Gov. Jerry Brown, AG Kamala Harris and CDCr officials, you have the power to stop torture in California prisons

March 29, 2015, in: SF Bay View

by Prisoner Human Rights Movement Local Council

Open letter to senior officials at CDCr headquarters:

We are sharing our express concerns as the CCI Prisoner Human Rights Movement Local Council – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), Danny Troxell, Antonio Villagrana and George Ruiz – concerning the non-functional operation of Steps 1 through 4 and how we as SHU SDP (Step Down Program) prisoners are being denied our federal and state constitutional rights to equal protection and substantive and procedural due process. This is the gist of the message presented to all CDCr and CCI top officials at CDCr headquarters on Feb. 9, 2015, by the CCI facilitator.

Listen up, America: California does torture and cause great harm to California prisoners – i.e., citizens.

This is a summary of the thought-provoking message to Gov. Jerry Brown and his personally appointed CDCr Secretary Jeffrey Beard and their subordinates, including senior CDCr officials 1) G. Giurbino, 2) S. Hubbard, 3) M. Hoshino, 4) M. Stainer, 5) R. Diaz, 6) M. Ruff, 7) K. Harrington, 8) L. Payton, 9) K. Allison, 10) T. Rothschild and 11) D. Herndon, who are the decision makers over 100,000 prisoners throughout CDCr and those of us held at CCI (Tehachapi). Many of CDCr’s employees are equally applying their bias, discrimination, racist behavior and torturous tactics against prisoners labeled as members or affiliates of a Security Threat Group (STG) or gang and SDP prisoners daily.

There is systematic corruption which has been instituted by the new regulations on STGs and the SDP Steps 1 through 5, and the public – i.e. all California citizens – should be discontented with our elected officials who have allocated to the state $9 billion to torture us, to discriminate against us and to violate prisoners’ constitutional rights with taxpayers’ money.

California taxpaying citizens: You are obligated to fight against the legalized human torture you are paying for.

These local CDCr subordinates, such as those at CCI (Tehachapi) prison, have been using their staff’s racist, biased and discriminatory cultural practices to deny all prisoners their fundamental rights under the CCR Title 15, the California Constitution, the U.S. Constitution and the International Human Rights Law. We prisoners are being violated by these specific custody employees and medical employees: 1) Kim Holland (warden), 2) Dr. H. Tate, 3) W. Sullivan (CDW), 4) B. Snider (STG/SDP-CCII), 5) R. Mayo (captain), 6) J. Gutierrez (AW), 7) J. Edward (visiting room staff), 8) V. Ybarra (CC-I), 9) Matzen (captain), 10) Hernandez (SDP-CC-II), 11) K. Campball (sergeant), 12) R. Cole (sergeant), 13) Cable (property officer), 14) Landau (imam), 15) Davis (chaplain), 16) J. Tyree (IGI lieutenant), 17) E. Atencio (mailroom personnel), 18) Whitson (sergeant)(A), 19) J. Leon (correctional officer) and 20) Nathaniel (correctional officer) have all committed acts of punishment and harassment toward CCI prisoners.

Every citizen in the state of California should independently investigate all CDCr and CCI named employees and share information about the corrupt employees with California taxpayers – now! now! now!

We seek corrective measures to take place immediately in Steps 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

The sham Step Down Program has been doomed from the start, governed by underground policies. On Oct. 12, 2012, CDCr enacted a pilot program in which it wrote open-ended policies that govern the program function and at the same time allow the policies to be manipulated at all levels of their administration as they see fit for their own benefit with its DRB (Departmental Review Board) process. Step placement is so arbitrary that the time period of advancement from one step to the next step can easily amount to regression back to a lower step.

In the regulations issued Oct. 17, 2015, of the Step Down Program Notice of Expectations, Step 1 and Step 2 prisoners can complete each step in one year but may be accelerated by ICC at the 180 day review; and Step 3, Step 4 and Step 5 prisoners can complete each step in one year – with no acceleration through these steps. Although the policy is written with specific and clear language, it demonstrates that CDCr has enacted policies of substantive due process. These underground policies allow Step 1 and Step 2 prisoners the benefit of an accelerated advancement from one step to the next in 90 days with three completed journals – Step 1 to Step 2 and Step 2 to Step 3.

