No one is coming to save us or our loved ones. Soon we move from the terror and inequities of 2020 into undeniably more of the same in 2021, and we are reminded that change is upon us, and up to us to drive our unstoppable force of We the People to use the truth we hold in our gut to join our incarcerated brothers and sisters to end the oppression of control and modern day slavery.
“Administrative segregation” is prison bureaucratese for solitary confinement. On Thursday, prisoners in solitary at California’s Old Folsom State Prison went on hunger strike for their Eighth Amendment right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. I spoke to Raquel Estrada, wife of Anthony Estrada, a prisoner writing for the strikers in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, who elaborated on the conditions of her husband’s confinement.
The men at Old Folsom State Prison in the ASU and Ad-Seg will begin a hunger strike on May 25 due to ongoing issues with the conditions of confinement that violate the Eighth Amendment. These prisoners are without food bowls, therefore having to eat out of ziplock bags. They have no cups, needing to drink water from an old milk carton. They have no TVs, no property at all. The mail is sometimes withheld for no reason – up to a month for some prisoners, for others even longer.
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
Former Black Panther Jalil Muntaqim was transferred from Attica Correctional Facility to Southport Correctional Facility, a notorious supermax prison just south of Elmira, New York, in early January. “This is clearly a punitive transfer,” Anne Lamb told the Militant Jan. 11. “It also means he’s much farther away from his legal advisers in Buffalo.” Lamb is a spokesperson for the Jericho Movement, a group that Muntaqim helped found, which works to win amnesty for political prisoners.
Guards have been jarringly waking prisoners every 30 minutes on death row at the Central California Women’s Facility since May 2014, and in the Pelican Bay SHU since Aug. 2, 2015, for so-called “security/welfare checks.” This is serious, ongoing sleep deprivation which is torture. These checks may also be harming people in other prisons; PB SHU and CCWF death row is where we have heard the most complaints.
This is the story that Missouri prisoner Shyheim Deen El-Mu’min wrote on paper bags when guards confiscated the writing paper from him and all the prisoners in his solitary confinement unit. The entire story is one of the longest we’ve ever received, over 10,000 words that filled 14 single-spaced pages when transcribed, so we’ll be presenting it in parts. This is the introduction, addressed to Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff.
Here’s where we are: Everyone who claims to be committed to the Agreement to End Hostilities needs to take care not to allow our beloved revolutionary giant Hugo “Yogi” Pinell’s death to be just another tragic and senseless bullshit reactionary violent statistic. Stand firm collectively and denounce those actions that caused Yogi’s death! This is a wake-up call to action!
No one is more knowledgeable about the lasting damage solitary confinement can cause than the tens of thousands of men, women and children experiencing it today. Building on the activism of these individuals, communities around the country are coming together to demand an end to long-term solitary confinement through public events and actions on the 23rd of each month in recognition of the 23 hours per day those in solitary confinement are confined to their cells.
On May 23, 2015, families and loved ones of people in solitary, community organizations and prisoner-class human rights advocates once again mobilized Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) throughout California and in Pennsylvania. Since the actions began on March 23, 2015, over 30 organizations – statewide, nationwide and worldwide – became co-sponsors, 45 endorsed, and the movement keeps growing.
We are sharing our express concerns as the CCI Prisoner Human Rights Movement Local Council – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), Danny Troxell, Antonio Villagrana and George Ruiz – concerning the non-functional operation of Steps 1 through 4 and how we as SHU Step Down Program prisoners are being denied our federal and state constitutional rights to equal protection and substantive and procedural due process.
As of July 11, 2014, Georgia State Prison (GSP) has placed all inmates who were previously being illegally held on 24-hour administrative segregation for indefinite periods at a time with a cellmate on the new Tier II program. The new Standard Operating Procedures for Tier II state that this new program is designed for violent and dangerous offenders, escape-prone offenders or disruptive offenders.
My message is not just to the men and women in these solitary holes. I myself am in one right now. My message is to the whole 2.5 million victims of mass incarceration and prison slavery. Everyone! All of us around the country, let’s just shut down. Wherever you are, just stop working. If you are in solitary confinement, spread the word to those rotating in and out. When they try to lock up those who organize and lead the shutdowns in population, don’t even give up.
A recent study concluded that even a moderate deficiency of Vitamin D results in a 53 percent increased chance of developing dementia. The most abundant source of Vitamin D is a chemical reaction which occurs when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight. Sunny California’s torture units feature dog-run style, walk-in closet yards which consist of four solid walls and a plexiglas or metal grating for a roof, both of which obstruct direct sunlight.
This is a summarized version of a letter I sent to Mike Stainer, director of Adult Institutions, July 28, 2014, in order to address the long standing U.S. constitutional violations at CCI-Tehachapi and bring this prison under the current SHU standards forthwith. My purpose is to establish monthly meetings between CCI-Tehachapi officials and the four prisoner negotiators who shall speak on behalf of the Tehachapi SHU prisoner class.
Public broadcast stations KQED and KTMP are just two stations multi-casting from Sutro Tower that are currently being blocked or restricted by the SQ administration under the guise of technical difficulties. But it is actually intentional and because these provide programs such as world news and Democracy Now, even documentaries denouncing the horrific practice of long-term torture by solitary confinement in California prisons.
Despite attempts by the CDCR to insure the public that they are acting with prudence to change people’s gang validations and correct injustices and general inhumane conditions in prison SHUs, testimony from experts and the public continued to unmask the basic torture and impunity of the CDCR’s policies in maintaining prolonged isolation and prisons that fundamentally violate human rights. Hundreds packed two hearing rooms demanding real change.
Once upon a time a pen full of corrupt pigs all of a sudden realized the dirt on them was being exposed to the public. Articles describing some of the asinine antics common to their clique written by an anonymous author had been posted online and circulated in print via local and national “telling it like it is” publications such as the one you’re reading now.
To the extent that it is possible, we have been following the legislative hearings and we are hopeful – cautiously optimistic – that something meaningful and permanent will result from them. We are mindful that this time the legislative hearings are being held as a result of struggle and sacrifice. There is still so much work to do and freedom to win and we look forward to the struggle ahead with you all. Until we win or don’t lose.
CDCR tried their hardest to deceive the public by defaming our peaceful movement. They labeled us and attacked our character as a collective. Our peaceful protests have nothing to do with furthering “gangs” or “prison politics,” which CDCR loosely reported. They have ALL to do with amplifying our voices to let the world know that the bodies this nation holds captive in its isolation chambers are human beings too.