“Security/Welfare Checks” – UPDATES and CONTINUED CALL FOR LETTERS, Oct. 2016

STOP SLEEP DEPRIVATION in CA Solitary Units
End the “Security/Welfare Checks”

from the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) Committee to End Sleep Deprivation

Please read the below update and write letters to Lindsay Hayes, the suicide expert who’s endorsed this harmful practice by CA Dept. of Corrections. Hayes can stop the “security/ welfare checks.” We want Hayes to hear the voices of the women and men affected by these torturous checks, and we ask you to be the messengers.

Use these templates and prisoner quotes, and send to the listed addresses:

Write to:
Lindsay M. Hayes

40 Lantern Lane
Mansfield, MA 02048

Copy to:
Matthew A. Lopes, Jr.
Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC
317 Iron Horse Way, Suite 301
Providence, RI 02908

If possible, send us a copy of your letter, either by U.S. mail or email:
PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation
P.O. Box 5692
Eureka, CA 95502
phssreachingout@gmail.com

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, Oct. 2015

October 14, 2016 UPDATES and CONTINUED CALL FOR LETTERS
to people inside and out prison walls

Guards are jarringly waking prisoners in solitary confinement every 30 minutes in the name of “security/welfare checks” throughout all CA prisons’ isolation units. Loudly disturbing and waking people every 30 minutes is serious, ongoing sleep deprivation, a debilitating, internationally-condemned form of torture. These “security/welfare checks,” purported to be for ‘suicide prevention,’ are being used as a blanket practice, whether prisoners are suicidal or not, and despite the fact that denial of sleep is devastating for the human mind and body.

We know that the “checks” began in Central CA Women’s Facility (CCWF) Condemned Units on May 18, 2014 and in Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Units (PB SHU) on August 2, 2015, despite the fact that suicide rates are low in those units; none in over 20 years and one in 11 years, respectively. Considering the harm and agony of sleep deprivation, the effects of these checks run counter to their purported purpose. Sleep expert Zeitzer and psychiatrist Kupers concluded people suffering from them may be at a higher suicide risk than before these checks began.

Our Committee to End Sleep Deprivation has received a flood of letters from people enduring the checks in California’s SHU’s, Ad Seg, and Psychiatric Units, explaining their suffering and trauma. Letters have come from Calipatria State Prison, CCI Tehachapi, Central CA Women’s Facility, CA Institution for Men, CSP Corcoran, Deuel Vocational Institution, CSP Sacramento (“New Folsom”), High Desert State Prison, Pelican Bay State Prison, SATF Corcoran, and Salinas Valley State Prison.

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PRISONER HUMAN RIGHTS! events Jan 22 & Feb 1

Join Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition for two events to

END SLEEP DEPRIVATION TORTURE
IN PELICAN BAY SOLITARY

Peter Collins-Solidarity withPBHunger Strike


Solitary Man

Solo Performance by Charlie Hinton,
followed by discussion

When: Friday, Jan 22 at 7pm

Where: Omni Commons

4799 Shattuck Ave
Oakland 94609

Charlie created Solitary Man based on his letters and visits with people in solitary confinement. The show is set in 2014, a year after the largest prisoner hunger strike in history.

Charlie says,“I want this show to gain an audience and become one more voice calling for the end of mass incarceration and solitary confinement…The world is such a cold and cruel place these days, I want Solitary Man to add at least one drop of humanity.”

After the performance, we will discuss how and why the men in Pelican Bay SHU have been continuously deprived of sleep since Aug 2, 2015.

Suggested Donation $5-15, snacks & beverages provided
No one turned away for lack of funds

Facebook: SOLITARY MAN, Performance by Charlie Hinton
http://tinyurl.com/h3adxdd

SacCDCrRally_2-1-16

Rally in Sacramento Against the Torture of Prisoners

When: Monday, Feb 1st at 1pm

Where: CA Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Headquarters

1515 S St. Sacramento, CA  95811

Since Aug 2, 2015, people in Pelican Bay SHU have been jolted awake by guards doing loud “checks” every 30 minutes. This cruel torture tactic is causing serious psychological and physical harm. Sleep deprivation is inhumane.  Join us to demand an immediate end to this torture.

No more torture in our name!

prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

Facebook:
Rally Against the Torture of Prisoners

RIDESHARE & More Info
510.426.5322
phssreachingout@gmail.com

Please DONATE for family bus trip to visit loved ones in Pelican Bay

To make tax-deductible donations to
California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC)
for family visits, work, and support:

Donate directly on website:
www.familyunitynetwork.org

OR  Make checks payable to: FACTS Education Fund

Write CFASC in the memo line.

