Tag: Juan Mendez
In mid-October, 125 prisoners at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland – over 30 percent of the prisoners housed there – participated in a five-day hunger strike to protest what they say are abusive conditions of isolation and poor healthcare in Alameda County jails. On Oct. 17, over 30 supporters rallied outside of the Alameda County administrative building, where the county supervisors’ offices are located, to draw attention to the striking prisoners.
Despite attempts by the CDCR to insure the public that they are acting with prudence to change people’s gang validations and correct injustices and general inhumane conditions in prison SHUs, testimony from experts and the public continued to unmask the basic torture and impunity of the CDCR’s policies in maintaining prolonged isolation and prisons that fundamentally violate human rights. Hundreds packed two hearing rooms demanding real change.
Since some 30,000 California prisoners launched a hunger strike July 8 against the practice of long-term solitary confinement and other abuses, participants have faced punitive retaliation and censorship of newspapers and other media that backed their fight. Abuses continued after prisoners suspended the strike Sept. 5.
We, the four principal representatives of the prisoners confined in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, hereby welcome Juan Méndez to California. We have followed your work and advocacy against torture throughout the world and congratulate you on your commitment and success in bringing your findings to the public’s attention. As a former prisoner yourself, we would like you to do your best to bring both our conditions and our human rights movement to the attention of the international community.
The Free Russell Maroon Shoatz website describes him this way: “Russell Maroon Shoatz is a dedicated community activist, founding member of the Black Unity Council, former member of the Black Panther Party and soldier in the Black Liberation Army. He is serving multiple life sentences as a U.S.-held prisoner of war.” Shoatz has been locked in solitary confinement at various state prisons for the past 22 years, 28 of the past 30 years.
Arbitrary and indefinite solitary confinement is an absolute assault on humankind and a barbarity the likes of which cannot be tolerated. We hold the utmost respect for those prisoners who from the depths of Solitary Confinement throughout California risked their lives to be heard. We heard them and now we ask that you do the same.
An estimated 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in U.S. prisons. If the struggle to end inhumane treatment inside prisons is to become anything more than a largely apolitical movement for so-called “civil rights,” it must put two long-ignored points back on the agenda: race and revolution.