Reportback from HEARING in Jorge Rico’s Case Against Sleep-Depriving Checks

Report on Jorge Rico Hearing

by Charlie Hinton

A number of hardy souls ventured to Sacramento on May 18, 2018 to a federal court hearing on CDCr’s motion to dismiss Jorge Rico’s suit opposing the every half hour Guard One “security/welfare checks” that take place in isolation units throughout the state. With Guard One, guards press a metal baton into a metal receiver positioned either in or besides cell doors, making a loud disruptive noise in most cases, waking prisoners up every 30 minutes and causing sleep deprivation. The good news is that the magistrate judge, Deborah Barnes, gave every indication she will deny CDCr’s motion and will move the case to its next stage. She suggested several times to CDCr’s lawyers that at this very early stage of the case, there was no basis for a motion to dismiss, and she said at least twice “I’m really struggling with your arguments.”

Rico Rally photo,5-18-18

There are currently 6 suits against the “checks” before this judge, and Kate Falkenstien, above in the center wearing a pink blouse, represents 3 of them, including that of Jorge Rico. In a press conference after the hearing, she explained the 3 arguments of CDCr.

In a motion they filed the day before, CDCr claims that because Mr. Rico has been moved from Pelican Bay SHU to general population, the case is now moot. The judge asked “Can’t he again be moved into SHU?” Which is exactly what has happened. During the last year or so, he’s gone from SHU to RCGP (from where he filed the suit) to SHU to Ad Seg  to SHU and now to GP.

The judge said that Rico’s claim would be viable for damages, but it was “questionable” whether injunctive relief could be sought.  [The judge’s point being that, at the present time, the conduct that would be enjoined does not affect Rico, the sole plaintiff in this case, because he is no longer in SHU.]

Prisoner rights campaigner Marie Levin commented outside the courthouse, “Regardless of Mr. Rico’s present or future housing assignment, he still suffered what he suffered when he suffered it.”

Second, CDCr argues that although sleep deprivation is illegal, they don’t think it’s illegal to keep people awake in this way. They didn’t know it was wrong. Ms. Falkenstien brought up a case from Alabama, Hope v. Pelzer, in which Alabama prison guards tied Mr. Hope to a hitching post with his shirt off in the sun for seven hours, offering him water twice and never a bathroom break. He sued, under the grounds that this was a violation of the 8th amendment guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. Alabama said they knew it was illegal to tie a person for a sustained time to a fence or a cell door, but they didn’t think it was illegal to tie a person to a hitching post. The Supreme Court ruled for Mr. Hope.

CDCr’s third argument is that the Coleman judge has already ruled that Guard One is acceptable. Ms. Falkenstien argued for Rico that Coleman was a case involving mental illness, and neither Jorge nor many other prisoners undergoing the “checks” are mentally ill, and that even if one case has been decided, each person should be able to be heard in court.

In Ms. Falkenstien’s original brief in opposition to CDCr’s motion to dismiss, she argued 1) an Eighth Amendment challenge to the Guard One checks
 was not actually litigated in Coleman, 2) Rico Is neither a Coleman Class Member nor in privity 
with Class Members, and 3) the Coleman order can also be collaterally challenged, 
because none of the Coleman class representatives are 
affected by the Guard One checks.

Commenting on CDCr’s claims, the judge remarked that it was well established that sleep deprivation can rise to the level of an 8th Amendment violation. She said she was having a hard time with CDCr’s argument, and further, that she would be shocked to find any mention of sleep deprivation in Coleman, or anything in Coleman saying that if the checks using the Guard One system cause sleep deprivation, “that’s okay.”

Judge Barnes declined to dismiss the case and on Monday, May 21, 2018 she ordered the parties to brief the mootness issue (about Mr. Rico currently being out of the SHU) before she rules on the motion to dismiss.  The briefing is going to take about a month in total, so we won’t have a final answer about whether the case will be dismissed until the end of June at the earliest. We are optimistic, however, she will dismiss CDCr’s motion and move forward with the case.

pdf of this Report (with photo) HERE

REPORTBACK from Feb 8th Rally, Press Conference, and Court Solidarity To End Sleep Deprivation (w/ Photos & Video)

Court Update: Judge Challenges CDCR’s Use of Solitary Confinement and Sleep Deprivation
Two lawsuits against CDCR for depriving prisoners of sleep are transferred to Coleman v Brown judge

On Feb 8, 2018, Northern District Judge Vince Chhabria held a hearing on a motion by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to dismiss civil rights lawsuits brought by two prisoners, Christopher Lipsey and Maher Suarez, who are suing CDCR for violation of their 8th amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, they have brought their lawsuits to put an end to the sleep deprivation of prisoners caused by “security/welfare checks.” Prison guards conduct these checks in solitary confinement units throughout the state every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. Prisoners report that the checks are loud, disruptive, and abusive.

Judge Chhabria was critical of CDCR and began Thursday’s hearing by saying he thought California was getting rid of solitary confinement. He then questioned why the plaintiffs are being held in isolation. Judge Chhabria showed no indication that he would dismiss the cases or that he thought dismissal was appropriate. He also asked CDCR attorneys if it seems to them to be a “very serious problem” for people in solitary, already under extreme psychological stress and some with mental illness, to be woken up every half hour at night.

Because the “security/welfare checks” result from a stipulated order in Coleman v Governor of CA- a case in the Eastern District Courts- on Friday, February 9, Judge Chhabria, as he indicated he would do at Thursday’s hearing, transferred the cases to be heard by Judge Mueller.  Judge Mueller oversees the Coleman consent decree, which mandates adequate mental healthcare for prisoners.

This makes three civil rights cases brought by prisoners regarding harm from the “security/welfare checks” that have been transferred to the Eastern District. On Thursday, Judge Chhabria questioned the state’s contradictory positions in those cases; in some motions, the state claims the “checks” cannot be challenged by prisoners because they were decided on in Coleman, and other times the state argues that the cases should not be decided by the Coleman Judge. Attorneys from McKool Smith Hennigan, representing Lipsey and Suarez, wrote “Inmate Plaintiffs are harmed by Defendants’ inconsistency, because it allows Defendants to claim that no judge is ever the right judge to hear these cases.”

Around 40 community members and advocates with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition held a press conference and rally on Thursday, February 8 in front of the Federal Building in support of the prisoners’ cases. One person suffering from the checks said in a letter to a Coleman official: “I ask you to listen to the voices of us prisoners and call for the immediate cessation of these “welfare/security” checks that don’t check on anything, but which make our lives a living hell.”

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition asks you to help end the sleep deprivation by joining the prisoners’ call to end the checks.

If you know someone in solitary in a CA prison (Ad-Seg/ASU, SHU, PSU, or Condemned Units/death row), please print and send this survey to them.  They can write the PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation and send their survey responses to us, also.

Here is an 8 ½ minute VIDEO of highlights from the Rally: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GeAV8MzHlM&feature=youtu.be. Please see the FLIER and PHOTOS below from the February 8, 2018 Rally, Press Conference, and Court Solidarity for prisoners challenging the sleep deprivation.

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“We have people that are only getting out of cell twice a month.” PRISONERS UNITED & SUPPORTERS DRAW ATTENTION TO ABUSIVE ISOLATION AND MEDICAL IN ALAMEDA CO. JAILS

Nearly one third of Glenn Dyer prisoners wrap up hunger strike

By Lucas Guilkey  October 27, 2017
https://oaklandnorth.net/2017/10/27/nearly-one-third-of-glenn-dyer-prisoners-wrap-up-hunger-strike/

Last week, 125 prisoners at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland—over 30 percent of the prisoners housed there—participated in a five-day hunger strike to protest what they say are abusive conditions of isolation and poor healthcare in Alameda County jails.

I am on hunger strike, as well as many many others here at Glenn Dyer Detention Facility,” reads a letter sent from the jail dated October 17, the third day of the hunger strike, and signed “Prisoners United,” a group formed for purposes of the hunger strike.

We are locked in our cells all day,” the letter states, saying that “out of cell time” is insufficient and “boils down to [the assigned housing deputies’] decision, which are mostly arbitrary and capricious.” The letter also outlines grievances alleging inadequate access to courts and attorneys, telephone calls, a variety of healthy food and recreation time, which are all required under California’s minimum standards codes for local detention centers.

The same day, over 30 supporters rallied outside of the Alameda County administrative building, where the county supervisors’ offices are located, to draw attention to the striking prisoners. “They are mothers and fathers in there, our parents, our siblings, our children,” said Yolanda Triana, who used to work as a reserve deputy at Santa Rita Jail in the 1970s before quitting and becoming an advocate for reform. “They are human. Give them basic dignity.”

We’re out here, to make sure [the sheriff and county supervisors] know that we’re paying attention and we’re listening,” said Marlene Sanchez, associate director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), an Oakland organization that that works with young people affected by the criminal justice system.

Speakers drew attention to both detention facilities run by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department—Glenn Dyer and Santa Rita Jail, in Dublin. They stressed the five allegations that are being made by prisoners, who are calling for an end to the use of indefinite solitary confinement, subjective practices for addressing grievances, and overuse of lockdown, which is when prisoners are confined to their cell when there is a disturbance in the facility. The prisoners also say that they are being provided with insufficient food and unsanitary clothing.

I [know] a young man in Santa Rita who has been there for five years, and has been in isolation for four, and that is unacceptable,” said Sheri Costa, the director of AL Costa Community Development Center, an East Bay organization dedicated to helping families with detained and incarcerated loved ones.  She has been doing this work for 18 years.  “We have people that are only getting out of cell twice a month,” she said.

After rallying, advocates marched two blocks down the street to the sheriff’s offices, where they delivered a letter listing the five demands to Internal Affairs Captain Emmanuel Christy.

Twenty percent of prisoners in Glenn Dyer—or 83 people—are held in “administrative segregation,” in which prisoners are held alone, in cells separate from general population, for a minimum of 23 hours per day, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.  That number is 243 at Santa Rita, or 12 percent of the prisoners currently held there.

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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.
 ###

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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MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS HUMAN RIGHTS: Reportbacks, Videos, Links, Photos from Aug 19, 2017

MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS HUMAN RIGHTS MARCH was called by prisoners to give voice to their demand: Get rid of the slavery clause in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Amend the 13th!

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

On Saturday, August 19, 2017, people mobilized in Washington DC and at least 16 other cities, including San Jose and Riverside California, demanding the abolition of legal slavery, and calling on people to organize against mass incarceration and abuse in U.S. prisons. Participants addressed the importance of the history of our revolutionary prisoner-led human rights movements. All over the country, people spoke of the great love, determination, and resilience that has kept them carrying on, in the face of extreme state violence, isolation, and family/community fragmentation.

Amend the 13th

SIGN THIS PETITION to Abolish Legal Slavery in America

https://www.change.org/p/petition-to-the-members-of-the-u-s-congress-to-abolish-legal-slavery-in-america

Millions for Prisoners Sister March in San Jose, CA

The San Francisco Bay View posted this report (with photos & videos) about the Millions for Prisoners Marches that took place on August 19th around the country.

• Nube Brown of California Prison Focus and Rise Up for Justice was a main organizer for the San Jose March.
Nube shares this reportback from the spirited and powerful March & Rally:

On a sunny Saturday, August 19, 2017, people across the country gathered, marched, and rallied in solidarity to support prisoners human rights and amending the 13th.
What an audacious and loving act!

Hundreds gathered in San Jose, CA at Raymond Bernal Jr. Park, where we kicked off the march with a recorded speech by founding member of the Amend the 13th campaign, Heshima Jinsai (Denham). Followed by Troy Williams of SF Bay View setting the tone for a peaceful march.

As we marched and chanted “Brick by Brick, Wall by Wall, We Will Make your Prisons Fall” and “Human Rights Apply to All, Even Those Behind a Wall,” this prisoner-inspired call to action united our community on both sides of the prison walls to join the momentum of the New Abolitionist Movement. Patrons of restaurants, folks on foot, trains, and cars we passed along our route stood to applaud, cheer, and honk their support and encouragement.

The beautiful 1.3 mile route through the Japantown neighborhood led us to the James P. McEntee Plaza just across from the county jail where Michael Tyree had been murdered by three guards, only two years before.

Watani Stiner, despite decades of incarceration and abuse, welcomed the rally participants with exuberance, love, and inclusion, setting the stage for stories to come. We stood in rapt attention as Raymond Aguilar shared his experience of juveniles sentenced to life without parole. Julia Arroyo, on behalf of Mianta McKnight brought to light the lack of resources available to those returning home, especially to girls and women of color. Laurie Valdez spoke on the murder of her young child’s father at the hands of San Jose State University police.

One by one speakers continued to share their lived experience. We encouraged and cheered the speakers, who moved us to anger and sadness, and also motivated us with words of hope and possibility. As we engaged in the dynamic of giver and receiver we created a bond of shared humanity. We were called to listen and to act. And together we closed the rally committed to the work to come. In unity, we will become stronger, more dedicated, and more resolved. We stand firm in our belief that all people, including those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, deserve their Human Rights. We stand committed to the New Abolitionist Movement to end slavery in America once and for all.

♥ The following Statement of Solidarity went from California to the Millions For Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington DC, delivered by Allegra Taylor, daughter of Hugo LA Pinell:

MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS
HUMAN RIGHTS MARCH ON WASHINGTON DC
AUGUST 19TH 2017
Solidarity Statement from
David Giap Johnson
Willie Sundiata Tate
Luis Bato Talamantez
San Quentin Six &
Former San Quentin Death Row Prisoner, Shujaa Graham
Willie-Sundiata-Tate-Luis-Bato-Talamantez-David-Giappa-Johnson-of-San-Quentin-6-web1statement-of-solidarity-final
Greetings and Solidarity,

We take this opportunity to express our support for this historic event that supports prisoner’s human rights and to amend the 13th Amendment’s slavery exemption clause, so that legal slavery is finally abolished. When you consider the historic application of slavery in America, slavery in any form should not be tolerated in our society. For years we have struggled to defend the civil and human rights of prisoners both during our incarceration and upon our reentry back into our respective communities. We took to heart the principles that were espoused by Comrade George Jackson. We came to prison as criminals but while here we transformed ourselves into revolutionaries so when we return to our communities we can be productive and make meaningful contributions for the betterment of society.

For years we endured indeterminate periods of isolation and sensory deprivation so we know firsthand the inhumane and barbaric treatment that one can be subjected to while in prison. Yet those experiences have not dampen or diminish our resolve to fight for the human rights of those confined to these prisons. As a society, we want to see healthy and wholesome individuals returning to society upon their release from prison. The inhumane and barbaric treatment that one can experience, indeterminate periods of isolation, and sensory deprivation is damaging to an individual’s mental health and physical well being. It is dehumanizing and must end.

Therefore, it is incumbent on us to raise our voices in defense of prisoner’s human rights. This is the way we express our HUMANITY!!

Long Live the Indomitable Spirits of Comrade George Jackson, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell and all Fallen Comrades. Black August Resistance Forever!!

David Giap Johnson
Willie Sundiata Tate
Luis Bato Talamantez
San Quentin Six &
Former San Quentin Death Row Prisoner, Shujaa Graham

Delivered by Allegra Taylor-Daughter of Hugo LA Pinell

VIDEOS from April 19, 2017:

• Millions for Prisoners Human Rights San Jose CA 081917, 1 of 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIamunsd2WM

• Millions for Prisoners Human Rights San Jose CA 081917, 2 of 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrnR4_QQehE&t=441s

• Millions for Prisoners March in DC,  video of Laura Whitehorn and Albert Woodfox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhd3zY_qLUw

millions-for-prisoners-dc-albert-woodfox-supporter-laura-whitehorn-081917.jpg

Photo from SF Bay View: Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 was held in solitary confinement in Louisiana prison for 44 years. He was a speaker at the main march across from the White House. Albert is here with Laura Whitehorn, who also spoke, and is a former political prisoner who works for the release of political prisoners and elder prisoners.

• Ramona Africa was a speaker at the DC rally. Here is  a video of Ramona being interviewed at the rally:
“I speak out 4 my bros & sisters in prison 39yrs 4 crime they didn’t commit” Ramona Africa, MOVE bombing sole survivor   #FightSupremacy#A19pic.twitter.com/VEZ6KM6hDB
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) August 19, 2017

Millions-for-Prisoners-DC-Ramona-Africa-Kilaika-Kwa-Baruti-Krystal-Rountree-081917

Photo from SF Bay View: At the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March and Rally at the White House, three legendary organizers came together: Ramona Africa of MOVE, the only adult survivor of the 1985 bombing; Kilaika Kwa Baruti of George Jackson University; and Krystal Rountree of IAMWE, a principal organizer of the march in DC.

 

 

Excellent Articles

Solidarity in San José with Millions for Prisoners March in DC Bradley Allen on IndyBay; with history, photos, and video.

As a nation grapples with white supremacy, the Millions for Prisoners March comes at the perfect time  -Jared Ware in SF Bay View; includes many photos, art, and references.

Florida locked down all 97,000 prisoners, blocking them from Aug. 19 Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March.

Fearing the peaceful organizing from prisoners and people outside, the Florida prison system (the 3rd largest to CA and Texas) put all its captives, more than 97,000 prisoners, across the state of Florida on indefinite lockdown.

People in all Florida lock-ups were not able to leave their dorms, had all visitation cancelled, and lost other so-called privileges – access to basic needs. This appears to be the first time in memory that the entire Florida prison system was locked down for an indefinite period of time. Read full article here: http://sfbayview.com/2017/08/florida-locks-down-all-97000-prisoners-blocking-them-from-aug-19-millions-for-prisoners-human-rights-march/

Coincidence? Florida’s prison system, as of a recent secret and retaliatory interstate transfer, currently holds captive the revolutionary and prolific writer and artist, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, who exposes and publicizes abuses in U.S.prisons.

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“A swift salute to all of the supporters…” Statement from Folsom Prison ASU Hunger Striker, Anthony Estrada

Anthony Joel Estrada Media Release

June 19, 2017
A swift salute to all of the supporters and those concerned with the ongoing fight to reform CDCR’s ASUs [Administrative Segregation Units].

On May 28, 2017, I was “special” transferred under a warden to warden agreement to D.V.I.’s ASU.  This was done as a retaliation for alerting the public of the conditions of confinement at Folsom State Prison (FSP), as well as other ASUs.  I was not the only person transferred, prisoner R. Delossantos F-486401 was transferred to Vacaville CMF, merely for exercising the 602 process.

As of date the Hunger Strike process has been suspended until further notice. It is unfortunate that we as prisoners must use this process in order to shine light on CDCR’s unwillingness to oversee its ASU conditions.

CDCR allowed FSP administration to retaliate, isolate and condone the poor conditions of ASU.  I was transferred to even more extreme conditions where there exists roaches, rodents, no drinkable tap water and the sanitary conditions are that of a third world country.

The fight can always continue with the outside support keeping pressure on CDCR’s top officials and administration to change the property matrix for ASU; to expand “administrative SHU” to cover long-term confinement; to implement educational opportunities, rehabilitation programs, sanitary conditions, pull-up bars in ALL cages; and force all prisons with ASU prisoners to install outlets for use of electronic appliances such as TVs, radios and typewriters.

The ASUs are now CDCR’s new SHU without privileges and incentives under the guise of short-term detention as discipline. This is far from the truth.

This fight affects everyone now and those who eventually come into an ASU.  It doesn’t matter what group you may run with or circumstances for ASU placement, this is what it is — back to toothpaste in jelly packets, drinking out of milk cartons, clothes all tore up, freezing during the winter.  ASUs are limited to housing now that the Coleman case created STRHs (Short Term Restricted Housing units), we’re back to square one. So I encourage prisoners and supporters alike with voices louder than mine, to look into this, assist me by 602ing conditions in your ASUs, for those going out on mainlines look into conditions in their facility’s ASU.

I will continue fighting administration, now through the courts, and hope for relief. Any assistance, guidance or moral support from those aware or educated would be sincerely appreciated. Thank you all outside supporters who held rallies and lent their voices for change, I will not let your support go to waste.

Respectfully

Anthony Joel Estrada

Anthony is now at “New Folsom” Prison. CDCR is punishing Anthony with a Serious Rules Violation, claiming that his hunger striking created a “gang-related mass disturbance.”  Here is Anthony’s address if you want to write him.

Anthony Joel Estrada, T80277
California State Prison-Sacramento
P.O. Box 290066
Represa, CA 95671


Towards Liberation! After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

UPDATE: New details released on agreement to suspend Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike Read here

http://samidoun.net/2017/05/breaking-palestinian-prisoners-suspend-hunger-strike-after-40-days-of-struggle/

May 26, 2017 — After 40 days of hunger strike, Palestinian prisoners have suspended their hunger strike and announced that they have achieved victory in their humanitarian demands, following 20 hours of negotiations between the strikers’ leadership and Israeli occupation prison administration.

All salutes to the courageous, struggling Palestinian prisoners, on the front lines of the Palestinian struggle for liberation! Their victories and their struggles are those of the Palestinian people and of all people seeking justice and liberation.

And salutes to all of those around the world who have been part of the prisoners’ struggle and Palestinian victory for the past 40 days.

Freedom Theater

Victory, Towards Liberation: Salute to the Palestinian Prisoners and the Struggle for Freedom

May 27, 2017—  On the occasion of the victory of the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, the valiant battle of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, confronting the occupier with their bodies and their lives, we salute the Palestinian prisoners on achieving their victory, not only for themselves and their families, but for the entire Palestinian people and global movement for justice and liberation.

….While further information about the agreement has not yet been released, news indicates that further achievements of the strike also center on the issue of family visits, including access to more relatives including grandparents and grandchildren; improved communication, especially between imprisoned children and women and their families, and the installation of public telephones; easing security prohibitions and the frequent bans on family visit imposed by the Israeli prison administration. Al-Mayadeen TV reported further aspects of the agreement:

  • periodic entry of private external physicians to examine ill prisoners
  • allowing visits from family members of the “second class,” including grandparents and grandchildren
  • increasing the amount prisoners may have in their canteen (prison store, where nearly all necessities of life must be purchased from and Israeli corporation) accounts
  • adding 3 satellite channels to the prisoners’ TV access
  •  transferring the Ramla prison hospital to the old section which includes several rooms and a recreation area
  • installation of a public telephone for women prisoners, child prisoners and ill prisoners to communicate on a daily basis with their family members
  • family visits to be increased to 60 minutes from 45 minutes
  • photographs with parents once annually
  • increasing the quantities of meat, vegetables and fruits for prisoners
  • allowing the introduction of clothing such as trousers and bags
  • providing each prisoner with 1 liter olive oil, 1 kilo coffee, 1/2 kilo baklava and 1/2 kilo za’atar.

…. Throughout the strike, the prisoners faced harsh repression. They were denied legal visits, family visits, beset by repressive raids, their belongings confiscated – even the salt that they relied on with water to preserve their life and health. Through it all, their steadfastness was an example of commitment and dedication to carry through their struggle. They were not alone in their steadfastness. The mothers and the families of the prisoners filled the tents of solidarity and support in every city, town, village and refugee camp in Palestine. Many prisoners’ mothers launched their own hunger strikes; they struggled, suffered, resisted and led alongside their children. Martyrs fell on the streets of Palestine as they protested and struggled for the liberation of their beloved prisoners at the hands of the occupation forces.

The Palestinian prisoners made clear through the Strike of Dignity and Freedom the power of Palestinian unity. The imprisoned leadership of all Palestinian trends stood together to confront the occupier, while that unity was felt in struggle, on the streets and inside prison walls – and the effects of that unity have been felt in the achievement of the prisoners’ victory.

The hunger strikers demanded that the Israeli occupation speak with their chosen leadership and defeated all attempts to circumvent the prisoners’ direction, leadership and choices.

More than that, however, they demonstrated once again that the true, respected leadership of the Palestinian national liberation movement itself is found in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. The Palestinian prisoners’ movement is at the core of the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people as a whole; far from a side issue of the movement, it represents the Palestinian people and their resistance.       Read full article here

After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=777343

May 27, 2017 BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons suspended a 40-day mass hunger strike during dawn hours on Saturday, after reaching an agreement with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) that reinstated the prisoners’ family visitation sessions to two times per month, according to initial information from Palestinian leadership and an IPS spokesperson.

The agreements came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, for which some hunger strikers had vowed to fast and forgo the salt and water mixture being consumed by the prisoners from dawn until sunset — the only source of nutrients the hunger strikers were consuming.

Palestinian leaders applauded the prisoners’ “victory” on Saturday, saying that the agreement represented an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”

However, increasing family visits was but one of a number of demands hunger-striking prisoners were calling for — including the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial.

….A Palestinian source knowledgeable about negotiations elaborated to Ma’an later Saturday afternoon that the talks started Friday at 9 a.m. at Ashkelon prison, initially in the absence of Marwan Barghouthi. …

However, the sources said that negotiations did not make progress until IPS agreed to bring in Marwan Barghouthi, who had been held in a solitary confinement cell in Jalama prison since the first day of the strike.The sources said that after Barghouthi’s arrival, IPS then “immediately agreed to some of the prisoners’ demands” and promised to respond positively to them.

At 4:20 a.m. Saturday, a phone call was made between the imprisoned leaders of the hunger strike and officials from the PA and the Fatah movement outside of Israeli prisons, and after discussions, Marwan Barghouthi agreed to end hunger strike, the sources said.

The IPS spokesperson confirmed to Ma’an that Barghouthi was involved in the agreements that ended the hunger strike, but said that IPS was not considering the talks “negotiations,” as they only reinstated a previous policy and did not provide any new concessions to the prisoners.

The IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that some 834 prisoners remained on strike to the 40th day, and that 18 prisoners who remained hospitalized would be returned to Israeli prison following the improvement of their health conditions.

….A spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Xavier Abu Eid released a statement Saturday by the “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners’ international campaign,” saying that the hunger strike had “prevailed.”

“This is an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under international law. It is also an indication of the reality of the Israeli occupation which has left no option to Palestinian prisoners but to starve themselves to achieve basic rights they are entitled to under international law,” the statement read.

As the statement pointed out, the hunger strike was one of the longest strikes in Palestinian history and included a wide participation of Palestinian prisoners from across political factions. “The epic resilience and determination of the hunger strikers and their refusal to end their hunger strike despite the repression and very harsh conditions they endured allowed for their will to prevail over the will of the jailer.”

Israeli forces had attempted to break the hunger strike through various punitive measures — with the measures being repeatedly condemned by human rights organizations — including putting hunger strikers in solitary confinement, “inciting” against the hunger strikers and their leaders — most notably Barghouthi, and threatening to force feed the hunger strikers, the statement highlighted.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners were also transferred to Israeli hospitals during the hunger strike, with reports emerging that prisoners were vomiting blood and fainting. Palestinian leaders had feared possible deaths among the hunger strikers if their demands were not met.

The statement went on to thank all those who stood in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, particularly former political prisoners in South Africa, Ireland, and Argentina. “The Palestinian people are a nation held captive, and the Palestinian prisoners are the reflection of this painful reality,” the statement read.

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PRISONERS UNITED of Silicon Valley Thank Each Other & Supporters for a Largely Successful Hunger Strike Against Solitary Confinement

Read full article in SF Bay View (includes video from a TV interview with hunger striker inside the jail)

January 25, 2017

by Mary Ratcliff

In late September, prisoners in the Santa Clara County jails who are part of what they then called the Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement sent a letter to Sheriff Laurie Smith with a list of demands and a notice that in October the inmates would initiate a hunger strike to continue their “peaceful protest to end this torturous practice of solitary confinement and inhumane treatment until there is tangible and meaningful change for all prisoners – most whom are un-convicted pretrial detainees,” they stated.

santa-clara-county-main-jail-yard-by-robert-galbraith-reuters-webIn prisons and jails, prisoners classed in general population are the freest, allowed to exercise on the yard together, as these men are at the Santa Clara County Jail. Solitary confinement is the least free classification and has been identified as torture by the United Nations. The issue was central to this hunger strike. “They isolate me by removing any form of social oxygen,” one prisoner told San Jose Inside. “I come out by myself, I do not interact with nobody else, no card playing, no nothing. When we go out in the yard, we come out one person at a time. We’re in our cells by ourselves. But they’re saying this isn’t solitary.” – Photo: Robert Galbraith, Reuters

The letter begins by recalling the Ashker settlement, the 2015 resolution of a lawsuit against solitary confinement in the state prison system that was initially filed by prisoners and fueled by a series of hunger strikes, the largest in history. Though it didn’t end solitary confinement, it severely limited it and released thousands of prisoners who had suffered the torture of solitary confinement for a decade or more into the relative freedom of general population.

Building on that precedent, the Santa Clara prisoners write: “Currently there are over a hundred prisoners held in solitary confinement throughout Santa Clara County jails.” Then they list their core demands:

  • End meaningless classification review and the biased appeal process;
  • End placement in solitary confinement when there exists no serious rule violation to merit such placement;
  • End the policy and practice of denying prisoners sufficient clothing;
  • End jail profiteering and exploitation of prisoners and their families through contract bidding of commissary vendors based on kickbacks and political incentives for campaign contributions;
  • End recidivism and misappropriation of prisoners’ welfare funds.

In calling the strike, which was inspired by the nationwide prison strikes that began Sept 9, 2016, they wrote to their comrades: “Said hunger strike will begin at 12 midnight on Oct. 17, 2016, and will go on for two weeks, or 14 days. It will end on Oct. 30, 2016, at 12 midnight. This strike is not mandatory, but instead it is highly encouraged to all who are concerned, willing and able.

“We especially reach out to those who are healthy and influential. We lean upon you and ask that you utilize your influence to help further push and inspire this movement through your words and actions by leading through example.

“For those who might not be able to hold up for the full 14 days, it’s OK; just do your best. But this county does not acknowledge a hunger strike until you refuse nine straight meals through the course of three days, so we ask that at a minimum you hold out for four days so that your sacrifice and efforts are acknowledged.”


Santa Clara County Main Jail is the main lockup in Silicon Valley, which is booming economically. So why would a large jail be needed where jobs are plentiful? Silicon Valley is notoriously reluctant to hire people of color regardless of their skills, so, as in nearly all the rest of the country, the wealth gap between rich and poor is huge.

Three hundred prisoners, including many held in solitary confinement, joined the strike. And after only four days, jail officials held a meeting with about a hundred prisoners that resulted in suspension of the strike, which continues.

Three hundred prisoners, including many held in solitary confinement, joined the strike.

“In an unusual turn,” the San Jose Mercury News reported, “the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, the union for the rank-and-file enforcement officers of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, publicly sided with the inmates and released a statement lambasting Sheriff Laurie Smith for not being responsive enough to the protest of conditions ranging from how solitary confinement is doled out to inadequate clothing.”

Now, under their new name, Prisoners United of Silicon Valley, the strikers have issued their own newsletter and topped it with this statement:

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PRISONERS UNITED OF SILICON VALLEY Newsletter #1

Link to full newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/gwhq2hp

PRISONERS
UNITED

OF SILICON VALLEY

December 22, 2016 – Newsletter 1

LETTER OF APPRECIATION

Greetings and solidarity to each other and all who participated in our initial Hunger Strike to end the arbitrary use of solitary confinement and inhumane treatment in Santa Clara County Jails.

Before we set off into the body of this letter we would like to extend our respect and appreciation to all who participated and sacrificed to provoke change. Although we came from diverse backgrounds be it race, religion, color or creed we set out differences aside, inter-locked arms forming a formidable force through civil disobedience in solidarity.

Allow the sacrifices each participant has made be inspiration to others to join in our struggle, allow our peaceful protest to demonstrate the power of unity and the positive changes that can be effected when we view each other not as classification of inmates defined by the color of clothing issued to prisoners by administration but instead as human beings who share the same oppressive conditions.

For decades prisoners have been slammed down in solitary confinement, locked away from education and rehabilitation programs or barred from participating in fellowship of their faith due to administration beliefs … Meanwhile our families are being exploited with practices that amount to price gouging through exorbitant commissary and phone rates. While they survive in a region with rising rent cost plagued by a homeless epidemic in city with ordinances that throws people in jail for having no place to live… Let’s be thankful we have religious leaders and community organizations like De-Bug who rally behind us to champion our cause and see us different, who are the difference, who see us as human beings, who are not persuaded by those in positions of authority whom define us by our allegations and classification rhetoric to pump fear in the heart of the public in their effort to kill our support base when they are preoccupied beating us to death like Michael Tyree … In the spirit of thankfulness perhaps one might consider reaching out to their family and friends letting them know they are appreciated; we appreciate you and yours for your support so Thank You!

Before we bring this letter of appreciation to a close we would like to abreast the prisoner population that our hunger strike has not ended, it has been momentarily suspended. We gave administration (30) days to bring about tangible changes for the benefit of all prisoners. We will continue our efforts until all of our core demands have been met. We will not be duped by the superficial such as movie night and a snack, we must persist as a collective that stands firm on principle. We must not be deluded by a carrot on a stick offered to us by an oppressed system that is fueled by greed and political ambitions.

To prevail in our struggle for prisoners human rights we respectfully ask the prisoner population to exercise diplomacy for it is not in our own interest to engage in combat with one another when we are fighting together to improve our conditions of confinement. We ask those of you who sway influence in our housing unit to work with each other to resolve conflict peacefully by promoting prisoner solidarity. Let’s try not to provide ammunition to the administration that allows them to justify the reasoning for the use of solitary confinement. Our goal is to promote our cause by unifying like-minded people to support our next planned Hunger strike.

In closing, we thank you for your time.

Truly,

PRISONERS UNITED OF SILICON VALLEY

 

Newsletter #1 contents:
Letter Of Appreciation
Official Updates
Recommended Reading
We Are the 13th Amendment! by Jose Valle
Recommended Resources
Write to De-Bug San Jose
Prisoners United of Silicon Valley
Notes
Questionnaire

Download, Read, or Print entire newsletter:
https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/prisoners-united-1.pdf

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.