STOP SLEEP DEPRIVATION in CA Solitary Units in Pelican Bay SHU and Women’s Death Row
Please write letters to Lindsay Hayes, the suicide expert who’s endorsed this harmful practice by CA Dept. of Corrections. Hayes can stop the “security/welfare checks.” We want Hayes to hear the voices of the women and men affected by these torturous checks, and we ask you to be the messengers.
Use these templates and prisoner quotes, and send to the listed addresses:
- Short TEMPLATE LETTER to Hayes http://wp.me/P1BB1k-2IM
- Longer TEMPLATE LETTER to Hayes http://wp.me/P1BB1k-2Je
- QUOTES from Pelican Bay SHU & Central CA Women’s Facility death row about checks http://wp.me/P1BB1k-2K5
Lindsay M. Hayes
40 Lantern Lane
Mansfield, MA 02048
Matthew A. Lopes, Jr.
Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC
317 Iron Horse Way, Suite 301
Providence, RI 02908
If possible, send us a copy of your letter, either by U.S. mail or email:
PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation
P.O. Box 5692
Eureka, CA 95502
“The negative health consequences of inadequate sleep ha[ve] been extensively documented and nowhere in the literature is there a report on as severe a disruption in sleep as is occurring in the Pelican Bay SHU.”
– Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, internationally recognized sleep expert, Oct. 2015
Guards are jarring prisoners awake every 30 minutes, all day and night, in Central California Women’s Facility death row and in Pelican Bay SHU with noisy so-called “security/ welfare checks,” causing severe sleep deprivation. These checks are purported to be ‘suicide prevention,’ yet are being used as a blanket practice, whether prisoners are suicidal or not, and despite the fact that denial of sleep is devastating for the human mind and body.
“This is torture. We are being emotionally, mentally and physically battered by the security checks throughout the nights.” – 20 death row prisoners in Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)
People need sleep for survival, mental and physical health and well-being, and to organize for their human rights.
In the federal lawsuit, Coleman v. Brown, regarding CDCr’s inadequate mental health treatment for seriously mentally ill CA prisoners, Lindsay Hayes is the suicide expert, and Matthew Lopes is the Special Master charged with overseeing prison reform and compliance concerning care of seriously mentally ill inmates. Hayes and Lopes could stop the “security/welfare checks.”
We are launching a letter writing campaign to Lindsay Hayes and want copies sent to Matthew Lopes.
Here’s what we need you to do.
Organizations and Individuals:
- Please choose from one of the template letters linked above.
- Personalize your letter, use the templates as a guide, or just print and sign. Personalized letters often carry more weight than a form letter.
- Linked are quotes from people suffering the checks in Pelican Bay SHU and CCWF death row. Please include their voices in your letter. We would like all of these quotes to get sent, so choose ones that speak best for you.
- Send your letter to the suicide expert, Hayes, and a copy to the Special Master, Lopes. Addresses above. Please write your contact information on the letter and your return address on the envelopes.
- If possible, send PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation a copy of your letter, either by U.S. mail or email. Addresses above
- If you are able, set up tables at events and get other people to write letters. Ask them to sign printed templates, personalize their letters as much as possible, and write their return address on the envelopes. Fliers for tables are linked below.
For more info, click on the “Sleep Deprivation” tab at prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com (Sleep Expert Reports, Media Articles, Videos, Personal Testimonies, Attorney Reports, Scientific Articles, Letters in Opposition).
The Jail and Prison Health Committee of the American Public Health Association issued the following statement at the APHA Annual Meeting, November 2, 2015:
The 30-minute checks should cease or be suspended until they can be done quietly or are replaced by another method. There are other strategies for suicide prevention that can be pursued in prison contexts that do not result in the suffering caused by the approach at Pelican Bay. (American Public Health Association, Standards for Health Services in Correctional Institutions; World Health Organization, Preventing Suicide in Prison, 2007.)
These mental health professionals and sleep experts concur.
