Fact Sheet For CDCR Proposed Censorship Regulation Changes, 2014 (Revised)

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Fact Sheet: Pending Changes to CDCR’s Censorship Regulations
See here for the text of the changes as revised (on October 20) and here for the original regs

 The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr) is poised to implement proposed new rules governing materials it considers contraband. CDCr publicizes at its website that the purpose of these censorship rules is to forbid “publications that indicate an association with groups that are oppositional to authority and society [emphasis added].” (See Initial Statement of Reasons, p. 4. Under the new rules, the CDCr could permanently ban any publications it considers “contraband,” including publications containing political content and correspondence typically protected by First Amendment constitutional rights.

What are activists inside CDCr SHU torture units saying?

  • “These new proposed regulations are designed to serve one purpose and that is to censor any writings, mailings and publications that educate the public to what is actually occurring in these prisons.”
  • “This is an attempt to silence prisoners and publishers whose voices have been prominent in waging struggle against prisoners’ perpetual suffering. CDCR wants to stifle prisoners’ truths and disconnect them from society at large.”
  • “They want to be free to pursue the maintenance of the SHU torture units and the expansion of the prison industrial complex (and the ever-growing portion of the public’s tax dollars) without the prospect of legitimate criticism and the voice of opposition.”
  • “They seek to not only halt all criticism, but also the education and political development of underclass segments of their population – particularly those who are imprisoned…They seek to control all we read, see, learn or think.”
  • “Allowing CDCr to censor the content of our mail would violate not only the First Amendment but also CCR Title 15, Section 3135(b): ‘Disagreement with the sender’s or receiver’s morals, values, attitudes, veracity or choice of words will not be cause for correctional staff to disallow mail. Correctional staff shall not challenge or confront the sender or receiver with such value judgments.’”

What will the new rules do?

Expand the definition of contraband: Subsection 3006(c)(19) expands the definition of contraband to include “written materials or photographs that indicate an association with validated STG [Security Threat Group] members or associates, as described in subsections 3378.2(b)(5)-(6) ” As subsections 3378.2(b)(5) and (6) specify, this means:

  • “Any material or documents evidencing STG activity such as the membership or enemy lists, roll call lists, constitutions, organizational structures, codes, training material, etc., of specific STGs or addresses, names, identities of validated STG affiliates” [sic];
  • “Individual or group photographs with STG connotations such as those which include insignia, certified symbols, or other validated STG affiliates.”

Possession of contraband is a disciplinary violation resulting in specific punishments. Also, it can contribute to a person being validated as a member or associate of an STG (formerly termed “prison gang”), leading to a person’s indefinite placement in solitary confinement.

Promote confiscation, censorship, and/or permanent banning of political mail:  Under the current rules governing materials considered contraband (which are still in effect until the new rules are approved) every month’s issue of the San Francisco Bay View from January to June—except February’s—was disallowed at Pelican Bay State Prison, and withheld until well after the hunger strike began on July 8. Those issues were packed with letters from prisoners explaining and discussing the reasons for the upcoming strike.  Under the new rules (subsection 3134.1(d)), however, an institution could permanently ban a publication in its decision to temporarily withhold it is affirmed by the Division of Adult Operations.

Further criminalize culture, historical understanding and self-knowledge, and political dialogue: CDCr views political and historical writings, as well as materials relating to cultural identity, as an indication of association with an STG.  As stated above, the new rules define “written materials or photographs that indicate and association with a validated STG member or associate” as contraband.

Further criminalize correspondence overall: Subsection 3135(c)(14) adds “written materials or photographs going into or out of the prison that indicate an association with validated STG members or associates” to a list of “Disturbing or Offensive Correspondence” which may be prohibited. So, if a person’s mom sends her incarcerated son a photo of his brother, and if his brother is a validated STG member or associate, the photo is considered contraband!

Further impacts for prisonersUnder current state law, media may not conduct face to face interviews with prisoners without a prison’s approval. During approved tours, reporters are only permitted to speak with individuals hand-picked by officials. Incarcerated persons are not allowed to send confidential mail to journalists about prison abuses. Under the new regulations, their outgoing mail can be banned altogether.

If political publications are banned, prisoners will be cut off from nonviolent organizing efforts to improve their situation. In California, where correspondence between prisoners is only allowed with institutional approval, or is punished, publications enable those suffering in silence and isolation to know s/he is not alone.

