CALL TO ACTION from PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation – THURS. FEB 8, 2018

Thurs. Feb 8, 2018

9:00am: RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE outside the Courthouse

10:00am: COURTROOM SOLIDARITY (Crtrm 2, 17th Floor) with the prisoners who brought these cases

Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse
450 Golden Gate Ave. San Francisco, CA 94102

3:14-cv-02767-VC – Lipsey v. Norum et al
3:15-cv-05756-VC – Suarez v. Beard et al

On Feb 8, 2018, in the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco, the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) will argue for the court to dismiss civil rights cases brought by Christopher Lipsey and Maher Suarez, who are imprisoned in California. The men’s cases challenge the constitutionality of the loud “security/welfare checks” that are done every 30 minutes in CA solitary units, causing serious sleep deprivation and other harms for the people in those units, and, as the lawsuits claim, constitute cruel and unusual punishment. (The guards do no checking on top of that). The lawyers for Christopher and Maher will argue that the case against CDCr administrators, guards, and wardens, must move forward. (HERE is a link to Christopher and Maher’s Opposition to CDCR’s motions to dismiss)

We are mobilizing support for the prisoners’ cases. Please be in the courtroom on Feb 8, and also outside, before court, for a Rally and Press Conference.

2-sleep dep CA prisons-POSTER

artwork by R.T. 2016

We have received many letters over the past two+ years from people in 14 different CA prisons describing the loud, disruptive “checks,” every 30 minutes/24 hours a day (now every 60 minutes at night in Pelican Bay SHU), and the mental and physical health problems the “checks” are causing or exacerbating. The courthouse is one place where we can amplify the voices of prisoners, expose the torture of the “checks” to society at large, and apply pressure for the “checks” to cease.

Christopher Lipsey started his case in 2014. He has been enduring the “checks” for over 3 years.

Let’s come together at the SF Federal Courthouse on Feb 8th in strong solidarity with all those who are suffering from the “checks,” and who cannot be in the courtroom or outside rallying and speaking about their experience. Let’s make a powerful showing against torture at the SF Federal Courthouse!

Our Committee has a number of purple t-shirts which will be available to wear at the rally and in the courthouse to show our solidarity with the prisoners. Please wear purple if possible!

Read more about the so-called “security/welfare “checks” at the Sleep Deprivation tab on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition’s website.

Recent article: The Policy of the Cruel and Absurd: Sleep Deprivation in California’s Prisons

If you have questions or want to give or get a ride to the SF Courthouse, please call or text Verbena at 707.267.4757.

Note: You must show ID and go through a metal detector to get inside the Federal Bldg./Courthouse.

See you on Thursday in San Francisco!

Policy of the Cruel and Absurd: Sleep Deprivation in California’s Prisons

By Charlie Hinton, Verbena Lea, and Willow Katz

In prison isolation units throughout California, guards wake prisoners up every 30 minutes under the guise of suicide prevention. These “security/welfare checks” cause ongoing sleep deprivation. The United Nations and many sleep and mental health experts have long defined sleep deprivation as a form of torture, and sleep deprivation often is used as a torture technique for prisoners of war. So California tortures its prisoners to prevent them from killing themselves.

Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, Ph.D., an expert in sleep and circadian rhythms, concluded in a 2015 report:

“The current practice of 30 minute … checks of inmates housed in the [Security Housing Units] is likely a cause of severe sleep disruption … The mandated purpose of these … checks (i.e. suicide prevention) is, in fact, likely to have the opposite effect and inadvertently increase suicidality in these individuals … There have been no direct studies of intentionally waking an individual every thirty minutes every night for days, weeks, or months, as doing so would be considered highly unethical in a research environment.”

