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August 27, 2006 - Protest - Salinas Valley

It is time to zero in on September 7, 2005, and the CDC rules change hearing, lockdown and SHU and Ad Seg issues. 

There  is a time and place for everything and now is the time for this topic as we will get one shot and one shot only to bring a large enough crowd to show that there is opposition to these rules which were already put into place withour a public hearing. 

Now we know that the UNION (including our allies) is the only group to stand up for inmates at these hearings.  This time the 30 or 40 regulars that we can count on to make the journey will not be nearly enough to make the statement that these rules are unacceptable to us and constitute nothing less than legalized torture 

So each of the 30 regulars that showed up for the packages hearing needs to bring at least ten people so that we are 300 which will make a different statement altogether, one that might be heard and certainly one that will be recognized by the media. 

CDC is so certain that you are too dysfunctional to achieve this that they have cut down the hearing time from the entire day to just two hours.  What a sorry state of affairs that the dysfunction is so predictable.  The flyer is up at our website in both English and Spanish, it needs to be printed in as many newspapers as possible because the mail is being tampered with at all prisons statewide. 

The inmates must not assume that someone elses' family member is going to go there to stand up for themselves, they MUST send their own people this time.  A few isn't going to be able to sway this one. 

I am very disturbed at the continual lockdowns taking place statewide as it plummets the men into deeper mental illness, slows down their court cases and causes great stress amongst their children and wives.  Lockdown, SHU, Ad Seg cuts family ties because most prison yards have only three windows and a one hour visit isn't a visit at all, especially when the families have been forced to travel hundreds of miles. 

It is shocking to me that the families of Salinas Valley (SVSP) are tolerating this type of mental torture to their loved ones and that only six showed up to a protest out there last Thursday.  We do not have funds and volunteers to be in Salinas Valley AND draw the crowd on Sept. 7, a picket costs time and money to coordinate and execute. 

We do know that if a picket brings out 100 people to the prison, it can be effective in drawing attention to the problems in that prison as we proved on April 2 when we picketed Lancaster. If we had the extra funds and volunteers I would be more than happy to do both Sept 7 and a picket at Salinas Valley but such is not the case. 

The rules changes that we must stand up against on Sept 7 represent a permanent travesty that will affect every inmate in the State who is vulnerable to ad seg, SHU or lockdown. 

Timing is everything and now is the time we focus on this problem and on this date.  I can only advise you when, where, how to fight back in unison.  I cannot create the crowd that is necessary for this to be turned around for you.  You and you alone  must take the responsibility for bringing ten people to this chance to be heard. 

I hope that nine of the people you bring will be families of inmates from Salinas Valley.  By now they are realizing that they need help above and beyond the institution level.  Trouble is, they cannot find one another as most of them only belong to email groups which are not citizen's groups.  There is a big difference in an emergency as great as this one. 

What I would like every UNION subscriber to do is to go out of  your way to find a family with a loved one in Salinas Valley and reach out to them and do your very best to get them to Sacramento on Sept 7.  We cannot do all their fighting for them but we can do some. 

It fits very well with the topic of the day - cruel isolation - but we need to each track these people down through all these various lists and networks that are doing nothing to help. 

The Monterey Herald is standing up like champions and so you should start with a letter to the editor to them and thank them for caring. 

The inmates cannot call home, their mail is held up but everyone who can get a letter needs to spread the message that Sept 7 at the Water Resources Building, 9th Street and N is important to them and to send their families.  It takes zero intelligence to stand there and make the crowd we need although we do need people to testify against these rules changes as well. 

The inmates at Salinas Valley report horrible chaos.  The guards are not processing their 602 appeals and are forcing them to drop them through coercive means.  The inmates are depressed due to the separation from their families by telephone and visits denied. 

Salinas Valley is on a State of Emergency in political defiance but there is truly a crisis in effect. 

You will recall this is the same prison that servicing the inmates poisoned water until the UNION stepped in and raised cane about it which resulted in some relief.  Some parts of the prison went without water for days.  You can read the news coverage about this at our website 

click on Salinas Valley links, that prison has been in a state of emergency for some time, but this lockdown is worse than usual. 

Nora reported that the guards feel too many rookies are employed out there who can't handle the inmates but what it is amounts to too much overcrowding and psychological torture of the inmates, Guards are pitting gangs against one another so that the lockdown might continue, after all, guards have an easy life during lockdown 

Two guards were recently stabbed out there so a good measure of this is retributive.  The cycle of retribution never ends. 

I want us to focus on this because I believe that surgeries are being denied  and we need to know the death toll. 

As you know, Randy Baker's surgery has been delayed for 14 months even with repeated calls to the useless Inspector General's office and Dr. Lee who keeps saying "it's coming, it's coming" and then it never does.  Randy was taken to the hospital twice, they passed the one in Salinas Valley and then he was radioed to turn around and come back. 

Usually when they are passing the local hospital it means the bill isn't paid.  But they never delivered him either time.  This is a game that CDC  is playing to order more tests, make bogus runs to the hospital to avoid surgeries.  People are in pain and they're suffering and these callous monsters don't care one bit. 

I hope Lettie sues them all and we're to that point, I am going to accompany her to the lawyer's office next week and we are going to discuss a lawsuit for this torture and name everyone in it who has been totally callous to these pleas. 

There is no follow through and if Randy Baker is being treated in this same negligent manner, you can bet that the rest of the inmates are beng treated even worse. 

The animal rights people wouldn't put up with this happening to animals 

Can you do any less for prisoners? 

I am hereby summoning all our forces to focus on Sept 7, ad seg, SHU, Lockdown, all our friendly networks, we will need letters to editors and to locate the families of Salinas Valley. 

Let's rain hell on that situation out there in a shower of ink and attendance at this hearing. 

We are also going to need to start faxing letters (this cannot substitute the ten people you must bring to really be heard), but should be in addition to it. 

Raise your pens in battle and let's blanket the prison parking lots with the flyers. 

Groups who count on us to do all the fighting for them must not assume we can handle this one alone and pitch in here. 

Let me know what you're going to do. 

Remember the suffering that Nora Weber experienced for fourteen years with her medically and mentally ill son being tortured in the SHU and only by the grace of God is he in the hospital now. Not every mother can afford a lawsuit and even with that one filed it still took a small army to get this done, plus a couple of good doctors which may not exist at the prison when you must face your loved one becoming ill. 

We will have the press conference to announce the filing of Nora's lawsuit to benefit every mother's son in a California prison just after the hearing to prove we mean business. 

Any questions? 

Tell me what you're going to do to stand up this torment and inhumanity happening right here in California?

This very bright, obviously black young man wrote me a letter and last night Judy came over and read it to me while I typed it up  I certainly cannot do this for every letter that I receive but this one really stuck out from the usual letters. 

He attached with it a copy of the Lockdown Order at Salinas Valley and then explains in the letter what each item means  I had never seen it laid out so carefully in such detail and I wanted to share with you just how horrible a lockdown is for the prisoners to survive. These lockdowns are one of the key causes of the riots in my opinion and this stupid mindset of group punishment must end  With 20,000 mentally ill inmates, one of them are always going to act out and that is no reason to lock down the entire facility. 

True the guards get overtime and they bring in more guards to search every cell, a process that takes weeks and bleeds the taxpayers dry, but we must stand up to it.  The inmates cannot do their own fighting, it is the responsibility of their families to do the fighting but so many are illiterate that they can't write a ten sentence letter to the editor or stand outside with a picket sign in mass when things are horribly wrong. 

Or they are so consumed by fear that they are willing to allow their loved one to be tortured rather than open their mouthes to put an end to the oppression 

At this link, you will see the lockdown order that this inmate describes 


Harvey  went all the way to Salinas Valley with his heart condition after getting a depressed letter from his son who has been in pain and agony for 14 months and has now been on lockdown for months The recording at Salinas Valley says that all yards are off lockdown except C yard,  but the inmates say this is a lie, that they were allowed visits today but that they are not at all off lockdown More smoke and mirrors by the Department of Corruption I have withheld this name to protect him in that dangerous place. 

Re Salinas Valley Lockdown Description 

Dear Director Bird 

I recently received the information you were so kind to send to me regarding the UNION  I must commend you on your efforts to make a difference  I know from personal experience that things in this bastion of deprivation, humility, frustration, impudence, abuse, and depravity have become much worse than you could possibly know. 

Even as active as you are in seeking solutions, it saddens me to know that most of the work you have put in on the outside is lost upon many of this new generation of prisoners who are so stuck on stupid that they do not even seem to care about what others, which include the UNION have dedicated themselves to in order to at least try and make the conditions within the belly of the beast of the prison industrial complex more bearable. 

I personally am not one to just passively accept the nonsense that is dished out to me. I am not a lifer.  But in considering the nonsense that the Department tends to put me through, I might as well been sentenced to life imprisonment.  I say this in view of the fact that the department severely limits access to knowledge which is necessary for one to learn about learning. 

I mean its like no matter how hard one seeks to become accomplished or how well one learns a skill/business/profession, one is deprived of the ability to remain vigilant about details of a chosen field in which one cannot simply get by on experience and smarts alone. 

The perfect example is the surgeon that needs to be constantly re-trained in order to stay current on the latest research and procedures.  I have personally found that I am starting to think more rebelliously.  I resent a lot of the abusive, arbitrary and racist policies and practices employed by these 21st century “plantation – minded” prisoncrats who are always fostering problems or knowingly allowing things to happen to keep racial tension and division foremost in the minds of prisoners by that old concept of “divide and conquer”   This is all that has allowed them to maintain a semblance of control in using the same stale philosophy of using the house negro to spy against the field negro and the coach driver to spy on the house negro, etc. 

I find it to be quite unsettling how easily these prisoncrats have been able to implement the systematic changes that they have without any real resistance from the inside, which has been systematically stripping prisoners of all the rights and privileges gained by the struggles of the brothers in the 60’s and 70’s.  These prisoncrats have been successful in making many prisoners traitors to those existing under the same conditions for the purpose of gaining favor with these prison administrators.  It’s amazing how easy it is for the prisoncrats to brainwash prisoners into observing and reporting everything they can find out to the administration who do not use such information to prevent incidents, but instead make sure conditions are ripe for things to escalate beyond a point so as to justify mass searches (Search and Destroy)  Lockdowns/Modified Programs, etc. wherein the prisoncrats’ pets still get their packages and canteen while the rest of the population is denied for the actions of a few.

On Sept 7, 2005 the UNION calls for bodies to show a United front and speak out against changes in ad seg rules which is a commendable concern.  However, just in case you were not aware, in many cases it is better to be in ad seg than it is to be out in general population with the bogus, extended lockdowns/modified programs, etc. 

I say this latest incident, however is way overdue and  it’s frankly been bound to happen. In fact, I predict that more serious attacks will start happening against these prisoncrats in view of all that they have been putting prisoners through here. 

I am going to enclose an August 2005 program status report with this letter with this running explanation of what it means.  Now they claim that Modified Program, yet everything  is Locked Down and it affects every yard/facility except Dept of Mental Health Enhanced Outpatient Psychiatric Units and the Level 1 E facility.  If you elect to come out of the cell for anything, you are shackled and strip-searched and a metal detector is waved over your body. 

Feeding is always cell feeding, ducats are passes which are regularly cancelled without any notice so that priority only applies to what staff feels like they want to honor.  Only Facility E, DMH/EOP, Correctional Treatment Center/Infirmary are allowed visits in chains.  All Level 4 inmates are affected by the Lockdown.  When the incident occurred in Facility C, 8 building which is separate from A, B. D and E Facilities, then it occurred in Building 8 in the  morning while cell feeding was being done by six staff members on Floor 1 in the Control Booth and four white kitchen workers (the blacks/Hispanics/others were locked down), they are allowing some of the “lackeys/flunkeys” out to work so as to keep their information flowing except for the white inmate workers 

Then, if you shower you will be chained and put into a shower with one nozzle with your cell partner (if you have one). 

As far as medical is concerned, it is the luck of the draw, as has always been the case.  Law Library is meaningless when necessary resources are not available.  Then there is the reason for this and accordingly there is no dayroom on A and B Facilities.  Facilities C and D General population are denied day activities normally anyway.  As far as recreation there has been relatively no  yard for the past five months, on claims of shortage of staff, so maybe three to five days out of the month if the facility is lucky, they would have received  yard access if normal. 

Canteen is denied, packages are denied and sent back to the vendors so that an additional charge can be levied on prisoners’ loved ones and friends to get them re-sent.  As far as phones are concerned, no calls, except for the so-called critical workers.  Whether the phones are used or not, the prison still gets a monthly concession fee from MCI.  Then the biggest prisoncrat joke of them all deals with religious services. 

They say that they are modified/inmates “ allowed to worship in cells.“    That is the same as NO religious services.  Besides, normal services are a rarity. 

When you consider that many people are just forced to be placed in a cell with another person who they, under normal conditions, should be able to get out and away from that person for two to three hours a day are forced to stay caged up with such characters, this is what leads to numerous cell fights, assaults, and batteries among other things. 

I am not to burden you with any of my personal problems, I just would like you to know and be fully informed about the causes and affects as well as what goes on behind the walls. 

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this letter  I currently am unable to provide you with any financial support, and I do not have access to any of my personal property where I keep a few books of stamps for such things as this but I still would like you to know that I support you in spirit and wish you success at the Sept 7 public hearing and press conference and may God Bless You also..

Very sincerely yours,

Salinas Valley Prisoner


Prison official removed
He changed guards' punishment papers; separate case finds administrators lied.
By Andy Furillo - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A top-ranking correctional official has been removed from his position after changing the disciplinary actions of several officers at Salinas Valley State Prison two years ago, according to a department source.

John Dovey, the director of adult institutions for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, was given the option of retiring from the agency or being reappointed several steps down to the equivalent of an associate warden, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Corrections Secretary Jim Tilton declined Tuesday to comment on the Dovey situation other than to say it was "a personnel matter."

Dovey could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The disclosure of the removal of the agency's fourth-ranking administrator came on the same day that the Office of the Inspector General released a scathing report finding that two parole administrators tried to circumvent a new state law that restricts where high-risk sex offenders can live -- and then lied about doing it.

According to the OIG report, the administrators earlier this year authorized the placement of just-paroled high-risk sex offenders in motels within a half-mile of school grounds even though a state law that had just gone into effect barred offenders from living that close.

Then, the report said, the administrators lied to their correctional bosses about the placements of the offenders in violation of Assembly Bill 113, lied to lawmakers who were asking questions about it, and then lied again when they were questioned about the so-called "sex offender shuffle" by OIG investigators.

"You have two parole administrators who played with fire," Chief Deputy Inspector General Brett Morgan said in an interview Tuesday. "They issued and sanctioned a very bad order down the chain of command and lied up the chain of the command. It was in an insular world where the people below them had to do what they said and the folks above them didn't know they had issued this order."

The OIG report did not identify the parole administrators, but department sources speaking on condition of anonymity identified them as Jim L'Etoile, the former head of the corrections agency's parole division, and Mark Epstein, the regional parole administrator for the Los Angeles area.

L'Etoile, who has since been reassigned to an associate warden's position at California State Prison, Sacramento, confirmed Tuesday that he was removed from his parole chief's position as a result of the shuffle snafu. But he said he did not know if he was the senior administrator identified in the report.

He said line parole officers were "having difficulty locating placements" but "we didn't know until February that we were out of compliance."

Epstein is no longer working for the corrections agency and could not be reached for comment.

Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, a co-chairman of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's high-risk sex offender task force, demanded Tuesday that the corrections department conduct an internal investigation into the case. He also asked that the agency ask for the state attorney general to conduct a criminal probe.

"I'm disgusted," said Spitzer, who had conducted legislative hearings on the topic earlier this year.

Corrections spokesman Bill Sessa said the problems identified in the OIG report have "since been corrected." He said the formation of the governor's sex offender task force has brought corrections, local law enforcement and service agency officials together to make sure the parolees are housed in locations that comply with the law.

"We now have a more cooperative working relationship," Sessa said.

The Dovey matter came to light in August, when a since-retired top-level correctional administrator, Cheryl Pliler, testified in a State Personnel Board hearing in which Salinas Valley officers -- fired in an excessive force case -- are appealing to get their jobs back.

Pliler testified that she was the "hiring authority" who signed off on nine officers' disciplinary cases in November 2004. She said that she approved terminations for four or five of the officers and that she recommended the remainder only be suspended.

A week after signing off, however, Pliler testified she learned that all nine had been fired. She said she confronted Dovey about the changes and that he told her he had made the alteration, even though her signature still appeared on the notice of adverse action.

An attorney who is representing eight of the officers -- the ninth has since been reinstated -- characterized the alteration in court papers as a "forgery."

California Correctional Peace Officers Association Vice President Chuck Alexander said Tuesday that it was "incredulous" that Dovey had only been removed from his position and not outright fired.

"If they believe that what he did warrants removal from the position he's in, how can they have the audacity to offer him anything else other than the door?" Alexander said.

"A correctional officer would not only be fired, but probably prosecuted for the same thing."

Guards' penalties altered
Former prison official told hearing that her signature was misused in dismissal papers.
By Andy Furillo - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cheryl Pliler testified that she had never seen anything like it in her 35 years on the job in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Pliler, the since-retired deputy director in charge of the institutions division, had recommended in 2004 that "four or five" of nine correctional officers accused in an excessive force case be suspended and that the remainder be fired.

But when the final papers were served on the Salinas Valley State Prison officers, Pliler discovered that all nine had been fired. To her amazement, the termination papers contained her signature -- despite her recommendation that some of the officers receive only short-term suspensions.

"So I was a little bit disturbed," Pliler testified Aug. 10, according to the transcript of a State Personnel Board hearing on an appeal in which eight of the officers -- the ninth has since been reinstated -- are trying to get their jobs back.

Pliler identified the prison system's current No. 4 official, Director of Adult Institutions John Dovey, as telling her he made the switch.

The action now is the basis of an unusual Monterey Superior Court petition filed on behalf of the nine officers.

In Sept. 29 court papers, the attorney for the officers calls the action by Dovey a "forgery." The alteration violated internal corrections policies, the petition for "extraordinary relief" charges. As a result, it served to nullify the disciplinary actions and gave authority to the courts to step in ahead of the personnel board to reinstate the officers.

"This is corruption at the highest level of an agency that is supposed to be enforcing the law," the attorney, Barry Bennett of Fresno, said in an interview.

Both the court case and the personnel board appeal are pending.

The transcript of Pliler's testimony was filed as an exhibit in the Monterey County case. She declined to be interviewed.

Corrections spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said neither Dovey nor the agency could comment because of the pending litigation and personnel board matter.

Daniel Golla, staff counsel for the corrections agency, argued at the Aug. 10 board hearing to prevent Pliler from testifying. He said it didn't matter if somebody changed her recommendation on the officers' discipline.

"So what?" he said, according to the transcript.

Golla argued that Pliler wasn't the only "hiring authority" who made the call, that the ultimate recommendation on the firings amounted to a group decision involving a number of top corrections officials, including Dovey. But he answered "no" when asked by the administrative law judge, Byron Berry, if he planned to offer any evidence to that effect, the transcript states.

Despite Golla's contention that Dovey's switch amounted to no big deal, one former top correctional official disagreed.

"In my mind, it is extraordinarily serious," Robert Denninger, the chief deputy director and second-ranking official in the department from 1990-95, said in an interview with The Bee. "It creates total mistrust in the system."

The personnel board and court cases stem from what is believed to be the largest group firing in state prison history. The eight officers fighting the termination notices -- James Benefield, Fernando Chavez, Christopher Corotan, Walter Faulkner, Derrick Mackinga, Robert Martin, Kevin Rawhoof and Ronald Sphar -- were terminated in November 2004 for allegedly roughing up an inmate who refused to come off a caged "walk-alone" yard at Salinas Valley in November 2003.

Before the incident, one officer was accused of ordering another to turn off a video camera that would have taped the extraction. Afterward, the officers were accused of improperly documenting the matter to cover it up.

The disciplinary actions were handed down at a time of nearly unprecedented scrutiny of the corrections agency. Legislative hearings, court-appointed special masters and a gubernatorially appointed blue ribbon commission were zooming in on the prison department after a year of budget gaffes, accusations of excessive force and charges of executive-level cover-ups.

Newly elected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had promised "fantastic" prison reform. To that end, his recently installed secretary of the old Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, Rod Hickman, earlier that year put out a memo promising to crack down on the purported "code of silence" in which officers are said to clam up rather than snitch on fellow employees investigated for alleged wrongdoing.

Salinas Valley, meanwhile, was having its own problems. Investigators focused on a purported small group of officers at the prison who called themselves the "Green Wall," after the color of their uniforms. Members of the group were accused of vandalizing prison property with "Green Wall" graffiti, intimidating inmates and threatening whistle-blowers.

Bennett said it was the confluence of these events that prompted corrections officials to drop the hammer on the Salinas Eight.

"The department was so hot to break up this so-called code of silence, or Green Wall, that they took the first opportunity to go after a bunch of people they thought were involved in it and said, 'Look, we're going to do whatever we have to do to get rid of these guys, to make an object out of them, so all the other officers would see how tough we are,' " Bennett said.

Two of Bennett's clients had been identified as "Green Wall" members by former Salinas Valley Acting Warden Ed Caden. In an interview, Caden said their reinstatement would send the wrong message to the prison system.

"Let's say these guys are successful to set aside the termination," Caden said. "It would reinforce to everybody who is of the same mind-set that they can do whatever they want, they can violate the law, they can abuse inmates and cover each other by dishonesty. It tells every honest peace officer in the state it's OK for them to engage in misconduct and there are no sanctions for it."

California Correctional Peace Officers Association spokesman Lance Corcoran disagreed, saying the officers had been "scapegoated" and should be reinstated. He contends they were fired in a "rush to judgment" that Pliler's testimony now suggests took place in a manner that was "not warranted."

"It certainly doesn't surprise me," Corcoran said of the rearranged disciplinary papers. "It's their history."

In her Aug. 10 testimony, Pliler said the investigation into the Salinas Valley case was nearing its one-year statute of limitations when she took part in a high-level meeting on Nov. 3, 2004, to figure out what to do with it. She said the consensus of the group, after assessing the case, was to fire "four or five" of the officers and impose "something other than dismissal" on the rest.

Pliler testified that the group decided to have her sign off on the disciplinary cases, "so I said, 'Fine.' " The next week, Pliler found out that The Bee had published a story saying all nine of the officers had been fired, which prompted her to confront Dovey.

"I asked him if he knew anything about the penalty levels on the Salinas Valley adverse actions being changed," Pliler testified. "And he said, 'Well, didn't anyone talk to you?' And I said no. … And that's when he told me what had occurred."

Pliler said Dovey told her he had changed the disciplinary documents after he had been contacted by Joe McGrath, who was then the corrections agency's assistant secretary for internal affairs.

"He thought we should just terminate all of the employees," Pliler testified. "That's what Mr. Dovey told me."

McGrath at the time was the agency's contact with John Hagar, the court-appointed special master overseeing use of force, internal discipline and other issues in the prison system. He declined to be interviewed.

Posted on Wed, Nov. 15, 2006 

Guards file suit for '04 firing
Monterey County: Corrections officers say they're victims of forgeries
Herald Salinas Bureau

Eight former Soledad prison guards have turned to the Monterey County courts in an effort to regain their jobs, alleging that the state corrections department was so intent on punishing suspected members of an alleged group of rogue prison guards that it "forged" documents and violated its own policies to terminate them.

The guards were fired from their jobs at Salinas Valley State Prison in November 2004 in connection with the alleged beating of an inmate and a subsequent cover-up.

The disciplinary actions followed revelations that Soledad officers formed a clique called the Green Wall, which allegedly framed and brutalized prisoners, and covered up the wrongdoing.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in response to the revelations, issued a "zero tolerance" policy regarding the "code of silence" adhered to by members of the group.

Nine months later, after another correctional officer came forward regarding the alleged beating of prisoner Rafael Serrano, nine correctional officers were fired in what is believed to be the largest mass termination in the department's history. One of the officers, Lt. Clarence Vanhoose, has reportedly returned to work.

The eight remaining guards assert that disciplinary documents terminating them were forged and that the department violated its own procedures and the law in investigating the case. While their initial appeals to the state personnel board -- in which the officers assert their innocence -- are pending, their attorney maintains that the state's failure to properly serve them with disciplinary actions within one year allows them to seek "relief" from the courts now.

The former officers are James Benefield, Christopher Corotan, Derrick Mackinga, Robert Martin, Kevin Rawhoof, Ronald Sphar, Walter Faulkner and Sgt. Fernando Chavez. Faulkner and Chavez were previously fired from the prison for alleged involvement in the Green Wall, but the terminations were overturned by the personnel board.

The officers' petition is based mostly on the testimony of Cheryl Pliler, former deputy director of institutions, the No. 3 position in the corrections department. She testified in August that the disciplinary actions she signed Nov. 4, 2004, weren't the disciplinary actions that were delivered.

Pliler's testimony came during a hearing before an administrative law judge at the personnel board. Pliler, now retired, said she was called to an unusual meeting Nov. 3, 2004, in which she and other high-ranking officials reviewed the results of the investigation into the alleged beating.

Pliler said the group agreed on various levels of discipline, including four or five terminations and lesser penalties for the others. She was assigned to be the "appointing authority" who signed the actions, which were approved by her boss, Chief Deputy John Dovey.

A week later, after the actions were delivered, she learned that the disciplinary orders, which terminated all of the officers, had been changed, but her signature sheet had been left intact. Pliler said Dovey later told her he had approved the change.

The officers' attorney, Barry Bennett of Fresno, acknowledged that Dovey had the authority to change the discipline, but he would have been required to change the signature sheet. Dovey didn't because he was facing an immediate deadline to file the actions within a year of the reported incident, he said.

Because the documents were "forged," Bennett says, the officers were never properly served with their disciplinary actions, and their due process rights were violated.

An initial proceeding on their petition is set for Friday in the Monterey Courthouse.

Bennett said the case doesn't hinge on a technicality. In the three decades he's been practicing labor law, he said, "I've never heard of any agency doing this."

"These went out under her signature, but these were not the documents she signed," he said. "It's a serious matter."

Serrano's beating allegedly took place in an exercise yard Nov. 3, 2003, after Serrano refused to "cuff up" to return to his cell. According to testimony by officer Martha Jaramillo, Faulkner told officers Martin and Sphar, who were in the tower, to turn off the camera that observed the yard. He and officers Benefield, Corotan and MacKinga then hit and kicked Serrano after they tackled him and cuffed him.

Jarmillo testified Rawhoof stood by and watched the beating, as did Chavez, who then told Serrano "This will teach you not to ---- with my officers."

Barrett said he believes the investigation and subsequent terminations were motivated by the "sense in the department that there's this Green Wall." To make it appear that the corrections department was cleaning house, the department broke its own rules to get rid of officers suspected of membership in the group, he said.

"This whole process has been perceived as an opportunity to get certain people," said Bennett. "It is our contention that nothing happened on that day and that, frankly, it's all made up."

Included in the petition are allegations that former acting Warden Ed Caden, who became a Green Wall whistle-blower, secretly tape-recorded Vanhoose; that investigators offered immunity to Rawhoof and Martin -- and offered to destroy Martin's first taped interview -- before they turned on tape recorders in their interviews; and that the department leaked news to the press of the officers' imminent terminations before the officers were informed.

"We want the court to see this has not been handled like a normal internal investigation. This is garbage," Bennett said. "They're talking about, 'We've got to hold these people to higher standard.' Well what about the officers doing the internal investigation?"

The staff counsel handling the challenge to the terminations for the corrections department, Daniel Golla, did not return telephone calls this week.

Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 753-6751 or  vhennessey@montereyherald.com


Posted on Thu, Aug. 25, 2005 

Soledad prison lockdown lifted

Salinas Valley State inmates lost visitation rights after July attack


Herald Salinas Bureau

Inmates regained visitation rights last weekend for the first time in six weeks since Salinas Valley State Prison went on lockdown following an assault on officers.

However, C Facility, which houses 950 inmates, was not granted visitation rights.

The assault happened July 14 in C Facility while an inmate assisted corrections officers handing out breakfast to other inmates.

One guard was stabbed in the face and neck. Another guard was stabbed in the shoulders and arms.

Prison spokesman Lt. Bill Muniz said prison investigators think the attack was premeditated.

The families and friends of inmates staged a protest outside the prison Aug. 6 to bring attention to the lockdown. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Sacramento was notified of the protest, as were the Soledad Police Department, California Highway Patrol and Monterey County Sheriff's Department.

Visitation this weekend took more time than normal, Muniz said, because of the prison's low staff size.

Salinas Valley State Prison and the Correctional Training Facility, Soledad's other state prison, have been under a staffing state of emergency since April. Neither prison has been able to fill its ranks because of the high cost of living in Monterey County, Muniz said.

"The state of emergency we're under affects the resources that are available to us," he said.

The spokesman was unable to say when C Facility will regain its visitation rights because the investigation into the officer assault is still ongoing. Inmates are still being interviewed and cells continue to be searched, he said.

However, an assault on three officers on B Yard just over two weeks ago did not prompt the loss of the facility's visitation rights.

The attack by two inmates, Muniz said, was not comparable to the assault on July 14 that involved the use of a prison-made knife.

Inmates continue to be escorted in shackles as they are moved through out the prison, Muniz said, as the prison remains on lockdown despite being opened up to visitors again.

George B. Sanchez can be reached at 753-6771 or gesanchez@ 


Aug. 13, 2005 

Lockdown reaches week four 
Salinas Valley State Prison: Family members call off protest 
Herald Salinas Bureau 

Lockdown continues at Salinas Valley State Prison one month after two correctional officers were stabbed by an inmate who was helping distribute breakfast to other inmates. 

A protest outside the prison planned for today by families of the inmates was called off for fear of further delaying visitation. 

Last weekend, six women gathered outside the prison in Soledad to protest the lockdown, which has kept them from seeing their husbands and brothers. Two women said the prison's spokesman approached them and said their protest wouldn't grant them access to their loved ones any quicker. 

The spokesman, Lt. Bill Muniz, said he thinks the women might have misinterpreted him, but confirmed that their protest would not release the prison from its sealed status any sooner. 

Muniz said California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation administration in Sacramento was notified of the protest last weekend and requested backup from the Soledad Police Department, California Highway Patrol and Monterey County Sheriff's Department. 

"We're in between a rock and a hard place. We're in between competing priorities," Muniz said of the decision not to allow visitations. 

The investigation into the stabbing continues, he said, explaining that the incident so far seems unprovoked and premeditated by an inmate granted special work privilege to assist correctional officers in handing out breakfast to other inmates July 14. 

One guard was stabbed in the face and neck. Another guard was stabbed in the shoulders and arms. 

"This was not a disagreement. This was not a conflict," Muniz said. "This was a planned attack." 

Muniz said prison officials understand the concerns of families and recognize that continued restriction of programs and visitation only exacerbates an already agitated inmate population. But safety remains a top priority. 

Safety concerns seemed justified Sunday after two inmates attacked several officers during visiting hours in B-yard, which along with E-yard was open for visitations. 

No weapons were involved in the attack, though a correctional officer slipped and fell on a slick of OC pepper spray. 

One woman said the prison's lockdown decision is nonetheless a Catch-22. 

"When they take visits away from these guys, their tempers flare and they become agitated," said Terry Fry. "(Prison administrators) create their own problems by restricting visitation." 

Week four of the lockdown also highlights the continued staffing state of emergency. Muniz said the prison has tried to attract people from the area who are interested in working for the prison and are "familiar with the housing crisis." The prison recently held an open house and conducted medical tests on the spot for people interested in the job. 

Jeanne Woodford, who heads the state corrections agency, declared the staffing emergency after personally visiting SVSP and Correctional Training Facility in April. 

Fry said today's protest was called off midweek after talking with other women involved. 
One woman who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation against her husband said the staff at SVSP tried to "discourage" the women from coming back. 

"Mr. Muniz said it didn't matter if we protest and it doesn't impact management's opinion," she said. "He pretty much said we're wasting our time." 

Fry had another take on Muniz. 

"He made it perfectly clear that what we are doing could cause the lockdown to last longer," she said. 

Fry is one of many women who arrive Fridays and park outside the prison as early as noon, spend the night outside the prison, and wait early the next morning to receive a visiting pass. Fry's husband is appealing his murder conviction. 

She said the point of last weekend's protest was to get Sacramento's attention. However, she said, the group doesn't want to hurt other families in the same situation. 

So they've opted to wait. "That's what we've done. That's what I've done for the last 13 years: wait indefinitely." 

George B. Sanchez can be reached at 753-6771 or  gesanchez@montereyherald


9 prison officers fired over beating, cover-up
By Andy Furillo -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Wednesday, November 10, 2004

In what may be the largest mass firing in Department of Corrections history, nine officers at Salinas Valley State Prison have been terminated in connection with the pummeling of an inmate last year and covering it up after the fact.

Department spokeswoman Terry Thornton would only confirm Tuesday that "several" prison employees "have been served with adverse actions" at the Monterey County prison. But a former Salinas Valley warden and a top-ranking union official both said they were told that the nine officers had been fired recently.

A tenth officer received a demotion as a result of the internal investigation, sources said.

Salinas Valley has been the subject of numerous investigations by the Department of Corrections and the Office of the Inspector General over the past three years. The probes have focused on a small group of employees who called themselves the "Green Wall" and vandalized prison property by writing the group's initials and "7/23" logo - taken from the seventh and 23rd letters in the alphabet -on walls and elsewhere.

The former warden, Ed Caden, said in an interview on Tuesday that the terminations stemmed from a November 2003 "battery" of an inmate, and not from the inspector general's September 2001 "Green Wall" investigation. Three of the officers who were fired, however, had previously been implicated as members of the Green Wall, according to Caden.

The Monterey County District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the case, according to a Department of Corrections source.

Only two of the officers' identities were available Tuesday, but corrections officials refused to confirm them, and the officers could not be reached for comment. California Correctional Peace Officers union Vice President Lance Corcoran confirmed that the nine Salinas Valley officers had been fired, but he did not have any other details.

"I don't know the particulars," Corcoran said.

Longtime prison observers said the mass firings represent the most ever over one incident. In 1996, eight officers were fired for the rough handling of three dozen inmates getting off a bus at Corcoran State Prison the previous year. All those officers, however, were later reinstated, including an associate warden who was allowed to retire.

"It's the largest I can think of," said former CCPOA President Don Novey, who has worked in the system or otherwise been monitoring it for 35 years. "I've never heard of more."

Caden, in describing the incident that led to the firings, said the trouble started when an inmate refused to come out of a "walk alone" cage in the exercise yard outside the administrative segregation housing unit at Salinas Valley.

The cages are monitored by video cameras operated by officers in a control booth that overlooks the yards, department sources said. But before the officers responded to extract the inmate, one of them instructed the control booth officer to turn off the camera.

Officers then stormed the cage to get the inmate out, at which time the unidentified prisoner was knocked to the ground and kicked, according to Caden. The inmate sustained some red marks to his face as a result of the confrontation, but did not require medical treatment, Caden said.

The nine officers were disciplined both for the alleged excessive use of force on the inmate and for failing to properly document the incident, Caden said. He said none of the officers filed any reports.

Caden was serving as the chief deputy warden at Salinas Valley at the time of the incident, but he said he did not find out about it until this past February, when he was named interim warden of the prison.

"I found out, and we immediately began an investigation," Caden said. "I asked for internal affairs (at Sacramento headquarters) to investigate it, and I wanted the inspector general to get involved."

Caden served as interim warden until August, when he was ordered back to Sacramento and removed without explanation from his career executive status within the department. He went public with his demotion and then retired from his 28-year Department of Corrections career.

He later blasted Youth and Adult Correctional Agency Secretary Rod Hickman, accusing the gubernatorial appointee of paying lip service to reforming the state's prison system.

Hickman countered in September that correctional employees "will be held to the highest level of accountability" for any wrongdoing. As for Caden, Hickman said he was removed because he "wasn't meeting the needs" of the prison.

Correctional agency spokesman J.P. Tremblay said Tuesday that the adverse actions taken against the Salinas Valley employees shows "we will not tolerate employee misconduct."

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


Salinas prison guards accused of abuse
A former warden says he is under investigation, too.
By Andy Furillo -- Bee Staff Writer - (Published September 4, 2004)

A retiring interim warden at Salinas Valley State Prison said Friday that a small ring of officers at the institution planted contraband on inmates and beat them on occasion, then worked in concert to cover up their wrongdoing.

Edward Caden acted as warden at the Monterey County prison for six months earlier this year - until he resigned effective Monday amid an internal investigation into his own activities at Salinas Valley. He attributed the misconduct to about a dozen officers as well as a few supervisors who were either associated with or belonged to a gang-like club at Salinas Valley who called themselves the "Green Wall."

"The majority of the staff there are extremely professional," Caden, a Sacramento area resident, said in an interview Friday. "But there is a very small, very tightknit group of officers that has no problem intimidating inmates, setting them up, planting contraband on them and filing criminal charges against them. That is a source of a continuing investigation."

Caden said "there have been beatings of inmates" and that the Department of Corrections has sustained charges against officers accused of the beatings. The maximum-security prison in Soledad houses 4,600 inmates in space designed for 2,224.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton confirmed Friday that the agency's Office of Investigative Services - the headquarters-level internal affairs office - is engaged in a major probe at Salinas Valley. Thornton added the independent Office of the Inspector General also is investigating.

"We're working with the inspector general to ensure that the investigations are done in a fair, accurate and expeditious manner," Thornton said.

Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo said his office is investigating a case alleging excessive force at the prison. He said county prosecutors, in reference to allegations of officers planting evidence on inmates, were forced to dismiss a criminal case against a prisoner accused of harboring a "shank" in his cell as a result of staff members "mishandling" the evidence.

Stories about the "Green Wall" date to 1998, or two years after Salinas Valley opened its gates. According to an OIG report obtained earlier this year by the Associated Press, the "Green Wall" - a tag that reflects the color of officers' uniforms - was made up of staff members who flashed gang signs to each other, spread graffiti and decorated personal items with the inititals "GW" or "7/23," a code for the seventh and 23rd letters in the alphabet.

"It was a group that was put together to show solidarity and camaraderie with each other," Caden said. "But they were also intimidating inmates and staff who attempted to break the code of silence. They condoned brutality against inmates, and anybody who attempted to break the code of silence, they dealt with."

Included in those efforts, Caden said, were "acts of violence" and vandalism, such as scratching their initials or the "7/23" logo into the vehicles of other officers who crossed them.

Flippo said investigators and prosecutors from his office first heard rumors about the existence of the Green Wall in 2001. The Monterey County district attorney said he asked former Salinas Valley Warden Anthony LaMarque about the group and LaMarque responded that "he was on it."

Caden took over as acting warden at Salinas Valley in February when LaMarque went out on medical leave. LaMarque returned last month, but has since gone back out on leave, according to CDC spokeswoman Thornton. LaMarque was not available for comment Friday.

Anthony Kane, the chief deputy warden at the nearby Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, has been moved in as acting warden at Salinas Valley, Thornton said.

California Correctional Peace Officers Association Vice President Lance Corcoran said investigations and allegations concerning the "Green Wall" and officer abuse of inmates have been circulating around Salinas Valley for five years, with no results.

"It's sexy, it sounds good, but nobody's really shown anything," Corcoran said.

Corcoran said when Salinas Valley first opened, between 80 percent and 90 percent of the staff was relatively inexperienced and found themselves "being assaulted on a daily basis" by seasoned convicts.

"They had no leadership," Corcoran said of the Salinas Valley staff. "They went through six wardens in three years. They had no senior staff. Is it possible they got a siege mentality? Absolutely. But that was five years ago."

The union official said "it blows me away" that Caden knew about the "Green Wall" and staff misconduct, but "didn't do anything about it." Caden, a 28-year veteran of the state prison system, had worked at Salinas Valley as chief deputy warden since May of 2002, before being named acting warden.

"If Mr. Caden had knowledge, he had an obligation to come forward," Corcoran said. "To not come forward is a perpetuation of the code of silence."

Caden said that he also is under investigation in the Salinas Valley probe. He declined to elaborate.

Working under a career executive assignment that gives the Department of Corrections leeway to discipline him, Caden said he decided to retire when agency officials "summarily" removed his executive status.

"They told me there were lots of accusations made against me, so I said, 'I'm done with this.' I don't want to fight it from inside the department," Caden said. "I'd prefer quite frankly to do what I need to do from the outside and not feel constrained."

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


Posted on Fri, Sep. 03, 2004 

Retiring warden blows whistle
Official says guards set up prisoners, covered up abuse
Herald Staff Writer ©Copyright Monterey County Herald

A veteran Department of Corrections official who headed Salinas Valley State Prison for six months says correctional officers there set up prisoners for prosecution and covered up instances of brutality by the staff.

Edward Caden retires today after 28 years with the state prison system, including a term as chief deputy warden at Salinas Valley State Prison and six months as acting warden.

In the time he managed the prison, Caden said he found that correctional officers planted contraband on prisoners, setting them up for criminal prosecution. Characterizing corruption at the prison as "pretty well organized," he said Thursday that guards beat prisoners and then conspired to cover it up.

Caden was relieved of the acting warden position in early August following the short-lived return of Warden Anthony Lamarque. Caden was then transferred to what he called a non-existent bureaucratic position in Sacramento.

He said Thursday he is retiring because he could not effectively fight wrongdoing in the prison system while working in it.

"Woe to anybody who tries to upset the little apple cart up there," Caden said in a telephone interview from Sacramento.

Caden is not the first to allege misconduct at the prison. Two former guards there have filed lawsuits containing allegations of misconduct by fellow guards and their superiors. One former officer, Donald Vodicka, testified about prison corruption in front of a state Senate committee in January. He described a gang of rogue prison guards, calling themselves the Green Wall, that had been formed to enforce a code of silence at the maximum-security prison near Soledad.

He said the group had intimidated inmates and guards and even had members within the prison's internal affairs unit.

Investigating similar allegations, the state Office of the Inspector General concluded in a January report that Lamarque had prevented timely investigation into the activities of the Green Wall and intentionally misled state investigators about the guard group.

A month later, seemingly as a result of the state report, Lamarque went on sick leave and Caden, who had been his chief deputy, took over.

Some prison employees have said the change was dramatic. Responding to his own findings and those of outside investigators, Caden said he started mandatory ethics training for guards and ended preferential treatment for favored employees. He said he initiated several criminal investigations into misconduct at the prison, some of which are still under way.

On Aug. 2, Lamarque returned from sick leave to retake the leadership at Salinas Valley State Prison. But, following clashes with Caden over reforms, Lamarque worked just five days before returning to disability leave.

At the end of the same week, on Aug. 9, Caden was transferred to Sacramento. Anthony Kane, formerly interim warden at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, was appointed to serve as acting warden at the nearby Salinas Valley State Prison. The move leaves Kane's chief deputies in charge at the training facility.

State corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Lamarque could return to his old job if his medical problems diminish.

"This is a temporary situation," she said.

Caden said reinstating Lamarque would be a big mistake if the state is interested in cleaning up the prison. He said Lamarque's return in August immediately energized wayward factions in the prison hierarchy, factions that Caden characterized as a "terror regime."

"There are a lot of people at the institution who are just terrified by this guy," Caden said.

Lamarque could not be reached to comment Thursday. However, Lt. Eloy Medina, spokesman for Salinas Valley State Prison, said Lamarque had embraced the changes Caden made in his absence.

"During his tenure, Mr. Caden reinforced to staff through training many of the ideals Mr. Lamarque believes in. Ethics and professionalism, communication at all levels, and positive, long-term goals for the institution," Medina said in a written statement. "When Mr. Lamarque returned he applauded the job Mr. Caden did in his absence."

But Caden said Lamarque blew off the results of internal and external investigations.

"He gave me his assurances that he wasn't aware of the things that were going on.," said Caden. "He knew that there were eight boxes of investigative materials in the prison, but he never read them."

In the other lawsuit filed by a former correctional officer, Manuel Rodriguez contends in a Monterey County lawsuit that officials at Salinas Valley pressed prosecutors to charge him with a crime because he had blown the whistle on staff misconduct leading to an inmate riot in 1999.

The allegations about Salinas Valley State Prison have emerged against a larger backdrop of legislative demands for reform of California's penal system. The Department of Corrections has received a new set of top administrators and the guard's union, long a potent force in state politics, has lost some influence but remains entrenched in Sacramento.

Jonathan Segal can be reached at 646-4345 or  jsegal@montereyherald.com

Contaminated well forces state prison to ration water 
Toilet flushing, hand washing, showers limited 
- Maria Alicia Gaura, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, July 1, 2004 

A contaminated well at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad has left thousands of high-security inmates confined to smelly cellblocks for the past week, enduring strict limits on drinking water, showers and even toilet flushing. 

State officials are trying to restore at least partial water service to the prison's 4,500 inmates until a water filtration system can be installed. In the meantime, inmates, inmates' families and even some prison employees are grumbling about the stink, inconvenience and possible health hazards caused by the water shortage. 

Prisoners' rights advocate Cayenne Bird, director of United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect (UNION), said Wednesday that she has been inundated with calls from inmates' family members since the problem began last Thursday. 

"Inmates tell me they are being rationed to three six-ounce cups of water per day," Bird said. "This must include water for hand washing." 

She said some inmates report waiting as long as 10 hours to flush their toilets, and that some prisoners have been locked down and forced to eat in their cells just feet from unflushed commodes. 

However, prison spokesman Lt. Eloy Medina said toilets are being flushed every three hours, and that water rations started at 32 ounces a day and had been raised to 64 ounces a day on the advice of prison doctors. 

Medina said prison officials were hoping to restore water for showers and toilets sometime today. Inmates have been allowed just one three-minute shower since last Thursday. 

One health care worker at the prison, who asked not to be named, said the conditions were miserable and tensions were running high. The discomfort is exacerbated by Soledad's hot summer weather, with temperatures inside the cell blocks hitting 80 degrees on an average day. 

The close quarters, with two inmates residing in cells approximately 12 by 6 feet, make the lack of showers more oppressive. 

Still, Medina insisted, "morale is pretty good. Everyone understands the situation and that we're doing what we can." 

Salinas Valley State Prison opened in 1996 with two wells. But nitrate pollution, a result of leaking septic systems and decades worth of agricultural fertilizers leaching into groundwater, forced prison officials to cap one well in 1999, Medina said. 

The second well is tested weekly and nitrate levels of 50 parts per million were detected last Thursday -- 5 parts per million more than what is considered safe. 

The well was immediately shut down, and the prison started diverting water from a neighboring low- and medium-security prison. 

But there wasn't enough to replace the 700,000 gallons a day that Salinas Valley State Prison uses, and draconian reductions were implemented immediately. 

Outdoor exercise has been canceled, with inmates limited to their cells and day rooms to prevent unnecessary sweating, dehydration and sanitation risks, Medina said. 

State health officials have agreed to let prison officials use the contaminated water for showers and toilets. In the long term, prison officials hope to have a filtration system installed before the year's end. 

"We anticipate turning the water back on (today)," Medina said. "If all goes as planned." 

E-mail Maria Alicia Gaura at  mgaura@sfchronicle.com

URL:  http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/07/01/BAG4S7ENOQ1.DTL

E-mails & Letters

June 2004

Dear Cayenne:

My husband called today and he is getting only three six ounce glasses of water.  He hasn't had a shower since a week ago Wednesday, only some of the inmates have had showers.

