.

We have reviewed the proposal. Unfortunately, in its current form, it fails to meet its stated intent and instead seeks to retain the “arbitrary and subjective determination” standard for gang investigative staff. That standard is the foundation of decades of abuses and the very focus is the prevention of horrible crimes as the basis of moving to a behavior-based model in one breath; yet draft regulatory definitions, language and polices maintain the same status quo of arbitrary and subjective staff determinations that are responsible for perhaps the largest, most well hidden domestic torture program on earth.

Draft regulatory definitions, language and polices maintain the same status quo of arbitrary and subjective staff determinations that are responsible for perhaps the largest, most well hidden domestic torture program on earth.


A truly behavior based “gang” interdiction model, by definition, calls for a complete abolition of arbitrary and subjective determinations as a basis for consigning these men, fellow humans, to eternity in these torture units. By doing so, investigative staff will be free to focus their energy and resources on actually prosecuting overt unlawful acts – i.e., actual criminal conduct – as opposed to punishing men for an address, photograph or their political ideas that have NO relation to the violation of civil or criminal law. Anything short of this calls into question the validity of their stated intent and their dedication to the public good.

For more information on the NCTT Corcoran SHU or to discuss these issues, contact: 
J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B1L-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212, and Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU, 4B1L-53, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212. 


This letter transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.