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Prison Stories

SHU-shifting update: Relief finally granted to California prisoners experiencing ongoing isolation

July 21, 2018

On July 3, a critical ruling issued in Ashker v. Brown (aka Ashker v. Governor, Docket No. 4:09-cv-09-5796 CW (N.D. Cal.)), the federal class-action lawsuit challenging indefinite solitary confinement in California. The ruling, issued by Presiding Judge Claudia Wilken, granted Plaintiffs’ appeal on a motion challenging the ongoing conditions of extreme isolation endured by many class members.

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The new Prison Movement: The continuing struggle to abolish slavery in Amerika (2018)

July 17, 2018

Across Amerika, home of the world’s largest prison population, growing numbers of the imprisoned are coming to realize that they are victims of social injustice. Foremost, they are victims of an inherently predatory and dysfunctional capitalist-imperialist system, which targets the poor and people of color for intensified policing, militaristic containment and selective criminal prosecutions, while denying them access to the basic resources, employment and institutional control needed for social and economic security.

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Three love letters to the Bay View from behind the walls

July 15, 2018

Editor’s note: It’s been a challenging year for the Bay View. With ad revenue falling and the cost of printing and mailing rising, we need a benefactor with the means not only to pay the production costs but to hire a new editor because your old editor, at 79, needs to share the load. And the new editor will need a staff. Lighting and inspiring our search for that help are the wonderful letters that prisoners write. Here are three that touched our souls.

National Prison Strike

July 14, 2018

This call is for a two-week national strike beginning on Aug. 21, the anniversary of George Jackson’s assassination, and extending until Sept. 9, the anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion in 1971. The call has been taken up inside from coast to coast, and across at least 17 different states. The author of this call, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, is a national collective of incarcerated people who fight for human rights by providing other incarcerated people with access to legal education, resources and assistance.

‘We knew where the power was’: Conversations with organizers of the North Carolina Prisoners’ Labor Union

July 14, 2018

As the snowbirds arrived in Florida along with the mild January breezes, a small uprising of laborers who work under lock and key stopped production and made demands. This coordinated struggle was carried out by members of one of the most violently exploited groups in America: incarcerated workers. Inmates at 17 Florida prisons launched the labor strike, calling themselves “Operation PUSH,” to demand higher wages and the reintroduction of parole incentives for specific groups of inmates.

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Shakaboona resentenced: Freedom is near

July 13, 2018

On May 17, 2018, Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, a renowned incarcerated human rights activist and juvenile life-without-parole prisoner, was re-sentenced to a prison term of 29 years to life – “time served” – for a murder he committed in 1988 when he was 17 years old. As a prelude to Shakaboona’s re-sentencing hearing, an interactive exhibit and assembly titled “People Change, People Change the World” was held on March 24 at the Mosaic Community Church in West Philly.

Tribute to Khatari Gaulden

July 13, 2018

Hugo L.A. Pinell Legacy: It was important to my Dad to always give honor where honor was due. This tribute to an honorable ancestor is offered in that spirit. They are together again, Khatari and Hugo, now ancestors looking over us. Many nights I sit and wonder what the elders would tell us today. Dad told me stories of Khatari; he loved him like a brother. Dad shared how Khatari’s leadership in the prison resistance movement was a vital vein after the assassination of George Jackson.

Shout-out from Malik in Texas to Kwame in Indiana: Support Prison Lives Matter rally July 18

July 8, 2018

All of my life, I have wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. We have been taught to want for my brother what I want for myself. In this moment in history, I want freedom for ALL political and politicized prisoners. Kwame Shakur is the co-founder and chairman of the New Afrikan Liberation Collective, and he has begun a Prison Lives Matter movement which is holding a remarkable event in Indiana on July 18, 2018. The theme will be “Prison Lives Matter: In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela.”

A cry for help, a call to action: Rally at IDOC, Indianapolis, July 18

July 7, 2018

On July 18, International Nelson Mandela Day, the New Afrikan Liberation Collective in partnership with IDOC Watch will be holding a panel on political prisoners followed by a demonstration outside the IDOC headquarters to call attention to the ongoing abuse in Indiana prisons. We call on all comrades and any fellow human beings with any compassion in their hearts, to join our families and loved ones as they support and fight for us at the “Prison Lives Matter: In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela” demonstration.

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Nothing new: Prison violence brings higher pay, job security

July 7, 2018

Prison officials have total control over all prisoners held in CDCR and this affords them the power to impose their will upon prisoners as they try to see fit. So, citizens of this country, in prison and out, should not be surprised to see that CDCR is managing prisoners with violence in order to secure their best interest: higher pay and job security. Peaceful prisons go against the CDCR agenda and, therefore, violence has to be the agency’s trademark.

