CA Prisoners Win Historic Gains with Settlement Against Solitary Confinement

Agreement reached in Ashker v. Brown ends indeterminate long-term solitary confinement in CA, among other gains for prisoners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 1, 2015
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) for more than 10 years, where they spend 23 hours a day or more in their cells with little to no access to family visits, outdoor time, or any kind of programming.

“From the historic prisoner-led hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, to the work of families, loved ones, and advocate, this settlement is a direct result of our grassroots organizing, both inside and outside prison walls,” said Dolores Canales of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), and mother of a prisoner in Pelican Bay. “This legal victory is huge, but is not the end of our fight – it will only make the struggle against solitary and imprisonment everywhere stronger.” The 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes gained widespread international attention that for the first time in recent years put solitary confinement under mainstream scrutiny.

Currently, many prisoners are in solitary because of their “status” – having been associated with political ideologies or gang affiliation. However, this settlement does away with the status-based system, leaving solitary as an option only in cases of serious behavioral rule violations. Furthermore, the settlement limits the amount of time a prisoner may be held in solitary, and sets a two year Step-Down Program for the release of current solitary prisoners into the prison general population.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 prisoners will be released from SHU within one year of this settlement. A higher security general population unit will be created for a small number of cases where people have been in SHU for more than 10 years and have a recent serious rule violation.

“Despite the repeated attempts by the prison regime to break the prisoners’ strength, they have remained unified in this fight,” said Marie Levin of CFASC and sister of a prisoner representative named in the lawsuit. “The Agreement to End Hostilities and the unity of the prisoners are crucial to this victory, and will continue to play a significant role in their ongoing struggle.” The Agreement to End Hostilities is an historic document put out by prisoner representatives in Pelican Bay in 2012 calling on all prisoners to build unity and cease hostilities between racial groups.

Prisoner representatives and their legal counsel will regularly meet with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials as well as with Federal Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, who is tasked with overseeing the reforms, to insure that the settlement terms are being implemented.

“Without the hunger strikes and without the Agreement to End Hostilities to bring California’s prisoners together and commit to risking their lives— by being willing to die for their cause by starving for 60 days, we would not have this settlement today,” said Anne Weills of Siegel and Yee, co-counsel in the case. “It will improve the living conditions for thousands of men and women and no longer have them languishing for decades in the hole at Pelican Bay.”

“This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters,” said the prisoners represented in the settlement in a joint statement. “We celebrate this victory while at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle.”

Legal co-counsel in the case includes California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Chistensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. The lead counsel is the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge in the case is Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

A rally and press conference are set for 12pm in front of the Elihu M Harris State Building in Oakland, which will be livestreamed at http://livestre.am/5bsWO.

The settlement can be read on CCR’s website, along with a summary. CCR has also put up downloadable clips of the plaintiffs’ depositions here.

Major Development in CA Lawsuit Against Solitary Confinement

Updated in August 31, 2015 Media Advisory:  This press conference will be livestreamed at  http://livestre.am/5bsWO.

This press conference will supplement and follow an earlier teleconference organized by the lead counsel in Ashker v. Brown, the Center for Constitutional Rights

Media Advisory – Friday, August 28, 2015

Rally and Press Conference:
Major Development in CA Lawsuit against
Solitary Confinement

Press Contact:  Mohamed Shehk – 408.910.2618 – mohamed@criticalresistance.org
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

What:     Rally and Press Conference

In anticipation of a major development in one of the most significant cases brought by prisoners in the struggle against solitary confinement, Ashker v. Brown, activists, prisoners’ family members and loved ones, and prisoner advocates will be holding a press conference and rally.

Who:      Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS)

PHSS is a statewide coalition that includes California Families Against Solitary Confinement, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Critical Resistance, California Prison Focus, American Friends Service Committee, and many other organizations and individuals who work against imprisonment and solitary confinement.

Statements will be read on behalf of prisoners by family members of people in solitary confinement.

When:    Tuesday, Sept 1, 2015
Noon

Where:   Elihu M Harris State Building
1515 Clay St
Oakland, CA 94612

###

Mohamed Shehk
Media and Communications Director

Critical Resistance
1904 Franklin St, Suite 504
Oakland, CA 94612
510.444.0484

Weekend in Oakland: TRAINING Aug 29, BARBEQUE Aug 30

Flier_Aug29,30

RSVP through phone 510-426-5322, email phssreachingout@gmail.com or
here: http://tinyurl.com/rsvp-phss-august2015.

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) invites all family members, loved ones and formerly incarcerated individuals to a workshop on Sat, Aug 29th, and a BBQ to grow California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC) on Sun, Aug 30th.  Please post/share this weekend of events, allies also welcome!
Here’s the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/106275163055639/

**SATURDAY AUGUST 29th**
PHSS Strategy Training on Ending Solitary, sponsored by American Friends Service Committee. The training will expand on Michelle Alexander’s call to action in “The New Jim Crow” to dismantle the largest penal system in the world.
10am-4pm
First Unitarian Church in Oakland, Wendte Room
685 14th St, Oakland, CA

**SUNDAY AUGUST 30th**
BBQ at Mosswood Park to grow California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC).  We hope this BBQ gathering will help family members and loved ones of people in prison and formerly incarcerated individuals continue to build a strong family base of CFASC members.
12-5pm
Mosswood Park is at 3650 Webster St., Oakland CA 94609
We’ll be at the BBQ area on Webster
Free event, food included!

Gathering under the oak trees. Eat, meet, relax, enjoy.

Continue reading

Sunday, Aug. 23rd– Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

Action Locations and Details — from San Diego to Arcata, CA to New York City  HERE

Solitary Is Torture

Honoring Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell

Long live Hugo Pinell, who showed us the power of the human spirit, that love can survive and overpower hell on earth.

________________________________________________

Beloved political prisoner Hugo ‘Yogi Bear’ Pinell, feared and hated by guards, assassinated in Black August after 46 years in solitary
August 14, 2015   by Dr. Willie and Mary Ratcliff

Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll.

From December 1970 to 2014, when he finally had a contact visit with his mother, Yogi was allowed to come out from behind the thick glass in the visiting room and touch a loved one only once: When he married Shirley, they were given 15 minutes together. She later died.

By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo Pinell, affectionately known as Yogi Bear, was assassinated Aug. 12. The news sparked a victory celebration by  prison guards on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.

“This is revenge,” declared his close friend, fellow Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha, on Hard Knock Radio Aug. 13. “They hated him as much as George Jackson. They beat him constantly, kept him totally isolated for 46 years – no window, no sunlight – but they could never break him, and that’s why they hated him.

“The only way he survived was that this man was full of love.” ….
Please read more of this excellent SF Bay View article
which includes “The Black Panther Party and Hugo Pinell”  from The Black Panther newspaper of Nov. 29, 1971

 

Hugo Pinell Presente!
August 14, 2015   by Isaac Ontiveros

….Hugo became a part of the Prison Liberation Movement, which saw the prison as a front of struggle connected to the global upsurge of oppressed people against colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy.  This was a period of intense education, organizing, and resistance among imprisoned people—some locked up as political prisoners, some transformed while inside, nearly all targeted by prison administrations for their political stances and activism.  In 1971, Hugo, along with 5 other prisoners at San Quentin State Prison in California, were charged with raising a rebellion at the facility’s Adjustment Center, during which prisoner movement leader George Jackson was assassinated.  Several weeks later, actions commemorating the assassination of Jackson by prisoners at Attica went on to spark the massive rebellion at that prison.  The story and political trial of the San Quentin Six helped people across the planet to understand the conditions inside prison, the resistance of prisoners, and the connection across the walls that the Prison Liberation Movement was trying to make.

Hugo Pinell in 2001

Hugo Pinell would go on to spend over 40 years in the solitary confinement units used to punish prisoners and break up their social, political, and religious organizations—indeed, Pinell was the longest held prisoner in solitary confinement in California, before recently being released into the general population.  Despite the torturous conditions of solitary, Hugo remained steadfast politically, and tried to stay connected to people and struggle, inside and outside the prison.  Hugo participated in the recent California Prison Hunger Strikes and was vocal supporter of prisoners’ 2011 Agreement To End Racial Hostilities.   In his late 60s while on hunger strike, Hugo talked about his activism with journalist Kilu Nyasha:

I wasn’t prepared for a hunger strike, so I don’t know how well or how long I can hold on, but I had to participate…I don’t even think in terms of doing or saying something wrong, for that would strike against everything I live for: freedom, becoming a new man and the New World. So, Sis, this hunger strike provides me with an opportunity for change while also allowing me to be in concert with, and in support of, all those willing to risk their precious and valuable health.  ….
Please read more of this tribute from Critical Resistance
Hugo Pinell- Rest in Power

August 13, 2015  by Claude Marks

We are saddened by the news of Hugo Pinell’s death. Hugo Pinell always expressed a strong spirit of resistance. He worked tirelessly as an educator and activist to build racial solidarity inside of California’s prison system. ….

….As the California Prisons began to lock people up in long-term isolation and control unit facilities, Hugo was placed inside of the SHU (Secure Housing Unit) in prisons including Tehachapi, Corcoran and Pelican Bay. There, despite being locked in a cell for 23 hours a day, he continued to work for racial unity and an end to the torturous conditions and racially and politically motivated placement of people into the SHU. This work included his participation in the California Prison Hunger Strikes as well as supporting the Agreement to End Racial Hostilities in 2012.

At the time of his death, Hugo had been locked behind bars for 50 years yet his spirit was unbroken.
Please read the full writing, Hugo Pinell- Rest In Power

See Who are the San Quentin 6? flyer (from 1970’s) provided by Freedom Archives

Here is a link to the Freedom Archives San Quentin 6 collection 

brief poem by Luis ‘Bato’ Talamantez

Hasta Siempre Hugo
Solidarity forever
And we are saddened
Solidarity left
You when (it) should have
Counted for something and
What your long imprisoned
Life stood for
Now all your struggles
To be free have failed
And only death an
Inglorious and violent
Death has
Claimed you
At the hands of the
Cruel prison system
La Luta Continua

-Bato and the San Quentin 3

A short poem written by Hugo Pinell from a publication issued in 1995.

