How torture is inflicted on prisoners in solitary confinement

Published on SF Bay View on Feb. 24th, 2014

by Mutope Duguma and Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

This is a glimpse into torture by prison staff, using any means available, of which solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison in California is only a reflection of the inhumane treatment and clear U.S. constitutional violations of our First, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendment rights that prisoners in solitary everywhere are subjected to.

Torture by deprivation

The objective of the deprivation method is not complicated. It is to attack the sensory organs and perception with methods to impair them. The weapon of deprivation cannot be effective without having in place a conditioning process to produce degeneration over a long period of time. The psychological, social and cultural trauma is observable in such a sterile and punitive environment.

Deprivation is cannibalistic for the spirit that is willing to stay the course. The flesh becomes weakened as men feed on themselves and others, eating away at human excellence. The feasting of deprivation will become more than flesh, blood or nature can endure. Indeterminate SHU confinement has left individuals with having to choose between discontinuity and becoming inflicted with a cannibalistic nature.

There are two aspects of deprivation, the psychological and the physical, where the mind acts upon the body. This two-edged torture can be effective either way. But in order for deprivation to eat away at the targeted prisoner’s consciousness, a conversion reaction must occur that breaks down the psychological defense mechanism.

Declaration on Protection from Torture

The “Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as Resolution 3452 (XXX) on Dec. 9, 1975. The declaration contains 12 articles, the first of which defines the term “torture” as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other persons.”

Types of torture

Medical: Honorable Judge Thelton Henderson ordered a receivership to oversee CDCr’s PBSP SHU due to intentional medical neglect which led to prisoners dying, as frequently as one a week, in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. Many of these deaths were, and continue to be, in solitary confinement. This is torture.

Solitary confinement: Prisoners are held in isolation for 10 to 40 years despite having only non-disciplinary infractions during that time. This is torture.

Mail: Prisoner mail is being used to create physical and psychological torment. Mail can be arbitrarily withheld for weeks on a regular basis, and has been known to be withheld for years, even when there are court orders to release the mail to a prisoner being unjustly deprived. This is torture.

Food: Food is intentionally prepared poorly, contaminated and disproportionate. Nutritional food is deliberately denied. This is torture.

No human contact: Prisoners have no real, meaningful social interaction with other human beings, especially family and close friends. Our five senses – touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste – become dulled from deprivation. This is torture.

Visiting: Constantly, under the CDCr gestapo style agency of correctional safety, the Investigative Service Unit (ISU) and Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI) and other such units deliberately intimidate visitors and prisoners. This is torture.

Cell searches: These are used to intimidate, harass and trash prisoners’ cells, leaving them in disarray while taking political writings, pictures, manuscripts, books, pamphlets, magazines etc., causing psychological torment. This is torture.

No sanitation: Prisoners are deliberately kept in unsanitary units. For example, showers are allowed four times a week, but the showers are cleaned only twice a week. There is an abundance of mold, mice, bugs, gnats, fungus etc. This is torture.

Climate: Prisoners are kept in freezing cold or burning hot cells, depending on the time of year, a complaint that has been made for over 21 years. This is torture.

Contraband watch, or potty watch: It is humiliating, dehumanizing and outright cruel and unusual punishment when prisoners are held in shackles and placed in the middle of a hall while being placed on a portable “potty,” while cops (female too) and prisoners with escorts are walking by. There are reports of prisoners being placed in cages, without a toilet or running water. Men are placed in a diaper with a prison jumpsuit over it, while the victim’s hands are bound into a fist-wrap. PVC pipe forced onto arms and black boxes over the hands have also been used. The prisoner is required to defecate three separate times during a three-day period. The torment and suffering are truly visible on the prisoner’s face. This is done to cause severe humiliation, along with mental, physical and psychological torment. This is torture.

Family: Each validated prisoner’s family is deliberately harassed, intimidated and intentionally hoaxed into false prosecution for a thoughtless crime by gestapo-type units (OCS, ISU, SSU and IGI) with the intent of discouraging any support or communication with the prisoner. This is torture.
Grievances: The 602 appeal process, at each of its three levels is deliberately set up to not afford a prisoner relief, regardless of whether prison officials are dead wrong in their accusations. This clearly establishes that there is no accountability for what officials do to prisoners. This is torture.
In addition, the structural features of the various solitary confinement units throughout the U.S. prison industrial complex (PIC) make it possible to target specific prisoners by utilizing sensory deprivation to undermine the social, cultural and ethical values that the targeted prisoners hold. Prisoners are rare who can escape the ravages of the torture that results from long term isolation and the negative assaults by guards in any of California’s supermax control units and similar units all over the U.S.

