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Prison Stories

A village cannot be built in a jail: Why gender responsive is not gender justice

October 30, 2014

The issue of “gender responsiveness” as an excuse to open more prisons has been rearing its ugly head lately with the expansion of CDCR’s supposed “reentry hubs” and “community based facilities.” Yet one woman in the new Female Community Reentry Facility in McFarland recently called Justice Now, saying she feels like “they were sold a dream”; and others report of similar, if not worse, conditions than they faced in CIW or CCWF.

Stop prison censorship! Submit comments by Nov. 10 on revised regulations misleadingly titled ‘Obscene Materials’

October 29, 2014

The proposed censorship regulations that we collectively and vehemently opposed a few months ago have been revised, as of Oct. 20. The deadline for public comments is Nov. 10 – short notice. To the extent that the revisions incorporate language from the newly approved STG regulations that went into effect on Oct. 17, 2014, they need to be robustly resisted. Please submit your comments regarding the revisions as soon as possible! A sample letter is included.

When it comes to solitary confinement, U.S. fails the mice standard

October 27, 2014

Federal agency guideline on the use of solitary confinement: An individual should never be locked in solitary confinement, except as an absolute last resort. Individuals, when in isolated confinement, must have the ability to socialize, to communicate and to physically interact with other individuals. This would be great news for those of us working on solitary reform, except for one thing: this guideline doesn’t apply to humans; it applies to mice.

This well worn photo shows Christy as a teenager.

Woman prisoner reveals torture of children by police and juvenile authorities

October 25, 2014

I am writing to you to report the abuse inflicted on juveniles in the juvenile detention centers in San Bernardino, California. The abuse is inflicted by law enforcement officers or police officers in San Bernardino. I was one of these juvenile detainees who experienced abuse at the hands of the police officers and juvenile hall correctional officers while detained at the Rialto police department and later the San Bernardino juvenile hall.

Michael Brown rebellion Black youth confronts police

On racism, resistance and state violence: a discussion on the politics of greed and hate

October 25, 2014

Greetings, Brothers and Sisters. The events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri, present us with yet another opportunity to address the inhumanity of racism. But the country will again not take advantage of it because we will continue to treat this act of inhumanity as though it is an isolated incident and not an act that flows from the very structure of this nation.

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At Tehachapi, release from SHU means more solitary confinement

October 24, 2014

Thanks for keeping the public informed of the rough, horrendous conditions those of us who’re serving time face in California’s prisons known as the SHU. I felt it was necessary that I bring forth the atrocious and severe conditions us inmates face at CCI SHU in Tehachapi. It’s not so much the time we’ve served while doing our SHU term; it’s the pathetic process we’re enduring while awaiting transfer back into the general population.

The truth and lies that targeted and convicted Sahara Fakhir, an Islamic activist

October 19, 2014

Sahara Fakhir is 33 years old. Prior to her incarceration, she was productive in the community, a member of Custodians of Faith, feeding the homeless. She is loved by family, friends and the homeless. She is a free-hearted, free spirited, loving individual. Even though she is physically restricted due to knees that render her immobile, she is always willing to sacrifice her own needs for the benefit of others.

With at least 20 prisoners on each tier, Alcatraz represented the dawning of a new theoretical concept, which was mass solitary confinement isolation. – Photo: © 2006 Betty Malloy

What is solitary confinement?

October 18, 2014

At first glance the question, What is solitary confinement? appears to be rhetorical, if not insulting, but you would be surprised, if not incredulous, how many prison rights activists are at a loss when I pose it to them. Even more perplexing, many prisoners are only able to provide the standard but antiquated response, which is: a prisoner in a cell behind a solid door, in which he/she is isolated from other prisoners and human contact.

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

Solidarity had the might to move the mountain of prison torture that kept us isolated and voiceless – we still need you now, even more

October 11, 2014

CDCR deliberately lied about their implementation of the Security Threat Group Step Down Program sanctioned by Gov. Jerry Brown. Gov. Brown and CDCr administrators are currently violating our United States constitutional rights, the California Code of Regulations and other rules, laws, policies and standards with the intent of breaking down and destroying men and women prisoners, family bonds and moral ethics here in California.

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The Agreement to End Hostilities must be re-implemented in all California prison and jail facilities

October 9, 2014

It has been two years since our Agreement to End Hostilities was released in October 2012, and we continue to stand united. While there have been a few conflicts here and there, we need to commit to ceasing all racial hostilities towards one another and remain peacefully united throughout all prison facilities. By re-reading and re-committing ourselves to the Agreement to End Hostilities, we are taking back control of our own lives and our own futures.

