Press Release: Folsom Prison Hunger Strike Enters 9th Day – Families, Advocates to Rally in Folsom and L.A. to Support Prisoners’ Demands

For Immediate Release – Friday, June 2, 2017

WHAT:  Rally & Press Conference to Support Folsom Prison Hunger Strike

WHEN:  Sunday, June 4th from 12:00pm-2:00pm | Press Conference @ 1:00pm

WHERE:
Folsom: Folsom State Prison | E Natomas & Folsom Prison Road  (Folsom, CA 95630)

Los Angeles: Twin Towers Jail | 450 Bauchet St  (Los Angeles, CA 90012)

PRESS CONTACTS:

Courtney Hanson
photos.courtneyjade@gmail.com | (916) 316-0625

 Raquel Estrada
rpartida831@gmail.com | (831) 227-7679

Folsom—On Sunday, June 4th, 2017, human rights advocates will hold a rally outside of Folsom State Prison (FSP) to amplify the voices of people incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at FSP, who have been on hunger strike since May 25th. Prisoners in Building 4 of ASU are striking because they are forced in live in conditions that are inhumane and constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution. Despite the fact that FSP is aware of the dangerous consequences of prolonged social isolation, they continue to deprive prisoners of basic human needs, including normal human contact, environmental and sensory stimulation, mental and physical health, physical exercise, sleep, access to courts, and meaningful activity.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is aware (Madrid-Ashker-Coleman) that the conditions of extreme isolation will likely inflict some degree of psychological trauma, including but not limited to: chronic insomnia, severe concentration and memory problems, anxiety and other ailments. The CDCR and the general public have a heightened awareness about this issue because of the prisoner hunger strikes that swept California in 2011 and 2013 and involved more than 30,000 prisoners. Those strikes led to Ashker v. Brown, a federal class action lawsuit asserting that prolonged solitary violates the 8th Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) and putting someone in solitary based on gang association violates the 14th Amendment (no due process). The case reached settlement in September 2015, ending indeterminate solitary confinement terms in Security Housing Units (SHUs), but did not prevent prisoners from being kept in prolonged solitary confinement in Administrative Segregation.

FSP continues to claim that lack of money prevents them from abiding by CDCR’s stated goals, and are content to not only ignore the suffering of men in its care, but to retaliate against them for their peaceful protest.

“On the afternoon of May 27th, someone called on my husband’s behalf relaying his message that Warden Ron Rackley and Ombudsman Sara Smith had a meeting with him where they communicated that they were upset with the hunger strike and threatened to take away his visits, move him to another prison, give him a 115 and revalidate him as a Security Threat Group (STG) gang leader for his role in organizing the hunger strike. On May 28th, I arrived to visit and the Sergeant informed me that my husband is no longer at FSP and was moved to DVI Tracy.” —Raquel Estrada

Folsom prison hunger strikers have the following demands, which are published in greater detail here.

  1. PROVIDE ADEQUATE ACCESS TO COURTS AND LEGAL ASSISTANCE

  2. PROVIDE MEANINGFUL EDUCATION, SELF-HELP COURSES AND REHABILITATIVE PROGRAMS

  3. ALLOW POSSESSION OF TELEVISIONS

  4. PROVIDE EXERCISE EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING PULL-UP BARS, FOR MEANINGFUL EXERCISE IN YARD

  5. END CRUELTY, NOISE AND SLEEP DEPRIVATION OF WELFARE CHECKS

  6. KEEP ORIGINAL PROPER PACKAGING FOR COMMISSARY AND CANTEEN

  7. GIVE NON-DISCIPLINARY STATUS TO QUALIFYING PRISONERS

  8. PROVIDE ADEQUATE AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND SHOES

  9. PROVIDE FOOD BOWL AND CUP

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Endorsed by Sacramento Solidarity Network, California Families Against Solitary Confinement, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community, All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, Democratic Socialists of America Sacramento, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Showing Up for Racial Justice Sacramento, Freedom Outreach, Underground Scholars

April 25 RALLY! Support Detainees on DAY 12 of Hunger Strike in Riverside County, CA

The Hunger Strike going on right now at The Robert Presley Detention Center has now surpassed a week without  jail administration addressing the demands and legitimate core issues of the Hunger Strikers.  Instead, administration is responding by limiting or removing the Hunger Strikers’ commissary/canteen options, access to the phone, and visitation hours. These forms of retaliation are intimidation tactics. It is now more important than ever for us to voice our support for the hunger strike. Our rally will start in front of the jail at 1:00 PM, 4000 Orange St, Riverside, CA 92501. If you are unable to come in person visit https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/ for more ways to show your support.

