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July 29, 2015

Monday, December 1, 2014

Committee against Torture: Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic report s of United States of America

These are citations from the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) report on torture occurring in the USA and the extra-territorial areas it exerts power over (Oct-Nov 2014); we have chosen mostly from the parts concerning prisons, prisoners, but the whole report (16 pages) is worth reading and keeping as a documentation, before the next report due in 2018:

Committee against Torture: Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports 
of United States of America.

[page 2] About criminalizing torture at the federal level, and that psychological torture is not qualified as "prolonged mental harm":

The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (A/55/44, para. 180 (a) and AT/C/USA/CO/2, para. 13) that the State party should criminalize torture at the federal level, in full conformity with article 1 of the Convention, and ensure that penalties for torture are commensurate with the gravity of this crime. It recommends the re-introduction of the Law Enforcement Torture Prevention Act, a bill which contains a definition of torture and specifically criminalizes acts of torture by law enforcement
personnel and others under the color of law.

The State party should give further consideration to withdrawing its interpretative understandings and reservations. In particular, it should ensure that acts of psychological torture are not qualified as “prolonged mental harm”.

In this regard, the Committee draws the attention to its General Comment No. 2 (2007), on the
implementation of article 2 of the Convention by State parties, which states that serious discrepancies between the Convention’s definition and that incorporated into domestic law create actual or potential loopholes for impunity (CAT/C/GC/2, para. 9).
...
[p. 3]
Extra-territorial imprisonment:

The Committee reiterates its view (CAT/C/USA/CO/2, para. 15) that the State party should take effective measures to prevent acts of torture not only in its sovereign territory but also “in any territory under its jurisdiction”. In this respect, the Committee recalls, as stated in its General Comment No. 2, that ‘any territory’ includes “all areas where the State party exercises, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, de jure or de facto effective control, in accordance with international law.

The reference to ‘any territory’ in article 2, like that in articles 5, 11, 12, 13 and 16 [of the Convention], refers to prohibited acts committed not only on board a ship or aircraft registered by the a State party, but also during military occupation or peacekeeping operations and in such places as embassies, military bases, detention facilities, or other areas which a State party exercises factual or effective control” (para. 16).

The State party should amend the relevant laws and regulations accordingly, and withdraw its reservation to article 16 as a means to avoid wrongful interpretations.
...
[p. 3-4]
Counter-terrorism measures

11. The Committee expresses its grave concern over the extraordinary rendition, secret detention and interrogation programme operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) between 2001 and 2008, which involved numerous human rights violations, including torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance of persons suspected of involvement in terrorism-related crimes.

While noting the content and scope of Presidential E.O. 13491, the Committee regrets the scant information provided by the State party with regard to the now shuttered network of secret detention facilities, which formed part of the high-value detainee programme publicly referred to by President Bush on 6 September 2006.

It also regrets the lack of information provided on the practices of extraordinary rendition and enforced disappearance; and, on the extent of the CIA’s abusive interrogation techniques used on suspected terrorists, such as water-boarding. In this regard, the Committee is closely following the declassification process of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme (art. 2, 11 and 16).

The Committee urges the State party to:

(a) Ensure that no one is held in secret detention under its de facto effective control. The Committee reiterates that detaining individuals in such conditions constitutes per se a violation of the Convention;

(b) Take all necessary measures to ensure that its legislative, administrative and other anti-terrorism measures are compatible with the provisions of the Convention, specially with article 2;

(c) Adopt effective measures to ensure, in law and in practice, that all detainees are afforded all legal safeguards from the very outset of their deprivation of liberty, including those mentioned in paragraphs 13 and 14 of the Committee’s General Comment No. 2.

The Committee calls for the declassification and prompt public release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report on the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation programme with minimal redactions.

The Committee also encourages the State party to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

[p. 4]
12.
The Committee expresses concern over the ongoing failure to fully investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment of suspects held in U.S. custody abroad, evidenced by the limited number of criminal prosecutions and convictions.
...

[p. 5-6]
Guantanamo Bay detention facilities
14.
The Committee expresses its deep concern about the fact that the State party continues  to hold a number of individuals without charge at Guantanamo Bay detention facilities.

Notwithstanding the State party’s position that these individuals have been captured and detained as “enemy belligerents” and that under the law of war is permitted “to hold them until the end of the hostilities”, the Committee reiterates that indefinite detention constitutes per se a violation of the Convention. According to the figures provided by the delegation, to date, out of the 148 men still held at the facility, only 33 have been designated for potential prosecution, either in federal court or by military commissions – a system that fails to meet international fair trial standards. The Committee notes with concern that 36 others have been designated for “continued law of war detention”.
While noting that detainees held in Guantanamo have the constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the Committee is concerned at reports that indicate that federal courts have rejected a significant number of habeas corpus petitions.
...

The Committee calls for the declassification of torture evidence, in particular Guantanamo detainees’ accounts of torture. The State party should ensure that all victims of torture are able to access a remedy and obtain redress, wherever acts of torture occurred and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator or the victim.

The State party should take effective steps to ensure the provision of mutual judicial assistance in all matters of criminal procedure regarding the offence of torture and related crimes of attempting to commit, complicity and participation in torture.

The Committee recalls that article 9 of the Convention requests States parties to “afford one another the greatest measure of assistance” in connection with criminal proceedings related to violations of the Convention.
...
[p. 7]
Transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay and reliance on diplomatic resources

The Committee calls on the State party to ensure that no individual, including persons suspected of terrorism, who are expelled, returned, extradited or deported, is exposed to the danger of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

It urges the State party to refrain from seeking and relying on diplomatic assurances “where there are substantial grounds for believing that [the person] would be in danger of being subjected to torture” (art. 3). The principle of non-refoulement should always have precedence over any other protection measure.
...
[p. 7]
Interrogation techniques
17.
The Committee appreciates the initiatives of the State party to eliminate interrogation methods which constitute torture or ill-treatment. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned about certain aspects of Appendix M of the Army Field Manual Human Intelligence Collector Operations, FM 2-22.3 of September 2006, in particular the description of some authorised methods of interrogation, such as the interrogation techniques of “physical separation” and “field expedient separation”.

While noting the information by the delegation to the effect that such practices are consistent with the State party’s obligations under the Convention, the Committee remains concerned over the possibilities for abuse such techniques may entail (arts. 1, 2, 11 and 16).
...
[p. 9]
Immigration detention
19.
The Committee notes with concern that the State party continues to use, under certain circumstances, a system of mandatory detention to automatically hold asylum seekers and other immigrants on arrival in prison-like detention facilities, county jails and private prisons.

It is also concerned at the recent expansion of family detention with the plan to establish up to 6,350 additional detention beds for undocumented migrant families with children.

The Committee observes that despite the increased use of foster care for unaccompanied children and separate children, many of them continue to be held in group homes and secure facilities, which closely resemble juvenile correctional facilities.

