The Agreement to End Hostilities in its 4th Year: Read and Spread the Word!

From the Prisoner Human Rights Movement:
Today it is four years since the Agreement to End Hostilities was issued from the Pelican Bay SHU by the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective and the Representatives Body. The text of the Agreement stands strong, and we encourage you all to spread the word and keep to it. It is and has been the basis of our success in fighting for our human rights. United we stand!

Agreement to End Hostilities in Spanish and English (flyer to download)

Statement to the Streets and All Youth Lock-ups, from Youth Justice Coalition, and Agreement to End Hostilities in English (flyer to download)

Statement to the Streets and All Youth Lock-ups, from Youth Justice Coalition in Spanish and English (flyer to download)

August 12, 2012

To whom it may concern and all California Prisoners:

Greetings from the entire PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Hunger Strike Representatives. We are hereby presenting this mutual agreement on behalf of all racial groups here in the PBSP-SHU Corridor. Wherein, we have arrived at a mutual agreement concerning the following points:

1. If we really want to bring about substantive meaningful changes to the CDCR system in a manner beneficial to all solid individuals, who have never been broken by CDCR’s torture tactics intended to coerce one to become a state informant via debriefing, that now is the time to for us to collectively seize this moment in time, and put an end to more than 20-30 years of hostilities between our racial groups.

2. Therefore, beginning on October 10, 2012, all hostilities between our racial groups… in SHU, Ad-Seg, General Population, and County Jails, will officially cease. This means that from this date on, all racial group hostilities need to be at an end… and if personal issues arise between individuals, people need to do all they can to exhaust all diplomatic means to settle such disputes; do not allow personal, individual issues to escalate into racial group issues!!

3. We also want to warn those in the General Population that IGI will continue to plant undercover Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY) debriefer “inmates” amongst the solid GP prisoners with orders from IGI to be informers, snitches, rats, and obstructionists, in order to attempt to disrupt and undermine our collective groups’ mutual understanding on issues intended for our mutual causes [i.e., forcing CDCR to open up all GP main lines, and return to a rehabilitative-type system of meaningful programs/privileges, including lifer conjugal visits, etc. via peaceful protest activity/noncooperation e.g., hunger strike, no labor, etc. etc.]. People need to be aware and vigilant to such tactics, and refuse to allow such IGI inmate snitches to create chaos and reignite hostilities amongst our racial groups. We can no longer play into IGI, ISU, OCS, and SSU’s old manipulative divide and conquer tactics!!!

In conclusion, we must all hold strong to our mutual agreement from this point on and focus our time, attention, and energy on mutual causes beneficial to all of us [i.e., prisoners], and our best interests. We can no longer allow CDCR to use us against each other for their benefit!! Because the reality is that collectively, we are an empowered, mighty force, that can positively change this entire corrupt system into a system that actually benefits prisoners, and thereby, the public as a whole… and we simply cannot allow CDCR/CCPOA – Prison Guard’s Union, IGI, ISU, OCS, and SSU, to continue to get away with their constant form of progressive oppression and warehousing of tens of thousands of prisoners, including the 14,000 (+) plus prisoners held in solitary confinement torture chambers [i.e. SHU/Ad-Seg Units], for decades!!!

We send our love and respects to all those of like mind and heart… onward in struggle and solidarity…

Presented by the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective:

Todd Ashker, C58191, D4 121
Arturo Castellanos, C17275, D1-121
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C35671, D1-117
Antonio Guillen, P81948, D2-106

And the Representatives Body:
Danny Troxell, B76578, D1-120
George Franco, D46556, D4-217
Ronnie Yandell, V27927, D4-215
Paul Redd, B72683, D2-117
James Baridi Williamson, D-34288. D4-107
Alfred Sandoval, D61000, D4-214
Louis Powell, B59864, D2 – 117
Alex Yrigollen, H32421, D2-204
Gabriel Huerta, C80766, D3-222
Frank Clement, D07919, D3-116
Raymond Chavo Perez, K12922, D1-219
James Mario Perez, B48186, D3-124

[NOTE: All names and the statement must be verbatim when used & posted on any website or media, or non-media, publications.]

