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I left CDCr wondering how PBSP could remain in shambles after 22 years of court oversight. As I started educating myself about prison reform, I stumbled upon Keramet Reiter’s 2016 book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.” Within those pages, I found validation and some disturbing answers. I wish this book had been available to me before I started working in CDCr.
Tomorrow, California lawmakers will hold a hearing about the use of solitary confinement inside its state prison system. February marks seven months since people incarcerated throughout California embarked on the mass hunger strike that has drawn legislative attention to prison conditions. The CDCR released new proposed regulations around its gang policies, and it points to changes already made. Accounts from former hunger strikers suggest that change is slow in coming.
Now picture this: a human being entombed in his or her bathroom 22½ hours out of the day for 10 to 40-plus years straight with absolutely no environmental stimulation or social contact with another human being. CDCR has taken the position that there is nothing wrong with these dehumanizing living conditions. But we’re curious to know what do the people think about this?
You, Gov. Brown, not the Legislature, recently received a document from prisoners currently confined in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) entitled “Peaceful Protest to Resume July 8, 2013.” The additional grievances in this current communication build on the Jan. 27, 2013, document as these grievances are also an important part of what’s driving the scheduled peaceful protest.