United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect

Mule Creek Facts

Facts in Chronological Order

June 2002

    ~    Cayenne testifies before the Senate Rules Committee.  A list of grievances are submitted during the Warden Hearing for Michael Knowles.  The list of grievances are posted here: 


    ~    Official comments were posted to the record after the meeting by Nettie Sabelhaus because Sen. Ross Johnson was so rude to Cayenne that the Register wrote about it. 

    ~    The media and the entire legislature received hearing comments before the hearing via e-mail.  Cayenne's son, Eric Knapp, submits the same list via mail.  The food and laundry contamination on B yard, Mule Creek State Prison, was included here and has been brought to attention of everyone repeatedly over the course of many years.  The problem is ignored and nothing is ever done. 

    ~    Warden Michael Knowles is present at this meeting and hears the testimony.  The comments are listed here. Click on "Warden Hearings." 


    ~     Individual inmate medical complaints were also submitted. 

    ~    Cayenne was directed by Senator Burton of the Senate Rules Committee to a Mr. Robert Presley.  Presley was described by Burton as "the person who can fix it." 

June 2002 to the present:

    ~    Cayenne had several meetings with Robert Presley.  Alameida and Hurdle were present at one meeting. 

    ~    Seeing no results, Cayenne encouraged UNION members to telephone and e-mail Presley directly with their concerns. 

    ~    Presley called a statewide Warden's Meeting on November 19, 2002, and passed out our grievance letter located here: 


    ~    After this point, Presley cut all communication with and did not bother to respond to my attempts to contact him.  UNION families decide to protest this indifference and outright callousness. 

    ~    Presley continues to ignore the situation.  He does not bother to reply to our letter. 

    ~    87 Mule Creek inmates present a list of complaints.  This has been posted at our UNION website for months. 


January 7, 2003

    ~    Food intended for Facility B contaminated with pubic hair and reported by MAC Chairman, David Bristow, as well as the Vice-Chairman to Sgt. Gentile who stated it was "only pubic hair discovered in the food this time." 

    ~    Cayenne's son, Eric Knapp, wrote out a CDC appeal for the MAC Chairman to submit on behalf of the Facility B population requesting transfer of the main kitchen to either A or B Facility or to designate C yards as strictly sensitive needs and reassign the inmates there. 

    ~    In fact, there has been multiple foreign objects including urine, feces, ground up glass, saliva, semen, and cleansers found in the food prepared for these men for many years. 

    ~    The spread of disease presents a serious health hazard not only to the inmates, but to their loved ones who visit, and to the guards themselves, not to mention the fact that many inmates are eventually released back into the community—frequently much sicker than when they went in. 

January 11

    ~         A second recent food contamination is reported. This time broken pieces of razor blades are found and at least one prisoner bit into and swallowed something foreign. 

    ~        We have reason to believe that inmate Byrd and inmate Ramoz required medical care for removal of razor blades.  Inmate Ramoz was kept in the hole and then, we believe, transferred to Vacaville to keep him from discussing his surgery with other inmates (and hence to the media by way of information sent to their families in phone calls and letters).  Sources say Ramoz had pieces of razor blade removed from his rectum sometime after January 11. 

    ~        At least four (4) pieces of razor blade were discovered in the "chicken ala king." 

    ~        The MAC Chairman, David Bristow, and the Vice Chairman notified prison staff. 

    ~        Lt. Gutierrez allowed feeding to continue for at least one full housing unit (10 Block, the E.O.P. building) which houses prisoners receiving psychiatric care even after the razor blade pieces were found. 

    ~        Lt. Gutierrez threatened David Bristow with disciplinary action after he informed prisoners entering the dining facility that pieces of razor blade had been discovered in the entree.  After a long delay, a substitute entree was served. 

    ~        Around this date, a prisoner bit into a sizable piece of what prison officials later called a "rock."  This foreign object was embedded in the food. In fact, it was not a "rock" but a sizable piece of glass.  This evidence was promptly stolen and disappeared. 

    ~        Eric Knapp wrote a CDC appeal for the MAC Chairman, David Bristow.  This appeal was seized by Captain Warren. 

January 13

    ~        The MCSP Security & Investigations Unit ransacked the cell of my son who wrote up the appeal, as well as the cells of the MAC Chairman and Vice Chairman.  While this was going on, they were told they could not enter their cells. 

