To Prisoner Class Supporters from Todd Ashker (w/proposed Open Letter to Gov. Brown)

To Whom It May Concern,
To Prisoner Class Supporters
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
California Families Against Solitary Confinement
and Public, etc.

From Todd Ashker
C58191 KVSP – ASU- 2/194
Box 5106
Delano, CA 93216

December 5, 2017

This is a follow-up to our October 2017, Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement, “Statement of Prisoner Representatives on Second Anniversary of Ashker v. Brown Settlement.”

In our collective October 2017 “Statement,” we stressed the importance that “…prisoners and our families will have to re-energize the human rights movement, to fight against the continuing violations of our rights.” … reminding all involved, “We must stand together, not only for ourselves, but for future generations of prisoners, so that they don’t have to go through the years of torture that we had to.”

With this in mind, I am sharing a copy of my proposed “Open Letter to Governor Brown, Legislators, and CDCR Secretary Kernan, RE: Attention to Ongoing Human Rights Violations and Related Lack of Reparative Action Necessary To Begin Making Amends for 3+ Decades of Systematically Intentional, State-Sanctioned Torture” …with the hope of helping to re-energize our movement, by gaining wide-spread support for the position/s presented in the “Open Letter.”

As many are aware, our current collective movement began in the bowels of Pelican Bay State Prison – SHU – Short Corridor, wherein prisoners of all races and various geographical areas, became openly conscious of what we had in common- rather than what was different (divisive); we recognized we’d all been subjected to the same adversary’s boots on our necks, all members of a prisoner class subjected to decades of solitary confinement torture.

We became aware of the fact that those of us serving “term-to-life” sentences, were all akin to the living dead, our existence being that of a mind numbing, spirit destroying, endless nightmare. I believe coming together in the “short corridor” wherein we witnessed the toll of our slow decay- together with the prisoncrats progressively punitive, oppressive provocations- was one cause of our awakening, leading to us coming together as the “PBSP – SHU, Short Corridor Collective.”

Our struggle was focused on ending long-term solitary confinement [and improvements to conditions therein]. We stood up together and collectively.  We educated our loved ones and general public about what had been in society’s shadow for far too long. We publicly “drew the line” and said, “No More!”

As a committed collective of fellow human beings (a large majority hailing from working class, poor communities) we lead our struggle — from behind the walls – putting our lives in the balance… at that point, our lives being all we had… We demanded an end to our torture, based on our inherent right – as human beings – to humane treatment, inclusive of dignity and respect for ourselves, our loved ones, and the unfortunate generations to follow.

Notably, our collective membership had been the subject of the states’ decades-long ‘war against the working-class poor, tough-on-crime’ (focused and applied mainly upon the poor), politicized, vilified, and branded as “The Worst of The Worst” in order to justify our subjection to endless torture (lasting more than 30 years)!

In this climate, we came together and utilized non-violent, peaceful protest action, mass hunger strikes and work stoppages, which, together with the support of our awakened loved ones, and countless other people of conscience outside the walls (while all along, suffering with us), exposed our plight to the world community.

In 2012, we introduced our collective “Agreement to End Race-Based Hostilities,” making clear our united intent to no longer be the source of our mutual adversary’s manipulation tactics – centered on keeping us divided and violent towards one another, (thereby used to justify our adversaries agenda – supermax, indefinite warehousing); and thereby demonstrating our humanity in the face of the provocations of our oppressive torturers. We pointed out the fact that, in the absence of race-based violence, our mutual adversary/s would be forced to end their policy of warehousing us in the small cells indefinitely, and open the prisons up for meaningful programming and privileges- beneficial to the prisoner class.

I mention the above points as important reminders of the fact that the main basis for the success we’ve achieved to date has been Our Collective Unity Inside and Outside the prison walls, making strategic use of combined litigation, and peaceful activism- action tools, which, together with our related collective belief in and commitment to Our Cause, is a great example of “The Power Of The People.”

