Tags Michael D. Russell
Tag: Michael D. Russell
I am calling on colleagues and professional organizations to recognize publicly and use our influence to bring an end to prolonged solitary confinement in American jails, prisons and detention centers. Not only is there is a great need for solidarity among individuals and organizations to uphold human rights and ethical principles but also to reduce reprisals against any whistleblower. Considering that 95 percent of those incarcerated will be released back to the community, bringing with them the negative health consequences of their confinement, the conditions and traumas they face while incarcerated should concern us all.
Rally at the San Francisco Federal Courthouse while the four California prisoner hunger strike and Ashker class representatives meet and confer* with CDCr to address the continuing solitary conditions that violate the Ashker lawsuit settlement agreement. The four prisoner hunger strike representatives will be present in the courtroom, an historic presence! Help create a strong show of solidarity with prisoners fighting for human rights! Join the rally outside the courthouse on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, 11:30 a.m., at the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco.
On July 3, a critical ruling issued in Ashker v. Brown (aka Ashker v. Governor, Docket No. 4:09-cv-09-5796 CW (N.D. Cal.)), the federal class-action lawsuit challenging indefinite solitary confinement in California. The ruling, issued by Presiding Judge Claudia Wilken, granted Plaintiffs’ appeal on a motion challenging the ongoing conditions of extreme isolation endured by many class members.
In October 2017, the two-year period expired for the court to monitor the Ashker v. Governor settlement to limit solitary confinement in California. Since then, the four drafters of the Agreement to End Hostilities and lead hunger strike negotiators – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco and Todd Ashker – have all been removed from general population and put in solitary in administrative segregation units, based on fabricated information created by staff and/or collaborating “inmate informants.”
As a Black Nation and prisoner class, we have come too far since the Agreement to End Hostilities and the last hunger strike of July 8, 2013, which 30,000 prisoners partook in to break the chains of our inhumane solitary confinement to allow ourselves to lose focus on the AEH and what it has done to enlighten society that we still have our humanity. But we will never change this miserable, decaying prison system or our neighborhoods if the oppressor state sees and can utilize our violent, hostile actions toward one another to show just cause to retaliate.
This is a follow-up to our October 2017 Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement’s statement of prisoner representatives on the second anniversary of the Ashker v. Brown settlement. I am sharing a copy of my proposed “Open Letter to Gov. Brown, California legislators and CDCR Secretary Kernan on ongoing human rights violations and lack of reparative action for decades of torture” with the hope of helping to re-energize our movement, by gaining widespread support for the positions presented in the “open letter.”
After the court order to shut down D-unit, CDCr administration has implemented a scheme to get around the court order by housing general population prisoners (Level II) in a SHU (Security Housing Unit) that is designed for maximum security and only allows for movement that is grossly restricted. The implementation of this scheme by CDCr and CCPOA [California Correctional Peace Officers Association] to refill these housing units, was only to receive the multi-millions of dollars Pelican Bay lost with its closure.
If there is one unifying principle emerging from the disaster known as the Trump Regime, it is the president’s singular mission to erase the executive presence of his predecessor, Barack Obama. This may be seen most recently in Trump’s bumbling undoing of Obama’s executive order known as DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, done to further endear him to his so-called “base,” white nationalists who love to hear about the suffering of nonwhite Others.
Many in this country believe all citizens enjoy the right to free speech. But this is a myth. Free speech is reserved only for those who control the media and other power structures and those who agree with the political establishment. Oppressed nations in particular are regularly denied free speech, especially when that speech involves pointing out what’s wrong with Amerika. Once locked up in U.$. prisons, people further lose their ability to read and communicate freely.
About 10 years ago a beautiful young spirit moved to my tier, here in North Seg. He was born and raised in Alabama at a time when “Dungeons and Dragons” was enchanting the hearts and minds of little boys everywhere. He grew up to become a “dungeon master” without peer and came to spread his magic amongst the men of San Quentin’s Death Row. He wore his inner child on his sleeve and coaxed the wounded inner child of many others to come to the surface and play.
On Aug. 11, white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, against the removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, It turned deadly. The Charlottesville events happened just a week before Aug. 19, the date of the planned mass rally in Washington, D.C., against mass imprisonment. This rally and the growing movement of which it is part are aimed at dismantling not merely symbols of past racism and slavery like Confederate monuments, but the 13th Amendment, which still authorizes slavery today and is directed predominantly against people of color.
As I write this article, I am not sure what day the Civil War began or what day it ended. The facts that I do know about the Civil War are not worth repeating here, as that story already occupies plenty of space in American text. My muse, instead, is about the particular vestige of slavery that the Civil War bequeathed to us on Dec. 6, 1865, that now forms the basis of our struggle to end mass incarceration and prison slavery in 2017.
Many courts have held that a serious medical need is “one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity of a doctor’s attention.” See Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 516, 522 (7th Circuit, 2008). Being denied medical care at the Clements Unit Maximum Security Prison in remote Amarillo, Texas, is so common that the average prisoner here can expect to be denied some form of medical care during his stay.
I left CDCr wondering how PBSP could remain in shambles after 22 years of court oversight. As I started educating myself about prison reform, I stumbled upon Keramet Reiter’s 2016 book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.” Within those pages, I found validation and some disturbing answers. I wish this book had been available to me before I started working in CDCr.
The psychological warfare that is taking place in the prisons here in the United Snakes of Amerikkka is placing prisoners in the soul breaker (segregation) for confinement that equals decades. I refer to segregation being the soul breaker because that is what long term segregation is designed to do, break a man’s soul completely. Among the misconceptions about solitary confinement is that it’s used only for a few weeks or months.
Nearly a thousand subscribers to the Bay View newspaper were denied their September papers – and we suspect their October papers as well – because of its coverage of the nationwide strikes to end prison slavery that began Sept. 9. Prison officials censoring the paper claim it will incite disruption. Like claims that someone being beaten by a gang of cops is “resisting,” the Bay View is “disrupting” prison operations.
I recently received a form that was generated by the California City Correctional Facility administration. This form notified me that I would not be allowed to read my Bay View newspaper this month. While this may seem like a clear constitutional violation, CDCR has stipulated by law that no inmate may possess any literature “which contains or concerns plans to disrupt the order, or breach the security, of any facility.”
I wake up every morning and stretch, then say a prayer thanking the Lord for allowing me to make it through another day and night. My mattress is in real poor condition, as it’s old and the cotton is coming out, so I’ve had to re-sew it in order not to further damage my back. I spend at least 20 minutes every morning stretching, then brush my teeth and wash my face. This starts at 5 a.m.
In the December 2015 issue of the San Francisco Bay View, I wrote an article entitled “Do Black Lives Matter Behind the Walls” and introduced to the Bay View audience the newly formed New African Liberation Collective (NALC). While this particular issue was allowed into prisons throughout the state, it was seized at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, where I was being housed, based upon the orders of the Internal Affairs Department as a security risk.
Time and time again, those of us behind these enemy lines are forced to consciously recognize the significance of the Black August attack on one of the iconic San Quentin Six. It is no puzzle for those familiar with the tactics and practices of prisoncrats that their spin doctors, like (CDCr spokesperson) Terry Thornton, promulgate deceptions to try and conceal the fact that the End Hostilities policy instituted by prisoners has been reasonably effective.