Last month, prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison announced a signed agreement to end hostilities between racial groups in CA state prisons & jails starting today, October 10th, 2012. The statement was drafted by the Short Corridor Collective, comprised of SHU prisoners who participated in last year’s hunger strikes.
People across the state have taken up the call for solidarity with the agreement. Today in Los Angeles, community organizations (including Youth Justice Coalition, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in L.A. Jails, Homies Unidos, and All of Us or None), family members and others rally outside the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail to publicize the historic agreement while drawing connections between efforts inside of prisons and efforts in communities to cease hostilities and end destructive cycles of violence. Rally organizers hope the calls for prisoners to cease hostilities will inspire similar action in Los Angeles communities and to take to heart the Short Corridor Collective’s hopefulness: “collectively, we are an empowered, mighty force, that can positively change this entire corrupt system into a system that actually benefits prisoners, and thereby, the public as a whole…”
Support this historic agreement (below & available here) by spreading word inside & outside of prison! Download the Agreement flyer & Cover letter (from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity).
Agreement to End Hostilities
August 12, 2012
To whom it may concern and all California Prisoners:
Greetings from the entire PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Hunger Strike Representatives. We are hereby presenting this mutual agreement on behalf of all racial groups here in the PBSP-SHU Corridor. Wherein, we have arrived at a mutual agreement concerning the following points:
- If we really want to bring about substantive meaningful changes to the CDCR system in a manner beneficial to all solid individuals, who have never been broken by CDCR’s torture tactics intended to coerce one to become a state informant via debriefing, that now is the time for us to collectively seize this moment in time, and put an end to more that 20-30 years of hostilities between our racial groups.
- Therefore, beginning on October 10, 2012, all hostilities between our racial groups… in SHU, Ad-Seg, General Population, and County Jails, will officially cease. This means that from this date on, all racial group hostilities need to be at an end… and if personal issues arise between individuals, people need to do all they can to exhaust all diplomatic means to settle such disputes; do not allow personal, individual issues to escalate into racial group issues!!
- We also want to warn those in the General Population that IGI will continue to plant undercover Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY) debriefer “inmates” amongst the solid GP prisoners with orders from IGI to be informers, snitches, rats, and obstructionists, in order to attempt to disrupt and undermine our collective groups’ mutual understanding on issues intended for our mutual causes [i.e., forcing CDCR to open up all GP main lines, and return to a rehabilitative-type system of meaningful programs/privileges, including lifer conjugal visits, etc. via peaceful protest activity/noncooperation e.g., hunger strike, no labor, etc. etc.]. People need to be aware and vigilant to such tactics, and refuse to allow such IGI inmate snitches to create chaos and reignite hostilities amongst our racial groups. We can no longer play into IGI, ISU, OCS, and SSU’s old manipulative divide and conquer tactics!!!
In conclusion, we must all hold strong to our mutual agreement from this point on and focus our time, attention, and energy on mutual causes beneficial to all of us [i.e., prisoners], and our best interests. We can no longer allow CDCR to use us against each other for their benefit!! Because the reality is that collectively, we are an empowered, mighty force, that can positively change this entire corrupt system into a system that actually benefits prisoners, and thereby, the public as a whole… and we simply cannot allow CDCR/CCPOA – Prison Guard’s Union, IGI, ISU, OCS, and SSU, to continue to get away with their constant form of progressive oppression and warehousing of tens of thousands of prisoners, including the 14,000 (+) plus prisoners held in solitary confinement torture chambers [i.e. SHU/Ad-Seg Units], for decades!!!
