High Desert State Prison

Foster v. Runnels, #0615719p

Press Advisories - June 10, 2008

I have reports here of another filth disease outbreak.  This time it's at the state prison at Susanville. They call it the "norovirus" but since the county health department has no jurisdiction over the prisons it could be anything.

At a time when fears are growing that MRSA has entered the food chain through animals, the prisoners are handling meat at a packing plant set up at Mule Creek and slave labor dairies all over the state.

The public has a right to know about filth disease outbreaks because these leak out to the public through the guards and medical workers.

Also, I have reports that a guard was shanked by a distraught inmate at Susanville over the week end that resulted in a prisonwide lockdown, now only B and C yards are locked down. The families are finally learning that you cannot get the news without their press advisories submitted in a timely fashion, there is increased violence right now.



High Desert State Prison Hunger Strike!

PARC has received an alert that the Z Unit at High Desert State Prison has begun a massive hunger strike in response to unsanitary food and other health conditions that violate the California Department of Corrections regulations:


MARCH 1,2009:  the residents of Z Unit estimated 150-170 convicts began a mass hunger strike to protest both treatment and conditions.  This hunger strike is a remarkable event in that it is rare for so many convicts to come together in protest.  All races are participating in this hunger strike.


FOOD:  Z Unit meals are prepared by PC’s aka SNY’s (Special Needs Yards).  These people are informants, rapists, child killers, etc., that general population will not allow to “walk the line”, in that they will be assaulted/killed.  Consequently PC’s have huge resentments towards general population convicts, and it is a known documented fact that when they are given the task of preparing general population’s meals they often put feces and/or other bodily fluids in the food.  Appeals have been made through the “602 process” to get Administration to remedy this situation to no avail, bringing about the staging of non-violent protest. THIS IS A HEALTH ISSUE.

TRANSFERS:  People get stuck in Z Unit for years waiting fir transfers to a SHU facility.  Prisoners that have been sentenced to SHU terms are not allowed SHU privileges.

LAUNDRY:  Z Unit inmates are not given full laundry exchange every week as is set forth as a regulation in the DOM.  (The “DOM” is the CDCR’s book that sets forth Rules & Regulations and Operating Procedure that dictates how, what, when, where and why inmates get or don’t get anything.  It also sets forth the rules governing the daily operations of the state prisons.  It is also known as “Departmental Operations Manual”.)  Often inmates get no laundry exchange for two to three weeks running.

TV/RADIOS:  It has been set forth in a California Court that administrative segregation environments pose a real threat to inmates’ mental health and so ordered CDC to allow all ad-seg inmates to possess either a TV or a radio.  This has also been set forth in the DOM  Z Unit is the only ad-seg in the State of California to not comply with this court order, and has claimed exemption due to the cost of furnishing cells in Z Unit with electrical outlets and in-cell fire extinguishers which are required by California Building Code.  Appeals have been made continuously for the past three years through the 602 process to get the High Desert Administration to comply with this court order, to no avail.  THIS IS A MENTAL HEALTH 

PROPERTY:  It has been set forth in the “DOM” that inmates being removed from mainline facilities be allowed to possess/collect from personal property all food that remains sealed in the original packages; also are allowed to retain cosmetics, soaps, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.  Z Unit refuses to comply with this DOM regulation, even though requested many times to comply. They refuse to even acknowledge that this rule exists.

Z Unit Staff has already begun retaliations over the peaceful protest; conducting cell searches in one section confiscating personal food purchased by inmates through the canteen.  This also is in violation of the DOM.  High Desert CDCR Staff has little or no regard for the Rules and Regulations set forth by legislation, the Courts, and legally promulgated by the CDCR itself, creating an atmosphere of lawlessness that is not only not discouraged but actively encouraged by HDSP Administration in their continued refusal to address these valid legal claims and their refusal to instruct these officers to comply with the Rules and Regulations set forth in the DOM.

PO BOX 3030


Prison gang leader to spend life behind bars

The Associated Press
Posted: 01/17/2009 05:02:23 AM PST

SAN DIEGO—One of the top three leaders of the Mexican Mafia prison gang has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty in a federal racketeering case. 

Forty-seven-year-old Raul Leon, formerly of San Diego, was sentenced Friday in federal court. He was already serving a life sentence for murder. 

Leon had pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges after being named in a sweeping 2006 indictment that targeted the gang. 

In his plea, Leon admitted taking part in the 2002 fatal stabbing of another prison inmate at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville. 

The Mexican Mafia controls criminal activity on the street through its influence on California street gangs. 


Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune,  http://www.signonsandiego.com


Pups on Parole program celebrates its success
Posted on Tuesday, August 05 @ 11:41:37 PDT 

 Aug. 5, 2008 — The Pups on Parole program, a partnership between the California Correctional Center and the Lassen County Humane Society, saves endangered dogs, helps with inmate rehabilitation and provides an opportunity for the dogs to enjoy a happy life.

The program celebrated its success at the CCC Fire Station on Monday, July 28. 

According to Lt. Scott Porter, administrative assistant at CCC, 41 dogs with issues that made them undesirable for adoption have gone through the program and have found homes.

Porter said the dogs get one-on-one training from the inmates at the prison’s fire station and get attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Although the dogs come to the prison with troubling issues, when the leave they are “up to speed, adoptable, trained and well-mannered pups.

All the dogs would have been euthanized had they not been selected to participate in the Pups on Parole program.

Kathy Prosper, CCC’s warden, presented a plaque featuring pictures of all 41 of the adopted animals to Mary Morphis, president of the Lassen Humane Society.

According to Porter, Prosper and Ron Barnes, CCC’s acting warden, both fully support the program that puts dogs and inmates together. When Prosper retires, Porter said Barnes has pledged to continue to support the program.

A new batch of six dogs arrived at the prison during Monday’s celebration. The dogs are matched with a primary trainer and a secondary trainer who work with the dogs to help them become adoptable. Other inmates also help with the dogs.

For more information on the Pups on Parole program, call the Lassen Humane Society at 257-4555.


Bad meat at CCC recalled
Posted on Tuesday, March 04 @ 09:15:26 PST 
 March 4, 2008 — The largest recall of beef products in U.S. history has touched the California Correctional Center in Susanville.

According to a press release from CCC, the California Prison Industry Authority received a recall notification letter from the Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Company in Chino, Calif.

According to the recall letter, the United States Department of Agriculture classified raw and frozen meat from the company as a Class II product recall. The recall covered all the beef products processed by the company since Feb. 1, 2006.

A Class II product recall is defined as being, “A health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of this product.”

According to the release from CCC, the institution “complied to the recall and returned 3,866 pounds of breakfast links, soy/beef patties, soy/beef bulk, and Salisbury patties.”

Correctional Lt. Scott Porter, an administrative assistant at CCC, said the institution investigated its food inventories once the recall letter was received, and the food was removed from the prison.

“When we discovered we had food on the recall list, we immediately sent it back,” Porter said. 

According to a Feb. 18, story in the New York Times, Westland/Hallmark recalled 143 million pounds of beef products, including some that were used in school lunch programs.

The investigation into the plant’s food-processing practices began when an undercover video surfaced on Jan. 30, showing workers kicking sick cows and using forklifts to force them to walk.

According to the New York Times, “Agriculture officials said there was little health risk from the recalled meat because the animals had already passed pre-slaughter inspection and much of the meat had already been eaten.”

According to the USDA’s Web site, the federal agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a notice of suspension on Feb. 4, based on the meat company’s “failure to maintain and implement controls to prevent the inhumane handling and slaughter of animals at the facility required by USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service regulations and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act … The suspension will remain in effect and the plant will be unable to operate until written corrective actions are submitted and verified by FSIS to ensure that animals are handled and slaughtered humanely.” 

According to the Web site cattlenetwork.com, other retail food companies also are being snared in the recall because they use beef products processed by the Chino company and were pulling “tens of thousands” of cases of products off store shelves “because they contain beef from suppliers that themselves were supplied by Hallmark/Westland.

The Web site economist.com reported, “The agriculture department says there is no cause for alarm. Most of the meat was eaten long ago, and no one is known to have been made ill by it. But it is an additional blow to an industry with more than its share of troubles.”

The Westland/Hallmark Meat Company’s recall notification letter, dated Feb. 22, said the Chino facility is “voluntarily recalling all raw/frozen beef products because the product may contain foreign material/non-microbial contamination.”

The recall implicates “all products produced by this establishment #336 from Feb. 1, 2006 up to and including Feb. 15, 2008.”

The company listed the following brands as being subject to the recall: Regal Brand, Westland Brand, Hallmark Brand and King Meat Brand Establishment #336.


Influenza outbreak hits prisons hard
Posted on Tuesday, February 19 @ 09:36:11 PST 
 Feb. 19, 2008 — Susanville’s two prisons — the California Correctional Center and High Desert State Prison — are fighting the influenza virus.

Early last week, a CCC official reported the prison was on quarantine status. But on Thursday, Feb. 14, Matt Mullin, the prison’s associate warden, said the prison was operating normally except for the dorms that house flu-stricken inmates.

HDSP has limited the movement of all inmates and suspended all visits to inmates.

Dennis Gunter, a spokesman for HDSP, said the two institutions are cooperating with each other to limit the spread of the virus.

He said the medical staffs from both prisons are moving back and forth to provide health care and education to inmates and staff.

According to a press release from HDSP, the influenza outbreak was first identified on the HDSP Minimum Support Facility on Tuesday, Feb. 5. All movement in and out of the facility was suspended that day. 

All staff and inmates were notified of the outbreak and everyone was advised to utilize universal precautions, including, but not limited to, frequent hand washing to minimize exposure.

As of Monday, Feb. 11, multiple inmates on every facility at HDSP had been identified with symptoms of influenza. 

Medical staff has been screening the inmates, providing treatment to the ill inmates, and has been administering the influenza vaccine to all inmates and staff on a voluntary basis. This process began on Monday, Feb. 11, and will continue until completed. 

Movement of inmates has been restricted at this time until further notice in order to limit exposure to the rest of the institution.

As of Wednesday, Feb. 13, approximately 216 inmates, and 20 staff have been identified as having the signs and symptoms of flu.

The following restriction have been put in place at HDSP until further notice:

•Inmate movement on or off any facility at HDSP to other areas of the prison will be under emergency conditions only with direct facility medical involvement and consent prior to the move.

•Visiting has been suspended for all inmates at HDSP.

•Staff and inmates have been advised to utilize universal precautions, including, but not limited to, frequent hand washing to minimize exposure.

•Staff are required to continually monitor the inmate population and immediately notify medical personnel if they become aware of an inmate who has influenza symptoms.

•To minimize exposures, frequent cleaning throughout the institution has been implemented.

•Inmate movement via transfer in/out, including the Reception Center, is closed until further notice. 

•Staff have been advised to report to their supervisor if they come down with symptoms of the flu.

Lt. Scott Porter, administrative assistant at CCC, said this strain of flu seems to affect the upper respiratory system.

“We’re trying to nip it in the bud,” Porter said. “Every year when flu season comes around and the flu bug starts to hit, we try to keep it as contained as possible, but it’s tough.

Porter said the institution was educating staff to try and keep the flu from spreading from the prison to the community. Staff members are being trained to cover their coughs and are learning proper hand-washing procedures.

Although the flu reportedly is going around in Susanville as well, Porter said the prison didn’t want employees to take the illness home to their families.

“We’re trying to keep contact to a minimum,” Porter said.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, Sierra Unit Dorm 57 was placed on quarantine as a result of exposure to the flu. 

On Feb. 11, a new case of flu was diagnosed on Sierra Dorm 66, which also was placed on quarantine. 

On Feb. 12, numerous additional cases diagnosed and Sierra Dorm 56 and Cascade Dorms 05 and 28 were placed on quarantine. 

Porter said each dorm houses 32 men and there are 38 dorms in each unit.

Mullin said the quarantine affects about 110 inmates at CCC.


Prisons deal with flu outbreak
By lcnnews on Thursday, February 14 @ 14:33:28 PST 

 Susanville’s two prisons — the California Correctional Center and High Desert State Prison — are fighting the influenza virus.

Early in the week, a CCC official reported the prison was on quarantine status. But on Thursday, Feb. 14, Matt Mullin, the prison’s associate warden, said the prison is operating normally except for the dorms that house flu-stricken inmates.

Mullin said the quarantine affects about 110 inmates at CCC, but only 12-15 cases of flu have been reported.

The outbreak is worse at HDSP which has limited the movement of all inmates and suspended all visits to inmates 

post here about the above article


One High Desert  prisoner wrote home that he was given a shot for Bird 5 flu and that it made him very sick.  He said that people have died - any names of people who have died that you might have will help the press be able to get more info on what is really going on there.  Deaths should never go unreported to the media

I found some posts in January at another website about the Norovirus, but God only knows what is really traveling through these prisons, epidemics are an ongoing problem.  For those who already have weakened immune systems, the flu can be deadly, but what disease could this be that CDCr doesn't want anyone to know about?

Trust nothing, question everything  Have other sons of UNION members been given shots?  Look for drug experimentation on the prisoners at all times.

The snow is on the ground at High Desert and CCC but the prisoners are wearing clothing about the weight of a Halloween costume.  The Governor took their warm clothing sent by family members away from them - is it any wonder that they are ill?

Names of any prisoners who have died during this outbreak, evidence of the type of shots,  do you have family contact information?  Rumors must be verified.  How many people in the UNION have a loved one at High Desert or CCC?  We never know what horror might happen at any given prison, which is why you are always building our picket teams.  When the emergency arrives, it's too late to start to organize.  Filth diseases are something that can be prevented but you  have to make incredible noise to the media with your letters to the editor for the lawmakers to hear us.

Rev. Cayenne


(SUSANVILLE)    High Desert State Prison and units of CCC on the Cascade and Sierra yards are still in quarantine mode this morning due to a flu outbreak. That's according to a member of senior staff at CCC.
No word on when the measures to isolate the inmates will end... but stay with KSUE and 93-JDX... we'll be speaking with representatives from the prison today and we'll bring you the latest when we have it.

The flu has been spreading through the department of corrections for a while now... back in December... 44 inmates at Ione's Mule Creek State Prison were sick, two having to go to outside hospitals... Four inmates transferred from Deuel to the California Rehabilitation Center in Southern California grew ill, and so did an officer... 11 inmates at Wasco State Prison in Kern County came down with the symptoms... and ten inmates at Folsom State Prison near Sacramento complained of symptoms.

Locally... it could be a case of norovirus... a menacing flu that leaves its victims with symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea for a day or two... and has spread to at least four other prisons... that's according to Terry Thornton, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman.



Prison Riot Said Caused by Ignorant Decision
By Alan Gray

Last month, there was a riot at High Desert prison near Susanville, California. (see Prison Riot at Susanville, Prison Town USA )

Initial reports from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not state the reasons for the riot, although it was suspected that it may have been gang-related. The Department said approximately 75 prisoners were involved and that they were "predominantly black and hispanic".

Those initial reports also stated the injuries were stab wounds, but unsubstantiated reports at the time said at least one inmate was shot.

It is now known that one inmate was shot in the hip. That inmate was not taken to the hospital immediately, but to the prison infirmary. That would be understandable for a life-threatening injury that needed to be stabilized. What is strange is that the injury was not reported at the same time as the othrs.

Sources close to the prison heard the riot started because Black inmates were moved into a dangerous area, controlled by "Nortenos", a Southern California hispanic gang.

Some of the Black inmates protested, refusing to go because they knew it would cause trouble. A Sergeant Correctional Officer concurred, but the Lieutenant who ordered the relocation overruled the Sergeant and the protestors. The black inmates were then forcibly "relocated" to the Nortenos' area.

The stage for a riot was set because the officer, who should have known better, ignored the warnings of big trouble if these inmates were moved to the "Nortenos" turf. As predicted, a huge fight broke out. Even the inmate in the wheelchair was beaten but not severely enough to be sent to the hospital. 

Others inmates were not so lucky. Several inmates required treatment for cuts and bruises and one was shot by a Correctional Officer from the tower. That inmate's hip was shattered and he is still in a Reno hospital. It is thought that he will more than likely lose the use of his leg. The damage is so severe that the Doctors will not attempt any more reconstructive surgery because of the risk of clots and infection. The damage is too extensive for repair. It is possible he may die.

It is said the man was shot was because he refused to stop "stomping" another inmate who was down and couldn't defend himself.

The inmate that he was "stomping" was one of the men that attacked him so he probably felt he was acting in self-defense. We are told that prison rules state that if an inmate continues to assault another inmate after being ordered to stop he may be fired upon with lethal force. Apparently, he was ordered to stop but did not.

Now, if he lives, he will be crippled and may be sentenced to a very long prison term, which is ironic because only three months of his original term remained. His case may hinge upon the claim that he was ordered to stop.

The other black inmates involved are filing a lawsuit against the Department for not heeding their warnings about the move.

Assuming that is true, it remains to be seen whether the Office of Internal Affairs serves a complaint on the Lieutenant. For that to happen, citizens (includes inmates) must file a Citizen Complaint, requiring an investigation take place, or a Grand Jury Complaint may be filed. 

[Note correction received:  Nortenos are actually a Northern California gang, not Southern California (Serranos are the Nortenos' SoCal rival gang).] 

Prison Riot at Susanville, Prison Town USA
By Alan Gray, NewsBlaze

A prison riot started Saturday, at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville, California. The riot reportedly resulted in several prisoners being sent to local hospitals in California and Reno, Nevada.

KOLO8 TV in Reno reported that "The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says about 75 prisoners, predominantly black and hispanic, were involved in the clash."

The Department reported the injuries were stab wounds, but unsubstantiated reports said at least one inmate was shot.

It is not yet known why the riot started or if it was gang-related. Apparently there have been multiple riots within the past few weeks.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website has not yet reported the incident.

Susanville was labeled "Prison Town USA" by a recent 75-minute documentary, shown on PBS, because it is home to three prisons and a jail. Susanville is approximately 85 miles north west of Reno, on highway 395.

August 7, 2007

Press Advisory

I have this report out of High Desert at Susanville

Mike Ingraham K64125 
Age 57 on  E yard, B1-33 low died on July 20,  inmates are upset over circumstances over his death, source says he did not "die in his sleep" High Desert as CDC(r) will claim when you verify it.  Ingraham's suspicious death apparently added to tensions around the riot.

Inmates report three people were killed and seven injured in the riot.


Susanville prison fight injures six

SUSANVILLE (AP) -- Prison officials were investigating an interracial fight at the High Desert State Prison that sent six maximum-security inmates to hospitals over the weekend.

A tower guard trying to stop the fight shot a seventh inmate, Jamal Walker, in the hip. Walker was being treated at the prison infirmary, said Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Officers reported that they saw Walker repeatedly kicking another inmate in the head while he was on the ground before one of them fired at him.

About 70 black and Hispanic inmates were involved in the fight that began in an exercise yard about 10:30 a.m. Saturday and lasted just four minutes, he said.

Tower guards fired three warning shots, then three shots aimed at inmates, hitting one man, Sessa said. Guards in the towers and on the ground also fired projectiles designed to knock inmates down.

No prison employees were injured.

Two inmates were taken to a Reno trauma center and four to a Susanville hospital, Sessa said. Five of the six were being treated for stab wounds, the sixth after he complained of chest pains and heart problems.

August 2, 2007

A little more on the riot at High Desert, Susanville. 

A Sargent set the stage for this riot after ignoring advice that moving some black inmates to a section of the prison where "Nortenos" were housed would ignite a fight. Thre blacks protested but their pleas went unheeded. Some even refused to go but were forced by prison officials. (COs) 

Sure enough, the "riot" occured as predicted. Several inmates were injured, one very seriously. His hip was shattered by a round from the guard tower and may not regain the use of that leg again. 

This all happened on "C" yard and they are still on lockdown. I heard the man with the serious hip injury was finally taken to a Reno Hospital so the journalists should update their stories to SEVEN HOSPITALIZED. 

Will keep you posted if there is anything further. 

Reliable Source 


Posted by Iknowitall on July 31, 2007 at 11:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sounds to me like the guards need a little more weapons training. If three shots were fired at inmates, there should have been three bodys on the ground, not one.

Posted by T57 on July 31, 2007 at 11:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If they want to fight and make the choice to be in the fight, let them make the choice to suffer after the fight.

Then again someone would sue because of they had not be put there to begin with none of this would have happen to them.

The space is needed for those in Shasta County jail that have been covivted of murder and child rape. Prison fights might be the answer to opening up needed space.

Yeah, yeah I know it is sarcasm folks. It amazes me that these events happen. How many of them will whine about having their sentence increased?

Posted by linda1005 on August 1, 2007 at 6:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's my answer: put the troublemakers together in 1 (one) cell, arm them with shanks & shives and let them cut one another into ribbons. Hence, room will be available for Shata County dirtbags!

Posted by Wendy59 on August 1, 2007 at 6:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

For the most part, all a prison guard is, is a babysitter. The prisons are like one big daycare and they [prison guards] basically just protect them from each other. I agree T57, if they want to fight, then fight it out and live with the consequences. And since they're so tough that they can play with sharp objects - take care of your own wounds!

Posted by Another_Anonymous on August 1, 2007 at 7:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So long as the guards shoot the "winners" after its over. LOL

Posted by chazridd on August 1, 2007 at 7:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Gee I went on line to the Reno Gazette Journal yesterday and read this story. I get a lot stories from them before the Pony Express finally makes it over here.

Posted by shasta47 on August 1, 2007 at 8:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There is a lot of that going on getting worse. I have friends who work in that prison and another back East. The North and South Mexcio Hispanics fight amongst themselves and are racist against blacks for turf...they hate the whites too. I bet you they are the MS-13s aka Mara Salvatrucha 13 which is the head of the snake of the Hispanic gangs. Their in 51 states and 5 countries and growing. Trouble is young Hispanics (i.e. anchors) not always Salvadorian, are joining this gang(s). They take their attitudes from the streets into the prisons. From what I am told they initiate these attacks against the blacks on the streets and in prisons

Posted by tinman12 on August 1, 2007 at 10:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Let them fight until there is only one man left alive then let the guards have a little target practice. They are in prison because they are animals and cannot function in a free society. As taxpayers we owe them nothing but we owe it to ourselves to clean up our own society by disposing of this human vermin.

Posted by srred on August 1, 2007 at 11:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

These guys are people to. Yes they have done something wrong and that is why they are in prision, but they do not deserve to get treated the way you people are talking about. You need to remember that these guys are someones son, brother, father, husband, or boyfriend. There are a few int here that like to start trouble and yes they should be punished for that. The thing is most of the guys in there just want to do their time as quietly as possible and then get home to their families. The few that start the trouble should not be lumped together with the majority of the ones that stay out of trouble and do what they are suppose to do. By you saying that they should kill each other and the last one standing should be killed by the CO's you are not much better than they are. You never know when one of those guys could be one of your loved ones and then I am sure you ideas will change in a heart beat.

Posted by David_J on August 1, 2007 at 11:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I completely agree with everyone eles's comments on these scum. I've heard that the average amount of money spent on an inmate is around $85,000/yr., and 80% of all law suits in the U.S. are generated from inmates that have nothing else to do except file suites all day long. Churchill once said 'the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country ... [these actions] mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it'. I for one feel that we should summarily execute violent crime offenders and make prision more uncomfortable to all the other crime offenders. First off by taking away their rights to legal representation while in prison completely and then take away their rights to indiscrimenent healthcare use while in jail!

Posted by crosemeyer on August 1, 2007 at 11:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

shasta47: 51 states? Have I missed something?

Posted by SNIEWINSKI on August 1, 2007 at 1:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

LOL... I was thinking the same thing crosemeyer.

Posted by shasta47 on August 1, 2007 at 2:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Department of Justice


MS-13 Spreads to Canada
www.canada.com : 22 May 2007


MS-13 gang seeks to unite nationwide
By Sara A. Carter
July 25, 2007


page 2 

"There are an estimated 20,000 members associated with 125 cliques in the U.S. alone. As of 2003, DEA and FBI officials have located groups in 30 states, plus the District."

Posted by tinman12 on August 1, 2007 at 2:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

gee, srred, I bet your attitude would be different if one of those sons, brother, husband, father or boyfriend killed one of your family members.They are inmates for a specific reason and that is they are not normal, nice model citizens.

Posted by shasta47 on August 1, 2007 at 2:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OK so it was 30 states not 51. My bad. That was awhile back wonder how many states have them now. Meanwhile, if we merge with Mexico and Canada where can they deport these people to? More prisons less time against minor violators would be the only solution

Posted by shasta47 on August 1, 2007 at 2:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I posted the links below wrong so try these

Department of Justice



Posted by KAP on August 1, 2007 at 5:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, I think we'd all agree that child rapists and murderers belong in prison. But the great majority of men in prison are NOT violent offenders. In fact, of the top ten reasons for incarceration only 1, the 6th, is in for a violent crime (assault with a deadly weapon.) The others are drugs, robbery or burglary. The great majority are also under 25 when they commit their offense.

Also it costs about 30,000 to keep a person in prison per year, not 85,000. Additionally, in the last decade the crime rate has dropped 16%, but we're imprisoning 33% more people.

And yes, I have worked in a prison. And yes, I have a loved one who was murdered.

Posted by nessiegirl1979 on August 1, 2007 at 9:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

wow srred, perhaps you are so defensive because a friend or relative of yours is serving time? Or maybe it's your treehugger way of life? Would you like to personally sponsor an inmate to help with soaring costs? The last study claimed an inmate was costing $60,000 a year and I'm sure it is more than that by now. These guys put themselves in prison to start with, nobody put them in there but themselves.

Proud wife of a c.o. who has to deal with these losers on a daily basis.

Posted by shasta47 on August 1, 2007 at 10:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Some women and/or men are inmate groupies. They get all the love with these bored men and/or women inmates that they cannot get from the free world. But you know it costs them they get scammed one way or another. I pity the poor children of these idiots in lockdown that not only screwed up their lives but everyone they touch. I also pity those whose parents choose to get involved with an inmate

Posted by Jessikah on August 2, 2007 at 2:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Shasta47 -- your hate-filled head is making you forget common sense (and how to write proper English). I bet you're a bigger danger to society than most people in prison today.

Posted by shasta47 on August 2, 2007 at 2:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh did I hurt Jessikah's poor sensitivities? If my English is so bad how could you respond? Did I not see you wailing against English as a first language in America in another thread? 
I call a spade a spade and if I hurt your warm fuzziness that's too bad.

Posted by iwrite4right on August 2, 2007 at 6:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Tinman12, I know that there are a lot of people who think as you do, but there are a growing number of people who are realizing that the path of fear, punishment and vindictive revenge or retaliation begets more of the same in a society, but the path of love, forgiveness, and healing can improve individuals and the society as a whole. Granted, there are individuals who are most likely beyond help, and yes society needs to be protected from them, but there are many others who can be redeemed.

Consider the word penitentiary. It has the same root is the words penance or penitence, which have to do with feeling regret, remorse and sorrow for sins, wrongdoings, or offenses. Penance or penitence can be the beginning of a process of forgiveness and healing provided the people involved are open to it. The results of such a process, sometimes called restorative justice, can not only heal the perpetrator but also those concerned with carrying out justice.

I recommend a book to you, Tinman12, entitled, "The Five Things You Cannot Change . . . and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them" by David Richo. One of the five givens, as he calls them, is “Life is not always fair.” On retaliation, Richo writes, “Retaliation does not balance things since it harms the soul of the retaliator and creates a more severe imbalance. Socrates noticed this peril and wrote: ‘It is better to suffer an injustice than to commit one.’ This is because the body and mind are damaged by injustice from others, but it is our own soul that is damaged by revenge.”

Posted by shasta47 on August 2, 2007 at 6:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sure enough iwrite4right the inmates will have feelings of regret, remorse and sorrow for their sins, wrongdoings, or offenses;
Because they got caught!
Prisons are not what I consider a retaliation process rather a punishment

You say "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind"
while there are those who stand by "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot"

"Be granted the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and to have the wisdom to know the difference"

Posted by iwrite4right on August 2, 2007 at 9:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)


Retaliation and punishment come from the same source, the remnants of the reptilian brain that still affect fear-based “survival” behavior in modern-day humans. There is no evidence that the prospect of punishment deters crimes of passion, crimes of the mentally ill, or the desperate crimes of the drug addict. Nor does the possibility of punishment deter the calculated crimes of career criminals because they think they are too smart to get caught or their egos thrive on risk taking. Prison in itself is punishment; medical neglect, isolating the mentally ill in the SHU, and the demeaning, cruel, and sometimes tortuous treatment of prisoners by rogue guards all go far beyond what any reasonable person would consider just punishment.

It is interesting that you quoted the Serenity Prayer. Can you accept that mental illness cannot be punished out of someone? Do you have the courage to change your hateful, vengeful attitude? Do you have the wisdom to know the difference between these two challenges?

