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Dear Visitor,
California Prison Watch has moved to a Wordpress-based site.

You can visit us by going to: Californiaprisonwatch.com and/or Californiaprisonwatch.org. We will keep this blog as an archive. Thank you!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Nurse fired for speaking out: ‘I am on a mission to stop torture at CDCR’

This was reblogged frm: SF Bay View, Dec. 31st, 2014
by Paul Spector, RN, EMT-P, Capt. U.S. Army Ret.
I’ve been a nurse since 1984, a paramedic firefighter and group home manager before that. My training is in inner city ER nursing. I also do floor, ICU and disaster response. I’ve worked in Tampa, Oakland and San Francisco; I’m a Red Cross volunteer and was a U.S. Army medical officer during Desert Storm. I love dogs, search and rescue, and biking. I am on a mission to stop torture at CDCR.
Charles Graner, made infamous by the photos of torture at the U.S. Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad, learned how to torture prisoners at SCI Greene, the prison in Pennsylvania where Mumia Abu-Jamal was held for decades on death row.
Charles Graner, made infamous by the photos of torture at the U.S. Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad, learned how to torture prisoners at SCI Greene, the prison in Pennsylvania where Mumia Abu-Jamal was held for decades on death row.
In 2006, I worked at Atascadero State Mental Hospital. I learned that mental illness can be treated. With compassionate, professional care, many returned to loved ones and society. No torture was used, the concept counter to modern medicine.
After transferring to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)-run California Men’s Colony State Prison (CMC) in 2007, I was given a month of training and told that abuse, be it physical, mental or sexual, was not allowed.
Assigned to the Mental Health Crisis Bed (MHCB) unit, I found 80-plus patients suffering torture, sexual abuse and neglect. President Obama would recognize it as torture. The vast majority of victims were Black or Hispanic, all the abusers White.

I am on a mission to stop torture at CDCR.

Cold, dark cells hold captives in isolated sensory deprivation – drugged, sick and in pain. Nurses prevented death only to prolong torment, sometimes for years. The number of patients suffering preventable deaths during “medical treatment” in CDCR facilities may exceed all legal executions nationwide.
Disguised as a mental health ward, it’s a dungeon. Most of the prisoners were naked, all privacy and possessions gone. I now suspect many are also innocent. Cut off from the world, they have no voice. Confined to a small cement box 24 hours a day with no exercise, yard privileges or sunlight, disease, psychological damage and deaths are predictable. No effective medical care is possible in these conditions.
I had never seen intentional harm done to patients in a medical facility. I’ve protected patients from attacks in the past – by criminals, drunken husbands, rival gang members etc., but never law enforcement officers. Having worked in Germany, I know the stigma created by medical professionals who helped run Hitler’s death camps, like Dr. Mengele. Conditions at CMC are strikingly similar.
For years, I couldn’t understand how this could happen in California, in the USA, after Martin Luther King’s message, after electing President Obama. The video of an officer allowed to strangle a Black man to death helped me understand, as did the report on CIA black prisons and other atrocities. It’s like the KKK with badges.

Having worked in Germany, I know the stigma created by medical professionals who helped run Hitler’s death camps, like Dr. Mengele. Conditions at CMC are strikingly similar.

Immune to legal or ethical restraints, a policy of abuse targets minorities. Videoing the attacks at least creates a record. At CDCR, videoing is a criminal offense, cameras searched for, abusers safe, victims isolated, vulnerable and alone.
Autopsies by CDCR doctors never mention torture. Victims can be attacked without concern that it will be reported, recorded or punished. Protected from discovery, abusers don’t need to hide under sheets.
I know this first hand. I tried to report the abuse, from poisoning to attempted murder. Supervisors did nothing. My report to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Meyers was removed from his mail box. Many tried to follow the Nurse Practice Act, requiring us to report abuse. Most lost their jobs immediately, even union reps.

Immune to legal or ethical restraints, a policy of abuse targets minorities. Videoing the attacks at least creates a record. At CDCR, videoing is a criminal offense, cameras searched for, abusers safe, victims isolated, vulnerable and alone.

