CDCr — SVSP Retaliates Against Brutha Sitawa – With False Reports to Remove Him from G.P.

For years now, I have endured threats (both overt and covert) from the mouths and hands of CDCr Green Wall paramilitary services (OCS-ISUI -IGI, etc.). (See amongst others my article “Brutha Sitawa- Exiting Solitary Confinement” at http://www.sitawa.org), since following our 2013 nonviolent, peaceful Hunger Strike, when Governor Brown and his designated CDCr high officials (such as Secretary Scott Kernan, Under Secretary R. Diaz, Director K. Allison, etc.) negotiations with us (4 principal negotiators) became seriously heavy.

And every prisoner who has been released to the general population (GP) from solitary confinement (from January 2012 to the present) has struggled with “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Solitary Confinement” (PTSD-SC). (See article “PTSDSC: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” by me and Baridi Willliamson, dated 12/11/17, at www.prisonerhumanrightsmovement.org).

It has been clear that the ISU-IGI personnel here at SVSP knew this and harassed, intimidated, tried bad-jacketing (spreading false rumors) and tried locking many of our class members back up in solitary confinement. And they knew that I was the first Principal Negotiator who had been released to a Modified General Population (MGP) yard. CDCr and its OCS-ISU-IGI, etc. were keeping track of where we four Principal Negotiators were housed and our movement overall.

On October 13, 2015, I arrived at the Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) Receiving and Release (R&R). Upon my exiting from the CDCr Transportation bus and entering the R&R, I was met by the wicked ISU-IGI Welcoming Committe: guards T.J. Smith, M. Hernandez and DeAnza. They escorted me into a dark-lit property storage room and let me know that I was not welcome at their prison, in a failed attempt to intimidate me.

Now since that date, the “Green Wall” is alive and well here at SVSP. I have been threatened by those older prison guards face-to-face, while younger guards stood in their gun tower, hoping I would react to one of those Green Wall guards so that they could say, “I got that Dewberry” (i.e., Sitawa).

One such instance occurred in 2016 during the holy month of Ramadan. While I and other prisoners were entering the mosque, there was one of those Green Wall corrections guards named McClean, who threatened my life while his supervisors (i.e., sergeants) and other old guards (i.e., Green Wall C/Os) stood by and listened. C/O McClean said to me, “We will get you, Sitawa, off C-yard somehow. You won’t be around here for long!”
My response was directed to the two sergeants standing nearby. I asked them, “Are you going to discipline your guard?” They answered, “We’ll talk to Officer McClean.” The other older (Green Wall) guard instructed all prisoners to enter the mosque. Now I had to restrain the Bruthas, because this guard McClean (along with his Green Wall buddies supporting him) threatened my life!

The above challenges are just a drop in a lake against me and the revolutionizing work that the Prisoner Human Rights Movement has done inside CDCr, specifically over the past seven years (2011-2018), through which we have changed CDCr. I stand with the prisoner movement that is currently challenging SVSP’s Green Wall (ISU/IGI) guards’ eavesdropping on our legal phone calls, racial discrimination, racial imbalance, soms-workers discrimination, etc. (about which prison officials have been notified through appeals, grievances, complaints, and letters between 2015 and the present). Note to the reader: Please stop and re-read the above once again. And allow the above information to soak in before you continue reading!!
The above is a classic case of retaliation, harassment, intimidation, and overt threats/acts.

On January 11, 2018, while I was waiting to be released for my work assignment, I looked out the cell door and observed a guard (later identified as Lt. J. Ortega of SVSP’s ISU) and his subordinate T.E. Flores (K-9 officer) heading toward our cage. Lt. Ortega informed me that he and Flores were conducting a “routine” cell search. My response was, “Lieutenant, you guys don’t do ‘routine’ cell searches.” Lt. Ortega escorted me to a table within B-section dayroom where our assigned cell was located.

And while we were at the table, Lt. J. Ortega observed me looking for his CDCr ranking label as a Lieutenant of ISU. He stated, “We don’t allow outsiders to see our ranking.” He went on: “There’s nothing personal about this cell search; it is a routine search. I have to cross our t’s and dot our i’s, because we [ISU-IGI] know that you’re the Key Negotiator in the Ashker v. Brown lawsuit. I heard about you, Mr. Dewberry, when you first came. You were the first one ofthe four representatives out of SHU and the last one back in.”

I realized at that moment that this cell search is in relation to the Ashker v. Brown class action lawsuit which was the true purpose of this search. And this is a clear demonstration of retaliation coming from SVSP’s ISU and IGI personnel.

Lt. Ortega left and walked over to speak with Flores, then returned to the table where I was seated. He said, “Dewberry, you’re going to the hole for investigation.” I replied, “For what? There’s nothing unlawful in my cell.” Ortega directed C/O Palacios to escort me to the holding cage inside the mental health area.