How could this affect those with loved ones inside, activists, advocates and attorneys?Under the recently approved STG regulations that went into effect October 17, “STG suspect” is defined (under section 3000) as any person who, based on documented evidence, is involved periodically or regularly with the members or associates of a STG” [emphasis added]. Thus, the sheer number of items that can be considered contraband is limitless, as mail sent by any person who is considered an “STG suspect” —incarcerated or not—is apparently indicative of “an association with” a person validated as an STG affiliate. Mail mail and visiting privileges could be revoked for outside supporters and loved ones, in addition to any other consequences that may result.  This would have the collateral effect of cutting off prisoners from direly needed contact and support and increasing their isolation.

Other resources:

 Public hearing date is November 10, 2014.

Please submit comments no later than 5 PM PST on 10/10 via our action page or to:

Timothy M. Lockwood, Chief, Regulation and Policy Management Branch,

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,

P.O. Box 942883,
Sacramento, CA, 94283-0001;

by fax to (916) 324-6075; or by e-mail at rpmb@cdcr.ca.gov (We additionally recommend to cc staff@oal.ca.gov)

PDF version of this Fact Sheet is available here

Release Hunger-striker Robert C. Fuentes before he dies in prison

Robert FuentesRobert C. Fuentes participated in all 3 hunger strikes. He risked his life to end the torture of solitary confinement. Now he is dying due to medical negligence by CDCR. Send letters to arrive by Monday for his parole hearing on Tuesday, September 16, at 10 am. It will be on K Street in Sacramento and will include time for Public Comments, up to 5 minutes per person. Write a friendly letter to the Board of Parole Hearings with your name, address, phone number, and date, on behalf of Robert C. Fuentes’ immediate parole or Compassionate Release from California Medical Facility Vacaville to his family in Corona. Use info from this page and the petition online, and write why it’s important to you. Send petitions and letters of support (from individuals and on your organization’s letterhead) to: Board of Parole Hearings, Investigations Division, Attn: Kevin Hourigan, Post Office Box 4036, Sacramento, CA 95812-4036. Send copies to Justice Now by email to Cammie Dodson <cammiedodson@ gmail.com> or snail mail hard copies: Att’n Cammie Dodson, Justice Now, 1322 Webster Street, Suite 210, Oakland, CA 94612.
 
If you haven’t already, please sign the petition to Jerry Brown, Jeffrey Beard, and Martin Hoshino “Release Robert C. Fuentes before he dies in prison” at change.org/p/jefferey-a-beard-release-robert-c-fuentes-before-he-dies-in-prison.
 
His sister, Cynthia Fuentes, wrote: “We have found out that Martin Hoshito the Undersecretary has denied the request for Robert’s Compassionate Release, but we understand that’s par for the course. We need solidarity for a victory please repost the petition. Robert is getting weaker. He’s not able to swallow very well, which means he doesn’t eat very much. He is in Stage IV Liver Cancer, your prayers and messages to him keep him going and Bless him. If you haven’t posted under “Why is it important to me?” I invite you all to speak from your heart about this terribly unjust case. Love and God Bless, Cynthia (Cindy) Fuentes.”
Robert writes remarkable poetry. His poem “Inside, Outside” about being in SHU, with a picture of PBSP, was published in Extracts from Pelican Bay, Marilla Arguelles, Editor. It won America’s Best Poetry Contest. His writings also are in Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit of Hope, Healing and Forgiveness, and a story for Cynthia in Chicken Soup for the Sister’s Soul: Inspirational Stories About Sisters and Their Changing Relationships.

FUNDS NEEDED for Documentary on California Prisoner Hunger Strikes

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dying-for-sunlight-documentary-film-on-the-california-prisoner-hunger-strikes
DocumentaryFlyer-SIDE 1 - C-1On June 12, 2014, Lucas Guilkey, organizer and award-winning documentary film maker, launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the film “Dying for Sunlight: The Story of the California Prisoner Hunger Strikes.”  Please support the making of this documentary about the prisoner-led human rights movement against indefinite solitary confinement

 

Lucas has been creating powerful short videos about the CA Prisoner Hunger Strike Human Rights Movement over the past year, and now plans to tell the story in a more full and comprehensive manner, focusing on those who know it best: family members of the hunger strikers and those who’ve spent time in the SHU.

