The deadly ‘integrated yard policy’: Commentary on ‘The Pelikkan Bay factor: an indictable offense.’
To APWA ,
A friend sent me a copy of your application and suggested I send my Commentary to your website. I hope the issues are not to far in the past; to be revelant today? The Commentary isan excerpt from a chapter in may soon to be completed book titled. "The Unbelievable Truth" which includes stories before and after these incidents. The follow-up story revealing the infamous "In House Cleaning
Policy" and the effects these illegal policies have had on the landscape of
California Prisons. I aim is to provide V the reader with an experienced View of prison over the 41 years of my incarceration.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Jeffrey Milo Burks
Jeffrey Milo Burks, B64401
P. 0. BOX 5007
Calipatria, CA 92233
Phone: (951) 442-5022
The deadly ‘integrated yard policy’:
Commentary on ‘The Pelikkkan Bay factor: an indictable offense.’
After reading "The PeliKKKan Bay Factor: An indictable offense, in the February
2013 edition of the San Francisco Bay View, I am compelled to share with your readers the evidence I have uncovered whi.le doing research into my own case after I was framed by corrupt guards and convicted of murder at Folsom Prison in 1984. I have uncovered the real intentions behind the implementation of the deadly "integrated yard policy" and its bloody history at Folsom Prison.
The writers of the article did an excellent job exposing the Folsom Prison
Administration's role in creating the violent conditions by exploiting racial tensions already prevalent inside the overcrowded prison. By instigating violence between prisoners, the administrators and the prison union, California
Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), together they would call for more security for guards and more maximum security prisons to control the violence among prisoners.
The evidence I have found clearly shows a direct link between the integrated yard policy and the building of Pelican Bay and Corcoran maximum security prisons and isolation units, or the SHU.
Since first opening in 1880, Folsom Prison was renowned for the violence constantly erupting within its walls, but during the late 1970's and throughout the 1980's, the violence within the prison was not solely the product of pissed off prisoners or rival groups. In early 1980, Folsom Prison administrators were
Jeffrey Milo Burks—2 under investigation behind. allegations of administrative corruption, violent attacks by guards on prisoners, guards setting up prisoners for attack by other grisoners and falsifying documents to frame prisoners for crimes they did not commit.
Prison is a microcosm of society. Sick administrators will ultimately lead to a sick society. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Folsom became the most corrupt and violent prison in the history of American prisons.
On June 19, 1982, I arrived at Folsom Prison. The same day, violence erupted between. rival ygroups. Initially prison administrators attempted to quell the disturbance with a lockdown. A week later the violence broke out again, forcing the administrators to lock the prison down and begin a process of identifying and then segregating the groups involved. This tactic appeared to be working, as the number of stabbings fell..In 1981, there were roughly 55 assaults with weapons and two deaths at the prison. From June 19, 1982, to the end of 1982, there were -1+8 stabbings and two deaths. The separation of the known enemies
Rest the violence down, but the attacks were high nevertheless.
On Dec. 28, 1982, Folsom Prison spokesman Gil Miller said, after the fourth stabbing death of the year, "There have been more stabbings at Folsom this year than at any time in the brison's history." He blamed the total of 70 stabbing incidents, including the four deaths, on the overcrowding of 3,000 violent prone inmates in a facility designed for 2,000.
The Integrated Yard Edict.
Through the first 11 months of 1983, numerous attacks took place inside
Jeffrey Milo Burks—3 the prison. Prison officials were reporting internal strife in the Texas
Syndicate, a prison gang, which led to the stabbing of a prisoner. On March
3, 1983, an alleged member of the so—called Israeli Mafia was reported to have been by an alleged member of the Mexican Mafia. These types of assaults were taking place and the prison administration dealt with them as isolated incidents.
In August 1983, Folsom Prison was ordered by a federal judge to stop double celling prisoners in the Security’ Housing "Units (SHU) and emergency 'Housing
Units (EMU). Up to this point in the year, there was little mention of racial tension or racial violence taking place. The segregated rival groups could not attack each other. A
Historically, prison officials have scoffed at and. flat out refused to carry out court orders won by prisoners relating to prison conditions. Refusing to give the prisoners a victory over them, Folsom administrators decided they would enforce the court's ruling to single cell prisoners in the SHU and EHO, employing, an insidious plot which required manipulating and exploiting racial enmity between. African American and Mexican American prisoners. The results will have deadly‘ consequences for prisoners while at the same time help to subvert the court's ruling by activating an emergency clause halting the court order.
