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Criminologists tell Gov. Brown: Negotiate with hunger strikers now before there is blood on your hands

August 29, 2013

by the 70 undersigned criminologists and criminal justice reformers

Aug. 29, 2013 – Finally, there’s some good news for critics of the American justice system: a decline in the nationwide prison and jail population; a significant drop in the rate of African American imprisonment; conservative activists advocating “criminal justice reform”; judges in New York and California blowing the whistle on unconstitutional police and prison practices; a decrease in the use of capital punishment, with 18 states now on record in favor of abolition; and a pervasive sense of political and economic exhaustion with the policies that made the United States No. 1 in the world in punishment.

APphoto_California Prisons Hunger Strike
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, chair of the Public Safety Committee, has been the most outspoken member of the California Legislature on ending solitary confinement and mass incarceration. He speaks here in front of a mock SHU cell at a rally on the Capitol steps that he co-sponsored Aug. 12. How many more legislators will join him before it’s too late? And how about Gov. Jerry Brown? – Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP
Except here in California, the political class is trying desperately to maintain the state’s reputation for the largest, most punitive and expensive criminal justice system in the country. With policies that echo Southern states’ efforts to derail the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Gov. Jerry Brown and a majority of California Democrats are calling for expanding the prison system; adding unneeded beds in existing prisons; offering money to hard-pressed counties to expand jails; doing deals with global private prison entrepreneurs; reluctantly responding to court-ordered reforms in the health care of prisoners; and refusing to recognize international human rights standards regarding the use of solitary confinement.

The U.S. Supreme Court, hardly a bleeding heart liberal institution these days, affirmed a lower federal court’s conclusion that California cannot keep doing its penal business the same way it has done for the last 30 years.

Meanwhile, thousands of California prisoners are locked up in other states far away from their families; there is a public health emergency in two of central California’s prisons; more than 1,000 prisoners are now serving sentences of five years or longer in county jails designed to hold pre-trial arrestees for a few weeks; and the state’s regular use of solitary confinement as a long-term punishment is out of step with best penal practices around the world and in direct violation of international human rights covenants.

Stop the political posturing and name-calling, and start negotiating before there is blood on your hands.

“It is now time to return the control of our prison system to California,” says Gov. Brown. We say it’s time to return California’s criminal justice system to a sense of human dignity and social justice by:

  • Releasing state prisoners who pose no threat to California, especially the elderly and seriously ill, persons incarcerated for non-violent crimes, and long-time prisoners eligible for parole.
  • Immediately complying with federal court orders to provide humane care for the medically and mentally ill.
  • Releasing from county jail all prisoners who have been arrested for non-violent crimes and who are unable to make bail due to their poverty.
  • Beginning the process of eliminating solitary confinement and use of Security Housing Units as a routine practice, thus bringing California into compliance with international human rights standards.
  • Putting resources from the current prison budget into decent educational and training programs for prisoners inside and into comprehensive service programs for ex-prisoners.

Finally, we call upon the governor and Legislature to immediately sit down at the bargaining table with representatives of the current prison hunger strike and enter into meaningful negotiations before prisoners die or suffer irreparable damage to their health.

Stop the political posturing and name-calling, and start negotiating before there is blood on your hands.

Signed:

