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Prison Stories

Two legends of the California Prison Movement, Khatari Gaulden and Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, sit in the sunshine in the San Quentin yard in 1976. – Photo courtesy Kiilu Nyasha

My brotha Yogi – two comrades with long memories

April 30, 2016

I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from my brotha Yogi and the honor of having him call me his “mwenzi” (Swahili for “comrade”). They hated my brotha Yogi because they were unable to break him after years of trying. What I know and hold to be true continues to afford all people a better way of improving their way of life and also our day for justice!

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CHOOSE1 Three Strikes Reform Act needs 365,880 signatures by June 1: Volunteer today!

April 29, 2016

For more than two decades, California’s Three Strikes Law has been criticized for being unfair, excessively punitive and in many ways strikingly irrational. There have been several measures implemented by Californians to fix this law, but it still remains unfair and excessive. Now, California voters have a chance to bring fairness to criminal justice policy along with making some common sense investments towards our future with The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016.

Organizing to End Prison Slavery in Texas at the Coffield Unit are David “Chino” Martinez, far left, Keith “Malik” Washington in front and other comrades.

Exposing toxic work conditions inside Texas Prisons

April 28, 2016

Environmental injustices are forced upon people of color and disadvantaged minorities. This is a fact and not a subjective feeling or statement. Prison officials and ACA inspectors attempt to cover up and downplay the fact that numerous Texas prisons have contaminated water supplies and Texas Correctional Industries employees force pri­soners to work in toxic environments. Does anyone think the U.S. government will intercede on our behalf?

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In addition to all his other accomplishments, Luis Rodriguez was also an extraordinary artist. This is a self-portrait.

Political prisoner Luis V. Rodriguez: Aztlan warrior passes to the spirit world

April 27, 2016

Luis Valenzuela Rodriguez left this mortal world on Thursday April 14, 2016, at 7:28 p.m., surrounded by his family and friends. He was 60 years old. Songs and prayers were offered to honor him from the four directions. Luis was innocent. He fought with determination to prove his innocence for 37 years. Lies were told about him; in the media, in the courtroom. Many let him down and betrayed him, but many more loved him and stood by him.

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

Tipping point in Texas prison strikes? The history of slavery is at stake

April 16, 2016

Since April 4, prisoners in at least four Texas prisons have been on strike for better conditions and an end to slavery and human rights abuses. This strike is but the latest in a nationwide mass movement inside prisons for dignity and freedom. “Go outside the nearest prison and make enough noise that those inside know the free world is with them. The history of slavery in the United States is at stake,” says Brianna Peril of IWOC.

Full restraints, handcuffed hands, waist chain, chain to shackled feet

Urgent: Call to support tortured hunger-striking prisoners in Louisiana

April 15, 2016

At David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana, at David Wade Correctional Center, several prisoners began a hunger strike on April 9. They are in full restraints, shackles and handcuffs attached to a waist chain, for days at a time, dressed only in a paper gown. Just now, they sprayed a prisoner while he was on his knees and struck him several times. They also sprayed and beat another prisoner who is mentally ill and has been on strip cell for over a year. He has also been on food loaf for a long time. Please call – just a phone call will spook them.

Mutulu Is Welcome Here graphic

Stiff resistance is a human right! Malcolm X Grassroots Movement statement on Dr. Mutulu Shakur

April 14, 2016

On April 7, 2016, the U.S. Federal Parole Board continued its blatant violation of the human rights of Dr. Mutulu Shakur by refusing to release him from federal captivity after 30 years of time served, even though he is up for “mandatory parole release” based on the guidelines under which he was sentenced. We must stand and defend our political prisoners and POWs and declare them to the world without submitting to the state’s intimidation!

'Abolish all prisons, Rikers, Attica, Marion, Pelican Bay, Guantanamo' graphic

Abolish ALL prisons, private and public

April 11, 2016

As momentum continues to grow against the colossal U.S. imprisonment system, the need for strategic targets is crucial, yet we are seeing an overbearing focus on private prisons. We are in a moment when reforms that appear to be “progressive” can actually entrench the violence of policing, imprisonment and surveillance even further.

Prisoners are “driven” to the fields by a guard on horseback in a scene reminiscent of plantation slavery on a Texas plantation-turned-prison known as the Ellis Unit, the photo taken in 1978. – Photo courtesy of the Marshall Project

Prisoners in multiple states call for strikes to protest forced labor

April 8, 2016

Prison inmates around the country have called for a series of strikes against forced labor, demanding reforms of parole systems and prison policies, as well as more humane living conditions, a reduced use of solitary confinement and better health care. The strike’s organizers remain anonymous but have circulated fliers listing a series of grievances and demands and a letter articulating the reasons for the strike.

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Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa – Photo: Michael Richardson

Mondo mourned

April 4, 2016

He was born David Rice and, in his youth, he joined an offshoot of the Black Panther Party, a decision that would change his life’s trajectory. For, when he and another young man, Edward Poindexter, joined the National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF), they walked into the crosshairs of the state. Political prisoner Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa died March 11 at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary.

Hugo Pinell, who survived over 45 years of solitary confinement torture, was not allowed a contact visit with his daughter, Allegra, until days before his assassination. This photo was taken Aug. 2, 2015. He was murdered on Aug. 12.

Our hero has not been forgotten

April 3, 2016

Many times conscious prisoners become lost in their own image and forget the representation of the people as a whole. Our loss came with the death of Hugo Pinell. His introduction is not needed. He helped bring life to a generation that had not – and some still to this day still have not – forgotten the bigger picture. As conscious prisoners and political prisoners behind enemy lines, we as a community cannot forget to reach out to his daughter.

