Saturday, April 23, 2016

Uhuru: Recognizing False Dawns

Recognizing the False Dawns in Wisconsin-DOC solitary confinement Reforms
By  Ras Uhuru and Waupun AC Collective
 Date: 1 26 2016

If the public stops watching and pushing them (DOC) they will not only stop changing things, but reverse some of the stuff they did and let the abusive back in rotation.
1)  On behalf of all those still being held on AC (Long status of solitary confinement) here at WCI and statewide a response and dispute must be formulated in response to the over praise being  made to WI – DOC ( men on AC composed of time length from 2 years  to over  18 and 22 years held status.)
2)   The changes mentioned in the 2014 report by the Association of State Correctional Administrators and some media quotation of the same, are nothing more than “Gauzes” being applied to a neglected and septic wound.
3)  Showing strong symptoms of preventative gangrene.
4)  We are working to give measure to the January 17th 2016 and other media accounts that the tide is turning against solitary confinement.
5)  The public must know that these lip services are at best smoke screens to shut them up. First of all those lawsuits and settlements mentioned in Dee J. Hill Jan. 17th report (which has the DOC keeping much of the details concealed) mainly dealt with prisoners with mental illness. And because DOC will not and do not acquire the proper mental health resource statistics to deal with mental health issues, the settlements are bandages and nothing more than quieting suits.(i.e. We  tried to slow the bleeding from shooting out like a water hydrant to a garden hose flow.)
6)   Lost in the smoke screen are the hundreds of us still confined in long term solitary confinement textually called AC Administrative Confinement. Waupun has 24 people on AC as of the date of writing.
7)   My 17 year continuum of AC was briefly stayed for 60 days for DS (disciplinary Segregation) time. Once this paper shift DS is up they will paper shift me right back to AC. I've already received a pre- notice that this is their intent. Nothing much changes but paper works labels.
8)  DS and Ac are so identical that you have to be told they are not the same. Psychologically they are. I often forget the are not until I could only receive a one hour visit from my family who traveled from Chicago to only talk to me through a tv screen. (AC gives two hours)
9)  In the recent news article by Hall, DOC Mental health director, Kevin Kallas stated they are being more transformative in how they “think and act”. In Practice and to whom solitary confinement is (protractedly) applied.
10) However, the reality on the inside is much more real and truthful than the propaganda being spieled here. I witness mentally ill prisoners down the range losing all grasp of reality and themselves every day. One such elderly prisoner has been on AC, shipped here and there for over 20 years, since about 1995.
11) Only one single mentally ill has been released from AC and this was because prisoners’ rights advocacy groups like FFUP and others pushed his mental health status in their face.
12) In 2014 FFUP submitted to the DOC secretary and Waupun WARDEN a transition workshop/crisis management program designed specifically for prisoners on ac. (held in an allegedly “administrative/non punitive status for indetermine status) called Common Grounds.
13) Fostering self-Help and teaching crisis management to improve and show problem solving mechanisms. Common Ground also allow prisoners ways to showcase issues they perceive as neglected by staff and grievances.
14) The program was outright rejected by staff and not even acknowledge by either. Yet DOC/Waupun has no program designed specifically for transitioning AC prisoners off Ac. Instead they offer stuff not a ASE requirement or need that statistically they can gain more money for. Yet Waupun has been double digit for past ten years with AC placement.
15) How can we trust DOC spokes people when in 2014 they made claims of major changes in Disciplinary segregation rules and applications.(DOC 303 code) However when the new 2014 rule book came out they not only increased the time sentences but added new offenses and time frames that allowed punishment of 360 days in confinement.
16) Only after prisoners complained to advocacy groups like FFUP, Wisdom and WCEHTP WCIJ (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism) and only after WCIJ filed a lawsuit did the DOC issue a DAI policy clean up. Why print a new rule book with policies you were not going to implement or that was contrary to the new Changes promised to make?  
17) And it was still not being enforced. When the DAI clean-up policy came out counteracting the 2014 rule book rogue joints like WCI concealed and refused to implement or even make known the DAI's mandate. And we never even knew there was a DAI policy until August of 2015.
18) And no way Madison was not aware that rogue institutions like Waupun was not went Sarah Palin on us by not implementing the new DAI policy which was created ad hoc. Every time a prisoner appealed an ICI to Madison on a disciplinary procedural Madison/ DAI etc was placed on notice. Those appeals would have made it clear. Madison said nothing and did nothing for almost a whole year-Waupun refused to disclose and follow the DAI policy.
19) We learned of the DAI policy when by rumor from Green Bay, but this was not official. Then confirmed by a newspaper article. Making copies to circulate to enlighten others of our class and to get more information was denied.
