Upon leaving Pelican Bay SHU Solitary Confinement: My Firsts (of Many :-) )

Upon leaving Pelican Bay SHU Solitary Confinement: My Firsts (of Many 🙂 )

Photo of Baridi Williamson in 2016

Baridi Williamson in 2016

By Brutha Baridi Williamson

Leaving out of Pelican Bay Solitary Confinement Torture Prison-Facilities/Units-Cages for the first time on Jan. 23rd, 2015 (after arriving there Nov. 29, 1990), I remember witnessing my first sunrise as the CDCr [CA Dept. of Corrections and rehabilitation] “gray goose” transportation bus travelled up the mountainside along Highway 101. Staring out the window at the skyline as it transformed into a mixture of blended orange-red-violet-blue colors, I sat there in deep silence just appreciating the beauty of Nature … It would be the first of many first time experiences of using my natural senses again after being buried alive in that concrete box deprived of the natural use of those senses for the last twenty five (25) years . . . a quarter century.

My next First was at the San Quentin Receiving and Release Center where our bus stopped over. And while we was standing in small holding cages waiting to get back on the bus, another of the men (in another cage) asked to use the restroom across the hall. I was surprised when the guard walked over to the cage, unlocked the door, and let the guy walk out and across the hall (around other staff) unhandcuffed! I knew that I had to experience this after years/decades being chained and cuffed (like a 19th century slave). I asked to use the restroom and the guard let me out to walk freely across the hall uncuffed. It was not far, but just the absence of cuffs made a world of difference between being treated like a (chained) animal and feeling Humyn!

My next First may seem small to many outside hearing this, but for me it was special for my humanity. On January 28th, 2015 I arrived at SVSP (Salinas Valley State Prison) general population and was housed with a fellow human being named Malik. He gave me a brand new toothbrush (that he was allowed to purchase from an outside quarterly package vendor.) This was not the 2″ miniature size toothbrush (normally for brushing pet animals’ teeth) I had been using since the 1990s. This was the normal regular-size toothbrush used for brushing humans’ teeth. And each time (twice in the morning, afternoon and evening-night) I use it. The feel of being human is always at the front of my mind. With each stroke of the brush I humbly give in to the use of this part of my deprived senses.

There has been many more Firsts since then over the course of this first year, but the one that is so close and dear to heart was my first visit (contact) with my family in my thirty-plus (30+) years of confinement in CDCr, when I was able to visit my sister Donnita Benson, when she flew out from Oklahoma City and we hugged/kissed for the first time since 1980. It was a memorable experience to go from tears of hurtful pain and suffering (that dates back to our childhood struggles – domestic violence, being separated at ages 10 [me] and 14 [her], as “survivors” -she survived breast cancer and I survived being lost to the street jungles at age 15, then these concrete prison jungles, including decades in solitary confinement) then went to tears of joy, laughter, and happiness as we enjoyed those two days together. She said I squeezed her hand so tight and would not let it go that it went numb … Oops, my bad. I guess I subconsciously was that little child back home walking everywhere holding securely to my older sister’s hand.

I will close this off with a solidarity salute of respect, appreciation, and honor to all of the PHSS-PHRM outside supporters who believe in our cause enough to keep the spotlight upon both this states’ massive dysfunctional system of mass incarceration, its evil solitary confinement torture use, non-rehabilitative and social re-entry parole opportunities, and their contributions for helping those released from long-term solitary confinement and its own unique post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome (PTSD-solitary confinement) identi[ty], cope-heal, etc. from its effects. Thank you/Asante to each and all.

In solidarity with all oppressed peoples struggles, Brutha Baridi

Photo of Baridi Williamson in 1994

Baridi Williamson in 1994

J. Baridi Williamson, D34288
SVSP C1-118
P.O. Box 1050
Soledad, CA 93960-1050

Artwork by Baridi Williamson entitled Stop Mass-Incarceration, Solitary Confinement, Police-Brutality, Racism

Stop Mass-Incarceration, Solitary Confinement, Police-Brutality, Racism, art by Baridi J. Williamson, illustration originally published here


Baridi was one of the original signers of the Agreement to End Hostilities. Read Baridi’s profile seeking correspondence on webpage Bruthas of Consciousness and Universal Humanity

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Report back from Prisoner Representatives’ first monitoring meeting with CDCR

From Center for Constitutional Rights
May 23, 2016

By Todd Ashker

At the beginning of this first meeting, it became clear that there was a misunderstanding about its function.  CDCR thought the meeting was for us to listen to them.  Why would we put a term into our Settlement that would have us listen to them?  We listen to them every second of our lives.  We see the purpose of these calls as an opportunity for us to be heard and to have a discussion with people in authority.