DYING TO LIVE Wisconsin Hunger Strike 65th day, Prisoners Justice Day Aug 10th, Nationwide (U.S.)Work Stoppage Sept 9th

DYING TO LIVE Hunger Strike Continuesdying to live flier for july 5th.png

The Dying to Live Hunger Strike in Wisconsin has gone on for 65 days! Strikers demand an end to indefinite solitary confinement, what the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WI DOC) calls Administrative Confinement (AC). On June 17 the DOC requested and got approval to force feed the hunger striking prisoners. Cesar DeLeon and LaRon McKinley began refusing food on June 7, and the WI DOC has been force feeding them in retaliation since June 17.

A coalition of supporters led by Milwaukee IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee are mounting a big solidarity demo on Aug 13th and calling for support actions elsewhere. Read about that here.

Prisoners’ Justice Day – August 10thjustice-day

Today, August 10, hundreds of events across Canada and the world, in solidarity with the Canadian Prisoners’ Justice Day, a day of mourning, remembrance, advocacy and protest.

Prisoners’ Justice Day is a day set aside to remember all the men and women who have died unnatural deaths inside Canadian prisons. August 10th marks the anniversary of the suicide death of Edward Nalon in a segregation cell in Millhaven Penitentiary on Aug. 10, 1974. History here.

Advocates as well as prisoners themselves have also marked the day to bring much needed attention to issues such as the conditions inside prisoners, the harmful practice of segregation or solitary confinement, the unnatural deaths, lack of access to medication and mental health services, and other justice and rights issues.

The day helps bring a voice to some of the stories of injustice and human rights abuses that occur within the prison system and may otherwise not receive much attention. The day brings critical attention to the fundamental rights of prisoners.

Some of the issues that are advocated for include access to proper heath care, fair legal representation behind prison walls and standing up against the inhumane conditions of solitary cells, often referred to as Special Handling Units.

What started as a one time event behind the walls of Millhaven Prison has become an international day of solidarity. On this day, August 10th, prisoners around the world fast, refuse to work, and remain in their cells while those of us on the outside organize to show our solidarity with those struggling behind the bars, to show that they are not forgotten and to draw attention to the conditions inside prisons.

Read More here: http://www.cdnaids.ca/prisonersjusticeday-august10th

SEPT 9, 2016 Prisoner Work Stoppage

Sept9Strike

Prisoners across the US have called for a nationally coordinated work stoppage and protest starting on Sept 9 2016, the 45th anniversary of Attica. The safety of these prisoners and the effectiveness of the protest depend greatly on outside support. There is a robust and expanding outside support network that you or your organization could join to participate in this, the first prisoner protest of its kind.

People throughout the country are mobilizing for the upcoming September 9 strike (work stoppage), from NYC to Durham to Oakland. This week, at Ohio State Penitentiary, Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, one of the key spokespeople for the Sep 9 movement, was visited by Ohio State Highway Patrol.

In Spring of 2016, prisoners from across the U.S. released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016. Get their full announcement as a zine PDF. En Espanol or mailroom friendly

This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America

In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.

On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.

Read Full Announcement here: http://tinyurl.com/oa7m2vt

If you’re planning something in connection with the September 9th work stoppage and protest, please share it with prisonerresistance@gmail.com

 

June 23: TOGETHER TO END SOLITARY Actions

Ithaca, NY  Oakland, CA —  Queens, NY 
San Diego, CA  — San Jose, CA —  Santa Cruz, CA

June is Torture Awareness Month. Click on the large titles below to see action details for June 23rd.

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement began in March 2014 on the 23rd of every month -in recognition of the 23 or more hours a day that people in solitary spend in their cells. Monthly action coordination soon began nationwide, Together to End Solitary.  Please participate in a public action or event  planned in your area, or get one going yourself- however big or small.  Endorsing organizations here.

Email togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com or phssreachingout@gmail.com for more info and to share upcoming actions to end solitary or reportbacks.

