PRISONERS UNITED IN SANTA CLARA COUNTY JAILS WIN 5 CORE DEMANDS & SACRIFICE 3 DAYS OF CUSTODY MEALS FOR THE HUNGRY

PRESS: JOSE (408) 661-2604 jose@siliconvalleydebug.org
FAMILIES: BENEE (408) 529-5971 benee@siliconvalleydebug.org

10/25/17

Though a hunger strike in Santa Clara County jails could have been avoided after jail administrators agreed to meet the core demands during the week of October 16, 2017 — Prisoners United on every floor of the Main Jail and M-5 and M-8 lockdown units in Elmwood D.O.C. refused custody meals in protest of Sheriff Smith’s insulting comment in the media. On October 19th, when asked about the possible hunger strike and jail conditions, Sheriff Smith told San Jose Inside, “We do not allow gangs to run the jails—and some of them could stand to lose a little weight. We will give their fresh food to the Salvation Army again. There are hungry people who committed no crimes and deserve a dinner.”


On October 22, 2017, Prisoners United reverted to the hunger strike to demand accountability from Sheriff Smith of Santa Clara County to do as she claimed and donate refused meals to the hungry and homeless community at the Salvation Army who are in fact largely gang impacted, overcoming drug and alcohol dependency and formerly incarcerated
. In addition, Prisoners United demanded accountability from Sheriff Smith to courageously make public the efforts between jail administrators, community organizations and the jail population to come to an agreement to meet the core demands. Unfortunately, Sheriff Smith’s comment carried a tone to rogue deputies and sergeants who responded with lockdowns, shakedowns, and canceled family visits.

Prisoners United sacrificed 3 days of custody meals to see to it that all custody meals, including their prepared cooked meals will in fact be donated. Although Sheriff Smith tweeted donating non-perishable lunch box custody meals to the Emmanuel House Salvation Army earlier on Monday October 23, 2017; prepared custody meals have been confirmed to have been thrown away or given as an incentive to non-participants. There are still remains challenges of any public mention of  the efforts between jail administrators, community organizations and the jail population to come to an agreement to meet the core demands, nor a written document to of said agreement.

For clarity, Prisoners United protest of Sheriff Smith’s comments ended on the evening of October 24, 2017 and is slowly trickling down to every floor in the Main Jail as days pass. The M-8 lockdown unit in Elmwood D.O.C.’s first meal after a 3 day strike was their prepared cooked dinner meal at 4:00PM on October 25, 2017. The 6C Sureno unit in the Main Jail will still continue their hunger strike until an agreement is made with jail administrators to end their protective custody status in their classification file.


Silicon Valley De-Bug thanks Prisoners United on every floor in the Main Jail and housing units M-5 and M-8 in Elmwood D.O.C. for courageously sacrificing all their custody meals to be donated to the homeless and hungry at Emmanuel House Salvation Army. We also appreciate all efforts made between jail administrators, community organizations and the jail population to come to an agreement to meet the 5 core demands to end meaningless classification reviews, indefinite solitary confinement, group punishment, cruel and unusual punishment during out of cell time, and rigid visitation policies.

FACTS THAT REFUTE SHERIFF SMITH’S COMMENT:

  • Over 70% of the Santa Clara County jail population is pretrial – meaning they have not been convicted of a crime.
  • Being in jail does not automatically mean someone is a gang member, according to the JFA Institute Jail Classification System Evaluation audit prepared by James Austin in 2016, there is only 21 verified prison gang members in Santa Clara County.
  • Prisoners United of Silicon Valley is the collective voice of the entire Santa Clara County jail population including all classification/security levels, color tops, racial groups (Black, White, Asian, Latino, Pacific Islander etc.) and creeds and is not lead by one man alone.
  • Salvation Army is a tremendous community resource for those in need, including programs for those who have been convicted of a crime.
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FURTHER DETAILS/CLARIFICATIONS:

Santa Clara County jail administrators came to an agreement to meet the 5 core demands to end meaningless classification reviews, indefinite solitary confinement, group punishment, cruel and unusual punishment during out of cell time, and rigid visitation policies. However, the administration stated it will take 3 weeks for the new classification system to kick in.