It’s also true that with the progress comes responsibility; we must be vigilant with respect to maintaining, and crucially building on our achievements. The responsibility is ours for doing so. “The novelist Aldous Huxley once said: ‘Liberties are not given; they are taken.’ We are not given our liberties by the Bill of Rights, certainly not by the government which either violates or ignores those rights.  We take our rights, as thinking, acting citizens.” [quoting from Howard Zinn’s The Zinn Reader – Writings On Disobedience & Democracy (1997) at p. 418]

Our adversaries are constantly resisting any change beneficial to the prisoner class! History demonstrates the importance of our need to stand together collectively, and refuse to allow those in power (at the will of the People) to halt our progressive movements’ demands for human rights and real justice, because, historically, every class action, civil-suit ‘victory’ for the prisoner class in California has been manipulated by prisoncrats to the ultimate detriment of those that such ‘victory’ was intended to benefit. It’s a non-stop battle!

What I greatly appreciate, and respect, about our Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement, is what I hope is our part in society’s evolutionary leap in collective human consciousness. Standout examples of this for me, go back to the Arab Spring (2010, I believe), followed by the August 2010 massive Georgia Prison, system-wide work strike, and the January 2011 Hunger Strike at Ohio State Prison.

Reflecting on the above, as well as our historic, collective group mass hunger strike protests across the California system, of 2011-2013, brings to mind an often quoted phrase (as a sort of benchmark of what’s wrong with society) that of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, reflecting on his own incarceration, famously said, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Our collective coming together in the context of having been demonized – tortured over 3 decades – composed of working class poor, facing extreme adversity for a powerful, well-funded adversary… toppled (to an extent- losing their supermax jewel, PBSP SHU) by our peaceful protests, and related Global Condemnation (and litigation), epitomizes a great side of our society! I hope it’s an example of a growing social revolutionary process.

Related to the above, and to our common struggle in general, I want to share a few excerpts from The Zinn Reader, a bit of food-for-thought.

Continue reading

FEB 23 RALLY & COURT HEARING: California Prisoners moved to “General Population” from SHU are STILL being held in Solitary Confinement

Please come out to show your support on February 23rd for people to be put in a true general population setting with regular access to yard, day room, programming, jobs, fresh air, phone, and other means of social interaction and environmental stimulation.

Rally with us and be in court for oral argument in this important hearing in Ashker v. Governor of California.

Friday, February 23, 2018
Phillip Burton Federal Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94012

12:00 pm: RALLY outside the SF Courthouse
1:00 pm: PACK THE COURTROOM, Courtroom #1, 17th Floor

Show the judge we still support those incarcerated in solitary/SHU-like conditions!

We will head inside the courthouse at 12:40pm. You must pass through a metal detector and present ID to enter the courthouse.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2011774719037446/

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) will be there! Feb 23- Oral Argument in Ashker v. Governor of CA

Stop the Torture

“My total out-of-cell time for the entire month was 16.83 hours”

To supporters of human rights,

On February 23, 2018 in San Francisco, an important motion will be heard in Ashker v. Governor (aka Ashker v. Brown), the federal class action lawsuit challenging prolonged solitary confinement in California. As a result of the settlement in Ashker, over 1400 people were released from solitary confinement Security Housing Units (SHU) to what the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) calls “General Population.”  Yet, many of the class members released from SHU continue to suffer conditions of extreme isolation. Hardly ever getting out-of-cell time, they have been forced to spend as much or more time locked in their cells as when they were in SHU, with little to no rehabilitative or educational programming or social interaction with other people.

On February 23,  Jules Lobel, of the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Ashker legal team, will be arguing a motion challenging these SHU-like general population units as a violation of the settlement agreement.