Posted by shasta47 on August 3, 2007 at 11:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

iwrite4right I believe that you are a bleeding heart which is part of the problem in America today; we have gone way overboard in our leniency towards illegal immigrants as well as allowing violent criminals to be released too soon only to commit crimes. 
Many of the prison population are illegal immigrants and anchors that haver joined gangs. It swells the prison population and we pick up the tab. Deportation is one solution. Another solution is to kick loose the non-violent petty offenders. 
So what is your solution? Should us modern day humans roll over and allow ourselves to be victimized by thugs and/or criminally insane? Exchange prisons for mental hospitals? You can thank Reagan for closing down that alternative. How about we put on a tracking bracelet and just let them roam the streets?
You are so against prisons why don't you get involved and find a miracle cure and save us taxpayers money? 
Medical neglect? Inmates get free medical, food, education and entertainment. 
I am thankful for the remnants of my reptilian brain so that I can sense danger, flee or fight and protect my perimeter from danger. Without that I would be a sheeple like you. 
I have a hateful, vengeful attitude you claim. Because I want my family safe means I am hateful? Because I do not accept crimes against humanity as the norm and believe that it is in societies best interest to lock up criminals? You must be an advocate against the death penalty or some whacko that gets off on the criminal element.
au contraire I love my family, people and country tired of a weak system and self-centered people like you that take the side of criminals.
I hereby declare that this is "adopt a criminal month" just for you iwrite4right

Posted by shasta47 on August 3, 2007 at 11:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I had to look up this SHU that iwrite4right spoke of. Once again you can thank Reagan for eliminating the mental hospitals. The ones that exist in California have a waiting list for transferee's from local jails/mental hospitals. The only difference, say at Napa or Atascadero, is they get day centers with arts and crafts within the compound which prisons lack. 
Mental illness is a national epidemic so common that criminals try to utilize it to get away with crime. 
It is likely iwrite4right is a member or believer in the ACLU. The ACLU is comprised of unethical corrupted lawyers that give illegal immigrants and other criminals more rights than American citizens.


Posted by realsimple778 on August 3, 2007 at 2:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

To Shasta47
Hey Bubba:
You're trying to twist Christian values stated by Iwrite4right into political views because you lost this argument. Regan was a Bubba just like you who eliminated mental hospitals but the states were supposed to replace those. He created a crisis that the state never could solve because of Bubbas like yourself who want to try and punish the sickness out of people.

This thread is very typical of the views and attitudes that necessitated a federal takeover of the prisons. This empire building isn't being done to protect the public safety.

There are no statistics anywhere that prisons do one thing to protect your family. There is plenty of solid evidence that people are returning to their communities much sicker.

From the comments you've made that condone cruelty to people's family members, I suggest you have your own mental illness checked out before you find yourself behind bars. These comments are coming from a violent soul.

I for one do not want my tax dollars used to hire thugs that punish sick people. Hospitals are healing places and much preferred alternative to prisons in the minds of thinking people.

I would like you to define a "gang" - because the fearmongering taking place by law enforcement labor unions over the dreaded "gangs" is just what has turned them into the most dreaded gang of all.

What is a gang? Isn't CCPOA a gang?

The federal judges have already said that the legislators are a gang who are breaking the laws. Why not put everyone in a cage that is murdering people in prison by medical neglect? Or does the law, in your twisted mind, apply only to the poor and uneducated who are easy to oppress so knuckledraggers can get paid far more money than they're worth?

Posted by realsimple778 on August 3, 2007 at 2:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

To Bubba

You ask if we modern day humans should roll over and be victimized by thugs. The answer is "no" - we as citizens should get together and take the thugs draining our precious education dollars working as law enforcement out of power. We should prevent the legislators that they bought and paid for in elected office, who are lawbreakers supporting thuggery, from ever getting elected in the first place by bringing people to the polls and registering the poor.

We should insist that real solutions to crime such as education, support of our young people, prevention of substance abuse and mental illness be where our public safety dollars are invested.

Locking people in cages who need medical help is a primitive practice from the dark ages, kind of like when people thought the world was flat.

Next time your wife or child gets a cold, demand that they get well and see how that works to heal their ailment. I wouldn't be surprised if you already do that.

Posted by shasta47 on August 3, 2007 at 3:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Methinks I am getting ganged up by the ACLU or those of that mindset. I have been waiting for the ACLU that just set up in Redding to get action going for the illegals that are moving in ditto for other criminals. 
You, realsimple, are not to tell me when I lose an argument. I don't play with religious fanatics. Meanwhile you are just in here to back that right wing nut iwrite4right. 
This thread was about a serious fight in High Desert State Prison. Please keep your religious views out of politics BUBBA.
Meanwhile I admire the Correctional Officers who put their lives on the line daily never knowing whether that day will be their last. How dare you call them a gang. You may just be a mouthy lawbreaker that hates authority? 
You want to see some gangs go to prison or the streets of LA.
You want to see corruption look to the detention centers that FEMA is building. 
Go preach somewhere else!
Goons such as socialists & commies' arguments are moot

Posted by shasta47 on August 3, 2007 at 4:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

realsimple778 do you know what assume means? "Assume makes an a$$ of you and me". I do not have a wife because I am straight. How dare you accuse anyone of abusing their kids just because they disagree with you. 
I am 100% American Patriot and belong to an awesome patriotic community. I don't associate with goons too busy trying to save American Sovernity. 
I know more than I need to about the thugs in command of our government while you wallow in the lower levels. Sh$$ runs downhill and that's where you reside in your holier than thou activism. If people like you would get off your keyboards and take action against the bigger problem's in America we might have a chance. 
Stick a fork in me I am done!

Posted by iwrite4right on August 3, 2007 at 4:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No, shasta47, I am not a bleeding heart. I am a moderate progressive, who believes in the value of finding common ground and working together to solve problems over resorting to name calling and defensively intensifying opposite viewpoints, as if there is some disgrace in looking for a place of agreement from which to start problem solving.

I agree that prisons are necessary and that some people belong there. My point is that far too many people in prison do not belong there, and in fact end up worse for having been there. The system needs a major overhaul to eliminate its one-size-fits-all approach and introduce more case-specific approaches that will in fact work to prevent and treat the root causes of crime, present alternatives to crime, and to heal mental illness and drug addiction. Remember, I am not saying that such alternatives are for everyone.

I agree that Reagan’s closing mental hospitals was a huge mistake. There would be no prison overcrowding and no Federal takeover of prison mental health care if adequate mental health facilities were available in communities. I agree, too, that State mental hospitals are not much different from prisons.

With regard to your statement, “Mental illness is . . . so common that criminals try to utilize it to get away with crime,” it is clear by the numbers of mentally ill in prisons that law enforcement does not buy into the excuse of mental illness, real or not.

I agree that the State should not have to house so many illegal immigrants; immigration is a Federal issue. And yes some illegal immigrants should be deported.

I totally agree with your statement, “Another solution is to kick loose the non-violent petty offenders.”

I also agree that everyone should use his reptilian instinct to fight or flee when threatened with imminent danger to one’s self, family, or country. BUT to turn that instinct into a conscious mindset that believes in locking up and punishing ALL criminals regardless of circumstances and with disregard for their humanity is NOT a solution to crime.

The so-called freebees you mention are either substandard or nonexistent and in no way diminish the punishment of being separated from family and society. Many prisoners have been dehumanized to the point of “institutionalization,” a psychological condition which renders them incapable of living outside the confines of an institution. This is why some parolees return, not because it is desirable.

So, shasta47, we do agree on many points. Prisons are necessary for some; alternatives are better for others. We both want a society that does not have to fear harm from others. I hope that our discussion has done more to unite us in purpose than polarize us on solutions. We can both do well to remember there is no one-size-fits-all solution to crime and the prison system is in need of serious reform.

Posted by shasta47 on August 3, 2007 at 5:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It is a great that we have this local opinion board to express our opinions and hear others. 
Has it occurred to you iwrite that mental illness is a factor in most criminal offenders profile? Check the DSM-1V codes: people that commit crimes, even petty theft, have a behavioral problem. 
Once they are subjected to isolation they lose control dropping into a psychosis which most normal intellectual people, if you will, would follow with similar responses.
These interracial fights are only taken into prison from the streets they are not developed there they are already a common event. The blacks are marked for genocide in LA and that movement is expanding by Hispanic gangs. Ditto for the whites. This is the instability, the real insanity that you may wish to address. 
Furthermore, the humane treatment these inmates would receive at a pleasant hospital institution would be heavenly for them as they would be kept in la la land high on anti-psychotic drugs 24-7. Drugs that itself would cripple their ...ahem...healing process. 
Yes the prison system is in dire need of reform and currently I find no answers to solve it except deport, take away citizenship of anchors and release the 2-bit players. One solution would be for people to think twice before breaking the law

Posted by realsimple778 on August 3, 2007 at 5:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

People without a death sentence have died preventable deaths. Some were very close to completing their sentences dealt out from mostly corrupt courts these days. Anyone who has actually been through a trial knows there is almost zero justice in the courts.

The prisons medicate the mentally ill so they can keep them from acting out in an environment that is wrong for human beings, let alone sick human beings.

The mentally ill cannot follow the rules of society, that is what makes them mentally ill, so the smart thing to do is for us as taxpayers to focus on prevention of these problems through education, and support of our young people BEFORE they fry their brains on drugs.

The judges have taken over because the lawmakers are CDCR, everyone in it are breaking the law. The criminals are wearing badges and sitting in elected office, which is why this takeover is necessary.

You did not explain to me what a gang is, the biggest gang in California is CCPOA, joined together with other law enforcement labor unions feeding off the suffering of the poor and sick.

Education and prevention of mental illness, rehabilitation and healing of the sick, changes in harsh sentencing laws, release of all non violent people, paroles for those who have earned it, vocational training for all prisoners who are well enough to comprehend it, more than $200 at the gate, taking the mentally ill completely out of the criminal justice system and putting them under a brand new agency.

Reversal of ridiculous conveyor belt laws that were set up to keep the prisons stocked with fresh humans, there are many, many reforms that could be taking place.

Posted by realsimple778 on August 3, 2007 at 6:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You should also know that the reason real reform doesn't take place are

1. A 2/3 majority is required to change laws via the legislature when means that at least some Republicans have to vote for it and they refuse.

2. The last three Governor have all vetoed reform bills to keep the industry going.

3. Human bondage, same as modern day slavery, is the biggest industry in California and many people feed off this human suffering in spite of claiming to be "Christians"

4. The entire legislature is bought and paid for by law enforcement labor unions, crime victims groups, District Attorneys, Judges and those of the retributive justice mindset. That's why nothing serious can get done, they were put into office by thugs acting under color of law and that's how they will vote more than 90% of the time, for their interests.

5. The entire bureaucracy runs off the budgets generated by taxpayer dollars for the prisons. If they release the prisoners, the whole bureaucracy falls down.

6. The only solution is for people to register the poor to vote by the tens of thousand and keep law enforcement's candidates from ever getting elected, to organize to do initiative campaigns, file lawsuits for all abuses.

This riot was intentionally caused by a Sgt. that forced the blacks to go over into the area occupied by the Hispanics. Some of the blacks refused but other CO's forced them to go and sure enough the riot ensued. This was to offset the truth of the PBS story about High Desert and for the guards to make themselves look important.

The man who was shot in the hip was finally taken to a Reno hospital and will probably never have use of that leg again, all for a politically staged riot. Why did it take so long to get him to the hospital? I hope he sues.

Posted by shasta47 on August 3, 2007 at 6:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You ain't seen nothing yet. Wait until we merge with Canada and Mexico. Wait until we lose our laws of due process, which we are losing as I type. Watch as Bush shreds our constitution. The whole picture affects us all. Glad you are tackling these issues realsimple778. For that I commend you. Keep up the good work and while you're at it visit a few patriot websites that address many issues that pertain to American Sovernity. You may find some keys for your fight within these sites. I would avoid the forums at first as you are a bit oversensitive. Be wary of internet cesspolls.

..just to name a few that I recommend..


Posted by realsimple778 on August 3, 2007 at 7:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I am here to discuss the State of California and their miserable prisons, the largest industry in the state, High Desert Prison which is totally mismanaged. Now you are taking it to another level which is really off topic.

What is the legal definition of a "gang" - since we're all supposed to be fearful of gangs - what does it mean exactly?

Posted by shasta47 on August 3, 2007 at 8:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ha ha I know that you're playing with me but here goes:
For me todays gangs, using modern reference, means a gathering of committed criminals that intend to overpower and victimize citizens. They usually have low IQ's and are from neighborhoods that give them a choice; choose a gang for protection or get assaulted. They share a common identity that controls a territory with violence. That includes gang bangers, the KKK, WCOTC, neo-facists, communists etc etc and don't forget the prison gangs which are the same gangs from the streets. 
There are some gangs that leave people alone and do their own thing such as the Hells Angels and Blkack Panthers but that's probably way over your head
Let the MS-13's run your neighborhood and rule you. Let the Brown Berets the Mexica Movement, gangs, take your country 
NOT mine

You are looking to call government entities gangs while they are really elected officials and employees that eats the sh$$ that runs downhill from the CFR and TLC. Look to the Global Elitists that controls Amnerica

Posted by shasta47 on August 3, 2007 at 8:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What's wrong with going to a higher level realsimple778? That's where the problems stem from. Go after the virus while fighting the symptoms. You fight for a better prison system I will fight for American Sovernity. If I lose my fight you will automatically lose yours. If you win your fight it won't help me in the long run
So pick your fights well realsimple778

Posted by iwrite4right on August 3, 2007 at 11:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Shasta47,In response to your question, “Has it occurred to you iwrite that mental illness is a factor in most criminal offenders profile?” Of course it has, and that is precisely one of my points. Current estimates are that at least 30% of all prisoners are mentally ill, but I suspect that the numbers are greater. Again, and you seem to agree, that prison, particularly solitary confinement, does nothing but exacerbate their acting out and sometimes induces psychosis or ultimately suicide. The mentally ill belong in the healing environment of a hospital totally separate from prisons and from State Department of Mental Health hospitals, which are just as dysfunctional and understaffed as prisons. These institutions are where staff resorts to keeping mental patients sedated on anti-psychotic drugs 24-7. Private and independent mental hospitals use many modalities of healing.

I realize that gang activity in prisons is an extension of gang activity outside, but I also know that some COs instigate fights among rival gangs in prisons. As related by realsimple778, this was the case in the recent fight at the High Desert prison. Under normal conditions rival gangs are kept on separate yards to avoid incidents. In general, prisons seem relatively powerless over criminal gang activity; gangs seem to be highly organized, ruthless and powerful regardless of the prison walls that confine them. I believe that gang members should be totally isolated from non-gang members from day one in prison to curtail their brutal recruitment tactics.