No
Matter
How long it takes,
Real Changes will come,
And the greatest personal reward
Lies in our involvement and contributions,
Even if it may appear that nothing significant
Or of impact really happened
During our times,
But it did,
Because
Every sincere effort
Is as special as every human life

-Hugo Pinell (1995)

Important Upcoming AUGUST 2015 Events

SAVE THESE DATES

⇒August 23rd, Sunday:
Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

Use this Facebook Event page to find what is happening in different locales throughout CA and across the nation on August 23rd.   Add your own action information to that Event Page or  HERE so we can post it.  Together we will End Solitary!! Here are materials you can use for your action.

⇒August 29th, Saturday and August 30th, Sunday:
Two gatherings to grow California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC)

Inviting all family members, loved ones and formerly incarcerated individuals to be a part of CFASC.  Please post/share this weekend of events in Oakland, allies also welcome!

Aug 29th, Saturday
Strategy/Organizing Training for people working to end solitary confinement and for people wanting to get involved.
10am-4pm
First Unitarian Church in Oakland, Wendte Room
685 14th St, Oakland, CA
Free event, food included!
Hosted by Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS)

Aug 30th, Sunday
Barbeque at Mosswood Park, Oakland CA
12-5pm
Mosswood Park is at 3650 Webster St.
We’ll be at the BBQ area on Webster
Free event, food included! Food at 1pm

This BBQ gathering is especially for family members and loved ones of people in prison and formerly incarcerated individuals.  Help continue to build a strong family base of CFASC members.

Bring what you have to share, especially your passion for stopping the torture of long-term solitary confinement (and lawn chair, side dish, lawn game if you have them). Active participation/volunteers will be needed to make this event a success!
We’ll also take some time for reflection on the training from the day before.  Hosted by Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).

Contact phssreachingout@gmail.com or (510) 426-5322 for more info about the events, or to get in contact in the future.

RSVP to phssreachingout@gmail.com, 510-426-5322, or HERE

Solitary Confinement: A “Social Death” ––– New York Times on “Shocking” Data from Lawsuit [VIDEO included]

New York Times video:
Effects of Solitary Confinement

by Colin Archdeacon and Center for Constitutional Rights
Aug. 3, 2015
People imprisoned in Pelican Bay State Prison describe their experiences in long-term solitary confinement http://www.nytimes.com/video/science/100000003831139/effects-of-solitary-confinement.html

Today’s New York Times science section features a front-page piece about the research that CCR commissioned and compiled for our ground-breaking challenge to long-term solitary confinement. … 10 expert reports we submitted to the court in Ashker v. Brown, the class-action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners in solitary in California’s Pelican Bay prison. …
According to the expert reports, prisoners subjected to prolonged solitary experience a form of “social death” that is not cured upon release, but rather lingers as a “post-SHU syndrome” characterized by social withdrawal, isolation, and anxiety. …
The international and domestic experts agree that such prolonged isolation is not only unnecessary for prison security, but actually counter-productive, as well as a violation of international law. …
By bringing public scrutiny to the severe physical and psychological harm our clients and so many others are suffering as a result of their isolation, we hope to continue turning the tide against this form of torture until it is eradicated from the U.S. once and for all.  Read entire Center for Constitutional Rights article here: https://ccrjustice.org/home/blog/2015/08/04/solitary-confinement-social-death-nyt-shocking-data-ccr-case

New York Times article:
Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life

Nationwide Actions to Honor Two Year Anniversary of Largest Prisoner Hunger Strike in History

Media Advisory – Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Activists plan nationwide actions
to honor two year anniversary
of largest prisoner hunger strike in history

Press Contact:
Mohamed Shehk  408.910.2618 mohamed@criticalresistance.org
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) Coalition

What:     Prison activists plan nationwide mobilizations against solitary confinement

Community organizations, families and loved ones of people in solitary, and prisoner human rights advocates across California and the country will be mobilizing a day of Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement on July 23, as part of an ongoing series of monthly actions to oppose solitary confinement. July 2015 marks the two year anniversary of the largest prisoner hunger strike in history, when over 30,000 prisoners in California began refusing meals on July 8, 2013 for two months in a protest initiated by people in Pelican Bay State Prison’s solitary confinement units.

Who:   Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, as well as over 75 groups nationwide

These actions were initiated by PHSS organizations including California Families Against Solitary Confinement, California Prison Focus, Critical Resistance, Sin Barras, American Friends Service Committee, People’s Action for Rights and Community, and others, but have now grown to include over 75 groups nationwide. For a full list, visit http://tinyurl.com/STATESCsupport

When:    Thursday, July 23, 2015

Times will vary for each action – see http://tinyurl.com/ActionsAgainstSolitary for information

Where:   Over 13 cities in California and across the country, including Oakland, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, as well as in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and more. See http://tinyurl.com/ActionsAgainstSolitary for information on all planned actions.

Why:    Despite international condemnation of solitary confinement as torture, California continues to use the practice and deny basic human rights

These mobilizations are a response to a proposal from prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison involved in the 2011 and 2013 Hunger Strikes, who put forward the idea of designating a day each month as Prisoner’s Rights Day. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) refuses to respect basic human rights by continuing to keep people isolated in cells, often for many years, despite international condemnation calling on California to end its practice of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement has been defined as torture by the U.N., yet the U.S. puts more people in solitary and for longer periods than any other country, and California continues to be an outlier in the U.S. Activists are demanding an end to solitary confinement, and that the five human rights demands of prisoners who participated in the hunger strikes be met: http://tinyurl.com/FiveDemands

###

July 23rd Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement- Locations & Details

Thursday, July 23 ACTIONS by location (alphabetical order)

Arcata/Bayside, CA – Boston, MA – Chicago, IL – Culver City / Los Angeles, CA – Naples, FL – New York, NY – Oakland, CA – Philadelphia, PA – Pittsburgh, PA – San Diego, CA – San Jose, CA– Santa Cruz, CA – Santa Monica, CA – Thunderclap (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr)

If you don’t see your locale listed here, click HERE to read the entire post.  If you still don’t see your locale, we haven’t received the details yet or YOU just might need to organize a simple action where you are!!

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) has a PHSS Facebook Event page.  SCATESC’s growing list of Co-sponsors and Endorsers is below.

 

July 23 Locations & Details (so far)

ARCATA / BAYSIDE, CA:
BreakingDownTheBox_July23 FlyerOn Thursday evening, July 23rd, come to the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to watch the excellent new film ‘Breaking Down the Box’ (40 min). We’ll have refreshments and discussion afterwards with KHS
U radio host Sista Soul and other special guests! The film event is hosted by the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Social Action Committee and PARC, Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community (Eureka).

Earlier in the day (location & time will be posted soon), join us in Arcata. We’ll hand out literature for people to get educated and involved now to STOP THE TORTURE that is solitary confinement.  We will also be promoting the Agreement to End Hostilities.

HERE‘s the Arcata flier!
Arcata Action Details
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm PST
Location: The Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 24 Fellowship Way, Bayside, CA  95524
For more info, call  707-267-4249
Contact Name: Verbena
Contact Email: phssreachingout@gmail.com
Facebook event
: https://www.facebook.com/events/1607915476127367/

 

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS:
The Coalition for Effective Public Safety – CEPS is engaging in public actions the 23rd of each month to bring attention to the 80,000+ people held in solitary confinement across the U.S. on any given day and to end solitary confinement. This date emphasizes the 23 or more hours every day that people are kept in solitary confinement. Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) has helped launch statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement in California following the Pelican Bay hunger strike initiated in 2013 by people incarcerated there in response to the deplorable conditions they were being held in. Monthly actions began in California in March 2015, and we started here in Massachusetts in June 2015.

Massachusetts is one of only three states where prisoners who commit disciplinary infractions can be placed in solitary confinement for up to ten years, even though the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has called for a ban on any solitary confinement that lasts longer than fifteen days.

This month we are hosting a documentary screening outside about solitary confinement. More details will be posted here soon.
Massachusetts Action Details

Time and Location: will be posted here soon
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coalition-for-Effective-Public-Safety-CEPS/353915588130873
Contact person: Rachel Corey
For info or to help plan future actions: director@cjpc.org

 

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS:
The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) estimates that 2,500 – 3,000 people are held in solitary confinement in Illinois on any given day. The Federal Bureau of Prisons plans to open Thomson Supermax Prison in Thomson, IL by the end of the year, bringing 1,500 new solitary cells to the state.

The United Nations considers solitary confinement beyond 15 days torture and has called for its absolute prohibition. Many people in Illinois and throughout the US have spent decades in solitary. We say NO MORE.

All those opposed to solitary confinement are invited to rally on July 23rd outside the Thompson Center, home of IDOC before marching to the Federal Building. We demand an end to the torturous practice in Illinois, by both the state and federal government. We demand that the Illinois legislature hold a hearing to investigate solitary confinement, or what they call “Segregation” or “Administrative Detention”. We demand Thomson close its doors, as Tamms did 2.5 years ago.

This action is in solidarity with anti-solitary activists in California who have been organizing actions, events, teach-ins, and more on the 23rd of every month as part of a statewide campaign to end solitary confinement. They’ve chosen the 23rd of the month because people held in solitary spend at least 23 hours/day in isolation.
___________________________________
Learn more!  Read about Uptown People’s Law Center’s lawsuit against IDOC for their overuse of solitary confinement. Here’s
more info on Thomson Supermax. 
Chicago Action Details
Time: 5:00pm – 6:30pm CDT
Location: RALLY @
Thompson Center, 100 W Randolph St, Chicago, Illinois 60601, MARCH to Federal Building
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/511219215692757/

 

CULVER CITY / LOS ANGELES, CA:
July23_ LA
Two years have passed since people confined in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison initiated (on July 8) a 60-day hunger strike to protest the conditions associated with the prison’s “security housing unit,” or SHU.  Four years have passed since the initial hunger strike began on July 1.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) continues to claim that “there is no ‘solitary confinement’ in California’s prisons and the SHU is not ‘solitary confinement,'” but people inside the Pelican Bay State Prison’s security housing unit say they remain locked in for at least 23 hours per day.

At this event, we will present If the SHU Fits-Voices from Solitary Confinement, and follow with a session to:
* Share Stories
* Discuss Strategies to make meaningful change and
* Take Action!

“If the SHU Fits” is produced by Dramastage Qumran, LA Laborfest, & Public Works Improvisational Theatre, and supported by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).

