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The Washington Post last week wrote one of a series of articles about the federal shutdown that focused on the criminal justice system. The reporters included the obligatory interviews with prison guards talking about how overworked and understaffed they are, which is likely true. But the article was inflammatory – not because of the interviews with the guards, but because the Post reported that while the poor guards were suffering, the prisoners were eating meals fit for a king. The purpose of the articles was to outrage the public. How can these criminals eat like this while the hard-working guards are suffering? But it’s all nonsense.
The lockdown of 47,000 prisoners in all 25 Pennsylvania prisons began Aug. 29, 2018, and lasted for 12 days. Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel backed by Gov. Tom Wolf said the lockdown was an emergency measure to protect prison guards. They claimed there was widespread illness of guards from physical contact with synthetic drugs. This is false. The lockdown looks like it was a planned pre-emptive action so that the National Prison Strike didn’t spread to Pennsylvania prisons. The “drug emergency” was a pretext to isolate, repress and control prisoners.
On Feb 8, 2018, Northern District Judge Vince Chhabria held a hearing on a motion by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to dismiss civil rights lawsuits brought by two prisoners, Christopher Lipsey and Maher Suarez, who are suing CDCR for violation of their Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, they have brought their lawsuits to put an end to the sleep deprivation of prisoners caused by “security/welfare checks.”
So tell your little neo-fascist friends – who have no life outside of what revolves around these prison plantations – that they’re right. As long as we have sick individuals who have lost touch with their own sense of humanity, who play with and destroy our lives, who refuse to see us as human beings deserving of respect, I’m going to keep on so-called snitching! Now, go tell, gossip, chat about that!
Ava DuVernay undertook the documentary “13th” in order to explore and bring attention to the Prison Industrial Complex. The film’s title refers to the 1865 amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in which slavery was abolished “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” The story told by “13th” thus goes back to the early chain-gangs of Black prisoners – men arrested for petty offenses under the post-Civil War Black Codes who were then contracted out to perform labor that they had previously performed as privately-owned slaves.
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.
The order to ban entry to the U.S. by travelers from numerous majority-Muslim countries is subjecting not only Muslims coming here but also those already here to a reinvigorated campaign of Islamophobia. Now the state of Texas and its prison agency, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, is attempting to use a statement I made in 2012 as justification to deny me my religious right to grow a fist-length beard and wear my kuffi prayer cap throughout any TDCJ facility.
The late Eldridge Cleaver, minister of information of the Black Panther Party, once said that when fascism comes to America, it won’t need a swastika; it’ll be singing Yankee Doodle Dandy – and waving American flags. Welcome to the New Fascism – unleashed will be the most racist, vicious and nationalist forces in the country. That’s what “America First” really means. (Guess who’s last?) “New Fascism” – also known as Trumpism.
The budget signed June 27 by Gov. Jerry Brown reflects Sacramento’s relentless reliance on incarceration. Although the budget includes some repairs to the social safety net, it nonetheless aggressively builds up California’s system of imprisonment, adding another $270 million to the state’s large-scale jail construction program, extending contracts for private prisons, increasing the number of prison guards and funding construction on a dilapidated prison in Norco.
The majority of employees at La Palma Correctional Center who work on Compound 3 fit the description of a Security Threat Group due to their unlawful conduct, but who investigates them or makes them answerable? Certainly not themselves. Yet I am being targeted for my work; a work that was created to build a constructive Humanity; while these prison officials are rewarded for work that assaults the very fabric that makes us human and seeks to destroy lives.
Within the California Department of Corrections (CDCr), the name George Jackson evokes both fear and hate among prison guards. His very name represents resistance – the epitome of our Black manhood – and this explains in part why the CDCr has spent the last 44 years attempting to censor the name George L. Jackson from within its prisons.
Despite being held in solitary confinement for years, men known as Kinetik, Dhati and Brother M, primary leaders of the Free Alabama Movement, have been instrumental in organizing a statewide prison work stoppage in Alabama that began on Sunday, May 1. Alabama prisoners who have been on strike over unpaid labor and prison conditions are accusing officials of retaliating against their protest by starving them.
A federal jury in San Francisco awarded $25,000 in damages to Jesse Perez, who sued guards for trashing his cell in retaliation for his lawsuit against the prison and for his stand against solitary confinement. Jesse Perez, 35, imprisoned since age 15, was sent to the SHU at Pelican Bay in December 2003 and was held there for 10 years. He took part in all three hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013, protesting prolonged isolation and demanding human rights for prisoners.
Hugo Pinell was assassinated at New Folsom State Prison. Like Comrade George, Hugo has been in the crosshairs of the system for years. His assassination exemplifies how racists working in conjunction with prison authorities commit murderous acts like this. We saw it on the yard at Soledad in 1970 and we see it again on the yard at Folsom in 2015. It comes at a time when prisoners are collectively trying to end decades of internal strife. Those who took his life have done a disservice to our movement. Their actions served the cause of the same oppressor we fought against!
Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll. By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo “Yogi” Pinell was assassinated Aug. 12. Prison guards celebrated on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.
The Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines the word “hostility” as 1) a hostile state, condition or attitude; enmity; antagonism; unfriendliness; 2) a hostile act; 3) Opposition or resistance to an idea, plan project, etc.; 4) acts of warfare; 5) war. So our initial question to the people is: “What does hostility mean to you?”
On Jan. 29, 2015, my travels began with a wakeup call at 2:30 a.m. I was told by the first watch unit officer to be ready in 30 minutes. Myself and a total of 17 prisoners were all rounded up like chattel slaves and placed in the SHU’s C-Facility visiting room holding cells ‘til we boarded the bus at 6 a.m. In hitting the highway, my sensibilities immediately went through the whirlwind cycle of “shock and awe” via the vivid reminder of what freedom used to entail.
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.
Merely days after the suspension of the historic California Prisoner Hunger Strike of 2013, which lasted an unprecedented 60 days and saw record prisoner support across the state, the task of tactical and strategic re-assessment is well underway. We are gearing up for the upcoming battles in our overall struggle to abolish the state’s practice of long-term solitary confinement in both the political and legal arenas.
On Monday, Oct. 28, a jury began hearing testimony in a civil suit filed against four prison guards in Wise County, Virginia, for an attack on Wallens Ridge prisoner Frank Reid in July 2009. Reid filed the suit after defeating prison officials’ charges of aggravated assault in the same incident. Reid is charging the guards with violating his constitutional rights as a prisoner of the Virginia Department of Corrections (VA-DOC).
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