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Prison Stories

On leaving solitary confinement after 26 years, I salute all the advocates of progressive positive change

March 1, 2015

Today, Jan. 23, 2015, I appeared before the Director’s Review Board and I was granted release from PBSP SHU (Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit) after 26 years in solitary confinement. I’m to be transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison, where I’ll be able to have human contact and new experiences and hopefully be able to re-meet my family.

To Hunters Point

February 28, 2015

This is a bigger giant that we all must come together and fight. There’s too many young men warring with each other and not with the real enemy. The true enemy is the one who’s telling your mothers, grandmothers, fathers, baby mothers, kids, friends to pack up their things and move, while the police ride around victimize us because of our skin colors. They even go as far as killing us just because of someone videoing them doing their job in a vicious way.

This is California Men’s Colony, built in 1954; it houses over 4,000 prisoners. According to Capital Engineering Consultants and Soltek Pacific Construction, they completed a new 50-bed mental health crisis facility there in 2012.

Nurse Paul Spector blows the whistle on torture in a California prison

February 27, 2015

For decades, prisoners in California have protested the torturous conditions they are subjected to. Now a nurse has come forward who worked in a California prison and can speak to personally witnessing some of these horrors perpetrated by some of his colleagues at the California Men’s Colony State Prison in San Luis Obispo. Paul Spector was fired from his job for speaking out. Check him out in his own words …

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As the prisoners leave Pelican Bay State Prison, they probably catch a glimpse of the town it lies in, Crescent City. Not ugly and barren like the prison, it was a pretty little fishing and logging town before it became a prison town. This view of the town is from the picturesque lighthouse just offshore.

My safari from Pelikkkan Bay

February 27, 2015

On Jan. 29, 2015, my travels began with a wakeup call at 2:30 a.m. I was told by the first watch unit officer to be ready in 30 minutes. Myself and a total of 17 prisoners were all rounded up like chattel slaves and placed in the SHU’s C-Facility visiting room holding cells ‘til we boarded the bus at 6 a.m. In hitting the highway, my sensibilities immediately went through the whirlwind cycle of “shock and awe” via the vivid reminder of what freedom used to entail.

“Fight Mass Containment” – Art: Roger “Rab” Moore, G-02296, HDSP Z-168, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127.

Losing lives while gaining profit: 4 deaths in 2 months is business as usual for CCA prison

February 26, 2015

In the last two months – from Dec. 27 to Feb. 10, 2015 – four prisoners have died here at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility, a private prison California uses to relieve its prison overcrowding; it is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, CCA. These lives were lost due to indifference, unprofessionalism and lack of adequate training.

“Know Your Rights” – Art: Criss Garcia, J-93559, PBSP SHU C1-112, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

Amplify the voices these prisons try to silence: Fight censorship from California to Pennsylvania

February 24, 2015

Departments of corrections and state legislatures are putting into place chilling bans on free speech and expression by prisoners, formerly incarcerated persons, family members, friends, journalists, advocates and activists. Pack the courtroom for the hearing on Abu-Jamal v. Kane, challenging Prisoner Gag Law SB 508, on Thursday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m., in U.S. Courthouse, 228 Walnut St., Courtroom 2, Harrisburg, Penn.

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Dred Scott is buried about a mile down the same road from where Mike Brown was murdered.

The value of Black life in America, Part 1

February 17, 2015

The same mindset that allows a police officer to summarily execute an innocent, unarmed Black person in the street is the same mindset that allows an officer to plant evidence and lie on the witness stand. It allows a judge to appoint a knowingly incompetent defense attorney, and it allows a prosecutor to withhold evidence, use false evidence, to overcharge and to discriminate with impunity.

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South Carolina prisoner Islam Dunn's Facebook page since removed by AP, cropped

Hundreds of South Carolina prisoners sent to solitary confinement over Facebook

February 15, 2015

In the South Carolina prison system, accessing Facebook is an offense on par with murder, rape, rioting, escape and hostage-taking. Back in 2012, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) made “Creating and/or Assisting With a Social Networking Site” a Level 1 offense, a category reserved for the most violent violations of prison conduct policies. It’s one of the most common Level 1 offense charges brought against inmates.

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Judge approves expanding class action suit against solitary confinement to include prisoners transferred out of Pelican Bay

February 13, 2015

A federal judge tentatively granted a motion by the Center for Constitutional Rights to file a supplementary complaint to its class action on behalf of hundreds of prisoners in prolonged solitary confinement at California’s Pelican Bay prison. The supplementary complaint will cover prisoners recently transferred under the state’s Step Down Program from solitary confinement at Pelican Bay to solitary confinement at the state prison at Tehachapi.

“Stronger Together: Black Brown Unity in Prison” – Art: Jose Villarreal, H-84098, SHU C11-106, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

The Black Guerrilla Family and human freedom

February 11, 2015

Under the aegis of repressing a “gang” called the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), the administration carried on a witchhunt against the political thinking of many Black prisoners and punished them by solitary confinement. This article, the second in a series of three, looks at the notion of prison gang, its relation to the prisoner’s need for defense and how that affects us beyond the prison wall.

