Brainwashing Techniques Used by the Oppressor

from: Coyote’s Weblog

My greetings of solidarity and respects are extended to all comrades on both sides of the razorwire. I just wanted to take this time to reproduce this list of CIA brainwashing techniques that are being used against the imprisoned and the oppressors. This is going on in all prisons across the nation, but especially here at Ely State Prison, Nevada’s notorious maximum security lock-up. I’ve been here for over 11 years and I’ve seen all of these tactics being used against us; and so I felt compelled to make a reproduction of this list so that awareness can be raised!

Here’s a list of 25 tactics being used on us daily:

1) Physical removal of prisoners to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or seriously weaken close emotional ties.

2) Segregation of all natural leaders.

3) Use of cooperative prisoners as leaders.

4) Prohibition of group activities not in line with brainwashing objectives.

5) Spying on prisoners and reporting back private materials.

6) Ticking men into written statements which are then shown to others.

7) Exploitation of opportunities and informants.

8) Convincing prisoners that they can trust no one.

9) Treating those who are willing to collaborate in far more lenient ways than those who are not.

10) Punishing those who show uncooperative attitudes.

11) Systematic withholding of mail.

12) Preventing contact with anyone non-sympathetic to the method of treatment and regimen of the captive populace.

13) Disorganization of all group standards among prisoners.

14) Building a group conviction among the prisoners that they have been abandoned by and totally isolated from their social order.

15) Undermining of all emotional supports.

16) Preventing prisoners from writing home or to friends in the community regarding the conditions of their confinement.

17) Making available and permitting access to only those publications and books that contain materials which are neutral to or supportive of the desired new attitudes. While making it hard or impossible to gain access to radical, political, educational or empowering literature and books.

18) Placing individuals into new and ambiguous situations for which the standards are kept deliberately unclear and then putting pressure on him to conform to what is desired in order to win favour and a reprieve from the pressure.

19) Placing individuals whose willpower has been severely weakened, or eroded, into a living situation with several others who are more advanced in their thought-reform, whose job is to further undermine the individual emotional supports.

20) Using techniques of character invalidation, i.e. humiliations, revilement, shouting, to induce feelings of guilt, fear and suggestibility; coupled with sleeplessness and exacting prison regimen and periodic interrogational interviews.

21) Meeting all insincere attempts to comply with cellmates’ pressures with renewed hostility.

22) Rewarding of submission and subservience to the attitudes encompassing the brainwashing objective with a lifting of pressure and acceptance as a human being.

23) Providing social and emotional supports which reinforce the new attitudes.

24) Divide and conquer techniques to quell riots and disruptions. When one prisoner is acting out or causing disruption on the tier over an injustice being done to him, guards will go to other inmates’ door laughing, joking, slandering and defacing the character of the disruptive inmate, trying to turn the other prisoners against him. Those who go along with this and take the bait by laughing and joking with the guards, are in turn ostracized and looked down upon by the other prisoners.

25) Using food as a control method, “doggy treat” tactics”. “If you comply we will give you extra food that we would otherwise throw away.” Those who are extremely non-compliant, or who write grievances, might not get fed at all.

Those are just 25 of the brainwashing techniques being used on us daily. There are more though. But now that we know what is being done to us, it is up to us to figure out ways to defend ourselves against these tactics. The best weapon for anyone to have is knowledge. Knowledge of yourself, knowledge of your enemy, knowledge of your surroundings, knowledge of your culture, your history, knowledge of your purpose in life. Knowledge is a weapon. Arm yourself with knowledge.

My love goes out to all of those who keep the fire of resistance burning in their hearts! Peace.

Solidarity and Respects,

January 25th, 2010
ABC Nevada Prison Chapter
Ely State Prison


Escape sparks probe, temporary closure of prison camp

Jan. 27, 2010
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Escape sparks probe, temporary closure of prison camp

An investigation of a recent escape has triggered the surprise closure of a state prison camp in central Nevada.

Early this morning, state corrections officers removed all 113 minimum security prisoners from the Tonopah Conservation Camp and the entire staff was placed on paid administrative leave.

Howard Skolnik, director of the Nevada Department of Corrections, said the camp will remain closed while its 10 employees undergo a refresher course in the department’s “basic policies and procedures.”