Despite this initial confusion, we were able to lead the meeting. CDCR got unfiltered information from prisoners who know what is going on in their prison cells and yards.  We are a leadership group the CDCR knows.  They know we have integrity.  The information we shared at the meeting came not only from the experiences of us four main reps, but also from the other veterans of the SHU, members of our class who have written and met with our attorneys.

We raised in strong terms that some of us who have made it to General Population yards are essentially in modified SHUs (Security Housing Units), in some respects worse than Pelican Bay SHU, although in some respects better.   Conditions, policies and practices that we are experiencing in some of the General Population yards are not what we expected when we settled our case.  After spending decades in solitary we cannot accept many of these conditions.  Too many prisoners are simply warehoused, and there are not enough jobs or programs to give us skills, engage our minds and prepare us to return to our communities.  Guards need training in ‘professional’ behavior.   Bullying and humiliation should never be tolerated.

CDCR may have been surprised at the tenor, strength and substance of our approach.   We expect at the next meeting, we will all understand the agenda and purpose well ahead of time.   We also think a longer meeting will allow for a full discussion and useful interaction.  We hope CDCR officials come to welcome these historic meetings as useful because they will be if prisoners’ perspectives are heard, used and received by them.

Kern Valley Administrators aim to undermine our Agreement to End race-based Hostilities

A Bulletin from the Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM) and Free Speech Society

By Kijana Tashiri Askari, Abdul Olugbala Shakur, and J. Heshima Denham

February 1st, 2016

(received: Feb. 24th, 2016)

Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) Administrators have instituted CoIntelPro tactics, to try and sabotage the historical significance of our Agreement to End Hostilities (A.E.H.). The sabotage entails:

1) Obstructing our proposed A.E.H. council that we have established so that all racial groups can have a constructive means to air grievances against one another and resolve them in a humane manner. KVSP Administrators have outright refused to allow the elected representatives of our A.E.H. council to meet up with one another and/or have regular access to their racial tribes.

2) As a result of point #1, two racial skirmishes have occurred in the month of January 2016 (e.g. January 11th, 2016 and January 28th, 2016) between the Crip and Southern Mexican formations. Let’s be clear, these racial skirmishes could have been avoided had we been allowed to do our “due dilligence” via our A.E.H. council!!! These racial skirmishes now have the potential of escalating full-scale.

3) We have been on lockdown since January 11, 2016. And in the course of such, the program has been “modified” where we are being released to yards in incrementals (a few at a time). The problem with this is it’s being disproportionately done where the numbers are stacked against New Afrikans 3 to 1. This violates CDCr protocol, where the incremental yard releases are supposed to be equal in numbers.

4) Point 3 makes it clear, that KVSP Administrators aim to subject us New Afrikans to physical harm with these incremental odds. For example, on January 27, 2016, I was released to the yard and while being stripped out, a pig (prison guard) told me: “Hey Harrisson… enjoy your yard!!” while having a sarcastic smirk on his face. It took every fiber in me not to lose my discipline, while recognizing my presence was deeply needed on the yard, as we New Afrikans were already outnumbered.

5) The lockdown that we have been on since January 11, 2016, is in violation of clearly established constitutional law, wherein the courts have held:

“Prison officials may not take a race-based approach towards placing prisoners on lockdown. And prison officials are required to produce ‘some evidence’ that an individual from a particular racial group was involved in said racial conflict.” – see: Richardson v. Runnels.

But nonetheless, every New Afrikan on KVSP’s B-facility yard has been on lockdown since January 11th, 2016, inspite of not being involved in any racial skirmishes.

Our struggle continues!!!

For more information about the Free Speech Society, write us at:

Kijana Tashiri Askari
s/n Marcus Harrison, H54077

KVSP B2-101
P.O. Box 5102
Delano, CA 93216

Abdul Olugbala Shakur
s/n James Harvey, C48884
KVSP B2-117
P.O. Box 5102
Delano, CA 93216

J. Heshima Denham, J38283
KVSP B2-117
P.O. Box 5102
Delano, CA 93216

Website: Freespeechsociety.wordpress.com

The Prisoner Human Rights Movement is the group of prisoner representatives representing the prisoner class in California and beyond. The website can be found [here] at:

Prisonerhumanrightsmovement.wordpress.com

Jabari was finally moved to general population too!