    ~        Eric's legal papers were stolen and destroyed as well as typewriter ribbons in an attempt to keep him from contacting outside sources, his mother, legislators, the media, as well as higher CDC officials. 

    ~        Eric Knapp's cell was ransacked in this way four (4) times in twenty-two days. 

    ~        David Bristow was thrown into the hole on Jan. 13 in his underwear in freezing temperatures. He has been there for more than four weeks.  He has been written up for alerting others of the danger and for "inciting a riot."  He has been told he will not be released until he signs a "confession" stating that he was the one who planted the razor blades.  He has been threatened with the addition of 12 points to his record if he does not comply.  He is under- going psychological torture in order to obtain a false confession. 

    ~        The inmates are boycotting the evening meal because they are afraid to eat and they are very hungry.  This is a potentially explosive situation. 

    ~        UNION family members get word into loved ones not to riot, not to go on hunger strikes but to document everything and to actively send us other families and friends to help fight for them on the outside to expose this abuse and neglect and subsequent COVER UP.  They are urged to work towards peaceful change. 

    ~        Family members and friends begin bombardment of e-mails, letters and phone calls to the media, to Warden Knowles, to Robert Presley who is in charge of jails and prisons in California, and to others to let them know what is happening. 

    ~        The Center for Disease Control is contacted as well as the National Commission on Correctional Health Care by dozens of outraged families. 

January 14

    ~        Warden Michael Knowles lies to the family counsel when he states that he has the "culprits" locked up and there have been no further contaminations.  David Bristow's mother, Mary Bristow, sits on that council and was aghast when he made this announcement. 

    ~        About this time it is learned that inmate Ramoz had, in fact, been injured by ingesting razor blades.  It is learned that he is isolated in the prison infirmary, but he is stable. 

    ~        Ramoz is released back into the prison population with the warning that he is not to talk about his injury.  He talks to others and is immediately disciplined by being put back in the hole. 

    ~        The prisoners learn that Ramoz is now on "suicide watch" -- a convenient way to keep him from talking to others.  He then disappears and is believed swiftly transferred to Vacaville in an attempt to keep him silent. 

January 15

    ~        A man of about 70 named Weaver found a piece of metal wire in his mouth that had been shaped into a hook and was embedded in the meat of the stew entree on his tray.  (This was after Bristow had been thrown into the hole and Ramoz had been taken to the infirmary). 

    ~        Although the piece of metal was reported and shown to Sgt. Gentile, Lt. Ethered and Captain Warren, the entree continued to be served to approximately 800 more prisoners after Weaver was offered extra food and sack lunches. 

    ~        A fourth incident of contamination occurred with tab tops from beverage cans around this time but the exact date is not known.  The metal wire hook and the tab tops were found after Ramoz and Bristow were removed from the group, so it is clear the "culprits" were not identified and that the danger was still imminent. 

January 18

        ~    In daily calls to action, UNION Newsletters reporting events at Mule Creek, as well as flyers, are mailed in to the prisoners alerting them to  a protest on March 13 at the State Capitol. 

January 22

        ~    In a phone call to Warden Knowles a UNION member was told that he was not taking calls regarding the food situation at his facility but that they could put the call through to the prison counseling office. 

       ~     Upon speaking to the counselor she was told that the food problem was "none of her business."  When asked if he was a Christian he said, "No.  That was your first mistake.  I am not."  In a voice filled with contempt he said, "I feel sorry for you because you ARE a Christian."  When asked to identify himself he hung up on the caller. 

January 23

    ~        UNION phone call bombardments continue with demands that David Bristow and Ramoz be released from isolation and to stop punishing inmates for being "whistleblowers." 

    ~        UNION receives reports from other family members about food contaminations, toxic conditions and retribution against other MAC committee members statewide. 

    ~        Ron Barnes who is handling Mule Creek complaints for Presley states to callers that "the prisoners are not afraid to eat."  Our sources say otherwise. 

    ~        A legislative rep. informs us that Michael Knowles has instituted a new procedure to "fool" the inmates on yard C so that they won't know during preparation whether the food is for C yard or B yard. 

    ~        UNION families reject this idea as an unsatisfactory solution to a serious health problem as inmates in yard C know which food is going where as soon as food is placed on the carts. 

    ~        Knowles begins threatening David Bristow with a transfer from the high security yard where he is MAC Chairman if he doesn't take the blame. David refuses. 

    ~        Knowles threatens other inmates to keep quiet or face transfer far away from family members who come to visit. 

