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On FLEA Days, Tupac Shakur, Baltimore, Kwanzaa, women-comrades and the revolutionary experience of Black August ... Kasim O. Gero is currently housed as an inmate at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland. The unedited answers to these questions are his added consent to this interview and dissemination of information in alignment with the mission of George Jackson University.
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.
On Jan. 29, 2013, I wrote an article called “The Lying Game: CDCR, Inc.” I wrote this article because I wanted the public, our legal team and mediation team and anyone else who’s willing to listen to know that it is not the prisoners who are lying; instead, it is the prison officials at the very top who are doing all the lying. They lied to our representatives about promising to implement our Five Core Demands.
Gov. Brown has declared that the prison crisis that allowed prisoners to die is over and that prisoners are receiving good care. His words, not ours. The governor and the officials of CDCr are arbitrarily choosing not to provide the public with adequate information that pertains to the incompetence that continues to endanger prisoners by murdering them through direct medical neglect and incompetence.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
Arbitrary and indefinite solitary confinement is an absolute assault on humankind and a barbarity the likes of which cannot be tolerated. We hold the utmost respect for those prisoners who from the depths of Solitary Confinement throughout California risked their lives to be heard. We heard them and now we ask that you do the same.
More than a year after our July 1, 2011, peaceful protest hunger strike actions, calling for an end to decades of SHU/Ad-Seg abusive confinement, CDCR has yet to meet our five core demands, all of which they admitted were reasonable, so now we're focusing on two non-negotiable demands: 1) CDCR must abolish “intelligence” based solitary confinement, and 2) A four year step-down process is too long. For more than 25 years, CDCR has placed thousands of us in solitary for being gang members or associates, even though we never committed a gang-related criminal act.