Tag Archives: authoritarian psychosis

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]

CDCR Implements New Brainwashing Tactic, [possibly] Mandatory ‘Journaling,’ as Part of Step-Down Program

This piece was written as a follow up to two previously published essays (see: Legislative alert: CDCR’s Step-Down Pilot Program is in fact systematic, mandatory brainwashing  and: Creating Broken Men, pt 2) on the mandatory brainwashing by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) of thousands of people confined in Secure Housing Units (SHU’s). 
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A recap of the discussion we started here:
1. One of our brothers who has been in the SHU for 25 years was taken to the review board and they attempted to bribe him with the promise of transfer to another prison and contact-visits in Step 3 of CDCR’s Step-Down-Program (SDP) if he agreed to participate in Step 2 for six months – most centrally the “self-directed journal” outlined in Section 700.2 [p.42-45] of CDCR’s “Security-Threat-Group-Pilot-Program” – their hope being if he does it, then countless other younger, more vulnerable prisoners can be herded into this brainwashing program. He of course refused.
2. We had an opportunity to review one of the journals (The Con Game) and it’s even worse than we thought – well, more accurately, it’s exactly what we knew it would be: a blatant character invalidation and brainwashing tool.
3. Most disturbing of all, they’ve announced a director’s rules change to provisions of CCR Section 3040, which introduces mandatory brainwashing for EVERY PRISONER IN CDCR – called “cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)” – and attaching it to this same regulation that governs mandatory work and education assignments while confined to CDCR.
I think I may have been unclear as to what we were speaking of as it relates to these journals. “Interactive journaling” (for which “The Change Companies” has a registration in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) is just one component of the “Cognitive Restructuring ” [or “brainwashing”] Program” described in paragraph 700.2 of the Step-Down-Program (SDP) p.42-45.
The 21 Journals are simply the first phase of  “… an integrated, cognitive behavior change program…” If this first Journal theme is any indication, the primary purpose of these Journals is “character invalidation,” validating conservative authoritarian views as “responsible thinking and beliefs,” and developing a psychological profile by which to alter the core psychology of the subject.
There is much more involved in this, but these primary components are necessary in any form of brainwashing. What makes this so insidious is they use language that actually seeks to characterize sociological phenomena like poverty or educational underdevelopment as absolutely irrelevant factors in the subject’s decision to violate the state “law” or rebel against personal property – and it’s solely and completely the subject’s “fault;” and this runs contrary to all objective sociological and economic research and evidence available. For example, the Journal The Con Game begins by stating:

“Changing your criminal behavior is a tough job… in order to begin making positive changes to the way you think and act, you must first break through your con game. This journal will help you recognize your faulty beliefs and encourage you to change your behavior. .. Be careful! Answer honestly. Don’t be a victim of your own con game.”

It goes on to a section “Don’t fall for myths… that support the con game,” which is a collection of conservative, right-wing political views on social issues overly simplified and couched in unambiguous absolute language.
For example:

“ Myth: Criminals are the victims of society. They are products of dysfunctional families, abusive childhoods, bad neighborhoods, poor schools, and an unfair economic system. “My criminal behavior isn’t my fault. I just learned to survive the best way I knew how.” Truth: Each person is responsible for his or her own thinking and behavior. Many people grow up in difficult circumstances and lead responsible, crime-free lives. Task: Explain how you have practiced this myth in the past.”

