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Prison Stories

New study shows 44% of Black women have incarcerated family member

May 27, 2015

On May 20, 2015, the Du Bois Review published “Racial Inequalities in Connectedness to Imprisoned Individuals in the United States,” a groundbreaking article exposing the devastating effects of mass incarceration on the women who are so often left behind to pick up the pieces. The article reports that one in four women in the United States currently has an imprisoned family member.

The militarized Georgia Department of Corrections Special Operations Section demonstrates a cell extraction at Horizons Event Center during a career fair, where military personnel leaving the service were recruited to become guards. – Photo: Misuzu Allen, U.S. Air Force

We cannot live by bread alone: Texas abuses prisoners with denied food and bread-and-water diets

May 26, 2015

Food is routinely used by U.S. prison officials to summarily punish, torture, abuse and retaliate against prisoners. This happens with especial frequency in administrative segregation (solitary confinement) where prisoners are confined inside locked cells all day every day and must have all meals delivered by guards. Under such circumstances, we remain at guards’ total mercy “to eat or not to eat.”

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Uhuru Baraka Rowe, aka Brian Lee Rowe, web, cropped

My struggle for freedom in the midst of Virginia’s Truth-in-Sentencing and Abolition of Parole laws

May 25, 2015

I am a 38-year-old Black male from the city of Richmond, Virginia, who has been incarcerated for over 20 consecutive years. I am serving a 93-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole for my participation in a robbery that resulted in the shooting deaths of two innocent people. Having exhausted all available post-conviction remedies in the courts, prisoners like me have few avenues to regain our freedom here in the commonwealth of Virginia.

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Pennsylvania prison bars Bay View; prisoner fights back – and wins

May 21, 2015

Rahsaan won his appeal and the release of his March Bay View. With his letter, he enclosed the “Final Appeal Decision,” dated April 30, 2015, and marked “Grant Inmate Appeal.” Now he is working to get his April and May Bay Views released. The Bay View thanks and congratulates this outstanding jailhouse lawyer and encourages others who encounter censorship to follow his lead.

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“Prison Oppression” – Art: Michael D. Russell, C-90473, PBSP SHU D7-217, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

Moving forward with our fight to end solitary confinement

May 20, 2015

Greetings of solidarity and respect to all similarly situated members of the prison class unified in our struggle to end long term solitary confinement and win related long overdue reforms to the broken California prison torture system! As one of the four principle prisoner class representatives, I am presenting this further update on where things stand with our human rights movement from my perspective.

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California draft budget backslides into aggressive prison construction, punting durable population reduction

May 15, 2015

The May Revision to Governor Brown’s 2015-16 budget delays plans to close the notorious decaying prison in Norco, a move supported by Sen. Hancock and CURB members earlier this week. The corrections budget continues to account for a total of $12.676 billion with plans for “aggressive” prison construction at Donovan and Mule Creek over the next year.

Starve the beast

May 6, 2015

African Americans constitute / 12 percent of the nation, / 50 percent of the prison population. / That’s mass incarceration / Modern day enslavement / Casting a wide net / Landing a big catch: / The poor, the Black, the innocent … / Forever strange fruit / Courtrooms abound with Black youth / Legal lynching ensues / The gavel is a noose / Freedom dismissed / American justice amiss / School to prison pipeline / Lucrative slave ship …

From SHU to mainline, you will be tested

May 1, 2015

This is the advice I share with anyone getting out of the SHU and going into GP (general population). The first thing I did when I was released to GP was to find out all I could about the mainline and the programs that they offered. You want to get connected to as many self-help programs as you can. Something else that helped me to transition from SHU to mainline was to surround myself with positive people and keep myself busy.

Solitary confinement tricknology at Menard Concentration Slave Camp

April 30, 2015

On the battlefield of psychological warfare, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) made moves that “appeared” to redress the unconstitutionally inhumane conditions in Menard isolation unit that gave rise to last year’s hunger strike. But the move is no more than tricknology aimed at curbing grassroots activism and damage control due to the negative publicity that the hunger strike generated.

“Solitary Confinement” – Art: Baridi J. Williamson

Baridi Williamson at Pelican Bay: ‘I met with UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez’

April 29, 2015

On Dec. 9, 2014, I visited with Mr. Juan Méndez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, who is now an expert on our class action lawsuit to end solitary confinement torture here in California. Hopefully, it will have a ripple effect across the U.S. I gave him a living experience witnessed from its opening in late December 1989 to the present under its “snitch, parole or die” mass validation and indeterminate SHU torture classification and enhanced coerced debriefing.

New Yorkers turned out to march for Mumia, demanding “No execution by medical neglect! Free Mumia!” on April 3. – Photo: Ashoka Jegroo, WNV

The public execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal?

April 28, 2015

Although states across this country have banned executions where the public can freely attend, some contend that the American public is again witnessing the spectacle of a public execution. This current spectacle of governmental killing involves a high-profile inmate in Pennsylvania that evidence indicates is quite possibly experiencing a “slow execution” through calculated medical mistreatment.

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‘I contribute to peace,’ a pledge to end hostilities inside and out

April 26, 2015

We, under the union of the United KAGE Brothers, joined with the Prisoners Political Action Committee (PAC), welcome you to our communion. We aim to unite and unionize internationally the peace movement – under the Agreement to End Hostilities – as an ad campaign from prison to the street. As people of all colors, races, creeds, genders and sexualities, we stand in solidarity with the following pledge.

