Home Tags Dolores Canales
Tag: Dolores Canales
On Nov. 11, an imprisoned person at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) faced extreme violence at the hands of prison guards. Stacy Rojas and three others were detained, physically abused, sexually harassed, strip searched in the presence of male guards, and kept without water, food or restrooms for 11 hours. Requests to speak with members of the prison’s Investigative Services Unit have so far been ignored.
Too often, organizing work done by incarcerated women goes wholly unrecognized. In her book, “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women,” Victoria Law focuses on the many forms of activism happening inside of women’s prisons, most of which never reach the dominant media. In the following interview, Law shares ways in which individual acts of resistance are building toward a transformational new reality.
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.
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 deadline to comment on new – and unacceptable – rules for prison visiting is Friday, June 5! Issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr) supposedly to keep drugs and cell phones from being smuggled into the prisons – contraband most often brought in by guards for sale to prisoners – the new rules call for strip searching any visitor singled out by sniffing dogs. But only visitors have to submit to a strip search. All others entering are only subject to an airport type pat-down search. Please send in your comments by June 5 and in addition, everyone is urged to sign the petition described herein.
Less than two weeks ago the United Nations Committee against Torture issued a report strongly criticizing the U.S. record on a number of issues, among them the extensive use of solitary confinement. While the U.S. uses long-term solitary more than any other country in the world, California uses it more than any other state. This practice is designed to break the human spirit and is condemned as a form of torture under international law.
A year ago on July 8, over 30,000 people inside California prisons began a hunger strike to bring an end to the state’s use of indefinite solitary confinement. On the one-year anniversary of the largest prisoner hunger strike in California history, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law today is filing a lawsuit charging CDCR with illegally refusing to publicly disclose information, data and studies regarding its solitary confinement rules, policies and practices.
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.
There can be no doubt that the legislators’ courageous act of publically acknowledging our protest issues in late August 2013 saved many lives, and it gave many people real hope that substantive changes will be forthcoming. And now that there has been additional public exposure – via the two public hearings – demonstrating CDCR’s refusal to institute real, meaningful changes, on its own, people are relying on the legislature to do all in their power to pass legislation reining in CDCR’s gross abuse of power, this year.
A mass prisoner hunger strike rocked California’s prison system this past summer, drawing international attention to the extensive use of solitary confinement in the United States. Nearly all of the attention, however, has focused on solitary confinement in men’s prisons; much less is known about the conditions and experiences inside women’s prisons.
At Legal Services for Prisoners with Children’s 35th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 19, headlined by Dr. Angela Y. Davis and Michelle Alexander, I noticed immediately the “logo,” a phoenix rising from the ashes, the theme for California Coalition for Women Prisoners’ 15th Anniversary celebration of the Fire Inside two years ago. All of Us or None is 10 years old now, and LSPC at 35 is the parent of CCWP.
California’s use of indefinite solitary confinement and the devastating physical, mental and public health impacts of the notorious practice was at the center of today’s three hour hearing by a rare joint session of the California Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees to address demands made by prisoners during this summer’s massive hunger strike, the largest in U.S. history.
Representatives of the Short Corridor Collective at Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit have based their decision on a meeting with fellow prisoners at the prison, the growing international condemnation of California’s practice of solitary confinement, as well as the commitment of California Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairs Loni Hancock and Tom Ammiano to convene a series of hearings in response to the strikers’ demands that would “address the issues that have been raised to a point where they can no longer be ignored.”
Today Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano announced that they will hold public hearings on the conditions in California prisons that have led to the inmate hunger strike, now in its 54th day. They anticipate that hearings may begin as early as this fall and continue into next year. The two legislators, chairs of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Public Safety, urged an immediate end to the hunger strike so that energy and attention can be focused on the issues that have been raised.
On Aug. 12, 2012, the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) in all prison and juvenile facilities and called for its extension to our communities. The strategic and material benefits for our ongoing human rights struggle, thousands of prisoners and their families, is obvious. Less obvious is the unprecedented opportunity for social progress and community development represented by this AEH.
As a member of the Mediation Team, never did I think I would be a part of a Hunger Strike that would enter into its 50th day. Never did I think that I would be denied access to the face to face meetings that have taken place within the CDCR because I am a family member. And never did I think that CDCR would refuse on all grounds to meet even the most reasonable demands of the prisoners.
Should the Commission grant this request for a hearing, we will provide the Commission with testimony from prisoners, as well as oral presentations by family members of prisoners, advocates and lawyers. We would ask that the Commission recommend to the United States government and the state of California that they immediately take all measures necessary to address grave violations of human rights in the prison system.
As prisoners enter their 46th day of the massive California prison hunger strike, supporters continue to condemn Monday’s controversial court order that authorizes force feeding of strike participants and that disregards their medical wishes. The order has emboldened prisoners to continue their strike, while others have decided to rejoin the strike in response to the CDCR attack.
As California legislators return to work this week, prisoner hunger strike family members, loved ones, advocates and supporters will gather at the Capitol to urge state decision makers to take swift and resolute action toward meeting the demands of the strikers. Waiting for the legislators on the Capitol’s south steps will be a life-sized mock Security Housing Unit (SHU) cell.
SHU prisoners in California are not allowed to call home. Lack of family phone calls is one of the reasons California’s SHU cells are characterized as solitary confinement – the harsh deprivation of family and social ties. CDCR has created the conditions that drive prisoners to desperation. It is horrifying to witness CDCR’s response to the current hunger strike: Crank up the cruelty and let them die.
12Page 1 of 2