We send our love and respects to all those of like mind and heart… onward in struggle and solidarity…
Presented by the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective:
Todd Ashker, C58191, D1-119
Arturo Castellanos, C17275, D1-121
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C35671, D1-117
Antonio Guillen, P81948, D2-106
And the Representatives Body:
Danny Troxell, B76578, D1-120
George Franco, D46556, D4-217
Ronnie Yandell, V27927, D4-215
Paul Redd, B72683, D2-117
James Baridi Williamson, D-34288. D4-107
Alfred Sandoval, D61000, D4-214
Louis Powell, B59864, D1-104
Alex Yrigollen, H32421, D2-204
Gabriel Huerta, C80766, D3-222
Frank Clement, D07919, D3-116
Raymond Chavo Perez, K12922, D1-219
James Mario Perez, B48186, D3-124
These are my heroes! I have been communicating with most on the organizing committee over the decades. I am so happy that this is happening after all this time. Peace in the struggle, Sista Soul KHSU.org
[[[[[ We are distributing these articles to media, to legislators, and to churches and human rights groups to help stimulate conversation and action toward bringing all departments of corrections into the 21st century. ]]]]]
All of the following articles on the relationship between neighborhood violence and prison violence can be read at the website http://walterkarp.tripod.com/bringingourprisonsintothe21stcentury
FIXING OUR VIOLENT PRISONS AND COMMUNITIES
W H A T * H A P P E N S * I N * P R I S O N * D O E S N ‘ T * S T A Y * I N * P R I S O N
“A study…compared illegal activity in the yard before and after the honors program was established. It showed that weapons infractions decreased 88%, violence and threatening behavior dropped 85% and drug-related offences and trafficking were down 43%.” -L.A. Times
This website aims to raise public awareness of the pervasive risk of harm that Washington’s Department of Corrections’ violent prison culture poses toward staff and prisoners alike. Both, despite their differences, share a basic goal: not just survival, but the creation of a safe and secure environment for ALL concerned.
All who are associated with this website, whether those whose stories appear hereon, or those who one way or another support the above mentioned objective, simply want the Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) to move swiftly to create a “Sensitive Needs Yard” (SNY), so that prisoners who want and choose to can safely get out of the snakepit of violence, drugs and criminality that currently defines the dangerous state of things within WDOC.
Without minimizing the need to secure a safer environment for staff who have to work the “line,” or the rights of prisoners who have to live the “line,” we also emphasize our agreement with former WDOC Secretary, Mr. Eldon Vail, who, in the aftermath of the tragic murder of WDOC corrections officer Ms. Jayne Biendl, stated ( paraphrased): SAFE COMMUNITIES BEGIN WITH SAFE AND SECURE PRISONS.
The logic in this statement is undeniable. But the problem lies in the disconnect between theory and practice. Safer communities do indeed depend on safer prisons, but safer prisons depend on THE POLITICAL WILL TO MAKE THEM SO.
WDOC is an archipelago of prisons that are, to quote the United States Supreme Court:
“…places of involuntary confinement of persons who have a demonstrated proclivity for anti-social criminal, and often violent, conduct. Inmates have necessarily shown a lapse in ability to control and conform their behavior to the legitimate standards of society by the normal impulses of self-restraint; they have shown an inability to regulate their conduct in a way that reflects either a respect for law or an appreciation of the rights of others.”
Nevertheless, prison administrators and staff are constitutionally charged with the challenging responsibilities of keeping themselves safe while ensuring that prisoners receive adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care, and that reasonable measures guaranteeing prisoners’ safety are in place, for the highest court in the United States has long made it clear:
” No iron curtain separates prison inmates from constitutional protections.”
Why no “iron curtain”? “[W]hen the state takes a person into its custody and holds him there against his will,” says the US Supreme Court, “the Constitution imposes upon it a corresponding duty to assume some responsibility for his safety and general well being.” In support of this legal principle, the same Court explained its logic:
“[H]aving stripped [prisoners] of virtually every means of self-protection and foreclosed their access to outside aid, the government and its officials are not free to let the state of nature take its course.”
This gets us back to reality: There’s an entire ocean of space between Mr. Vail’s logical formula for safe communities, and the day-to-day realities behind WDOC’s closed doors. The state of nature has taken its course in WDOC’s prisons, and because this is so, neither staff, prisoners nor our communities are safe.
[[[ We are looking forward to reading the two final sections of this article, which will be appearing here soon. They will compare and contrast the criminal codes of the two main gangs in Washington’s prison system: the code of prison gangs, and the code of a small gang of corrupted Department of Corrections employees.]]]