.ccording to official reports, on Nov. 18, 1983, three more racially motivated stabbings occurred in Folsom Prison as ,authorities ended a
‘controversial policy blamed by prison officials for a two-day outbreak of violence. After seven stabbings in two days, prison authorities announced they had stopped the court-ordered policy of releasing dangerous convicts back into the prison zmainstream. The. authorities are "blaming the two days of violence
Jeffrey Milo Burks-1+ on a court ordered policy which required them to release "dangerous convicts back into the prison mainstream," the court order did not mandate the release of prisoners into the mainstream or general population.
Insidious plots require some degree of deception. So I ‘will make this clear .for the reader. The seven stabbings in two» days took: place inside the
Emergency Housing Unit (EHU) established by the prison zumﬁnistrators for the purpose of SEGREGATING RIVAL GROUPS after the brutal stabbing death of Richard
Benjamin on Sept. 14, 1893. Two of the five tiers inside of the EMU were segregated by race and gang affiliations. The court order to end double celling in the security housing units did not mandate the integration of the tiers in the EMU.
On May 1, 198A, Folsom Prison officials told a federal judge they deliberately mixed a few Mexican-American inmates with a large number of Blacks last November because of their commitment to racial integration. The plan was risky, former warden Paul Morris andformer housing officer Glen Mueller told
U.S. District Judge Stanley weigel.
"It's a little curious that all of a sudden we got religion on the subject of integration," Weigel remarked. In his response to contempt of court charges,
Lt. Glen Mueller, who supervised the EHU, testified: "Cell assignments the week of Nov. 14 were based on availability of space and a policy of ‘racial
' he said. integration. I had to place people wherever I had room,‘
He said he did not look at the prisoner's central files, which identified gang affiliations, because it had never been his practice to «k: so. Remember their plot was to mix races, they only needed to see the prisoner's skin color. "In most cases violence doesn't result from mixing gangs," he said. "We've done
Jeffrey Milo Burks-S it before and gotten away with it," Morris replied.
The .alleged integration policy did not exist. at. Old. Folsom ‘Prison. All the Security Housing Units and the Emergency Housing Unit were segregated by race and gang affiliations. Prisoners were housed on racially segregated tiers and exercise yards. Prior to Nbv. 14, 1983, prison officials had attempted to integrate the PRU with deadly results. On Sept. 14, 1983, Richard Benjamin who was African American, was stabbed to death by four Mexican-American prisoners.
He'd recently moved to the EMU and was killed on his way to the exercise yard.
‘Spokesman lGil Miller said the attack on Benjamin was race-related. It was definitely’ a racial problem; it was definitely a racial hit. Benjamin and
Gonzales, one of the assailants, had been transferred out of two~man cells the previous month as a result of a federal court order prohibiting double ceiling.
The next day, on Sept. 15, 1983, more racial violence occurred when a Black inmate allegedly stabbed two Hispanic inmates. Gil Miller said, "Racial hatred is the underlying motive," noting an on-going conflict between Black and Hispanic inmates. On Oct. 28, 1983, the 50th stabbing of the year barred a tour of the prison by a ,group of state lawmakers, preventing the committee members from seeing the inside of the maximum security prison. On Nov. 9, 1983, again an inmate was stabbed. "A member of a prison gang was in stable condition Wednesday after being stabbed by a member of a rival gang," Folsom Prison officials said.
These reports are coming from Folsom Prison officials who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that these rivals groups would attack each other on sight.
These orchestrated attacks were a prelude to the Fbv. 14, 1983, set up.
There were: no public. outcries nor questions raised behind Benjamin's murder and the four stabbings following his death. Remember, former Warden Paul Morris
Jeffrey Milo Burks-6
"We've done it before and gotten away with it." He is clealry referring had said, to the sad fact that the murder of Benjamin and four stabbings of gnﬂsoners caused little concern on the outside. Their intentions were to put ea stop to the court order to single cell prisoners. They had to up the ante. One or two deaths or stabbings weren't enough to generate concerns about their actions, so they moved five Eﬁspanics to an all-African tier and five Africans to an all~Hispanic tier. The results were violently predictable.
"Federal Judge Weigl said his injunction requiring an end to double-ceiling in the maximum security unit could be superseded if warden Paul Morris believes inmates could become assailants or victims." The judge modified his injunction late Thursday after four Hispanics were hospitalized by a gang-related knife attack which prison guards and administrators blamed on his initial injunction.
"Under an emergency clause, we had immediately stopped releasing the most dangerous inmates into the general population,” said prison spokesman Lt. Ted
Zink. "The judge's latest ruling makes it ea new ballgame." They were playing games with prisoners’ lives and, like pawns in 21 chess game, prisoners were the only casualties.
