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Behind Enemy Lines

Stories from the prison industrial complex.

Torture in Corcoran: Endless lockdown and gladiator fights, again

Prisoners in 3C Unit at the state prison in Corcoran, California, who went on hunger strike in January are speaking out after the warden backed out of negotiations to end a months-long lockdown and violence orchestrated by prison officials. Family members and supporters gathered outside the prison on Feb. 9 and 10 to protest during what would have been visitation hours.

State and federal prisons persecute Nation of Gods and Earth (Five Percenters)

We were labeled as a security threat group in 1995 in state prison, despite the fact that our God-Centered Culture was established in the free world in 1964 by our educator, Allah. Our God-Centered Culture also has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status like any religion under the First Amendment, but because we teach that the Black man is God and the Black woman is Earth and the white man is devil, as a collective we were deemed a threat.

Knockin’ doors down to end solitary confinement

In adherence with the beloved Komrade Keith “Malik” Washington, deputy chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, this is the year of “knockin doors down.” We must start with the doors of solitary confinement. It was estimated in 2017 that over 87,000 prisoners across Amerika are being held in solitary – despite the many studies done by neuroscientists around the world proving that solitary confinement is a neglected social, ecological and environmental risk that also causes and worsens mental illness.

From retaliation to torture in a Florida prison unfit for habitation

Known today as Florida State Prison (FSP), what was originally called Florida’s East Unit was constructed in 1961 and included another institution now known as Union Correctional Institution. Nearly 60 years old, FSP has been poorly maintained with cellblocks unfit for habitation. During Florida’s sweltering summer and autumn months, the cells, lacking air conditioning, become sweat boxes and infested with ants, spiders and huge cockroaches, with black mold growing on the ceilings.

The Lackawanna County 7: Guards charged with sexual assault on women prisoners

The Lackawanna County 7, local prison guards of the Northeastern County Pennsylvania lockup charged with sexual assaults upon several women, are, after all, charged with sexually assaulting prisoners. That fact is never lost on either judges or juries, who see guards as the good guys.

Secret torture unit at San Quentin

The Adjustment Center (AC) is the death row Security Housing Unit at San Quentin (SQ) which also serves as Administrative Segregation Unit overflow housing. But for all intents and purposes the AC is a secret torture unit at SQ and the fraternal twin of CDCR’s other torture units now partially exposed by media attention resulting from the 2011 peaceful hunger strikes at Corcoran, Pelican Bay and Tehachapi.

Print, sign and mail Jalil Muntaqim’s petition for parole or commutation of sentence

Jenny Kang, attorney for political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), writes: “Attached is a petition to New York Gov. Paterson requesting that Jalil be granted parole or have his sentence commuted. He would very much appreciate your support in signing the petition and sending it to Gov. Paterson. Please feel free to widely distribute the petition.” Jalil, one of the San Francisco 8, made the ultimate sacrifice on July 6, when he pled “no contest” in exchange for the dismissal of all charges against four of his brothers. As a token of our love and appreciation, readers are urged to print this letter, sign it and mail it to Gov. Paterson. – ed.

South Carolina freedom fighters call for National Prisoners Strike Aug. 21-Sept. 9, 2018

Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution. Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology. These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.

Tehachapi SHU is the worst of any SHU, prison or jail I have seen...

On Aug. 28, 2014, I spoke with the Corcoran State Prison Step Down Program (SDP) facilitator who confirmed I was on the list to be transferred to Tehachapi (California Correctional Institution, or CCI) and that I would be stepped up a step – from Step 2 to Step 3 of the SDP. On Sept. 16, 2014, I was advanced up a step, to Step 3, so that’s all good. But the big lie is that there is a functional Step 3 and 4 program at this prison.

Three Strikes holds dying innocent woman behind bars: Justice for Patricia Wright and her...

Patricia Wright is a prisoner in Central California Women’s Facility’s Nursing Unit coping with an extraordinary array of challenges. She is legally blind, has stage four cancer that has spread to her breasts and her brain, causing her to lose control of her bodily functions, leaving her diapered, and has been given six months to live. What’s worse is that she’s innocent.

Independent oversight of Texas prisons: Fantasy or reality?