Skolnik said the closure and staff training stems from an escape several weeks ago involving an inmate who was eventually recaptured.

The employees and inmates at the camp were given no prior notice of today’s closure because department administrators went there in search of “verification we would not have gotten had we said, ‘Here we come,’ ” Skolnik said.

He added that all of the camp’s employees have been “invited” to take part in the training set to begin Monday, meaning no one has been fired as a result of the probe so far.

For the time being, the inmates from Tonopah will be held at other camps around the state.

He declined to elaborate further because the investigation is ongoing.

Asked how long the training would go on, Skolnik said, “Until it’s done.”

“I’m hoping we get everything done and resolved within 30 days,” he said.

After that, the camp will reopen with the same inmates and staff members, Skolnik said.

The Tonopah Conservation Camp is about 10 miles outside the Nye County seat, on state Route 376 about 225 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The camp, one of nine across Nevada, houses minimum security inmates who serve on work crews and help the Nevada Division of Forestry fight wildfires around the state.

The Tonopah camp has been targeted for permanent closure for budgetary reasons, but Skolnik stressed that the current situation is only temporary. Though this camp has had personnel issues in the past, it will reopen, he said.

“I don’t want people to panic, but I think people should be concerned. This is not the first time we have had problems in Tonopah,” Skolnik said. “I’m confident that while I’m director, it will be the last.”

Contact reporter Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350.

Find this article at:

Voices from Solitary: Coyote Calling

From: Solitary Watch Blog:

2010 January 24

by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella

One of the aims of Solitary Watch News is to build an online archive of literature, drawings, and reportage by people who are, or have been, in solitary confinement. These will be compiled in the Voices from Solitary section of the site, and sometimes featured in blog posts. Readers are encouraged to send in their suggestions.

A reader from Nevada Prison Watch recently told us about the writings of Coyote Sheff, which are now being published by his friends on the outside on a blog, Coyote Calling. Coyote has been in Nevada’s Ely State Prison for about a decade, much of it in Discliplinary Segregation. In fact, of the eight units at Ely, seven are in some form of permanent lockdown, where prisoners are held in their cells 23 hours a day, either alone or with a cellmate.

Ely State Prison, located in a remote town in Eastern Nevada, is currently being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project for ”grossly inadequate medical care” to its 1,000 prisoners. The ACLU filed suit after state officials failed to act on the findings of an expert, Dr. William Noel, who was sent in to investigate medical conditions at Ely. According to the ACLU:

In his report, Noel wrote that medical care at ESP shows “the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering that I have ever encountered in the medical profession in my 35 years of practice.” According to the report…there is a horrific pattern of neglect, misguided health care policies, and little accountability for frequently under-qualified staff. Noel also noted numerous instances where important medical records were missing from prisoners’ medical files. Finally, Noel and the ACLU have raised serious concerns about prisoners who died and were cremated before autopsies were completed and their families notified.

This piece by Coyote Sheff is called “Solitary Enslavement.”

We sit in these cells like dead bodies sit in cemeteries. Death fills our lungs, fills our minds, fills our hearts and fills our souls as it lurks and lingers and seeps through the concrete. Our minds go numb and our spirits fade into inactivity. We sit here waiting to waste away, erode, dissolve, and disappear into the cracks of the cement.

Solitary confinement. What an evil concept, what a wicked notion, what a clever way to destroy a man without even laying a finger on him. Solitary confinement — the murderer of minds, hearts, and souls. The person who designed such an evil conception must’ve had murder on his mind and hate in his heart.

We die alone in these cold cells, as our hands stretch out to clutch concrete, but fail miserably to hold anything in their grasp other than the death-stenched air. We die alone — a lonely, miserable, suffering death. We die alone….

Rarely has wise penology been a determining factor in siting a prison…

The Reno News & Review has more information about what the ACLU thinks of the recommendation that the rural prisons should be packed up and moved to urban areas:

Nevada prison blues
A state commission proposes shifting prisons from rural to urban areas

By Dennis Myers

This article was published on 01.21.10.

Siting this medium security facility in Lovelock, which has limited housing, has meant some prison workers have commuted from Reno, 250 miles away.

