June 23, 2017
The Central California Intelligence Center received a Suspicious Activity Report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2010. A guard reported that he conducted a search of two inmates’ cells. “Both inmates are Muslims who appear to have radical Islamic views. Both inmates have since been placed in our Administrative Segregation” (the hole). Anti-Muslim sentiments do not only exist in the outside world, they exist in prison, too.
May 30, 2017
I left CDCr wondering how PBSP could remain in shambles after 22 years of court oversight. As I started educating myself about prison reform, I stumbled upon Keramet Reiter’s 2016 book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.” Within those pages, I found validation and some disturbing answers. I wish this book had been available to me before I started working in CDCr.
May 28, 2017
“Administrative segregation” is prison bureaucratese for solitary confinement. On Thursday, prisoners in solitary at California’s Old Folsom State Prison went on hunger strike for their Eighth Amendment right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. I spoke to Raquel Estrada, wife of Anthony Estrada, a prisoner writing for the strikers in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, who elaborated on the conditions of her husband’s confinement.
April 29, 2017
My 67-year-old friend is not violent, but California would beg to differ. At his sentencing, the judge told him, “You are a Vietnam trained killer,” and then sentenced him to 68 years to life. His crime? One day my friend broke into an unoccupied house. After he was caught and tried, he was convicted of burglary and sentenced under California’s Three-Strikes law. We call him Cadillac. He was really excited by the passage of Proposition 57 last November.
March 26, 2017
The criminal justice system, as an instinct to protect itself and profit from its agenda, protects “criminality” as an inherent reaction and vision of poor people of color. Those who are the most victimized by crime are not those in positions to make and implement policy. Therefore, the image of crime has ethnic connotations that create class disparities that accept an “us against them” social policy which paints crime as a social activity of poor people of color, and punishment as a task of the privileged class to maintain order.
March 25, 2017
As always, allow us to begin by paying our respects to the families who lost their loved ones during the historic California hunger strikes. Prior to the solidarity hunger strikes, the four principal negotiators, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco and Todd Ashker, found ourselves locked inside Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor. There we would discuss the vision of effecting genuine change in CDCr’s long term solitary confinement combined policies, practices and conditions.
January 25, 2017
Greetings and solidarity to each other and all who participated in our initial hunger strike to end the arbitrary use of solitary confinement and inhumane treatment in Santa Clara County jails. We would like to extend our respect and appreciation to all who participated and sacrificed to provoke change. Although we came from diverse backgrounds – be it race, religion, color or creed – we set our differences aside and interlocked arms, forming a formidable force through civil disobedience in solidarity.
November 29, 2016
Leaving out of Pelican Bay solitary confinement torture prison facilities/units/cages for the first time on Jan. 23, 2015 – after arriving there Nov. 29, 1990 – I remember witnessing my first sunrise. It would be the first of many first time experiences of using my natural senses again after being buried alive in that concrete box deprived of the natural use of those senses for the last 25 years – a quarter century.
October 29, 2016
Nearly a thousand subscribers to the Bay View newspaper were denied their September papers – and we suspect their October papers as well – because of its coverage of the nationwide strikes to end prison slavery that began Sept. 9. Prison officials censoring the paper claim it will incite disruption. Like claims that someone being beaten by a gang of cops is “resisting,” the Bay View is “disrupting” prison operations.
September 2, 2016
Actor Dameion Brown, playing the title role in the Marin Shakespeare Company’s production of “Othello,” is getting standing ovations since the production started. Still in previews, Brown has with this role seen a dream come true. Since the MSC production of “Othello” opened Aug. 26 for previews, we learn that Brown is a formerly incarcerated or convicted person (FICP), just released after serving 23 years of a life sentence.
August 12, 2016
The Block Report interviews former political prisoner and current All of Us or None organizer Arthur League about his comrades, political prisoners Chip Fitzgerald and Ruchell Magee. We also discussed the history and assassination of political prisoner Hugo Yogi Pinell, last August 12, ’15 in New Folsom. Tune in for more of the Block Report at BlockReportRadio.com.
August 11, 2016
Last week I was alerted to an inflammatory story from Bay Area ABC news reporter Dan Noyes that basically sought to disparage the Black August commemorations. The story noted that “police sources” had leaked an FBI bulletin to him stating that prison guards and police were going to be attacked by members of the Black Guerilla Family in commemoration of Black August. Many found the allegations to be outlandish. Black August is a month that is held to high esteem by many in the Black community who celebrate the resistance movements that have long been a part of our history for the past 300 years.
June 28, 2016
Erika Rocha was 35 years old and one day away from her Youth Parole Hearing on April 15, 2016, when she committed suicide at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona. Since her death, the suicide crisis at CIW has only worsened. On June 1, yet another young woman of color died at CIW. Her name is Shaylene Graves and she was 27 years old and six weeks away from returning home to her loving son, family and friends.
May 28, 2016
CDCr has systemic and dysfunctional problems that run rampant statewide within California’s prisons for both women and men which demand this California government to take immediate action and institute measures to effect genuine tangible changes throughout CDCr on all levels. The Prisoner Human Rights Movement Blue Print is essentially designed to deal with identifying and resolving primary contradictions by focusing on the various problems of CDCr’s dysfunction.
January 27, 2016
On Tuesday, federal Judge Claudia Wilken approved the final agreement to end indefinite solitary confinement in California, calling it humane, innovative and fair. Prisoners celebrated the settlement agreement, whose terms were agreed on last September, claiming it as a victory that bolstered their struggle for human rights. Anne Weills pointed out that “what was missing from the courtroom were all the prisoners who risked their lives in the hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013.”
January 22, 2016
This report reveals the failure of CDCR’s efforts to sustainably reduce incarceration and resolve the humanitarian crisis of its prisons and instead outlines a concerning vision for an expanded and more powerful prison system. We must begin making investments that will sustainably reduce incarceration, close prisons and provide true opportunities for people in low-income communities to thrive.
January 20, 2016
The title of my book, “Annotated Tears: America’s Auschwitz,” came from one of the poems inside. It’s a socio-political piece geared toward unveiling California’s injustice system, with specific reference to its treatment of juveniles, which upon reflection resembles Hitler’s Germany. The piece, entitled “America’s Auschwitz,” begins: Everybody’s a victim — Sick depictions of pain … Gestapos lurking through the ghettos — Trailed by a bag of chains …
December 18, 2015
People in solitary confinement have been loudly awakened by guards every 30 minutes around the clock since the night of Aug. 2, for more than four months! CDCR claims these checks are to improve mental health care and prevent suicides. Instead, this cruel sleep deprivation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners and their attorneys are demanding that these checks be halted. Stop these torture tactics now! Support prisoners’ human rights! Send emails and make calls. Sleep deprivation is torture!
December 14, 2015
In what amounts to an improbable plaintiff victory, a federal jury unanimously found several Pelican Bay State Prison guards liable for retaliating against a prisoner in solitary confinement for successfully exercising his first amendment right to file a prior lawsuit against other guards. In the case, I was the prisoner plaintiff alleging that the guard defendants conspired to retaliate and did retaliate against me.
November 25, 2015
“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.” – Gandhi. Corrections Corporation of America and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is the epitome of this quote, and it is not enough for those reading this to agree with the truths delineated herein.