[A careful and detailed rebuttal of the state prison officials justifications for the tortuous conditions prisoners in the Security Housing Units are subjected to — and severe repression of California prison hunger strikers. This article is well-worth reading, and passing along. — Frontlines ed.]
A Brief Discussion on the Reality and Impact of SHU Torture Units in the Wake of the August 23rd Legislative Hearings, From the N.C.T.T. – COR-SHU
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, 4/16/63
These sage words by Dr. King are both appropriate to the discussion we’d like to have with you on indefinite SHU confinement, and cautionary as to who we are as a society in these troubled times. This 2nd point is very relevant to this discussion and we hope you’ll stick with us as we explore subject matter that is both broad and disturbing which requires us to share some inconvenient truths.
Security Housing Units, SHUs, like those in Pelican Bay, Tehachapi, and this one here in Corcoran are torture units. They are used to indefinitely house human beings in solitary confinement, under constant illumination, based on an administrative determination that they are “gang” members or associates, with an impetus towards breaking their minds in hopes of eliciting information, coercing them into becoming informants or active agents of the state. The torture units are the living tombs of not only alleged “gang” members or associates, but political and politicized prisoners, human rights activists, critics of the prison industry, jailhouse lawyers and most anyone who in the sole determination of Institutional Gang Investigators (I.G.I.) and administrators, are not content to accept and submit passively to their role as commodities in the prison industrial complex. The United States, and many of it’s media outlets such as the ‘New York Times’ and ‘San Diego Union Tribune’, prior to the U.S. “War on Terror” routinely criticized China, Turkey, Burma, Syria, and other nations for holding prisoners in indefinite solitary confinement, under conditions of constant illumination and/or sensory deprivation, etc. for expressing contrary political views. They universally condemned the practice as torture, citing the United Nations Human Rights Commission Treaty. Their hypocrisy was of course revealed soon after the policy of U.S. sponsored torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and numerous secret C.I.A. blacksite prisons was exposed. Yet America’s dirty little secret is, state sponsored torture in the U.S. is neither new or exclusive to it’s “War on Terror”. Years before Abu Ghraib and ‘Gitmo’ they were murdering prisoners in San Quentin’s Adjustment Center, boiling men alive at Pelican Bay-SHU, and holding murderous bloodsport style bouts in Corcoran-SHU all along holding alleged “gang” members and left wing political ideologues for decades in sensory deprivation torture units at Pelican Bay, Corcoran, and Tehachapi SHUs. Yes, indefinite solitary confinement and constant illumination is being used right now in California SHU units, in conjunction with a program of systematic isolation and experimental behavior modification to torture prisoners everyday … with no end in sight. Continue reading