The Spending and Government Efficiency Commission recommendations can be read at

In 1979 after Assemblymember Peggy Cavnar of Clark County had put out one too many news releases attacking her colleagues—something she seemed to do incessantly—they found a way to deal with her: They put a new prison in her legislative district, at Indian Springs. The alarmed residents of her district went crazy, giving her something new to think about. Though she fought the siting, the prison was built.

That kind of prison site selection is common in Nevada. When the state’s new maximum prison was put in Ely, it was economic development—one of three projects authorized by the Nevada Legislature to beef up the town’s economy after the shutdown of the Kennecott copper mining operation in the county. Economic development was also the reason for construction of a prison in Lovelock, which Assemblymember Bernie Anderson said was the only Nevada community that lost population in the 1990 census.

Rarely has wise penology been a determining factor in siting a prison.

On Jan. 7, the state Spending and Government Efficiency Commission issued a recommendation that two of those rural prison locations—Ely and Lovelock—be called failures and that the state get rid of the properties in favor of urban locations.

The recommendation reads, “Explore the possibility of an exchange of Ely State Prison and Lovelock Correctional Center to companies that specialize in private corrections in return for construction of similar facilities located within existing large population centers to be determined by the Board of Prison Commissioners.”

In releasing the package of recommendations, of which the prison proposal was a part, commission chair Bruce James, a former GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, called on state legislators to “set aside their partisan differences to put the public’s interest first.”

In December 2007, after families of inmates began organizing to agitate for better conditions at the Ely prison, physician William Noel was retained by the American Civil Liberties Union to inspect the facility. He wrote a report saying that at the prison he encountered “the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering that I have ever encountered in the medical profession in my 35 years of practice. … The pervasive disregard for human suffering and the shocking medical malpractice revealed in the 35 case files I reviewed is almost unbelievable.” Nevada prisons director Howard Skolnik belittled Noel’s qualifications in corrections and said he opposed a settlement with the ACLU.

After the Nevada Prison Commission—made up of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state—rebuffed an ACLU proposal for improved health care at the prison, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the national ACLU’s Prison Project filed a class-action lawsuit against the state on March 5, 2008. It charged the state with failing to correct insufficient health care. The lawsuit claimed that the prison lacked “the most basic elements of an adequate prison health care system and deprives prisoners of the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities.” On March 21, 2009, federal judge Larry Hicks—a former Washoe County district attorney—certified the class action and appointed ACLU lawyers to represent inmates. Meanwhile the families have become more organized, started a website, and have been lobbying state policymakers.

The Lovelock prison is now best known for inmate number 1027820—O.J. Simpson. Its location in Lovelock, which has limited housing, has meant in some cases that prison workers have commuted from Reno, a distance of 250 miles. The relative isolation of the two prisons has meant the state has had chronic difficulties in keeping the facilities staffed.

In addition, because family visits are ranked high in rehabilitation factors, the isolation can be hazardous.

Lovelock is a medium security facility, Ely a maximum security prison. Lovelock opened in August 1995, Ely in July 1989. Ely has an inmate capacity of 1,150, Lovelock of 1,680.

Lee Rowland, the ACLU chief in Northern Nevada, said, “We have mixed feelings about the possible move to privatize prisons and move them closer to urban areas. On the one hand, long distances between prisoners and their families makes rehabilitation difficult and hurts families. Further, having prisons in remote parts of the state also poses logistical problems for delivery of critical medical services, as we have seen firsthand in our investigation of and litigation concerning medical care at Ely State Prison. On the other hand, privatization raises a whole panoply of problems and would worsen problems of accountability and oversight of prisons. Finally, the ACLU of Nevada firmly believes that policing and incarcerating should solely be state duties, and should not be farmed out to the lowest bidder.”

It’s not clear why a private prisons corporation like Corrections Corporation of America or Wackenhut would want to build two urban prisons for the state to run and then take over the two rural prisons themselves. In any event, if the deal went through, the state would have two private prisons over which it had limited control, with the corporation bringing inmates, state and federal, from other states.

