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Hunger Strike for Medical Care at CSP-Corcoran SHU!

UPDATE:
After a week of hunger striking by three men inside Corcoran SHU and organizers calling and writing to the prison, we are happy to report that Kambui Robinson has been moved to the Acute Care Hospital in Corcoran for his diabetic complications, and the hunger strike is now ended.

Thanks to everyone who called, wrote, or circulated the message—but our fight is not over!

Advocacy is still needed for the following issues:

Kambui Robinson’s health is in a dire state and he needs to be permanently moved into a medical care facility such as the one in Vacaville. Diabetic complications have left his eyesight so bad that he has not been able to read for several weeks, and he is has been experiencing stroke-like symptoms for
the past several weeks.

Michael Durrough is still without an extension cord for his CPAP machine, which is necessary for his sleep apnea. Without this cord, which is allowable property but currently withheld on warden’s discretion, Michael risks the possibility of stopping breathing while sleeping every night.

Heshima Denham needs immediate attention to severe pain he is experiencing on his right side. He is in constant pain and it has become extremely disruptive to daily activity. He needs an MRI as well as kidney and liver tests in order to diagnosis this pain.

We need adequate medical care for everyone in CSP-Corcoran!  At this time, please continue to contact the below officials alerting them to the immediate needs of Kambui Robinson (C-82830), Michael Dorrough (D-83611) and Heshima Denham (J-38283).

Calls to the Receiver’s office are especially welcome.  (The receiver’s office will call you back and will tell you that they can’t give out peoples’ personal medical info, but all you need to do is reply that you’re not asking for such info and are just asking that the individuals you have called about receive appropriate and timely care).

Please call the Medical Receiver Kelso’s office via the “inmate hotline”, (916) 691-1404
Thank you!!
Oct 9th 2014
—————–
On Friday 26th of 2014, three men locked inside unit 4B-1L  of the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) of CSP-Corcoran started a hunger strike: Heshima Denham (cdcr reg.nr J-38283), followed on 9/27 by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough (cdcr reg. nr D-83611) and Kambui Robinson (cdcr reg. nr C-82830) will join them in the following day for a few days as long as he can with his condition.

This was mentioned verbally to a visitor on 27th of September. Since we have no way of connecting fast to any of them (there is NO TELEPHONE IN THE SHU!) we have to wait until we hear from them again on any updates.

Why?
The medical care at CSP-Corcoran SHU is so bad, that life-threatening situations have occurred on too many occasions to the people in the SHU and possibly also elsewhere at CSP-Corcoran, that they have had to resort to the ultimate nonviolent means of a hunger strike in order to make this point known to the warden, the medical receiver and the administration of CDCr.

Several factors made the three decide to protest the lack of healthcare now: Kambui has diabetes that is very badly regulated with a HBA1C of 9.3 (far too high for diabetics, especially with those already suffering loss of eyesight and neuropathy), and Zaharibu has dangerous, untreated extremely high cholesterol being a patient with high chances of developing stroke, who also has untreated gall stones and a CPAP -machine without an extension-cord to work effectively. Custody staff interfering with medical staff is causing dangerous situations.

What can you do to help?
Ideally we want Zaharibu Dorrough, Kambui Robinson and all other chronic patients moved to Vacaville or New Folsom medical facilities, or at least:

For Kambui Robinson (C-82830):
– More self -control over insulin -dependent diabetes (better regulation, prevention of more complications,
– A special diet for people with diabetes, containing enough carbohydrate, low-fat, whole grains, access to glucose, daily exercise outside of cell. There is supposedly a diet available but Kambui is not receiving it;
– Kambui was rushed to hospital many times, he was given the wrong insulin on several occasions, etc., and Heshima, who has been in the vicinity of Kambui for more than 10 years now, has called ‘man down’ on many occasions due to lack of glucose or emergency food, lack of access to a blood level test, etc. It is only due to Kambui’s own careful self-care that he has survived until today. But he is going blind and suffering neuropathy in his limbs badly.
– Kambui also needs an MRI-scan to determine nerve damage in his brain.