Abuses at CDCR are so similar to the CIA’s, I now wonder if they were being tested on prisoners. Being isolated in a cold cement room seems a standard, as does the infliction of pain, hopelessness, sexual degradation and threats on the prisoners and punishment for staff refusing to participate. Many CDCR officers have experience in military prisons.
When military grade pepper gas is used, victims experience the pain of being burned alive. Massive poly-drug overdoses induce hallucinations and psychosis. I suspect these, too, will turn out to be CIA techniques. Approximately 20 percent of CIA victims were innocent. My patients have no secrets to divulge, but I suspect many are also innocent.

Abuses at CDCR are so similar to the CIA’s, I now wonder if they were being tested on prisoners.

I treated torture victims from the Gulf States and Africa, now America. Techniques used are designed to break enemy forces, avoiding the Geneva Convention by leaving no marks. Here are a few; some are so degrading I can’t speak of them.
Isolation – considered worse than beatings, rapes and starvation by sufferers like kidnap victim Amanda Knight. In 1829, Quakers used it to force salvation. Then as now, mass insanity and deaths result. The U.N. calls it torture; medical research agrees.
Mind altering drugs – causing terrifying hallucinations, psychosis and suicide are abused, thousands of doses kept in open, uncounted bins.
Stripping victims – of all clothing, bedding and privacy is practiced in China, North Korea and CDCR. Females then verbally ridicule the men, an Abu Ghraib technique.
Substandard care – Baseline needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy) are not met. Patients respond to compassionate, professional care. Sadistic ritual abuse may have value to white supremacists, sociopaths and sadists, but it has no medical, psychological or rehabilitative use. Without sunlight, hope or human contact, suffering replaces modern medicine.
Forced feeding – used in medically necessary situations, it’s bloody, painful and dangerous. As punishment, I feel it’s a form of degrading rape. Attackers all powerful, victims left in pain, violated, penetrated and degraded. One brave U.S. Navy nurse is now on trial for refusing to participate in this torture. He may be in isolation.
Pain – is constant. Besides cement beds, shackles, temperature extremes etc., a chemical weapon, military capsicum, replaces the rack. Attacking neural receptors, patients experience 10 out of 10 agony. It damages lungs, eyes and can be fatal. Naked patients’ genitals are targeted, cries of “I can’t breathe” and “I give up” ignored. Massive volumes of the gas turn cells opaque, the air poisonous, an execution method similar to Hitler’s, whose sick SS leaders are still being hunted down worldwide.
Coating the patient with oil, then a fine powder irritant, a screaming horror jokingly called a “powdered donut” is created. No cleaning of the unit is done, all patients are exposed and fans used for further mass punishment, the powder weapon airborne. Patients have only toilet water for decontamination, an ineffective, unsanitary, degrading policy.
CIA tortures, now too un-American for terrorists, are used against Americans on a mass basis. The CIA calls rectal torture “rectal feeding,” pretending to be medical treatment. CDCR hides dark deeds behind this mask of “medical care.”

The CIA calls rectal torture “rectal feeding,” pretending to be medical treatment. CDCR hides dark deeds behind this mask of “medical care.”

Preventing abuse reports is vital and retaliation swift. Murderers are given addresses of objecting staff, data on their children and their social security numbers, all present in state records. Solicited to do violence, motives are provided, with one RN’s wife suffering permanent injuries. Hate letters circulate widely, some signed, spreading fear and job loss. This concentrates the number of unethical staff, especially supervisors. A “code of silence” is enforced. Graduate nurses learn never to report abuse.
Lindsay Hayes of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives was commissioned by the state. He found CDCR’s practices increased deaths. Prisoners stripped, with no possessions, held in small cells and sleeping on cement floors, he called CDCR’s treatment “punitive” and “anti-therapeutic.” Guards, not medical professionals, controlled the conditions within the cells. Worse, he noted that CDCR employees sometimes  falsified watch logs.
In my case, I saved a group of abandoned patients. The abuser falsified 90-plus watch logs, claiming her absence couldn’t have been seen because I was “sleeping,” costing me my job and pension despite the fact that she was not in the building. She continued work as usual, immune to the “zero tolerance policy.” She withheld lifesaving equipment from a Black man in respiratory arrest, was allowed computer use to look up data on ethical staff etc. Supported by supervisors, she did not work alone.
When caregivers can’t report abuse, patients can be harmed with impunity, racist and sexual abuse open-ended. My attempts to stop the abuse include contacting state and federal authorities; none acted. Both the U.N. and Amnesty International have reports of torture at CDCR but can do nothing.

