Tag Archives: 2014

Prisoners’ Agreement to End Hostilities as the basis for the abolition of ‘legal’ slavery

From: SF Bay View, Dec. 25, 2014

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

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” – George Berkeley


“Slavery is nearly as old as human civilization itself, but … (in) 1698 …the construct of ‘race’ was hardly formulated … This racialization of American slavery was rooted in economic calculation and psychological anxieties … In fact, the human family was carved into modern “racial” pigeonholes – white, black, red, brown, yellow – in order to control, confine, discipline and dishonor … Racialized persons and racist practices were systemized and canonized principally owing to the financial interests and psychic needs that sustained the slave trade and New World slavery.” – Dr. Cornel West


“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” – Amendment XIII, U.S. Constitution

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. There are moments in human history when doors to genuine human freedom are opened. This does not mean we, as a species, always take advantage of the opportunity to walk through those doors – but every once in a while, the true potential for our liberation arises. Often, we fail to take advantage of those opportunities because we genuinely don’t know they exist; in such cases, a lesson in dialectics is learned.

However, more often than not, it’s because there is some social force standing in our way – be it unprogressive attitudes, backwards ideas, old style tendencies, or the very real fear of freedom that’s been deeply imbedded into so many of us. Something acts to bar us from entering that new world of unrealized promise.

On Oct. 10, 2012, the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective, men from various cultural groups and walks of life, put into effect the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities,” perhaps the single most significant “door to genuine freedom” opened in American society in recent human history. What makes it so significant is not simply its motive force but, more importantly, its true potential for our collective liberation as a society.

On this second anniversary of this historic agreement, we’d like to give you all a glimpse through the door the Agreement to End Hostilities has opened for us all. For us to appreciate the path the Agreement to End Hostilities has paved for our futures, we must look back at the “road” we traveled thus far and understand its interconnections to both those forces which have historically opposed progress and those which foster it.

Owing its origins to the primitive accumulation of capital within the chattel slave system and the extermination of the Native Americans, the very concept of race was manufactured by European colonial slavers and business interests to develop a “legal” and ideological foundation for establishing the socio-economic hierarchy and dehumanization of various cultural groups – an ideology of superiority and inferiority which reflected the European capitalist world view of economic, political and military domination and exploitation of the Earth.

This system of global white supremacy was forged on the dehumanization of the remainder of humanity by embedding the artificial ideology of “racism” in its every institution. The correlation between the chattel slave system and Native American genocide in the “New World,” the development of the “race” ideology and “racial” antagonisms in American society, the slavery provisions of the 13th Amendment for convicted felons, and the years of “race”-based hostilities among U.S. prisoners – and the communities they hail from – cannot be accounted for simply through the macrocosmic-microcosmic reflection of society and prisons.

No. It is much deeper and more disturbing than this, and it is why the Agreement to End Hostilities is so potentially devastating to the pillars of American capitalist exploitation.

“(We) always agree that “race” is invented, but are then required to defer to its embeddedness in the world.” – Paul Gilroy

The system of American capitalism has always used the fictitious construct of race as the central means to maintain the fluid functioning of the class system and in turn the dominance of the ruling class. It is woven into the base and superstructure of American Society.

As James Yaki Sayles observed, race has come to function on the superstructure; it’s become part of our distinct way of life and cultural existence. The interests of race – as a characteristic of the peculiar class and national social relations of capitalist and colonial exploitation – have become part of the group interests that we share and which stand as antagonistic to the interests of other groups of people, classes and nations.

It’s part of the collective consciousness which informs the creation of the organizations and institutions we use in pursuit of our aims. Now all this is really less about race than about class and national formation and consciousness. It’s not about race, since that’s a fiction.

As we’ve observed, racism developed as an ideological concept to sustain slavery and as a justification for the extermination of First Nations people. It was anchored in the economic deliberation, financial interests and the panic of Europeans of the age over their numeric inferiority in relation to the remaining human cultures of the world.

Conveniently, the same socio-economic and political motivations – slavery and population containment – which “codified” racism as an ideology and institution then are the same interests which maintain and maximize them in the prison industry today. These racial antagonisms, like so many other social ills, are magnified and concentrated in the socially hostile microcosm of prison.

The same socio-economic and political motivations – slavery and population containment – which “codified” racism as an ideology and institution then are the same interests which maintain and maximize them in the prison industry today.

This intentional warping of man’s social being – forcing the false construct of “race” to be manifested as a social force in U.S. capitalist economics – has been so thorough that it has allowed dehumanization to not only be codified in the supreme law of land, the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment, but “normalized” it. Now tens of millions of people in America accept dehumanization – disenfranchisement, third and fourth class citizenship, “civil death” and diminished constitutional and human rights – as a natural outgrowth of their economic position in relation to the productive system.

There was a time when questioning a people’s humanity was tantamount to a declaration of war. Yet millions so affected simply accept it – as does American society as a whole. EVERY PRISONER in the U.S., including parolees, regardless of cultural identity, religious or organizational affiliation, is considered by the state to be a slave and is viewed no differently from Afrikans in Amerika in the early 1800s.

“The slave went free, stood a brief moment in the sun, then moved back again towards slavery.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

The chattel slave system in the U.S. required Euro-Amerikans – and not simply those engaged in the slave trade – to dehumanize the subjects of the brutal practice: slaves. They went so far as to develop baseless, pseudo-scientific rationales for phenotypical human variation, a product of human evolutionary adaptation, and to connect these to a stratification of the human species.

Their rationale reflected the irrational world view of the European proto-capitalist: The European male was the only “true” human and the creator of civilization; the rest of humanity was reduced to various retrograde sub-human phenotypes with the Afrikan being the hindmost – a mere “three-fifths of a man.”

When the Prison Industrial Complex erected the “new Jim Crow” on the backs of the poor nationally, the “legal,” ideological and political structures already existed to extend this dehumanization to those who refused to accept the status quo of property relations and the dictates of the ruling elite: the felon, the outlaw, the prisoner.

When we speak of America being a locked, anti-poor society, we are speaking of the conscious dehumanization of the underclass and the lumpen. Just as a quack “science” sought, and failed miserably, to create some scientific justification for “racial” ideology and racist dehumanization so as to legitimize its material force in society, so has modern quack “science” sought to create justifications for criminalization ideology and “criminal” dehumanization to legitimize the disproportionate policing and imprisonment of “citizens” from poor, non-European and underclass communities.

“Doctors” like Stanton Samenow and Dr. Yochelson have produced a body of pseudo-science based on the eugenicist premise that “criminals” are “born bad” and “genetically different from other humans” and the “only solution is to separate them from society.” That every objective sociological, physiological and psychological study refutes such baseless claims as hokum is not what’s relevant.

What’s relevant is authoritarian powers want to believe them and penal institutions across the U.S. have latched on to this tripe and transformed it into a material force, building an entirely new sub-industry of the PIC: cognitive restructuring. Their hope is to brainwash hundreds of thousands of the imprisoned poor to absolve the nature and structure of capitalist society of all culpability in the lack of viable choices available to them and for the existence of social automation technology and instead accept their innate criminality and that they were born social degenerates.

Instead of moving away from the “Bell Curve” [a 1994 book by that name arguing that racial differences in intelligence are genetic and immutable], Samenow, Yochelson and their ilk have simply expanded it to encompass anyone convicted of a crime – almost exclusively non-Europeans, the poor and the underclass – an absurd notion in a nation where the average person violates several “laws” daily that they are unaware even exist. In the case of cognitive restructuring, it’s just the latest way to monetize social control and add an air of “scientific” legitimacy to dehumanization.

“For every system of state and law, and the capitalist system above all, exists in the last analysis because its survival, and the validity of its statutes, are simply accepted (by the colonized) … And these laws retain their validity even when personal motives or the force of circumstances have induced him to violate them.” – George Lukacs

The truly disturbing aspect of all this is so many of us for so long accepted this, even acted in accordance with it – much as slaves did in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. The system of slavery was NOT maintained for so long because of the lash, the noose or the guns of the slavers. One can only be a slave master if the subjugated accept their roles as slaves.

No. It lasted so long due to the way slaves were orientated and divided. It was the science of “man breaking and slave making.” They pit the male slave against the female slave, the dark skinned slave against the light skinned slave, the young slave against the old slave, the field slave against the house slave – none would trust the other, yet ironically they all “trusted” the slave master.

Prisoners, parolees and those under other forms of social control are the only remaining “legal” slaves of the day and the new “slave master” is the state. The state is the primary tool and weapon of the ruling class. The state’s interests are the ruling class’s interests, period. It is their chief weapon of dominance over the remainder of society.

There was a time in American history when that weapon was always pointed at the Native American, the Afrikan slave, the unruly Mexican or the European indentured servant. Now that weapon is always aimed at us – the lumpen, the underclass, the convicted felon, the prisoner – because we, like the Native, slave or indentured before us have no interest in upholding and perpetuating a system which declares its imperative to dehumanize and repress us. Again, see the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment.

Prisoners, parolees and those under other forms of social control are the only remaining “legal” slaves of the day and the new “slave master” is the state. The state is the primary tool and weapon of the ruling class. The state’s interests are the ruling class’s interests, period.

There is an entire body of law which articulates the “legitimacy” of the “civil death” of prisoners and the “appropriateness” of the absolute despotism of the state in their lives. We tacitly support it by accepting our dehumanization, though it runs contrary to our interests.