Mail to:
FEF c/o CFASC
1137 E. Redondo Blvd.
Inglewood, CA 90302

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Sept. 23rd Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement: Locations & Details

Wed, Sept. 23 ACTIONS by Location
alphabetical order)

 the Bronx, NY –  Crescent City, CA (Pelican Bay) – Los Angeles, CA –   Nationwide for Yom Kippur – Oakland, CA –San Diego, CA – Santa Cruz, CA

If you still don’t see your locale, we haven’t received the details or YOU just might need to set up a simple action where you are!!  Here are two resources with ideas to mark the day:
http://www.cjpc.org/2015/CEPS-Action-Packet-final.pdf
http://www.nrcat.org/torture-in-us-prisons/together-campaign

Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) has a PHSS Facebook Event page.  SCATESC’s growing list of Co-sponsors and Endorsers is below.  Look soon for a website launch for ‘Together to End Solitary’, the nationwide collaboration

Sept. 23 Locations & Details

the BRONX, NY:
All are welcome to join this monthly demonstration against the torture of solitary confinement.  New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) asks you to lend NY_Together Sept. 23 Flyer_Page_1support to abolish Solitary Confinement in New York State.
Here’s the Bronx Flier & NY Solitary Fact Sheet
Bronx Action Details
Time:  6:00pm EST
Location:  corner of White Plains Rd and Gunn Hill Rd, Bronx, NY 10467
For more info, email caicny@gmail.com
Website: http://nycaic.org/
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/435402853327387/
#HALTSolitaryConfinement

 

CRESCENT CITY , CA:
Headed to demonstrate outside Pelican Bay State Prison (Crescent City, CA)

Sleep Deprivation is Torture”
Please join us on Wednesday, Sept 23rd to protest the sleep deprivation torture that began on the night of Aug 2nd in Pelican Bay SHU, perpetrated by the guards. People in SHU cannot escape the constant noise, and they can’t sleep. It’s torture and it’s really hurting them.

We plan to set up across from Pelican Bay in protest of the 30 minute so-called welfare checks, the guards’ bogus excuse for the sleep deprivation. These “checks” happen 48 times a day, keeping people in SHU sleep deprived DAY & NIGHT.

Want to join us?  We will have a banner and music and information (you can learn, if you don’t know much about solitary).  People have been writing letters, sending emails, and making phone calls about the sleep deprivation, which seems to be retaliation for two successful lawsuits settled on behalf of prisoners.∗

The men inside will learn of our solidarity action which, we hope, will lift their spirits.

We will leave for Crescent City from Eureka on Wednesday morning and come back in the evening. Also, we will be demonstrating against CA prisons entombing people in solitary confinement, period.
Crescent City Action Details
Time:  Carpool from Eureka about 9:00am PST
Protest  12:00pm – 5:00pm PST

Location: across from Pelican Bay, 5905 Lake Earl Dr, Crescent City, CA 95532
For more info, call  707-267-4249
Contact Name: Verbena
Contact Email: phssreachingout@gmail.com
#CAHungerStrike #StopSolitary #Together #SleepDeprivationIsTorture #StopSolitaryCA

 

LOS ANGELES, CA:
If the SHU Fits – Sept 23 Voices to End Solitary Confinement  If the SHU Fits – Voices from Solitary Confinement is a play which uses the history, use of, and statistics about solitary confinement in the United States to paint a broad picture of the practice. But the heart of the play comes from letters, articles, statements, stories and commentaries from those imprisoned and their family members, as well as legal and SHU923v3-LAcommunity testimony.On Sept 1, 2015 an historic legal settlement was announced between CA and prisoners held in isolation for 10 years or more at Pelican Bay State Prison, calling for the end of the use of solitary confinement for people based on alleged prison gang affiliation.  Despite that, the struggle is not over.Come join us to learn more about the ongoing efforts to end solitary confinement and to take action yourself!
HERE‘s the Los Angeles flier!
Los Angeles Action Details

Time: 6:30 pm
Location: St. John’s United Methodist Church 1715 Santa Ana Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90002
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/997504186975480/
Website: iftheshufits.net
For more info, call 310-704-3217
Contact email: info@iftheshufits.net

 

NATIONWIDE FOR YOM KIPPUR:
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is asking people to dedicate their fast for Yom Kippur (which is on Sept. 23rd) to people in solitary and to educate themselves.
‪#‎StopSolitary‬ ‪#‎Together‬ ‪#‎StopTorture‬

Unfortunately, for many people in America, being alone–continuously–is a daily reality. Between 80,000 and 100,000 incarcerated persons in solitary confinement are alone for 23 hours a day. In support with those who face isolation, activists around the country have dedicated the 23rd of every month as a day of action and solidarity. This month, the 23rd is Yom Kippur. T’ruah is calling on Jews across the country to dedicate their fast to those who suffer in prolonged solitary confinement and renew their commitment to ending it.

