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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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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]

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:

Cellmate or not: Indeterminate SHU confinement is torture

Cell of Todd Ashker in PBSP
Indeterminate SHU confinement is torture, and though not all those thus situated are in cells alone (some have cellies), this makes the torture no less acute, and in some ways even more challenging.

Like all oppressed people, prisoners confined to these torture units must not only contend with seeking ways to resist the unrelenting, daily assaults on their psyche and humanity, but must also contend with the prospect of people who have never been subjected to the inexorable psychological and physical degradation of being confined to a bathroom with 2 bunks crammed into it for 23-24 hours a day, every day, trying to define ourreality.

It has recently been suggested that those confined to these sensory deprivation torture units indefinitely, but who have a cellie, are not in “solitary confinement,” as though another human occupying a space not even large enough for one will somehow mitigate the deleterious effects of this isolation. It doesn’t. The only marked difference is the number of stressors you must contend with in a day. Having a cellmate under this circumstance forces you to modify your daily life to account for the mood swings, biological activities, and other idiosyncrasies of someone who is always– no matter how far in this tiny cell you go – only 2 steps away from you. 

As men who have a collective 60+ years in these torture units, both with cellies and without, we can state definitively what constitutes “solitary confinement” is the complete and total isolation from sensory stimuli and “normalized” human social interactions which accompany the unique conditions of torture unit confinement (i.e. S.H.U.’s, S.M.U.’s, supermaxes, ad-seg’s, etc.), not whether another human has been crammed off into this tiny space with you.

The love, friendship, admiration and respect we hold for one another is genuine and abiding, but has no impact on how isolation affects the mind, and how you may perceive others or their activities. We may hold a conversation with one another, or a neighbor through the vent, then not say a word to another for 2 or 3 days save “excuse me” when sliding past or using the toilet; that anyone truly believes having a cellmate somehow lessens the effects of this isolation only reveals their ignorance of this reality. 

For someone to attempt to define our reality in these torture units, who’ve never experienced it for a month, let alone decades, is no different than U.S. government officials and policy makers attempting to define the realities of the First Nations (Native Americans) who they had massacred, forced onto reservations, and then into “boarding schools” where they raped children of their language, culture, identity and innocence. Can anyone identify the reality of the Apache child whose hair is cut to serve his tribal identity  and then beaten for speaking their native tongue, but that Apache child? No, of course not! Neither can anyone define the reality of the prisoner(s) confined in U.S. domestic torture units across the U.S. like Pelican Bay, Corcoran, and Tehachapi save those of us who have, and do, live this reality. Just as many men who have had cellies have committed suicide to escape these torture units as those without.

Solitary confinement must be defined by the effects this isolation, and the torture techniques used to break men, has on those so situated. We should know. All of us have been both with and without cellies over our periods of indefinite SHU confinement. Despite our level of development and continued advancement it would be the height of hubris for us to contend this isolation has not adversely affected our minds and bodies. For anyone to consider these conditions anything less than torture could only be a prison industrialist, or some other type of draconian public official.

In the final analysis, torture must be defined by the effects it has on its victims and no one who has been confined to these indefinite torture units for any length of time, either single or double celled, has escaped the psychological and physical devastation of the torture unit.

N.C.T.T.-Cor-SHU
May 2013

NCTTCorSHU.org

Being on the outside, writing in

Solitary confinement in California prisons, resistance and prisoner correspondence

by Dendron Utter
SF Bay View, March 10th, 2013

This semester in the Anthropology and Social Change program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), we focused our energy on prisoner rights and abolition movements, particularly the organizing going on within California’s supermax facilities against solitary confinement. We each linked up with a pen pal incarcerated in isolation at Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Calipatria, CCI Tehachapi or Centinela state prisons. We were able to do this through the help of Mary Ratcliff and Kendra Castenda, both active prisoner advocates. We wrote to our pen pals about their experiences inside, about the recent Agreement to End Hostilities, and about multiracial movements for prisoner rights, social justice and prison abolition.

