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This is a summarized version of a letter I sent to Mike Stainer, director of Adult Institutions, July 28, 2014, in order to address the long standing U.S. constitutional violations at CCI-Tehachapi and bring this prison under the current SHU standards forthwith. My purpose is to establish monthly meetings between CCI-Tehachapi officials and the four prisoner negotiators who shall speak on behalf of the Tehachapi SHU prisoner class.
We write out of concern for the manner in which certain aspects of CDCR’s Step-Down Program (SDP) are being implemented, specifically, self-directed journals and cognitive behavior therapy. Because the aim of these components is to change and restructure the subject’s thought processes, it is a mental health issue, which requires the involvement of mental health professionals in its implementation and oversight.
California prisoners, who suspended their 2013 hunger strike, the largest such strike in history, after two legislative leaders promised bills addressing the strikers' demands, are now opposing one of those bills. Sen. Loni Hancock's Senate Bill 892 would give prison regulations on “gang validation” and the new step-down program the force of law. And it would leave California with the largest population of prisoners in solitary confinement of any country in the world or state in the United States at enormous cost to the taxpayers.
The Assembly Public Safety Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, will hear Ammiano’s AB 1652 to control use of solitary confinement on Tuesday, April 8, at 9 a.m. in Room 126 of the State Capitol. The bill comes out of a series of in-depth hearings held in the wake of prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013. AB 1652 limits the violations and situations for which a prisoner can be placed in SHU.
Our struggle to abolish SHU torture units is inextricably linked to the broader struggle to seize cultural hegemony in the U.S. from the ruling class and its tool, the state. Our collective efforts have repeatedly exposed the state’s contradictions and sparked the people’s appetite for freedom and new social relationships. These activities undermine the reactionary character structure upon which authoritarian society is based. These actions are thus revolutionary.
Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, today introduced new legislation to revise and reform solitary confinement conditions and procedures in California’s prisons. “Isolating large numbers of inmates for long periods of time, as we are currently doing, is an expensive and deeply troubling practice that undermines effective rehabilitation and long-term public safety,” Sen. Hancock said.
Russell Maroon Shoatz is out of solitary confinement! Hugo Pinnell had his first contact visit in 40 years last weekend. Kiilu Nyasha announced this wonderful news at a reception following the second public hearing on solitary confinement called by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Feb. 11.
On Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), coordinated its West Coast Days Of Action across three states and 11 cities. From 2005 to 2014, WRAP has worked to build a large people’s movement rooted in and accountable to groups and individuals defending poor peoples’ constitutionally-guaranteed human right to exist in public space, acquire housing and employment, and enjoy equal protection under law.
Merely days after the suspension of the historic California Prisoner Hunger Strike of 2013, which lasted an unprecedented 60 days and saw record prisoner support across the state, the task of tactical and strategic re-assessment is well underway. We are gearing up for the upcoming battles in our overall struggle to abolish the state’s practice of long-term solitary confinement in both the political and legal arenas.
We, the four principal representatives of the prisoners confined in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, hereby welcome Juan Méndez to California. We have followed your work and advocacy against torture throughout the world and congratulate you on your commitment and success in bringing your findings to the public’s attention. As a former prisoner yourself, we would like you to do your best to bring both our conditions and our human rights movement to the attention of the international community.
The recent conversion of Valley State Prison for Women into a male facility has led to a dramatic increase in the use of solitary confinement: Ad Seg at CCWF and the SHU at CIW. Concurrently, there have been several suicides in Ad Seg and the SHU in recent months, at least one from an alleged “overdose.” The excerpt from the letter quoted above is one of many that indicates how desperate the situation is.
“It is now time to return the control of our prison system to California,” says Gov. Brown. We say it’s time to return California’s criminal justice system to a sense of human dignity and social justice. We call upon the governor and Legislature to immediately sit down at the bargaining table with representatives of the current prison hunger strike and enter into meaningful negotiations before prisoners die or suffer irreparable damage to their health. Stop the political posturing and name-calling, and start negotiating before there is blood on your hands.
Let's raise the issue - Do the California legislators and Gov. Brown agree that denying prisoners the ability to make public their Five Core Demands and their peaceful protest remedy for ignoring or refusing them violates their constitutional right to free speech and those who publish the prisoners’ letters our right to freedom of the press?
Under the false premise that I was organizing prisoners for purposes of carrying forth a physical assault in the spirit of Black August, 18 years later, I remain confined in their “mad-scientist” like torture chambers as an alleged prison gang member solely because I refuse to become an informant for the state!
A shout-out of respect and solidarity from the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective to all similarly situated prisoners subject to the continuing torturous conditions of confinement in these barbaric SHU (Security Housing Unit) and Ad/Seg (Administrative Segregation) units across this country and around the world.
Outraged Bayview residents armed with signs that read “Bayview Not for Sale,” “Parks for the People,” and “Governor, Veto SB 792 – Save Candlestick Park” entered Sen. Mark Leno’s San Francisco district office on Friday, Oct. 9, and erected a cardboard condominium tower topped with a sign that read “Leno: Do you miss your office? We’ll sure miss our park.”