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Corcoran, CA Prison Conditions, 2002-04

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CORCORAN STATE PRISON 2002-2004
Inside California’s Brutal Maximum Security Prison
I.

Executive Summary
This report traces the conditions inside California State Prison at Corcoran1[1] which
houses 5000 prisoners who call this maximum security prison home. Of these 5000 men,
California Prison Focus (CPF) visited approximately 400 inmates during 10-investigative visits in 2002-2004, and corresponded with many others. The findings of
these legal visits established conclusive patterns of abuse of prisoners in the following
areas:

A. Excessive Force
B. Gang Validation (the label assigned to prisoners as a precondition for solitary
confinement)
C. Medical Neglect
D. Access to Legal Materials
E. Harassment And Retaliation by Prison Staff
F. Faulty Administrative Grievance Procedures for Inmate (602 Process)
G. Multiple-Issues
Based upon these patterns of prison mistreatment and abuse, CPF makes the following
recommendations to improve conditions for prisoners and ensure Corcoran’s compliance with
state law:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

1[1]

Adherence to the rules and regulations laid out in the California Code of Regulations,
Title 15 and the California Department of Corrections Departmental Operating Manuel
(DOM)
A full investigation of complaints filed by prisoners enacted by the Office of Internal
Affairs, the Inspector General, Ombudsman, Department of Justice and the Attorney
General
Legislative hearings on the foregoing matters
Hearings conducted by a community review board with the goal of constructing and
implementing greater accountability
Attention to Pro Se Litigants by Kings County courts
Assurances of a prisoner’s right to due process
Zero tolerance policy for guard misconduct. Criminal prosecution where appropriate.
Reorganization of administrative, supervisory and line staff with subsequent external
oversight from the CDoC and community review.
Total overhaul of medical services. Review of medical services by CA Medical
Association. Watchdog monitoring of medical services.
Investigation and publication by CSP-Corcoran of all issues set-forth in this report.

California State Prison at Corcoran is a maximum security facility located in Corcoran, California that
presently houses 4,867 male prisoners, including 1,204 inside a super-maximum Security Housing Unit
(SHU). CSP-Cor was opened in 1988, and became notorious for the gunfire used by staff under orders
from the Department of Corrections central office. From 1988 until 1995 the governing policies caused
rival gang members and known enemies to be in the same SHU small group exercise yards where gunfire
was used to quell the expected weaponless standup fist fights.

II.

Introduction

In the past year and a half California Prison Focus conducted six legal investigative visits to CSPCorcoran interviewing approximately 400 prisoners. The men visited were housed in General
Population, Administrative Segregation and the Security Housing Unit (SHU)2[2]. In addition to
investigative visits, CPF corresponds with hundreds of Corcoran prisoners as well as prisoners’
family members. The following report is a cumulative document of the conditions existing
within Corcoran State Prison.
Corcoran is notorious for its disorganization, medical neglect and institutionalized violence. The
information and analysis compiled here underscores the inhumane conditions inside CSPCorcoran including the lack of adherence to laws governing the prisons operating procedure, the
lack of appropriate medical care, and the lack of administrative accountability. In summary,
CPF’s investigations affirm the inconsistent, unlawful and inhumane standards by which the
prison is run. Many guards appear unfamiliar with Title 15, the California code of regulations
governing the California Department of Corrections (CDoC). Decisions often are made on an ad
hoc and arbitrary basis.

III. Confinement at Corcoran
A. Excessive Force
1. Legal Duties of Corcoran Staff
Correctional officers are personally responsible for the safe custody and respect of inmates. In
particular, California state law, under 15 CCR 3271, requires that “Every employee, regardless of
his or her assignment, is responsible for the safe custody of the inmates confined in the
institutions of the department.” Under 15 CCR 3004, “Inmates have the right to be treated
respectfully, impartially and fairly by all employees.”
Under 15 CCR 3391, employees shall be alert, courteous, and professional in their dealings with
inmates. They shall never refer to inmates by derogatory or slang references, nor shall they use
indecent, abusive, profane or otherwise improper language. Employees shall avoid irresponsible
or unethical conduct.

2. Patterns of Staff Misconduct and Illegal Activities

Despite the requirements above, prisoners report verbal abuse, threats of physical abuse,
assaults and harassment by guards. Guards resort to baiting inmates into punishable
actions, use derogatory remarks, sexually explicit language, profanity, racial epithets,
reference to individual’s family members and name-calling.
3. Exemplars of Staff Misconduct
2[2]

The Security Housing Unit is a punishment facility where prisoners spend 23.5 hours a day in their cell.
There are no programs, no education, no work, and no congregate religious activities. Only the barest of
property is allowed. Visits are non-contact. Some prisoners get to exercise on a small group exercise yard
as the only congregate activity. Prisoners are assigned to the SHU for serious rules violations or because
they have been identified as a prison gang member or associate.

In March 1999, Prisoner G was a victim of excessive use of force. His shoulder was dislocated
while he claims to have not resisted. In fact, he had laid down, arms out while blinded by pepper
spray and was assaulted by three or four officers. He was later warned and threatened not to
pursue his claims of “excessive force.”
On June 24, 2003, Prisoner H was attacked in an unprovoked manner by correctional officers B.
David and D. Morales while handcuffed behind his back. He suffered a swollen jaw, eye, and
lips. On November 10, 2003, he was assaulted by Sgt. F. Reynolds, correctional officers M.
McVey, R.S. Sloss, K. Edmonds, M. Martinez, and Sgt. Reynolds, who used a canister of pepper
spray to “bust” his head open. In addition, correctional officer M. McVey kicked him in his side
while he was laying down in handcuffs and leg irons.
Prisoner H reports having needed thirteen stitches due to his injuries.
Prisoner L reports an incident in which an officer struck his knee to the prisoner’s neck. The
prisoner was handcuffed behind his back during the incident. He has supporting documentation of
his medical and psychiatric data as well as x-rays and an MRI Cat scan on his neck, done on
7/21/03.
Prisoner K reports that the administration of Corcoran State Prison is covering up the beating of
Prisoner M. He states that Sgt. Squal and other correctional officers used billy clubs to beat
inmate M to near death in the 3B facility.
Prisoner I was assaulted on 10/28/03 by Sgt. F. Reynoso with pepper spray and then struck on the
head by Officer M. Martinez. On 10/29/03, he was assaulted with pepper spray by Sgt. J.M.
Martinez.
Prisoner I alleges that excessive force routinely comes from the same guards and under the guise
of “Emergency Use of Force.” He also wishes to address that prisoners’ complaints regarding
guard misconduct are routinely investigated by Lieutenants who themselves are involved in other
improper uses of force. He states that prisoners would like Polygraph Examinations used on them
in order to support their claims. Prisoner I suggested that the installation of video cameras,
monitored by outside organizations are the only way to prevent further cover-ups.
Sgt. F. Reynoso, Sgt. J.M. Martinez, and M. McVay are consistent abusers as well as correctional
officers Sloss, Edmunds, and Morales.
On 10/28/03, Prisoner E reports being removed from his cell by correctional officers Torres and
Jung Hernandez. After being directed into an area directly in front of the 4A-2R Holding Cage,
the prisoner was slammed to the floor and kicked in the left rib, and sprayed with pepper gas by
Sgt. Martinez. Prisoner E was not combative, nor resistant in any manner. Still, he was threatened
by Sgt. Martinez to cover up his abuse and, instead, charged the prisoner with “attempted assault
on staff” or “resisting a peace officer.”
Prisoner D suffered a brutal assault, nine cases of abuse by mechanical and chemical restraints,
and starvation of over sixty meals (once five days in a row) or having his food thrown into his
cell. Moreover, he has been given only torn rags or a shirt and boxer shorts to wear for months
along with unsanitary conditions (no toilet or water). Furthermore, he was exposed to pepper
spray through his air vents for 24/7 during nine months since 8/16/03.