Former Folsom Housing Unit Officer Denise Stanfield testifying at the Senate
Rules Committee hearings for Joseph Campoy to become warden, March 6, 1985:
Chairman Roberti: Can you speak to your knowledge of the incidents that led up to the integration of the prison cells when the stabbings occurred, I believe, in late 1983, after the court had indicated that double-celling had to cease?
Ms. Stanfield: Well, I was tier officer at the time. There was a certain routine we followed on a daily basis. And then one day we were told that routine would change. when I came to work the next day at 11:00 o'clock, I noticed the yard
Jeffrey Milo Burks-7 was open, and the inmates on the tier that I worked, the Black tier and Mexican tier, were out on the yard with the general population. And they were grouped racially and separated. None of the normal activities on the yard were going on. Upon returning from the yard, we noticed the composition of the tiers, which concerned myself and a fellow officer. I brought this to the attention of my supervisor, and he basically ignored me, told me he didn't know what. f was talking about.
Chairman Roberti: Eas there any feeling among the guards or, to your knowledge, among the prisoners that there was going to be trouble?
Ms Stanfield: Yes, I overheard bets being made on who was going to get stuck first.
Chairman Roberti: Bets?
Ms Stanfield: oats.
From top to bottom, administrators and guards knew what was about to take place as they made bets on who was going to get stuck first! Even the guards proved Lt. Mueller's words untrue: "In most cases violence doesn't result from mixing gangs." There would have been.1m3 need to integrate the tiers zif they were not already segregated!
By their own admissions, as deceitful as they were, Folsom Prison administrators intentionally integrated the EHU tiers, which led to an immediate eruption of racial violence before Nov. 14, 1983, and well after those documented incidents. Still no indictments and the atrocities grew ever more cunning and deadly...
Jeffrey Milo Burks-8
Integrated Yard Policy Ignites Racial Strife
One spark can start a prairie fire. The integrated yard policy became a blazing incendiary, leaging the granite walls of Folsom Prison to ignite racial strife inside San Quentin and other prisons around the state.
Inside Folsom Prison, 1984 ended with 109 stabbings and six deaths. The integration golicy' was the perfect storm for the prison .administrators, the
CCOPA (the guards union), California politicians and greedy corporate business men and woman looking to cash in on the ever growing and expanding Prison
Industrial Complex now sprouting new grisons like oil wells in rural counties across the American landscape. High tech prisons became the rmnv Black. Gold.
"Get tough on crime" legislation and prison expansion lobbyist worked hand in ihand in the znid~1980s. Politicians were holding hearings in Sacramento and meeting inside Folsom Prison to try and determine how to create more space or build. more prisons to ease the overcrowding in California's prison system.
Business men and women were licking their chops as the government signaled a willingness to ooen its pocket book to build more grisons. No doubt the constant media coverage detailing the unprecedented violence at Folsom and San Quentin grisons and the CCPOA lobbyist played a large role in grison expansion and the designing of high tech prisons like Pelican Bay and Corcoran.
Don Novey, then president of the CCPOA, once a brilliant counter-intelligence amgent working overseas for the United States government, had little difficulty countering allegations or suggestions that prison officials were fully or partly responsible for the murders and mayhem taking glace. Novey's union had 21 big stake ix: the games being glayed with prisoners’ lives. The greater the violence grew, the louder the CCPOA screamed for more new high tech
Jeffrey Milo Burks—9 prisons and more guards to control the prisons and protect society from the violent prisoners.
The Brothers writing the article "The Pelikkkan Bay factor: An indictable offense," were probably unaware that "Old Folsom" Prison administrators had previously tried and tested the integrated yard policy and found it to be an effective tool against prisoners. Before employing the tactic in 1987, they knew the results would be deadly and effective in pushing whatever line they were trying to enforce.
Midway through 1984, the violence was rampant. Senators, local politicians, the media and prisoners’ familes were raising serious questions about the cause of the violence inside Folsom Prison, while arrogant, untouchable prison officials continued integrating enemies. The answer to the "WHY" question has solidly smacked the questioners in the face, but those in positions of power turned a blind eye to the truth, refusing to hold the guilty accountable.
In a May l98!+ hearing on Folsom violence, federal officials were acting on a letter received April 3, 1984, and made public by Judge Stanley Weigel.
