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United Front to Abolish the SHU Confronts CDC Chief Deputy Director, Aug 20, 2004

Our Coalition hit up Sacramento to protest the genocide of Mexican and African people by the US Prison System!
People came from Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento to protest against the Security Housing Units (SHU) at office of California Department of Corrections (CDC) in downtown Sacramento, S Street between 15th & 16th Streets. We represented United Front to Abolish the SHU, Barrio Defense Committee and concerned and aware citizens.

We came to State’s Capitol to protest the prison system in general and the SHU in particular. We had an appointment with the Chief Deputy Director of CDC, Mr. John Duvey. From noon until 2:30pm we held a banner in front of the CDC office building “U.S. Prisons – Genocide on Mexican and African People, One Out of Thirteen Raza in Lockdown, Free Jose Luis, Convict the Police, Barrio Defense Committee?. We also distributed leaflets to pedestrians and cars passing by. Many people showed their support by honking, giving the thumbs up, peace sign and approaching us to ask questions during our protest.

We also marched from the CDC office to the Capitol holding the banner and shouting out slogans comparing the prisons of California to Guantanamo Bay and Abu-Ghraib prisons. At the Capitol building we wanted to give packets of information and signed petitions to abolish the SHU’s in California to Governor Schwarzenegger and State Senator Gloria Romero. We stood in front of the Capitol building for about a half hour continuing our protest, and again received lots of support from the people.

Back at the CDC office, six of us, all women, met with John Duvey, newly appointed Chief Deputy Director of CDC, who is responsible for prisons, parole division and health care for all state prisons in California. During our conversation with him he informed us that he has worked as a warden for most of his career at Chino prison and Norco prison. He said that he believes that the Governor is serious about change in the prison system and they are presently in the middle of change. The six of us were surprised to hear that there are any changes in the system other than raises for the prison guards. We were incredulous to hear Duvey state that the main focus of his office is good health care, prisoners going to school, vocational training and college education for all the prisons, not in SHU, throughout the California state prison system.

Along this vein of discussion, Duvey also told us that the newly appointed director of CDC, Jeanne Woodford, is progressive; during her term as warden at San Quentin she implemented an individual college program for San Quentin inmates, which is still operating today.

We wanted to make it clear to Duvey that our goal is to abolish the SHU, close them all down! We reminded him that Judge Henderson had stated that the SHU imprisonment is cruel and unusual punishment. Duvey informed us that he is doing a nationwide study of similar SHU systems in other states but which allow the inmates back into main line, general population. Almost in the same breath he told us that California will NOT shut down the SHU, it is not going to happen.

We also inquired Duvey as to the settlement of Steve Castillo regarding gang validation. Duvey said that the settlement, settled on 1st June 2004, is still not being implemented and he does not know when it will be implemented. We found this to be rather amazing since he is responsible for parole division and the prisons for the entire state. If he doesn’t know, who does???!!!! Even more incredulous than this, is when Duvey said to us that his office is instituting a pilot program in 5 California State prisons for main line/general population prisoners which will send prisoners to school or work programs. This sounded good until we asked him which prisons???? And he does not know!

We told him that we want to meet with CDC director Jeanne Woodford, he was unable to inform us when that would be possible.

One of our parting comments to him is that we will be a fire on his ass until he leaves his office.
 
 


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