I started correspondence with a prisoner named Michael Dorrough, also known as Zaharibu, who is incarcerated in Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, Calif. He is one of the many men of color confined in isolation for 22-24 hours a day for over 20 years due to his political affiliations, lack of subservience and racial profiling. He has been in solitary confinement for 25 years.

I have learned profound lessons from him in the short three months I have known him. In hearing more about his story and the horrendous conditions he lives under, I have been driven to learn more about solitary confinement, why it must be abolished and the resistance against it. I have also been moved to become a part of that resistance in any way I can.

Michael Zaharibu Dorrough & family, web
Michael Reed Dorrough with his family before he was incarcerated

Solitary confinement in the United States is entrenched in the history and contemporary reality of mass incarceration of poor folks and people of color. Mass incarceration based on race is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the penitentiary system was created as an extension of chattel slavery through the Black Codes, in that freed Black folks and often Indigenous people could be detained and imprisoned for ambiguous reasons in order to maintain a slave class and a capitalist system built on exploited labor.

This history is evident when looking at the huge numbers of people of color inside prisons today. It is within this racist context that solitary confinement has become a standard among politicians, wardens and administrators in the U.S. prison system.

According to Amnesty International, “More than 3,000 prisoners in California are held in high security isolation units known as Security Housing Units (SHUs), where they are confined for at least 22 and a half hours a day in single or double cells, with no work or meaningful rehabilitation programs or group activities of any kind.” Many of those locked in long-term isolation have been put there because of alleged gang affiliation. The criteria used by the California Department for Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to establish gang membership are unsound. They use “evidence” such as what prisoners are reading, connection – as simple as a greeting – to other prisoners, tattoos and the contents of their mail.

Michael Dorrough, dad, mom, son
Michael Zaharibu Dorrough with his father, mother and son during a prison visit long ago

Once inmates get “validated” as gang members or associates, it is incredibly difficult to be returned to general population – especially if the inmate has any politically radical, leftist or revolutionary views or affiliations. As stated by Zaharibu, Heshima Denham and Kambui Robinson, three New Afrikan Revolutionary men in solitary at the Corcoran SHU, “Gang is a term that encompasses leftist ideologies, political and politicized prisoners, jailhouse lawyers and most anyone who in the opinion of Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) is not passively accepting his role as a commodity in the prison industrial complex.”


The combination of total isolation for extended periods of time, coerced snitching, the hostilities between racial groups inside, mental abuse and physical violence by guards can thoroughly crush prisoners. There is nothing left to do but unite and act.

In fact, once labeled, the only way to be released is through a process of snitching on other inmates regarding gang affiliation. This is called “debriefing.” To force inmates to debrief is not only entirely divisive, breaking unity between prisoners, but it is dangerous due to the retaliation one might receive for acting as an informant.

Solitary confinement is akin to torture as it includes inhumane levels of sensory deprivation, extremely limited interaction with the outside world, and poor food and access to healthcare. The torture of isolation not only stems from the conditions of sensory deprivation – no human touch, no fresh air, no natural light, no windows, no sound, often no communication, no exercise, no activities, no warmth in winter – but from the strategically prolonged lengths of stay.

The combination of total isolation for extended periods of time, coerced snitching, the hostilities between racial groups inside, mental abuse and physical violence by guards can thoroughly crush prisoners. There is nothing left to do but unite and act.

Prisoners have been fighting back against inhumane treatment and abuse in the prison system since the conception of it. Two recent racial unity movements started by prisoners inside long-term solitary confinement units in California have been the hunger strike started in the Pelican Bay SHU and the agreement to end hostilities. In writing back and forth with Zaharibu, I focused my questions on these struggles and more generally on multiracial movements outside and inside prison walls.

Michael Zaharibu Dorrough 2012, web
Michael Zaharibu Dorrough in 2012 after 25 years in solitary confinement – prisoners in isolation are rarely allowed to have their pictures taken.
In the second letter I received from him, I fixated on a particular statement. He said: “The housing of citizens in isolation for any length – 10 days or 30 years – and depriving them of any and all meaningful programs for absolutely no legitimate reason should provoke a sense of outrage. That it is being done … to break human beings should provoke outrage amongst all of those who love democracy.”

