Tag: Laura Magnani
I am a 38-year-old Black male from the city of Richmond, Virginia, who has been incarcerated for over 20 consecutive years. I am serving a 93-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole for my participation in a robbery that resulted in the shooting deaths of two innocent people. Having exhausted all available post-conviction remedies in the courts, prisoners like me have few avenues to regain our freedom here in the commonwealth of Virginia.
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.
As a member of the Mediation Team, never did I think I would be a part of a Hunger Strike that would enter into its 50th day. Never did I think that I would be denied access to the face to face meetings that have taken place within the CDCR because I am a family member. And never did I think that CDCR would refuse on all grounds to meet even the most reasonable demands of the prisoners.
As California legislators return to work this week, prisoner hunger strike family members, loved ones, advocates and supporters will gather at the Capitol to urge state decision makers to take swift and resolute action toward meeting the demands of the strikers. Waiting for the legislators on the Capitol’s south steps will be a life-sized mock Security Housing Unit (SHU) cell.
SHU prisoners in California are not allowed to call home. Lack of family phone calls is one of the reasons California’s SHU cells are characterized as solitary confinement – the harsh deprivation of family and social ties. CDCR has created the conditions that drive prisoners to desperation. It is horrifying to witness CDCR’s response to the current hunger strike: Crank up the cruelty and let them die.
Today marks 33 days that over 200 prisoners have gone without eating. Doctors have warned the prisoners several times of the dangers of continuing their hunger strike, and yet they persist. Why? In order to end the inhumane conditions of their confinement. They have spent decades in solitary confinement not for punishment, not for their crimes, but for “administrative” reasons.
Today marks one month for prisoners on hunger strike throughout the California prison system. Earlier today, the mediation team working on behalf of the strikers was able to speak to the prisoners at Pelican Bay who initially called for the strike. Just moments ago members of the mediation team issued the following statement:
Most of us were wearing the new “Stop the Torture” t-shirts that the coalition was selling, so we looked great and our commitment was obvious to the public. It was heartening to have so many friends and family members and formerly incarcerated people meet on the steps of the Capitol and to hear them speak about their loved ones inside the walls. The hearing itself was both powerful and infuriating.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
Family members, advocates, lawyers, activists and others from across California will travel to Sacramento on Monday to speak out against the state prison system’s continued use of solitary confinement. Hundreds are expected to gather for a rally outside the Capitol Building and will then attend a California State Assembly Public Safety Committee oversight hearing, convened to review the CDCR’s “revised regulations” of its notorious SHUs. Rally starts 11:30 Capitol West Side.
During those four days in the CSW cell, Perez was made to defecate in a bucket in public, while still in restraints. The staff members – aka the Green Wall Gang – would cut the tape off and pull down his pants and boxer shorts as they shouted obscene comments and laughter. No contraband was ever produced.
Two letters follow: The first, by Mutope Duguma, describes the current Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor situation. The second, by Pelican Bay inmate and hunger strike leader George Franco, is reposted here and now so readers can compare prison officials’ promises with the situation described by Mutope Duguma a year later.
Just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, a new California Prison system practice comes to our attention that is shocking and humiliating. It's a practice called “contraband watch,” or “potty watch” by people inside, in which a prisoner’s excrement is examined for items perceived to be “contraband.”
A little over a month after CDCR released its “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy,” which proposes new gang validation and SHU step down procedures, the department has called a meeting with members of the mediation team advocating on behalf of SHU and Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg or ASU) prisoners.
CDCR has released its “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy,” which proposes new gang validation and SHU step down procedures. “The biggest issue with the stakeholder review is that the most important stakeholders, the prisoners who have been validated and are currently in administrative segregation or the SHU, are not included,” says Jerry Elster.
The reduction of 35,000-40,000 prisoners equals a potential loss of $2 billion in the yearly CDCR budget and 7,000 CCPOA members. The “security threat group” (STG) scheme enables CDCR to segregate a lot more men. Segregation costs nearly double general population and requires more staff.
Prisoners who participated in the hunger strike are being severely retaliated against with disciplinary actions and threats. Hozel Blanchard’s family said that he felt that his life was threatened and had two emergency appeals pending with the California Supreme Court at the time of his death.
Today, prisoners at Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) and Calipatria’s Administrative Segregation Unit (Ad-Seg or ASU) resume their hunger strike. Referring to the first round of the hunger strike, Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford), a strike representative in Pelican Bay’s SHU, writes, “This is far from over and once again, hopefully for the last time, we will be risking our lives via a peaceful hunger strike on Sept. 26, 2011, to force positive changes. We continue to struggle to be treated like decent human beings.”
Denise, Marilyn, Anna and I, with Harriett at the wheel, left West Oakland BART in the second carpool wave for Sacramento Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 9:30 a.m. to attend a pre-rally for the historic California Assembly Hearing on Solitary Confinement.
12Page 1 of 2