Pablo Pina D-28079
P.O. Box 7500
D-2 122 SHU
Crescent City, Calif 95531
Sept. 11, 2013
On September 4th 2013 the Pelican Bay SHU hunger strike was officially ended.
This is the third hunger strike we've had here at Pelican Bay SHU.
The thing is, that each time prison officials say they're going to make changes, and each time they do nothing or very little is changed, and we're right back where we started.
They promised us pull up bars for the yard but it took about two years to finally get them up.
I've been in the (SHU) security housing almost thirty years. And here going on 24 years. The pull up bars are too little too late, I'd of liked it 15 years ago. Yeah, it took hunger strikes to get some sorry assed pull up bars. But is that really a change. I don't think so.
What we really need is to be allowed a phone call once in awhile so we could call home.
Sure, they made a few changes but they are so minor that it don't make any difference. They've taken more from us than they give. I can't remember how long it's been since I ate an orange, grapefruit, peach, and much more. Nor can I remember how much of a difference food tastes with salt & pepper. The food is garbage but it's even worse without salt, pepper or sugar.
Prison officials said they will listen to prisoner complaints next month, I guess it don't matter if they let another month go by, it ain't them that has to live in here.
We are kept in our cells four days out of the week, no yard, no showers, no nothing...
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But I do believe that some change is coming. The hearings will help. And there is legal pressure from the courts.
It's a terrible thing that you have endured. I'm really very sorry. I don't know how it has come to this (and we as a society have allowed these prisons to be built)
I've done the few small things that I can (from where I am. I'm on the other side of the country). But I do care very much! I've also posted about the problems with SHU's on the internet (just to spread the word).
Do you have support from your family?
Folks here on this blog need to know what it's like.
Many have no idea.
You (or someone inside) would have to write that post and send it in here (I cannot write a post, of course - I can just comment). Besides, they need to hear from people who are there - who are enduring this.
The more it gets out - the better. I hope you write back, I'll be following your blog, ok?
Prison officials left the meeting before the families spoke. That was disappointing to see.
Keep in mind that you guys are right and you will not just be helping yourselves, but many others in other states (and all the men and women who come after you).
I know it will still take time...but I really believe that change WILL come.
I'm so sorry about your mom. You should be allowed phone calls.....I'm sure your love helps - perhaps more than you realize.
I'll write a bit more next week. I just wanted to get this down because they are sending it tomorrow,
This is inhumane, I hope you are ok.
I think you should keep writing about the conditions in there if you don't mind, there is no better information than first hand accounts.
Thanks for sharing so far.
It is a long time coming....and (you already know this!) when the change comes it will be another step down program. (Unless there is a court remedy). (That's my take on it, anyway).
I wish there was another way....but there is not. Folks out here (in the country) remain angry, I think, at felons and have no interest/belief in change. That hurts you- of course - but us, too, as a society.
I wonder if you've given some thought to the violence in the CA. prisons and how to reduce it. I know that when folks are in prison, they group off - and if they've done that on the streets, too, well - it's worse in prison.
What do you think would help? Do you regret the groups that you've joined in the past? (Can you write about that? If not, I understand).
I'm just curious about your thoughts - and ideas. What would you tell someone who is 15 about making choices/decisions for his future.
On the one hand, I feel like you have had a very difficult road - one that continues. I know that you have chosen to make the best of it (studying math, doing art).
I don't know how people survive in those SHU's without losing it. All the strength - and even all those codes you learned from the past - well, I'll bet they help. Without all of that - it would be harder.
I have a great deal of respect for you - I mean that sincerely. And please keep in mind that I do NOT support the process in California. I also very much believe in change and I hope that the policy of debriefing changes.
But here's the point that I also want to make. I think there is also strength in putting it down. You write that you looked at those men who were now in PC and you thought they had no honor. (That's what you meant?)
I guess I'm just looking from the outside - and I see honor in what you are doing - the things that are good, caring (of your family and friends) - and positive. Urging kids to make good decisions - that's honorable.
But those men you looked at - you think you understand that they have no honor because of the choices they made.
You don't know this. It is possible that *for them* they had to do something very different in order to change. Maybe they *have* put it all down (the things from the past) and they are making an effort to be more peaceful, kinder - and the only way *they* could do this - was to make the decision they did.