Yet this is the reality for people housed in California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs), Administrative Segregation Units (Ad-Segs/ASUs), Condemned Units (death row) and Psychiatric Services Units (PSUs). In these solitary confinement cells, prisoners are kept alone 24 hours a day with no direct contact with other people — except guards. Known effects of such isolation include suicidal thoughts and behavior, yet the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) fails to provide adequate, if any, mental or physical health services. Instead, it keeps people locked up in brutally oppressive conditions, and jars them awake every 30 minutes, purportedly to see if they’ve committed suicide.

artwork by R.T. 2016

CDCR does not even acknowledge that prolonged isolation is torture and psychologically harmful. They use the “checks” as a blanket practice, whether or not prisoners are suicidal and despite the fact that sleep deprivation increases the risk of suicide. In CCWF death row, where the checks began in May 2014, there has not been a suicide since 1991 [pg 6 in link]; in Pelican Bay SHU where the checks began in August 2015, there has been one suicide in 13 years. Prisoners point out these histories as they question the purpose of the “checks.” These “checks” only exacerbate CDCR’s abuse of prisoners and historic refusal to compassionately treat prisoners dealing with serious mental health issues, including suicide.

“CO’s can save lives by talking to potentially suicidal inmates…”1 Good interpersonal communication skills by guards are consistently recommended to prevent suicides in prison, but such skills are rare in CA prisons. Admitting suicidal feelings to prison staff will, ironically, subject prisoners to the brutality of “suicide watch.” Prisoners report that guards use the “security/welfare checks” to be as loud and disturbing as possible.

Paradoxically, these so-called “security/welfare checks” come as the result of a settlement, theoretically a victory to improve the conditions of prisoners, in a federal class-action lawsuit, Coleman v. Governor of CA. The Coleman court determined that California prison officials did not provide adequate mental health care, thus violating prisoners’ Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

The judge appointed Matthew Lopes as Special Master to oversee CDCR’s implementation of Coleman reforms for 35,000 prisoners with serious mental illness, and Lopes brought in “suicide expert” Lindsay Hayes as a consultant. Just prior to becoming the “suicide expert” under the Coleman Special Master, Hayes worked as a consultant for the defendant — the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation itself. Hayes endorses the 30-minute checks.

Even as he receives letters from prisoners suffering from the checks and those who support the prisoners from the outside, he has not responded, or, to our knowledge, recommended a change.
The California State Auditor recently released a report on suicides in CA prisons commissioned by the Joint Audit Committee of the CA legislature (http://tinyurl.com/yca9tvf5.) While the report concludes that “It [CDCR] Must Increase Its Efforts to Prevent and Respond to Inmate Suicides,” it does not address prison conditions – like brutal and racist guards and administration, solitary confinement, and the horrific “suicide watch,” when prisoners considered suicidal are “allowed only a no-tear smock or gown, a safety mattress, and a no-tear blanket. All furniture is removed, [and] staff must provide continuous, direct visual observation as well as nursing checks every 15 minutes,” instead of any kind of humane and compassionate care.

A representative from the Auditor’s office had contacted our committee for input. We provided written descriptions of the “security/welfare checks”, documentation from prisoners in 13 prisons describing the checks as torture and explaining the harm to their mental and physical health, and material opposing the checks from 3 sleep experts and the American Public Health Association. Nevertheless, the audit completely ignored the input of our committee and all “advocacy groups,” and apparently the auditor did not seek any input at all from prisoners. The report has little mention of the “security/welfare checks,” except to say 2 of the 4 prisons the Auditor examined “did not conduct these checks as required.” The report refers frequently, however, to the “suicide expert,” and calls for his recommendations to be implemented, clearly indicating support for the “security/welfare checks”.