########## Safer neighborhoods begin with safe and secure prisons. ##########
WHAT HAPPENS IN PRISON DOESN’T STAY IN PRISON:
“Long-term isolation can create or exacerbate serious mental health problems and assaultive or anti-social behaviors, result in negative outcomes for institutional safety, and increase the risk of
recidivism after release….”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Contacts: Patricia Connelly
Vera Director Michael Jacobson Submits Testimony
on Reassessing Solitary Confinement to the
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
NEW YORK, NY―The first-ever Congressional hearing on solitary confinement is being held today by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. Solitary confinement—also known as segregation—long used to manage difficult prison populations, has come under closer scrutiny by policy makers in recent years, as more jurisdictions are looking for alternatives to this exceptionally expensive and increasingly harsh form of incarceration. The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is currently working with Illinois, Washington State, and Maryland to develop such safe alternatives.
As Vera Director Michael Jacobson told the Subcommittee in written testimony, the use of solitary confinement by state and federal prisons has skyrocketed in recent decades. “Segregation was developed as a method for handling highly dangerous prisoners,Jacobson said. Increasingly, however, “it has been used with prisoners who do not pose a threat to staff or other prisoners but are placed in segregation for minor violations that are disruptive but not violent.”
The reexamination of solitary confinement is driven, in part, by recent research suggesting that segregation is often counterproductive. “Long-term isolation can create or exacerbate serious mental health problems and assaultive or anti-social behaviors, result in negative outcomes for institutional safety, and increase the risk of recidivism after release,Jacobson told the Subcommittee. The current fiscal crisis is also prompting state prison systems to curtail expensive and ineffective practices, Jacobson said. “States can no longer afford these costs,he remarked.
Pointing to one promising advance, Jacobson described the work of Vera’s Segregation Reduction Project (SRP). Launched in 2010, SRP is the first project of its kind to work with state prison systems to reduce safely the number of prisoners held in segregation and to improve the conditions of solitary confinement for those who remain. Currently, Vera is partnering with Illinois, Maryland, and Washington State and is in the process of extending SRP to a fourth state in the Southwest.
Based on the lessons learned thus far through SRP, Jacobson offered a series of policy recommendations that jurisdictions could undertake now to curtail the public safety and financial costs of over-reliance on segregation, including:
Safely using alternative disciplinary sanctions for all but serious rules violations;
Reducing segregation time for certain categories of violations, when safety considerations permit;
Reviewing the existing segregated population to better understand who is being placed into isolation and why;
Providing segregated prisoners with incentives for sustained good behavior, to reduce segregation time;
Separating special populations (for example, people in protective custody or with severe mental illness) into dedicated housing units where programming, procedures, and other conditions are tailored to their needs; and
Increasing programming for prisoners in segregation to enhance their chances of successfully avoiding future disciplinary or justice system involvement.
To help support such change, Jacobson recommended that Congress take steps to mandate and fund the following efforts:
The collection of national data on segregation. A comprehensive census with precise definitions of types of segregation is vital to inform decision-making and legislation;
A national study on the impact of segregation to assess the costs of the use of (different types of) segregation compared to housing in the general population, and costs associated with incarceration in prison overall; and the development of national standards on the use of segregation to encourage the field to adopt best practices.
Michael Jacobson’s testimony is available on Vera’s website.
########## Safer neighborhoods begin with safe and secure prisons. ##########
WHAT SOLITARY CONFINEMENT CO$T$ YOU
Burying people alive in solitary confinement costs up to THREE TIMES AS MUCH as housing them in Sensitive Needs Yard facilities!
No wonder most departments of correction (including Washington’s) don’t want to talk about it. Conveniently, they don’t even keep track of that cost comparison! Here’s the response you will get from WDOC if you try to find out what this medieval practice is costing us:
“I have been asked to respond to your email dated June 17, 2012. You had asked for the average cost per year of housing a prisoner in an intensive management unit and the average cost per year of housing a prisoner in general population. Although the Department recognizes there may be a higher cost to house an offender in an intensive management unit, we do not break out those costs separately.”
Go to the excellent website below for the astounding lowdown on this colossal waste of taxpayer money. Here’s an excerpt from it:
” Reforms Lead to Savings
“Spurred by litigation, legislation, leadership, and local activism, a handful of states have recently taken steps to reduce the number of prisoners they hold in solitary—a move that has clear fiscal benefits.