These substantive due process policies have been implemented and extended to hundreds of Step 1 and Step 2 prisoners throughout CDCr since Oct. 12, 2012, utilizing CDCr standardization of all SHUs and Administrative Segregation units (AdSegs), which gives the appearance that their Step Down Program is up and functioning and prisoners are being advanced from one step to the next, while in truth only Step 1 and 2 prisoners are being accelerated and advanced to the next step in 90 days of their required 12 months.

This same advancement incentive is not being extended to Step 3, 4 and 5 prisoners, thereby denying them their substantive due process and equal protection rights. At this time, all Step 3, 4 and 5 prisoners are being forced to complete all 12 months of each step along with four completed journals, and they are receiving no incentive of accelerated advancement to the next step in 90 days for their participation. CDCr Step 3 prisoners are being punished and mistreated. Psychological warfare is being directed at them.

It is clear that CDCr is not applying its policies equally nor extending equal substantive due process to all three SDP prisoners. Furthermore, Step 1 and Step 2 prisoners are being rewarded for participation in the lowest steps of the program while Step 3, 4 and 5 prisoners are being punished for their participation in the higher, more advanced steps of the program. Step 3, 4 and 5 prisoners are not being extended any incentives for their ongoing good behavior and participation in these three steps.

In essence, CDCr has instituted a policy allowing Step 1 and 2 prisoners across the state to actually do a quarter of the required SDP one year. Yes, Secretary Beard of CDCr has approved 90 days and three journals per Step 1 and 2.

The SDP needs to be afford quarter-time credits to all prisoners in Steps 1 through 5 and especially Steps 3, 4 and 5 prisoners. Being that CDCr has been running the Step Down Program since Oct. 12, 2012 – for over two years – it is a clear violation of Step 3, 4 and 5 prisoners’ equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Secretary of CDCr J. Beard has sanctioned these procedures, and they must be corrected to provide to all Step 3, 4 and 5 prisoners the same treatment as Steps 1 and 2 now receive, in order to give them substantive due process forthwith.

Corrective measures for SDP Step 3, 4 and 5 prisoners

  1. All SDP Step 3 prisoners shall be accelerated and advanced forthwith to Step 4 after completing a 90-day period.
  2. All SDP Step 4 prisoners shall be accelerated and advanced to a 180-designed (high security) prison after completing a 90-day period, which is one quarter of the required 12-month time period, forthwith.
  3. All SDP Step 5 prisoners shall be accelerated and advanced to a 270 designed (lower security) prison after completing a 90-day period, which is one quarter of the 12-month observation time period, forthwith.

These SDP Steps 3, 4 and 5 privilege groups have been denied their equal protection and substantive due process rights under the California Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. CDCr must accelerate and advance prisoners in all above-mentioned steps.

Visiting

In the spirit of standardizing all CDCr SHUs and AdSegs, we must consider visiting, an unresolved issue of concern for years here at CCI. The entire visiting scheduling and process is conducted unprofessionally and causes all types of unnecessary problems for our visitors who are citizens.

CCI visiting operators have been forcing our visitors to be placed on hold for two to four hours just to schedule a weekend visit. CCI visiting officers are unprofessional and intentionally vindictive. It should not take more than five minutes to schedule a visiting date.

All allowable visiting time for SHUs and AdSeg prisoners fall under a statewide standardized visiting time period of two and a half hours per scheduled visit for Saturday and Sunday – not just for the one day and one hour visit per weekend as CCI has been doing for over a decade. All prisoners should be afforded two visiting days per weekend, as is done at all other SHU and AdSeg prisons in the state, except for CCI.

TV stations

All prisons and institutions within CDCr are responsible for providing all prisoners an adequate and functional TV system. Now CCI Warden Kim Holland is fully aware that the CCI TV system is inadequate and it has been so stated to him by the local court, by the granting of 602 appeals. CCI is not at present a part of any cable system or satellite dish system, which is the sole reason why prisoners have been receiving inadequate TV reception. Holland and staff have been for years denying prisoners Charter Cable or Direct TV and are currently mishandling and misappropriating the allocated funds for the CCI TV service and education departments.

From the Prisoner Human Rights Movement! In struggle!

The CCI Prisoner Human Rights Movement Local Council can be reached via Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671, 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581.

Alternatively, you can send an email with your questions and/or support via email to:

Prisonerhumanrightsmovement [at] gmail.com

This will be forwarded to Sitawa via snail mail since he has not computer, cellphone or internet connection.

© Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

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This was published on Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, Sept. 18, 2014. The letter itself was written on Sept. 1st 2014

Todd Ashker writes from Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor:

“….I am requesting your attention and responsive dialogue-addressing these issues during the meeting with our outside mediation team- and with Arturo Castellanos, George Franco, James Williamson, and myself in the near future…
The following is from me.