On the outside, communities should be empowered to maintain zero tolerance for any type of gang activity. More importantly communities need greater resources to prevent youth from joining gangs for protection, money, power or whatever they are missing in their life. There is a great need for mentors for disenfranchised youth who can be positive role models for them. One of the greatest gifts to humanity is a reformed gang member who dedicates the rest of his life to helping youth in his community.

Lastly, I just looked at several of the websites you referenced in your 6:32 p.m. post to realsimple778 and connected all the anti-immigration rhetoric to your reference to American Sovereignty and your comments to realsimple778 in your 8:20 p.m. post. You believe that prison problems stem from illegal immigrants, that there cannot be a better prison system as long as they exist? What a narrow view! Prison problems exist and persist primarily for the reasons listed in realsimple778’s 6:02 p.m. post.

I think we have come full circle. Signing off.

Prison Riot Near Susanville Sends Inmates To ER

Reporter: Anne Cutler
Email Address:  anne.cutler@kolotv.com

A massive prison riot at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville sent at least four inmates to local hospitals with stab wounds Saturday.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says about 75 prisoners, predominantly black and hispanic, were involved in the clash.

Two inmates were sent to Reno hospitals, two others where sent to hospitals in California.

DOCR officials told Kolo-8 none of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening.

The maximum security prison will conduct an internal investigation to figure out what started the riot and whether or not it was gang-related.

Officials also stated that prisoners can be highly dangerous and clashes between prison gangs are not uncommon.

Outside the gates, a California town is held prisoner
David Wiegand, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Prison Town, USA: Documentary. Directed by Po Kutchins and Katie Galloway. 6 p.m. Sunday, "Truly California" documentary series, KQED. 

Many documentaries, particularly those focusing on contemporary issues, become a kind of video mosaic of talking heads. Better films, such as "Prison Town, USA," go a step further and use the format to create a narrative. 

"Prison Town," which was produced by KQED as part of its "Truly California" series, is the story of a small town in the high desert of California where not only the economy but also life itself is dominated by the presence of three prisons (with more on the way). Back in the day, Susanville thrived on sawmills, thanks to its proximity to large forests. But as the logging industry faded because of environmental and economic factors, the town withered. 

So when the state came along with a plan to build prisons in the area, it seemed like a win-win situation. Since crime never goes out of style, the prisons would be filled with inmates who would need to be fed, whose families would need places to eat and stay when they visited, and, of course, there would be employment opportunities for local residents. 

Instead, as "Prison Town," directed by Po Kutchins and Katie Galloway, demonstrates through a series of linked narratives, Susanville (Lassen County) and its residents feel today as if they're the ones behind bars. Mike O'Kelly's family has been in the dairy business for generations. After the mills died out, he was able to keep his business going by supplying milk to the prisons. But now there's a proposal out of Sacramento that would put an end to patronizing local milk suppliers and, instead, buy milk in bulk for the entire state prison system. 

Mike's best employee, Gabe Jones, likes his job well enough, but his salary can't compete with what he would make as a prison guard. So, even though Mike's always treated him well, he quits the dairy to start training to become a prison guard. Another man from Susanville, named Dawayne, also enrolls in the class, but when he fails the final exam the first time he takes it, his family worries that there won't be any other source of income. 

And then there's Lonnie Tyler, who stole $40 worth of canned tuna and other food items from a convenience store because he was out of work and couldn't feed his wife and two kids while they were traveling through town a couple of years ago. He was caught and sentenced to 16 months in prison, during which time his wife rented a tiny house and waited for his release. Finally freed, he has to stay in Susanville as long as he's on parole. And since there is virtually no economy in the town other than the prison system, Lonnie has a tough time getting and keeping jobs. 

The filmmakers capture our attention by telling human stories. But along the way, they also talk about the explosive rise in prison construction in the United States, about how many of these prisons are built in rural areas, about what they do both for and to the local economy, about how half of all inmates in the country are in jail for nonviolent crimes, and about how the punishment for many crimes is considered significantly more severe than in it is in other countries. 

That's a lot of information to pack into an 86-minute film, but Kutchins and Galloway do it well - well enough to make us want to know more, not just about how things turned out for the four families at the heart of the film's narrative, but for Susanville and all small towns that may have looked to prisons as economic saviors but ended up, in effect, economically imprisoned themselves. 

The information is what you'll remember from the film, of course, but it will be hard not to recognize the quality of the filmmaking. This is documentary making at its best because it is, at heart, storytelling at its best. 

E-mail David Wiegand at  dwiegand@sfchronicle.com

July 24, 2007
Television Review | Prison Town, USA 

Welcome to Susanville, Home to Prisons 

The “before” debates tend to get plenty of news coverage: some town in New England or the Midwest or wherever is torn apart over whether to allow a dump or power plant or mega-whatever to come in. Rarely, though, does the “after” get much attention. Once the project in question went forward, did the promised economic benefits accrue? Was the social fabric shredded?

“Prison Town, USA,” a smartly constructed documentary tonight on the PBS series “P.O.V.,” explores the “after” in Susanville, a small city in Northern California that a decade ago underwent a substantial makeover with the construction of three huge prisons. The hopes were that the complex would take the place of lumber and other major businesses that were fading. The fears were — well, myriad.

The film, made by Katie Galloway and Po Kutchins over two years, looks at the big-picture issues Susanville now confronts through a collage of small stories. There are no documentary-style talking heads or charts here, just some very ordinary-looking people trying to find their places in a changed community.

A man who has lost a good lumber job tries to make it through correctional-officer training. A recently discharged prisoner struggles to find work and support his wife and children. The owner of a local dairy tries to fight a state decision to cancel his prison contract, which he contends would violate a pledge that the prisons would buy locally whenever possible. 

The film is light on specifics, beyond the intriguing factoids interspersed in stark white-on-black lettering between scenes. (“Nearly half the adults in Susanville, California, work at one of the area’s three prisons.”) But the impact of the prisons is more subtle than numbers can capture. It’s in how neighborhood dynamics change when the population includes many women and children who have moved to Susanville while Dad does time. (Can the children of prison guards play with the children of inmates?) It’s in how domestic life is affected by the militarylike training a corrections officer goes through. 

“Be fair, firm, consistent,” one instructor tells recruits. “If you’re a jerk, be a jerk all the time.” And one woman comments: “I think it’s hard for you to turn off being in a position of authority all the time. You’re coming home and doing the same thing to your families. There’s a lot of domestic violence.”

Those “before” debates seldom get to such personal places.


Prison Town, USA

Tonight on most PBS stations; check local listings.

Po Kutchins and Katie Galloway, producers and directors; Beth K. Segal, editor; Evan Eames, cinematographer; American Documentary, series producer. Produced by KQED/Truly California, the Center for Independent Documentary and Independent Television Service.


Writer’s in Prison 
By Claire Braz-Valentine | Monday, April 30, 2007 10:43:25 IST 

I was doing a guest writing workshop at Susanville State Prison near the Sierra Nevada foothills in northern California.

I was doing a guest writing workshop at Susanville State Prison near the Sierra Nevada foothills in northern California. Most of the men doing time there are sentenced to prison because of drugs. They are housed in huge dormitories in bunk beds. They have no privacy, no place to be alone, no place to think quietly. I had great apprehensions when I walked onto the prison grounds. I had taught writing workshops at many California prisons, but those prisons had cells. In Cells, even if they are shared with another inmate, one can find a least a little writing time. Surely the men here at Susanville were not going to be interested in what I had to offer.

I had decided to spend my two days giving a monologue workshop. I wanted the men to have a chance to write and then perform before a camera. I wanted them to see themselves on video before I left the prison at the end of the second day. I felt that life in this prison had probably stripped them of most of their identity and that writing and performance art might restore some sense of who they were or who they could be.

I was pleased that twenty men had signed up for the class. This was the maximum number I had said I could take. I spend the first hour with them, talking about what it was like to be a writer. Telling them that there is a joy and a freedom in the words. That no matter how much they were all forced to be alike, dress alike, eat the same food, keep the same hours, that in their writing they could finally be different. As different as they wanted to be. Writing, I told them, can be the most liberating of all the arts. You can be free with the word. There are no limits. told them that every time I picked up a pencil or sat down at a computer or a typewriter that it was as if I was coming home, coming home to my art, my words, that this was a world that no one else could take away. This art would sustain me throughout all my days.

"Even though I died right there in prison, I want to tell you something. The reason I need to talk to you today. I have risen again, just like in the Bible. I am reborn. One day a woman came in and told me to write. And I had never written before, but I did it anyway. I sat for eight ours in a chair and focused the way I have never focused before. I could never even sit still before! I wrote out my ugly life, and then I was able to finally feel something. To feel pity. For myself. When no one else was ever able to feel it. And I felt something else. I felt joy. I was writing, and what I was writing was good. I was a writer! And I was going to get up in front of all those men in that class, and I would say that this . . ." At these words he held up his little manuscript. This is more important to me than any drug. What I wanted to tell you was that I died a drug addict, and I was reborn as a writer."

We all sat there stunned. The camera kept running. He took a self-conscious little bow. Then he said, "Thank you," once again in his quiet voice. And then the men broke out in spontaneous applause. He walked over to me and took my hands. Inmates are not allowed to touch their teachers, but I let him anyway.

(The essay is a part of the Chicken Soup series)


Inmate shot during prison riot
Posted on Wednesday, April 11 @ 12:04:35 PDT 

 April 10, 2007 — An inmate from High Desert State Prison is listed in good condition after being shot during a riot at the prison on Tuesday, April 3.

Francis Jon Barretto was shot in the left arm with a mini-14 round about 10:05 a.m. in the Facility D Exercise Yard during an altercation between 20 Northern Hispanic and Asian inmates.

Correctional officers fired 15 40mm non-lethal rubber rounds and two warning shots from a mini-14 firearm in an attempt to stop the fighting.

Officers on the yard also used five 109 pocket grenades filled with CN, a type of tear gas, but the inmates continued to fight despite the officers’ efforts.

Barretto repeatedly kicked another inmate who was down on the ground in the head, and an officer fired the mini-14 round, striking him in the arm — stopping both the assault and the riot.

Barretto was received from San Diego County on July 6, 2000 and is serving a 24-year sentence for robbery and manslaughter.

He was transported to an outside hospital for treatment.

The shooting is under investigation by the California Department of Corrections and the Rehabilitation Deadly Force Investigation Team.

The correctional officer involved in the shooting has been reassigned to administrative duties pending the shooting review, per departmental policy.

HDSP opened in 1995 and houses approximately 5,163 minimum-, medium- and maximum-custody inmates. 


Prison reform to impact Lassen County
Posted on Thursday, March 15 @ 09:24:08 PDT 

 March 13, 2007 — State prison reform will have a major impact on Lassen County, according to County Administrative Officer John Ketelsen. 

"It’s no longer just a matter of emergency housing. It’s now an entire program designed to prevent recidivism and also to ease the transition from the prison experience to citizen life,” Ketelsen recently told the Board of Supervisors. 

Ketelsen said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed keeping convicts sentenced to three years or less in the county jail. Jails currently house those sentenced to a year or less. 

“The state is trying to use the county in partnership capacity to solve the overcrowding issue,” he said at the board’s Feb. 20 meeting. 

Prisons will be at maximum capacity by June and a state superior court judge recently ruled Schwarzenegger cannot ship inmates out of state under the emergency declaration the governor issued last fall. Only local jurisdictions can declare emergencies under the Emergency Services Act, according to Judge Gail Ohanesian. 

Schwarzenegger vowed to appeal the ruling with the Third District Court of Appeal. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association and another union sued to prevent the transfers of inmates to other states.

“The issue is bigger than this county, except that our problems are unique in that we have two prisons here, and they’re such a large part of our economy,” Ketelsen said. 

He added, there are five federal lawsuits pending because of overcrowding and one receiver assigned by the courts to settle a lawsuit “has threatened that he has a key to state treasury, and if they don’t do something soon he’ll go to back up the truck and take all the money.”

Ketelsen said the governor is trying to react to all the pressures and James Tilton is a very good chief for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

“This man is very bright and very articulate and willing to listen. But it’s no longer just a matter of talking about mitigating the costs of having a prison here. It’s new programs that we’re going to have to shoulder.”

Prison trial reimbursement
For the first time in her memory, County Auditor Karen Fouch said the state is paid up in reimbursements to the county for the costs of trials associated with the two Susanville prisons.

She said the county received a check on March 5 for prison trials costs through Dec. 30. The state was six months behind on its payments until board members mentioned the problem to State Senator Dave Cox. The state quickly paid its outstanding bill.

“That’s because they have a bigger issue now,” said Board Chairman Brian Dahle and the other board members agreed, with laughter.

“That’s the good news,” Fouch said. “The bad news is that, in all likelihood, the appropriation for this year is now depleted. So, they’ll have to go back and ask for an emergency appropriation.”

Later, she added, “They’ll be behind shortly.”

Cox offered to intervene any time the state is behind in prison trials reimbursement payments. 

Ketelsen suggested the state make the expansion more agreeable by allowing the prisons once again to make inmate crews available for outside work, such as picking up trash in parks and shoveling snow outside public buildings.

Susanville Mayor Lino Callegari is heavily involved in the Association of California Cities Allied with Prisons. District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson said he recently talked to Callegari about inmate crews becoming available “and evidently that may occur relatively soon,” Hanson said.

Since the prison reform program isn’t yet written out in a bill for the legislature, “we don’t know the form it’s going to take,” Ketelsen said, adding county staff will try to develop data on the costs of jailing those sentenced to three years or less in prison.

A court-imposed cap on the state prison system will soon prevent any new inmates from being transferred from county jails. Until the state comes up with some way to solve the overcrowding problem, inmates could wait indefinitely in county jail cells until a prison bed is available, according to Supervisor Jim Chapman.

“It’s likely that we could see the rest of our jail filled up by inmates being held pending an opening in a United States institution,” Chapman said.

Schwarzenegger plan
Schwarzenegger, on Thursday, March 8, toured the overcrowded conditions at the San Joaquin County Jail, according to a press release from his office. 

“The governor explained how his prison reform package would positively impact the problem at local county jails,” it said. “The governor’s comprehensive reform plan includes $5.5 billion (including $1.1 billion in local matching funds) to build 45,000 county jail beds and 5,000 juvenile beds throughout California. 