Other experts, however, have recommended the checks be halted:

“Repeated intrusions, especially to nightly sleep, lead to a variety of negative physical, cognitive and emotional consequences, adding to the already well-documented harms of solitary confinement.… There are other strategies for suicide prevention that can be pursued in prison contexts that do not result in the suffering caused by th[is] approach …” — Jail and Prison Health Committee, American Public Health Association

“This level of [interrupted] sleep has been shown to have profound effects on cognitive performance, memory, mood, immune function, pain sensitivity, metabolism, and other parameters.… Importantly these effects accumulate across time. Thus as these checks are done nightly their negative effects will become greater across time … There is much research on disturbed sleep in Intensive Care Units in hospitals. Checking on patients for their safety has resulted in many ill effects. Today there are many initiatives to overcome the negative effects of this safety monitoring.”Dr. Thomas Roth, PhD Chief, Sleep Disorders and Research Center, Henry Ford Hospital

“A recent series of studies in Veterans has further pointed to the strong connection between suicidality and sleep, so much so that treatment of sleep problems in Veterans is considered part of the first line of treatment in reducing the risk of suicides.” — Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, PhD. Stanford University and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System

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“We have people that are only getting out of cell twice a month.” PRISONERS UNITED & SUPPORTERS DRAW ATTENTION TO ABUSIVE ISOLATION AND MEDICAL IN ALAMEDA CO. JAILS

Nearly one third of Glenn Dyer prisoners wrap up hunger strike

By Lucas Guilkey  October 27, 2017
https://oaklandnorth.net/2017/10/27/nearly-one-third-of-glenn-dyer-prisoners-wrap-up-hunger-strike/

Last week, 125 prisoners at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland—over 30 percent of the prisoners housed there—participated in a five-day hunger strike to protest what they say are abusive conditions of isolation and poor healthcare in Alameda County jails.

I am on hunger strike, as well as many many others here at Glenn Dyer Detention Facility,” reads a letter sent from the jail dated October 17, the third day of the hunger strike, and signed “Prisoners United,” a group formed for purposes of the hunger strike.

We are locked in our cells all day,” the letter states, saying that “out of cell time” is insufficient and “boils down to [the assigned housing deputies’] decision, which are mostly arbitrary and capricious.” The letter also outlines grievances alleging inadequate access to courts and attorneys, telephone calls, a variety of healthy food and recreation time, which are all required under California’s minimum standards codes for local detention centers.

The same day, over 30 supporters rallied outside of the Alameda County administrative building, where the county supervisors’ offices are located, to draw attention to the striking prisoners. “They are mothers and fathers in there, our parents, our siblings, our children,” said Yolanda Triana, who used to work as a reserve deputy at Santa Rita Jail in the 1970s before quitting and becoming an advocate for reform. “They are human. Give them basic dignity.”

We’re out here, to make sure [the sheriff and county supervisors] know that we’re paying attention and we’re listening,” said Marlene Sanchez, associate director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), an Oakland organization that that works with young people affected by the criminal justice system.

Speakers drew attention to both detention facilities run by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department—Glenn Dyer and Santa Rita Jail, in Dublin. They stressed the five allegations that are being made by prisoners, who are calling for an end to the use of indefinite solitary confinement, subjective practices for addressing grievances, and overuse of lockdown, which is when prisoners are confined to their cell when there is a disturbance in the facility. The prisoners also say that they are being provided with insufficient food and unsanitary clothing.

I [know] a young man in Santa Rita who has been there for five years, and has been in isolation for four, and that is unacceptable,” said Sheri Costa, the director of AL Costa Community Development Center, an East Bay organization dedicated to helping families with detained and incarcerated loved ones.  She has been doing this work for 18 years.  “We have people that are only getting out of cell twice a month,” she said.

After rallying, advocates marched two blocks down the street to the sheriff’s offices, where they delivered a letter listing the five demands to Internal Affairs Captain Emmanuel Christy.

Twenty percent of prisoners in Glenn Dyer—or 83 people—are held in “administrative segregation,” in which prisoners are held alone, in cells separate from general population, for a minimum of 23 hours per day, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.  That number is 243 at Santa Rita, or 12 percent of the prisoners currently held there.

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Support Demands of PRISONERS UNITED on Hunger Strike, starting in Alameda County Jails

Please check for ongoing Updates HERE and at @svdebug and @CURYJ on Twitter and Facebook.

