Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cesar Villa: Solitary Prison Torture

Solitary Watch published an account of life in solitary confinement from Cesar Francisco Villa, 51, a Pelican Bay prisoner. An excerpt of the article is published below, followed by a link to the entire article.


“To be considered an inactive gang member (eligible for release), you must turn over gang information. But if you are not a member, what do you have to turn in? Nothing,” Ceaser Villa writes.

The gang validation process, in which prison investigators determine whether or not prisoners are members of certain prison gangs and segregate them indefinitely in the SHU, has been criticized at California Assembly hearings in 2011 and 2013 as lacking proper oversight and providing effective due process. Currently, thousands of prisoners in California are serving SHU terms for gang validation, most in solitary confinement.

“Each morning wakes the potential for disaster. Each morning starts with anger before the anxiety,” Villa writes of the the frustrating monotony of life in the SHU, where he has since developed arthritis in the spine, hepatitis, a thyroid condition and high blood pressure. Below is an excerpt from a powerful description of life in the SHU, from a letter he wrote to California Prison Focus. For the full version, in PDF format, click here. –Sal Rodriguez

When we talk of the SHU and the affects the conditions have on the psyche, it’s not a simple construction one can wrap his or her mind around. Understanding the treatment of Pelican Bay inmates takes some getting used to. Understanding this sickness that runs rampant in the minds of prison officials leaves knots in the pit of bellies.

Nothing can really prepare you for entering the SHU. It’s a world unto itself where cold, quiet and emptiness come together seeping into your bones, then eventually the mind.

The first week I told myself: It isn’t that bad, I could do this. The second week, I stood outside in my underwear shivering as I was pelted with hail and rain. By the third week, I found myself squatting in a corner of the yard, filing fingernails down over coarse concrete walls. My sense of human decency dissipating with each day. At the end of the first year, my feet and hands began to split open from the cold. I bled over my clothes, my food, between my sheets. Band-aids were not allowed, even confiscated when found.

Continue reading at Solitary Watch

And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone
~Genesis 2:18

Published by Mary Neal, director of the Human Rights for Prisoners March, in obedience to God the Father, who commands that we consider the torture of prisoners as if it were our own bodies being tortured (Heb.13:3).

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