We are presently at the one year point- post “suspension,” of our third peaceful protest hunger strike action against longterm-indefinite-solitary confinement [i.e. SHU/Ad-Seg confinement]… and related conditions therein and damage therefrom- to prisoners, our outside loved ones, and society in general….

.…The bottom line is, longterm-indefinite-SHU is not effective and harms all concerned. It’s ending nationwide and this will be the case in Calif. too- better to be sooner than later….”

PDF of transcribed Memo HERE.  Handwritten letter HERE

***

Memorandum

Sept. 1, 2014

To: CDCR-Administration
Secretary Beard, UnderSec. Hoshino
Director Stainer, Assoc. Dir. Diaz,
PBSP Warden Ducart

From: Todd Ashker, C58191-
One of four PBSP-SHU Prisoner Reps
(via outside mediation team)

Subject: Five Core Demands, 40 Supplemental Demands,
and CDCR’s STG-SDP

This memorandum is directed to the above CDCR Administrators for the express purpose of respectfully reminding you about unresolved, and/or continued problematic, issues relevant to our 2011-2014 Five Core and 40 Supplemental demands… and CDCR’s Security Threat Group-Step Down Program [STG-SDP]…

I am requesting your attention and responsive dialogue-addressing these issues during the meeting with our outside mediation team- and with Arturo Castellanos, George Franco, James Williamson, and myself in the near future… The following is from me.

We are presently at the one year point- post “suspension,” of our third peaceful protest hunger strike action against longterm-indefinite-solitary confinement [i.e. SHU/Ad-Seg confinement]… and related conditions therein and damage therefrom- to prisoners, our outside loved ones, and society in general, as supported by the public record from the legislative Joint Public Safety Committee hearings held in Oct. 2013/Feb. 2014…

I believe we have demonstrated out commitment to seeing the reforms sought in our demands implemented in principle and spirit, via our peaceful collective actions and I am reminding you of some relevant facts…

A)      In 2011, CDCR Undersecretary Kernan, and others, admitted that our five core demands were reasonable-and, many should have been implemented/provided [20] years ago-Three years later, many remain unresolved –

B)      It was our (2) peaceful hunger strike actions-involving thousands of prisoners statewide, and related international/national public exposure and condemnation of our decades of subjection to a form of coercive, state sanctioned torture… that brought out Undersecretary Kernan, and others’, public admission that CDCR had been over using the validation process’, and was going to revise such policies… responsive to our demands –

C)      Our Primary Goal has always been, and remains, …Ending Longterm Indefinite- SHU/Ad-Seg confinement!

Contrary to CDCR Secretary Beard, et al, claims the STG-SDP is not responsive to our Primary Demand because it continues a policy of indefinite SHU placement and retention. (And it’s structured in vague over reaching terms, that will ultimately result in many more prisoners being subject to indefinite SHU-in large part due to minor infractions- already being born out by fact of, more prisoners are in SHU-Ad-Seg today- than there were prior to start of STG-SDP pilot program Oct. 2012!)

D)      With our primary goal in mind -”Ending Indefinite SHU” policy- any policy/practice that enables such to continue is not acceptable, thus, while CDCR has been somewhat responsive to some of our demands re: SHU/Ad-Seg program/privilege issues- most of us in SHU for decades already,… remain here indefinitely! The point is, no matter how you dress it up- spending 24/7 in a small cell for months, years, decades- without normal human contact- especially, the contact of physically touching one’s outside loved ones… equals a form of torturous social extermination- period!!

E)      A major aspect of our collective movement to meaningfully reform this prison system in ways beneficial to prisoners, staff, outside loved ones, and society in general, is related to the system’s rank and file treating prisoners and our outside loved ones humanely- as fellow human beings, with dignity and respect.

I’m not sure how many of you current administrators were in the loop during our discussions about SHU policy change(s) in 2011-2012, …but we pointed out that “CDCR leadership knows how to create a reform policy- intended to be successful or, – one intended to fail.” …As summarized below, the current structure and implementation of the STG-SDP appears to be intended to fail- this will not bode well for CDCR!

Remember this, our 2013 peaceful protest action was “suspended” and many prisoners are not happy with much of the STG-SDP policy!! They aren’t being treated humanely-with dignity, or respect, under the present structure and implementation of said policy…

Like it or not, you need prisoners cooperation, support, and participation with any policy affecting thousands, or your policy fails!