Preventing abuse reports is vital and retaliation swift. When caregivers can’t report abuse, patients can be harmed with impunity, racist and sexual abuse open-ended.

After my continued reports, CDCR wasted approximately $30 million on a new “treatment” facility at CMC, hiding the dungeon but run by the same folks, some promoted. Supported by billions in tax dollars, reports from inmates and other professionals indicate CDCR is running many such facilities.
Why put minority patients there? Diseases thrive; suicide is endemic. Many told of being framed by law enforcement. One officer in particular, 30 years a state records expert, supported the abusers and refused to stop actions harming both patients and staff. She lied in court and may have impacted thousands of cases, isolation and brain damage hindering victims’ attempts to find justice.
Like Hitler’s “treatment solutions,” nurses must not cooperate. As a nation, it tears us apart. As a state, it wastes billions and will eventually be exposed. As Ferguson shows, racist law enforcement is no longer a welcome standard in America.
I noted events (often called footprints) common to sociopaths, like inflicting cruel and unusual physical and psychological torture, “suicides” and clever deceptions. High functioning sociopaths can leave a trail of injuries and deaths with no obvious perpetrator. Charles Manson would approve.

Like Hitler’s “treatment solutions,” nurses must not cooperate. As a nation, it tears us apart. As a state, it wastes billions and will eventually be exposed. As Ferguson shows, racist law enforcement is no longer a welcome standard in America.

Isolation removes the victim’s voice, screams unheard. Like Amanda Knight, chained to a wall, surrender is not an option. Sociopaths love tormenting helpless captives, often children, the retarded and mentally ill – a euphoric, sexual need escalating over time. Racists profess to torment only minorities. Both would feel at home in CDCR.
Some victims are my fellow veterans and, innocent or not, Black or White, all need rescue now.
This is dedicated to Ousmane Zongo, Timothy Stansbury Jr., Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Michael Brown … teardrops of death in an ocean of legalized hate.
“I believe it … to be cruel and wrong … I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.” – Charles Dickens, after visiting prisoners in isolation at Eastern State Prison.
Paul Spector, who can be reached at stopcdcrpt.abuse @ gmail.com, goes more deeply into the topics introduced here in an interview by Minister of Information JR that will be published soon online and in the February Bay View.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Please Donate towards the Brandon Hein Project for Arts in Prison, and Help Reduce Recidivism through Arts!

Please view this YouTube about Brandon Hein, a prisoner sentenced to life in California for a murder he did not commit. Brandon has used art as a creative outlet in prison and is looking to help others do the same.

We are trying to help spread the word by creating a documentary film. Here is a link to the Kickstarter Campaign.

Please do whatever you can, donate, share, spread the word, to help get this important film made about Brandon Hein and his artwork, and donations will also go towards the anti-recidivism-projects.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Playing with Lives Using Old Rules

The NoseMilk posted this graphic recently about Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, who has been incarcerated in the SHU since many many years (decades). For the full story, please visit The Nose Milk.


An End to Solitary is Long Overdue

California's Savage System of Confinement

An End to Solitary is Long Overdue

by MARIE LEVIN

Less than two weeks ago the United Nations Committee against Torture issued a report strongly criticizing the U.S. record on a number of issues, among them the extensive use of solitary confinement. While the U.S. uses long-term solitary more than any other country in the world, California uses it more than any other state. It’s one of the few places in the world where someone can be held indefinitely in solitary. This practice is designed to break the human spirit and is condemned as a form of torture under international law.

Despite these repeated condemnations by the U.N., the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is harshening rather than easing its policies, currently with three new sets of regulations. The administration’s iron-fisted strategy is emerging: project the appearance of a reforming system while extending its reach, and restrict the ability of prisoners and their loved ones to organize for their rights.

First, the CDCR has instituted a “Step Down Program” ostensibly to create a pathway out of indefinite solitary. However, the program actually widens the net of who can be considered a threat and therefore eligible for placement in solitary. Recently adopted regulations replace the old language of “gang” with “Security Threat Group” (STG) and the previous list of a dozen identified gangs is now replaced with a dizzying list of over 1500 STGs. Under these new regulations, even family members and others outside the prisons can be designated as part of an STG. Given the fact that indefinite solitary is used disproportionately against people of color – in Pelican Bay, 85% of those in isolation are Latino – the language used to justify placement in solitary eerily mirrors the rhetoric of the federal government and its permanent state of war against its declared enemies, all of whom are people of color.

