Since May 18, 2014 at the Central CA Women’s Facility (CCWF) death row, and since August 2, 2015 at Pelican Bay Security Housing Units (PB SHU) guards have been waking up prisoners 40+ times a day, night and day, with jarringly loud noise and flashlights in their eyes, in the name of “security/welfare checks.” This is dangerous sleep deprivation torture and must stop. This cruel sleep deprivation is being done throughout all solitary confinement units in CA prisons.
The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) is organizing to end this practice and asks organizations and individuals to write a statement opposing “security/welfare checks” for PHSS to forward to state officials. Sample statement follows. Please copy, personalize with any relevant organizational or individual information, sign, and email it to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
[NAME OF ORGANIZATION OR INDIVIDUAL] calls on the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to stop immediately the “security/welfare checks,” waking prisoners 40-48 times a day, in isolation units throughout CA prisons.
As an organization that … / or an individual who …, we are/I am particularly concerned that … [Describe your particular work/experience/knowledge base that explains your interest or stake in this issue]
People locked up in California solitary confinement units are being subjected to jarringly loud noise 40+ times a day, including throughout the night:
reverberating noise of steel doors opening and slamming closed;
guards stomping through the pods, up and down stairs, rattling keys and chains, and; guards beeping and banging Guard One System metal pipes on metal buttons and cells, and shining flashlights into the prisoners’ eyes.
Sleep-deprived due to these “checks”, California prisoners are suffering severe stress and irritation, depression, weight loss, dizziness, nausea, headaches, migraines, eye problems, intestinal problems, faintness, high blood pressure, accelerated heart rates, blacking out, stomach acidity and pain, inability to concentrate, and vomiting.
These “checks” serve no welfare or security purpose. They only harm the prisoners, mentally and physically, who are getting 0-3 hours of sleep a day due to these “checks.”
Twenty prisoners at CCWF death row wrote in a 602 prisoners’ complaint form on June 24, 2014: “This is torture. We are being emotionally, mentally and physically battered by the security checks throughout the nights.” Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, internationally recognized sleep expert, wrote on October 25, 2015: “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.”
Sleep deprivation/disruption increases risk of many chronic and terminal illnesses. It violates penal, constitutional, and human rights, and has been described as torture by organizations such as Amnesty International.
The American Public Health Association, addressing the round-the-clock so-called security/welfare checks wrote, “Repeated intrusions, especially to nightly sleep, lead to a variety of negative physical, cognitive and emotional consequences, adding to the already well-documented harms of solitary confinement.” CDCR must cease the practice of these “security/welfare checks.”
The 2012 California prisoners’ Agreement to End Hostilities between ethnic groups laid the foundation for the CA Prisoner Hunger Strike of 2013 by over 30,000 California prisoners and hundreds more nationwide. Prisoners’ human rights organizing has built an amazing movement and led to the historic 2015 settlement ending indefinite solitary confinement in California. Sleep deprivation torture appears to be a retaliatory measure intended to stop, or prevent, future effective organizing by prisoners.
We call on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to end this inhumane practice immediately. The so-called security/welfare checks are causing sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is torture.
NAME OF ORGANIZATION
End Sleep Deprivation Torture Now! Support Prisoners Human Rights!