Ithaca, NY: Vigil- Together to End Solitary

5:00pm – 6:30pm
Please join our VIGIL to end solitary confinement. Organized by CAIC, Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, in partnership with Amnesty International. …Read More…

 

Oakland, CA: Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

11:00am – 2:00pm
Please participate in an informational demonstration on Thursday, in conjunction with actions all over California and throughout the U.S. Connect with family members, formerly incarcerated people, activists, and attorneys who struggle for prisoner human rights. Unity inside, unity outside! … Read More…

 

NYC End Solitary Confinement Demonstration and Speakout

6:00pm – 7:30pm
This month we will be in Queens at Athens Square in Astoria at 30th Ave. & 30th Street (near the 30th Ave stop of the N/Q). The two legislators in this area, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and State Senator Michael Gianaris have been invited to attend. The former has signed on as a co-sponsor of the HALT (Humane Alternatives) to Solitary Confinement A4401/S2659. Come and join us.

 

San Diego, CA: Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Join California Families Against Solitary Confinement and the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project in our monthly action. We will be out talking with people and providing information to END SOLITARY CONFINEMENT and PROMOTE THE AGREEMENT TO END HOSTILITIES. We ask you also to help us stop the current SLEEP DEPRIVATION TORTURE in solitary units. Please come stand (or sit) with us for an hour or two after the work day. …Read More…

 

San Jose, CA: Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

5:00pm – 6:00pm

San Jose – 23rd of Each Month! (no more keeping people in isolation 23+ hours a day)  We will distribute leaflets and wear signs on our shirts demanding the end of the Sleep Deprivation and the end of Solitary Confinement. …Read More…

 

Santa Cruz, CA: Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

12:00pm – 2:00pm
RALLY, SPEAK-OUT, READER’S THEATER Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/988617214527474/

STOP SLEEP DEPRIVATION  The CA prisoners’ 2012 Agreement to End Hostilities between racial/ethnic and geographic groups made possible the Prisoner Hunger Strike of 2013 by over 30,000 CA prisoners and 100’s more nationwide. Prisoners’ human rights organizing has built an amazing movement and led to the historic 2015 settlement ending indefinite solitary confinement in CANow people are being awakened by guards every 30 minutes day and night in CA solitary confinement units: * in Central CA Women’s Facility Administrative Segregation death row since May 18, 2014 and * in Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) since August 2, 2015 …Read More…

We Stand in Solidarity with Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Wisconsin

“Dying to Live” Humanitarian Food Refusal Campaign Against Torture
On June 10, 2016, Wisconsin prisoners held in long term solitary confinement at Waupun Correctional Institution and Columbia Correctional Institution began a “Food Refusal Campaign.” They wish to bring the horror of prolonged solitary confinement to the public’s attention and to end this torturous practice throughout Wisconsin prisons.  Solitary confinement for more than 15 days has been deemed “torture” by the United Nations, but the Wisconsin Department of Corrections holds prisoners in isolation for decades. Join us in supporting these prisoners who are making a courageous sacrifice for human rights, dignity, and an end to solitary torture.

PHSS Statement of Solidarity
California’s Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) stands in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike in Wisconsin in protest of prolonged solitary confinement. 

Social isolation, sensory deprivation and forced idleness are now recognized as seriously harmful to human beings.  Solitary confinement has been condemned, not only by prisoners, former prisoners and their families, but also by mental health professionals, academics, the religious community, the United Nations, President Obama, Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and even some prison officials.  It is unfortunate that Wisconsin prisoners have to resort to a hunger strike to be heard by prison officials and other authorities. 

Participation in a collective hunger strike requires bravery, social commitment, mental strength and a willingness to risk one’s own well-being.  Hunger strikes are not entered into lightly and must be taken seriously.  The six humanitarian demands of these hunger strikers are reasonable.

Like the Wisconsin prisoners today, in 2011 and 2013 California prisoners protested prolonged solitary confinement by participating in peaceful hunger strikes.  Those actions led to significant changes to California’s prison policies.  We urge Wisconsin officials to re-examine and change their own policies, meet with the hunger strikers and meaningfully resolve these human rights issues amicably and speedily.

  • STATEMENTS FROM PRISONERS who are leading the campaign: Uhuru and Cesar

LETTER WRITING LAUNCH to end harmful “security / welfare checks”

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:

 Write to:
Lindsay M. Hayes

40 Lantern Lane
Mansfield, MA 02048

Copy to:
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
phssreachingout@gmail.com

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.