A prisoner who is no longer in SHU after 15 years, explains his new “general population” conditions at Calipatria:

“… Out of cell time is regularly cancelled or restricted. Yard time is scheduled 4 times per week, but is often available only 1 or 2 times per week. Showers and telephone calls, which are supposed to be available every other day, are infrequent, and we must choose one or the other. … I leave my cell for 20-25 minutes for breakfast, and many days, this is my only out-of-cell time. …The conditions in ‘general population’ in Calipatria are similar to SHU… I have limited social interaction and intellectual stimulation. I rarely go outside…I have difficulty maintaining relationships with my family especially since my ability to use the telephone is so infrequent and irregular. I suffer from insomnia. I suffer from anxiety that I feel is directly linked to the irregular programming: I am anxious because I do not know what will happen next.”

Carol Strickman, of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and the Ashker legal team, states:

“On Friday, February 23, the San Francisco district court magistrate will hear argument on our motion regarding the isolated conditions that many of our class members are experiencing in the Level IV maximum security prisons that they were transferred to. Their conditions are so extreme that our correctional expert states, ‘These prisoners are not actually in what reasonably may be considered general population: rather, they are in a form of restrictive housing as these terms are commonly understood within the corrections profession.’ We are encouraging interested parties to attend the hearing.”

RALLY AT 12PM before the hearing, outside of the courthouse
HEARING AT 1PM in Courtroom 1, on the 17th floor. (Remember to bring ID)

Please pass this message on to fellow supporters of human rights who may be able to attend on the 23rd. Check the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website for upcoming details on a postcard campaign to further support the Ashker class members. https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/

If you have transportation needs or offers for the Feb 23 Rally and Court Hearing, please email phssreachingout@gmail.com or call 510-426-5322 as soon as possible.

Solitary Confinement is Torture.

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.

May 23rd Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement- Locations & Details

fill in the details for your action!

Saturday, May 23 ACTIONS by location (alphabetical order)

If you don’t see your locale listed here, we haven’t received the details yet or YOU just might need to organize a simple action where you are!!

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) has a PHSS Facebook Event page.  SCATESC’s long list of Co-sponsors and Endorsers is below.


May 23 Locations & Details (so far)

ARCATA / MANILA, CA:
We will be gathering at the Manila Community Center in solidarity with the other statewide coordinated actions that are happening on the 23rd of every month.  Solitary confinement is rampantly used in California. We are a part of a prisoner-led movement including: family and loved ones of incarcerated people, students, lawyers, youth, teachers, doctors, activists, international and national organizations.

There are people of all ages and genders that are locked in solitary confinement, some for DECADES. With Pelican Bay, a notorious torture chamber, so close… come on May 23rd and help STOP THE TORTURE. You can help us pass out literature, get more involved in the struggle, show your solidarity, or just learn.  We will have an educational demonstration while people are waiting for the Kinetic sculptures in Manila.
HERE‘s the Manila flier!
Manila Action Details
Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: outside area of Manila Community Center, 1611 Peninsula Dr. Arcata (Manila), CA
For more info: call 707-442-7465
Contact Person: Verbena

Contact Email: peoplesarc@gmail.com

LOS ANGELES, CA:
End Solitary Confinement for Youth in Detention
In juvenile facilities across California, children are held in solitary confinement for days, weeks, and months at a time. This unnecessarily harsh disciplinary practice harms young pe
May23 LA- flyer-If the SHU fits, End Youth Solitary Confinementople and exposes them to a lifetime of psychological and developmental trauma.

At this event, we will present “If the SHU Fits-Voices from Solitary Confinement”, and follow with a session to:  * Share Stories  * Discuss Strategies to make meaningful change * Take Action!

Find out about SB 124 (Leno), which takes California in the right direction by placing limitations on the use of solitary confinement in juvenile justice facilities and encouraging them to explore more positive and developmentally appropriate methods for working with youth.

