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Old 07-23-2003, 11:04 PM
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Default What Is The Pelican Bay SHU? Part 1,2 & 3

I have merged the three writings on isolation into one so that they are easier to follow.
Pelican Bay S.H.U. what is it? Pelican Bay is an area outside of Crescent City in Northern California. S.H.U. means Security Housing Unit; really S.H.U. is just the modern politically correct way to say the HOLE. We’re out of our cells for Ĺ hour a day, we get to spend our out time in what is called “The Yard” But in reality the yard is a concrete enclosure, it measures 25 ft by 10 ft & the walls are solid concrete 30 ft high. A steel mesh screen & Plexiglas cover it. There’s absolutely nothing on the yard accept 4 gray concrete walls & a pinch of blue sky on a lucky day. So “The Yard” isn’t a yard it’s simply another stark gray cell. The truth is we’re locked in a windowless cell 24 hours a day. The state calls it a yard & lets us go to it everyday so they can claim we’re let out to “The Yard” & only kept in a cell 23 Ĺ hours a day. I’m sure that sounds better to the public. We’re never let out around other people it’s the HOLE just like you see on TV only cleaner & better lit.
Why are we sent here? The state claims we’re members of prison gangs.
How long are we kept here? Until we die, become a snitch or are paroled
Some might think it makes sense to isolate men with a gang type mentality, but when the policy is examined it’s clearly flawed. I only hope to point out a few really obvious flaws. First prison is full of people who’ve grown up in gangs so 90% of all the people in prison have a predisposition to a gang mentality. So no matter how many people they place in the S.H.U. today, tomorrow there will always be someone new to take their place.
The policy serves no point; all that it does is remove older, calmer & wiser men from the general population. The only result is the younger more excitable & less experienced men are left to run wild. Let me ask you this, how many of you know men who were wild as hell & unpredictable while in their 20’s & early 30’s but settled down in their 40’s and 50’s? Really that’s how most men are. I wonder what the world would be like if it were governed by aggressive 20 something males. I bet it would be a far more dangerous place! Just as you would expect the California prison system is far more violent today than when it initiated this program. If you don’t believe me just look at the numbers that the guards union just used to blackmail the lawmakers into not cutting their budget. I wonder why the prison system would initiate a program that would obviously raise the violence level, I’m sure it wouldn’t have anything to do with budget blackmail. It’ sure is odd that the guards union is the only state agency who’s budget was not cut AT ALL.

Another obvious problem is in the process thy use to identify alleged members. To be classified, as a prison gang member all that needs to happen is 3 informants tell the guards that you’re a member & that’s it off to the S.H.U. you go. That process might seem reasonable to you, but there is no time frame on these 3 informants. The information can come from any of California’s 30 prisons. How it works is anytime a name is given it goes into a huge statewide computer list, when your name comes up 3 times that’s it. That is not the bad part, these 3 informants don’t have to accuse you of conspiring with or participating in any actual gang activity and it’s NOT necessary that they’ve ever met you. So 3 informants you’ve never met or whom just don’t like you can simply say you’re a member and that’s it your off to the S.H.U. Keep in mind that these 3 pieces of information can come in over ANY number of years. The 3 pieces of information used against me came in over a 10-year span.

By now most people will be seeing a couple big flaws in this system but I’ve saved the biggest flaw for last. The only way for someone to get out of the S.H.U. is to debrief. Debrief simply means to supply the state with a list of names who the informant claims are members. Well if you’ll agree that the system is flawed then you know lots of innocent guys end up in the S.H.U. I need to point out that the policy in question is 20 years old so very few prisoners have ever even met a member. These innocent guys don’t know anything about the gangs but if they want out of isolation the “S.H.U” then they have to make up a list of names. At which time they repeat a few old prison rumors, give the names of people they don’t like, and those they think the state will believe might actually be members. Now consider the size of the California prison system there’s well over 150,00 prisoners and over 30 prisons. Now imagine how the flaws of this policy would cause a now ball effect. Well like I’ve pointed out this policy is 20 years old and now there’s hundreds of men in the S.H.U. who’s only –in prison- crime is being too honorable to participate in the debriefing program. So we sit in isolation year in and year out. Personally I’ve been sitting for 11 years but I know men who’ve been sitting for 20 years.
I will continue this synopsis on the S.H.U. with what isolation does to you.