  • Christina Accomando, Professor of English and Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Humboldt State University
  • William T. Armaline, Associate Professor, Justice Studies/Human Rights, San Jose State University
  • Hadar Aviram, Professor, Harry and Lillian Hastings Research Chair, Hastings College of the Law, University of California
  • Eduardo Bautista, M.S. Candidate, Department of Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Caroline Beasley Baker, artist, New York
  • Sara Benson, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Kristie Blevins, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Avi Brisman, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Elizabeth Brown, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University
  • Hoan N. Bui, Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Roderick D. Bush, Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, St. John’s University
  • Francisco Casique, Lecturer, Department of Ethnic Studies, U.C. Berkeley
  • Leonidas Cheliotis, Chancellor’s Fellow, School of Law, University of Edinburgh
  • Victoria Collins, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Lynn Cooper, Professor Emerita, California State University, Sacramento
  • Michael J. Coyle, Political Science, California State University, Chico
  • Mike Davis, Professor, Creative Writing, U.C. Riverside
  • Alessandro De Giorgi, Associate Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Daniel Dexheimer, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, Professor Emeritus, California State University, East Bay
  • Troy Duster, Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus, Institute for the Study of Social Issues, U.C. Berkeley
  • Preston Elrod, Professor and Division Chair of Undergraduate Studies, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Ashley K. Farmer, Teaching Assistant, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware
  • Keith P. Feldman, Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies, U.C. Berkeley
  • Craig Gilmore, California Prison Moratorium Project
  • Marcial Gonzalez, Associate Professor, English, U.C. Berkeley
  • Kishonna Gray, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Danielle Harris, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Veronica Herrera, Visiting Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Patricia Penn Hilden, Professor Emerita, U.C. Berkeley
  • Mary Juno, Lecturer, Forensic Science and Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Dina Kameda, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Kil Sang Hea, Associate Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Victor Kappeler, Foundation Professor and Associate Dean, School of Justice Studies
  • Peter Keane, Professor, Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco
  • Steven Lee, Professor and Director, Forensic Science Programs, San Jose State University
  • Jamie Longazel, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Criminal Justice Studies, University of Dayton
  • Marta López-Garza, Professor, Chicana/o Studies Department and Gender and Women’s Studies Department, California State University, Northridge
  • Elisabeth “Betita” Martínez, writer, San Francisco
  • Shadd Maruna, Professor of Justice Studies, Queens University, Belfast
  • Jacquelyn McClure, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Josh Meisel, Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, Criminology and Justice Studies, Sociology, Humboldt State University, California
  • Kevin Minor, Professor, School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Richard Moore and Sofia Martinez, Los Jardines Institute
  • Carlos Muñoz Jr., Professor Emeritus and Chancellor’s Public Scholar, Department of Ethnic Studies, U.C. Berkeley
  • Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor Emerita, San Francisco State University
  • Kim Pate, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
  • Noam Perry, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Richard Perry, Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University and Lecturer-in-Residence, Berkeley Law School
  • Harold W. Peterson, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University.
  • Cecile Pineda, writer
  • Gary Potter, Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Tony Platt, Visiting Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Timothy J. Reiss, Professor Emeritus, New York University
  • Keramet Reiter, Assistant Professor, Criminology, Law and Society, and School of Law, U.C. Irvine.
  • Claudio G. Vera Sanchez, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Phil Scraton, Professor of Criminology, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ireland
  • Judah Schept, Assistant Professor, School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Susan Schweik, Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, U.C. Berkeley
  • Jonathan Simon, Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law, Law School, U.C. Berkeley
  • David Stein, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California.
  • Margaret Stevenson, Director of Record Clearance Project, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
  • Jill Stoner, Professor of Architecture, U.C. Berkeley
  • Forrest Stuart, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Chicago
  • Ken Tunnell , Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Bryan Wagner, Associate Professor of English, U.C. Berkeley
  • Tyler Wall, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Geoff Ward, Associate Professor of Criminology, University of California, Irvine
  • Janet Winston, Professor of English, Humboldt State University

For more information, contact Tony Platt at amplatt27@gmail.com.

 

2 thoughts on “Criminologists tell Gov. Brown: Negotiate with hunger strikers now before there is blood on your hands

  1. @forcommongood1

    Long term solitary confinement is torture. Torture should be illegal in the U.S. (and in the rest of the world, of course). The Supreme Court upheld the Constitution and California must reduce the number of prisoners packed in like feedlot cattle. When will the Supreme Court uphold the Constitution on the issue of solitary confinement torture?

    Reply
  2. Justice Degree Jobs

    "Stop the political posturing and name-calling, and start negotiating before there is blood on your hands." if i will be given the chance to manifest this kind of advocate surely I'd be happy to lead. Nowadays, we should be keen when to consider.

    Reply

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