    ~        Warden Knowles puts Eric Reyes in charge of taking phone calls from UNION families and friends and other cooperating groups.  He has a script to read to the media claiming that Ramoz and Bristow are the "culprits" and that all other food contaminations have never happened. 

    ~        Cayenne has been receiving reports of contamination from other prisoners for many years.  David Bristow was not even on B yard when many of the reports first came in. 

    ~        The media is told that the prison has bought new locks for the food carts.  They have also been told that they have taken the MAC Chairman to the C yard to view the kitchen. 

      ~      They claim that feeding is back to normal but our sources say the men are still afraid to eat. 

    ~        UNION rejects the claim that the CDC has an "investigation pending."  We have heard these kinds of words before and believe that the California Department of Corrections is unable to "correct" itself. 

January 24

    ~        CDC Ombudsman, Ken Hurdle, sends UNION Director, B. Cayenne Bird, an e-mail stating that CDC is staffed with "certified nutritionists who prepare and are responsible for the daily menus." 

    ~        As a result of inquiries, she is told that the CDC will investigate and review the matter. 

    ~        Also, on "one occasion staff was made aware of hair in the food and on another occasion a rock was found in a serving of beans (this could happen in one of your better restaurants)." 

    ~        UNION rejects this statement as untrue.  In the first instance, the "rock" found was a piece of glass.  In the second place, there is no comparison between prison food and one of our "better restaurants."  This statement is blatantly false and should be met with derision. 

       ~      Many times what is printed on the menu is quite different from what the inmates actually receive. Prison food is notorious for being poorly prepared with most vitamins boiled out of the vegetables and poured down the drain. Taking into account menu changes, which are understandable, the "heart healthy," diet touted by CDC as superior fare, leaves the men hungry and UNION families believe this method is being used as a way to cut down on food portions in order to help balance the state budget. 

      ~      In fact, the food budget for prisoners in our state has not been increased in more than fourteen (14) years.  At present prisoners are fed on $2.45 per inmate per day and there are reports throughout the entire system that portions are continuing to be reduced at one or more meals each day.  There is even discussion of skipping some meals completely as a way to cut costs. 

    ~        Hurdle states further that "early indications revealed that recently discovered pieces of razor blades in the food were the act of two individual inmates and measures were taken to correct the problem." 

      ~      In fact, we now know that the measures taken were to hide the truth and to attempt to force false confessions out of inmates who did the responsible thing by alerting others both inside and outside the prison. 

January 30

    ~         UNION family members mail in newsletters to loved ones regarding the health crisis taking place in CA prisons and elsewhere using the newly published report by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. 

    ~        Another report surfaces of further contamination. Inmate Byrd had to be rushed to Manteca Hospital to have a razor blade piece removed from his colon.  He is either in the hospital or in the hole to keep him from talking to others. 

    ~        UNION knew of four people originally in the hole or in isolation as a result of this matter.  This person makes a fifth.  Two have been released but Ramoz and Bristow remain in the hole. 

    ~        UNION learns that the health department has no jurisdiction except over TWO prisons that are licensed as hospitals.  There is no watchdog health enforcement agency and conditions are dangerous. Some months ago an inmate on Facility C was caught urinating in the Jell-O designated for Facility B. 

    ~       See below the following details and testimony by frantic family members. 


    ~        Mary Bristow reports the Warden told David that he got someone to file an 812 (enemy report) against him so he is never going back to the B yard where he belongs. 

    ~        Later it is learned the Warden has gotten six (6) inmates to file an 812 (enemy report) against David.  David is very loved by all the prisoners at Mule Creek.  That is how he got to be MAC Chairman.  He has no enemies there. 

    ~        Another Mule Creek Mom reports that Mule Creek has been in continual lockdown.  Tempers are flaring.  The Warden is threatening to take away privileges such as items from Walkenhorst, quarterly packages from their families, cigarettes and they are telling blatant lies -- that Bristow and Ramoz are to blame for the lockdown and not anyone from yard C. 

      ~      It is common knowledge among the prisoners and among prison staff that inmates in yard C (where the food is prepared) detest inmates in yard B, who have sensitive needs. 

       ~     This mother also states that "conditions have been reported as bad from Mule Creek for some time with one thing after another -- laundry ripped off from B yard and then coming back from C yard with holes, cuts, stains and with a strong stench of urine.  The food is just an incident in a long string of many . . . " 

February 2

    ~        Mary Bristow reports: "Received another letter from David informing me both Wardens visited him telling him they were going to give him another week in the hole to write a written confession of his guilt.  He is not going to say something he didn't do and there will be no confession . . . and if they don't get what they want they will ship him out far enough away that his elderly mother and 4 children will not be able to make the trip to see him." 