20) This skullduggery and dilatory tactics illustrate that DOC (by facts and extrapolations) is not serious nor sincere in their words and will never be proactive in these issues of solitary confinement constraint. They will only make small window show changes to get the attention and focus off of them and not to appear the only state out of the fad.
21) Only if there is pressure and monitoring by society will they follow through.
22) DAI Cathy Jess statement showcases this very fact and the DOC attitude. “It is somewhat of, I would say, a culture shift for the staff” ( a culture they have been and continuously denied existed in first place and all lawsuits and complaints files alleging such).
23) She continues, “I've been in the Department (DOC) for 29 years. Things change, the pendulum swings with corrections, and depending on the public's opinion and how laws get passed and different things.”
24) To her it is not a matter of doing the right thing or following human conscience to treat others humanely. To her it is a matter which oscillation the wind is blowing.
25) So the question to the public is: who has to push the pendulum to get moving? For she's been here 29 years and has played a major role in that so-called culture they barely expose. When she says “it swings with Corrections” we must be suspicious of what “corrections” she is talking about. The Department or the official misconduct? The culture? Or with the humane changes that Obama and other prison reforms are being called for. The abolition of solitary as a management continuum in general? She has the power individually to do so right now.
26) Furthermore, DOC staff do not get paid with tax dollars to build and establish a culture (Abusive or otherwise). They get paid to follow mandates laid down by DAI and other hands in Madison. They don't live here, they don't have the psychologist interests or investments to prison lifestyle to be cultured into a way. The fact that they have shows a lack of management and training coming in policy and practices from Madison’s Academy.
27) My Observations and experience lead me to extrapolate that “swings with corrections”
is more metonymy than the noun.
28) If they were sincere!  WCIJ would not have to keep suing them to gain access to the truths facts and figures they wish to conceal- Public data that suppose to be on DOC's website.
29) They will continue to make these window dressing changes and false claims until the pressure and focus is removed. And they will not only stop making changes but they will reverse a lot of the ones they've made.
30) They could release all 24 of us from AC today and a few weeks later place us ALL right back on it if the public don't demand legislative actions and law regulating DOC acts and boundaries. We need AC caps and constraints. The pre-1998 change was more humane.
31) Lastly. What Culture shift? When a lot of the ethno centric minds, like Jess herself (29 years recall) played major roles in this abusive and disgusting culture in the first place. When talking of cultural institutions involving official abuses and misconduct. That means people like Jess were aware of these abuses at least and/or encouraged it, overlooked it, or organized it from the very start.
32)  These are the lessons in “Corrections” that we prisoners are learning-that ALL the negative qualities that landed some in prison-it's okay for these same qualities to be exhibited by government employees.(re-to beat, abuse, lies, neglect or kill). 
33) To amplify what Rev. Kate Edwards of WISDOM finds to be (a catch 22) “concerning.” That “a specified max period of confinement .. for aggravated circumstances” is the Only thing that will pause and begin to cure this House. This cannot be overstated.
34) First: “Aggravated circumstance” turns on an ambiguous expansion in terms. Because without that maximum time cap for AC placement, either as a rule infraction or as a cause for non-infraction, all the so-called changes will merely be washing and cleaning the outside of the wound and leaving the inside infected and putting the same bias bandages shown to not keep it clean back on it ( re: same attitudes, policies, staff, officials etc )
35) WCEHTP (Wisconsin Committee for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Prisoners) was created to be a oversight Board to ensure its eponymous name by being composed of citizens and professionals who review the “aggravated circumstances”: and make oversight rulings and findings when prisons officials exaggerate and abuse the power of those electives.
36) No agency will ever truthfully and honestly police itself once it has abused its power or gone outside the scope of its mission policy. Let alone self – incriminate its policies, practices and abuses. It is a joke and mockery of activism and human rights to assume they will do so or to conceded to such hypocrisy.
37) But hey, I'm just one of the evidences of this official vice. 18 Years and counting in solitary oscillating between AC and DS.
38) The Mandela rule is what the nations of the world need. How many more segicides (segregation suicides) or post confinement segicides need to occur before we demand they do what's humane.
39) President Obama has taken the lead. But can other politicians do what's right?
40) It is the public who are to hold these power blocks responsible and compel human rights. Mandela Rule: Everyone call and write to Madison and demand the Mandela rule/law on solitary confinement in WI and the nation
                   From oppressive confines of Waupun. 18 years and continuum 
                        Ras AtumRa Uhuru Mutawakkil; PO Box 351 #228971; Waupun, WI 53963

