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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.
As the music is turned up, sounds of Curtis Mayfield blaring, a little child running wild, scenes of the movie “Super Fly” flash through my mind as I envision Keith “Kilo G” Perry with a suit coat on, head full of rollers, platforms, addicted to the fast life of the Black Frisco streets. Kilo G – Oct. 13, 1954, to March 30, 2017 – and his great works have come to an end this year. He leaves a huge legacy for his family, relatives and friends to cherish his memory.
In the early days of the 2013 Prisoner Hunger Strike, Jorge Gomez refused up to 12 consecutive meals. The California Department of Corrections struck back by issuing him a Rules Violation Report. The same fate befell untold numbers of other prisoners who’d starved themselves to peacefully call attention to their torture. In an opinion filed on March 25, 2016, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Gomez was guilty of no rules violation for refusing meals during the strike.
A federal jury in San Francisco awarded $25,000 in damages to Jesse Perez, who sued guards for trashing his cell in retaliation for his lawsuit against the prison and for his stand against solitary confinement. Jesse Perez, 35, imprisoned since age 15, was sent to the SHU at Pelican Bay in December 2003 and was held there for 10 years. He took part in all three hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013, protesting prolonged isolation and demanding human rights for prisoners.
No one is more knowledgeable about the lasting damage solitary confinement can cause than the tens of thousands of men, women and children experiencing it today. Building on the activism of these individuals, communities around the country are coming together to demand an end to long-term solitary confinement through public events and actions on the 23rd of each month in recognition of the 23 hours per day those in solitary confinement are confined to their cells.
On April 30, the Office of Administrative Law gave the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation its approval on amended censorship regulations proposed by the department over a year ago. The amended regulations as approved and now in effect are essentially identical to those the department originally put forward on March 25, 2014, which drew sharp public criticism.
Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) began March 23, 2015. Actions were held in California from San Diego to Arcata (Arcata-Eureka, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Cruz) and Philadelphia, Penn. Activists in more locations will be joining in on April 23 and the 23rd of each month. Below is a report from just one locality, Santa Cruz, which took a creative approach.
Some nine months after allowing certification of two classes in Ashker v. Brown, Judge Claudia Wilken issued her written order granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Leave to File a Supplementary Complaint on March 9, 2015. Pursuant to the order, a supplemental class of plaintiffs – those who’ve spent 10 years or more in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU but have recently been transferred to other California SHUs – may proceed with their Eighth Amendment claims as class representatives.
In late September, the Bay View reported on draconian new regulations that the CDCr was then poised to implement, under the guise of an emergency. These regulations authorize the use of dogs and electronic drug detectors to indiscriminately search all persons entering institutional grounds for contraband. Both dogs and electronic detectors are notoriously unreliable, as both Mohamed Shehk and Peter Shey explained in the Bay View.
The proposed censorship regulations that we collectively and vehemently opposed a few months ago have been revised, as of Oct. 20. The deadline for public comments is Nov. 10 – short notice. To the extent that the revisions incorporate language from the newly approved STG regulations that went into effect on Oct. 17, 2014, they need to be robustly resisted. Please submit your comments regarding the revisions as soon as possible! A sample letter is included.
On Black Friday 2010, at 16th and Mission in San Francisco, Creative Housing Liberation held a “Housing Harvest” rally with songs and speeches followed by a tour of four vacant neighborhood properties. Creative Housing Liberation would like to invite “all kinds of folks, including families,” to be involved in future housing occupations and demonstrations.
A time bomb is ticking, waiting to explode in communities of color across the nation. Law enforcement officers have become an occupation force. If we are to have peace, we first must place economic justice at the top of our agenda. The day Lovelle Mixon died, those close to him mentioned two explanations: He dreaded being sent back to prison yet he couldn't find a job.