Entries Tagged 'Prisons' ↓
July 7th, 2012 — Police State, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisons
When voters across California go to the polls in November, we will find options in the SAFE California Act: here, we are offered the opportunity to make a decision about whether we prefer sentencing others to the death penalty or life without parole.
Tim Young, writing from Death Row, San Quentin, is clear that both are a death penalty. And lurking quietly behind this tantalizing choice to judge the fate of others, he reveals something else: SAFE includes a provision to divert $100 million dollars over the next three years (and possibly beyond) from the state’s General Fund into law enforcement, and only law enforcement.
For the whole story see below. Thanks for your research and perspective, Tim.
And, to check out the full details of the SAFE Act, see:
October 12th, 2011 — Prisons, Racism, Rights
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
Office: 510 444 0484
Cell: 510 517 6612
Oakland – With the second phase of a massive California prisoner hunger strike in its third week, prisoners have begun to report grave medical issues. “Men are collapsing in their cells because they haven’t eaten in two weeks,” says a family member of a striker at Calipatria state prison, “I have been told that guards refuse to respond when called. This is clearly a medical emergency.” In an effort to isolate prisoners perceived by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to be leaders, some prisoners at Pelican Bay have been removed from the Security Housing Unit (SHU) to Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg). The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition has received reports that prison officials have been attempting to freeze out strikers held in the Ad-Seg Unit at Pelican Bay, using the air conditioning system in conjunction with cold weather conditions where the prison is located. Last week a hunger striker in Pelican Bay was taken to a hospital in Oregon after he suffered a heart attack. Prisoners have also been denied medications, including prescriptions for high blood pressure.
The CDCR has been treating the current strike, which began on September 26th, as a mass disturbance and has refused negotiations. “The prisoners are saying that they are willing to take this to death if necessary to win their demands,” says Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and a member of the mediation team working on behalf of the prisoners. “Any deaths that result from the men starving themselves will be on the hands of the CDCR. We are at a point were we are calling on the media to make inquiries on prison protocol if and when prisoners begin to die. If they want to avoid that kind of scenario, the CDCR can start negotiating.” Prisoners at Corcoran have stated “Due to what they have done here to us, some men have stopped drinking water completely, so we may well be close to death in a few days.”
Prisoners and advocates have expressed serious concerns about the state of medical care in Corcoran, Calipatria, Pelican Bay and Salinas Valley where the strike continues. Dr. Michael Sayre, who is the Chief Medical Officer at Pelican Bay was sued successfully by a prisoner in 2009 for knowingly disregarding his severe medical needs. In addition, Sayre was also investigated and disciplined surrounding the death of a prisoner in Washington State in 1992 during surgery. “The California Prison system is in federal receivership in part due to the substandard medical care provided inside,” says Terry Kupers, a member of the mediation team and an expert on prison health issues, “It is my professional opinion that the hunger strikers are not receiving the care that they need and that their conditions could be exacerbated by the CDCR, especially if force-feeding comes into play.” Force-feeding is a common practice used against prisoners who refuse to eat and can involve forcing a tube into the person’s stomach via the nose. The practice has been widely condemned as torture by hundreds of doctors worldwide.
For continued updates and more information, please go to www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com
October 9th, 2011 — Prisons, Rights
Berkeley Copwatch wishes to make public its strong support, respect, and admiration for those currently on hunger strike in California’s prisons; particularly those at Pelican Bay.
We believe that prolonged solitary confinement is morally wrong, does nothing to better those subject to it, and indeed makes it harder for people to live and function in society.
Also wrong and deleterious to prisoner’s health and condition are the specific conditions of Secure Housing Unit confinement, and we strongly support all the demands that have been issued.
The regime that those housed at Pelican Bay’s SHU are subject to is beyond appalling. Indeed, they are tortuous. The treatment of prisoners in this state as a whole is part of a system meant to degrade and humiliate human beings. This is done deliberately to keep an underclass, and to advance the violent and immoral interests of the state.
We believe in humane alternatives to incarceration, and believe that genuine rehabilitation is about providing opportunities for individuals to better themselves. When people currently incarcerated leave prison, we want them to be able to succeed, be healthy, and whole. We do not want their lives made harder by the immoral, degrading, violent, and sadistic treatment they encounter while imprisoned.
We see prisoners as legitimate political actors in society. We believe that their organizing empowers us all, as the organizing of their supporters empowers them.
With this, we signal our support to the hunger strikers, and their loved ones. We also signal our respect for, and recognition of, the humanity of all who are incarcerated.
