Paul Redd, former Oakland resident who grew up on the streets of Oakland, is now a resident of Pelican Bay State Prison SHU Dungeon Windowless Cells. He sent this statement to Truthout contributor Victoria Law after she sent him a copy of her 2012 Truthout article about the one-year anniversary of the 2011 Pelican Bay hunger strikes.
In 1976, Paul Redd was indicted by a San Francisco grand jury and convicted of killing another drug dealer over a dispute. I was sentenced to seven years to life with the possibility of parole. The 35+ years I spent in prison, at least 33 of these years have been spent in various Security Housing Units, known as SHU, and were based entirely on the words of confidential prison informants accusing me of being a high-ranking member of the Black Guerrilla Family. Nothing more.
My many years spent in the SHU are a result of retaliation by various prison officials for my work as a known jailhouse lawyer and for my involvement as a class member in a couple of major lawsuits on prison conditions. Plus the fact I testified in 1985 before a Joint Legislative Committee Hearing on Prison Construction and Operations, which resulted in a former warden at Folsom State Prison’s resignation.
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Although my testimony alone was not the culprit for his resignation, many of his staff that were loyal to the former warden promised to take their revenge out on me as long as I am in prison and have used the erroneous prison gang membership to forge their revenge.
In 1990, prison officials at Folsom State Prison refused to conduct a hearing that would have released me from the SHU. To continue their revenge, they added my name at the last minute to the Prison Transportation Bus en route to Pelican Bay State Prison early that morning. That is how I got here.
I was asked to be on the Black Representatives in the Hunger Strike of July 1  because of my numerous dealings, complaints and litigations since this Death Dungeon was open and up until the hunger strike was decided collectively by us class prisoners.
What gave birth to the July 1 hunger strike was a combination of several factors. Many of us prisoners have filed many prison complaints, both informal and formal, to improve and change many of these repressive policies and conditions to no avail.
We prisoners are living in this death dungeon for years, having watched numerous prison gang investigators and their superiors abuse this gang validation procedure/process with impunity. Assisting in the manufacturing of information, innuendos to be used by prisoner informants, abusing the use of CDC-1030 disclosure forms by providing vague information that does not constitutionally satisfy our due process requirements and making it impossible for us prisoners to marshal the facts for an adequate defense to contest/disprove, etc.
As a jailhouse lawyer, I have assisted prisoners of all races and firsthand seen these undisputed documents that prison gang investigators and their superiors have and continue to rely on for validation purposes and/or to deny us inactive status SHU release every six years.
The documents in question have nothing to do with gang activity or criminal activity whatsoever. These prison gang investigators and their superiors are clearly abusing their power in this gang validation and with the Inactive Status Review Process to the point where it’s nothing more than a farce, sham and joke.
This Pelican Bay SHU “DEATH DUNGEON” has always been a failure to CDCR officials for the reasons they claim for housing “THE WORST OF THE WORST,” alleged prison gang leaders which, off the record, has been stated by dozens of former and current officials.
But openly on the records, CDCR officials will not state this embarrassment of a failure and wasteful spending on taxpayer dollars.
To justify this enormous spending to house us in this Death Dungeon with Windowless Cells, large cracks in the building structure in every single unit, major electrical malfunctions, and broken pipelines.
Prison gang investigators and their superiors overseeing this prison gang validation procedures/process along with the Inactive Status Review have employed even more sinister barbaric tactics with the abuse of power to ensure this SHU Death Dungeon remains open.
In 2006, Prison Gang Investigators/Officials moved all of the so-called Prison Gang Leaders and members to “D” facility, D1 through D4, known as The Short Corridor, to coerce more debriefing.
The SHU kitchens are using our food trays as a form of punishment in an attempt to coerce some prisoners to debrief. Food portions have been reduced; our trays are served nasty, sloppy with food spillage over the trays and into other food slots. We have filed numerous food complaints about this problem. We are verbally told during First level interviews by food supervisors that if we want better servings and cleaner trays, listen to what the officials are telling us to get ourselves out of the SHU and get fed like inmates in the general populations. We are not stupid and know they are indirectly telling us to debrief.
Chief Medical Officer Michael Sayre is using medical as a tactic to also coerce debriefing.
CMO Sayre discontinued some medications, rejected doctors’ recommendations, prohibited some referrals, denied medical transfers, special diets, etc.
Again, many of us have filed complaints, litigations against CMO Sayre and medical. We have been told verbally by some doctors that CMO Sayre has got their hands tied. They have, as well as CMO Sayre himself, during interviews at First Level on our complaints, told us if we want the medical care and some of the treatments provided to inmates in the General Population, we should do what is asked of us to get out of the SHU. We know that to imply debriefing.
We have watched some prisoners become seriously ill and with few even dying that probably could have been prevented if they received better care.
We have heard the stories from those taken to the hospital with serious conditions with Prison Gang Investigators or Ranking Supervisors hovering over them while telling them to debrief in case they are about to die.
We prisoners finally considered all of these disturbing acts over the years to the present, including the fact that 99% of our 602 Appeals Grievances are denied in almost every complaint all the way up to the director’s level in Sacramento.
We said enough is enough and called on a massive hunger strike to bring outside attention to our inhumane treatment and conditions. A collective consensus among all races was felt, outside attention was the only way to spark an independent, unbiased outside investigation into these major abuses and examine our evidence exposing them. CDCR officials’ own documents will speak for themselves in supporting our claims and justification for a hunger strike to warrant an outside investigation.
CDCR officials have said publicly to politicians, reporters, and the public that hunger strikes are dangerous, costly and an ineffective way for prisoners to voice their complaints.
We have voiced our complaints in written form numerous times over the years with our documentation getting nowhere. 602 Inmate Appeals are ineffective and we have results to show.
The hunger strike was the only peaceful, non-violent protest to get the world’s attention to help us halt these torturous, inhumane treatment and conditions inflicted on us.
Now we have been threatened with Serious Disciplinary Actions if we do Another Hunger Strike. CDCR officials are afraid more truths will be revealed because our voices are getting heard.
TRUTH CANNOT BE SILENT. OUR FIGHT WILL CONTINUE.