“If the SHU Fits” is produced by Dramastage Qumran, LA Laborfest, & Public Works Improvisational Theatre, and supported by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).
HERE‘s the Los Angeles flier!
Los Angeles Action Details
Time: 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Chuco’s Justice Center, 1137 E Redondo Blvd, Inglewood, CA
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1590359064569376/
For more info: call 310-704-3217
Contact Email: lalaborfest@gmail.com
Endorsing organizations for LA action include American Friends Service Committee-LA, Anti-Racist Action-LA, Café Intifada, Children’s Defense Fund of California, Progressive Christians Uniting (PCU), The WE Empowerment Center, Youth Justice Coalition

OAKLAND, CA–  
“We want to consider the idea of designating a certain date each month as Prisoner Rights Day…our supporters would gather in locations throughout California to expose CDCR’s actions and rally support efforts to secure our rights.” PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement, Nov. 2013

Informational Demonstration: PLEASE come talk and help share information to STOP THE TORTURE that is solitary confinement.
HERE‘s the Oakland flier!
Oakland Action Details
Time: 12:30pm – 2:30pm
Location: Mosswood Park, on Webster St. side, near grills
Contact Email: phssoutreach@gmail.com

PENNSYLVANIA:
Pennsylvania (PA) groups support the Monthly CA Statewide Coordinated Action to End Solitary Confinement.

Join us in fasting for some or all of the May 23rd
in protest of the 23 hours of solitary confinement that tens of thousands of prisoners endure every day for months and years
and add your group to those committed to taking an action each month.

PA groups so far include Abolitionist Law Center; Global Women’s Strike; Human Rights Coalition Philly/Pittsburgh; Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign; Payday men’s network; Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee; Fight for Lifers West, Inc.
Pennsylvania Action Details
Time: all day
Location: Pennsylvania
For more info in PA, call 215-848-1120
Contact emails: philly@globalwomenstrike.net, payday@paydaynet.org.

POINT REYES, CA:
We will be tabling with information about solitary confinement and the prisoner-led human rights struggle to end solitary confinement – torture- and to promote the Agreement to End Hostilities.

Point Reyes Action Details
Time:
11:00am – 3:00pm
Location: Downtown Point Reyes Station
For more info: call 415 663-6760
Contact Person: Kim Pollak
Contact Email: kimpollak@gmail.com

SAN DIEGO, CA:
STOP THE TORTURE! As part of the Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement, we will have a May 23rd informational demonstration including photos of men in SHU, along with some who used to be in SHU but are now in General Population.  We will be talking and sharing information to STOP THE TORTURE of solitary confinement.
San Diego Action Details
Time: 12:00noon – 2:00 pm

Location: at Rosa Park (the park is next to library) in City Heights, San Diego
Contact Person: Martha Esquivel
Contact Email:  emartha42@yahoo.com

SAN FRANCISCO, CA:
This date, May 23, emphasizes the 23 or more hours every day that people are kept in solitary confinement in 7 x 11 foot concrete cells.  Organized, community-based pressure is a core strategy to end solitary confinement.  Please participate or visit this informational demonstration.  There will be many people lined up to visit Alcatraz.  Come help pass out information.
San Francisco Action Details

Time: 8:30am – 2:00pm
Location: Pier 33 (Bay St. and The Embarcadero, where people line up to go to Alcatraz island)
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1579191362361202/
Contact Person Name: Kim Rohrbach
 For more info: call 510.863.0477

Continue reading

April 23rd Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement- Locations & Details

fill in the details for your action!

fill in the details for your action!

APRIL 23 ACTIONS by location (alphabetical order)

If you don’t see your locale listed here, we haven’t received the details yet or YOU just might need to organize a simple action where you are!!

Here are fliers and handbills to distribute.
Check out our updated Universal Handbill for these actions!
Email phssreachingout@gmail.com or click HERE to share your locale’s details and/or request printed materials be sent for your action.

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) has a PHSS Facebook Event page.
SCATESC’s long list of Co-sponsors and Endorsers is below.