Full Invite including Resources from T’ruah about solitary confinement
Website: www.truah.org
Contact email: office@truah.org
For more info, call: (212) 845-5201

 

OAKLAND, CA (two actions, day & night):
Oakland Daytime Action
The big banner and new placards will put attention on the horrendous noise at Pelican Bay SHU 24/7, caused by the ‘wellness checks’.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION = TORTURE
The architecture of the SHU at Pelican Bay amplifies the slamming of the pod doors, the guards clambering up and down the tiers as well as the beeper and wand action by guards. The interpretation of these wellness checks by Pelican Bay staffers is unacceptable. Turn out to hear the latest and sign up for our emergency response network.
Daytime Oakland Action Details
Time: 11:30am – 2:00pm
Location: in front of the CA State Building, 1515 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94612
(between 14th and 15th Streets)
Contact phone: 510-435-1898
Contact email: phssreachingout@gmail.com

Oakland Nighttime Action
Flying Over Walls will be hosting their Oakland LGBTQ+ Prisoner Letterwriting Nightagain in conjunction with Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement – and discussing the recent Ashker v. Governor of California settlement, including what it means and what we are still fighting for.

As the SF Bay Area chapter of Black & Pink, our focus is to connect the non-incarcerated LGBTQ+ folks who participate in our events to B&P members in Northern California prisons.
Nighttime Oakland Action Details
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm PST
Location: The Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
Website: https://flyingoverwalls.wordpress.com/about/
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1635556230055874/

 

SAN DIEGO, CA:
We will be out talking with people and providing information to END SOLITARY CONFINEMENT and promote the AGREEMENT TO END HOSTILITIES. Please come join us for an hour after the work day.
San Diego Action Details
Time: 6:30pm – 7:30pm PST
Location: Rosa Park (park is next to the library) City Heights, San Diego  92105
Contact Person: Martha Esquivel
Contact Email:  emartha42@yahoo.com

 

SANTA CRUZ, CA:
Join us on Wednesday September 23rd, 2015 in Santa Cruz as part of actions statewide throughout California and state-by-state nationwide.  We will have sign-making, leafletting, and a rally. Also:
Zines and other literature
•Security Housing Unit (SHU) / solitary model food tray
Updates on the landmark victory of Ashker v. Gov. Brown and Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement in CA & nationwide
Readers’ Theater: plaintiffs’ statement on the settlement of Ashker v. Governor of California; women in and against solitary confinement.

On September 1, 2015 a landmark settlement ended indeterminate long-term solitary confinement in California prisons. The settlement may release 2,000 prisoners from solitary confinement. Let’s keep up the pressure to make sure it is implemented, and to end solitary confinement (15 days is torture), abusive prison conditions, and mass incarceration of the poor, particularly communities of color. 90% of people in the SHU in CA are people of color.

Sept. 5, 2015 is the 2-year anniversary of the suspension of the third nonviolent CA Prisoner Hunger Strike and work stoppage by over 30,000 prisoners. It was based on 5 Core Human Rights Demands and the Agreement to End Hostilities between all racial/ethnic and geographic groups in CA prisons, jails, and communities.
Santa Cruz Action Details
Time: 11:30am Sign-Making and Set Up
12 noon Leaflet and Talk with passersby
12:30pm – 2:30pm RALLY

Location: corner of Pacific Ave. and Cooper St., next to O’Neill’s, 110 Cooper St., Santa Cruz 95060
For more info, call  831-325-3251
Contact email: phssreachingout@gmail.com
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1685905584966193/

Continue reading

CA Prisoners Win Historic Gains with Settlement Against Solitary Confinement

Agreement reached in Ashker v. Brown ends indeterminate long-term solitary confinement in CA, among other gains for prisoners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 1, 2015
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) for more than 10 years, where they spend 23 hours a day or more in their cells with little to no access to family visits, outdoor time, or any kind of programming.