      ~      She also reports:  "David found out that Ramoz has been shipped out to a prison in Vacaville for mental patients probably to keep him quiet..." 

February 11

     ~       The Orange County Register runs an editorial on California prisons and mentions the brewing food contamination crisis at Mule Creek. 

    ~        Eric Knapp is handcuffed and marched across C yard in full view of the other inmates in his underwear as an example to the rest of the men. He is taken to the hole. 

    ~        Eric's wife notifies his mother and our UNION family that Eric is in the hospital and she is not allowed to speak to him. 

    ~        As no one is allowed to see Eric or speak to him, it is not known whether he has been secretly beaten by the guards out of the sight of witnesses.  It is a common practice in California prisons to beat "whistleblowers" and to then continue to hold the inmate in the hole while the bruises heal. 

February 14

    ~        Cayenne receives a letter/journal from her son dated through February 10 which describes his treatment prior to being handcuffed and marched to the hole. 

      ~      At that point he states his cell had been ransacked 3 times in 20 days with his legal papers and typewriter ribbons destroyed. 

     ~       UNION Newsletters were confiscated as contraband. 

      ~      He is not allowed to post flyers of the March 13th UNION family member protest at the State Capitol on the prisoner bulletin board.  Guards remove the items he has already posted. 

      ~      The prison is in total lockdown as prison officials not only shut down and lock up men but attempt to shut down and lock up information between the prisoners and the outside world as part of the continuing COVER UP. 

      ~      Eric's state issued jacket is taken from him by a female guard.  He is then forced to stand outside in wet, 32 degree temperatures for several hours. Prison guards wearing warm jackets watch and laugh at him as he shivers in the cold. 

       ~     Eric makes a special written request, "Mom, no matter what happens, do not stop sending in UNION Newsletters." 

    ~        Officials at the prison let it be known to other inmates that "Eric had to be taken down and is in 5 point restraints."  (This means he was placed on a table and his neck, arms and legs have been tightly strapped down.  He is immobile.) 

    ~        5 point restraints are considered by International Law to be a severe form of punishment -- a form of torture.  It is not kknown how long Eric has been strapped down as no one is allowed to see him. 

    ~        Cayenne talks to a prison representative who tells her that Eric has been taken out of 5 
            point restraints and is "sedated and now eating."  She is informed that he is in the prison hospital. 

    ~        Matt Gray from Senator Vasconcellos office and Ken Hurdle, CDC Ombudsman, attempt to visit Eric and are turned away on "doctor's orders." Matt asks for at least a quick peek to see if Eric is OK.  He is told no -- this will disturb the healing of other prisoners. 

February 15

    ~         Day 5 and counting.  Cayenne is denied information on Eric's true condition. 

    ~        Later in the day she learns that Eric has been badly beaten by the guards.  This is why no one can see him.  He has been sedated with Thorazine which is bad news as this drug can immobilize the patient and cause them to speak, if at all, in an incoherent fashion.  It is feared that Eric is being readied for a transfer to a prison mental hospital in order to hide the truth. 

I also have a letter from another inmate expecting retaliation, his mother is a member of the UNION and a copy of a lawsuit filed by a Mule Creek inmate over the food contamination, which is an indicator that he will also be punished shortly. 

July 2004

Cayenne: Mule Creek is on modified program at this time.  All the triple bunks from A Yard gym are being placed in the dayrooms of Building 6, 7 and 8.  Every inmate has been moved out of A gym (which was a level 3) and moved someplace else.  If an inmate has less than a year to do they are being placed in a bunk on the dayroom floor. 

This leaves the inmates in regular cells locked down as there is no place for them to go when they get out of the cell.  Unless you have a tv you have lost your TV privileges because there is no dayroom anymore for these buildings.  Evidently they expect it to last a year under these circumstances. 

The A gym is being used to house all the inmates being moved in from LA County.  There is no classification level.  It is thought to be a Level 4 which is illegal....but who cares.  Level 4 inmates cannot be celled that way but CDC does as they please.  Until we can learn the classification of A Yard Gym we cannot prove anything. 

Things are getting worse and worse for inmates and families Cayenne, but you have been predicting this since I have known you. 


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