This is torture.

The science behind the use of deprivations has been perfected by the handlers to operate with devastating force. We know there is no separation between physical torture and mental torture. Torture is a double-edged sword that can slice effectively either way to exact punishment or revenge. It has the purpose of taking away a targeted prisoner’s human dimension and essence.

This is torture.

Send our brothers some love and light:

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry, C-35671, D1-117, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
Mutope Duguma, s/n James Crawford, D-05996, D2-107, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

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The Pelikkkan Bay Factor – An Indictable Offense

The Pelikkkan Bay Factor – An Indictable Offense

November 18, 2012

Prior to 1987, the CDCR had a policy of segregating alleged members of rival prison groups while assigned to the Security Housing Unit (SHU) exercise yard. This policy was designed to minimize prison violence, and based on available statistics, this was an effective policy, but 1987 marked a change in this policy when New Folsom State Prison partially integrated their SHU exercise yards. This partial integration resulted in a visible increase in prison violence, but what most people in society were not aware of is that the internal dynamics which were conducive towards the facilitation of that abrupted increase in violence, and that internal dynamics were the new Folsom state prison administration and staff micro-managing and orchestrating the conditions, designed to perpetuate both racial and rival group violence. For example:

Let’s say, a conflict breaks out between a New Afrikan and white prisoner. Instead of trying to contain the conflict, the pigs would move these same two individuals to another unit within the SHU, and now the conflict has spread to another unit. Now more people are involved, escalating the violence and racial conflict. The pigs would then move these same individuals to another unit, further escalating the violence; and being that prisoners are so caught up in the struggle for survival, we tend to be come oblivious to the administrative manipulation of the conditions.

I became aware of staff manipulation when they attempted to insert me into the conflict, being that they knew that I had zero tolerance against New Afrikan prisoners being attacked. So they took me out of Bed Rock (i.e., Behavioral Control Unit), moved me in the cell with Brotha Fela, then they moved me in the cell with Brotha Abasi Banda. They they moved everybody that was in the initial conflict into the section I was in. It became very intense. I, along with Brotha Abasi, became mediators for the conflicting parties.

Though we initiated a ceasefire in that particular unit, the pigs were doing everything in their power to undermine our efforts. Their anticipation of me mobilizing an attack proved to be an inaccurate assessment of my character. At this point, the pigs moved more prisoners into our section who had been involved in the initial conflict. Truthfully, the yard was on the verge of exploding. Prisoners were allegedly being intercepted for trying to, allegedly, bring knives to the exercise yard. The pigs’ manipulation reached its desperation point one day when Administration pulled me out to the front office and point-blank told me they would have the gun-man leave his post and allow me and the Brothas to attack the whites.

The pigs were mad at the whites for allegedly stabbing a guard, and they wanted me to go after this one individual because he was scheduled for release. I stood up and cursed them all, and told them to take me back to my cell. When I got back to the unit, I told everybody what had occurred. They didn’t like that.

About two days later, the gang unit raided our cells; my cell and the cells of the Brothas who associated with myself and Brotha Abasi. They also took us to the prison hospital for x-rays, to determine if we had weapons in our rectum cavity, while all the other Brothas were kept in holding cells indoors while out cells were being searched. I was kept in an outdoor holding cell, approximately 4 hours. They took us back to our cells between 11:30 and midnight. Them pigs had tore up our cells. Everything was on the floor, personal pictures as well as letters from family.

A little after midnight the gang unit came to our cell and told me I was being moved back to Bed Rock, for a conspiracy. Everybody knew that this was a blatant lie. There were Brothas that night allegedly in possession of knives and hacksaw blades, but I was the only one sent to Bed Rock, and they found nothing in me and Brotha Abasi’s cell. But this was punishment because I had refused to spread this racial conflict and be their little  pawn.

