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International law regarding the right to personal integrity prohibits physical as well as mental torture and that prohibition is absolute: It recognizes no exception based on an emergency or other circumstance. Equally absolute is the prohibition on any form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which covers pain or suffering – also of either physical or mental nature – that is less severe than torture and not necessarily inflicted with intent.
For decades, prisoners in California have protested the torturous conditions they are subjected to. Now a nurse has come forward who worked in a California prison and can speak to personally witnessing some of these horrors perpetrated by some of his colleagues at the California Men’s Colony State Prison in San Luis Obispo. Paul Spector was fired from his job for speaking out. Check him out in his own words ...
“What sort of conditions could be so unbearable that they’d drive a person to suffer cutting through the skin, nerves, muscles and arteries of his own face, at the risk of permanent disfigurement, disability or even death?” Amerika inflicts such extreme torture on prisoners that they routinely commit such acts as could never be expected of a sane and stable mind. And this is the point: Solitary confinement drives people into insanity.
As imprisoned activists we’ve often asked society: What have your eyes seen to wish to see no more? And what have your ears heard to wish to hear no more? Your self-imposed silence has only fueled the government’s thirst for fascist repression, and this repression has manifested on every level of society, causing humanity to hemorrhage, while debris from this hemorrhaging stains the dissipating remnants of a deteriorating society.
On the final day of our May trip to Palestine we visited the Abu Jihad Museum for Prisoners Movement Affairs in the brilliant sunlight of Jerusalem. The simultaneous visit to Bethlehem of a Pope who paid respect to the Palestinian right to self-determination was nice enough. But the very thought of such an institution alone astounded me. Neither a “dead” museum nor a bourgeois one in the conventional style of Europe, the fact of its existence in Palestine exhilarated me.
This is a glimpse into torture by prison staff, using any means available, of which solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison in California is only a reflection of the inhumane treatment and clear U.S. constitutional violations of our First, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendment rights that prisoners in solitary everywhere are subjected to.
I’m thankful to Wanda and the Bay View. We all are. I love the world that Wanda takes me to, because it exists outside of the typical realm of negativity that swamps the prison environment. The Bay View is a necessary tool for prisoners, and I urge anybody who has a subscription to get subscriptions for others who may not be able to get it for themselves. Because who knows, you just may be in a position to save a life too.
Though we have yet to obtain our Five Core Demands, no one can deny how much we have achieved since our initial July 1, 2011, hunger strike. For the most part our movement for human rights has made much progress, but patience is required, for we are engaged in a protracted struggle that demands our resilience.
The prison system and the SHU is not going to shut down anytime soon. So we will have to be more realistic and pragmatic in our approach to addressing the mental health of prisoners. We can start off as prisoners by pledging we’ll not become collaborators with the CDCR in their endeavor to assault our sanity!
We are illegally being held in the SHU and Ad-Seg while being subjected to sensory deprivation, both physical and psychological torture, inadequate health care and isolation. PBSP and CDCR officials are refusing to comply with CDCR official policy. It is necessary we prisoners get more involved with our destiny.
When imprisoned and placed in an isolation unit, you begin to live inside yourself, measuring how you are doing against the challenges that you are confronted by to gauge how well you are getting on.