Historic California Assembly Hearing on Solitary Confinement

In response to the statewide prison hunger strike in July, the Public Safety Committee of the California State Assembly, chaired by State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, met on Tuesday to discuss the conditions in California’s Secure Housing Units.

The hearing began at approximately 1:30 PM.

Assemblyman Ammiano  opened his remarks saying, “Recent events brought these units to the forefront. We want to ensure that these units are administrated in such a manner to maximize the security of the inmates in the units, general population inmates, prison staff and the public generally.”

Glenda Rojas, a family member of a Pelican Bay inmate, spoke about her cousin’s experience. “The system of validation is wildly out of control,” she said. She discussed how false accusations resulted in her cousin being placed into the SHU for ten months. She talked about the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation’s bureaucratic delays, intimidation, and generally making it difficult to challenge the validation.

Afterwards, Earl Fears a former Corcoran SHU inmate, spoke out against the SHU. “Things that I did going to prison caused me to one time going to the SHU program…when I was in the SHU program..I felt that ‘this right here has got to be crazy.’  I  did 18 years in and out of prison but a SHU program was the bottom of the pits…What I witnessed in this short time I feel that…when you hear a cry, a man cry, a gangster cry, a killer cry, a con and an ex-con cry, there’s got to be a reason. I feel that those who started the hunger strike–they had to be willing to get their voice out for someone to hear it for someone to be willing to lay down and die just for someone to hear the situation what goes on in the SHU program they must be serious. Just small thing in the SHU program just causes people to yell or beat against the walls…”

He also condemned the practice of withholding shower and exercise privileges as punishment against inmates already in a psychologically stressful situation. He talked about how the pain of solitary  confinement and not having someone to talk to leads to emotional anguish and the damage that can cause in the long-term.

“I know you said there’s regulations…and that it’s not everyday prisoners that are sent to the SHU program but they still are human. And someone needs to look into it.”

William McGarvey, a reverend and representative of Bay Area Religious Campaign Against Torture, testified on the spiritual perspective and gave a history of solitary confinement and it’s roots in Quaker efforts to reform prisoners.

“Prisoners suffer and our communities suffer when prisoners…return to our communities…psychologically broken.”

McGarvey raised the placement into solitary of Native Americans and Rastafarians for refusing to cut their hair or remove dreadlocks, respectively. He also spoke about Islamophobia and how it has contributed to a ballooning solitary population in federal prisons: “60-75% in CMU’s (Communication Management Units) are Muslim.”

“[Solitary confinement results in] the destruction of the human spirit of the human spirit,” McGarvey said.

At 2:05, Charles Carbone, a San Francisco prisoner rights lawyer with extensive experience representing gang members, stated that SHU’s undermine both prison and community safety.

Carbone blasted the bureaucracy of the CDCR and in particular those tasked with reviewing the legitimacy of gang validation: “Their record of overturning those gang validation packets is next to nil.”

Carbone criticized the validation process–including the double counting of incidents on the “three point” system to validate inmates, and the use of trivial evidence to validate someone, citing a case in possessing the book “The Art of War” served as grounds for validation.

He also cited $56,000 per inmate  in costs that SHU units incur.

At 2:15, Craig Haney, a professor of psychology and a nationally recognized expert on solitary confinement, made several points. Officials should have known since the 1980s that a prison like Pelican Bay will “expose inmates to psychologically dangerous conditions of confinement.”

Haney quoted the opinion of Judge Henderson in the Madrid v. Gomez case: that Pelican Bay State Prison “may press the outer borders of what most humans can psychologically tolerate.”

Haney pointed out that the only human contact of inmates in solitary is the “incidental brushing up against prison guards” as they handcuff them for transport to cages for exercise.

“There is now clear and convincing evidence,” according to Haney, that the SHU model of dealing with gangs doesn’t work and may even make things worse. He cited increases in gang violence over the past few decades as indicating the ineffectiveness of SHU use in curbing such violence.

Laura Magnani of the American Friends and Service Committee then spoke. She began by quoting the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, and noted that SHU’s cost at least “twice as much” as general population.

She then read a portion of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Article 1 Section 1:

“Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person…”

In the case of women, Magnani stated that segregation can be an “extreme form of oppression and trauma” particularly for women who have a prior history of abuse at the hands of men. The lack of privacy for women in institutions guarded by largely male was also condemned by Magnani.