 

Any and all help spreading the word about this fundraising campaign will be deeply appreciated.

 igg.me/at/hungerstrikefilm

Northwest Detention Center Hunger Strike Ends after 56 Days – Collective of Detainees Releases Statement

AFTER 56 DAYS, NORTHWEST DETENTION CENTER HUNGER STRIKE CONCLUDES; NEWLY FORMED COLLECTIVE OF DETAINEES RELEASES STATEMENT

Tacoma, WA, May 5, 2014 – The wave of hunger strikes that first began on March 7th at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), a federal facility owned by the GEO Group and under the authority of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has concluded. In a communication dated May 1st, the newly formed “Collective of NWDC-T Detainees,” informed their supporters that they have completed this stage of their struggle. Full text of statement, with Spanish-language original, is below; pdf of original available upon request. The letter, titled, “Assessment of one phase of struggle” documents the retaliation suffered by the peaceful whistle-blowing hunger strikers during the March 27th wave of the strike. Describing “rigged hearings under false accusations with no respect for due process” and “sentences of 2 to 30 days” of solitary confinement suffered by the hunger strikers, the Collective also affirms their commitment to their initial demands, including a call for an end to deportations and for bold action by President Obama.

The hunger strike, which at its height included 1200 detainees, garnered local, national, and international media attention, and exposed the deplorable conditions in the facility, one of the largest detention centers on the West Coast. A February 24th #Not1More action outside the gates of the NWDC, where protesters blocked deportation buses and vans, inspired those held inside to take action of their own in the form of the hunger strike. Jose Moreno, among those on the GEO Group-marked van protesters stopped on the 24th, helped organize the hunger strike before being released on bond. Since his release, he has continued to lead the support efforts for those still imprisoned. Hearing of the end of the strike, Mr. Moreno stated, “Abuses that have been happening for years have now come to light. We are still in the struggle, and although the strike has ended, this isn’t over.”

Among the strike’s most important victories was an end to the silence surrounding the conditions of detention and deportation in this corner of the country. Despite being located in a little-trafficked industrial zone, the strike drew hundreds of supporters to multiple rallies outside the prison and inspired a similar action in a GEO Group immigrant detention facility in Conroe, Texas. Ernestina Hernandez, the wife of one of the men deported from Conroe for engaging in the hunger strike, began a hunger strike of her own outside the gates of the White House, bringing the peaceful protest tactic to the President’s front door.

Throughout the strike, ICE and GEO Group abuses continued to come to light. Among these are serious workplace injuries suffered by detainees laboring for $1/day; possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars of unaccounted telephone funds held back by the facility upon detainees’ deportations; and the use of solitary confinement and prison transfers in response to detainees’ peaceful protest. Also spotlighted were organizations that profit from the detention center. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, headquartered in Seattle, has become a target of hunger-strike supporters and others, due to their investment in GEO Group, and pressure continues for them to divest their holdings in the private prison company.

While ICE remains unresponsive to many of the hunger strikers’ demands, others are taking action as a result of the strike. Following a visit to the facility, where he met privately with hunger strikers and listened to their stories and demands, U.S. Representative Adam Smith drafted legislation, set to be introduced this week, which aims to create statutory standards for the treatment of immigrant detainees.

In their statement, the strikers emphasized that the 56-day hunger strike was only the beginning, stating that, “The fortifications, the walls that attempted to contain our participation have cracked and with ever growing unity we will finish knocking them down; the voice that initially struggled to filter out is now heard with greater firmness and clarity.”

STATEMENT FROM HUNGER STRIKERS:
Assessment of one phase of struggle

Today, May 1st, a 30-day hunger strike came to a conclusion. It had a prelude of 72 hours of fasting begun on March 27th, occurring in a climate of persecution, harassment and application of disciplinary punishments, invented and prefabricated by personnel from GEO (the private company that runs the Northwest Detention Center – Tacoma “NWDC – T”), with the goal of stopping us from adding our voice to the voice of those on the outside clamoring for Not1More, stop deportations, end the destruction of families, deferred action for all, yes to immigration reform; despite suffering through rigged “hearings” under false accusations, with no respect for due process, taking out of context the actions of the “accused,” impeding free exercise of ideas and the exercise of freedom of expression, as well as the right to information. In an atmosphere of voluntary and strictly peaceful action, they unleashed a chain of “disciplinary sanctions,” applying isolation and segregation to the participants who were on rolling fasts and hunger strikes, from March 24 until April 2nd, with an eye towards the great action on April 5th. These resulted in sentences of 2 to 30 days of punishment, with which they attempted and are attempting to discourage our unity in becoming a single voice regardless of whether we are on the inside or on the outside. With certainty we affirm that they did not succeed in containing and silencing the voice of those on the inside, the voice of the detained. They did not succeed in hijacking our emotions or our disposition to struggle despite drastically limiting our rights and falsely accusing us of insurrection. The campaign to marginalize us carried out by a cruel and unscrupulous bureaucracy that represents immoral and indecent interests cannot contain a just struggle that uses peaceful methods to make itself heard.