The event is a part of the Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement, a call by prisoners in solitary to their supporters outside to STOP THE TORTURE with events on the 23rd of each month, signifying the number of hours prisoners are kept in solitary.
HERE‘s the Culver City/LA flier!
Culver City Action Details
Time: 7:30pm – 9:30pm PST
Location: Peace Center, West 3916 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA90230
Contact person: Andy Griggs

For info, call 310-704-3217 or email lalaborfest@gmail.com
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1453616404940842/

 

NAPLES, FLORIDA:
Demonstration in front of the Collier County Jail on the 23rd to End Solitary Confinement.  Details will be posted here soon!

 

NEW YORK, NY:
Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement invites you to a RALLY at UNION SQUARE on July 23rd.  (Meet by steps on  south side, by E. 14th and Broadway)

Every day in New York prisons and jails, there are more than 5,000 people in solitary confinement and other forms of extreme isolation. There, they spend 23 hours a day locked in a cell about the size of an elevator. In isolated confinement, people are left with nothing to do, no programs, no one to talk to, and no human touch. In these torturous conditions, people experience intense suffering and, often, severe psychological and physical damage. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture determined that keeping a person in solitary more than 15 days is torture; New York regularly holds people in solitary for months and years, and sometimes decades.

Join us on the 23rd of every month in the fight to end solitary confinement. We are joining allies around the country who are holding monthly actions based on the recommendation of people incarcerated in Pelican Bay prison who led the momentous hunger strikes in California.

People in solitary need you.
Together we can HALT solitary confinement and end torture in New York State.
New York City Action Details
Time: 6:00pm EST
Location: Union Square- meet by steps on south side, by E. 14th and Broadway
Contact email: caicny@gmail.com
Website: http://nycaic.org/

 

OAKLAND, CA:
Thursday evening, July 23rd, the San Francisco MIME TROUPE will perform at Oakland’s Lake Merritt in back of the bandstand.

Please come volunteer to help set up the model SHU (mock solitary confinement cell) beginning at 3:30 PM.

We will distribute information and people can get a feel for the small space that 10’s of thousands of people are confined to 23+ hours a day, often for years.

Please call Penny (cell:  415-412-1969) to let us know if you can be with us for this important date. As the trial in the Pelican Bay class action lawsuit approaches in December, the public needs to know current news and see the model SHU again.

END LONG TERM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT !!
Oakland Action Details
Time: 3:30pm– Set up mock SHU
           5:00pm– Distribute literature and show mock SHU
Location: Lake Merritt, in back of Edoff Memorial Band Stand, Oakland, CA 94610
Contact email: phssreachingout@gmail.com

Contact person: Penny
For more info, call 415-412-1969

Continue reading

Pelican Bay Hunger Strike: Four Years and Still Fighting

Originally published in Counterpunch

Four years ago prisoners in California – led by those in the control units of Pelican Bay – organized a hunger strike to demand an end to the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. Two more strikes would follow, with over 30,000 prisoners taking united action in the summer of 2013—both in isolation and in general population in nearly every California prison. The strikes reflected significant shifts in political consciousness among prisoners and their loved ones. The violence of imprisonment was further exposed by demands and heightened organization from within the cages. Prisoner-led collective actions as well as growing public support dramatically have changed the political landscape.

The organization of hunger strikes in 2011 surprised many, especially the CDCr – the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (the lower case ‘r’ by most prison writers derides the Orwellian use of the word rehabilitation), the media, and much of the public.

Current prison organizing continues a historic legacy of struggle. Among prisoners, the strikes of 2011-2013 were compared to the Attica Rebellion of 1971. Shortly before that rebellion, prisoners at Attica refused to speak or eat in the facility’s chow hall, paying tribute to Black Panther Party member and California prison movement leader George Jackson, who had been assassinated at San Quentin prison August 21st. Jackson was a skilled and effective leader who connected the human rights demands of prisoners to revolutionary ideas both globally and in the streets. He argued with powerful clarity that racist and exploitive power relations could and should be changed through political and military struggle, and that Black liberation was achievable as part of an international struggle to destroy imperialism. Within the prisons, he built unity across racial lines – thinking that a unified prison movement could succeed in winning basic human rights both within the cages and in oppressed communities. While the state obviously found Jackson’s ideas and example extremely dangerous, many prisoners and community members found them a clarion call for action.

On September 9th 1971, Attica erupted. Led by prisoners affiliated with the Nation of Islam, the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, and the Five Percenters, the rebellion seized control of several large areas of the prison and issued a manifesto demanding, among other things, better health conditions, an end to political persecution of prisoners, and a right to organize or join labor unions (these demands were very similar to the Folsom Prison manifesto written in California in 1970). After four days of negotiations, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered that the prison be retaken – in the ensuing brutal military assault 39 people were killed by state police and prison guards.

While Attica is one of the most remembered uprisings, between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, there were over three hundred prison rebellions across the US, including those at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in 1973, the Idaho State Penitentiary in 1972-3, the August Rebellion in 1974 at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in New York State, a 1975 demonstration at the North Carolina Correctional Center for Women, and the Penitentiary of New Mexico in 1980.

In response to these militant uprisings, prisons developed unprecedented strategies of repression, isolation and for a time resistance took less dramatic forms. Yet prisoners were still inspired to resist. In one example, in 1995 women in CA state prisons initiated a class action law suit against genocidal health care conditions and successfully organized family members and allies across the state to support them.

Prisoners in California in 2011-2013 organized against the very policies, strategies, and technology that had been put into place to neutralize the rebellions of previous decades (both inside and outside prison)—including solitary confinement, gang validation (which includes the criminalization of George Jackson’s writings), and the gutting of educational programming. In turn, prisoners used similar historic strategies – collective direct action, multiracial unity, and building strong support and solidarity networks on the outside. Continue reading

Human Rights Pen Pals Seeks 59 Community Pen Pals in Next 59 days (by Sept 5, 2015)

Celebrate The Courage of Hunger Strikers of July 8, 2013: Help Human Rights Pen Pals Connect with 59 Pen Pals in 59 Days

Inspired by the call to action by Dolores Canales of California Families Against Solitary Confinement 

For more information: humanrightspenpals@gmail.com
or write to
Human Rights Pen Pals, 1301 Clay Street, P.O. Box 71378,  Oakland, CA 94612

The most recent hunger strike for the Five Demands lasted from July 8, 2013 to September 5, 2013 — 59 days — and involved over 30,000 people locked in CA prisons, as well as hundreds of other prisoners, young and old, throughout the United States.

It was the largest hunger strike in history and brought the issue of solitary confinement to the attention of the media, legislators, the United Nations, and the public in general, resulting in legislative hearings, proposed (but failed) legislation, media attention, and solidarity actions both nationally and internationally.

Honor the courage of those who engaged in this nonviolent action at great harm to themselves:

–serve as a pen pal;

–reach out and invite a friend to apply to serve as a Human Rights Pen Pal using our new online application; and

–share this email and our new facebook page (which also has our application link) widely with your networks

In solidarity,

Annie, Nicole, Mike, and Tynan
Human Rights Pen Pals Leadership Collective

June 23rd Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement- Locations & Details

June is Torture Awareness Month

Tuesday, June 23 ACTIONS by location (alphabetical order)

If you don’t see your locale listed here, click HERE to read more of this post.  If you still don’t see your locale, we haven’t received the details yet or YOU just might need to organize a simple action where you are!! One idea: do a showing of this excellent new 40 minute documentary, “Breaking Down the Box”

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) has a PHSS Facebook Event page.  SCATESC’s growing list of Co-sponsors and Endorsers is below.

June 23 Locations & Details (so far)

Arcata- Boston- Fresno- Oakland- Pasadena / Los Angeles – Philadelphia- Pittsburgh- San Diego- San Francisco- San Jose- Santa Cruz

ARCATA, CA:  Nighttime action!  Outdoor showing of the new, excellent documentary, “Breaking Down the Box”! We will also hand out literature for people to get educated and involved now to STOP THE TORTURE that is solitary confinement.  We will also be promoting the Agreement to End Hostilities in prisons (SHU, Ad-Seg, General Population) and in county jails.  Look for banners “End Long Term Solitary Confinement” and “Solitary Confinement = Torture.”
Arcata Action Details:
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Location: on corner of I St between 9th and 10th, across from T’s Cafe near Ace Hardware parking lot, Arcata CA
For more info, call  707-267-4249
Contact Name: Verbena
Contact Email: peoplesarc@gmail.com

 

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS:
The Coalition for Effective Public Safety – CEPS is engaging in public actions the 23rd of each month to bring attention to the 80,000+ people held in solitary confinement across the U.S. on any given day and to end solitary confinement. This date emphasizes the 23 or more hours every day that people are kept in solitary confinement. Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) has helped launch statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement in California following the Pelican Bay hunger strike initiated in 2013 by people incarcerated there in response to the deplorable conditions they were being held in. Monthly actions began in California in March 2015, and we are starting here in Massachusetts in June 2015.

Meet us at South Station at NOON.  We’ll have chalk, facts about solitary confinement in Massachusetts and nationwide, and handouts. Bring your energy!

We’ll be chalking solitary confinement facts to raise awareness about solitary confinement for an hour at South Station, through Dewey Square towards Downtown Crossing & Park T stops.

Working during the day? Meet us at 5:30pm at Coolidge Corner in front of Coolidge Corner Theatre. We’ll chalk facts about solitary confinement up and down Beacon and Harvard!

Massachusetts is one of only three states where prisoners who commit disciplinary infractions can be placed in solitary confinement for up to ten years, even though the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has called for a ban on any solitary confinement that lasts longer than fifteen days.
Massachusetts Action Details
Time: 12noon – 5:30pm EST
Location: South Station (Boston)/Coolidge Corner                 (Brookline) 700 Atlantic Ave, Boston
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coalition-for-Effective-Public-Safety-CEPS/353915588130873
Contact person: Rachel Corey
For info or to help plan future actions: director@cjpc.org

FRESNO, CA:
The California Prison Moratorium Project will do an action on the 23rd in front of the Fresno County Jail, as part of this powerful statewide coordinated effort to END SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.
Fresno Action Details
Time: 9:00am – 10:30am
Location: in front of Fresno County Jail, 1225 M St., Fresno, CA 93721
For more info, call 559-367-6020
Contact email:   pmpvalle@yahoo.com 

OAKLAND, CA:
Help hand out information during the busy lunch time downtown!  Wear or bring a sign about ending solitary confinement. (or just show up!) We will have handouts about Bay Area/NorCal California Families Against Solitary Confinfement (CFASC) so that more family members of people in prison can come together, support each other, and powerfully organize for imprisoned loved ones to be free from abuse.

