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Oct 19, 16

Notes on Repression, Torture, Survival and Revolution at Deer Ridge Correctional

From Portland Anarchist Black Cross (ABC)

What’s up my friends? Well, it must’ve been a while now since you’ve heard from me.  Apparently they’ve been confiscating my paper mail since even before Sept. 9th. I had written several supporters some nice incriminating letters. To be honest. I half expected them to be pilfering my mail. It was that and the combination of a snitch. Those things together is what fucked me. I don’t understand why anyone could possibly want to inform on what we’re trying to do here at DRCI. It makes no fuckin sense. Fuckin stockholm syndrome! Well, here’s a copy of my Misconduct report. It’s surprisingly accurate.

I’ve been in the hole now for just about 2 weeks, and they only just now gave me a pen. This in itself is a sign of how much more they fear us when we stop fighting with our fists and start fighting with our truths.

I’ll be getting shipped out to a max facility (Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution) in the next couple of days where I’ll stick out what will undoubtedly be a very long time in solitary confinement. Last time all this happened I did 18 months, which after organizing a packet/program strike in the SHU, turned into 24 months. So… I don’t know what their decision is going to be this time.

On a good note, other than their informant, they got no other snitches or any tangible evidence that anything was actually going on. All they have is stuff in my own writing and one informer.

Initially, they gestapo’d 5 people on the first night when they arrested me as well. 5 people from between three different cell-blocks. Then the second day a few more people came down. Each in our own isolation cell. But we could yell back and forth to each other. We sat for about four days with no word as to what was going on, and then they started pulling us all out one-by-one for interrogations.

The only thing they really had on anyone was me and one other person and even the other person wasn’t near as implicit as I was, so over the course of the interrogations and so, since I was already decidedly fucked, we were able to get a few people off the hook completely. And then three others just got unauthorized organization in the third degree and they’ll be getting out of the hold tomorrow. One other guy got an unauthorized organization in the first degree and he’ll be doing at least a few months at whatever maximum facility they send him to, and myself. I got found guilty of unauthorized ORG in the first, and “Disturbance” (Conspiracy), so I’ll be doing probably six months in a max, and then the committee will decide whether or not I get extended into long-term. for about 2 1/2 years– And for the same shit– it’s pretty likely I’ll go back. But we’ll see.

To be honest, I’m a bit upset over this whole affair. This particular prison is relatively close to my family, and in the few months I’ve been here. Got to see my daughter a few times, my sister, my mom and step Dad. Anywhere else in the state is just too far for them. I knew this was bound to happen at some point, and ultimately my purpose inside these walls is not to be complacent and comfortable. But to go where the work is. But still, it happens when you least expect it and it’s never a good feeling to be hauled out of bed in the middle of the night, cuffed, and without a word tossed into a cold cell. A different cold cell, I guess.

But let’s not dwell! I’m onto new pastures. I’m excited about this move. As it affords me new opportunities to meet new people. This will be my fourth institution in two years. As you know. Seeds don’t spread unless you move em about.

This prison (DRCI) is soft and weak, full of people drawn complacent by all the incentives. Pluss it’s a minimum camp, so everyone is fixed on going home. People just want to keep their heads down and get through it. Where I’ll be going next will be full of those of my peers feeling the full brunt of their situation. I feel like I’ll be more comfortable in the company of others who’ve already been stripped of anything the may’ve had to lose. Without the enticement of “incentives” and pats on the head to pull them along. The conversation is always better when we’re yelling at each other under the cracks in our cell doors or through the ventilation systems. Down there we have no agendas or pretenses. Only our rawer selves.

Thinking about solitary confinement now, prison in general and society for that matter, I’m thinking about the intent of these places. And it becomes clear that beneath the veneer of justice and righteousness and the pathetic adage of this being a “necessary Evil” to control human beings who, otherwise (we’re told to believe) would open up the gates of hell on all of humankind, lies something much more sinister’ it is a design. It is a complex arrangement of various but systematic abuses. Physical , psychological, emotional, spiritual, torture. The various mechanisms they apply always with force. Covert violence, with the intent to nullify our senses. I don’t mean our physical senses. But those are collaterally ripped apart as well, I mean to nullify our senses of self-worth, faith in humanity, faith in ourselves, self-determination, self-love. Systematic incarceration has been developed, over time, meticulously, as an apparatus geared toward, specifically, the nullification and pacification of the last of the free-thinkers in our world. Those who’ve somehow escaped the void of broad based brainwashing networks, prescription mind control poison, lifeless pop-culture, and the lie we call the American Dream which has us ridden with stress, anxiety, depression and a creeping sense of hopelessness as we compulsively chase each other’s money around in mindless circles, who’ve never been enchanted with the promise of more “stuff” or social “status”, we come HERE. To be nullified HERE. Pacified HERE. And for those who don’t take the hint, we go deeper into the bowels of HERE, where suicide and the creeping grip of insanity are commonplace. The magical, wondrous, mesmerizing world of solitary confinement. I could sit here, in my little cold, dark cracker box and write you, trying to paint you pictures of both the horrors and the wonders that you will experience with months-or better, years!- of living by yourself in a cold hard bathroom 24/7. But frankly, you wouldn’t understand. It’s like trying to describe an acid trip or some particularly abstract dream. You just had to have been there.

Its effects different people differently, of course. Like I said, suicides are semi-regular occurrences. you can usually see those coming as you’ll notice a steady deterioration in the person’s resolve. They stop taking showers, stop cleaning their cell, their trays come out still full of food. but the ones who just lose their minds, it’s usually a surprise. You might notice a small crack in their armor before the whole thing gives way, but it’s usually pretty sudden. they’ll be holding some usual conversation, yelling under their door and talking normally on Tuesday, on Wednesday they’re getting pulled out of their cell covered in their own feces screaming about gas coming out of their vent or microchips in their body.

Most people fall into patterns of escapism. I knew one guy who used to spend 3 or 4 hours every day cleaning his toilet/sink. The cleanest toilet in the Oregon D.O.C., and then he’d exercise. Burpies, windmills, pushups, situps, burpies, windmills, pushups, sit ups, for another 3 or 4 hours. Others like to spend the better part of their day with their faces jammed into cracks of their doors. you yell your side of a conversation, then turn a jam your ear to the crack to listen to the response. yell, turn, listen, turn, yell. You get anywhere from 5 to 10 conversations going at once. Other people playing chess or battle-ship trying to scream numbers over the noise.

And then there’s folks like myself, the noise, just a distant cacophony, we brood and think, and read, and write and brood some more. I knew a guy who drew little dots at points in his cell and would often sit and just stare at those dots for hours. I guess that was his own escape maybe. Who knows what goes on inside someone else’s mind. At the end of the day, we are each our own drifting vessel.

As for myself, I suppose I’m rare in that I reject escapism. I had come to a point several years ago where I’d decided that our tendency to seek refuge from reality has only served more to compound the adverse aspects of reality in the first place. It’s willful ignorance to our own complicity in that which distracts you from the signs of cancer showing up in your phlegm. Life is too short to indulge in distractions, even when the truth itself is much more painful. Life is too short, and I’ve already been robbed of enough of mine. When you look at things from this angle you may actually come to appreciate the miseries that life so enthusiastically hurls at us. Me, I’m actually aware of my pain. And i refuse to give it up for anything.

Now, I know this sounds like a dark take on things, but if you really think about it, you’ll see it’s actually the sole product of hope and optimism. If I had no hope in changing things, I would see no point in involving myself with them. I believe change is possible, and I believe in our ability to realize change. But it will never happen unless we acquaint ourselves with those things that need changing. To me, this is what it means to be a revolutionary. You welcome the misery, and then you destroy it.

Solitary confinement isn’t such a terrible thing for me. It’s too late for all that. It’s like worrying about where to flick your cigarette ashes as you walk around the husk of your old burned down house. I’ve got years of this shit already under my belt. Any damage that could be done, has been done. Now I’m just picking my way through the debris looking for anything which might be salvaged. What’s a few more ashes on the ground? Or a couple more years?

Here’s what I can say though, while I’m on the subject. One thing one can count on absolutely, is that you will lose parts of yourself down here. And those parts are irretrievable. Maybe not just in a matter of months, but enter into four, five, six months and things inside you begin to malform. A Lot of us hide it well. Even from ourselves. But there are specific brands of neurosis/psychosis reserved for folks who’ve done any real length of isolation time. If you were to place me in a room with a hundred people, I’m sure I could pick out the ones who’ve done long-term isolation sets. Me, I see it. I know it. I have an intimate relationship with these insanities.

As for me, for now, I can take heart. Wintertime is coming. And I don’t care much for being outside in the winter anyways. Like I said, for me, isolation isn’t so bad. I tend to use my solitude productively, and at some point maybe with all my reading and writing and thinking and brooding, I’ll either stumble upon the answer we’ve all be looking for, or I’ll end up packing my brain so full of smart stuff that my fucking head will explode and unleash a great rainbow of knowledge over the earth for all to marvel and cheer at. Don’t bet on that. But at the same time, experience has taught me to never rule anything out.

Here I feel like I need to clarify something I said earlier– and this will likely spin me into new directions, but bare with me. I mentioned how incarceration systems are so meticulously designed to crush the hopes and will and confidence, etc, of the individuals it swallows. How it’s complex arrangements are geared toward nullifying the senses of self, toward pacifying the will to determination.

All of what I said is true. But I want to be clear that this fact does not get passed as a claim for it’s intent to achieve conformity in the individual. It’s designed to pacify us, yes. To nullify us, to make us broken and malleable to whatever agenda it’s built around. But to be clear, this agenda is not one of reforming its subjects into upright wholesome productive members of society.