Part 2 Isolation
This next part is hard to put into words so please bear with me, lets go back to the walk to the store. I would equate reading a new book to your main train of thought regarding what to buy at the store. What is missing is all of the background information. Historically being good at processing the background information is related to survival, hunting, protection even foraging. So it’s a strong and well-evolved sense. Processing that type of information supplies a constant source of fresh information. Even if you walk to the same sore over and over there will always be new sights, sounds and smells along with you main train of thought. The average person living the average life in the free world will be processing huge sums of information all day long, even though you don’t realize it. Now when that information is severely restricted the mind kind of goes haywire and in a way it begins to starve. To explain this I need to go off subject for a few lines. If a person goes on a diet and restricts their caloric intake the body will adjust but there will be side effects. You’ll crave food, you’ll feel weak you’ll even have some other physical problems. Your body will learn to conserve each calorie. That is why people who yo yo diet gain weight so fast. They diet and teach their body to conserve, when they eat a normal meal and their bodies goes crazy and stores it all. They gain a little weight, go on another diet, learn to conserve, then eat normally and again their bodies seizes every extra calorie. Keep in mind while on a diet the body is basically eating itself and will eat itself to death if starved for too long. Well the mind is like the body in a few ways. When you restrict the information intake you will crave information, a lot of people grow weak, the mind learns to conserve information and even eat itself. As I hope to soon show.

Here is where my lack of schooling and vocabulary really hurts my attempt at writing this. When the brain is restricted it begins to starve. It responds in many ways but the simplest for me to write about are as follows. It begins to live in the past and to exaggerate all new and even old information. The mind is eating off of old information but like the painting or the poem it can only stimulate for so long. Then the mind begins to conserve, let me give you a short example. A few days ago my neighbor got to go for a short walk outside. It was about 150 yards, when he go back he spent quite awhile talking about how beautiful the day was, how he could hear the birds, the sky was blue he could see the trees, he could smell the slight scent of earlier rain and chimney smoke. There are 10 people in my building and he told us each about it one at a time even though we could all hear him each time he told it. Clearly he was reliving it all over and over milking each drop of information from that beautiful blue sky. Non of us minded him repeating himself because we all understood what he was doing. Our minds learn to make the most out of every little detail. We begin to exaggerate each piece of information. I’ll give an example, lets say a guy gets a letter from home and it contains some little family problem. This presents him with something new to think about and to try to find a solution for. The mind really gets off on solving problems, I guess the brain uses a bunch of power figuring out problems. So our mind will keep going over this new information and exaggerate it to justify the amount of energy it spends on what is really not such a big problem. After a few days of thinking it over we will turn the small problem into a crises. I realize that some people in the free world also do that but the reason is somewhat different. They usually do it due to feeling as if they have little control over their lives. Obviously as prisoners we also have that feeling but it’s compounded by what I’ve just explained.

Brain starvation and exaggeration leads to two main side effects depression and constant stress and agitation respectively. Both eat the mind in their own way. Some men become seriously depressed and their spirit is broke. Some men exaggerate everything to the point where they stress themselves out, enough stress and most things break. I t doesn’t matter if the stress is justified or just a bunch of little thins that don’t really matter. If the brain exaggerates them then they’re real to the exaggerator. An example, have you ever been home alone late at night and heard a noise, you get all excited looking for the intruder and convince yourself that that little noise was really proof that someone is in you home. You search and find nothing, well the stress you felt is the same whether or not the intruder is real or just a neighborhood cat bumping into something on your porch. I’ve explained why the restricted brain responds as it does but another way to explain it might be to say humans crave any form of excitement so when all forms of excitement are restricted the mind begins to die causing depression or the mind begins to stress itself out as a means of creating the illusion of excitement. So why do some men deal with stimulus restriction better than others? We find a middle ground we conserve and exaggerate after all we are human. We find thins to think about that are healthy. I’ve found that creating anything new be it a drawing, poem or legal brief… all take a huge amount of brain power and create a healthy type of excitement. Come to think about it all of the healthy people I know who are living in the S.H.U. are all very creative. Personally I draw, write letters such as this and for years I’ve been trying to build a company that sells greeting cards that display the art of prisoners. I stay pretty busy and I am about as healthy as the next guy assuming he’s not too crazy

Part 3
IF the goal of the S.H.U. is to break our will and spirit I guess it’s been a successful venture for the state because over time most men break. There will always be men who will never break, men who can find that middle ground men who survive. I hope we drive the system and their mad doctors all insane.

