MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS HUMAN RIGHTS: Reportbacks, Videos, Links, Photos from Aug 19, 2017

MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS HUMAN RIGHTS MARCH was called by prisoners to give voice to their demand: Get rid of the slavery clause in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Amend the 13th!

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

On Saturday, August 19, 2017, people mobilized in Washington DC and at least 16 other cities, including San Jose and Riverside California, demanding the abolition of legal slavery, and calling on people to organize against mass incarceration and abuse in U.S. prisons. Participants addressed the importance of the history of our revolutionary prisoner-led human rights movements. All over the country, people spoke of the great love, determination, and resilience that has kept them carrying on, in the face of extreme state violence, isolation, and family/community fragmentation.

Amend the 13th

SIGN THIS PETITION to Abolish Legal Slavery in America

https://www.change.org/p/petition-to-the-members-of-the-u-s-congress-to-abolish-legal-slavery-in-america

Millions for Prisoners Sister March in San Jose, CA

The San Francisco Bay View posted this report (with photos & videos) about the Millions for Prisoners Marches that took place on August 19th around the country.

• Nube Brown of California Prison Focus and Rise Up for Justice was a main organizer for the San Jose March.
Nube shares this reportback from the spirited and powerful March & Rally:

On a sunny Saturday, August 19, 2017, people across the country gathered, marched, and rallied in solidarity to support prisoners human rights and amending the 13th.
What an audacious and loving act!

Hundreds gathered in San Jose, CA at Raymond Bernal Jr. Park, where we kicked off the march with a recorded speech by founding member of the Amend the 13th campaign, Heshima Jinsai (Denham). Followed by Troy Williams of SF Bay View setting the tone for a peaceful march.

As we marched and chanted “Brick by Brick, Wall by Wall, We Will Make your Prisons Fall” and “Human Rights Apply to All, Even Those Behind a Wall,” this prisoner-inspired call to action united our community on both sides of the prison walls to join the momentum of the New Abolitionist Movement. Patrons of restaurants, folks on foot, trains, and cars we passed along our route stood to applaud, cheer, and honk their support and encouragement.

The beautiful 1.3 mile route through the Japantown neighborhood led us to the James P. McEntee Plaza just across from the county jail where Michael Tyree had been murdered by three guards, only two years before.

Watani Stiner, despite decades of incarceration and abuse, welcomed the rally participants with exuberance, love, and inclusion, setting the stage for stories to come. We stood in rapt attention as Raymond Aguilar shared his experience of juveniles sentenced to life without parole. Julia Arroyo, on behalf of Mianta McKnight brought to light the lack of resources available to those returning home, especially to girls and women of color. Laurie Valdez spoke on the murder of her young child’s father at the hands of San Jose State University police.

One by one speakers continued to share their lived experience. We encouraged and cheered the speakers, who moved us to anger and sadness, and also motivated us with words of hope and possibility. As we engaged in the dynamic of giver and receiver we created a bond of shared humanity. We were called to listen and to act. And together we closed the rally committed to the work to come. In unity, we will become stronger, more dedicated, and more resolved. We stand firm in our belief that all people, including those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, deserve their Human Rights. We stand committed to the New Abolitionist Movement to end slavery in America once and for all.

♥ The following Statement of Solidarity went from California to the Millions For Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington DC, delivered by Allegra Taylor, daughter of Hugo LA Pinell:

MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS
HUMAN RIGHTS MARCH ON WASHINGTON DC
AUGUST 19TH 2017
Solidarity Statement from
David Giap Johnson
Willie Sundiata Tate
Luis Bato Talamantez
San Quentin Six &
Former San Quentin Death Row Prisoner, Shujaa Graham
Willie-Sundiata-Tate-Luis-Bato-Talamantez-David-Giappa-Johnson-of-San-Quentin-6-web1statement-of-solidarity-final
Greetings and Solidarity,

We take this opportunity to express our support for this historic event that supports prisoner’s human rights and to amend the 13th Amendment’s slavery exemption clause, so that legal slavery is finally abolished. When you consider the historic application of slavery in America, slavery in any form should not be tolerated in our society. For years we have struggled to defend the civil and human rights of prisoners both during our incarceration and upon our reentry back into our respective communities. We took to heart the principles that were espoused by Comrade George Jackson. We came to prison as criminals but while here we transformed ourselves into revolutionaries so when we return to our communities we can be productive and make meaningful contributions for the betterment of society.