“In recent years, Mississippi has reduced the number of
prisoners it holds in solitary from 1,000 to about 150, and
closed down its supermax unit. According to the ACLU, the
reforms are saving Mississippi’s taxpayers an estimated $8
million a year.”
Click to access fact-sheet-the-high-cost-of-solitary-confinement.pdf
########## Safer neighborhoods begin with safe and secure prisons. ##########
How SENSITIVE NEEDS YARDS or Honor Yards Save Taxpayers Millions Every Year
Keeping sensitive needs prisoners in “protective custody” by throwing them into solitary confinement as WDOC does now, not only costs the prisoners dearly in terms of physical and mental health; it MORE THAN DOUBLES THE CUSTODY COSTS!
Separating predator prisoners from their potential victims drastically lowers the number of assaults, medical expenses, lawsuits, etc. Besides being conducive to mental and physical health, education and rehabilitation, SENSITIVE NEEDS YARDS are by far the most inexpensive way of housing prisoners.
WDOC’s present practice of forcing rehabilitating prisoners to live among violent prisoners simply gives the predators AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF VICTIMS. (This also conveniently gives any potentially corrupt WDOC or union officials a perfect opportunity to expand their turf and continually threaten and plead for ever bigger and bigger budgets by pointing out the high violence rates to the legislature and the media!)
Crowding at Prison Threatens Honor Program
Dangerous criminals at the Lancaster facility are being housed with those who have pledged peace.
By Richard Fausset
LA Times Staff Writer
An innovative program that seeks to reduce violence among maximum-security inmates is being severely tested at the state prison in Lancaster, where a population squeeze is forcing officials to house dangerous criminals with others who have vowed to remain peaceful.
Since 2000, Lancaster’s honor yard program has created a special housing area for prisoners who have promised to stay away from gangs [of the violent variety], drugs and violence. Families, convicts and prison experts have praised the program for reducing violent incidents, and prison officials have considered taking the idea to other lockups around the state.
But last month, about 130 inmates who did not meet the criteria were transferred to honor yard housing, prison spokesman Lt. Ken Lewis said Monday. Some of them are responsible for a stabbing March 16 and a violent melee Friday involving six prisoners.
As a result of the fight, some honor inmates remained locked in their cells Monday while prison guards investigated the incident.
Lewis acknowledged that the transfer ran the risk of diluting the honors program.
“But our main goal is to house inmates, [and] we have to do what we have to do to house inmates. We’re overcrowded,” he said.
The honors yard now houses 850 inmates.
Lewis said that state corrections officials had told the prison to make more room for convicts with “sensitive needs,” [such as informants or other potential targets]. In the last few weeks, the number of these inmates has doubled to 2,000.
That change displaced inmates who do not qualify for either the sensitive needs or honors program. Some were shipped to different prisons, but others remained at Lancaster, where the only beds available for them were in the honor yard, he said.
Kenneth E. Hartman, an honors program inmate, wrote a letter to Youth and Adult Corrections Secretary Roderick Q. Hickman after the March stabbing incident, saying he feared it was “the start of a spate of violence.”
Lt. Charles Hughes, president of the local chapter of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., said that staff members also worried about the changes. But he hoped the prison could find a way to maintain peace in the yard, he said.
“Cops want it, inmates want it and management wants it,” Hughes said. “I still think with some good managerial stuff we can make it work.”
The recent melee was quelled when officers fired block guns and sprayed mace at the fighting inmates. Giving few details, Lewis said all of the honor yard’s black inmates and those classified as racial “others” by the Department of Corrections usually Asians or Pacific Islanders would remain locked in their cells for the time being, because the fight involved members of those two groups.
A study released by Lancaster prison officials in 2003 compared illegal activity in the yard before and after the honors program was established. It showed that weapons infractions decreased 88%, violence and threatening behavior dropped 85% and drug-related offenses and trafficking were down 43%.
########## Safer communities begin with safe and secure prisons ##########
What you can do to help make prisons and communities safer:
IF YOU ARE A LEGISLATOR OR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL:
We are asking law-makers, administrators,WDOC personnel, etc. to discuss the information on this site, and then consider advocating for a Sensitive Needs Yard policy for WDOC.
IF YOU ARE A MEDIA PERSON:
We can supply you with contact information and can facilitate interviews, etc. with activist prisoners with whom we have worked for many years.
