Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Behind Enemy Lines

Stories from the prison industrial complex.

San Quentin prisoners go on hunger strike amid massive COVID-19 outbreak

July 1, 2020 – As the novel coronavirus spreads rapidly through California’s San Quentin State Prison, around 20 prisoners have launched a hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions inside, as reported by three men incarcerated in the facility.

Gov. Newsom made a cynical gamble on prisons during the pandemic – and Californians...

Gavin Newsom seems more interested in protecting a future run for president than the health and safety of the state’s most vulnerable populations, whether they be undocumented residents or prisoners in our state’s sprawling gulag. Being “tough on crime” while preserving a generally liberal reputation is the cynical balancing act.

Angola prisoners, fearing COVID-19, seek aid and release

Inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary being exposed to COVID-19 say prison officials are not doing enough to protect their health and lives. Department of Corrections violates state and federal guidelines that protect the life and health of those incarcerated due to Angola’s unique double bunked and overcrowding. LSP pays fines to the fire marshal, but fines do not make up for lives lost.

Victory! Prisoners at California Men’s Colony stop the banning of the Bay View

San Luis Obispo – From February through April 2020, prisoners with valid subscriptions to the San Francisco Bay View newspaper were denied their monthly publications by the mailroom supervisor and her sergeant. However, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation memorandum, dated May 8, 2020, sent to “Wardens/Mailrooms,” subject: “Response to Institutional Request for Approval of Temporarily Withheld Publications,” was denied by Acting Deputy Director Charles W. Callahan.

Soledad uncensored: Racism and the hyper-policing of Black bodies, Part 2

The Bay View is serializing the introduction to “Annotated Tears, Vol. 2,” by Talib Williams, who is currently incarcerated in Soledad, California, and has written the history of that storied place. In the spirit of Sankofa, we learn the past to build the future. Part 2 begins with the continuation of a letter written by George Jackson to his lawyer, Kay Stender, from his book, “Soledad Brother.”

Lack of social distancing causes COVID-19 explosion in Michigan’s aging and overcrowded prisons

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: While you’ve been busy reopening the state for business, via your Michigan Safe Start plan, the COVID-19 pandemic is exploding like a biological time-bomb in Michigan’s aging and overcrowded prisons, with a 50 percent infection rate among state prisoners confirmed by recent news broadcasts. Your current plan to expedite the parole of state prisoners who are past their earliest release dates will, at best, only release a thousand prisoners, more or less.

Shouting out loud: Not to free the elderly from prison now is elder abuse

For those in positions of power in this state who, for whatever reasons, choose to ignore public calls and demands for change, know that united grassroot forces will seize every opportunity to SHOUT OUT LOUD that reforms are a dire necessity.

Juneteenth 2020: Let’s adopt the mantra of Black unity and Black love

“If you do not understand white supremacy (racism) – what it is and how it works – everything else that you understand will only confuse you.” – Neely Fuller Jr. (1971)

Massive COVID-19 testing campaign launched in Texas prisons

Clements Unit prisoners in three buildings’ close custody wings were awakened in the early morning of May 1, 2020, by the loud sounds of ranking guards telling them to get dressed and step out of their cells.

Jalil Muntaqim tests positive for COVID-19 and is hospitalized in New York

Jalil Muntaqim, world renowned for peace and justice initiatives over 49 years in prison, fights for his life, his parole-eligible sentence threatening to become a death sentence. On April 27, Judge Schick granted his release. But New York Attorney General Letitia James appealed the judge’s decision, preventing Jalil’s release.

Mother calls for clemency: ‘My sons were sentenced with time to serve, not a...

Melvin Dillon and Robert Dillon, brothers incarcerated at the Nevada Southern Detention Center (NSDC), are in mortal danger. Their mother, Mary Barbee, is pleading with Gov. Steve Sisalek for their release.

COVID-19 puts Black political prisoners on death row

“American prisons are death traps. They are the places with the highest rate of coronavirus infection in the world. Incarceration in the time of COVID skirts the genocidal cruelty of death by disease of the Nazis.” J. Fernandez

Left to die: Indiana prison officials enable the spread of coronavirus

On April 30, 2020, at least half of the nearly 300 prisoners in my assigned cellblock (J-housing unit) here at Indiana’s Pendleton Correctional Facility refused to accept meals in protest of our treatment, or lack thereof, related to the coronavirus pandemic and it’s spreading within PCF.

Pandemic makes Greensville Correctional Center a potential death trap

If you have logged onto the Virginia Department of Corrections’ (VADOC) website or listened to Secretary of Public Safety Brian P. Moran during one of the many televised coronavirus briefings, then you probably were left with the impression that VADOC and Greensville Correctional Center (GCC) officials are taking all of the necessary precautions to prevent or mitigate the spread of the deadly COVID-19 behind the walls of GCC or any other prison in the state. If that is your impression, then YOU HAVE BEEN DECEIVED!

Seeking letters of support for SB 1064 to limit abuse of confidential information in...

The California Senate Public Safety Committee will hold hearings on Senate Bill 1064, introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner, on Wednesday, May 20, and letters of support are needed as soon as possible from both inside and outside prison walls. SB 1064 (Skinner) provides due process and procedural requirements for the use of confidential information gathered within the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) to provide more fairness to incarcerated people.

Experiencing COVID-19 on death row

In my humble opinion being on death row with this COVID-19 pandemic raging is like having another death sentence. I can and do only speak for myself in this essay, and I must admit that I am scared of this virus!

How many children in Alabama’s juvenile detention facilities are at risk of death from...

Open letter to Gov. Kay Ivey and concerned Alabama citizens, juvenile advocates and state leaders – Re: Children in juvenile detention facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic: Where is their advocacy and why isn’t anyone demanding their release?

Andrea Circle Bear dies at 30 from COVID-19 in a Texas prison

Here at the Lakota People’s Law Project, we’ve seen a lot and worked hard to address a variety of important issues over the past 15 years – among them criminal justice reform for American Indians. Now, in the coronavirus era, this problem has raised its ugly head again: A 30-year-old woman from my tribal nation, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, died in federal custody in a Texas prison on Tuesday, April 21, just three weeks after giving birth. The cause of her death? COVID-19.

Liberate our tortured elders

Liberate the Caged Voices, a program of California Prison Focus, provides a platform to hear directly from our caged community members, their families and loved ones to foster engagement with the local community, while exposing the truth of the toxic conditions experienced by California’s incarcerated people and the impact on their families. Adding art and culture, the idea is to build awareness, solidarity and human relationship amongst community members on both sides of the wall and take collective action.

It’s inevitable to catch this virus; I’m just counting down the clock

I am a Harlem Native who is incarcerated, and nearing the end of my prison sentence – three more years. However, within this pandemic, I sit in a pressure cooker, Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Westchester County, where the coronavirus infection rates are among the highest. Staff and inmates are infected.