Del Norte Triplicate Readers

SHU not solitary confinement; it's for gang members, jerks

I just read the July 7 letter ("Prison officials made misleading claims about inmate conditions"). I can't believe how there are people out there that think what they think.

I worked for 16 years inside Pelican Bay. The (SHU) Security Housing unit, is not solitary confinement! You have to be a validated gang member or work real hard at being a jerk to be placed in there. These inmates can and do have cellmates. Obviously some need to be alone because they would kill anyone or anything that was put in with them.

Some actually want to be single-celled! I heard inmates say that a stint in the SHU is like a vacation from the yard, where you have to look behind your back constantly! Their cells are right next to each other so they can and do talk and pass stuff to each other all day, and all night.

They get yard time (where they can and do talk with inmates in other

units by yelling over the walls). They get to come out for showers, hair

cuts, nail clippers and most are going to the doctor or visiting the

law library or attorney-visiting or using their inhaler, medications,

etc., throughout the day.

They have TV's, radios, and reading materials. They can and do get

two large (garbage can-size) plastic bags of all sorts of food from the

canteen every month. And I'm talking about almost everything you can

imagine! And don't forget their three free meals, which are pretty darn


You have to remember that these individuals grew up on the streets

and spent their lives around others like themselves so they're in there

with their "homies"?and even relatives and parents. Yes, fathers and

sons and brothers and cousins, etc.

You don't see inmates moping around. Ever! They're usually either

yelling at or laughing with their homies, watching sports on TV, or

trying to get at each other's throats (by gassing - throwing feces,


Some people say there's forced segregation. Well, you open the doors

of a white, a black, and two Hispanics (northern and southern) all at

the same time and you're going to have four grown men trying to kill

each other. And people want to cell them together?

It's not like the movie"The Longest Yard" in there. That's Hollywood


Mike Cuthbertson