IF YOU ARE A WASHINGTON PRISONER:
Have your story emailed to us (anonymously if necessary). How have pressures exerted by extortionists/thugs, and the like affected your life and the lives of others? How would your prison life be different if you could choose to live separate from those who choose drugs, violence, criminality?
IF YOU ARE A RESIDENT OF WASHINGTON:
Contact your legislators and the media asking them to explore the tremendous proven savings in taxpayer dollars and human misery that Sensitive Needs Yard policies have brought about in other states. (Also sometimes called “honor yard.”)
IF YOU ARE ANY OF THE ABOVE:
Familiarize yourself with the stories and other information which will be appearing on this website and in other sources. Write your own story and email it to us for possible (anonymous if necessary) publication on this site. Contact Washington legislators and administrators, WDOC officials, and media with a link to this site (and preferably including your thoughts on this important public safety matter.)
########## Safer communities begin with safe and secure prisons. ##########
S O L I T A R Y * STORY #1
I have recently dropped out of the Sureno car [gang]. I am 35 years old. I have not gang-banged since I was 21. This is my first time down: 2010 – 2013. When I first got to prison I tried to stay out of the “politics.” But prison gives you no choice. I was put in the lower Rs in Shelton’s Washington Correctional Center, with nothing but Surenos. I had nowhere else to go but to join the influence of the gang. I try to stay out of trouble but found myself caught in a riot at Stafford Creek. I didn’t want trouble, it came to me and I had to defend myself. So when I lost good time and got closed out to Washington State Penitentiary I decided I am not going to let gang inluence keep taking good time away from me and my family (3 kids). So I checked into protective custody (IMU: Intensive Management Unit), only to find that there is nothing for me.
IMU is the only safe place for me, and you can not go to church here, you can’t go and get an education, there are no jobs here, and you have to visit your family behind glass. While the gangsters are enjoying mainline pressuring people to do what they want, and if they don’t getting rid of them off into IMU!
It is too bad that when someone wants to better their life by not commiting acts of violence or being in a gang, in the state of Washington there is no help for us! In two months I will go to another facility, where the Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) tell me it is safe for me. I know however I will be X-ed out. (or assaulted by the Surenos). In spite of that I would rather go than to stay here in IMU. I just hope I don’t lose any more good time.
[[[[[ To correspond with this inmate, email a message to him at firstname.lastname@example.org Solitary Story #1 in the subject line. ]]]]
S O L I T A R Y * STORY # 2
I came to Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) in 2005 when I was 18 years old and was really trying to rehabilitate myself by turning to my Christian faith. However WDOC officials put me in a 4-man cell with three very violent known gang members who immediately started beating me up because I would not join their gang and their violent ways. After being beat up numerous times and having correctional officers walk by our cell turning their head the other way when they knew I was being assaulted I had no choice but to join the prison gang and get involved, which deprived me of any opportunity of prison rehabilitation and continuing my Christian faith. Instead I was forced to do things against my will.
This went on for three months and I told my classification counselor in 8-wing Washington State Penitentiary closed custody in February 2006 that I was being abused by my cellmates. But I was still made to return to my cell. For the next two weeks after that I was beaten every day severely until I couldn’t take it any longer and I asked for protective custody. At that time my classification counselor started repeatedly apologizing for allowing me to go back to my cell after I told him I was being abused. The counselor stated he told the CUS, but they thought I was just being picked on. But the bruises all over my body which they confirmed by taking photos said otherwise. The prison authorities were just trying to avoid a lawsuit for failure to protect. After that I was thrown in the hole for protective custody and 3 hours later a prison Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) person came and talked to me, After all that had happened to me he asked
me if I would be willing to go back out to general population to gather information for him of the white supremacists. I told him I don’t think so because I was scared and beaten. But all he was interested in was getting me to tell him information. I was sent to another dangerous closed custody facility at the Washington State Reformatory at the Monroe Correctional Complex and once again put in harms way by being celled up with another white supremacist that was in the same gang as my former cellies at Washington State Penitentiary that I had just told on. On top of that this cellie “paper-checked” me. I told him I didn’t have any paper-work, He said if I didn’t get some he would cut my throat. To save my own life I had no choice but to assault another inmate in order to not have to return to the white supremacist’s cell.