Maybe - *for them* this was the only way to put down the anger/the need for revenge?
I'm not speaking for them - or even for *one* of them - I'm just reflecting that even things that look like defeat - or dishonor - from the outside - can be something else. How can we know? We don't even know what was said - perhaps the things they said only took responsibility for what they have done.
I know this is the point. And I'm not saying this is what happened. Just - how do we know? What value is there in judging what we don't know?
I'm asking if there is *benefit for you* - and I'm asking sincerely - out of respect.
You know, I think that I am an honorable person. I try everyday to do something that I can for someone else. I'm not wealthy - and I don't always have time to spare (I'm busy ;-). But every day I try to do something that helps. Even if it's just a very small thing.
This is honorable. To some people, it's a small life. But to me - my life is trying to help people. And that's good.
Putting down those feelings is always (always!) very hard. But I know that there is also honor in letting go of the fight. I work on that quite a bit ;-).
I'm old (50 this year) - and it's still hard to realize that my opinions are not the center of the universe. I just got into an discussion today in which I KNOW I'm right :) - but I also have to let it go. There is honor in letting things go - in the service of better things.
Anyway, I am sharing my struggle - because I also struggle - like we all do. It's different than yours, but to me it feels very real and powerful.
Change is VERY hard for everyone.
The thing is, he never stopped fighting. He fought his whole life. He went to Washington - he spoke out everywhere for his people.
He never got his land back - the thing that he wanted so much. But we (Americans who are not native to this land) remember him and his example. And he has contributed - these many years later - to ongoing reforms. At my child's school, they talk about what we did to native Americans at Thanksgiving. When I was a child, this would not have happened.
I'm not saying there isn't much to be done (there is - native Americans still suffer). But his example is a powerful one of hope, courage and strength. And it made an impression that lasted so much longer than his life -
Anyway, I know that it's hard to write and capture what you want - so I may not be putting this well. I'm really not saying you should do anything different - it's not about doing, but about the fact I think there is honor in many choices. I understand the honor in your choice - but I also see- perhaps, honor in theirs.
We (you and I) cannot know the honor they possess - because we have not walked in their shoes - and don't know the good they are doing. They could be sitting there as liars - having done no good - with no honor. Or they could be sitting there as brave men who are committed to change. To walking a very peaceful - good - path.
Perhaps someday they will become leaders for change. Or just everyday good men who take care of their children, their families and practice honor in their everyday life.
For me, giving some distance to the KNOWING for sure what happened - and not knowing for sure (as we don't) *also* softens the anger, - and the judgment. It allows life to have space (not everything is black/white).
And it isn't.
Anyway, that last piece is from MY experience of life, too. It's what I practice.
I do hope you are well and encouraged by the hearings - and all of the developments that I read about. You really do have my best wishes.
I'm glad of that. I wasn't sure how quickly things would change - or even if they would.
I hope that you are close to your family, that would be very nice.
I should tell you that - actually, I've never done anything illegal, really. I suppose I have driven too fast sometimes (but not too much, I don't like to drive too fast, actually). And, for the most part, I sort of did the things that I was supposed to do (graduated from college and then went back to school for another degree). I've worked with folks who have been in trouble before and so I know quite a bit about prison and the prison system.
I wrote what I did because as different as we are - there are still ways in which we are exactly the same. We (all) must learn over the course of our lifetime all kinds of lessons - and even when you do things 'the right way' - some lessons are hard ;).
I see myself as still on that path.
I am still thinking about what you wrote and am not sure how to respond. It's your life's journey - your experience and your perspective. I've worked with men who would say, I am sure, the same thing as you.
I've also worked with kids who joined when they were quite young (one was in grammar school - her older brothers were involved and got her involved, too). She was a bit of a mascot in the beginning. They are all (I think all - I know she is) in prison now. She's about 17 or so and has a bit more time to serve.
But she's not a typical example, I know - and
I'm not sure how to think about all of that in the word limit here (each comment box accepts only so many words) - but I'd like to mull it over some more and come back to it (if you don't mind).
In the meantime, I didn't want to not respond (as though I didn't read what you wrote or care about it).
They send these out on Mondays - and I wanted to post this so it would be included.
And, of course, I was thinking about you and am very glad to see that there is change. I hope that you got outside - and that you'll get your phone calls.
You deserve them.