Lt. Ortega and Flores brought my celly in shortly after me. These ISU guards knew from the onset of this matter that I was innocent-with no knowledge of anything unlawful in my cell. Yet Ortega ignored this knowledge and wrote a false lockup order to have me removed from MGP and put me in solitary confinement (SC).

I am now realizing that this Lt. Ortega (ISU) et al. are driven to illegally place me/us in solitary confinement (that is, Administrative Segregation/ Ad. Seg.) at all costs. I realized at that moment that those two ISU personnel were about to commit a crime by setting up myself and my cellmate. Lt Ortega and Flores have committed an unlawful act by planting contraband in my cage to make the false accusation that contraband was found in order to justify taking our property and later claiming they found dangerous contraband inside that allows them to prolong my isolation. They have a history of doing this at SVSP.

It was clear that Lt. J. Ortega’s superior was also informed of my innocence, yet Ortega was clearly aware of what he along with his squad of ISU/IGI was doing: targeting me in retaliation for what I was doing to change the ole Green Wall culture here at SVSP Fac. C. Myself and my cell mate were escorted to D1 and placed in cage 228 Ad. Seg. with our lockup order forms.

The following evening, January 12th, myself and my cellmate received our personal property back from ISU/IGI, at which time they made no mention whatsoever of any “dangerous contraband.” (They even omitted that they removed several Ashker v. Brown legal documents out of our property).

C/Os Franco and Flores (from ISU) both provided me with a CDC 128-B form to sign in order to expedite my Institution Classification Committee (ICC) hearing. I had requested a copy of the CDC 128-B but was denied. They gave the forms to their supervisor Lt. Ortega, who was required to promptly provide them to his ICC superiors for my ICC hearing-but did not.

On January 18, 2018, I went to my scheduled ICC hearing, where the committee consisted of CCII Meden, Associate Warden Solis, and Captain Gonzales. The ICC’s decision was to hold me in solitary confinement for approximately ninety days. I notified them that on January 12th, I had signed the 128-B. The ICC informed me that ISU personnel did not provide them with the 128-B, which would have allowed them to make a more accurate analysis and return me back to the MGP. It was apparent that Ortega and his ISU/IGI personnel did not want for me to be released to the MGP. And by withholding the mandatory CDC 128-B information from the ICC, they knew that I would not be released by the committee.

The ICC informed me that they would be contacting the ISU/IGI staff as to why my due process was being violated, and that the ICC would fast-track my case and place me back on the MGP. This ICC realized that there was no other purpose for ISU/IGI holding me in solitary confinement any longer.

On January 19, 2018, Lt. Ortega appeared at my assigned cage door, informing me that they (ISU/IGI) were issuing us (my cellmate and me) a new lockup order. Now Ortega and his squad were falsely saying that they found dangerous contraband inside the property they had searched on January 11th -12th and returned to us on the 12th-a full week before.
I said to Ortega (and his subordinate ISU guard DeAnza:

“Really. Come on, Ortega. You are doing this because yesterday your ICC superiors discovered that you withheld my signed CDC 128-B from the ICC so that they could not release me. So they got on your case. And now you’re bringing a new false lockup order claiming you found dangerous contraband a week ago. But you did not, because you would have both reported it in writing, and I let your ICC superiors know before yesterday’s classification hearing.”

Ortega shrugged with a smirk on his face. My celly told him:

“You knew he’s innocent from Day 1. And you know it now. So why you’re ignoring this truth? Just to keep him locked up and from returning to the GP.”

We both refused to sign Ortega’s new lockup order, turned, and walked away from the door.

On January 23rd, I learned that my first fake writeup/lock up order by Ortega and his ISU/IGI was voided for due process violations. A new RVR was issued. But nowhere in Ortega’s writeup report does he identify any location in the cell where the “dangerous contraband” was supposed to be at. This raises the question of how it was located inside Ortega’s ISU/IGI office and not in our cell. And why he waited a week after completing the search and returning our property (except my missing Ashker v. Brown legal case documents) to suddenly produce that contraband?? And during that week made no mention of finding any “dangerous contraband” whatsoever!

On January 25th, I went before the ICC again on Ortega’s latest lockup order, at which time the committee extended my stay in solitary pending the disciplinary hearing, after which they would bring me back for my release to the MGP.

On January 26th, Ortega’s subordinate Hernandez sent the Ad. Seg. guard to escort us to the office to speak with him. We both asked, “For what? What do he want to talk to us about?” The guard shrugged his shoulders and said he “Don’t know.” And we exercised our constitutional right to remain silent and not talk to ISU/IGI.

On January 30th, while we were in the Ad. Seg. outside yard cage, Lt. Ortega approached the front of the cage and said, in an attempt to intimidate us: “You refused to talk with my officer?” We replied, “For what? What is it that you want to talk about? We know what you’re doing to remove me off the GP and try to keep me from returning. You have been disregarding and ignoring evidence of my innocence from the start on January 11th.”

Ortega said, “So you ain’t going to talk with us?” I answered, “For what. The writeup you falsified to put me in here was voided.” He responded, “I know, but if you don’t go talk with us, I will prolong your stay in here.” He then turned and walked off with that smirk on his face.

