Most of us were wearing the new “Stop the Torture” t-shirts that the coalition was selling, so we looked great and our commitment was obvious to the public. It was heartening to have so many friends and family members and formerly incarcerated people meet on the steps of the Capitol and to hear them speak about their loved ones inside the walls. The hearing itself was both powerful and infuriating.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
There should be no doubt indefinite solitary confinement is torture. Yet in §700.2, the CDCR has devised an insidious program whereby they can leverage this torture to coerce validated SHU prisoners to submit to brainwashing in lieu of debriefing – the end result being qualitatively no different: “broken men” will be created by a new process.
Cornelius Harris was facing nine felony charges stemming from fights with guards at the Ohio State Penitentiary. Harris has long maintained that these fights were actually initiated by guards who have targeted him for harassment and abuse. Supporters are requesting that people call OSP Warden David Bobby on Monday, demanding that Mr. Harris be kept safe from retaliation and have his hunger strike demands met.
“Former political prisoner Dhoruba Bin Wahad recently penned an excellent essay breaking down what’s going on in Mali, Congo and the Middle East. He also challenged the type of stances many of us have taken with respect to these regions that are embroiled in conflict. To support his essay, we interviewed him so he can expand upon his analysis. In true form, Dhoruba pulled no punches. Peep what he has to say.”
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.
You may think that you know something about solitary, but you don’t. You may have a loved one in prison who has experienced it and told you about it. But still I say, you don’t know it. For, as you know the word torture, you don’t know how it feels. For solitary is torture. State torture. Official torture. Government sanctioned torture.
I am writing to inform you of the scare tactics that California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP SHU) uses in order to intimidate our families, friends and associates away from corresponding with those of us who are held in these solitary confinement units – AdSegs and SHUs.
The Clean Lounge, a clean and sober space located in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, was full of Fired Up! women and supporters, family and friends.There was so much collective healing wisdom in the room. Fired Up! is an insider-outsider grassroots network founded by CCWP former prisoners that meets weekly in the San Francisco County Jail.
For the past 40 years, prisoners have been removed off general population due to being validated as alleged prison gang members or associates. This is the sole reason for our placement: not behavior. CDCr started this indefinite lockup in the mid- to late 70s and soon realized that there was an economic incentive for labeling prisoners as a threat to the safety and security of the institution.
Though we have yet to obtain our Five Core Demands, no one can deny how much we have achieved since our initial July 1, 2011, hunger strike. For the most part our movement for human rights has made much progress, but patience is required, for we are engaged in a protracted struggle that demands our resilience.
Yesterday I wrote about the ACLU’s efforts to ensure that the U.S. government is properly engaged at a U.N. meeting in Buenos Aires on uniform rules for the treatment of prisoners. Now that the meeting is underway, it appears that the U.S. delegation is playing a constructive role – but we’ve still got work to do.
I say this is torture: Being held in this solitary confinement cage where I can stand in the middle of the floor, extend my arms, and touch both walls. For the last 34 years, 23 hours a day is by definition torture. They say it is because of my political education, affiliation with the Angola 3 – Shaka, King and Chairman Hooks – and my ties to the Black Panther Party.
Many discussions are taking place on the nature of the indefinite solitary confinement program in the U.S. prisons and whether or not it constitutes torture. The debate on what to do about the program itself is being held at every level of social organization, from the U.S. Senate to the United Nations, from the California Legislature to the short corridors of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.
Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with Cynthia McKinney, and I asked her about leadership. She replied that at the local level in the Black communities, there is leadership. It no longer gets media coverage, but it is there. Real leaders are those with the courage to dissent and to resist. It is the act of resistance that transforms an elected person into a leader.
You cannot bury thousands of human beings under conditions that amount to torture – and you cannot leave it up to the torturer to establish the criteria for what constitutes torture. They never see anything wrong with what they do even when violating the law and the humanity of people. The STG policy makes it easier for CDCR to confine us to their dungeons.
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.
Three Strikes has disproportionately targeted the poor and people of color. More than 70 percent of the Three Strikes prisoners serving life sentences are either African American or Latino; making Three Strikes one of the leading civil rights issues of today. We need your help. On Nov. 6, California residents will have another opportunity to amend Three Strikes. Vote Yes on Prop. 36.
Gualberto Lopez and German Cabrera, both in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at Calipatria State Prison as "alleged associates of a prison gang," write about the inhumane, torturous treatment in segregation, Institutional Gang Investigators and the corrupt validation process, as well as the targeting of Mexicans/Latinos/Hispanics.
The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a “corporation” whose objective is to profit. In California alone they pay up to $20,000 more per solitary confinement unit than for a general population unit. This keeps officers working, which is why they become willing pawns who have an interest in oppressing prisoners.