While acknowledging the steps taken by the State party to reform the immigration detention system, the Committee remains concerned by reports of substandard conditions of detention in immigration facilities and use of solitary confinement. It is also concerned about reports of sexual violence by staff and other detainees (arts. 2, 11 and 16).

The State party should:

(a) Review the use of mandatory detention of certain categories of immigrants;

(b) Develop and expand community-based alternatives to immigration detention, expand the use of foster care for unaccompanied children, and halt the expansion of family detention, with a view to progressively eliminating it completely;

(c) Ensure compliance with the 2013 Directive on the appropriate use of segregation in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities and the 2011 Performance-based national standards in all immigration detention facilities;

(d) Prevent sexual assault in immigration detention and ensure that all facilities holding immigration detainees are in compliance with Prison Rape Elimination Act standards;

(e) Establish an effective and independent oversight mechanism to ensure prompt,  impartial and effective investigation into all allegations of violence and abuse in immigration centres.

[p. 9]
Solitary confinement
20.
While noting that the State party has indicated that there is “no systematic use of solitary confinement in the United States”, the Committee remains concerned about reports of extensive use of solitary confinement and other forms of isolation in US prisons, jails and other detention centres for purposes of punishment, discipline and protection, as well as for health-related reasons.

It also notes the lack of relevant statistical information available.

Furthermore, it is concerned about the use of solitary confinement for indefinite periods of time, and its use against juveniles and individuals with mental disabilities. The full isolation for 22-23 hours a day in super-maximum security prisons is unacceptable (art. 16).

The State party should:

(a) Limit the use of solitary confinement as a measure of last resort, for as short time as possible, under strict supervision and with the possibility of judicial review;

(b) Prohibit any use of solitary confinement against juveniles, persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, pregnant women, women with infants and breastfeeding mothers in prison;

(c) Ban prison regimes of solitary confinement such as those in super-maximum security detention facilities;

(d) Compile and regularly publish comprehensive disaggregated data on the use of solitary confinement, including related suicide attempts and self-harm.

[p. 10]
Protection of prisoners against violence, including sexual assault 
21.
The Committee is seriously concerned at the widespread prevalence of sexual violence, including rape, in prisons, jails and other places of detention by staff and by other inmates.

It also notes with concern the disproportionally high rates of sexual violence faced by children in adult facilities, as well as the higher rates of sexual victimization reported by inmates with a history of mental health problems and LGBTI individuals.

While welcoming the promulgation in 2012 of the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the Committee is concerned by reports that their implementation at the state level continues to be a substantial challenge.

In this context, the Committee notes with concern that six states have not certified that they are in full compliance with PREA standards, and several agencies operating federal confinement facilities are still in the process of issuing their own PREA regulations.

The Committee remains concerned over the negative effects of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) on the ability of prisoners to seek protection of their rights. While taking note of the changes introduced in 2013 in the PLRA (adding “the commission of a sexual act” as an alternative to physical injury to establish eligibility for compensation for emotional distress), the Committee considers that the State party has continued to place greater emphasis on the goal of curbing prisoner lawsuits at the expense of inmates’ rights.

Thus, the Committee regrets that section 1997 e(e) requires a predicate of either “physical injury” or “the commission of a sexual act ” as a prerequisite to obtaining compensatory damages for mental or emotional injury. It is concerned further at section 1997 e(a) of the PLRA, that requires prisoners to exhaust all internal complaint procedures before bringing an action in federal court, which implies that they have to meet applicable deadlines for filing the initial grievance and making administrative
appeals.

Finally, the Committee notes that 19 states have enacted a statute restricting the shackling of pregnant inmates and that legislation has also been under consideration in a number of other states. It is nevertheless concerned at reports that in certain cases incarcerated women are still shackled or otherwise restrained throughout pregnancy and during labour, delivery, and post-partum recovery (arts. 2, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16).

The Committee recommends the State party to increase its efforts to prevent and combat violence in prisons and places of detention, including sexual violence by law enforcement and penitentiary personnel and by other inmates. In particular, the State party should:

(a) Ensure that PREA standards or similar standards are adopted and implemented by all states, and that all federal agencies and departments operating confinement facilities propose and publish regulations that apply PREA standards to all detention facilities under their jurisdiction;

(b) Promote effective and independent mechanisms for receiving and handling complaints of prison violence, including sexual violence;

(c) Ensure that any and all reports of prison violence, including sexual violence, are investigated promptly and impartially and that the alleged perpetrators are prosecuted;

(d) Ensure the use of same-sex guards in contexts where the detainee is vulnerable to attack, in scenarios that involve close personal contact or that involve the privacy of the detainee;

(e) Provide specialized training to prison staff on prevention of sexual violence;
[f]
(g) Develop strategies for reducing violence among inmates. Monitor and document incidents of violence in prisons with a view to revealing the root causes and designing appropriate prevention strategies;

(h) Authorize monitoring activities by non-governmental organizations;

(i) Amend sections 1997 e(a) and (e) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act;

(j) Revise the practice of shackling of incarcerated pregnant women, bearing in mind that the regime of the prison shall be flexible enough to respond to the needs of pregnant women, nursing mothers and women with children (see the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules, as adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 65/229 of 21 December 2010, Rule 42.2).

[p. 11]
Deaths in custody
22.
The Committee notes with concern that 958 inmates died while in the custody of local jails during 2012, an 8 percent increase from the 889 deaths in 2010. During the same year State prison deaths remained stable with 3,351 reported deaths.

The Committee is particularly concerned about reports of inmate deaths occurred as a result of extreme heat exposure while imprisoned in unbearably hot and poor ventilated prison facilities in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, Michigan and Texas (arts. 2, 11 and 16).

The Committee urges the State party to investigate promptly, thoroughly and impartially all deaths of detainees, assessing the health care received by inmates as well as any possible liability of prison personnel, and provide, where appropriate, adequate compensation to the families of the victims.

The State party should adopt urgent measures to remedy any deficiencies concerning the temperature, insufficient ventilation and humidity levels in prison cells, including death row facilities.

[p. 11-12]
Juvenile justice
23.
The Committee remains concerned at the notable gaps in the protection of juveniles in the State party’s criminal justice system. In particular, the Committee expresses once again its concern at the conditions of detention for juveniles, including their placement in adult jails and prisons, and in solitary confinement (art. 11 and 16).

The State party should take the necessary measures to ensure the proper functioning of the juvenile system in compliance with international standards. In particular, the State party should:

(a) Ensure full implementation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules, General Assembly res. 40/33 of 29 November 1985, annex) and the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines, General Assembly resolution 45/112, annex);

(b) Ensure that juvenile detainees and prisoners under 18 are held separately from adults, in line with the provisions of The Beijing Rules (rules 13.4 and 26.3), and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (General Assembly resolution 45/113 of 14 December 1990, rules 17, 28 and 29);

(c) Prohibit any use of solitary confinement against juveniles (see, para. 20);

(d) Resort more to alternatives to incarceration, taking into account the provisions of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules, General Assembly resolution 45/110, of 14 December 1990) and the Bangkok Rules.

