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

Part IV 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 #31 (woman):
…Issuing and supporting the agreement to end hostilities should be identified as positive behaviors and included as ways to step down and get out of solitary, not retaliated against with rules violations. In order to refrain from STG behavior, the prisoners are forced to give up their political, social, cultural beliefs and materials. This is brainwashing, does not allow fully voluntary and free informed consent without force or coercion violates Article I of the Nuremberg Code on human experimentation and is a human rights abuse. Stop retaliation against the hunger strikers and those who issued and supported the agreement to end hostilities. At Pelican Bay SHU, food’s been decreased to bite size or child size portions, not enough for male adults, frequently served on top of wet cardboard and some spoiled or not completely cooked. Adequate food is a human right and is one of the prisoners’ five core demands – provide adequate and nutritious food.

Commenter #32 (man):
…I’m 16 years old. I’m with the program Project What. Solitary confinement steals the man from the man, turning him into a shell within a shell. Loneliness and depression is created within this solitary confinement, causing this man to change into somebody he doesn’t even know and a stranger to his loved ones…Isn’t what rehabilitation what prison is for? Or is that the mask that they hide under? You tell me who is anybody to judge; we’re all equal no matter what. Change for the future or decline in the present.

Commenter #33 (man):
…I’m 17 years old. I’m from Union City, California. I’m against solitary confinement. Research has shown if we put animals in captivity and we release them into the wild, it is proven ineffective; they will die. So why are we doing this to human beings? Solitary confinement can cause people to lose sanity and chronic depression. It also causes socializing problems. I oppose solitary confinement as a child of incarcerated parents. My mom and my father have both been incarcerated. At one point, my mom was incarcerated with me when she was pregnant, and that just shows how prison is. Thank you.

Commenter #34 (man):
…I run a gang intervention program in Los Angeles, and I fully support the agreement to end hostilities for various reasons. This shows that gang members inside have chosen to be part of a solution that the state of California has failed for the last 40 years. And this needs to be applauded and commended, such as what the government did in El Salvador…

Commenter #35 (woman):
…I facilitate groups on anger management, life skills in Los Angeles. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now. And it was amazing to me to see that the cycle of violence is the practice of CDCR. And it’s amazing to me that they’re not being prepared for coming out eventually into general public or to the general yard. And the post-incarcerated syndrome, which is very vivid. I know – I am also a former prisoner. People once they get out, they cannot touch other people. There’s a lot of trauma, and there’s no one really helping them out in the free world especially in general population. And so I encourage the legislature to please put an oversight – independent to oversee that all these measures are put [in place]. I was here in 2004, and I still keep hearing the same thing. It’s all a dog and pony show. And I’m tired. I think people are too and the taxpayers also.

Commenter #36 (woman):
Hello. My name is Gloria, and my brother is in the SHU now. He’s already completed four years. And he was supposed to come out in December. All of a sudden, the date has been extended to June. And now, they have magically came up with a new write-up where they’re trying to give him six more years. And I thought we were trying to stop this, not extend it.

I do appreciate for the panel that stayed and to listen to this because this new real reform or new promise – I don’t want to hear in the next hearing “This cannot be done overnight. We need more clarification.” No.

Commenter #37 (man):
…I am with the Youth Justice Coalition to talk about SB 970 solitary confinement as you guys well know. I believe this bill…portrays ignorance because…one simply cannot expect an individual to have a healthy mentality after being [confined] in a room with very low sanitary conditions. It’s inhuman how individuals are treated like animals – no education, concrete beds – and overall they deteriorate mentally. Mississippi seems to understand this, so why not California – the most powerful state?

Commenter #38 (woman):
…I’m with the Friends Committee on legislation of California, and I want to thank you first of all for shedding light on this important issue. I’m deeply moved by the testimony of family members and hearing that the state of California is an outlier within the states and the United States is an outlier within the world of nations in the use of this extremely – demonstrated to be extremely devastating and damaging practice that really is torture – I believe should be a great source of shame for all of us living in California. And I hope we can find a way to really make meaningful change in this arena. Thank you.

Commenter #39 (man):
…As the Pelican Bay prisoners pointed out in their statement, this is a sham. This is a bogus reform. This so-called justice system is not reformable. End the torture. Abolish the SHU. This is a fight that’s in the interests of all working people. Prison guards and other cops are not part of our class. These same prison officials deny working people behind bars their free speech rights to receive newspapers, like the one I write for…We have joined with publications like the San Francisco Bay View in demanding an end to the censorship.

Commenter #40 (woman):
Thank you…I have a brother in the SHU serving a 52 year sentence. He’s been in the SHU for a total of 13 years. And I hope I see a day where we don’t have to snicker and throw up our hands in exasperation at promises from the CDCR. I do believe that people working within the system and families who are subject to it do have a lot in common, and I hope to see a day when we’re working on the same side. But I personally have been listening to lies straight to my face and my family’s face since I was 11 years old. One thing I didn’t really hear brought up today is that we use the term gang so much to describe policy, and nobody understands the effects of gang violence better than family members. But when it comes to policy, really what we’re using is a term that’s outdated and racist and political. We’re talking about poverty and survival for the most part. So, I would be very judicious with the use of the word “gangs” in the future. Thank you so much for your time.


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