“We will be with the prisoners…in the courts,
in the legislature, and out in the community.
We will use every venue available to us,
UNTIL THE TORTURE IS ENDED.”
–Marie Levin of Oakland, active with CFASC and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition, sister of Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa- Prisoner Human Rights Movement, co-author of Agreement To End Hostilities,
been in SHU  31 years.

HERE‘s the Oakland Flier!
Oakland Action Details:

Time: 12Noon – 2:00pm (set up at 11:30am)
Location: across from Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th and
Broadway,  o
n the corner by Walgreens
Contact email: phssreachingout@gmail.com

PASADENA / LOS ANGELES CA:
June is recognized around the world as Torture Awareness Month. The Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) was adopted on June 26, 1987, and the day was declared the “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.”
June23 LosAngeles
At this event, we will present If the SHU Fits-Voices from Solitary Confinement.
We will then:
* Share Stories
* Discuss Strategies to make meaningful change and  * Take Action!

Discussion moderated by Sharon Kyle (LA Progressive) with
Paul Spector RN, former CA Dept of Corrections nurse
Geri Silva, CA Families Against Solitary Confinement
Ernest Shepard, Fair Chance Project

“If the SHU Fits” is produced by Dramastage Qumran, LA Laborfest, & Public Works Improvisational Theatre, and supported by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).

The event is a part of the Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement, a call by prisoners in solitary to their supporters outside to STOP THE TORTURE with events on the 23rd of each month, signifying the number of hours prisoners are kept in solitary.

HERE‘s the Pasadena Flier!
Pasadena Action Details
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Location: Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church
301 N Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91103
Contact person: Andy Griggs

For info, call 310-704-3217 or email lalaborfest@gmail.com
Facebook event: http://bit.ly/EndSHUTorture

Continue reading

Great NEW VIDEO: “Breaking Down the Box” (40 min.)

TORTURE IS A MORAL ISSUE

As the grievous loss of Kalief Browder reveals, we must act with urgency to end the devastation of solitary confinement. To that end, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture announces the release of a new NRCAT film, Breaking Down the Box, a 40-minute documentary for communities of faith, to expose the torture of solitary confinement in the context of mass incarceration in the United States.

Breaking Down the Box from NRCAT on Vimeo.

Produced by filmmaker Matthew Gossage, the film examines the mental health, racial justice and human rights implications of the systemic use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. It is a call to action for communities of faith to engage in the growing nationwide movement for restorative alternatives to isolated confinement that prioritize rehabilitation, therapeutic interventions, and recovery.  Watch the film online and then download or order a DVD for use in your congregation or community, at no cost. More resources and DVD order form at www.nrcat.org/breakingdownthebox

Please spread the word:

Twitter  New documentary from @NRCATtweets exposes torture of #solitaryconfinement in context of mass incarceration www.nrcat.org/breakingdownthebox

fb_logo  Watch a new documentary exposing the torture of solitary confinement in the context of mass incarceration in the U.S.  Film and resources for faith communities at www.nrcat.org/breakingdownthebox

***
We encourage you to share this new resource in your community during June Torture Awareness Month and throughout the year. Additional promotional and discussion materials are available at www.nrcat.org/breakingdownthebox.

Thank you for your commitment to building a #TortureFreeWorld together.

In community,

Rev. Laura Markle Downton
Director of U.S. Prisons Policy and Program

Statewide Actions Against Solitary Confinement Grow as They Enter Third Month

Media Advisory – May 20, 2015

Statewide Actions against Solitary Confinement Grow as they Enter Third Month

Contact: Mohamed Shehk 408.910.2618, mohamed@criticalresistance.org  Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

When:  Saturday, May 23, 2015 – and the 23rd of each month thereafter.

Time: All day, depending on location (see below for specifics)

What:   Community organizations, families and loved ones of people in solitary, and advocates across California will be mobilizing a day of Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement each month. These mobilizations are a response to a proposal from prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison involved in the 2011 and 2013 Hunger Strikes, who put forward the idea of designating a day each month as Prisoner Rights Day.

“Our outside supporters have all of our gratitude; their tireless efforts supportive of our cause make a giant positive difference,” says Todd Ashker, a prisoner who has been in solitary at Pelican Bay State Prison for over two decades, and a lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against California for the use of solitary confinement. “They have recently begun monthly supportive actions—across the state—publicly rallying on the 23rd of each month for the purpose of keeping the subject of our endless torture in public view, and thereby exposed to the world. The 23rd of each month is symbolic of our 23+ hours per day in these tombs-of-the-living-dead—and it is hoped such rallies will spread across the nation.”

Where: Various locations across California, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Oakland, Arcata, San Francisco and others. For a complete list with information, please see prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/may-23rd-statewide-coordinated-actions-to-end-solitary-confinement-locations-details/#more-6225

Who:    The actions are being organized by groups with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS), and are endorsed by over 30 community groups and organizations from California, and around the nation and world.

Why:    The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) refuses to respect basic human rights by continuing to keep people isolated in cells, often for years upon years, despite international condemnation calling on California to end its practice of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement has been defined as torture by the U.N., yet the U.S. puts more people in solitary and for longer periods than any other country, and California continues to be an outlier in the U.S. California continues to use the practice in violation of international law and, as many believe, in violation of the U.S.’s policy against cruel and unusual punishment.

These coordinated actions seek to build organized, community-based pressure outside prison walls, and to amplify the demands of prisoners who continue to call for the end of torture.

Spokespeople will be available to speak with media at all locations. For more information, please visit prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

Mohamed Shehk
Media and Communications Director
Critical Resistance
1904 Franklin St, Suite 504
Oakland, CA 94612
510.444.0484

May 23rd Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement- Locations & Details

fill in the details for your action!

Saturday, May 23 ACTIONS by location (alphabetical order)

If you don’t see your locale listed here, we haven’t received the details yet or YOU just might need to organize a simple action where you are!!

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) has a PHSS Facebook Event page.  SCATESC’s long list of Co-sponsors and Endorsers is below.


May 23 Locations & Details (so far)

ARCATA / MANILA, CA:
We will be gathering at the Manila Community Center in solidarity with the other statewide coordinated actions that are happening on the 23rd of every month.  Solitary confinement is rampantly used in California. We are a part of a prisoner-led movement including: family and loved ones of incarcerated people, students, lawyers, youth, teachers, doctors, activists, international and national organizations.

There are people of all ages and genders that are locked in solitary confinement, some for DECADES. With Pelican Bay, a notorious torture chamber, so close… come on May 23rd and help STOP THE TORTURE. You can help us pass out literature, get more involved in the struggle, show your solidarity, or just learn.  We will have an educational demonstration while people are waiting for the Kinetic sculptures in Manila.
HERE‘s the Manila flier!
Manila Action Details
Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: outside area of Manila Community Center, 1611 Peninsula Dr. Arcata (Manila), CA
For more info: call 707-442-7465
Contact Person: Verbena

Contact Email: peoplesarc@gmail.com

LOS ANGELES, CA:
End Solitary Confinement for Youth in Detention
In juvenile facilities across California, children are held in solitary confinement for days, weeks, and months at a time. This unnecessarily harsh disciplinary practice harms young pe
May23 LA- flyer-If the SHU fits, End Youth Solitary Confinementople and exposes them to a lifetime of psychological and developmental trauma.

At this event, we will present “If the SHU Fits-Voices from Solitary Confinement”, and follow with a session to:  * Share Stories  * Discuss Strategies to make meaningful change * Take Action!

Find out about SB 124 (Leno), which takes California in the right direction by placing limitations on the use of solitary confinement in juvenile justice facilities and encouraging them to explore more positive and developmentally appropriate methods for working with youth.

“If the SHU Fits” is produced by Dramastage Qumran, LA Laborfest, & Public Works Improvisational Theatre, and supported by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).
HERE‘s the Los Angeles flier!
Los Angeles Action Details
Time: 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Chuco’s Justice Center, 1137 E Redondo Blvd, Inglewood, CA
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1590359064569376/
For more info: call 310-704-3217
Contact Email: lalaborfest@gmail.com
Endorsing organizations for LA action include American Friends Service Committee-LA, Anti-Racist Action-LA, Café Intifada, Children’s Defense Fund of California, Progressive Christians Uniting (PCU), The WE Empowerment Center, Youth Justice Coalition

OAKLAND, CA–  
“We want to consider the idea of designating a certain date each month as Prisoner Rights Day…our supporters would gather in locations throughout California to expose CDCR’s actions and rally support efforts to secure our rights.” PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement, Nov. 2013

Informational Demonstration: PLEASE come talk and help share information to STOP THE TORTURE that is solitary confinement.
HERE‘s the Oakland flier!
Oakland Action Details
Time: 12:30pm – 2:30pm
Location: Mosswood Park, on Webster St. side, near grills
Contact Email: phssoutreach@gmail.com

PENNSYLVANIA:
Pennsylvania (PA) groups support the Monthly CA Statewide Coordinated Action to End Solitary Confinement.

Join us in fasting for some or all of the May 23rd
in protest of the 23 hours of solitary confinement that tens of thousands of prisoners endure every day for months and years
and add your group to those committed to taking an action each month.

PA groups so far include Abolitionist Law Center; Global Women’s Strike; Human Rights Coalition Philly/Pittsburgh; Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign; Payday men’s network; Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee; Fight for Lifers West, Inc.
Pennsylvania Action Details
Time: all day
Location: Pennsylvania
For more info in PA, call 215-848-1120
Contact emails: philly@globalwomenstrike.net, payday@paydaynet.org.

POINT REYES, CA:
We will be tabling with information about solitary confinement and the prisoner-led human rights struggle to end solitary confinement – torture- and to promote the Agreement to End Hostilities.