“Parole Board: Two jobs” – Art: Marcus Bedford Jr., K-00220, DVI J-325L, P.O. Box 600, Tracy CA 95378

Gov. Brown’s parole initiative could free 30-40,000

April 2, 2016

The California State Supreme Court has re-affirmed its decision allowing Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed initiative for changing California’s parole system to begin gathering signatures for the November ballot. The March 9 decision was the second time the court kept Brown’s crime initiative alive by rejecting a request by state prosecutors to halt signature-gathering for the measure.

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Women in a Gatesville, Texas, prison shake hands with volunteers from Operation Starting Line who held an Easter Outreach event there April 10-11, 2004. Editor’s note: We also need photos of life in Texas’ women’s prisons. This is the only one I could find. A few stories and photos report on county jails in Texas, which we know are bad after what happened to Sandra Bland. The prisons must be worse.

The movement inside Texas prisons will not be complete until the sisters join

April 1, 2016

I spend countless hours reading and scanning alternative newspapers, journals and magazines that provide a platform for prisoners who write. I don’t see many revolutionary essays or articles being written by female Texas prisoners. I know you all can’t be content with the conditions you are being housed under, and I know for a fact you are not being given the dignity and respect you deserve. So I must ask: “Why aren’t we hearing from you?”

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'The Republic of New Afrika' graphic

NALC Rally Call

March 31, 2016

New Afrikan Liberation Collective is a revolutionary political organization aimed at winning the consciousness of the people. Our objective is to agitate, educate and organize our people around the necessity to fight and overthrow the oppressive forces and establishment that continue to work against us and hold us down – the oppressive forces being white supremacy and the establishment being the power structure, based on the economic infrastructure.

Red Onion State Prison in rural Virginia sits in the barren crater of a formerly lush green mountain whose top was blown off to remove the coal that used to be mined the old-fashioned way. Built in 1998, it’s the new economic development model for Appalachia: mountaintop removal covered by prisons and Wal-Marts, now the only job options for out-of-work miners and their families.

Petition on abuse in Virginia prisons

March 31, 2016

We are demanding that our rights be respected, protected and adhered to. These demands are not abstract or hyperbolized, nor are they privileges disguised as rights. Privileges are earned, and rights are guaranteed via law, policies and/or the Constitution. In every section of this petition, I have cited law, policy and the U.S. Constitution that governs what prisoners are guaranteed.

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With great joy, Yuri Kochiyama and Malcolm Shabazz finally meet in 2010 after Malcolm was released from prison and traveled to Oakland to meet some of his strongest supporters throughout his years behind enemy lines. During that time, Malcolm, grandson of Malcolm X, and DeAndre Williams, grandson of Dr. Chancellor Williams, became close friends. And both of them corresponded with Yuri, who devoted herself to encouraging political prisoners after she had worked with Malcolm X in Harlem and was the person who cradled his head in her lap when he was assassinated while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom. – Photo: JR Valrey, Block Report

I shed a tear

March 30, 2016

Old friends passing … I shed a tear … Remembering … Their smiling and laughing … Educating me … And making me feel loved … I shed a tear … ‘Cause now … I feel as if I’m all alone … I shed a tear … DeAndre Williams went to trial in 1997 as a result of a six-count indictment. He was acquitted on all six counts. Normally, any defendant acquitted on every count of an indictment would walk out of the courtroom a free man. Not Williams. He was sentenced to 25 to life and remains in prison in New York.

Overwhelming joy radiates from Sekou Odinga and his wife, Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, as he is welcomed home in Harlem the day after his release on Nov. 25, 2014, from 33 years in prison for his role in a Brinks armored car robbery, trying to kill six police officers in a shootout in Queens and springing Assata Shakur from prison. A leading member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, his release has sparked hope across the prison world.

Pride of consciousness

March 29, 2016

Although we remain conscious of past events described, … Justice postponed even a second is still justice denied. … Like the rivers of the Nile, Black blood is constantly flowing … And it pains me greatly to realize how many of us are still not knowing. … It is also beautiful to witness my hero Sekou Odinga finally free … After 33 years in the belly of such an insatiable beast. … To see him finally liberated physically brings hope to me.

A young Hugo “Yogi” Pinell – he too spent time in juvenile detention before he went to prison.

Young prisoner speaks on Yogi’s assassination and bridging the generation gap

March 28, 2016

It just gets my blood boiling what the Klansmen did to brother Hugo. I don’t expect anything different from them. When they see they can’t break you, they kill you. From George Jackson to Stanley Tookie Williams and now Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell, whenever you’re not asleep, whenever you’re awake and aware to who these people are and what they are out to do and doing, then you’ve got to go.

A guard humiliates juvenile prisoners.

Pennsylvania’s torture chamber for juveniles

March 27, 2016

I am a 19-year-old Black male from Pittsburg, Penn. This is my first time being in a state prison. I was shot by a white male police officer in the leg and hip. I was falsely accused of a crime when I was minding my own business. I’ve been in prison a few months now for a two-year term. I was sent to the only jail in the state that specifically holds juveniles, called SCI Pine Grove. SCI Pine Grove is where they brainwash and dehumanize mainly Black children.

Prison slavery field lieutenant with prisoners picking cotton Cummins Prison Farm, Texas 1975 cy Marshall Project, cropped

Prisoners file federal lawsuit to end prison slavery in Texas

March 26, 2016

On March 7, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love issued an order in the federal civil lawsuit brought by 89 prisoners housed at the Coffield Unit located in Tennessee Colony, Texas. The lawsuit challenges the fraudulent good time and work time credit scheme the state uses to defraud prisoners of their “work product” and exploit them in order to enrich the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, as well as their slave industries known as TCI, or Texas Correctional Industries.

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