The CDCR promulgated a second set of rule changes last summer with sweeping new “obscenity” regulations governing mail going both in and out of prisons. The original proposal was to explicitly ban any “publications that indicate an association with groups that are oppositional to authority and society,” yet after coming under heavy criticism, CDCR decided to mask its Orwellian motives by hiding behind the above mentioned language of STGs. This ominous language violates First Amendment rights, and reveals a broader agenda: to censor writings that educate the public about what is actually occurring inside the prisons, and to stifle the intellectual and political education and organizing of prisoners themselves.

A third element of CDCR’s strategy of containment is the implementation of highly intimidating visiting procedures designed to keep family members away from their loved ones. Draconian new visiting regulations authorize the use of dogs and electronic drug detectors to indiscriminately search visitors for contraband, even though both methods are notoriously unreliable. These procedures effectively criminalize family members and deter them from visiting, especially in a period of a growing family-led movement against solitary.

The three new policies are also intended to extend CDCR’s reach beyond the prison walls. As an organizer and family member of a prisoner, I’m censored when sending letters to my brother, Sitawa N. Jamaa, subjected to gratuitous and intimidating searches during visits, and susceptible to being labeled an STG associate. These are all ways that CDCR is trying to keep me from knowing how my brother and others are doing, and to repress my organizing.

Taken individually, these regulations may seem to address unrelated issues. But given they are all coming down simultaneously – just a year after the last of a series of historic hunger strikes by people in California prisons has given rise to the highest level of self-organization and empowerment among imprisoned people since the 1970s – these regulations are nothing less than a systematic attempt to silence and retaliate against prisoners’ growing resistance. Over 30,000 prisoners participated in 2013’s strike, some for 60 days, risking their health and lives for an end to indefinite solitary. Prisoners’ family members and loved ones also took up leadership roles in political organizing in unprecedented ways. The movement to abolish solitary continues to gain momentum around the country.

The hunger strikes were a significant part of an ongoing national sea change regarding the use of solitary, as states are waking up to its dangers. Illinois, Maine and Mississippi have closed or drastically downsized their solitary units without any loss of institutional safety. New York and Arizona were recently forced to reduce their use of isolation, with Colorado and New Jersey following suit.

Yet California steadfastly remains an outlier seemingly impervious to change, led by an administration that relies on tired rhetoric about “the worst of the worst” to justify torture. People locked up in California have a decades-long history of fighting for the rights and dignity of prisoners, affirming their humanity in the face of inhumane conditions and demanding change. The U.N. report calls on this government to “ban prison regimes of solitary confinement such as those in super-maximum security detention facilities.” It’s time for California to listen.

Marie Levin is the sister of Sitawa N. Jamaa, a prisoner in solitary confinement at Tehachapi. She is a member of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC) and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).

Mohamed Shehk is the Media and Communications Director of Critical Resistance, and also contributed to this piece.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

CDCR’s new con game to undermine our class action suit

by Randall ‘Sondai’ Ellis, in: SF Bay View, November 29, 2014

In order to successfully advance in each step of CDCR’s newly enacted Step Down Program (SDP), prisoners are expected to fill out and complete a series of thought policing or brainwashing workbooks. One such workbook is entitled “The Con Game” and purports to elucidate for the prisoner via “self-directed journaling” the ways in which he either consciously or unconsciously is a con artist and criminal.

However, empirical evidence irrefutably proves that the true con artists and criminals are CDCR, the Department Review Board (DRB), Office of Correctional Safety (OCS), Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI), Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and the Classification Staff Representative (CSR) – and the con game they’re running is the SDP, replete with such old cons as “Three Card Monty,” “Smoke and Mirrors,” “The Bait and Switch,” word games and manipulation.

So let’s look at it. It appears that the court has issued CDCR yet another “save.” It has effectively permitted CDCR to undermine the class action lawsuit filed in Ashker v. Brown et al., CV-05796-CW, challenging the use of long term solitary confinement and the lack of any meaningful periodic review of our status towards release from said confinement, as was mandated – but never enforced by a court – in Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1098-1101(9th Cir. 1986).