Prisoner B claims an assault from correctional officers on 9/10/04, and that his filing of
administrative appeals have been rejected by the officers responsible for the abuse.
Prisoner A says he can prove sexual misconduct from officers against him, setting him up with
another “active” prison gang member who assaulted him. He also claims that officers beat him,
forced medicated him, and forced him into “5 points and with broken bones” and receiving no
medical help. He filed 602s on all officers involved, particularly Sgt. Dotson who assaulted him
with a baton.
Prisoner J, a self-described human rights activist, reports officer Guzman provoking another
prisoner to violence and beating the prisoner up in the 3B facility on March 13, 2004, at
approximately 2:30 pm. Officer Guzman’s abuse led to the victim defending himself only to be
beaten up by more prison guards.
The next day, March 14, Sgt. Dotson is reported to have dragged another prisoner out of his cell,
causing injury to that prisoner’s knee and rotor cliff of his right shoulder.
4. Recommendations to Eradicate Staff Misconduct
· Zero tolerance policy for guard misconduct. Reconstitution of staff with breakup of cliques,
transfer of supervisory and line staff to achieve responsible behavior and effective supervision.
·Guards shall comport themselves within the confines of the law, treat prisoners with respect,
ensure their safety, and refrain from the use of indecent, abusive, profane or otherwise improper
language.
· Intensive sensitivity training of all custodial and medical staff about HIV, hepatitis C and all
communicable diseases.
· Intensive sensitivity training of all staff concerning issues impacting gay and transgender
prisoners.
·All allegations of guard misconduct shall be thoroughly investigated and publicized.
·Where appropriate, guards will be criminally prosecuted, and supervisors will be disciplined
and/or removed who fail to investigate and punish misconduct.

B. Gang Validation
1. Legal Criteria
An inmate whose conduct endangers the safety of others or the security of the institution shall be
housed in the SHU under a determinate or indeterminate sentence. Specifically, 15 CCR 3341.5
(2) outlines determinate and indeterminate sentencing structure. An inmate serving an
indeterminate SHU sentence shall be reviewed by classification committee at least every 180
days for consideration for release. Gang members, with few exceptions, are deemed to be a severe
threat to the safety of others and the security of the institution and will be placed in a SHU for an
indeterminate term. Determinate SHU sentences shall be established for inmates found guilty of a
serious offense by the Institutional Classification Committee (ICC). Serious misconduct while in
the SHU may result in loss of clean conduct credits or an additional determinate term for an
inmate serving a determinate term. An inmate shall not be retained in the SHU beyond the
expiration of a determinate term unless the ICC has determined a continuance.
2. Problems in SHU Sentencing

Maximum security cells in the state of California have been drastically over built. Despite
dropping rates in violent crime, the CDoC designates prisoners as gang members or associates,
administers non-gang validated prisoner’s indeterminate SHU sentences, and administers bogus
rules violations to keep SHU cells full. Prisoners who might otherwise have a Level I
classification with no disciplinary record find themselves validated as gang members or
associates, placing them in super-maximum security cells with indeterminate sentences. Once
sentences are completed prisoners report waiting an average of 3 to 9 months in SHU or
Administrative Segregation to be transferred to general population. Prisoners who complete the
debriefing process report prolonged delays in being transferred to Integrated Yard Programs
(IYPs). Reports have been made that the number of beds available in IYPs are not comparable to
the number of spaces necessary for all debriefers to be rotated into IYPs after the completion of
the debriefing process.
3. Exemplars
Prisoner O wants to challenge his bogus, indeterminate SHU sentence from gang validation. He is
working to help himself and others challenge claims used by I.G.I.
Prisoner C was assaulted along with Prisoner B. As a result, both have been falsely validated as
gang members.
Prisoner P is challenging gang validation and has filed 602 forms, which have been subsequently
lost. He believes that the “lost” 602s are a form of retaliation from prison officials for his lawsuit
against gang validation.
Prisoner N has tried to appeal his gang validation but cannot obtain a “confidential” file related to
his validation.
Numerous prisoners report being subject to erroneous and fabricated evidence used to label them
as gang members or associates, resulting in indefinite confinement in solitary lock-ups.
4. Recommendations
· Prisoners shall be released from the SHU in a timely manner upon completion of their sentence.
· An independent investigation shall be conducted into the methodology for assigning gang
validations.
· Prisoners subjected to gang validation proceedings shall be afforded due process.
· Uncorroborated confidential information shall not be relied upon to secure a validation.
· The gang validation process shall not utilize the threat of violence to coerce testimonies out of
individuals.
· Non-violent prisoners shall not be perceived to pose a security threat for mere association with
gang members.
· No HIV+ prisoners or others with life-threatening illnesses shall be unfairly housed in the SHU.
All effort shall be made to house these prisoners in general population prisons.
· An investigation into the hearings process for rules violations shall be conducted exploring the
weight a CO’s word is given over a prisoner’s defense.

C. Medical Neglect

1. Legal Standard
Healthcare shall be provided within a limited scope. According to 3350 CCR 15, “The
department shall only provide medical services which are based on medical necessity and
supported by outcome data as effective medical care. In the absence of available outcome data,
treatment will be based on the judgment of the physician. Under 3350.1 CCR 15 (a) (2)
conditions that are not readily amenable to treatment, include but are not limited to those which
may be made worse by treatment with conventional medication or surgery, and those that are so
advanced in the disease process that the outcome would not change with existing conventional or
heroic treatment regimens. Examples include grossly metastasized cancer, multiple organ
transplants, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, etc.
Applied healthcare responsibilities and limitations are under 3354 CCR 15 (a) Only authorized
medical staff shall diagnose illness and prescribe medication and care (d) Emergency healthcare
attention by available resources shall be obtained by the officials in charge (e) Medical doctors,
registered nurses, or medical technical assistants shall make daily visits to each non-general
population housing unit unable to use sick call services for general population. Staff conducting
sick call shall screen medical problems appearing to require further medical attention and shall
evaluate requests for appointments with other medical staff.
Prisoners transferred from one institution to another will receive continuity of care. Specifically,
under 3355 CCR 15, “Inmates received on transfer shall be interviewed by healthcare staff within
24 hours of their arrival. Healthcare records will be reviewed to determine the need for previously
prescribed treatment. Sending healthcare staff shall notify the receiving institution of a prisoners
needs.
2. Medical Neglect
Correctional staff and Medical Technical Assistants (MTAs) consistently prevent prisoners from
receiving urgent and timely care. Prisoners with persistent health problems, which cause
substantial discomfort but are not life threatening, report not being treated. Medication is
interrupted, and orders issued by medical staff are often not adhered to. Although many prisoners
are transferred to Corcoran because it is a designated medical facility for high security prisoners
and its acute care hospital, prisoners state that upon arrival they are not supplied with prescribed
medications. In repeated instances, prisoners’ requests for prescribed medications are denied.
Medications are changed frequently by doctors without obvious need and no clear individual
treatment goal. Treatment is cursory and inconsistent. Prisoners report deliberate indifference and
interference by custody staff who fail to timely report medical conditions to MTAs and doctors.
Without medical expertise, custody staff use their own discretion to determine whether a prisoner
needs medical care. Urgent medical situations are often treated as minor upsets. Prisoners report
when a prisoner is immobilized by illness, “man down’ is called but guards are slow to respond,
initially ignoring the calls. Prisoners with treatable conditions are forced to endure prolonged
waits to see a doctor and often suffer excruciating pain. In order for a timely response by COs an
inmate has to be passed out and bleeding. Prisoners with terminal or severe medical conditions
such as cancer, heart conditions and on kidney dialysis report receiving little or no medical care.
Prisoners who are within six months of death are not recommended for medical compassionate
release in a timely manner nor are they later transferred when medically eligible to the prison
hospice at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville.

3. Examples of Medical Neglect
Prisoner Q is in dire need of psychiatric care. He believes that prison guards and staff are out to
kill him. He writes frequently to California Prison Focus, expressing fear for his life in Housing
Unit 4B Facility. He claims that Captain Andrews is conspiring, along with other guards and
inmates, to have him assaulted and killed. Certainly, confinement to the SHU is exacerbating his
mental illness and his requests to be moved must be taken seriously.
Prisoner S has been diagnosed with HCV since May 2003. For more than one year, he has
received no information or treatment for his illness.
Prisoner U has been denied medical treatment for Hepatitis C. He requested treatment for it on
8/21/03. Corcoran Prison has had his blood drawn three times, yet he has been given no treatment
or results. He filed a grievance on 4/02/04, but he has not been seen or acknowledged, in violation
of the Title 15 602 appeal process.
Prisoner T has been suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and hepatic encephalopathy from
Hepatitis C. The doctors at the prison have been giving him inadequate attention for this, which is
being further complicated by his ulcer medications. He also has pain from arthritis in his right
shoulder and left elbow, which his doctors diagnosed at the prison. Nevertheless, the medical
staff has been withholding all pain medication for arthritis. Due to his medical conditions, he
cannot eat the food that is served and an adequate diet is not provided as an alternative.
Prisoner R is disabled and needs help writing his letters along with other functions. He says that
for this reason, he has been continuously denied attention and medical help. He has been denied
medical treatment many times for his right ear, and has been told by a specialist that he will go
deaf because of the delays of treatment. Furthermore, his requests to see a urologist for testicular
pain had been blocked. He finally was given an appointment and had an ultrasound done on
4/02/04, whereupon a cist was found on his right testicle. He has been given medication for this,
but he is afraid that he will be denied check-ups. Lastly, he notes breathing problems that have
not been taken care of.
In an incident referred to as a “Super Bowl horror,” prison guards neglected an inmate’s cries for
help as they watched the 2/01/04 football game on television. The Detroit News article entitled,
Schwarzenegger struggling with prison crisis in California, written on 2/14/04 by Don Thompson
of the Associated Press, described a 60-year-old inmate bleeding to death after pulling the
dialysis shunt from his arm, then crying for the guards’ attention. Despite the guards’ negligence,
none of them had been charged at the time of the article.
In late February of 2004, an 80-pound inmate died after not having eaten in 40 days. Negligence
on behalf of the officers is suspected. The San Francisco Chronicle published an article detailing
this on 2/26/04, written by Mark Martin of the Chronicle Sacramento Bureau, entitled Scathing
report on prison health care still not out. Agency suggests negligence in deaths at Corcoran
facility.

On 10/19/02, California Prison Focus’ HIV/Hepatitis C in Prison committee cited three inmates
that had died of HIV in the previous two weeks. The group requested an investigation into the
deaths, claiming that the inmates did not get access to adequate pain medication, that they were
not transferred to a prison hospice, and that they were not recommended for “compassionate

release.” The Fresno Bee reported this in an article written by Bethany Clough on 10/20/02,
entitled Prison draws protesters. Demonstrators come from throughout the state to voice
concerns about conditions at Corcoran . The article also includes a woman who says her husband
exemplifies the changes that need to be made at Corcoran State Prison. She says her husband lost
an eye, the use of his right hand, and the ability to walk in a fight at the prison. In addition, he had
been in solitary confinement for four years at the time of the article.
D. Access to Legal Materials
1. Legal stipulations
Inmates shall be permitted access to the law library. Under section 53060.10, All interested
inmates shall have access to the inmate library law books. The schedule of the library shall
include daily hours of operation, consider the needs of inmates assigned to security, segregated
and other restricted housing units. As asserted in 15 CCR 53060.16, inmates in restricted housing
units with established court deadlines shall be given priority in submitting requests for law library
materials and in the delivery and pickup of these materials to and from the unit.
2. Denial of Access to the Law Library
Requests to go to the law library are denied; prisoners are given law library ducats weeks or even
months after their initial request preventing them from doing research on legal matters and
advocating on their own behalf. Preferred legal users are unable to use the law library more than
once a month. The law libraries at Corcoran consistently fail to make timely copies of prisoners’
legal materials.
3. Exemplars
Prisoner U has been filing 602 appeals, regarding the blocking of SHU prisoners from accessing
the law library. In addition, his 602s have not been answered and he has been told that there is no
law library for SHU inmates. He and other inmates are told that the law library is only accessible
if they have a case number and a deadline in an appeal. Since he cannot access the law library to
obtain writs, notice of appeal, and other documents, he cannot research the issues with which he
can address the court and get a case number.
Prisoner V would like to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus and a tort claim, but cannot access the law
library. The law library was temporarily closed at Corcoran’s SHU, 4A yard, at the time of the
complaint (11/17/04).
E. Harassment/Retaliation by Prison Staff
1. Legal Duties of Corcoran Staff
Correctional officers are personally responsible for the safe custody and respect of inmates. In
particular, California state law, under 15 CCR 3271, requires that “Every employee, regardless of
his or her assignment, is responsible for the safe custody of the inmates confined in the
institutions of the department.” Under 15 CCR 3004, “Inmates have the right to be treated
respectfully, impartially and fairly by all employees.”
Under 15 CCR 3391, employees shall be alert, courteous, and professional in their dealings with

inmates. They shall never refer to inmates by derogatory or slang references, nor shall they use
indecent, abusive, profane or otherwise improper language. Employees shall avoid irresponsible
or unethical conduct.

2. Patterns of Staff Misconduct and Illegal Activities
Despite the requirements above, prisoners report verbal abuse, threats of physical abuse, assaults
and harassment by guards. Guards resort to baiting inmates into punishable actions, use
derogatory remarks, sexually explicit language, profanity, racial epithets, reference to individual’s
family members and name-calling.
3. Exemplars
Prisoner P has been challenging gang validation and has filed 602 forms, which have
subsequently been lost. He believes that the non-logging of forms by prison officials is in
retaliation for his lawsuit about gang validation.
Prisoner Y believes that guards retaliated against him because of his involvement in M.A.C.
(Men’s Advisory Council). Since July 1, 2003, he has been in the SHU for a fraudulent charge of
conspiracy to assault staff. He has been involved in a trial in Corcoran Superior Court, defending
himself against fraudulent charges. His due process rights were violated and any attempts to file a
writ to Kings Superior Court are denied by Executive Clerk Todd Barton. His 602 file on Sgt.
Montgomery has not gone through. Now, he is going to court on a false charge of possession of
marijuana, in which he says a correctional officer framed him in retaliation for his other lawsuits.
Prisoner D has suffered a brutal assault, nine cases of abuse by mechanical and chemical
restraints, deprivation of antidepressants, starvation of over sixty meals (once five days in a row),
and having his food thrown into his cell. Moreover, he has been given only torn rags or a shirt
and boxer shorts to wear for months along with unsanitary conditions (no toilet or water).
Furthermore, he was exposed to pepper spray through his air vents for 24/7 during nine months
since 8/16/03.
Prisoner D has endured similar abuse while incarcerated at Lancaster and Vacaville as well. He
believes this has been part of a conspiracy against him. Guards have worked together to generate
lies among the inmates that he is a child molester and a former skinhead gang member. In
addition, guards have repeatedly taunted him, telling him to kill himself and falsely placing him
on suicide precautions.
Guards have sexually harassed him, telling him to masturbate, in addition to using the security
camera in his cell to route the signal to inmate TVs, for the purpose of humiliating him.
Moreover, the guards have used the public address system to ridicule and threaten inmates.
As a result, Prisoner D has been pursuing a 1983 Federal Civil Rights case, including State
Personal Injury Claims under the principle of res judicate. He has been denied access to the law
library and he has not received responses for many 602 grievances.
Prisoner G has had three TVs seized and has repeatedly filed 602s on correctional officers for
confiscating his property. One of the instances took place on 9/10/03, in which correctional
officer Tugioka said the seized TV had no broken seals and no weapons in it, but that the officers
would keep the TV on an alleged “power cord issue.” That night Sgt. Bear sent word through