As a wise man once said, “The question I’ve asked myself over the years runs this way: Who has done most of the dying? Most of the work? Most of the time in prison (on max row)? Who is the hindmost in every aspect of social, political and economic life? Who has the least short term interest or no interest at all in the survival of the present state? In this condition, how could we believe in the possibility of a new generation of enlightened fascists who would dismantle the base of their hierarchy?”

The modern Prison Industrial Complex has picked up right where the “Peculiar Institution” [of slavery] left off, only substituting the long standing cultural divisions of “race” ideology for traditional slavery’s labor and social function-based divisions. They intentionally pit the New Afrikan prisoner against the Mexican prisoner, the prisoner from the North against the prisoner from the South, the European prisoner against the New Afrikan prisoner, the young prisoner against the old prisoner, the Kiwe against the Damu, the folks against the people, the European have-nots from one group against the European have-nots from another – and for decades WE ALLOWED them to do this to us.

They used our antagonisms, antagonisms born of this system they created, as a basis to erect torture units – Security Housing Units (SHUs) – and a system of mass incarceration which continues to devastate the working class and the poor. They broadcast our conflicts and contradictions to an uninformed public to secure ever larger portions of the social product (taxes), further enriching themselves, their industry and their labor aristocracy – as we were further dehumanized and despised.
Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood … until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that – hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.

“Only social practice can be the criterion of truth … Marxist philosophy holds that the most important problem does not lie in understanding laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world.” – Mao Tse Tung

Correct ideas come only from social practice. In two short years since the Agreement to End Hostilities was enacted by a relatively small population of prisoners, it has manifested itself into a social force which has accomplished the liberation from SHU of some of the most severely tortured prisoners in the history of modern imprisonment.

There are few among the entire population of prisoners and their family members who, just five years ago, would have believed this possible. That in just two short years of social cooperation which defied the ideology of “race” antagonism and the “civil death” of the prisoner-slave status could produce such a result.

Though this victory, in actuality, simply exposed the fact that the state has housed hundreds of men in torture units who should have never been there, it does not mean the struggle has approached its logical conclusion. On the contrary, the struggle has only begun.

Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood … until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that – hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.


The next logical step is to move to reclaim our humanity and reorganize the social life of ourselves and our communities in such a way that it serves our interests. The Agreement to End Hostilities has provided us with the impetus to organize ourselves to abolish not only indefinite SHU torture, but the “slavery” provision of the 13th Amendment upon which the civil basis of our dehumanization rests.

Doing so would ensure we reclaim our humanity and become self-actualized human beings with the right to influence our world and participate in the social processes of life. To do this we must not only ensure the Agreement to End Hostilities succeeds here in the kamps, but we must extend the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets.

In just two short years social cooperation defied the ideology of “race” antagonism and the “civil death” of the prisoner-slave status.

It is within our communities where the “school to prison pipeline” opens its maw to consume our youth and subjugate our collective future to the role of slaves, powerless to do little more than poison, pimp and slaughter one another on our way to the concentration kamps of the state. The Agreement to End Hostilities offers our communities the opportunity to confront and overcome our own internal contradictions while forging new areas of social cooperation from which closer and more harmonious relationships many emerge.

We must not only ensure the Agreement to End Hostilities succeeds here in the kamps, but we must extend the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets.

“This new humanity cannot do otherwise than define a new humanism both for itself and for others. It is prefigured in the objectives and methods of the conflict. A struggle which mobilizes all classes of the people and which expresses their aims and their impatience, which is not afraid to count almost exclusively on the people’s support, will of necessity triumph.” – Frantz Fanon

When social cooperation is strengthened, state power and oppression is always weakened. Our capacity to manufacture and mobilize underclass political power – not to validate the bourgeois political process but to expose its contradictions, truly democratize its mechanisms and reclaim our human right to influence society – will determine if we are collectively capable of conquering our rights. Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.

A recent Pew poll showed how new authorization, right-wing backed voter registration and ID laws have reduced voter access to underclass, nationally oppressed and youth voters by 30 percent. Direct access to the political process for the prisoner class would push back against this trend of legislative disenfranchisement.

These “legal” attacks on the people’s democratic rights are designed to further marginalize the underclass into a solely labor and surplus labor role – to work, be chained by debt, submit to exploitation, accept criminalization and not be heard.

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.


Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would mean the end of compulsory and uncompensated prison labor. Involuntary servitude is fundamentally inhumane and only serves to reinforce the essential condition of oppressed man as the laborer whose production is appropriated by his “masters.” It would create new spheres of social cooperation to de-criminalize prison unions and provide the underclass and other affected communities with the political will to defend and expand organized labor unions in their communities.

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would mean the end of compulsory and uncompensated prison labor.


Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would reinforce our human right to peacefully protest torture and other state sponsored brutality without it being also branded a crime. Brothers and Sisters, do you not see the correlations?

Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment would reinforce our human right to peacefully protest torture and other state sponsored brutality without it being also branded a crime.


As Michelle Alexander observed in the section of “The New Jim Crow” titled “The Birth of Mass Incarceration,” “conservatives systematically and strategically linked opposition to civil rights legislation to calls for law and order, arguing that Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of civil disobedience was a leading cause of crime.”

In classic irrational fascist reasoning, it was not the inhumanity of Jim Crow law which was criminal; it was protesting against that inhumanity which was criminalized. Identically, it is not the inhumanity of systematic torture in indefinite SHU confinement which is deemed criminal; it is our protesting against the inhumane practice which is criminalized.

“One function of the entire cultural apparatus at any given period has been to internalize in men of subordinate position the idea of a necessary domination of some men over others, as determined by the course of history… As a result and as a continually renewed condition of this cultural apparatus, the belief in authority is one of the driving forces, sometimes, productive, sometimes obstructive, of human history.” – Max Horkheimer

Restoration of our humanity by abolishing the basis for our dehumanization is the first step in us all reclaiming our rightful voice in social affairs. Intentional underdevelopment in the chattel slave epoch and intentional underdevelopment in the modern Prison Industrial Complex – enforced idleness, all-encompassing dependency, repression of political expression, retardation of socio-economic self-determination etc. – are both social control mechanisms reliant on legalized dehumanization to accomplish that end.

They point to our intra-cultural (“racial”) antagonisms and conflicts as “proof” of our sub-human nature, while simultaneously reinforcing the ideology of racism as a material force in every aspect of human activity – though not for the reasons many of you may believe.

“Race” serves the base by hiding its true nature and core contradictions, such as the contradiction between workers and the relations of production – specifically the trends of ownership of the means of production and the appropriation of labor’s surplus value. The ideology of race antagonisms obscures the origin, the source, of social contradictions and hinders the progressive development of humanity as a whole.

“Race” obscures “class,” so we cannot locate and understand the source of social contradictions or the foundation of social development, which are primarily the province of “class” relations. The Agreement to End Hostilities clears away this “fog” and provides a basis for broad class cooperation. Without the divisional dynamic of racial antagonism, the truth of our human suffering of both its source and our own unwitting participation in it is revealed – allowing us to move against it.

The Agreement to End Hostilities provides a basis for broad class cooperation.


To be sure, already the Agreement to End Hostilities eats away at two of the many pillars of modern solitary confinement: political and cultural isolation. Men whose ideas and ways of life once kept them from even talking to one another are now finding common cause, shared social and political aims, and realizing that they may not be so different after all. A more dangerous portent for the current nature and structure of capitalist society does not exist.

The Agreement to End Hostilities eats away at two of the many pillars of modern solitary confinement: political and cultural isolation. Men whose ideas and ways of life once kept them from even talking to one another are now finding common cause, shared social and political aims, and realizing that they may not be so different after all.


“Instead of the ritual indignation and despair at the cultural condition of ‘the masses,’ it is necessary to break through to the central fact that most of our cultural institutions are in the hands of speculators, interested not in the health and growth of society, but the quick profits that can be made … The real question is whether society can afford to leave its cultural apparatus in such irresponsible hands … We should be much clearer about these cultural questions if we saw them as a consequence of a basically capitalist organization, and I at least know no better reason for capitalism to end.” – Raymond Williams

We, ALL OF US, are under assault at every point of human activity. Even the food we eat is governed by industrial interests that intentionally structured the modes of production to maximize profits, minimize food safety, increase the intake of unhealthy corn based, genetically modified, sugary, sodium packed processed foods by the underclass – while ensuring healthy and/or organic produce is cost prohibitive. This in turn ensures a steady influx of chronically ill, low income patients whose health care costs and debt will ensure the profiteering of the pharmaceutical, health care and debt based industries.

All of these industries in turn legally bribe your “elected” officials by lobbying them into maintaining these modes of production. Meanwhile, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and ever increasing incidences of e coli contamination disproportionately ravage the underclass and threaten the entire food supply – turning workers not merely into paupers, but sick paupers.

By extending the Agreement to End Hostilities to our communities, we establish the foundation upon which we can build Sustainable Agricultural Communes, Closed Circuit Economic Initiatives, Health Care Co-ops and Community Clinics, Block-Vote Democratic Initiatives and Youth-Community Action Programs [described in “A discussion on strategy for the Occupy Movement from behind enemy lines.”] We can finally begin to re-organize social, political and economic life (transfer culture) so we can actually live and not simply exist.

Every one of you who are reading our words right now, regardless of culture, class or social standing, are by your inaction supporting the maintenance of slavery and dehumanization in America. All of us subject to social control institutions, by our failure to support the extension of the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets, are actually supporting our own slavery and dehumanization and enriching the very class which has organized and structured the apparatus of our collective human misery: the bourgeois authorization, the capitalist, the ruling class.

From Ferguson to destabilizing imperialist adventurism in the Middle East, from the e coli factories of the U.S. beef industry to the maintenance of the U.S. domestic torture program in supermax prisons across the U.S., the greed, hate and hypocrisy of the ruling class has demonstrated in every area of human activity – particularly in the codification of dehumanization for prisoners and the poor – that it is unfit to dictate social life.

All of us subject to social control institutions, by our failure to support the extension of the Agreement to End Hostilities to the streets, are actually supporting our own slavery and dehumanization and enriching the ruling class.


At almost this same time of year in 1847, Karl Marx and Frederick Engles observed: “The modern laborer … becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law.  It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.”

“At the end of this massive collective struggle, we will uncover our new man (woman), the unpredictable culmination of the revolutionary process. He (She) will be better equipped to wage the real struggle, the permanent struggle after the revolution – the one for new relationships between men (women).” – A Wise Man

Finally it is here in this observation as relevant and accurate today as it was in 1847 wherein lies the great significance of the Agreement to End Hostilities. It has the potential to topple the Ruling Class by transforming the nature and structure of the human relationships upon which the capitalist system is based. The “race” caste system and economic class systems are interconnected and mutually reinforcing.

Without cultural antagonisms – especially within the underclasses of society – the system cannot function as designed. To end hostilities among cultural groups, to engage in social cooperation which serves our collective interests – in both society and prison – erodes the very purpose of the race caste system. It ceases to perform its function to bar broad class cooperation and uphold European male dominance. Thus the core contradictions, the “face(s)” of our true enemy, are revealed and together we have moved and can continue to move against it – until we win or don’t lose.

Our futures – and the future of humanity itself – is in our hands. Will we be equal to the demands of history, or will we buckle under the weight of our collective contradictions and descend once again into the miasma of the mass psychology of fascism?

Our confidence is as ever with YOU, the people. We would like to thank the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement for giving us all the opportunity the Agreement to End Hostilities represents.

We would like to thank the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement for giving us all the opportunity the Agreement to End Hostilities represents.

We would like to encourage you all to support the Agreement to End Hostilities in YOUR communities. Support the New Afrikan Prisoners Rights Coalition Movement and, most importantly, support one another. Our love and solidarity are with you all always. Until we win or don’t lose.

NCTT Corcoran SHU

For more information on the NCTT or its work product, go to NCTTCORSHU.org or contact:

  • Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-39, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP Cor SHU 4B1L-28, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212

NCTT mailed this to Kendra Castaneda Perez. She is a writer, a prisoner human rights advocate, and the wife of Raymond “Chavo” Perez, who is one of the 12 representatives responsible for the historic Agreement to End Hostilities and who spent 18 years in Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor until January 2014, when he was transferred to Sacramento State Prison (New Folsom) general population into Step 5 of the Step Down Program.

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Tehachapi SHU is the worst of any SHU, prison or jail I have seen in 23 years

In: SF Bay View, October 8, 2014
by Aaron Jabari Scott 

Jabari Scott

On Aug. 28, 2014, I spoke with the Corcoran State Prison Step Down Program (SDP) facilitator who confirmed I was on the list to be transferred to Tehachapi (California Correctional Institution, or CCI) and that I would be stepped up a step – from Step 2 to Step 3 of the SDP.

On Sept. 2, after returning from law library, I was told to pack it up for transfer to Tehachapi. As I was rushing to pack and separate my things – from things I was taking with me and things I was leaving behind – the floor staff returned to my door no more than five minutes later and told me that a van was waiting on me; therefore, they were going to pack my property for me, because I had to get on that van.

Thus I was not given a moment to properly express a heartfelt goodbye to all those I have shared a huge part of my life with. Leaving that building section and prison for my last time was the saddest departure I ever took from any place in my life. I just pray I see all my brothers again, somewhere down the line, in a much better place than what we have endured for way too many years. In the meantime I will always keep them with me no matter what.

Anyhow, after my third day here, that old saying my mother so often preached came clear to me: “The grass ain’t always greener on the other side of the fence!” With that I must say that Tehachapi State Prison (CCI) SHU is the worst prison or jail I have ever been in during my 23 years of incarceration. From the clothing to food portions, to medical, etc., etc., which I will elaborate further on.

Next, the facilitator, Villareal, and Warden Davey did keep their word; therefore, on Sept. 16, 2014, I was advanced up a step, to Step 3, so that’s all good. But the big lie is that there is a functional Step 3 and 4 program at this prison.

That’s a lie, and “functional” is the furthest thing from the truth this prison could ever boast about, because this prison is so unfit in so many ways that it could never ever be a functional Step 3 and 4 until it has completed a major overhaul and retro-fitting. With that, the staff here would have to be retrained and they would have to get rid of their old style of thinking and oppressing prisoners as well before they could even begin to start moving toward establishing a genuine Step Down Program.

They (CCI, Tehachapi) have admitted that security-wise they cannot allow most of the movement set forth in the SDP, because there are way too many blind spots that put prisoners and staff at risk – a security risk – and it’s going to cost them in the hundreds of thousands of dollars just to do one building. Therefore, in the meantime we are getting fucked out of all our opportunities, programming and amenities.



The big lie is that there is a functional Step 3 and 4 program at this prison. That’s a lie, and “functional” is the furthest thing from the truth this prison could ever boast about, because this prison is so unfit in so many ways that it could never ever be a functional Step 3 and 4 until it has completed a major overhaul and retro-fitting.




On Sept. 26, 24 days after my arrival, I received my property, wherein my TV, radio, thermals, books, cosmetics (hygiene), cup and pictures were confiscated. My TV and radio, staff said, were “altered,” because of holes in the electric cord, and my radio had a small cut in the casing to access the ground wire.

My thermals had a patch sowed on the elbow to cover a small hole. Books had sexual content. Hygiene was not in clear see-through container. The cup, they said, could be made into a weapon.

I had over the 40-picture maximum allowed, so they took the rest. They took my Bible, dictionary and thesaurus, because they were without the original covers. Thus I have no TV or radio, nor Bible etc. I am going to start a fundraising campaign to raise the money to buy a new TV and radio. [A supporter has sent Jabari a radio. – ed.]

Now back to the issues here. They are not allowing us to have any containers for canteen or otherwise, because they said we have in-cell electric plugs that we could use to melt down the plastic and make a weapon – but now the contradiction is that seven days a week our lunch comes in plastic lunch bags and every item in our lunch is wrapped in plastic.

When you arrive here, they give you a bed roll and a clothing roll. The bed roll consists of two blankets and two sheets. The sheets are badly worn – thus I immediately had to wash mine by hand.

The clothing roll consists of one pair of boxers, one t-shirt, one pair of socks, one towel. The t-shirt and boxers are all very badly used, so that you can see the excreta of the previous owners and all the sizes are kid sizes – so small and tight-fitting that they are disrespectful, undignified, dehumanizing, demoralizing etc.

One would never want to be caught wearing them outside of one’s cell. If you did, the whole yard would never let you forget about it. And the sad part about it is, that is your full issue, all you are issued for your whole stay here, period.

Once a week they have laundry exchange that is on a take-it-or-leave-it exchange, wherein you have to exchange a full roll to get a full roll in return. You cannot exchange just one or two items. Full roll only.

All clothing rolls are pre-made, wherein size and cleanliness are not considered. They just throw the four items together, roll them up, which makes it a gamble on the size you receive and how clean they are. My cellie Sitawa has been here since July 17, 2014, and has been doing this laundry exchange thing every week since, and he still has not yet gotten a full set of clean clothes his size.

They issue you a small paper Dixie cup and a small, thin plastic picnic spoon that you use to drink and eat with for the duration of your stay here, and you have to maintain your Dixie cup and picnic spoon for two or three weeks, until supply exchange.

Cell cleaning supplies: They issue you a small yellow rag, and once a week you have to push your rag under your door on the ground, and an officer will come by and pour disinfectant on your rag. You have to sop up as much disinfectant as you can that was on the ground and then squeeze it into a milk carton to preserve it as long as possible. This practice is so disrespectful that we refuse to participate in it, although these are the only cleaning supplies they issue.


Cell cleaning supplies: They issue you a small yellow rag, and once a week you have to push your rag under your door on the ground, and an officer will come by and pour disinfectant on your rag. You have to sop up as much disinfectant as you can that was on the ground and then squeeze it into a milk carton to preserve it as long as possible. This practice is so disrespectful that we refuse to participate in it, although these are the only cleaning supplies they issue.



TV stations are ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, MY13, COZI, two Spanish stations and four church stations. They have no PBS or any learning stations or animal (nature) stations, and the sad part about the above stations is, the signals all struggle to stay in range all day long, every day, and at least three to four times a day each one goes out at different times and stays black from 30 to 50 seconds, and some blink in and out, fighting to come in. Then some will go blue for one to two hours.

These stations are crazy, so I am not missing my TV yet. But I wish I had my radio, because they do have good radio stations, from what I am hearing from the guys who have radios.

