Tags Pelican Bay SHU
Tag: Pelican Bay SHU
On Dec. 9, 2014, I visited with Mr. Juan Méndez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, who is now an expert on our class action lawsuit to end solitary confinement torture here in California. Hopefully, it will have a ripple effect across the U.S. I gave him a living experience witnessed from its opening in late December 1989 to the present under its “snitch, parole or die” mass validation and indeterminate SHU torture classification and enhanced coerced debriefing.
I’ve learned to use the term “visual language,” meaning I try my best to let my art creations speak to the people in a way they’ll feel and deeply understand intuitively just by viewing it. I really hope you like this composition. This art is simply titled “Help Me,” being a composition. You can see everything in it is arranged in relation to each other, especially the pain we endure as people of color.
Under the aegis of repressing a “gang” called the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), the administration carried on a witchhunt against the political thinking of many Black prisoners and punished them by solitary confinement. This article, the second in a series of three, looks at the notion of prison gang, its relation to the prisoner’s need for defense and how that affects us beyond the prison wall.
CDCR deliberately lied about their implementation of the Security Threat Group Step Down Program sanctioned by Gov. Jerry Brown. Gov. Brown and CDCr administrators are currently violating our United States constitutional rights, the California Code of Regulations and other rules, laws, policies and standards with the intent of breaking down and destroying men and women prisoners, family bonds and moral ethics here in California.
This memorandum is directed to the above CDCR administrators for the express purpose of respectfully reminding you about unresolved and continuing problematic issues relevant to our 2011-2014 Five Core and 40 Supplemental Demands and CDCR’s Security Threat Group-Step Down Program (STG-SDP). I am requesting your attention and responsive dialogue addressing these issues.
Leaving Pelican Bay SHU was exhilarating – with at the same time a feeling of melancholy. I hardly looked back as I was departing, but I was never displaced from the stark reminder of what I personally experienced and what others continue to endure. Considering the horrific circumstances of the SHU, it is not an easy adjustment.
One year ago, on July 8, 2013, 30,000 California prisoners initiated the largest hunger strike the world has ever seen. Sixty days later, 40 prisoners, who had eaten nothing in all that time, agreed to suspend the strike when state legislators promised to hold hearings on ending solitary confinement, the heart of their demands. The 2013 hunger strike followed two in 2011. In the interim, effective October 2012, the hunger strike leaders, representing all racial groups, issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities, which has held with few exceptions throughout the California prison system ever since.
Our Five Core Demands of the hunger strikes have not been met. And we see that reform always equals revisionism, which means it’s no change. The food has literally gotten worse, although for a month they attempted to adequately feed us. The medical care continues to be inadequate. The educational programs and privileges are not afforded, and prisoners are still made to suffer in these inhumane conditions, now familiar to us for years on end.
Our struggle to abolish SHU torture units is inextricably linked to the broader struggle to seize cultural hegemony in the U.S. from the ruling class and its tool, the state. Our collective efforts have repeatedly exposed the state’s contradictions and sparked the people’s appetite for freedom and new social relationships. These activities undermine the reactionary character structure upon which authoritarian society is based. These actions are thus revolutionary.
I’m reaching out to inform you all that I finally finished my book, “Condemned.” This book isn’t just about me or about what happened to these men after a prison uprising. It’s about all of us. What happened to me can happen to you. Especially if you are poor. Especially if you are a minority. Especially if you are alone ... or at least feel that you’re alone.
The heart of our oppression – indefinite housing in SHU – remains fully intact and has yet to be ruptured. Our Plan B should focus solely on their sacred cow and work toward getting fixed dates for SHU placement. This is where our real struggle will be. Only when our future hunger strikes and work strikes are coupled with strong activism in our communities will we have a successful Plan B.
The CDCR is proposing new regulations on “security threat groups” or “gangs,” which will be implemented after a regular public hearing, to be held on April 3. The Step Down Program, which CDCR has been executing as a pilot program, is apparently being added to CDCR’s vast number of regulations. The implementation of the official Step Down Program comes while a second legislative hearing on Feb. 11 has been organized.
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.
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.
This is just a quick missive in regard to the enclosed letter that the warden is sending to people who inquire about my wellbeing. He is telling them a flat out lie. I have yet, as of this date, Nov. 3, 2013, to see a doctor for my heart or for ingesting ink. The warden also refuses to disclose the result of their investigation. I want people to read the warden’s letter and see how he is lying to the public.
Our resolve remains as strong as ever, and we continue to press forward. No one should receive a sentence from a court and then have those responsible for carrying out that sentence exact revenge and arbitrary punishments at their whim. This is the reality that 30,000 men and women lent their collective voice to opposing.
Abdul Olugbala Shakur (s/n James Harvey) has been condemned to solitary confinement for over 30 years. In the aftermath of the latest hunger strike, which he participated in for the entire 60 days, his heart may have been permanently damaged, but he can’t be sure because the medical staff at Pelican Bay refuses to run the tests. Now he reports an even more alarming health threat: poisoning.
This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest and brashest personality in the political prisoner world. On Oct. 4, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement. Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.
In recent times there has been an avalanche of misrepresentations, deceit, cover-ups and outright lies waged against the truth as it relates to prisoners and what is really going on out of the eyesight of the public. Now the SHU class is uniting to say enough with the deception and untruth, enough of the cruel and unjust treatment at the hands of corrupt administrators working to maintain this profitable system adverse to human life.
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.”