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Snitch or Else …
Many prisoners may, (or may not) understand the importance of national exposure of a State created situation. One that would certainly cause injury, possible death, of any prisoner who seriously seeks "retirement" from any form of (self-destructive) gang activity! Prisoners who have spent any amount of time in a super-max prison, security housing unit (SHU), isolated from everyone, as a torture tactic to enhance an already present degree of "sensory deprivation". After so many years of being treated like a leper some of us tire of the treatment and opt to "debrief" and very radically alter their (our) lives. Forever being targeted as a traitor to the codes in which we had token blood oaths to. Blood in –Blood out has a very real meaning to us at every stage of our associations to the gangs and organized crime groups and more so when we "retire".
Our government tries continuously to feed the public a bunch of well-constructed illusions that "the war on crime" is to the total benefit of society. This is one of those blatant lies designed to distract the public from their true intent — the construction of more prisons and detention facilities. More prisons means more revenue generated by/through the prison industry agency (PIA) which are really neo-style plantations. Reform is no longer the focus.
The real purpose of this conversation is to expose the hidden agenda of California’s Department of Corrections, especially those acts of misconduct rampant within this institution, Mule Creek State Prison. I am a documented drop-out from a notable prison organization, The Black Guerrilla Family (BFG). By writing this article I’m exposing myself to the unknown — however, I feel compelled to speak up.
In 1996, I went through a debriefing process that was popularized by a super-max prison that was designed to separate all violent gang members (leaders & enforcers) from the regularly violent prison population –Pelican Bay State Prison.California’s Hell on Earth. To be considered a documented drop-out and no longer actively involved in a gang, one would have to go through the ringer. Some of the most demeaning and spirit breaking torture techniques that would ensure a complete detachment from any gang loyalties you once had. I spent 5 (five) years resisting the torture but eventually something of my true self allowed me the escape I desired. I went through the debriefing process with as much dignity as any man could expect to have. Pelican Bay wrote the manual of debriefing gang members.
Mule Creek State Prison (mcsp) is an institution well known as a sensitive needs yard (sny) and drop-out facility. Over the years this prison has adopted/developed an undocumented procedure to threaten prisoners with rescinding their "drop-out status" if that prisoner refuses to become a jail house informer. Even if it means that a prisoner must lie for the benefit of the administration. Recently I was approached by two staff members on the Institution Security Unit (ISU), in relation to allegations that myself and 3 (three) other people had conspired to bring drugs into this institution. An investigation was conducted and the information received was not enough to determine my participation in an illegal action. Yet I was held in Administrative Segregation (AD-SEG), where I still reside. The ISU staff did not read me my rights but proceeded to interrogate me in a very aggressive manner. I was asked "will you testify in this case?". My response was "testify to what, self incrimination or something else?". The ISU staff said, "Either one, are you willing to testify?" When I said, "that’s something to think about.", the interview was over and done with. The very next day I was visited by the same ISU staff that had conducted the illegal interview and informed that my status as a drop-out/ex-gang member was being reassessed as no longer valid. I would possibly be reclassified as an active member of a prison disruptive group/gang. If my status as a drop-out is rescinded and I’m placed back into an environment that is designed to house/confine other (very active) gang members, my physical well-being would be in constant danger. MCSP has been routinely corrupting procedure to ensure criminal prosecution against prisoners who don’t conform to the snitch mentality of this particular institution.
During the 5 (five) years of my confinement here at MCSP, there has been several inquiries by the outside agencies that investigate misconduct within institutions under direct control of the CA Dept. of Corrections. Staff have been escorted off the premises and fired for illegal conduct. The ISU has been involved in several "corruption investigations". This institution’s administration hasn’t been stabilized for years now, as a direct result to corruption allegations.
In the course of my confinement at MCSP, I’ve been placed in ad-seg, 6(six) different times, on a long list of conspiracy theories ranging from "conspiracy to stab another prisoner as a contract hit", "conspiracy to assault guards when Stanley "Tookie" Williams was assassinated", "conspiracy to incite other prisoners to attack guards", "conspiracy to harm a cellie who was a pedophile", "conspiracy to introduce drugs to a prison", and now, "investigated for gang affiliation". All of which (except for the last one) have been proven untrue, unfounded and totally fabricated!! In every instance I was vindicated of any misconduct — however, each trip to Ad-Seg also brought a visit from ISU. And every time I refused to play the role of informant or answer any questions that strayed from my moral standard as a proud black man who chose to retire from a lifestyle that was not for advancement of a race that needs more black men to take a stand!!
If a prisoner refuses to conform to the disturbed nature of this (snitch) environment, that prisoner becomes a target. Someone like myself who doesn’t condone the "uncle tomism" that has attached itself to the entire population at MCSP doesn’t have a chance at "existing peacefully" without creating a degree of worry and discomfort. Officially I "retired" from gang conduct 12 (twelve) full years ago (and another prison number ago). I have not been accused of so many "conspiracy" allegations even when I was an active member of the BGF. For me, this is a dire situation that has the potential of becoming detrimental to my physical wellbeing in the very near future. To be completely honest, I was aware of the consequences before I decided to "retire" and distance myself from a lifestyle that I grew up in. What I didn’t realize was that the same system that advocated anti-gang living, would be using my drop-out status as a weapon to force me into a position of admitting something I’m innocent of, perjure myself in a court of law, and ultimately become a jailhouse snitch! Sorry fella’s, I can’t do it!!! I maintain a very personal code of conduct as it relates to the demise or continuation of my life!
It’s not my desire to advise the next prisoner as to what is right or wrong conduct in these cages. All I’m able to convey to those who are considering the "escape" that debriefing offers those sitting in the isolations chambers of super-max prisons like Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHU as well as all the other similar institutions that are designed to torture the human spirit into submission — whatever your reasons to retire & extricate yourself from whatever it is you have lost yourself within, please remain aware that these people are never going to stop attacking you, striving to crush your uniqueness, to break your will and seek your complete submission to assimilate your strength into the weak nature of the snitch mentality. When you come to this side — come prepared to fight the one enemy who has remained focused on attacking us from day one –The System!! Your identity as an individual and a convict who refuses to become an inmate is at stake.
HAROLD AUSTIN is a prisoner at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California.
* for those who wish to show support by writing letters of complaint concerning the misconduct of state employees here at MCSP, please call or write letters to:
Mule Creek State Prison
4001 Highway 104
Ione, CA 95640
* to contact the author of this article, send your letters of support and enquiry to:
T-77346 mcsp Ad-Seg
P.O. Box 409060
Ione, CA 95640