Tag Archive: SHU

Two Years After Hunger Strike, California Settlement May Release 2,000 Prisoners From Solitary

From Truth Out/ By Victoria Law

Attorneys and family members announced on September 1 what they called a “landmark settlement” in the class-action lawsuit Ashker v. Governor of California. The settlement, stated lead attorney Jules Lobel, “is an important step in the growing movement to end solitary confinement.”

The settlement comes after months of negotiations between advocates and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). It also comes after years of agitation, including a lawsuit and three mass prison hunger strikes, aimed at ending California’s practice of placing prisoners in isolation for indeterminate periods of time. Advocates predict that between 1,500 and 2,000 people will be released from isolation in the coming months.

At issue is California’s security housing units (or SHU) and its practice of placing those accused of gang affiliation within these units for an indeterminate time period. Within the SHU, they are locked into windowless cells for at least 23 hours per day. When taken out of their cells – for a shower, a visit or an hour of recreation alone in an exercise pen – they are handcuffed and ankle chained. Two categories of people are placed in the SHU. Those who break prison rules are temporarily sent to the SHU for up to five years. The other category includes those who have been placed in isolation on accusations of gang involvement. For them, there is no fixed end date. Until recently, accusations that have landed them in the SHU often relied on confidential informants and circumstantial evidence, such as tattoos or associations with others. Until recently, one of the few ways to be released from the SHU was to “debrief” or provide information incriminating others, who are then placed in the SHU for an indeterminate sentence. They are the ones who have written manifestoes, filed lawsuits and repeatedly gone on hunger strike to protest their conditions of confinement.

In California’s Pelican Bay State Prison, 1,134 of its 1,181 prisoners were held in the SHU as of June 2015. Although CDCR insists that solitary confinement does not exist within its prison system, those within the SHU argue otherwise and, in 2012, went to court to prove it. (more…)

Hooray! Marius Is Out of the SHU!

From Marius Mason

We have good news! Marius was transferred out of the SHU (or Special Housing Unit) on Saturday, August 1st, after nearly a month and a half of solitary confinement.

At this time, we do not know how the alleged violation cited by prison officials as the basis for his punishment will affect Marius in the long term, but we do know that in addition to the time he spent in the SHU, more restrictions have been placed on him that further limit his already limited life in the Administration Unit at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.

While we are overjoyed that Marius is out of the terrible and dispiriting world of solitary confinement, we cannot forget where Marius is—prison. The Administration Unit at Carswell is gymnasium-sized, holds up to 20 prisoners, and is frequently and unpredictably locked down for hours on end due to violence and suicide attempts resulting from the claustrophobic and oppressive conditions.

We urge all of you to write Marius a letter or drop a line with a postcard. Your solidarity matters!

M Mason #04672-061
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127

Marius Transferred to the SHU! Please Write Him a Letter!

From Free Marius Mason

On June 16th, we received notification from Marius that he has been transferred to the SHU—or Special Housing Unit, also known as solitary confinement—for, we believe, 30 days as a result of an alleged violation of prison disciplinary rules. We still do not know the basis of these allegations, but we believe they involve a violation of his right to counsel. At this point, Marius does not have all of his property in the SHU, and his normal phone privileges and all e-mail privileges have been suspended. Marius’s lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, has not yet received the incident report, but based on what she has has heard from prison officials, she believes the disciplinary action to be unjust.

Marius is currently in good spirits, but solitary confinement is a terrible and dispiriting form of punishment. Marius can still send and receive letters, so please show your support and solidarity by dropping him a line!

Please be aware that any mail sent to Marius will be under even more scrutiny than it was before, so we ask you to be cautious in writing to him about his situation. Also, mail addressed to ‘Marius Mason’ has been getting rejected, so we ask you to use the following address in your correspondence:

M Mason #04672-061
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127

Jeremy in solitary: here is what we know

Jeremy Hammond, by Molly Crabapple

Jeremy Hammond, by Molly Crabapple

From Free Jeremy

We received word last night that Jeremy had been placed in the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU), also known as solitary confinement. He had previously been placed in solitary confinement during pretrial detention. Details are spotty, but this is what we know so far:

  • He was placed in the SHU on 10 October.
  • The prison, FCI Manchester, claims that Jeremy stole clothing, but we don’t know whether they allege that he stole from a guard or another inmate. Jeremy denies this accusation unequivocally, and it goes against his character.
  • We have been in contact with Jeremy’s lawyers, who are in contact with the prison to see if anything can be done to appeal his placement in the SHU.

Make no mistake: We firmly believe Jeremy has been placed in solitary confinement as retaliatory punishment for filing complaints against the prison for withholding his mail. The prison had begun rejecting books and even legal material related to Jeremy’s own case. Jeremy had written that he was willing to take his grievances to the highest possible level in order to see them resolved. (more…)