Solidarity Network: “ALL OUT FOR CALIFORNIA PRISONER HUNGER STRIKE 2013”

California prisoners started a hunger strike and work actions today for basic human rights.
Support their demands – join us for a demonstration at Corcoran Saturday – July 13th!
Check out this new video!

Edited by Lucas Guilkey & Nicole Deane
Music: Fatgums ‘Kill the Vultures” & The Coup ‘My Favorite Mutiny’
 Published on Jul 8, 2013

JULY 13TH RALLY AT CORCORAN

SIGN THE PLEDGE OF RESISTANCE and become part of the EMERGENCY RESPONSE NETWORK

SIGN THE PETITION TO GOVERNOR BROWN

MORE INFORMATION: http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

In 2011, over 12,000 prisoners and their family and community members participated in statewide hunger strikes protesting the inhumane conditions in California’s Security Housing Units (SHU or solitary confinement). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation promised meaningful reform as a result of those protests, but nothing meaningful has reached the people living in these cages. Prisoners have announced another hunger strike will begin July 8th because of CDCR’s failure to fulfill that promise. Continue reading

California prison officials say 30,000 inmates refuse meals

By Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2013

California officials Monday said 30,000 inmates refused meals at the start of what could be the largest prison protest in state history.

Inmates in two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick.

The corrections department will not acknowledge a hunger strike until inmates have missed nine consecutive meals. Even so, Thornton said, Monday’s numbers are far larger than those California saw two years earlier during a series of hunger strikes that drew international attention.

Continue reading

US Prisons: Solitary Confinement Threatens Millions, and Tortures Thousands, in Prisons today

GAO Report Questions Widespread Use of Solitary Confinement in Federal Prisons

adx-florence-4The U.S. Bureau of Prisons currently holds more than 12,400 individuals in 23-hour-a-day lockdown, making it the largest practitioner of solitary and other forms of isolated confinement in the nation, and most likely the world. Yet the BOP does not know whether its use of “segregated housing” has any impact on prison safety, how it affects the prisoners who endure it, or how much it all costs American taxpayers. This according to a comprehensive report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO documents a dramatic rise in the use of isolated confinement, continuing over the past five years. Yet “BOP has not assessed the impact of segregated housing on institutional safety or the impacts of long-term segregation on inmates.” The report also questions recent steps taken by the BOP, ostensibly to address its use of isolated confinement. ”In January 2013,” the report summary states, “BOP authorized a study of segregated housing; however, it is unclear to what extent the study will assess the extent to which segregated housing units contribute to institutional safety.” The report summary continues: ”As of January 2013, BOP is considering conducting mental health case reviews for inmates held in SHUs or ADX for more than 12 continuous months. However, without an assessment of the impact of segregation on institutional safety or study of the long-term impact of segregated housing on inmates, BOP cannot determine the extent to which segregated housing achieves its stated purpose to protect inmates, staff and the general public.”

According to the cover letter released with the report, the study of the BOP’s use of segregated housing was done at the request of three members of Congress: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who last year convened a Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on solitary confinement in which he sharply questioned BOP director Charles Samuels; Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; and Bobby Scott (D-VA), ranking member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. The letter states:

There is little publicly available information on BOP’s use of segregated housing units. Given the potential high costs, lack of research on their effectiveness, and possible long-term detrimental effects on inmates, you requested that we review BOP’s segregated housing unit practices, including BOP’s standards, reasons for segregating inmates, and costs.

The report is indeed a mine of information on a subject that has been largely hidden from the public by the BOP, which bars press visits to its solitary confinement facilities and which collects, aggregates, and publishes little data on its use of prison isolation.

Continue reading

US Political Prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz: Resisting the “Spiritual Death” of Solitary Confinement

maroonbookcover1“Control unit facilities cannot be allowed to exist,” writes Russell Maroon Shoatz in a piece called “Death by Regulation.”They serve no purpose other than to dehumanize their occupants. Our collective welfare demands that we do everything within our power to bring about an end to this form of imprisonment and torture.”

Shoatz, a former Black Panther who will turn 70 years old in August, has been held in solitary confinement in Pennsylvania prisons since 1983. His only time in the general prison population in the last 30 years was an 18-month stint spent at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth that ended in 1991.

Maroon has had only one misconduct since 1989. His most recent violation was in 1999, when he covered a vent in his cell that was blowing cold air in an attempt to stay warm.