“From the historic prisoner-led hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, to the work of families, loved ones, and advocate, this settlement is a direct result of our grassroots organizing, both inside and outside prison walls,” said Dolores Canales of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), and mother of a prisoner in Pelican Bay. “This legal victory is huge, but is not the end of our fight – it will only make the struggle against solitary and imprisonment everywhere stronger.” The 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes gained widespread international attention that for the first time in recent years put solitary confinement under mainstream scrutiny.

Currently, many prisoners are in solitary because of their “status” – having been associated with political ideologies or gang affiliation. However, this settlement does away with the status-based system, leaving solitary as an option only in cases of serious behavioral rule violations. Furthermore, the settlement limits the amount of time a prisoner may be held in solitary, and sets a two year Step-Down Program for the release of current solitary prisoners into the prison general population.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 prisoners will be released from SHU within one year of this settlement. A higher security general population unit will be created for a small number of cases where people have been in SHU for more than 10 years and have a recent serious rule violation.

“Despite the repeated attempts by the prison regime to break the prisoners’ strength, they have remained unified in this fight,” said Marie Levin of CFASC and sister of a prisoner representative named in the lawsuit. “The Agreement to End Hostilities and the unity of the prisoners are crucial to this victory, and will continue to play a significant role in their ongoing struggle.” The Agreement to End Hostilities is an historic document put out by prisoner representatives in Pelican Bay in 2012 calling on all prisoners to build unity and cease hostilities between racial groups.

Prisoner representatives and their legal counsel will regularly meet with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials as well as with Federal Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, who is tasked with overseeing the reforms, to insure that the settlement terms are being implemented.

“Without the hunger strikes and without the Agreement to End Hostilities to bring California’s prisoners together and commit to risking their lives— by being willing to die for their cause by starving for 60 days, we would not have this settlement today,” said Anne Weills of Siegel and Yee, co-counsel in the case. “It will improve the living conditions for thousands of men and women and no longer have them languishing for decades in the hole at Pelican Bay.”

“This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters,” said the prisoners represented in the settlement in a joint statement. “We celebrate this victory while at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle.”

Legal co-counsel in the case includes California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Chistensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. The lead counsel is the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge in the case is Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

A rally and press conference are set for 12pm in front of the Elihu M Harris State Building in Oakland, which will be livestreamed at http://livestre.am/5bsWO.

The settlement can be read on CCR’s website, along with a summary. CCR has also put up downloadable clips of the plaintiffs’ depositions here.  Read statement from plaintiffs.

Honoring Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell

Long live Hugo Pinell, who showed us the power of the human spirit, that love can survive and overpower hell on earth.

________________________________________________

Beloved political prisoner Hugo ‘Yogi Bear’ Pinell, feared and hated by guards, assassinated in Black August after 46 years in solitary
August 14, 2015   by Dr. Willie and Mary Ratcliff

Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll.

From December 1970 to 2014, when he finally had a contact visit with his mother, Yogi was allowed to come out from behind the thick glass in the visiting room and touch a loved one only once: When he married Shirley, they were given 15 minutes together. She later died.

By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo Pinell, affectionately known as Yogi Bear, was assassinated Aug. 12. The news sparked a victory celebration by  prison guards on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.

“This is revenge,” declared his close friend, fellow Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha, on Hard Knock Radio Aug. 13. “They hated him as much as George Jackson. They beat him constantly, kept him totally isolated for 46 years – no window, no sunlight – but they could never break him, and that’s why they hated him.

“The only way he survived was that this man was full of love.” ….
Please read more of this excellent SF Bay View article
which includes “The Black Panther Party and Hugo Pinell”  from The Black Panther newspaper of Nov. 29, 1971

 

Hugo Pinell Presente!
August 14, 2015   by Isaac Ontiveros

….Hugo became a part of the Prison Liberation Movement, which saw the prison as a front of struggle connected to the global upsurge of oppressed people against colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy.  This was a period of intense education, organizing, and resistance among imprisoned people—some locked up as political prisoners, some transformed while inside, nearly all targeted by prison administrations for their political stances and activism.  In 1971, Hugo, along with 5 other prisoners at San Quentin State Prison in California, were charged with raising a rebellion at the facility’s Adjustment Center, during which prisoner movement leader George Jackson was assassinated.  Several weeks later, actions commemorating the assassination of Jackson by prisoners at Attica went on to spark the massive rebellion at that prison.  The story and political trial of the San Quentin Six helped people across the planet to understand the conditions inside prison, the resistance of prisoners, and the connection across the walls that the Prison Liberation Movement was trying to make.