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Mission Statement of the Free Speech Society

February 2, 2015

The Free Speech Society is a movement that is dedicated towards protecting and defending the First Amendment rights of imprisoned activists. As imprisoned activists, we are embedded reporters for the people. We are the eyes and ears for the people – for the taxpayers – articulating the human atrocities that plague the prison industrial slave complex with impunity in your name.

The idea of learning about their own history and culture made George Jackson University so popular when it was first organized several years ago that 25,000 Black prisoners immediately signed up. But prison authorities moved immediately, too, not to support but to erase the concept and, at about the same time, the GJU records were destroyed by fire. Now GJU is being reorganized mainly as a source of literature. To learn more and get involved, write to Abdul Olugbala Shakur, s/n J. Harvey, C-48884, CSP Cor SHU 4B-1L-19, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212. – Art: Damu Katika Chimurenga, s/n Hayward L. Mayhan, P-60322, 4A-2L-6L, P.O. Box 8800, Corcoran CA 93212

Prisons, gangs, witchhunts and white supremacy

February 1, 2015

There is a trick that the California prison administration pulls on African Americans in prison. It is to charge them with gang activity if they refer to “George Jackson” or any of his writings or ideas or to the “Republic of New Afrika” or the politics of New Afrikans. Thousands of people, mostly Black and Brown, have been held in solitary confinement for years and even decades, because “gang activity” constitutes a “security threat to the prison,” according to the Administration.

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What would compel a man to try to cut his own face off?

January 30, 2015

“What sort of conditions could be so unbearable that they’d drive a person to suffer cutting through the skin, nerves, muscles and arteries of his own face, at the risk of permanent disfigurement, disability or even death?” Amerika inflicts such extreme torture on prisoners that they routinely commit such acts as could never be expected of a sane and stable mind. And this is the point: Solitary confinement drives people into insanity.

A protester sits in front of a street fire during a demonstration in Oakland following the grand jury decision not to indict the cop who murdered Michael Brown. – Photo: Stephen Lam, Reuters

If Black lives matter – A message to the youth from behind enemy lines

January 29, 2015

If Black lives matter, make it clear that your just outrage extends to and will not tolerate the “con game” being run on the public and California Legislature by the PISC, CDCR and PBSP, wherein men like Ricky Kaidi Matthews, Sondai Ellis and others continue to be held hostage in tortuous solitary confinement awaiting sham case-by-case reviews after having been lied to repeatedly by prison administrators.

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“The Agreement to End Hostilities” – Art: Michael D. Russell, C-90473, PBSP SHU D7-217, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

Prisoner Human Rights Movement: Agreement to End Hostilities has changed the face of race relations without any help from CDCr

January 28, 2015

I encourage all men and women prisoners to continue to press onward with our Agreement to End Hostilities through all corridors of state and county facilities. We are fighting for human justice. We call on all citizens to get involved with social change now. We shall not allow even Gov. Brown to destroy our faith in humanity. The Prisoner Human Rights Movement shall stand as ONE clenched fist in solidarity against CDCr oppression.

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After more than 400 years of Black history in this country, Black children must still remind the public of their humanity.

Pattern of practice: Centuries of racist oppression culminating in mass incarceration

January 26, 2015

After winning their freedom in the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history, Blacks were in many cases and places denied basic human, civil and political rights, literally forcing New Afrikans back into slavery by denying them a right to life. Over the years the government declared and waged war on the New Afrikan communities – war on unemployed “vagrants,’ war on crime, war on drugs, war on gangs – culminating in mass incarceration.

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

The way forward to end solitary confinement torture: Where’s the army?

January 25, 2015

I snapped to the fact that once we successfully exposed this torture program to the world, making the people aware, at least some of the responsibility shifts to the people to hold the lawmakers responsible. It’s unbelievable to me to see the numbers of people out there who are aware of the continued torture we are subjected to, and yet they’ve failed to take any action to hold those responsible accountable.

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After a roof caved in a year ago in another part of the prison, more beds were moved into this already overcrowded dorm.

The voice of a slave who is not afraid to speak out against Alabama’s wickedness and corruption

January 21, 2015

When I arrived at Childersburg Community Work Center on Oct. 25, 2013, I did so with one of the worst cases of ringworm any of the medical staff here or at St. Clair had ever seen. How that came to be I will explain later. It didn’t take long for me to see that I was at a very nasty and unconstitutional facility, and on Nov. 19, 2013, I filed a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice and the State Fire Marshall.

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Humanity indicted for our silence in the face of torture

January 12, 2015

As imprisoned activists we’ve often asked society: What have your eyes seen to wish to see no more? And what have your ears heard to wish to hear no more? Your self-imposed silence has only fueled the government’s thirst for fascist repression, and this repression has manifested on every level of society, causing humanity to hemorrhage, while debris from this hemorrhaging stains the dissipating remnants of a deteriorating society.

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Phil Africa

Phil Africa of MOVE dies under suspicious circumstances in Pennsylvania prison

January 12, 2015

On Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, Phil Africa, revolutionary, John Africa’s first minister of defense and beloved brother, husband and father, passed away under suspicious circumstances at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, Penn. Phil will never be forgotten and this is not the end. He is dearly missed, but his strong example should inspire everyone to fight harder for the freedom of the MOVE 9 and all political prisoners.

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