The letter reported results of a federal investigation of Folsom begun in August
1980, after the Justice Department received complaints from prisoners and lawyers. The probe included interviews with complainants and prison officials, a four-day tour of the prison in 1983 and a review of documents. The investigation concluded that the Folsom population of over 3,200 greatly exceeded design capacity. "Folsom annually is the site of serious incidents between inmates. St.abbings, fights and assaults occur frequently. Inmates are frequently found with weapons. Inmates have been seriously injured as a result of these incidents. There have been a number of fatalities in each of the past several
Jeffrey Milo Burks-10 years. Consequently, it is our view that Folsom Prison inmates are not being provided with adequate grotection from harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Our investigation indicates that these conditions have existed since 1979." An indictable offense.
Accountability, resgonsibility and negligence: Folsom officials were immune to these rules of moral conduct. Recently, a bus driver fell asleep at the wheel killing 13 of his 28 gassengers and was charged with criminal negligence, .13 counts of involuntary mansl.aug,hter.
The integration policy began Segtember 1983. Twenty stabbings and two deaths wn be directly attributed to the integration policy by the end of December
The entire year of 1984, there were 109 stabbings and six deaths at Folsom
Prison. In 16 months, there are eight deaths and 139 st.abbin,gs.
During the first six months of 1985, there were 111+ stabbings and three deaths, bringing the total number of incidents over a 22 month period to 253 stahbings and 11 deaths. The vast majority of these recorded incidents resulted from the integrated yard policy.
January 25, 1985, racial violence spread in Folsom Prison. The racial strife between Blacks and Hispanics that caused one of the most violent-plagued years in the history of Folsom State Prison during, 1984 was spilling over onto other inmates, prison officials reported. Assaults were more difficult to explain and involved inmates not associated with any gang. "It used to be attacks were always a Black and Brown thine. No‘w it has escalated to involving everyone.
It's more than anything I've ever seen," said Lt. Bobby Jackson. Sgt. Jack R.
Corrie said he has also noticed violence in all areas of the jail.
Jeffrey Milo Burks-11
At least one group of unidentified inmates was charging that the jail officials had been the catalyst for some of the inmate trouble. A‘ five-page letter sent to a federal judge, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Jr., D—San
Francisco, and local media listed many of the reasons for anger among inmates, including lengthy series of complete and partial lockdowns at the prison since
October, when the violence escalated further. The letter said the lockdowns are a part of a "subtle but provocative campaign to initiate violence and that prison officials indiscriminately move enemy inmates within close groximity of each other in cells, mess halls and yard." Assistant "Director of CDC Robert
J. Gore said, "such allegations are ludicrous."
The integration policy had created a full blown racial war. All ‘African-
Americans and Mexican-Americans were attacking each other on sight. The CDC and CCPOA were cohorts in increasing the racial violence with the integration policy, blaming the prisoners and then making demands for more maximum security prisons and more guards, which led to more money and power for both entities.
On May 30, 1985, the Sacramento Bee published "'85 Bloodiest Year For Folsom
Inmates" by staff writer Richard J. Brenneman, who began by writing: "It was described as the bloodiest day of the bloodiest year in recent memory when eight inmates were stabbed Monday inside Folsom Prison... Those injuries jumped the stabbings of prisoners by prisoners in Folsom to 111+ for the year - five more then the total for all of 1981+."
"'I was watch sergeant Monday, and those ambulances were rolling in and out,’ said Don Novey. 'W'l1ile we were trying to feed the inmates, they were going at each others’ throats. They were tearing their bunks apart to stab each other.‘
"As president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and
Jeffrey Milo Burks-12 a guard at Folsom, Novey is deeply worried about the rising blood shed," the
Apparently he was not worried enough to demand the integration policy be stopped. That was the root cause of the escalating violence.
Novey's main concern was prison expansion. The CCPOA and CDC, relying on the violence at Folsom and San Quentin prisons, had successfully lobbied to have four new maximum security prisons built. Novey said some of the current troubles should come to an end when the state opens its first new maximum security prison in more than a century at Tehachapi sometime late the following year, 1986. New Folsom Prison, Corcoran State Prison and Pelican Bay Prison would follow. The lives and blood of prisoners became the foundations upon which these four prisons were built.
From September 1983 to May 30, 1985, the 253 stabbings and 11 deaths in that 22 month period made it easy to pitch the urgent need for high tech security prisons, more lethal weapons and greater control to politicians and the general public. They were duged by the CDC and CCPOA.
On May 31, 1985, the California Legislature's Joint Committee on Prison
Construction and ogerations scheduled a hearing for June 19 on the violence rate and stabbings at Folsom Prison. The Dress release began: "In the wake of accelerating levels of violence and stabbings at Folsom Prison, we have scheduled a special hearing... to look into the violence, its causes, and what options exist to try to reduce it. Folsom must be one of the most violent, if not "THE most violent in the nation by the number of stabbings. They will aggarently have 230-250 stabbings this year, based on 115 at the halfway mark. This is unacceptable. The rate of stabbings is already twice that of last year, and
Jeffrey Milo Burks-13
115 stabbings by the end of May compares to 91+ in all of 1984."