I was then placed in solitary confinement in an IMU (intensive management unit) at Shelton’s WCC (Washington Corrections Center), where I developed a mental illness from being isolated so long. I started hurting myself, so I then was transferred to a mental health facility and kept in solitary for three years because I kept trying to hurt myself and commit suicide. Instead of putting me in a safe mental health population to get me help, I was instead kept in solitary where I slowly deteriorated mentally, physically and spiritually and gave up hope. I was given minimum, inhuman living conditions.
In February of 2010 I was transferred from Monroe Correctional Complex to a dangerous closed custody facility at Clallam Bay Corrections Center. At Monroe I had asked for protective custody because a white supremacist had made a shank and intended to kill me, so I was kept in solitary on protective custody for three months there. When I was transferred to Clallam Bay which was even more dangerous, it was only a matter of time before the white supremacists known as the AF (Aryan Family) and their allies Surenos Gangs found out I was transferred on protective custody. I was celled up with a Skin Head gang member who immediatly asked for my papers and I told him I didn’t have any, so he threatened me and grabberd me by the throat and said that if he found out I was no good I better not come back to the cell. So once again I assaulted a Correctional Officer to save my life by being in solitary and out of danger.
Because Washington Department of Corrections doesn’t have a “sensitive needs yard” or honor yard, I was forced to live in extreme danger. I was given twelve months in solitary (IMU) and an extra year in prison. But it was a small price to pay to save my life from the gangs that I was forced to live with in population. After being in IMU I again started to suffer from insufficient mental health care and sensory deprivation. Now here I am being in IMU for 29 months. I am anti-social and have 72 suicide attempts, self-mutilations. I’ve banged my head open and cut my wrists. This is what being in IMU does to mentally ill people. I have lived it and seen it but I’m not ready so give up. I have been at Walla Walla State Penitentiary for one year now and mental health care is insufficient and poor and does not care about inmates that are suffering in these IMUs like myself. Instead they throw me in a cell buck naked with an unsanitary drain in
thefloor with bars and in order for me to use the drain I have to sit on the cold steel drain on the floor and then the officers will tell me now use your hands and shove your feces down the drain.This is inhumane. There is no water and soap or a sink for that matter, so I can’t clean the feces off my hands.
These seclusion rooms are used to psychologically break an inmate down, basically the motive is cruel and unusual. Punishment to stop an inmate as myself from asking for help. After hurting myself one day a mental health staff member forced me to walk around naked. His name was Blackham and he let me bang my head for 5 hours and then I had to sleep on the floor naked, freezing cold, then the next day I was sent back to solitary IMU.
If Washington Department of Corrections would have had a sensitive needs yard for me to go to I would have been safe, a model inmate and would have been rehabilitating myself every day. Instead they don’t care about the money a sensitive needs yard would save taxpayers, because in the end some corrupt prison officials would be losing money because there would be less violence and therefore less money granted to the budget. The system is not about rehabilitation or public safety, it is about a few corrupt Department of Corrections officials’ greed.
I hope this story will help people realize the pain and suffering of those who really want to get rehabilitated, but instead end up suffering.
[[[[[ To correspond with this inmate, email a message to him at email@example.com Solitary Story #2 in the subject line. ]]]]]
S O L I T A R Y * S T O R Y # 3
For the older generation that will hopefully be reading my story, and especially the younger generation, I want you to know I’m not writing my story to seek negative or sensational attention. I’m simply writing a story about my REAL LIFE and being an active gang member for sixteen years — and about changing my life. I also want everyone to understand that just because one has been a gang member does not mean he cannot change his life to a positive. I want you to understand how the odds are stacked against us ex-gang members being able to change within the Department of Corrections.
For the younger generation: “gang-bangin” serves NO purpose for your family nor for you and your future, nor those who want to help you change. I was in a gang from 1997 to 2007. There were about thirty of us. Every one of us are today in prison or suffering from our educational neglect while struggling to survive economically. This particular gang was originally founded in Chicago. We started a branch in my home town. I was an active gang member with the Bloodz for ten years and simply because of my choice in color I started having issues involving another gang. They were not my rivals, except in colors, and the current homeboys were from another gang, but the same color as I.