People, the above story is very relevant. It exemplifies the orchestrated conditions manufactured by the CDCr, designed to ignite and perpetuate conflict between prisoners. Being that the CDCr did not get the desired effect from this partial integration, toward the end of 1988, they fully integrated the SHU exercise yard, and for those of us who had the capacity to resolve this conflict, the pigs placed us in Bed Rock under false allegations, and as a result, all hell broke out, the prelude to Corcoran state prison. The conflict was being transported to the SHU yard at Corcoran SP, which resulted in the rapid increase in prison violence. Corcoran SP, at the peak of this CDCr-sanctioned conflict, was averaging two to four assaults a day.

At that time, most prisoners did not understand what was happening, but those of us who have been very active in the movement, knew that something wasn’t right. We asked ourselves: Why would the CDC change their policy at this juncture, especially when the policy was proven to be effective? The answer appeared to be a simple one: to intentionally increase prison violence between alleged members of rival prison groups. We soon discovered that it wasn’t that simple. We realized that the CDC was using us as a means to develop the statistics (i.e., propaganda) to justify the building of Pelican Bay state prison and its over 200 million dollar price tag.

The CDCr justification for Pelican Bay is rooted in two primary criteria: 1) To isolate the so-called worst of the worst, who have proved too violent to be held at other prisons. 2) To presumably minimize prison violence.

The CDCr reported an increase in prison violence to the media/press on a number of occasions between 1987 and 1990. What the CDCr intentionally neglected to tell the public, is that it was their policy, both in practice and intent, that was responsible for the rapid increase in prison violence!  Also, there were two other factors that must be considered. In 1987, the CDCr implemented a “shoot to kill” policy, and in 1988, they changed weapons and ammunition. The new bullet was designed to blow up in our bodies – a guaranteed kill!

Based on the evidence, the policies implemented at both New Folsom and Corcoran state prisons were not only a prelude to Pelican Bay state prison, but were specifically designed to justify and add credence to the CDCR campaign to build Pelican Bay state prison. If there is any doubt in your mind about these allegations, ask yourself: why would the CDCr integrate the SHU exercise yard at a time when they knew violence between the different rival groups was guaranteed to break out? The CDCr was not being pressured by state politicians, or by a court order, or by the public, to integrate known rival gangs/group members. So what was the CDCR’s motivation? Also, consider this: The CDCr knew without a doubt that by integrating the SHU exercise yards, all hell was going to break out, so why would the CDCr adopt a “shoot to kill” policy at the same time the forced integration policy was being implemented? And then introduce a new weapon that was designed to facilitate the “shoot to kill” policy??

In a five year period the CDCr murdered 27 prisoners. At least seven were murdered on the integrated SHU exercise yard at Corcoran state prison, and approximately five men on the SHU exercise yard at New Folsom. Compare this to the rest of the country’s state and federal prison system, during the same five year period, where a total of only seven prisoners were murdered by prison guards in all other states combined!!

Are the crimes of murder, attempted murder, and assault with a deadly weapon (eg. an assault rifle) justified simply because the victims of these crimes are alleged criminals or gang members? You, as tax payers have also been this victim of a state-sponsored crime. The CDCr politically hijacked and extorted over 200 million dollars from your hard-earned tax dollars to build the high-tech torture chamber. This prison was not even necessary. Keep in mind that it was the CDCr that escalated the violence.

Pelican Bay state prison is rooted in deception, exploitation, extortion, violence and murder. It is a symbol of crimes against humanity!  250 million dollars could have been to enhance the quality of learning in the so-called inner cities, provided funding for crime prevention and criminal rehabilitation programs, drug rehab, day care, prenatal-care, job training and job placement, and INCREASE teachers wages. We can go on and on. These things alone could have a very positive and productive impact on crime and society at large!

As an attempt to End Hostilities and Abolish the Security Housing Units, as we know them, the Pelikkkan Bay Factor has re-emerged its malignancy with the intent to impede our progress towards Justice and Humanity. So it is imperative that we resist any temptation to capitulate our moral integrity and fortitude within our endeavors to obtain our 5 Core Demands, and end all racial and group hostilities.

The factors that served as a prelude to Pelikkkan Bay state prison, are the same factors being employed by the CDCr to justify its continued existence. Though I only provided a brief illustration of the CDCR manipulation and micro-managing of both racial and group hostilities, I believe it is enough to assist us in navigating through the tricks and traps of the CDCR. We must remain vigilant in pursuit of our righteous cause and ignore the rumors of war being cultivated and propagated by the pigs.

