Transcript: Part I of public comments on CDCR’s proposed new policies on solitary confinement – Feb. 11, 2014

Part I of V: Partial transcript of public comments CDCR’s proposed new policies on solitary confinement and prison gang or “security threat group” management. The joint informational hearing was held on Feb. 11, 2014:

Commenter #1 (woman):
Good morning. My name is Tessa Murphy, and I’m here representing Amnesty International.

In 2011, Amnesty was given unprecedented access to three of California’s SHUs, including Pelican Bay. We documented our findings into a report along with a set of recommendations that we have pushed for the past year for CDCR to incorporate into the reforms discussed today.

I would urge the committee to study these recommendations or at least three pages of them when considering whether to legislate on this issue.

In less than a minute, these reforms fail to bring California into compliance with requirements under international law and standards for the humane treatment of prisoners…

Commenter #2 (woman):
My name is Dolores Canales. I’m a founding member of California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement and I have to tell you that these hearings and even the processes with the step-down programs give the family much hope. But I do have here with me articles from 1990, 1992, ’93 – “High Tech Facility Ushers in New Era of State Prisons.” …I just want to say if there’s not change now there won’t be any.

Commenter #3 (woman):
My name is Virginia Gutierrez Brown. My husband Paul Brown was in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay for 28 years. He’s now at Corcoran in the main line and doing very well – working. I saw him blossom from a shell of what he was to a more happy human being. And I urge the committee to continue its work to abolish solitary confinement.

Commenter #4 (woman):
My name is Beth and my husband’s been in the Bay SHU for 19 years. What I want to say is you cannot overlay a new program on the same old culture and that’s been discussed. You also cannot lay a program on men who do not trust the system because they have not been considered their whole psychology. A lot of men are refusing the program. It’s not because they don’t want to cooperate. They would love to cooperate with a truly effective and meaningful program; they’re not being obstinate; they want respect.

Commenter #5 (woman):
Thank you so much committee for having this hearings. My brother was previously housed in Pelican Bay for 23 years. He was validated for a art magazine and for another inmate having his name in his cell. He went up to his DRB board and they told him that he should have never been validated the last 11 years. My point is there are men sitting back there in solitary confinement with CDC with bogus charges. There’s human real estate. What they’re doing is human real estate on all of these SHU members. So please, please keep having these hearings. And CDC, stop making bogus claims on our loved one.

Commenter #6 (woman):
What is negative about the step-down program? Everything. Because the same as IGI who condone them to be in solitary confinement is the same people who are ruling the step-down program, so they’re not going to get out of the SHU because the same people who are fabricating the lies to put them in the SHU are the same people in charge of the step-down program.

Last week, two days without hot water in Pelican Bay. Not even hot because it’s warm. So not even a coffee they can drink.

My brother is 14 years in the solitary confinement and still going.

Commenter #7 (woman):
Hi. After 11 years of being in prison, my son has now been placed in the SHU. After 13 months, he has developed severe mental issues. We’re still appealing his case. You have 30,000 estimated mentally ill inmates. How many more have to become mentally ill before you change these rules?

Commenter #8 (woman):
My name is Marie Levin. My brother’s been housed in the security housing unit for 30 years now. Locked up 33 years and now 30 years in the SHU for a crime he didn’t even commit. What I’m here to say is that abolish the SHU. It is inhumane. It is torturous. And I’m tired of my brother having to go through this for decades – decades. I hope you guys are really listening. Decades.

Commenter #9 (woman):
First of all, I want to thank you so much for finally, you know, hearing our hearts and…the cries of our incarcerated ones. And I just want to say that, you know, CDCR says that – they are taking credit for like all these wonderful events that are happening, that our loved ones are coming out. No, I believe it was because of the hunger strike, because of these courageous men who put their lives at stake. And so they’re the ones that deserve the credit and I thank them so much. And thank you.

Commenter #10 (17-year-old woman from San Francisco):
…As a child of someone who’s been subjected to these conditions – the weight of these boxes of dehumanization – I ask you how would you feel if it was your family member or close friend or even yourself being subjected to the conditions of solitary confinement. Would you still allow it? Let us gain back our humanity and cease this pointless inhumane treatment of our fellow man and eradicate solitary confinement for ourselves and future generations. Surely we can find better alternatives.


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