Families, loved ones and community members,
 

PRISONERS UNITED in Alameda and Santa Clara County Jails are being deprived of their human and constitutional rights of due process and inflicted with cruel and unusual punishment, inhumane living conditions, and the torturous practice of solitary confinement..

Today, October 15, 2017, PRISONERS UNITED in Glenn Dyer Detention Center courageously lead the way in a Hunger Strike that will span across 2 counties and 4 jails. Santa Rita Jail, Santa Clara County Main Jail and Elmwood D.O.C. will continue the strike in solidarity on October 22.

Families, loved ones and community members,
Please call the Alameda County Sheriff Administration and Alameda County Board of Supervisors until they meet the below Alameda County Jails 5 Core Demands:
 

Alameda County Sheriff Administration:  (510) 272-6878

 
Alameda County Board of Supervisors:  (510) 272-6347
  1. End Indefinite Solitary Confinement/Administrative Segregation.
  2. End Subjective Grievance Practices.
  3. End Abuse of Discretion to Lockdown Unstructured Programming (Time Out of Cell).
  4. End Insufficient and Unsanitary Clothing.
  5. End Insufficient Food and Starvation for Indigent Prisoners.

Please spread the word!

Post these fliers on social media. 

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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Sunday, June 4, 2017 RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE at Folsom To Support Hunger Strikers

FSP-Rally-Fullpage

SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017  —  12PM – 2PM
SHOW UP FOR FOLSOM PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE

RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE
Please join us this Sunday from 12p.m. to 2p.m. to rally outside Folsom Priosn and show that we support prisoners’ efforts to strike for humane treatment.

Join us at: FOLSOM STATE PRISON, Folsom Prison Rd, Folsom CA 95630

Facebook Event: Rally & Press Conference To Support Folsom Prison Hunger Strike

Please share the Facebook event, continue to contact prison officials, and look out for details like carpools, rally schedule, etc.


On May 25th, prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) began a hunger strike to peacefully protest the inhumane conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies and have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials, and have been met with only resistance, silence, and now retaliation.

We cannot say exactly how many people are refusing meals, but we know that there are roughly 30 people in the unit that announced the strike.

Towards Liberation! After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

UPDATE: New details released on agreement to suspend Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike Read here

http://samidoun.net/2017/05/breaking-palestinian-prisoners-suspend-hunger-strike-after-40-days-of-struggle/

May 26, 2017 — After 40 days of hunger strike, Palestinian prisoners have suspended their hunger strike and announced that they have achieved victory in their humanitarian demands, following 20 hours of negotiations between the strikers’ leadership and Israeli occupation prison administration.

All salutes to the courageous, struggling Palestinian prisoners, on the front lines of the Palestinian struggle for liberation! Their victories and their struggles are those of the Palestinian people and of all people seeking justice and liberation.

And salutes to all of those around the world who have been part of the prisoners’ struggle and Palestinian victory for the past 40 days.

Freedom Theater

Victory, Towards Liberation: Salute to the Palestinian Prisoners and the Struggle for Freedom

May 27, 2017—  On the occasion of the victory of the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, the valiant battle of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, confronting the occupier with their bodies and their lives, we salute the Palestinian prisoners on achieving their victory, not only for themselves and their families, but for the entire Palestinian people and global movement for justice and liberation.

….While further information about the agreement has not yet been released, news indicates that further achievements of the strike also center on the issue of family visits, including access to more relatives including grandparents and grandchildren; improved communication, especially between imprisoned children and women and their families, and the installation of public telephones; easing security prohibitions and the frequent bans on family visit imposed by the Israeli prison administration. Al-Mayadeen TV reported further aspects of the agreement:

  • periodic entry of private external physicians to examine ill prisoners
  • allowing visits from family members of the “second class,” including grandparents and grandchildren
  • increasing the amount prisoners may have in their canteen (prison store, where nearly all necessities of life must be purchased from and Israeli corporation) accounts
  • adding 3 satellite channels to the prisoners’ TV access
  •  transferring the Ramla prison hospital to the old section which includes several rooms and a recreation area
  • installation of a public telephone for women prisoners, child prisoners and ill prisoners to communicate on a daily basis with their family members
  • family visits to be increased to 60 minutes from 45 minutes
  • photographs with parents once annually
  • increasing the quantities of meat, vegetables and fruits for prisoners
  • allowing the introduction of clothing such as trousers and bags
  • providing each prisoner with 1 liter olive oil, 1 kilo coffee, 1/2 kilo baklava and 1/2 kilo za’atar.

…. Throughout the strike, the prisoners faced harsh repression. They were denied legal visits, family visits, beset by repressive raids, their belongings confiscated – even the salt that they relied on with water to preserve their life and health. Through it all, their steadfastness was an example of commitment and dedication to carry through their struggle. They were not alone in their steadfastness. The mothers and the families of the prisoners filled the tents of solidarity and support in every city, town, village and refugee camp in Palestine. Many prisoners’ mothers launched their own hunger strikes; they struggled, suffered, resisted and led alongside their children. Martyrs fell on the streets of Palestine as they protested and struggled for the liberation of their beloved prisoners at the hands of the occupation forces.

The Palestinian prisoners made clear through the Strike of Dignity and Freedom the power of Palestinian unity. The imprisoned leadership of all Palestinian trends stood together to confront the occupier, while that unity was felt in struggle, on the streets and inside prison walls – and the effects of that unity have been felt in the achievement of the prisoners’ victory.

The hunger strikers demanded that the Israeli occupation speak with their chosen leadership and defeated all attempts to circumvent the prisoners’ direction, leadership and choices.

More than that, however, they demonstrated once again that the true, respected leadership of the Palestinian national liberation movement itself is found in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. The Palestinian prisoners’ movement is at the core of the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people as a whole; far from a side issue of the movement, it represents the Palestinian people and their resistance.       Read full article here

After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=777343

May 27, 2017 BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons suspended a 40-day mass hunger strike during dawn hours on Saturday, after reaching an agreement with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) that reinstated the prisoners’ family visitation sessions to two times per month, according to initial information from Palestinian leadership and an IPS spokesperson.

The agreements came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, for which some hunger strikers had vowed to fast and forgo the salt and water mixture being consumed by the prisoners from dawn until sunset — the only source of nutrients the hunger strikers were consuming.

Palestinian leaders applauded the prisoners’ “victory” on Saturday, saying that the agreement represented an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”

However, increasing family visits was but one of a number of demands hunger-striking prisoners were calling for — including the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial.

….A Palestinian source knowledgeable about negotiations elaborated to Ma’an later Saturday afternoon that the talks started Friday at 9 a.m. at Ashkelon prison, initially in the absence of Marwan Barghouthi. …

However, the sources said that negotiations did not make progress until IPS agreed to bring in Marwan Barghouthi, who had been held in a solitary confinement cell in Jalama prison since the first day of the strike.The sources said that after Barghouthi’s arrival, IPS then “immediately agreed to some of the prisoners’ demands” and promised to respond positively to them.

At 4:20 a.m. Saturday, a phone call was made between the imprisoned leaders of the hunger strike and officials from the PA and the Fatah movement outside of Israeli prisons, and after discussions, Marwan Barghouthi agreed to end hunger strike, the sources said.

The IPS spokesperson confirmed to Ma’an that Barghouthi was involved in the agreements that ended the hunger strike, but said that IPS was not considering the talks “negotiations,” as they only reinstated a previous policy and did not provide any new concessions to the prisoners.

The IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that some 834 prisoners remained on strike to the 40th day, and that 18 prisoners who remained hospitalized would be returned to Israeli prison following the improvement of their health conditions.

….A spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Xavier Abu Eid released a statement Saturday by the “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners’ international campaign,” saying that the hunger strike had “prevailed.”