For years we endured indeterminate periods of isolation and sensory deprivation so we know firsthand the inhumane and barbaric treatment that one can be subjected to while in prison. Yet those experiences have not dampen or diminish our resolve to fight for the human rights of those confined to these prisons. As a society, we want to see healthy and wholesome individuals returning to society upon their release from prison. The inhumane and barbaric treatment that one can experience, indeterminate periods of isolation, and sensory deprivation is damaging to an individual’s mental health and physical well being. It is dehumanizing and must end.

Therefore, it is incumbent on us to raise our voices in defense of prisoner’s human rights. This is the way we express our HUMANITY!!

Long Live the Indomitable Spirits of Comrade George Jackson, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell and all Fallen Comrades. Black August Resistance Forever!!

David Giap Johnson
Willie Sundiata Tate
Luis Bato Talamantez
San Quentin Six &
Former San Quentin Death Row Prisoner, Shujaa Graham

Delivered by Allegra Taylor-Daughter of Hugo LA Pinell

VIDEOS from April 19, 2017:

• Millions for Prisoners Human Rights San Jose CA 081917, 1 of 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIamunsd2WM

• Millions for Prisoners Human Rights San Jose CA 081917, 2 of 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrnR4_QQehE&t=441s

• Millions for Prisoners March in DC,  video of Laura Whitehorn and Albert Woodfox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhd3zY_qLUw

millions-for-prisoners-dc-albert-woodfox-supporter-laura-whitehorn-081917.jpg

Photo from SF Bay View: Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 was held in solitary confinement in Louisiana prison for 44 years. He was a speaker at the main march across from the White House. Albert is here with Laura Whitehorn, who also spoke, and is a former political prisoner who works for the release of political prisoners and elder prisoners.

• Ramona Africa was a speaker at the DC rally. Here is  a video of Ramona being interviewed at the rally:
“I speak out 4 my bros & sisters in prison 39yrs 4 crime they didn’t commit” Ramona Africa, MOVE bombing sole survivor   #FightSupremacy#A19pic.twitter.com/VEZ6KM6hDB
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) August 19, 2017

Millions-for-Prisoners-DC-Ramona-Africa-Kilaika-Kwa-Baruti-Krystal-Rountree-081917

Photo from SF Bay View: At the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March and Rally at the White House, three legendary organizers came together: Ramona Africa of MOVE, the only adult survivor of the 1985 bombing; Kilaika Kwa Baruti of George Jackson University; and Krystal Rountree of IAMWE, a principal organizer of the march in DC.

 

 

Excellent Articles

Solidarity in San José with Millions for Prisoners March in DC Bradley Allen on IndyBay; with history, photos, and video.

As a nation grapples with white supremacy, the Millions for Prisoners March comes at the perfect time  -Jared Ware in SF Bay View; includes many photos, art, and references.

Florida locked down all 97,000 prisoners, blocking them from Aug. 19 Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March.

Fearing the peaceful organizing from prisoners and people outside, the Florida prison system (the 3rd largest to CA and Texas) put all its captives, more than 97,000 prisoners, across the state of Florida on indefinite lockdown.

People in all Florida lock-ups were not able to leave their dorms, had all visitation cancelled, and lost other so-called privileges – access to basic needs. This appears to be the first time in memory that the entire Florida prison system was locked down for an indefinite period of time. Read full article here: http://sfbayview.com/2017/08/florida-locks-down-all-97000-prisoners-blocking-them-from-aug-19-millions-for-prisoners-human-rights-march/

Coincidence? Florida’s prison system, as of a recent secret and retaliatory interstate transfer, currently holds captive the revolutionary and prolific writer and artist, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, who exposes and publicizes abuses in U.S.prisons.

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The way forward to End Solitary Confinement Torture: Where’s the army?

Jan. 25, 2015
by Todd Ashker

On the subject of SHU and Ad-Seg constituting torture, for those of us who may not be familiar with the specifics and in light of CDCr’s steady stream of propaganda – saying, “We don’t operate any solitary confinement units or cells in the California penal system, nor do we torture anyone” – here’s a summary of relevant facts supporting our position that these SHU and Ad-Seg units and the operations thereof are designed (modeled) after techniques designed to break political prisoners as a control mechanism. They are intended to break prisoners via coercive persuasion into becoming state informants.

I’ll begin by asking you a simple question?

Why is it that CDCr is able to get away with portraying PBSP SHU (Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit) prisoners as the “worst of the worst” sub-human monsters ever encountered in modern times as justification for their policies and practices of treating said prisoners as sub-human via decades of what is clearly a form of solitary confinement with sensory deprivation – and yet, as soon as these men agree to become state stooges via debriefing, they are no longer a threat and are released to the sensitive needs yard (protective custody) general population prison of their choice?

One of the main reasons they are able to continue to get away with their BS is the failure of the people to hold the lawmakers responsible.