October 9th, 2011 — Prisons, Rights
From the SF Bayview Newspaper
October 8, 2011
by Deborah Dupre , Human Rights Examiner
Families and other supporters of the hunger strikers came from around the state to rally at the headquarters of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Oct. 5. – Photo: Bill Hackwell
On Day 12 of the resumed historic peaceful Pelican Bay Prison hunger strike, it has become apparent to human rights advocates  with the major group supporting the inmatesinterviewed by CNN  that the numbers of strikers began dropping this week from the 12,000 refusing food a few days ago, after the CDCR intensified retaliation  against them, such as air conditioning the small concrete cells at 50 degrees. The hunger strike representatives at Pelican Bay who had been kept in D Corridor of the Security Housing Unit were moved to Administrative Segregation at Pelican Bay, while at least one inmate on strike who was denied medications has suffered a heart attack.
“We are hoping that this widespread participation will push (prison officials) to negotiate and honor the basic demands of the people locked behind those walls,” said Isaac Ontiveros, a spokesman for Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity  told CNN Tuesday afternoon.
“You have people in there that have been in solitary confinement for 20 years. They just want to change their conditions.”
Lawyers finally able to have one visit last week, after some lawyers of the prisoners’ mediation team have been banned , report that California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has the air conditioning on high in 50 degree weather.
Advocates have significant concerns about some of the measures that the CDCR is implementing in response to the strike. “Prisoners are being denied both family and legal visits, they are receiving serious rules violations and their mail is being stopped,” says Carol Strickman, a legal representative of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.
“CDCR is clearly trying to further isolate the hunger strikers in the hopes of breaking the strike,” she said.
“The CDCR’s numbers appear to be low due to guards falsifying records of hunger strikers,” according to Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity . “At Calipatria, for instance, hunger strikers report they were finally given their liquids after filing medical requests – even though they were still denied liquids for the first several days of the strike. Now, however, guards have been delivering liquids on the prisoners’ food trays. Once strikers take the liquids off of the trays, the guards record they are not striking. CDCR counts strikers based on who touches the state-issued food trays and who doesn’t.”
According to advocates for the prisoners, the hunger strike representatives continue to be willing to risk their lives to win their five core demands , each of which reflects a basic human right.
“CDCR is clearly trying to further isolate the hunger strikers in the hopes of breaking the strike,” said attorney Carol Strickman.
Medical conditions are worsening for strikers throughout the state.
“We’ve received reports that after 12 days of no food, prisoners are once again losing severe weight and fainting. One hunger striker at Pelican Bay was denied his medication and consequently suffered a heart attack and is now is an outside hospital in Oregon,” stated an advocate, refraining from identification on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website.
Other reports indicate that striking prisoners are being moved.
“We don’t know if they are being removed from their cells to some other location or transferred. It’s really terrifying that your loved one could be taken away like that for participating in a peaceful protest,” said Irma Hedlin, who has family members in the Pelican Bay SHU.
Approximately 12,000 prisoners across California last week resumed the hunger strike they had started in July when 7,000 prisoners refused food , some for over a month, in America’s largest peaceful prisoner protest in history. The prisoners were protesting SHU (Security Housing Unit) solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay and other prisons, where several thousand prisoners are held in isolation, confined to windowless cells over 22 hours a day, with minimal human contact and no work, recreational or educational programs or rehabilitation.
These conditions cause mental illness, according to research.
Amnesty International is calling for swift implementation of reforms to California Security Housing Units  as the Pelican Bay hunger strike continues:
“Amnesty International is concerned by reports that the California Corrections Department is treating the current hunger strike as an ‘organized disturbance’ and disciplining those who participate. Such disciplinary action reportedly includes removing prisoners in the general population who support the strike to solitary confinement in Administrative Segregation units. The organization has written to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to urge that prisoners seeking humane conditions are not subjected to punitive measures.”
As previously reported , a federal court ordered California to move over 33,000 inmates out of its inhumane prisons that experts say are racist, with solitary confinement Security Housing Units (SHUs) typical of supermax prisons throughout the United States, the nation with the highest documented incarceration rate in the world , where torture is inflicted daily, often until death.
While mainstream media continues an almost complete blackout about the historic event of thousands of America’s so-called “worst of the worst” peacefully protesting against inhumane conditions, family and community members continue supporting the hunger strikers with rallies, community events, neighborhood candlelight vigils, publicizing the courageous action inside prison and building pressure on representatives to intervene in the CDCR’s handling of the strike.
