Tag Archive: California

Censored and ‘Obscene’ in Solitary

After a huge hunger strike to protest the state prison system’s inhuman conditions, California is threatening to ban any written material deemed “oppositional to authority and society.”
Last week, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation proposed sweeping new regulations for mail going both into and out of the state’s prisons and jails. Coined “obscenity regulations,” on face value they appear to ban material that “depicts or describes sexual misconduct.” Yet, if you scroll further down the long, technical parameters laid out on CDCR’s website you’ll find they’re casting a much broader net—such as censorship of any material deemed “oppositional to authority and society.”“There’s a lot of non-sexual speech that will be banned if these regulations are put into effect,” says Paul Wright, Director of Prison Legal News. “This isn’t a new tactic, for hundreds of years the guise of ‘obscenity’ has been used to crush political speech, not just among prisoners, originally it was used to punish criticism of the church.”

It’s no coincidence that these enhanced restrictions are coming from California, where 29,000 prisoners went on hunger strike for 60 days last year in a historically unprecedented protest against inhumane prison conditions—namely prolonged solitary confinement. A large part of the hunger strike’s success in capturing international attention had to do with the ability of activists, lawyers and family members to get out the voices and opinions of the men inside who initiated the strike, at least in part through written correspondence. Under these new regulations, letters like those might not make it through next time. (more…)

Fight new prison censorship rules in California

“They want to be free to pursue the maintenance of the SHU torture units and the expansion of the prison industrial complex (and the ever-growing portion of the public’s tax dollars) without the prospect of legitimate criticism and the voice of opposition.” -Prisoner in Corcoran State Prison SHU

“They want to be free to pursue the maintenance of the SHU torture units and the expansion of the prison industrial complex (and the ever-growing portion of the public’s tax dollars) without the prospect of legitimate criticism and the voice of opposition.”
-Prisoner in Corcoran State Prison SHU

From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

We need your help. Under the guise of “obscenity” regulations, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) has proposed sweeping new political censorship rules for mail going both into and out of the prisons.

If these changes are approved, CDCR will permanently ban any documents it defines as “contraband,” including political publications and correspondence that should be protected by First Amendment constitutional rights.

The proposed regulations are designed with two main purposes: to censor writings that educate the public about what is actually occurring inside the prisons, and to stifle the intellectual and political education and organizing of prisoners themselves.

1.) Please weigh in and speak out against these regulations. The public comment period is open until 5pm on June 17th. Resources to help craft a letter are provided at the action page.

2.) Spread the word on Facebook and ask your friends, family, neighbors, pastor, school class, place of worship, and organizations to write also.

Thank you for everything you do.

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

The Final Straw: Luke O’Donovan; Police Murders from coast to coast

acabnewerFrom The Final Straw

This week’s episode features three, that’s right, three whopping conversations. Firstly, we hear from Luke O’Donovan about his case. Luke is an Anarchist in the Atlanta area who defended himself against a queer bashing last New Years at a party. Luke suffered multiple wounds inflicted by knives as well as beating which sent him to the hospital. He’s facing 5 charges of aggrivated assault with a deadly weapon for injuring the people attacking him, who’d earlier called him a faggot repeatedly. Each of those 5 charges could carry a twenty year sentence.

After that, we’ll hear from Rafi, an organizer in Durham North Carolina, about the spate of police murders of young men of color in that city. Particularly we’ll talk about the case of Jesus Chuy Huerta, a 17 year old latino man shot in the back of a patrol car while handcuffed that the police are claiming was self-inflicted.

Finally, we’ll hear from Jess who’s been organizing alongside youth in Santa Rosa, california since the shooting death by Sheriff’s there of 13 year old Andy Lopez for having a toy gun. The fatal shooting of Andy Lopez fell on October 22nd of this year. For those who don’t know, October 22nd is a day when many people in the United States remember those killed and imprisoned by police and protest against police violence. (more…)

One Month After Historic Hunger Strike Ends, Legislators Hold Hearings About Solitary Confinement

shutdownshuBy Victoria Law/ from Truthout

Families and former prisoners held for years in solitary confinement expressed optimism October 9 after the first of several California Public Safety Committee hearings about the punishment, promised in exchange for an end to prisoners’ 60-day hunger strike over the summer.