The fortifications, the walls that attempted to contain our participation have cracked and with ever growing unity we will finish knocking them down; the voice that initially struggled to filter out is now heard with greater firmness and clarity. With dignity, with self-respect, we are honored to signal that we are also present and that we add ourselves to the work yet to come until we succeed in NOT ONE MORE person added to the deportation statistics, and NOT ONE MORE FAMILY destroyed, and NOT ONE MORE IMMIGRANT with their American dream cut short and treated like a second class citizen.

Our voice is added to the single voice that is part of the echo that is heard in the White House and in Capitol Hill.

To those who join forces with this struggle today.

To those who cry out in different plazas and streets today.

To those who have opened their hearts to a just cause.

To those who add their pen, their voice, their image, their untiring support, their now inseparable company.

To the girl, the boys, and the youth who exercise solidarity and love of their peers.

TO ALL OF YOU THANK YOU FOR NOT LEAVING US ALONE.

We will not let you down and we will carry out our contribution so that we signal to history, as many millions of immigrants have done before, that we too added to the strength and greatness of this GREAT COUNTRY.

We reiterate to Mr. President Barack Obama that he be bold and honor his word.

We send a signal to Congress to rise to the challenge of what is justly and morally asked of them.

NOT ONE MORE! YES WE CAN!

– Collective of NWDC-T Detainees

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ORIGINAL SPANISH-LANGUAGE VERSION OF STATEMENT:
Balance de una etapa de lucha

Hoy 1o de mayo se concluye una huelga de hambre de 30 días, con un preludio de 72 hrs de ayuno iniciado el 27 de marzo y que en un clima de persecución, hostigamiento y aplicación de correctivos disciplinarios, inventados y prefabricados por parte del persona de GEO (compañía de la iniciativa privada que administra el Northwest Detention Center – Tacoma “NWDC –T”), en un afán de impedir que sumemos nuestra voz a la voz de los que afuera claman Ni1Mas, alto a las deportaciones, no a la destrucción de familias, acción diferida para todos, si a la reforma migratoria; a pesar de padecer “audiencias” amañadas bajo acusaciones falsas, sin respetar el debido proceso, sacando de contexto acciones de los “acusados”, impidiendo la libre asociación de ideas y el ejercicio de la libertad de expresión así como el derecho a la información, ello en un ambiente personal voluntario y estrictamente pacifico, desencadenaron una ola de “sanciones disciplinarias” aplicando aislamiento y segregación a participantes en ayunos y huelgas de hambre, escalonadas del 24 de marzo al 2 de abril, con miras al gran acto del 5 de abril, y que implicaron sentencias de 2 a 30 días de castigo, que procuraban y procuran desalentar nuestra integración para volvernos una sola voz, sin importar si estamos afuera o adentro; con certeza afirmamos que no lograron contener y acallar, la voz de los de adentro, la voz de los detenidos, no lograron confiscar nuestro sentimiento, ni disposición de lucha a pesar de limitar drásticamente nuestros derechos acusándonos falsamente de sedición, la campaña para marginarnos por parte de una burocracia cruel e inescrupulosa que representa interés inmorales, indecentes no puede contra una lucha justa y que utiliza medios pacíficos para hacerse oír.

 

Los muros, las paredes que pretendían contener nuestra participación se han agrietado y con una integración cada vez mayor terminaremos derrumbarles; la voz que inicialmente costo trabajo filtrar hoy se escucha con mayor firmeza y claridad. Con dignidad, con orgullo nos honramos en señalar que también estamos presentes que nos sumamos a las tareas por venir hasta lograr que NI UNO MAS forme parte de la estadística de deportados, que NI UNA FAMILIA MAS sea destruida, que NI UN INMIGRANTE MAS se le trunque el sueño americano y que sea tratado como ciudadano de segunda.