I’ve been in the SHU for 28.4 years, to date, 24.7 years of which has been here in PBSP-SHU. [Editor’s note: This was written Dec. 30, 2014.] I’ve been challenging prison conditions in the courts since 1988, which is viewed as challenging prisoncrats’ authority, and up until our 2011 hunger strike protest, I’d never been formally charged with a gang related rule violation. (During our hunger strike I was issued two rule violations classified as serious. They were for: a) having a photo of my longtime friend; and b) a letter that someone had sent me, a stranger who represented herself as a supporter of our cause and wanted to be a pen pal. Staff gave me the letter, and then came around later and confiscated it and wrote me up.)

The above is intended to put the following into some perspective: Based on my personal experience in PBSP SHU during the past 24.7 years, I’ve experienced many techniques designed to break me. One is isolation from my social group. This is a tactic used here by prisoncrats to physically remove those prisoners deemed “problematic” to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or weaken close emotional ties, along with segregation of all natural leaders.

I’ve been challenging prison conditions in the courts since 1988, which is viewed as challenging prisoncrats’ authority, and up until our 2011 hunger strike protest, I’d never been formally charged
with a gang related rule violation.

What prisoncrats like to do is claim that this place can’t be considered a solitary confinement unit because you have eight cells to each pod and thus the prisoners in each pod are able to talk to each other. But here is how it actually operates. If you are deemed a “problematic” prisoner by any of the staff – for example, if you are a prisoner who is constantly challenging the prisoncrats’ policies and practices – their way of subjecting you to an informal form of punishment or to try to break you is to put you in a pod where there are no other people of your social group.

Artwork accompanies writing at this SF Bay View link
http://sfbayview.com/2015/01/the-way-forward-to-end-solitary-confinement-torture-wheres-the-army/

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Groundbreaking N.Y. Legislation: Eliminate Extreme Isolation Beyond 15 Days, Create Humane Alternatives

LAWMAKERS, ADVOCATES, AND SURVIVORS OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT BACK SWEEPING REFORMS TO USE OF ISOLATION IN NEW YORK’S PRISONS AND JAILS

Supporters Converge from Across the State to Lobby for the “HALT Solitary Confinement Act”

Groundbreaking Legislation Would Eliminate Extreme Isolation Beyond 15 Days, Create Safe and Humane Alternatives

Albany, May 5, 2014 — At a mid-morning press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Albany, leading legislators joined advocates, people who had experienced solitary confinement, and family members of those currently in solitary to promote the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (A08588A / S06466A).

At the same time, more than 120 individuals from across the state, many of them directly affected by the widespread use of solitary confinement in New York, gathered for an inaugural lobby day at the State Capitol, meeting with more than 50 legislators.

After years of activism by human rights and civil liberties groups, faith communities, currently and formerly incarcerated people, and other concerned citizens, solitary confinement is currently exploding as an issue, both in the media and on public policy agendas.

Supporters are hailing the HALT Solitary Confinement Act as the most comprehensive and progressive legislative response to date to the nationwide problem of solitary confinement in prisons and jails. As written, it would virtually eliminate a practice that has been increasingly denounced as both dangerous and torturous, while protecting the safety of incarcerated individuals and corrections officers.

According to Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, who is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly, “New York State was a leader for the country in passing the 2008 SHU Exclusion Law, which keeps people with the most severe mental health needs out of solitary confinement. Now we must show the way forward again, ensuring that we provide safe, humane and effective alternatives to solitary for all people.”

“Solitary confinement makes people suffer without making our prisons safer. It is counter-productive as well as cruel,” said Senator Bill Perkins, the bill’s Senate sponsor. “Solitary harms not only those who endure it, but families, communities, and corrections staff as well.”

Additional sponsors of the bill include Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Brad Hoylman, Velmanette Montgomery, N. Nick Perry, and John L. Sampson.

On any given day, about 3,800 people are in Special Housing Units, or SHUs, with many more in other forms of isolated confinement in New York’s State prisons. They are held for 23 to 24 hours in cells smaller than the average parking space, alone or with one other person. More than 800 are in solitary confinement in New York City jails, along with hundreds more in local jails across the state.

New York isolates imprisoned people at levels well above the national average, and uses solitary to punish minor disciplinary violations. Five out of six sentences that result in placement in New York State’s SHUs are for non-violent conduct. Individuals are sent to the SHU on the word of prison staff, and may remain there for months, years, or even decades.

The HALT Solitary Confinement Act bans extreme isolation beyond 15 days–the limit advocated by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez, among others. Méndez, who is the United Nations’ main torture investigator, has found that solitary confinement as it is practiced in New York violates the U.S.’s international obligations with regard to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment.