A petition to the White House  begins, “The United States is the only country that uses solitary confinement in prisons in the manner that it does.”
Irma Hedlin, mother of two hunger strikers at Pelican Bay, speaks at the Oct. 5 rally on being denied visits with her sons. – Photo: Bill Hackwell
Already, due to their peaceful protests, the California prisoners “aren’t allowed to speak or write letters to each other; those in the Pelican Bay SHU can’t send or receive mail that mentions the strike, their attorneys have been banned and this past weekend their families weren’t even allowed to visit them,” stated San Francisco Bay View  associate editor JR Valrey.
According to an email I received on Wednesday, California prisoners particularly appreciate JR, one of the few reporters respecting them and their plight as newsworthy.
“You know that if the media don’t mention you and your issues, you’re nobody in the world today,” he wrote.
“You might as well be Dred Scott, who, when he sued for his freedom after his ‘owner’ wouldn’t let him buy himself, was told by the U.S. Supreme Court that he and all Black people are ‘so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.’ In California prisons – and much of the rest of the world – that’s still the rule.”
When JR started writing for the Bay View 10 years ago in 2001, he was already volunteering at KPFA, the nation’s first listener-supported radio station and founder of the Pacifica Radio Network. As controversial as JR is, due to his insistence that “what is important to Black people should be important enough to everybody to be reported as news,” it took what he called “all these years of pushing and prodding” KPFA for him to finally get regularly on the air  just in the past couple of months.
Without media coverage, “You might as well be Dred Scott, who, when he sued for his freedom after his ‘owner’ wouldn’t let him buy himself, was told by the U.S. Supreme Court that he and all Black people are ‘so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.’ In California prisons – and much of the rest of the world – that’s still the rule.”
On the other hand, Los Angeles’ popular 102.7 KIIS FM is losing listener supporters over their management of the prison torture issue. On its 8:00 a.m. program Thursday morningaccording to some listeners , the two talk show hosts spoke about the California prisoner hunger strikers.
One commenter in the Pelican Bay-California Hunger Strike Solidarity group on Facebook  called the show hosts’ commentary “awful and harsh” and “making fun of the inmates.”
“The hosts asked why the prisoners complain about their food,” saying they get three state meals “and gosh, homeless people get nothing so why are they complaining?”
“The hosts were also laughing and joking around about how they don’t support inhumane treatment but they say ‘those men must have done some pretty awful things to have gotten into solitary confinement.’”
“So to everyone who were fans of 102.7 KIIS FM, this is what they were saying this morning without even asking any other opinions or looking into why they are in there. Ignorance … pure ignorance.”
“If anyone knew why these men are put into solitary confinement [it’s] not based on a crime but based on some other person dropping their name or art work or a tattoo by a correctional officer saying this is true and not based on their original conviction.”
One of America’s most pressing and well-hidden human rights abuses  is the fact that over 100,000 people in the United States are held in small solitary confinement cells, some for life, a form of torture, while some experience even worse torture.
How we can help
Pressure Gov. Jerry Brown to tell CDCR to negotiate in good faith to meet the prisoners’ five core demands and cease all retaliation against the hunger strikers. Call (916) 445-2841, email him at gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php  and write to him: Governor Jerry Brown, State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814. A sample script is posted here.
Attend or organize a Thursday-night vigil. Families of SHU prisoners are calling for supporters everywhere to hold mass vigils in support of the hunger strikers on Thursday nights. If you can organize a vigil in your community, email email@example.com . For a list of events, check out Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity’s events page here .
In the Bay Area, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition will hold a weekly support vigil throughout the hunger strike every Thursday evening 5-7 p.m. The Thursday night hunger strike support vigils will be at held at different locations in San Francisco and Oakland each week. The next two are
- Thursday, Oct. 13: 24th and Mission, San Francisco
- Thursday, Oct. 20: Fruitvale BART, Oakland
For more information on the weekly vigils, call Lisa Roellig at (415) 238-1801.
Sign the new petition to the White House  on the White House website calling for an end to long-term solitary confinement.
Telephone KIIS Radio to lodge a complaint about their misguided disrespect for human rights of inmates by calling (818) 559-2252 or (818) 566-4814.
Human Rights Examiner Deborah Dupre holds American and Australian science and education graduate degrees and has 30 years experience in human rights, environmental and peace activism. Email her at Gdeborahdupre@gmail.com  and visit her website, www.DeborahDupre.com . Bay View staff contributed to this story, which first appeared atExaminer.com , mainly by incorporating excerpts from other posts  by Deborah Dupre.