It was clear that Ortega and his ISU/IGI cohorts knew that they messed up with their planned scheme to set me up, remove me from the GP, and keep me locked up in solitary confinement. And this is no single, isolated case.

What many of you on the outside may not know is the long sordid history of CDCr’s ISU/IGI/Green Wall syndicate’s pattern and practice (here and throughout its prison system) of retaliating, reprisals, intimidating, harassing, coercing, bad-jacketing, setting prisoners up, planting evidence, fabricating and falsifying reports (state documents), excessive force upon unarmed prisoners, stealing their personal property (religious and wedding jewelry), as identified below.

Such as when the below-identified ISU/IGI/Green Wall “squad” ran into our Northerner (on B facility) and Southerner (on C facility) cells, assaulted and excessively forced them out, dragging them off the toilet, beds, etc., naked, down the iron stairs onto the concrete tier floor, degrading/humiliating/injuring them. And over just these last few years, these ISU/IGI/Green Wall guards have run around out of control, harassing, intimidating, etc. prisoners (especially those of our Ashker v. Brown class action legal case). Much of which is documented in CDCr’s Internal Affairs, Appeals Office, and/or court cases – complaints, appeals/grievances, excessive force, and/or employee misconduct.

Presently the Prison Law Office is conducting an investigation of these ongoing patterns and practices of overt/covert corrupt, unlawful activities by CDCr’s OCS-ISU/IGI/Green Wall here at SVSP (Lt. J. Ortega, Lt. M. Stem, I.J. Smith, Sgt. J. Vinson, Sgt. M. Valdez, Sgt. G. Segura, T. Flores, K.D. Melton, M. Hernandez, DeAnza, A.J. Franco, K. Castillo-Ruiz, and unnamed others).
See investigative reports and records of the Prison Law Office and CDCr-SVSP’s Internal Affairs.

And Governor Brown’s designated CDCr officials-Secretary Scott Kernan, Under-Secretary Ralph Diaz, Director Kathleen Allison, Associate Director Sandra Alfaro, and Chief of the Office of Correctional Safety – are all aware of the ISU/IGI/Green Wall out-of-control long history pattern and practice of corrupt activities (described herein) here at SVSP.

Note: CDCr’s Green Wall guards/employees were exposed by the US Northern District Court in the 1990s-2000s. See Madrid v. Gomez, and “Report on Powers, etc.” by John Hagar, Judge Henderson’s appointed special master.

Yet, decades later these CDCr officials have not only allowed this patterned practice to continue here at SVSP, but is targeting the Ashker v. Brown class members to remove us off the GP, place us back in solitary confinement, and obstruct/interfere/prevent those like myself (and others within the Prisoner Human Rights Movement) from the peaceful efforts to effect genuine changes, for rehabilitation, returning home, productively contributing to the improvement of our communities, and deterring recidivism.

Any prisoners who have been subjected to harassment, retaliation, reprisals, being set up, having evidence planted on them or in their property/work area, etc., physical assault/excessive force/cell extraction, theft of their personal property, falsification of documents (RVRs, etc.), wrongful removal from GP to solitary confinement, denial of meaningful due process, and so on: Contact the Prison Law Office, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964.

Concerned citizens/members of the public, California state legislators, etc. can let high CDCr officials know that, enough is enough and join in this collective concern by contacting CDCr and Governor Brown and demanding:

1. CDCr/SVSP shall cease their retaliations against Sitawa N. Jamaa (Dewberry) and the Ashker v. Brown class members at this prison;

2. CDCr/SVSP shall immediately rein in and stop the out-of-control renegade Green Wall/ISU/IGI employees here at SVSP;

3. CDCr/SVSP shall cease the acts (overt and covert) of retaliation, reprisals, intimidations, harassments, coercion, planting evidence, setting prisoner up, bad-jacketing, fabricating and falsifying reports (state documents), and withholding evidence;

4. CDCr/SVSP shall cease their subordinates’ (OCS-Chief, ISU, IGI; Green Wall employees (to name a few, C/O J. Narvaez, C/O Sanquist, C/O Torres, C/O Guinn, Sgt. Howard, Sgt. Sandoval, C/O Santana, C/O Tonuto, C/O Vallejo, C/O Slnck, C/O, McClean, C/O Sanitos, etc.);

5. CDCr/SVSP shall cease its old culture and old thinking of OCS-ISU/IGI and Green Wall employees and order them to back off of Brutha Sitawa and those Ashker v. Brown class members, et al., working with him to change SVSP Facility C general population with rehabilitation;

6. CDCr/SVSP shall conduct its departmental investigation into the above-stated OCS/IGI/ISU-Green Wall culture, code of silence, and unlawful activities here at SVSP, and make their findings transparent and public, holding all involved SVSP employees accountable/responsible.

Also call the California legislature’s Public Safety Committee on Prisons and request Senator Holly Mitchell, and let her and her committee know that there are a lot of prisoners affected by this longstanding corruption of the ISU/IGI at SVSP.