I realized at that moment that I have limited knowledge about solitary confinement. I sought to find out everything I could about the history, application, conditions and resistance to these atrocious control units. What I read, listened to and saw is torture under the guise of rehabilitation and safety. It is helpful to re-read Zaharibu’s letters with this research fresh in my mind. I am even more filled with outrage!

Although halting racial driven violence and uniting across race is an immense achievement and central to prisoner resistance, there is more to it than singing “We Are the World” by Michael Jackson and calling it a day. By no means am I saying that this is what incarcerated men, women and transgendered folks are doing inside, but that those of us on the outside need to do our homework and learn this history that shapes the current situation.

Zaharibu wrote in response to my questions: “A lot of us have always believed that ending the [state-created] violence and hostilities is crucial to having any kind of chance of changing the realities that we are confronted with daily. And it’s important to put this in a correct historical context. This specific effort by the state has been ongoing for the past 30 years or more.”

“The housing of citizens in isolation for any length – 10 days or 30 years – and depriving them of any and all meaningful programs for absolutely no legitimate reason should provoke a sense of outrage. That it is being done … to break human beings should provoke outrage amongst all of those who love democracy.”

As I mentioned before, Zaharibu has been in solitary lockdown for 25 full years. What I did not mention is that he is incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. Like so many other African American men and women locked inside prison walls, he has a completely sound case of innocence that the courts refuse to hear.
Prison bars unite into fistHe is guilty until proven innocent and, although his attorneys have done so, the color of his skin and his radical political views overshadow his innocence. He is currently struggling, with the help of his family, to get a new trial for his case.

“It not only connects me to life outside of prison but when I am blessed enough to meet someone like you, it connects me to the larger activist community. I consider the prisoner rights movement to be inclusive of the broader abolition movement … It is simply not possible for meaningful lasting change to occur without coalition building … I consider my being able to connect with you and the class there to be part of that coalition building.”

That statement is one of the first things Zaharibu wrote to me in November. The warmth and care that rests in these words is not uncommon in his writing. With each letter I feel more and more seen, cared for and connected to something larger than our correspondence. I am connected to the movement of a people unified to gain humanity back.

“This struggle had to happen. It was inevitable. There is simply no way that people are going to continue to allow themselves to be subjected to the constant assault on their humanity. The disrespectful, degrading, dehumanizing get down that is directed at us at some point has to be responded to. It honestly does not matter what one’s political ideology might be.” – Zaharibu Dorrough

“The time for us to get off our knees is long overdue” – Zaharibu Dorrough

What does it look like for those of us on the other side of these walls to “get off our knees” and support prisoners fighting for dignity, humanity and freedom? Some call it accompaniment or solidarity and, while I respect their praxis and can see where they are coming from, I do not agree with the notion that I am supporting someone else in their struggle. There lies a harmful distancing within that framework that is important to unpack.

With each letter I feel more and more seen, cared for and connected to something larger than our correspondence. I am connected to the movement of a people unified to gain humanity back.

I view my participation as stepping up to a struggle that is all of ours to fight. Although we all have differing placements, privileges and entry points into it, that doesn’t mean we aren’t all affected by it. Some examples of how I see my role in the abolition and prisoner rights movements are being in dialogue with prisoners about needs and ideas, working with organizations such as the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and funneling resources that I have access to through the academy into these movements.

I certainly am outraged and will continue to be. I am blessed to continue learning from and sharing outrage with Zaharibu. Like a great man once said, “None of us are free until all of us are free.”

To read more about Zaharibu’s case, go to: http://nctt-shu.blogspot.com/p/zaharibu-dorroughs-case-for-innocence.html and http://zaharibuisinnocent.weebly.com/index.html.

Dendron Utter, a graduate student at the California Institute of Integral Studies studying prison activism with Anthropology Department Chair Andrej Grubacic, can be reached at desertinwinter@gmail.com