They seem to be off lockdown  but the whole places stinks as they are allowed to flush only twice a day.  Certainly not once every three hours. This is horrible.  Thanks for leading us to make noise.


What next?   Caged visiting areas, visiting days cut to bare minumum, boxes from home banned, continuous lock downs and now more HEALTH RISKS!!!  Inmates in our state prisons are at risk on a daily basis from disease that runs rampant inside the walls.  Guards continue to get higher and higher raises while the rest of the workers get cutbacks and layoffs. 

NOW we have poisoned water at Salinas Valley Prison, No air flow in many southern California prisons, and violent cell extractions at High Desert State Prison.  Deaths are going to occur and who will be help accountable?  Heat kills, poisoned water from seeping nitrates kills, beatings, and lack of clothing, mattresses or personal hygiene items lead to death.  Denial of sending or recieving mail kills the spirit, causes depression and weakens the family unit. 

What is next...will we put inmates up to a firing squad, behead them, bury them alive?  We are seeing these things in the newspaper daily and we need to see the torture happening in our own prisons in the great state of California.  Taxpayers open your eyes, we are going to pay for this.  We need to get smart on crime and clean up these inhumane conditions.

Shirley Wetherwax, grandmother and taxpayer

Dear Editor,

Families of prisoners and inmates are reporting a serious water shortage at Salinas Valley State Prison.  Nitrates have leaked into their water system causing this new prison to limit drinking water
and bathing for inmates.  Inmate cells are no larger than an average sized bathroom and the prisoners have not been allowed to flush their toilets since Thursday, June 24th.  Can you imagine
the smell in this heat?  Many of the inmates are sick with infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis and TB.  This is a serious health risk.  Prisoners report they are only given 3 cups of water per day
and that the poisonous nitrates may be leaking back into that water.

We treat animals at the zoo better than this.  These prisoners need safe drinking water and bathing water supplied to them immediately.

Astraea Kelly

Dear Editor:
A water crisis at Salinas Valley State Prison has been reported.  Apparently the water has been contaminated and inmates have been advised to not bathe, drink the water or flush their toilets leading to unsanitary and unhealthy conditions.  It has also been reported that they are being given three cups of water per day for drinking purposes.  Let's get real here.  General health standards tell us to drink 8 glasses of water per day in order to remain hydrated.  In the heat of summer we dehydrate quickly.  This is especially dangerous for those who are already at risk because of health problems.  Something needs to be done to address this issue.

Dear Cayenne:

Video cameras were allowed in Salinas Valley Prison yesterday.  The warden made the inmates clean up everything in a big rush and then put them all on lockdown while the media was in there - don't know where the film crew was from - one guy was screaming for help from his cell

"I've need to go to the doctor for 45 days and they won't take me, they're killing me."

But all the film crew could do was shoot the cell door, I am certain that after they left this inmate was in big trouble.  My loved one witnessed it all - they also do big clean ups just before a 
legislator comes out too.

There should be more "drop ins"

The inmates now have bottled water in the day room thanks to the Chronicle and the UNION families who wrote in to get attention to this.

I want to thank  you Cayenne and all the people in the UNION for taking action and risks to help others.

All for one, one for all.  I am  spreading the article that was in the Chronicle everywhere along with the rally flyer.  I am also asking friends for some contacts of movie stars which would help the 
media coverage.  We should all talk to as many people as possible.  I agree that they aren't afraid of us and will continue the abuse until we show some numbers.


Dear Cayenne:

My son had a dental emergency at Salinas Valley but there is no water in the building where the dental treatment office is set up SO THERE IS NO DENTAL TREATMENT AVAILABLE FOR UPWARDS OF 4000  MEN.

HELL IS GOING ON  HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


July 21, 2004

Salinas Valley Inmates have been  on a hunger strike for three days. I always discourage this because it is their families who need to stand up for them since the inmates are so vulnerable.  The public doesn't care about inmates who starved themselves to death.  They DO care about a voting group that files lawsuits - there is a huge difference here.

They have been doing violent cell extractions.

Randy Baker's kidney stone is still unaddressed since we filed the complaint in writing and I personally contacted Richard Steffan on May 27 insisting that he be taken to the doctor.

As far as I know, the dental services are completely shut down due to no water in that building.  As you know Rev Shumake who will be speaking at our rally lost his nephew over a cavity so this is a 
dangerous situation.

The hunger strikers at Corcoran were charged and put in the SHU, a lot of press coverage on that situation but nobody came to their aid when they were prosecuted for asking for help.

The hunger strike at Salinas Valley Prison was on C-yard; it was about- yet another search, the continued lockdown, not receiving packages or any privileges for weeks now.  My husband has been on that yard since May of last year- and has gotten 3 weeks TOTAL of yard.  3 weeks TOTAL off of lockdown.  I have gotten about 4 phone calls in almost a year and a half.  That place is not fair!

Those guys on that yard- received NO drinking water for 3 days- no showers for 6 days..

They were also protesting the visiting termination's on C-yard.  It is posted in the room, that the room  holds 250 people; but the guards begin termination's when the room hits 150 people.
They did cell extraction's on Thursday...I'd really like to see the newspaper article when written...
So far,  I know we have at least, the very least- 20 people coming to the rally

Salinas Valley Wife


They are treating the inmates at Salinas Valley Prison like animals- taking their stuff- going through their stuff for no reason- saying- "oh, can't have this, can't have that.."  I bought shoe laces from 
Walkenhorst- and they won't let him have it, I bought a power strip from Walkenhorst, on an approved slip- with the yard captains signature- and they won't let him have it!  It's ridiculous!  He has had 2 weeks of yard, in a year- and can't get into the dentist , even with a cracked filling...

Family member of Salinas Valley Inmate

August 2, 2004

Also looking for more  info on the  inmates who are issuing a non violent SOS by boarding up at Salinas Valley.  They are not getting enough water to drink through number reports.  The guards are bringing a bottle of water twice a day and pouring it into whatever sized cup they have.  The majority of the inmates have an 8 oz cup, some have a styrofoam cup.  This is an outrage and has been going on for weeks.

I was unaware of it because the inmates have been locked down.  We thought they were going to be let off lockdown last week but it didn't happen.

I hope everyone is calling this acting warden Caden to let him know that we all see this grave inhumanity of denying inmates enough water.

Let us all call the Warden's office today and ask his clerks (you'll never get the warden, what the hell he thinks he's doing out there denying water, dental care, showers, enough food, medical care and doing excessive searches and psychological torment.

The acting warden is Caden.

Phone number is 831-678-5500, and ask for warden's office,  Give 'em hell!  Promise to picket!  This is what they fear most - pickets and the resulting bad press coverage. Caden is the warden who participated in double celling Jimmy Diesso and Jeffrey Ford when  he was assistant warden at CMF.

There is no dental care due to the poison water.

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