I am one of many who have been (and continue to be) affected by IGI/ISU-Green Wall’s blatant corruption!!!

In Struggle!

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry)

Prisoner Human Rights Movement principal negotiator

©Feb. 1, 2018 Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

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We stand together so prisoners never have to go through the years of torture we did

Published on the SF Bayiew, March 1, 2018
by Todd Ashker

This is a follow-up to our October 2017 Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement’s statement of prisoner representatives on the second anniversary of the Ashker v. Brown settlement.

In our collective October 2017 statement, we stressed: “(P)risoners and our families will have to re-energize the human rights movement, to fight against the continuing violations of our rights.” We reminded all involved, “We must stand together, not only for ourselves, but for future generations of prisoners, so that they don’t have to go through the years of torture that we had to.”

With this in mind, I am sharing a copy of my proposed “Open Letter to Gov. Brown, California legislators and CDCR Secretary Kernan on ongoing human rights violations and lack of reparative action for decades of torture” with the hope of helping to re-energize our movement, by gaining widespread support for the positions presented in the “open letter.”

As many are aware, our current collective movement began in the bowels of Pelican Bay State Prison – the SHU Short Corridor, wherein prisoners of different races and geographical areas became openly conscious of what we had in common, rather than what was different and divisive. We recognized we’d all been subjected to the same adversary’s boots on our necks, all members of a prisoner class subjected to decades of solitary confinement torture.

We became aware of the fact that those of us serving “term-to-life” sentences were all akin to the living dead, our existence being that of a mind numbing, spirit destroying, endless nightmare. I believe coming together in the Short Corridor, where we witnessed the toll of our slow decay, together with the prisoncrats progressively punitive, oppressive provocations, was one cause of our awakening, leading to us coming together as the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective.

Our struggle was focused on ending long-term solitary confinement and improvements to conditions. We stood up together and collectively we educated our loved ones and the general public about what had been in society’s shadow for far too long. We publicly “drew the line” and said, “No more!”

As a committed collective of fellow human beings, a large majority hailing from working class, poor communities, we lead our struggle from behind the walls, putting our lives in the balance – at that point, our lives being all we had. We demanded an end to our torture, based on our inherent right as human beings to humane treatment, inclusive of dignity and respect for our loved ones and the unfortunate generations to follow.

Notably, our collective membership had been the subject of the state’s decades long tough-on-crime war against the working-class poor. Politicized, we were vilified and branded as “the worst of the worst” in order to justify our subjection to endless torture – lasting for many of us more than 30 years.

In our collective October 2017 statement, we stressed: “(P)risoners and our families will have to re-energize the human rights movement, to fight against the continuing violations of our rights.” We reminded all involved, “We must stand together, not only for ourselves, but for future generations of prisoners, so that they don’t have to go through the years of torture that we had to.”
In this climate, we came together and utilized non-violent, peaceful protest actions, mass hunger strikes and work stoppages, which, together with the support of our awakened loved ones and countless other people of conscience outside the walls – while all along suffering with us – exposed our plight to the world community.

In 2012, we introduced our collective “Agreement to End Race-based Hostilities,” making clear our united intent to no longer be the source of our mutual adversary’s manipulation tactics, centered on keeping us divided and violent towards one another, which was thereby used to justify our adversary’s agenda – supermax, indefinite warehousing.

In that way, we demonstrated our humanity in the face of the provocations of our oppressive torturers. We pointed out the fact that, in the absence of race-based violence, our mutual adversary would be forced to end its policy of warehousing us in the small cells indefinitely, and open the prison up for meaningful programming and privileges, beneficial to the prisoner class.

I mention the above points as important reminders of the fact that the main basis for the success we’ve achieved to date has been our collective unity inside and outside the prison walls, making strategic use of combined litigation and peaceful activism, action tools, which, together with our related collective belief in and commitment to our cause, is a great example of “the power of the people.”

Our adversaries are constantly resisting any change beneficial to the prisoner class! History demonstrates the importance of our need to stand together collectively and refuse to allow those in power – at the will of the people – to halt our progressive movements’ demands for human rights and real justice, because, historically, every class action, civil-suit “victory” for the prisoner class in California has been manipulated by prisoncrats to the ultimate detriment of those that such “victory” was intended to benefit. It’s a non-stop battle!

What I greatly appreciate and respect about our Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement is what I hope is our part in society’s evolutionary leap in collective human consciousness. Standout examples of this for me go back to the Arab Spring and the massive Georgia prison system-wide work strike in December 2010 and then the January 2011 hunger strike at Ohio State Prison.