Hugo Pinell in 2001

Hugo Pinell would go on to spend over 40 years in the solitary confinement units used to punish prisoners and break up their social, political, and religious organizations—indeed, Pinell was the longest held prisoner in solitary confinement in California, before recently being released into the general population.  Despite the torturous conditions of solitary, Hugo remained steadfast politically, and tried to stay connected to people and struggle, inside and outside the prison.  Hugo participated in the recent California Prison Hunger Strikes and was vocal supporter of prisoners’ 2011 Agreement To End Racial Hostilities.   In his late 60s while on hunger strike, Hugo talked about his activism with journalist Kilu Nyasha:

I wasn’t prepared for a hunger strike, so I don’t know how well or how long I can hold on, but I had to participate…I don’t even think in terms of doing or saying something wrong, for that would strike against everything I live for: freedom, becoming a new man and the New World. So, Sis, this hunger strike provides me with an opportunity for change while also allowing me to be in concert with, and in support of, all those willing to risk their precious and valuable health.  ….
Please read more of this tribute from Critical Resistance
Hugo Pinell- Rest in Power

August 13, 2015  by Claude Marks

We are saddened by the news of Hugo Pinell’s death. Hugo Pinell always expressed a strong spirit of resistance. He worked tirelessly as an educator and activist to build racial solidarity inside of California’s prison system. ….

….As the California Prisons began to lock people up in long-term isolation and control unit facilities, Hugo was placed inside of the SHU (Secure Housing Unit) in prisons including Tehachapi, Corcoran and Pelican Bay. There, despite being locked in a cell for 23 hours a day, he continued to work for racial unity and an end to the torturous conditions and racially and politically motivated placement of people into the SHU. This work included his participation in the California Prison Hunger Strikes as well as supporting the Agreement to End Racial Hostilities in 2012.

At the time of his death, Hugo had been locked behind bars for 50 years yet his spirit was unbroken.
Please read the full writing, Hugo Pinell- Rest In Power

See Who are the San Quentin 6? flyer (from 1970’s) provided by Freedom Archives

Here is a link to the Freedom Archives San Quentin 6 collection 

brief poem by Luis ‘Bato’ Talamantez

Hasta Siempre Hugo
Solidarity forever
And we are saddened
Solidarity left
You when (it) should have
Counted for something and
What your long imprisoned
Life stood for
Now all your struggles
To be free have failed
And only death an
Inglorious and violent
Death has
Claimed you
At the hands of the
Cruel prison system
La Luta Continua

-Bato and the San Quentin 3

A short poem written by Hugo Pinell from a publication issued in 1995.

No
Matter
How long it takes,
Real Changes will come,
And the greatest personal reward
Lies in our involvement and contributions,
Even if it may appear that nothing significant
Or of impact really happened
During our times,
But it did,
Because
Every sincere effort
Is as special as every human life

-Hugo Pinell (1995)

Solitary Confinement: A “Social Death” ––– New York Times on “Shocking” Data from Lawsuit [VIDEO included]

New York Times video:
Effects of Solitary Confinement

by Colin Archdeacon and Center for Constitutional Rights
Aug. 3, 2015
People imprisoned in Pelican Bay State Prison describe their experiences in long-term solitary confinement http://www.nytimes.com/video/science/100000003831139/effects-of-solitary-confinement.html

Today’s New York Times science section features a front-page piece about the research that CCR commissioned and compiled for our ground-breaking challenge to long-term solitary confinement. … 10 expert reports we submitted to the court in Ashker v. Brown, the class-action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners in solitary in California’s Pelican Bay prison. …
According to the expert reports, prisoners subjected to prolonged solitary experience a form of “social death” that is not cured upon release, but rather lingers as a “post-SHU syndrome” characterized by social withdrawal, isolation, and anxiety. …
The international and domestic experts agree that such prolonged isolation is not only unnecessary for prison security, but actually counter-productive, as well as a violation of international law. …
By bringing public scrutiny to the severe physical and psychological harm our clients and so many others are suffering as a result of their isolation, we hope to continue turning the tide against this form of torture until it is eradicated from the U.S. once and for all.  Read entire Center for Constitutional Rights article here: https://ccrjustice.org/home/blog/2015/08/04/solitary-confinement-social-death-nyt-shocking-data-ccr-case

New York Times article:
Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life

Pelican Bay Hunger Strike: Four Years and Still Fighting

Originally published in Counterpunch

Four years ago prisoners in California – led by those in the control units of Pelican Bay – organized a hunger strike to demand an end to the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. Two more strikes would follow, with over 30,000 prisoners taking united action in the summer of 2013—both in isolation and in general population in nearly every California prison. The strikes reflected significant shifts in political consciousness among prisoners and their loved ones. The violence of imprisonment was further exposed by demands and heightened organization from within the cages. Prisoner-led collective actions as well as growing public support dramatically have changed the political landscape.