The question that should be asked is what good has come from the use of these S.H.U.’s. Is there less violence or crimes of any kind taking place in the general population prisons? NO and in fact the prison administration has been claiming a rise in most all prison crimes, even though they’ve been using indeterminate SHU programs for over 20 years. Nothing has changed except the names and faces of those living in general population.

What happens to the people who are broke by these SHU’s? Do they get out of prison and become honest members of society? Hell no they don’t! They get out and commit the same types of crimes they always have. The only difference is now since they have already become prison snitches they find it very easy to snitch on their friends in the free world. So really all these SHU’s have done is create thousands and thousands of snitches. The only difference in prison crimes today is now you’re more likely to get snitched on. The fear of being snitched on isn’t stopping any crime at all.

So what is the point of these places? At the end of the day all that is actually happening is they are creating thousands of mentally unstable snitches. Giving men who refuse to debrief the opportunity to prove that there is still such a thing as honor among prisoners. Be we few but be we PROUD!

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2003, 11:31 PM
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Very well written Barb,I wonder if Steven has returned there yet. Love Val
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Old 07-24-2003, 09:08 AM
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Barbara this was so well written and I think Richard needs to know that we all say thank you, it really made me sad.
Because I am British and my only connection with the US is my fiancť who is, as you know in the same place as Richard I always felt it was not my place to grumble about US Justice but listening to what my fiancť and Richard say about Pelican Bay SHU it makes me so angry and of course so sad.
Iím sure Richard is like my fiancť in the fact that he never grumbles and although he knows its injustice he still gets on with it and never makes a fuss, me on the other hand wants to commit physical pain on the COís when I go visit.

Please please tell Richard thanks Barbara, I will ask my fiancť if he knows him:-)
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Old 07-24-2003, 09:33 AM
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Thanks BARB! I just got another Card from Richard and a Letter. I haven't written back but will! I will also copy this post and send it off to a few other Inmates.

PELICAN BAY SHU SUCKS and we NEED TO CHANGE THIS TYPE OF LOCK UP!

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Old 07-26-2003, 06:43 AM
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Barbara this is so informative. I am waiting on the next segment. My son is also in the S.H.U. at Pelican Bay.
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Old 07-26-2003, 02:55 PM
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Thanks for the Info Barb!
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Old 07-26-2003, 11:23 PM
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Default Isolation- The S. H. U. Part 2 from an inmates view

Isolation
This next part is hard to put into words so please bear with me, lets go back to the walk to the store. I would equate reading a new book to your main train of thought regarding what to buy at the store. What is missing is all of the background information. Historically being good at processing the background information is related to survival, hunting, protection even foraging. So itís a strong and well-evolved sense. Processing that type of information supplies a constant source of fresh information. Even if you walk to the same sore over and over there will always be new sights, sounds and smells along with you main train of thought. The average person living the average life in the free world will be processing huge sums of information all day long, even though you donít realize it. Now when that information is severely restricted the mind kind of goes haywire and in a way it begins to starve. To explain this I need to go off subject for a few lines. If a person goes on a diet and restricts their caloric intake the body will adjust but there will be side effects. Youíll crave food, youíll feel weak youíll even have some other physical problems. Your body will learn to conserve each calorie. That is why people who yo yo diet gain weight so fast. They diet and teach their body to conserve, when they eat a normal meal and their bodies goes crazy and stores it all. They gain a little weight, go on another diet, learn to conserve, then eat normally and again their bodies seizes every extra calorie. Keep in mind while on a diet the body is basically eating itself and will eat itself to death if starved for too long. Well the mind is like the body in a few ways. When you restrict the information intake you will crave information, a lot of people grow weak, the mind learns to conserve information and even eat itself. As I hope to soon show.