See also for how diabetes is supposed to be managed in the federal system: http://www.bop.gov/resources/pdfs/diabetes.pdf

For Michael Zaharibu Dorrough (D-83611):
Normal access to the cpap-machine (i.e. an extension cord which all prisoners are allowed), treatment for high cholesterol levels and treatment for gallstones.

For Heshima Denham (J-38283):
We need an MRI-scan to make a diagnosis of the pain in his side that he has been feeling since 2011, and treatment for whatever it is. On x-rays soft tissue can not be seen. Heshima was recently also diagnosed with PTSD, for which he needs to be treated in a less stressful situation. A doctor told Heshima that he had scheduled him for an MRI-scan twice but apparently there is a rule in place that says that MRI-scans can only take place when there is a visible wound ?!

All have been locked up inside the SHU for decades (Zaharibu for 25+ years, Kambui for at least 23 years, Heshima for at least 10 years.

Although we concentrate on these three people who are on a hungerstrike, they have expressed that it is for all people with a disease, chronic or not, at CSP – Corcoran.

Please be aware that staff may be of the opinion that people who are locked up should not receive medical care, or should pay for this. But prisoners already pay per medical visit, and they have no income or possibility to gain means to pay for medical while inside as people in the world outside have.

Please call the Medical Receiver Kelso’s office via the “inmate hotline”, (916) 691-1404,

California Correctional Health Care Services
Controlled Correspondence Unit
P.O. Box 588500
Elk Grove, CA 95758

By Email: CPHCSCCUWeb@cdcr.ca.gov

and / or:

Warden Dave Davey, at 559 992-8800 or dave.davey@cdcr.ca.gov, or write to him at P.O. Box 8800, Corcoran, CA 93212-8309 and also ask the warden politely to also forward the complaints to the Medical Director of CSP-Corcoran!

Thank you!!

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Petition: Please grant the requests of California SHU-prisoners in CSP-Corcoran-SHU 4B-1L-C Section and 4B Facility

To be delivered to: Connie Gipson, Warden, Michael Stainer, Cherita Wofford, Ombudsman, and Sara Malone, Ombudsman


Petition Statement

These requests to the warden are basic, humble and doable, all pertaining to local issues like food, cleaning of the unit, visiting, and tv-access paid for by the prisoners themselves.

Petition Background

This petition asks you to review and respond to a few simple requests that prisoners in Corcoran-SHU have asked us to negotiate for on their behalf:

See the added list of 13 items, all very logical and humane, humble, none are undoable or unreasonable. They wrote these requests in a letter they sent you more than a month ago (around September/October 2013), to which you have yet to respond.

Some of these demands were negotiated successfully at Calipatria ASU. For instance, on the Memorandum of Sept 3rd 2013, the warden of Cal stated: “expanded the Canteen list effective September 2013…” Also: “two phones are installed in A5 pending activation.”

13 Local Requests of 4B-1L-C Section and 4B Facility, CSP-Corcoran-SHU

To: The Warden, Mrs Connie Gipson
Facility Captain
cc: Ombudsman Cherita Wofford, Sara Malone

1) Visiting
We are requesting that visiting be increased to 2 1/2 hours, and 3 1/2 hours for visitors who travel 100 miles or more.

2) Additional TV-stations
We are requesting that the administration add eight (8) additional stations to the basic package made available to us.
We are requesting that a contract with a cable service provider (such as Direct TV) be established with money from the Inmate Welfare Fund.

We were told that this was supposed to have occurred well over a year ago. By contracting with a cable service provider it would improve the quality of the picture on several stations (channels: 2 (PBS), 6 (NBC), 8 (My TV), 5 (CW). The picture is, always, so bad that they cannot be watched.
We would like to request that the following stations be added to the basic package: …

3) Packages
Policy changes to the title 15 now allow those of us in segregated housing to be issued clothing items, a bowl and tumbler, as well as religious items.

