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Prison Stories

Open letter to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano from prisoners in solitary confinement in Corcoran State Prison

May 23, 2014

We write out of concern for the manner in which certain aspects of CDCR’s Step-Down Program (SDP) are being implemented, specifically, self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy. Because the aim of these components is to change and restructure the subject’s thought processes, it is a mental health issue, which requires the involvement of mental health professionals in its implementation and oversight.

Open letter to Sen. Loni Hancock from prisoners in solitary confinement in Corcoran State Prison

May 23, 2014

We write out of concern for the manner in which certain aspects of the step-down program (SDP) are being implemented by the CDCR, specifically, self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy. Because these components have to do with changing and restructuring the thought processes of people, they involve mental health issues and require the involvement of mental health professionals in their implementation and oversight.

The Pennsylvania Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is collecting photos and statements like this in their effort to abolish sentences of life without parole for youth. Tweet yours to @PACFSY or email pacfsy@gmail.com for posting on their Facebook page.

Child sentenced to 227 years – is it justice?

May 17, 2014

A child who kills vs. a child who was present but did not kill – what sentence does he deserve? A child of color vs. a Caucasian child – does the system treat them the same? How about the youthful offender vs. the adult offender? Personally, it has been my experience with the law that child killers and children who committed assaults are more likely than adults to be treated to the most cruel punishments.

You can’t blame a homesick, underfed prisoner from wanting a few creature comforts once in a while. But through their commissary purchases, prisoners are estimated to contribute $3 billion annually toward their own incarceration. – Photo: Carolina Hidalgo, Tampa Bay Times

We are allowing our money to be used as a weapon of war against us

May 17, 2014

In solidarity I offer this suggestion: Reduce your contribution to your imprisonment. Instead, contribute to your child’s development. Advantages: The prison system has less funding, the companies that lobby for prisons lose money and you remain healthy to fight! Federal prisoners spend $300 million a year in commissary. It is estimated that prisoners contribute $3 billion annually toward their own incarceration.

Guantanamo Global Day of Action 052314 poster

Judge orders US government to halt force-feeding of Guantánamo prisoner and preserve video evidence of abuse

May 16, 2014

District Court Judge Gladys Kessler has for the first time ordered the U.S. government to suspend force-feeding of a hunger-striking prisoner in Guantánamo Bay. The same order requires the Obama administration to halt ‘forcible cell extractions’ of a prisoner, in which a team of guards in riot gear storms a prisoner’s cell to move him by force to feedings if he refuses to go.

Activists mobilize against California’s proposed $500 million jail expansion

May 15, 2014

After the revised proposed state budget was released yesterday, activists from around the state are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to remove the $500 million outlined for jail expansion. With $15 billion in cuts to social safety net programs, prison reform groups like Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) are questioning why the state is increasing spending on prisons and jails instead of social programs and public education.

Review Board suggests Pelican Bay prisoner stop political writing for favorable placement

May 13, 2014

I was validated on the mere basis of my New Afrikan revolutionary beliefs and political activities, expediently defined and treated as “gang activity.” I was literally told that my political writings were in the hands of others and would I consider not writing such because of their “concerns.” Naturally I refused to conform to their illegal requests, but a clear message was delivered to me: CDCR prefers that prisoners not evolve politically but to remain gang oriented inmates.

The Fifth Circuit stays tonight’s scheduled execution of Robert Campbell

May 13, 2014

Today the Fifth Circuit has ruled that Texas may not proceed with the scheduled execution of Robert Campbell, a man whose lifelong mental retardation was not proven until new evidence, long hidden by prosecutors and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, very recently came to light. According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, he is ineligible for the death penalty.

SB 892 and AB 1652: Pelican Bay prisoner representatives speak to the California Assembly and Senate

May 9, 2014

We are writing to offer our position on the two bills pending before the Assembly and the Senate – SB 892 and AB 1652 – dealing with the solitary confinement and gang validation policies of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The narrower and more focused (and less costly) AB 1652 would far better serve the public safety, prison security and the humane treatment of prisoners.

Antonio Guillen: May Day message to the working class people of the world from Pelican Bay SHU

May 8, 2014

I am one of the hunger strike representatives from Pelican Bay State Prison. I along with my family are also part of the working class people of America. As a young boy, I’d watch my parents in their daily struggles. Even now, while I’m in prison, my wife and children are part of the daily grind that is the work force!

