Tag Archives: cognitive restructuring

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.
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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.

Legislative alert: CDCR’s Step-Down Pilot Program is in fact systematic, mandatory brainwashing

By NCTTCorSHU

There is a matter of some urgency that should be passed along as broadly as possible, because it is just that serious. We issued a statement, “Creating broken men, Part 2,” where we voiced our outrage at the inclusion of the mandatory brainwashing components of Section 700.2 [p. 42-45] of the CDCR’s Step Down Program (SDP.) Since that time several things have developed:

1. The doctors took Zaharibu Dorrough to the review board and attempted to bribe him with the promise of transfer to Tehachapi and touch visits in Step 3 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] – their hope being if Zah does it, then countless other younger, more vulnerable prisoners can be herded into this brainwashing program. He of course refused, and we’re putting the finishing touches on a new statement on all of this, so I’ll leave that point.

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” – and attaching it to this same regulation that governs mandatory work and education assignments while confined to CDCR.

All of this is in violation of Article 1 of the Nuremburg Code and the most fundamental basics of human rights. I don’t know if this is simply an issue most don’t genuinely understand or if CDCR has so thoroughly hidden and downplayed what they are attempting – but this is the single greatest evil this struggle faces. It is even more urgent than the issue of indefinite solitary sensory deprivation confinement.

What we have determined is CDCR’s SDP Pilot Program has zero to do with “a behavior-based path for ‘validated’ prisoners to exit the SHU” and is in fact a systematic and mandatory brainwashing program using the prospect of eventual SHU release as the coercive component to force men and women to submit to these techniques.

According to the SDP/STG [Security Threat Group] policy, if you refuse to submit to the “cognitive restructuring” components of the SDP, such as “self-directed journals,” you will be “stuck” in whatever step they decide to stick you in … forever – or, like the debriefing process, until you finally capitulate and ask them to brainwash you. In other words, you can be “STG behavior”-free for, presumably, the rest of your life and you’ll still be stuck in say, Step 2, in the SHU.

They have changed nothing, but are creating a new and more efficient means to produce the same broken minds and subservient slaves as the debriefing process – only on a much grander scale. It is in fact worse than the debriefing process – and not simply in the SHU. They seek to extend this to every prison and prisoner in CDCR’s custody.

CDCR is in the process of changing their regulations to incorporate mandatory brainwashing – what they’re calling in this proposed rules change “cognitive behavioral therapy,” which they define as “evidence-based psychotherapeutic treatment which addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors, and cognitive processes in all three areas to reach proscribed goals” – to ensure everyone who enters CDCR will leave it a warped, submissive and subservient slave.

What we have determined is CDCR’s SDP Pilot Program has zero to do with “a behavior-based path for ‘validated’ prisoners to exit the SHU” and is in fact a systematic and mandatory brainwashing program using the prospect of eventual SHU release as the coercive component to force men and women to submit to these techniques.

To ensure their capacity to force this conditioning on prisoners, they’ve actually attached this sick, twisted assault on the underclass to provisions of CCR Title 15, Section 3040, Participation, which makes work, education and “other programs” mandatory for all CDCR prisoners. It in turn derives its authority from the slavery provisions of the 13th Amendment. I can only describe this as evil. Every activist, family member and citizen should be mobilizing against this manifestation of fascism in their midst.

Here they seek to instill beliefs and values which are synonymous with those of right-wing, authoritarian conservatism – while simultaneously seeking to absolve the nature and structure of capitalist society and contrapositive authoritarian conditioning inherent in the U.S. fascist mass psychology for any of society’s ills, including institutional racism, sexism, intentional underdevelopment, social containment and criminalization.

Instead they seek to lay all blame at the feet of the individual and their choices – a view rejected and debunked by sociological and criminological academia for decades. The origin of all crime is the disproportionate distribution of wealth, privilege and opportunity in a society – not simply individual choices. It is the lack of viable choices which coerces people into the underground economy – and inevitably into prisons where they’ve erected a multi-billion dollar industry built on jailing millions of poor people and people of color.

CDCR is in the process of changing their regulations to incorporate mandatory brainwashing – what they’re calling in this proposed rules change “cognitive behavioral therapy,” to ensure everyone who enters CDCR will leave it a warped, submissive and subservient slave.

These journals stress “taking personal responsibility,” but CDCR takes none for the hundreds of female prisoners they forcibly sterilized in California prisons, the tens of thousands subjected to years of psychological torture in U.S. SHU units, the tens of billions of dollars pillaged from underclass and minority communities by lending institutions during the subprime loan fiascos, the centuries of institutional racism, sexism, xenophobia and state-sponsored hate that adversely affects the “choices” available to the people subjected to these structural components of U.S. capitalism.

Financial corporations embezzled billions of dollars from hundreds of millions of U.S. citizens – via credit default swaps and other exotic financial instruments – in 2008, and not one of these Wall Street executives or government regulators has spent a day in jail.

There’s a guy in 3 Block who got caught with 20 rocks of cocaine and another guy in B Section who stole two pizzas, and they both got 25 to life under the three strikes law – and CDCR and “The Change Company” [the name of the vendor providing them with the journals] have the audacity and unmitigated gall to speak of “responsible” vs. “irresponsible” thinking.

The origin of all crime is the disproportionate distribution of wealth, privilege and opportunity in a society – not simply individual choices. It is the lack of viable choices which coerces people into the underground economy – and inevitably into prisons where they’ve erected a multi-billion dollar industry built on jailing millions of poor people and people of color.