We have no in-cell mirrors, and the only mirror we have access to is a very small mirror on our shower door and it’s so small you can’t even see your whole face in it.

For property, they have a policy that your property is supposed to follow you immediately after you get off the transportation bus. All the floor staff know about this policy: IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) is aware of this policy, our counselor is aware of it, but the property officer refuses to adhere to this policy.

It took 24 days for me to get my property. With that, the property officer follows a very, very foul practice wherein TVs and radios regularly come up missing. And he confiscates whatever he can, for the smallest, pettiest reasons.

So you can believe you will be angry when you finally receive your property. When he goes through your property, he is on the hunt to take what he can, as much as he can.
Medical ‘care’

My cellie Sitawa and I were both in the pain management program at our previous prisons. For over five years at Corcoran SHU, I took various pain meds and different strengths of medication, until I was finally prescribed a combination of pain medication that comfortably managed my pain, and for three successful years I had no pain issues on those doctor-prescribed meds.

On Sept. 9, after arriving here, I was removed from the pain management program and taken off of all pain medication.

On Sept. 10, I was summoned to the medical clinic here where I was seen by a doctor, Dr. H. Tate, MD. Dr. Tate is an old war veteran who has a high threshold for pain, and he believes that all prisoners should too.

He also follows the strict practice of “If it’s not killing you, …” he will save the state money by not treating you. Thus, Sitawa and I were removed from all pain medication and reduced to over-the-counter Tylenol. So we are forced to bear through our pains throughout the day, and some nights we aren’t sleeping throughout the night because of the pain we are forced to fight through.


Dr. H. Tate, MD. Dr. Tate is an old war veteran who has a high threshold for pain, and he believes that all prisoners should too. He also follows the strict practice of “If it’s not killing you, …” he will save the state money by not treating you. Thus, Sitawa and I were removed from all pain medication and reduced to over-the-counter Tylenol. So we are forced to bear through our pains throughout the day, and some nights we aren’t sleeping throughout the night because of the pain we are forced to fight through.



Yeah, this ain’t a “Step program” and it isn’t even fit to be a SHU program, which makes you question why they even attempted this project here and put “Step bodies” here, when staff knew they would not be able to provide us with the basic policies that govern and make up the program. We are having group meetings, group dining, group yard, no tier tenders, and we are only able to walk to showers once a week without being cuffed and escorted.

We can’t buy our own cups from canteen. We can’t have the containers that many canteen items come in, when in Corcoran and Pelican Bay they let you have everything, and they sell personal cups and bowls in their canteens. And those prisons are Step 1 and 2 of the SDP.

Those in Steps 1 and 2 at Corcoran and Pelican Bay have way more privileges and they are treated with more respect and trust than we are at Tehachapi, and we are supposed to be in a “more advanced” step. With that, this whole program and the atmosphere of the program is supposed to be about individual accountability, where we are all held accountable for our own actions, and no longer being punished as a group.

Well, we are still being punished as a group here in Tehachapi; and there is not even a thought about accountability. We have no rights here – no rights at all and we’re forced to have to endure the worst SHU in California.



With that, this whole program and the atmosphere of the program is supposed to be about individual accountability, where we are all held accountable for our own actions, and no longer being punished as a group. Well, we are still being punished as a group here in Tehachapi; and there is not even a thought about accountability. We have no rights here – no rights at all and we’re forced to have to endure the worst SHU in California.




Send our brother some love and light: Aaron Jabari Scott, H-30536, CCI Tehachapi, 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi, CA 93581. This letter was written Sept. 29, 2014.

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!!

Power concedes nothing, Part 2: a discussion on retaliation, censorship and fascism in the modern US state

Sept 8th, 2014
By the NCTT-Cor-SHU
Published on: SF Bay View

“Free discussion of the problems of society is a cardinal principal of Americanism … Censorship is utterly foreign to our way of life; it smacks of dictatorship.” – U.S. Supreme Court in Fortune Society v. McGinnis, 319 F.Supp. 901 (1970)

“Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe, with a sense of its legitimacy? In the process of things, the prestige of power emerges roughly in the period when power does not have to exercise its underlying basis – violence. Having proved and established itself, it drifts, secure from any serious challenge. Its automatic defense-attack instincts remain alert; small threats are either ignored away, laughed away or, in the cases that may build into something dangerous, slapped away … Prestige wanes if the first attacks on its power base find it wanting. Prestige dies when it cannot prevent further attacks upon itself.” – a wise man

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers. Often when citizens of this nation think of “state repression,” images of Egypt, North Korea, Apartheid Palestine or Nazi Germany immediately spring to mind. U.S. state controlled media has become practiced at flooding our airwaves and attitudes with images of violent retali­ation and systematic repression of dissent in other nations as a means to obfuscate the U.S. state’s engagement in identical activity in its own society.

When individual instances of blatant usurpations by the U.S. state are reported on, they are characterized as “isolated incidents,” mere aberrations in the fabric of American social life, and not the structural mechanisms of reactio­nary U.S. fascism which they truly are. This manipulation of your perception of reality serves a functional purpose in the U.S. capitalist arrangement: It re-enforces the illusion that such things do not happen in America, and in comparison to other nations the U.S. must be a paragon of human rights and dignity – while in reality, quite the opposite is true.

Recently, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in condemning the revelations of Edward Snowden, accused him of “hiding in an authoritarian state” (Russia), while in the next breath seeking to justify the U.S. government spying on every man, woman and child in America – and the rest of the world. Though the shear hypocrisy of the state seems lost on most, it does not negate the reality of its authoritarian character.

Those whose actions or ideas are so resonant or potentially revolutionary that they disturb the current social order or oppose the advancement of fascism in a particular area of social life are ruthlessly assaulted, criminalized or vilified in retaliation for daring to expose the contradictions responsible for the social ills and rampant human misery which influences so many of our lives. State retaliation and repression manifest themselves, in one form or another, in every area of human activity in the U.S. – including prisons.

Because prison is a socially hostile microcosm of society itself, state repression need not mask its intent nor temper its irrationality behind the walls. In prison, the state can allow its deviant predilection to impose its will on a captive populace to run wild and bring its most extreme resources to bear on the subjects of its ire.

This truth was born out here at Corcoran SHU on May 12, 2014, when CDCr administrators canceled all programs in SHU and mobilized some 50-plus correctional officers, outside law enforcement from local sheriffs, police departments, and Departmental Gang Unit (DGU) agents, including five separate K-9 units, in a massive raid on the 4B-1L-C section short corridor – and eventually the entire yard.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., the water was shut off in the section and scores of officers poured through the section door ordering us to strip out and exit the cell in only boxers, T-shirts and shower shoes. They placed us in plastic flexi-cuffs and marched us through a gauntlet of hand-held metal detector sergeants and other administrators. As we exited the section, an IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) officer, surreptitiously holding a digital camera by his side, tilted upward, was snapping photos of guys as they walked past, exiting the section. When we passed into the rotunda area, several ISU (Investigative Services Unit) officers were setting up a portable x-ray machine to run our mattresses through.

As we exited Block 5, separate K-9 units from local law enforcement, inter-departmental task force and DGU were arrayed in a neat row behind their police and sheriff’s cruisers. As we passed, the dogs barked at us and their handlers made a show of holding some of them back.

This theater was almost comical in nature, but its psychological intent was clear. We were marched in a line to the visiting room and walked through the full-body metal detectors, then placed in the yard cages on the far side of the green wall that separates 4B-1L from every other block on 4B facility. We were left out there until 4 p.m. that evening.

The next watch had long come on by this time, and as they began to strip search us yet again and escort us back to our cells we got our first glimpse at the full scope of the destruction: Four large laundry carts full of personal property items were pushed against the side of the building.

When we were placed back in our cells, they were unrecognizable. It was difficult for some of us to even enter our cells because our personal property, court documents, books, canteen items and clothing were strewn over every conceivable surface.

Dog hair and paw prints were evident all over the cell. Personal photos, canteen package items, TV cables, typewriter ribbons, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, magazines, books and documents were thrown away or destroyed with what appeared to be random indifference. Some radio antennas were snatched down, while others were left intact. It was destruction without rhyme or reason – or was it?

According to the same administrators who authorized the raid, Corcoran SHU is the only prison not participating in the step-down program. They have irrationally and incorrectly placed blame for this at the doors of prisoners in the short corridor here, as though the rest of the population is incapable of taking principled positions on their own – which they ARE.

On at least two separate occasions, administrators have expressed their desire to one NCTT coordinator that we stop writing statements critical of CDCr policies or “write something positive.” That the relentless pursuit of CDCr to maintain their torture program and the accompanying judicial collusion and all around corruption-based political apathy of the state is the catalyst for principled criticism underscores the irrationality of the authoritarian psychosis.

The standard the state courts employ to establish if retaliation has occurred dictates: A party must show that 1) His or her speech or conduct at issue was protected under the Constitution; 2) The state took an adverse action against the party; and 3) There was a causal link between the protected conduct and the adverse action.

As we have articulated ad nauseam, the CDCr validation-indeterminate-SHU-debriefing policy constitutes the single largest domestic torture program in the U.S.; and the U.S. is maintaining the single largest domestic torture program on planet Earth. The U.N. reiterated the U.S.’ failure to live up to its international obligations to abolish the practice only months ago in its “Concluding Observations on the Fourth Report of the United States of America,” dated March 28, 2014.