1999: I was 15 years old hangin on the westside with twelve other homies including my (Native-gangsta-crip) homies. We all grew up together so there was no beef. All of us were in the back-yard drinkin, just kickin it on the westside. A few hours later my homeboy says, Lets get som LSD.” So we do. Two hours later we all get back with some paper-hits AKA pink elephant. We each take two papers that have two hits on each. Like 45 minutes later we hear a fight break out and I’m positive it’s the two “NGC” cousins. They do the same thing every weekend: they drink and then they fight. So like two hours go by and finally they are done fightin. It’s about 11:50 PM and some of the homies say, “Lets go walk.” Half the homies stay back. So there’s eight of us going, and in 1999 you should always bring eight to ten homies and possibly a gun. By now it’s extremely dark out, and always before we leave the alley we stop to listen and see if anyone’s around.
The only thing any of us hear is a car idling two or three alleys away, so we figure it’s nothing and start walking again. We only get about two houses away when the car slams in gear and peels off in our direction. It’s so dark I have no clue how they ever saw us. As soon as we hear “drive-by” we all break for my homie’s house — my homie from NGC. His house has a back door that immediately drops into his basement. He never tried to open the door. His 240 pounds ran right through his own back door as we all dove into his basement, as hand-gun and shot-gun blasts opened fire on his house. My homie that broke his own door down is now breaking light-bulfs as he slides a pistol-grip 12 gage to me that hits me in my feet. Ten seconds later we hear car doors opening and now there is no back door to his house!
If they try to come in we’re all getting murder charges because there is no way to see any of us, and the way his basement is set up there is no possible way for these guys to win this situation. So my homie says, “Plug your ears so you can hear if they leave when I’m done shooting.” So he puts five rounds of 45 into the foundation. As I unplug my ears I hear people running and car doors slamming and peeling off. We wait till day-light to come out and check the house out. It sounded like they’d put a hundred rounds in the house, but we could only find twelve holes and they’d missed every window. We figured some must have been firing in the air. By this time it’s 7:00 AM and my pager goes off. It’s my Mom. So much has happened this night I’m wondering: why is she paging me so early. So I call and I’d completely forgot it was my cousin’s funeral today! He took his own life with a 30-30 hunting rifle. So now I’m trippin cuz I’m still pretty messed up from
Anyways, because I’d been in both gangs, I’m extremely lucky to be alive. Like that saying goes (and it’s absolutely true): if you wanna gang-bang there’s two places where you’re gonna end up: in prison or dead. So I’m now sitting in prison for 12 years. If you looked up my police report you would find even the victims say I was not the one who pulled the fatal trigger. You can call that guilty by association, so yes in this case I’m claiming innocence. I’m not saying I’m totally innocent, but in fact “guilty” of things I’ve never been caught for. I’m not bitter, only stating my opinion because it’s my right — especially when the people who tell me to do right, they themselves are not following the same rules which they tell me to follow.
I’ll explain why I’ve decided to change my life. I was seeing my mother and my kids almost every other weekend, but being a gang member took me from my family for seven years. After being a gang member for sixteen years I was extremely tired of loss and heartache. All I have seen since I’ve been in prison is favoritism and a bunch of greedy individuals. Seeing my children in visitation I realize I’ve provided nothing for them, and the fact they have no mother or father to ask those questions I had asked as a child, to experience a bond with your mother and father, which is extremely important. I pray to God they make out in life better than I have. My mother and father are the best parents one could ever hope for, and I had a lot do do with the pain and agony they have been through — so much it could easily make one cry or choke back some tears. It went like this:
Their first-born died when he was only sixteen. Then my cousin took his own life. Then my mother’s father passed away. Then my dad’s father passed away. Then my mother lost her mother. At the same time I was being sentenced for twelve years and they were trying to adopt all four of my children. So I pretty much felt as if I was choosing my gang over my family. So I immediately took the nearest exit. Also I got Xed out over eighty dollars. So my so-called homies traded $$$$$ over my sixteen years of loyalty and sacrifice. In the end I’m happy with my decision and I’m finally free of all gang involvement.