Prisons are tools of repression to enforce property rights and maintain the current social order. Social conditions in these capitalist nations are such that “perpetual growth” has met the boundaries of planetary ecological/environmental capacity. They can’t keep on reaping super profits from the appropriation of surplus labor value without meeting ever increasing resistance from those suffering the ever decreasing share of wealth and resources available.

Their solution is to increase the psychological and behavioral malleability and passivity of the most potentially revolutionary segments of U.S. society: the underclass, the working poor, the unemployed … the prisoner. CDCR is and has always been a model for the nation in prison “best practices.” As goes California – so goes the nation.

The introduction and imposition of mandatory brainwashing – cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive restructuring, self-directed journals, behavior modification etc. – across CDCR facilities will produce a steady stream of broken men and women; who will in turn take these techniques, warped values, authoritarian beliefs and twisted ideals out to their communities where, just like those female slaves who were subjected to “slave seasoning” would raise their sons to be “good boys” – physically strong, so they could work hard, but psychologically and emotionally weak, so they would not rebel against the institution of slavery and thereby be murdered brutally by the slavemaster.

Prisons are tools of repression to enforce property rights and maintain the current social order.

These broken men and women will warp the minds of others, who will in turn warp others, until we will have a docile, submissive, subservient U.S. underclass population, content to continue enduring even more exploitation, more severe repression, and even greater usurpations – all because we, the progressives, the revolutionaries, the social justice activists, the common man and woman failed to act.

I feel at times as though many simply don’t understand what’s transpiring, its interconnections and its ultimate social impact. There are no disparate social forces – all is interconnected, and it is within these interconnections that the vast, horrifying, awe-inspiring scope of what these evil people are trying to do becomes sickeningly clear.

I don’t believe the legislators in Sacramento know this is the case. Coercive behavior modification and/or cognitive restructuring techniques are prohibited under Article 1 of the Nuremburg Code. The forced sterilization of female prisoners is a war crime.

Female slaves who were subjected to “slave seasoning” would raise their sons to be “good boys” – physically strong, so they could work hard, but psychologically and emotionally weak, so they would not rebel against the institution of slavery and thereby be murdered brutally by the slavemaster.

The fact that we must invoke the Nuremburg Code and war crimes statutes to oppose what a prison system in the U.S. is doing is the best proof of 1) how racist, sick and inhumane the U.S. actually is and 2) how completely oblivious the U.S. population is of this fact – and the U.S. mass media is complicit in this. It is my assessment that U.S. journalists have so thoroughly crafted this image of what they want the world to believe American society is, they willfully conceal, under-report and ignore and fail to investigate its vilest contradictions in order to preserve this illusion. Any journalist who claims ignorance must acknowledge it is a willful ignorance.

We simply can’t stand idly by and allow something like his to sweep up untold generations in this sick process. History will judge us all harshly should we do so. Every activist, every able-bodied person, period, should be mobilizing to oppose these violations of the Nuremburg Code.

Now as it relates to Section 700.2 of the SDP [p.42-45], noise has to be made about it, like nothing before, but as it relates to the new director’s rules changes to Title 15, Section 3040 and related sections, 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.

Written comments may be sent by mail to CDCR, Regulation and Policy Management Branch (RPMB), P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283, by fax to (916) 324-6075 or by email to RPMB@cdcr.ca.gov, by 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2014.

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.

The Kern Room should be packed with protestors on Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. to bring media attention to the reality of this evil. A letter writing and email campaign should be organized to flood them with complaints about this continually leading up to Jan. 7.

I’m contacting everyone I can on this, and I do encourage you to do the same. This is even more important than the abolition of SHU.

The Kern Room should be packed with protestors on Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. to bring media attention to the reality of this evil.

It is these people’s intention to subject tens of thousands of prisoners, 95 percent of them hailing from underclass communities, to systematic cognitive restructuring where they begin with “character invalidation” and end with the complete subordination of their minds and behaviors to the dictates of authoritarian conservatism, manufacturing a docile, subservient population of men and women WHO WILL TAKE THESE SAME TECHNIQUES OUT TO THEIR COMMUNITES, warping the minds of generations to come.

In so doing, they not only make the expropriation of tax dollars, at the expense of prisoners, a more orderly process, but also make the exploitation of labor in society at large a less burdensome ordeal for corporations by stamping out the very thought of resistance or progressive, pro-people organizing.

Viewing all of this through the prism of its Hitlerian magnitude, the insidiousness of this undertaking is inspiringly horrific. We shouldn’t be having this discussion – these people have gone mad!

It is these people’s intention to subject tens of thousands of prisoners, 95 percent of them hailing from underclass communities, to systematic cognitive restructuring where they begin with “character invalidation” and end with the complete subordination of their minds and behaviors to the dictates of authoritarian conservatism, manufacturing a docile, subservient population of men and women.

The contact person on the brainwashing provisions of the new Section 3040 (et al) is Timothy Lockwood, (916) 445-2269 or RPMB@cdcr.gov. Regarding the subject matter, contact Michele Gonzalez at (916) 323-6662.

A note on those “self-directed journals,” at least all those CDCR is using: They have printed at the bottom of each page and the answer sheets: “It is illegal to photocopy this in any shape or form.” That alone should show anyone interested there’s something very wrong here.

Screenshots of the par. 700.2 (page 42-45) Step Down Program about the journaling: