California Solitary Confinement Prisoner Faces Retaliation, Takes Guards to Court

For Immediate Release – Friday, November 20, 2015

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

SAN FRANCISCO – Pelican Bay State Prison guards are being tried for civil rights violations and retaliation against Jesse Perez, a prisoner who was held in the prison’s notorious solitary confinement units for 10 years. The civil lawsuit  hearings began Monday in San Francisco federal district court.

In opening statements, Perez’s legal team accused the prison guards of retaliating against him – stripping him, trashing his cell, destroying his property, filing a false rule violation against him that would have extended his time in solitary, and illegally confiscating his writings critical of his conditions of confinement.

In 2005, Perez filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for his placement in solitary, challenging the process by which he was labeled a “gang affiliate.” His case was settled in 2012, and Perez received a monetary award as well as the right to have his gang affiliation reevaluated.

Perez’s suit claims the guards attacked him and destroyed his property just days after his 2012 settlement. His attorneys are arguing that guards retaliated against Perez for exercising his right to file a lawsuit. Perez has also been politically outspoken and participated in the historic California hunger strikes that started inside of Pelican Bay’s solitary units, another reason Perez claims prison guards targeted him.

In a written account published by the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, Perez states “As prisoner activists seeking to make positive contributions to the interest and human dignity of prisoners, we understand that the trappings of power enjoyed by guards represent the biggest obstacle to significant and lasting progress.” By filing the lawsuit, Perez writes that he seeks the “opportunity to shine a public light at trial and rein in what prisoner activists often endure in exercising their constitutional rights: the retaliatory abuse of the department’s disciplinary process by prison guards.”

Perez’s case is not the only instance of guards’ retaliation against prisoners for their basic expression of civil rights and political activism. Since August 2 of this year, just as a landmark victory settlement for prisoners in civil rights case Ashker v. Brown was being finalized (which significantly reduces California’s ability to keep people in solitary confinement), guards began depriving prisoners in solitary of sleep.  Guards continue this sleep deprivation, now for 109 days.

Perez’s trial, presided over by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, will resume today, with closing statements expected.

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

3 thoughts on “California Solitary Confinement Prisoner Faces Retaliation, Takes Guards to Court

  1. Right on! I’m delighted that some ppl wI’ll fight the system at all&any cost. Numbers move people& intimidate prison officials. My husband spent 25+ yrs total in solitary confinement. He is deceased now but told me of the horrid stories through the yrs that at occur to inmates who were not strong enough 2 endure solitary confinement. I’m glad yrs.later….a hand full are still committed to fight to the end.

  2. as i read this and the experiences of Perez and others for just trying to exercise there basic rights and the backlash many receive just for trying little to improve there miserable quality of life it fucken sickens me what those prison guards do to punish them for speaking out and for speaking up on conditions etc. i know how it is to have power hungry guards or cops abuse you and there power and go into your car/house or your cell and start searching everything inside and throwing everything around as rough and irresponsibly as they can until they destroy or damage some if not all of your property! they can be real assholes when they are seeking to make you pay for speaking up and exposing them! its like this they try there best to discourage you from exercising your rights especially if what you are doing is bringing about positive change in the prison and in your daily life or quality of life its as if they take it personal and like if any positive change in your quality of life is a personal affront to them go figure? i swear i hate them! and its totally there fault for making me feel this way i mean sure there are some cool guards and cops out there right? but the majority are assholes! ps. good luck to all of my brothers in the struggle. fight the real enemy/recognize your real enemy my brothers. get as many law abiding citizens good people with political connections/money etc. on the outside get them on your side and to sympathize on your plight but the only way you will do that is to fight the legal way and to show some class along with persistence. god bless!

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