April 23 Locations & Details (so far)

ARCATA, CA:
So close to Pelican Bay State Prison- a solitary confinement torture facility- we participate in these Statewide Coordinated Actions. We will have an informational demo to educate about the human rights atrocity of solitary confinement and strengthen the prisoner-led movement to stop the torture. Actions will continue on the 23rd of each month, locations TBA, corresponding to the 23 or more hours a day people are kept in solitary confinement.
Arcata Action Details
Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: the Quad at Humboldt State University
For more info: call 707-442-7465
Contact Person: Verbena

Contact Email: peoplesarc@gmail.com

LOS ANGELES, CA:
Actions on the 23rd of every month in response to a call from the prisoners who went on hunger strike against isolation-torture for regularly scheduled building actions and organizing against long-term indefinite solitary confinement in the SHUs.
Los Angeles Action Details
Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Location: Reagan State Bldg, 3rd & Spring Sts., L.A.
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1394087940914592/
For more info: call 323-636-7388
Contact Person:
Michael Novick
Contact Email: <antiracistaction_la@yahoo.com>

OAKLAND, CA–   TWO events!! Daytime and Nighttime
Actions on this date, April 23rd, emphasize the 23 or more hours every day that people are kept in solitary confinement.  “We want to consider the idea of designating a certain date each month as Prisoner Rights Day…our supporters would gather in locations throughout California to expose CDCR’s actions and rally support efforts to secure our rights.” PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement, Nov. 2013
Oakland Daytime Details
Informational Demonstration: PLEASE come help share information and hold a huge banner.  There will be thousands of passers-by that day at Laney College!
Time: 11:30am – 1:30pm
Location: parking lot side of Laney College, 8th Street, near the freeway
Contact Email: phssoutreach@gmail.com

Oakland Nighttime Details
Solidarity w/ The Prisoner Hunger Strikers Study Session:
Every week The Bay Area Solidarity Committee for Jalil Muntaqim hosts a Political Education Class “New Afrikan Prisoner Writings Study Sessions” from 5:30-7:30PM.  We will dedicate the April 23rd session in solidarity with the prisoner hunger strikers.  We will be reading and discussing “the five core demands” as well as the “Agreement to End Hostilities“.  We will also be dissecting different writings by Abdul Olugbala Shakur, Chairman & founder of George Jackson University. The event, hosted by The Bay Area Solidarity Committee For Jalil Muntaqim and George Jackson University, will end in an open mic and political hip hop Show.

Time: Political Education 5:30pm – 7:30pm,
Show/Open Mic 8:00 – 10:00pm

Location: “Qilombo” 2313 San Pablo Ave Oakland, CA
Group Website: https://www.facebook.com/committee.jalil
Contact Person: Shango Abiola
Contact Email: shangoabiola@gmail.com

POINT REYES, CA:
We will be tabling with information about solitary confinement and the prisoner-led human rights struggle to end solitary confinement – torture- and to promote the Agreement to End Hostilities.

Point Reyes Action Details
Time: 11:00am – 3:00pm

Location: Downtown Point Reyes Station
For more info: call 415 663-6760
Contact Person: Kim Pollak
Contact Email: kimpollak@gmail.com

Continue reading

July 8th Events in L.A. and San Bernandino to Commemorate Largest Hunger Strike in History

CFASC- JULY 8- 2014- EVENT FLYER-3FAMILY MEMBERS, LOVED ONES, SUPPORTERS:
Join at  300 S Spring St, Los Angeles
11:00am – 1:00pm

ALL OUT FOR LARGEST HUNGER STRIKE IN HISTORY….ONE YEAR AGO on July 8th, 2013 …. 30,000 IMPRISONED PEOPLE BEGAN A CALIFORNIA PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE TO RAISE AWARENESS TO THE TORTUROUS CONDITIONS OF ISOLATION AND THE ABUSE THAT GOES ON IN OUR PRISON SYSTEM …

Join California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement (CFASC) and Family Unity Network on July 8th, 2014 to commemorate the largest & longest hunger strike in history ….

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL later in San Bernandino at 6:00pm.

Continue reading