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They loathed Hugo, oppose PEACE

July 6, 2018

Recently us United Kings Against Genocidal Environments (KAGE) refused to settle and dismiss our 42 U.S.C. §1983 suit for the infringement of our First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as violations of our Religious Land Use Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA) rights. Pelikkkan Bay State Prison officials have failed or refused to eradicate the implicit racial bias imposed upon New Afrikans, or Blacks – those of us who petitioned and structured the PEACE programs with an ancient Egyptian yoga focal point.

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Criminal is the new nigger

July 5, 2018

There is a branding within our communities that is honored, praised and promoted – a branding that has been adopted out of ignorance and is more dehumanizing than the word nigger. Yet, this branding has been promoted and ingrained into the psyche of many within our communities to the point that it has been accepted and even worn as a badge of honor, not unlike the derogatory “nigger” terminology. The branding I’m referring to is the mark of a beast, a killer, a robber, a drug dealer or, simply, a criminal.

Together to End Solitary: ‘Cruel and Unusual, the Story of the Angola 3’

July 4, 2018

On April 22, 2018, over 200 people attended the UCSC opening of the Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival (RWLFF)’s 17th season, with the event theme “Together to End Solitary.” RWLFF’s motto, “We are stronger together,” is particularly poignant when coming together to end the extreme isolation of the state-sanctioned torture of solitary confinement. The film, “Cruel and Unusual, the Story of the Angola 3,” details the Angola 3’s decades-long struggle for justice and to build an international movement to end solitary confinement.

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Veronza, don’t die in prison!

July 3, 2018

His name is Veronza Bowers Jr., a former member and captain of the original Black Panther Party. After more than 44 years in prison, 14 years beyond his mandatory release date, Veronza has faith that with his Freedom Team of top lawyers and the love of multitudes of supporters around the world, he will win his freedom soon. Political prisoners are kept in prison when the “law enforcers” they opposed decades ago carry grudges they pass down the generations, vowing those prisoners will die in prison. But the words of little Pharoah Dawson, who wrote, “Veronza, don’t die in prison!” are more powerful.

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Back to Red Onion State Prison: Rashid’s return to the original scene of criminal abuse

July 2, 2018

After six years of being bounced from state to state, having been exiled from the Virginia prison system for my political views and years of publicizing and resisting the brutal and racist abuses in its prisons, on June 12, 2018, I was returned to Red Onion State Prison (ROSP) in remote Wise County, Va. Even before I began publicizing these conditions, organizations like Human Rights Watch were reporting on them, bringing almost instant notoriety to ROSP after it opened in 1998.

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The unofficial gag order of Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown): 16 years in prison, still not allowed to speak

June 30, 2018

At the modern intersection of Islamophobia and the Black Lives Matter movement resides Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), the now forgotten civil rights activist and revolutionary leader who, 16 years ago this year, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Fulton County, Ga., Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Leon Kinchen and the wounding of his partner, then-Sheriff’s Deputy Aldranon English, during a March 2000 gunfight.

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Kinetik speaks: ‘In segregation or on the yard, the message is the same – SLAVERY MUST END’

June 25, 2018

In conjunction with our formal introduction of Free Alabama Movement to the world, I spoke of “a flicker becoming a flame.” And, the threat of that flame blazing into a wildfire for change. To be in balance with the Universal Order, myself and hundreds of men confined within the Alabama DOC decided to become the change we wanted to see. From ‘14 throughout ‘15 and ‘16 we worked, tirelessly, fanning that flicker – networking, mobilizing, organizing and educating – into a flame.

MOVE member Debbie Africa released

June 18, 2018

In the early morning of June 16, after nearly 40 years of unjust imprisonment by the state of Pennsylvania, political prisoner and MOVE 9 member Debbie Sims Africa was granted parole and released from the State Correctional Institution-Cambridge Springs. Messaging on Instagram, the MOVE Organization wrote: “Our sister Debbie Africa is FREE! What a beautiful day to find freedom! Let’s keep fighting for our bros and sisters still behind bars — Mike [Sr.], Eddie, Chuck, Janet, Janine and Delbert! The struggle is underway!” This important victory comes exactly two years after Debbie, Janet and Janine Africa were last denied parole in 2016.

Alabama’s mistreatment of prisoners with mental illness has led to a dramatic increase in suicides

June 16, 2018

Since the beginning of 2018, four people in ADOC custody – three in solitary confinement and one on death row – have died by suicide. The suicide rate in Alabama prisons is one of the highest in the country. In June 2017, U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson declared the mental health system in Alabama prisons “horrendously inadequate,” an unconstitutional failure that led to what Thompson called a “skyrocketing suicide rate” among prisoners.

The rich go free and the poor get LWOP

June 3, 2018

I am speaking to how I personally feel about the disparity in justice for the rich and the poor, the people who have friends and family that are willing to fight and those who don’t and who are left with no voice. I have been all alone in my fight for freedom some 30 or so years. I have no family who speaks out, I was too young to have friends and the few that I do have now are ones that I have met since my incarceration.

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