In point 12, the U.N. Human Rights Committee observed: “(T)he Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of torture, including mental torture, committed within the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the inability of torture victims to claim compensation from the State party and its officials due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity.”

In point 20, the committee wrote: “The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of holding persons deprived of their liberty … in prolonged solitary confinement.” And in point 12, it concludes, “The State party should enact legislation to explicitly prohibit torture, including mental torture, wherever committed and ensure the law provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of such acts.”

The California Legislature had an opportunity to adhere to its international obligations in AB 1652 and SB 892, but, bowing to the pressure from CCPOA and other industrial and corporate stakeholders, decided instead to kill AB 1652 on the Assembly floor and use SB 892 as a vehicle to codify the maintenance of torture units into state law. There is simply so much money involved in maintaining these supermax-style prisons, their tendrils have insinu­ated themselves into so many aspects of the state’s economy, there is simply no will to alter the dynamic, while there are thousands, sometimes millions, in it for politicians to keep the torture up.

The CDCr validation-indeterminate-SHU-debriefing policy constitutes the single largest domestic torture program in the U.S.; and the U.S. is maintaining the single largest domestic torture program on planet Earth.

The latest legislative gambit is at the national level with Congress’ HR 4618, a piece of legislation yet to undergo the scalpel of lobbying special interests; but it does reveal the range of concern for its social relevance in relation to the state’s prestige. The exposure of torture units in its domestic prison system is embarrassing to the state.

Though the form and scope of the anti-torture protests in California prisons – and elsewhere – is unprecedented, and thus outside the experience of current case law, the U.S. courts themselves have ruled that nothing in the First Amendment itself suggests that the right to petition the state for redress of grievances only attaches when “petitioning” takes a specific form.

There is simply so much money involved in maintaining these supermax-style prisons, their tendrils have insinu­ated themselves into so many aspects of the state’s economy, there is simply no will to alter the dynamic, while there are thousands, sometimes millions, in it for politicians to keep the torture up.

Federal courts have, on paper, long recognized a prisoner’s right to seek remedy to his conditions of confinement when those conditions assail his civil or human rights. Indefinite torture is a clear assault on one’s civil and human rights, and criticizing a law enforcement or corrections agency is also protected speech.

The First Amendment protects criticism and challenges directed at law enforcement officials unless the speech is “shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest” (Justice William O. Douglas in Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949)).

The U.S. Constitution does not allow speech challenging state actions, such as maintaining a torture unit, to be made a crime. The freedom of individuals to oppose or challenge departmental action without thereby risking state sanction is one of the principle characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state (paraphrased from City of Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987)).

The exposure of torture units in its domestic prison system is embarrassing to the state.

Organized political discourse critical of prison conditions in SHU torture units – conditions that affect all prisoners similarly situated – are matters of public concern and as such remain protected speech. However, the courts have stated, certain types of “petitioning” and speech would be inconsistent with imprisonment, and those are curtailed based only on “legitimate penological interests.” There exists no legitimate penological interest in torture, and thus it cannot be invoked as a basis upon which to suppress protected speech.

To be sure, prisoners find themselves, as a class, in a unique political, civil and historic position – though not an unprecedented one. Like SHU torture units today, those subject to chattel slavery as well as those in opposition to the practice often found that the law and the state supported the maintenance of the very inhumane conditions that they were struggling against and sought to crush such criticism through retaliatory sanctions.

The Department of Corrections continues to assert that SHU torture is not torture, the courts continue to support the maintenance of SHU torture units, and state legislatures continue to capitulate to pro-torture industrial and corporate interests much the same way these same institutions did in the chattel slave epoch prior to the conclusion of the Civil War.

The courts positions in Dorrough v. Ruff and In Re Griffin is no different – and no more correct – than its position in Dred Scott v. U.S., namely: Blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect”; in this case their position is “an indeterminate SHU prisoner has no rights the state is bound to respect.”

There exists no legitimate penological interest in torture, and thus it cannot be invoked as a basis upon which to suppress protected speech.

Under such a socio-political circumstance, where the state itself is in violation of core constitutional values and human rights standards, the U.S. Constitution First Amendment remains informative: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom … to petition the Government for the redress of grievances.”

When all legal means of protest have been exhausted, the only recourse remaining to the people is protest, and in this instance, peaceful protest which took the form of three historic hunger strikes, mass social organization of activist citizens in society, and a con­certed effort by advanced elements to criticize these social ills in political discourse, while giving a new vision of social relationships based in shared interests, ideas and the prosperity of peace.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” It is this act of working for peace, for a society where the opportunity for freedom, justice, equality and human rights is available and actively pursued by all, which is the catalyst for this broad spectrum retaliation.

Yet revolutionary social science calls not simply for analysis but, even more vitally, it calls for making interconnections between disparate social phenomena in order for us to understand and transform them. Just as prison is an especially hostile microcosm of society, so too do the state’s retaliatory sanctions manifest themselves both microcosmically and macrocosmically.

The hammer of repression in this case has fallen on the free and bond alike. Here in Corcoran SHU, we are subjected not only to bogus rules violation reports, repeated destructive raids, loss of yard, cold and under-portioned food, arbit­rary and capricious regulations that criminalize matter and activity which is not criminal in retaliation for our petitioning the state and our principled political criticism.

But the state wishes to take this one step further and extend their persecution to citizens, activists and abolitionists in the macro­cosm of society via new punitive regulations erroneously attached to “obscenity” standards in CCR §3378 (c)(8)(C)-(D). [Laura Magnani of the American Friends Service Committee reported Aug. 28 that CDCr Director of Adult Institutions Michael Stainer told the Mediation Team that the censorship regulations are “on hold for now” due to the large outpouring of comments. But stay tuned and don’t let your guard down.]

They seek to criminalize the First Amendment itself. The regulation intends to disallow publications or written material “that indicate association with groups that are oppositional to authority and society.” They are actually stating in the regulation itself that it’s a retaliatory sanction to freeze protected speech for criticism of their domestic torture program in indeterminate SHU units. This is illegal.

Principled opposition to state authority and social criticism is central to the maintenance of a free and diverse society and was at the center of congressional intent when the First Amendment was framed. “It was the intent of Congress to encourage ‘free inquiry and expression’ and to insure that ‘conformity for its own sake is not to be encouraged’” (Finley v. NEA, 795 F. Supp. 1457 (1992)) when the very ideal of freedom of speech was codified.

A regulation that suppresses a substantial amount of constitutionally protected expression must be rejected as unlawful unless it is constructed so narrowly that it only targets unprote­cted speech. This regulation seeks to suppress any speech that is offensive to CDCr, the state and their right-wing authoritarian view of society.

They seek to criminalize the First Amendment itself.

It is well established law that certain speech which is thought by government to be highly offensive because it espouses political, religious, racial or socio­economic doctrines which are critical, even damning, of the state does not constitute a ground upon which our speech can be abridged.

To be sure, the very concept of speech which is “oppositional to authority and society” is contentless in the context of American society – even in prison – as seen through the prism of the U.S. Constitution: The very nature of a pluralistic society is that there is an infinite number of values and beliefs and, correlatively, there may be no blanket ban on publications which, in the state’s opinion, are “oppositional to authority and society.”

How is one to determine what is “oppositional” to an open, diverse and pluralistic society such as the U.S. has proclaimed itself to be? The Constitution is a document which is purported to be deeply committed to safeguarding freedom of speech, expression and association, which is of transcendent value to all who are governed by its dictates, not merely the authoritarian institutions of the state.

If this is true, and we concede these freedoms are a special concern of the First Amendment, then its dictates cannot tolerate regulations that cast a pall of orthodoxy over our political discourse. The future of this planet is dependent on people who are exposed to the robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth through a multitude of perspectives, rather than through any kind of authoritarian selection. This rules change is unconstitutional on its face as it must of necessity rely on subjective interpretations, value judgments, guesses at its meaning and variation in its application.

The Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause requires that “a statute be sufficiently clearly defined so as not to cause persons of common intelligence to guess at its meaning and to differ as to its application.” The Consti­tutional three-prong test for this standard was laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Grayned v. City of Rockford (408 U.S. 104, 108-09 (1972)).

This rules change gives rise to each of the three evils identified. In Grayned: 1) It creates a trap for unwary publishers or imprisoned authors who may engage in expression she or he believes comports with the standard, only to learn upon confiscation or denial of his/her work or publication that it is in violation of the regulation because it has offended some prison official’s subjective under­standing of the standard; 2) Prison officials are given no detailed guidance in administering the standard, each apparently expected to draw on her or his own personal views of what is “oppositional to authority and society”; 3) It necessarily causes the imposition of self-censorship wider than the scope of the regulation itself, because its “scope” is in effect imperceptible and subject to the whimsy of CDCr officials.

This rules change is unconstitutional on its face as it must of necessity rely on subjective interpretations, value judgments, guesses at its meaning and variation in its application.

None of these retaliatory sanctions – be it the deplorable conditions, wanton destruction of our property, criminalization of non-criminal matter in their STG disciplinary matrix, or the unconstitutional assault on the First Amendment itself inherent in their director’s rules change of CCR §3378(c)(8)(C)-(D) – existed prior to our seeking redress from the state for their domestic torture program or our criticism thereof, thus establishing an indisputable causal link between the protected conduct and these adverse retaliatory actions by the state.