According to the agreement, the classification system will have face-to-face hearings, opportunity for prisoners to call witnesses to speak in their defense, the use of things such as education and rehabilitation certificates to have influence on their hearings, and the opportunity to contest anything.

The administration also agreed to suspend all in-custody inputs until the new system is in place. i

 

Prisoners in the jails should also be able to see what is in their file.

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People in NW Detention Center Solitary Confinement Are On Hunger Strike; Have Issued Demands to GEO Group and ICE

Aug 8, 2017: Fourth Hunger Strike Starts in Northwest Detention Center

Facility in “Modified Lock Down” Since August 5th

Tacoma – On August 8th, 20 people inside the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) started another hunger strike, the fourth this year alone, demanding to be released from  segregation and for all people detained be released to their families and communities– starting with people that are not deportable, those that should be covered under the Convention Against Torture, and those that have waiting for a response on their case for more than 1 year.

This most recent hunger strike is in response to the increasingly appalling actions of the GEO Group, the private prison contractor who runs the NWDC facility.  People in one unit were retaliated against for protecting each other from GEO guard’s assaults, threats and intimidation. On Aug. 8th, at 11am, the whole unit was dismantled, 20 of those were sent to solitary confinement, accused of “starting a riot.” The rest were sent to a different unit. The hunger strike began at 11am, and will not end until the 20 in solitary confinement are sent back to general population.

On Friday, August 4th,  a GEO guard assaulted a youth, who came to the country as an unaccompanied minor, and was transferred to the facility once he turned 18.  When people vocally protested the assault, GEO locked down a part of the facility, disallowing people to use the phones, lawyers were not allow to visit, and the lights where turned off.

Since Saturday August 5th, the whole facility has been in “modified lockdown,” people inside have reportedly been restricted from talking to each other, have limited access to phones, and are taken one at the time to receive medications among other restrictions.

One hunger strike organizer recently was threatened recently by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) with indefinite detention if he did not stop organizing. ICE and his parole officer made it clear if he did not stop organizing hunger strikes, they would transfer his back and forth between facilities, “Why threaten me this way when ICE and GEO both claim we are detainees, not prisoners?” said the person threatened by authorities.

In a recent tour of the NWDC facility for legal groups, ICE admitted to transferring people from one facility to another as retaliation for organizing.

Aug 10, 2017: Hunger Strikers Demand Release from Solitary Confinement in Tacoma’s Immigration Prison

NWDC continues on “modified lockdown” indefinitely

Over 15 immigrants held in solitary confinement continue on hunger strike. The hunger strike began Aug 8th at 11am when 20 immigrants were taken to solitary in retaliation, highlighting poor detention conditions and a violent and hostile environment for up to 1,575 people held by the GEO Group for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The hunger strikers have issued demands to GEO Group and ICE, calling for them to respect the humanity of detainees. The hunger strike will end once all 20 people are returned to general population.

Hunger strikers demand that the 20 people who were placed in solitary confinement for “planning a riot” after the event that happened on August 4th because they yelled at a GEO guard who was assaulting a youth be released back into the general population. The boy had recently been transferred to the NWDC after turning 18, after arriving as an unaccompanied youth and held by child services until he was eligible for detention and deportation. After his assault, GEO guards placed the facility on lockdown — no phones, no lawyer visits, not even lights. Since then, the facility is on “modified lockdown” and even those not held in solitary confinement have reportedly been told that they cannot talk to each other.

