California: Prison guards formed a gang

California: Prison guards formed a gang
Contra Costa Times  | Oct 13, 2009 | Don Thompson

AX079460

SACRAMENTO – Guards at a California state prison formed their own gang-like organization, inventing hand signals and codes to telegraph their membership to inmates and other officers, state investigators concluded in a confidential report this month.

The Office of Inspector General found that a group of correctional officers at Salinas Valley State Prison near Soledad formed an alliance in 1999 that they called the “Green Wall,” after the color of their uniforms.

“Numerous incidents” involving the group took place over the next two years, including the vandalizing of prison property with markings of “GW” and “7/23,” which stood for the seventh (G) and 23rd (W) letters of the alphabet.

The Green Wall logo was taped to a control room window: a pair of dice, an upside-down horseshoe with the numbers 7 and 23, and the satanic symbol “666.”

Members developed a hand signal — fingers folded into the shape of a W — to “represent” their alliance to inmates and other employees, a whistleblower testified to a joint state Senate committee hearing last week.

The prison’s own internal investigators smuggled into the prison a green-handled knife engraved with “7/23” as a promotion gift for a sergeant, according to the report obtained by the Associated Press.

The report is sharply critical of Warden Anthony LaMarque, who took command in March 2000 and remains the warden there.

LaMarque had a special relationship with several members of the prison’s internal affairs unit, the report found: He ignored reports that they might be involved in the Green Wall, and refused to transfer them during an investigation of allegations that they used excessive force against inmates and engaged in other misconduct.

LaMarque was “evasive” when he was questioned about the Green Wall, and falsely said the Monterey County district attorney was probing the organization, the report said. It said he admitted knowing about the organization, but did not try to find out what it was or who belonged.

The warden “wouldn’t be able to comment because it’s pending litigation right now,” said prison spokesman Lt. Eloy Medina.

The Jan. 5 report was sent to the California Department of Corrections for “appropriate action,” but department spokesman Bob Martinez said he could not comment because the report is supposed to be confidential.

Other problems in the prison system recently have come to light.

Last month, the Times published The Uncivil Servants series, reporting that the Corrections Department loses more than 40 percent of disciplinary cases.

And in hearings before the state Senate last week in which the investigation was cited, witnesses testified that the state’s prison system is “rotten,” unable to reform itself, punishes employees who report corruption, is greatly susceptible to union pressure and is on the verge of a federal takeover.

Former internal affairs officer Donald J. Vodicka, a hulking man with a shaved head, was so frightened after he blew the whistle on the Green Wall that he wore a bulletproof vest and repeatedly burst into tears while testifying before the joint Senate hearing last week.

Vodicka sued the state and corrections officials in September for allegedly violating his whistleblower rights by retaliating against him with a demotion, defamation, and infliction of emotional distress. He is currently on a medical disability leave.

He alleged members of the Green Wall employed a “code of silence” to hide activities including roughing up inmates after several guards were injured on Thanksgiving Day 1998. The organization grew out of that event, with green-attired members eventually throwing parties featuring green beer on the 7th and 23rd days of the month.

The inspector general was unable to verify claims that members of the Green Wall set up inmates for assaults, vandalized cars of fellow employees who were not members, or intimidated other staff members.

Department spokesman Martinez said new Youth and Adult Correctional Secretary Roderick Hickman, in testimony to the Senate committees, “made it very, very clear this is something he’s pledged to deal with, to confront in a relentless way, and to get rid of.”

10 Comments for “California: Prison guards formed a gang”

  1. I see this article ran again “California Prison Guards formed a Gang” On October 13, 2009, By Don Thompson.

    I just recently published the book that tells all about “The Green Wall.”

    It can be viewed and purchased from my website and other outlets like barnesnoble.com and amazon.com

    It has factual information and evidence that the “Green Wall” existed.

    Hopefully you can post teh book on your website?

    Thanks for your time.