In July 1985, prisoners are urged by prison officials to make peace and end the senseless war. Deals were anade, officials promised immediate 'release from the SHU when peace was made. And prisoners were granted the infamous "In
House Cleaning Policy" to help them enforce the truce on the younger prisoners who did not want the war to end. This explains why, when the racial war ended, the violence increased.
1985 closed with 200 stabbings and seven deaths. Remember, the prisoners ended the race war in July 1985. The new wave of violence is the result of another policy implemented by Eblsom Prison cificials designed to control the violence carried out by prisoners. The "In House Cleaning Policy" is discussed in my book "The Unbelievable Truth."
At the end of 1986, New Folsom Prison opened across the street from Old
Folsom Prison. The new high tech prison became the Security Housing Unit for the alleged gang members who were given indeterminate SHU terms based upon their gang affiliations. The high tech prisons were designed to provide guards with complete security coverage and control over prisoners. Newly ‘hired guards, younger and just as aggressive as the young prisoners filling up the cells, became a focal point of contention, and its within this environment of oppressive controlling methods, mental .and. physical. abuse initiated. by prison officials who proclaimed they were going to destroy prison gang structures by implementing the "INTEGRATED YARD POLICY." It's been demonstrated above that prison administrators held little if any regard for the lives of prisoners. The success or failure of prison policies were ofmnimeasured by the physical harm or deaths prisoners experienced! No doubt the prison administrators who employed the
Jeffrey Milo Burks-14 integrated. yard policy’ were patted on their backs for a. job well done and promoted into higher levels of responsibility within the CDC.
Ten years after New Folsom's integrated yard policy was deployed, 30 prisoners had been shot to death and hundreds maimed and disfigured for life, finally the truth is exposed.
On, Oct. 28, 1996, a headline on the front page of the San Francisco
Chronicle read, "Accusations of ‘Prison. Coverup: Agency’ hid staged fights at
Corcoran, guards say." Writer R. Holding reported: "From the moment the Central
Valley facility opened, Corcoran has been one of the most violent institutions in the nation. Inmates have accused guards of exploiting gang and racial tensions to make prisoners fight-and then shooting combatants who refused to stop. At the same time, the department's budget requests have repeatedly relied upon increasing inmates’ violence to help justify more money from Sacramento. "Just two months before the department tried to block the federal investigation of
Corcoran; for example, Department, of’ Corrections Director James Gomez wrote the Legislature that inmate violence ‘has risen dramatically’ and that the shortage. of prisons ‘will ‘increase the potential for violence .and injury’ to inmates and staff.‘
"Department officials ‘don't want the violence to stop,’ said Steve Riggs, a lieutenant at Corcoran from 1988 to 1995. 'They want to (use the violence to) convince the public that we need more money, more prisons and more security."'
Sounds exactly like what was taking place at Folsom Prison in the 1980's.
The Corcoran investigation concluded, "The saga of Corcoran began with an obscure prison edict issued during the 19808: The integrated yard policy."
Jeffrey Milo Burks-15
Across the country, hundreds if not thousands of men and women have been sentenced to death or life in prison with far less evidence against them and no admissions of culoability.
1k: the Last 30 years, employees of the CDC have climbed the ladder to success leaving beneadn them the bloody rungs soaked with the life force of innocent. prisoners. Some died land zmany survived not knowing ‘how or why‘ they were set up for murder or brutalized by a deadly policy. For the family members left behind and those survivors, the above is the INDICTABLE TRUTH, taken from pages of "The Unbelievable Truth."
My personal experience at Folsom State Prison 1882 to 1991.
Jeffrey Milo Burks
Joint Committee on Prison Construction and Operations
The Sacramento Bee, "'85 Bloodiest Year for Folsom Inmates" by staff writer
Richard J. Brenneman
Folsom Prison official documents
Corcoran State Prison Hearings: Closing Statement by Sen. John Vasconcellos,
Oct. 22, 1998.
If you are working on an APWA-related project, please let us know how you plan to utilize the Archive. We hope to share information about your work with our readers and, whenever possible, with relevant APWA authors.
APWA is an open access archive. We encourage use of the writings for research, course planning, and projects engaged in examination of the criminal legal system. Reproduction of essays in their entirety infringes on author copyright without their explicit consent from the writers. Please contact us if you plan to reproduce entire essays; we will do our best to put you in contact with the authors for consent, and their compensation for any project that is profit making.