The Special Rapporteur contributed a statement which was read aloud at the press conference, concluding, “The HALT Solitary Confinement Act reflects both safe and effective prison policy and respect for human rights. It should become law in New York State and a model for change across the United States.”

The HALT Solitary Confinement Act goes well beyond the agreement that was recently reached between the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and the New York Civil Liberties Union to limit the use of isolation on youth, pregnant women, and people with developmental disabilities. HALT completely bars these and other vulnerable populations from being placed in solitary at all.

For those who present a serious threat to prison safety and need to be separated from the general population for longer periods of time, the legislation creates new Residential Rehabilitation Units (RRUs)–separate, secure units with substantial out-of-cell time, and programs and treatment aimed at addressing the underlying causes of behavioral problems.

“Isolation does not promote positive change in people; it only damages them,” said Megan Crowe-Rothstein of the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project. “By requiring treatment and programs for people who are separated from the prison population for serious misconduct, the legislation requires Corrections to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment and degradation.”

The widespread use of long-term solitary confinement has been under fire in recent years, in the face of increasing evidence that sensory deprivation, lack of normal human interaction, and extreme idleness can lead to severe psychological damage. Supporters of the bill also say that isolated confinement fails to address the underlying causes of problematic behavior, and often exacerbates that behavior as people deteriorate psychologically, physically, and socially.

Rev. Ron Stief of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture said, “The diverse faith traditions represented by NRCAT hold in common a belief in the dignity of each human person. We share a conviction that the use of isolated confinement in U.S. prisons and jails violates basic religious values of community and restorative justice. The HALT Solitary Confinement Act provides New York with a critical opportunity to lead the way nationally in increasing access to rehabilitation and ending the torture of isolated confinement.”

Solitary confinement has never been shown to reduce prison violence. In fact, several state prisons systems, including Maine, Mississippi, and Colorado, have significantly reduced the number of people they hold in solitary confinement, and have seen prison violence decrease as well. In addition, individuals released from solitary confinement have higher recidivism rates. In New York each year, nearly 2,000 people are released directly from extreme isolation to the streets.

“The damage done by solitary confinement is deep and permanent,” said solitary survivor Five Mualimm-ak of the Incarcerated Nation Campaign. Mualimm-ak spent five years in isolated confinement despite never having committed a violent act in prison. “Having humane alternatives will spare thousands of people the pain and suffering that extreme isolation causes–and the scars that they carry with them back into our communities.”

Also speaking at the press conference was hip-hop artist Mysonne, who spent time in solitary in New York, and Jessica Casanova, aunt of a young man currently in solitary.

Many of those represented at the press conference are members of the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), which was instrumental in drafting the bill. CAIC unites advocates, concerned community members, lawyers, and individuals in the human rights, health, and faith communities throughout New York State with formerly incarcerated people and family members of currently incarcerated people.

On May 5, CAIC members from all corners of New York State were gathering at the State Capitol to lobby legislators to support the HALT Solitary Confinement Act.

“CAIC recognizes that we need a fundamental transformation of how our public institutions address people’s needs and behaviors, both in our prisons and in our communities,” said Scott Paltrowitz of the Correctional Association of New York. “Rather than inhumane and ineffective punishment, deprivation, and isolation, the HALT Act would provide people with greater support, programs, and treatment to help them thrive, and in turn make our prisons and our communities safer.”

PRESS CONFERENCE DETAILS:
Date/Time/ Location: Monday, May 5, 10:00 – 11:00 am
LCA Press Room, Legislative Office Building, First Floor198 State Street, Albany

Speakers:

Assembly Member Jeffrion L. Aubry (D, 35th District, Queens),

Assembly sponsor Senator Bill Perkins (D, 30th District, Harlem), Senate sponsor

Five Mualimm-ak, survivor of solitary confinement in New York, Incarcerated Nation Campaign, Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC)

Mysonne, survivor of solitary confinement in New York, hip-hop artist

Jessica Casanova, aunt of individual currently in solitary, CAIC

Scott Paltrowitz, Correctional Association of New York, CAIC

Claire Deroche, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, CAIC

All speakers will be available for interview along with additional family members of    individuals in solitary confinement, advocates, and members of the clergy, including Rev. Dr. Paul S. Johnson, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock

PRESS KIT INCLUDES:

Press Release

Summary of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT)

Solitary Confinement Act

Full Text of HALT Act (A08588A / S06466A)

Fact Sheet on Solitary Confinement in New York State

New York Voices from Solitary Confinement

Congressional Testimony Provided by the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement

Articles and commentaries on solitary confinement in New York

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

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