The organization of hunger strikes in 2011 surprised many, especially the CDCr – the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (the lower case ‘r’ by most prison writers derides the Orwellian use of the word rehabilitation), the media, and much of the public.

Current prison organizing continues a historic legacy of struggle. Among prisoners, the strikes of 2011-2013 were compared to the Attica Rebellion of 1971. Shortly before that rebellion, prisoners at Attica refused to speak or eat in the facility’s chow hall, paying tribute to Black Panther Party member and California prison movement leader George Jackson, who had been assassinated at San Quentin prison August 21st. Jackson was a skilled and effective leader who connected the human rights demands of prisoners to revolutionary ideas both globally and in the streets. He argued with powerful clarity that racist and exploitive power relations could and should be changed through political and military struggle, and that Black liberation was achievable as part of an international struggle to destroy imperialism. Within the prisons, he built unity across racial lines – thinking that a unified prison movement could succeed in winning basic human rights both within the cages and in oppressed communities. While the state obviously found Jackson’s ideas and example extremely dangerous, many prisoners and community members found them a clarion call for action.

On September 9th 1971, Attica erupted. Led by prisoners affiliated with the Nation of Islam, the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, and the Five Percenters, the rebellion seized control of several large areas of the prison and issued a manifesto demanding, among other things, better health conditions, an end to political persecution of prisoners, and a right to organize or join labor unions (these demands were very similar to the Folsom Prison manifesto written in California in 1970). After four days of negotiations, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered that the prison be retaken – in the ensuing brutal military assault 39 people were killed by state police and prison guards.

While Attica is one of the most remembered uprisings, between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, there were over three hundred prison rebellions across the US, including those at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in 1973, the Idaho State Penitentiary in 1972-3, the August Rebellion in 1974 at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in New York State, a 1975 demonstration at the North Carolina Correctional Center for Women, and the Penitentiary of New Mexico in 1980.

In response to these militant uprisings, prisons developed unprecedented strategies of repression, isolation and for a time resistance took less dramatic forms. Yet prisoners were still inspired to resist. In one example, in 1995 women in CA state prisons initiated a class action law suit against genocidal health care conditions and successfully organized family members and allies across the state to support them.

Prisoners in California in 2011-2013 organized against the very policies, strategies, and technology that had been put into place to neutralize the rebellions of previous decades (both inside and outside prison)—including solitary confinement, gang validation (which includes the criminalization of George Jackson’s writings), and the gutting of educational programming. In turn, prisoners used similar historic strategies – collective direct action, multiracial unity, and building strong support and solidarity networks on the outside. Continue reading

Great NEW VIDEO: “Breaking Down the Box” (40 min.)

TORTURE IS A MORAL ISSUE

As the grievous loss of Kalief Browder reveals, we must act with urgency to end the devastation of solitary confinement. To that end, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture announces the release of a new NRCAT film, Breaking Down the Box, a 40-minute documentary for communities of faith, to expose the torture of solitary confinement in the context of mass incarceration in the United States.

Breaking Down the Box from NRCAT on Vimeo.

Produced by filmmaker Matthew Gossage, the film examines the mental health, racial justice and human rights implications of the systemic use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. It is a call to action for communities of faith to engage in the growing nationwide movement for restorative alternatives to isolated confinement that prioritize rehabilitation, therapeutic interventions, and recovery.  Watch the film online and then download or order a DVD for use in your congregation or community, at no cost. More resources and DVD order form at www.nrcat.org/breakingdownthebox

Please spread the word:

Twitter  New documentary from @NRCATtweets exposes torture of #solitaryconfinement in context of mass incarceration www.nrcat.org/breakingdownthebox

fb_logo  Watch a new documentary exposing the torture of solitary confinement in the context of mass incarceration in the U.S.  Film and resources for faith communities at www.nrcat.org/breakingdownthebox

***
We encourage you to share this new resource in your community during June Torture Awareness Month and throughout the year. Additional promotional and discussion materials are available at www.nrcat.org/breakingdownthebox.

Thank you for your commitment to building a #TortureFreeWorld together.

In community,

Rev. Laura Markle Downton
Director of U.S. Prisons Policy and Program

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

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