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Prison Stories

Jalil Muntaqim founded the Jericho Movement, which supports political prisoners, fighting for their recognition and amnesty, creating graphics similar to this for each one.

Jalil Muntaqim: The 13th Amendment – prison slavery and mass incarceration

July 20, 2016

In the national debate ensuing from Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” some have not given credit to Angela Davis forging national interest in prison abolition with her organizing Critical Resistance campaigns across the country. With the nominal success of the Pelican Bay prisoners’ hunger strike in California, we recognize that when we organize a national determination, we can collectively force institutional change.

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Waupun Correctional Institution inmate Cesar DeLeon is shown being force fed June 20 in this screen grab from a video shown July 14 in Dodge County Circuit Court. DeLeon, who along with several other Wisconsin inmates is hunger striking to protest long-term solitary confinement, was unable to convince a judge to withdraw the force-feeding order. – Photo: Wisconsin Department of Corrections

Judge refuses to halt force feeding of inmate in solitary confinement protest

July 17, 2016

A Dodge County Circuit Court judge on Thursday, July 14, rejected a request by Waupun Correctional Institution inmate Cesar DeLeon to stop force feeding him after DeLeon testified that he would continue hunger striking if the court’s force-feeding order were lifted. DeLeon had asked Judge Steven Bauer to discontinue force feeding by nasogastric tube or, in the alternative, to be fed intravenously.

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Russell Shoatz III and Sharon Shoatz with their father Russell Maroon Shoatz after his February 2014 release from solitary confinement into general population at SCI Graterford, where photographs are permitted in the visiting area.

Maroon sues DOC and wins! Settlement reached in Shoatz v. Wetzel

July 12, 2016

July 11, 2016, Pittsburgh, Penn. – A settlement has been reached in the case of Shoatz v. Wetzel, which challenged the 22-year solitary confinement of Abolitionist Law Center client and political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. This brings an end to litigation begun in 2013. In February 2014, following an international campaign on behalf of Shoatz, he was released from solitary confinement.

New Jersey and the FBI are caught in a time warp and can see Sundiata Acoli only as a cop killer, not the brilliant mathematician, computer analyst, intellectual and humanitarian known and loved by the rest of the world, who registered voters in Mississippi in 1964, worked in Harlem with the Panthers, and has educated, mentored and counseled countless younger prisoners over the years; he is their hero. Imagine the term “killer cop” branding someone and burying him behind bars for life. – Photo: Star-Ledger

Sundiata Acoli: Ride and denied

July 4, 2016

Almost two years ago, Sept. 29, 2014, the New Jersey Appellate Court ordered the New Jersey Parole Board to “expeditiously set conditions” for my parole. The Parole Board appealed the order on grounds that I had not undergone a hearing before the full Parole Board prior to securing the order for release. The New Jersey Supreme court reversed the Appellate Court’s order and remanded the case to the full Parole Board for completion of the administrative process.

'This is a call to end slavery in America' National Prison Strike Sept 2016, web

Announcement of nationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage for Sept. 9, 2016

July 3, 2016

In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016. On Sept. 9 of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.

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Before a crowd of 250, including White House officials, the USP Atlanta Debate Team, led by Dr. Belay Reddick, shown delivering his team’s closing argument, debated the prestigious Morehouse College Debate Team. – Photo: WADE

White House officials and local leaders attend debate, organized by prisoner, between prisoners and Morehouse students

July 2, 2016

Senior White House officials, city leaders, educators, community residents and inmates gathered inside the All Faith Chapel at the Atlanta federal prison on May 9 to hear a debate team of three inmates with lengthy custodial sentences challenge a team of three Morehouse College undergraduates. The highly anticipated event was themed The Great Debate and Reentry Forum: Everyone Deserves a Fair and Second Chance.

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“Black August” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

The Black August Slave Rebellion: Every slave has a right to rebel

July 1, 2016

The Black August Rebellion is a month that the California state prisoners fast. They fast in the month of August to pay homage to the fallen comrades. Do make sure that this year you honor our comrade and hero lost last Aug. 12, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell. However you mark Black August, do it. You won’t be alone. The next chapter of Black August history is yours to write.

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Since 2007, California has authorized $2.2 billion for the construction of county jail facilities throughout the state. The $270 million for more such construction that was added back just before the governor signed the budget would build and expand even more jails, at a time when jail populations are declining. Here, a construction worker puts the finishing touches on a new Madera County Jail cell in 2013. – Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP

Governor’s new budget supports more incarceration

June 30, 2016

The budget signed June 27 by Gov. Jerry Brown reflects Sacramento’s relentless reliance on incarceration. Although the budget includes some repairs to the social safety net, it nonetheless aggressively builds up California’s system of imprisonment, adding another $270 million to the state’s large-scale jail construction program, extending contracts for private prisons, increasing the number of prison guards and funding construction on a dilapidated prison in Norco.

Hugo Pinell interviewed on TV 1983

Hugo Pinell, aka Dahariki Kambon: Decades of assassination attempts against the man most feared by CDCr

June 29, 2016

The recent victory won by the prisoner hunger strikers, the “solitary settlement” in Ashker v. Brown, is indicative of the solidarity among prisoners today, and it is for this reason I am sharing my story and history of Dahariki Kambon. We must carry on the spirit of what he stood for; his fight was against the racist oppressors and their cruel laws and policies of injustice and inequality.

