shortlink here: http://wp.me/p38Pt0-eK
Local Organizing Mtg 6/25 in Solidarity with Prisoner Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage to STOP TORTURE in CA Prisons
Calling on Artists, Human Rights Advocates, Youth, Filmmakers, Radio Voices, Lovers of Justice, People of Faith, Students, Educators, Musicians, Laborers, Former Prisoners, Loved Ones of Someone Locked Up & Anyone OPPOSED TO TORTURE! Please pass this message on to more people!!
Prisoner Hunger Strike Will Begin At Pelican Bay July 8 To Stop Torture: Long-Term Isolation & Indefinite Solitary Confinement In CA Prisons
As the planned prisoner hunger strike and work stoppage approaches, to begin on July 8th, there is much work to do to prepare how we can best support those on the inside.
The courage that prisoners continue to demonstrate—after leading two hunger strikes in fall 2011—while upholding their agreement to end hostilities across racial lines should give us all the strength to organize in our own communities. Please check out info and links at the bottom of this email.
MEETING IN EUREKA
THIS TUESDAY, JUNE 25
@PARC [Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community]
Q Street Alley between 3rd and 2nd Streets, Eureka 1 1/2 blocks from “Greyhound Station” bus stop.
Call (707) 442-7465 for more info, directions, or about transportation (needed or offered)
Some of the things we can discuss:
Trip to Pelican Bay on Monday, July 8th (the start of the Hunger Strike– & Ramadan)
Art, stencils, t-shirts, letters to the editor, and other ways to get the word out and show Solidarity
Making radio and TV (Access Humboldt) pieces to Amplify the Voices of the Hunger Striking Prisoners (see one made in 2011 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Azi4VELiufI )
Thursday Arcata Plaza “5 O’clock for the Five Demands” Info Demonstrations
Mass Mobilization to Corcoran, planned by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition for Saturday, July 13 (a week into the Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage) https://www.facebook.com/events/527808370589772/
•Work Stoppage(s) OUTSIDE the prisons in Solidarity
If you cannot make it to the meeting, please call or respond to this email to plug in.
Given that Pelican Bay State Prison, the “leading model” of this kind of government torture, is and has always existed only about 70 miles from Humboldt, we need to show strong Solidarity with the Prisoners and strong Opposition to the Torture. Many of you may have been silent during the building of the monstrosity, Pelican Bay State Prison, in the late 1980’s… and since, but after 24 years of horrendous torture in our name and in our bioregion, it is time to speak up.
(Big Thanks to those of you who have not been silent.)
It is our job on the “outside” to bring out the voices of prisoners from behind the concrete walls.
United across race lines, prisoners in isolation units at Pelican Bay State Prison, have called for a peaceful Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage in CA prisons.
Prolonged extreme isolation is inhumane and debilitating- Indefinitely locked in a small concrete, windowless cell, with no natural light or human contact!
Many people have been entombed this way for DECADES.
How does someone get an INDETERMINATE (INDEFINITE) SOLITARY TERM?
CA prisons inflict this torture, based merely on a prisoner’s alleged association with a prison gang, whether or not they are – or ever were – actually involved in gang activity. For instance, prison officials will put a person in the SHU [Security Housing Unit], INDEFINETLEY, for possessing Mexican cultural art or reading the “wrong” historical or political literature. CDCR calls having that art or literature “gang behavior”!
Nearly 12,000 prisoners at Pelican Bay and other CA prisons went on hunger strike in 2011 -some refusing food for a total of 6 weeks- to protest prisoners being kept secluded under torturous conditions in extreme isolation units (SHUs). Prisoners formally submitted to the Department of Corrections FIVE DEMANDS, and those of us on the outside supported and applied pressure for those Five Demands to be met, in tandem with the prisoners’ actions.
Two years later, with none of their major demands met, they are again resorting to this painful, peaceful form of protest on July 8th. We must pressure CA to stop its practice of long-term extreme isolation!
The prisoners ended the 2011 strike when the corrections department (CDCR) promised new policies. But in 2013, the promises appear empty. A “pilot program” has introduced new (temporary) rules, but prisoners and their advocates say that the new rules are worse in some respects and no better in others. For example, the new rules potentially let prison officials put even more prisoners in the SHU.
There is still nothing to prevent CDCR from keeping a person in solitary for the rest of his life!
Here are the Prisoners’ FIVE DEMANDS:
1. Eliminate group punishments. Instead, practice individual accountability. When an individual prisoner breaks a rule, the prison often punishes a whole group of prisoners of the same race. This policy has been applied to keep prisoners in the SHU indefinitely and to make conditions increasingly harsh.
2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Prisoners are accused of being active participants of prison gangs using false or highly dubious evidence, and are then sent to long-term isolation (SHU). They can escape these torturous conditions only if they “debrief,” that is, become informants on other prisoners. Debriefing produces false information (wrongly landing other prisoners in SHU, in an endless cycle) and can endanger the lives of debriefing prisoners and their families.
3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long term solitary confinement. This bipartisan commission specifically recommended to “make segregation a last resort” and “end conditions of isolation.” Yet CA keeps thousands of prisoners in isolation units. Some prisoners have been kept in isolation for more than 30 years.
4. Provide adequate and nutritious food. Prisoners receive tiny quantities of spoiled or undercooked food on dirty trays. There is no accountability or independent quality control of meals.