“I wanted to come to the San Joaquin County Jail today to discuss the dangerous domino effect that would occur if we fail to take action to resolve our prison overcrowding crisis,” Schwarzenegger said. “With severe overcrowding in our state prison system, counties face having to release prisoners early, putting more dangerous criminals out on the street.” 

Currently the state prison system holds 171,600 inmates, though it was designed to handle 100,000.

Schwarzenegger’s prison expansion plan includes $10.9 billion to add 16,000 prison beds, build 45,000 local jail beds, and set aside $1 billion for 10,000 medical and mental health beds pursuant to the court receiver's plans. 

The press release said the proposal also includes a comprehensive reform plan to enact Jessica's Law, California's new landmark initiative to protect children against sex offenders, “creates a sentencing commission and realigns resources to ensure the worst criminals are not a threat to public safety.”

The plan will also provide 5,000 to 7,000 beds in new secure reentry facilities to be constructed within counties to provide inmates with a transition period prior to their release. At the reentry centers, soon-to-be released inmates will get help with job placement, alcohol and drug counseling and other services “to help them live successfully outside of prison, which will help reduce California’s 70 percent recidivism rate." 

Lassen County Times  / STPNS 
February 08, 2007 COMMUNITY

Cox explains proposed expansion of Susanville’s two prisons

By Lassen County Times staff 

SUSANVILLE, California (STPNS) -- 

At a Dec. 21 press conference, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed nearly $11 billion in funding to expand the state’s prison and jail capacity by a total of 78,000 beds.

According to District 1 State Senator Dave Cox, who visited Susanville last week, the governor’s proposed budget includes funds for two state prisons located in Susanville — California Correctional Center and High Desert State Prison.

“As you know you’ve got two prisons here slated to have some expansion,” Cox said, “and we’ve been talking with the Department of Corrections about what’s necessary in order to mitigate the increase in the number of beds for the two facilities you have. There are currently 172,000 adults incarcerated in California, and they say we’re about 50,000 beds short, so it is a situation where they’re proposing that CCC, as well as HDSP, have an increase in bed space. 

“They’re talking about some construction somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 million for the proposed construction. But in addition to that, there’s some mitigation work that has to be done with infrastructure issues whether it’s water, wastewater or electricity or other things. We’re talking somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million.”

Cox said his office has been talking with city and county officials about the mitigation of the increase in population. 

The state senator acknowledged some in the state have criticized the prisons for “not being good neighbors,” but he added, “We’re interested in prisons being good neighbors, from the aspect of that if they make a promise they ought to keep it. If they expand the prison in terms of more beds, it’s in anticipation there will be a mitigation measure put in place so the local community doesn’t lose ground.”

Proposed CCC expansion

The proposed budget includes $38.4 million for expansion at CCC. The funding proposal includes the construction of two E-bed dormitory housing units inside the secure perimeter. A total of 400 new beds is proposed.

CCC has three separate facilities for Level I, II and III inmates. In addition, it is the hub for the Northern Fire Camp System. The Lassen Unit consists of five 270-cell design housing units with an electrified perimeter fence and is designed as a Level III facility. The two dormitory housing units, Cascade and Sierra, are designated as Level I/II and the Arnold I Unit is a Level I Minimum Support Facility.

According to figures supplied by Cox, CCC currently has 3,883 inmates in its design bed capacity, 1,841 inmates in overcrowding beds and 594 inmates in non-traditional beds for a total of 6,318.

The proposed new construction would add an additional 400 beds increasing the facilities capacity to a total of 6,718 inmates.

The budget proposal also includes $3.6 million to deal with infrastructure issues such as water, wastewater electrical needs and a new tower. This funding would be used for flushometer toilets, a 1 million gallon water storage tank and electrical improvements.

Also contained with the proposed construction appropriation is mitigation funding for local agencies pursuant to Penal Code Section 7005.5. A total of $320,000 is included for this purpose to be split evenly between the city or county and the county superintendent of schools, according to a handout distributed by Cox.

Proposed HDSP expansion

The proposed budget also includes $82.4 million for new construction at HDSP. The proposed new construction includes two new Administrative Segregation Units with 350 new beds within the secure perimeter. 

HDSP is designed as a Level III and IV consisting of four semi-autonomous facilities — two 270 cell design and two 180 cell designed facilities and a stand-alone Administrative Segregation Unit, all surrounded by an electrified perimeter fence. There is also a Level I Minimum Support Facility.

HDSP currently houses 2,324 inmates in its design bed capacity, 2,022 in overcrowding beds and 780 in non-traditional beds for a total of 5,126 inmates. The proposed new construction would add 350 new beds for a total capacity of 5,476 inmates.

Included in the budget proposal is $3.5 million to deal with infrastructure issues including an additional well, electrical upgrades, additional lighting and the re-routing of water lines.

Contained within the proposed construction appropriation is mitigation funding for local agencies pursuant to Penal Code Section 7000.5. A total of $280,000 is included for this purpose to be split evenly between the city or the county and the county superintendent of schools. 
© 2007 Lassen County Times Susanville, California. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from STPNS. 


Prison expansion likely to affect Lassen County
Posted on Tuesday, January 02 @ 13:46:18 PST 

  Jan. 2, 2007 — On Thursday Dec. 21, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a far-reaching prison reform plan to confront dangerous overcrowding at state prisons, presumably including the two in Susanville.

By Shayla Ashmore
Staff Writer

According to the Prison Overcrowding State of Emergency Proclamation the governor issued on Oct. 4, Susanville’s California Correctional Center “has an operational housing capacity of 5,724 inmates, but it currently houses 6,174 inmates, with 450 inmates housed in areas designed for other purposes. 

The proclamation continued, “At the same time, in the last year, there were 128 incidents of assault/battery by inmates — 16 of them against CDCR staff — along with 34 riots/melees, and 21 weapon confiscations.”

The proclamation also said, High Desert State Prison in Susanville “has an operational housing capacity of 4,346, but it currently houses 4,706 inmates, with 360 inmates housed in areas designed for other purposes.” 

“At the same time, in the last year, there were 351 incidents of assault/battery by (HDSP) inmates — 44 of them against CDCR staff — along with six riots/melees, and 289 weapon confiscations.”

Of the 33 state prisons, CCC and High Desert are among 29 considered severely overcrowded, it said.

According Schwarzenegger’s statement at the Dec. 21 press conference, the prison expansion plan will “meet current demands, prepare for growth and provide prisoners and officers with a safer environment.” The governor proposed $10.6 billion in bond financing and $0.3 billion from the State General Fund to expand California’s prison and jail capacity by a total of 78,000 beds. Details include: 

•State prisons: $4.4 billion ($3.3 billion lease revenue bonds, $800 million contract authority, $300 million General Fund).

•Proposal will fund 16,238 new state prison beds on existing sites; 5,000-7,000 beds in new secure re-entry facilities; build a new training facility; and construct a modernized Death Row at San Quentin.

•California’s 174,000 prison population lives in facilities designed for 100,000, and overcrowding has forced more than 17,000 inmates into gymnasium and classroom housing, a dangerous alternative that puts both offenders and guards in danger. 

The press release said the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation estimates it needs 50,000 new state prison beds over the next 15 years.

Jack Hanson and John Ketelsen went to a prison expansion meeting with James E. Tilton, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the day of the press conference. 

Tilton did not give details about which prisons would be expanded. Ketelsen said he and Hanson went to the meeting to tell Tilton about the unique effects prisons have on counties with small populations. 

Almost 26 percent of the county’s populations consists of prison inmates, Ketelsen said.

As a result the county faces higher costs for criminal prosecution which it cannot handle as well as larger counties. There are also hiring problems because the county can’t compete with the prison pay scale. 

Ketelsen said the prisons draw away employees the county has trained. He told Tilton prison hiring doesn’t create a problem for the county as long as prisons hire unemployed people.

“When they hire people outside or hire people already employed, it’s not helpful,” Ketelsen said. 

Ketelsen said Tilton comes from a public sector background knows finance and was willing to learn. Tilton said there is money in the state budget for mitigation, according to Ketelsen, and Tilton was sympathetic to addressing the unique needs of smaller counties 

“A little later he is going to hold town hall meetings starting off in Amador County. I intend to bring the message to the board that we should attend that and invite him here,” Ketelsen said.


Guards stretched
State prison system vacancies strain officers, inmate activities
By Andy Furillo -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:01 am PDT Monday, September 4, 2006

SUSANVILLE -- It's a pretty simple deal for High Desert State Prison control booth gunner Gerald Gifford.

"My job," he said, "is to shoot somebody if they're trying to hurt my officers."

But there are moments, Gifford said, when it's not so simple, when the three double-shifts he's turning every week start to catch up with him.

"Yeah, you're tired," Gifford said. "When you're working, you don't really feel it, but yeah, it does affect your reaction time."

If Gifford, 47, finds himself slow to the trigger, he and the rest of the California prison rank-and-file officers lay at least a portion of the blame on the high number of vacancies that permeate their ranks.

They say the 2,081 unfilled officer positions at the state's 33 prisons stretching from Pelican Bay to the Mojave Desert create a dangerous work environment. And they get no argument from top officials in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, academics and even inmate rights advocates -- all of whom agree that understaffing is one of the biggest problems in the prison system.

"It can be difficult to manage in a safe manner," said John Dovey, the agency's chief of adult operations. Combined with a still-worsening overcrowding problem in the prison system, Dovey said in a memo last year that understaffing is helping to create "an immediate and substantial threat to the public safety."

Besides the danger, staff shortages also lead to cutbacks in inmate programs and have exacerbated the prison health care crisis. They've also been cited as the principal contributor to the hundreds of millions of dollars the prison department has spent on unbudgeted overtime costs.

Prison officials say they can't attribute any riots or inmate deaths or attacks on officers directly to the system's vacancy rate. But California Correctional Peace Officers Association spokesman Lance Corcoran argued that virtually every significant prison incident -- as well as the department's ongoing failure to rehabilitate the 173,000 inmates under its control -- can be linked to having too few officers.

"When you've got two officers for 200 inmates, in a Level 3 (medium security) building, we're not 'correcting' anything," Corcoran said. "We're simply responding."

The Legislative Analyst's Office in a February 2004 report listed vacancies as the leading cause of the prison system's unbudgeted overtime costs, which came to $1.16 billion over the previous five years.

Brian Brown, a corrections spending analyst for the analyst's office, said it is "somewhat" more expensive for the state to pay overtime rather than to fully staff the department. The time-and-a-half the state pays for overtime, he said, outstrips the additional costs that would go toward paying health care and other benefits if the state had warm bodies to staff the vacant positions.

A nine-month shutdown of the department's training academies in 2004 -- the result of faulty population projections -- precipitated the staffing crisis.

With no officers coming out of the academies, the vacancy rate quadrupled from the 2 percent when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took office in late 2003 to 8.8 percent on Aug. 18.

Prison officials are now running year-round academies in Galt and Stockton. The department also is about to graduate its first contingent of cadets from a satellite training facility in Susanville, designed to train locals for the chronically understaffed High Desert prison and the nearby California Correctional Center.

Corrections administrators are currently processing about 22,000 officer applications, according to Dovey. But the training operation is only churning out about 320 officers every 16 weeks, not enough to keep pace with the prison department's attrition of 1,200 officers a year.

Dovey said the Galt and Stockton academies are moving to overlap their classes to increase the number of cadets. But the Schwarzenegger administration has proposed as a long-term solution building a $55.3 million, bond-funded academy in Southern California. The idea is that prospective officers from south of the Tehachapis would be more inclined to sign up for prison work if they could train closer to home.

In the meantime, California has the fourth-highest inmate-to-staff ratio of any state in the nation -- 6.46 prisoners to every one officer, compared with a U.S. average of 4.47, according to UC Irvine criminology professor Joan Petersilia. "It's a very serious problem," she said of the state's officer vacancy rate.

At no prison in California is the understaffing problem more acute than at High Desert.

Isolated, rural, with no Kaiser-like group medical plan available to keep medical costs down, High Desert and the nearby California Correctional Center have historically been the toughest prisons in the state to staff -- even tougher than the desert outposts near Needles and Blythe and in the Imperial Valley.

Until a recent officer infusion from the academies, High Desert had 125 vacancies out of its authorized line staff of 765 -- more than any other prison in the state, corrections spokesman Brian Parriott said. Even with the new blood, High Desert still has 84 vacancies, said prison spokesman Dennis Gunter, not counting extended sick leaves and High Desert officers assigned to other institutions, which has kept the vacancy mark well over 100.

Vacant positions and just the possibility of being forced to work overtime weighs on the psyches of many High Desert officers.

Officer D. Davidge coaches the junior varsity football team at a local high school but missed six practices last year and showed up late for another eight because of forced overtime.

"They tell you in the academy, you need to make sure you've got an outside life," Davidge said. "But that is impacted by the holds. You need outside stimulus, besides your work. But when we start coming in here, working 16 hours a day, it takes away from that."

On a recent Thursday, Lt. Rich Plainer, a day-shift supervisor in one of High Desert's housing units, had three forced holdovers working for him from the morning watch -- piling up involuntary overtime.

Three other officers, however, had volunteered to stay over for extra shifts. Gifford, the control booth gunner, said he makes himself available for voluntary overtime two times a week, and plenty of officers throughout the system "like to work overtime" to cash in on the extra money, said Don Cathey, the union president at the nearby California Correctional Center. Numerous reports in recent years have documented that overtime can push an officer's salary to more than $100,000 a year.

But Plainer said nobody's milking the system on his watch at High Desert.

"We're conscious about the money we're spending here," Plainer said. "We understand there's a cost involved with this thing. But it's my responsibility to make sure these positions are filled, for the safety and the security of the institution."

Sometimes, there isn't anybody available to work overtime at High Desert, and it's the inmate programs that suffer. A week ago Thursday, with not enough officers to work the 9:15 a.m. yard time slot in the prison's "D" facility, program Sgt. Dustin Hitt said he was forced to keep the prisoners locked in their housing unit.

"We had a couple people who phoned in sick," Hitt said. "There was no one left on the grounds to utilize from the previous watch. So we have to cover internally the best we can."

Hitt said the plan called for rescheduling the 130 affected inmates to a later yard time in the afternoon. Another group of prisoners had already been scheduled for the slot, meaning that the move would increase density and, according to some officers, add to tension among the convicts.

Steve Fama, a lawyer with the Prison Law Office in San Rafael, said that staff shortages are forcing shutdowns and alterations of inmate programs all over the state. Prison medical care -- already the subject of a federal court takeover -- suffers when there aren't enough officers around to escort sick prisoners to their medical appointments, he said.

"I would call it a significant problem," Fama said of prison understaffing. "It makes it difficult to run a consistent program, and it sort of means that crises fester, instead of being addressed in a consistent manner over a period of time."

Bryan Rana, an administrative segregation officer at High Desert and the prison's CCPOA chapter vice president, said the program shutdowns usually serve to further poison relations between inmates and staff.

"It creates animosity," Rana said. "And they're not mad at the administration. They're mad at us."

About the writer:
The Bee's Andy Furillo can be reached at (916) 321-1141 or  afurillo@sacbee.com .


Prison expansion gives county a chance to address issues
Posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2006 @ 16:34:04 GMT 

 Aug. 22, 2006 - Lassen County already has more prison inmates, per capita, than any other county in California. So, before the state expands two Susanville prisons, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors wants state officials to hear about some of the negative impacts prisons have on local government.

By Shayla Ashmore
Staff Writer

“To be honest with you, I’d like to extract as much out of the state on this issue as we can,” Supervisor Jack Hanson said at the Tuesday, Aug. 15 board meeting. “Obviously, there are other counties that are responding to this and have a lot of the same issues we do and maybe we can get some of them resolved,” Hanson said.

The state plans to add 750 new beds in four dorms inside the existing prisons, 350 at High Desert State Prison and 400 at the California Correctional Center.

Twenty-five-point-nine percent of Lassen County’s total population consists of inmates currently institutionalized in state prison, according to a 2005 chart the board reviewed on Aug. 15, entitled California’s Institutionalized Population. Inmates account for 8,910 of the county’s 33,828 residents.

“We’re number one,” said Supervisor Jim Chapman. “We’re 25.9 percent and the next one down (King’s County) is 14.4 percent.”

“If you include in there the employees, and they’re great people, we’re probably close to 40 percent of our stated population of 33,000,” Hanson said. “We’re a company town.”

He added the state reimbursements for prison trials are no longer 18 months behind, but the trial costs are still not paid on time. The most recent prison trial costs reimbursement report shows the state hasn’t paid for the costs of trials generated by prison crimes since March. It is currently $19,258.35 behind on payments for trials at CCC. The state owes Lassen County $180,423.69 for trials at HDSP.

For the full story, see the Aug. 22 Lassen County Times. 

A recent complaint out of High Desert

Behavioral Modification Unit – BMU – Black Man's Unit 

 by Edward Thomas Wednesday, 25 July 2007 

I am enslaved at the High Desert State Prison plantation and have been illegally placed in a restrictive, unauthorized and unapproved disciplinary pilot program called the Behavioral Modification Unit – BMU – Black Man's Unit, the white officers call it, because it's 98 percent Black prisoners.

I've been placed back here illegally due to attempting to sue Warden Tom Felker and officers under his supervision for jumping on me during a medical emergency. I am disabled, with documented back injuries and leg injuries that I suffered when I was forced to walk without my mobility assistive devices. My orthopedic walker, back brace, knee braces and shower chair that I had to pay close to $750 for have been confiscated from me without my ever having been physically examined by any doctor or anyone in the medical field. I was transferred to this prison illegally on Feb. 5 after my appeal against the transfer never got processed.

If you can publish my story, possibly a lawyer will assist me in my struggle against these devils at this prison when people read how they are treating me and other prisoners. I have a lawsuit against Salinas Valley State Prison and their officers that also assaulted me and partially paralyzed the left side of my lower body, making me mobility impaired. 

I have a lot to expose about what's been transpiring behind these walls – the mistreatment I've been subjected to and that all the Black prisoners who have been placed in this Behavioral Modification Unit have been subjected to. We have no outlet to file complaints with. The administrative appeals we do file are being destroyed and we're being disciplined for filing them.

I cannot walk, and I'm forced to be confined in a cell 24 hours a day – no exercise, no outside yard or sunshine, no showers, only bird baths in my sink. If you come to interview me, I would need a wheelchair or my walker to get to the interview, but I would not ever refuse to come out my cell. That is what the officers have been alleging when I have appointments like medical and law library. So if they say this to you, don't believe it because it's not true.

Write to Edward at Edward Thomas, P-64423, D5-109 BMU, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127.

E-mail received May 2005

"Please help. Get me out of here. They (correctional officers at HDSP in Susanville, California) are Beating me Everyday, SHOCKING me in my Penis & Balls. Blood is coming out of my Penis & Rectum. They are sticking things in my rear-end & ears. They won't let me sleep. They have made me A CONFIDENTIAL SLAVE. They are trying to make me commit suicide". 

He said he wrote local DA OFFICE and the DA ofc called HDSP only to be told nothing was going on & they would take care of the matter. Things got worse thereafter. 

Please help.  He is a lifer and carries w/him all that tag implies; no credibility. Who will believe anything he has to say? He has been in prison most of his adult life, is far away from home, receiving no family visits because of the distance. He has never once before complained to us of any abuse. Speak for him where he can't. Give him a voice.  Don't allow the badges bestowed upon those sworn to uphold the law shield them from accountability.

September 2004

My son is on hunger strike at High Desert State Prison
by Anita Wills 

On Sunday, Sept. 26, my son's girlfriend, myself and my grandsons went on a 350-mile trip. We were going to see my son, Kerry Baxter Sr., who is incarcerated at High Desert State Prison in Lassen County.

We live in the Bay Area, and in order to get there, we would have to go through Reno, Nevada, and then back into California. I wonder why they did not use some of the millions of dollars in taxpayer money to build a road that did not pass through Reno. As we rolled into Susanville, I looked to my right and saw the facility. It is the biggest industry in the town, and contains water towers and its own utilities. In fact, it is described in the brochures as being a self-contained community. 

This is not a community of Americans who can come and go as they please, but a community of society's castoffs. It is interesting to note that in our civilized society, instead of spending millions to deter crime, prisoners are locked away. 

It reminds me of South Africa during apartheid, when those who were a bother, including Nelson Mandela, were put away. They put a band-aid on a problem that requires major surgery. When we went into the reception office, the guard told us that my son was in PC (protective custody) and we needed to make an appointment. I could not believe that they were going to deny us a visit. I had made several calls to the facility prior to our visit, and no one said anything about making an appointment. Nor had they said anything about my son being in protective custody.

 In fact, I spoke to the assistant warden, a Mr. Peterson, and he did not say anything about Kerry being in protective custody. After looking at her appointment book, the guard did give us an appointment, for 1 p.m. We left and returned around 12 p.m. and went to register. It was then that they told my son's girlfriend she could not wear the outfit she had on. She had a beige outfit on, with two denim patches. They said she would have to change because of the denim patches. Nothing in any of the material I read stated that you could not wear denim patches. Foreseeing this problem we brought changes of outfits and she changed. There was little we could do, since 

I felt that these people wanted us to lose it so that they could deny us a visit. By the time we saw my son, it was after 1:30 p.m. We had arrived in Susanville around 10:30 a.m. Amazingly, they have all kinds of industries in town that are dependent on visitors to the prison to survive. The town itself is built around the prison, and 
the only minority I saw was a Middle Easterner, who owned the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. There are rows and rows of trailer parks, some with double-wides. There are nondescript houses built on the roads leading into town and up to the prison.

 We finally arrived in the visiting area, and the inmates were all in blue. We could not have a contact visit with my son and waited for them to bring him in behind a plexiglas window. When he came in, the first thing I noticed was that his pants were too big. He had a rope around his waist holding up the pants he wore. When he went in, Kerry was standing about 6 feet tall and weighing close to 200 pounds. He looks like he weighs about 140 pounds, meaning he has lost about 60 pounds.

 His veins are popping out of his arms and wrists. His girlfriend asked him why he had lost weight and he just said that he was okay. Although he had lost weight, he looked healthy, and his eyes were clear. He looks like Jamie Fox, and is 36 years old. He told me that the conditions there are intolerable and that they moved him from Cell Block B to this Cell Block C without giving him a reason. In Cell Block C, the Blacks and whites are locked down 24 hours and have been for two years. In Cell Block B, the Blacks and Asians are locked down and have been for eight months. Isn't that a gravy job for the guards? All they have to do is come in and sit down for eight hours. No dealings with the inmates at all, since they are on lockdown.

He said that they were not allowed to have toiletries or supplies there. He said that there is a lot of psychological abuse from the guards. On one occasion, the guards put a Black and a white person in the shower together, knowing they would fight. The Black person was stabbed, and the guards again put Blacks and whites on lockdown. Although Blacks and whites have been on lockdown, the whites have 
killed two Blacks.

 That means that the guards are targeting Blacks, not surprising given their level of education and the types of people the CDC is hiring. A couple of months ago, my son went on a hunger strike and was taken to the medical unit. I do not know how long he was on the hunger strike before they forcefed him. I notice that Kerry had a problem talking, and his jaw looks like it is dislocated. However, he assured me he is fine and said not to worry about him.

 I believe he is on a hunger strike, protesting the psychological abuse they are receiving at High Desert State Prison. It appears that any Black prisoner in High Desert is going to be on lockdown 24/7. That is how the predominantly white prison guards deal with them. There are at least some whites, some Asians and some Hispanics who are not on lockdown.

 I do not blame my son for going on a hunger strike. God knows what those people are putting in the food that the inmates are eating. My question is who is preparing and feeding the food to the prisoners on lockdown? Is it Asians, Hispanics or whites? The fact is that my son, who is from the Bay Area, has a case that is on appeal. In my opinion, he has not had a fair trial, and the way things are going, he may not live to see another day in court.

 That would be a wonderful thing for those who prosecuted him, but not too great for the state of California. The state is intentionally allowing prisoners to die and paying their families millions of dollars. Is there any wonder they are broke? Instead of cleaning up the mess called CDC (California Department of Corrections), they are in partnership with them to commit crimes against humanity. 

I do not want anything to happen to my son, but I do understand why he is on a hunger strike. I would do the same thing if someone was trying to dehumanize me. No act that was committed justifies the state to act in the manner it is acting. In "Sounder," an African American father is taken from his family for stealing a chicken. 

He is sent to a prison farm, miles away, and moved several times before the family finds him. His children are left fatherless, and his wife is left without a husband. When he is injured in an explosion at a mine, he is sent home. That movie was set in the South sometime in the 1940s, but it appears we are still there.

 The state of California is building prison camps in which prisoners are allowed to be abused and murdered. Are we headed to an Auschwitz type of situation here in sunny California? Are we going to live out the Manifest Destiny of South Africa? Who are the prisons being built for since crime is going down? Although California professes to be broke, it can find the billions of dollars necessary to incarcerate 
its citizens. 

We need to take a hard look at what is going on with the Three Strike law and who is profiting from this prison industrial complex. Anita L. Wills is the author of "Notes and Documents of Free Persons of Color," available at: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Blackwell's, isbn.nu/1411603338. 

New AdSeg at High Desert

I have reports of torture in the new ad seg at High Desert.  The inmates never got their basic property when moved to the Z unit isolation (ad seg).  We are talking about deodorant, shampoo, things they need.

Desperate, the inmates soaped their windows so the guards couldn't see them in retaliation for denying them their basic property during the move.

Soaping their windows are reported to have resulted in violent cell extractions where tear gas and pepper spray were used.  They have been sleeping on cement slabs with no mattresses and no sheets, only one blanket.

Mail in and mail out is being denied to them while this torture is taking place to keep it out of the media.

I testified against Dave Runnels at his warden confirmation hearing for just these sort of practices.  What would you like to be about this situation. As a group we can make a difference here.  This is worse than Shawshank redemption but the animal rights people would never sit quietly by and allow this to happen to animals.

Torture.  In our  names and with our tax dollars and they've been getting away with this for several weeks now.  Should we sit silently when we have the power of protests, writing letters to editors and raising hell?

If it happens to even one American, it should outrage us all.



At 1:35 I received a call from John Peterson explaining what has happened in the new "Z" ad seg unit in response to my inquiry earlier today.  Peterson is the press agent, admin assistant to Warden Dave Runnels.

He explained to me that a group of men were moved into this new prison within a prison on June 15 and 16.

Their property was indeed confiscated.

They did in fact conduct violent cell extractions when inmates soaped up their windows or covered them with paper which they all did.

One inmate really ticked them off because he cut a hole in his mattress and crawled into it when they pepper spayed his cell.

Violent cell extractions were done on two days over "this nonsense" as he termed it.

"The inmates must expect trouble like this if they cover their windows."  he said.

I made it very clear that only a coward would pepper spray an unarmed prisoner who was upset by confiscation of their personal property and a move that was probably  horrible based on CDC's normal patterns.

Sixteen of 55 inmates who participated in the rebellion are now on management status, which means they are in a tshit, underwear and one blanket.

Those people who were peppersprayed do not have mattresses because everything in the cell is contaminated.

Peterson told me "there was no choice but to pepper spray the inmates."

I vehemently disagreed.  There was a choice and they provoked it my taking away their property for nearly two weeks.

I asked about the mail blockage and he said that he sees mail coming in and attempted to deny the entire situation.

But then when he told me that only a few inmates have received their property it was clear that they purposefully didn't have stamps, envelopes and pens.

I told him that the families are worried and upset, as if a plane had crashed and they didn't know the condition of their loved one.

I explained that families are so upset that they are contacting the media and ready to pile in their cars and stand out in front of the prison with embarrassing picket signs.

Peterson said that wouldn't be necessary and assure me that their property would be returned today.

The power game appears to be over because we as outsiders are involved and making noise over it.

CDC lies and Runnels in particular so I do not want you to slow down your calls so that he gets the picture firmly in his mind that provoking unrest and then pepper spraying and isolating people over their responses is totally unacceptable.

They don't want us to land on their doorstep with a protest team and the tone was very respectful.

With stamps, paper and pens returned today, if they do what they said they would do, you should be hearing from your loved ones at any time.

Peterson told me there are no serious injuries from the cell extractions but of course, the mental intimidation that these cause is  permanently injurious to a prisoner's emotional state.  I also made it quite clear that we as taxpayers do not want to see people tortured in prison and then returned to their communities a broken 
down mess.

Dave Runnels has been told "don't mess with the moms and family members of  the UNION by torturing their loved ones and provoking rebellion."

"Give those boys some stamps and paper or suffer the consequences of having angry, worried families on your lawn" I told him.  They don't want that to happen.

Good job, thanks for backing me up with these calls to action and fighting for yourself and others.  Let me know as soon as your loved one contacts you, in the meantime, let's keep up the calls to that hellhole. Press the personnel option, they don't have a real person  on the switchboard any more.