correctional officer Blackburn that Prisoner G would get his TV back, but it never happened. His
602s have not been answered.
This has occurred while Prisoner G has filed a 1983 Federal Civil Rights complaint. In addition,
he has been blocked from the law library, endured CDC harassment and medical neglect. He has
been pursuing a case of excessive use of force against him during March, 1999. He has had four
surgeries for the dislocation of his shoulder during that incident. During his process of reporting
the abusive incident, guards have retaliated against him—possibly in the form of seizing his TVs
and dismissing his 602 forms.
Prisoner X concedes that Sgt. D.S. Indendi, of 4A3 building, third watch, is responsible engaging
in conspiracy with the 4A3L, third watch staff to deny, obstruct, and prevent the prisoner’s rights.
He has been in Corcoran’s SHU since November 2001 and claims that his food has been
tampered with. He has suffered from medical problems as a result, and he has been denied
medical examination. Furthermore, his legal and confidential mail has been tampered with.
Prisoner W has been disabled for approximately twenty years. In 2000, his ADA status was
verified at Folsom Prison. However, Dr. Kim at Corcoran Prison removed his ADA status in
retaliation against the prisoner’s 602 complaints, which criticized Dr. Kim’s medical competence.
4. Recommendations to Eradicate Staff Misconduct
· Zero tolerance policy for guard misconduct. Reconstitution of staff with breakup of cliques,
transfer of supervisory and line staff to achieve responsible behavior and effective supervision.
·Guards shall comport themselves within the confines of the law, treat prisoners with respect,
ensure their safety, and refrain from the use of indecent, abusive, profane or otherwise improper
language.
· Intensive sensitivity training of all custodial and medical staff about HIV, hepatitis C and all
communicable diseases.
· Intensive sensitivity training of all staff concerning issues impacting gay and transgender
prisoners.
·All allegations of guard misconduct shall be thoroughly investigated and publicized.
·Where appropriate, guards will be criminally prosecuted, and supervisors will be disciplined
and/or removed who fail to investigate and punish misconduct.
F. Faulty Prisoner Administrative Appeals Process (602 forms)
1. Legal Requirements
Prisoners may file complaints against prison personnel challenging any prison policy, practice or
specific action. In particular, under 15 CCR 3084.1(a) any inmate under the department’s
jurisdiction may appeal any departmental decision, action, condition or policy which they can
demonstrate as having an adverse effect upon their welfare…No reprisal shall be taken against an
inmate for filing an appeal. Time limits exist for filing of appeals and receipt of a response. By
law, Title 15 section 3084.6(1)-(4) requires that informal level responses shall be completed
within ten working days. First level responses shall be completed within 30 working days. Second
level responses shall be completed within 20 working days, or 30 working days if first level is
waived. Third level responses shall be completed within 60 working days, if an exceptional delay
prevents completion of the review within specified time limits, the appellant shall be informed in
writing of the reasons for the delay and the estimated completion date.

2. Failure of the 602 Appeals System
Timely filed 602 appeals forms often receive tardy or no response. Prisoners report that many
appeals are “lost,” destroyed or not responded to by prison personnel. Prisoners have witnessed
staff disposing of appeals forms prior to logging the particular appeal.
3. Exemplars
Prisoner A reports to have written proof from inmates and staff that his 602 forms are not coming
back. All of his legal mail has been mishandled. He has filed a total of four 602s on the issue of
Sgt. Dotson assaulting him with a baton. He has even had an officer admit that his 602s are not
being answered. In response, he complained to the Chief Warden about the faulty process and
was, in turn, told by C.C.I. that the 602s were sent back to him in order for him to fill out more
information. But, he never received them. He is afraid to push the matter because he has been
retaliated against by correctional officers.
As of 4/06/04, Prisoner U had been filing 602 forms for eight months, concerning access to the
law library for SHU inmates. He also filed a 602 on 4/02/04, concerning medical neglect, and has
not been seen or acknowledged, in violation of the Title 15 602 appeal process.
Prisoner N has received no response on his 602 appeals process after three months (as of
5/09/04). He believes his 602s concerning his gang validation are constantly denied.
Prisoner P is challenging gang validation and has filed 602 forms, which have subsequently been
lost. The prisoner believes that the failure of prison officials to log his forms is in retaliation for
his lawsuit about gang validation.
Prisoner B has filed a 602 form on the correctional officers who assaulted him on 9/10/03 and has
not received any log numbers or responses. His consecutive 602s date 9/23/03, 3/01/04 (to which
he received a 602 appeals screening form, rejecting his form on false claims that it was late), and
3/28/04 (to which he has still not received a response). He claims that since the correctional
officers on whom he was reporting worked in C.S.A.T.F. A.S.U. and handled all mail, they have
blocked his 602s from reaching the appeals coordinator.
Prisoner Z is locked up in the SHU on false charges and cannot appeal because the 602 process
has failed in his case. As of 2/02/04, he still had not been given a log number after some time and
his 602 forms continue to be sent back to him denied (on false claims that they were late).
Sometimes, he does not even receive responses from his forms at all.
4. Recommendations
· A full investigation and overhaul of the appeals process shall be conducted and implemented,
insuring that due process is upheld.
· Appeals shall be logged and responded to in an orderly and timely manner.
· The prison shall create a system of accountability by administering numbered and dated receipts
to enable prisoners to track appeals.
· Prisoners shall not be retaliated against for assisting others in the appeals process. Group 602s
will be treated with special procedure that begins with timely response by the Warden and urgent
Departmental review.

G. Multi-Issue
1. Exemplar
Prisoner AB reports multiple problems with the Corcoran SHU and states that his previous nine
years at Pelican Bay SHU enabled him to see Corcoran’s serious faults in comparison. He
exclaims that the Corcoran SHU a) is dirty (i.e., the cells, the laundry, and little or no shower
time), b) has poor medical attention (that it usually takes one to two months to be seen), c)
provides no general library (and the law library is rarely open), d) seldom gives prisoners access
to the yard (he reports going only once in three weeks), e) abuses prisoners (he has witnessed
prison guards beat two mentally-ill prisoners), f) takes two to three months to issue prisoners their
property.
For instance, Prisoner AB recalls being confined to a holding cell in Corcoran’s SHU 4A-IR on
12/15/03. Another inmate died because of the officers’ lack of attention. They continued
watching a DVD in their office while the prisoner in the cell next to him was complaining about
chest pains. The officers finally called the MTA, who brought the prisoner to the hospital, only
after the other prisoners made pleas on behalf of the ill man. The prisoner returned later that day
from the hospital. However, the next day the prisoner was brought to the hospital again and died.
Moreover, the officers were heard discussing how to explain all of this in their report, with
possible attempts to cover up their negligence.
In conclusion, Prisoner AB blames the man’s death on the officers’ negligence--a reflection of
Corcoran State Prison’s treatment of its inmates.

Conclusions
The above stated practices are ongoing at CSP-Corcoran. Prisoners continue to suffer the
treatment typified by the incidents described above. A majority of prisoners confined to CSPCorcoran will return to society. The public interest is ill-served if prisoners’ minds and bodies
return more battered, bruised, angry and vengeful than prior to their incarceration. It is
unconscionable for any offender to be verbally harassed, beaten, sexually assaulted, subjected to
medical neglect or rendered hopeless due to the cumulative impact of daily abuses that are a part
of serving time at Corcoran. We as a society must demonstrate a recognition of the preciousness
of life, and the fairness and respect for the rights of prisoners governed by federal and state law.
Corcoran and its staff must be held liable for their actions. A thorough and extensive investigation
of conduct within the prison should be asserted by the legislature, courts and internal affairs. An
independent review board comprised of prisoner advocates, human rights organizations, the
California Medical Association, public health officials, current and former guards, and current
and former prisoners shall hold hearings on the findings of these investigations with the intention
of exposing the unlawful conditions and practices at Corcoran and developing a plan for
implementation of solutions to egregious conditions.
This report was prepared by CPF’s human rights investigators, Marielle Ferebeouf and Tara
Caffrey, who led the Corcoran Committee’s investigations during 2002-2004. They were assisted
by Charles Carbone, Attorney at Law, who heads CPF’s Litigation in Prison Project. Final editing

and additions were made by Joe Sciarrillo. CPF expresses its gratitude to all of the investigators
who participated in the prison visits upon which this report is based.

ABOUT CPF
CPF investigates conditions and treatment of prisoners in three of California’s control unit
prisons: Pelican Bay, Corcoran and Valley State Prison for Women. Also our HIV & HepC in
Prison Committee focuses on HIV and Hepatitis C education, advocacy and compassionate
release, and our Trans and Gender Variant Committee advocates for transgender prisoners. Since
1991 we have conducted 72 investigative trips and interviewed 2,278 prisoners. CPF members
are human rights activists, former prisoners, family members and friends of prisoners, and
concerned people.