HUNGER STRIKERS’ DEMANDS

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Press Release: Folsom Prison Hunger Strike Enters 9th Day – Families, Advocates to Rally in Folsom and L.A. to Support Prisoners’ Demands

For Immediate Release – Friday, June 2, 2017

WHAT:  Rally & Press Conference to Support Folsom Prison Hunger Strike

WHEN:  Sunday, June 4th from 12:00pm-2:00pm | Press Conference @ 1:00pm

WHERE:
Folsom: Folsom State Prison | E Natomas & Folsom Prison Road  (Folsom, CA 95630)

Los Angeles: Twin Towers Jail | 450 Bauchet St  (Los Angeles, CA 90012)

PRESS CONTACTS:

Courtney Hanson
photos.courtneyjade@gmail.com | (916) 316-0625

 Raquel Estrada
rpartida831@gmail.com | (831) 227-7679

Folsom—On Sunday, June 4th, 2017, human rights advocates will hold a rally outside of Folsom State Prison (FSP) to amplify the voices of people incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at FSP, who have been on hunger strike since May 25th. Prisoners in Building 4 of ASU are striking because they are forced in live in conditions that are inhumane and constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution. Despite the fact that FSP is aware of the dangerous consequences of prolonged social isolation, they continue to deprive prisoners of basic human needs, including normal human contact, environmental and sensory stimulation, mental and physical health, physical exercise, sleep, access to courts, and meaningful activity.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is aware (Madrid-Ashker-Coleman) that the conditions of extreme isolation will likely inflict some degree of psychological trauma, including but not limited to: chronic insomnia, severe concentration and memory problems, anxiety and other ailments. The CDCR and the general public have a heightened awareness about this issue because of the prisoner hunger strikes that swept California in 2011 and 2013 and involved more than 30,000 prisoners. Those strikes led to Ashker v. Brown, a federal class action lawsuit asserting that prolonged solitary violates the 8th Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) and putting someone in solitary based on gang association violates the 14th Amendment (no due process). The case reached settlement in September 2015, ending indeterminate solitary confinement terms in Security Housing Units (SHUs), but did not prevent prisoners from being kept in prolonged solitary confinement in Administrative Segregation.

FSP continues to claim that lack of money prevents them from abiding by CDCR’s stated goals, and are content to not only ignore the suffering of men in its care, but to retaliate against them for their peaceful protest.

“On the afternoon of May 27th, someone called on my husband’s behalf relaying his message that Warden Ron Rackley and Ombudsman Sara Smith had a meeting with him where they communicated that they were upset with the hunger strike and threatened to take away his visits, move him to another prison, give him a 115 and revalidate him as a Security Threat Group (STG) gang leader for his role in organizing the hunger strike. On May 28th, I arrived to visit and the Sergeant informed me that my husband is no longer at FSP and was moved to DVI Tracy.” —Raquel Estrada

Folsom prison hunger strikers have the following demands, which are published in greater detail here.

  1. PROVIDE ADEQUATE ACCESS TO COURTS AND LEGAL ASSISTANCE

  2. PROVIDE MEANINGFUL EDUCATION, SELF-HELP COURSES AND REHABILITATIVE PROGRAMS

  3. ALLOW POSSESSION OF TELEVISIONS

  4. PROVIDE EXERCISE EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING PULL-UP BARS, FOR MEANINGFUL EXERCISE IN YARD

  5. END CRUELTY, NOISE AND SLEEP DEPRIVATION OF WELFARE CHECKS

  6. KEEP ORIGINAL PROPER PACKAGING FOR COMMISSARY AND CANTEEN

  7. GIVE NON-DISCIPLINARY STATUS TO QUALIFYING PRISONERS

  8. PROVIDE ADEQUATE AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND SHOES

  9. PROVIDE FOOD BOWL AND CUP

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Endorsed by Sacramento Solidarity Network, California Families Against Solitary Confinement, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community, All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, Democratic Socialists of America Sacramento, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Showing Up for Racial Justice Sacramento, Freedom Outreach, Underground Scholars

Sunday, June 4, 2017 RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE at Folsom To Support Hunger Strikers

FSP-Rally-Fullpage

SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017  —  12PM – 2PM
SHOW UP FOR FOLSOM PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE

RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE
Please join us this Sunday from 12p.m. to 2p.m. to rally outside Folsom Priosn and show that we support prisoners’ efforts to strike for humane treatment.

Join us at: FOLSOM STATE PRISON, Folsom Prison Rd, Folsom CA 95630

Facebook Event: Rally & Press Conference To Support Folsom Prison Hunger Strike

Please share the Facebook event, continue to contact prison officials, and look out for details like carpools, rally schedule, etc.


