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Tag: Security Housing Unit (SHU)
In mid-October, 125 prisoners at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland – over 30 percent of the prisoners housed there – participated in a five-day hunger strike to protest what they say are abusive conditions of isolation and poor healthcare in Alameda County jails. On Oct. 17, over 30 supporters rallied outside of the Alameda County administrative building, where the county supervisors’ offices are located, to draw attention to the striking prisoners.
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.
On June 2, a federal judge allowed hundreds of California prisoners to join a lawsuit challenging prolonged solitary confinement in California prisons when she granted the case class action status. Class certification allows the case to include all prisoners who are serving indefinite SHU terms as a result of gang validation who have not been placed in a new step-down program.
California prisoners, who suspended their 2013 hunger strike, the largest such strike in history, after two legislative leaders promised bills addressing the strikers' demands, are now opposing one of those bills. Sen. Loni Hancock's Senate Bill 892 would give prison regulations on “gang validation” and the new step-down program the force of law. And it would leave California with the largest population of prisoners in solitary confinement of any country in the world or state in the United States at enormous cost to the taxpayers.
We, the four principal representatives of the prisoners confined in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, hereby welcome Juan Méndez to California. We have followed your work and advocacy against torture throughout the world and congratulate you on your commitment and success in bringing your findings to the public’s attention. As a former prisoner yourself, we would like you to do your best to bring both our conditions and our human rights movement to the attention of the international community.
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.
On the one year anniversary of the end of their hunger strikes and the agreements struck with CDCR, prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, sent an open letter to Gov. Jerry Brown expressing frustration at changes that have failed to materialize.
Prisoners in Pelican Bay’s SHU have announced a push to end all hostilities between racial groups within California’s prisons and jails. The handwritten announcement, sent to prison advocacy organizations, is signed by the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective. The statement calls for the cessation of all hostilities between groups to commence Oct. 10, 2012, in all California prisons and county jails. It also calls on prisoners throughout the state to set aside their differences and use diplomatic means to settle their disputes.
I’m writing this letter to advise you and your loyal readers of the retaliation that Pelican Bay State Prison gang investigators have taken up against those of us inmates who “associate with SF Bay View” and inform them not to be discouraged or dissuaded in our struggle to have our voices heard.
A little over a month after CDCR released its “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy,” which proposes new gang validation and SHU step down procedures, the department has called a meeting with members of the mediation team advocating on behalf of SHU and Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg or ASU) prisoners.
I refuse to believe that I should be treated like an animal so that prison guards and politicians can line their pockets. The prison system has made solitary confinement a lucrative business. Housing us in solitary confinement costs $30,000 more than housing us in the general population.
The Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has filed a petition to the United Nations on behalf of hundreds of prisoners kept in solitary confinement in California prisons and subject to treatment amounting to torture and violating international human rights norms.
CDCR has released its “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy,” which proposes new gang validation and SHU step down procedures. “The biggest issue with the stakeholder review is that the most important stakeholders, the prisoners who have been validated and are currently in administrative segregation or the SHU, are not included,” says Jerry Elster.
This powerful event resonated deeply, bringing meaning to the “occupy” movement and showing that its power is to support existent fights and organizing efforts for silenced peoples that have been raging on for years as well as to shed light on the increasingly po’lice controlled state that we all live under.
Discussions are underway with the intent to set short term and long term goals in the resistance struggle against SHU practices and the prison industrial complex. People are indoctrinated, brainwashed into believing they are weak or powerless – that prisoners in this state are evil and deserve to be punished and treated as some type of sub-human animal, based on their felon status.
On Monday, Feb. 20, over a dozen rallies will be held throughout the U.S. for a “National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners.” Join the Bay Area rally 12-3 p.m. at San Quentin by getting or giving a ride at 10 a.m. at Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland or 1540 Market St. in SF. “The U.S. is the world’s leader of the incarceration industry – it’s time for the focused attention of the Occupy Movement,” notes Mumia Abu-Jamal. Big rallies on Feb. 20 will push California authorities to meet 12,000 California prisoners' five core demands and challenge the prison industrial complex everywhere.
The reduction of 35,000-40,000 prisoners equals a potential loss of $2 billion in the yearly CDCR budget and 7,000 CCPOA members. The “security threat group” (STG) scheme enables CDCR to segregate a lot more men. Segregation costs nearly double general population and requires more staff.
In 2007, after serving 24 years in the Security Housing Unit (SHU), I became eligible for release, but the Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) and the Institutional Gang Investigation Unit (IGI) denied my release solely based on my political writings and activities. I am now going on my 30th year in solitary confinement.
Since the last hunger strike ended, we have weathered wave after wave of retaliation from the state’s prison administrators that continues unabated to this day. None of us want to die, but all of us are prepared to do so to realize our five core demands. History dictates no less. The ultimate arbiter of our fate – and this society’s fate – is the people. YOU. Our love, loyalty and solidarity to all those who cherish freedom, justice and human rights and fear only failure.
The CDCR should have to prove its accusations of gang activity, membership or association, providing the full panoply of constitutional protections. If the courts will not discharge their duty to protect constitutional rights, then the people must demand a change as is our/your right.
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