Hungerstrike Action Poster -- 12TH DAY

RIVERSIDE COUNTY JAIL HUNGER STRIKE
 SOLIDARITY RALLY,  TUESDAY 4/25

1 PM @ ROBERT PRESLEY DETENTION CENTER, DOWNTOWN RIVERSIDE

TUESDAY WILL BE THE 12TH DAY OF THE ROBERT PRESLEY JAIL DETAINEES’ HUNGER STRIKE

THE SHERIFF AND THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS HAVE BEEN UNRECEPTIVE, AND HAVE RETALIATED BY TAKING AWAY PHONES, VISITS, RECREATION AND COMMISSARY, AND HAVE RESORTED TO USING DISCIPLINARY WRITE-UPS

NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT PRESSURE ON THE COUNTY TO DEMAND CHANGE AND SUPPORT THOSE INSIDE

HELP THE DETAINEES END THEIR HUNGER STRIKE BY ENDING UNJUST AND UNFAIR POLICIES

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: RIVERSIDEALLOFUSORNONE@GMAIL.COM

OR VISIT: www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com


Hunger Strike in Riverside County Jail Needs Your Support
Read post, make calls and share flier

To Read Statement and Demands, see Hunger Strike in Riverside County Jails begins April 13. 2017: Download pdf  or Read post

How To Support Riverside County Detainees On Hunger Strike After 4/13 Rally

This post was updated April 20, 2017 on 6th day of hunger strike.
NEW FLIER HERE!  Spread it far and wide.

The Robert Presley Jail has responded to the hunger strikers by limiting or removing their commissary/canteen options, access to the phone, and visitation hours. These forms of retaliation are intimidation tactics, and it is now more important than ever for us to voice our support for the hunger strike and call on the Riverside Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff’s Department and the Riverside County Robert Presley Jail to address the demands of the hunger strikers. 

Hungerstrike Action Flyer.pngCALL TO ACTION: HOW TO SUPPORT
HUNGER STRIKERS
AFTER 4/13 RALLY

Until May 1st, make phone calls to Riverside’s Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff’s Department and the Riverside County Robert Presley Jail telling them that you support the hunger strike and that you expect them to address the issues raised by those on the inside.

Here is a sample script:
“Hello, My name is ____ and I am a _____ county resident. I am calling in support of the hunger strikers at Robert Presley Jail.  Their demands and core issues are legitimate. I am asking you to please make serious efforts to address their concerns, and to ensure that the hunger strikers are not further retaliated against in any way. We also ask that there is no further segregation, and that their access to commissary, phone calls and visitation is restored. Thank you.”

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:
-First District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries: (951) 955-1010
-Second District Supervisor John Tavaglione: (951) 955-1020
-Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington (951) 955-1030
-Fourth District Acting Supervisor and Fifth District Supervisor Marion Ashley:(951) 955-1050

SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:
(951) 955-2400 Press Option 4

RIVERSIDE COUNTY ROBERT PRESLEY JAIL:
(951) 955-4500 Press Option 1 then Option 8

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: riversideallofusornone@gmail.com
OR VISIT: www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.



Hunger Strike in Riverside County Jail Needs Your Support
Read post, make calls and share flier

Announcement of Hunger Strike: DETAINEES’ DEMANDS / CORE ISSUES
Download pdf  or Read post

 

PHOTOS and REPORTBACKS from Rally Against the Torture of Prisoners

On February 1, 2016, people from all over California gathered in Sacramento at the headquarters of the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr) to demand an end to the dangerous and deliberate sleep deprivation being inflicted on the people in solitary in Pelican Bay State Prison SHU, under the guise of “welfare checks”.

Before the Rally, more than 15 formerly incarcerated people, family members, pen pals, and other activists visited the offices of Loni Hancock (chair of the CA Senate Public Safety Senate Committee), Bill Quirk (chair of the CA Assembly Public Safety Committee), and reps from various districts to demand the immediate suspension of the sleep deprivation “welfare checks” in the Pelican Bay SHU.  Sleep Deprivation Is Torture.

Reportbacks below are from Martha Esquivel of San Diego, CA and James Decker of Eureka, CA.
Photos are from Liberated Lens Collective, Lucas Guilkey, James Decker, and Urszula Frydman. Please inquire about photo accreditation before using unlabeled photos.

from Martha Esquivel:
I’m so very thankful for having the opportunity to go to Sacramento and stand up with you all in front of CDCr and show them our unity, meet new people and listen to their stories… about how their loved ones are being tortured by CDCr, our employees. Yes, our employees. Because they get paid with our taxes, and instead of rehabilitating our loved ones who make mistakes, they are looking for methods to keep the torture going one way or another.