[p.12]
Life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders
24.
While welcoming Supreme Court’s rulings in Graham v. Florida (2010) and Miller v. Alabama (2012), imposing limitations on juvenile life-without-parole sentences, the Committee remains concerned that some courts have ruled that Miller v. Alabama does not apply retroactively and that a majority of the 28 states that required mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for children have not passed legislation to comply with the ruling. Moreover, the rulings leave open the possibility of judges imposing life without parole sentences in homicide cases, even where the child played a minimal role, and courts continue to impose the sentence (art. 11 and 16).

The State party should abolish the sentence of life imprisonment without parole for offences committed by children under 18 years of age, irrespective of the crime committed. Enable child offenders currently serving life without parole to have their cases reviewed by a court for reassessment and resentencing, to restore parole eligibility and for a possible reduction of sentence.

[p. 12]
Death penalty
25.
While welcoming that six states have abolished capital punishment during the period under review, the Committee expresses its concern at the State party’s admission that it is not currently considering abolishing the death penalty at the federal level.

It also expresses its concern at reported cases of excruciating pain and prolonged suffering that procedural irregularities have caused to condemned prisoners in the course of their execution. The Committee is specially troubled by the recent cases of botched executions in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Ohio.

The Committee is equally concerned at the continued delays in recourse procedures which keep prisoners sentenced to death in a situation of anguish and incertitude for many years. The Committee notes that in certain cases such situation amounts to torture in so far as it corresponds to one of the forms of torture (i.e. the threat of imminent death) contained in the interpretative understanding made by the State party at the time of ratification of the Convention (arts. 1, 2 and 16).

The State party should review its execution methods in order to prevent pain and prolonged suffering. The Committee recalls that according to the Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty (approved by Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984), where capital punishment occurs, it shall be carried out so as to inflict the minimum suffering.

The State party should reduce the procedural delays that keep prisoners sentenced to capital punishment in the death row for prolonged periods.

The State party is encouraged to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolish the death penalty, to commute the sentences of individuals currently on death row and to accede to the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

[p. 12-13]
Excessive use of force and police brutality
26.
The Committee is concerned about numerous reports of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular against persons belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups, immigrants and LGBTI individuals, racial profiling by police and immigration offices and growing militarization of policing activities.

The Committee is particularly concerned at the reported current police violence in Chicago, especially against African-American and Latino young people who are allegedly being consistently profiled, harassed and subjected to excessive force by Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers. It also expresses its deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.

In this regard, the Committee notes the alleged difficulties to hold police officers and their employers accountable for abuses. While noting the information provided by the delegation that over the past five years 20 investigations were opened into allegations of systematic police department violations, and over 330 police officers were criminally prosecuted, the Committee regrets the lack of statistical data available on allegations of police brutality and the lack of information on the result of the investigations undertaken in respect of those allegations.

With regard to the acts of torture committed by CPD Commander Jon Burge and others under his command between 1972 and 1991, the Committee notes the information provided by the State party that a federal rights investigation did not develop sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that prosecutable constitutional violations occurred,

However, it remains concerned that, despite the fact that Jon Burge was convicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, no Chicago police officer has been convicted for these acts of torture for reasons including the statute of limitations expiring.

While noting that several victims were ultimately exonerated of the underlying crimes, the vast majority of those tortured – most of them African Americans – , have received no compensation for the extensive injuries suffered (arts. 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16).

[p. 14]
Redress, including compensation and rehabilitation
29.
While noting the State party’s assertion that its legislation provides a wide range of civil remedies for seeking redress in cases of torture at the federal and state level, the Committee regrets the limited information provided by the delegation on rehabilitation programmes for both domestic and third country victims, or the allocation of resources to support such programmes.

The Committee is further concerned about the situation of certain individuals and groups made vulnerable by discrimination or marginalization who face specific obstacles that impede the enjoyment of their right to redress (art. 14).

The State party should ensure that appropriate rehabilitation programmes are provided to all victims of torture and ill-treatment, including medical and psychological assistance. The State party should also enhance its support and funding for torture rehabilitation programmes in the State party.

The Committee urges the State party to take immediate legal and other measures to ensure that all victims of torture and ill-treatment obtain redress and have an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible, in particular victims of police brutality, terror suspects claiming abuse, victims of gender violence, asylum-seekers, refugees and others under international protection.

The Committee draws the State party’s attention to its General Comment No. 3 (2012) on the implementation of article 14 by State parties (CAT/C/GC/3), in which it elaborates upon the nature and scope of State parties’ obligations to provide full redress to victims of torture, in particular to paragraphs 3-4, 11-15, 19, 32 and 39.
...
...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

US Government went Before UN Committee Against Torture & Defend Solitary Confinement

On Nov 12th and 13th, the U.S. Government went before the U.N. Committee Against Torture for a periodic review. Here follow a few Shadow Reports submitted to the U.N. reporting on the torturous practice of Solitary Confinement used in the U.S.A.:

First, an introduction to the matter:
From Dissenter / Firedoglake, Nov 11th, 2014:

US Government to Go Before UN Committee Against Torture & Defend Solitary Confinement

During a periodic review of the country’s obligations under the Convention Against Torture, the United States is expected to go before the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva and defend the use of solitary confinement.

On November 12 and 13, the committee will scrutinize President Barack Obama’s administration and its compliance with the treaty.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture defines [PDF] solitary confinement as “physical and social isolation of individuals who are confined to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day.” The UN has been particularly concerned about “prolonged solitary confinement,” which is a “period of solitary confinement in excess of 15 days.” This is when “some of the harmful psychological effects of isolation can become irreversible.”

Also, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern in 2011 that “super maximum security” prisons “impose solitary confinement as a normal, rather than an ‘exceptional,’ practice for inmates.”

Read the rest here.

Following are Shadow Reports submitted to the U.N. Committee Against Torture:

The Torture of Solitary Confinement in the United States: The Example of New York State
Shadow Report of the Correctional Association of NY to the U.N. Committee Against Torture, 53 rd Session
September 22, 2014

THE USE OF PROLONGED SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN UNITED STATES
PRISON S, JAILS, AND DETENTION CENTERS
Shadow Report Submission to the Committee on the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Review of the United States of America
November 2014

REPORTING ORGANIZATIONS:
This report is submitted by the Center for  Constitutional Rights (CCR), Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), and California Prison Focus (CPF).

