July 4, 2018
On April 22, 2018, over 200 people attended the UCSC opening of the Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival (RWLFF)’s 17th season, with the event theme “Together to End Solitary.” RWLFF’s motto, “We are stronger together,” is particularly poignant when coming together to end the extreme isolation of the state-sanctioned torture of solitary confinement. The film, “Cruel and Unusual, the Story of the Angola 3,” details the Angola 3’s decades-long struggle for justice and to build an international movement to end solitary confinement.
May 30, 2018
A number of hardy souls ventured to Sacramento on May 18 to a federal court hearing on CDCr’s motion to dismiss Jorge Rico’s suit opposing the every-half-hour Guard One “security/welfare checks” that take place in isolation units throughout the state. With Guard One, guards press a metal baton into a metal receiver positioned either in or beside cell doors, making a loud disruptive noise in most cases, waking prisoners up every 30 minutes and causing sleep deprivation.
May 1, 2018
On April 21, I finally got to see Charlie Hinton’s “Solitary Man” play at the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. It was so much more than a cultural experience. The play was gripping, emotional and real, with jazz trumpet sprinkled in. The panel powerfully reflected the layers of pain, survival and resistance in the prison movement. And the event, a benefit for the San Francisco Bay View, was a moving tribute to Mary and Willie Ratcliff’s devotion to their invaluable newspaper.
April 1, 2018
I’m writing this editorial because I want to brag on my husband, Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff, and tell you why he and I have faith that a benefactor, someone with deep pockets who cares, will step forward in time to save the Bay View and keep it in print – an angel who understands how much the Bay View means to a prisoner being tortured and a youngster in the hood being framed. Dr. Ratcliff was that angel, that benefactor, to Gladys Knight in 1975, when she ran out of money in the midst of producing a major film in Valdez, Alaska called “Pipe Dreams.”
March 26, 2018
For years now, I have endured threats, both overt and covert, from the mouths and hands of CDCr’s (California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation’s) OCS (Office of Correctional Safety), ISU (Investigations Services Unit) and IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations), all of them paramilitary services that boast they are a gang and call themselves the Green Wall. (See my article “Sitawa: Exiting solitary confinement – and the games CDCr plays.”)
March 25, 2017
As always, allow us to begin by paying our respects to the families who lost their loved ones during the historic California hunger strikes. Prior to the solidarity hunger strikes, the four principal negotiators, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco and Todd Ashker, found ourselves locked inside Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor. There we would discuss the vision of effecting genuine change in CDCr’s long term solitary confinement combined policies, practices and conditions.
March 3, 2017
Since our historical release from solitary confinement, many of us have been bombarded by the same question: How did you (we) survive decades of being in solitary confinement? This is not a question of simplicity, it is only a qualitative and quantitative prelude into an analysis rooted in a historical material construct which would require a compartmentalization of the particulars which are conducive towards providing an accurate response to the above question with both clarity and purpose.
May 28, 2016
CDCr has systemic and dysfunctional problems that run rampant statewide within California’s prisons for both women and men which demand this California government to take immediate action and institute measures to effect genuine tangible changes throughout CDCr on all levels. The Prisoner Human Rights Movement Blue Print is essentially designed to deal with identifying and resolving primary contradictions by focusing on the various problems of CDCr’s dysfunction.
October 25, 2015
Too often, organizing work done by incarcerated women goes wholly unrecognized. In her book, “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women,” Victoria Law focuses on the many forms of activism happening inside of women’s prisons, most of which never reach the dominant media. In the following interview, Law shares ways in which individual acts of resistance are building toward a transformational new reality.
September 1, 2015
Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture.
June 17, 2015
On May 23, 2015, families and loved ones of people in solitary, community organizations and prisoner-class human rights advocates once again mobilized Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) throughout California and in Pennsylvania. Since the actions began on March 23, 2015, over 30 organizations – statewide, nationwide and worldwide – became co-sponsors, 45 endorsed, and the movement keeps growing.
March 28, 2015
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.
December 9, 2014
Less than two weeks ago the United Nations Committee against Torture issued a report strongly criticizing the U.S. record on a number of issues, among them the extensive use of solitary confinement. While the U.S. uses long-term solitary more than any other country in the world, California uses it more than any other state. This practice is designed to break the human spirit and is condemned as a form of torture under international law.
September 23, 2014
Claiming the need for emergency passage of new visiting policies, the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) is proposing the use of canines and ION scanners that would subject visitors to prisons to humiliating and traumatizing strip searches. The move has brought swift condemnation from prisoner advocacy organizations and groups that work with prisoners, including the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).
July 14, 2014
One year ago on July 8, 30,000 California prisoners refused meals and work assignments, beginning a 60-day hunger strike with the core demand of ending the state’s use of indefinite solitary confinement. This was the largest hunger strike in U.S. history, and it presented the deepest challenge yet to solitary by bringing national and international attention to a practice that has long been condemned by human rights groups as torture.
April 30, 2014
On the evening of April 5, hundreds gathered in downtown Oakland for the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter’s (NLGSF) annual fundraising dinner. This year, the NLGSF honored California prison hunger strikers and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition of family members, activists and friends who supported the strikers. The assembled crowd was able to hear directly from those inside California prisons.
November 17, 2013
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.
September 27, 2013
I am a 55-year-old New Afrikan man. I came to prison in 1980 for a first degree murder that I did not commit. The prosecutor, judge, victim’s family and my family know that I did not commit this murder. How is it that I can say it as a matter of fact? Because the actual killer confessed to the murder during the trial, did the time for the murder and he has since been released in 1986.
August 30, 2013
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.
August 26, 2013
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.