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Behind Enemy Lines

Dolores Canales, founder of California Families Against Solitary Confinement, speaks at a rally in Norwalk, California, on the day the third California mass prisoner hunger strike began, July 8, 2013, one year ago today. Prisoners’ families see the hunger strikes and the torture that instigates them not only as political issues but as personal issues that could take the lives of their loved ones.

Prisoners and advocates commemorate the one-year anniversary of the hunger strike by California prisoners and file lawsuit against CDCR

July 8, 2014

A year ago on July 8, over 30,000 people inside California prisons began a hunger strike to bring an end to the state’s use of indefinite solitary confinement. On the one-year anniversary of the largest prisoner hunger strike in California history, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law today is filing a lawsuit charging CDCR with illegally refusing to publicly disclose information, data and studies regarding its solitary confinement rules, policies and practices.

Opposition to the torture of solitary confinement is strong in Pennsylvania, where this rally was held prior to a state legislative hearing on Sept. 18, 2012.

Events worldwide commemorate mass California hunger strike first anniversary

July 8, 2014

Prison family members, formerly incarcerated persons, opponents of solitary confinement and mass incarceration and others in Pennsylvania will be fasting and making calls to Gov. Corbett and Department of Corrections Secretary Wetzel on July 8 to join the California Families Against Solitary Confinement and supporters around the country and the world in commemorating the one-year anniversary of the California prison hunger strike.

H. Rap Brown addresses a National Guardian meeting in New York City on Oct. 27, 1967. This hero of the Black Power Movement, one of the most fiery and influential leaders of the 20th century, deserves our strongest support.

Supporters demand political prisoner Imam Jamil (H. Rap Brown), diagnosed with rare cancer, be hospitalized immediately

July 8, 2014

Political Prisoner Imam Jamil Al Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, is in critical medical condition and in desperate need of our urgent action. Imam Jamil was a dominant and influential figure in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of the 1960s. He served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and later as Minister of Justice for the Black Panther Party.

This drawing, the icon for all three California hunger strikes recognized around the world, was contributed by the renowned prison artist Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, then held in solitary confinement in Virginia, now in Texas. – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

Largest hunger strike in history: California prisoners speak out on first anniversary

July 7, 2014

One year ago, on July 8, 2013, 30,000 California prisoners initiated the largest hunger strike the world has ever seen. Sixty days later, 40 prisoners, who had eaten nothing in all that time, agreed to suspend the strike when state legislators promised to hold hearings on ending solitary confinement, the heart of their demands. The 2013 hunger strike followed two in 2011. In the interim, effective October 2012, the hunger strike leaders, representing all racial groups, issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities, which has held with few exceptions throughout the California prison system ever since.

Outlaw to walk free July 14

June 30, 2014

We are excited about the impending release from prison of our beloved friend and comrade, Frank “Outlaw” Reid, on July 14. Outlaw will finally walk free! Allies in D.C. and Virginia have been raising financial support for his re-entry. Our latest effort is a mixed media zine called Justice for Outlaw, which includes an intensive study, by Outlaw, on the origins of the Virginia prison system and how it functions today.

As public and legal pressure mount to save prisoners from dying of the heat this summer, Texas officials announced June 23 they’ve bought a new kind of fan, but insist the purchase was not in response to the pressure. Texas houses many of its prisoners in metal buildings. – Photo: Bob Daemmerich

Houston needs a civilian review board – but Texas needs much more!

June 29, 2014

For the past four years, community activists and civil rights leaders in the Houston area have been fighting hard to establish a civilian review board with prosecutorial power over local police. The board would oversee the activities of a Houston Police Department (HPD) which has had a “love affair” with the use of excessive and lethal force on Houstonians. The problem with HPD is much larger than it appears and affects everyone in Houston.

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“Power of Unity” – Graphic: Soundthings

Calipatria riots need to cease and unity needs to spread

June 28, 2014

Men at Calipatria on general population yards A, B and C can show the same courage as the hunger strikers, who are honored around the world, by pledging to respect the Agreement to End Hostilities and stop all fighting and riots between racial groups. The Agreement must continue to hold within all California prisons and unity needs to spread across the state. Only then can justice be won.

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Warriors on the plains – Art: Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier, my cellmate: Simple man with a big vision

June 27, 2014

My cellmate is an inspiration to all ethnic groups who has endured the injustices by the hands of what we call the “government.” His name is Leonard Peltier, in prison since 1975 for a crime he didn’t commit. How can someone hate when all that’s asked for is “peace and equality”? My vision is this: to write with all people of injustice not for the purpose of war but for peace, so we may start to heal. I ask you to stand with me.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier after 39 years in prison: Live to make our children proud

June 26, 2014

This statement was written for an event on June 26, 2014, marking 39 years of incarceration. Of all the things I want us to remember today and every day, I want us to remember who WE are, I want us to remember where WE came from, I want us to remember our ancestors that we are so proud of, and I want us to live in such a way that our children and our children’s children will look back at us and be proud of who they are because of what we were.