Assemblymember Bernie Anderson of Washoe County, chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, said he does not believe the commission was familiar with the history of private prisons in Nevada before it made its recommendation. He speculates that one reason the corporations might go for it would be because it offers them a way back into the Nevada market after some bad experiences the state had with privatization in the past, including some incidents Anderson called “tragic.” In those cases, the corporations ran state prisons for Nevada rather than operated their own prisons, drawing inmates from other states.

“Generally speaking, Las Vegas and Clark County have not wanted a [private] facility in their urban environment, so I’m not sure the communities have been looking on them with an open view. … They have such a poor reputation currently with their performance here in Nevada,” Anderson said. Lobbyists for private prison corporations, he said, have made no headway in recent legislative sessions because of past events in the state.

Sen. William Raggio of Washoe County, the ranking Republican member of the Nevada Senate budget committee and a former district attorney, said lawmakers need to seriously scrutinize the commission’s proposal, but that there are areas of concern. For one, he said, while he supports private operation of prisons, he’s not sure that it should include maximum security facilities like Ely.

“I’m not sure it’s the panacea today,” he said. “They’ve had some bad experiences with us. I know that Corrections Corporation of America, for one, does a good job. I’m not sure they can handle maximum security prisons. I think that an analysis is in order. Let’s really look at how cost effective it is.”

The commission recommendation may also conflict with state prison officials’ plans. Nevada currently has one prison in Clark County shut down, and already has one urban maximum security prison in Carson City. Nevada prisons director Howard Skolnik wants to close the Carson City max and rely on the Ely max.

Skolnik is on furlough and unavailable for an interview. Deputy director Don Helling declined to be interviewed.

Note on 25 Jan. 2010: We received an email from a reader saying that Lovelock is not 250 miles from Reno, rather, it is about 1.5 hours drive.

Stay of Execution issued

From: Las Vegas Sun:

Another stay issued in execution of killer
By Cy Ryan (contact)

Monday, Jan. 18, 2010 | 10:54 a.m.

CARSON CITY — A stay of execution has been issued for killer Robert McConnell, who was scheduled to die Feb. 1. It is the second time McConnell was scheduled to be put to death before asking for a stay to pursue further appeals in his case.

Howard Skolnik, director of the state Department of Corrections, confirmed that the stay was signed on Friday.

McConnell had already been transferred from the maximum security prison in Ely to the Nevada State Prison in Carson City, where the death chamber is located.

He was scheduled to die in June 2005, but 39 minutes before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection he asked for a reprieve.

Read more here

Prison chaplain on leave pending state investigation (2008)

This is an article we came across today, that shows incapacity and unwillingness by those in power to handle criticism or even suggestions for improvement by their own human resources in the NV Dept. of Corrections. Since March of 2008, nothing has improved. Today, we desparately need humanitarian people like this prison chaplain, because working with people in prisons means working with human beings. One has to be a human being to understand the needs of other humans.

Mar. 26, 2008
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Associated Press
CARSON CITY — Prison chaplain Jane Foraker-Thompson has been placed on leave with pay by Nevada prison administrators in what she describes as harassment and retaliation because of her defense of inmates’ religious practices and beliefs.

State corrections chief Howard Skolnik confirmed that Foraker-Thompson is on administrative leave “pending completion of an investigation.”

Foraker-Thompson said she was working at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center last week when she was called into the warden’s office and told she was being put on leave. She said administrators gave her no reason and would not tell her how long she’d be on leave.

The chaplain said she thinks one of the reasons is her critique of the prison system that she gave to state lawmakers last year. She added that critique figured in the formation of a panel studying the state’s criminal justice system.

Foraker-Thompson said another reason for the action against her might be her recent response to three lawsuits filed by prisoners against the prison system.

In that response, she said, she refused to deny any wrongdoing by Nevada State Prison administrators. The lawsuits allege a violation of the prisoners’ rights to practice their religions.

“I told the truth,” Foraker-Thompson said. “Things have happened at NSP that need to be exposed to the light of day. It has become a hell hole for the prisoners, as well as some of the staff, those with integrity and honor.”

SAGE Commission calls for state government to trade off high-cost Ely State Prison and Lovelock CC to private firm building new prisons in Reno and LV

The Nevada Sage (Spending and Government Efficiency) Report was issued on January 7th 2010, read it here.