If that were the case, there would at least be some semblance of a rationalization to this entire mess. As it stands though, there is no rationalization at all beyond the sensationalist depiction of “bad guys” needing to be locked up where they can’t continue being bad. This is obviously a short-sighted over-simplification of a theory which, when we look at it, holds no substance at all.

This is further proved, when we take a closer inspection of the methods employed to keep these places functioning. For example, any episode of cops will show you the frustration and anger that one can go through upon being kidnapped, stuffed into a car, and packed into a cage. The pigs look on with detached arrogance and make little antagonistic comments. when the person reacts at their level they continually escalate the situation until they have the person strapped down to a Hannibal Lecter chair.

I spoke of the use of force, and covert violence, which are the foundation of all tactics and measures they employ. These various types of thumbscrews are manifested in several and sometimes very subtle ways– or not, so subtle– but all with the mechanics available to twist them down on you to whatever extent necessary to draw you to your knees. To nullify you, to pacify you.

Or… As they scream in your face as one is literally on top of you with his knee in your spine. Crushing the wind our of you and grinding your face into the cold grey concrete floor, while another had your arm locked and twisted up behind you so tight it feels about to break a the elbow, then the shoulder, and one or two more are twisting your ankles together and folding you in half in ways your body isn’t meant to fold “STOP RESISTING!”. A small sample of how far this agency is willing to go to continue in its existence. And even you don’t know if your own screams are from the pain, the anger of is it simply your cursed soul escaping this mass of biological compost that was once you? You don’t know.

What you know is, if you beg , and if you cry, and if you remain passive while they beat you, twist you, and choke you, eventually it will stop. All you have to do is be nullified, be pacified, stop resisting and let them have their way with you.

The same is with the cold-cell I reside in as I write this. There is nothing on this planet I hate more than being cold. I’d almost rather them take me down to the processing room for a good ol’ four-on-one cage match, like the one I just described. But no luck! My point is, It’s the same thing. Just more subtle. More sinister. If I comply, If I pacify, if I “stop resisting”, and if I beg, and if I go to my knees, eventually, it will end. It’s the same ballroom, but the dance is a little more complex these days.

And so the question then is, are these methods designed to break one’s spirit and pacify them? The only answer can be yes.

Are they designed to produce pro-social habits and tendencies in the subject? the only answer can be no.

Is this a blazing contradiction of purpose? The only answer can be yes. In its totality, what we have here is an apparatus designed to simultaneously break a person’s spirit and to create further social dysfunctionality within them.

And so from here, I suppose, we should probably ask what the whole fucking thing is built to do then.

And what is the relation between the methodology of the incarceration system, and the fact that these people are so compelled to build more and more prisons with upgraded state-of-the-art, prison technology? What in the fuck is actually going on here?! Andy why in the fuck is my cell so god damn cold!?

But these are just different questions to the answers we already have. And in the face of everything we have to consider, the answer, so pathetic as it is, seems too ridiculous to even be taken seriously.

It’s all about money. From the bottom to the top. This pig outside my door, he didn’t come out of the womb destined to be an agent of violence and brutality. He could’ve just as easily been a gardener, or a fucking circus clown. But he was compelled by money and power commensurate with his station in life and promises in equal or greater measure to his pathetic level of ambition, to be a pig.

The same is said for the architects and designers who plan and build these shit holes. Money and Power, commensurate with their station, and equal to their measure of ambition.

In closing, it must be said that in regards to the types of abuse meted out by these swine, I came to a point years ago where I refuse to be antagonized into direct physical conflict with them. I’ve been beaten, taxed, doused in OC spray, show with pepper spray paintball guns, show with beanbags,

electrocuted with shock-shields and I’ve witnessed murders carried out by these scumbags in the name of justice. Being led into these types of resistance exactly what they want. It justifies , not only their use of direct force, but their claim to the existence of this system in it’s entirety. On such a battlefield, we have no possibility of success, and in fact only serve their interests.

In lashing out on this level, we’re only looking at the symptoms of the illness, not the illness itself. The cold-cell, the violence, the slave labor, these are only symptoms, you can address a symptom. But it, in itself, goes nowhere toward overcoming the actual illness.

So, while I will never engage them in their own game again, one thing I will never do is let them pacify me, nullify me and break me down. I will never “stop resisting”. And where so many break and cower and wilt under the pain and misery, the loneliness, the despair, the depression, loss, confusion, anger and on and on, I will welcome it, remained acutely aware of those things, so that I can do my part to destroy it at it’s source. I’ll settle in again for the long game and use those things to warm me as I set my pawns against their kings. There’s really only everything to gain from here, and nothing at all left to lose.

“When you live by the sword. You must learn to love the sting of being cut”



Please send Josh “Zero”, books and letters to help him in his stint in solitary. He’s asking for books on sociology, history, economics, business, war, astronomy, just no fiction.

Joshua “Zero” Cartrette SID #12225965 

Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution

2500 Westgate

Pendleton, OR 97801

Download the PDF file.


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The Portland Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) supports anarchist and prison abolitionist projects in the PNW.

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