Friday, June 13, 2014

CDCr counterpunch: New rules designed to silence prison protest

SF BayView, June 13, 2014
by Mutope Duguma

To all officers and personnel within the CDCr* who have not fully grasped the state of our affairs as it relates to the events of the last three years, in particular “those damn hunger strikes,” if I could read your mind, this is what I think I’d hear you say:

We will not tolerate “our” prisoners getting out of line, no matter how bad we treat them, because we are the authority here, and this each and every one of you will come to know in time. We will pass policies that will restrict any prisoners from speaking out to the public. [Editor’s note: Under CDCr’s proposed new censorship regulations, publications like the Bay View that publish prisoners’ articles for the public to read could be permanently banned from all California prisons.]

We will consider any rhetoric that protests our torture of prisoners to be a threat to the safety and security of the CDCr, and that language will be banned from our institutions. So, any publications that reference such rhetoric will be rejected by our mail handlers.

We do not care about the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, because our authority is to protect the public by all means. And we cannot do this with a lot of red tape, nor can we do this without torturing prisoners by holding them indefinitely in solitary confinement. Therefore, solitary confinement is very necessary.

We further note that we may now be allowing prisoners to have electric typewriters, combo televisions, radios, excess canteen etc., but if they get two serious CDCr 115s (Rules Violation Reports) within a six month period, we will assert our authority under the new proposed regulation titled “program failure” and strip them to their bare necessities, meaning all of their appliances (radios, TVs and the like) and excess property will be sent home.

That means we didn’t really give them anything, because we can manufacture these serious 115s, citing confidential information by way of our many informants, 1030 disclosure forms, debriefings, staff information, talking on the yard or in the building, and take it all away. These are some of the many ways in which we can strip them of their property, based on these proposed new regulations.

So if we get this passed as policy [the comment period for the new regulations is open until Tuesday, June 17 at 5 p.m.], then it’s open season on these guys for real. We can trash their cells during searches and if they respond negatively, then write them up a serious CDCr 115 Rules Violation Report, an RVR. We can feed them slop however we see fit, and if they say something negative in response, write them up a serious RVR. 

We can write them up in the law library for many violations, play with their canteen and packages, yard; you name it, we can do it now, under these new proposed regulations.

We literally can hammer these guys now. We have put ourselves in a better position to screw these guys and many will not even see it coming. We do it all under the authority of CDCr policy.

Hell, we should be very excited about the position we are in, because we got the STG (Security Threat Group, the new term for “gang”) I and II and the SDP (Step-Down Program) on the books as policy and we didn’t even have it challenged. Now they are eating out of our hands to get to the DRB (Departmental Review Board, which is interviewing prisoners in solitary confinement to see whether they belong there). We basically just widened our field of play.

We can lock up anyone we desire to under the STG I and II and the SDP. Hell, this is 10 times better than indeterminate SHU, under prison gang validations. We get the whole enchilada now! And we got four years to hold each and every one of them.

We have a pool of 130,000 prisoners to choose from, and guess what? We can bring them back to solitary confinement any time we want to. We got nothing to worry about, because, hell, we locked some of these guys up for 30 to 40 years straight on BS and didn’t pay any of them one cent, nor were any of our officers prosecuted, and we know that a lot of these validations were in clear violation of the law, an injustice where we subjected these guys to all kinds of physical and psychological torture and got clean away with it. And we have a more elaborate system to continue business as usual.

We got each and every one of them right where we want them. When looking at them today, what has changed? And I say to all my officers, not a damn thing changed! We good, so continue to get your overtime and make your money and remember that working in solitary confinement pays extras. We good!
Oh, and support the legislators for a job well done in writing SB 892.

Retaliation by policy
Though we [Mutope is now speaking in his own voice] are in the 21st century, the CDCr is using its authority and power to retaliate against prisoners in order to break our will and spirit. Although the method has changed, the results remain the same.

The method can be openly brutal, as we see in the Southern states, where our New Afrikan brothers and sisters are beat down and murdered, while being treated like 1700s or 1800s slaves, working in chain gangs, while prison guards ride horses with shotguns, looking like something straight out of the movies.

But when you start analyzing exactly what’s going on inside California prisons, you will begin to see that we too are being beat down and murdered, as if we too were in the 1700s and 1800s. Actually, it’s been equally as devastating for us as it is for our brothers and sisters in the Southern states.

Prison policies have been constructed so that each and every prisoner has been subjected to pain and punishment over the past 25 years. The CDCr policy makers have used CCR (California Code of Regulations) Title 15 to attack prisoners in every aspect of our lives – medical, food, property, politics, privileges, custody, education, law library, yard, sanitation etc.

No matter the level of attacks, it’s always been done to establish and constantly remind us that we prisoners are under oppressive prison conditions. The policy changes are not something the CDCr even tries to hide. It seems as if their sole purpose for introducing policies is to subject the prisoners to inhumane treatment.

We have seen, since our first and second hunger strikes, that the policy governing hunger strikes (CDCr Chapter 22 and 23 and Operational Procedures (OP) 228), under the warden’s authority, was changed, simply because they could not subject prisoners to “physical harm.” So, after we came off our first hunger strike, the CDCr turned around and changed the hunger strike policy, the OP, to allow them to subject prisoners to some kind of pain and punishment, although they had arbitrarily carried out attacks against us even when the initial hunger strike policies were in effect.

The CDCr uses these prison policies in order to subject prisoners to physical and psychological harm. The reason CDCr went back and changed their proposed policies was so that they could retaliate against prisoners for their peaceful protests. Although they laid claim to false security threats to the institutions, they never proved anything. So, why would it be a threat to the safety and security of the institution now?

When prisoners write to publications in order to tell our stories to the outside world, why would that be a threat now to the penological interests of the CDCr when it never has been for over 40 years? Is it a threat when prisoners write on our philosophical views, our political and ideological beliefs, and sign off with our names? Why would prisoners telling the public about the torture we’ve been subjected to at the hands of the CDCr be a threat to the penological interests of the prison? In two words, “It’s not.”

The policy [new proposed censorship rules, officially called “Obscene Material” regulations] is in retaliation for prisoners telling our personal horror stories, while carrying out hunger strikes in protest of such cruel and unusual punishment inside solitary confinement.

The CDCr is neither ashamed nor remorseful for the pain and suffering they inflict on so many human beings. Instead, they are constantly trying to find ways to silence prisoners and further subject us to more pain and suffering. These retaliatory policies are designed to do just that. We have to challenge the CDCr’s blatant retaliation on prisoners.

One love, one struggle,

Mutope Duguma

Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma, s/n James Crawford, D-05996, D2-107, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

*CDCr is the acronym for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; prisoners often write the last letter in lower case because rehabilitation is nearly nonexistent in California prisons.