The main basis for the success we’ve achieved to date has been our collective unity inside and outside the prison walls, making strategic use of combined litigation and peaceful activism, action tools, which, together with our related collective belief in and commitment to our cause, is a great example of “the power of the people.”
Reflecting on the above, as well as our historic, collective group mass hunger strike protests across the California system of 2011-2013, brings to mind an often quoted phrase – a sort of benchmark of what’s wrong with society. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, reflecting on his own incarceration, famously said, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

Our collective composed of working class poor coming together in the context of having been demonized – tortured over three decades, facing extreme adversity from a powerful, well-funded adversary toppled and to an extent losing their supermax jewel, the PBSP SHU, by our peaceful protests and related global condemnation and litigation – epitomizes a great side of our society! I hope it’s an example of a growing social revolutionary process.

Related to the above, and to our common struggle in general, I want to share a few excerpts from “The Zinn Reader” – a bit of food for thought. On the subject of “Law and Justice,” Zinn wrote in “Obedience and Disobedience,” page 369:

“’Obey the law.’ That is a powerful teaching, often powerful enough to overcome deep feelings of right and wrong, even to override the fundamental instinct for personal survival. We learn very early (it’s not in our genes) that we must obey ‘the law of the land.’ …

“But the dominant ideology leaves no room for making intelligent and humane distinctions about the obligation to obey the law. It is stern and absolute. It is the unbending rule of every government, whether fascist, communist or liberal capitalist. Gertrude Schultz-Klink, chief of the Women’s Bureau under Hitler, explained to an interviewer after the war the Jewish policy of the Nazis: ‘We always obeyed the law. Isn’t that what you do in America? Even if you don’t agree with a law personally, you still obey it. Otherwise, life would be chaos.’

“’Life would be chaos.’ If we allow disobedience to law we will have anarchy. That idea is inculcated in the population of every country. The accepted phrase is ‘law and order.’ It is a phrase that sends police and military in to break up demonstrations everywhere, whether in Moscow or Chicago. It was behind the killing of our students at Kent State University in 1970 by National Guardsmen. It was the reason given by Chinese authorities in 1989 when they killed hundreds of demonstrating students in Beijing.

“It is a phrase that has appeal for most citizens, who, unless they themselves have a powerful grievance against authority, are afraid of disorder. … Surely, peace, stability and order are desirable. Chaos and violence are not. But stability and order are not the desirable conditions for social life. There is also justice, meaning the fair treatment of all human beings, the equal right of all people to freedom and prosperity. Absolute obedience to law may bring order temporarily, but it may not bring justice. And when it does not, those treated unjustly may protest, may rebel, may cause disorder, as the American revolutionaries did in the 18th century, as anti-slavery people did in the 19th century, as Chinese students did in the 20th century, and as working people going on strike have done in every country, across the centuries.”

I appreciate Zinn’s view that absolute obedience to the law may achieve order for a time, while lacking justice. My point in sharing it is: Just because it’s a law – or a rule or regulation – does not make it right or just. And when it’s not, especially when those in power recite it to justify violations of human rights, it’s the responsibility of all to protest, to rebel, to cause disorder as necessary to force change.

From Zinn’s “The Optimism of Uncertainty,” “(T)he struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power of those who have the guns and money and who seem invincible in their determination to hold onto it. That apparent power has, again and again, proven vulnerable to human qualities less measurable than bombs and dollars: moral fervor, determination, unity, organization, sacrifice, wit, ingenuity, courage, patience – whether by Blacks in Alabama and South Africa, peasants in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Vietnam, or workers and intellectuals in Poland, Hungary, the Soviet Union itself. No cold calculation of the balance of power need deter people who are persuaded that their cause is just.”

In “We are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism,” Herbert Read writes: “What has been worthwhile in human history – the great achievements of physics and astronomy, of geographical discovery and of human healing, of philosophy and of art – has been the work of extremists, of those who believed in the absurd, dared the impossible.”

I greatly appreciate your time, attention, courage and dedicated, supportive commitment to our collective struggle. Our strength and power come from our unity! And I am certain we can and will continue to make positive impacts upon the system, forcing real changes beneficial to all.

I hope we all continue to move forward, confident our fight is a worthy and just cause, working together in imaginative, strategic ways. It would be great if people will share, promote and build on the subject. Examples are in my “Open Letter,” possibly adding a supporting petition, signed by as many as possible, even if the petition is presented after public presentation of the “Open Letter” to the named parties.

There are more innovative, imaginative ideas that I’m working on and will share for your consideration soon. In the meanwhile, stay strong.

In Solidarity and Respect,

Todd

Send our brother some love and light: Todd Ashker, C-58191, KVSP ASU2-194, P.O. Box 5106, Delano CA 93216.


Open Letter to Gov. Brown, California legislators and CDCR Secretary Kernan on ongoing human rights violations and lack of reparative action for decades of torture
Re: Attention to ongoing human right violations and related lack of reparative action necessary to begin making amends for more than three decades of systematic, intentional, state-sanctioned torture

I respectfully present the above-named parties with this “open letter” requesting attention to ongoing human rights violations and related lack of reparative action necessary to begin making amends for more than three decades of systematic, intentional, state-sanctioned torture and related harm therefrom to the prisoner class, as well as the general public, marked by the stain such policies cause subsequent to global condemnation; e.g., 2011-2013 mass, peaceful prisoner hunger strike protests against decades of subjection to torturous solitary confinement.