“This is an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under international law. It is also an indication of the reality of the Israeli occupation which has left no option to Palestinian prisoners but to starve themselves to achieve basic rights they are entitled to under international law,” the statement read.

As the statement pointed out, the hunger strike was one of the longest strikes in Palestinian history and included a wide participation of Palestinian prisoners from across political factions. “The epic resilience and determination of the hunger strikers and their refusal to end their hunger strike despite the repression and very harsh conditions they endured allowed for their will to prevail over the will of the jailer.”

Israeli forces had attempted to break the hunger strike through various punitive measures — with the measures being repeatedly condemned by human rights organizations — including putting hunger strikers in solitary confinement, “inciting” against the hunger strikers and their leaders — most notably Barghouthi, and threatening to force feed the hunger strikers, the statement highlighted.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners were also transferred to Israeli hospitals during the hunger strike, with reports emerging that prisoners were vomiting blood and fainting. Palestinian leaders had feared possible deaths among the hunger strikers if their demands were not met.

The statement went on to thank all those who stood in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, particularly former political prisoners in South Africa, Ireland, and Argentina. “The Palestinian people are a nation held captive, and the Palestinian prisoners are the reflection of this painful reality,” the statement read.

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Folsom Hunger Strike began May 25, 2017 – Your support is needed

NUMBERS TO CALL IN SUPPORT ARE BELOW
DEMANDS AND GRIEVANCES
HERE
HUNGER STRIKE UPDATES HERE

On May 16th, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they would begin a hunger strike on May 25th. This announcement comes in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization, and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom State Prison.

Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners. Incarcerated people commonly face disciplinary actions, retaliation by prison officials, abuse, and further denial of their basic human rights during hunger strikes- simply for exerting their free will and resisting their mistreatment.

The danger of these threats is compounded by the long-term health consequences and extreme physical weakness that accompany starving yourself in an environment that provides woefully inadequate medical care. In short, these prisoners will desperately need our support.

When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights, and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.

The hunger strike has begun. Please read the information below and make phone calls as soon as possible. All of the contact information you need is included at the bottom. The following media release comes directly from incarcerated people at Folsom State Prison (FSP) who are on strike:

Folsom ASU Media Release

On May 25, 2017 prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) in Represa, CA have started a hunger strike to peacefully protest the conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies, to no avail. Further, prisoners have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials and met with only resistance and silence.

Folsom ASU is like stepping back in time to the era when prison officials blanketed the injustice imposed on its solitary confined prisoners and bluntly turned a blind eye to mistreatment and the stripping away of basic human dignity and elements. As CDCR made drastic changes throughout its prisons to put prisoners on roads of rehabilitation and more humane living conditions, Folsom officials reject the ideals and continue the injustice of the past.

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Updates + Help the Riverside Hunger Strikers Win Humane Conditions

April 26, 2017: About 30 people inside of Robert Presley Detention Center and at least one in Southwest Detention Center in Riverside, CA have been on hunger strike since April 13, 2017. Jail administrators have yet to meet with the strikers to address their concerns. The Riverside County Jails’ conditions undermine the prisoners’/detainees’ rights and dignity.

Hunger Strike Announcement from prisoners in Robert Presley Detention Center (Jail) Administrative Segregation (Solitary Confinement)
[includes demands] https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/hunger-strike-in-riverside-county-jails-begins-april-13-2017

WOMEN ON HUNGER STRIKE IN ROBERT PRESLEY DETENTION CENTER
Reports from April 26, 2017 are that some women prisoners in Robert Presley Detention Center have joined in the hunger strike. They too have stopped eating. We will share more information as we learn it, reaching out for family members of those women. We expect there may be additional issues for the women prisoners that they are striking about. We will find out.