Their desperation is a clear sign of how close we are to victory!

Abdul Olugbala Shakur, s/n J. Harvey, D-1-119, C48884, PO Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532 (now inbetween Pelican Bay State Prison and CSP-Corcoran 4B-1R unit)

Mutope Duguma, s/n J. Crawford, D-1-117, D05996, PO Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R. Dewberry, D-1-117, C35671, PO Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532 (now in CCI)

Abasi Ganda, s/n C. Jackson, D-2-107, C33559, PO Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532 (now in another facility)

The Call: Hunger strike to begin July 1

Published in the SF Bay View, June 3, 2011

Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison are planning to begin an indefinite hunger strike as of July 1 to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment. This hunger strike has the potential to become the most significant event in California prison reform in the last decade. Public support is crucial. A few months ago, Ohio prisoners won all their demands after a petition with 1,200 signatures was given to officials. Record your support by signing the Pelican Bay petition – and ask your friends to sign it too – at http://www.change.org/petitions/support-prisoners-on-hunger-strike-at-pelican-bay-state-prison.

by Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford)

 

This is a call for all prisoners in security housing units (SHUs), administrative segregation (ad-seg), and general populations (GP), as well as the free oppressed and non-oppressed people, to support the indefinite July 1 peaceful hunger strike in protest of the violation of our civil and human rights here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU), short corridor D1 through D4 and its overflow, D5 through D10.

It should be clear to everyone that none of the hunger strike participants want to die, but we are taking this dire action due to our circumstances: The state of California has sentenced all of us on indeterminate SHU program to a “civil death” merely on the word of a prison informer – a snitch.

The purpose of the hunger strike is to combat both the psychological and physical torture in ad-seg and the SHU, as well as the justifications used to support treatment of the type that leads to prisoners being subjected to a civil death. Those subjected to indeterminate SHU programs are neglected and deprived of the basic human necessities while withering away in a very isolated and hostile environment.

Prison officials have utilized the assassination of prisoners’ character by each other as well as the general public in order to justify their inhumane treatment of prisoners. The guards’ “code of silence” allows them the freedom to use everything at their disposal in order to break those prisoners who prison officials and correctional officers (COs) believe cannot be broken.

It is this mentality that set in motion the establishing of the short corridor, D1 through D4 and its D5 though D10 overflow. This mentality has created the current atmosphere in which COs and prison officials have agreed upon their plan to break indeterminate SHU prisoners.

This protracted attack on SHU prisoners cuts across every aspect of the prison’s function: food, mail, visiting, medical, yard, hot/cold temperatures, privileges (canteen, packages, property etc.), isolation, cell searches, family and friends, and socio-culture, economic and political deprivation. This is nothing short of the psychological and physical torture of SHU and ad-seg prisoners. It takes place day in and day out, without a break or rest.

The prison’s gang intelligence unit was extremely angered at the fact that prisoners who had been held in SHU under inhuman conditions for anywhere from 10 to 40 years had not been broken. So the gang intelligence unit created the “short corridor” and intensified the pressure of their attacks on the prisoners housed there. The object was to use blanket pressure to encourage these particular isolated prisoners to debrief – i.e. snitch – in order to be released from SHU.

The COs and administrative officials are all in agreement and all do their part in depriving prisoners in the short corridor and its overflow of their basic civil and human rights. None of the deliberate attacks are a figment of anyone’s imagination. These continuous attacks are carried out against prisoners to a science by all of them. They are deliberate and conscious acts against essentially defenseless prisoners.

It is these ongoing attacks that have led the short corridor and overflow SHU prisoners to organize ourselves around an indefinite hunger strike in an effort to combat the dehumanizing treatment we prisoners of all races are subjected to on a daily basis.

Therefore, on July 1, 2011, we ask that all prisoners throughout the state of California who have been suffering injustices in general population, administrative segregation and solitary confinement to join in our peaceful strike to put a stop to the blatant violations of prisoners’ civil and human rights. As you know, prison gang investigators have used threats of validation and other means to get prisoners to engage in a protracted war against each other in order to serve their narrow interests. If you cannot participate in the hunger strike, then support it in principle by not eating for the first 24 hours of the strike.