We are requesting that we be allowed, consistent with the new rules and regulations:
one (1) special purchase, “non-food”-package per year.

In the alternative we are requesting that the Administration establish a “grace period,” and in this grace period allow us to receive one (1) special purchase “non-food”-package.

4) Food
While the CDCR policy does require that we be provided with a “heart-healthy diet,” we are not. The quality of the food is so bad that on more than one occasion the food during the evening meals has been referred to as “looking like brains.”

In the alternative, if the administration will not require that changes be made in the quality and quantity of the meals, then we are requesting that we be provided the opportunity to order two (2) annual food packages a year.

We are also requesting that the administration include in the lunches more variety. Processed lunched meat and peanut butter are all that we are issued. The only fruit that we receive are one (1) apple or banana. The apple and banana are routinely rotten / overripe.

Canned fruit, peaches, pineapples, pears can be provided and are available.

Tuna fish, cheese and meat spreads can be provided instead of the processed meat is that we are routinely given. It has been established that processed foods do contribute to increased health risks. (see for instance: Harvard School of Public Health: “Beyond Willpower: Diet Quality and Quantity Matter”, page visited on 12/2/13).

5) Yard
Rarely do we receive our ten (10) hours of yard per week, as policy requires.
One reason for this is because the concrete yards in this building are not used.
If two (2) cells are allowed out to the concrete yard, three (3) times a day, it would go a long way toward our having an opportunity to receive our ten (10) hours of yard per week.

Even on those occasions in which regular yard is not allowed, the concrete yards can be.

This has been done over the years on the 4B-yard. And was being done in this building, briefly, last year.

6) Additional canteen items.
Particularly in light of the food department’s failure to provide us with a heart-healthy diet, as well as a diet that lacks any qualitative or quantitative value, we are requesting that additional canteen items, similar to those items that were on the canteen list previously (tuna, chicken breast).
And that chili-flavored soup be included on the canteen list.
And that one other or additional cold cereal be included on the canteen list.

7) Showers.
Presently, the showers are only cleaned three (3) times a week. We are requesting that an additional shower cleaner be allowed to come out so as to ensure that the showers will be cleaned six (6) days a week, as they should be.

8) Telephone calls.
We are requesting that one (1) non-emergency phone call per month be allowed for all SHU prisoners.

9) TV accessories.
We are requesting allowance of TV-accessories that are approved for privilege group D (earphones, headphone extension, splitters, RCA signal amplifiers).

10) Cleaning.
We are requesting authorizing , in addition to the showers to be cleaned six (6) days a week, that the section be cleaned three (3) days a week (swept, mopped, as well as cell fronts, stairs and rails, and holding cages inside of section).

11) Step Down Program
We request to have the time in the Step Down Program reduced.

12) Step 3
We request STEP 3 for prisoners who are validated as STG1 member or associate, and who has been housed in solitary confinement for a minimum of five (5) years.

13) Contact Visits.
We request contact visits pursuant to paragraph 3334 (K) of the Title 15.

We have been told on several occasions that each of the approved vendors (Walkenhorst’s, Access, Union Supply and Golden State Packages) have been contacted and informed that we are allowed to purchase and possess additional personal property items as well as religious items. However, only one of the vendors, Golden State Packages, will send all of the items. None of the other vendors have been notified of any changes.

Also, we are no longer allowed to receive tennis shoes. This prison has reneged on this altogether. They have told us that the vendors would be contacted over the past two (2) years.

In closing, we would like to thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter. And hope that we might hear from you in an effort to resolve this.

Respectfully,
On behalf of 4B 1L-C-Section, and 4B Facility. 