OUR MISSION
CPF is dedicated to identifying, monitoring and ending the human rights abuses that take place in
California prisons. CPF educates the public about violations of prisoners’ rights and engages is
advocacy for prisoners and their families, as well as provides training for self-advocacy. Our goal
is to bring the communities on the outside together with those on the inside. Essential to that task
is working in solidarity with prisoners and promoting their voice in our newsletter, to the media
and in public forums. CPF seeks to end long-term isolation and medical neglect and gender
discrimination in California’s prisons and to close all SHUs with the ultimate goal of abolishing
all US prisons as we know them.

CORCORAN STATE PRISON 2002-2004
Inside California’s Brutal Maximum Security Prison
I.

Executive Summary
This report traces the conditions inside California State Prison at Corcoran3[1] which
houses 5000 prisoners who call this maximum security prison home. Of these 5000 men,
California Prison Focus (CPF) visited approximately 400 inmates during 10 investigative
visits in 2002-2004, and corresponded with many others. The findings of these legal
visits established conclusive patterns of abuse of prisoners in the following areas:

A. Excessive Force
B. Gang Validation (the label assigned to prisoners as a precondition for solitary
confinement)
C. Medical Neglect
3[1]

California State Prison at Corcoran is a maximum security facility located in Corcoran, California that
presently houses 4,867 male prisoners, including 1,204 inside a super-maximum Security Housing Unit
(SHU). CSP-Cor was opened in 1988, and became notorious for the gunfire used by staff under orders
from the Department of Corrections central office. From 1988 until 1995 the governing policies caused
rival gang members and known enemies to be in the same SHU small group exercise yards where gunfire
was used to quell the expected weaponless standup fist fights.

D. Access to Legal Materials
E. Harassment And Retaliation by Prison Staff
F. Faulty Administrative Grievance Procedures for Inmate (602 Process)
G. Multiple-Issues
Based upon these patterns of prison mistreatment and abuse, CPF makes the following
recommendations to improve conditions for prisoners and ensure Corcoran’s compliance with
state law:
•

Adherence to the rules and regulations laid out in the California Code of Regulations,
Title 15 and the California Department of Corrections Departmental Operating Manuel
(DOM)
• A full investigation of complaints filed by prisoners enacted by the Office of Internal
Affairs, the Inspector General, Ombudsman, Department of Justice and the Attorney
General
• Legislative hearings on the foregoing matters
• Hearings conducted by a community review board with the goal of constructing and
implementing greater accountability
• Attention to Pro Se Litigants by Kings County courts
• Assurances of a prisoner’s right to due process
• Zero tolerance policy for guard misconduct. Criminal prosecution where appropriate.
• Reorganization of administrative, supervisory and line staff with subsequent external
oversight from the CDoC and community review.
• Total overhaul of medical services. Review of medical services by CA Medical
Association. Watchdog monitoring of medical services.
• Investigation and publication by CSP-Corcoran of all issues set-forth in this report

II.

Introduction

In the past year and a half California Prison Focus conducted six legal investigative visits to CSPCorcoran interviewing approximately 400 prisoners. The men visited were housed in General
Population, Administrative Segregation and the Security Housing Unit (SHU)4[2]. In addition to
investigative visits, CPF corresponds with hundreds of Corcoran prisoners as well as prisoners’
family members. The following report is a cumulative document of the conditions existing
within Corcoran State Prison.
Corcoran is notorious for its disorganization, medical neglect and institutionalized violence. The
information and analysis compiled here underscores the inhumane conditions inside CSPCorcoran including the lack of adherence to laws governing the prisons operating procedure, the
lack of appropriate medical care, and the lack of administrative accountability. In summary,
CPF’s investigations affirm the inconsistent, unlawful and inhumane standards by which the
prison is run. Many guards appear unfamiliar with Title 15, the California code of regulations
governing the California Department of Corrections (CDoC). Decisions often are made on an ad

4[2]

The Security Housing Unit is a punishment facility where prisoners spend 23.5 hours a day in their cell.
There are no programs, no education, no work, and no congregate religious activities. Only the barest of
property is allowed. Visits are non-contact. Some prisoners get to exercise on a small group exercise yard
as the only congregate activity. Prisoners are assigned to the SHU for serious rules violations or because
they have been identified as a prison gang member or associate.

hoc and arbitrary basis. The institution is under poor leadership with a high rate of turnover from
the Warden to correctional officers.

III. Confinement at Corcoran
A. Excessive Force
1. Legal Duties of Corcoran Staff
Correctional officers are personally responsible for the safe custody and respect of inmates. In
particular, California state law, under 15 CCR 3271, requires that “Every employee, regardless of
his or her assignment, is responsible for the safe custody of the inmates confined in the
institutions of the department.” Under 15 CCR 3004, “Inmates have the right to be treated
respectfully, impartially and fairly by all employees.”
Under 15 CCR 3391, employees shall be alert, courteous, and professional in their dealings with
inmates. They shall never refer to inmates by derogatory or slang references, nor shall they use
indecent, abusive, profane or otherwise improper language. Employees shall avoid irresponsible
or unethical conduct.

2. Patterns of Staff Misconduct and Illegal Activities

Despite the requirements above, prisoners report verbal abuse, threats of physical abuse,
assaults and harassment by guards. Guards resort to baiting inmates into punishable
actions, use derogatory remarks, sexually explicit language, profanity, racial epithets,
reference to individual’s family members and name-calling.
3. Exemplars of Staff Misconduct

In March 1999, Prisoner G was a victim of excessive use of force. His shoulder was dislocated
while he claims to have not resisted. In fact, he had laid down, arms out while blinded by pepper
spray and was assaulted by three or four officers. He was later warned and threatened not to
pursue his claims of “excessive force.”
On June 24, 2003, Prisoner H was attacked in an unprovoked manner by correctional officers B.
David and D. Morales while handcuffed behind his back. He suffered a swollen jaw, eye, and
lips. On November 10, 2003, he was assaulted by Sgt. F. Reynolds, correctional officers M.
McVey, R.S. Sloss, K. Edmonds, M. Martinez, and Sgt. Reynolds, who used a canister of pepper
spray to “bust” his head open. In addition, correctional officer M. McVey kicked him in his side
while he was laying down in handcuffs and leg irons.
Prisoner H reports having needed thirteen stitches due to his injuries.
Prisoner L reports an incident in which an officer struck his knee to the prisoner’s neck. The
prisoner was handcuffed behind his back during the incident. He has supporting documentation of
his medical and psychiatric data as well as x-rays and an MRI Cat scan on his neck, done on
7/21/03.

Prisoner K reports that the administration of Corcoran State Prison is covering up the beating of
Prisoner M. He states that Sgt. Squal and other correctional officers used billy clubs to beat
inmate M to near death in the 3B facility.
Prisoner I was assaulted on 10/28/03 by Sgt. F. Reynoso with pepper spray and then struck on the
head by Officer M. Martinez. On 10/29/03, he was assaulted with pepper spray by Sgt. J.M.
Martinez.
Prisoner I alleges that excessive force routinely comes from the same guards and under the guise
of “Emergency Use of Force.” He also wishes to address that prisoners’ complaints regarding
guard misconduct are routinely investigated by Lieutenants who themselves are involved in other
improper uses of force. He states that prisoners would like Polygraph Examinations used on them
in order to support their claims. Prisoner I suggested that the installation of video cameras,
monitored by outside organizations are the only way to prevent further cover-ups.
Sgt. F. Reynoso, Sgt. J.M. Martinez, and M. McVay are consistent abusers as well as correctional
officers Sloss, Edmunds, and Morales.
On 10/28/03, Prisoner E reports being removed from his cell by correctional officers Torres and
Jung Hernandez. After being directed into an area directly in front of the 4A-2R Holding Cage,
the prisoner was slammed to the floor and kicked in the left rib, and sprayed with pepper gas by
Sgt. Martinez. Prisoner E was not combative, nor resistant in any manner. Still, he was threatened
by Sgt. Martinez to cover up his abuse and, instead, charged the prisoner with “attempted assault
on staff” or “resisting a peace officer.”
Prisoner D suffered a brutal assault, nine cases of abuse by mechanical and chemical restraints,
and starvation of over sixty meals (once five days in a row) or having his food thrown into his
cell. Moreover, he has been given only torn rags or a shirt and boxer shorts to wear for months
along with unsanitary conditions (no toilet or water). Furthermore, he was exposed to pepper
spray through his air vents for 24/7 during nine months since 8/16/03.
Prisoner B claims an assault from correctional officers on 9/10/04, and that his filing of
administrative appeals have been rejected by the officers responsible for the abuse.
Prisoner A says he can prove sexual misconduct from officers against him, setting him up with
another “active” prison gang member who assaulted him. He also claims that officers beat him,
forced medicated him, and forced him into “5 points and with broken bones” and receiving no
medical help. He filed 602s on all officers involved, particularly Sgt. Dotson who assaulted him
with a baton.
Prisoner J, a self-described human rights activist, reports officer Guzman provoking another
prisoner to violence and beating the prisoner up in the 3B facility on March 13, 2004, at
approximately 2:30 pm. Officer Guzman’s abuse led to the victim defending himself only to be
beaten up by more prison guards.
The next day, March 14, Sgt. Dotson is reported to have dragged another prisoner out of his cell,
causing injury to that prisoner’s knee and rotor cliff of his right shoulder.
4. Recommendations to Eradicate Staff Misconduct
• Zero tolerance policy for guard misconduct. Reconstitution of staff with breakup of cliques,
transfer of supervisory and line staff to achieve responsible behavior and effective supervision.

