Tags Todd Ashker
Tag: Todd Ashker
Todd Ashker is on hunger strike in Pelican Bay. I know him as a thoughtful human being who has dedicated his life to peaceful change, to helping his fellow prisoners by learning the law and sharing his knowledge. He was not that way 30 years ago when he first went to prison. He admits that. But any brain scientist will tell you that no man in his 40s is the same man he was in his teens or early 20s.
Representatives of the Short Corridor Collective at Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit have based their decision on a meeting with fellow prisoners at the prison, the growing international condemnation of California’s practice of solitary confinement, as well as the commitment of California Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairs Loni Hancock and Tom Ammiano to convene a series of hearings in response to the strikers’ demands that would “address the issues that have been raised to a point where they can no longer be ignored.”
How long must we continue to suffer? On Aug. 23, 2013, early in the morning, Pelican Bay State Prison Ad Seg was emptied out and placed on two buses. Every individual on the buses had been on the hunger strike since July 8, 2013, and there was not one medical staffperson on those buses. We do not care about how much worse our conditions get because the pain and suffering from not eating trumps it all.
California prisoner hunger strike advocates and supporters continue their efforts to compel state decision makers to negotiate with hunger strikers as they endure their 52nd day without food. Meanwhile, legal observers at Corcoran State Prison say that the 70 people still on strike at that facility are facing harsh retaliation by prison officials, including the denial of medical care and the confiscation of personal property.
“The attempted repression of our protest has not broken our spirits. In fact it has only helped to strengthen each of us – individually and collectively. Despite CDCR’s retaliations and propaganda, we remain steadfast in our commitment. We will see our peaceful hunger strike through to victory, even if this requires us to endure the torture of force-feeding. We believe at this point in our struggle we are prepared to do what is necessary in order for Gov. Brown and the CDCR to realize how serious we are and how far and long we are willing to go to have our reasonable demands implemented.”
We want to provide a brief update on our collective struggle to end the torture of long-term solitary confinement. On July 11, 2013, 14 of us here at Pelican Bay were placed in Administrative Segregation, where we are subjected to more torturous conditions than in the SHU. Despite this diabolical act on the part of the CDCR intended to break our resolve and hasten our deaths, we remain strong and united!
We are grateful for your support of our peaceful protest against the state-sanctioned torture that happens not only here at Pelican Bay but in prisons everywhere. We have taken up this hunger strike and work stoppage, which has included 30,000 prisoners in California so far, not only to improve our own conditions but also as an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world.
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.
We are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what’s right. We are certain that we will prevail … the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?
The only defense that can protect the people is to assemble the power of the people. We are our only defense. We have suffered enough injustice at the hands of a very evil system – CDCr and PBSP – and it is time that we prisoners express that pain and suffering by all means at our disposal, because CDCr and PBSP are censoring SF Bay View in order to censor prisoners, because we are exposing cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners. We collectively commend and value the courage and commitment as well as the principled stand that the SF Bay View is taking to speak truth to power.
The much-publicized brutality and inhumane conditions suffered by prisoners in solitary confinement worldwide has once again sparked global debates on the unprecedented urgency of prison abolition and, by default, on the implementation of community-led restorative justice programs. Over the past two to three decades, the global penal system has turned increasingly roughshod and its practices have grown greatly abusive.
If the intention of the prison system is rehabilitation so when prisoners are released they do not return, then we surely must object to solitary confinement. If we believe in basic human rights and dignity for all human beings, then we surely must object to solitary confinement. If we object to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, we surely must object to solitary confinement in the U.S.
Let's raise the issue - Do the California legislators and Gov. Brown agree that denying prisoners the ability to make public their Five Core Demands and their peaceful protest remedy for ignoring or refusing them violates their constitutional right to free speech and those who publish the prisoners’ letters our right to freedom of the press?
Because the California State Legislature has the full authority to amend, repeal and make new state law, the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Representatives respectfully request on behalf of all CDCR prisoners, male and female, that they please amend California Penal Code Sections pertaining to the: Inmate Bill of Rights, earning of good behavior credits, Inmate Welfare Fund and restitution fines.
In response to CDCR’s failure to meet our 2011 Five Core Demands, the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives respectfully present this notice of, and basis for, our individualized, collectively agreed upon decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest action on July 8, 2013. The upcoming peaceful protest will be a combined hunger strike-work stoppage action. Once initiated, this protest will continue indefinitely – until all Five Core Demands are fully met.
Since America’s MASS INCARCERATION is driven by unjust racial/class policies, then the real solution to MASS INCARCERATION is MASS “DECARCERATION.” In other words, drastic cuts to ALL prisoner’s TIME, since TIME is the currency, the legal tender, the great equalizer and righter of wrongs in prison.
It has been more than 13 months since we agreed to suspend our non-violent, peaceful protest hunger strike actions in response to CDCR’s top administrators’ admissions that all of our Five Core Demands were reasonable and would be responded to via substantively meaningful changes to the policies and practices at issue. This has NOT HAPPENED.
Arbitrary and indefinite solitary confinement is an absolute assault on humankind and a barbarity the likes of which cannot be tolerated. We hold the utmost respect for those prisoners who from the depths of Solitary Confinement throughout California risked their lives to be heard. We heard them and now we ask that you do the same.
We oppose CDCR’s policies and practices relating to our subjection to decades of “status”-based, indefinite isolation; this includes our opposition to CDCR’s proposed policy changes, entitled “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification, and Management Strategy.” We would appreciate your supportive intervention on this issue.
The state of California must make substantial changes to their prison isolation units and halt the inhuman suffering of thousands of prisoners, Amnesty International said in a new report out today. “The Edge of Endurance: Conditions in California’s Security Housing Units” explores the conditions of confinement endured by more than 3,000 prisoners – including 78 who have spent in excess of two decades in isolation.