Tag: long-term isolation
Should you or a loved one ever have the great misfortune of being tried and convicted in the state of Texas, your sentence, no matter how great or small, could very well be a death sentence. If you are resilient, strong of mind and body, then perhaps you would survive the conditions: deadly heat, toxic water, squalid living quarters and ill prepared food – and struggle through the conditioning: slave labor, consistent degradation, dehumanization in a variety of fashions – bowing down to insulting, offensive verbal abuse from staff, group strip searches, zero privacy.
On May 16, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they will begin a hunger strike on May 25 in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom. When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.
I wake up every morning and stretch, then say a prayer thanking the Lord for allowing me to make it through another day and night. My mattress is in real poor condition, as it’s old and the cotton is coming out, so I’ve had to re-sew it in order not to further damage my back. I spend at least 20 minutes every morning stretching, then brush my teeth and wash my face. This starts at 5 a.m.
If we look to any uprising in world history we will see that such rebellions, although they may have included various nationalities, are usually attributed to the dominant force in that rebellion. Rebellions take on the oppression, and those who arise lend their voice in the struggle. The dominant force in an event shapes the event and shapes the character of the struggle. The same can be said of prison struggles.
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.
This is a glimpse into torture by prison staff, using any means available, of which solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison in California is only a reflection of the inhumane treatment and clear U.S. constitutional violations of our First, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendment rights that prisoners in solitary everywhere are subjected to.
I am very familiar with the serious medical issues involved with the long term and short term care of these SHU patients in solitary confinement that are both very deleterious to human health and not very visible to people who are not insiders and familiar with this environment at PBSP. Many of these issues have not penetrated the ongoing public discussion of the ongoing and created health care consequences of solitary confinement in the SHU at PBSP.
Todd Ashker is on hunger strike in Pelican Bay. I know him as a thoughtful human being who has dedicated his life to peaceful change, to helping his fellow prisoners by learning the law and sharing his knowledge. He was not that way 30 years ago when he first went to prison. He admits that. But any brain scientist will tell you that no man in his 40s is the same man he was in his teens or early 20s.
Representatives of the Short Corridor Collective at Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit have based their decision on a meeting with fellow prisoners at the prison, the growing international condemnation of California’s practice of solitary confinement, as well as the commitment of California Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairs Loni Hancock and Tom Ammiano to convene a series of hearings in response to the strikers’ demands that would “address the issues that have been raised to a point where they can no longer be ignored.”
Today Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano announced that they will hold public hearings on the conditions in California prisons that have led to the inmate hunger strike, now in its 54th day. They anticipate that hearings may begin as early as this fall and continue into next year. The two legislators, chairs of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Public Safety, urged an immediate end to the hunger strike so that energy and attention can be focused on the issues that have been raised.
We are grateful for your support of our peaceful protest against the state-sanctioned torture that happens not only here at Pelican Bay but in prisons everywhere. We have taken up this hunger strike and work stoppage, which has included 30,000 prisoners in California so far, not only to improve our own conditions but also as an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world.
It is time that I fire a published poetic nuclear warhead at you. This has to be fundamentally sound to rejuvenate the spirit and souls of those who still walk upright and with dignity to be counted as men within the depths of legalized oppression. My message will be two-fold, addressing one of several lawsuits that I am aggressively pursuing and CDCR’s ongoing twisted campaign of validating and isolating prisoners.
When the prison system transformed into the Prison Industrial Slave Complex (PISC), it became a profit-making industry and, as a profit-making industry, profit becomes the bottom line. In the PISC the poor underclass is the primary commodity that fuels its profitability, while the poor New Afrikan (Black) man and woman are its prime choice.
I have learned profound lessons from Zaharibu in the short three months I have known him. In hearing more about his story and the horrendous conditions he lives under, I have been driven to learn more about solitary confinement, why it must be abolished and the resistance against it. I have also been moved to become a part of that resistance in any way I can.
In response to CDCR’s failure to meet our 2011 Five Core Demands, the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives respectfully present this notice of, and basis for, our individualized, collectively agreed upon decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest action on July 8, 2013. The upcoming peaceful protest will be a combined hunger strike-work stoppage action. Once initiated, this protest will continue indefinitely – until all Five Core Demands are fully met.
Since Dec. 13, 1994, Indiana political prisoner Khalfani Malik Khaldun has been held in control units, i.e. administrative segregation or isolation. It began when police and prison investigators manufactured a murder charge against him after a guard was stabbed and killed. Brother Khalfani is a Muslim and New Afrikan revolutionary educator who professes a strong sense of radical politics and culture.
We oppose CDCR’s policies and practices relating to our subjection to decades of “status”-based, indefinite isolation; this includes our opposition to CDCR’s proposed policy changes, entitled “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification, and Management Strategy.” We would appreciate your supportive intervention on this issue.