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

An extreme form of political discourse

Greetings sisters and brothers. To those of you familiar with the CDCR domestic torture program and the ongoing protracted struggle to realize the 5 core demands, the state’s loose relationship with the truth comes as no surprise. For those of you just gaining familiarity with this social ill, what follows should prove helpful in providing you with a greater insight into the dynamics of power relationships in the U.S.
During the July 2013 hunger strike, unlike other prisons, the unique conditions and repressive staff culture here at Corcoran-SHU required a range of peaceful protest tactics, some of which are still underway. CDCR officials, including chief ombudsman Sarah Malone, have been engaging in ongoing negotiations with Cor-SHU Reps since August 16th on local issues unique to the conditions here at Corcoran State Prison. 

The decision to accept nutrients, or continue fasting, has always been an individual choice. However, here in Corcoran-SHU, because of the degree of intentional deviation from CCHC’s Mass Hunger Strike, Fasting and Refeeding Care Guide (CCHC Hunger Strike policy Chapter 22.2) by CSP-Corcoran medical staff, most refeeding has occurred as a result of potentially, or immediately, life threatening complications related to the hunger strike itself.
In mid-August, Z. was hospitalized with highly elevated ketone levels, hunger strike related acute pancreatitis, a severe kidney infection and he was on the brink of kidney failure. The life-sustaining treatment he was given, included “electrolytes” and I.V. liquid nutrition which took him “off” the hunger strike, though he consumed no solid food. Accepting “Gatorade” here at Corcoran-SHU would also take you “off” the hunger strike, so long term participants (over 30 days of fasting like Z. and H.) had to make due with water and a multi-vitamin a day. Z. resumed the hunger strike as soon as he returned to the facility.
H. was hospitalized 6 times over the course of the 40 plus days they starved, 3 days in a 5-day period in late August due to severe dehydration, extremely low blood pressure, tachycardia arrhythmia and electrolyte levels so unstable two different E.R. doctors were afraid his heart would simply lose its bio-electric charge and stop. On the third visit to the E.R. that week the doctor (Sao) actually told him he would seek a psych override to remove his capacity for informed consent (trying to assert he was suicidal) and invoke his p.o.l.s.t. (physicians’ order for life sustaining treatment). 

This doctor asserted H.’s heart was going to stop imminently, and because his electrolyte levels were so unstable, his phosphorous levels so low, and ketone levels were so high, no amount of epinephrine and electrostatic paddles would be able to resuscitate him. He still refused LNS (Liquid Nutritional Supplement) treatment and returned to the facility. 

In both cases, though facing imminent death, they continued to refuse treatment until CDCR officials agreed to negotiate in good faith with Pelican Bay, move local reps and participants out of the 4A and 3B debriefing blocks- surrounded by informants- where the administration had isolated them in and back to the 4B yard, and negotiate the terms of resolving the local issues unique to Corcoran SHU, that as of the September 3rd meeting with Corcoran administrators, included:
          Additional canteen items
          Additional t.v. stations (i.e. a Direct TV contract at prisoners’ (iwf) expense
          Additional package and special purchase items and access
          Extending visiting to 2 ½ hours (and 3 ½ hours for those traveling over 100 miles)
          More regular yard access (we’re lucky to get 3-5 hours of yard access per week)
          1 non-emergency phone call per month
[beginning of November Cor-SHU was still awaiting a response to these local demands]

Unlike other prisons, the Corcoran-SHU peaceful protest had 3 components:

          Hunger strike
          Work stoppage
          Mass single-cell event.
The last by far the most impactful. Participants could have chosen any one, or a combination, of these options to contribute to supporting the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective and this historic Human Rights Struggle.
Hunger strikes are a form of unilateral political discourse designed to raise social awareness of a particular injustice, while simultaneously shaming the perpetrating officials in the realm of public opinion. It is an extreme form of political discourse, the effectiveness of which lies in the potential for participants to die. With the insertion of judge Thelton Henderson’s ruling giving CDCR leave to force feed hunger strikers, the lethal component of the hunger strike was removed as an active threat (regardless of how incorrect and absurd the false narrative of “gang compulsion” was that CDCR used to dupe him into this ruling, the concrete analysis of concrete conditions still leads to this irrefutable materialist interpretation).
To be sure, the next day, here at Corcoran, those still maintaining their fast were confronted with the prospect of a process (force feeding) they could not resist without breaking the “peaceful” posture of the protest; coupled with the degree of disrespect participants here at Corcoran have had to endure and absorb over the course of this protest, each man’s decision was one grounded in the knowledge that there are still hundreds of participants who remain single-celled (and will continue to do so), and thousands more prepared to follow suit – or re-consolidate- according to the rate of progress and success reached in these ongoing negotiations. There remain a significant number of courageous hunger strike participants here still hospitalized, and their sacrifices, all of our sacrifices – should never be marginalized because conditions require a change in tactics.

As you read these words, there are new tactics being discussed, in the limited scope of our capabilities and maintaining a peaceful posture, should the need arise to resume an even more intense form of unilateral political discourse to resolve this contradiction. Let there be no mistake, elements here at Cor-SHU are more than willing (and capable) of having that discussion and taking it to its logical conclusion.
In the final analysis, it is neither true that no negotiations are being held or that the peaceful protest action here at Corcoran is over. 
The struggle continues.
Our love and solidarity to you all.
N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU

September, 2013
Edited Nov. 2013

We are being isolated in Corcoran-SHU! No medical checkups! Stripped of property!

From a letter by Zaharibu to a friend:

7/14/13

Forgive me for not being able to write sooner. It has been very, very tiresome. [Thinking of you
all has been quite the motivator]

On Thursday, 7-11-13, the warden here ordered the supposed leaders of the protest be isolated from good people. That meant that the reps from each cultural group from the section that we were in: 4B-1L, C section have been moved. Myself, H., two Southern Hispanics, and two Northern Hispanics.

We are now housed in: 4A-3R. [And three of the guys have been housed in 4A-3L] These blocks are designated as SNY/PC buildings . All of the guys in this building [as well as 4A-3L] are informants. They have debriefed.

A day after we were moved here, mattresses were placed in front of our cell. This we designed to re-enforce, psychologically, the feeling of being isolated. And, I guess, to prevent us from receiving food or beverages from anyone. It’s so silly that is borders on being offensive. We have absolutely nothing at all in common with any of the people housed in the building. There is no reason at all to communicate with or accept anything from them. As is said, it’s a building full of stool pigeons. This is the CDCR’s version of sending us to a black site. The conduct of these guys would be comical were it not so disrespectful. You cannot help but hear the idiot shit that is directed at us. And it’s not just daily, it’s all day.

It’s an Absolute Madhouse.

Moving us down here was an extremely tense situation. The warden did authorize that force be used to move us. And it came very close to that happening. It was incredibly irresponsible of the warden. And a clear case of trying to provoke us into a military posture.

We were naturally stripped of our property. And, just as predictable, some of our personal property items came up missing. Thermals, photos [they took the only two copies of the photo I had of me],dictionary, stationary. I’ll have to replace some of it when I am eligible for my package. The Prison Focus, Bayview, gone! At this point it’s the kind of thing that causes you to think and say-when it’s too hot for everyone else, it’s just right for us!-

We have not been to yard in almost 2 weeks. We have not been allowed to shower in a week.

We received no medical attention. NO WEIGH-INS, NO vital signs checks-nothing. A nurse came to the cell this morning, stood approximately 3-4 feet from the cell, stated “drink plenty of water”, wrote something down and walked away. I called her several times in an effort to explain to her that we are both experiencing light headedness, extreme fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, cold chills, dizziness. The nurse just ignored me and kept walking. It was very obvious that she was reading from a script that she, perhaps all of them have been given. And it is either to not say anything at all to us-or only the bare minimum….

Ordinarily, efforts such as those being made by the state now [Everyone was issued a 128, a Chrono alleging that our participation in a statewide hunger strike with gang members and associates in support of “perceived overly harsh SHU issues”, is gang related activity. And our continued participation will result in progressive disciplinary action] occur in response to efforts, just as enthusiastic, by those of us who have been under the yoke of tyranny for far too long, resisting.

I know that it has been said before, but it is worth saying a thousand times …you all are amazing, brave and inspiring people. Whatever victories that result from this struggle will, in no small measure, be because of your contributions, support, and commitment.

                                                Please take care
                                                 Always with you

                                                             Love, hugs   Z.

Alarming: Corcoran SHU administrators are directing staff to dispense with California law and state procedures/policy regarding mass hunger strikes

On Monday April 8th they ran no yard on 4B facility in Corcoran-SHU. We of course investigated as to why we were, yet again, denied yard access without explanation and discovered staff had all gone to some sort of “training.”

By chance, or design, one of the N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU coordinators was under escort by 2 officers who, by happenstance or design, began discussing the nature of this training that would take another 2 days of additional training to complete:

In preparation for the July 8th peaceful protest action (hunger strike, work stoppage, etc.) Corcoran SHU administrators are directing staff to dispense with California law and state procedures/policy regarding mass hunger strikes and instead will institute a policy designed to raise the potential for maximum casualties (deaths) amongst prisoner participants, while negating the existence of input data or any health care services monitoring information.

CDCR staff at Corcoran have been directed that there will be no weigh ins, blood pressure checks, or other medical monitoring of hunger strike participants for the duration of the July 8th peaceful protest. Instead, a single officer will be given a video camera to “monitor” participants every few days or so. The facility will be locked down, a state of emergency enacted and all yard, visits, and medical ducats will be suspended. No one will leave the cells. No medical intervention of any kind, including health care services daily nursing observations and weekly pcp evaluations as mandated by California CorrectionalHealth Care Services Policy Manual 1.m.s.p.&p., vol. 4, chapter 22.2, will be allowed.

Once a participant loses consciousness, if he is discovered by staff before he expires (dies), he will then receive medical intervention in the form of force feeding (physicians order for life sustaining treatment). Once this occurs the participant will be considered no longer on “hunger strike.”

Many of you may see the obvious contradiction in prison staff being trained by warden Gilespie to intentionally violate the law and health care policy, with the complicity of prison doctors, nurses and technicians, to intentionally jeopardize the lives of peaceful protestors – but what’s not obvious, and in our opinion most insidious, by willfully preventing input data to even be collected, eliminating visits, and confining any proof of the hunger strike to correctional officer videography – CDCR can control the narrative completely.

With plausible deniability pre-structured, this approach allows CDCR to under-report actual hunger strike participant numbers, claim those on hunger strike are actually eating by recording on video non-participants who are eating, releasing the video’s to the press characterizing them as hunger strikers who are not actually striking, and do all of this while denying protestors access to mandated health care evaluation and clinical monitoring, ensuring serious injury or death befalls at least some protestors. When it does, just like with Christian Gomez, they can claim the victim was only hunger striking a day or so and instead died of a “pre-existing medical condition unrelated to the hunger strike.”

That this premeditated violation of their own policy is both illegal and immoral is a given, and in fact of secondary concern. That they are doing so to maintain this domestic torture program, with all its inhumane and arbitrary components intact, at the expense of your tax dollars, our minds, bodies, and very souls is what should outrage us all.

Our cause is a righteous cause, our peaceful protest to realize the 5 Core Demands just and fair. We can not allow the state to undermine the purpose and impact of these sacrifices. We are prepared to die to end great injustice, should we not be allowed the dignity of these sacrifices being accorded the state’s policy and our opposition acting within the guidelines of their own law? A criminal is defined not by what he/she is called, but by what they do. Who are the criminals in this case? The answer is as obvious as the question, all that’s left to be decided is if you will stand idly by as this crime is committed.

A Luta Continua

N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU  – Ncttcorshu.org  – Twitter.com/ncttcorshu
April 10, 2013