by Verbena Lea, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Rally at the San Francisco Federal Courthouse while the four California prisoner hunger strike and Ashker class representatives meet and confer* with CDCr to address the continuing solitary conditions that violate the Ashker lawsuit settlement agreement. The four prisoner hunger strike representatives will be present in the courtroom, an historic presence!

Marie Levin emerged as the voice of the Prisoner Human Rights Movement when its founder, the beloved California Prisoner Movement leader Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Ronnie Dewberry), became one of four “main reps” who conceived, organized and led the historic 2011-2013 hunger strikes. Here, she speaks at a large rally to keep strikers’ spirits up in the oppressive heat of the Central Valley outside the huge Corcoran State Prison on July 13, 2013, five days into the last huge hunger strike in temperatures well over 100 degrees. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

Help create a strong show of solidarity with prisoners fighting for human rights! Join the rally outside the courthouse on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, 11:30 a.m., at the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco.

What’s going on? The prisoner class-led movement and the Ashker v. Governor of Califonia class action lawsuit resulted in the release of over 1,400 people from solitary confinement Security Housing Units (SHUs) to what the California Department of Corrections (CDCr) calls “General Population.” However, many of those people continue to be subjected to conditions of extreme isolation.

With little to no out-of-cell time and no chance for social interaction, they are still in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. On July 3, 2018, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled:

“The Settlement Agreement was intended to remove Plaintiffs from detention in the SHU, where they were isolated in a cell for 22 ½ to 24 hours a day. … Many Plaintiffs [now] spend an average of less than an hour of out-of-cell time each day, which is similar to the conditions they endured in the SHU. … This demonstrates a violation of the Settlement Agreement.” FULL RULING HERE

Also, “(A) substantial percentage of Plaintiffs in Restricted Custody General Population (RCGP) are … not permitted to exercise in small group yards or engage in group leisure activities. This does not comply with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.” FULL RULING HERE

The Ashker plaintiff class reps and legal team were ordered to meet and confer* with CDCr lawyers to explore a resolution of these two issues.

The four prisoner hunger strike representatives – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), Todd Ashker, Arturo Castellanos, and George Franco – will be present in the San Francisco courtroom.

“Solitary Confinement Is Torture” – This powerful depiction of how solitary confinement torture threatens one’s sanity was drawn Sept. 17, 2013, while the artist was one of the Pelican Bay SHU prisoners suffering through the 35th day of starving themselves during the massive third hunger strike that drew 30,000 prisoners at its peak, making it the largest prison strike in history. Several prisoners were on the verge of dying when, after 60 days, legislators promised to hear them, and the strike was suspended. The Bay View salutes all the prisoners who awakened the world to understand that solitary confinement is torture by sending their stories and artwork to the Bay View for publication. – Art: Michael D. Russell, C-90473, HDSP C2-122, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127

Please join the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) outside the San Francisco Federal Courthouse to show our solidarity with prisoners who struggle against solitary confinement torture, who organize across racial and geographic lines, and who – through hunger strikes, massive solidarity, formal complaints, the Agreement to End Hostilities and the Ashker civil rights class action lawsuit – forced CDCr to release people from solitary confinement SHUs.

The organizing prisoners brought international attention to California’s solitary confinement practices as cruel and unusual punishment and its indefinite (forever) solitary terms as depriving prisoners of due process. CDCr had tortured people through inhumane and extreme isolation for 10, 20, 30-plus and, in the case of the beloved revolutionary brother Hugo Pinell, nearly 46 years. Unconscionable.

Now, although CDCr is no longer allowed to impose endless solitary, indeterminate SHU terms, many class members released from SHU to “General Population” have been forced to spend as much or more time locked in their cells as when they were in SHU, with little to no rehabilitative or educational programming or social interaction with other people. Also, in the Restricted Custody General Population (RCGP), a unit in Pelican Bay State Prison created as a result of the Ashker settlement, prisoners are being prohibited from interacting and participating in group activities.

Ashker prisoner representatives and attorneys still need our support fighting these conditions of solitary confinement. CDCr has filed a Notice of Appeal to the Ninth Circuit about Judge Wilken’s two rulings in favor of more out-of-cell time and social interaction.

Please join us outside the San Francisco Federal Courthouse on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., and bring a friend, in a strong show of solidarity with prisoner human rights.

Solitary confinement is torture! Unity inside, unity outside!

National Prison Strike begins Aug. 21

Aug. 21, 2018, is the 47-year memorial anniversary of revered prison activist George Jackson, who was assassinated by California guards in San Quentin Prison on that day in 1971. In honor of George, it is the first day of the 2018 National Prison Strike for humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.

“We will be with the prisoners … in the courts, in the legislature and out in the community. We will use every venue available to us, UNTIL THE TORTURE IS ENDED.” – Marie Levin, sister of incarcerated Prisoner Human Rights Movement Representative Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

*Meet and confers are usually private with no judge present. This one will be in the presence of Magistrate Robert Illman and not open to the public.

To learn more, contact the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition at 510-426-5322, phssreachingout@gmail.com and prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com. Thanks to Freedom Archives for spreading the word.

4 COMMENTS

  1. When will the Supreme Court uphold the Constitution and ban the torture of solitary confinement that actually drives people insane?

  2. My husband has mental health issues due to being shot 6 titimes. I don’t think the “shu” is where he’s best to be placed. Who can I talk to and get ahold of his cousilor at pelican bay prison

Leave a Reply