Following the suspension of the hunger strikes, CDCR issued a series of memorandums that it said would effectively move it away from the current status-based punitive system to a more behavioral based individual account­ability system, where a man would be punished based on his individual actions and not based on this current “he said she said” game. That game has evolved into a mechanism whereby the so-called investigators fabricate so-called evidence of gang activity and association and membership and is based on things like “your name was discovered on a roster in another validated prisoner’s property” or whatever comes to their imagination.

The court, seeming to support the prisoners’ position in Ashker v. Brown, denied CDC’s motion to dismiss the suit saying that “CDCR may be violating prisoners’ con­stitutional rights by confining them to the SHU indefinitely and without offering them a meaningful way out.”

It has effectively permitted CDCR to undermine the class action lawsuit filed in Ashker v. Brown et al., CV-05796-CW, challenging the use of long term solitary confinement and the lack of any meaningful periodic review of our status towards release from said confinement.

True to its form, CDCR released a few hostages from the SHU and set in motion a pilot program that it touted as a change to the current policy. It sold this policy to the Legislature in a series of hearings and informed the prison population via a series of memorandums.

CDCR claimed to be initiating case-by-case (CBC) reviews of every prisoner assigned to the SHU, beginning with those with the lengthiest validation dates, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s etc.

In the meantime CDCR began playing “Three Card Monty.” It claimed that as part of these reviews, the DRB would look back four years for evidence of “gang activity” to determine one’s placement within a given step in the so-called Step Down Program (SDP). The CCPOA, the guards’ union, threw a fit, filing a motion to intervene in the case. It claimed that CDCR was putting guards in danger if they released these guys.

As the process evolved, the court hinted that the new pilot program wasn’t a cure for the prisoners’ claims because it was only a pilot program, so CDCR moved to make the program permanent by enacting a rule change with the OAL. At the same time, CDCR set up a sanctioned “punishment facility” at Tehachapi, where the program is so dysfunctional, so disrespectful, so degrading, it is said to be even worse than the torturous conditions that spawned the hunger strikes at Pelican Bay!

Here, the DRB selects who it will subject to additional punishment by pl­acing him in either Step 3 or 4 under the guise of there being some sort of recent gang activity uncovered by the IGI or OCS – “smoke and mirrors.”

In a subsequent ruling, the Ashker court ruled to certify the case as a class action and said that anyone confined to the SHU at Pelican Bay for 10 continuous years could adequately represent the class and anyone placed into the new SDP could not represent the class! So CDCR began relocating the named plaintiffs to the new punishment facility Step 3, though one or two went directly to the general population.

And wouldn’t you know it, the DRB has changed its focus. It is no longer reviewing those with the lengthiest validation dates. They are now focusing their reviews on those who have been confined to the SHU at Pelican Bay the longest.

So anyone who left here for whatever reason – out to court, transferred for medical treatment or sent to another SHU for a brief period, as experienced by myself – is not viewed as having been held hostage in Pelican Bay for 10 continuous years. Many of us were transferred to Corcoran SHU back in ‘99-‘00 as part of the first con game, the active/inactive reviews.

CDCR set up a sanctioned “punishment facility” at Tehachapi, where the program is so dysfunctional, so disrespectful, so degrading, it is said to be even worse than the torturous conditions that spawned the hunger strikes at Pelican Bay!

Now all of a sudden our DRB reviews will be scheduled according to the date they deem you were “returned” to the PBSP SHU. So one can end up being in the SHU 30 to 40 years, as in my and other prisoners’ cases, as long as he’s transferred to another SHU before he reaches the now requisite 10-year continuous mark – “word games and manipulation.”

This effectively undermines the entire case, and CDCR is taking the “save” it’s been given by now “bait and switching” its stated procedure of reviewing the hostages by length of validation, to those by length of placement in the Pelican Bay SHU. They didn’t even bother to issue a memo for this latest arbitrary policy shift, proving their nefarious if not criminal intent.

This is nothing but a con game, a scheme to buy time so that they can conspire to ensure that they keep this place full of hostages. After all, they have a 10-year window to torture their next victims to death, or worse, at “the punishment facility.”

This con game must be viewed for what it really is, an ongoing and contin­uing conspiracy designed to keep as many hostages in the SHU as possible, while the guards sit back and collect exorbitant pensions in the name of safety and security. Who said crime doesn’t pay?

This con game must be viewed for what it really is, an ongoing and contin­uing conspiracy designed to keep as many hostages in the SHU as possible, while the guards sit back and collect exorbitant pensions in the name of safety and security. Who said crime doesn’t pay?

In closing, Ashker v. Brown should be amended to make a claim for damages we suffered as a result of being subjected to these unconstitutional practices, which have resulted in irreparable injury to their victims. For more information, visit Justiceforsondai.wordpress.com.

Release the hostages!

Send our brother some love and light: Randall ‘Sondai’ Ellis, C-68764, PBSP SHU D1-223, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

Randall “Sondai” Ellis was locked up at the age of 16, about the time this picture was taken, for a crime that took no one’s life. At 19, he was placed in solitary confinement on the testimony of “confidential informants.” CDC has never identified them or revealed their testimony. Like many other accomplished jailhouse lawyers, he’s still there 32 years later. “My friends call me Sondai,” he says, “which means to push forward and endure.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Shine a light on Tehachapi, where CDCr has violated prisoners’ constitutional rights for far too long!

A powerful and insightful letter from one of the leaders of the 2011 and 2013 California hunger strikes for Human Rights:
From: SF Bay View, October 31, 2014

by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

This is a summarized version of a letter I sent to Mike Stainer, director of Adult Institutions, July 28, 2014, in order to address the long standing U.S. constitutional violations at CCI-Tehachapi and bring this prison under the current SHU standards forthwith:

Salamu (Greetings), Mr. Stainer and Mr. Diaz:

CCI Tehachapi Prison lies in the Tehachapi Mountains 35 miles east of Bakersfield between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. – Photo: CDCr
CCI Tehachapi Prison lies in the Tehachapi Mountains 35 miles east of Bakersfield between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. – Photo: CDCr


As I briefly reach out to you and your staff member, Mr. Diaz, I trust you are in good health and state of mind. I see that you are continuing to press the CDCR’s STG-SDP, and from where I’m sitting, your office is facing some serious structural dysfunctions throughout your prisons, regarding your alleged Steps 3 and 4.

These programs have supposedly been operational since Oct. 12, 2012, and Mr. George Giurbino and Ms. Suzan Hubbard have been campaigning and speaking highly of their Steps 3 and 4 program. It does not exist!

This is one of the most refined schemes I have ever witnessed, and Gov. Jerry Brown is actually scapegoating prisoners with the need for the Step 3 and 4 program. The talking points used by Giurbino and Hubbard to the public and to Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano were untrue.

Stay tuned. Enough said for the moment. I just wanted to share my thoughts, being that myself and other prisoners are seeing this type of hell first hand and UP CLOSE!

My purpose is to establish monthly meetings between CCI-Tehachapi officials and the four prisoner negotiators – myself, Danny Troxell (B-76578), John Solis (C-52754) and Javier Martinez (T-62995) – who shall speak on behalf of the Tehachapi SHU prisoner class. Now, over a month or so ago while still at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP), I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Diaz about establishing a similar working body to address some long standing problems here at CCI.
He agreed that some things needed to be worked out. Since my arrival, I see that the problems are of a constitutional nature and we do feel many can be resolved right here locally.

My purpose is to establish monthly meetings between CCI-Tehachapi officials and the four prisoner negotiators – myself, Danny Troxell (B-76578), John Solis (C-52754) and Javier Martinez (T-62995) – who shall speak on behalf of the Tehachapi SHU prisoner class.


I truly understand the cultural changes you are facing, Mr. Stainer, with wardens all the way through to correctional officers, but these cultural changes have been at the expense of prisoners across the prison system. These acts of persuasion and perturbation by prison staff have to cease immediately here at Tehachapi! The cultural level with prisoners has changed and continues to change.

There has to be a serious dialogue with yourself, Stainer and Diaz, along with Tehachapi prison officials, in order to truly standardize all SHUs, and currently Tehachapi is an un-standardized prison. All SHUs, and currently Tehachapi, are un-standardized. They should follow PBSP as the new and current model of areas that need to be altered in accordance with the new standard model that we should be after.

We, the Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM), need supporters to shine a light on this prison, for they have violated prisoners’ constitutional rights for far too long! We must be afforded our 10 hours of exercising a week. We must be afforded three hours of visiting. Those are two of our immediate requests and demands. Prisoners have been denied these rights for years!
In struggle!

