Tuesday, December 13, 2011

They took the 15 of us hunger strikers to ASU-Hell-Row

SF BayView, December 13, 2011
CDCR is back to its original torturer tactics
by Mutope Duguma

Written Nov. 27, 2011 – The CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) did everything but kill us this last go-round because, as I have said, the torture can always be seen in their policy. We had always stipulated that we were on a peaceful nonviolent hunger strike. This way no one could accuse us of causing any problems against CDCR and the prisons we’re held in throughout California.

On Sept. 26, 2011, we prisoners officially went back on our nonviolent hunger strike, where our only action is sitting in our cells starving ourselves to death in protest of the constant human rights violations, where we prisoners are made to suffer indefinite SHU terms in solitary confinement for nothing, while being subjected to constant attacks by prison officials in order to encourage our debriefing.

On Sept. 29, 2011, about 30 guards, two to each prisoner, came to escort us to Administration Segregation Unit ASU-H-Row, which was soon termed “Hell-Row.” Each of us was ordered to put on only our shoes, socks, boxer shorts and T-shirt. Each of us complied with these orders without incident.

Once all of us were removed from our cells, we were then led to the tunnel where we were met with another 20-30 officers who had created a “soul train line” for us to walk through. The 15 prisoners all come out of the short corridor D1-D4. Once all the prisoners were lined up in the tunnel with over 50-60 officers, it was a period of silence, which I believe was for the purpose of intimidation. It didn’t work.

Once the leading officer, after about three minutes, instructed the officers to begin moving us out, we were led to the clinic, where some quack of a psychiatrist asked us were we “mentally sane” and many of us refused to respond. Once the last person was asked, we were escorted out of the tunnel and into the outside area. After about 200 yards of walking, we were going through another checkpoint where a correctional officer with a clipboard told the escorting officers that we go to the following cells.

It was a total of 12 cells: Three of the four were double cells for the seven New Afrikans. The rest were single cells for the four Mexicans and four whites. Upon getting all of us into our assigned cells, they then issued us pink/orange linen. We were removed from SHU and placed in ASU – reversing the usual sequence, when prisoners are placed in ASU first and once given a SHU term are placed in SHU.

So we were wondering why were we being placed in ASU when we were already in SHU? It would be minutes after being placed in ASU that we would learn that we were placed on Hell-Row for “concentrated torture.” Yes, we were placed in ice cold cells and given nothing.

Many of us had never been placed in the new Ad-Seg cells. We realized that these cells are truly unfit for anyone to live in. They are compressed; you can be on the bottom bunk and have your feet resting on the toilets, you are two to three steps away from the front door and the cold blowers were deliberately turned on in order to make sure we suffered.

We were given inadequate clothing; therefore, we could not protect ourselves from the cold blowers. This was done in order to intensify our suffering in Ad-Seg in order to try and get us to eat. When the warden walked in H-Row tier and talked to each and every one of us, he said if you eat you can go back to your SHU cells. Each and every one of us refused to eat.

When the warden was asked why were we here, he said because we were the leaders of the hunger strikers which have caused a disturbance throughout the prison system. When asked who authorized our placement in ASU, he said Secretary M. Cate and Undersecretary S. Kernan.

We told him that there was no leaders of the hunger strikers; it’s just negotiators/representatives who actually volunteered because they didn’t want people dying on the hunger strike without ever having their voice heard, so those individuals who are the negotiators should be commended, not further tortured. I asked him why am I here; I am not no negotiator. He said I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you. He never did get back to me.

The officials continued to come around in order to try and persuade us to eat, but we continued to refuse to eat. The chief deputy warden came walking the tier and he told us if we don’t eat we will be receiving CDCR rule violation reports. I told him if we are willing to lay down our lives for the 25 years of torture we have suffered – whereas you have been a conspirator – then what difference would a CDCR rule violation report make?

The cold blowers were turned up on high, and we continued to suffer. It should be clear we were forced to suffer on Hell Row 15 days straight until the negotiators made a deal along with our mediation team lawyers. And it should be clear that I am basically touching the surface due to the litigation pending.