“Tell us the truth, even if it’s not pleasant,” State Assembly member Tom Ammiano told California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials, advocates, formerly incarcerated people and family members.

On Wednesday, October 9, the California legislature’s Public Safety Committee held the first of several hearings about the use of solitary confinement in California’s prisons. These hearings were prompted by a 60-day hunger strike that rocked California’s prison system this past summer.

On July 8, 2013, over 30,000 people incarcerated throughout California refused meals. (more…)

Pelican Bay solitary confinement case set to expand

guardtowerpelicanbayFrom Los Angeles Times

OAKLAND — A federal judge Thursday said she is likely to allow a lawsuit alleging that solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison amount to psychological torture, to be expanded from the cases of 10 prisoners to include about 1,100 inmates now held in indefinite isolation.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken expressed concern at a hearing, however, that changes the state has made in how it identifies inmates for isolation means those prisoners won’t be included in the pending class-action lawsuit.

What’s more, lawyers for the state say they are in the process of moving some existing prisoners out of confinement in Pelican Bay’s super-maximum security isolation cells.

“I’m wondering how I would manage a class that has people moving in and out,” Wilken said. Nevertheless, she used Thursday’s hearing in Oakland to set Nov. 3, 2014, for the trial. Her ruling over whether that trial will be a class action, or remain confined to the few inmates who filed the case, is yet to be decided. (more…)

CA Prisoner Hunger/Work Strikes roundup with Ed Mead

I-stand-with-CA-prisoner-hunger-strikeFrom The Final Straw

This week William talks with Ed Mead, editor of CA Prison Focus magazine to discuss the results of the hunger and work strikes that swept west coast prisons since July, resulting in one prisoner death and at one point including the participation of 30,000 hunger strikers. The strike, the third over two years, was meant to bring attention to and pressure against the state for it’s practices of indefinite detention in solitary confinement without recourse, the silencing of prisoner activists, lack of programs for prisoners to prepare for the outside world, the institutionalization of snitch-culture through “debriefing”, group punishments and not providing adequate and nutritive food. More info can be found at: http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/

This Thursday in Oakland, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) will be holding a press conference following a legal hearing around posing a class action lawsuit around inhumane conditions in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay. Show up if ya can! Details at: http://ccrjustice.org/pelican-bay

http://www.prisons.org/
http://www.prisonart.org/

The second half of the show features new metal and punk tracks from Primary Stress, ANCST & more.

The playlist for this episode can be found here: http://www.ashevillefm.org/node/7677

This show will be streaming at AFM from 9/23/13 thru the 29th, podcasting at radio4all.net and later will be archived at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org

Hunger striker considers where we go from here, wonders, ‘Will the Legislature dupe us too’?

Protesters from Humboldt County unfurled this banner outside Pelican Bay State Prison on July 8, the first day of the 2013 mass hunger strike, the largest in history with 30,000 participants initially. The huge banner reappeared at many subsequent rallies. – Photo courtesy PHSS Humboldt

Protesters from Humboldt County unfurled this banner outside Pelican Bay State Prison on July 8, the first day of the 2013 mass hunger strike, the largest in history with 30,000 participants initially. The huge banner reappeared at many subsequent rallies. – Photo courtesy PHSS Humboldt

From San Francisco Bay View

Written Sept. 8, 2013 – First and foremost we want to give a lot of respect and love to all the human beings who made their voices heard and the countless dedicated supporters and organizations who beat the drum as well as the pavement demanding an end to solitary confinement, LONG TERM solitary confinement.

To the 30,000 hunger strikers who courageously stood up, we commend each and every one of you, no matter if you did one day or the whole 60 days. We have had three hunger strikes in which none of us could imagine such courage would stem from such a peaceful protest. But as I have written in an article called, “Because I’ve seen men,”* my own personal strength and resolve has been improved on. I could not have ever expected to be amongst such courageous individuals. I salute each and every one of you.

