Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mail Call - I got a letter from Bryan !

I sent mail to Bryan the other day....
Saturday 10-15-11

Dear Bryan,
My dear friend! I hope this letter finds you on the mend and feeling proud and happy about all that has been accomplished. I am still walking around in a daze of wonder. I knew that you were not at PB on Wednesday, even before you arrived at Corcoran – I have my ways! Early Thursday morning, I tracked you down at ASU-1 and called Mr. Gonzales, but he was in committee with the other counselors. I was told to try again in late afternoon so I met a friend for coffee. (yum, coffee...won't it be nice to get your coffee back?)

Anyway, the funniest thing happened when I learned the strike was over. I was contacted almost immediately after the mediators signed the memo and I had to dash home to get the phone number for ASU-1. When Mr. Gonzales answered (he was very nice), after brief introductions and an explanation that I was calling about you, I said, “Have you heard the news?” Pause. “What news?” Pause. “That the hunger strike is over?” Long pause. I continued, “I was going to ask several questions, but they have all changed with this new development”. He said, “Why don't you go ahead and ask your questions?” I began going down the list, Is Bryan there? (yes), How is he doing? (fine), etc. 

Suddenly, he gets very excited and says, “someone just handed me a memo”, and he just started reading it out loud to me. It appeared to be the memo that they got telling them that the HS was over with instructions to give the hunger strikers the attached papers, 1. the memo signed by the mediators and 2. a document about how to resume eating safely after a hunger strike. Bryan, I think he learned that the HS ended at that moment, while we were on the phone together. I could hear surprise, relief and even happiness in his voice.

After that sunk in, I resumed asking my questions – ”Can Bryan get mail, paper/stamps, visits?” Yes! Yes! Yes! I ended by asking if he would let you know I called. Yes! How about that !?!?!

Today, I got an email from Debbie with their phone number; I immediately called her and she put Pops on the phone. Bryan, I liked him and I think he liked me...we talked for 10-15 minutes about everything that has happened. He is soooo happy that you are OK and looks forward to coming to see you. He just had a checkup and other than being told to lose some weight, he is fine. He is going to fill out the visit form so everything is in place when the opportunity to visit you presents itself. I'm not even sure if you will be sent back to PB or stay at Corcoran. So he's just going to get the paperwork going. How about that !?!?!

You will be very proud of me. Upon hearing you could get visits, I looked up flights from Seattle to Bakersfield (about $500) and had to stop myself and laugh. Of course, including hotel and rental car, that is too expensive, but for the moment I could imagine the look on your face as I strolled into the Corcoran visiting area. Ha ha ha If money were no object, I would already be there. As it is, once you settle in somewhere, there will be plenty of time to schedule a visit. Until then, you will be very busy reading your mail after it all catches up with you. Well, I'm out of room on my large sized postcard. Bye for now. 

Your devoted friend,


When I checked my PO Box, there was a letter from Bryan written on 10-8-11, postmarked in Crescent City, CA 10-12-11, received in Settle, WA on 10-17-11.  It took 9 Days.  About average.

Mail into prison moves slowly.  After I write a letter and post it via US Postal Service, it arrives in the prison mail room to be searched for contraband and other innocent items that are not allowed. After the mail room is finished, SHU prisoners have an additional step...mail goes to the Institutional Gang Investigators who look for secret codes and other things related to gang issues.  Then it is delivered to Bryan. When he writes to me, that process is reversed... Bryan, IGI, mail room, USPS then to me.

Postcards don't need to be searched for contraband and get delivered much faster.

Most discouragingly, anytime they want to retaliate against prisoners, individually or collectively, they will hold the mail and not let it through.  For instance, during this second hunger strike (Sept 26-Oct 13), they completely cut all mail that was sent to hunger strikers.  In Bryan's latest letter he says there has been no mail delivered to them since Sept 23.  

Conversely, I have gotten three letters from Bryan since the hunger strike began...(written on 9/27-received on 10/7) (written on 10/1-received on 10/11) (written on 10/8-received on 10-17)

Here is a scan of the mail room restrictions from Pelican Bay.  I have never had anything rejected or removed by the mail room.

IGI has only stopped one of my letters.  When this happened, Bryan got a notice that a piece of mail was stopped.  I also received a notice that my mail was stopped "pending Investigation" (see the form below) I never heard anything else, so the investigators must have not found anything.  Bryan could have just requested it be mailed back to me at his own expense (see the DISPOSITION section) but we didn't think of that...he preferred to have a hearing to find out why they were investigating information in the letter.  

He filed a 602 (grievance) and got a hearing about the letter.  At that hearing (about a month later?)  IGI told him that I was "discussing an inmate in Washington State"  I probably was telling Bryan a story about Greg, who is in a WA prison.  I rarely refer to Greg for this very reason, and only in the most general terms...I can't even remember what I wrote.  Note the IGI #1 handwritten on the top...my 1st rejection...


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