Prisons are both an economic project and a counterinsurgency program. Their neverending goal is to continue “locking people up who are trying to be free.” And a reoccurring theme and recognition of the discussion was that “we can’t destroy prisons without destroying capitalism.”
In adherence with the beloved Komrade Keith “Malik” Washington, deputy chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, this is the year of “knockin doors down.” We must start with the doors of solitary confinement. It was estimated in 2017 that over 87,000 prisoners across Amerika are being held in solitary – despite the many studies done by neuroscientists around the world proving that solitary confinement is a neglected social, ecological and environmental risk that also causes and worsens mental illness.
On April 21, I finally got to see Charlie Hinton’s “Solitary Man” play at the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. It was so much more than a cultural experience. The play was gripping, emotional and real, with jazz trumpet sprinkled in. The panel powerfully reflected the layers of pain, survival and resistance in the prison movement. And the event, a benefit for the San Francisco Bay View, was a moving tribute to Mary and Willie Ratcliff’s devotion to their invaluable newspaper.
Central Ohio IWOC, the Free Ohio Movement and Lucasville Amnesty call for actions and raising awareness around the 25th anniversary of the Lucasville Uprising on April 11-21. Drawing attention to this pivotal event in the history of prisons in Ohio and the U.S., protesters will hold a 3 p.m. noise demo on the 21st outside the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville where prisoners held a cell block for 11 days in April of 1993. Prisoner survivors of this rebellion have spent these 25 years acting as beacons of resistance despite suffering in solitary confinement and on death row.
This is a follow-up to our October 2017 Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement’s statement of prisoner representatives on the second anniversary of the Ashker v. Brown settlement. I am sharing a copy of my proposed “Open Letter to Gov. Brown, California legislators and CDCR Secretary Kernan on ongoing human rights violations and lack of reparative action for decades of torture” with the hope of helping to re-energize our movement, by gaining widespread support for the positions presented in the “open letter.”
I begin this six-month update on the activities of CDCR and the CCPOA with my utmost thankfulness and respect for the San Francisco Bay View. I thank your staff and readers for continuing to shine a bright light on the injustices that occur daily behind enemy lines, as it pertains to human beings who are marginalized as prisoners, defined as slaves by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but yet full citizens of this country! I have now been housed in Pelican Bay Level II SHU for six months, and the situation has not progressed but has rapidly deteriorated.
After the court order to shut down D-unit, CDCr administration has implemented a scheme to get around the court order by housing general population prisoners (Level II) in a SHU (Security Housing Unit) that is designed for maximum security and only allows for movement that is grossly restricted. The implementation of this scheme by CDCr and CCPOA [California Correctional Peace Officers Association] to refill these housing units, was only to receive the multi-millions of dollars Pelican Bay lost with its closure.
Sharon Fennell, also well known by her disc jockey name Sista Soul, has been a Humboldt resident for over 30 years. Fennell, through her volunteer work at KHSU, has grown to become an advocate for prisoners and shown faithfulness in bringing awareness to the conditions and contradictions of America’s penal system. After 36 years, Fenell – or Sista as she is called by friends and close acquaintances – has decided to move on. She has one more radio show this Sunday, Dec. 18.
On June 10, Wisconsin prisoners held in long term solitary confinement at Waupun Correctional Institution started a “food refusal campaign.” They wish to bring the horror of administrative confinement (AC) to the public’s attention and end this torturous practice. Solitary confinement for more than 15 days has been deemed “torture” by the United Nations, but in Wisconsin, the Department of Corrections has held many prisoners in isolation for decades.
We are being held in solitary confinement, and the state compels us to answer personal questions or be held in isolation indefinitely. They call this bi-weekly interrogation “programming,” where we’re forced to reveal our most personal information to our captors, “the state,” knowing that this information can and will be used against us.
All eyes are on Pelican Bay SHU, the shame of California, where men who have been locked in concrete coffins for decades called a hunger strike and work stoppage that 30,000 prisoners joined when it began Monday, July 8. It will last until their Five Core Demands are met. Our opportunity to stand in solidarity comes this Saturday, July 13: All out for a MASS STATEWIDE RALLY at Corcoran, where 2,000 prisoners are locked in solitary confinement. Caravan leaves MacArthur BART in Oakland and Chuco's in Inglewood at 8:30 a.m.; rally at 2 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Park in Corcoran. Join the revolution! All power to the people!
On the morning of Tuesday, June 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights is having an important public hearing on “Reassessing Solitary Confinement.” This Senate hearing comes on the heels of widespread prisoner hunger strikes that have made the use of solitary confinement a central issue.
We are the families of thousands of loved ones who have been incarcerated indefinitely – some for decades – in California’s “supermax” segregated and administrative housing units. Solitary confinement, even for short periods, has been known for centuries to cause irreparable physical and psychological damage: torture. Yet California continues to condone this practice.
Sympathy for the prisoners on hunger strike in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison is limited due to the widely held impression that these men — and indeed most supermax prisoners — are the “worst of the worst.” According to conventional wisdom, in order to land in the most secure units in the prison system, these men must have committed terrible crimes in the first place ...
Although on a very small scale (which by no means diminishes the deed), we, the people, have wrought a revolution – “a sudden and momentous change in a situation” – and accomplished in 12 days what the powers that be have repeatedly told us would never happen.