‘Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elementary way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people.’
For the past 20+ years, I and similarly situated prisoners have been compulsorily confined in one or more of CDCR’s sensory deprivation ‘torture chambers’ that exist throughout the state of California. These ‘torture chambers’ are euphemistically and incorrectly explained to the public as Security Housing Units (SHU), which were allegedly built and utilized for the purpose of housing and isolating from the rest of the prison population the so-called worst of the worse prisoners.
Before I continue, allow me to set the record straight! My fascist kaptors have arbitrarily designated me to serve an indeterminate SHU sentence as an ‘alleged’ prison gang member, solely for the simple act of identifying with and commemorating the political, cultural, and historical legacy of my New Afrikan Black ancestors during the month of August. Although I was accused of being involved in the preliminary stages of planning a physical assault, I was never formally charged or convicted of any violent criminal offense as a result of this unsubstantiated allegation! But nonetheless, I remain housed in the SHU indeterminately (i.e. coercive isolation) since August 12th, 1994, at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP), in Crescent City, California. The sole reason: my political beliefs as a New Afrikan Black freedom fighter!
In January through February 2006, the means of coercive isolation (i.e. psychological torture) was taken to a whole new extreme via the qualitative advancement of fascism, in which PBSP officials have implemented newly created, state-based ‘Communications Management Units’ (CMU), that are essentially designed to further desocialize and dehumanize arbitrarily designated prisoners, myself included.
The United Nations Convention Against Torture defines torture as ‘any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted.’ Several scientific studies have been conducted, their results revealed in an article that appeared in the New Yorker, rightfully entitled: ‘Hellhole,’ by Atul Gawande, March 30, 2009.
Gawande utilizes the personal testimony of Amerikkka’s own despotic war hero and U$ imperialist presidential candidate John McCain in the ‘Hellhole’ article of the New Yorker: “It’s an awful thing, solitary,” John McCain wrote of his five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam- more than two years of it spent in isolation in a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot cell, unable to communicate with other POW’s except by tap code, secreted notes, or by speaking into an enamel cup pressed against the wall. “It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.” Gawande writes, ‘Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.’
Now, John McCain came to this conclusion after spending only a little over two years in solitary confinement. I can only imagine what he would have to say if he had to experience and endure 2+ decades in soitary confinement, like me and other similarly situated prisoners!
Under the current construct of PBSP’s newly created state-based CMUs (i.e. D1-D4) of D-facility’s short corridors, all forms of ‘communication’ (i.e. stimulation) have been regulated to the extremes of virtual non-existence. For example:
A. The college educational programs are no longer accessible to prisoners in the CMUs, which we once used as a form of human stimulation.
B. New Afrikan Black prisoners are being compulsorily housed in isolation from other New Afrikan Black prisoners.
C. It is a crime to talk to another prisoner housed in the CMU and
D. Our outgoing and incoming mailings are routinely stolen under false premise of one promoting unlawful criminal (i.e. ‘gang’) activities.
Now ask yourself, what is the point and purpose of PBSP CMUs if it isn’t for advancing the fascist extremes of torture (i.e. coercive isolation)? When you also consider the previous forms of sensory deprivation that already existed in these concrete torture chambers prior to the creation of these state-based CMUs, such as being locked up and confined to a windowless ‘monkey cage’ 22.5 hours a day, in which there is no human contact with other prisoners, and no environmental stimulation, what can the purpose be if it isn’t to continue, maintain, and sustain their mechanisms of coercive isolation as a form of torture upon it’s captives?
The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, a bipartisan national task force, produced a study after a yearlong investigation in 2005-2006 that called for ending longterm solitary confinement of prisoners. The report found practically no benefits and plenty of harm- for prisoners and the public.
So now that you, the public, have been made aware of the concrete social conditions that we, the kaptive class of Pelican Bay’s CMUs, are confronted with, what are you willing to do in helping US prisoners resist this injustice?! I’m open to receiving any positive and constructive ideas that speak directly to how we, as a community, can mobilize ourselves into taking concrete action in exposing and negating the secretive practices of torture within amerikkka’s prisons.
So feel free to contact me at the following address:
Kijana Tashiri Askari
s/n M. Harrison #H54077
PO Box 7500/D3-122/SHU
Crescent City, CA 95531
The struggle continues!