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Tag: sleep deprivation
The little girl in the photograph is happy. The little girl sitting on Daddy’s lap knows she is loved, knows she is wanted. The same little girl is on the telephone four years later – desperate, terrified, traumatized, begging for help. The little girl is Sophia Grace Hope Merrill, Barry White’s daughter. When Sophia fell into San Mateo County’s child welfare system, Barry thought that maybe everything would be OK because she was placed under the care and supervision of his sister, Ka’misha Crittendon. Barry White was wrong.
A number of hardy souls ventured to Sacramento on May 18 to a federal court hearing on CDCr’s motion to dismiss Jorge Rico’s suit opposing the every-half-hour Guard One “security/welfare checks” that take place in isolation units throughout the state. With Guard One, guards press a metal baton into a metal receiver positioned either in or beside cell doors, making a loud disruptive noise in most cases, waking prisoners up every 30 minutes and causing sleep deprivation.
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.”
The cop enters the section, cracks a metal wand on a metal “security” button outside each cell. This contact-cracker creates a loud beep. They crack that pipe on each damned button until it elicits a response. Then continue on to the next button. Crack-crack-beep, crack-beep, crack-crack-crack-beepity-freakin’ beep. Try and sleep when all this happens every 30 minutes, 24 hours, seven days a week.
Are you living in segregated housing – SHU, Ad-Seg, PSU, Condemned Units? Are correctional officers coming around to your cell every half hour or hour to conduct security/welfare checks? Are these checks conducted in a quiet manner? Or do these checks disturb you? Do they interfere with your ability to sleep, or cause physical or mental health problems? The PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation and CFASC/Family Unity Network want to help prisoners pursue this grievance.
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.
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.
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!
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.
A heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon me. On Oct. 6, 2015, I was transferred back to Marquette Branch Prison, a two-day ride on the bus, shackled, mistreated and intimidated. I was forced to strip on five different occasions. I am forced into overcrowding, inadequate exercise, lack of clean clothing and inadequate medical care which violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Unjustified imprisonment and torturous living conditions have prisoners hunger striking all over the world. Many people who read the Bay View on the regular are aware of the California prison hunger strike, which has been going on for over a month now and started with over 30,000 prisoners statewide participating. But many know nothing about another prison hunger strike that is going on simultaneously on a U.S. military base in Cuba.
The Adjustment Center (AC) is the death row Security Housing Unit at San Quentin (SQ) which also serves as Administrative Segregation Unit overflow housing. But for all intents and purposes the AC is a secret torture unit at SQ and the fraternal twin of CDCR’s other torture units now partially exposed by media attention resulting from the 2011 peaceful hunger strikes at Corcoran, Pelican Bay and Tehachapi.
“Sleep deprivation has many significant psychological consequences, including irritability and impairment of the ability to make rational decisions,” says Dr. Terry Kupers, a clinical psychiatrist and an expert on forensic mental health. “Because of the harm it causes, sleep deprivation has been described as torture by organizations such as Amnesty International.”
By taking to heart the experiences shared by Heshima Denham we learn that one of the greatest gestures of support and reassurance of the safety of prisoners who are vocal about their circumstances is constant visibility. Solitary confinement is torture; it is a violation of some of the most basic of human rights; and the agents of the state responsible for carrying out this abuse need to be exposed.
Blacks and Latinos in the United States have long complained of police harassment and racial profiling, but no one paid much attention until July 16 this year, when the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates at his home on a “disorderly conduct” charge – read for being an uppity Negro or forgetting his place.