March 30, 2013
I am not one prone to fits of temper. But a few days ago I almost lost it. My outrage was prompted by witnessing the steady deterioration of another prisoner, resulting from particularly acute mental torture inflicted in Oregon’s Disciplinary Segregation Units, which duplicate almost exactly conditions of torture practiced at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary that were outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1800s.
March 16, 2013
The widows of the assassinated presidents of Rwanda and Burundi have petitioned the Supreme Court in Habyarimana v. Kagame to reject Obama administration claims of unreviewable executive power to strip federal courts of jurisdiction for money damages for “extra-judicial” murders and other violations of international law committed by Paul Kagame, the current president of Rwanda.
March 9, 2013
In oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act, Justice Antonin Scalia slandered the act as a “racial entitlement,” arguing, “whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.” The justice proved once more that he is not a neutral arbiter of the Constitution but a right-wing activist with an agenda to enforce.
February 1, 2013
Young women at the Chowchilla Freedom Rally Jan. 26 spoke out passionately for their sisters in a prison packed to nearly double its capacity, demanding that the 4,500 prisoners eligible for release be freed. At least 400 people came from all over California to show their support for the women locked up in the Central California Women’s Facility, currently the state’s only women’s prison.
January 31, 2013
On Tuesday, a panel of three federal judges granted California six additional months to comply with federal orders to reduce prison overcrowding. About six years ago, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed federal receiver J. Clark Kelso to oversee the state’s prison health care system after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of malpractice or neglect. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its inmate population to help improve prison health care.
January 28, 2013
For 16 and a half years, I fought with every breath in my body to prove my innocence. On Oct. 5, 2011, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated my life sentence on the grounds of “insufficient evidence,” which is equal to a not guilty verdict, barring a retrial. Under the appeal issue on which my conviction was overturned, I was eligible for immediate release.
January 25, 2013
It is unconstitutional for a state to have a law that treats a class of people differently from others. Juveniles, or minors, are a class of people; and since they are under the age of 18 and not adults, they are denied all rights of adults. Therefore, it is wrong and unfair to have a law that allows juveniles to be tried and punished as adults yet denies them the same rights as adults.
January 18, 2013
You may think that you know something about solitary, but you don’t. You may have a loved one in prison who has experienced it and told you about it. But still I say, you don’t know it. For, as you know the word torture, you don’t know how it feels. For solitary is torture. State torture. Official torture. Government sanctioned torture.
January 11, 2013
The state of California filed another response to the federal court order to reduce dangerous overcrowding in California’s prisons, urging the court to end the 137.5 percent population cap. Gov. Brown’s 2013-14 budget echoes comments earlier this week that the administration has deserted plans to shrink California’s over-sized prison population, ignoring clear messages from voters.
December 18, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to let stand a lesser ruling that allows citizens in the state of Illinois to record police officers performing their official duties. Up until just last year, anti-eavesdropping legislation on the books across Illinois meant any person within the state could be imprisoned for as long as 15 years for recording a police officer without expressed consent.
December 13, 2012
Yesterday I wrote about the ACLU’s efforts to ensure that the U.S. government is properly engaged at a U.N. meeting in Buenos Aires on uniform rules for the treatment of prisoners. Now that the meeting is underway, it appears that the U.S. delegation is playing a constructive role – but we’ve still got work to do.
December 7, 2012
Ralph Poynter, the husband of Lynne Stewart, spoke at the National Lawyers Guild convention last month. As his speaking time was running out, well before the culmination of his remarks, he called upon convention delegates to stand as a commitment of support for Lynne’s struggle for justice and freedom. Guild members responded with a prolonged and thunderous standing ovation.
December 4, 2012
The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) has selected San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi as its 2012 Reginald Heber Smith Award winner. “The Reggie” celebrates the outstanding achievements and dedicated services of an attorney for contributions made while employed by an organization providing civil legal services or indigent defense services.
October 4, 2012
Three Strikes has disproportionately targeted the poor and people of color. More than 70 percent of the Three Strikes prisoners serving life sentences are either African American or Latino; making Three Strikes one of the leading civil rights issues of today. We need your help. On Nov. 6, California residents will have another opportunity to amend Three Strikes. Vote Yes on Prop. 36.
September 10, 2012
John “J-Rock” Carter was a juvenile lifer who was sentenced at 16 years old under a law that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled was unconstitutional in Alabama v. Miller. Irony of Ironies. J-Rock never lived to see it. J-Rock fought for justice. He put himself on the front line of the struggle against inhumanity – and paid for it with his life. But his contribution will never be overlooked, ignored or down-played.
September 1, 2012
Mumia’s motion not only attacks his own sentence to “slow death row,” but makes the constitutional challenge to life imprisonment without parole, solitary confinement for death row inmates and solitary confinement in general. Mumia is fighting with and for the entirety of the “incarceration nation.”
August 12, 2012
An estimated 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in U.S. prisons. If the struggle to end inhumane treatment inside prisons is to become anything more than a largely apolitical movement for so-called “civil rights,” it must put two long-ignored points back on the agenda: race and revolution.
July 20, 2012
George Washington, the first president and one of the founding fathers of the United States, once argued, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led to the slaughter.” Yet in many controversial cases, United States courts have ruled against the First Amendment guarantee to free speech.
July 13, 2012
The parody currently on stage at American Conservatory Theater, “The Scottsboro Boys,” staged by director-choreographer Susan Stroman (“The Producers”), through July 22, 2012, takes a historic tragedy in American history and recasts it as buffoonery. Black America should not be surprised. Classic guilt is always re-envisioned in this paradigm. The boogeyman is always Black and male.
May 25, 2012
The guard confiscated four items: 1) a document titled “So That We Don’t Fool Ourselves — Again: Study Notes on Secure Communication”; 2) an article titled “History is a Weapon! Black August Resistance,” by Watani Tyehimba; 3) an article from Prison Focus newspaper, which included a picture of George Jackson; and 4) the photocopy of “Blood in My Eye.”