October 18, 2014
At first glance the question, What is solitary confinement? appears to be rhetorical, if not insulting, but you would be surprised, if not incredulous, how many prison rights activists are at a loss when I pose it to them. Even more perplexing, many prisoners are only able to provide the standard but antiquated response, which is: a prisoner in a cell behind a solid door, in which he/she is isolated from other prisoners and human contact.
October 11, 2014
CDCR deliberately lied about their implementation of the Security Threat Group Step Down Program sanctioned by Gov. Jerry Brown. Gov. Brown and CDCr administrators are currently violating our United States constitutional rights, the California Code of Regulations and other rules, laws, policies and standards with the intent of breaking down and destroying men and women prisoners, family bonds and moral ethics here in California.
August 13, 2014
On May 1, 2014, we, California inmates who have been in solitary confinement for long periods of time, co-signed a letter addressed to the California Senate and Assembly expressing our grave concerns with Sen. Hancock’s SB 892. We wish to follow up on our previous letter, as SB 892 has now been approved by the Senate and is being considered in the Assembly.
July 30, 2014
Life is like a game of chess and checkers. Many of us play checkers. And many of us think we’re playing chess, but, in practice, we’re actually playing checkers. So it should be of no surprise to any of you when I say, most poor people play checkers, prisoners in particular. Now what does this analogy imply? Most people make decisions in life without thinking ahead or assessing the ramifications of their decisions, especially prisoners!
July 14, 2014
One year ago on July 8, 30,000 California prisoners refused meals and work assignments, beginning a 60-day hunger strike with the core demand of ending the state’s use of indefinite solitary confinement. This was the largest hunger strike in U.S. history, and it presented the deepest challenge yet to solitary by bringing national and international attention to a practice that has long been condemned by human rights groups as torture.
April 23, 2014
Recently, the U.N. Human Rights Committee issued a report excoriating the United States for its human rights violations. It focuses on violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the country is party. The report mentions 25 human rights issues where the United States is failing. This piece focuses on a few of those issues – Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, accountability for Bush-era human rights violations, drone strikes, racism in the prison system, racial profiling, police violence and criminalization of the homeless.
April 14, 2014
Following a mass hunger strike by prisoners in California last year, some state legislators promised to reform the use of Security Housing Units (SHU). This week, Assembly Bill 1652, passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee. It now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If the bill becomes law, prisoners would only be sent to SHU for specific serious rules violations that come with determinate SHU sentences.
February 24, 2014
This is a glimpse into torture by prison staff, using any means available, of which solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison in California is only a reflection of the inhumane treatment and clear U.S. constitutional violations of our First, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendment rights that prisoners in solitary everywhere are subjected to.
February 22, 2014
I hear demagogues go on their vicious attacks about how violent prisoners held in solitary confinement are, yet we are actually the role model prisoners, if there is such a title. Many of us have sat in these tombstones back here under concentrated torture, while correctional officers have violated and disrespected us routinely, subjecting us to physical and psychological torment each day we have been back here.
February 19, 2014
On Feb. 9, 2014, prisoners in the special management unit of the Georgia Diagnostic Correctional Prison began another hunger strike to protest conditions. Some of the prisoners have had enough of the oppression and decided to take a true stand in fighting for their rights. Most of the prisoners participating are some of the same prisoners from the Dec. 9, 2010, and the June 11, 2012, hunger strikes, and these prisoners are again refusing to eat until conditions change.
February 11, 2014
The CDCR is proposing new regulations on “security threat groups” or “gangs,” which will be implemented after a regular public hearing, to be held on April 3. The Step Down Program, which CDCR has been executing as a pilot program, is apparently being added to CDCR’s vast number of regulations. The implementation of the official Step Down Program comes while a second legislative hearing on Feb. 11 has been organized.
January 3, 2014
For the past 20 years or more, many people – prison rights activists in particular – have spoken on the importance of education as the most effective tool towards combating recidivism. We are reinstituting the concept of transforming the entire U.S. prison industrial slave complex into the largest progressive educational institution in the country with emphasis on Afro-centric and Pan-Afrikan studies and New Afrikan political education.
December 26, 2013
California has my full support on all their endeavors, a great accomplishment you all rode and continue to ride against CDC. Maybe one day the sleeping giants of Georgia will follow suit. The West was won by the last ones standing. Your fight is all our fight. I say everybody on lock should join this one by any strategic method possible. You all stay up!
November 26, 2013
For 41 years, Herman Wallace was shown no mercy by a system that has never shown any mercy to anyone it considers its historical or present enemy. Herman Wallace was made to suffer at the hands of local, state and federal governments. No matter how bad his situation got, there was not one human being within this system, or government, who sought to provide Herman Wallace any mercy.
October 21, 2013
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.
October 18, 2013
The Free Russell Maroon Shoatz website describes him this way: “Russell Maroon Shoatz is a dedicated community activist, founding member of the Black Unity Council, former member of the Black Panther Party and soldier in the Black Liberation Army. He is serving multiple life sentences as a U.S.-held prisoner of war.” Shoatz has been locked in solitary confinement at various state prisons for the past 22 years, 28 of the past 30 years.
October 15, 2013
Herman Wallace’s greatest pride was joining the Black Panther Party for Self Defense! He believed in duty, honor and dedication. He never broke the faith of the party, his comrades or the people. As I bent to kiss his forehead, my heart said, “Goodbye, I love you forever”; my soul said, “Separated but never apart, never touching, but always connected.” He was the best of us. As long as we remember him, he lives on.
October 14, 2013
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez today called on the United States to immediately end the indefinite solitary confinement imposed on Albert Woodfox since 1972. Mr. Woodfox was convicted of murder together with Herman Wallace, who was released last week when his conviction was overturned on appeal. A day later, Mr. Wallace died after battling cancer, having spent 41 years in solitary confinement.
October 10, 2013
This next phase of the struggle will require the power of the people more than ever. We have to work with and urge our representatives in the legislature to ensure changes are made in the interest of imprisoned people, their loved ones, their communities – in the interests of humanity. We must put an end to solitary confinement. There is no place for indefinite solitary confinement in a civilized society. Let the Department of Corrections know torture will not be tolerated here.
October 1, 2013
Gov. Jerry Brown, good ol’ boy of the 21st century prison industrial slave complex, your silence does not excuse you for your crimes against our humanity. You are an overseer of CDCr prisons and we have evidence that clearly shows prisoners have been murdered, beaten and tortured throughout these solitary confinement units by CDCr officials who are subordinate to you.