Note: WCEHTP and Common Ground and a summary of the Mandela Rules included in insert. We envision a six week workshop mandate of transitional placement of AC prisoners upon completion of Common Ground.  No money or resources are required than what’s already being misused. Doc Secretary has the power to assign cases to the board (WCEHTP) to review such matters. This would be true and real accountability. Contact FFUP for more information or to get involved.


Uhuru: New DOC secretary Replacement a Repeat

DOC's Sigmund Freud Remedy
By Ras Uhuru 2-21-2016
Imagine Litscher as a replacement is the Freudian Heroin substitute to kick cocaine."
1)      You look up the synonyms for the word journalist; investigative reporter is the first superlative.
2)      As investigations go, ritual and form are key components in gathering and synthesizing facts.
3)      One of my teachers recently reminded us, as if divine light coming to shed light on the issue, that ritual and form are without intrinsic value when done for show or without integrity. (Hence, the replacement of Edward Wall with Jon Litscher as Secretary of DOC. Giving heroin to kick cocaine.)
4)      We create meaning with our actions of body, speech and mind. The foundation and fulcrum of any form of investigative Journalism/reporting.
5)      Where were these principles at when Gov. Walker replaced Ed Wall with Jon Litscher to "fix and abusive and malfeasance DOC" reported Friday, February 12,2016. (associated press)
6)      Have the news media and prisoners’/human rights agencies FORGOTEN that under Jon Litscher human rights abuse occurred? [C.f. Build it and they will come: the over classification of Supermax prisoners; Jones -El vs Berge, class action law suit, and under diagnosis of mentally ill send them to Supermax ;etc]
7)      The mismanagement of the mental health of prisoners, the overuse and abusive use of solitary confinement began under Litscher’s  policies and directives.
8)      At least Ed Wall acknowledged the cocaine addiction (i.e. the abusive use of solitary and mental health neglects etc) All the max prisons in WIS. have experienced the Lincoln Hills abuses. So these claims are not new under Wall or under Litscher's watch. See the suits filed, see grievances files. Lincoln Hills is normal DOC operations.
9)      Bringing Lischer back in , is akin to bringing the nickel and dime dealer back to the community he helped get doped up, that now was a kilo a day habit, as if he is going to clean-up (or is the agenda cover-up) what he started and permitted.
10)  Who will honor the true principles of journalism and compare the abuses, mentally ill mismanagements, malfeasances and human rights violations of solitary confinement of Jon
Lischer Secretariat with that of the man he is replacing that gave voice to their concealed existence
11)  No one even asked just what is that Litscher supposed to do. Or why he was picked to replace Wall.
12)   Why was the DAI not forced to resign or fired? I 'm sure Cathy Jess was aware of Lincoln Hills abuse as DOC's spin and double speaker. She probably even gave some press release to spin the matter.
13)   Still more: The judge letter was not a concealed record. So where was the media? Why didn't they "press" Governor Walker in 2012 about what they now seem to posture over.
14) I know the answers. Same reason most prison abuses don't get news attention and court attention. No one cares about prisoners/criminals. That's first strike, and if they Black and Brown that's another strike. If these abuses were happening to young and adult white males and women would they been allowed to go on?
15) Would the courts like Barbara Crabb dismiss suit claiming legitimate security measure?
16)All these questions the people on the end of the hate feel and know so well.
17) I've said it time and time again. When it comes to prison abuse and Human Right issues, the state and national press are not only fourth estate sounding boards for the prison officials as spin press, their silence and lack of objectivity and equal access on the issues make the colluders.
Every month is a Lincoln Hill moment in the WI-DOC.
Free hand writers and political prisoner (see:other articles by this writer)
Ras AtumRa Uhuru Mutawakkil, Waupun, Dodge Co,/ pen

Words from Successful Hunger Striker in CA

Anthony Arteaga, a prisoner being held in the Security Housing Unit at Corcoran State Prison, sent us an essay he wrote about the history of solitary confinement in California. In his words:

“Having been slammed down in the SHU since 2001, for an indeterminate period, I’ve constructed this writing based on personal experience and studies. I’ve also utilized PHSS, the Rock, The Abolitionist, MIM and PLN as resources for factual assertions… Thank you for the support.”

