Part 1: On July 8, all of us will be participating in the hunger strike in support of the five core demands and also to contest our own living conditions and treatment here in Fresno County Jail (FCJ). Part 2: After nine days on the hunger strike, the administration here at FCJ wanted to end the strike and met our demands. At the time the administration had us on a modified program, now we have full program.
Secretary Beard’s public statements since coming to the job reflect a complete failure to acknowledge the gravity of the human rights abuses his agency is guilty of and an apparent commitment to defend the status quo at any cost. Now his public statements demonizing the hunger strikers and defending California’s indefensible SHUs make clear that all hope for change in this administration should be abandoned.
In an Aug. 6, 2013, op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times, Jeffrey Beard, the secretary of California’s inaptly named Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDC), cynically attempts to dehumanize a significant percentage of California’s population – i.e., the state’s incarcerated population – while making light of the grave human rights abuses perpetrated by the CDC.
I am a 36-year-old socially conscious, politicized New Afrikan prison activist, jailhouse lawyer and writer. I have been held “captive” for the last nearly 19 years. In my entire existence upon this earth I’ve fallen in love only twice. The first time was with my high school sweetheart. The second time was with my very first issue of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper back in December of 2012. The Bay View has had my nose wide open ever since.
It has recently been suggested that those confined to these sensory deprivation torture units indefinitely, but who have a cellie, are not in “solitary confinement,” as though another human occupying a space not even large enough for one will somehow mitigate the deleterious effects of this isolation. It doesn’t. The only marked difference is the number of stressors you must contend with in a day.
I remember entering into prison back in 1995 for the first time and learning about our struggles from various New Afrikans. We as youngsters learned about Comrade George L. Jackson by reading “Soledad Brother” and “Blood in My Eye” and understood the struggles and that by studying we too could learn how to change our conditions.
I’m delighted to report the rally for Yogi Bear was just wonderful. Headlined “49 Years of Injustice: Release Hugo Pinell,” decrying Yogi’s 49 years in prison, 43 years in solitary confinement and 23 years in the infamous Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit), the rally was held Sunday, June 9, 4 p.m., at Freedom Archives, 518 Valencia, San Francisco.
We, the United KAGE (Kings Against Genocidal Environments) Brothers, welcome you to our communion. We aim to unite and unionize the movement from within the belly of the beast to without. We wish to unite all people, regardless of color, race, creed, gender or sexuality. We all have much in common when dealing with prejudices and classism.
As one contemplates whether to volunteer or not, just remember all the psychological torture and personal loss that each of us in these solitary confinement torture cells have already experienced for the past 20-30 years. And, more importantly, think of all those youngsters, maybe young relatives, who will take our places after we’re gone – for another 20-30 years – if this system is not changed at this time.
I have learned profound lessons from Zaharibu in the short three months I have known him. In hearing more about his story and the horrendous conditions he lives under, I have been driven to learn more about solitary confinement, why it must be abolished and the resistance against it. I have also been moved to become a part of that resistance in any way I can.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
Prisoners of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds and ideological and political persuasions have forged a united front – best reflected by the Short Corridor Collective confined in Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit – around common goals and interests of ameliorating the tortuous concrete conditions inherent to long-term solitary confinement.
Amnesty International hopes that the Feb. 25 hearing will be a genuine chance for all stakeholders to positively influence the current reforms being proposed by CDCR. Without reform, conditions in California’s SHUs will continue to violate a raft of international standards and treaties governing the treatment of prisoners, including the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
In response to CDCR’s failure to meet our 2011 Five Core Demands, the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives respectfully present this notice of, and basis for, our individualized, collectively agreed upon decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest action on July 8, 2013. The upcoming peaceful protest will be a combined hunger strike-work stoppage action. Once initiated, this protest will continue indefinitely – until all Five Core Demands are fully met.
The prison system and the SHU is not going to shut down anytime soon. So we will have to be more realistic and pragmatic in our approach to addressing the mental health of prisoners. We can start off as prisoners by pledging we’ll not become collaborators with the CDCR in their endeavor to assault our sanity!
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has recently circulated a memo regarding the most recent revised edition of its Step Down Program (SDP) and Security Threat Group (STG) Program proposal. The revised policies come one year after a series of statewide hunger strikes by inmates in the Security Housing Units (SHU) in Pelican Bay and other California state prisons.
Gualberto Lopez and German Cabrera, both in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at Calipatria State Prison as "alleged associates of a prison gang," write about the inhumane, torturous treatment in segregation, Institutional Gang Investigators and the corrupt validation process, as well as the targeting of Mexicans/Latinos/Hispanics.
Two letters follow: The first, by Mutope Duguma, describes the current Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor situation. The second, by Pelican Bay inmate and hunger strike leader George Franco, is reposted here and now so readers can compare prison officials’ promises with the situation described by Mutope Duguma a year later.
The green monster always labels us who are validated [alleged to be prison gang members or associates] as violent and threats to other inmates, staff and the security of the institution. The thing is this: They fail to show proof of these claims.
Black August is dedicated to freeing all political prisoners and putting America’s night- and day-mare prison system in check. Black August is about making folks inside know we will not leave them to the embedded cruelty of their captors. The need to build more and stronger support for political captives is greater than ever.