Send our brother some love and light: Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry, C-35671, CCI SHU 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Corrections Dept. agents bang on activist’s door at 8 a.m. over a postcard she wrote to a prisoner

This is how CDCr harass people who stand up for human rights for all:

From the SF Bay View, October 27, 2014
by Kendra Castaneda Perez

This morning, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, at 8 a.m., I woke up to sounds of hard banging at my door. I thought it was the person to fix my broken heater, but once I looked outside my peephole I saw what I thought were two sheriff’s officers. My heart pounded thinking something terrible had happened to my child if two officers are standing outside my door with full blown police gear on.

I opened the door and was anticipating horrible news that no mother would want to hear. But I quickly learned these two officers, one Mexican woman one African American man were not sheriff’s deputies and they were not the local police.

This is the calling card left by one of the Special Service Unit special agents sent by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to interrogate the family member of a prisoner over a postcard she wrote to another prisoner in her role as a human rights advocate. The Fresno area code indicates the special agents may have traveled all the way from the Fresno area to Orange County in an effort to harass and intimidate her.


These were two agents of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Special Service Unit (CDCr SSU) wearing long police jackets, badges hanging around their necks that looked just like sheriff’s badges and black bulletproof vests on the outside of their uniforms with “POLICE” in huge letters across the middle. They asked me if I was who I was and I said to them, “Who are you and tell me why you are here?”

Special Agent Gregory Hopkins pulled out his ID and showed it to me, but I had him take it out of his wallet because I could not believe that CDCr officers were actually standing at my door. They said they were at my door due to a postcard I had recently mailed to inmate Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry) whom I have been corresponding with since 2011 both since he arrived at CCI Tehachapi SHU and, before that, when he was at Pelican Bay State Prison SHU Short Corridor.

I would not answer anything until they explained to me why they were at my door. I asked, “Am I under arrest?” They said, “No, we just want to ask a few questions.” They tried to get into my house and they threatened me, saying, “We can do this here or we can take you to the local police department.” I informed them that they can stand right where they were and that they do not have a warrant to come into my home and I have not done anything wrong.

So the two SSU officers stood outside of my door and showed me a postcard I had mailed Sitawa – my mail has not been restricted to or from anyone in prison. I was quite surprised they were at my door for a postcard.

They told me that they were “concerned” about the “meaning” of how I had “worded” things and they were concerned that it was “criminal” activity. I could not help from breaking out in laughter in front of them. I informed them that I just got mail from Sitawa last week and I get correspondence from numerous inmates from all different prisons, including from other inmates at CCI Tehachapi, in the course of my human rights advocacy.

These two SSU agents let me look at the postcard for a moment. It was a postcard I had written due to the Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI) withholding inmates’ mail, including any mail to and from Sitawa and other inmates. They barely let me glance at the postcard, since the woman agent did not really want me to see it.
They told me that they were “concerned” about the “meaning” of how I had “worded” things and they were concerned that it was “criminal” activity.

The male agent showed it to me, though I was half asleep, just waking up. On the postcard, I had commented to Sitawa, “I am the queen, and my man spoils me.” I wrote about two sentences saying something like “those IGI better not purposely tamper with my mail to you or anyone else; if they do, they’ll be playing with fire.”

I also wrote to Sitawa that my favorite county is Kern County, since I was born in Bakersfield and Kern County is where my family is from. I was responding to a letter Sitawa had written me just a week prior.

Those SSU agents wanted to know the meaning of my postcard. I informed them, laughing, that I meant exactly what I wrote. It’s true that IGIs tamper with mail all the time. And I explained that what I meant by playing with fire was that I would expose their human rights violations publicly and get attorneys involved. I informed them that I have the freedom of speech to tell someone that Kern County is my favorite because I was born there.
I have done nothing wrong and I will continue to use my voice to advocate for prisoners’ human rights to help those tortured and voiceless to get the help they need for better, more humane conditions.

I was shocked at what happened next. I informed the two SSU agents that I have been advocating for prisoners’ human rights for the last three or four years publicly to get better conditions for the men being tortured inside solitary confinement at CDCr. I said I have written many inmates of all different races and have sometimes been pushy – demanding justice for prisoners being badly abused – because that’s just who I am.

The SSU agents said they were concerned now due to “who I am with,” since my man is validated with CDCr, and they said to my face that they believed I was going to harm someone. I laughed and said, “Harm someone?!”