I say that those of you who carry yourselves as principled human beings, no matter your housing status, must fight to right this and other egregious wrongs. Although it is “us” today – united New Afrikans, Whites, Northern and Southern Mexicans and others – it will be you all tomorrow. It is in your interests to peacefully support us in this protest today and to beware of agitators, provocateurs and obstructionists, because they are the ones who put 90 percent of us back here because they could not remain principled even within themselves.

The following demands are all similar to what is allowed in other supermax prisons (e.g. federal Florence, Colorado, Ohio and Indiana State Penitentiaries). The claim by CDCR and PBSP that implementing the practices of the federal prison system or that of other states would be a threat to safety and security are exaggerations.

This call is co-signed by D. Troxell, B-76578; T. Ashker, C-58191; S.N. Jamaa-Dewberry, C-35671; A. Castellanos, C-17275; and G. Franco, D-46556. They, along with the call’s author, Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford, C-35671), can be contacted by writing to them at PBSP-SHU, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

Hunger strikers’ five core demands

Prisoners in the Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit D-Facility Corridor will begin an indefinite hunger strike on July 1, 2011, in order to draw attention to and to peacefully protest 25 years of torture via the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s arbitrary, illegal and progressively more punitive policies and practices, as summarized in our “Formal Complaint,” which can be read at www.prisons.org/hungerstrike.htm. PBSP-SHU inmates’ hunger strike protest is to continue indefinitely until the following changes are made:

1. Individual Accountability: This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates’ rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria: The debriefing policy is illegal and redundant, as pointed out in the Formal Complaint on page 7, section IV-A. The active/inactive gang status criteria must be modified in order to comply with state law and applicable CDC rules and regulations – e.g., see Formal Complaint, page 7, section IV-B – as follows:

A) Cease the use of innocuous association to deny an active status.

B) Cease the use of informant and debriefer allegations of illegal gang activity to deny inactive status, unless such allegations are also supported by factual corroborating evidence, in which case CDCR and PBSP staff shall and must follow the regulations by issuing a rule violation report and affording the inmate his due process required by law.

3. Comply with U.S. Commission 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement: CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons’ final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:

A) End Conditions of Isolation (page 14): Ensure that prisoners in SHU and ad-seg (administrative segregation) have regular meaningful contact and freedom from extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm (pages 52-57).

B) Make Segregation a Last Resort (p. 14): Create a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and ad-seg the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious and other productive activities relating to having a sense of being a part of the community.

C) End Long-Term Solitary Confinement: Release inmates to general prison population who have been warehoused indefinitely in SHU for the last 10 to 40 years (and counting).

D) Provide SHU Inmates Immediate Meaningful Access to:

i) adequate natural sunlight;

ii) quality health care and treatment, including the mandate of transferring all PBSP-SHU inmates with chronic health care problems to the New Folsom Medical SHU facility.

4. Provide Adequate Food: Cease the practice of denying adequate food, provide wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.

A) PBSP staff must cease their use of food as a tool to punish SHU inmates.

B) Provide a sergeant/lieutenant to independently observe the serving of each meal, and ensure each tray has the complete issue of food on it.

C) Feed the inmates whose job it is to serve SHU meals with meals that are separate from the pans of food sent from kitchen for SHU meals.

5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates. Examples include:

A) Expand visiting regarding amount of time and adding one day per week.

B) Allow one photo per year.

C) Allow a weekly phone call.

D) Allow two annual packages per year. Base a 30-pound package on “item” weight and not packaging and box weight.

E) Expand canteen and package items allowed. Allow us to have the items in their original packaging. The cost for cosmetics, stationary and envelopes should not count towards the max draw limit.

F) Allow more TV channels.

G) Allow TV-radio combinations or TV and a small battery operated radio.

H) Allow hobby craft items – art paper, colored pens, small pieces of colored pencils, watercolors, chalk etc.

I) Allow sweat suits and watch caps.

J) Allow wall calendars.

K) Install pull-up/dip bars on SHU yards.

L) Allow correspondence courses that require proctored exams.

For more information and ongoing updates about the hunger strike, check the California Prison Focus website,www.prisons.org/hungerstrike.htm. To reach two of the coordinators, email Ed Mead at mead@prisonart.org or Marilyn McMahon of California Prison Focus at marilyn@prisons.org.