We want to always give much respect and love to the six prisoners who sacrificed their lives despite what CDCr propagated against you. We know each and every one of you died for a cause that’s more honorable than anything, especially in a world where men and women die every day for nothing. We also know none of you were suicidal. We will forever hold you all in our memory, high before the world. (more…)

Statement Suspending the Third Hunger Strike

hungerstrikeFrom Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Greetings of Solidarity and Respect!

The PBSP-SHU, Short Corridor Collective Representatives hereby serve notice upon all concerned parties of interest that after nine weeks we have collectively decided to suspend our third hunger strike action on September 5, 2013.

To be clear, our Peaceful Protest of Resistance to our continuous subjection to decades of systemic state sanctioned torture via the system’s solitary confinement units is far from over. Our decision to suspend our third hunger strike in two years does not come lightly. This decision is especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met (despite nearly universal agreement that they are reasonable). The core group of prisoners has been, and remains 100% committed to seeing this protracted struggle for real reform through to a complete victory, even if it requires us to make the ultimate sacrifice.  With that said, we clarify this point by stating prisoner deaths are not the objective, we recognize such sacrifice is at times the only means to an end of fascist oppression.

Our goal remains: force the powers that be to end their torture policies and practices in which serious physical and psychological harm is inflicted on tens of thousands of prisoners as well as our loved ones outside.  We also call for ending the related practices of using prisoners to promote the agenda of the police state by seeking to greatly expand the numbers of the working class poor warehoused in prisons, and particularly those of us held in solitary, based on psychological/social manipulation, and divisive tactics keeping prisoners fighting amongst each other. Those in power promote mass warehousing to justify more guards, more tax dollars for “security”, and spend mere pennies for rehabilitation — all of which demonstrates a failed penal system, high recidivism, and ultimately compromising public safety.  The State of California’s $9.1 billion annual CDCR budget is the epitome of a failed and fraudulent state agency that diabolically and systemically deprives thousands of their human rights and dignity. Allowing this agency to act with impunity has to stop! And it will. (more…)

Day 52, Prisoners Isolated, Disturbing News from Corocran, Strike Participation Grows, Prisoners Remain Committed: “CDCR is not going to break us.”

I-stand-with-CA-prisoner-hunger-strikeFrom Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

California prisoner hungers 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 are still on strike at that facility are facing harsh relation by prison officials including the denial of medical care—even for those coming off strike—and the confiscation of personal property.  At Pelican Bay, the four main representatives of the Short Corridor Collective—the interracial group in that facility’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) that initially encouraged their fellow prisoners to take up the peaceful protest—have been totally isolated in a single cell block in the prison’s stand-alone Administrative Segregation Unit.  Late last week 51 prisoners being held in the same area were summarily and forcibly removed to other prisons.   Meanwhile the CDCR’s own numbers show a steady uptick in strike participation over the past several days. (more…)

San Quentin hunger striker’s kidneys shut down, as warden meets one demand

I-stand-with-CA-prisoner-hunger-strikeFrom San Francisco Bay View

I hope this letter finds you doing well. This is just a small note to let you know I’m still alive. But on Friday morning at around 12:30 a.m., they found me on the floor unresponsive and a little blue-ish purple.

From what the guys here say, the guards opened the door, I fell out and they jumped on me with a shield, cuffed me and took me out. Then dropped me at the first tier cause their hands slipped, from what they told me. What happened? Well, I remember waking up with a start, shivering, my heart racing and like someone was squeezing my back and that’s it.

The nurses said kidney failure – that I was so dehydrated that my kidneys shut down and I was blue-ish purple ‘cause I almost froze to death. Hypothermia? Is that how you spell it? Either way, the lack of food caught up to me and so did the water.

They put me on IV and warmed up my body with blankets and sent me on my way back to my cell. By 4 a.m. I was back. Only at S.Q. (more…)