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Tehachapi SHU is the worst of any SHU, prison or jail I have seen in 23 years

October 8, 2014

On Aug. 28, 2014, I spoke with the Corcoran State Prison Step Down Program (SDP) facilitator who confirmed I was on the list to be transferred to Tehachapi (California Correctional Institution, or CCI) and that I would be stepped up a step – from Step 2 to Step 3 of the SDP. On Sept. 16, 2014, I was advanced up a step, to Step 3, so that’s all good. But the big lie is that there is a functional Step 3 and 4 program at this prison.

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

After many long years in solitary confinement, I’m just asking

October 4, 2014

How can we the people of this nation and world end the suffering of countless men and women held inside man-made, manufactured torture chambers called solitary confinement? Can we call on the humanity of this nation and world to lend their voice, their time, their strength and heart, their money toward ending torture in Amerika? I’m just asking.

Mutawally Joka Kambon-Cooperwood 100512, 1st pic in 20 yrs,, cropped, web

California transfers Pelican Bay SHU prisoners to general population despite calling them too dangerous during the hunger strikes

October 3, 2014

It has been a few months since my release from 20 years of solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison (SHU) to Step 5 of the Step Down Program (SDP). I thought I should pen this communique with an update on my travels from one place to another – the new location, experience, encounters and situations – as everything has unfolded.

Families of prisoners came from Southern California to join families and supporters in Northern California at the Mosswood Park Amphitheater in Oakland on Sept. 6 to celebrate the first anniversary of the suspension of the largest hunger strike in prison history. Here at the Bay View, we recall our relief not to have to report deaths from starvation or the torture of force feeding on top of the daily grind of the torture that is solitary confinement. We are also mindful that our work is not over until all are free! – Photo: Lucas Guilkey

California prisoner representatives: All people have the right to humane treatment with dignity

October 2, 2014

We are the prisoner class representatives of what’s become known as the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement. Last month we marked the first anniversary of the end of our historic 60-day Hunger Strike. Oct. 10 we mark the two-year anniversary of the Agreement to End Hostilities. This is an update on where things stand with our struggle to achieve major reforms beneficial to prisoners, outside loved ones and society in general.

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Robert C. Fuentes, Nov. 23, 1958-Sept. 19, 2014

Robert C. Fuentes, ‘poet, jailhouse lawyer and humanitarian in the hunger strikes,’ dies of CDCr medical neglect

October 1, 2014

Robert Fuentes was an award-winning poet and essayist. PEN America awarded him the Dawson Prize in fiction in the 2010 Prison Writing Contest for a piece titled “Lessons,” which begins: “Well, I originally contemplated about trying to sugarcoat what I had to say; but in the end, I arrived to the conclusion that it was best to not mince words and to just say things as they are … prison life is fucked up.”

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This friendly looking pair began “welcoming” visitors to Deuel Vocational Institution, a California state prison in Tracy, last October. Molly is DVI’s first drug sniffing dog, and correctional officer Robert Willcox is her handler.

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law blasts proposed prison visitor strip search policy as unconstitutional

September 30, 2014

The Department has not demonstrated that its current efforts at prevention and detention of contraband would be seriously hampered if the use of canines (sniffer dogs), scanners and strip searches were not to be implemented. It has not even demonstrated that there is an immediate need or extraordinary circumstance warranting these extreme measures.

Corcoran SHU prisoners start hunger strike for decent healthcare; support needed now

September 28, 2014

On Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, three men locked inside unit 4B-1L of the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) of California State Prison-Corcoran started a hunger strike: Heshima Denham (J-38283), followed on Sept. 27 by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough (D-83611), and Kambui Robinson (C-82830) will join them the following day for a few days or as long as he can considering his poor health.

Former delivery boy, now poet, helps Bay View spread love and hope

September 28, 2014

As I sit in Glen Dyer Facility (North Alameda County) fighting federal weapons charges, I find comfort and inspiration from the pages of the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper. As a kid raised in Hunters Point, I can remember passing out bundles of these same newspapers. I can remember the stern look Mr. Willie Ratcliff would give my friends and me before telling us to make sure we deliver all of our papers.

Amy Buckley in Mississippi prison: I will not give up until I receive the medical care I deserve

September 26, 2014

Despite being prisoners of the state of Mississippi, we have the right to receive prompt medical treatment, clean clothes to wear, a clean and safe living environment and access to our families. The Mississippi Department of Corrections may not care about my health, but my health is important to me and my family. When I came into this system I was healthy and I plan to leave healthy! I will not give up until I receive the medical care I deserve.

Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB 1135, Prison Anti-Sterilization Bill

September 26, 2014

On Sept. 25, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1135, the prison anti-sterilization bill authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and bi-partisan co-authors and sponsored by legal and human rights organization Justice Now. The bill proceeded to the governor’s desk after passing with unanimous floor votes out of both the Senate and Assembly, with support from organizations like ACLU Northern California and Black Women for Wellness.

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