September 28, 2013
It is my sincere hope this letter will be received in the same spirit of appreciation and cooperation in which it is written. First and foremost, I wish to acknowledge the courage and independent thinking and actions you demonstrated in the unannounced visit to inspect the conditions of confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit and speak with the strike leaders.
September 27, 2013
Dr. Willie Ratcliff is publisher of the San Francisco Bay View, one of the leading Black newspapers in the U.S. and a treasured source of left news in the Bay Area. In an interview with Michael Chase and Ragina Johnson, Ratcliff, a longtime resident of the city, reflected on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and its closure, environmental racism and the changes in the Fillmore neighborhood, a historically Black area known as “Harlem West.”
August 8, 2013
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:
July 16, 2013
Martinez Detention Facility (MDF) AdSeg detainees support the core and supplemental demands of our partners in CDCR Pelican Bay Prison AdSeg/SHU programs and we join them in opposition of their and ALL unconstitutional conditions of confinement in all California State prisons and jails. We hereby also provide notice of our own “Five Core Demands.”
July 2, 2013
It has recently been suggested that those confined to these sensory deprivation torture units indefinitely, but who have a cellie, are not in “solitary confinement,” as though another human occupying a space not even large enough for one will somehow mitigate the deleterious effects of this isolation. It doesn’t. The only marked difference is the number of stressors you must contend with in a day.
May 24, 2013
The only defense that can protect the people is to assemble the power of the people. We are our only defense. We have suffered enough injustice at the hands of a very evil system – CDCr and PBSP – and it is time that we prisoners express that pain and suffering by all means at our disposal, because CDCr and PBSP are censoring SF Bay View in order to censor prisoners, because we are exposing cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners. We collectively commend and value the courage and commitment as well as the principled stand that the SF Bay View is taking to speak truth to power.
April 11, 2013
As one contemplates whether to volunteer or not, just remember all the psychological torture and personal loss that each of us in these solitary confinement torture cells have already experienced for the past 20-30 years. And, more importantly, think of all those youngsters, maybe young relatives, who will take our places after we’re gone – for another 20-30 years – if this system is not changed at this time.
March 5, 2013
The following assessment is far from being complete; it is a brief analysis compelled by a question an activist posed to me: How does sensory deprivation (S.D.) impact the psyche of those prisoners who have been subjected to long-term solitary confinement? Actually, this text is but a modified letter that I wrote in response to the above question.
February 28, 2013
The CDCr are masters at pulling the wool over the eyes of the California taxpayers, activist organizations, civil and human rights organizations, religious institutions, prisoners, men and women, and state and federal courts. Their blatant disregard for the truth is rooted in their drive to build the California sector of the prison industrial slave complex.
February 27, 2013
On Monday, Feb. 25, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, chaired by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, held a hearing on the state’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). The hearing comes 18 months after the committee held a similar hearing prompted by a three-week long hunger strike in June 2011 that involved thousands of California prisoners across the state. Monday’s hearing focused on the implementation of new CDCR policies and considerations of their appropriateness.
January 30, 2013
By taking to heart the experiences shared by Heshima Denham we learn that one of the greatest gestures of support and reassurance of the safety of prisoners who are vocal about their circumstances is constant visibility. Solitary confinement is torture; it is a violation of some of the most basic of human rights; and the agents of the state responsible for carrying out this abuse need to be exposed.
January 19, 2013
The only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first. By embracing the Agreement to End Hostilities, we can change our prison oppression into a more productive prison environment that serves the interests of us prisoners, as well as put an end to the policies that are inhumane.
January 1, 2013
For the past 40 years, prisoners have been removed off general population due to being validated as alleged prison gang members or associates. This is the sole reason for our placement: not behavior. CDCr started this indefinite lockup in the mid- to late 70s and soon realized that there was an economic incentive for labeling prisoners as a threat to the safety and security of the institution.
May 10, 2012
I’m asking the Bay View newspaper to please print this open letter so that California Prison Focus, MIM Distributors, Rising Son Press, Anti-Racist Action and the Black Riders Liberation Party will know why they have not heard from me – also Shaka of the Black August Organizing Committee and Brotha Secretary Yawo at the Oakland Uhuru House. I have no addresses, so at this point I cannot contact them unless they contact me.
December 12, 2011
Locked inside the belly of the beast, a system built by men to hold men, this system was meant to rehabilitate, but it has failed miserably! The justice system has failed, the prison system has failed, the government has failed.
April 12, 2011
Transitioning from a prisoner number to an adult person expected to take on adult responsibilities can be overwhelming for many ex-inmates, particularly those who were incarcerated for long periods of time. Each day many of us will share space with someone who has spent a significant portion of his life in a cage. Every one of us should be concerned because these men and women are of us and will be returning to us, our communities, many to our own families.
April 4, 2011
The United States puts more people behind bars than any other country in the world. Attend a panel discussion on the Center for Constitutional Rights’ lawsuit against two CMUs – prisons with extreme isolation – on Tuesday, April 5, 6:30 p.m., at the Women’s Building, Audre Lorde Room, 3543 18th St. #8, San Francisco.
January 2, 2011
Few people in America, especially the underfunded, don’t have a friend, relative, classmate or colleague in prison. We also know that most prisoners are there for non-violent, often drug related issues. Yet we keep silent. “Your silence becomes approval,” wrote our brilliant journalist and revolutionary, Mumia Abu-Jamal.
November 24, 2010
“This system treats us like throw-away people,” says Carolyn Brown, a Seattle volunteer with prison reform group Justice Works! An African American with a record, her effort to find a job is deeply frustrating due to systemic racism.
September 7, 2009
Ishmael Reed is one of the most read writers of his generation, along with Toni Morrison and Amiri Baraka, living in America. In 1962, Reed co-founded “East Village Other,” a well known underground publication at the time, and was a member of the Umbra Writers Workshop, which helped to give rise to the Black Arts Movement. He has published nine novels, four collections of poetry, six plays, four collections of essays and a libretto. He currently lives in Oakland, and I approached him one day while he was visiting KPFA’s studios to ask him what he thought about the state of affairs between the police and Oakland’s Black community, with the backdrop of the police murder of Oscar Grant and, in a separate incident, the police murder of Lovelle Mixon, after Mixon allegedly killed four Oakland police officers.