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On Feb. 1, scores of men in Delaware’s largest prison, the Vaughn Correctional Center, took over one of the buildings in their facility. The prison, built in 1971 and known for its serious overuse of solitary confinement, is one of the state’s most severely overcrowded and punitive facilities. Hoping to push the state to improve living conditions at Vaughn, the prisoners didn’t just take control of Building C – they also took guards hostage. And to make the public aware of why they were protesting, they called the media.
Sept. 9, 2016, was the start of the largest prison strike in U.S. history. Over 72,000 incarcerated workers in 22 states refused to provide their labor to profit the prison industrial complex. California forces 5,588 incarcerated workers to labor in exchange for little or no compensation. Another 4,000 earn $2 a day fighting Californian wildfires with inadequate training and equipment. The prison system in California reaped $207 million in revenue and $58 million in profit from forced labor in 2014-15.
I am a cadre of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter, currently incarcerated at Red Onion Prison in the southwest corner of Virginia. I’ve been a subscriber to SF Bayview for 14 months. I recently received the August 2016 issue, which came as a pleasant surprise. Prior to that, my copies of Bayview were arbitrarily disapproved with the pseudo-justification that “content could be detrimental to offenders’ rehabilitation efforts.”
The deadline to comment on new – and unacceptable – rules for prison visiting is Friday, June 5! Issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr) supposedly to keep drugs and cell phones from being smuggled into the prisons – contraband most often brought in by guards for sale to prisoners – the new rules call for strip searching any visitor singled out by sniffing dogs. But only visitors have to submit to a strip search. All others entering are only subject to an airport type pat-down search. Please send in your comments by June 5 and in addition, everyone is urged to sign the petition described herein.
If Black lives matter, make it clear that your just outrage extends to and will not tolerate the “con game” being run on the public and California Legislature by the PISC, CDCR and PBSP, wherein men like Ricky Kaidi Matthews, Sondai Ellis and others continue to be held hostage in tortuous solitary confinement awaiting sham case-by-case reviews after having been lied to repeatedly by prison administrators.
As I sit in Glen Dyer Facility (North Alameda County) fighting federal weapons charges, I find comfort and inspiration from the pages of the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper. As a kid raised in Hunters Point, I can remember passing out bundles of these same newspapers. I can remember the stern look Mr. Willie Ratcliff would give my friends and me before telling us to make sure we deliver all of our papers.
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.
Amid rumors that SCI (State Correctional Institution) Albion has been authorized to establish a brutal and bloody regime in its solitary confinement hole, prison guards murdered Stony Schaeffer (DW8560) in his cell using chemical munitions – Oleoresin Capsicum (O.C. or pepper) spray – and electro-shock weapons. Stony, 44, had been in the hole for the past eight years straight.
Closed inside these units for 23-24 hours every day, prisoners have to study, write, exercise and create right in these cells. These cells are the size of big closets. This small cell must become your laboratory where you create your unshakable foundation.