From 1995 until the end of last month, Maroon had been held at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Greene in southwestern Pennsylvania. Without warning Maroon was transferred on Thursday, March 28 to SCI Mahanoy in the eastern part of Pennsylvania.

A growing grassroots national movement had been mobilizing to win his release into the general population. This transfer appeared to be a response by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to the gathering legal and political pressure. Continue reading

The Louder My Voice the Deeper They Bury Me

Herman Wallace

Herman Wallace

Voices from Solitary: The Louder My Voice the Deeper They Bury Me

by Herman Wallace, who has been held in solitary confinement in Louisiana’s prison system for almost 41 years, mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola.

A Defined Voice

They removed my whisper from general population
To maximum security I gained a voice
They removed my voice from maximum security
To administrative segregation
My voice gave hope
They removed my voice from administrative segregation
To solitary confinement
My voice became vibration for unity
They removed my voice from solitary confinement
To the Supermax of Camp J
And now they wish to destroy me
The louder my voice the deeper they bury me
I SAID, THE LOUDER MY VOICE THE DEEPER THEY BURY ME!
Free all political prisoners, prisoners of war, prisoner of consciousness.

Click here to listen to Herman Wallace read his poem.

for more about Herman Wallace: http://www.whoishermanwallace.com/

Source:  http://solitarywatch.com/2013/04/11/the-louder-my-voice-the-deeper-they-bury-me/

Strategizing To Defeat Control Unit Prisons And Solitary Confinement

By Angola 3 News, 15 February, 2013

Out of Control:  A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons, by Nancy Kurshan

Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons, by Nancy Kurshan

–An interview with author/activist Nancy Kurshan

Author and longtime activist Nancy Kurshan’s new book, entitled Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons , has just been released by the Freedom Archives . Kurshan’s book documents the work of The Committee to End the Marion Lockdown (CEML), which she co-founded in 1985 as a response to the lockdown at the federal prison in Marion, Illinois. It quickly turned into a broader campaign against control unit prisons and human rights violations in US prisons that lasted fifteen years, until 2000. The following excerpt from Out of Control details CEML’s origins:

I had been living in Chicago for about a year when I heard the news that two guards had been killed by two prisoners in the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, 350 miles south of Chicago. Although it was an isolated incident with no associated riot conditions, the prison was immediately placed on lockdown status, and the authorities seized on the opportunity to violently repress the entire prison population. For two years, from 1983 to 1985, all of the 350 men imprisoned there were subjected to brutal, dehumanizing conditions. All work programs were shut down, as were educational activities and religious services.

During the initial stage of this lockdown, 60 guards equipped with riot gear, much of it shipped in from other prisons, systematically beat approximately 100 handcuffed and defenseless prisoners. Guards also subjected some prisoners to forced finger probes of the rectum. Random beatings and rectal probes continued through the two-year lockdown. Despite clear evidence of physical and psychological brutality at the hands of the guards, Congress and the courts refused to intervene to stop the lockdown…

…Although the terrible conditions at the prison were striking, what drew us to Marion in particular was the history of struggle of the prisoners and their allies on the outside. When the infamous Alcatraz was closed in 1962, Marion Federal Penitentiary was opened and became the new Alcatraz, the end of the line for the “worst of the worst.”

In 1972 there was a prisoner’s peaceful work stoppage at Marion led by Puerto Rican Nationalist Rafael Cancel Miranda. In response to this peaceful work stoppage, the authorities placed a section of the prison under lockdown, thus creating the first “control unit,” essentially a prison within a prison, amplifying the use of isolation as a form of control, previously used only for a selected prisoner. That was 1972.

At this time, in 1985, after two years of lockdown, they converted the whole prison into a control unit. Importantly, because Marion in 1985 was “the end of the line,” the only “Level 6” federal prison, there were disproportionate numbers of political prisoners—those who were incarcerated for their political beliefs and actions. These included people such as Native American Leonard Peltier who had spent years there until recently, and now (in 1985) Black Panthers Sundiata Acoli and Sekou Odinga , Puerto Rican independentista Oscar López Rivera , and white revolutionary Bill Dunne . These were people we knew or identified with, activists of the 1960s and 1970s incarcerated for their political activities. Marion, like its predecessor Alcatraz and its successor ADX Florence, was clearly a destination point for political prisoners. Continue reading