Read here what the Las Vegas Review Journal has to say about its conclusions, including trading off ESP and Lovelock CC to private prison corporations to have new prisons built near Reno and Las Vegas:

SAGE Commission submits final state efficiency report

CARSON CITY — In its final report, the SAGE Commission calls for state government to trade off the high-cost Ely State Prison and Lovelock Correctional Center to a private firm that would build new prisons for the state near Reno and Las Vegas.

The Saving and Government Efficiency Commission offered 44 recommendations to save Nevada money in the final report. Most of the recommendations have already been considered by the Legislature, but a handful — including the prison closure proposal — are new.

The bipartisan commission, created by Gov. Jim Gibbons in June 2008, has meet monthly and developed recommendations considered by the governor and the Legislature.

“I am very pleased with our work,” said Chairman Bruce James, a former U.S. printer. “Governmental works incrementally. Making big changes is tough to do overnight. The Legislature is going to be hard-pressed to save money in coming years. We think we have made recommendations that they will have to consider.”

During the 2009 Legislature, lawmakers approved changes to the state retirement and health care systems along the lines proposed by the SAGE Commission that saved the state more than $100 million. About half of its early recommendations were approved during the session.

Former Assemblyman David Goldwater, D-Las Vegas, a commission member, echoed James’ views the commission was productive. He said Democrats and Republicans agreed on almost every recommendation.

“A lot of our recommendations were common sense,” he said. “But citizens should be confident that we found there isn’t any gigantic waste in state spending. The state isn’t buying $900 hammers. We didn’t find any horrible inefficiencies that could cure the state’s budget ills.”

As far as trading rural prisons for ones in urban areas, Goldwater said governors and legislators in the past looked at constructing prisons in rural areas as ways to bolster their economies.

“But it costs the state extra money to have rural prisons,” Goldwater said.

In its report, the commission found Ely and Lovelock have higher operational costs and at times cannot find needed employees. Inadequate hospitals exists in the two communities and offenders are far from courts that handle their appeals.

Other recommendations include:

• The state’s information technology department should come up with a common system for state e-mail and Web sites.

• The Nevada Department of Transportation should consider closing some highway maintenance stations and outsourcing some maintenance responsibilities.

Gibbons praised the commission, and added, “Just as SAGE commissioners did in their work, we hope our elected officials can now set aside their partisan differences to put the public’s interest first.”

James said commissioners could have continued to meet monthly through June, but believed they had completed their task so decided to submit the final report early.

–Note: see also here for AP/LVS short article.

New Sister Sites

Since last month, Nevada Prison Watch has been joined by Utah Prison Watch and since last week, Louisiana Prison Watch.

Both sites as this one and Arizona Prison Watch document stories about the broken prison system, abuse of human rights, corruption by those in charge, etc.

Wisconsin Prison Watch, our eldest comrade, concentrates on publishing a Newsletter that helps you sort out the conflicting news and dis-information presented by the DOC and the mainstream press.

Check them out and spread the word!

The struggle ain’t over

An article written by Nevada prisoner Marritte Funches in the SF Bay View of December 2009.

by Ikemba S. Mutulu

So long as millions are forced to live like this in the U.S., many of them our best and brightest who could be leading us to freedom and justice, the struggle ain’t over.

Every day I see it, from the block to the college campus, on the idiot box (TV) and in the music. “My president is Black, my Lambo is blue, and I’ll be god damned if my rims ain’t too.” OK and I’m diggin’ this renewed sense of community as well, brought on by a Black man in the White House – especially one of Mr. Obama’s background, which is a step forward for all Americans to take pride in.

But the struggle ain’t over. Those who’ve given in to the euphoria of the moment need only speak with young people in the hood. Try telling them how far we’ve come from the lynchings, trained attack dogs, our leaders murdered and shut up in these pens on trumped up charges. Those youngsters will tell you that’s the same shit they see every day.

One Time just smoked a brotha at a liquor store last week. And their mothers and fathers are in the pen right now for some shit they didn’t do. Check what’s happening in the prisons throughout the country. The criminalization of religions identified primarily with people of color, and all of our true teachers and s/heroes from the slave rebellions on up to the civil rights era – we get slammed in the hole just for speaking their names.