Here is where my lack of schooling and vocabulary really hurts my attempt at writing this. When the brain is restricted it begins to starve. It responds in many ways but the simplest for me to write about are as follows. It begins to live in the past and to exaggerate all new and even old information. The mind is eating off of old information but like the painting or the poem it can only stimulate for so long. Then the mind begins to conserve, let me give you a short example. A few days ago my neighbor got to go for a short walk outside. It was about 150 yards, when he go back he spent quite awhile talking about how beautiful the day was, how he could hear the birds, the sky was blue he could see the trees, he could smell the slight scent of earlier rain and chimney smoke. There are 10 people in my building and he told us each about it one at a time even though we could all hear him each time he told it. Clearly he was reliving it all over and over milking each drop of information from that beautiful blue sky. Non of us minded him repeating himself because we all understood what he was doing. Our minds learn to make the most out of every little detail. We begin to exaggerate each piece of information. Iíll give an example, lets say a guy gets a letter from home and it contains some little family problem. This presents him with something new to think about and to try to find a solution for. The mind really gets off on solving problems, I guess the brain uses a bunch of power figuring out problems. So our mind will keep going over this new information and exaggerate it to justify the amount of energy it spends on what is really not such a big problem. After a few days of thinking it over we will turn the small problem into a crises. I realize that some people in the free world also do that but the reason is somewhat different. They usually do it due to feeling as if they have little control over their lives. Obviously as prisoners we also have that feeling but itís compounded by what Iíve just explained.

Brain starvation and exaggeration leads to two main side effects depression and constant stress and agitation respectively. Both eat the mind in their own way. Some men become seriously depressed and their spirit is broke. Some men exaggerate everything to the point where they stress themselves out, enough stress and most things break. I t doesnít matter if the stress is justified or just a bunch of little thins that donít really matter. If the brain exaggerates them then theyíre real to the exaggerator. An example, have you ever been home alone late at night and heard a noise, you get all excited looking for the intruder and convince yourself that that little noise was really proof that someone is in you home. You search and find nothing, well the stress you felt is the same whether or not the intruder is real or just a neighborhood cat bumping into something on your porch. Iíve explained why the restricted brain responds as it does but another way to explain it might be to say humans crave any form of excitement so when all forms of excitement are restricted the mind begins to die causing depression or the mind begins to stress itself out as a means of creating the illusion of excitement. So why do some men deal with stimulus restriction better than others? We find a middle ground we conserve and exaggerate after all we are human. We find thins to think about that are healthy. Iíve found that creating anything new be it a drawing, poem or legal briefÖ all take a huge amount of brain power and create a healthy type of excitement. Come to think about it all of the healthy people I know who are living in the S.H.U. are all very creative. Personally I draw, write letters such as this and for years Iíve been trying to build a company that sells greeting cards that display the art of prisoners. I stay pretty busy and I am about as healthy as the next guy assuming heís not too crazy
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Old 07-26-2003, 11:27 PM
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Default Isolation- The S. H. U. Part 3 from an inmates view

IF the goal of the S.H.U. is to break our will and spirit I guess itís been a successful venture for the state because over time most men break. There will always be men who will never break, men who can find that middle ground men who survive. I hope we drive the system and their mad doctors all insane.

The question that should be asked is what good has come from the use of these S.H.U.ís. Is there less violence or crimes of any kind taking place in the general population prisons? NO and in fact the prison administration has been claiming a rise in most all prison crimes, even though theyíve been using indeterminate SHU programs for over 20 years. Nothing has changed except the names and faces of those living in generala population.

What happens to the people who are broke by these SHUís? Do they get out of prison and become honest members of society? Hell no they donít! They get out and commit the same types of crimes they always have. The only difference is now since they have already become prison snitches they find it very easy to snitch on their friends in the free world. So really all these SHUís have done is create thousands and thousands of snitches. The only difference in prison crimes today is now youíre more likely to get snitched on. The fear of being snitched on isnít stopping any crime at all.