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June 11 Chicano Mexicano Prison Project (CMPP) Annual Conference: Stop the Lockup of Raza Communities

The 18th Conference on Prisons and Colonialism will focus on the lockdown of Raza men and women in the prison system.  It will also highlight how these lockdowns have broken up our communities by targeting our youth with gang injunctions that go hand in hand with gentrification and the selling off of our barrios.

Conf2016flat

Conf2016spanishflat

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1690046227926010/

This year’s conference is being held in the heart of Barrio Logan because it has been a community that is under attack not only from predatory developers but also from businesses that see our communities as easy pickings.  In addition, police/migra participate in these repressions by carrying out raids and restricting the movement of our gente with injunctions and checkpoints, imprisoning us in our own neighborhoods, in our own land.

The Chicano Mexicano Prison Project calls on our community and allies to support this year’s conference to expose the prison industrial complex and the school-to-prison pipeline. Join us and participate in this important conference. Be part of the discussion on ways we can defend our people.

¡Venceremos!
Chicano Mexicano Prison Project
a project of Unión del Barrio 

Saturday, June 11
10am-2pm
1880 Logan Ave
San Diego, CA 92113

Report back from Prisoner Representatives’ first monitoring meeting with CDCR

published by the Center for Constitutional Rights
May 23, 2016

Last September, in Ashker v. Governor of California, California prisoners reached an historic settlement agreement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) that is bringing an end to indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons. The Settlement Agreement includes hard-won (and unprecedented) periodic meetings between the CDCR and the prisoners who initiated the lawsuit and led the protests against long term solitary confinement. Below is a report back from the first of these meetings, from lead plaintiff in the case and prisoner representative, Todd Ashker.

I was very pleased to participate in this historic meeting with CDCR officials, which we negotiated in our Settlement Agreement.  I think it is the first time that representatives of prisoners have had this kind of discussion with leaders of any correction department; it is certainly the only time it has happened here in California, the world’s largest prison system.  We were especially pleased that high-ranking prison officials were at the meeting.

At the beginning of this first meeting, it became clear that there was a misunderstanding about its function.  CDCR thought the meeting was for us to listen to them.  Why would we put a term into our Settlement that would have us listen to them?  We listen to them every second of our lives.   We see the purpose of these calls as an opportunity for us to be heard and to have a discussion with people in authority.

Despite this initial confusion, we were able to lead the meeting. CDCR got unfiltered information from prisoners who know what is going on in their prison cells and yards.  We are a leadership group the CDCR knows.  They know we have integrity.  The information we shared at the meeting came not only from the experiences of us four main reps, but also from the other veterans of the SHU, members of our class who have written and met with our attorneys.

We raised in strong terms that some of us who have made it to General Population yards are essentially in modified SHUs (Security Housing Units), in some respects worse than Pelican Bay SHU, although in some respects better.   Conditions, policies and practices that we are experiencing in some of the General Population yards are not what we expected when we settled our case.  After spending decades in solitary we cannot accept many of these conditions.  Too many prisoners are simply warehoused, and there are not enough jobs or programs to give us skills, engage our minds and prepare us to return to our communities.  Guards need training in ‘professional’ behavior.   Bullying and humiliation should never be tolerated.

CDCR may have been surprised at the tenor, strength and substance of our approach.   We expect at the next meeting, we will all understand the agenda and purpose well ahead of time.   We also think a longer meeting will allow for a full discussion and useful interaction.  We hope CDCR officials come to welcome these historic meetings as useful because they will be if prisoners’ perspectives are heard, used and received by them.

May 20th-23rd: Together to End Solitary Events/Actions

Bronx, NY — Ithaca, NY  — Manhasset, NY— Oakland, CA Richmond, CA — San Diego, CA  — San Jose, CA —San Francisco, CA —  Santa Cruz, CA —  Staten Island, NY

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement began in March 2014 on the 23rd of every month -in recognition of the 23 hours or more per day that people in solitary spend in their cells. Monthly action coordination soon began nationwide, Together to End Solitary.  Please participate in these public actions and events planned in your area, or get one going yourself- however big or small. Here is a great brochure you can print and distribute!
Together to End Solitary BrochureDownload, print two-sided, and fold

Click HERE for more literature to hand out at California actions.