I present this “open letter” as a proudly involved principle representative of the growing Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement, as a peaceful action-activist, prison conditions litigator (inclusive of being lead named plaintiff in Ashker v. Brown) and 30-year survivor of CDCR’s state-sanctioned torture policies and practices.

I bring to your attention five examples of CDCR policies and practices equating to egregious, on-going human rights violations, resulting in numerous deaths and terrible, permanent harm to tens of thousands of prisoners, to our outside loved ones of the prisoner class and the general public, with hope for meaningful, tangible action to ensure this never occurs again; as well as timely, reparative action necessary to begin making amends for harm caused.

I. Examples of CDCR policies and practices equating to egregious, on-going human rights violations, harming tens of thousands

A) Status-based (CDCR classification as validated gang affiliate), indefinite placement in solitary confinement (SHU) “until you parole, die or debrief.” Many prisoner class members were subjected to this endless, torturous nightmare for more than three decades. Secretary Kernan called this a “failed experiment” during an October 2017 TV interview on “60 Minutes.”

B) Building more than 23 prisons, equating to thousands of cells, basically designed as massive human warehouses, with little thought about work, education, vocational and rehabilitative opportunities – thus causing severe shortages of support structures (classrooms, shops etc.), resulting in the majority of prisoners languishing in small cells for years on end. This is in spite of the fact that providing prisoners with such opportunities of substantive meaningfulness is proven to reduce recidivism.

C) Building several large prisons in the southern Central Valley desert areas of the state, known to be covered with deadly valley fever spores. The knowledge goes at least as far back as WWII, whereupon the same areas were sites for German POWs and Japanese internment camps, where hundreds died of valley fever.

Notable is the fact that, in an approximate four-to-six-year time period, 60 to 70 CDCR prisoners died of valley fever, with countless others, including staff, becoming deathly ill, many permanently damaged. Around 2014-2015, the federal court medical overseer, in connection with the class action Plata case, ordered the immediate transfer of approximately 300 at-risk prisoners to prisons outside the known valley fever zone. This order was initially resisted. The media quoted Gov. Brown stating, “It’s not been proven valley fever is the cause of deaths and illnesses. Thus, we will challenge the order, pending a study.” His statement held until a New Yorker magazine published an article with data regarding WWII deaths at the same sites.

D) Decades of constitutionally deficient medical and mental health care, resulting in countless preventable deaths, medical and suicidal, which the state fought tooth and nail to preserve, demonstrated a total lack of respect for the federal court orders in the mental health class action Coleman case between 1990 and 2006, when CDCR violated more than 70 court orders issued by Judge Karlton. This resulted in the creation of the federal three-judge panel, combining the Coleman and Plata cases, wherein it was determined that “overcrowding” in the CDCR system was the primary cause of decades of failure to provide the minimum of medical and mental health care mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The panel of judges ordered a reduction of prisoners, which the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost, based on the well-established on record, shocking abuse. To this day, thousands are denied adequate treatment to cure their Hepatitis C.

E) CDCR policy and practice that subjects countless women prisoners seeking contraception and other types of care to permanent sterilization! Without their knowledge or consent!

F) CDCR policy and practice, arguably resulting in at least 39 deaths and hundreds of severe, permanent injuries, amounting to criminal homicide and assault with great bodily injury in a nine-year period, from January 1987 to December 1995, when CDCR used the “The Warning Shot” and “Integrated SHU Concrete Yard” policies. Under these policies, staff are mandated to respond to any and all physical altercations with deadly force – high power assault rifles, using specialized ammunition designed to cause maximum damage, e.g., 9 mm “glazier” rounds and mini-14, 223s. At that time, CDCR “integrated” the small concrete yards at New Folsom and Corcoran, placing segregated SHU prisoners – segregated based on historic rivalries – on yards together.

In a federal court civil trial, Eastern District, Sacramento 1994, a top CDCR administrator, Diggs, testified that they “knew the above policies would initially result in chaos, but viewed such as ‘collateral’ because they believed, over time, prisoners in SHU who wanted their only out-of-cell yard time would learn to get along.” Another “failed experiment.”

To reiterate, the above are presented as examples of on-going human rights violations in the CDCR system. They are each notable to have gone on unchecked for long periods of time, known to be morally and ethically – in addition to legally – wrong beforehand.

Each of the above continued for long periods of time, until finally being publicly exposed and condemned, thereby forcing some changes, often after protracted legal battles as well.

Unfortunately, several areas referenced above continue to be unresolved, meaning decades of egregious, harmful violations continue to this day! I hope you will take them seriously and take reparative action. Some suggested actions follow:

II. Suggested reparative actions necessary to begin making amends for more than three decades of systematic, intentional, state-sanctioned torture

The following are suggested examples of reparative-type actions to begin to amend the process for tens of thousands of warehoused prisoners in general, as well as towards the damage done to those members of the prisoner class subjected to the “failed experiment,” having been subject to more than 30 years of solitary confinement torture, the damage of which persists to this day. See, for example, the 2017 Stanford report, “Mental Health Consequences Following Release from Long-Term Solitary Confinement in California.”