So what is the point of these places? At the end of the day all that is actually happening is they are creating thousands of mentally unstable snitches. Giving men who refuse to debrief the opportunity to prove that there is still such a thing as honor among prisoners. Be we few but be we PROUD!

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts

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Old 07-27-2003, 12:26 AM
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Wow Powerfull stuff! Thank you for sharing,reading that helps to somewhat understand what you guys are going through as much as someone on the outside can understand that is.
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Old 07-27-2003, 02:20 AM
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Thank you very much for writing about your experience. It gave me some clear thoughts of what you must go through.

I look forward to reading more of what you write.
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Old 07-27-2003, 03:48 AM
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Richard,

thank you for writing down your thoughts and keep them coming..

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers
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Old 07-27-2003, 08:42 PM
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Thanks for sharing this with us Barbara ... it is really insightful ... in spite of what he thinks of as limitations I think he is a wonderful writer ... he kept my interest and that's all that is important ... I look forward to more of his writings ... please pass on my thanks ...
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Old 07-27-2003, 08:42 PM
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So inteligently said!
Bravo...Barbara/Richard
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Old 08-03-2003, 08:26 AM
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Barbara thank you for getting this information to us. I have read all three parts now and this is very powerful information. I hope Richard will continue to keep us informed of life in the SHU.
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Old 08-03-2003, 09:04 AM
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Thank you Barbara and Thank you "Star"!!!!!
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Old 08-13-2003, 11:37 AM
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barbara, I will PM you. I have been typing for 20 minutes and my entire message just disappeared.
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Old 08-18-2003, 04:03 AM
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Barbara and Richard,
Thanks again although sad its such good and helpful reading.
As you know I have just come back from visiting at the SHU where Roichard is and I always leave that block with such a sickening feeling, my heart goes out to all the guys in there!
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Old 08-24-2003, 02:32 PM
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I am just curious how many of you have loved ones in a SHU program. I know a few of you but it would be nice if we could exchange thoughts on this. Love Barb
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Old 09-03-2003, 09:46 PM
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This is why I like to do things like spray perfume or add some rubber stamp artwork on my letters. I can't put the sounds I hear in the letter, but we can put some of the smells like that of lilacs, etc, on the letters. I would be interested in knowing what he thinks about what kinds of "stimulation" loved ones can send to them.
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Old 09-03-2003, 09:54 PM
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Hi Barbara and Richard,
Thanks for sharing this information. I am interested in hearing a description of the SHU also. Is it light or dark? is it dirtier than other prison areas? Are the meals different? Are they able to hear outside their cell? Are the inmates in SHU able to communicate with each other? Do they have full access to the library? How about commissary? Do they have yard with other SHU inmates?
My friend at Stateville said he has been in ad seg there twice for 30 days each. He said you get half the food. He also said that its hard to write letters because you get the inside cartridge part of the pen only. he commented, when you're in seg you really need people to write to you, and send you books. It's really hard.
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Old 09-03-2003, 10:02 PM
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Hi Holley, you might like to look at this writing on the SHU. Love Barb
http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/sho...threadid=20621
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Old 09-03-2003, 10:18 PM
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Holley I hope this explains some of the questions you have. Love Barb
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Old 09-03-2003, 10:32 PM
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Hello Barb...Benito is currently back in Ad/Seg at CIM. He's once again awaiting transfer to a SHU. We're still not sure which one - he's been endorsed for Pelican, Corcoran and/or Tehachapi.
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Old 12-11-2003, 12:51 AM
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These are my answers (BSS) I will send this list on to the SHU and see what they have to say. Why donít you send it in to your loved ones and see how our answers match up.

Is it light or dark? I would think it is light enough because they draw all day and night
Is it dirtier than other prison areas? What I have seen of it, it is very clean
Are the meals different? They are not very good and not enough of it
Are they able to hear outside their cell? Yes they can
Are the inmates in SHU able to communicate with each other? Yes by yelling but they are not suppose to
Do they have full access to the library? As far as I know they can request books
How about commissary? Yes they have store
Do they have yard with other SHU inmates? Never they are always alone
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Old 12-18-2003, 10:21 PM
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Barbara, why do they restrict the men from art materials such as colored pencils?
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