Point Reyes Action Details
Time:
11:00am – 3:00pm
Location: Downtown Point Reyes Station
For more info: call 415 663-6760
Contact Person: Kim Pollak
Contact Email: kimpollak@gmail.com

SAN DIEGO, CA:
STOP THE TORTURE! As part of the Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement, we will have a May 23rd informational demonstration including photos of men in SHU, along with some who used to be in SHU but are now in General Population.  We will be talking and sharing information to STOP THE TORTURE of solitary confinement.
San Diego Action Details
Time: 12:00noon – 2:00 pm

Location: at Rosa Park (the park is next to library) in City Heights, San Diego
Contact Person: Martha Esquivel
Contact Email:  emartha42@yahoo.com

SAN FRANCISCO, CA:
This date, May 23, emphasizes the 23 or more hours every day that people are kept in solitary confinement in 7 x 11 foot concrete cells.  Organized, community-based pressure is a core strategy to end solitary confinement.  Please participate or visit this informational demonstration.  There will be many people lined up to visit Alcatraz.  Come help pass out information.
San Francisco Action Details

Time: 8:30am – 2:00pm
Location: Pier 33 (Bay St. and The Embarcadero, where people line up to go to Alcatraz island)
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1579191362361202/
Contact Person Name: Kim Rohrbach
 For more info: call 510.863.0477

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Help Get Life-Sustaining Publications To Prisoners

Donate for a subscription to a prisoner. Specify with your donation or subscription that you want it to cover the cost of mailing the paper to someone locked inside.  Provide an address if you have a specific person in mind. $20 will cover a year subscription for any one of these papers!* Donate what you can for vital publications!

The Fire Inside (CA Coalition for Women Prisoners)
info@womenprisoners.org  (415) 255-7036 ext 4
http://womenprisoners.org

Prison Focus (CA Prison Focus) contact@prisons.org
(510) 836-7222 http://www.prisons.org/publications.htm

ROCK! mead@rocknewsletter.com  (206) 271-5003
http://www.rocknewsletter.com/

San Francisco Bay View   *$24 please, if possible editor@sfbayview.com  (415) 671-0789
http://sfbayview.com/about/

Turning the Tide (Anti-Racist Action Publishers)
antiracistaction_la@yahoo.com  (323) 636-7388
www.antiracist.org

2015 Prison Resource Directory    FREE
If you know someone in prison, send their address to Prison Activist Resource Center (PARC), so they can receive a free 2015 Directory. Consider donating: info@prisonactivist.org
https://www.prisonactivist.org/resources

April 23rd Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement- Locations & Details

fill in the details for your action!

fill in the details for your action!

APRIL 23 ACTIONS by location (alphabetical order)

If you don’t see your locale listed here, we haven’t received the details yet or YOU just might need to organize a simple action where you are!!

Here are fliers and handbills to distribute.
Check out our updated Universal Handbill for these actions!
Email phssreachingout@gmail.com or click HERE to share your locale’s details and/or request printed materials be sent for your action.

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) has a PHSS Facebook Event page.
SCATESC’s long list of Co-sponsors and Endorsers is below.

April 23 Locations & Details (so far)

ARCATA, CA:
So close to Pelican Bay State Prison- a solitary confinement torture facility- we participate in these Statewide Coordinated Actions. We will have an informational demo to educate about the human rights atrocity of solitary confinement and strengthen the prisoner-led movement to stop the torture. Actions will continue on the 23rd of each month, locations TBA, corresponding to the 23 or more hours a day people are kept in solitary confinement.
Arcata Action Details
Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: the Quad at Humboldt State University
For more info: call 707-442-7465
Contact Person: Verbena

Contact Email: peoplesarc@gmail.com

LOS ANGELES, CA:
Actions on the 23rd of every month in response to a call from the prisoners who went on hunger strike against isolation-torture for regularly scheduled building actions and organizing against long-term indefinite solitary confinement in the SHUs.
Los Angeles Action Details
Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Location: Reagan State Bldg, 3rd & Spring Sts., L.A.
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1394087940914592/
For more info: call 323-636-7388
Contact Person:
Michael Novick
Contact Email: <antiracistaction_la@yahoo.com>

OAKLAND, CA–   TWO events!! Daytime and Nighttime
Actions on this date, April 23rd, emphasize the 23 or more hours every day that people are kept in solitary confinement.  “We want to consider the idea of designating a certain date each month as Prisoner Rights Day…our supporters would gather in locations throughout California to expose CDCR’s actions and rally support efforts to secure our rights.” PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement, Nov. 2013
Oakland Daytime Details
Informational Demonstration: PLEASE come help share information and hold a huge banner.  There will be thousands of passers-by that day at Laney College!
Time: 11:30am – 1:30pm
Location: parking lot side of Laney College, 8th Street, near the freeway
Contact Email: phssoutreach@gmail.com

Oakland Nighttime Details
Solidarity w/ The Prisoner Hunger Strikers Study Session:
Every week The Bay Area Solidarity Committee for Jalil Muntaqim hosts a Political Education Class “New Afrikan Prisoner Writings Study Sessions” from 5:30-7:30PM.  We will dedicate the April 23rd session in solidarity with the prisoner hunger strikers.  We will be reading and discussing “the five core demands” as well as the “Agreement to End Hostilities“.  We will also be dissecting different writings by Abdul Olugbala Shakur, Chairman & founder of George Jackson University. The event, hosted by The Bay Area Solidarity Committee For Jalil Muntaqim and George Jackson University, will end in an open mic and political hip hop Show.

Time: Political Education 5:30pm – 7:30pm,
Show/Open Mic 8:00 – 10:00pm

Location: “Qilombo” 2313 San Pablo Ave Oakland, CA
Group Website: https://www.facebook.com/committee.jalil
Contact Person: Shango Abiola
Contact Email: shangoabiola@gmail.com

POINT REYES, CA:
We will be tabling with information about solitary confinement and the prisoner-led human rights struggle to end solitary confinement – torture- and to promote the Agreement to End Hostilities.

Point Reyes Action Details
Time: 11:00am – 3:00pm

Location: Downtown Point Reyes Station
For more info: call 415 663-6760
Contact Person: Kim Pollak
Contact Email: kimpollak@gmail.com

Continue reading

PLEJ for Liberation: Building Power with Students and Imprisoned Educators!

PLEJ for LIBERATION _01
 

Seeking community educators for
PLEJ for Liberation program

Are you or do you know someone who would be interested in connecting your students with educators and organizers who are incarcerated?
 
Consider participating in the PLEJ for Liberation!

PLEJ for Liberation is a collaboration between imprisoned educators and educators “outside the walls” to share curriculum with students about ending the prison system & solitary confinement.

The PLEJ for Liberation goals:
PLEJ (Power, Love, Education and Justice) for Liberation is an innovative project that brings together social justice educators in the community with imprisoned educators in California’s solitary confinement cells. The goal of this project is to create a justice-oriented, people-centered curriculum about the prison system for teenaged youth and young adults.

Who will I work with?
The imprisoned educators are elders in political struggle and organizing inside prisons, including the historic 2011 & 2013 hunger strikes in California prisons and “The Agreement to End Hostilities”.

What becoming a PLEJ community educator includes:
– maintaining a pen pal relationship with an imprisoned educator
– collaboratively creating a ‘curriculum’ with the imprisoned educator that would be relevant and inspiring for your students
– supervising all correspondence between students and imprisoned educator
– maintaining a high level of structure, to ensure continuity and prevent prison officials’ retaliation against your pen pal

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Thurs, April 16th Lecture Event: “Human Rights, Racism, and the Police State”

Spring2015_SJSU_HRLectureSeriesEvent_Poster

 

 *Free* and open to the public.
Bay Area students and community groups welcome!

 

The 2015 Human Rights Lecture Event features a full day of panels, workshops, and activities with organizers from Chicago, Ferguson, and the Greater Bay Area. Dr. Angela Davis will deliver a Keynote Speech on “Inequality and the Role of Resistance.”  (Link to RSVP for free tickets).

 

The day’s events begin at noon, where students and community members can learn from and engage with activists at the forefront of contemporary movements challenging police violence, mass incarceration, and social inequality.  Activities include:

 

SOLITARY CELL ART INSTALLATIONS (12:00pm-5:00pm STUDENT UNION RAISED PATIO) from the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition 

 

LUNCH PANEL (12:00pm-1:00pm, MLK 225) with community organizers from Ferguson, Chicago, #BlackLivesMatter, and the greater Bay Area

 

 • WORKSHOP (12:30-2:30, STUDENT UNION RAISED PATIO) by the HipHop Chess Federation

 

 • KNOW YOUR RIGHTS PRESENTATION (1:30pm-2:30pm, MLK 225) by WeCopWatch

 

 • TALKING CIRCLE (3:30pm-5:00pm, MLK 225) where students can engage with local and national organizers to build on current movements to end mass incarceration and police violence.

 

 • KEYNOTE SPEECH: DR. ANGELA DAVIS, “Inequality and the Role of Resistance,” 7:00 pm, Morris Dailey Auditorium (doors open at 6:30, pre-program African cultural performance by Jaliya at 6:45).

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Report and Photos from 1st Monthly Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement, March 23

March 23, 2015[This article was first published March 28, 2015 in the San Francisco Bay View ]

Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) began March 23, 2015. Actions were held in California from San Diego to Arcata (Arcata-Eureka, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Cruz) and Philadelphia, Penn. Activists in more locations will be joining in on April 23 and the 23rd of each month. Below is a report from just one locality, Santa Cruz, which took a creative approach.

by Willow Katz

About 45 people attended the first day of Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC), on March 23, 2015, at the Lighthouse on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. We went there to see the ocean for so many SHU and solitary prisoners who talk about their dream to see the ocean again, including Luis Esquivel.

Oakland’s action was in Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th and Broadway, the scene of many, many struggles for justice in recent years. Readers are urged to come out in droves on April 23 and the 23rd of every month. We may not be able to rid the world of all evils, but we CAN end solitary confinement!

The actions are being held in response to a call by California prisoners. Proposals for action from Pelican Bay State Prison hunger strikers in November 2013 included “designating a certain date each month as Prisoner Rights Day. … Our supporters would gather in locations throughout California to expose [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] CDCR’s actions and rally support efforts to secure our rights. We can see this action growing from month to month as more people inside and out become aware of it and join our struggle.”

Actions were held March 23 in California – at Arcata, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose and Santa Cruz– and Philadelphia. Monterey is planning future actions, and we expect more actions statewide, nationally and internationally.

Activists Annie Kane and Jerry Elster check out the window slits atop Oakland City Hall. A city worker told them that behind the slits are SHU-like cells that are no longer used. – Photo: Kim Rohrbach

Continue reading

HANDOUTS, FLIERS & POSTING MATERIALS for Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

If you need copies sent to you of any of these materials for use in your actions, please contact phssreachingout@gmail.com or call (510) 426-5322.