5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates. The hunger strikers are pressing for opportunities “to engage in self-help treatment, education, religious and other productive activities…” The prisoners also listed other specific needs. Since the 2011 hunger strike, they have won some of these, including: correspondence courses, if they pay for them themselves; wool caps; the right to buy sweatsuits (the cells and exercise cage can be bitterly cold); the right to buy some art supplies. They still do not have the right to worship together, talk to each other, receive vocational training or education from the prison, or hug or talk on the phone with their families.
Please Write the Governor & sign the petition at change.org:
“Support Pelican Bay SHU Prisoners’ Five Core Demands”
For more info and continued updates, please VISIT: http://www.stoptortureca.org or http://www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com
Below is an excerpt from “The Crime of Punishment” Pelican Bay Maximum Security Prison by Corey Weinstein and Eric Cummins from the book Criminal Injustice edited by Elihu Rosenblatt, South End Press, 1996: http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Prison_System/CrimePunish_Pelican.html
“The Institutional Classification Committee at Pelican Bay-essentially a kangaroo court-decides which prisoners are confined in the SHU. Their decisions range from vindictive to arbitrary, and are often based on vague information from confidential informants. Some SHU inmates have attacked guards and participated in fights (often after deliberate provocation), or have been caught with weapons. Other prisoners are consigned to the SHU as punishment for exercising their legal rights, such as filing suits against the CDoC or engaging in political activity and resistance. Still others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In about half the cases, however, the decision to send a man to a SHU is based on a charge of gang affiliation or membership. Consistent with the CDoC’s intent to make the Pelican Bay SHU its first-line weapon against prison gangs, all gang-linked inmates receive an indeterminate sentence. Once linked to a gang, the prisoner’s only hope for release from the SHU is to snitch, wait to be paroled [unlikely given the total lack of programs, education, etc in the SHU], or die. Snitching requires that a prisoner confess violations of prison rules to the Criminal Activities Coordinator and implicate gang members in illegal acts. Since it is illegal, even in wartime, to isolate a prisoner to extract information, this policy violates not only U.S. law but the Geneva Convention.”
Prison Photography -Solitary Confinement Check this out. Lots of photos… http://prisonphotography.org/tag/solitary-confinement/
One written excerpt from the site:
“With 1 in 100 adults behind bars, America incarcerates more people than any other modern society. Of the 2.3 million men, women and children locked up in the U.S., 80,000 prisoners are in solitary. That number includes hundreds of children.
The rapid adoption of solitary by prison authorities as a means to discipline and segregate has led Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, to call it one of the “greatest social experiments of our time.” For some sociologists, the parallels that Gielen drew between housing and prisons go beyond visual similarity. Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab goes so far to ask, “Have prisons and jails become the mass housing of our time?” “
The Center for Constitutional Rights has helped bring a Class Action Lawsuit for the prisoners, Ashker v. Brown. Here is a link to the Compliant/Lawsuit: https://www.box.com/s/n5z60llabpxp9jrfhgds
Here are some short excerpts from the lawsuit:
“California’s uniquely harsh regime of prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay is inhumane and debilitating. Plaintiffs and class members languish, typically alone, in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell, for 22 and one-half to 24 hours a day. They are denied telephone calls, contact visits, and vocational, recreational or educational programming. Defendants persistently deny these men the normal human contact necessary for a person’s mental and physical well-being. These tormenting and prolonged conditions of confinement have produced harmful and predictable psychological deterioration among Plaintiffs and class members.”
“The solitary confinement regime at Pelican Bay, which renders California an outlier in this country and in the civilized world, violates the US Constitution’s requirement of due process and prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, as well as the most basic human rights prohibitions against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Indeed, the prolonged conditions of brutal confinement and isolation at Pelican Bay cross over from having any valid penological purpose into a system rightly condemned as torture by the international community.”
“California, alone among all 50 states and most other jurisdictions in the world, imposes this type of extremely prolonged solitary confinement based merely on a prisoner’s alleged association with a prison gang. While defendants purport to release “inactive” gang members after six years in the SHU, in reality their so-called gang validation and retention decisions (and resulting indefinite SHU placement) are made without considering whether plaintiffs and class members have ever undertaken an illegal act on behalf of a gang, or whether they are – or ever were – actually involved in gang activity. As one example, defendants continue to detain …George Ruiz in the Pelican Bay SHU after 22 years, based on nothing more than his appearance on lists of alleged gang members discovered in some unnamed prisoners’ cells and his possession of allegedly gang-related drawings.”
“One of the plaintiff prisoners in the case: Plaintiff RICHARD JOHNSON is a 61-year-old prisoner who has spent almost 15 years in solitary confinement at the Pelican Bay SHU due to his validation as a Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) member. Under California’s “three strikes” law, Johnson is currently serving 33 years to life for drug-related offenses. Johnson has never incurred a major disciplinary offense, yet continues to languish in the Pelican Bay SHU.”
“Plaintiff PAUL REDD is a 55-year-old prisoner who has spent almost 33 of the past 35 years in solitary confinement in CA and has spent the last 11 and one-half years in Pelican Bay’s SHU. Redd was first validated as a BGF gang member in 1980 based on six confidential memoranda stating that he had communicated with other BGF prisoners and that his name was on a coded roster found in a validated BGF member’s possession. Over 30 years later, he continues to be labeled a gang member based merely on association.”