Dave Runnels, Warden, High Desert Prison at Susanville

(530) 251-5100

And tell the governor on these testosterone-driven punks with badgeswho are such masters at cover up, lockdowns and psychological torment.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

(916) 445-2841

B. Cayenne Bird, Journalist
United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect
P.O. Box 85
Garden Valley, Ca. 95633

[This is what happens to Shasta County prisoners that are sent to High Desert.  The County should stop sending prisoners over there until they clean up their act.  With a few exceptions of evil murderers, who are birds of a feather.  Even if they are guilty as hell, they don't deserve this kind of treatment.  This is business as usual at High Desert.]

Story regarding the Happy Valley Minister. He was sent to High Desert State Prison some time back.  When he arrived, they refused to place him in protective custody even though he as a known target because of all the media attention. The CDC 
guards left his cell open then turned their backs and allowed the prisoner thugs to attack Shelton.  According to inmate gossip, they could hear Shelton screaming in pain and for help all over the prison, yet the guards did nothing. The story is not real
complete. At some point they took him to the infirmary, patched him up and sent him back. Don't know the time frame. At some latter time the guards allowed and orchestrated a repeat performance, only this time the inmates gagged Shelton so he 
couldn't scream, and beat him so severely as to hospitalize him.  Now they have him in total isolation and have supposedly told him this is how he will do his entire prison sentence. I'm sure there is much more to the story.  Evidently there were some 
scandalous things done by Deputy District Attorney Erin Derwin here in Shasta County that should be told. This is the latest episode of CDC corruption.

As to Wardens and Guards, they know exactly what they are doing. They are corrupted in their thinking by their power over others, they are evil people, they are psychopaths who not only know what they are doing--but they enjoy it.

July 2004


Once again High Desert Prison is on lockdown because once again, an inmate has been stabbed there.  This prison is one hell on earth and the legislators do absolutely nothing about.  You are wise to advise everyone to document everything that happens with their prison problems in letters.

This makes the wardens toe the legal marks a little better, although they are very sure they are above the law.  After all the families do not show up to their warden confirmation hearings or report their wrongdoings to the media or organize embarrassing pickets to stand up to them in anyway. 

It's excellent advice though because the letters make legal cases possible.  Without them, the family is just lost without any record.  The wardens almost always take no action and typically throw the 602's in the garbage can.  We allow it by failing to organize and file enough lawsuits.


Redding Man Killed in Prison - 2003

 Authorities Investigate Slaying of Redding Man

 Major Riot at High Desert Prison Produces No Staff Injuries

 Prison Official Involved in Black Rock Tavern Brawl Sentenced

 Female Correctional Officer Assaulted, On Life Support

 DA Files Arson and Conspiracy Charges Against Three COs

 High Desert Prison Inmates dies after fight in an Exercise Yard - 2002

Lassen News - Articles


November 8, 2003

Mr. Presley,

My brother is an inmate at High Desert State Prison, serving 14 years. I am only now, after this research, have begun to wonder why my brother, a career drug user and thief who has been railroaded on a bogus " kidnapping" charge for what should have been a domestic violence beef, is even in a prison such as High Desert which, sounds like, is full of "lifers."

On Monday, November 3, 2003, he was assaulted and stabbed on the "yard" and is now in Reno County Hospital. He only had his girlfriend listed as an emergency contact and we, his family, just found this out yesterday, 11/7/2003, after his girlfriend received an "anonymous " call with info. She was not contacted by the prison because she is not "family." It seems to me that if she was listed by him, why should it matter? I'm sure he has a very detailed file with information about his family, so why were we not contacted?

After leaving a message with a Lieutenant at the prison I received a call and was given minimal information, not including what hospital he is in and that he is listed in "Guarded Condition." I was also told his family would not be allowed to see him unless he was dying. Shouldn't his family be allowed to see him or be with him? I have also been informed that I need to contact the Warden and I have tried to get in contact with the Warden, but he is not in until Monday. Good Luck, getting through the automated menus to a real person at the prison. What if my brother does die suddenly?

Apparently, from info I have pieced together, this assault took place because of a $200 debt left by a prisoner released in September, for whom which my brother vouched for. My brothers cellmate was supposedly caught in the middle and murdered and I've been told it is surprising that my brother is alive after multiple stab wounds to the neck, chest, etc., but I have yet to confirm this info. I believe we have the right to be with our family member and should have more info as to how he is doing. The hospital will not disclose any info although I did find out at least that he is not dying. This does not change the fact that I want to be with my brother. There was an attempt on his life. This is not a minor thing. For all I know, He could be killed the minute you put him back into incarceration. Furthermore, it appears there are few people associated with this prison who care. I am not a criminal and have the highest respect for all areas of Law Enforcement. However, I am very disturbed by the info I have come across concerning High Desert and the horrors that have occurred there as of late.

I expect to be contacted by somebody who can help me. My mother is on her way to California from Arizona and will expect to see her son. I want information regarding his condition. I want some assurance that my brother will be safe when he is returned to prison and that the people responsible will not be able to do this to him again. 

I appreciate any help you can give.


August 24, 2003 -  E-mail from a Mother.

I just came home from a visit with my son. He is still in ad-seg because of the riot in June. Well, he tells me that a black man [?] was killed a week ago from this just passed Friday. The guards think it was racially motivated by a white or whites that are in ad-seg. In the area that this man was killed , my son says there are cameras everywhere. There are only 8 whites left in ad-seg and he is one of them. He says ABSOLUTELY he had NOTHING to do with this incident-but the guards are investigating these 8 people only. 

They told my son and the other 7 people that if they find any of them guilty they are facing murder charges. My son said that all they have to do is look at the tapes they use with these cameras and they will SEE who that person is/was. He is afraid that they will not check on the tapes. My son doesn't trust anyone these days... My question to you is, do you know if they actually have tapes for their cameras? Have you heard of anything like this before in High Desert? If so, what was the outcome?? 

I will be seeing him again this coming Sunday and I would like to be able to put his mind at ease if I could, his blood pressure is going through roof over this.. I feel SO SORRY for him right now. He just told me a week ago that tensions were running high there and he had to sleep with one eye open and now this. 

September 7, 2003 

I just came back from seeing my son again. He said there was another riot in C Block blacks against whites. This makes two riots in 4 months. 

When he told me tensions were escalating he wasn't kidding!!! He said he and other inmates in ad-seg protested their confinement with a hunger strike and blocking up their windows so the guards couldn't see in. The protest was in regards to the death of that white man and everyone in ad-seg was kept there. He was due to be out of there last week, but the guards are telling them that they will stay there until the investigation by the D.A. is complete? 

My son told the guards that he was nowhere around and they know that: their response was they have to make sure there was No conspiracy. My son said there was NO conspiracy. He was cell extracted when he and the others blocked their windows. It consisted of spraying them with pepper spray type stuff out of a big hose, then they were left naked all night with this chemical on them. They were given a dry paper towel to clean themselves off with, which he says made it worse.  He was totally unhinged by everything. 

He said the inmates were just trying to call attention to this wrong doing but it backfired on them. When I was leaving and passing through visiting, I stopped to make another appointment and the guard assumed my son was still in C block. I corrected him and told him that he was in ad-seg and he seemed surprised that he was in ad-seg?! His words were "Ad-Seg??? What on earth is he doing in ad-seg???  What did he do?? Most guards seem to like my son, I don't understand any of this. 

A concerned Mother 

Letters to High Desert State Prison

Hi Cayenne,

I just received a letter from a prisoner at High Derset State Prison.  I wanted to share with you what he said. 

Today, while on the yard, all of a sudden we were made to get down.  Then for no apparent reason, they brought about 30 guards on the yard, and made us strip down to nothing and get searched.  In my opinion it is just another way to dehumanize us here.  There were even female guards standing watching as we were completely naked.  There is one certain lieutenant that likes to do that to us here. They found absolutely nothing on anyone.  The only person that got handcuffed, and taken off, is one guy, while sitting down, tossed a couple of pebbles at some other inmates.  That's how petty they got. 

This happened on B yard., the letter is dated Nov. 22, 2002 

Thanks for all of the great work 

December 3, 2002 

D.L. Runnels, Warden 
High Desert State Prison 
P.O. Box 750 
Susanville, CA 96127-0750 

Re:  Scott Larson, T56086 

Dear Mr. Runnels: 

Thank you for your letter of November 13, 2002, concerning Scott Larson and the letters I wrote on his behalf.  What I stated in my letters were quoted from a letter Scott sent, and what he wrote in the Complaint filed and accepted by the Federal Court Eastern District.  I wrote the letter as I didn't think the Judges would understand the threat and that it should be taken seriously.  I am told that the letter helped in setting forth the issues, and knowing Judges a little—who knows what they will pick up on when they finally write an opinion. 

I am happy to know that Scott is doing better, and has a prison friend who will make the experience at High Desert bearable.  I have found that ones like Scott and Jerry Wayne Morgan, who received a very severe sentence for minor offenses, have the hardest time enduring prison, and they also seem to be the ones that the guards pick on.  Guards have constantly tried to get Jerry to retaliate so they could charge him with something to justify why he is in prison.  He is still sitting in the Shasta County Jail, where he was severely beaten by guards, which they put him in medical for a month so no one would be able to document his injuries.  Of course no real investigation done, and the guards are still at it in beating Darrel Dietle (pictures on my and U.N.I.O.N. Websites), and I still don't know about what really happened in this case.  Then the so-called suicide of one of the Williams brothers, who was a problem and probably guilty as hell, but he still deserved his day in court.  I am quite suspect that this was not a suicide, but there may be no way to prove it unless the State or Federal do a real investigation and not another cover-up.

This is what I wrote about High Desert, and this was told to me by Jerry Wayne Morgan when he arrived from Calipatria on one of the visits I made, as he was a total stranger and I had never met him before.  He showed me the scar and said that the guards set these up, and they actually hand out the handmade instruments to the "lifers" who do the dirty deed.  So from this I knew that Scott could be in real danger, and if something wasn't done to rein in the guards, he could come to a bad end. 

Retribution is a very serious problem for prisoners, I know from experience in writing a Supplemental Brief with the permission of the California Third Appellate District.  I wrote the Brief and had nothing but trouble getting the documents into High Desert for Jerry Wayne Morgan's signature, the original copies never were returned, but a copy with Jerry's signature was returned and I was able to do the proof of service and get it filed on time, but received nothing but Obstruction of Justice by the High Desert staff.  You can see this story on my Website below, or plug his name into Google search, and my Rotunda and another Website will pop up with the story. 

This case did win, but you would never know that Morgan won, and at High Desert they tried to have Morgan killed out on the Yard, and he showed me a scar on his left jaw where they missed by an inch in killing him.  This was a set up, and I've been told that the knives are handed out to the "lifers" just for this purpose.  But a real investigation has never been done, to get to truth of this matter.  Now Morgan is back in Shasta County, where the guards beat him up real bad, and again nothing has been done or a real investigation, only a cover up by the guards and the Code of Silence is still intact. 

Now during the time period above you were not the Warden, and I'm not sure if you were at High Desert when Morgan was stabbed as I do not have the date of that event. 

I have been working with U.N.I.O.N. (United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect), on several prisons issues.  One of the main ones I have been writing about is the issue of constant Lockdowns.  I think Jerry spent 80% or more of his time in State Prison on Lockdown, and it has greatly damaged him psychologically, and he may be suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, which is not over for him as Shasta County Jail is no better in this regard.  You will find information on the U.N.I.O.N. Website on this issue: 


The letter I and many others wrote on this issue is posted there in Letters to Agency Secretary Robert Presley.  I consider this an evil practice, and should seldom be used except for those guilty of something and are bad actors, then only after hearing and having been found guilty of some action.  Right now the innocent are locked down and never know the reason for months on end.  I consider this to be psychological torture, and the cause of much of the anger and riots at the prisons.  I know that things will get worse for the prisons if something is not done about this, as the war between guards and prisoners could get violent and many on both sides could be hurt or killed.  Some of these lifers have nothing too loose and their rage is great, who knows what could set it off.  So you need to find a way to ease this situation, so that this does not happen at High Desert. 

I appreciate your writing and opening the door for communication.  I am not family of anyone in prison, and just got into this by helping out a stranger.  I would like to see some real changes made, to ease the situation for both staff and prisoners.  Respect is what is needed, not hate.  As I see hate coming from both guards and prisoners, and this is a very dangerous situation.  How to stop this, is to do real investigations and the guards should be disciplined or charged as needed, this would put a stop to much of the abuse coming from that source. 

Thanks you for your attention to the issues raised.  Happy Holidays! 

Sincerely yours, 

December 15, 2002 

Dear Cayenne: 

The inmates at High Desert have read the UNION's demand/solutions letter and we have family members who would like to help.  Please send us more information.  You have given us all hope and shown your love for us when we think no one cared.  God bless you all, we are suffering in this hellhole. 


December 19, 2002

I just received notice that Scott was just beat up by 4 people in the gym.    I need help in finding out who did this, and how Scott is 


Standby for a telephone bombardment. 

The unspeakable has happened.  Even after his mother, who has a ministry in San Ramon, CA made repeated appeals for Scott Larsen's safety, he has been attacked and badly beaten. 

Mardele called and wrote Robert Presley personally about this situation and copied journalists Jenifer Warren, Richard Fausset, Steve Huddle and Alan Bock on that communication. 

It is well documented that her appeals went to Ken Hurdle, the ombudsman, and we printed these cries for help in the daily newsletter on numerous occasions.  When there is this much notification and the appeals are callously ignored, then something terrible happens, this is grounds for yet another huge lawsuit. 

The evidence is certainly documented that CDC has failed to protect Scott Larsen in this situation. 

Nothing was done and now the inmates have notified Mardele through their parents that he was badly beaten at High Desert State Prison. 

We cannot get details of his condition, but we will continue to inquire. This may require one of our telephone bombardments to get the attention of our vacationing officials during the worst time of the year - the blue Christmas season. 

There is absolutely no excuse for this beating ever to have happened. 

Standby for updates as Scott, who is in prison for a minor crime - not the worst of the worst as High Desert always claims is housed at their facility, suffers in that hellhole. 

We know and we care. All for one, one for all.  If I can't get the info, we will show our numbers in a telephone bombardment since this is the only language bureaucrats seem to understand. 

Who will carry a picket sign on January 23 to protest the callousness of legislators and administrators when they are advised that inmates are in danger? 

Who will carry a picket sign on January 23 for the unnecessary beating of Scott Larsen and thousands of inmates who are under the radar of a banned press? 