Once we were ordered back to our cells, we would discover that the correctional officers had deliberately trashed our cells. All our cosmetics, thermal tops and bottoms, political writings, legal material, books etc. were stolen – not confiscated – outright taken away from us while we were held in Ad-Seg.

We were then told that due to being on the hunger strike, we cannot go back on our normal diet. They placed us on record to get two lunches for breakfast and two lunches for dinner, but they gave us only one for breakfast and one for dinner.

It should be clear that all these retaliatory actions was deliberate in order to “instigate some violence” out of prisoners. It didn’t work, and we remain very much committed and dedicated to our peaceful nonviolent protocol.

Looking back on it now, we realize that CDCR has used any acts of violence to propagate against us all whenever they need to dehumanize us in order to justify their inhumane policies, decisions and treatment against us. We have lost our right to be paroled based on the criteria set by the Parole Board, family visits, visits, educational programs, nutritional diet, adequate medical treatment, pictures, food sales, news, TV and movies, weights etc. – all lost in the name of the threat to safety and security of the institution. All this is being lost based on how CDCR officials manipulate prison violence.

Therefore our question is what do we want for ourselves? We got prisoners still incarcerated on one-year-to-life sentences or seven-to-life sentences that go back to the ‘60s and ‘70s, prisoners still locked up on 15-to-life, 25-to-life on early ‘80s sentences when they have met all the criteria for parole. But the Parole Board is overseen by nothing but racist, money-hungry Board of Prison hearing commissioners and deputy commissioners who do not see nothing but criminals and modern-day slaves when a prisoner is before them.
So we, as prisoners, have to create the conditions behind these prison walls that will justify our own rehabilitation and humanity. Because the current practices is to keep us in an environment where we all remain immune to misery and half-life. We’re responsible for our future.

I told you all that many have died and many more will continue to die. Within the last few months we lost two prisoners in these torture chambers, one in the ASU, where the officials took us to torture us. The word is they committed suicide. Usually when someone commits suicide it’s because they’re unable to take the pressure that’s being placed on them.

But here’s something we all need to beware of: Medical has used psychiatric drugs to “treat pain” in low doses and all these drugs cause “suicidal thoughts” and chemical imbalances in the prisoner’s brain functions, which is why many prisoners for the last 20 years have been turned into zombies because their medical treatment has been these drugs that have side effects that are associated with suicide.

Also, it’s important to know that the torture prisoners have sustained over the last 25 years is unbearable for some, and prisoners are unable to get prison guards’ attention if you are in an emergency situation – and this is in their ASU orientation manual. So we educate the people in the public as to what’s going on, but there are a lot more prisoners who will be dying in these SHUs, Ad/Segs etc. because of medical neglect and real psychological evaluation.

The torture is in the policy and I am aware of prisoners’ situations because they’re right here with me. We have guys who can’t hear, see and are suffering from bacterial diseases etc. I personally think this quack Dr. Sayres gets off telling prisoners they only have a few more days to live.

The public has to realize that the system oppresses humanity for one purpose: to exploit them. Occupiers, we support you wholeheartedly. Corporate America is worth $23 trillion but the so-called people’s government is in debt for $15 trillion. How does that work when many of these corporations get subsidies from the people’s so-called government?

Mutope Duguma, aka James Crawford, has been reporting to Bay View readers on the hunger strike from the beginning. He is the writer of “The Call,” the formal announcement that alerted the world to this massive hunger strike, “SHU prisoners sentenced to civil death begin hunger strike,” “This hunger strike is far from over,” “Pelican Bay SHU prisoners plan to resume hunger strike Sept. 26,” “Greed drives solitary confinement torture,” “Hip hop community, support our hunger strike!” “Retaliation at Pelican Bay: Letters from the SHU” and “We are willing to sacrifice ourselves to change our conditions.” This letter was typed by Adrian McKinney. Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma, s/n James Crawford, D-05996, D1-117U, PBSP-SHU, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.

Friday, July 1, 2011

SHU prisoners sentenced to civil death begin hunger strike

SF BayView, July 1, 2011

by Mutope Duguma

In a letter to the Bay View, SHU prisoner Mutope Duguma (s/n James D. Crawford), who wrote “The Call,” published in the Bay View online and in print in June, sheds light on the background leading to the hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Penitentiary that is set to begin July 1.