New proposed censorship rules mean more torture for California prisoners in solitary confinement

May 7, 2014

Our torture would be magnified under these new proposed rules that Stainer and his cronies are introducing by attempting to silence prisoners and publishers whose voices have been prominent in waging struggle against our perpetual suffering. CDCr wants to stifle our truths and disconnect us from society at large. Prisoners would no longer be able to write to the media outlets that allow us to speak to our suffering.

Shining a light on the historic moment: Reflections on prison isolation and the struggle for change

May 6, 2014

On July 8, 2013, 30,000 prisoners of the California prison system – and hundreds more across the United States – refused meals to take a stand about the conditions of prisoners in the various forms of solitary isolation – approximately 14,000 human beings in California alone. It was the third hunger strike in California in two years. Dozens of prisoners deprived themselves of solid food for 60 days. One prisoner died.

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Prisoners and advocacy groups oppose Sen. Loni Hancock’s prison reform bill, SB 892

May 4, 2014

California prisoners, who suspended their 2013 hunger strike, the largest such strike in history, after two legislative leaders promised bills addressing the strikers’ demands, are now opposing one of those bills. Sen. Loni Hancock’s Senate Bill 892 would give prison regulations on “gang validation” and the new step-down program the force of law. And it would leave California with the largest population of prisoners in solitary confinement of any country in the world or state in the United States at enormous cost to the taxpayers.

Warren Jordan refuses to ‘step down’ after 41 years in solitary

May 4, 2014

No functional changes have transpired in this prison. If anything, it has become worse. I will not support nor participate in any sort of so-called Step Down Program for any reason. After 41 straight years in the “hole” – i.e., SHU – I have nothing to step down from. Either release me to any mainline with no strings attached or the heck with it. I’ll merely die in the hole.

Dante Overby, web cropped

O-beast-ity

May 3, 2014

Seeing news reports on America being the fattest country in the world, and the First Lady’s program to fight childhood obesity, leads me to wonder why there is no governmental urgency to address the other obesity-like epidemic affecting America, the one stemming from mass incarceration. America represents only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet our penal system has locked up 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. That’s a HEAVY burden on taxpayers!

Marissa Alexander’s two older children visit her in prison.

Standing our ground: reproductive justice for Marissa Alexander

May 2, 2014

Marissa Alexander did not get a chance to see her youngest daughter take her first step, to hear her say her first word or blow out the candles on her first birthday cake. These and many more memories that mothers are excited to photograph or catch on film weren’t possible for Alexander because she was living behind bars – all because she fired a warning shot in the air, harming no one, to ward off Rico Gray.

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Pelican Bay update: What change?

May 1, 2014

Our Five Core Demands of the hunger strikes have not been met. And we see that reform always equals revisionism, which means it’s no change. The food has literally gotten worse, although for a month they attempted to adequately feed us. The medical care continues to be inadequate. The educational programs and privileges are not afforded, and prisoners are still made to suffer in these inhumane conditions, now familiar to us for years on end.

Marie Levin NLG Testimonial Dinner 040514 by Carlos Villarreal

Lawyers Guild honors prison hunger strikers

April 30, 2014

On the evening of April 5, hundreds gathered in downtown Oakland for the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter’s (NLGSF) annual fundraising dinner. This year, the NLGSF honored California prison hunger strikers and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition of family members, activists and friends who supported the strikers. The assembled crowd was able to hear directly from those inside California prisons.

Send us your drawings of degrading places

April 28, 2014

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) will be holding an exhibition at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design this October-November on the design of execution chambers and spaces of solitary confinement. It will have an online presence and may travel to other venues as we develop the project, so stayed tuned.
But first, to succeed, we need drawings!

I am the US economy – from prison to the streets

April 26, 2014

This is for the moms and pops in East Oakland or any other urban neighborhood in honor of the African union of Marcus Books, from a prisoner political action committee to being a member of the formerly incarcerated people’s policy academy or the freedom plan of United KAGE Brothers (UKB), from the urban freedom schools focused on real life Block Reportin’ of “Unfinished Business.” This is for my brothers of the NCTT Cor SHU and all supporters of our hunger strike coalition.

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