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

HANDOUT MATERIALS for Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

Beginning in April 2015, if you need copies sent to you of any of these materials for use in your actions, please contact phssreachingout@gmail.com.

_______________________________________________
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.

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

fill in the details for your action!!

fill in the details for your action!!

Informational materials to hand out at actions posted here!
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.

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)

The way forward to End Solitary Confinement Torture: Where’s the army?

Jan. 25, 2015
by Todd Ashker

On the subject of SHU and Ad-Seg constituting torture, for those of us who may not be familiar with the specifics and in light of CDCr’s steady stream of propaganda – saying, “We don’t operate any solitary confinement units or cells in the California penal system, nor do we torture anyone” – here’s a summary of relevant facts supporting our position that these SHU and Ad-Seg units and the operations thereof are designed (modeled) after techniques designed to break political prisoners as a control mechanism. They are intended to break prisoners via coercive persuasion into becoming state informants.

I’ll begin by asking you a simple question?

Why is it that CDCr is able to get away with portraying PBSP SHU (Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit) prisoners as the “worst of the worst” sub-human monsters ever encountered in modern times as justification for their policies and practices of treating said prisoners as sub-human via decades of what is clearly a form of solitary confinement with sensory deprivation – and yet, as soon as these men agree to become state stooges via debriefing, they are no longer a threat and are released to the sensitive needs yard (protective custody) general population prison of their choice?

One of the main reasons they are able to continue to get away with their BS is the failure of the people to hold the lawmakers responsible.

I’ve been in the SHU for 28.4 years, to date, 24.7 years of which has been here in PBSP-SHU. [Editor’s note: This was written Dec. 30, 2014.] I’ve been challenging prison conditions in the courts since 1988, which is viewed as challenging prisoncrats’ authority, and up until our 2011 hunger strike protest, I’d never been formally charged with a gang related rule violation. (During our hunger strike I was issued two rule violations classified as serious. They were for: a) having a photo of my longtime friend; and b) a letter that someone had sent me, a stranger who represented herself as a supporter of our cause and wanted to be a pen pal. Staff gave me the letter, and then came around later and confiscated it and wrote me up.)

The above is intended to put the following into some perspective: Based on my personal experience in PBSP SHU during the past 24.7 years, I’ve experienced many techniques designed to break me. One is isolation from my social group. This is a tactic used here by prisoncrats to physically remove those prisoners deemed “problematic” to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or weaken close emotional ties, along with segregation of all natural leaders.

I’ve been challenging prison conditions in the courts since 1988, which is viewed as challenging prisoncrats’ authority, and up until our 2011 hunger strike protest, I’d never been formally charged
with a gang related rule violation.

What prisoncrats like to do is claim that this place can’t be considered a solitary confinement unit because you have eight cells to each pod and thus the prisoners in each pod are able to talk to each other. But here is how it actually operates. If you are deemed a “problematic” prisoner by any of the staff – for example, if you are a prisoner who is constantly challenging the prisoncrats’ policies and practices – their way of subjecting you to an informal form of punishment or to try to break you is to put you in a pod where there are no other people of your social group.

Artwork accompanies writing at this SF Bay View link
http://sfbayview.com/2015/01/the-way-forward-to-end-solitary-confinement-torture-wheres-the-army/

Continue reading