_______________________________________________ The above links allow you to download and print the two materials made specifically for anyone participating in Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (23rd of each month). Below are several download links for recommended materials to hand out during such actions.  Good educational materials. Coming soon: a handout of Frequently Asked Questions and the Answers, and all handouts in Spanish & English.

Use this Pelican* for your facebook event Cover Photo.  Choose the art or photo for your event Profile Picture.

*We honor Peter Collins who was a long-term activist incarcerated in Canada. He drew the Pelican for the CA Prisoner Hunger Strikes. Peter died from cancer Aug.13, 2015 in prison, having been refused compassionate release. He was an astute social critic of the structures of violence in the world around us (colonialism, racism, sexism, ableism, imperialism, transphobia, misogyny etc). Peter was a writer, artist, cartoonist, activist, scholar & organizer with a great sense of humor and humanity. He was a staunch animal rights advocate. A vegan, Peter believed in principles of ‘do no harm’ to others.

Download & Print POSTER for Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

fill in the details for your action!

fill in the details for your April action!

Informational materials to hand out at actions posted here !
Download this poster to publicize your action on the 23rd of any month.

Read more about this statewide coordinated effort.

 

Beginning March 23rd: Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

STOP THE TORTURE!

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) has helped launch Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) to start Monday, March 23, 2015.

Actions will happen on the 23rd of each month.

This date emphasizes the 23 or more hours every day that people are kept in solitary confinement.

PHSS Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prisoner-Hunger-Strike-Solidarity/117053298383319

Statewide Coordinated Actions every month respond to the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers’ Proposals (November, 2013). They stated:

We want to consider the idea of designating a certain date each month as Prisoner Rights Day. On that date each month prisoners across the state would engage in peaceful activities to call attention to prison conditions. At the same time our supporters would gather in locations throughout California to expose CDCR’s [CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] actions and rally support efforts to secure our rights. We can see this action growing from month to month as more people inside and out become aware of it and join our struggle.”

These coordinated actions will acknowledge the importance of organized, community-based pressure as a core strategy (along with courts and legislators) of our work outside the walls to end solitary confinement.

Actions are planned in CA from San Diego to Arcata (including San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland,Santa Cruz, Arcata…); also, nationwide and internationally.

CO-SPONSORS & ENDORSERS:
Statewide, nationally, and internationally, we invite all organizations and prominent individuals to:

  • endorse the Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement; or
  • co-sponsor: help plan statewide, national, international, and local actions; do outreach, attend, and/or speak out.

Co-sponsors and Endorsers are listed HERE on the PHSS website and HERE at the facebook event page, Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC)…

Please let us know at phssoutreach@gmail.com if you will endorse or what you will do to co-sponsor, and describe action(s) in your locale.

If you want to be part of the Outreach Group organizing this effort, please email Verbena and Willow.
Verbena
<peoplesarc@gmail.com>; Willow <kohenet@sbcglobal.net>

LOCATIONS & TIMES:
Each locale participating in the Statewide Coordinated Actions will decide their locations and the time of day/night. We suggest places and times where and when there are plenty of people so that the actions are visible, and we can reach people with leaflets/information. If people-heavy locations also happen to be strategic for other reasons (e.g., a CDCR parole office in a busy area), all the better.  HERE you can find details about March 23rd Actions in your locale (i.e. L.A., Oakland, San Jose) More will be posted as we receive the information from various locales

FLIERS & HANDOUTS:
There is
a universal flier for all actions, with a space for each area to insert local logistics. Also, there are handouts that can be used by everyone for these actions. PHSS can send out packets of these fliers and handbills by request at phssoutreach@gmail.com (beginning April 2015). Local groups can hand out additional literature, as well.

These actions will help keep hidden torture in the public eye, build the movement to end solitary confinement, and serve as one way to update people as to the conditions inside and about the needs and goings-on in this human rights struggle. Organizations outside of CA and outside of the US are already joining and supporting this effort.

The courage that prisoners continue to demonstrate—after leading two hunger strikes in 2011 and a third, the largest hunger strike in history in 2013– while upholding their Agreement To End Hostilities across racial lines should give us all the strength to organize in our own communities.

Continue reading

Why The U.S. Won’t Let the U.N. Look Inside Its Prisons

After a half-decade and a mandate by the U.N. to investigate solitary confinement practices, U.N. torture rapporteur Juan Mendez had to find a backdoor into an American jail. Today, his findings are released in a report.

In 2010, Juan Mendez was appointed Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Degrading and Inhumane Treatment by the United Nations. His mandate is wide in size and scope—to expose and document torture wherever it exists on the planet today.

Since the beginning of his mandate Mendez has made criticizing the overuse of solitary confinement a priority. In 2011, he issued a report stating that 22 or 23 hours a day alone in a prison cell for more than 15 days at a time can cause permanent, lasting psychological damage and can constitute torture.

This problem, he emphasized, is particularly severe in the U.S., where prisoners are routinely held under such conditions for months, years and even decades at a time. Many have never committed a violent crime.

Fast-forward five years. The U.S. government has yet to grant Mendez access to a single isolation pod in any U.S. prison. The clock is ticking. Mendez has a mere 20 months left of his term, and he has yet been able to substantiate his reports with a firsthand investigation.

“The U.S. was voted into the Human Rights Council—a position that carries with it an obligation to cooperate,” he says. When he speaks, Mendez wears a look of weary determination befitting of his post.

“I’m disappointed to still be waiting for the State Department to respond to my request. I’ve been waiting over two years.”

“That fact that he hasn’t received a response is contemptible,” says Laura Rovner, legal expert on prison conditions from University of Denver. “It puts the U.S. in the company of countries like Syria, Pakistan, and Russia that also have been unresponsive to requests for country visits.”

“Given the length of the delay,” Rovner continues. “You have to wonder about the reason, whether it’s motivated by concerns about what the Special Rapporteur will find inside these prisons.”

Then suddenly, last December, Mendez was allowed access to California’s Pelican Bay State Prison—a facility known for keeping inmates in isolation indefinitely in its Security Housing Unit (SHU).

This visit did not come about through the official channels Mendez had long been appealing to, however. Instead, he found a way in to one of the most notorious prisons in the country through a kind of backdoor.

Continue reading

Successful Motion in Court Strengthens CA Prisoners’ Case Against Solitary

For Immediate Release – March 10, 2015
Press Contact: Mohamed Shehk, Critical Resistance – 408.910.2618mohamed@criticalresistance.org

Oakland, CA – Pelican Bay prisoners named as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the use of solitary confinement in California gained an important victory yesterday as U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor of a motion filed by the plaintiffs’ counsel. The motion allows prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for more than 10 years, but have been transferred out of Pelican Bay State Prison since the lawsuit was first filed, to be eligible as class members in the case.

Our success with this motion should be a strong message to the prison administration that its attempts to evade court review of its unconstitutional practices,” says Carol Strickman, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and Staff Attorney at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. “Our goal in this case is to support the demand of prisoners to end the inhumane use of indefinite solitary, and no amount of legal shell games is going to stop us from achieving that goal.”

In June 2014, the court granted class action status to the case for prisoners held in Pelican Bay’s notorious Security Housing Units (SHU) for more than 10 years. Since then, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has attempted to weaken the case and repress political organizing by transferring prisoners out of Pelican Bay, thereby claiming that they are no longer eligible class members in the lawsuit. Continue reading

Become a Human Rights Pen Pal

PigeonPostcard-PEN PAL

We are reposting because there have been many requests for Human Rights Pen Pals! 

Click to read  Pen Pal Flyer

See also  Vision, Mission, Goals and Work of the Human Rights Pen Pal project.

Updated Contact info for Human Rights Pen Pals:
Email: humanrightspenpals@gmail.com
Postal Address: Human Rights Pen Pals,1301 Clay Street, P O Box 71378,  Oakland, CA 94612
Online application
Facebook page

The Power of Pen and Paper Can
Transcend Prison Walls.

In CA Prisons, Hundreds Have Been Removed from Solitary Confinement——and Thousands Remain

January 27, 2015 by Sal Rodriguez

It has been over three years since the first statewide hunger strike in protest of the California prison systems’ use of solitary confinement. The hunger strike, the first of many to follow, was launched by individuals housed in the state’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). The hunger strikes prompted state Legislative hearings, international scrutiny, and some reforms.

The SHU, first established in 1989 at Pelican Bay State Prison, was designed to house the “worst-of-the-worst” in close, secure, isolated confinement. Keeping individuals in small, windowless cells for 22 1/2 to 24 hours a day eventually proved to be a convenient solution to deal with individuals exhibiting behavioral or mental health problems and real or suspected gang affiliation as well.

The SHU, once limited to Pelican Bay, has been expanded to a total of four male facilities and one female facility. Despite this expansion, California doesn’t have enough room in the SHUs for all the individuals prison officials would like to place in them, necessitating their placement in Administrative Segregation Units (ASUs), which are dispersed throughout each prison.

By 2011, there were thousands of individuals in the SHU, including over 1,100 in the Pelican Bay SHU alone. Of them, approximately half had been in the SHU for over a decade and 78 had been in the SHU for at least 20 years.

In June 2011, individuals in the Pelican Bay SHU coordinated a hunger strike in protest of long-term isolation. The hunger strike lasted three weeks, notably bringing together people of all racial groups. There would be an additional hunger strike that year, followed by a third, 60-day-long hunger strike in July 2013.

Partly in response to the hunger strikes, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) proposed and implemented an array of reforms purportedly aimed at tightening the standards for SHU placement and potentially reducing the number of individuals held in highly restrictive custody.

Beginning in October 2012, the CDCR has changed the criteria used to place individuals in the SHU, created a “Step Down Program” for individuals to transition out of the SHU, and began a process of case-by-case reviews of all individuals held in the SHU and ASU to determined the appropriateness of their placement.

The reviews are ongoing, but the data collected so far is quite revealing.

According to data obtained from CDCR, 725 SHU case reviews have been conducted, with about 69%  those cases leading to release to the final step in the Step Down Program and/or a General Population setting. A further 63% of ASU case reviews have led to a return to the general population.

In other words, in most cases, it appears that under slightly stricter standards, CDCR could not justify keeping individuals in highly restrictive, isolating conditions.

With these reviews being conducted for over two years now, and the overall decline of the prison population, one would expect that the number of people in restrictive housing would be on the decline.

Officially, CDCR does not believe it holds individuals in solitary confinement. Thus, a true count of the total number of individuals in such conditions is difficult to determine. The purpose of this research is to use CDCR data to provide a means of determining how many individuals might be in solitary confinement.