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Erika Rocha graphic-1

Suicide crisis in California women’s prison: Advocates demand justice for Erika Rocha and Shaylene Graves

June 28, 2016

Erika Rocha was 35 years old and one day away from her Youth Parole Hearing on April 15, 2016, when she committed suicide at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona. Since her death, the suicide crisis at CIW has only worsened. On June 1, yet another young woman of color died at CIW. Her name is Shaylene Graves and she was 27 years old and six weeks away from returning home to her loving son, family and friends.

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'Censorship in Solitary Confinement is Psychological Torture' 111314 art by Michael D. Russell, web cropped

SF Bay View banned inside Indiana prisons: Do Black Lives Matter behind the walls?

June 27, 2016

In the December 2015 issue of the San Francisco Bay View, I wrote an article entitled “Do Black Lives Matter Behind the Walls” and introduced to the Bay View audience the newly formed New African Liberation Collective (NALC). While this particular issue was allowed into prisons throughout the state, it was seized at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, where I was being housed, based upon the orders of the Internal Affairs Department as a security risk.

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Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois. – Photo: Jim Larrison

Illinois prisoners boycott overpriced phone calls, commissary and vending machines

June 26, 2016

During the month of April, at least 100 of those incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center, about an hour outside of Chicago, Illinois, participated in a boycott of the overpriced phone calls, commissary goods and vending machines. “Mass incarceration is a luxury business,” stated Patrick Pursley, one of the men who joined in the boycott. The boycott comes at a time of growing demonstrations led by those inside U.S. prisons.

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Supporters of the Wisconsin hunger strikers hope they will resume eating to avoid the dangerous and torturous force feeding they’re suffering now, and the supporters vow to keep protesting and pressuring officials after the strike ends.

Wisconsin DOC is force feeding prisoners who are on hunger strike to end solitary confinement

June 24, 2016

Using a practice which has been condemned by the American Medical Association and the Red Cross as a form of torture and “never ethically acceptable,” Wisconsin Department of Corrections personnel have been forcing a feeding tube through the nose and down the throat of their restrained and struggling captives three times a day since last weekend.

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“Close the SHU” – Art: Jose Villarreal. Jose’s art was a significant contribution to the victory of the hunger strikes.

Chican@ Prisoners Day

June 24, 2016

If we look to any uprising in world history we will see that such rebellions, although they may have included various nationalities, are usually attributed to the dominant force in that rebellion. Rebellions take on the oppression, and those who arise lend their voice in the struggle. The dominant force in an event shapes the event and shapes the character of the struggle. The same can be said of prison struggles.

“Control Unit Torture” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

Hunger strike at Wisconsin’s Waupun state prison against conditions of a ‘living hell’

June 22, 2016

An estimated half dozen or more prisoners locked away in solitary confinement at Wisconsin’s maximum security facility in Waupun, announced last week they would begin a hunger strike in opposition to what one inmate has described as a “living hell” in the institution’s “hole.” Waupun is located 55 miles northeast of Madison. It is notoriously known as “the Prison City,” with three state prisons inside the city limits.

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“Dying to Live” hunger strikers’ supporters stop to pose for this picture before delivering their letter to Wisconsin DOC Secretary Jon Litscher in Madison on June 21. The prisoners are willingly starving themselves to end solitary confinement.

Wisconsin prisoner hunger strike enters second week, spreads to multiple facilities – you can help!

June 22, 2016

On June 10, Wisconsin prisoners held in long term solitary confinement at Waupun Correctional Institution started a “food refusal campaign.” They wish to bring the horror of administrative confinement (AC) to the public’s attention and end this torturous practice. Solitary confinement for more than 15 days has been deemed “torture” by the United Nations, but in Wisconsin, the Department of Corrections has held many prisoners in isolation for decades.

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'Inside prisons & out in the streets, support the movement to end solitary confinement' poster

Prison rules must abide by human rights standards

June 22, 2016

International law regarding the right to personal integrity prohibits physical as well as mental torture and that prohibition is absolute: It recognizes no exception based on an emergency or other circumstance. Equally absolute is the prohibition on any form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which covers pain or suffering – also of either physical or mental nature – that is less severe than torture and not necessarily inflicted with intent.

Hugo L.A. Pinell, legendary leader of the California Prison Movement who was held in solitary confinement for a record 46 years, then assassinated in prison on Aug. 12, 2015, was affectionately known as Yogi Bear and often called Yogi or Yog. This is his likeness as a young man. – Art: Kiilu Nyasha

Yog been through hell and was not burnt

June 22, 2016

The SHU, the wars, the times and obviously the love and hate he experienced made Yog who he was. When I met him in 2001, I of course had read about him and heard the stories, but I was definitely not prepared to meet anyone like that.
One of the letters in the Bay View said Yog taught him how to “time travel”; that sounds about right. Yog was a hot mess in that regard; his mind was not always grounded but that also was one of his strengths. He had his own world in there.

This is the prison that the women locked up inside it call “Miserable Murray.”

I am fighting for women in Texas prisons

May 31, 2016

I am a walking, living proof of a life that has been pulverized, destroyed and abandoned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I have been housed in Ad-Seg going on four years now, held in captivity of prolonged solitary confinement, deprived of adequate sleep, nourishment, clean ventilation, peace and privileges. Living in the misery of Ad-Seg causes much psychological damage. Justice needs to be served.

Anthony Robinson Jr. in 2015

Parole threatened for organizing and writing for Bay View

May 30, 2016

The majority of employees at La Palma Correctional Center who work on Compound 3 fit the description of a Security Threat Group due to their unlawful conduct, but who investigates them or makes them answerable? Certainly not themselves. Yet I am being targeted for my work; a work that was created to build a constructive Humanity; while these prison officials are rewarded for work that assaults the very fabric that makes us human and seeks to destroy lives.

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