The real truth is, both of these views have a direct impact on the viable choices and ultimate decisions of the underclass whether “the law” is a barrier to their survival. The choice between starvation and theft is an easy one – the human imperative of survival will always win out. There are not “many” people who grew up in underclass communities who lived “crime-free lives” –  the underground economy in most underclass communities is as legitimate as the “mainstream” economy. This is a sociological fact. This absolutist view – this black and white notion of human survival in capitalist America is the sole province of the conservative right and simply ignores empirical socio-economic data and proof.
These journal-authors continue to seek to impose a supply-side solution to a demand-driven problem; this covers 2 very different types of social behavior: predatory crimes (robbery, home invasion, car-jacking) and market-based crimes (drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling, etc.) – neither can be significantly reduced from the supply-side. “Supply & demand” in this case is a question of social conformity vs. human need. “Supply” in the case of ‘predatory’ crimes is the number of people (poor) beyond the threshold of social conformity due to economic need and “demand” is the relative socio-economic conditions and/or desperation compelling them to act to relieve that economic distress.
As long as the conditions (social & economic, i.e. poverty, disproportionate concentrations of wealth, lack of opportunities, hopelessness, etc.) which compel low income populations to commit predatory crimes exist, there will be enough of the poor willing to “break the law” to meet their needs….  And they knowthis.
At the same time, there has never been a single case in history where a black market was defeated from the “supply”-side. From prostitution to prohibition, from gambling to illicit drugs – the story is the same. Supply-side controls act, much like price supports in agri-commodities, to encourage production and increase profits. At best a few mid-level intermediaries get knocked out of business. But as long as demand persists, the market is served more or less as before. In the meantime the failure to “win the war” on this or that vice becomes a pretext for increasing police budgets, expanding law enforcement powers, pouring more money into the voracious maw of the prison industrial complex, and apparently funding wholesale brainwashing programs to condition guys to believe none of this is true and it’s just all their fault.
These journal-editors go on to explain your “barriers to change…” They state, 

“If you want to make lasting, positive life changes, you will want to carefully cultivate your thoughts and behaviors. The first step is to recognize those negative or criminal traits… If you don’t make a strong and consistent effort to change these beliefs and behaviors they will continue to lead you towards … criminal activities.”

They list 8 “barriers” (entitlement, insecurity, manipulation, selfishness, lying, cutting corners, superiority, and dominance) then ask you to read their descriptions of each, admit you conduct yourself like this, then “Give an example of how you might think of act this way.” This is a classic character validation – to successfully complete this section you must state you are an insecure, entitled, manipulative, selfish, lying, superior, domineering, corner-cutter – a piece of scum.
They go on to state: 

“Go over your answers you have given in this section, now use the space below to describe those areas you are willing to change today to drop the con game.”

Now men like us don’t even think this way, and to be honest, this process is aimed at these youngsters, not us.
The journal-editors go on to ask you to explain (give an example):


          You are good at convincing people of your point of view
          Are you good at coming up with things people want to hear most?
          Are you successful at getting people to trust what you say when you are lying?

As this goes on and on, basically you have to explain how you’re a manipulative liar – classic character invalidation; they even ask you to admit you’re like a reptile:

“A chameleon is a reptile that can change its color so as to blend in with its surroundings. How has your past behavior been similar to the actions of a chameleon? Explain.”

Et cetera for 22 pages. They even go so far as to instruct you to ignore your instincts to resist this conditioning, stating:

“Feelings of fear and doubt are part of being human. As you begin to make positive changes, these feelings will appear from time to time… It will be helpful if you fully accept who you are today… you have an opportunity to continue along the path toward responsible thinking and behavior. Maintaining positive change requires you to concentrate on continually challenging your beliefs and actions. All the work you are doing will allow you to reach a point of inner peace. Accept the real you, not the “con” you.”

Just the words themselves are chilling. I am a revolutionary, a progressive, a righteous man – my beliefs and actions are just and correct, they would subject much younger, less developed, and more impressionable men to this process transforming them into docile, subservient, broken slaves parroting the ideas and beliefs of the Tea Party Republican caucus.
Again, this is just the preparatory stage, conditioning the mind of the subject to accept he is just a scumbag because he was born a scumbag and his only hope is to acknowledge this, denounce himself and adopt their predetermined set of “responsible beliefs, thinking, and ideas” and you don’t have a choice in the matter.
This matter is so sick, they accompany the words with imagery designs to impress upon your subconscious mind the brainwashing objectives they seek you to adopt. As I told you in a previous communique “The Change Companies” have their copyright registration notice on page 2 which includes a trade-marked “process.” However, it has been redacted. It looks like this (see ill.):
A covered -up trademark “process”
So they don’t even want us knowing what process is being used against us. This is one of the reasons we need to get as much information as we can on “The Change Companies.” 