In the face of all these contradictions and the reality of the state retaliating against segments of the population for exercising their rights on the one hand and suppressing those same rights on the other, we begin to understand what we mean by saying the U.S. Constitution is a meaningless document in the context of contemporary America. The question facing us in this society is, if you believe your Constitution should be upheld, how do we do so when it is “the law” itself who has it under attack?

The answer lies in understand­ing the reactionary view that “the state reigns supreme over society.” The very idea of “the state” leads in a straight line to fascism when it is embodied in an authoritarian form. In previous NCTT statements we have demonstrated how the U.S. is a patriarchal authoritarian state, and what this means is a state dominated by irrational socio-political reaction. With this understood, it is a voyage into futility to struggle against an irrational socio-political institution without first determining how, in spite of its irrationality, it is capable of perpetuating itself and even appearing to be necessary?

However, before we engage in that analysis, it is important to have a functional understanding of U.S. fascism. When the Comrade said that “fascism is already here” over 40 years ago, most didn’t understand what he was talking about, and that is still the case today. Because U.S. fascism looks different in form when compared to Spanish, Italian or German fascism in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, many progressives – even some claiming the mantle of “revolu­tionary” – have asserted fascism does not exist in America. THIS IS INCORRECT.

The first thing that must be understood is U.S. fascism is a mass psychology; it is not something that’s imposed on the people, but something reproduced in and supported by the people. U.S. fascism is a psychosis rooted in the character structure of the majority of the nation’s population and, though uniquely “American” in its manifestation (how it looks externally), it is structurally no different from fascism anywhere else in the world, and in fact the U.S. has been the chief exporter of fascism over the last 50 years – to Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iran under the Shah etc., etc.

Fascism is the product of the warping of men’s and women’s character structure and core psychology over the course of millennia. Fascism is not unique to Chile (under Pinoche), Italy (under Mussolini), Spain (under Franco) or Germany (under Hitler).

As the matriarchal structuring of societies was replaced by the patriarchal structuring of societies, the repression of natural human biological drives and free social expression was a key tool employed to warp humanity’s character structure so we would adopt, and subordinate ourselves to, the authoritarian model of society itself. This process occurred over the course of thousands of years, embedding this irrational character structure deep within man’s core psychology, reproducing itself in generation after generation, re-enforced by every institution of the state and social life. The authoritarian psychosis is developed via socio-economic activities and this warped character structure anchors and perpetuates these activities.

Man’s character structure in contemporary America – and throughout most of the capitalist world – is the crystallization of thousands of years of the authoritarian process. The cleavage between natural biological and social drives and the artificial moralistic rigidity of authoritarian dictates manifests itself as a contradiction between an intense longing for freedom and a dreaded fear of freedom.

Political reaction exists and functions in the character structure, thinking and behavior of oppressed man in the form of irrational rigidity, fear of responsibility, subordination of natural biological drives to religious fundamentalism and artificial “moralism” and a lack of capacity to be free. It is implanted in the home of the authoritarian family, re-enforced in school, and nourished in the church, temple and mosque.

True freedom does not mean you are relieved of your social responsibility; it means you are burdened with it. The reactionary tendencies in large segments of the population reveal themselves as a fundamental fear of responsibility and freedom.

This process has gotten so advanced in fascist America, people in the U.S. can’t even assume responsibility for simple choices like drinking soda, TV programing or eating too much fast food. Instead they seek – no, demand – state intervention to “stop them from aggressively marketing these foods, drinks and provocative TV programs.”

These are not value judgments on restrictive “morality.” This fear is thoroughly ingrained in the psychological and physiological constitution of modern man and woman.

This Constitution is neither natural or rational, yet every social process is determined by this same artificially warped character structure in masses of people. To be sure, even now some of you reading these words find yourselves becoming uncomfortable at the prospect of long held beliefs and cherished ideals being exposed as the chains they truly are.

This, the mass psychology of fascism in America, is how authoritarian institutions in the U.S. can confidently assert they are the defenders of fundamental human freedoms and the preservation of pluralistic society, HAVE YOU BELIEVE THIS FICTION, while simultaneously retaliating against progressive political activism and criminalizing those freedoms which have served to both expose their contradictions and educate the people to the reality of their own oppression.

So to the question, how is it possible that despite its irrationality, these institutions are capable of surviving and appearing legitimate, the answer is clear: IT IS THE IRRATIONAL CHARACTER STRUCTURE OF MASSES OF PEOPLE THAT CREATES LEGITIMACY FOR THE AUTHORITARIAN STATE AND ENSURES ITS SURVIVAL.

Only through grasping these hard and dangerous truths can we understand political reaction, and this is the only way we can uproot it from our lives. Recognizing and accepting the existence of the irrationality hidden in the vast majority of our minds provides us with a social and political basis from which to conquer this psychosis objectively and scientifically – and eventually the authoritarian order itself.

This particular aspect of the struggle began with progressive forces struggling against the social evil of domestic torture: indefinite solitary confinement. The authoritarian state has responded to this by making cosmetic changes to this social evil while intensifying its intent to break men and women in keeping with the moralistic authoritarian procedure of dealing with adverse issues superficially.

It never seeks to eliminate the social evil, merely supp­ress its existence or obfuscate it from public discourse, only ensuring it will explode more intensely the next time consciousness breaks the bonds of the authoritarian psychosis. In the mind of the authoritarian official, the appropriate way to deal with the language of “torture” in its domestic prisons is to toy with semantics, rebrand indefinite SHU as “the step-down program,” introduce coercive psychological reconditioning components, and claim that torture no longer exists, when in truth it’s worse than ever.

Conversely, the revolutionary partisan’s mind (read “rationale mind”) strikes at the heart of the matter and not only asks, “How can we eliminate torture units altogether,” but provides viable alternatives based on humane principles of social life. Just as Morpheus from the film “The Matrix” weakened the Machine Order by awakening people from the Matrix, eliminating social evils is one of the primary means of causing the authoritarian state to wilt away.

Accomplishing this end requires us to awaken the people to the state’s contradictions. THIS is why they must retaliate; THIS is why they must seek to completely repress progressive political speech and crush social cooperation.

When social cooperation is destroyed, the state is always made more powerful. Such a view explains how the state’s Legislature went from swearing decisive action to end torture units amidst the largest hunger strike in U.S. history in September 2013 to killing AB 1562 on the Assembly floor in June 2014 follow­ing a racist and classist rant by Tea Party Republican Assemblypersons Brian Jones, R-Santee, and Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinor, vice chair of the Public Safety Committee.

In the mind of the authoritarian official, the appropriate way to deal with the language of “torture” in its domestic prisons is to toy with semantics, rebrand indefinite SHU as “the step-down program,” introduce coercive psychological reconditioning components, and claim that torture no longer exists, when in truth it’s worse than ever.

Not only did 13 “Democrats” join the Tea Party caucus in maintaining the status quo of California’s SHU torture units but, exhibiting all the political courage of frightened mice, 18 “Democrats” abstained from voting on the bill at all. Their 18 votes would have carried the bill to passage.

Were it not so characteristic of U.S. political institutions, it would be shameful. But even more shameful is we keep putting our trust in such institutions when their composition is so clearly reflective of the very authoritarian psychosis responsible for establishing these torture units in the first place. Is this not the height of irrationality?

The same warped character structure which calmly rationalizes the inhumanity of confining other humans to a concrete tomb forever, not for what they’ve done but for their ideas and associations, is the same warped character structure responsible for confining hundreds of Latino children in tiny immigration cells for months, even years on end, and claiming the only solution is to build more detention cells to hold them before shipping them back to the same dysfunctional and violence-ridden nations whose social conditions were created by U.S. imperialism in the 1970s and ‘80s.

The same misogynistic psychosis responsible for the gang rape and lynching of those young sisters in India is the same psychosis responsible for a white highway patrolmen beating down a New Afrikan woman in broad daylight in the median of a busy freeway here in the U.S.

The same twisted U.S. courts responsible for upholding gang injunctions against New Afrikan, Latino and Asian youth wearing certain colors or clothing and characterizing them as “domestic terrorists” are the same twisted U.S. courts responsible for upholding the rights of the Ku Klux Klan, a well documented domestic terrorist group, to drape themselves in white sheets, burn crosses and associate freely and publicly wherever they like.

There is no difference between Boka Haram kidna­pping hundreds of girls in Nigeria and CDCr sterilizing hundreds of women in CCWF. There is no difference in fascist Italy confiscating and burning thousands of books at Mussolini’s direction and CDCr’s new censorship gambit to ban any written material which in their view is “oppositional to authority and society” at the direction of Jeffery Beard.

The only difference between the Nazi German secret police spying on its own citizens in the 1940s and the NSA spying on ALL of your telephone and electronic communications right now is the Nazis came nowhere close to the scope of domestic surveillance you all live under each and every day. Fascism in America has expanded as far as it can go without evolving the contradiction of its existence into absolute despotism. Do you truly believe they will stop with us?

Revolution truly is a series of illuminations, a process of waking up from the fugue state of the authoritarian mass psychology. Unfortunately, as a society, most of the people have yet to develop to that point. Nevertheless, if all we are willing to do is participate in the bourgeois political process, to go to the poles, then at the minimum we must ensure those we put in politi­cal office, and the policies which govern our lives, actively serve to uproot these authoritarian dictates from our social and political institutions – and thus the minds of our children and future generations. This is within our power to do.