First and foremost, let me say that it is New Afrikans (Blacks) like yourselves who represent our new Afrikan nation (NAN) with compassion and dedication that is a reflection of the unconditional love and respect that our ancestors demonstrated during their enslavement by our historical enemies (HEs) who unfortunately see us (New Afrikans) as an obsolete people.

This is why our HEs’ very politics is designed and structured to exclude us as a people from their economic system that forces many of our people to be dependent on the very same system that enslaved our ancestors. …
There are New Afrikans throughout this nation who believe in a new Afrikan ideology that can liberate our people from the malignant American socio-culture, politics and economic system. They have the solutions to our problems. Rather than keeping them in back alleys and prisons, we need to listen and begin to put these theories and concrete solutions into effect.

Ask yourselves why it is that so many of the New Afrikans who have a strong political line just happen to be locked up in solitary confinement units. We know they are not terrorists, we know they are not gang members and we know that they are not criminals.

So why? Because they are well studied and their political beliefs will undoubtedly liberate every New Afrikan in this nation from mental and physical slavery. Many of these New Afrikans can easily rid themselves of having to endure the suffering by denouncing their political beliefs, but throughout this nation they remain steadfast, refusing to be coerced away from their agenda of dealing with the New Afrikan struggle for liberation. If we cannot be brave enough to associate with these New Afrikans who are willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of our people, then we have a serious problem.

I personally believe that the lack of education is our most trying problem. We all should know that our historical enemies are not and will not educate our New Afrikan people. That is the responsibility of our New Afrikan Nation. This is how you rid our communities of the many street vices and pathologies that plague our communities and that have New Afrikan people preying on one another while being labeled terrorists, gang members, druggies, criminals etc.

New Afrikan people in this nation can be labeled by our historical enemies (HEs), and our people buy into it without investigating in order to get the facts. Hell, I was once an ignorant, impoverished young man living in the Watts Nickerson Gardens Housing Projects. I couldn’t read or write; I graduated from grade school with seven Fs. Not once did my environment of teachers attempt to educate me. My world became exactly that: my world.

But when I got to prison, it was New Afrikan prisoners who come from where I was from – poverty stricken environments throughout California – who civilized me by giving me a proper education of self and of the world.

But guess what? These same New Afrikans are the most hated throughout the state of California and many are “keep aways” from the New Afrikan population. This is what made me love what our HEs hate. I’ve come to love the Bay View for your relentless support of the New Afrikan community. And I want to thank you for keeping the hated voice heard.

Peaceful hunger strike to begin July 1

Pelican Bay SHU prisoners [joined by SHU prisoners at Corcoran] will embark upon a major hunger strike indefinitely until our five core demands are met. The demands are listed in “The Call: Hunger strike to begin July 1.”
[Duguma added the following notes at the end of the five core demands]:
  1. Besides regular visits, add video visits for SHU and Ad-seg so prisoners can visit with approved family and friends who cannot afford to visit them at Pelican Bay.
  2. Re-allow the donation of second-hand televisions and radios to indigent SHU inmates when items are placed on their personal property card.
  3. Cold-weather-proof the outside walls for those cells that are exposed to outside weather (in this case cells B through E) with a thick rubber membrane so that in winter months, the cells don’t turn into ice boxes.
  4. Provide better, non-lumpy, cheaper four-inch thick foam mattresses instead of the lumpy cotton mattresses.
  5. Provide for better SHU recreation and book lending programs.
There has been a protracted attack against Pelican Bay State Prison SHU prisoners for the last 22 years, where indeterminate SHU prisoners have been sentenced to a civil death by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Our civil and human rights have been violated, a policy sanctioned by the judicial system, which allows CDCR PBSP gang officials to hold us in solitary confinement indefinitely on the word of a prison snitch.

It is this injustice that has led to the July 1, 2011, hunger strike. We want to bring light to the suffering SHU prisoners serving indeterminate sentences who have suffered for 22 years.

Send our brotha some love and light at: James D. Crawford, D-05996, D1-117up, PBSP-SHU, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Call: Hunger strike to begin July 1

The Call: Hunger strike to begin July 1
SF Bay View, June 3, 2011
By Mutope Duguma

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
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 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,