Children in Adult Jails and Prisons
Shadow Report to theU.N. Committee Against Torture
September 22, 2014

Submitted by:
- International Women’s Human Rights Clinic
- City University of New York Law School
- ACLU Michigan/Juvenile Life Without Parole Initiative
- Campaign for Youth Justice
- Correctional Association of New York
- The Project on Addressing Prison Rape
- American University, Washington College of Law
- University of Miami Human Rights Clinic

Torture in U.S. Prisons: Interfaith Religious Coalition Calls for End to Widespread Use of Prolonged Solitary Confinement
September 2014
A Shadow Report Prepared for the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Connection to its Review of the United States Compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Submitted by:
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experience

This comes from Decarcerate PA's website. It sounds like an illegal move to silence people's voices. What about the victims of police violence? Will they not be 'victimised' by their attackers' presence everywhere, incl. the police and former police who have written this proposed law? Vermont College is not even in PA, so is Mumia Abu-Jamal, also not allowed to speak in other states, countries? This law is just an act of vengeance.  

Pennsylvania Legislators threaten to silence people in prison. TAKE ACTION today
On Oct 14th: call your legislators!

[Here is another article about this anti-human rights attack of politicians in Pennsylvania]

Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experiences. Last week, PA Representative Mike Vereb introduced a bill (HB2533) called the “Revictimization Relief Act,” which would allow victims, District Attorneys, and the Attorney General to sue people who have been convicted of “personal injury” crimes for speaking out publicly if it causes the victim of the crime “mental anguish.”

The bill was written in response to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s commencement speech at Goddard College, and is a clear attempt to silence Mumia and other prisoners and formerly incarcerated people. We believe that this legislation is not actually an attempt to help victims, but a cynical move by legislators to stop people in prison from speaking out against an unjust system.

While to us this seems like a clear violation of the first amendment, unfortunately the PA General Assembly doesn’t appear to agree, and they have fast-tracked the bill for approval and amended another bill (SB508) to include the same language. The legislation could be voted on as early as Wednesday.

If this bill passes, it will be a huge blow to the movement against mass incarceration. People inside prisons play a leading role in these struggles, and their perspectives, analysis, and strategies are essential to our work. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who write books, contribute to newspapers, or even write for our Voices from the Inside section would run the risk of legal consequences just for sharing their ideas.

That’s why we are asking you to take action TUESDAY OCTOBER 14 by calling Pennsylvania lawmakers to tell them that prisoners should not be denied the right to speak.

Please call your legislators and demand that they vote NO on HB2533 and SB508. You can look up contact information at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/.

We are also asking folks to call the following Senate leaders and ask them to stop the bill from moving forward:

Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne  (717) 787-1349
Senate Minority Whip Anthony Williams  (717) 787-5970
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi  (717) 787-4712
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (717) 787-7683

- See more at: http://decarceratepa.info/freespeech#sthash.OJAHxMbA.dpuf

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cecily McMillan (OWS Activist) Released from Rikers Island: Uses Platform to Challenge Systemic Injustices Incarcerated Women Face Daily

This is from: SparrowMedia, July 2nd 2014

[NEW YORK, NY] Imprisoned Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan was released from Rikers Island on Wednesday morning, July 2nd, after serving 58 days. She spoke publicly at a 1pm press conference outside the jail’s outer gates on Hazen Street.

This was the first time she was able to speak publicly after testifying in her trial. Cecily’s controversial trial garnered international media attention. She was supported by elected officials, community leaders, and celebrities. While serving her term at Rikers Island she was visited by members of Russian rock group Pussy Riot, themselves unjustly imprisoned in 2012.

The Following is Cecily’s Statement as read to members of the press at 1pm EST:

“Fifty nine days ago, The City and State of New York labeled me a criminal. Millionaires and billionaire–who had a vested interest in silencing a peaceful protest about the growing inequalities in America–coerced the justice system, manipulated the evidence, and suddenly I became dangerous and distinguished from law-abiding citizens. On May 5th, the jury delivered its verdict, the judge deemed me undesirable, and officers drove me across that bridge and barred me within. On the outside, I had spent my time fighting for freedom and rights. On the inside, I discovered a world where words like freedom and rights don’t even exist in the first place. I walked in with one movement, and return to you a representative of another. That bridge right there, that divides the city from Rikers Island, divides two worlds – today I hope to bring them closer together. Crossing back over, I have a message to you from several concerned citizens currently serving time at the Rose M. Singer Center.

“Incarceration is meant to prevent crime. Its purpose is to penalize and then return us to the outside world ready to start anew. The world I saw at Rikers isn’t concerned with that. Many of the tactics employed are aimed at simple dehumanization. In the interests of returning the facility to its mission and restoring dignity to its inmates, we, the women of Rikers, have several demands that will make this system more functional. These were collectively drafted for me to read before you today.

“First of all, we demand that we be provided with adequate, safe, and timely healthcare at all times. That, of course, includes mental health care services and the ability to request female doctors if desired at all times for safety and comfort. We often have to wait for up to 12 hours a day for a simple clinic visit, and occasionally 12 hours a day for up to a full week before we see anyone.

“The women of Rikers feel a special sense of urgency for this demand because of a particular event that occurred recently. About a week ago, our friend Judith died as a result of inadequate medical care. Judith had been in RSMC for a while, but was transferred to our dorm 4 East A, where I was housed, only a few days before her death. She had recently been in the infirmary for a back problem, and had been prescribed methadone pills for the pain for quite a while. A few days before she died, they decided to change the medicine to liquid despite her dissent. They gave her a dosage of 190mg, which any doctor will tell you is a dangerous dosage, far higher than what anyone should be taking unless it is a serious emergency. Judith was not allowed to turn down the medicine or visit the clinic to get the dosage adjusted.

“After three days on that dosage, Judith could no longer remember who or where she was and had begun coughing up blood, accompanied with what we believe were chunks of her liver. We attempted unsuccessfully to get her medical treatment for the entire day, at one point being told that this was “not an emergency,” despite the fact that Judith was covered in blood. That night they finally removed her to the hospital, where she remained in critical condition before passing away a few days later. This was a clear case of medical malpractice, both with the ridiculously high dosage of methadone and the refusal of adequate treatment. Stories like this are far too common in Rikers Island, and we demand that no more of our sisters be lost to sickness and disease as a result of inadequate medical care.

“Our next demand is that Corrections Officers should be required to follow the protocol laid out for them at all times, and that at some point soon that protocol should be examined to make sure that all rules and procedures are in the best interests of the inmates. We also demand that we have a clear and direct means to file a grievance that will be taken seriously and examined fully, so that Officers can be properly disciplined and removed from the area quickly when they abuse or endanger us.

“Recently my friend Alejandra went to file a grievance about being denied access to medical treatment for a concussion until she awoke one morning unable to move. When she met with the captain after filing the grievance, she was presented with a different sheet and a different complaint than the one she had provided and was forced to sign it. Inmates should be able to trust that situations like that will not concern, and that our safety and dignity be respected by those designated to supervise us. There is a clear protocol for officers already laid out in the inmate handbook, but it is seldom followed. Officers are allowed to make up the rules as they go and get away with it, which we find unacceptable.