(Photo: Stanley Tookie Williams, who through his writing from San Quentin’s death row, had, he said, “redeemed” himself and become a hero to young people, was nevertheless executed by Gov. Schwarzenegger – once his rival as a body builder – because he had dedicated one of his books to George Jackson, among many other Black heroes).

Here at Ely State Max in Nevada, they’ve removed all Islamic literature from the library. But you can read up on witches and warlocks all day. No shit! And here it is I’ve never been part of a gang, but I am labelled a gang leader for teaching these young brothers about the history of struggle and rebellion against oppression among our people in America who our true teachers and leaders were: men and women like Marcus, Malcolm, Assata, Huey and George.

Back in California, the Terminator said it all when he gave the OK to murder Bro. Tookie, condemning him for acknowledging his teachers who helped to redeem him as a man, transforming himself from a destructive force in the community to a positive force for peace and unity. The fact Mr. Obama felt he had to bite his tongue and apologize for being critical of the Cambridge police who unlawfully arrested his friend, Professor Gates.

It’s all testimony to the fact: The struggle ain’t over. We must understand the momentum of this feel-good moment will not carry us – just as MLK needed Malcolm X for people to know what the alternatives would be if people of color in this country were not given their civil rights.

(Photo: The thousands – largely young and Black – who demanded Tookie’s freedom outside San Quentin’s gate the night of Dec. 13, 2005, and agonized through his half hour long, torturous execution vowed that the struggle ain’t over. – Photo: Minister of Information JR).

We need that same warrior spirit now – which is why even though I retired my G-hand long ago to push for peaceful means of change and working together, I refuse to repress or hide my anger at the brutality and barbarism I see every day, a lot of it taking place in our name. And I will not condemn the young Gs out there who carry that spirit of rebellion, or who maybe feel the way Bro. Lovelle did when he held court in the street. These are not monsters; these are young men who have been failed and betrayed by a corrupt system that doesn’t work.

It troubles me so many people actually believe somehow racism died upon the election of a Black president. But these courts are still falsely convicting and excessively sentencing Blacks and Browns by the thousands, the prisons are still implementing these archaic policies to strip us of our strength and humanity, the police are still murdering us like wild animals in the streets.

And the government’s foreign policies dealing with nations of color are still as racist as ever. They ignore the plight of our friends and neighbors, Haiti and South America, living in extreme poverty, while pursuing the mythical terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan – sending these unmanned drones to drop 200-pound bombs on the heads of innocent women and children, that are ironically navigated from a joystick right here in Nevada.

Shit, we still got judges in this country who refuse to marry interracial couples. And it is troubling still to hear some Whites speak as if Blacks and Browns owe them something for electing a Black president and allowing us to put a Latina on the Supreme Court. As if these things were given to us as a gift from the goodness of their hearts, rather than won from the blood and sacrifice of our own.

(Photo: Ikemba, aka Marritte Funches, is legendary in Nevada prisons as a beloved teacher and has long been a friend and supporter of the Bay View).

That’s how you know the struggle ain’t over. Nothing in the history of America has ever been given to people of color. And, truth be told, the future of this country depends on us – on our efforts to bring America from under the shadows of its past.

But we as a country must shake off the fog and understand there are no magic bullets or symbolisms that can kill the stink of racism in America. We must continue to be conscious and work together to remove the flaws in our system that foster the divides of race, class, gender etc. We must clean up the courts, reform the prisons and bring personal accountability to the police departments, so that if a cop kills an innocent civilian, uses excessive force or lies to falsely incarcerate someone or cover up a mistake, they’ll be prosecuted just like anyone else.
There are no magic bullets or symbolisms that can kill the stink of racism in America.

Maybe when we do this, and we as a country have learned to reconcile our past, not only in our minds and monuments, but in our schools and textbooks, when politicians are no longer allowed to be bribed or bought off, when health care and higher education are respected as rights rather than privileges for rich people, then real progress can be claimed. But for now, the struggle ain’t over.

Send this brave and brilliant soldier in the struggle some love and light: Ikemba S. Mutulu, s/n Marritte Funches, #37050, P.O. Box 1989, Ely, NV 89301, and check out his work on the August Initiative at