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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 April 21, I finally got to see Charlie Hinton’s “Solitary Man” play at the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. It was so much more than a cultural experience. The play was gripping, emotional and real, with jazz trumpet sprinkled in. The panel powerfully reflected the layers of pain, survival and resistance in the prison movement. And the event, a benefit for the San Francisco Bay View, was a moving tribute to Mary and Willie Ratcliff’s devotion to their invaluable newspaper.
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.”
California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) had been locking classes of prisoners up in solitary confinement since the ‘60s as part of CDCr’s para-military low-intensity warfare, to break the minds and spirits of its subjects, California’s prisoner class. CDCr’s solitary confinement has two operating components: 1) punishing you and 2) physically and mentally destroying you.
I begin this six-month update on the activities of CDCR and the CCPOA with my utmost thankfulness and respect for the San Francisco Bay View. I thank your staff and readers for continuing to shine a bright light on the injustices that occur daily behind enemy lines, as it pertains to human beings who are marginalized as prisoners, defined as slaves by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but yet full citizens of this country! I have now been housed in Pelican Bay Level II SHU for six months, and the situation has not progressed but has rapidly deteriorated.
I cannot imagine that if DMHN, of Parkland, Florida, were Black, that he would not have been captured and controlled by some aspect of law enforcement. The unfortunate and overplayed fear of Black students misbehaving has been very much on display in the media with various police student classroom encounters available for all to see. I cannot imagine any Black or Muslim of any age, under the kind of FBI scrutiny we now know happened with DMHN, who would not have been contained, blamed or framed by security and intelligence forces in this country.
Don’t miss the highly acclaimed play, ‘Solitary Man: My Visit to Pelican Bay State Prison,’ performed by Charlie Hinton and Fred Johnson. Fred and Charlie launched the new two-person version in September 2017 and return now, on Feb. 10 and 14, for two performances as benefits for the SF Bay View newspaper: Saturday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m., at ANSWER, 2969 Mission St., San Francisco and Wednesday, Feb. 14, 7 p.m., at Freedom Archives, 518 Valencia, San Francisco – Show the Bay View some love on Valentine’s Day!
To: CDCr Secretary Scott Kernan and Director Kathline Allison -- From: Abdul Olugbala Shakur (aka J. Harvey, C48884) and Joka Heshima Jinsai (aka S. Denham, J38283) -- The following is what we believe to be just and fair and reasonable requests considering the inhumane treatment that many of the prisoners were being subjected to while housed in solitary confinement, or isolation, for decades, especially at Pelican Bay State Prison and Corcoran State Prison.
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.
Modern day slaves, sanctioned by the United States government under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution … Yes! By subjugating, marginalizing and disenfranchising the oppressed human beings, by way of economic discrimination or depriving humans of decent wages, that forces humans to live half-butchered lives that subject humans to the many social ills produced inside a society – a slave, criminal and gangster mentality that devalues, demeans, degrades and dehumanizes humans.
Sharon Fennell, also well known by her disc jockey name Sista Soul, has been a Humboldt resident for over 30 years. Fennell, through her volunteer work at KHSU, has grown to become an advocate for prisoners and shown faithfulness in bringing awareness to the conditions and contradictions of America’s penal system. After 36 years, Fenell – or Sista as she is called by friends and close acquaintances – has decided to move on. She has one more radio show this Sunday, Dec. 18.
Sept. 9, 2016, was the start of the largest prison strike in U.S. history. Over 72,000 incarcerated workers in 22 states refused to provide their labor to profit the prison industrial complex. California forces 5,588 incarcerated workers to labor in exchange for little or no compensation. Another 4,000 earn $2 a day fighting Californian wildfires with inadequate training and equipment. The prison system in California reaped $207 million in revenue and $58 million in profit from forced labor in 2014-15.
My journey began in the mid-1980s, when folks in my community began to hear about a “supermax” prison that would be built in nearby Crescent City, California. At that time, my colleague Tom Cairns and Mike Da Bronx, my husband, and me were busy at KHSU producing a weekly radio show called Alternative Review. In 1990, I would get one of the first letters from that place, Pelican Bay State Prison. It came from a young man named Troy Williams. He liked my radio show.
For decades while under solitary confinement, I was one of numerous New Afrikan subjects who was trapped in oblivion, while the world outside of solitary confinement was constantly changing. We survived by feeding off the imagination of a past movement that had died away several decades ago. It wasn’t that we couldn’t let go of the past. We simply refused to surrender to institutionalized racism.
People in solitary confinement have been loudly awakened by guards every 30 minutes around the clock since the night of Aug. 2, for more than four months! CDCR claims these checks are to improve mental health care and prevent suicides. Instead, this cruel sleep deprivation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners and their attorneys are demanding that these checks be halted. Stop these torture tactics now! Support prisoners’ human rights! Send emails and make calls. Sleep deprivation is torture!
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.
Dr. Everett D. Allen’s testimony to Sen. Richard Durbin’s United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights at its hearing on “Solitary Confinement as Torture” on June 19, 2012, was previously published by the Bay View, and this testimony was presented to the second hearing, held Feb. 25, 2014.
Written Nov. 14, 2013 – The 80-mile drive from Eureka to Crescent City, Calif., must be one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the world, with magnificent forests of spruce and redwood to the east and breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean to the west. I’m on my way to Crescent City to visit Hugo Pinell, the only member of the San Quentin 6 – the famous trial that grew out of the murder of George Jackson – still imprisoned.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris is nothing if not ambitious. Not content with being the Golden State’s top law enforcement officer – a position she has held since 2011, after serving seven years as San Francisco County’s district attorney – she’s currently running for the U.S. Senate and is the clear favorite to replace Barbara Boxer, who is retiring in November 2016. Harris must not miss this historic opportunity to end solitary confinement in California.