•Guards shall comport themselves within the confines of the law, treat prisoners with respect,
ensure their safety, and refrain from the use of indecent, abusive, profane or otherwise improper
language.
• Intensive sensitivity training of all custodial and medical staff about HIV, hepatitis C and all
communicable diseases.
• Intensive sensitivity training of all staff concerning issues impacting gay and transgender
prisoners.
•All allegations of guard misconduct shall be thoroughly investigated and publicized.
•Where appropriate, guards will be criminally prosecuted, and supervisors will be disciplined
and/or removed who fail to investigate and punish misconduct.

B. Gang Validation
1. Legal Criteria
An inmate whose conduct endangers the safety of others or the security of the institution shall be
housed in the SHU under a determinate or indeterminate sentence. Specifically, 15 CCR 3341.5
(2) outlines determinate and indeterminate sentencing structure. An inmate serving an
indeterminate SHU sentence shall be reviewed by classification committee at least every 180
days for consideration for release. Gang members, with few exceptions, are deemed to be a
severe threat to the safety of others and the security of the institution and will be placed in a SHU
for an indeterminate term. Determinate SHU sentences shall be established for inmates found
guilty of a serious offense by the Institutional Classification Committee (ICC). Serious
misconduct while in the SHU may result in loss of clean conduct credits or an additional
determinate term for an inmate serving a determinate term. An inmate shall not be retained in the
SHU beyond the expiration of a determinate term or beyond 11 months, unless the ICC has
determined a continuance.
2. Problems in SHU Sentencing
Maximum security cells in the state of California have been drastically over built. Despite
dropping rates in violent crime, the CDoC designates prisoners as gang members or associates,
administers non-gang validated prisoner’s indeterminate SHU sentences, and administers bogus
rules violations to keep SHU cells full. Prisoners who might otherwise have a Level I
classification with no disciplinary record find themselves validated as gang members or
associates, placing them in super-maximum security cells with indeterminate sentences. Once
sentences are completed prisoners report waiting an average of 3 to 9 months in SHU or
Administrative Segregation to be transferred to general population. Prisoners who complete the
debriefing process report prolonged delays in being transferred to Integrated Yard Programs
(IYPs). Reports have been made that the number of beds available in IYPs are not comparable to
the number of spaces necessary for all debriefers to be rotated into IYPs after the completion of
the debriefing process.
3. Exemplars
Prisoner O wants to challenge his bogus, indeterminate SHU sentence from gang validation. He is
working to help himself and others challenge claims used by I.G.I.

Prisoner C was assaulted along with Prisoner B. As a result, both have been falsely validated as
gang members.
Prisoner P is challenging gang validation and has filed 602 forms, which have been subsequently
lost. He believes that the “lost” 602s are a form of retaliation from prison officials for his lawsuit
against gang validation.
Prisoner N has tried to appeal his gang validation but cannot obtain a “confidential” file related to
his validation.
Numerous prisoners report being subject to erroneous and fabricated evidence used to label them
as gang members or associates, resulting in indefinite confinement in solitary lock-ups.
4. Recommendations
• Prisoners shall be released from the SHU in a timely manner upon completion of their sentence.
• An independent investigation shall be conducted into the methodology for assigning gang
validations.
• Prisoners subjected to gang validation proceedings shall be afforded due process.
• Uncorroborated confidential information shall not be relied upon to secure a validation.
• The gang validation process shall not utilize the threat of violence to coerce testimonies out of
individuals.
• Non-violent prisoners shall not be perceived to pose a security threat for mere association with
gang members.
• No HIV+ prisoners or others with life-threatening illnesses shall be unfairly housed in the SHU.
All effort shall be made to house these prisoners in general population prisons.
• An investigation into the hearings process for rules violations shall be conducted exploring the
weight a CO’s word is given over a prisoner’s defense.

C. Medical Neglect
1. Legal Standard
Healthcare shall be provided within a limited scope. According to 3350 CCR 15, “The
department shall only provide medical services which are based on medical necessity and
supported by outcome data as effective medical care. In the absence of available outcome data,
treatment will be based on the judgment of the physician. Under 3350.1 CCR 15 (a) (2)
conditions that are not readily amenable to treatment, include but are not limited to those which
may be made worse by treatment with conventional medication or surgery, and those that are so
advanced in the disease process that the outcome would not change with existing conventional or
heroic treatment regimens. Examples include grossly metastasized cancer, multiple organ
transplants, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, etc.
Applied healthcare responsibilities and limitations are under 3354 CCR 15 (a) Only authorized
medical staff shall diagnose illness and prescribe medication and care (d) Emergency healthcare
attention by available resources shall be obtained by the officials in charge (e) Medical doctors,
registered nurses, or medical technical assistants shall make daily visits to each non-general
population housing unit unable to use sick call services for general population. Staff conducting

sick call shall screen medical problems appearing to require further medical attention and shall
evaluate requests for appointments with other medical staff.
Prisoners transferred from one institution to another will receive continuity of care. Specifically,
under 3355 CCR 15, “Inmates received on transfer shall be interviewed by healthcare staff within
24 hours of their arrival. Healthcare records will be reviewed to determine the need for
previously prescribed treatment. Sending healthcare staff shall notify the receiving institution of
a prisoners needs.
2. Medical Neglect
Correctional staff and Medical Technical Assistants (MTAs) consistently prevent prisoners from
receiving urgent and timely care. Prisoners with persistent health problems, which cause
substantial discomfort but are not life threatening, report not being treated. Medication is
interrupted, and orders issued by medical staff are often not adhered to. Although many prisoners
are transferred to Corcoran because it is a designated medical facility for high security prisoners
and its acute care hospital, prisoners state that upon arrival they are not supplied with prescribed
medications. In repeated instances, prisoners’ requests for prescribed medications are denied.
Medications are changed frequently by doctors without obvious need and no clear individual
treatment goal. Treatment is cursory and inconsistent. Prisoners report deliberate indifference
and interference by custody staff who fail to timely report medical conditions to MTAs and
doctors. Without medical expertise, custody staff use their own discretion to determine whether a
prisoner needs medical care. Urgent medical situations are often treated as minor upsets.
Prisoners report when a prisoner is immobilized by illness, “man down’ is called but guards are
slow to respond, initially ignoring the calls. Prisoners with treatable conditions are forced to
endure prolonged waits to see a doctor and often suffer excruciating pain. In order for a timely
response by COs an inmate has to be passed out and bleeding. Prisoners with terminal or severe
medical conditions such as cancer, heart conditions and on kidney dialysis report receiving little
or no medical care. Prisoners who are within six months of death are not recommended for
medical compassionate release in a timely manner nor are they later transferred when medically
eligible to the prison hospice at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville.
3. Examples of Medical Neglect
Prisoner Q is in dire need of psychiatric care. He believes that prison guards and staff are out to
kill him. He writes frequently to California Prison Focus, expressing fear for his life in Housing
Unit 4B Facility. He claims that Captain Andrews is conspiring, along with other guards and
inmates, to have him assaulted and killed. Certainly, confinement to the SHU is exacerbating his
mental illness and his requests to be moved must be taken seriously.
Prisoner S has been diagnosed with HCV since May 2003. For more than one year, he has
received no information or treatment for his illness.
Prisoner U has been denied medical treatment for Hepatitis C. He requested treatment for it on
8/21/03. Corcoran Prison has had his blood drawn three times, yet he has been given no treatment
or results. He filed a grievance on 4/02/04, but he has not been seen or acknowledged, in violation
of the Title 15 602 appeal process.
Prisoner T has been suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and hepatic encephalopathy from
Hepatitis C. The doctors at the prison have been giving him inadequate attention for this, which is
being further complicated by his ulcer medications. He also has pain from arthritis in his right