The CDCR releases pertinent data through COMPSTAT (COMPuter STATistics or COMParative STATistics). CDCR  keeps track of the following data: the number of individuals in single-celled housing, the number of individuals in the SHU and ASU, and the number of individuals in the SHU and ASU in single-celled housing. This data is the closest one can get to determining the number of individuals in solitary confinement.

http://solitarywatch.com/2015/01/27/in-california-hundreds-have-been-removed-from-solitary-confinement-and-thousands-remain/

Continue reading

Feb. 12, 2015: Important Hearing in SHU Lawsuit

In Ashker v. Brown, we will prove that ten years in solitary confinement in the Pelican Bay SHU is cruel and unusual punishment (violating the 8th Amendment).

In an end-run around our lawsuit, CDCR has been transferring hundreds of prisoners out of that SHU.  This is good news for some, but many prisoners are simply being transferred to other SHUs, most notably to Tehachapi.  Four of our ten named plaintiffs have been moved there.  Because the judge previously defined our 8th Amendment class as prisoners presently at Pelican Bay SHU for ten years or more, these plaintiffs and others are no longer considered part of the class.

In response, we recently filed a motion to expand the reach of the solitary confinement lawsuit to include prisoners who have spent 10 years or more at Pelican Bay SHU but have recently been transferred to other California SHUs.
As we wrote:

“the cruel and unusual treatment they experienced, and its debilitating effects, have not abated, but instead continue under a different name in a different prison.”

CDCR should not be able to thwart our 8th Amendment claim by transferring these long-suffering prisoners to a different SHU.  These prisoners should be released from SHU, not moved to a different SHU.  Granting our motion will give the court jurisdiction over these prisoners so that, when we succeed at trial, they will be included in the relief that the court orders.

Please attend the hearing on Plaintiffs’ (Prisoners’) Motion to Amend the Complaint.  Your presence in the courtroom shows the judge that we care and are paying attention to decisions made about the torture in the SHU.

DATE: Thursday,  Feb. 12, 2015
TIME: 2:00 p.m.
ADDRESS: U.S. District Court in Oakland, 1301 Clay Street (federal courthouse)
COURTROOM: Dept. #2,  4th Floor, Hon. Claudia Wilken, presiding


Information explaining the motion came from Carol Strickman,Staff Attorney, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children and Co-Counsel for Plaintiffs in Ashker v. Brown

Cages Kill! Freedom Rally — Jan. 24, 2015

The Santa Cruz community-based organization Sin Barras (Without Prison Bars) is a prison abolitionist group that fights for prisoners’ rights with the goal of ending the Prison Industrial Complex.

Please join our most urgent fight. 

At least 6 people have died in the county jail while in the hands of the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department and California Forensics Medical Group (CFMG) since August 2012. In April 2013, we organized a march and speakout, highlighting sheriff violence faced by people inside the County Jail that inspired the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury to investigate the jail’s deadly conditions. The grand jury report named the April 2013 demonstration as a primary catalyst for the investigation.

In September 2014, the Grand Jury released its Final Report, which included recommendations to improve physical and mental health services in the jail. Nearly all of the research was met with utter denial from the Sheriff‘s Department and CFMG, continuing a trend of disrespect for the community and confirming that they operate with little to no accountability.

 Sin Barras is organizing a demonstration on January 24th to demand immediate medical and safety measures be met to reduce harm faced by those presently incarcerated. Continue reading

CA Prisoner Reps Say: All People Have the Right to Humane Treatment with Dignity

http://sfbayview.com/2014/10/california-prisoner-representatives-all-people-have-the-right-to-humane-treatment-with-dignity/

October 2, 2014

Main reps mark the 1st anniversary of suspension of the 2013 Hunger Strike and the 2nd anniversary of the Agreement to End Hostilities

We expect to hear soon from Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, the fourth of the main reps in the Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement. His remarks will be posted online as soon as they arrive and will be printed next month. He has been transferred to Tehachapi: C-35671, 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581.

All People Have the Right to Humane Treatment with Dignity

by Todd Ashker, Arturo Castellanos and George Franco

Greetings of solidarity and respect to all oppressed people and those committed to fighting for the fundamental right of all people to humane treatment – to dignity, respect and equality.

We are the prisoner class representatives of what’s become known as the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement. Last month we marked the first anniversary of the end of our historic 60-day Hunger Strike. Oct. 10 we mark the two-year anniversary of the Agreement to End Hostilities. This is an update on where things stand with our struggle to achieve major reforms beneficial to prisoners, outside loved ones and society in general.

Our Agreement to End Hostilities would enhance prison safety more than any long-term isolation policies and yet it still has not been circulated and posted throughout the prison system. We urge that everyone read this document again and that you pass it around, study it, live it. (It is reprinted below.) The California Department of Corrections has yet to post this historic document. It needs to.

In 2010 -2011, many long-term SHU prisoners housed in the PBSP SHU Short Corridor initiated our “collective human rights movement” based on our recognition that, regardless of color, we have all been condemned for decades, entombed in what are psycho-social extermination cells, based on prisoncrats’ fascist mentality. That mentality is centered upon the growing oppressive agenda of the suppressive control of the working class poor and related prison industrial complex’s expansion of supermax solitary confinement units.

The pretext for that expansion is baseless claims that solitary confinement is necessary for the subhuman “worst of the worst” deemed deserving of a long slow death in hellish conditions. Supermax units were originally designed and perfected for the purpose of destroying political prisoners and now extend to a policy of mass incarceration.

Beginning July 1, 2011, we have utilized our collective movement to resist and expose our decades of subjection to this systematic state torture, via a campaign of peaceful activism efforts inside and outside these dungeon walls. We have achieved some success; we are not finished.

Last month we marked the first anniversary of the end of our historic 60-day Hunger Strike. Oct. 10 we mark the two-year anniversary of the Agreement to End Hostilities.

We will not stop until there is no more widespread torturous isolation in California for ourselves and for those who will come after us. We remind all concerned that our third peaceful protest action was “suspended” after 60 days, on Sept. 6, 2013, in response to Assemblyman Ammiano and Sen. Hancock’s courageous public acknowledgement of the legitimacy of our cause and related promises to hold joint hearings for the purpose of creating responsive legislation.

Hearings were held in October 2013 and February 2014 which were very positive for our cause in so far as continuing the public’s exposure to CDCR’s unjustifiable torture program. Assemblyman Ammiano’s bill was responsive to our issues and it was thus no surprise that the CDCR and CCPOA (the guards’ union) and others opposed it – and it was DOA on the Assembly floor. Sen. Hancock worked to get a bill passed with some changes, but, according to a statement she released, even that failed when the Governor’s Office and CDCR gutted months of work by Sen. Hancock, her staff and the staff of the Senate Public Safety Committee.

California Department of Corrections has calculated that their alleged “new” policy known as Security Threat Group-Step Down Program (STG-SDP) will give the appearance of addressing the horrific inhuman treatment we experience daily. They argue the Step Down Program is a major positive reform of the “old” policy and thereby responsive to our core demands.

They hope to undermine the statewide, national and international growing support for our cause – the end of long-term indefinite solitary confinement, the torture we experience year in and year out.

We will not stop until there is no more widespread torturous isolation in California for ourselves and for those who will come after us.

The STG-SDP is a smokescreen intended to enable prisoncrats to greatly expand upon the numbers held in solitary confinement – indefinitely. Their STG-SDP policy and program is a handbook to be used with limitless discretion to put whoever they want in isolation even without dangerous or violent behavior.

Their Security Threat Group policy and language are based on a prison punishment international homeland security worldview. By militarizing everything, just as they did in Ferguson, Missouri, poor working class communities, especially those of color, become communities that feed the police-prison industrial complex as a source of fuel.

The daily existence of poor people is criminalized from youth on. We become a source of revenue – a source of jobs – as our lives are sucked, tracked into the hell of endless incarceration, our living death. The STG-SDP is part of the worldview and language of death, not life. It is not positive reform. Security Threat Group takes social policy in the wrong direction.

CDCR is explicit in that thousands of us are in indefinite solitary because of who we are seen to be by them, not because we have done anything wrong. They still decide this by our art, our photographs, birthdays and confidential informants who get out of solitary by accusing the rest of us. Continue reading

Corcoran SHU Prisoners Start Hunger Strike for Decent Healthcare; Support Needed Now

Take Action Link: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51040/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14911

On Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, three men locked inside unit 4B-1L of the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) of California State Prison-Corcoran started a hunger strike: Heshima Denham (J-38283), followed on Sept. 27 by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough (D-83611), and Kambui Robinson (C-82830) will join them the following day for a few days or as long as he can considering his poor health.

Why? The medical care at Corcoran SHU is so bad that life-threatening situations have occurred on too many occasions to the people in the SHU and possibly also elsewhere at CSP-Corcoran that they have had to resort to a hunger strike, the ultimate nonviolent protest, in order to make this point known to the warden, the medical receiver appointed by the court to oversee California’s notoriously bad prison healthcare, and the administration of the California Department of Corrections (CDCr).

Several factors made the three decide to protest the lack of healthcare now: Kambui has diabetes that is very badly regulated with a HBA1C of 9.3 – far too high for diabetics, especially with those already suffering loss of eyesight and neuropathy – and Zaharibu has dangerous, untreated, extremely high cholesterol, making him very vulnerable to stroke, and he has untreated gall stones and a CPAP machine without an extension cord to work effectively.

Custody staff interfering with medical staff is causing dangerous situations.

The men on hunger strike are family men, whose loved ones need them alive and well, and they demand treatment for their life-threatening conditions. Is there any compassion at Corcoran? This beautiful drawing by Heshima Denham has been printed as high quality postcards and greeting cards. To place your order, email people.matter09@gmail.com.

What can you do to help?

Ideally we want Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough and Kambui Robinson moved to Vacaville or New Folsom medical facilities. Kambui’s situation is most critical:

He needs more control over his insulin-dependent diabetes – better regulation, prevention of more complications, and a special diet for diabetics, with sufficient carbohydrates, low fat, whole grains, access to glucose and daily exercise outside his cell. He also needs a diagnostic scan to determine nerve damage in his brain.

For Michael Dorrough (D-83611): normal access to the CPAP machine, treatment for high cholesterol levels and treatment for gallstones.