“Our final demand is that we be provided with rehabilitative and educational services that will help us to heal our addictions and gain new skills, and that will make it much easier for us to adjust to the outside and achieve employment when we are released. Specifically, for our education we would like access to classes beyond GED completion, maintenance, and basic computer skills, access to a library, and English classes for those attempting to learn the language. We feel that the addition of these programs would significantly help us prepare for release and reentry into the world, which would lower re-incarceration rates.

“We also feel strongly that Rikers Island needs to have much better drug rehabilitation programs. Many women who come through here are addicts, and many women are imprisoned here because they are addicts. That’s the area in which reentry rates seems to be the highest. This is likely a direct result of the failure of the meager programs that we are given. Thus, it seems only logical that serious and effective drug rehabilitation programs be provided to those who need them, assuming that the Department of Corrections would like to help work to achieve a better, healthier society and keep as many people as possible out of jail.

“Working with my sisters to organize for change in the confines of jail has strengthened my belief in participatory democracy and collective action. I am inspired by the resilient community I have encountered in a system that is stacked against us. The only difference between people we call “law-abiding” citizens and the women I served time with is the unequal access to resources. Crossing the bridge I am compelled to reach back and recognize the two worlds as undivided. The court sent me here to frighten me and others into silencing our dissent, but I am proud to walk out saying that the 99% is, in fact, stronger than ever. We will continue to fight until we gain all the rights we deserve as citizens of this earth.”

Cecily McMillan is a New York City activist and graduate student wrongfully imprisoned for felony assault of a police officer after an incident at an Occupy Wall Street event on March 17, 2012. Officer Grantley Bovell grabbed her right breast from behind and lifted her into the air, at which other officers joined Officer Bovell in beating McMillan until she had a series of seizures. She was convicted on May 5th after a trial in which Judge Ronald Zweibel disallowed key pieces of evidence from the defense. On May 19th she was sentenced to a 90-day sentence and 5 years of probation after a large public campaign for leniency, which included an appeal to the judge signed by 9 of the 12 jurors, who thought she should be given no further jail time. The sentence on this charge is typically a term of 2-7 years of incarceration.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

4 Reasons To Ban Solitary Confinement

This comes from Business Insider Australia:
Written by: Christina Sterbenz
March 1st 2014

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) touched on a controversial topic at its annual annual meeting this month — solitary confinement.

University of Pittsburgh law professor Jules Lobel spoke at the conference about his role as lead counsel in a proposed class action lawsuit against Pelican Bay State Prison in California. Lobel is seeking to represent more than 1,000 prisoners there who spent at least a decade in solitary confinement.

Lobel cited four reasons solitary confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment violating the Eighth Amendment. Solitary confinement also violates the right to due process under the Constitution, Lobel said.
Other speakers at the AAAS conference agreed with Lobel’s view, as does the ACLU. Here are four main Constitutional arguments against solitary:

1. Solitary confinement violates the basic concept of human dignity.

“Researchers have concluded you shouldn’t keep lab animals in this kind of solitary confinement. Why should we treat people that way?” Lobel inquired.

In the Pelican Bay solitary unit, prisoners spend 22.5 to 24 hours a day in an 80-square-foot, concrete, windowless cell — about the size of a king-size bed. They can’t make phone calls. And they’re often denied visitors and physical activity. The food is even sometimes rotten, Lobel wrote in the San Jose Mercury News.


2. It denies basic human rights.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New York Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Reforms to Use of Solitary Confinement in Prisons and Jails

Reblogged from: Think Outside the Box

Press release from the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement.
January 31, 10:30 am
New York — At a mid-morning press conference at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, New York legislators will join advocates, survivors of solitary confinement, and their families to announce the introduction of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (A08588 / S06466).
Introduced in both the Assembly and the Senate, the pioneering bill is being hailed by supporters as the most comprehensive and progressive legislative response to date to the nationwide problem of solitary confinement in prisons and jails. As written, it would virtually eliminate a practice that has been increasingly denounced as both dangerous and torturous, while protecting the safety of incarcerated individuals and corrections officers.
According to Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, who is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly, “New York State was a leader for the country in passing the 2008 SHU Exclusion Law, which keeps people with the most severe mental health needs out of solitary confinement. Now we must show the way forward again, ensuring that we provide safe, humane and effective alternatives to solitary for all people.”
“Solitary confinement makes people suffer without making our prisons safer. It is counter-productive as well as cruel,” said Senator Bill Perkins, the bill’s Senate sponsor. “Solitary harms not only those who endure it, but families, communities, and corrections staff as well.”
Currently, about 3,800 people are in Special Housing Units, or SHUs, with many more in other forms of isolated confinement in New York’s State prisons on any given day, held for 23 to 24 hours a day in cells smaller than the average parking space, alone or with one other person. More than 800 are in solitary confinement in New York City jails, along with hundreds more in local jails across the state.
New York isolates imprisoned people at levels well above the national average, and uses solitary to punish minor disciplinary violations. Five out of six sentences that result in placement in New York State’s SHUs are for non-violent conduct. Individuals are sent to the SHU on the word of prison staff, and may remain there for months, years, or even decades.
The HALT Solitary Confinement Act bans extreme isolation beyond 15 days–the limit advocated by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez, among others. It also bars vulnerable populations from being placed in solitary at all–including youth, the elderly, pregnant women, LGBTI individuals, and those with physical or mental disabilities.
“No person should be put in solitary confinement except when they are a risk to  someone else,” said New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm. “As a major opponent of the practice, I have introduced three pieces of legislation into the City Council. I applaud the proposed state legislation that sets parameters on who can and who cannot be placed in solitary confinement and limits the amount of time they are forced to stay there.”
For those who present a serious threat to prison safety and need to be separated from the general population for longer periods of time, the legislation creates new Residential Rehabilitation Units (RRUs)–high-security units with substantial out-of-cell time, and programs aimed at addressing the underlying causes of behavioral problems.
“Isolation does not promote positive change in people; it only damages them,” said Jennifer J. Parish of the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project. “By requiring treatment and programs for people who are separated from the prison population for serious misconduct, the legislation requires Corrections to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment and degradation.”
“The HALT Solitary Confinement Act recognizes that we need a fundamental transformation of how our public institutions address people’s needs and behaviors, both in our prisons and in our communities,” said Scott Paltrowitz of the Correctional Association of New York. “Rather than inhumane and ineffective punishment, deprivation, and isolation, HALT would provide people with greater support, programs, and treatment to help them thrive, and in turn make our prisons and our communities safer.”
Many of those represented at the press conference are members of the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), which was instrumental in drafting the bill. CAIC unites advocates, concerned community members, lawyers, and individuals in the human rights, health, and faith communities throughout New York State with formerly incarcerated people and family members of currently incarcerated people.
“Solitary is torture on both sides of the prison walls,” said family member Donna Sorge-Ruiz, whose fiancé is currently in solitary. “Loved ones on the outside suffer right along with those in prison, every day that they endure this pain. It must stop!”
The widespread use of long-term solitary confinement has been under fire in recent years, in the face of increasing evidence that sensory deprivation, lack of normal human interaction, and extreme idleness can lead to severe psychological damage. Supporters of the bill also say that isolated confinement fails to address the underlying causes of problematic behavior, and often exacerbates that behavior as people deteriorate psychologically, physically, and socially.
In New York each year, nearly 2,000 people are released directly from extreme isolation to the streets, a practice that has been shown to increase recidivism rates.
“The damage done by solitary confinement is deep and permanent,” said solitary survivor Five Mualimm-ak. An activist with CAIC and the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Mualimm-ak spent five years in isolated confinement despite never having committed a violent act in prison. “Having humane alternatives will spare thousands of people the pain and suffering that extreme isolation causes–and the scars that they carry with them back into our communities.”
Several state prisons systems, including Maine, Mississippi, and Colorado, have significantly reduced the number of people they hold in solitary confinement, and have seen prison violence decrease as well. HALT takes reform a step further by also providing alternatives for the relatively small number of individuals who need to be separated from the general population for more than a few weeks. Advocates see the bill not only as a major step toward humane and evidence-based prison policies, but also as a model for change across the country.
“Article 5 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, states that ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,’” said Laura Markle Downton of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. “As people of faith, we recognize the use of solitary confinement in a prisons, jails and detention centers fundamentally violates this prohibition against torture. Now is the time for New York to lead the way in bringing an end to this human rights abuse plaguing our justice system nationally.”
“The HALT Solitary Confinement Act implements rational humane alternatives to the costly, ineffective, and abusive use of long-term solitary confinement in New York prisons and jails,” saidSarah Kerr of the Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project. “The need for reform is well-documented and the time for change is now.”
PRESS CONFERENCE DETAILS:

Date/Time/ Location: Friday, January 31, 10:30 am
Judson Memorial Church, Meeting Room Balcony
55 Washington Square South (between Thompson and Sullivan Streets)
Speakers:
Assembly Member Jeffrion L. Aubry (D, 35th District, Queens), Assembly sponsor
Senator Bill Perkins (D, 30th District, Harlem), Senate sponsor
City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D, 25th District, Queens)
Five Mualimm-ak, survivor of solitary confinement in New York prisons and Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement
Jessica Casanova, aunt of individual currently in solitary and Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement
Scott Paltrowitz, Correctional Association of New York and Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement
Claire Deroche, National Religious Campaign Against Torture and Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement

PRESS KIT INCLUDES:
Press Release
Fact Sheet on Solitary Confinement in New York State
Summary of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act
Full Text of HALT Act (A08588 / S06466)
New York Voices from Solitary Confinement
“Solitary Confinement’s Invisible Scars,” op-ed by Five Mualimm-ak

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Scott Paltrowitz, 212-254-5700, spaltrowitz@correctionalassociation.org
Sarah Kerr, 212-577-3530, SKerr@legal-aid.org
Five Mualimm-ak, 646-294-8331, endthenewjimcrow@gmail.com
www.nycaic.org
#  #  #

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"If the Risk Is Low, Let Them Go": Efforts to Resolve the Growing Numbers of Aging Behind Bars

Reblogged from: Truth-Out
Article by Victoria Law
Jan. 10, 2014

Imagine your grandparents and great-grandparents in shackles or dying behind bars. By 2030, the prison population age 55 and over is predicted to be 4,400 percent more than what it was in 1981. Some state and federal prison systems look at alternatives.

The recent release of 74-year-old Lynne Stewart has made headlines. Stewart, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, was granted compassionate release December 31, 2013, after a protracted struggle by Stewart and supporters across the country. Stewart, whose cancer has spread to her lungs, lymph system and bones, will spend her remaining months with her family in Brooklyn.

But what about the aging and infirm people incarcerated nationwide who lack Stewart's fame and support? The United States has some 125,000 prisoners age 55 and older, quadruple the number in 1995. Various human rights groups, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and the Vera Institute of Justice have issued warnings about the increased numbers of aging, elderly and incapacitated behind bars. In response to these increases, several states, such as Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, are in the process of building hospice and geriatric units within their prison systems.

But what other solutions are there?

"If the Risk is Low, Let Them Go"

In New York, advocates - including formerly incarcerated people - have launched the Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) campaign. More than 9,200 people (nearly 17 percent) imprisoned in New York are 50 or older. While the state's prison population dropped this past decade - from 71,466 in 2000 to 56,315 in 2011 - the number of people 50 and older has increased by 64 percent.

Lead organizer Mujahid Farid knows the obstacles facing people seeking parole. Farid was arrested in 1978 and sentenced to 15 years to life for an attempted murder. By the time he was eligible for parole in 1993, he had earned four college degrees as well as certificates for numerous other programs. None of these accomplishments mattered. He was denied parole based on his 1978 conviction. Farid appeared before the parole board ten times over the next 18 years before he was granted parole in 2011.


"I realized it wasn't personal," he told Truthout. "They're not looking at your personal development. They're simply looking at your conviction." After his release, Farid met with advocates, including other formerly incarcerated people, to discuss how to overcome the hurdle within the parole system. Out of these discussions came RAPP.  Under the slogan "If the risk is low, let them go," RAPP mobilizes to change the routine in which parole and compassionate release are denied to those who have spent decades in New York's state prisons.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Illinois prisoners in Menard High Security Unit plan to begin hunger strike Jan. 15

Reblogged from: SF Bay View
by Staughton Lynd 
Jan. 14, 2014
The following information is based on numerous letters from prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center in Illinois written in December 2013. These prisoners expect to go on hunger strike on Jan. 15, 2014, due to their placement and retention in severe isolation, under inhumane living conditions, without notice, reasons or hearing. This will be a peaceful protest.
Retaliation can be expected. These men ask for our support and action. And they ask us to spread the word.

The IDOC website says, “Menard Correctional Center was established on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1878. ... Menard is the state’s largest maximum security adult male facility.”
After the Tamms Correctional Center was closed in January 2013, several High Security Units have been opened in other prisons throughout Illinois. The High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center is one of several such units housing prisoners in administrative detention who were in Tamms or who have filed grievances or complaints and others who would not have met the criteria for transfer to Tamms.

The men were transferred to Menard and continue to be kept in the High Security Unit without any notice, reasons or hearing. Prisoners who were transferred without so much as a ticket are being forced to complete a nine month three phase program – originally Tamms’ stepdown program – to earn back privileges they did nothing to lose.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has been unable to locate any records responsive to a Freedom of Information Act request for any administrative directives that deal with the “phase program.” The Menard rule book says that administrative detention is a non-disciplinary form of segregation from the general population that is reviewed every 90 days by the warden. However, the phase program is nine months. Therefore, no one is being considered for release until at least nine months after entering the system.
The 90-day review is supposed to be a review where release is considered. Instead, it is only a hearing where the prisoner is not present, and its only purpose is to determine if he should move from one phase to the next. To date, nobody has been released after the nine months. No notices are being given after any of these alleged hearings, and no basis for decision of continued placement is given either.

These prisoners expect to go on hunger strike on Jan. 15, 2014, due to their placement and retention in severe isolation, under inhumane living conditions, without notice, reasons or hearing. This will be a peaceful protest.

Prisoners have been filing grievances asking for uniform written policies that provide for constitutionally adequate notice of why an inmate is being placed in administrative detention and periodic review in the form of informal hearings that allow the prisoner to refute the alleged reasons for placement and retention in administrative detention.
Prisoners say that their conditions of confinement are deplorable. According to prisoners, conditions in the High Security Unit include
  • severe isolation without any mental health evaluation or treatment;
  • uncleanliness, rodent infestation and lack of any cleaning supplies to clean cells – no disinfectants, no toilet brushes;
  • no written policies requiring the daily sweeping and mopping of the wings;
  • lack of heat in the cells and only one small, thin blanket;
  • showers are moldy and often cold;
  • no hot water in the cells to wash up or clean eating utensils;
  • unauthorized deviation from the statewide menu, low calorie intake has prisoners losing weight;
  • not issued individual coats, have to share smelly coats with numerous men;
  • access to their legal materials limited to approximately once a month, delays in receiving legal mail;
  • no educational opportunities even though non-disciplinary prisoners should have the same access to education as the general population.
Many prisoners in the Menard High Security Unit are planning to turn in emergency grievances as well as begin a hunger strike on the morning of Jan. 15, 2014. They expect retaliation, possibly including beatings of inmates who are regarded as troublemakers.

Retaliation can be expected. These men ask for our support and action. And they ask us to spread the word.

How you can help

Prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center ask you to make phone calls to the warden, the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the governor on Jan. 15, 16 and 17, 2014, to check on their conditions, demands, and welfare. Please call:
Staughton Lynd, attorney, professor, historian, author, playwright, and civil rights and peace activist, can be reached at salynd@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CDCR Implements New Brainwashing Tactic, [possibly] Mandatory 'Journaling,' as Part of Step-Down Program

Reblogged from: NCTTCorSHU.org:

This piece was written as a follow up to two previously published essays (see: Legislative alert: CDCR’s Step-Down Pilot Program is in fact systematic, mandatory brainwashing  and: Creating Broken Men, pt 2) on the mandatory brainwashing by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) of thousands of people confined in Secure Housing Units (SHU’s).

Re: CCR Title 15, Section 3040 new rules changes relating to Section 700.2 of the Step Down Program [p.42-45]

-------------------------------
A recap of the discussion we started here:

1. One of our brothers who has been in the SHU for 25 years was taken to the review board and they attempted to bribe him with the promise of transfer to another prison and contact-visits in Step 3 of CDCR’s Step-Down-Program (SDP) if he agreed to participate in Step 2 for six months – most centrally the “self-directed journal” outlined in Section 700.2 [p.42-45] of CDCR’s “Security-Threat-Group-Pilot-Program” – their hope being if he does it, then countless other younger, more vulnerable prisoners can be herded into this brainwashing program. He of course refused.

2. We had an opportunity to review one of the journals (The Con Game) and it’s even worse than we thought – well, more accurately, it’s exactly what we knew it would be: a blatant character invalidation and brainwashing tool.

3. Most disturbing of all, they've announced a director’s rules change to provisions of CCR Section 3040, which introduces mandatory brainwashing for EVERY PRISONER IN CDCR – called “cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)” – and attaching it to this same regulation that governs mandatory work and education assignments while confined to CDCR.

I think I may have been unclear as to what we were speaking of as it relates to these journals. “Interactive journaling” (for which “The Change Companies” has a registration in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) is just one component of the “Cognitive Restructuring ” [or “brainwashing”] Program” described in paragraph 700.2 of the Step-Down-Program (SDP) p.42-45.

The 21 Journals are simply the first phase of  “… an integrated, cognitive behavior change program…” If this first Journal theme is any indication, the primary purpose of these Journals is “character invalidation,” validating conservative authoritarian views as “responsible thinking and beliefs,” and developing a psychological profile by which to alter the core psychology of the subject.

There is much more involved in this, but these primary components are necessary in any form of brainwashing. What makes this so insidious is they use language that actually seeks to characterize sociological phenomena like poverty or educational underdevelopment as absolutely irrelevant factors in the subject’s decision to violate the state “law” or rebel against personal property – and it’s solely and completely the subject’s “fault;” and this runs contrary to all objective sociological and economic research and evidence available. 

For example, the Journal The Con Game begins by stating:

Changing your criminal behavior is a tough job… in order to begin making positive changes to the way you think and act, you must first break through your con game. This journal will help you recognize your faulty beliefs and encourage you to change your behavior. .. Be careful! Answer honestly. Don’t be a victim of your own con game.

It goes on to a section “Don’t fall for myths… that support the con game,” which is a collection of conservative, right-wing political views on social issues overly simplified and couched in unambiguous absolute language.

For example:

Myth: Criminals are the victims of society. They are products of dysfunctional families, abusive childhoods, bad neighborhoods, poor schools, and an unfair economic system. “My criminal behavior isn't my fault. I just learned to survive the best way I knew how.” Truth: Each person is responsible for his or her own thinking and behavior. Many people grow up in difficult circumstances and lead responsible, crime-free lives. Task: Explain how you have practiced this myth in the past.

The real truth is, both of these views have a direct impact on the viable choices and ultimate decisions of the underclass whether “the law” is a barrier to their survival. The choice between starvation and theft is an easy one – the human imperative of survival will always win out. 

There are not “many” people who grew up in underclass communities who lived “crime-free lives” -  the underground economy in most underclass communities is as legitimate as the “mainstream” economy. This is a sociological fact. This absolutist view – this black and white notion of human survival in capitalist America is the sole province of the conservative right and simply ignores empirical socioeconomic data and proof.

These journal-authors continue to seek to impose a supply-side solution to a demand-driven problem; this covers 2 very different types of social behavior: predatory crimes (robbery, home invasion, car-jacking) and market-based crimes (drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling, etc.) – neither can be significantly reduced from the supply-side. 

“Supply & demand” in this case is a question of social conformity vs. human need. “Supply” in the case of ‘predatory’ crimes is the number of people (poor) beyond the threshold of social conformity due to economic need and “demand” is the relative socioeconomic conditions and/or desperation compelling them to act to relieve that economic distress.

As long as the conditions (social & economic, i.e. poverty, disproportionate concentrations of wealth, lack of opportunities, hopelessness, etc.) which compel low income populations to commit predatory crimes exist, there will be enough of the poor willing to “break the law” to meet their needs….  And they know this.

