Testimony on Solitary, the Routine of Torture: “SACRAMENTO: ABOLISH THE SHU TODAY!”

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”  ― Nelson Mandela


Video of the Joint Informational Hearing on Segregation Policies in California Prisons in the California Legislature on October 9, 2013.

Why prisons and prisoners must matter to the Occupy movement

[The following, from an article by Michael Novick, addressed to the Occupy Wall Street movement and Occupy LA, draws connections between the California prison movement’s struggle for human rights and the Occupy movement. — Frontlines ed.]

by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-LA

Prisons and the millions who are imprisoned are a critical issue in this society for the 1 percent and for the 99 percent. They must be a vital area of concern for the Occupy Wall Street movement and especially here in Occupy LA. Here’s why:

Social control

Dostoyevsky said that you can best understand a society by looking inside its prisons. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have 5 percent of the global population and 25 percent of all the prisoners.

Prisons expose the brutal violence at the base of social control, the iron fist hidden by the velvet glove of elections and by the weapons of mass distraction. After the mass rebellions of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the 1 percent made a conscious decision to de-industrialize the U.S. and drive poor people from the inner city to the outskirts of the cities, as in Latin America and Africa, or into the concentration camps.

Prison populations shot up from under 200,000 to over 2,600,000 and still rising. Millions more are in and out of jail or under custodial control by the parole and probation systems. This has resulted in painful and massive destabilization of communities, especially communities of color, and affected millions more in families disrupted by having members imprisoned and moved far away. Continue reading

USA: Probe uncovers strip searches, chains and racism at California prisons

Sacramento Bee

Sept. 01, 2010

SACRAMENTO — Jason Brannigan’s eyes widened as he relived the day he says prison guards pepper-sprayed his face at point-blank range, then pulled him through the cellblock naked, his hands and feet shackled.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Brannigan recalled gasping in pain and humiliation during the March 2007 incident.

“They’re walking me on the chain and it felt just like … slaves again,” said the African American inmate, interviewed at the Sacramento County jail. “Like I just stepped off an auction block.”

Brannigan, 33, said the incident occurred in the behavior modification unit at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, Calif., where he was serving time for armed assault. He is one of more than 1,500 inmates who have passed through such units in six California prisons. Continue reading