Click on the action/event titles for details.  The below listing includes events on May 20, 21, 22, and 23rd.  Please email togethertoendsolitary@gmail.com or phssreachingout@gmail.com for more info and to share your action details!

Oakland, CA: CARE NOT CAGES, with film “Breaking Down the Box”

Friday, May 20th    7:00pm 9:00pm
685 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612, USA

 

Richmond, CA: SOLITARY MAN – My Visit to Pelican Bay State Prison

Saturday, May 21st    4:00pm 6:30pm
551 23rd St, Richmond, CA 94804, USA

 

Staten Island Performance: Mariposa & the Saint

Saturday, May 21st     7:00pm 9:30pm
1 Campus Rd, Staten Island, NY 10301, USA

 

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Prisoner Human Rights Movement BLUE PRINT

(FULL BLUE PRINT pdf- all docs-284pgs)
Overview
Table of Contents
Blue Print core document
Appendix

BLUE PRINT

The declaration on protection of all persons from being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 3452 (XXX) of December 9, 1975. The Declaration contains 12 Articles, the first of which defines the term “torture” as:

“Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining his or a third person’s information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other persons.”

FREEDOM OUTREACH PRODUCTION
December 1, 2015

 

PRISONER HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT
#1
Blue Print Overview

California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (“CDCr”) has systemic and dysfunctional problems that run rampant state-wide (within both Cal.’s Women and Men prisons), which demand this California government to take immediate action and institute measures to effect genuine tangible changes throughout CDCr on all levels.

The entire state government was notified and made aware of this “Dysfunctional” CDCr prison system in 2004 when its own governmental CIRP blue ribbon commission (authorized by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) reported this finding and fact. (See http://www.immagic.com/eLibrary/ARCHIVES/GENERAL/CAGOV_US/C040600D.pdf; also see Prison Legal News article, “CA Corrections System Officially Declared Dysfuntional.”)

However, this CDCr state of “dysfunction” was not new to the massive number of women, men and youth being kept warehoused in CDCr, because they face it daily. (See Cal. Prison Focus News, 1990s-Present, Prisoner Reports/Investigation and Findings; San Francisco Bay View News Articles; ROCK & PHSS Newsletters, etc.)

During the historic California Prisoners’ Hunger Strikes (2011-2013), tens of thousands of men and women prisoners in CDCr’s solitary confinement torture prisons, as well as a third of the general population prisoners, united in solidarity in a peaceful protest to expose this dysfunctional system officially reported in 2004 by the CIRP.

The Prisoner Human Right’s Movement (PHRM) Blue Print is essentially designed to deal with identifying and resolving primary contradictions by focusing on the various problems of CDCr’s dysfunction, including (but not limited to) the following areas… [read full OVERVIEW Here]

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS for Blue Print

OVERVIEW by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

Prisoner Human Rights Movement BLUE PRINT

Prisoner Human Rights Movement (“PHRM”)

PHRM Principle Negotiators, Reps, Plaintiffs, Local Councils

I. Monitoring Reports on 33 State Prisons

II. Monitoring Implementation of the Ashker v. Brown Settlement Agreement

III. Instituting the Agreement to End Hostilities

IV. Legal PHRM Political Education

V. Freedom Outreach

Conclusion

APPENDIX

All Appendices can be found at www.prisonerhumanrightsmovement.org

#1 (A) Five Core Demands; &
(B)
Agreement to End Hostilities

#2 Second Amended Complaint, Ashker v. Brown

#3 Supplemental Complaint, Ashker v. Brown

#4 Settlement Agreement, Ashker v. Brown

#5 PHRM’s Principle Negotiators’ Statements on 2nd Anniversary of the Agreement to End Hostilities

#6 (A) Example Monitoring Report w/ Exhibit; &
(B)
Example Monitoring Record

#7 (A) CA Assembly Public Safety Committee Legislative Hearing on CDCr SHU policy, 8/23/2011
(B)
CA Joint Legislative Hearing on CA Solitary Confinement, 10/9/2013

