Tags Solitary Watch
Tag: Solitary Watch
To punish Rashid for writing this, retaliatory guards massively gassed him while handcuffed, plus his bedding and cell walls and refuse to decontaminate; sign the RootsAction petition now (link inside)! Within a year, three federal lawsuits have been brought behind the tortured deaths of men imprisoned at the William P. Clements Unit in remote Amarillo, Texas. The latest suit was filed against 33 security and medical staff, concerning their roles in the Jan. 19, 2016, death of Alton Rodgers.
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.
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.
On Tuesday, July 14, one day after commuting the sentences of 46 people currently serving sentences for nonviolent drug offenses in federal prisons, President Obama addressed the NAACP National Convention in Philadelphia. In his address, the president declared that our criminal justice system is “built on the legacy of slavery, segregation and other structural inequalities that [have] compounded over generations.” Our current system, the president said, is “not an accident.”
Last week, men incarcerated at Ohio’s supermax prison brought a month-long hunger strike to a close. Between 30 and 40 men had refused all meals since March 16 to protest new restrictions placed on already severely limited recreation and programming for those in solitary confinement. On April 15, all but one of the men agreed to suspend the hunger strike after a meeting with the warden at which the prison agreed to lifting some, but not all, of the new restrictions.
The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 declared today: “This is THE moment those of us whose lives have been touched by these men and this case over the years have been waiting for. This is the time when we must call upon the whole of our connections, creativity and courage to call with one voice for the immediate, unequivocal release of Albert Woodfox from prison once and for all without delay.”
Amnesty International has announced that, for the first time, it has put a U.S. prisoner on the list of 10 cases that it will ask people around the world to advocate for in their Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10. The U.S. prisoner is 68-year-old Albert Woodfox, the final member of the Angola 3 still in solitary confinement in a Louisiana state prison.
To those of you familiar with the domestic torture program of the CDCR and the ongoing protracted struggle to realize the five core demands, the state’s loose relationship with the truth comes as no surprise. For those of you just gaining familiarity with this social ill, what follows should prove helpful in providing you with a greater insight into the dynamics of power relationships in the U.S.
Only a handful of prisoners globally have withstood the duration of years of harsh and solitary confinement that Albert and myself have. The state may have stolen my life, but my spirit will continue to struggle along with Albert and the many comrades that have joined us along the way here in the belly of the beast. I want to thank all of you, my devoted supporters, for being with me to the end.
Supporters of prisoners who are on the 43rd day of a hunger strike are expressing outrage at an order signed today by a federal judge allowing strikers to be force fed, disregarding international human rights principles. Thousands of prisoners have united to challenge the torture of prolonged isolation, demanding an accountable process to challenge the gang validations that have kept them in security housing for decades. Gov. Jerry Brown stands silent but is presumably in agreement with the force-feeding strategy, which will prevent the strikers from becoming martyrs.
On Monday, July 8, California prisoners launched their third hunger strike in two years, protesting conditions in the Security Housing Units, where thousands of prisoners are held in segregation units designed to limit communication. While the largest one-day participation of the prior two strikes rose to over 11,000, Monday’s strike began with a historic 30,000 people inside California’s prisons refusing breakfast and lunch.
Hundreds of people held in California prisons are expected to launch their third large-scale hunger strike in two years today. The current strike, announced by leaders at Pelican Bay State Prison on Feb. 14, is seen as a resumption of the large-scale strikes in June and September 2011, when thousands of prisoners across the state stopped eating for days or weeks in order to press for the five demands laid out by the strike organizers.
Herman Wallace, 71, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. He is being held in a locked prison hospital room in Louisiana. The prognosis is grave. Wallace and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 remain in solitary confinement after more than 41 years. POV will premiere the documentary "Herman's House" Monday, July 8, 10 p.m., on KQED and other PBS stations nationwide.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s bid to end federal control over the state prison system’s mental health system was denied in federal court. Judge Karlton determined that “systemic failures persist in the form of inadequate suicide prevention measures, excessive administrative segregation of the mentally ill, lack of timely access to adequate care, insufficient treatment space and access to beds, and unmet staffing needs.”
The battle over the future of Tamms became the most visible and contentious example of a phenomenon seen around the country: Otherwise progressive unions are taking reactionary positions when it comes to prisons, supporting addiction to mass incarceration. And when it comes to issues of prisoners’ rights in general, and solitary confinement in particular, they are seen as a major obstacle to reform.
On Monday, Feb. 25, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, chaired by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, held a hearing on the state’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). The hearing comes 18 months after the committee held a similar hearing prompted by a three-week long hunger strike in June 2011 that involved thousands of California prisoners across the state. Monday’s hearing focused on the implementation of new CDCR policies and considerations of their appropriateness.
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.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has recently circulated a memo regarding the most recent revised edition of its Step Down Program (SDP) and Security Threat Group (STG) Program proposal. The revised policies come one year after a series of statewide hunger strikes by inmates in the Security Housing Units (SHU) in Pelican Bay and other California state prisons.
Three African-American inmates in Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs criticize their continued isolation for being members of the Black Guerilla Family, the only Black prison gang in California that will lead to placement in the SHU. Drawings of dragons are used to justify their continued isolation.
According to multiple witness accounts, staff at Pennsylvania’s SCI Rockview killed John Carter, a 32-year-old man from Pittsburgh, during a cell extraction in the prison’s solitary confinement unit on April 26, 2012. One witness, esteemed writer André Jacobs, reports: "The murder was in retaliation for Carter protesting what began as guards denying him his dinner meal. ... During the collection of our food tray, guard Sherman said to me, “Your buddy’s going down tonight,” while smiling."
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