 

Nuestra voz se ha sumado a una sola voz y es parte del eco que se escucha en la Casa Blanca y el Capitolio.

A los que hoy se hermanan con esta lucha.

A las que hoy claman es distintas plazas y calles.

A las y los que han abierto su corazón a una causa justa.

A las y los que suman su pluma, su voz, su imagen, su apoyo incansable, su ya inseparable compañía

A las niñas, niños y jóvenes que se ejercitan en la solidaridad y amor a su semejantes.

 

A TODOS USTEDES GRACIAS POR NO DEJARNOS SOLOS.

 

No los vamos a defraudar y cumpliremos con nuestra aportación para que a la historia señale como tantos millones de inmigrantes lo han hecho que también colaboramos a la fortaleza y grandeza de este GRAN PAIS.

 

Le reiteramos al Sr. Presidente Barack Obama sea audaz y honre su palabra.

 

Le señalamos al Congreso que esté a la altura de lo que justa y moralmente se le reclama.

 

NI UNO MAS! SI SE PUEDE!

 

 

– Colectivo Detenidos NWDC-T

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Petition on behalf of Hunger Strikers and latest press releases available at: www.notonemoredeportation.com/2014/03/10/detention-hunger-strike/

Solitary Confinement Bill Passes Public Safety Committee, Could Mark End of Torturous Practice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    April 9, 2014

Press Contact:     Isaac Ontiveros—510.517.6612
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland—A bill designed to bring about reforms to the California’s internationally condemned use of indefinite solitary confinement, passed its first hurdle yesterday by a 4 to 2 vote (with one abstention) in the State Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. Assembly Member Tom Ammiano authored AB 1652 in response to the historic hunger strike last summer that included the participation of 30,000 prisoners in the majority of the California’s sprawling prison system.   Some of the strikers refused food for 60 days. The prisoners agreed to suspend their hunger strike on September 5, 2013, with the promise of legislative hearings on the use and conditions of solitary confinement in California’s prisons.

The bill could bring very significant changes to California’s use of solitary confinement.  AB1652 would prohibit the use of solitary except for 14 very serious offenses, and would set a cap on the solitary term to 5 years.   AB 1652 would effectively end the bitterly contested practice of “gang validation” that has led to thousands of prisoners serving indefinite sentences in solitary based merely on association with other prisoners.

According to the bill’s author, “The United States is an outlier in the world on the use of incarceration and solitary confinement, and California is an outlier in the United States and is the only state to use solitary confinement for indefinite terms where SHU [Security Housing Unit] terms are assigned for administrative reasons such as being in possession of artwork or books…

California’s SHUs do not meet international human rights standards regarding the treatment of incarcerated people. The conditions amounted to torture, and groups are challenging the constitutionality of the SHU. This bill is intended to limit the use of solitary confinement to people who have committed serious rule violations, and restore time credits for inmates currently serving time in the SHU on a non-rule violation assignment.”

“This bill responds to some of the core demands of the hunger strikers, namely that indefinite SHU status should be abolished,” said Donna Willmott, who worked on behalf of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition’s legislative working group to help California decision-makers take action on  solitary confinement.  “It is really important to recognize that the human rights struggle being waged by prisoners and their supporters are having an impact.  Given the horrendous violence of solitary confinement, we are eager to work with decision-makers to use this bill to get as many people out of solitary as we can, including making good-time credits retroactive for those who have suffered solitary based solely on accusation of gang membership and association.”

“Some of our loved ones have suffered in these inhumane conditions for 20 or 30 years or more,”  said Marie Levin, an activists with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition whose brother Sitawa Jamaa was one of the lead representatives of the prisoner hunger strikers. “We will continue our fight to make sure AB 1652 can provide some relief to our families, and we will continue to fight until the torture of solitary confinement is a thing of the past.”
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Emergency Response Alert: Stop Violations at Corcoran SHU!

Please check out this Emergency Response Alert about human rights violations by prison officials against prisoners in the Corcoran SHU.  And take the suggested actions:  email, write or call the prison officials and CDCr to protest.

Demand the end to destructive and retaliatory cell searches.

This link makes it very easy to take action!
http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51040/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13599

Thank you from the Emergency Response Network and the Human Rights Pen Pal Program of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.

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