IMG_2694

Photo by Liberated Lens Collective

Almost 5 years ago, we were standing outside CDCr demanding CDCr stop the torture of our loved ones in Indefinite Isolation.  We proved to them that was torture. We Won and now CDCr has found another way of torturing them, by not letting them sleep. It has been 6 months of sleep deprivation and they know that it is torture.

Back in 2011, we didn’t have a clue what to do, we only knew that our loved ones were being Tortured and they needed our support. Our loved ones pushed from the inside and we pushed from the outside, and we got the Victory.  Today, we are more people fighting for our loved ones in prison. Some of them are out of the SHU, but we are still here fighting for the one’s still in the SHU. We are not leaving anyone behind. Together We know We can make a change, and we just want to let CDCr know that regarding this new chapter of torture they have created: We are going to win too, because our movement is a movement of Love, and we believe in rehabilitating humans not destroying them!
Martha Esquivel is active in California Families Against Solitary Confinement and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition; She is sister to Luis Esquivel, a named Plaintiff in Ashker v Brown, now out of Pelican Bay SHU after 15 years in solitary there.

4L0A1277

Photo by Lucas Guilkey

from James Decker:
I was proud to be part of the contingent from far northern California to attend the Rally Against the Torture of Prisoners on February 1, 2016. We gathered just after noon, a group of family members, formerly incarcerated persons, activists, attorneys, and faith leaders. Diverse members of the community gathering with a single purpose: to stop the sleep deprivation torture.

PowerfulSpeaking_2-1-16_JamesDeckerphoto

I was moved by the testimony of those folks fighting for the very lives of their loved ones. More then 70 people were there to listen and demand action!  Women, mostly women of color, spoke about a racist system fueled by capitalism that has devastated their families and robbed their communities.

StopTortureNow_2-1-16_JamesDeckerphoto

EndSleepDeprivation_2-1-16_JamesDeckerphoto

Thanks to the folks that helped create these powerful posters and the Artist Richard Torres.

IMG_2607

Carol Strickman gave us an update from the legal team.  The folks from Food Not Bombs in Oakland brought nutritious food.  Sarah Torres provided stirring music and chants went up spontaneously from the crowd demanding “LET THEM SLEEP!”

CynthiaFuentes-Sevilla_Feb1,2016

Cynthia spoke of the callous neglect and medical malpractice that is rampant in the prison system. It resulted in the death of her brother.

We must keep the pressure up to end this abominable behavior by the Department of Corrections and the State of California.

In solidarity,
James Decker works with Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.

IMG_2700

Photo by Liberated Lens Collective

More Photos! Continue reading

Mon, Dec 28 Rally in San Francisco: STOP SLEEP DEPRIVATION TORTURE at PELICAN BAY!

RALLY MON. DEC. 28, 2015, 10AM in SAN FRANCISCO,
AND MAKE PHONE CALLS.
Share the Facebook event and invite your friends!

Join the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition on Monday, December 28th outside the San Francisco Federal Courthouse (450 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102) for a rally against the so-called “welfare checks, that since August 2nd, have been waking up men in Pelican Bay SHU (solitary confinement) every 20-30 minutes, 24/7.

As of December 28th, these men will have been tortured with sleep deprivation for 148 days!

Lawyers and CDCr officials will be meeting inside SF Federal Court at 11:00am. We want to show them that these checks are TORTURE and that they need to STOP NOW!

We know that interrupted sleep can cause serious mental and physical health problems. John R. Martinez, who has been in Pelican Bay SHU for over a decade, …wrote: “…there is a reasonable probability that life-threatening injuries and/or even death is inevitable, as medical symptoms are only worsening but not being treated.”  CDCr claims the checks are to prevent suicide, but knowing these detrimental effects of sleep deprivation, we’re worried the checks could actually lead to someone committing suicide or developing permanent disabling, and potentially terminal illnesses and conditions.

OTHER ACTIONS you can take (without leaving your home!):

1. Call to advocate for the 30 minute checks to stop, stating that sleep deprivation is torture. Some offices may require your name, city, and zip code.

•CDCR Secretary’s Office: 916-323-6001
•CDCR Director of Adult Divisions, Kelly Harrington (he): 916-445-7688
•Senator Loni Hancock, Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee: 916-651-4009
•Assembly Member Bill Quirk, Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee: 916-319-2020

2. Forward this information to your networks to make it known widely that this torture may continue unless we, along with allied lawyers, put pressure to stop it!

Continue reading

California Solitary Confinement Prisoner Faces Retaliation, Takes Guards to Court

For Immediate Release – Friday, November 20, 2015

Press Contact:
Mohamed Shehk,
408.910.2618mohamed@criticalresistance.org
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

SAN FRANCISCO – Pelican Bay State Prison guards are being tried for civil rights violations and retaliation against Jesse Perez, a prisoner who was held in the prison’s notorious solitary confinement units for 10 years. The civil lawsuit  hearings began Monday in San Francisco federal district court.

In opening statements, Perez’s legal team accused the prison guards of retaliating against him – stripping him, trashing his cell, destroying his property, filing a false rule violation against him that would have extended his time in solitary, and illegally confiscating his writings critical of his conditions of confinement.

In 2005, Perez filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for his placement in solitary, challenging the process by which he was labeled a “gang affiliate.” His case was settled in 2012, and Perez received a monetary award as well as the right to have his gang affiliation reevaluated.

Perez’s suit claims the guards attacked him and destroyed his property just days after his 2012 settlement. His attorneys are arguing that guards retaliated against Perez for exercising his right to file a lawsuit. Perez has also been politically outspoken and participated in the historic California hunger strikes that started inside of Pelican Bay’s solitary units, another reason Perez claims prison guards targeted him.

In a written account published by the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, Perez states “As prisoner activists seeking to make positive contributions to the interest and human dignity of prisoners, we understand that the trappings of power enjoyed by guards represent the biggest obstacle to significant and lasting progress.” By filing the lawsuit, Perez writes that he seeks the “opportunity to shine a public light at trial and rein in what prisoner activists often endure in exercising their constitutional rights: the retaliatory abuse of the department’s disciplinary process by prison guards.”

Perez’s case is not the only instance of guards’ retaliation against prisoners for their basic expression of civil rights and political activism. Since August 2 of this year, just as a landmark victory settlement for prisoners in civil rights case Ashker v. Brown was being finalized (which significantly reduces California’s ability to keep people in solitary confinement), guards began depriving prisoners in solitary of sleep.  Guards continue this sleep deprivation, now for 109 days.

Perez’s trial, presided over by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, will resume today, with closing statements expected.

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Sleep Deprivation for Almost Three Months! Help STOP It

Last month, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinementcensorship

This is a huge victory and there is still work to do.

The win effectively ended indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limited the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture.

Now, there is a dangerous practice in California prisons of guards doing so-called “security/welfare” checks every 30 minutes, 48 times a day. These checks are only being done in the isolation units, causing ongoing sleep deprivation for those prisoners.

We call for you to continue to stand with us and support the prisoners inside of solitary

Continue reading

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.

Important Upcoming AUGUST 2015 Events

SAVE THESE DATES

⇒August 23rd, Sunday:
Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement

Use this Facebook Event page to find what is happening in different locales throughout CA and across the nation on August 23rd.   Add your own action information to that Event Page or  HERE so we can post it.  Together we will End Solitary!! Here are materials you can use for your action.

⇒August 29th, Saturday and August 30th, Sunday:
Two gatherings to grow California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC)

Inviting all family members, loved ones and formerly incarcerated individuals to be a part of CFASC.  Please post/share this weekend of events in Oakland, allies also welcome!

Aug 29th, Saturday
Strategy/Organizing Training for people working to end solitary confinement and for people wanting to get involved.
10am-4pm
First Unitarian Church in Oakland, Wendte Room
685 14th St, Oakland, CA
Free event, food included!
Hosted by Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS)

Aug 30th, Sunday
Barbeque at Mosswood Park, Oakland CA
12-5pm
Mosswood Park is at 3650 Webster St.
We’ll be at the BBQ area on Webster
Free event, food included! Food at 1pm

This BBQ gathering is especially for family members and loved ones of people in prison and formerly incarcerated individuals.  Help continue to build a strong family base of CFASC members.

Bring what you have to share, especially your passion for stopping the torture of long-term solitary confinement (and lawn chair, side dish, lawn game if you have them). Active participation/volunteers will be needed to make this event a success!
We’ll also take some time for reflection on the training from the day before.  Hosted by Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).

Contact phssreachingout@gmail.com or (510) 426-5322 for more info about the events, or to get in contact in the future.

RSVP to phssreachingout@gmail.com, 510-426-5322, or HERE