So please get out your pens and let’s get a flood of letters to stop the sleep deprivation!
• Sleep Expert and Psychiatrist Reports about 30 minute “welfare checks” http://wp.me/p1BB1k-2jv
• American Public Health Association (APHA) Letter opposing the checks http://wp.me/P1BB1k-27L
• Full page Informational Flier- Stop Sleep Deprivation http://tinyurl.com/z7s6utd
• 1/2 Sheet Flier- Stop Sleep Deprivation http://tinyurl.com/h45y2qc
48 times a day, so-called “security/welfare checks” are subjecting people in small solitary cells to:
- reverberating “booms” of steel unit doors opening and slamming shut,
- guards stomping through pods, up and downstairs,
- rattling keys and chains,
- beeping and banging Guard One metal pipes on metal buttons and cells,
- shining flashlights in their eyes.
The checks must stop. They are causing sleep deprivation, which is TORTURE. The checks serve no welfare or security purpose; they are only harming the prisoners, mentally and physically.
It appears CDCr is attempting to prevent effective human rights work by prisoners in solitary by instituting a debilitating and internationally-condemned torture technique: sleep deprivation.
Prisoners in solitary have effectively organized to bring the world’s attention to the torture tactics of California’s prison system. The CA prisoners’ 2012 Agreement to End Hostilities between racial/ethnic and geographic groups (initiated by people in Pelican Bay SHU), made possible the CA Prisoner Hunger Strike of 2013 by more than 30,000 CA prisoners and 100’s more nationwide. Their human rights organizing has grown unity between prisoners, sparked a mass movement to end solitary confinement, and led to the historic 2015 settlement ending indefinite solitary confinement in CA.
The so-called “security/welfare checks” first began in Pelican Bay SHU in late May 2013, before prisoners began the largest hunger strike in history (started on July 8, 2013). People locked in Pelican Bay SHU reported “They [guards] are waking us up every 30 minutes, trying to break us before the strike. But, we’re not going to let it stop us.” The checks in Pelican Bay SHU ceased before the 2013 hunger strike, yet started up again in August of 2015, just as the Ashker v. Brown prisoner civil rights class action settlement was finalizing.
The checks are particularly loud and distressing for people in CCWF death row, from guard aggressiveness, and in Pelican Bay SHU where cramped, concrete architecture also amplifies the noise. The checks have been ongoing at CCWF since May 18, 2014, and at Pelican Bay since August 2, 2015.
Prisoners are suffering severe stress, agitation, vomiting, faintness, depression, panic attacks, dizziness, black-outs, high blood pressure, accelerated heart rates, headaches, migraines, eye problems, weight loss, intestinal and stomach problems, and heart issues. It’s difficult to concentrate, read, write, exercise, do legal work- the things that help them survive. Deprivation of sleep increases risk of numerous chronic and potentially terminal illnesses and conditions.
Since late August 2015, there has been a grassroots campaign, legal action by prisoners and by the Ashker legal team, and an official Complaint submitted to the United Nations, with the aim of halting the checks. CDCr has ignored prisoners’ individual and group complaints and has done nothing about the mental and physical problems resulting from or exacerbated by the sleep deprivation.
The checks are an outcome of Coleman v Brown, a 1995 class action lawsuit brought against the state on behalf of prisoners with severe mental illness. No surprise, the court determined that CDCr was not providing adequate care to prisoners with mental illness. (Healthcare by CDCr is still grossly inadequate.) The “security/welfare checks” are purported to be “suicide prevention,” yet are being used as a blanket practice, whether prisoners are suicidal or not, and despite the fact that denial of sleep can cause mental illness, and may even drive someone to suicide. The suicide rates in PB SHU and CCWF death row are low; one suicide in 10 years and none in 20 years, respectively. Sleep expert Zeitzer and psychiatrist Kupers concluded people suffering from them may be at a higher suicide risk than before these checks began.
PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation
P.O. Box 5692
Eureka, CA 95502