The very stratification of society into competing economic classes works against the advocates of an authoritarian America. The USA is a locked, anti-poor society that, in every area of human activity, favors affluent white males and the propertied class(es) – the capitalist ruling class, upper class, upper middle class – while penalizing the lower classes for the offense of being poor.

The upper classes maintain their social hegemony on the backs of oceans of the oppressed, most often by making significant segments of this ocean of people believe their interests and the interests of the ruling class are one and the same, when nothing could be further from the truth. This is one of the chief functions of the authoritarian mass psychology.

However, the simple truth is, numerically speaking, the “have nots” far outnumber the “haves and in a bourgeois democracy if the “have nots” were politically organized, if they put forward policy initiatives which served their true interests, if we all voted with one voice, we could restructure this society to more closely reflect the humane, rational and free society so many of us truly long for, though we’ve been conditioned to fear its coming into being.

The NCTT has put forward a platform for just this type of organized social cooperation: the Block-Vote Democratic Initiative. A copy is available to anyone online at NCTTCorSHU.org, but we’d like for a moment to address our Sisters and Brothers of all cultural groups in the hoods, barrios and behind these walls:

YOU, each and every one of you, have the potential to act in your own interests right now. The two primary reasons the state, federal and even local legislatures don’t consider us and our communities a constituency are 1) Many of us don’t vote. It’s understandable on the one hand, because even when we have in the past, nothing has changed in the material conditions of our lives. This is not to validate the bourgeois political process, but much of that can be attributed to the fact that we were not an organized electorate, just political pawns being manipulated by an industry of political advertisement and super-PACs. (You can thank the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United for the expansion of this manipulation.); and 2) Those authoritarian and corporate interests who are actually determining the “laws” which dictate how you live your daily lives are backed by powerful lobbies who are throwing millions of dollars at the politicians who are supposed to be acting in your interests.

The unfortunate truth is they’re working against your interests and, as long as there is no political counterpoint to hold them accountable when they place campaign finance and special interests before the interests of the people, they will continue to do so. Lobbying is nothing more than legal corruption, another manifestation of the capitalist arrangement in the political process.

Yet our political will and numerical superiority can overcome both these disparities if only we would commit to the course and resolve to carry the “Agreement to End Hostilities” to its logical conclusion: political empowerment of the underclass.

How many of you have homeboys and homegirls who aren’t on parole? How many of us or our loved ones who are on parole have sisters, brothers, cousins, moms, dads, uncles, aunties, spouses or significant others who are eligible to vote?

YOU, each and every one of you, have the potential to act in your own interests right now.

The first thing we should all commit to doing is this census in our hoods, barrios, communities, prison yards and cell blocks. The next step is to register EVERYONE who can vote, to vote. Those among that number who are skeptical about the political process or simply apolitical can rest comfortably in the knowledge that their vote and their voice will serve to aid their homies and loved ones, both free and bond, as well as their communities and themselves.

Next, human rights activists, the PHSS coal­ition, activist prisoners and our political action committees – when and if they’re developed – in concert with our communities can develop ballot initiatives which we can not only ensure get on the ballot with more than enough signatures, but by voting as a single block we can pass them outright. Instead of depending on the political courage and moral backbone of spineless politicians beholden to lobbyists, labor aristocracies and their own innate authoritarian psychosis, we can depend on our own political infrastructure – one truly of us, for us and by us.

Such a reality will be dependent on us all resolving to maintain and extend the “Agreement to End Hostilities” to our communities. This alone is a monumental undertaking requiring a degree of maturity and view toward our long-term mutual interests which the state believes we are simply incapable of. Recent events at Calipatria State Prison prove repressive state interests will take every opportunity to provoke antagonisms, foment discord and encourage conflict amongst the prisoner class – antagonisms that unfortunately all too often young Brothers and Sisters bring with them from the streets. This too is within our power; we need only exercise it.

In the final analysis, if we are to forge a world where this oppression of men and women by men and women is no longer an inevitable fact of life, where sexual violence, racism, religious intolerance, classism, structural inequality, xenophobia and the many varied forms of hate upon which capitalism and white male supremacy bases its global hegemony, we must begin to uproot its manifestations within ourselves and restructure our institutions to reflect this rational intent.

We rarely, if ever, recognize how these varied forms of hate have affected our own world view, influenced our own biases and reproduced this hate in our own thinking. To do so requires ruthless honesty and iron courage.

But if we are to be free, truly free, it must be done. It is within our power to do; we need only translate this rational intent into social practice. Social practice is the one criterion of truth, so to yourselves – and one another – be true.
Our love and solidarity are with you all. Until we win or don’t lose.

For more information on the NCTT-Cor-SHU or its work product, contact

Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-COR-SHU 4B lL-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
Kambui Robinson, C-82830, CSP-COR-SHU 4B lL-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP-COR-SHU 4BlL-22, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
Jabari Scott, H-30536, CSP-COR-SHU 4B 1L-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212Jabari was moved on Sept. 2nd 2014 in an “emergency special transfer” to CCI, Tehachapi.

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.

Jackson Rising: New Economies – May 2-4, Jackson, MS

The Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference will explore the possibility of making Jackson, Mississippi a center and example of economic democracy by building strong cooperatives and other forms of worker owned enterprises and financial institutions that will create jobs with dignity, stability, living wages, and quality benefits.

The primary objective of the Conference is to educate and mobilize the people of Jackson to meet the economic and sustainability needs of our community. In the process, we aim to expand the discussion about alternative economic models and systems and to confront the harsh economic realities confronting low-income and impoverished communities.

For more information: Jacksonrising.org

We of the NCTT-Cor-SHU would like to participate with our Pilot Programs: Sustainable Agricultural Commune (SAC), Closed Circuit Economic Initiative (CCEI), but because of our coordinators being confined, we have to rely on you to distribute flyers at the conference and send us flyers of your organizations, in hopes we can make a joint venture with you!

Contact us if you want to help us spread our ideas:

Email: NCTTCorSHU at gmail.com
NCTTCorSHU.org
Sustainableagriculturalcommune.org
Facebook Page for the SAC

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

                                                                                                                     

A Eulogy for Chokwe Lumumba (2-25-2014)

In the 1980s the Ku Klux Klan planned to march down West St. in Downtown Jackson, MS, and Chokwe and the New Afrikan People’s Organization (of which me and my homies were members of their ‘self-defense forces corps’) had organized a counter-protest of hundreds and hundreds of New Afrikan people, and some White brothers and sisters, and we all converged on West St.

I was young, ultra-radical, and full of fire – and I really wanted a physical engagement, but it was not  to be – and that was a good thing. The cops were out in full force with riot sticks, and the Klan were grouped around their 3 busses ant the top of West St. with the cops – some Black – in a defensive line protecting them.
Chokwe was at the head of us all, with a bullhorn telling us all how we were not going to let the Klan march. As Chokwe inspired us all, he yelled out: “They have the ‘po-lice’ to protect them and their hate, and we have our protectors of our right!”And when he said it, 30 NAPO-S.D.C. soldiers – big, musclebound New Afrikan men in black muscle shirts, black tame, and black combat boots, detached from the crowd in perfect unison, and walked into the street in orderly rows, assuming parade rest opposite the police – those of us from the corps (most of us were former street thugs) converged in the street behind them, pumping our fists in the air, and as we did so, a miracle occurred: the Klan piled back onto their busses and pulled out! Chokwe yelled, as though he knew the course of events all along: “The Klan’s not going to march here today – we are!” – and began to lead us all in a historic march down West St. and throughout downtown Jackson, ending in a vacant lot on Farish St. (a historically and traditionally New Afrikan section of Downtown) and gave a rousing speech on the merits of anti-racism, human dignity, and resistance to hate.
The feeling I felt this day, the elation, love, and unity has never left my mind, nor did this tall, wise, slim man who invoked it in me: Chokwe Lumumba. I loved him, I still love him – and I will always love him. I have always, by writ of my social experiences and development, been imbued with revolutionary potential – but it was Chokwe who inspired me to try and fulfill that potential – to translate these ideas into a social force.
Our world is diminished without him, but I will never stop seeking to live up to the example he set for me over 30 years ago.
March 2014

Ncttcorshu.org

Published as part of the article: Chokwe Lumumba: Dare to struggle, dare to win!  in the SF Bay View

Declining a Deal with the Devil: Coercive journaling required to ‘step down’ from solitary confinement – A Discussion on the coercive nature of Par. 700.2 of CDCR’s Security Threat Group Pilot Program

This was published in the SF Bay View:

“The chief function of the disciplinary power is to ‘train’… It ‘trains’ the moving, confused, useless multitudes of bodies and forces them into a multiplicity of individual elements – small, separate cells … combinatory segments.
“Discipline ‘makes’ individuals; it is the specific technique of a power that regards individuals both as objects and as instruments of its exercise … The exercise of discipline presupposes a mechanism that coerces by means of observation: an apparatus in which the techniques that make it possible to see [the] induce[d] effects of power, and in which, conversely, the means of coercion make those on whom they are applied clearly visible.” – Michel Foucault: “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison”* (1977)

Salutations, Brothers and Sisters,

Our need to have this discussion comes on the heels of a number of people who were taken before the Departmental Review Board (DRB) here at California State Prison-Corcoran SHU (Security Housing Unit) on Nov. 12, 13 and 14, 2013, pursuant to the new SDP (Step Down Program) pilot program.