#8 – Mediation team publications

(A) Mediation Team Memorandum on Meetings with CDCr Officials, (3/26/12)
(B) Mediation Team Memorandum on Meetings with CDCr Officials, (3/15/13)
(C) Mediation Team Memorandum on meetings with CDCr Officials, (2/20/15)

#9 – PHRM LEGAL PRISON ACTIVISM EDUCATION Packets*:

(A) LEARN TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS
(B)
MEMORANDUM ON UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF CDCR’s STG/SDP (Feb. 2015)

* To receive Educational Materials (Appendix #9), please write and send, for the cost of the mailing, either eleven dollars and fifty cents ($11.50) or the equivalent in postage stamps to:

Freedom Outreach/PHRM
Fruitvale Station
PO Box 7359
Oakland, CA 94601-3023

 

PRISONER HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT

We are beacons of collective building, while clearly understanding that We, the beacons, must take a protracted internal and external retrospective analysis of our present-day prisons’ concrete conditions to forge our Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM) onward into the next stage of development, thereby exposing California Department of Corruption and Repression (CDCr)/United States Prison System of Cultural Discrimination against our Prisoner Class. This is why our lives must be embedded in our determined human rights laws, based on our constructive development of the continuous liberation struggle via our scientific methods and laws. Therefore, through our Prisoner Class, the concrete conditions in each prison/U.S. prisons shall be constructed through our Prisoner Human Rights Movement.

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Prison Labor Strike in Alabama: “We Will No Longer Contribute to Our Own Oppression”

Prison Labor Strike in Alabama: “We Will No Longer Contribute to Our Own Oppression”

http://solitarywatch.com/2016/05/05/prison-labor-strike-in-alabama-we-will-no-longer-contribute-to-our-own-oppression/

Jack Denton – May 5, 2016

Despite being held in solitary confinement for years, men known as Kinetik, Dhati, and Brother M, primary leaders of the Free Alabama Movement, have been instrumental in organizing a statewide prison work stoppage in Alabama that began on Sunday, May 1. Currently, the prison labor strike has begun at Alabama’s Holman, Staton, and Elmore Correctional Facilities. St. Clair’s stoppage will begin on May 9, with Donaldson and other correctional facilities to follow soon after. The current plan is for the work stoppage to last 30 days, although the Movement’s leaders said the length of the strike is contingent on the cooperation of legislators in regard to reforming the prison labor system and the conditions of the prisons. The Free Alabama Movement is an activist network of incarcerated men, spanning numerous state prisons across Alabama.

Participants report that, apparently in retaliation against the work stoppage, the entire populations of the striking prisons have been served significantly smaller meal portions this week, a tactic called “bird feeding” that is sometimes used by prison guards to put pressure on prisoners through malnourishment. “They are trying to starve a nigga into compliance,” said one man, who estimated that his meals had been reduced by more than 60 percent of his normal serving size. Prisons that have not begun striking, but are soon scheduled to, like St. Clair, are also allegedly being bird-fed. “The food is always garbage,” said one man, “but it’s usually a lot more than this.”

Additionally, the entire populations of Alabama’s striking prisons–including the general prison population not usually in 23 hour a day segregation–have been placed in indefinite solitary confinement. A statement released by the Alabama Department of Corrections calls this a “lockdown with limited inmate movement” that will persist “while ADOC investigates the situation.” Holman was also placed on lockdown in March following an uprising in which a correctional officer and the warden were stabbed after intervening in a fight, and prisoners briefly set fire to hallways.

The prisoner work stoppage is a nonviolent protest against many of the conditions in Alabama’s prisons, especially against the unpaid prison labor that makes money for private companies and the state of Alabama. During the stoppage, Alabama’s incarcerated will refuse to leave their cells to perform the jobs that they usually perform each day for little to no pay. These range from the many jobs that allow the prison to function (such as serving food) to “industry” jobs (which allow private companies to profit off of prison labor). These “industry” jobs are the only jobs in Alabama prisons that pay at all, though the pay rates are negligible, ranging from $0.17 to $0.30 an hour.