So as of 8/15/12 I chose my only path. I’m currently in a maximum custody facility. I’d like to remind everyone I did absolutely nothing wrong to be in maximum custody, and I still have all 67 of my points, meaning I’ve been in no trouble at all. I chose to change my life to better my future. If I’m not allowed to change in prison how will I be able to change once I am released, when the odds are stacked against me? I never knew choosing the positive path was going to be punished by the Department of Corrections. I was put into the same IMU (Intensive Management Unit) as one who carries out violent gang missions for the shot-callers. We ex-gang members are trying to establish positive changes, but are being subjected to extremely negative actions by the Department of Corrections. They are putting us with the same violent gang members who try to stab us ex-gang members for choosing the positive path we have. The main reason they build IMUs is for violent
killers such as certain gang members who are lifers. And then too we have such as the “green river killer” (who is only a couple of pods away). The Department has no opportunities for us ex-gang members to change. We’re not allowed to go to pretty much any mainline in the system, because all the active gang members are running the mainlines! This accounts for most of the crime and violence in and out of prison: the Department of Corrections’ failure to allow ex-gang members to better themselves.
[[[[[ To correspond with this inmate, email a message to him at firstname.lastname@example.org Solitary Story #3 in the subject line. ]]]]]
[from Solitary Watch:]
HOW TO CREATE M A D N E S S IN PRISON
by Solitary Watch Guest Author
Guest Post by Terry A. Kupers, M.D., M.S.P.
Editorsnote: Dr. Terry Kupers is one of the world’s leading experts on the psychological effects of solitary confinement. A psychiatrist with a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, forensics, and social and community psychiatry, he teaches at the Wright Institute, a graduate school of psychology in Berkeley, California, while also maintaining a private practice and serving as a consultant to mental health centers and social rehabilitation programs in the community.
Dr. Kupers has studied and worked with prisoners in solitary confinement, and describes mentally ill inmates confined in segregated housing units as “the most severely psychotic people I have seen in more than 25 years of practice.He has testified in several large class action litigations concerning jail and prison conditions, sexual abuse, and the quality of mental health services inside correctional facilities, and served as a consultant to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Stop Prisoner Rape. His books include Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It.
The piece below is an excerpt from a longer article that appeared in the book Humane Prisons, edited by David Jones (Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing, 2006). In the full article, available online here, Dr. Kupers describes in detail each of the ingredients in his “recipe for creating madness in our prisons”–which is in fact also a recipe for creating an explosion in long-term solitary confinement.
It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider how we created as much madness as exists today in our prisons. Perhaps, after exploring how we arrived at this dreadful state of affairs, we can strive to reverse the process and foster sanity, at the same time developing humane and effective prisons. READ ON: http://solitarywatch.com/2010/09/23/how-to-create-madness-in-prison/
I T ‘ S * T H E * L A W !
The Washington legislature itself has declared that INMATES AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ARE OBLIGATED TO GET INVOLVED IN THE CORRECTIONS SYSTEM:
RCW 72.09.010(5)(e) Sharing in the obligations of the community. All citizens, the public and inmates alike, have a personal and fiscal obligation in the corrections system. All communities must share in the responsibility of the corrections system.
PLEASE CONTACT US if you would like more information or are interested in becoming a part of our efforts: email@example.com
Reblogged this on Raven's Witch and commented:
history in the making. much respect for my ‘W.’ and all the others in the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU.
This is a brilliant move! You have moved from being played by the system to overturning the system. Bravo!!
Let’s do it…..But is there a “price tag” for this peace? There have been calls in the past for an end to all this senseless violence – nothing came of it then, so…What does it take to make this happen for REAL? My prayers are with all those who have been “wrongfully” kept in the dark for years way past their “sentence”. This whole system is broken – the WHOLE system!!!! Education, education, education……That’s what will fix this broken system. Not guns…not lawyers…not drugs….not ignorance – We need to fix the way we educate…we need to arm our youth with wisdom of ???????? We all need to survive. We all need to respect each other & provide each other with the care & love that we would want for ourselves.
I feel that tiny bit of hope stirring in my heart-sending prayers of strength & comfort for all.
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To Ronnie Yandell and all the other unjustly confined; fighting for their rights; please know that, your not forgotten! My heart mind and soul is with you always!
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