Photo of Jabari Scott

Jabari 2 days before his release to general population – 28 dec 2015

An update now that I’ve transferred to the general population! Please note my new address, although I will likely to moving soon, so I recommend holding any mail until further notice in case it gets lost in the process.

After my CCI counselor read off my whole history to the committee (from my felony arrest to every incident I was involved in through my incarceration), Warden Davey began to explain that after 9 years and 7 months he was releasing me from the SHU and lowering my custody level because I haven’t received any rule violation write-ups for quite some time. Thus I will be transferred to the 270-designated prison that’s closest to my area. He followed that up with the expectations he has of me and the Captain told me to go pack up because I was to be immediately moved to the General Population (GP) yard here at Corcoran, no longer a SHU prisoner.

With that I went back to my cage and packed up all my property and relayed it to the building staff who inventoried it (and surprisingly didn’t take a thing). Soon after they came back to get me, and I said all my goodbye’s to those I built solid friendships with. My property was packed up on a golf cart and we took a ride through a maze of buildings, stopping several times to pass through multiple gates. When we finally made it to my destination (3A GP yard), I was helped off the cart and put up against the wall, my handcuffs were removed and the officer said “you’re free, and I won’t put handcuffs on you unless there’s something wrong. Go ahead and remove your property from the golf cart and put it in a push cart so that you can push it to the building you’re assigned to”.

This was the very first time in 9 years, 7 months that I have ever been next to an officer without handcuffs on, and it really felt weird because both of our psyches had been so scarred with the idea that I would attack him. But my brief apprehension passed, I loaded the hand cart and made my way to 3 building, where I was directed to cell 230 on the upper tier. I unloaded my property and put it in the cell I was assigned and which I will be occupying until I find a permanent home.

Immediately I began to notice all the small things that are now available to me in the SHU, like electric and cable TV plugs, a light switch, a clear, full size mirror where I could see my whole face, a proper shaving razor, boxes of plastic bags, lockers. In the SHU we put our electrical and cable cords through a hole in the wall so an officer could plug them in on the other side, and we had no light switches – all the lights went on at 6 AM and were shut off at 9 PM. When we are locked in a single man shower a razor is handed to us, which we have to rush to use and turn in before we exit the shower. Boxes and plastic bags are not allowed.

On my first morning my door was opened and my name was called over a loud speaker to go out to medication pickup. I walked with a group of guys and we all walked a good distance to the clinic and back to pick up our medication. In the SHU a nurse came to the door and gave everything to you. The walk was beautiful but everything felt surreal, as though I was in a fog. The reality of it all still has not set in. My neighbor was also in the SHU with me, he’s a Mexican from southern California, and he and his celly had an extra hot pot which they let me use. As soon as I got in my cell I filled it with water and made my first cup of hot coffee in 9 years and 7 months. In the SHU we’re not allowed to have anything hot in fear that we would throw it at an officer. Man it was beautiful enjoying my first cup of Joe. At lunch I hooked up my first hot top ramen soup and had a hot lunch. On Saturday we had chicken – first piece I’ve had with a bone in 10 years. In the SHU they serve small nugget-style pieces because they’re afraid we’ll make a knife. On Sunday I had my first real egg. After breakfast they called for Church – I’m not cleared yet to go to services but as soon as I am I’ll be attending. In the SHU they have no form of religious services whatsoever – looking forward to getting my God on!

In the mornings we have four hours of yard time and and hour and a half in the dayroom in the evening. I’m not eligible yet for this either but should be in 10 days. However, I don’t know if that will happen before they send a bus for me to go to whatever prison I’ve been promoted to.

I’m still getting used to having my door opened and me freely exiting through it. I quickly learned to be ready and on point at my door for medication pickups twice a day because I don’t want to get caught off guard with my door open and me not ready. All of it is a lot to get used to but I’m working my way through as reality continues to sink in. I will continue to keep you all updated – keep me in your prayers as you will always be in mine.

Jabari Scott

Aaron Ray Scott, H30536
CSP Corcoran 3A-03-230
POB 3461,
Corcoran, CA 93212