Comrade Zaharibu Dorrough also attended the DRB on Nov. 13, 2013, and was placed in Step 2 of the SDP with an understanding that, if accepted and completed, Zah would be transferred to Tehachapi SHU and placed in Step 3, where, according to Section 3334 (k) (Page 153), contact visits are allowed.

Contradictory positions are being taken by administration officials as to whether or not participating in the self-directed journals portion of the CDCR’s cognitive restructuring program (brainwashing), as described in Section 700.2 of the pilot program, is mandatory. [SFBayView.com, at http://sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/CDCR%E2%80%99s-Oct.-11-2012-Security-Threat-Group-Pilot-Program.pdf, is the only place online where the SDP can be found.]

But since implicit in making it a requirement that people participate in those programs available in each step and that any failure to do so will result in a person being moved back to Step 1 until that person agrees to subordinate him/herself to the dictates of Section 700.2, the cognitive restructuring/brainwashing program is, clearly, mandatory.

It has also been established that a facility has been opened at Pelican Bay in Del Norte County for those prisoners who have medical and mental health problems.

 If prisoners choose not to participate in the Step Down Program or any aspect of it, retaliation follows, ranging from a person being put back in Step 1 to a person being transferred to Pelican Bay.

There is absolutely nothing at all that distinguishes the DRB and STG (Security Threat Group) Committee from any other committee. And while the new policies will result in some prisoners being released to general population, these new policies do not represent a pathway to general population or even a less restrictive housing environment, as the CDCR is quick to claim for certain prisoners.

Specifically though, it is the CDCR’s attempt to brainwash us all through their behavior modification program. And that is exactly what the cognitive restructuring program is.We have had the opportunity to see and read the self-directed journals. They are insidious.

The NCTT-Cor-SHU (New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) Collective Think Tank Corcoran SHU) has articulated in previous statements** how the self-directed journals, their themes, and the additional “integrated, cognitive behavior change program” are a systematic and progressive brainwashing initiative designed to emulate in those subjected to it the same personality restructuring as the debriefing process – i.e., character invalidation, Skinnerian operant conditioning (learned helplessness) etc. – introduction of state-approved new attitudes through “thought reformation,” criminalization of cultural mores, disorganization of group standards, prohibition of group activities not consistent with brainwashing objectives, encounter group sensitivity sessions, Synanon Attack Therapy etc.

It is our assessment that politically mature and ideologically advanced men and women could be subjected to such brainwashing techniques and suffer no deleterious effects, save the insult towards one’s dignity that the state would dare attempt to use such transparent and futile techniques against us.

However, that is not the case for younger and/or less developed prisoners. Many of these young men and women may view the themes of some of these journals and have no experiential basis from which to even understand their meaning, let alone the processes attendant to them, thus leaving them all vulnerable to these brainwashing techniques.

In order to successfully complete this aspect of the Step Down Program, you must be willing to accept and believe all of the absolute worst things that the state has said about us all and continues to say – and invalidate yourself completely.

Prison is not conducive to the maturation process, and the less developed we are, the easier it is, even in the face of resistance, for us to be turned into whatever the state wants us to be. That is why study is so very important.

Taking certain people before the DRB and placing them in certain steps is an effort by the CDCR to try and exploit the perception of influence of principled people and to try and legitimize the Step Down Program itself and the brainwashing components thereof.

It is the CDCR’s hope that they will be able to use as leverage the decades of sensory deprivation confinement of many of us. The prospect of our having access to our families and loved ones will persuade us to comply, and they will use what they perceive as our influence to herd untold numbers of underdeveloped and impressionable men and women into a process we know full well will result in them being transformed into broken people, a submissive and subservient population of prisoners who will make the misappropriation of tax dollars a more orderly enterprise.

There is no set of circumstances in which any principled person would agree to aid the state in carrying out such an insidious, vile and patently evil process.

The Step Down Program and Cognitive Restructuring Program that the CDCR is attempting to implement seems to have been first introduced in the New Mexico Penitentiary after the riot there in 1980. In a book titled “The Hate Factory” by G. Hirliman, there is a discussion about the efforts to implement the Cognitive Restructuring Program as part of a “behaviorally based step program,” as well as efforts to defeat it – by prisoners, their families and prison reform advocates, as well as a lawsuit filed by the ACLU to stop its use. From Hirliman’s book (Pages viii-ix; see Google Books for a digital version of these pages):

“The genius who shaped the Cognitive Restructuring program for prisons is Dr. Stanton Samenow. He believes that people are born criminals. It’s not the environment or anything else that makes a criminal: it’s in his genes, he’s predisposed. Therefore, there’s only one cure: reprogramming. … Doctor Samenow began applying this process to the treatment of criminals during a study he conducted with criminally insane inmates at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. …
“He did not prove the rehabilitative success of Cognitive Restructuring during his six-year study at St. Elizabeth’s, however.”

In spite of this, and it should come as no surprise, Dr. Samenow is popular within law enforcement, corrections and the political establishment. The American Community Corrections Institute or ACCI, for instance, uses cognitive restructuring.

There is no marked difference between asking us to endorse – via our participation – a state-sponsored brainwashing program like this and asking us to convince the women in Valley State, CIW and CCWF prisons to submit to sterilization!

That we are having a conversation about behavior modification, forced female sterilization and human experimentation in the modern California Department of Corrections should arouse this entire nation to arms against such structural fascism in its midst.

Despite the historic and heroic efforts of numerous activists and principled journalists across this state, nation and globe in raising public awareness of U.S. domestic torture units in supermax prisons across America, this particular issue, the active pursuit of brainwashing prisoners against their will, and now the revelation that hundreds of women were sterilized by the state – on American soil or anywhere else on this planet for that matter – has simply not garnered the degree of public discourse that it warrants.

Consider for a moment: The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and Justice Now found that the CDCR conducted 116 illegal sterilizations for purposes of “birth control” during caesarian section without the consent of their victims, though this is prohibited under federal, state and common law. This was not only common practice in CDCR facilities for women but, like mass incarceration itself, medical staff disproportionately targeted New Afrikan (Black) and Latino women.

With this in mind, this same agency seeks to instruct and alter the values, moral compasses and thought processes of prisoners via thematic journals with themes such as “Social values,” “Thinking errors” and “Values” – the latter which proposes to “guide inmates through an evaluation of the criminal values that have influenced their lives and help them weigh the consequences of living a life based on criminal values versus responsible values”!

The sheer mengalesque authoritarian hypocrisy of this department is breathtakingly horrifying.
The CDCR is presiding over the largest domestic torture program in the U.S. engaged in forced sterilization and advocating the mandatory brainwashing of scores of SHU prisoners – and they want to instruct us in “social values,” “thinking errors” and what is and is not “criminal”? Seriously?!

Where is the Legislature, the Congress, Department of Justice while this resurgence of Nazi-era pseudo-science is being codified into CDCR policy with taxpayer funding? Where is the Sacramento Bee, CBS, Oakland Tribune, NBC, LA Times, ABC, San Diego Union Tribune, Fox News or the Associated Press while horrors prohibited by the Nuremberg Code are given new life in contemporary penal best practices?
Has this society truly decayed so thoroughly that our culture, our communities – all of us: free and bond, rich and poor, all cultures and religions – will tolerate public officials engaging in such repugnant assaults on the very fabric of humanity without the most vocal and vigorous organized outrage?!

What must be understood is that these are not assaults on prisoners but on the very nature of human civilization. We ask you all, have we truly sunk so low into the quagmire of individualistic pursuits and sidewalk escapism indicative of the capitalist arrangement that we cannot even be roused to mass resistance against state-sponsored torture, sterilization and brainwashing? The NCTT, indeed all of us simply refuse to believe this. The past two and a half years in particular give credence to the dynamic influence of people power and its transformative potential.

If the CDCR were genuinely sincere that the SDP is a legitimate path out of the torture unit for prisoners – as opposed to another venue to break men’s and women’s minds, Section 700.2 of the STG Pilot Program would be discretionary, not mandatory. Under such circumstances, perhaps, prisoners confined to these torture units might be amenable to at least giving the program a try. Unfortunately, that’s simply not their position. And that is the best proof of the program’s actual intent.

We should all consider that while to some, including some of us in prison, these may simply be compelling words on paper, in truth this really is about human lives and minds – some of who will, consciously or unconsciously, spread these techniques to those communities that they will go back to.
This alone should move us all to action.

“Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.” – Mahatma Mohandas S. Gandhi

Long live the spirit of the beloved Herman Wallace – love and with you always.

Send our brothers of the NCTT-Cor-SHU some love and light:

  • Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough, D-83611, 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
  • J. Heshima Denham, J-38283, 4B-1L-43, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
  • Kambui Robinson, C-82830, 4B-1L-49, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212
  • Jabari Scott, H-30536, 4B-1L-63, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212

*Google Books description of Michel Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison”: “In this brilliant work, the most influential philosopher since Sartre suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner’s body to his soul.”

**Earlier articles by NCTT-Cor-SHU on brainwashing of California prisoners are “Creating broken men?” “Creating broken men, Part 2” and “Legislative alert: CDCR’s Step-Down Pilot Program is in fact systematic, mandatory brainwashing.” [or on this site]