Anthony also asked us to publish his name and address, which is at the bottom of this page. The article is typed as written. Please take time for a thorough read through! (...)
Solitary Confinement In California

In the 1970s there was a general tendency to regard the basic aim of imprisonment as rehabilitation of the criminal rather than as punishment. In addition, federal courts – often as a result of prisoners acting as their own lawyers – began to recognize for the first time that prisoners had constitutional rights: Most notably, the right to due process prior to discipline, any sanctions, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment in the form of deplorable prison conditions.

This of course didn’t last. Before long the emphasis on prisoners’ rights and prison reform, distinguishably trail blazed by the events at Attica State Prison in New York, followed by several other less publicized prison uprisings and riots of the same agenda, began to evaporate in the face of the “tough on crime” and “war on drugs” crusades.

By the mid-1970’s, a series of decisions by the US Supreme Court, gutted the protections earlier envisioned as guarantees of prisoners’ well-being and dignity. Rather than to continue implementing programs of rehabilitation, prisoncrats throughout the country began to develop special solitary confinement units (control/Security Housing Units/etc).

One of the very first of these units to be built was at the Marion Federal Penitentiary in Illinois. Here, men were being confined to tiny cells the size of a parking space for 23 to 24 hours a day. Solitary confinement units have always been part of the prison environment. In some cases it has been used to place prisoners in protective custody, when either the prisoner or prison staff believed that a life threatening situation existed. And of course, solitary confinement has traditionally been used as a disciplinary measure to punish infractions of prison rules.

However, the idea of these control/SHU’s was very different; namely, that certain prisoners had to be permanently separated from the general population due to their supposed influence over other prisoners. In essence, they were now being subjugated to prolonged isolation for indefinite periods; whereby being relegated to the status of incorrigible specimens who can only be governed, controlled, conditioned and suppressed to dehumanizing submission. In simple terms, to break a man’s spirit.

This idea soon caught on and isolation units were being established everywhere, and not long before they were being specially constructed into new prisons.

For over 25 years here in California, the Department of Corrections (CDCR) has had a policy of removing prisoners from the general population, validating them as either prison gang members or associates, and indefinitely confining them to said types of isolation units. And just like other political figures, prison officials used propaganda about the supposed menace of these prison gangs, and the difficulties and dangers of dealing with them, to encourage and maintain public indifference to what prisoners were actually going through on the inside.

In the 1980’s, under the above guise, most of these men were placed at either, Duel Vocational Institute (Tracy), [old] Folsom, San Quentin and Soledad Correctional Training Facility, where over one fifth of the general population at these institutions were housed in each of its segregated lockup units.

Ultimately falling in line with the trends of the time, California opened up three maximum-Security Housing Units of its own at Tehachapi, Corcoran and Pelican Bay. Most recently, a fourth SHU opened up at [old] Folsom, where approximately 4,000 men, combined, have now been housed for up to 5, 10, 20 and even over 30 years.

These SHU’s are literally human warehouses saturated by recycled air and blight monotony. Both days and nights are cloaked with the eerie sense of history slowly repeating itself. Specifically that of the 16th – 19th centuries, where the indigenous populations of the Americas were gradually being eradicated by its oppressors. Only difference here is committing the actual deed itself, and the name it’s being done under: “safety and security” – both of which resemble “Liberty” in that many crimes are committed in its name.

By 1997, 45 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the federal system, were operating these types of units, with California holding the most prisoners within them than any other US state or nation. This fact continues to grow at an alarming rate.

The majority of California prisoners serving indeterminate SHU terms are the result of these pseudo-prison gang validations. Gang policies to which civil rights lawyers have long been critical of. The procedures used to identify gang affiliates are severely flawed and lacking in meaningful due process protections. Evidence used in these proceedings would never satisfy the “preponderance of the evidence” requirement of a normal legal proceeding. But because of the US Supreme Court decision in Superintendent v. Hill (1985) holding that the due process clause requires only the existence of “some evidence” in support of a decision to segregate an inmate, the court gave prison administrators more arbitrary powers and discretion over prisoners’ daily lives. This naturally leading to shrinking further and further the process of any accountability for, or recourse from, the many perverse ways they’ve come to abuse that power.