July 16th, 2011 — Prison Industrial Complex, Prisons, Rights
On July 1st, prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) began an indefinite hunger strike to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. The UN has characterized their imprisonment as ‘inhumane and degrading’. At least 6,600 prisoners across 13 prisons in CA joined the hunger strike in solidarity with the demands from the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU). Thousands of people both inside and outside prison are supporting their struggle. But if demands are not met soon, people will begin to die….
EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION / PICKET
Force CDCR to grant the hungerstrikers’ demands.
When: This Monday July 18, in Sacramento – 1 to 3 pm,
Where: CDCR Headquarters, 1515 S Street.
RIDES from East Bay: Meet at West Oakland BART, 9:30 am
Meeting at NOON in Sacramento at Freemont Park on 15th and Q
For more info, for rides: Call Manuel (415-637-8195) or Linda (510-219-0297).
The 5 Basic demands are:
1. End “Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse
2. Abolish Debriefing Policy & Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria: People inside prisons should not be categorized and punished as gang members just because another person says they are part of a gang in order to get out of the SHU.
3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety & Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations regarding an End to Long-term Solitary Confinement; people want adequate natural sunlight, quality health care and treatment
4. Provide Adequate & Nutritious Food: Not use food as punishment
5. Expand & Provide Constructive Programming & Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Prisoners: (i.e. visitation, phone calls, mail, radio, etc)
Drastic, urgent, situations require drastic, urgent measures, so I am asking you to take a courageous stance to meet the courageous efforts of people inside who are willing to sacrifice their lives so that others do not have to got through what they have had to endure for 20, 25 30+ years.
From Manuel La Fontaine, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
April 29th, 2011 — Federal Law Enforcement, Gang injunctions, Police State, Prison Industrial Complex, Racism, Rights
Ali Winston for The Informant
April 26, 2011:
“The gang injunction strategy pursued by Oakland City Attorney John Russo appears to be part of a federal effort to promote the use of gang injunctions across the country. A joint training program run by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a branch of the United States Department of Justice, and the National District Attorneys Association promotes the usage of civil nuisance lawsuits such as the actions pursued by Russo in North Oakland and Fruitvale.”
And, check out all the great documents included for your own research and thinking:
April 22nd, 2011 — Excessive Force, Prisons, Racism, Rights
From Bruce A. Dixon in the SF Bayview, March 17th, 2011:
The arrest warrants sworn out for one of seven Georgia prison guards arrested in late February alleges that one Christopher Hall, the supervising officer, “was present at the time of this assault [on Terrance Dean], and supervised this act in his capacity as the CERT [Correctional Emergency Response Team] supervisor.’”
March 17th, 2011 — Police State, Prison Industrial Complex, Racism
In an interview by Minister of Information JR in the SF BayView newspaper, Claude Marks teaches us some history:
“COINTELPRO is both a formal program of the FBI and a term frequently used to describe a conspiracy among government agencies – local, state and federal – to destroy movements for self-determination and liberation for Black, Brown, Asian and Indigenous struggles, as well as mount an institutionalized attack against allies of these movements and other progressive organizations.”
Please see the whole interview at: sfbayview.com/2011/cointelpro-101-an-interview-wit-filmmaker-claude-marks/
March 6th, 2011 — Prison Industrial Complex, Prisons
Julienne Hing for Colorlines reports on the arrest of seven Georgia prison guards for brutal beating of Terrance Dean in Macon State Prison. The seven guards arrested include Christopher Hall, Ronald Lach, Derrick Wimbrush, Willie Redden, Darren Douglas Griffin, Kerry Bolden and Delton Rushin.
Hing gives us some numbers from Reuters as well: “The Georgia employs 15,000 Department of Corrections staff for a prison population of 55,000. One in 15 Georgia residents is incarcerated or under correctional supervision.”
And, Mary Ratcliff and the SF Bayview provide contacts for protesting the ongoing retaliations:
March 6th, 2011 — Prisons, Racism
Lucile Malandain, Agence France-Presse, speaks to the Center for Constitutional Rights about religious profiling in Control Management Units (CMUs) in Federal Prisons:
‘But while Muslims account for six percent of the inmate population in federal prisons as a whole, in the CMUs “somewhere between 65 and 72 percent of the population is Muslim,” said Alexis Agathocleous, an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“So, that’s a tenfold over representation. That obviously raises concerns about religious profiling,” he said.’