Attorney Anne Butterfield Weills: ‘Obscenity’ regs show ‘CDCR views many of its prisoners … as political prisoners’

June 26, 2014

The fact that these rules were noticed as “Obscene Materials” indicates an intention of CDCR to attempt to fly below the radar so as to not draw attention to the fact that much of the material under these proposed regulations could be so broad as to cover newspaper articles and a multitude of other written materials that do nothing to promote prison safety and security and do everything to violate and infringe on the First Amendment rights of California’s prisoners.

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Last Menard hunger striker calls for a new generation of warriors

June 25, 2014

I wish to thank you for the support and many efforts put forth, not only for us, but for many that endure the daily injustices of prison. There is so much going on in our struggle. It is easy to feel defeated or just plain tired. Reading the many articles by people everywhere made me come to the realization that I/we are not as alone as we sometimes feel. It was beyond uplifting to hear how people are fighting, while it helped to boost the morale of many.

Women protest the “sterilization of mothers” in about 1971 when the women’s movement was emboldening women across the country. But while relatively well-off white women were demanding abortion rights, Black women and poor women generally were left alone to fend against sterilization, whether coerced or performed without their knowledge. – Photo: Southern Conference Educational Fund

Who gets to choose? Coerced sterilization in California prisons

June 23, 2014

In California, policy-driven sterilization programs have reared their ugly head once again. Women prisoners in the care of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) have been confronted with coerced sterilization, according to a report released last July by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Nearly 150 women prisoners were sterilized between 2005 and 2013 without the necessary state approvals.

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Bomani card w children 'Love is the only freedom'

Don’t let Ohio execute Keith LaMar (Bomani Shakur), framed and innocent on death row

June 23, 2014

Keith LaMar, also known as Bomani Shakur, is a prisoner in Ohio, condemned to death on false charges following the 1993 Lucasville Prison Uprising. Bomani is one of five men condemned to death after being railroaded through forced snitch testimony. They are known as the Lucasville Five. The following is an interview with Bomani from death row, recorded on March 7, 2014.

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Free Imam Jamil Al-Amin! His wife, attorney Karima Al-Amin, tells of the US’ 47-year campaign to silence H. Rap Brown

June 22, 2014

The fiery H. Rap Brown, chairperson of SNCC, minister of justice for the Black Panther Party and one of the original four targets of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO to neutralize Black power, is presently entombed in the federal prison at Florence, Colorado, one of the world’s 10 worst prisons. Pursued relentlessly since the ‘60s, he was wrongfully convicted in 2002 – the prosecutor bragging that they finally got him after trying for 24 years. His wife, attorney Karima Al-Amin, tells his story on the Block Report.

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Human Rights Coalition rally at Penn. legislative hearing on solitary confinement 091812, web

Court rules Human Rights Coalition’s prison censorship lawsuit can move forward

June 19, 2014

The suit details a series of confiscations of Robert Saleem Holbrook’s mail since January 2012 that includes academic correspondence with a college professor, scholarly essays from the anthology “If They Come in the Morning,” a Black history book, and a newsletter published by HRC, The Movement, which focuses on prison abuse, solitary confinement, and ways that prisoners’ family members can come together to challenge human rights abuses and injustice in the criminal legal system.

Palestinian children deliver messages to the ICRC in Gaza City on June 18, calling for intervention on behalf of hunger strikers. – Photo: Ashraf Amra, APA

From Palestine to Pelican Bay, prisoners and their loved ones fight for justice and freedom

June 18, 2014

We know that repression in the U.S. and in Israel are deeply connected and use one another to attempt to legitimize and justify repressive actions and policies. Both Israel and the United States use policing, imprisonment, and especially solitary confinement, and surveillance as tools to keep people and movement down – often sharing weapons, technology and training. Israel plays a large role in the training of repressive police forces in the United States and elsewhere.

Intensified mail censorship a failed attempt to put new twist on Death Row SHU experiment

June 15, 2014

What appears to have caused the mail delays is the proposal that Death Row prisoners would no longer be housed exclusively in the San Quentin and Chowchilla but would be placed among the general population. They almost had a window of opportunity to “justify” building more control units within existing prisons.

Opposition to new prison censorship rules comes from The Netherlands

June 14, 2014

CDCR has proposed regulations that could permanently ban any documents it defines as “contraband,” including political publications and correspondence that should be protected by First Amendment constitutional rights. Why are prison officials attempting to increase the political, mental and emotional isolation of people in solitary confinement struggling to resist an already crushing physical isolation?

Major law firm opposes new rules that could ban the Bay View from all California prisons

June 14, 2014

This letter, from attorney Leila Knox of Bryan Cave LLP, one of the world’s largest law firms, has been submitted to the California Department of Corrections. “Under this regulatory scheme,” she writes, “publications such as the Bay View could be impermissibly banned from within state prisons.” Readers are encouraged to submit their own comments from their own perspective. Comments are being accepted until Tuesday, June 17, at 5 p.m., and can be easily submitted until that time at http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/.

CDCr counterpunch: New rules designed to silence prison protest

June 13, 2014

When prisoners write to publications in order to tell our stories to the outside world, why would that be a threat now to the penological interests of the CDCr when it never has been for over 40 years? The policy [new proposed censorship rules, officially called “Obscene Material” regulations] is in retaliation for prisoners telling our personal horror stories, while carrying out hunger strikes in protest of such cruel and unusual punishment inside solitary confinement.

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