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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.
We have a serious responsibility to these young people behind these prison walls and in society. The Agreement to End Hostilities is truly our life line. It has nothing to do with your courage or strength; it’s about changing a violent prison culture into a civilized environment that eventually entails – or demands – that each of us be released from these animal cages and be allowed back to our communities.
Our American economy was built on the backs of Black slaves who were initially brought to America to work in the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane fields. America’s dilemma today is what to do with 40 million Black American descendants of those slaves who were shipped, as commodities, to American shores 400 years ago for their economic value yet whose heirs today are deemed of no value to America’s economic mission.
What decade is this? It is unthinkable that your staff would be allowed to threaten Mr. Crawford for having a friendship with two white women. Does this threaten the officers, make them insecure? There have been centuries of racist and patriarchal violence such as this and I refuse to stand by while my friend Mr. Crawford is subjected to more of the same.
We must carry out our prison struggle. We stand in solidarity with all oppressed prisoners, men and women. The Prisoners Human Rights Movement is needed to reclaim our lives and freedom, end all state and federal abuses of prisoners and stop the mass incarceration of humans, especially the poor.
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.
One year ago, on July 8, 2013, 30,000 California prisoners initiated the largest hunger strike the world has ever seen. Sixty days later, 40 prisoners, who had eaten nothing in all that time, agreed to suspend the strike when state legislators promised to hold hearings on ending solitary confinement, the heart of their demands. The 2013 hunger strike followed two in 2011. In the interim, effective October 2012, the hunger strike leaders, representing all racial groups, issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities, which has held with few exceptions throughout the California prison system ever since.
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.
The Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement wrote 40 supplemental demands to detail what prisoners are entitled to and need to have re-instated. In responding to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitaion’s response to our 40 supplemental demands, I would like to get into the actual details of what the CDCr is and is not saying in response to prisoners.
For 41 years, Herman Wallace was shown no mercy by a system that has never shown any mercy to anyone it considers its historical or present enemy. Herman Wallace was made to suffer at the hands of local, state and federal governments. No matter how bad his situation got, there was not one human being within this system, or government, who sought to provide Herman Wallace any mercy.
Hasn’t CDCr created enough mentally ill prisoners through the use of solitary confinement? Hasn’t CDCr caused enough suicides through the use of solitary confinement? Hasn’t CDCr emasculated enough prisoners through its de-briefing policy? Why can’t we – normal, functioning human beings – remain as such?
How long must we continue to suffer? On Aug. 23, 2013, early in the morning, Pelican Bay State Prison Ad Seg was emptied out and placed on two buses. Every individual on the buses had been on the hunger strike since July 8, 2013, and there was not one medical staffperson on those buses. We do not care about how much worse our conditions get because the pain and suffering from not eating trumps it all.
Mail to the Bay View from the hunger strikers has been very sparse since the strike began with 30,000 participants on July 8. Prison officials may be holding their letters as they did during the 2011 hunger strikes. But yesterday and today the mail brought a postcard and several letters from Bay View subscribers in the Pelican Bay SHU (security housing unit), where these historic hunger strikes originated.
For the past two years we’ve heard the state claim it’s reforming its long term segregation policies and practices by implementing a Security Threat Group (STG) Step Down Program (SDP). Officials claim the program is a significant move towards a more behavior-based system, yet they remain extraordinarily vague about the “ultimate conclusion.” What exactly is “gang activity”?
We all suffer from physical and psychological damage from being held indefinitely under these savage conditions, in solitary confinement. We have always said that our struggle is a protracted struggle and we intend to continue our Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement until justice is won and the long term solitary confinement torture is ended.
Gov. Brown has declared that the prison crisis that allowed prisoners to die is over and that prisoners are receiving good care. His words, not ours. The governor and the officials of CDCr are arbitrarily choosing not to provide the public with adequate information that pertains to the incompetence that continues to endanger prisoners by murdering them through direct medical neglect and incompetence.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, which is torture, which is us prisoners being held in solitary confinement indefinitely, without ever breaking a prison rule or state or federal law, anywhere from 10 to 40 years, under conditions of sensory deprivation, isolation, etc., etc. The fact that solitary confinement is torture is recognized by the U.N. – but not by the U.S., yet.
The only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first. By embracing the Agreement to End Hostilities, we can change our prison oppression into a more productive prison environment that serves the interests of us prisoners, as well as put an end to the policies that are inhumane.
For the past 40 years, prisoners have been removed off general population due to being validated as alleged prison gang members or associates. This is the sole reason for our placement: not behavior. CDCr started this indefinite lockup in the mid- to late 70s and soon realized that there was an economic incentive for labeling prisoners as a threat to the safety and security of the institution.
The new “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification, and Management Strategy” will instigate new and more aggressive attacks against prisoners and their families, friends, associates and communities, who are already being victimized by our institutionalized racist system and the prison industrial complex. It is just one of their many policies to persecute prisoners incarcerated in solitary confinement units.
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