For example, if all prisoners refused to participate in you SDP, while you go by the STG provisions- your policy fails you because you end up having tens-of-thousands on Step 1, indefinite SHU status… Add peaceful actions, resulting in additional peaceful protesting prisoners’ deaths, and costs, etc… should you have to force feed a hundred to two hundred etc. prisoners- and related global attention… At some point, jobs would be lost and changes made- ending the failed policy!! Will it come down to this?? The bottom line is, longterm-indefinite-SHU is not effective and harms all concerned. It’s ending nationwide and this will be the case in Calif. too- better to be sooner than later…

With the above in mind, the following are points supporting the referenced facts and unresolved issues you have the power to meaningfully resolve:

1)      Our alternative proposal to the STG-SDP has been on the table since Sept. 2012…. It’s based on principle points of (a) SHU placement being reserved for those guilty of felonious type violations-assessed determinate SHU terms, and (b) A modified type of general population transition program between SHU and G.P.- Our mediation team has details about this proposal, which have been provided to you as well. The SDP-Steps 3 and 4, aren’t even close to this (e.g. zero contact visits)

2)      In addition to provisions enabling continued indefinite SHU placement and retention, the following examples support the position that the STG-SDP as structured and implemented is designed to fail…

(a) The issue(s) re: legitimate- meaningful- incentives for each step have not been satisfactorily resolved (e.g. allowing more- phone calls, photographs, packages/special purchases, contact visits, etc.)

(b) Steps 3 and 4 at CCI-Tehachapi, are seen as a bad-step down re: conditions, programming and privileges- to the extent that many prisoners see no point in participating!

Examples are: visits are limited to (1) hour, on either Sat. or Sun.; cells are dirty and cleaning materials are not being provided; nor is laundry, clothing, linen, etc, being provided/exchanged; the T.V. and radio stations are very limited and out of signal all the time; the food is bad; shower program is poorly run- as is yard program; property is processed very slowly, and typewriters are not being allowed, etc.,etc.,etc; Staff attitudes are poor!!

Plus, many prisoners held in PBSP-SHU for decades have loved ones who reside in the Del Norte Co. area- with jobs, etc., and a transfer to CCI is a hardship to their loved ones…

You have ability to remedy the above, via use of former PSU [at PBSP] cell block(s) for Steps 3 and 4… These steps should also allow contact visits!! A Step 3 and 4 at PBSP should be an option for those with local family ties, etc!!

There’s no legitimate penological basis to deny these prisoners human physical contact with loved ones and friends… Up until mid 1986, all SHU prisoners were allowed contact visits- thus, it’s a reasonable, meaningful incentive for those prisoners participation in Steps 3 and 4…

(c)      The journals remain a problem for many (e.g. Corcoran) and I will point out that George Guirbino, et al, admitted at one of our meetings last year, that the journals were ‘lacking re:substantive rehab, value’ -qualifying this with- “but that’s all that’s available.” Look, we all know the journals have zero relevance to rehabilitation of prisoners transitioning between SHU and G.P. (demonstrated by the fact that prisoners placed on Step 5 by DRB’s case-by-case reviews of longterm SHU prisoners don’t have to do a single journal!!) You should make the journals a voluntary self-help program available to all CDCR prisoners… The way you’re using them as required part of SDP- Steps1-4, makes you all look bad- for many reasons!!

(d)      The case by case reviews at PBSP are too slow-100’s still wait on theirs.

Miscellaneous Issues Remaining To Be Resolved Include But Are Not Limited To:

  1. Mattresses (As you know, PIA mattresses are a big problem!??)
  2. Restriction on privileges should only be based on being guilty of abusing the specific privilege (eg., photographs, art materials)
  3. Allowable art materials expanded, per, principle of individual accountability (eg, woodless colored pencils, and all type of art paper)
  4. Photograph program for SHU/Ad-Seg visiting- as done in Vacaville in the 80’s (visitor and prisoner in photo, taken on visitor’s side of glass)

Your attention and anticipated positive responsive resolution(s) to the above subjects is appreciated.

Todd Ashker, C58191/PBSP-D4-121

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.1

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.1

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.2

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.2

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.3

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.3

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.4

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.4

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.5

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.5

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.6

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.6

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.7

Todd Ashker to Mike Stainer et al. Sept. 14 2014, p.7

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

This letter was published in the SF Bay View on Oct. 31st, 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:

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.