Magnani pointed to violent cell extractions, hogtying and contraband searches as “not only violate international treaties but our own sense of human decencies.”

She went on to make various recommendations, including restoring the right of reporters to enter and interview prisoners, saying, “Free press is one of the most important safe guard against abuses.”

She also called for the implementation of limits a person can be held in isolation and encouraged constant review of whether confinement necessary.

At 2:30, Dorsey Nunn of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children/All of Us or None spoke.

He recounted a meeting with an inmate at Pelican Bay who has been in PBSB since 1988, who knew about Abu Graib abuses and questioned the difference between the torture of Abu Graib and the outrage it inspired versus the conditions of solitary confinement in United States prisons.

The inmate, an African American who, in 20 years, had only legally spoken to one other African American, had been thrown into disciplinary segregation for attempting to speak to another.

Nunn questioned the deprivation of human contact and the ability of someone to do something as simple as speak to someone of the same race.

He also challenged the validation system, notably the confidential nature of debriefings and the inability of those accused of being gang members to confront their accusers.

Dr. Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist and an authority on the mental health effects of solitary,  was next. “The prisoners demands are very reasonable. They’re actually common sense.” He said the CDCR is “absolutely not” in compliance with the report of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, despite claims to the contrary.  “For prisoners needs to be blatantly ignored—the process has to be secret. And otherwise citizens would be upset.”

He echoed calls for lifting of the media bans.

“While the Department of Corrrections will say they are implementing changes…they actually haven’t done a thing since 2007.”

Remarking on the claims that the CDCR “need these supermax” facilities, he noted the  increase in violence within the prison system. He went on to speak about Mississippi and its dramatic reduction in segregation units and the accompanies decreases in incidents.

“There needs to be conduct based assignment” in California prisons, “what we have is not conduct that gets you in there, but the assumption that you’re a gang member.”

“In any state prison system…over half of the actual successful suicides in the entire prison system involve the 2-6% that are in segregation…Suicide and acting out have their roots in the despair of segregation,” Kupers said.

“There need to be alternatives to debriefing,” Kupers stated, pointing to the high recidivism rates that result from inmates being released straight from solitary without any time spent in the general prison population.

At 2:52, CDCR officials arrived to speak and answer questions.

Scott Kernan, Undersecretary of Operations, represented the CDCR. He immediately defended the practice of segregation on the grounds that it allows CDCR to control violent gang members and that segregation is “critical” to allow other inmates to program successfully and get out.

He noted that 3,000 out of 165,000 California inmates were in solitary.

He defended segregation by noting that various courts have upheld the practice.

“What might be a human rights violation is the violence that gangs perpetuation—not segregation,” he said.

“The department agrees that we can and should make some changes to SHU policies,” he said, and stated that the CDCR and “within months not years” will make changes, primarily through the implementation of “behavior based systems.” Such a system would entail a step-down process and will encourage inmates to “earn their way out of the system.”

In response to a question by Ammiano regarding the slow speed of reform in CDCR policies, Kernan replied, “We’re going through the worst economic situation since the Great Depression”

“Are you making changes?” asked Ammiano.

“The inmates have a choice to come out of the system,” Kernan said and indicated that of those inmates who have been validated “99% of them will say you got it right. He also stated that “we will continue to have a debriefing process” and that keeping it “will not dissuade someone from getting out of the gang” as “they will be able by their own behavior work their way out of the SHU.”

In response to the confidentiality of the debriefing process, Kernan answered that “we will continue to use confidential informants.”

Regarding a question as to whether or not anonymous accusers will be given an opportunity to face their accusers, Kernan replied, “No Sir” and went on to say “we are going to make it as fair as we possibly can.”

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner commented in response to Kernan’s remarks that “the data that we heard indicates that once a prisoner is in the SHU at Pelican Bay it is very infrequent for them to be moved out. I see a bit of a disconnect between your answer…”

Kernan repeatedly indicated that the average stay in the SHU is 6.8 years and that “what I said was that offenders in the SHU with mountains of documentation of their violations inmates involving themselves in terrible assaults on inmates and staff…”

Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell commented: “I was cautiously optimistic about hearing [what you had to say]…I have to say I am concerned, quite frankly I’m disappointed” by Kernan’s defense of the status quo.

In response, Kernan stressed the need for current standards in order to curb gang violence.

Mitchell followed up and asked if there were and checks and balances when it came to the validation process. Kernan indicated that all decisions are made within the CDCR with cooperation between prison officials and CDCR administrators, to which Mitchell responded that CDCR has more say than the judiciary.

Public Comment began at 3:34. A sample of those who spoke and what was said:

Julie Tackett spoke and told the story of Bryan. You can read more of Bryan’s story here.

James Harris of the Socialist Workers Party spoke out calling for the abolition of the SHU.

Gail Brown with Life Support Alliance stressed the need for stakeholders to be included in the process of reform.

“Hariett”, a sister-in-law of an inmate in solitary for 25 years, asked how her 65 year old brother-in-law could possibly be a gang member anymore after 25 years in solitary.

Manuel LaFontane a former prisoner stated that the CDCR’s comments before the hearing were “a smokescreen to get away with inhumanity.” He recounted an experience in prison in which a prison guard told him “We are the gang.” He left with the question: “Does the fact that we cab label someone mean we can torture them?”

Amber, sister of PBSP inmate, asserted that inmates were willing to lose their lives for what they felt was right.

Carol Travis, of Walnut Creek, who had the opportunity to interview multiple inmates at Pelican Bay described the emotional experience as “profound and surprising.”

Dolores Canales, mother of a son in the SHU for 10 years: “They do have dignity and they want to be heard.”

Some speakers described reasons for their loved ones being placed in solitary. Among them: exercising with validated gang member, and for having a book by George Jackson. Many spoke to the ease of being placed in the gang database.

A representative of the California Network of Mental Health Clients stated that “the conditions in the SHU’s are so deleterious to mental and physical health that many more people experience mental health issues in the SHU and in the community when and if they improve” and declared support for reform.

A Ventura Youth Facility parole officer pointed to the commonality of problems in the juvenile prison system and said to the assembly-members, “If you’re not compelled by the stories here I don’t know what will.”

A representative of the Critical Resistance spoke, saying “Long term broad based action necessary. We the people and residents of California… are making it clear that we want changes to the prison system….”

A story was told of an inmate not allowed to donate his kidney because he was in the SHU—resulting in the intended recipient dying. The inmate had been sent to solitary due to possessing a book that suggested gang ties.

A member of the San Quentin Six spoke on behalf of 66-year old Hugo Pinell who has been in solitary for 40 years despite not having a disciplinary write up for over 30 years.

Public comment went on until 4:48 and the hearing thereafter adjourned.

Ammiano has said that there will be future hearings on the issue.

The full hearing can be viewed on video on the California Channel.

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  • http://davidshopeaz.org Mary Lou Brncik

    Great day for California and for America. My prayers continue with all the prisoners who are being tortured in US prisons through the long term use of solitary confinement, espcially the mentally ill.

  • http://twitter.com/carltoersbijns Carl Toersbijns (@carltoersbijns)

    Like I have said before – now that the matter is firmly placed on an agenda that can’t slip out of public view, there will be changes and new attitudes concerning the use of the SHU d units and the policies related to all issues discussed. This is a good lbeginning to communicate change in the right direction. Perhaps through this public intervention there will be more transparency methods in place to monitor change as it really happens. Sound correctional practices should prevail and customs and traditions should be part of a re-training process that allows flexibility in the manner business is conducted from now and into the future. Change can be a good thing.. We will see.

  • DIANA MONTES-WALKER

    Have there been comments about the torture and trauma and common practice of placing the mentally ill in solitary? My son was transferred from a state mental hospital to Folsom Prison and straight into solitary confinment where he has been for over a year now. He has attempted suicide and is always depressed and states he believes there is “no way out of the system” as they make sure he is written up for any misbehavior (even non-violent) and he is hopeless. This is not treatment, nor “lesson-teaching”, nor “rehabilitative” in any way, but simply cruel, mean, and a way to hide the “problem”. CDCR has become no better than the criminals they purport to try to control and keep in custody. CDCR is cruel and is an embarrassment to America;

  • http://www.facebook.com/roxanne.greschner Roxanne Greschner

    This is truth

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  • marie8899

    Thank goodness for Tom Ammiano! The treatment of prisoners in the SHU is nothing less than sadistic. Period.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001694895752 Darla Anderson

    Transparency and accountability in the legislation; transparency and accountability in the California Department of Corrections; transparency and accountability in the court rooms; transparency and accountability in the district attorneys’ actions, including videotaped for public viewing of the plea deals; transparency and accountability in the prisons; transparency and accountability in the jails; transparency and accountability in the law enforcement and other governmental agencies of forced compliance.

    Let all low-level offenders guilty of DUI’s or drug possession, all non-violent, non-sexual, and non-threatening prisoners go home to their families. STOP locking up our mentally ill citizens. Get them medical help, and allow them to function at the level that they can do so. Let them be with their families, who love them.

    Camera and video surveillance on all government-paid personnel when it comes to incarceration of the citizens. We don’t trust them. We know that far too many of them are evil, and are operating above the law. Prosecution and maximum security prison for all CDCR guards and officials who have been violent and abusive to any and every prisoner inmate, and/or who have incited gang activity, themselves, to perpetuate their purposes, and their paychecks, and/or about whom any prisoner has “debriefed” over his actions, without informing them of which prisoner ratted them out. Immediate strikeable offense for bodily damage. 3 strikes and you’re out. And, good luck staying out. Because once your own CDCR has given you a number, you’re a marked man. And, they’ll hunt you down until they find out you have “offended” by breaking a law. You missed a probation appointment. Oh, and be careful about that last offense. It’s a doozy!!!! 25 years to life!!!! We’re on to you, CDCR. We’re on to you, District Attorneys. We’re on to you, legislators that have played the harlot with them. We know The Game, now. We know The Game.

  • Joshlyn

    well done i must say it is bout time they crys be herd by all i tell you no one should be put thow solitary like this it is sick it brakes the will it dose tings that you can never heal from it needs to stop may thare be light in the darknes of justice

  • Ann-Belinda Honablezh

    I concur with a lot of what has been stated within this post, especially about the psychological conditions solitary confinement render on an individual: especially, the UN’s definition of toture within the prison system.

    As stated in my privous post, my son was in the SuperMax at Tehachapi’s (California Correctional Institution), he was sent there because a guard stated that he saw him put a weapon in the ground. In the interim, my son was there for over a year….And within that time he participated in the hunger strike: He has and/or suppose to be now removed from the SuperMax.

    What bothers me most about this solitary confinement and the SuperMax prisons is that they are monitored by no one within the educational arena of psychology and/or sociology…at most, most prison guards do not have a high-school education, but they possess the ability to promote “authoritian” abuse…which is what California prisons are all about.

    Yes, CDCr will promote and use what ever means necessary in making sure they have continous employment. What I mean about this statement is this: they care about having a job, promote inhumanity, de-value, slander, and promote labels that they get the court to sanction on their behalf: because their job is to punish by the way they feel someone should be punished, this must cease and de-cease.

    In California prisons, especially Pelican Bay (SHU) and Tehachipi’s SuperMax prisons, the men do not get to call their family members, nor do they get to have visits with them. As a result, they are kept in these conditions for eight to ten years; whereas, some are kept that way upwards to life. The questions this writer propose is: how can an institution be allowed to get away with this sort of treatment by the courts? Where are the the “Review Boards” that are suppose to keep abreast of these type of situations? Who are the criminals, the inmates and/or the administrators and prison officials? Are these administrators and prison officials being paid to add torture to these individuals by the “Victims of Crime” and/or the “Military” and/or both groups? Why does a state allow this sort of behavior to function?

    This is just my opinon, but any prison that holds an individual in prison solitary for eighteen, twenty, and/or thwenty-five years, should be brought up on civil right charges immediately, without delay.
    For a state to allow this type of behavior by prison administrators and prison officials is a disgrace to the state: and if the state allows this to happen, just think what that same state thinks about its people that are not in prison.

    Personally, I am looking forward to the next Assembly sessions pertaining to this particular subject.

  • jihad

    we must open our eyes to all solitary comfindment throuhg out the united state . i applaud tom ammiano. for his courage. who else is willing to step up and help bring about a change in the treatment of human bing that will some day return to society.do we want them to be mentally ill or mentally sound

  • http://gravatar.com/m1ap1kee akismet-72473829c8ac575165fb598db916fb3e

    Thank you for this Report.
    i believe that the crimes perpetrated on inmates discribed herein is beyond inhumane and the authorities behind it, the Architects and the prison heirarchy should be punished for crimes against humanity.
    i believe capitalism is a root cause of the Inmates being inmates and the predacious rapacious treatment by the authorites.
    i didn’t see where this report addressed the mendacious Privatized Prisons but for sure Capitalism is pushing for them and then things will get even worse.

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  • Betty

    MUST GET THIS OUT TO EVERY AND ANYONE WHO GIVES ANY CONCERN AT ALL:

    the hunger strike has provoked CDC to do things like take away visits and personal affects like TVs.
    Sweatsuits mailed to prisoners have NOT been handed out and are being withheld as more retaliatory punishment to prisoners.
    Mathew Cate and Scott Kernan REFUSE to communicate with prisoners’ lawyers and will not play in a manner that notes any human concern, They have LIED to the prisoners and are DEMANDING the prisoners give up all demands. they are REFUSING to honor anything they have promised the prisoners and are telling them one thing while telling the public something else entirely.
    IN RETROSPECT:
    The Prisoners are tired of being lied to and will ONLY communicate to the Governor
    IF YOU: have any compassion and heart at all, you will take ALL EFFORTS to communicate to Governor Brown and, like the prisoners, not waste your time with the CDC heads. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE… DEMAND CATE AND KERNAN BE FIRED!!! and take on no replacement other than compassionate players.

  • http://twitter.com/carltoersbijns Carl Toersbijns (@carltoersbijns)

    Re: SHU Core Demands #1-3
    (From a retired corrections administrator’s perspective)

    SHU prisoners write:
    Our problem with CDCR’s response to core demands #1, 2, and 3 is this…
    #1. We remain in (SHU) indefinitely, deprived of our basic human rights – based on illegal policies and practices, that amount to torture; torture of us, as well as our family members and loved ones on the outside. CDCR remains in denial, and continues to propagate the lies re: “worst-of-the-worst” 3000 gang generals, etc. – in order to dehumanize/demonize us, so as to maintain the status quo, and “continue to hammer us” [per Sec. Cate’s press statement earlier this year], and subject us to “harsh” conditions [per Kernan’s Aug. 23rd testimony]. These terms “hammer” and “harsh” conditions, are used in place of the word torture – and the fact is, CDCR’s intent is to break us down, and coerce us into becoming state informants! A violation of international treaty law-period!! This is not acceptable!
    CDCR has failed to produce any documentation re: details of how their so called “step-down” program will work, who it will apply to, exceptions-exclusions etc.; and our problem is,…”step down” from what”? When someone has been in (SHU) deprived of normal human contact- especially the lack of any physical contact with family/loved ones, for 10-40 years [based on a “label” without being charged and found guilty of illegal gang activity]; yet CDCR is dragging it out, coming with nothing but words, and vague “proposals,”…which indicate we will have to remain in (SHU), jumping thru a bunch of CDCR’s security hoops, to advance through “steps”…inspite of (3 to 25+) years free of any serious rule violations!
    Plus, we’re certain that CDCR Administrators have no intention of ever giving most of us in PBSP short corridor, any real chance for general population!
    Response –
    Comment – #1 the deprivation of basic human rights are asserted on the mere fact of their placement in the short corridor of the SHU that controls their isolation control and strategically advantage of being housed together within an enclosed cluster. This allows tactical advantages for the CDCR if a disturbance breaks out and the use of force, chemical agent and other non-lethal tools are deployed. It also enhances the ability to contain communications to other areas of the prison. It is likely that all expressions of “torture” are based on the rigid housing rules enforced inside such enhanced security units that provide zero tolerance to any act of disruption, violence or noncompliance with the use of force and selective enforcement methods of personal hygiene items, showers, recreation, writing materials, toilet paper, personal property, appliances, visits, medical and mental appointments, etc. creating more isolation and frustration for the prisoner. Regardless of whether or not this defines “torture” this should be done through effective supervisory reviews to ensure there are sound reasons to do such things to begin with and document them accordingly.
    The term hammer is used for impact purposes not torture. Torture is a non-sanctioned management tool but has been documented to occur in a solitary isolation deprivation unit [SID] the courts won’t define solitary confinement because these “acts” are individual acts and not according to existing policy and procedures resulting in either disciplinary action or other management options.
    The presentation of the ‘step down policy or program is a difficult concept that took Arizona STG administrators with the help of institutional administrators over 18 months to develop using evidence based programs from other states using this concept. The goal is to find individuals who have abstained from all gang activity for a minimum of 4 years, collect their names for eligibility purposes, offer them a polygraph with predetermined questions to validate their integrity of wanted to step down from their current status as validated gang members in the SHU to a lower custody level population and complete the required curriculum to certify their willingness to abstain from gang activities, follow the rules and commit no new disciplinary during the program and after completion of the program. The actual STG step down program is normally 18 to 24 months long and consists of evidence based self-help in cell studies that range from cultural diversity, anger management, taking responsibility etc. to substance abuse and addiction studies. They must write in their own words the lessons of the course and be evaluated for their participation.. Progressive step downs include going to and from the shower or recreation without restraints; pod time or tier time unrestrained; progress from solo to double recreation time unrestrained; and many more valid tests of willingness to comply and follow the program standards.
    SHU prisoner writes –
    #2. CDCR has made clear that one certainty is, their plan to substantially expand on the use of “solitary confinement”, via targeting all prisoners deemed “disruptive groups” [security threat groups], which is defined as: “2 or more inmates who are collectively deemed to be a security threat” – e.g., all street gang affiliates, prisoners deemed political-revolutionary etc., etc, etc. [see also; CCR Title 15; sec. 3000 “Disruptive Behavior”] which with CDCR’s history of abuse of policies re:”prison gangs” in solitary confinement, it’s clear, things will get worse, not better. This new policy is a way CDCR plans to maintain their staff and funding status quo, in response to the Plata order to reduce prison population – it costs nearly double to house prisoners in solitary confinement!
    Our position is, CDCR’s “plans” to date, are not acceptable, and are another example of their intent to maintain, and expand on, “solitary confinement;” and demonstrate a failure of the entire CDCR management to make positive reforms! And, all long term (SHU) inmates should be released to general populations!! ASAP!!
    Response –
    Comment #2 – Validation of gang membership should focus on prison gangs already identified to be disruptive and causing disorder within the CDCR prison system. Street gang affiliations can be used to illustrate past behaviors but not as an indicator of current behavior. The validation process is already approved nationwide and many in the matrix do not use street gangs as a tool for points but recognize their value as associations and affiliations to existing prison gangs based on ethnicity and race.
    SHU prisoners write –
    #3. Also, the medical care problems re: core demand #3, have not been resolved!! All PBSP-SHU inmates suffering from chronic disease, and denied adequate care at PBSP, due to deliberate indifference, and efforts to coerce them to debrief..should all be transferred to New Folsom Medical SHU, while waiting to be released to general populations!!
    Response –
    Comment #3 – There are cultural and logistic barriers that impair medical care problems. The first is the accessibility to medical by these SHU prisoners. Their sheer large numbers of SHU population prevents timely escorts to and from the infirmary to be seen on an individual basis. This either requires more medical staff or relocating the medical services closer to the short corridor dispensing or making their evaluations within an enclosed exam room staffed with security and medical person but since confidentiality is an issue, it is very difficult and time consuming to meet the demand. All SHU type medical units have a back log. The challenge is to make sure the progression of names to be seen is done on a triage type of evaluation withholding biases of “disruptive” or “management problem” prisoners that won’t be seen due to the fear of being threatened or harmed by these stereotyped individuals. This results in skipping names that is counterproductive creating negative feelings impacting anger, hope and eventually acting out in a manner that results in more disciplinary action thus losing more time to the system and housing inside the SHU.
    I seriously doubt that the alleged inadequate care is directly related to the “debrief” process but I do think there are pockets of deliberate indifference towards the SHU prisoners because of individual fear factors and nothing more as the hype by staff create wedges of resistance by medical personnel to see or exam or treat a particular individual because of his reputation of being “disruptive, assaultive or problematic.”
    If you want compassionate leaders then you need to change this horrific culture that has developed over the last few decades. Tell the Governor you won’t accept anything less than change in operational styles, cultural diversity and education to understand the prisoners’ conditions of confinement better, logistical improvements in delivery of services and good faith bargaining to avoid any further loss of life. Remember this, I don’t support hunger strikes but that point is moot. There are resolutions and it’s up to the governor to set the rules of engagement.

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