It is our understanding that they do have this same “process” being used in other states, but only California is making it compulsory. If someone wants to subject themselves to systematic brainwashing techniques – by all means feel free; the U.S. has become ever more complacent in accepting behavior modification in their daily lives in everything from weight loss and anger management – to stopping smoking – but these things are both mild and most importantly voluntary – what we’re talking about here is a radical, 4 year long (1 year at minimum – if you start in step 4) alteration of the core psychology of tens of thousands of prisoners to reflect the attitudes and beliefs of authoritarian conservatism, of the state and interests of its ruling class (to be docile, submissive to authority, long suffering toward exploitation and socio-economic disenfranchisement, and above all to notseek any change in the system itself – to ask their status and role of oppressed man/woman).
I sincerely do not believe anyone has looked into the legality of this program – no more than they looked off into the NSA’s practice of spying on every American in the U.S. and most of the rest of the world either.
The COMPAS Program

The “Compas Program” (which is part of the “cognitive behaviorial therapy” initiative they’ve just made mandatory for everyone in CDCR with a release date) begins with a “compass assessment” quiz which’ answers will be used to not simply discern which brainwashing components to employ against the subject – but to build a forensic profile of the subject’s friends, family, and community. 

“Compas” stands for “Correctional Offender Management and Profiling for Alternative Sanctions.” This is truly sinister and diabolical what is going on here in California.
Some samples of questions this COMPAS assessment asks to people who have to do these journals:
Family of origin:
Question 3) How is your relationship with parents (parental figure) and / or siblings?
Peers:
Q. 11) In the last couple of years before this incarceration, how many of your friends / aquaintances were taking illegal drugs?
Substance abuse:
Q. 22) Did you use heroin, cocain, crack or meth as a juvenile?
Residence / Stability:
Q. 24) In the last 12 months before this incarceration, how often did you move?
Social environment:
Q. 34) In the neighborhood you lived in before this incarceration, did some of your friends or family feel they needed to carry a weapon to protect themselves?
Q. 37) In the neighborhood you lived in before this incarceration, was it easy to get drugs?
Education:
Q. 39) What were your usual grades in High School?
Vocation:
Q. 51) Thinking of your financial situation prior to this incarceration, how often did you have conflict with friends/family ove rmoney?
Q. 56) Thinking of your financial situation prior to this incarceration, how often did you have barely enough money to get by?
Leisure / recreation:
Q. 65) In your leisure time prior to this incarceration, how often did you feel bored?
Social isolation:
Q. 69) “I felt lonely.”
Criminal personality:
Q. 82) To get ahead in life you must always put yourself first.
Anger
Q. 83) Some peopel see me as a violent person.
Q. 86) If people make me angry or lose my temper, I can be dangerous.
Criminal attitudes
Q. 88) A hungry person has a right to steal.
Q. 89) When people get into trouble whti the law it’s because they have no chance to get a decent job. 
Q. 92) When things get stolen from rich people they won’t miss this stuff because insurance will cover the loss.
Q. 96) Many people get into trouble or use drugs, because society has given them no educatioj, job or future.
With this information they compile a profile to determine which brainwashing techniques and programs will best achieve the ends they seek – and then enroll you forcibly. If you refuse, they write you a 115 for “Refusing a direct order” – or in case of the Step-Down-Program  – leave you in Step 1. 
No better representation of authoritarian excess exists than CDCR’s brainwashing programs.
Not only do CDCR want to be able to march into those Legislative Hearings in February trumpeting how they have this program underway and men are going for it – they want to use men like us to convince all these other men that it’s okay to submit to this also.
Written on Dec. 18th2013 in a letter to the webmaster. 
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What you can do:

Protest this making mandatory of psychological “therapy” that collects all personal information and uses it to manipulate the person in prison even more:
Write today January 7th (or just write and make your opinion known!):

There will be a public hearing on this on Jan. 7, 2014, at 10-11 a.m. in the Kern Room at 1515 S St., North Building, Sacramento.

To: CDCR Regulation and Policy Management Branch P.O. Box 942883 Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
RPMB@cdcr.ca.gov
Re: CCR Title 15, Section 3040 new rules changes relating to Section 700.2 of the Step Down Program [p.42-45]

Resistance to Torture is not a Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Address for all is: 

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