Under current policy, validated prisoners are not allowed to confront their accusers (or even to know who they are), nor are they allowed to cross-examine witnesses, present their own evidence or prove their case before a panel of neutral decision-makers. You’re basically guilty, and there’s no “until proven innocent”.

In 1999, after many individual petitions and class action suits brought before both state and federal courts challenging these policies, and inhumane SHU conditions, the six year “active/inactive gang status review” was implemented. A policy requiring a validated inmate to remain free of any and all gang related activity and association for no period less than six years, in order to be considered (and rarely granted) general population release.

A policy and process just as flawed as ones initial gang validation, because the crux of it is, gang activity is whatever these alleged gang intelligence experts choose to deem as gang related, without being afforded a meaningful opportunity of contesting them.

The procedural due process currently in place consists of being reviewed every 180 days and annually. However, these reviews are largely meaningless gestures and shams of proceedings in light of the fact that, one first has to complete the minimal six year requisite.

Since the late 1990’s to present, it’s evident that inmates are not being validated to restore order or to maintain security, but maliciously for the purpose of causing pain and inflicting punishment in an attempt to break a man’s spirit. Equally evident is the fact that, despite the creation of California SHU’s, prison violence in the general population setting is far more violent now than it was over 25 years ago.

Said California prison gang validations have become a pretext to indefinitely confine its inmates to these SHUs at the expense of their well-being, and its only real escape coming in one of three ways… An individual can either choose to “debrief” – that is, to tell gang investigators everything they know about who’s involved in gang activity both inside and outside of the prison system, including crimes in which they’ve committed themselves; “parole” or “die”. “Snitch, parole or die”, as the policy is more commonly known by.

Mental deterioration runs rampant and silent within the confines of these SHU’s. In fact, social science and clinical literature has consistently reported that, men are social animals, and when human beings are subjected to social isolation and reduced environmental stimulation, their lives both internally and externally is disrupted, inevitably leading to the development of a predictable group of symptoms, e.g. anxiety, frustration, dejections, boredom, abandonment, paranoia, rumination and severe depression. Facts supported by an ample and growing body of evidence that this phenomenon especially occurs among prisoners in solitary confinement… persons who are by definition subjected to a significant degree of social isolation and reduced environmental stimulation.

In 2011, after endless years of withstanding such psychological torture, a collective group of men confined to Pelican Bay SHU initiated two separate state-wide hunger strikes, during the months of July and September. These protests were aimed towards contesting the inhumane conditions indefinite SHU confinement inmates have been subjugated to. This collective group compiled a list of five demands for CDCR officials. Those demands were:

1.     End group punishment and administrative abuse;
2.     Abolish the debriefing policy and modify the active/inactive gang status review criteria;
3.     Comply with the commission of safety and abuse in America’s prisons 2006 recommendations regarding ending long-term solitary confinement;
4.     Provide adequate and nutritious food; and
5.     Expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for prisoners held in indeterminate SHU status.

In October of 2011, in response to said hunger strikes, CDCR officials outlined changes that would be made in the SHU program. And in March of 2012, released new proposed gang management policies. Under the new policies however, accused gang members can still be segregated indefinitely, SHU conditions remain largely the same, and other changes are mere window-dressing. Overall, CDCR’s proposal shows that they will continue to resist both change and accountability.

The month of March was also significant with Juan Mendez, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture (followed by California prisoner and their advocates), petitioning the UN to end lengthy solitary confinement in prisons. Expressing that it would inevitably result in serious mental and physical damage amounting to torture.

So what lies ahead… A united group of human beings determined to bring about actual SHU reform, and regaining the right to being treated humanely. This comes with the knowledge that, the oppressing power in opposition to such changes, will concede to nothing absent a committed struggle and demand… A struggle and demand that will come at a cost, but a cost to which strength to live and reasons for acting should continue to be drawn from.

In solidarity,
Anthony Arteaga #K48159
Csp. Corcoran SHU 4B3R #48
PO Box 3481
Corcoran, CA 93212