They said yes, we are concerned you are going to go “kill someone” because of your involvement with your husband. I was blown away and said, “If you are accusing me and my man of doing criminal activity, then I think I need a lawyer.”

They responded: “No, I didn’t say that. We are not accusing you all. We just want to know what is the meaning behind your writing in the postcard.”

I told them there is no criminal meaning at all – only my human rights advocacy. I was simply responding to a letter from Sitawa the week prior and insisting that the IGIs not tamper with Sitawa’s mail. I informed the agents that I had just bought a radio for Sitawa’s cellie because of the inhumane conditions the inmates in CCI are experiencing and, since Sitawa is a good friend of ours, I wanted to make sure he is not stuck in isolation without anything to do.

I informed the SSU agents that I am a well-known prisoner human rights activist and by them showing up at my house, they are proving that retaliation and harassment by CDCr officers for advocating for inmates’ human rights is real. Note that California Department of Corrections agents are NOT police officers, but they came to my door wearing full blown police gear, impersonating real police officers and threatening me as if they were about to arrest me for a postcard I legally mailed through the United States Postal Service.

They kept wanting to speak about my husband and imply he was doing criminal activity, and I told them that was not true. I politely said: “So since I am a law abiding citizen, I have a clear record, my man spoils me with love because I have respect for human rights and have helped many people of all races for years, I am a writer for the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper and now I am in love with a man labeled the Mexican Mafia, then I am going to be labeled a “criminal” merely because I wrote a postcard that had no criminal wording and no threats?”
I informed the SSU agents that I am a well-known prisoner human rights activist and by them showing up at my house, they are proving that retaliation and harassment by CDCr officers for advocating for inmates’ human rights is real.

I informed the SSU agents that I do not know about any criminal activity and I do know that my man has not been involved in any criminal activity or else he would not have been on general population for almost a year in Step 5 of the Step Down Program. Keep in mind that I was in my pajamas while all this was going on.

They were surprised that I admitted to writing that postcard. I said yes, I wrote that, and I know it was a bit pushy, but look what the IGIs do to the inmates. They threaten them, harass them, beat them, withhold medical care from them.

And now I am being accused and harassed not by the police or sheriff but by the CDCr Special Service Unit at my door at 8 a.m. over a postcard I mailed to Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), who is a good friend of mine, and for supporting Sitawa’s human rights or just speaking to Sitawa.

Before they left, I asked to see the postcard again, but they refused to let me see it. Well, if I wrote it and if they came all the way to my house acting like they were the SWAT team having authority over all law enforcement accusing me of planning serious criminal activity, then I think I should be able to see the postcard again.

The male special agent, Gregory Hopkins, left me his card “just in case you need to talk.” I informed him that he can tell CDCr that CCI Tehachapi SHU is going to be exposed real soon in the media and CDCr is going to be exposed legally for what they do illegally – showing up at people’s houses accusing prisoners’ family members of being in a “gang” just for a writing a postcard and accusing family members of serious criminal activity just because we are in love with a person in prison falsely labeled a Security Threat Group (STG) member or associate.

This is how we are treated now. This is what happens to family members, regular citizens who advocate for the human rights of those in prison. Our rights are violated!

I have done nothing wrong and I will continue to use my voice to advocate for prisoners’ human rights to help those tortured and voiceless to get the help they need for better, more humane conditions.

We stand by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry) in unity and with all those men of the like mind and heart at CCI Tehachapi SHU and ASU to hopefully get better conditions and shut down solitary confinement once and for all!

Kendra Castaneda Perez is a prisoner human rights activist and writer. Her significant other is Raymond “Chavo” Perez, K-12922, who is one of the 12-man Representatives Body responsible for the historic Agreement to End Hostilities. He survived 18 years in the Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor until January 2014, when he was transferred to General Population in California State Prison (CSP) Sacramento (New Folsom) on Step 5 of the Step Down Program. Kendra can be reached at kendrachavoperez@gmail.com.

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ACLU report on the LA County Jail

ACLU report on the LA County Jail
"Cruel and Usual Punishment: How a Savage Gang of Deputies Controls LA County Jails"

Buried Alive: Long-term Isolation in California's Youth and Adult Prisons

Buried Alive: Long-term Isolation in California's Youth and Adult Prisons
AFSC Report May 2011 (click on picture)