In response to reforms recently outlined by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) regarding gang validation, a group of prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) submitted a “counter proposal” to prison activists.
Asserting that the CDCR “is asking law makers and taxpayers to allow them to continue to violate thousands of prisoners human rights” and that the current system is based on “false propaganda scare tactics” the prisoners claim that the “proposed changes are not acceptable, because they seek to increase the use of torture units and do not change the manner of dealing with those classified as prison gang members at all.” Central to their rebuke of the reforms is the controversial debriefing process, which the prisoners claim are “arbitrary” and “unfair.”
They describe the negative effects of solitary confinement:
Long term solitary confinement by itself is an irrational, and unjustifiable instrument of corrections and when the state of California allowed the prison-industrial complex (PIC) to implement such sensory deprivation for over five (5) years, they (CDCR) have recklessly modified the genetic features of what are human beings social characteristics, and by suppressing a humans natural social behaviors it changes the thought process of targeted prisoners by removing objective reality. Once deprivation sets-in, the second signal system (subjective reality) of the targeted prisoners thoughts will supersede the first signal system, which then produces: Irrationalism, Cannibalism, Racism, Chauvinism, Terrorism, Conformism and Obscurantism….the targeted prisoners of deprivation believes they’re no longer accountable for their behavior and actions.
Further, they write:
Sensory deprivation has a secondary phenomena, which are social deprivation, cultural deprivation, ethical deprivation, and emotional deprivation. No sane targeted prisoners can escape this type of deprivation that comes from long term internment in a supermax control unit. The science of deprivation has been perfected by the handlers to operate with devastating force.
The prisoners, as they have stated before, propose a “Max B Management Control Unit” program as used in San Quentin’s Max B unit decades ago. According to the model proposed by the prisoners, the program would be based on a three phase “step program.” Prisoners under this model would have access to greater programming and be subject to classification reviews every 90 days. This was previously noted in an Office of the Inspector General Report in October 2011, in which it was asserted, based on the experience of a former CDCR executive that the “Max B program would be considered irresponsible” given the “numerous prisoner assaults and prison disruptions associated with the Max B model.”
It is unclear whether such disagreements may lead to further action by people held in solitary in the state of California, particularly after the death of one hunger striker, Christian Gomez, at California State Prison, Corcoran, in February.