14 DAYS WITHOUT EATING
Four people on hunger strike in Robert Presley Detention Center have passed out. Three of them have had trips to outside medical facilities. Riverside Sheriff’s Dept. runs the Robert Presley and has been retaliating, trying to intimidate the hunger strikers. For almost two weeks, they have not allowed family visits, and they limited phone access, cut off all commissary, and levied rules violations1 against the people on peaceful hunger strike. On April 26, Day 14 of the Hunger Strike, we learned that visits, telephone, and commissary have been restored and the rules violations withdrawn. Outside pressure stopped that retaliation! It is well past time for the Riverside Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Dept. to meet with the strikers and address the reasons for the strike- inhumane and needlessly restrictive policies!

INTERVIEW WITH FAMILY MEMBERS ON SOJOURNER TRUTH RADIO
On the morning of April 26, 2017, Margaret Prescod of Sojourner Truth Radio on KPFK, spoke with two family members of a man who’s been awaiting trial for 3 years in solitary, and has been on hunger strike in Riverside County Jail since the first day, April 13. Sojourner Truth Radio: Detainees in Riverside County Jail Launch Hunger Strike https://soundcloud.com/sojournertruthradio/sojourner-truth-radio-detainees-in-riverside-county-jail-launch-hunger-strike

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT THE HUNGER STRIKE

⇒SHARE THIS UPDATE FAR AND WIDE. 

⇒SIGN (and share) THIS PETITION
“Support Riverside County Jail Hunger Strikers!” Petition by Riverside All Of Us Or None to the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Dept. https://www.change.org/p/riverside-county-board-of-supervisors-support-riverside-county-jail-hunger-strikers

⇒MAKE CALLS (or continue making calls); Sample Script HERE
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:
Kevin Jeffries: (951) 955-1010
John Tavaglione: (951) 955-1020
Chuck Washington: (951) 955-1030
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

⇒SEND A LETTER to the Riverside Board of Supervisors
• U.S. Mail address: 4080 Lemon Street, 5th Floor, Riverside, California 92501
• Email addresses: district1@rcbos.org, district2@rcbos.org, district3@rcbos.org, district5@rcbos.org
Sample letter: http://wp.me/a1BB1k-35h
Encourage and help your organizations, churches, etc. to write a letter, too.

⇒FILE A COMPLAINT WITH RIVERSIDE GRAND JURY
Please fill this out if you are a Riverside resident
http://countyofriverside.us/Portals/0/GrandJury/GrandJury2013-2014/grandjurycmpltform.pdf

⇒MAY DAY RALLY!
Join a Rally on Monday, May 1st in support of the Hunger Strikers on their 17th day. More details will be out soon.
Our Rally will be alongside the May Day Marches and Rallies honoring International Workers Day and Immigrant Rights Day.


1 In March 2015, a state appeals court says a California prisoner who took part in a mass hunger strike protesting long-term solitary confinement should not have been punished for disorderly behavior because he did not disrupt prison operations or endanger anyone. This should apply also to jail prisoners/detainees. https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/ca-state-court-prisoner-cant-be-punished-for-hunger-strike/

Indefinite Solitary Confinement Ends in San Quentin’s Adjustment Center / Death Row

Links to the articles and radio interview in this post:

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Indefinite Solitary Confinement Ends at San Quentin

on Death Penalty Focus Blog / March 10, 2017

Death row inmates will no longer be kept in indefinite solitary confinement in San Quentin State Prison, it was announced Monday [March 6]. The agreement was part of a settlement of a 2015 lawsuit filed on behalf of six inmates who were held indefinitely in what is called an “adjustment center” because they were suspected of being gang members. When the lawsuit was filed, there were some 100 inmates being held in the adjustment center. Since then, the number has fluctuated from around 10 to 22 inmates.

“Basically, these guys were housed there for 23 hours a day,” says Oakland attorney Dan Siegel, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the six inmates. “They got one hour three times a week in the yard. They had no human contact. The cells were like closed boxes, no windows. And they’ve been there for years and years. It takes a toll — emotionally, psychologically, and physically.”

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