    DJ VOd#$kA

    • retired

      I had to retire from the state after blowing the whistle, I was at Salinas Valley at one time, I do believe the green wall exist, I know by experience! had to testify in court and endure all the threats to my safety! I do know what you experience is true, I witness negative comments and threats against you after you had left the system. The Green Wall, code of silence will always exist and getting worse!

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  4. HI, THIS IS URGENT. DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO PROTEST. OR FIGHT A 130 GIVEN BY PRISON OFFICIAL, AND IT IS WRITTEN WITH LIES AND ERRORS? THEY ARE MOVING MY SON ON WHAT ANOTHER INMATE SAID. THEY MADE A JUDGMENT, AND RACIAL CALL. THANKS FOR ANYONE WHO KNOWS. THIS WHOLE PRISON STAFF MOST ANYWAY, ARE CRIME RIDDEN. WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR U S A… WE FIGHT FOR FOREIGN PRISONERS AND kERS. YES. GANGS IN PRISONS ARE A FARCE. NO ONE IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER. YOU NEED TO STOP AND GET ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY FOR FORGIVENESS FOR HATE AND VIOLENCE. HOW DID YOU GET THERE IF YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER. YES, MOSTLY PRISON OFFICIALS MAKE YOU FEEL TOP DOG. BLACKS HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO HELP AND GET ALONG WITH REALITY AND PEACE. IF CULTURES CANNOT GET ALONE, THEN ALL HISPANICS SHOULD BE CARTED TO MEXICO, JUST A SHORT TRIP. ALL MEN OF DARK SKIN SHOULD BE PLACED WITH OTHER CULTURES WHO ARE NOT RACIST. AND ALL OTHER CULTURES THAT ARE RACIST SHOULD BE CARTED TO THEIR LANDS. OR ALL JUST PUT IN SEPARATE BUILDINGS. WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR OFFICIALS TO VALIDIFY. MY SON WAS NOT BROUGHT UP TO HATE, AND TREAT WITH RESPECT AS AND IF HE IS. YOU GUYS IN PRISONS AND OUT WHO THINK YOU ARE GREAT CULTURES BY BEING A GANG BANGER OR k-ingG AND VISCIOUS CRIMES, YOU SHOULD BE CHARGED UNDER THE THREE STRIKES LAWS WHILE STILL IN PRISON, OR AS YOU GO IN. GOD MADE ALL OF US. WHEN AND WHERE DID HE TELL ANY INDIVIDUAL THAT YOU ARE THE GREATEST, AND THAT YOU WILL SURVIVE WHAT YOU PRACTICE. YOU ARE ALL GOING TO HELL, AND OR YOUR FAMILIES OF SOME SORT, WILL SUFER DUE TO YOUR BEHAVIOR. THIS IS FOR ANYONE THAT FEELS THIS WAY ABOUT ANOTHER. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIKE ANYONE, JUST KEEP TO YOUR OWN. BLACKS DID NOT TAKE CALIFORNIA OR ANYTHING ELSE FROM YOU. LOOK AROUND. WHO YOU ARE RUBBING ELBOWS WITH. YOU ARE smart TO FEEL SO CONFIDENT. MY BEST FRIEND IS MEXICAN, AND WE ARE CLOSE AS SISTERS, BECAUSE HER POISONED MIND HAS SEEN THAT WE ALL WANT PEACE AND HAPPINESS AND FORTUNE. NOW HER MOM AND DAD HAVE SEEN IT TO. JUST BECAUSE I LET THEM KNOW IN VARIOUS WAYS, I DO NOT CARE WHO THEY ARE IN CULTURE. I LOVE THAT FAMILY AS THEY LOVE ME. EASTER SUNDAY SHOULD BE A BLESSING THAT YOUR ASSES ARE STILL BREATHING. YOU WEAR CROSSES AND ALL, BUT THAT IS SINFUL, AND YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR SINS AND OTHERS. GOD IS KING. GOD IS KING…ONLY GOD.

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  8. The Gypsy Council

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