Finally, for Heshima Denham (J-38283), we need an MRI-scan to make a diagnosis of the pain in his right side and treatment for whatever is causing it. Heshima was recently also diagnosed with PTSD.

Please keep in mind these are medical issues that should be treated with discretion.

Although I concentrate on these three people who are on a hunger strike, they have expressed that they are striking for all people with a disease or injury needing better care, chronic or not, at CSP-Corcoran.

→Please call, email, or write to put pressure on the prison. Below this list of who to contact is a suggested script for your phone call, email or letter.

  • Call, write, or email the Corcoran warden, or leave a message with his secretary.  Call or email Corcoran Warden Dave Davey, at (559) 992-8800 or dave.davey@cdcr.ca.gov, or write to him at P.O. Box 8800, Corcoran, CA 93212-8309.
  • Call or send a copy of your letter or email to Diana Toche, Undersecretary for Health Care Services and Undersecretary for Administration and Offender Services, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Correctional Health Care Services, P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
    (916) 691-0209, Diana.toche@cdcr.ca.gov
  • Also send a copy to the Medical Receiver, California Correctional Health Care Services, Controlled Correspondence Unit, P.O. Box 588500, Elk Grove, CA 95758, CPHCSCCUWeb@cdcr.ca.gov
Suggested script for your phone call, email or letter

I am contacting you concerning the lack of specialized healthcare for people inside the CSP-Corcoran SHU, especially those with chronic diseases. I would like to make you aware of the fact that there is a hunger strike going on inside to demand that people with diabetes or sleep apnea and in need of special diets and other mental and physical healthcare get treated as they would when not incarcerated. Insulin-dependent diabetics with complications and patients with CPAP machines, mental illness such as PTSD and other mental challenges should not be in the SHU but in a medical facility.

The healthcare system in several California prisons is failing badly and we demand prompt action now:

Either move the diabetic patients and the CPAP-machine patients, as well as all other chronic disease patients, to a medical facility or improve the healthcare system, including the rules for, for instance, MRI scans in CSP-Corcoran.

MRI scans are only allowed when there is a physically visible wound. This is wrong!

Also, prevent custody staff from interfering with medical issues, please!

I respectfully insist you act this week to start making specific and general improvements to the healthcare in CSP-Corcoran SHU, before lives are lost.

Thank you.

 

Annabelle Parker can be reached at people.matter09@gmail.com.

CDCr Proposes Draconian Visiting Policies

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Tries To Fast Track Draconian Prison Visiting Policies, Proposing Use of Canines and Controversial ION scanners

Claiming the need for emergency passage of new visiting policies, the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) is proposing the use of canines and ION scanners that would subject visitors to prisons to humiliating and traumatizing strip searches if they tested positive but wanted to be able to have a contact visit with their loved one. Canines are trained to “alert” to the presence of drugs (even prescription ones) tobacco and cell phones. If the canine alerts or the scanner tests positive, “the visitor shall be required to submit to an unclothed body search as a condition of visiting.” Both canines and ION scanners are notorious for troubling rates of false positives, giving rise to litigation challenging the legality of their use. In 2008 Federal Bureau of Prisons was forced to abandon its use of ION scanners because of the number of false positives and the hundreds of complaints by family members who were wrongfully denied visits.

Refusal to submit to this humiliating treatment will result in denial of the contact visit for that day. If non-contact visiting areas are available (unlikely on the day of) the person may have a non-contact visit instead. Anyone refusing to submit to the searches even if they have no contraband, will have visiting privileges suspended for a year after 3 refusals. Any visitor found with drugs or cell phone is subject to possible arrest and criminal prosecution, and will have visiting privileges suspended for one year the first time, and permanently the second time.

However, prison employees, contractors and volunteers, although also subjected to the dogs and scanners, will only have to endure a pat down search of there is a positive sign. Incarcerated people under the new regulations will also be subject to these canine searches.

Anticipating widespread reaction from family and friends of prison visitors, the CDCR has only given five calendar days for public comment about this policy, in contrast to the typical 30 days. Defining these as emergency regulations and allowing only five days for public response is disrespectful in the extreme.

“As a family member, it is a serious violation of my human rights to be forced to be humiliated in order to see my brother and give him family support” said Marie Levin of the Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. These proposed regulations stigmatize and criminalize family members and friends of people in prison and subjects them to humiliating, overly intrusive treatment. The thought of being exposed to sniffing dogs, scanners and possible strip searches will be a deterrent to some visitors and may further weaken prisoners’ ties to the community. PHSS demands that it be deleted from proposed regulations entirely.

See the 16 page PDF of the proposed new regulations as written by CDCR.

Press release from PHSS

URGENT: Stop strip, scanner, and dog searches

PHSS header

The CA Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) just proposed regulations mandating use of dogs, scanners, and traumatizing strip searches for people coming into a prison for a contact visit with a loved one. 

“They want to be free to pursue the maintenance of the SHU torture units and the expansion of the prison industrial complex (and the ever-growing portion of the public’s tax dollars) without the prospect of legitimate criticism and the voice of opposition.” -Prisoner in Corcoran State Prison SHU

We need your help to stop this human rights violation before 5pm today!

They have given the outrageous period of only five days for public comment on this deeply unjust policy.

Several months ago, due to your your principled action in writing to the Dept of Corrections regarding the proposed censorship regulations, they shelved those regulations!

I’m writing to ask you to do it again! 

As a family member, it is a serious violation of my human rights to be forced to be humiliated in order to see my brother and give him family support.

There’s been more family involvement in the prison system over the last three years than ever before, and we’re challenging what they’re doing. People are watching and they don’t like that – it’s not as easy to get away with abuses of power.

Please weigh in and speak out about these regulations TODAY, Sept. 23rd.
The comment period closes at 5pm tonight.

It is absolutely crucial to act immediately, and show them we can mobilize some serious opposition.

Share this with everyone you know who might also want to send a letter.

Thank you for everything you do. Marie Levin

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
A member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Hunger Strike Rep. Todd Ashker to CDCr Administration, 9/1/14

Todd Ashker writes from Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor:

“….I am requesting your attention and responsive dialogue-addressing these issues during the meeting with our outside mediation team- and with Arturo Castellanos, George Franco, James Williamson, and myself in the near future…
The following is from me.

We are presently at the one year point- post “suspension,” of our third peaceful protest hunger strike action against longterm-indefinite-solitary confinement [i.e. SHU/Ad-Seg confinement]… and related conditions therein and damage therefrom- to prisoners, our outside loved ones, and society in general….

.The bottom line is, longterm-indefinite-SHU is not effective and harms all concerned. It’s ending nationwide and this will be the case in Calif. too- better to be sooner than later….”

PDF of transcribed Memo HERE.  Handwritten letter HERE

***

Memorandum

Sept. 1, 2014

To: CDCR-Administration
Secretary Beard, UnderSec. Hoshino
Director Stainer, Assoc. Dir. Diaz,
PBSP Warden Ducart

From: Todd Ashker, C58191-
One of four PBSP-SHU Prisoner Reps
(via outside mediation team)

Subject: Five Core Demands, 40 Supplemental Demands,
and CDCR’s STG-SDP

This memorandum is directed to the above CDCR Administrators for the express purpose of respectfully reminding you about unresolved, and/or continued problematic, issues relevant to our 2011-2014 Five Core and 40 Supplemental demands… and CDCR’s Security Threat Group-Step Down Program [STG-SDP]… Continue reading

Sept. 6th Event: Anniversary of Suspension of Historic 2013 Hunger Strike

WHEN: Saturday, September 6, 2014
12:00pm – 5:00pm

WHERE: Mosswood Park, 3612 Webster St. (W. MacArthur between Webster and Broadway), Oakland CA  *carpooling available from SoCal, NorCal, and Santa Cruz

RSVP here

Join us in commemorating the suspension of the largest hunger strike in U.S. history – begun on July 8, 2013 by over 30,000 people.  At great cost to their health, dozens of incarcerated people in CA fasted nonviolently for 60 days, ending on September 5, 2013.

⇒Picnic, open mic, and ways to get involved

⇒Food at 1:00pm

⇒FREE Event…Donation Requested

*Carpooling from:
Southern CA…(714) 290-9077

Northern CA…(707)442-7465 / PeoplesARC@gmail.com

Santa Cruz…(408) 499-7912 / tashnguyen@gmail.com

The 2013 hunger strike, the third since 2011, aimed to win five demands and end CA’s arbitrary and inhumane policy of isolating individuals in solitary confinement indefinitely – based on mere association without regard to actual conduct.

Join us as we honor these courageous people and push forward to bring an end to the torture of long-term solitary confinement.

Share the Event on Facebook!  Anniversary of Suspension of Historic 2013 Hunger Strike

Questions? phssreachingout@gmail.com or 510-863-0477

Sponsored by Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

@CAHungerStrike

PHSSFlyer_Sep6,2014

8/3/14 Update from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

We hope to post updates every week or few weeks about the struggle to END long term solitary confinement. If you have any feedback for how we can improve these updates, or information you’d like to see, please let us know.

IN THIS UPDATE:

Weekly Meetings

Recent News Articles

Upcoming Events

 

  1. Weekly Meetings: The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition meets every Monday night in Oakland (and on the phone).
  • The sole purpose of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition is to amplify the voices of California prisoners as they strive to achieve their Five Core Demands. The Coalition consists of family members, formerly incarcerated people, lawyers, organizations, and individuals who stand in solidarity with the hunger strikers. This weekly meeting focuses primarily on planning, promoting and reporting on actions and events directly related to the struggle for the Five Demands (primarily, to end long term solitary confinement), including prisoner updates and legal and media strategies and reports.

 

  1. Recent Newsletters, News Articles & Videos
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pz3syET3DY “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” 7/20/14 – This 20 minute segment covers solitary confinement and mass incarceration in general in the United States. Great video to share with your friends & family who aren’t paying attention to the prison crisis.

 

 

  • PRISON CENSORSHIP:
    Thanks to everyone who submitted a public comment about CDCr’s proposed censorship rules. Here is some news coverage:

 

  • August 2014 Issue of ROCK!

 

  1. Go to our CALENDAR to post or find upcoming prisoner solidarity and movement building events throughout California or any location.

 

  • “SAVE THE DATE” September 6, 2014 for an event in Oakland to commemorate the end of last summer’s prisoner hunger strike, the largest in U.S. history. We will have more information soon.

In solidarity,
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS)