To CA Governor and CA Public Safety Committees: Stop Sleep Deprivation in CA Solitary Confinement!

Here is a PDF of the LETTER to be printed, circulated, and signed.

Please mail the signed letter(s) to Committee to End Sleep Deprivation, P.O. Box 5692, Eureka, CA 95502 or scan and email signed letters to Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Outreach 

Text of Letter below (signature pages in pdf):

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, 10/25/15

This is torture. We are being emotionally, mentally and physically battered by the security checks throughout the nights.” 20 death row prisoners in Central CA Women’s Facility

To the CA Senate Public Safety Committee, Assembly Public Safety Committee, and Governor Brown:

Please take immediate action to stop the dangerous practice in CA prisons of guards doing so-called “security/welfare checks” 40- 48 times a day. These checks, done only in isolation units, are causing sleep deprivation for prisoners already enduring solitary confinement torture. The checks are particularly distressing in Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PB SHU), ongoing since August 2, 2015, and in Central CA Women’s Facility (CCWF) Administrative Segregation, including death row, since May 18, 2014. The purported intent of the checks is to improve mental health care and prevent suicides. Instead, these checks are causing serious physical and psychological harm.

Sleep deprivation and relentless exposure to loud noise are known methods of torture that can quickly cause mental and physical impairment. Every 20-30 minutes, prisoners are subjected to the reverberating noise of steel doors to units slamming open and closed, and guards stomping through the pods and up and down stairs, rattling keys and chains, beeping Guard One System metal pipes on metal buttons, and banging metal pipes on the cells. Making matters worse, guards shine their flashlights into the prisoners’ eyes. The people suffering these “security/welfare checks” spend 23-24 hours a day in solitary cells, so the noise and intrusion is unavoidable, endless torture. Please end it.

Prisoners are suffering severe stress irritation debilitation weight loss dizziness blacking out headaches migraines eye problems nausea stomach acidity and pain vomiting intestinal problems faintness high blood pressure accelerated heart rates panic attacks depression and inability to focus.  Insufficient and disrupted sleep causes defects in numerous critical physiological functions and increases risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, brain deterioration, permanent cognitive issues, bone weakness and osteoporosis, certain cancers, and other chronic and terminal illnesses.

“Research over the past 20 years has finally begun to provide at least a partial explanation for why we must sleep.  The clearest finding is that sleep does not serve just a single purpose.  Instead it appears to be needed for the optimal functioning of a multitude of biological processes–from the inner workings of the immune system to proper hormonal balance, to emotional and psychiatric health, to learning and memory, to the clearance of toxins to the brain. …[A]nyone who lives for months without sleep will die.” Robert Stickgold:Sleep On It!,” Scientific American, October 2015.

The undersigned demand that the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation immediately stop the “security/welfare checks.” The checks are causing sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is torture.

cc: CDCR Undersecretary, Atty. Jules Lobel, Atty. Michael Bien, Prison Law Office