January 14, 2022
From It's Going Down
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Call-in campaign to support Indigenous prisoners at USP Victoriville. Originally posted to Free Oso Blanco.

Artwork: Scalp Warrior, by OB with Bear & White Eyes, 2016

Stand with Indigenous prisoners at USP Victorville! Tell BOP prison officials and staff to respect Native religious rights and practices!

On behalf of all Native and Indigenous prisoners held at USP Victorville, we call on prison officials and staff to cease and desist from violating the religious rights of Native and Indigenous prisoners being held at USP Victorville.

During the first week of December 2021, prison staff purposefully destroyed the sacred sweat lodge at USP Victorville, also removing medicine bags and other materials from Indigenous prisoners. These actions are violations of religious rights of those held at USP Victorville. Furthermore, counselor Villanueva has withheld BP-8 forms from said prisoners, by not coming around the unit in order to prevent them from filing a formal complaint about these blatant religious rights violations.

According to the Bureau of Prisons website, “Chaplaincy Services Branch ensures the Constitutional religious rights of inmates.” This is obviously not the case at USP Victorville, where Chaplains Northway and Kelvington continually infringe upon the religious rights of Native and Indigenous people held at the prison. As confirmed in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), these basic rights must be respected and adhered to.

As Indigenous prisoners at USP Victorville are denied to even raise their legitimate grievances within the prison system, along with the continued denial of basic religious rights, and the destruction of their sweat lodge, we are urgently requesting emails and phone calls to BOP prison officials in order to rectify these gross violations of prisoners’ rights.


Immediate Demands

  1. Immediately provide proper materials so that the prisoners themselves can rebuild the sweat lodge destroyed by prison officials. The energy involved in the process of rebuilding has significance for Indigenous religious purposes, so the work should and must be done by them. Materials needed to rebuild the sweat lodge include willows, rocks, and untreated firewood (as it is illegal to burn treated construction wood in the State of California).
  2. Ensure prison staff are properly trained on what they can and cannot do in regards to Native/Indigenous religious ceremonies.
  3. That prisoners be given immediate access to BP-8 forms so they can file a formal complaint.

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, send emails and phone calls to the following from 9-5 PST (and 9-5 EST for Carvajal in D.C.):

USP Victorville
P.O. Box 5400
Adelanto, CA 92301
General email: [email protected]
General phone: 760-530-5000

Warden Gutierrez – [email protected]
Assistant Warden Martinez – [email protected]
Chaplain Michael Northway – [email protected]
Chaplain Doran Kelvington (accommodating to Christians and Jews, but not to Natives or Muslims) – [email protected]

Melissa Rios
RO Western
Regional Office
7338 shoreline Drive
Stockton, CA 95219
[email protected]
Phone: 209-956-9700

Michael Carvajal
BOP Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St., NW
Washington, DC 20534
[email protected]
[email protected]
Phone: 202-307-3198


Sample email/letter:

Dear _____,

It has come to my attention that Indigenous prisoners at USP Victorville are being denied their religious rights, and that their sacred sweat lodge was demolished by prison staff. On top of these gross violations, prisoners are being prevented from accessing BP-8 forms which would allow them to file a formal complaint.

Seeing as all their modes of regress have been denied, I am asking you to please do your job and ensure that those held captive at your facility are provided the religious tools and basic rights for which they are entitled.

According to the Bureau of Prisons website, “Chaplaincy Services Branch ensures the Constitutional religious rights of inmates.” This is obviously not the case at USP Victorville, where Chaplains Northway and Kelvington continually infringe upon the religious rights of Native and Indigenous people held at the prison. Furthermore, counselor Villanueva has withheld BP-8 forms from said prisoners, not coming around the unit in order to prevent them from filing a formal complaint about these blatant religious rights violations.

As confirmed in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), these basic rights must be respected and adhered to.

I ask you to immediately grant these three demands and enable Native prisoners held within your facility to practice their religious rights.

  1. Immediately provide proper materials so that the prisoners themselves can rebuild the sweat lodge destroyed by prison officials. The energy involved in the process of rebuilding has significance for Indigenous religious purposes, so the work should and must be done by them. Materials needed to rebuild the sweat lodge include willows, rocks, and untreated firewood (as it is illegal to burn treated construction wood in the State of California).
  2. Ensure prison staff are properly trained on what they can and cannot do in regards to Native/Indigenous religious ceremonies.
  3. That prisoners be given immediate access to BP-8 forms so they can file a formal complaint.

Sincerely,

Sample phone script:

Hi _____, my name is ____, and I’m calling on behalf of the Indigenous and Native prisoners held at USP Victorville. It has come to my attention that they are being denied their religious rights, and that their sacred sweat lodge was demolished by prison staff. On top of these gross violations, prisoners are also being prevented from accessing BP-8 forms which allow them to file a formal complaint.

Seeing as all their modes of regress have been denied, I am asking you to please do your job and ensure that those held captive at your facility are provided the religious tools and basic rights for which they are entitled.

According to the Bureau of Prisons website, “Chaplaincy Services Branch ensures the Constitutional religious rights of inmates.” This is obviously not the case at USP Victorville, where Chaplains Northway and Kelvington continually infringe upon the religious rights of Native and Indigenous people held at the prison. Furthermore, counselor Villanueva has withheld BP-8 forms from said prisoners, not coming around the unit in order to prevent them from filing a formal complaint about these blatant religious rights violations.

As confirmed in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), these basic rights must be respected and adhered to.

I ask you to immediately grant these three demands and enable Native prisoners held within your facility to practice their religious rights.

  1. Immediately provide proper materials so that the prisoners themselves can rebuild the sweat lodge destroyed by prison officials. The energy involved in the process of rebuilding has significance for Indigenous religious purposes, so the work should and must be done by them. Materials needed to rebuild the sweat lodge include willows, rocks, and untreated firewood (as it is illegal to burn treated construction wood in the State of California).
  2. Ensure prison staff are properly trained on what they can and cannot do in regards to Native/Indigenous religious ceremonies.
  3. That prisoners be given immediate access to BP-8 forms so they can file a formal complaint.

Sincerely,


Write to Oso Blanco at:

Byron Chubbuck #07909-051
USP Victorville
P.O. Box 3900
Adelanto, CA 92301

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Source: Itsgoingdown.org