shoulder and left elbow, which his doctors diagnosed at the prison. Nevertheless, the medical
staff has been withholding all pain medication for arthritis. Due to his medical conditions, he
cannot eat the food that is served and an adequate diet is not provided as an alternative.
Prisoner R is disabled and needs help writing his letters along with other functions. He says that
for this reason, he has been continuously denied attention and medical help. He has been denied
medical treatment many times for his right ear, and has been told by a specialist that he will go
deaf because of the delays of treatment. Furthermore, his requests to see a urologist for testicular
pain had been blocked. He finally was given an appointment and had an ultrasound done on
4/02/04, whereupon a cist was found on his right testicle. He has been given medication for this,
but he is afraid that he will be denied check-ups. Lastly, he notes breathing problems that have
not been taken care of.
D. Access to Legal Materials
1. Legal stipulations
Inmates shall be permitted access to the law library. Under section 53060.10, All interested
inmates shall have access to the inmate library law books. The schedule of the library shall
include daily hours of operation, consider the needs of inmates assigned to security, segregated
and other restricted housing units. As asserted in 15 CCR 53060.16, inmates in restricted housing
units with established court deadlines shall be given priority in submitting requests for law library
materials and in the delivery and pickup of these materials to and from the unit.
2. Denial of Access to the Law Library
Requests to go to the law library are denied; prisoners are given law library ducats weeks or even
months after their initial request preventing them from doing research on legal matters and
advocating on their own behalf. Preferred legal users are unable to use the law library more than
once a month. The law libraries at Corcoran consistently fail to make timely copies of prisoners’
legal materials.
3. Exemplars
Prisoner U has been filing 602 appeals, regarding the blocking of SHU prisoners from accessing
the law library. In addition, his 602s have not been answered and he has been told that there is no
law library for SHU inmates. He and other inmates are told that the law library is only accessible
if they have a case number and a deadline in an appeal. Since he cannot access the law library to
obtain writs, notice of appeal, and other documents, he cannot research the issues with which he
can address the court and get a case number.
Prisoner V would like to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus and a tort claim, but cannot access the law
library. The law library was temporarily closed at Corcoran’s SHU, 4A yard, at the time of the
complaint (11/17/04).
E. Harassment/Retaliation by Prison Staff
1. Legal Duties of Corcoran Staff
Correctional officers are personally responsible for the safe custody and respect of inmates. In
particular, California state law, under 15 CCR 3271, requires that “Every employee, regardless of

his or her assignment, is responsible for the safe custody of the inmates confined in the
institutions of the department.” Under 15 CCR 3004, “Inmates have the right to be treated
respectfully, impartially and fairly by all employees.”
Under 15 CCR 3391, employees shall be alert, courteous, and professional in their dealings with
inmates. They shall never refer to inmates by derogatory or slang references, nor shall they use
indecent, abusive, profane or otherwise improper language. Employees shall avoid irresponsible
or unethical conduct.

2. Patterns of Staff Misconduct and Illegal Activities

Despite the requirements above, prisoners report verbal abuse, threats of physical abuse,
assaults and harassment by guards. Guards resort to baiting inmates into punishable
actions, use derogatory remarks, sexually explicit language, profanity, racial epithets,
reference to individual’s family members and name-calling.
3. Exemplars
Prisoner P has been challenging gang validation and has filed 602 forms, which have
subsequently been lost. He believes that the non-logging of forms by prison officials is in
retaliation for his lawsuit about gang validation.
Prisoner Y believes that guards retaliated against him because of his involvement in M.A.C.
(Men’s Advisory Council). Since July 1, 2003, he has been in the SHU for a fraudulent charge of
conspiracy to assault staff. He has been involved in a trial in Corcoran Superior Court, defending
himself against fraudulent charges. His due process rights were violated and any attempts to file a
writ to Kings Superior Court are denied by Executive Clerk Todd Barton. His 602 file on Sgt.
Montgomery has not gone through. Now, he is going to court on a false charge of possession of
marijuana, in which he says a correctional officer framed him in retaliation for his other lawsuits.
Prisoner D has suffered a brutal assault, nine cases of abuse by mechanical and chemical
restraints, deprivation of antidepressants, starvation of over sixty meals (once five days in a row),
and having his food thrown into his cell. Moreover, he has been given only torn rags or a shirt
and boxer shorts to wear for months along with unsanitary conditions (no toilet or water).
Furthermore, he was exposed to pepper spray through his air vents for 24/7 during nine months
since 8/16/03.
Prisoner D has endured similar abuse while incarcerated at Lancaster and Vacaville as well. He
believes this has been part of a conspiracy against him. Guards have worked together to generate
lies among the inmates that he is a child molester and a former skinhead gang member. In
addition, guards have repeatedly taunted him, telling him to kill himself and falsely placing him
on suicide precautions.
Guards have sexually harassed him, telling him to masturbate, in addition to using the security
camera in his cell to route the signal to inmate TVs, for the purpose of humiliating him.
Moreover, the guards have used the public address system to ridicule and threaten inmates.
As a result, Prisoner D has been pursuing a 1983 Federal Civil Rights case, including State
Personal Injury Claims under the principle of “res judicata”. He has been denied access to the law
library and he has not received responses for many 602 grievances.

Prisoner G has had three TVs seized and has repeatedly filed 602s on correctional officers for
confiscating his property. One of the instances took place on 9/10/03, in which correctional
officer Tugioka said the seized TV had no broken seals and no weapons in it, but that the officers
would keep the TV on an alleged “power cord issue.” That night Sgt. Bear sent word through
correctional officer Blackburn that Prisoner G would get his TV back, but it never happened. His
602s have not been answered.
This has occurred while Prisoner G has filed a 1983 Federal Civil Rights complaint. In addition,
he has been blocked from the law library, endured CDC harassment and medical neglect. He has
been pursuing a case of excessive use of force against him during March, 1999. He has had four
surgeries for the dislocation of his shoulder during that incident. During his process of reporting
the abusive incident, guards have retaliated against him—possibly in the form of seizing his TVs
and dismissing his 602 forms.
Prisoner X concedes that Sgt. D.S. Indendi, of 4A3 building, third watch, is responsible engaging
in conspiracy with the 4A3L, third watch staff to deny, obstruct, and prevent the prisoner’s rights.
He has been in Corcoran’s SHU since November 2001 and claims that his food has been
tampered with. He has suffered from medical problems as a result, and he has been denied
medical examination. Furthermore, his legal and confidential mail has been tampered with.
Prisoner W has been disabled for approximately twenty years. In 2000, his ADA status was
verified at Folsom Prison. However, Dr. Kim at Corcoran Prison removed his ADA status in
retaliation against the prisoner’s 602 complaints, which criticized Dr. Kim’s medical competence.
4. Recommendations to Eradicate Staff Misconduct
• Zero tolerance policy for guard misconduct. Reconstitution of staff with breakup of cliques,
transfer of supervisory and line staff to achieve responsible behavior and effective supervision.
•Guards shall comport themselves within the confines of the law, treat prisoners with respect,
ensure their safety, and refrain from the use of indecent, abusive, profane or otherwise improper
language.
• Intensive sensitivity training of all custodial and medical staff about HIV, hepatitis C and all
communicable diseases.
• Intensive sensitivity training of all staff concerning issues impacting gay and transgender
prisoners.
•All allegations of guard misconduct shall be thoroughly investigated and publicized.
•Where appropriate, guards will be criminally prosecuted, and supervisors will be disciplined
and/or removed who fail to investigate and punish misconduct.