On May 25th, prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) began a hunger strike to peacefully protest the inhumane conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies and have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials, and have been met with only resistance, silence, and now retaliation.

We cannot say exactly how many people are refusing meals, but we know that there are roughly 30 people in the unit that announced the strike.

Hunger Strikers’ DEMANDS AND GRIEVANCES at Folsom Prison

Constitutional Violations And Significant Hardships We Are Forced To Endure In Folsom State Prison, Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU), Building 4

Within ASU Building 4 at Old Folsom State Prison (FSP), the majority of prisoners being housed here are CSP-Sacramento, High Desert and SATF prisoners. These same prisoners are all awaiting court proceedings and/or district attorney referrals; therefore, all 115 disciplinary reports against them cannot and have not been heard to receive findings of “guilty” to receive a disciplinary action.

This is important to note, because ICC (Institutional Classification Committee) still imposes a “Projected MERD” (Minimum Eligible Release Date) based on the initial 115 report, as if found guilty for the offense, violating due process of hearing and evidence. With the projected MERD imposed, prisoners still cannot be deemed “SHU” term or be transferred to “SHU housing” because the 115 report is pending district attorney rejection or conclusion of court proceedings.

This forces prisoners to remain housed in ASU for long term confinement of anywhere from a year to 14 months depending on the offense. This leads to prisoners sitting idle, in forced single cell. The following demands are in line with fair and dignified treatment of a human being:

1. PROVIDE ADEQUATE ACCESS TO COURTS AND LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Denial of adequate access to courts and legal assistance: The “law cage” is inadequate for prisoners who are illiterate, non-English speaking and/or undereducated. Many of the men here are facing serious charges that carry life sentences and even the most educated could not mount a proper defense or do legal research on their own. Access to properly trained legal assistance that a law library provides is in line with Lewis v. Casey et al (1996) No. 94-1511. Currently, there is no access to legal forms, copies or printing. It has been long established the “paging” system is in violation.

2. PROVIDE MEANINGFUL EDUCATION, SELF-HELP COURSES AND REHABILITATIVE PROGRAMS
Denial and/or lack of meaningful education, self-help courses and rehabilitative programs: Wright v. Rushen, 642 F2d 1129 (9th Cir. 1981), held FSP shall provide its ASU prisoners with education and rehabilitative programs. ASU prisoners are not afforded GED programs, and the high school diploma program is split between the entire facility and ranch plus ASU. Therefore, we are placed in a hard spot; ASU prisoners are neither first nor second priority, leaving no educational opportunities.

The college program is nonexistent at best, to add to the problem, those previously enrolled are forced to drop classes due to no TVs for video assignments, preventing them from acquiring degrees. FSP provides absolutely no self-help courses or counseling in anger management, behavior management etc. FSP provides absolutely no substance abuse counseling or programs, such as N.A. or A.A.

3. ALLOW POSSESSION OF TELEVISIONS
Denial of TVs: FSP has flat out lied on the ability to provide the necessary electrical outlets to allow the possession of a TV. Instead of fixing this issue years ago, FSP continues to cover up the fact the funds allocated (Inmate Welfare Funds) are spent leisurely on non-inmate stuff. Per Title 15, §3190(3), ASU prisoners are allowed the choice of a TV or radio.

Prisoners are forced to choose a radio due to FSP’s unwillingness to provide outlets. With no programs, education or meaningful time out of cell, the sensory deprivation, sitting idle, causes prisoners to lose their minds, forcing prisoners to harm themselves in order to get mental health care, which provides TVs per Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. ____(1994) “[O]ne does not have to await the consummation of threatened injury to obtain preventive relief.”

FSP’s attitude of “make us,” “we’re exempt,” is in violation and promotes prisoners to harm themselves to get a TV. Examine FSP record of prisoners needing mental health care while housed in ASU.

4. PROVIDE EXERCISE EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING PULL-UP BARS, FOR MEANINGFUL EXERCISE IN YARD
Denial of exercise equipment, including pull-up bars: CDCR began installing pull-up bars in all SHUs and ASUs throughout CDC prisons. FSP is one of the last if not the last ASU to install pull-up bars.

This was done so men can receive meaningful exercise in the small dog kennel type cages used as yards. With no ability to run around and exercise our legs, prisoners are left to sit idle for hours. CDCR agreed the pull-up bars were meaningful equipment. The permanent injunction in Toussaint v. McCarthy, 597 F. Supp. 1388 9N.D. Cal 1984) covers FSP, saying ASU prisoners shall be provided meaningful exercise. FSP has the necessary vocational jobs and classes to install the bars and build the equipment at minimum to no cost.

5. END CRUELTY, NOISE AND SLEEP DEPRIVATION OF WELFARE CHECKS
Sleep deprivation from welfare checks: Correctional officers (COs) on first watch create excessive noise with keys while walking every half hour; mixed with uncourteous loud metal on metal contact, it creates unnecessary cruelty and punishment. A CO’s equipment and keys can be properly secured on their person to prevent the excessive noise, yet when asked for courtesy, the noise is made extreme as a retaliation, thus waking prisoners every half hour the entire night.

6. KEEP ORIGINAL PROPER PACKAGING FOR COMMISSARY AND CANTEEN
Commissary and canteen: All items are repackaged into TRASH BAGS! This is forcing prisoners to use toothpaste out of trash bags. Deodorant that is gel is repackaged to trash bags, which causes the deodorant to evaporate and lose its purpose to keep the funk away. Coffee jars are repackaged to trash bags which causes coffee to go stale and harden. This is an irrational practice with no real security or safety reason, as proven by the fact that all packaging in canteen and quarterly packages is allowed within the SHU.

7. GIVE NON-DISCIPLINARY STATUS TO QUALIFYING PRISONERS
Denial of NDS (Non Disciplinary Status) to qualifying prisoners: Title 15 Article 7 Segregation Housing §3335 (A)(1) outlines and stipulates criteria for NDS. FSP’s warden is denying this status based on an underground memo of criteria not approved by the APA. FSP’s warden is attempting to extort information out of prisoners in order to receive NDS after being placed in ASU for “non-disciplinary” reasons.

FSP’s warden is attempting to force prisoners to cooperate with institutional investigations, violating a prisoner’s right to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

8. PROVIDE ADEQUATE AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND SHOES
Denial of personal clothing and shoes: Prisoners are forced to walk around in their boxer underwear and state-issued T-shirt, which are normally extremely used and too large or too small. Prisoners are moved around the prison like this and remain all day like this.

Prisoners are provided one jumpsuit that is always over-sized, with no ability to wash or exchange it.  In the cold winter months, prisoners are denied warm clothing or beanies to prevent sickness while out on yard.

During the summer, the warmer months, prisoners are denied appropriate clothing to cover up and still maintain coolness. It is a decency factor of allowing prisoners clothing and properly fitted shoes to remain dignified and in touch with the civilized world. There is no reasonable security issue or factors to deny a person decency.

9. PROVIDE FOOD BOWL AND CUP
Denial of a food bowl or cup: FSP is forcing its ASU prisoners to eat out of recycled (“washed”) trash bags, old zip lock bags and milk cartons and to drink from a 3 ounce “rubbery” reused cup. See Estelle v. Gamble, 424 U.S. 97 (1976). This treatment is unnecessary cruelty and punishment and violates prisoners’ Eighth Amendment rights. The amendment embodies “broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity and decency.”

pdf of Folsom Hunger Strikers’ Demands and Grievances

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Folsom Hunger Strike began May 25, 2017 – Your support is needed

NUMBERS TO CALL IN SUPPORT ARE BELOW
DEMANDS AND GRIEVANCES
HERE
HUNGER STRIKE UPDATES HERE

On May 16th, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they would begin a hunger strike on May 25th. This announcement comes in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization, and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom State Prison.

Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners. Incarcerated people commonly face disciplinary actions, retaliation by prison officials, abuse, and further denial of their basic human rights during hunger strikes- simply for exerting their free will and resisting their mistreatment.

The danger of these threats is compounded by the long-term health consequences and extreme physical weakness that accompany starving yourself in an environment that provides woefully inadequate medical care. In short, these prisoners will desperately need our support.

When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights, and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.

The hunger strike has begun. Please read the information below and make phone calls as soon as possible. All of the contact information you need is included at the bottom. The following media release comes directly from incarcerated people at Folsom State Prison (FSP) who are on strike:

Folsom ASU Media Release

On May 25, 2017 prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) in Represa, CA have started a hunger strike to peacefully protest the conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies, to no avail. Further, prisoners have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials and met with only resistance and silence.

Folsom ASU is like stepping back in time to the era when prison officials blanketed the injustice imposed on its solitary confined prisoners and bluntly turned a blind eye to mistreatment and the stripping away of basic human dignity and elements. As CDCR made drastic changes throughout its prisons to put prisoners on roads of rehabilitation and more humane living conditions, Folsom officials reject the ideals and continue the injustice of the past.

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Demand Justice for Erika Rocha: Attention to Abuses and Escalating Suicide Epidemic in CA Women’s Prison

ErikaRocha.png

APRIL 25 2016 Press Release from California Coalition for Women Prisoners:

Advocates demand justice for Erika Rocha, who was 35 years old and just one day away from her Youth Parole Hearing last week when she committed suicide. Erika was incarcerated at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona. The suicide rate at CIW is more than eight times the national rate for people in women’s prisons and more than five times the rate for all California prisons. In the week since Erika’s death, another suicide was reported and at least 22 more people transferred to suicide watch. The suicide watch unit is overcrowded and CIW is placing people on “overflow” in the SHU (“Security Housing Unit”).

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) has released a statement highlighting the abuses that Erika suffered at the hands of the criminal legal system, as well as a list of demands to prevent similar tragedies from occurring and a petition to the California Legislature. CCWP is also supporting Erika’s family in raising funds for funeral services.

Erika was 14 years old when she was charged as an adult. Interrogated by police and prosecutors and threatened with a double life sentence for attempted murder, Erika pled to 19 to Life. Erika was 16 years old when she was sent to state prison. Prison staff placed her in solitary to “protect her” until she was 17, but she told CCWP that guards admitted to keeping her in solitary to protect the prison because she was too young to legally be there. At the time of her death, Erika was serving her 19th year in prison following two years in juvenile hall. She suffered from deplorable treatment for mental health issues attributable to her incarceration as a youth, including at least four indefinite terms of 2-3 years  in solitary confinement.

“We are continuing to gather information, but we know that the day before her death, Erika was released from a suicide watch unit and placed in a mental health unit where CIW is still required to take precautions to prevent deaths,” said Colby Lenz, CCWP member. “Multiple institutions, including CIW and CDCR, are responsible for this tragedy. We demand a full investigation into the ongoing crisis and high suicide rate at CIW. We ask the California Legislature to order the Office of the Inspector General to take action immediately.”

CCWP Program Coordinator, Windy Click, who met Erika in prison when she was 19, said, “Erika was always seeking help, she was lost inside an adult facility not knowing what the future held. When she asked for help they didn’t bother to help her.”

“Erika’s death is a painful example of how the criminal justice system is broken and therefore breaks people. They did this to her. She obviously didn’t see any future for herself,” said another friend of Erika’s who was also incarcerated in state prison at 16.

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Please see the list of demands and request for help below 1

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‘Stop the Torture’ – UN Official Receives Formal Complaint from Solitary Prisoners’ Family Members and Advocates

For Immediate Release – Thursday, March 31, 2016

Statewide groups are condemning sleep deprivation – widely recognized as a form of torture – of prisoners in Pelican Bay’s Solitary Confinement Units in a formal complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

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

 

CA – After months of public outcry, California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC) and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) have submitted a formal complaint to Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment condemning the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) jarringly noisy and disruptive “security/welfare checks” in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Units (PB-SHU). These checks, which started on August 2, 2015, have deprived the prisoners of sleep for eight months, amounting to what is widely recognized as a form of torture. The complaint was submitted last week, on Thursday, March 24.

 

One prisoner recently stated that being in PB-SHU with these checks “is like a construction site all night. It is horrible. It really is torture.”  Another wrote, “For decades, military and police forces have used extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, and constant banging/noise to cause mental/physical torment and try to break a person’s mind or human will to resist questioning. These are so-called clean torture methods.”

 

The complaint to Mendez includes reports from interviews with PB-SHU prisoners conducted over a six-month period by Carol Strickman, Staff Attorney at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.  Additionally, Mendez was provided with statements by sleep experts Dr. Thomas Roth and Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, by psychiatrist Dr. Terry Kupers, and by the American Public Health Association’s Jail and Prison Health Committee about the impact of sleep deprivation on mental health – all who have condemned the “security/welfare checks.”  Internationally recognized sleep expert Dr. Zeitzer explains in his October 2015 report, “The negative health consequences of inadequate sleep have 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.”

 

“My son doesn’t have the energy to exercise, write, or draw nearly as much since the checks started. He used to write me letters 2-3 times a week; now maybe once a week, and only a few lines,” says Grace A., a member of CFASC and whose son is in PB-SHU. “He has hardly been able to sleep since early August, but is fighting to stay strong. I tell him ‘You are not alone.’”

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Historic settlement to end CA indefinite solitary confinement finalized in court

For Immediate Release – Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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

OAKLAND – On Tuesday, Federal Judge Claudia Wilken approved the final agreement to end indefinite solitary confinement in California calling it humane, innovative and fair. Prisoners celebrated the settlement agreement, whose terms were agreed on last September, claiming it as a victory that bolstered their struggle for human rights.

Anne Weills, one of the attorneys representing the prisoners, pointed out that “what was missing from the courtroom were all the prisoners who risked their lives in the hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013.” She went on to say, “Yes, our litigation team did the best we could to bring our clients out of indefinite solitary confinement and into the light of day – but there is no doubt that we could not have gotten where we have with this settlement without the leadership of the brilliant, courageous, fearless and enlightened men in the Short Corridor at Pelican Bay who in 2011 set this all in motion.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights released data showing the agreement has already led to the transfer of hundreds of prisoners from segregated housing units back to the state’s general prison population.

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Imprisoned People Facing Medical Neglect and Violence, Family Members and Organizers Speak Out

For Immediate Release – Monday, November 23, 2015
 
Press Contact: Dolores Canales, Family Unity Network, (714) 290-9077 dol1canales@gmail.com  or Hannah McFaull, Justice Now, (415) 813.7715 hannah@justicenow.org
 
Sacramento – On November 11th, an imprisoned person at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), faced extreme violence at the hands of prison guards. Stacy Rojas and three others were detained, physically abused, sexually harassed, strip searched in the presence of male guards, and were kept without water, food or restrooms for eleven hours. The group was illegally kept in administrative segregation without a lock up order and have been denied health care support for the injuries caused by these officers. Requests to speak with members of the prison’s Investigative Services Unit have so far been ignored.
 
“I just want to let them know that we have been physically abused, sexually harassed,” said Stacy Rojas, “and that this was just wrong. They used excessive force, totally used excessive force against us and we need help.”
 
The public acknowledgment of excessive use of force and deadly use of force by police has increased throughout the nation. Video recordings of interactions between the police and the public have increased significantly in recent years as technology has improved and the number of distribution channels has expanded. This is not an option open to people experiencing violence from guards behind prison walls and any attempt to speak out is often met with retaliation and increased force.
 
“Our communities in and out of lock up have lived experiences with biased policing — ranging from racial profiling, to excessive, and sometimes lethal, use of force”, stated Patrisse Cullors co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. “We hear about it more and more in the communities we live in, but rarely hear about the traumatic ways that it manifests in the California prison system. Stories like Stacy’s are happening everyday inside of California prisons and jails with little to no measures taken by authorities to keep people safe and hold law enforcement, such as prison guards accountable.”

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