At Holman, the industry jobs are done at the tag plant that makes license plates for the state of Alabama and the sewing factory that makes sheets and pillowcases for Alabama’s state prisons. Elmore contains a canning and recycling plant, and St. Clair contains a vehicle restoration and chemical plant that, according to the Free Alabama Movement, produces more than $25 million worth of chemicals a year.

The use of prison labor in Alabama by private, for-profit companies was legalized by the Alabama state legislature in 2012. “We are going to put our prisoners to work. They are going to be paid a reasonable wage,” Alabama state representative and bill sponsor Jim McClendon told AL.com at the time. Since then, Alabama has developed 17 different prison labor industries at correctional facilities across the state.

Alabama’s incarcerated are regularly charged what they call “outrageous fines” and fees, despite the fact that they are paid nothing, or only a few cents an hour, for their labor. “Our mass incarceration is a form of slavery, because we’re not being paid for our work, but we’re being charged outrageous fines,” one man told Solitary Watch. Required fees include $4 for armbands, $4 for identification cards, and $31.50 for a urinalysis test. Prisoners are charged $200 to petition a court, which is their only way to file a complaint, since Alabama’s prisons have no grievance procedure.

Incarcerated individuals are also charged $25 dollars for being caught with a cell-phone the first time, $50 the second time, and $75 the third. The fine goes up by $25 each time, despite the fact that correctional officers sell the phones to prisoners, and that the phones are primarily used by the incarcerated to contact their families. These families are required to cover the costs of these fines and fees incurred by their loved ones inside, since prison labor is unpaid or barely paid. “This is extortion; there’s no other way to put it,” said another man.

The Free Alabama Movement is not just hoping for change in the practices of their individual facilities, but for legal change in Montgomery. “Our problem is with the legislature,” Dhati told Solitary Watch. “No one within these facilities can resolve these issue for us. We have a spokesperson outside of prison that will give our demands to the state legislature for us.”

That spokesperson is Kenneth Sharpton Glasgow, a Dothan, Alabama, pastor and the younger brother of Al Sharpton. Glasgow is the director of The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS), a nonprofit that serves as a halfway house for many people recently released from Alabama prisons, providing them food, housing, addiction counseling, and job training. Glasgow has long been an advocate for incarcerated people, having once served 15 years himself on drug-related charges. During the work stoppage, Glasgow said, “I am the advocate for the Free Alabama Movement…I am here to make sure their voices are heard.”

Last Thursday, Glasgow visited the statehouse in Montgomery to speak to state legislators about the work stoppage and the Movement’s demands. Glasgow told Solitary Watch that he will also be back in Montgomery later this week. He said that he had already received supportive comments from the state legislature’s Democratic caucus.

When reached for comment, the Alabama Department of Corrections refused to answer specific questions, but pointed to a press release sent out on Monday, May 2, that alleged, despite Glasgow’s advocacy as a spokesperson for the Free Alabama Movement, that the DOC had not been “given any demands, or a reason for refusing to work.”

A statement from the Free Alabama Movement, that they said was sent to the Alabama DOC on Monday, makes it clear that their chief demand is the abolition of unpaid prison labor, which they consider to be slavery. The work stoppage is “about the 13th Amendment, the Alabama Constitution of 1901 and the Statutory Laws discriminatorily enacted from both,” the document states. Currently, the text of the 13th Amendment of the Constitution outlaws slavery for all “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” Other demands include the improvement of the unsanitary living quarters and drinking water in Alabama’s prisons, and the creation of a grievance procedure in Alabama’s prisons. “We will no longer contribute to our own oppression,” Kinetik said. “We will no longer continue to work for free and be treated like this.” Dhati called the nonviolent work stoppage “an economic solution to an economic problem.”

What the movement calls their “deplorable conditions of confinement” refers not only to the cleanliness of the cells, but also to the negligence those in solitary confinement experience. Every cell in the solitary confinement unit at Alabama’s Holman State Correctional Facility is equipped with a call button, to be used to summon prison guards for help in an emergency. Despite their apparent function, these buttons fail to send a signal to the guards or elsewhere, so prisoners’ requests for help often go unheeded.

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