At the same time, there has never been a single case in history where a black market was defeated from the “supply”-side. From prostitution to prohibition, from gambling to illicit drugs – the story is the same. Supply-side controls act, much like price supports in agri-commodities, to encourage production and increase profits. At best a few mid-level intermediaries get knocked out of business. 

But as long as demand persists, the market is served more or less as before. In the meantime the failure to “win the war” on this or that vice becomes a pretext for increasing police budgets, expanding law enforcement powers, pouring more money into the voracious maw of the prison industrial complex, and apparently funding wholesale brainwashing programs to condition guys to believe none of this is true and it’s just all their fault.

These journal-editors go on to explain your “barriers to change…” They state, 

If you want to make lasting, positive life changes, you will want to carefully cultivate your thoughts and behaviors. The first step is to recognize those negative or criminal traits... If you don’t make a strong and consistent effort to change these beliefs and behaviors they will continue to lead you towards … criminal activities.

They list 8 “barriers” (entitlement, insecurity, manipulation, selfishness, lying, cutting corners, superiority, and dominance) then ask you to read their descriptions of each, admit you conduct yourself like this, then “Give an example of how you might think of act this way.” This is a classic character validation – to successfully complete this section you must state you are an insecure, entitled, manipulative, selfish, lying, superior, domineering, corner-cutter – a piece of scum.

They go on to state: 

Go over your answers you have given in this section, now use the space below to describe those areas you are willing to change today to drop the con game.

Now men like us don’t even think this way, and to be honest, this process is aimed at these youngsters, not us.

The journal-editors go on to ask you to explain (give an example):

-
          You are good at convincing people of your point of view
-
          Are you good at coming up with things people want to hear most?
-
          Are you successful at getting people to trust what you say when you are lying?

As this goes on and on, basically you have to explain how you’re a manipulative liar – classic character invalidation; they even ask you to admit you’re like a reptile:

A chameleon is a reptile that can change its color so as to blend in with its surroundings. How has your past behavior been similar to the actions of a chameleon? Explain.
Et cetera for 22 pages. They even go so far as to instruct you to ignore your instincts to resist this conditioning, stating:

Feelings of fear and doubt are part of being human. As you begin to make positive changes, these feelings will appear from time to time… It will be helpful if you fully accept who you are today… you have an opportunity to continue along the path toward responsible thinking and behavior. Maintaining positive change requires you to concentrate on continually challenging your beliefs and actions. All the work you are doing will allow you to reach a point of inner peace. Accept the real you, not the “con” you.

Just the words themselves are chilling. I am a revolutionary, a progressive, a righteous man – my beliefs and actions are just and correct, they would subject much younger, less developed, and more impressionable men to this process transforming them into docile, subservient, broken slaves parroting the ideas and beliefs of the Tea Party Republican caucus.

Again, this is just the preparatory stage, conditioning the mind of the subject to accept he is just a scumbag because he was born a scumbag and his only hope is to acknowledge this, denounce himself and adopt their predetermined set of “responsible beliefs, thinking, and ideas” and you don’t have a choice in the matter.

This matter is so sick, they accompany the words with imagery designs to impress upon your subconscious mind the brainwashing objectives they seek you to adopt. As I told you in a previous communique “The Change Companies” have their copyright registration notice on page 2 which includes a trade-marked “process.” However, it has been redacted. It looks like this (see ill.): 

A covered -up trademark "process"
So they don’t even want us knowing what process is being used against us. This is one of the reasons we need to get as much information as we can on “The Change Companies.” 

It is our understanding that they do have this same “process” being used in other states, but only California is making it compulsory. If someone wants to subject themselves to systematic brainwashing techniques – by all means feel free; the U.S. has become ever more complacent in accepting behavior modification in their daily lives in everything from weight loss and anger management – to stopping smoking – but these things are both mild and most importantly voluntary– what we’re talking about here is a radical, 4-year long (1 year at minimum – if you start in step 4) alteration of the core psychology of tens of thousands of prisoners to reflect the attitudes and beliefs of authoritarian conservatism, of the state and interests of its ruling class (to be docile, submissive to authority, long suffering toward exploitation and socioeconomic disenfranchisement, and above all to not seek any change in the system itself – to ask their status and role of oppressed man/woman).

I sincerely do not believe anyone has looked into the legality of this program – no more than they looked off into the NSA’s practice of spying on every American in the U.S. and most of the rest of the world either.

The COMPAS Program: Correctional Offender Management and Profiling for Alternative Sanctions

The “Compas Program” (which is part of the “cognitive behavioral therapy” initiative they've just made mandatory for everyone in CDCR with a release date) begins with a “compass assessment” quiz which’ answers will be used to not simply discern which brainwashing components to employ against the subject – but to build a forensic profile of the subject’s friends, family, and community. 

This is truly sinister and diabolical what is going on here in California.

Some samples of questions this COMPAS assessment asks to people who have to do these journals:

Family of origin:
Q: How is your relationship with parents (parental figure) and / or siblings?

Peers:
Q: In the last couple of years before this incarceration, how many of your friends / acquaintances were taking illegal drugs?

Substance abuse:
Q: Did you use heroin, cocaine, crack or meth as a juvenile?

Residence / Stability:
Q: In the last 12 months before this incarceration, how often did you move?

Social environment:
Q: In the neighborhood you lived in before this incarceration, did some of your friends or family feel they needed to carry a weapon to protect themselves?

Q: In the neighborhood you lived in before this incarceration, was it easy to get drugs?

Education:
Q: What were your usual grades in High School?

Vocation:
Q: Thinking of your financial situation prior to this incarceration, how often did you have conflict with friends/family owe money?
Q: Thinking of your financial situation prior to this incarceration, how often did you have barely enough money to get by?

Leisure / recreation:
Q: In your leisure time prior to this incarceration, how often did you feel bored?

Social isolation:
Q: "I felt lonely."

Criminal personality:
Q: To get ahead in life you must always put yourself first.

Anger
Q: Some people see me as a violent person.
Q: If people make me angry or lose my temper, I can be dangerous.

Criminal attitudes
Q: A hungry person has a right to steal.
Q: When people get into trouble with the law it's because they have no chance to get a decent job. 
Q: When things get stolen from rich people they won't miss this stuff because insurance will cover the loss.
Q: Many people get into trouble or use drugs, because society has given them no education, job or future.

With this information, they compile a profile to determine which brainwashing techniques and programs will best achieve the ends they seek - and then enroll you forcibly. If you refuse, they write you a 115 for "Refusing a direct order" - or in case of the Step-Down-Program  - leave you in Step 1. 

No better representation of authoritarian excess exists than CDCR's brainwashing programs.

Not only do CDCR want to be able to march into those Legislative Hearings in February trumpeting how they have this program underway and men are going for it – they want to use men like us to convince all these other men that it’s okay to submit to this also.

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Written on Dec. 18th 2013 in a letter to the webmaster of NCTTCorSHU.org. 


at 4:32 AM 

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