Lorie Davis has created a culture within TDCJ by which jailhouse lawyers, also known as “writ-writers,” are subjected to manifold reprisals for their peaceful and legal activities. Activities which are supposed to be protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First and 14th Amendments!

Have anti-Muslim sentiments arrived in prison?

The Central California Intelligence Center received a Suspicious Activity Report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2010. A guard reported that he conducted a search of two inmates’ cells. “Both inmates are Muslims who appear to have radical Islamic views. Both inmates have since been placed in our Administrative Segregation” (the hole). Anti-Muslim sentiments do not only exist in the outside world, they exist in prison, too.

Hugo Pinell: Is 42 years in isolation about to end?

If we would have been self-transforming for the last 60, 50 years, there would not be millions of new slaves today and we would have the power to be making an impact and difference toward the building of the New World. Our teachers kept saying: “No matter what, we gotta keep pushing and growing. It’s the only way to continue our growth and become free.”

Boycott, Defund, Bankrupt – Say NO to canteen, incentive packages, collect phone calls and...

Fire burns off the dross of the hidden gem to reveal the precious metal. In struggle, it is the call to action that burns off the negative habit, distorted values and laziness of those who answer that call to reveal the precious jewels of humanity. With 2018 just a few days away, the call to action that is the Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is set to kick off Feb. 1, 2018. Let the fire burn bright.

The Nation of Gods and Earths at San Quentin seeks a volunteer teacher

I am writing to request that a teacher come in and teach us here in San Quentin Prison. I have filed all the paperwork, from San Quentin to Sacramento, from the religious oversight unit and chaplaincy division of adult institutions, back to the warden here at San Quentin, from the third level review, giving the order to allow us here in San Quentin to practice and function like the gods we are, the Five-Percent Nation of Gods and Earths.

New hunger strike: Petition for improved conditions in Administrative Segregation Unit at Corcoran State...

This petition will serve as a constructive notice for the peaceful protest which will be carried out as an alternative means of petition in the event that our conditions and demands are not met in a timely manner. [A notation on the cover letter to the petition says the hunger strike started Dec. 28, 2011.] Petitioners have filed appeals and grievances to no avail. Our constitutional rights are being violated. We are bound by the Constitution of the United States, and therefore its protection extends to us as well.

‘Soledad Brother’ John Clutchette granted parole – will California Gov. Jerry Brown reverse the...

The California Board of Parole Hearings granted parole to John Clutchette in 2003, 2015, 2016 and again on Jan. 12, 2018. The boards deemed many of the records in his file unreliable and insufficient for a showing of present dangerousness. The reasons given by Gov. Brown for opposing his release appear to involve a desire to punish Mr. Clutchette for being labeled a Soledad Brother. Tell Gov. Brown to free John Clutchette now!

Rigged disciplinary hearing process at Texas’ Ellis Unit

In this article, Jason Walker discusses the latest in a long series of attempts to punish him by framing him with false charges. He asks that people contact Ellis Unit warden Kelly Strong to please investigate Mr. Walker’s grievances thoroughly and to ensure that these cases are conducted in a proper fashion, with no further violation of his due process rights. Phone zap, email, expose the misconduct of disciplinary counsel substitute A. McMillian and the Ellis Unit’s lack of due process protection.

Death Row prisoner Steve Champion, Tookie’s friend, on hunger strike since Oct. 4

Word has just reached us that Steve Champion, a prisoner on San Quentin’s death row well known as an inspirational advocate for justice and as one of the trio with Stanley Tookie Williams and Anthony Ross, began a hunger strike last Thursday, Oct. 4. His demands – still unmet – are listed in “The struggle never stops,” published in the July Bay View and reprinted here, and he asks that all who believe in justice flood the San Quentin warden and Corrections Department (CDCR) spokespersons with calls and emails.

Michigan prisoners speak out against ‘epic’ abuse and retaliation

On Sept. 9, 2016, prisoners participated in the largest prisoner work stoppage in the history of the country. Prisoners in at least four facilities in Michigan joined in the work stoppage, including Kinross Correctional Facility. The next morning, after retaliatory actions from staff, Kinross prisoners held a peaceful demonstration in the yard. Since then, hundreds have faced harsh, unjust retaliation. Harold “HH” Gonzales was a spokesperson for the prisoners at the demonstration at Kinross and wrote this account.

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