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“Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love of Revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give your life for the people.” – George Jackson
On July 3, a critical ruling issued in Ashker v. Brown (aka Ashker v. Governor, Docket No. 4:09-cv-09-5796 CW (N.D. Cal.)), the federal class-action lawsuit challenging indefinite solitary confinement in California. The ruling, issued by Presiding Judge Claudia Wilken, granted Plaintiffs’ appeal on a motion challenging the ongoing conditions of extreme isolation endured by many class members.
On April 21, I finally got to see Charlie Hinton’s “Solitary Man” play at the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. It was so much more than a cultural experience. The play was gripping, emotional and real, with jazz trumpet sprinkled in. The panel powerfully reflected the layers of pain, survival and resistance in the prison movement. And the event, a benefit for the San Francisco Bay View, was a moving tribute to Mary and Willie Ratcliff’s devotion to their invaluable newspaper.
In mid-October, 125 prisoners at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland – over 30 percent of the prisoners housed there – participated in a five-day hunger strike to protest what they say are abusive conditions of isolation and poor healthcare in Alameda County jails. On Oct. 17, over 30 supporters rallied outside of the Alameda County administrative building, where the county supervisors’ offices are located, to draw attention to the striking prisoners.
The Oct. 14, 2015, victory was achieved through three hunger strikes and the non-violent legal and political action of thousands of California prisoners, their families, supporters and their attorneys. Now, however, we believe that CDCR is still engaged in constitutional violations that deny prisoners due process and seeks to put us back in the hole – for many, indeterminately under the guise of Administrative SHU.
“Administrative segregation” is prison bureaucratese for solitary confinement. On Thursday, prisoners in solitary at California’s Old Folsom State Prison went on hunger strike for their Eighth Amendment right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. I spoke to Raquel Estrada, wife of Anthony Estrada, a prisoner writing for the strikers in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, who elaborated on the conditions of her husband’s confinement.
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
The California Board of Parole Hearings has established the Forensic Assessment Division, a staff of psychologists who conduct psychological evaluations of prisoners for Board hearings. This paper is provided to help California prisoners applying for parole understand the psychological evaluations conducted for the Board of Parole Hearings and to provide advice to them and their supporters on how to counter the psychological evaluation with letters and other materials submitted to the Board.
It is no secret that CDCr’s counterintelligence units have been plotting revenge on the class members of Ashker v. Brown to have us returned to indefinite solitary confinement. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that it wasn’t a matter of coincidence, as we embark upon the first anniversary of Brotha Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell's assassination, that the media began leaking fraudulent reports to the public generated by IGI, ISU, OCS and the FBI about the BGF plotting to avenge the death of Hugo Pinell.
In what amounts to an improbable plaintiff victory, a federal jury unanimously found several Pelican Bay State Prison guards liable for retaliating against a prisoner in solitary confinement for successfully exercising his first amendment right to file a prior lawsuit against other guards. In the case, I was the prisoner plaintiff alleging that the guard defendants conspired to retaliate and did retaliate against me.
Jesse Perez, a young man buried alive in the Pelican Bay SHU, began advocating for a Prisoner Political Action Committee after the hunger strikes, when attention had turned to legislative action. Now he's suing his jailers for their retaliation, and the judge denied defendants’ summary judgment motion. The trial began Nov. 9 and is expected to continue to Friday, Nov. 20. Pack the courtroom daily (except no court Thursday): Courtroom 4, 17th floor, Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco.
Can you please give me a little space in Bayview, so that I can say gracias – thank you. I’m one of the named plaintiffs in our class action lawsuit, Ashker v. Brown, at Pelican Bay SHU. By now you have all heard that it was settled Sept. 1, 2015. I’m happy for all of us in the SHU. For now we must enjoy this ONE victory of many more to come. It’s just the beginning.
When Ashker v. Brown (Governor of California) was filed as a class action in 2012, California held thousands of prisoners in solitary confinement, in Security Housing Units (SHU). In September 2015, the case was settled, and far-reaching reforms were ordered. These reforms are expected to dramatically reduce the number of prisoners currently detained in the SHU and limit the way SHU confinement is used going forward.
Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture.
The Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines the word “hostility” as 1) a hostile state, condition or attitude; enmity; antagonism; unfriendliness; 2) a hostile act; 3) Opposition or resistance to an idea, plan project, etc.; 4) acts of warfare; 5) war. So our initial question to the people is: “What does hostility mean to you?”
On May 23, 2015, families and loved ones of people in solitary, community organizations and prisoner-class human rights advocates once again mobilized Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) throughout California and in Pennsylvania. Since the actions began on March 23, 2015, over 30 organizations – statewide, nationwide and worldwide – became co-sponsors, 45 endorsed, and the movement keeps growing.
Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) began March 23, 2015. Actions were held in California from San Diego to Arcata (Arcata-Eureka, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Cruz) and Philadelphia, Penn. Activists in more locations will be joining in on April 23 and the 23rd of each month. Below is a report from just one locality, Santa Cruz, which took a creative approach.
Some nine months after allowing certification of two classes in Ashker v. Brown, Judge Claudia Wilken issued her written order granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Leave to File a Supplementary Complaint on March 9, 2015. Pursuant to the order, a supplemental class of plaintiffs – those who’ve spent 10 years or more in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU but have recently been transferred to other California SHUs – may proceed with their Eighth Amendment claims as class representatives.
The fact that these rules were noticed as “Obscene Materials” indicates an intention of CDCR to attempt to fly below the radar so as to not draw attention to the fact that much of the material under these proposed regulations could be so broad as to cover newspaper articles and a multitude of other written materials that do nothing to promote prison safety and security and do everything to violate and infringe on the First Amendment rights of California’s prisoners.
On June 2, a federal judge allowed hundreds of California prisoners to join a lawsuit challenging prolonged solitary confinement in California prisons when she granted the case class action status. Class certification allows the case to include all prisoners who are serving indefinite SHU terms as a result of gang validation who have not been placed in a new step-down program.
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