Many of the government’s “experts” claim that long-term isolation is not harmful to an individual’s psyche. Yet, when I look at my hands I see blood.
In 1989 the California Department of Corrections opened Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). Their primary stated reason for its construction was to reduce prison violence by isolating “alleged” gang leaders and members, but contrary to their stated purpose, prison violence has both rapidly and dramatically increased. California prisons are more violent now than before the opening of Pelican Bay.
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.
We are committed to contributing to meaningful and lasting change. And this is part of what keeps us amongst the sane. We understand, and always have, that the price that we will pay for this is the efforts to silence us, to isolate and destroy us!
Ask anyone who has ever been on a hunger strike; the process of intentionally starving oneself is a very painful ordeal. And yet, there are places on this planet where the idea of death is preferable to continuing down a path that offers no hope or relief from suffering. I live in such a place; I know.
Three prisoners sentenced to death for their leadership of the 1993 Lucasville rebellion, now at Ohio State Penitentiary, have been on hunger strike since Jan. 3. An Open Letter that will be presented to prison officials at tomorrow's rally has collected more than 500 signatures from Ohio, many other states and all across the globe, among them many prominent citizens. Buses are bringing supporters from far and wide to the rally.