We must put an end to these outrageous conditions in a BIG way. Who will be next?  All for one and one for all, we will not take this abuse casually.  What happens to one of us could happen to any of us.  We must stand up for one another's loved ones in true UNION spirit.  For each and every case, it is the same people at the top who must be held responsible for their inactions as well 
as their bloody stupid deliberate actions. 

B. Cayenne Bird 

Dear Ms. Bird: 

I've contacted the institution and was informed of the following information.  He (Scott Larsen) was the victim of a battery by three inmates on 12-19-02.  There were no weapons involved in this 

He did suffer minor head injuries and as a precaution was transported to Nothern Nevada Medical Center for further evaluation and has since been returned to HDSP. 

The inmates who battered Mr. Larson have been identified and are currently in Administrive Segregation.  The incident is currently being investigated by the institutions investigative unit.  I've attempted to contact (his mother) however there was no answer so I left a message on her recorder.

Thank You 


Dear Ombudsman and others copied on this email: 

Thank you.  This mother warned and warned of her son's danger, she called Robert Presley, we carried her pleas for help many times in the newsletter. 

It was totally preventable if anyone was actually awake out at that hellhole High Desert. 

When I called Warden Runnels several months ago to warn of this impending disaster, he wasn't even at the facility.

Christmas is the worst time of year for hopeless people. 

We can expect much more violence if some major reforms aren't announced soon.  There is nothing I can do to prevent it,  conditions are so bad. 

B. Cayenne Bird 

December 21, 2002 

Dear Cayenne: 

I spoke with Ms. Bolls at High Desert.  I forgot to mention to you that Scott won MAC rep. 
Ms. Bolls story: Scott was going into the gym at High Desert to do some work, and 3 men jumped him right as he entered the gym.  Scott was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had a cat scan.  He has no fractures.  No weapons were used.  Scott is back at High Desert now, very sore, and they're watching him in the med. facility. My daughter and Scotts father are at High Desert right now trying to see him.We want to know how true the story is. 

He will now be placed in protective custody (the hole) while they investigate.  Last time Scott was in the hole, he was even more worried for his safety, as there are no witnesses to what the guards do. You know they won't investigate the guards.  I have a feeling they're behind all of this.  Scott has a lawsuit pending against the guards, as he was in great fear for his life when he entered High Desert. The guards have continually harassed and threatened Scott ever since.  I get new stories every week. Scott is a peace maker, everyone loves him, that's why he won MAC  assistant in such a short amount of time.  He works hard to help everyone, he cares for the other inmates. 

I know Scott won't let this slow him down.  He will continue to move forward to help everyone. 

Thanks for the help 

More on Scott Larsen's condition at High Desert Prison after he was beaten from his mother. 

Dear Cayenne 

I talked with my daughter last night.  She did visit with Scott in the med. facility.   Scott was kicked 
hard in the face  (he has big boot marks on his face) He fell face forward on the ground, which caused more injuries, and then sprayed with pepper spray, which is causing great problems with his eyes.  He doesn't have any fractures, but is in great pain. 

Scott was helping some men, and attacked when he walked away from them. They want to transfer Scott to another prison, but Scott wants to stay at High Desert, as he's made many friends there, and feels he can help the men there being their MAC rep.  I knew he'd feel this way. 

When my daughter went to see Scott, she asked the administrative people why they don't contact  the family when things like this happen.  They said they do, the warden knew all about this incident.  They never did contact me, as you said it was a fellow prisoner that did.  The reason the warden knew all about it, was because of you.  Thanks for the help.  We couldn't make the contacts that make all the difference without your help. 

I don't feel that my daughter could have visited with my son in the medical facility, if all of the contacts hadn't been made first through-out the day. (She doesn't think so either, as they said this was an unusual situation) 

Now, let's see if I can get Christmas pulled together 

Dear M 

I am concerned that High Desert is out of control.  Scott may be sacrificing his life if he chooses to remain there.  I am only as effective as the numbers that we show during our campaigns - whether we're writing letters to editors or attending important hearings or protesting. Our strength comes from each and every ACTIVE member of the UNION.  Lately we've been doing great.  More and more of the same because people in prison are suffering and dying on a daily basis.  Any sentence to prison is a potential death sentence, we must ALL be on standby alert and finding others who 
will write and picket with us. 


January 6, 2003 

D.L. Runnels, Warden 
High Desert State Prison 
P.O. Box 750 
Susanville, CA 96127-0750 

Re: Scott Larson, T56086                CONSTRUCTIVE JUDICIAL NOTICE 
 Obstruction of Justice                      OF VIOLATION OF THE 
                                                        CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION. 
Dear Mr. Runnels: 

On December 3, 2002, I wrote you a letter in response to the letter I received from you.  How things have changed, and all the things we tried to stop are happening to Scott Larson. 

The guards set themselves up as the Investigators, Judges, Jury and Executioners, against any prisoner that just might seek his Constitutional Rights.  The harassment, retaliation, intimidation have been non-stop.  Scott has been beaten, put in segregation, where he is in more danger from the guards who continue their non-stop harassment.  What is wrong with you and your people?  Why don't you follow the laws of the land, and the Oath you took to support the United States and California Constitutions? 

Several times after visits from his parents, his cell has been ransacked by guards in retaliation.  Then in December we learned that Scott had been beat up in the gym, obviously this was another one of those set-ups by the guards, as they get lifers to do their dirty work for rewards and perks.  I understand that Scott won the honor to be the MAC rep, and this beating was probably in retaliation for this. 

When Scott's sister visited she asked some people why they didn't contact the family when Scott was beaten.  "They said they do, the warden knew all about this incident."  If you knew all about it, then why is Scott being punished and his life put in danger by being placed in Administrative Segregation or what we call Lockdown, and prisoners say being "in the hole." 

The staff misconduct is an Obstruction of Justice, in preventing Scott from preparing his lawsuit.  They have gone through his legal papers several times, read everything, and this is not their business, it is between Scott, the Court or his Attorney.  The guards who have participated in this action should be punished under Penal Code §147.  "Every officer who is guilty of willful inhumanity or oppression toward any prisoner under his care or in his custody, is punishable by fine not exceeding four thousand dollars ($4,000), and by removal from office." 

Right now Scott is being punished by the guards, in being locked up and is being harassed severely.  He is in great danger from the guards, and officers, and needs to be moved to another prison closer to his parents.  He was threatened by a Captain that if his mother didn't stop helping him, and didn't give up on the lawsuit, he would bring "heat" on himself.  I would consider this a death threat, as this is what happened to Jerry Wayne Morgan after he won his Third Appellate appeal,  as Jerry showed me the knife wound that missed killing him by an inch, and this was a set up by the guards.

In this letter I am giving you personal Constructive Judicial Notice that you are personally responsible for the safety of Scott Larson, T56086.  And since you can't even trust a Captain for the truth, that you take personal responsibility to ensure that Scott is taken out of the HOLE, and placed in better conditions.  Scott was happy on Yard B until the guards started harassing him. 

Right now you are in violation of both the United States and California Constitutions, ARTICLE 1 §17.  "Cruel or unusual punishment may not be inflicted or excessive fines imposed."  As Scott is receiving cruel and unusual punishment by being placed on constant Lockdown.  It is bad enough to be sent to prison, but to be punished by the guards is uncalled for and it is not their duty to beat, harass, intimidate or use psychological torture methods on prisoners. 

I request that you take immediate action against the guards, and immediate action to have Scott Larson moved to a better prison, and not be punished again by being sent to Lancaster or Calipatria. 

Remember that the Great Judge of the Universe does know the truth of what is going on behind the scenes, and ultimately all will stand before His Court on the Great Judgment Day.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. 

Sincerely yours, 

cc:  Robert Presley, Agency Secretary 
      Steve White, Inspector General 
      Edward S. Alameida, Jr., Director, 
         California Department of Corrections 
      United States District Court, Eastern District of California 

      Various interested parties 

February 1, 2003 

Dear Ms. Bird 

My father is in High Desert State Prison.   He has a history of health problems and many neck and back surgeries.  His last neck fusion has broken and he will not tell me how. Now his prostate is swollen to the point he can't use the restroom without taking alot of milk of magnesia. 

The med facility has know of this problem for 5 months now and will not take my dad to get it checked out. 

I am worried he has prostate cancer and the prison will do nothing about it.  My dad does not belong in the place he is in.  He is serving alot of time for somthing he did not do my dad is a older man and has been in prison for the last 4 years and will probably die in prison for somthing he did not do. 

Is there any information you can give me to help my dad get the medical attention he needs? any help would be much appreciated as I live in Texas and well as you know my dad is in Calif. I dont have much money but my dad deserves much better than this. 

Thank you 
C. Rich 

Mr. Presley, 

I am very concerned about two other prisoners 

The first is: 
Dominic Vashon Wright    H-48101
High Desert State Prison  D5 212 

A federal Judge is talking about giving him relief, and he has told the Attorney General that they have only so much time to respond, then he has 30 days after that, which began on January 17th, and he hasn't received anything as of yet.

He is in the hole, and the guards won't let him have any of his legal material.  This is a direct violation of his constitutional rights.  I am asking you to let the guards know that he needs his legal material. 

This happened to Scott also.  When I was there last, he just received his legal material the day before I arrived, but they wouldn't let him have his legal books.  He is in the hole, because he was beat up.  He didn't cause the problem, so he should have his books so he can work on his case. 

The other person is: 
Monte Bridges P-99845 
High Desert State Prison   B2-119 

Mr. Bridges had an angio plasty, and a quadruple by-pass in 1992, and and another angeo plasty in 1999.  He was scheduled for a thallium stress test in Sept. of 2000, but in May he was arrested.  He had been having pain, and heart problems, but couldn't get anyone to help him. 

He wrote to the Prison Law Office. Steven Fama from the Prison Law office contacted John Appelbaum, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, on Nov 20, 2002 
Re: Plata-individual Inmate Urgent or Exhausted 602 Medical Concern, request for review.  He requested a thallium stress test. 

On Thursday, 1/02/03, Mr. Bridges was taken to see Dr. Watson at the medical on the yard  re: several issues.  He was taken to the CTC and admitted.  1/03/03 he was taken to RM for the thallium stress test.  The officers wouldn't wait for the doctors to give Mr. Bridges the report, but he  knew it was bad, because he barely started with the stress part, and he had severe pain in his chest and left arm. 

I received a letter from Mr. Bridges on 1/19/03, and he said his heart was really acting up.  On 1/20/03, he went to eat, and he could hardly make it back.  He said they hadn't called him to tell him the results yet, but he could tell something had taken place "behind the scenes", because one med tech made a snide remark about Mr. Bridges talking to the Captain about his meds.. 

I just received a letter dated 1/23/03.  He said he was down again Wed, and Thursday, but he managed to make it to chow on Thursday, the first time since Tuesday eve. He still hadn't seen a doctor or gotten any test results. 

This man needs immediate attention for his medical needs, and he also needs a single cell, as he's a very sick man.  I'm asking you to look into this immediately, before he dies, or do you really care?  It's obvious that Prison Law office, and Supervising Deputy Attorney General think that this man needs help, and got it for him, but it stopped there. HDSP has put him on hold.  Why?????  He needs your attention immediately!!!!! 

Thank you for your immediate attention to all of these matters 

UNION volunteer worried about her own son,  working to help others, holding down a  job 

Monday, February 10, 2003 9:44 PM 

Mr. Presley, 

I received a letter dated Feb.4, 2003  from Monte Bridges  P-99845      B2-110    H.D.S.P. 

In the letter he stated that he hasn't received any medical help as of yet.   He stated that he was not seen by the psych today as scheduled.  He also stated that they've called him into medical several times, and after he waited 2-3 hours, they sent him back, saying they didn't have his chart.  What is happening?    Where is his chart? 

This is a very sick man, I'm amazed that he's still alive, and medical can't find his chart?  How do we find it?  This man needs immediate medial attention!!!!!!!! 

Please give this man immediate medical attention.  His family is being alerted  of all the help that we are trying to get for him, and nothing is happening. 

On Dec. 31, 2002, 180 African Americans were systematically rounded up from their cells on Facilities A, B, C, D, handcuffed and marched through the snow to the watch-office.  There they were stripped and subjected to degrading body inspections by sadistic rogue cops who  made sport of the entire affair. 

All personal property was confiscated.  Each prisoner was again  handcuffed from the back and marched to the mess halls where they sat from 8 am to 5 pm still cuffed. 

No medical attention was given to prisoners who suffered from chronic illnesses and disabilities.  Nobody had a clue what all this was about until the inmates had been sitting hands cuffed behind their backs for four hours. Then B Captain Jeff Briddle told everyone they were being investigated for "gang activity and affiliation." 

After 5 more hours of sitting on metal benches for a total of 9 hours, the inmates were having cramped and suffering.  All were told they were going to the "hole" a horrible torture which the system casually calls "ad seg."  51 Blacks from Facility B were thrown in stripped cells with no means of communication to the outside. 

They were cut off from the courts, family, one another, all property was seized, medication withheld, UPS mail thwarted. For two weeks they were under seize and held incommunicado as part of the psychological torture routinely administered by CDC. 

There are less than 4 African American guards at High Desert State Prison. 

HDSP has had numerous investigations regarding racism, all to no avail. It continues unabated and unchecked.  I  invite the FAMILIES of all who were subjected to this abuse by Warden Runnels join in our class action lawsuit.  Please spread the word.  We are allowing this torture by failing to take action in the form of lawsuits and initiatives. Let us not be guilty of neglecting our duty to right the wrongs. 

B. Cayenne Bird 

February 23, 2004

Story regarding the Happy Valley Minister. He was sent to High Desert State Prison some time back. When he arrived, they refused to place him in protective custody even though he as a known target because of all the media attention. The CDC guards left his cell open then turned their backs and allowed the prisoner thugs to attack Shelton. According to inmate gossip, they could hear Shelton screaming in pain and for help all over the prison, yet the guards did nothing. The story is not real complete. At some point they took him to the infirmary, patched him up and sent him back. Don't know the time frame. At some latter time the guards allowed and orchestrated a repeat performance, only this time the inmates gaged Shelton so he couldn't scream, and beat him so severely as to hospitalize him. Now they have him in total isolation and have supposedly told him this is how he will do his entire prison sentence. I'm sure there is much more to the story. Evidently there were some scandalous things done by Deputy District Attorney Erin Derwin here in Shasta County that should be told. This is the latest episode of CDC corruption.

As to Wardens and Guards, they know exactly what they are doing. They are corrupted in their thinking by their power over others, they are evil people, they are psychopaths who not only know what they are doing--but they enjoy it.

[The minister was accused of sexual crimes. My guess is he was set up???]


High Desert State Prison (HDSP)

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