The following suggestions are briefly summarized, and more detailed support will be presented soon.

A) Term-to-life sentences and parole suitability:

Many prisoners used as guinea pigs in CDCR’s decades-long solitary confinement, a “failed experiment,” per Secretary Kernan, are serving term-to-life sentences: seven years to life, 15 years to life or 25 years to life, incarcerated since the early 1970s or the ‘80s and ‘90s. They are above and beyond their base term and their minimum eligible parole dates, many having served double, triple and more beyond those dates. I know several men who are still serving seven-years-to-life sentences given between 1970 and 1978.

We spent 20 to 30-plus years in solitary confinement, based on “status,” rather than “behavior,” and were denied work, vocational training, education and rehabilitation opportunities for most if not all of this time. When we go to our parole hearings, we are issued multi-year deferrals until our next hearings, again based on “status” alone for the most part, rather than individual evidence of current, serious danger to the public if released. We hear rote recitations of gang validation, lack of programming, lengthy SHU, refusal to debrief, participation in hunger strikes and relatively minor prison rule violations, like “possessing cell phones,” which nets a more than five-year deferral by itself.

Much of the above is related to our being included in the “failed experiment.” We are now in our 50s, 60s, 70s, begging the question: How do you repair the decades of damage done to our ability, under current standards, to receive a parole date?

Arguably, these points are applicable to a majority of lifers, “warehoused” and denied opportunities to achieve parole, due to the extreme shortage of programming opportunities at most institutions. They too are at and above their “minimums.” Notably, California has approximately 30,000 lifers above their “minimums.” Most are elderly, thus costing more annually than today’s average California prisoner does, at more than $70,000 annually. It’s also a matter of proportionality, coupled with “current danger” factors. Statistics nationwide, over the course of decades, demonstrate that prisoners sentenced to life, who have served more than 10 years and are paroled above age 40 have a less than 2 percent recidivism rate.

I suggest the following changes regarding lifer parole:

i) Reintroduce and pass a streamlined version of Sen. Hancock’s Feb. 21, 2014, SB1363, seeking amendment to California Penal Code §3041, which in a nutshell proposed, “Absent substantial evidence with respect to entire record demonstrating a current, serious danger to public safety, the Board shall set a parole release date for those who have served beyond their base term” – reasonable, considering that current law states, “Parole shall normally be granted at the minimum eligibility date.”

ii) Enact legislation designed to prevent the ongoing human rights violations, exemplified by references herein: For example, expand on the rights accorded the prisoner class in California Penal Code §§2600, 2601, et. seq., to include, but not be solely limited to the right to be free of solitary confinement in SHU or ASU, defined as spending 22½ hours per day in a cell for periods longer than permissible under international treaty law; rights to contact visits three to four days a week; right to same protections against CDCR’s use and abuse of confidential source information, as accorded to defendants in criminal prosecution, e.g., California Penal Code §§1111 and 1111.5, et. seq.

Provide the funding, with immediate mandate for CDCR to construct the support facilities necessary at each facility to provide programming and rehabilitation for the majority, rather than current minority, of prisoners, so that access is provided to sufficient numbers of classrooms, vocational training and rehabilitation workshop areas.

iii) Open up the Level IV general population prisons, allowing much more out-of-cell time in yard, day room etc. Such Level IVs are presently operated like modified SHU units, with thousands warehoused in cells, spending more time in small cells than SHU or ASU units.

iv) Expand contact visits, adding one to two days of visiting to the current weekends-only allowance. This can be accomplished without additional costs, simply by closing down a few of the nearly empty ASU and stand-alone units and re-routing costs and staffing from such units to visiting day expansions.

v) Remove “close custody” classification applied per revised regulation, Feb. 20, 2017; CCR, Title 15, §3377.2 (b) (1) (A), to most members of the Ashker v. Brown class action released from decades of “failed experiment” solitary confinement torture to general populations, based on the October 2015 settlement. “Close custody” prohibits 72-hour “family visits,” as well as further restricting various programming and privilege opportunities.

If we had not been “experimented” on for 10, 20 or 30-plus years, we would have been free from “close custody” in the 1980s and 90s. All of our CSRA scores are low.

vi) End close custody privilege group classification program failure determination based on “a significant disciplinary history, which may be evidenced by two serious or two administrative and one serious rule violations in a 180-day period,” per CCR, Title 15, §3000, which has the “program failure” definition.

This places severe punishments on the prisoner, in addition to those imposed for each rule violation. It is imposed regardless of the prisoner’s positive programming in every other way: work, school, rehabilitation, yard, day room etc., and actually strips away one’s job.

“Program failure” close custody status was created in 1985-1986 to punish those prisoners “refusing a job or education assignment.” That’s all it should apply to.