F. Faulty Prisoner Administrative Appeals Process (602 forms)
1. Legal Requirements
Prisoners may file complaints against prison personnel challenging any prison policy, practice or
specific action. In particular, under 15 CCR 3084.1(a) any inmate under the department’s
jurisdiction may appeal any departmental decision, action, condition or policy which they can

demonstrate as having an adverse effect upon their welfare…No reprisal shall be taken against an
inmate for filing an appeal. Time limits exist for filing of appeals and receipt of a response. By
law, Title 15 section 3084.6(1)-(4) requires that informal level responses shall be completed
within ten working days. First level responses shall be completed within 30 working days.
Second level responses shall be completed within 20 working days, or 30 working days if first
level is waived. Third level responses shall be completed within 60 working days, if an
exceptional delay prevents completion of the review within specified time limits, the appellant
shall be informed in writing of the reasons for the delay and the estimated completion date.
2. Failure of the 602 Appeals System

Timely filed 602 appeals forms often receive tardy or no response. Prisoners report that many
appeals are “lost,” destroyed or not responded to by prison personnel. Prisoners have witnessed
staff disposing of appeals forms prior to logging the particular appeal.

3. Exemplars
Prisoner A reports to have written proof from inmates and staff that his 602 forms are not coming
back. All of his legal mail has been mishandled. He has filed a total of four 602s on the issue of
Sgt. Dotson assaulting him with a baton. He has even had an officer admit that his 602s are not
being answered. In response, he complained to the Chief Warden about the faulty process and
was, in turn, told by C.C.I. that the 602s were sent back to him in order for him to fill out more
information. But, he never received them. He is afraid to push the matter because he has been
retaliated against by correctional officers.
As of 4/06/04, Prisoner U had been filing 602 forms for eight months, concerning access to the
law library for SHU inmates. He also filed a 602 on 4/02/04, concerning medical neglect, and has
not been seen or acknowledged, in violation of the Title 15 602 appeal process.
Prisoner N has received no response on his 602 appeals process after three months (as of
5/09/04). He believes his 602s concerning his gang validation are constantly denied.
Prisoner P is challenging gang validation and has filed 602 forms, which have subsequently been
lost. The prisoner believes that the failure of prison officials to log his forms is in retaliation for
his lawsuit about gang validation.
Prisoner B has filed a 602 form on the correctional officers who assaulted him on 9/10/03 and has
not received any log numbers or responses. His consecutive 602s date 9/23/03, 3/01/04 (to which
he received a 602 appeals screening form, rejecting his form on false claims that it was late), and
3/28/04 (to which he has still not received a response). He claims that since the correctional
officers on whom he was reporting worked in C.S.A.T.F. A.S.U. and handled all mail, they have
blocked his 602s from reaching the appeals coordinator.
Prisoner Z is locked up in the SHU on false charges and cannot appeal because the 602 process
has failed in his case. As of 2/02/04, he still had not been given a log number after some time and
his 602 forms continue to be sent back to him denied (on false claims that they were late).
Sometimes, he does not even receive responses from his forms at all.

4. Recommendations
• A full investigation and overhaul of the appeals process shall be conducted and implemented,
insuring that due process is upheld.
• Appeals shall be logged and responded to in an orderly and timely manner.
• The prison shall create a system of accountability by administering numbered and dated receipts
to enable prisoners to track appeals.
• Prisoners shall not be retaliated against for assisting others in the appeals process. Group 602s
will be treated with special procedure that begins with timely response by the Warden and urgent
Departmental review.

G. Multi-Issue
1. ??
2. ??
3. Exemplar
Prisoner AB reports multiple problems with the Corcoran SHU and states that his previous nine
years at Pelican Bay SHU enabled him to see Corcoran’s serious faults in comparison.
He exclaims that the Corcoran SHU a) is dirty (i.e., the cells, the laundry, and little or no shower
time), b) has poor medical attention (that it usually takes one
to two months to be seen), c) provides no general library (and the law library is rarely open), d)
seldom gives prisoners access to the yard (he reports going only once in three weeks), e) abuses
prisoners (he has witnessed prison guards beat two mentally-ill prisoners), f) takes two to three
months to issue prisoners their property.
For instance, Prisoner AB recalls being confined to a holding cell in Corcoran’s SHU 4A-IR on
12/15/03. Another inmate died because of the officers’ lack of attention. They continued
watching a DVD in their office while the prisoner in the cell next to him was complaining about
chest pains. The officers finally called the MTA, who brought the prisoner to the hospital, only
after the other prisoners made pleas on behalf of the ill man. The prisoner returned later that day
from the hospital. However, the next day the prisoner was brought to the hospital again and died.
Moreover, the officers were heard discussing how to explain all of this in their report, with
possible attempts to cover up their negligence.
In conclusion, Prisoner AB blames the man’s death on the officers’ negligence--a reflection of
Corcoran State Prison’s treatment of its inmates.
4. Recommendations
???

Conclusions
The above stated practices are ongoing at CSP-Corcoran. Prisoners continue to suffer the
treatment typified by the incidents described above. A majority of prisoners confined to CSPCorcoran will return to society. The public interest is ill-served if prisoners’ minds and bodies
return more battered, bruised, angry and vengeful than prior to their incarceration. It is
unconscionable for any offender to be verbally harassed, beaten, sexually assaulted, subjected to
medical neglect or rendered hopeless due to the cumulative impact of daily abuses that are a part
of serving time at Corcoran. We as a society must demonstrate a recognition of the preciousness
of life, and the fairness and respect for the rights of prisoners governed by federal and state law.
Corcoran and its staff must be held liable for their actions. A thorough and extensive
investigation of conduct within the prison should be asserted by the legislature, courts and
internal affairs. An independent review board comprised of prisoner advocates, human rights
organizations, the California Medical Association, public health officials, current and former
guards, and current and former prisoners shall hold hearings on the findings of these
investigations with the intention of exposing the unlawful conditions and practices at Corcoran
and developing a plan for implementation of solutions to egregious conditions.
This report was prepared by CPF’s human rights investigators, Marielle Ferebeouf and Tara
Caffrey, who led the Corcoran Committee’s investigations during 2002-2004. She was assisted
by Charles Carbone, Attorney at Law, who heads CPF’s Litigation in Prison Project. Final
editing and additions were made by Joe Sciarrillo. CPF expresses its gratitude to all of the
investigators who participated in the prison visits upon which this report is based.

ABOUT CPF
CPF investigates conditions and treatment of prisoners in three of California’s control
unit prisons: Pelican Bay, Corcoran and Valley State Prison for Women. Also our HIV & HepC
in Prison Committee focuses on HIV and Hepatitis C education, advocacy and compassionate
release, and our Trans and Gender Variant Committee advocates for transgender prisoners. Since
1991 we have conducted 72 investigative trips and interviewed 2,278 prisoners. CPF members
are human rights activists, former prisoners, family members and friends of prisoners, and
concerned people.

OUR MISSION
CPF is dedicated to identifying, monitoring and ending the human rights abuses that take
place in California prisons. CPF educates the public about violations of prisoners’ rights and
engages is advocacy for prisoners and their families, as well as provides training for selfadvocacy. Our goal is to bring the communities on the outside together with those on the inside.
Essential to that task is working in solidarity with prisoners and promoting their voice in our
newsletter, to the media and in public forums. CPF seeks to end long-term isolation and medical
neglect and gender discrimination in California’s prisons and to close all SHUs with the ultimate
goal of abolishing all US prisons as we know them.

Online articles:

1. http://www.detnews.com/2004/nation/0402/15/nation-63774.htm
In what Romero called “a Super Bowl horror,” 60-year-old Ronald Herrera pulled the
dialysis shunt from his arm and bled to death Feb. 1 in his cell at Corcoran State Prison.
The Los Angeles Times quoted unidentified prison officials as saying guards were busy
watching the game and ignored his cries for help. No one has been charged.

 

 

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