Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first of three California Hunger Strikes, Bay View Editor Nube Brown interviews Paul Redd and Kubwa Jitu, captured and labeled the worst of the worst, sharing a combined 66 plus years total in solitary confinement, and revealing their humanity to be the Best of the Best.
Survival in the midst of historical and current long-term determined torture by prison guards against prisoners under the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation is testament to the human spirit, and glaring evidence of our social decline as human beings to allow the existence of such atrocities.
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.
Tomorrow, California lawmakers will hold a hearing about the use of solitary confinement inside its state prison system. February marks seven months since people incarcerated throughout California embarked on the mass hunger strike that has drawn legislative attention to prison conditions. The CDCR released new proposed regulations around its gang policies, and it points to changes already made. Accounts from former hunger strikers suggest that change is slow in coming.
Call: We have not been to yard in almost two weeks. We have not been allowed to shower in a week. We received no medical attention. No weigh-ins, no vital signs checks – nothing. Response: Some of the people on hunger strike are older men, and they have medical issues. Your display of power is totally out of place. Your purposeful neglect of their human rights and dignity seems to me shameful.
Hundreds of people held in California prisons are expected to launch their third large-scale hunger strike in two years today. The current strike, announced by leaders at Pelican Bay State Prison on Feb. 14, is seen as a resumption of the large-scale strikes in June and September 2011, when thousands of prisoners across the state stopped eating for days or weeks in order to press for the five demands laid out by the strike organizers.
I have not hugged my brother Ronnie in over two decades. He has been in solitary confinement in the Pelican Bay SHU since 1990. Ronnie could have been home 17 years ago; he has been eligible for parole since 1996. But, in a waking nightmare, prisoners are routinely told they’ll never make parole while in the SHU – but getting out of the SHU is virtually impossible.
If the intention of the prison system is rehabilitation so when prisoners are released they do not return, then we surely must object to solitary confinement. If we believe in basic human rights and dignity for all human beings, then we surely must object to solitary confinement. If we object to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, we surely must object to solitary confinement in the U.S.
I am writing to inform you of the scare tactics that California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP SHU) uses in order to intimidate our families, friends and associates away from corresponding with those of us who are held in these solitary confinement units – AdSegs and SHUs.
Since the last hunger strike, the administration via the “Office of Corruptional Security” has instituted documented military torture tactics here at Pelican Bay State Prison in order to create hostile living conditions and attempt to turn prisoners on each other. But many of us have seen these tactics before, so we know how to deal with it.
Imagine you were framed again by prison gang officers using a tattoo you got as a child and a symbol in a birthday card to “validate” you as a “prison gang associate” and label you “worst of the worst” and placed in segregation in a Security Housing Unit, or SHU, for years on end. That is what happened to my childhood best friend and husband, Robbie Riva.
The CDCR should have to prove its accusations of gang activity, membership or association, providing the full panoply of constitutional protections. If the courts will not discharge their duty to protect constitutional rights, then the people must demand a change as is our/your right.
We’re entering into our hunger strike on Sept. 26 because our suffering must be exposed to the world. We will not stop under any circumstances until we’re liberated from these gulags.