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Siddique Abdullah Hasan, alleged ringleader of the 1993 Lucasville Uprising, is led to trial on Jan. 16, 1996. – Photo: Al Behrman

At Ohio’s supermax prison, a hunger strike ends but extreme isolation remains

April 26, 2015

Last week, men incarcerated at Ohio’s supermax prison brought a month-long hunger strike to a close. Between 30 and 40 men had refused all meals since March 16 to protest new restrictions placed on already severely limited recreation and programming for those in solitary confinement. On April 15, all but one of the men agreed to suspend the hunger strike after a meeting with the warden at which the prison agreed to lifting some, but not all, of the new restrictions.

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Mumia Abu Jamal in wheelchair, Wadiya Jamal visit 040915, cropped

Wadiya Jamal: Help my husband get free! Mumia is dying in there!

April 13, 2015

On Thursday, April 9, 2015, I visited my husband, Mumia Abu-Jamal, at SCI Mahanoy. I saw the photos taken of Mumia during the visit on Monday, April 6, but I still wasn’t prepared for how Mumia looked. Seeing him in the prison visiting room, he was worse. I felt my husband is about to die. He was shivering so hard, I put my arms around him and my head to his chest to hear his heart and to bring some warmth to his body because he said he was freezing. We need to keep up the pressure. Let the warden and state corrections secretary know we insist that Mumia have medical specialists of his own choosing examine and treat him.

Human Rights Pen Pal Program flier, web

Visitor decries racism at Pelican Bay in open letter to warden

April 10, 2015

What decade is this? It is unthinkable that your staff would be allowed to threaten Mr. Crawford for having a friendship with two white women. Does this threaten the officers, make them insecure? There have been centuries of racist and patriarchal violence such as this and I refuse to stand by while my friend Mr. Crawford is subjected to more of the same.

'BloodZ n CripZ It's on'

Struggle without sacrifice is useless

April 10, 2015

Our 45-year protracted “civil war” between Damus (Bloods) and Kiwes (Crips) has probably claimed thousands of lives, if not millions, and it probably will claim a lot more lives if we don’t begin to change this vortex of violence that has plagued us as a people internally. The unifying of our strengths is basic to our people’s survival.

“Pelican Bay SHU Half Living, Half Dying” – Art: Michael D. Russell, C-90473, PBSP SHU D7-217, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

Prisoner Human Rights Movement fights on many fronts to reclaim our lives and freedom

April 10, 2015

We must carry out our prison struggle. We stand in solidarity with all oppressed prisoners, men and women. The Prisoners Human Rights Movement is needed to reclaim our lives and freedom, end all state and federal abuses of prisoners and stop the mass incarceration of humans, especially the poor.

Mumia, no glasses, barely able to stand Mahanoy infirmary 040615, cropped

See how sick Mumia is – keep calling!

April 7, 2015

Mumia struggled to get out of his wheelchair so that we could take a photo of him. We share these photos to give you a sense of the gravity of Mumia’s condition. He has lost over 50 pounds, and his entire body is covered with a hard, leathery layer of jet-black skin, that is bloody, painful and itchy. Yet he chuckled as he read letters from school children. Keep calling to demand that outside doctors of Mumia’s choosing be allowed to evaluate and treat him immediately. A National Day of Action has been called for Friday, April 10. The Bay Area rally is at 4 p.m. in front of the Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay St. Be there! And listen to the Block Report Radio interview with Mumia’s son, Jamal.

Mumia and Wadiya share the joy of their first contact visit (no glass between them) on Feb. 6, 2012, after he was released from 30 years on death row and in solitary confinement.

Mumia’s wife, Wadiya Jamal: It’s time to stop trying to kill my husband and free him now!

April 6, 2015

Guards stood outside the hospital room and one was inside the room with Mumia. I was shocked at his condition: He had lost over 40 pounds, was weak, barely able to sit up and keep his head up, handcuffed to his chair, with labored breathing and dry mouth. I told him about all the love outpouring for him and that the world is watching!

The text in this powerful painting was supposed to say: “No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning oneself,” a quote from the 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. However, as Shuja’s wife Shamika explains, the realities of prison life can get in the way. They can “take away from the beauty of art and self-expression, but sometimes they make it more powerful. We spell corrected the quote and Shuja wrote it out before he added it to the painting, but somehow between keeping them from destroying his work and staying alert and aware of his surroundings, his attention to detail was interrupted. He won’t be able to fix it. Now that he’s mailed it out, I can’t mail it back to him. It’s not allowed.” During Shuja’s nearly 30 years of incarceration, medical neglect has made him permanently disabled and confined him to a wheelchair. He’s stayed sane by developing into an outstanding artist, his paintings and cartoons featured in the Bay View for many years. It’s time to bring him home. – Art: Damon Shuja Johnson

Let’s help Shuja come home to his family

April 5, 2015

Damon Shuja Johnson writes: “I am writing this letter to humbly ask if I can call upon you to send a letter of support on my behalf to the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH). I need your help!” During Shuja’s nearly 30 years of incarceration, medical neglect has made him permanently disabled and confined him to a wheelchair. He’s stayed sane by developing into an outstanding artist. Now it’s time to bring him home to his loving family.

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