As stated above, the suggestions are a few examples of changes to the system that would be viewed as a positive amends-making, a beginning. It would be very helpful for you to meet with us, the principle prisoner representatives and our outside mediation team, for additional dialogue – asap.

Thank you for your time, attention and consideration,

Respectfully yours,

Todd Ashker, Prisoner Class Representative

Prisoner Human Rights Movement BLUE PRINT

(FULL BLUE PRINT pdf- all docs-284pgs)
Overview
Table of Contents
Blue Print core document
Appendix

BLUE PRINT 

The declaration on 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 in its resolution 3452 (XXX) of December 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 his or a third person’s information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other persons.”

FREEDOM OUTREACH PRODUCTION
December 1, 2015

 

PRISONER HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT
#1
Blue Print Overview

California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (“CDCr”) has systemic and dysfunctional problems that run rampant state-wide (within both Cal.’s Women and Men prisons), which demand this California government to take immediate action and institute measures to effect genuine tangible changes throughout CDCr on all levels.

The entire state government was notified and made aware of this “Dysfunctional” CDCr prison system in 2004 when its own governmental CIRP blue ribbon commission (authorized by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) reported this finding and fact. (See http://www.immagic.com/eLibrary/ARCHIVES/GENERAL/CAGOV_US/C040600D.pdf; also see Prison Legal News article, “CA Corrections System Officially Declared Dysfuntional.”)

However, this CDCr state of “dysfunction” was not new to the massive number of women, men and youth being kept warehoused in CDCr, because they face it daily. (See Cal. Prison Focus News, 1990s-Present, Prisoner Reports/Investigation and Findings; San Francisco Bay View News Articles; ROCK & PHSS Newsletters, etc.)

During the historic California Prisoners’ Hunger Strikes (2011-2013), tens of thousands of men and women prisoners in CDCr’s solitary confinement torture prisons, as well as a third of the general population prisoners, united in solidarity in a peaceful protest to expose this dysfunctional system officially reported in 2004 by the CIRP.

The Prisoner Human Right’s Movement (PHRM) Blue Print is essentially designed to deal with identifying and resolving primary contradictions by focusing on the various problems of CDCr’s dysfunction, including (but not limited to) the following areas… [read full OVERVIEW Here]

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS for Blue Print

OVERVIEW by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

Prisoner Human Rights Movement BLUE PRINT

Prisoner Human Rights Movement (“PHRM”)

PHRM Principle Negotiators, Reps, Plaintiffs, Local Councils

I. Monitoring Reports on 33 State Prisons

II. Monitoring Implementation of the Ashker v. Brown Settlement Agreement

III. Instituting the Agreement to End Hostilities

IV. Legal PHRM Political Education

V. Freedom Outreach

Conclusion

APPENDIX

All Appendices can be found at www.prisonerhumanrightsmovement.org

#1 (A) Five Core Demands; &
(B)
Agreement to End Hostilities

#2 Second Amended Complaint, Ashker v. Brown

#3 Supplemental Complaint, Ashker v. Brown

#4 Settlement Agreement, Ashker v. Brown

#5 PHRM’s Principle Negotiators’ Statements on 2nd Anniversary of the Agreement to End Hostilities

#6 (A) Example Monitoring Report w/ Exhibit; &
(B)
Example Monitoring Record

#7 (A) CA Assembly Public Safety Committee Legislative Hearing on CDCr SHU policy, 8/23/2011
(B)
CA Joint Legislative Hearing on CA Solitary Confinement, 10/9/2013

#8 – Mediation team publications

(A) Mediation Team Memorandum on Meetings with CDCr Officials, (3/26/12)
(B) Mediation Team Memorandum on Meetings with CDCr Officials, (3/15/13)
(C) Mediation Team Memorandum on meetings with CDCr Officials, (2/20/15)

#9 – PHRM LEGAL PRISON ACTIVISM EDUCATION Packets*:

(A) LEARN TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS
(B)
MEMORANDUM ON UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF CDCR’s STG/SDP (Feb. 2015)

* To receive Educational Materials (Appendix #9), please write and send, for the cost of the mailing, either eleven dollars and fifty cents ($11.50) or the equivalent in postage stamps to:

Freedom Outreach/PHRM
Fruitvale Station
PO Box 7359
Oakland, CA 94601-3023

 

PRISONER HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT

We are beacons of collective building, while clearly understanding that We, the beacons, must take a protracted internal and external retrospective analysis of our present-day prisons’ concrete conditions to forge our Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM) onward into the next stage of development, thereby exposing California Department of Corruption and Repression (CDCr)/United States Prison System of Cultural Discrimination against our Prisoner Class. This is why our lives must be embedded in our determined human rights laws, based on our constructive development of the continuous liberation struggle via our scientific methods and laws. Therefore, through our Prisoner Class, the concrete conditions in each prison/U.S. prisons shall be constructed through our Prisoner Human Rights Movement.

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