Tag Archive: solitary confinement

An interview with Russell Maroon Shoats on Democracy, Matriarchy, Occupy Wall Street, and Food Security

Interviewer: How would you define democracy?

Maroon: In it’s broadest sense – to me – democracy is the ability of the individual to exercise self-determination in the core areas of economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, war and peace; taking under consideration the need to both support and guide children until they can responsibly exercise those things on their own.

If one falls victim to believing what Marimba Ani calls “rhetorical ethics,” (the practice that has held sway surrounding the word democracy) then you would dismiss my definition as superfluous. Nowadays, however, more of the masses, globally, are accepting the fact that except for a small minority, democracy is something they do not exercise in any of those core areas.

So the question we must ask ourselves is “How do we construct societies where the individual is able to broadly exercise self-determination?

Interviewer: Do you find the concept of democracy to be useful to popular movements?

Maroon: For the already mentioned reasons, the exercise of democracy/self-determination is paramount at every stage of a popular movement, and for such an effort to remain true to the word “popular.” After all, individuals usually feel a need to look out for their own interest, and to promote and support democracy/self-determination goes hand in hand with that need. If a popular movement deviates from that, then it too will fall into the practice of utilizing rhetorical ethics if it continues to call itself popular.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Prison officials blame Mumia’s dreadlocks for his solitary confinement

In a statement issued late Thursday, January 12, an attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal reported that he has been given a new reason for his continued solitary confinement – his long dreadlocks.

Prison authorities at SCI Mahanoy claim Abu-Jamal will be held in the Restricted Housing Unit on disciplinary custody until he cuts his hair. This is an old tactic that was used against Mumia when he was a death row prisoner. He spent 8 years on disciplinary status in death row until he was removed from that status–without getting a haircut–in the early 1990s. (more…)

Pelican Bay is not Enough!! Continuing the Struggle Against Extreme Isolation and Sensory Deprivation

By Victoria Law, criticalmassprogress.com

Last month, prisoners across California ended a nearly three-week hunger strike. The strikers, who numbered 12,000 at the strike’s peak, had five core demands:

1) Eliminate group punishments for individual rules violations;
2) Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria;
3) Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long term solitary confinement;
4) Provide adequate food;
5) Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates.

The strike, the second three-week hunger strike to rock California’s prison system this year alone, was called by men in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. The SHU is explicitly designed to keep prisoners in long-term solitary confinement under conditions of extreme sensory deprivation. Men are locked into their cells for at least 22 hours a day. Food is delivered twice a day through a slot in the cell door. (more…)

Raleigh: Anarchists, Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation Join Up to Protest NC Prisons

(from anarchistnews.org)

Roughly 60 protesters gathered yesterday in the freezing cold rain at the headquarters of the NC Division of Prisons in Raleigh to show our anger and resentment towards the prison system, and solidarity with prisoners struggling on the inside. The crowd represented folks from multiple cities, and in addition to anarchists and anti-prison activists was co-organized with and brought out about 25 members of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, a street organization with several members on the inside in NC.  (more…)

Supermax Psych: “Behavior Modification” at Marion Federal Prison

by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella at Solitary Watch

“Eddie Griffin, a former Civil Rights Movement activist and Black Panther, spent 12 years in federal prison for bank robbery, beginning in the early 1970s. After he was injured doing prison labor at Terre Haute Federal Prison, and refused to return to work under unsafe conditions, he was labelled “incorrigible” and transferred to the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois.

Built to replace Alcatraz in 1963, Marion is widely acknowledged to be the first modern “supermax,” and was once the highest security and most notorious prison in the federal system. That distinction today belongs to ADX Florence in Colorado, but Marion is now home to one of the ultra-isolated federal Communications Management Units opened during the Bush Administration.

‘Breaking Men’s Minds: Behavior Control and Human Experimentation at the Federal Prison in Marion’ is a remarkable article authored by Griffin and published in the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons in 1993 (vol. 4, no. 2). (H/T to Alan for alerting us to the piece.) In it, he discusses the realities of the “behavior modification program” instituted at Marion in the 1960s. Griffin begins by describing the control of every moment–and every movement–in the lives of prisoners.”

Read the rest here.

Action Alert: Call In to End the Long Term Solitary Confinement of Russell Maroon Shoatz

After being on 23 hour lockdown for the past 21 years, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has recommended that BLA Prisoner of War Russell Maroon Shoatz be released into the prison’s general population.

Russell has not had any infractions in the last 21 years and everyone is on board with his release except for the Superintendent of SCI Greene, Louis Folino.

Russell’s supporters are urging people to call Mr. Folino and ask that he support the decision to release Russell into general population.

The Program Review Board meeting is January 5th so time is of the essence!  Here is the number and a sample phone script.  Also, RSVP for the call-in on facebook and spread the word to others!!

Superintendent Folino- (724) 852-2903 (ask for Tracey Shawley if he is not available)

Sample Phone Script

Caller: Hi, can I please speak with Superintendent Folino.

Prison: May I ask who is calling.

Caller: My name is ______ and I am calling in regards to the upcoming Review Board meeting for Russell Maroon Shoatz.

Prison:  Just one moment.
(Or more likely) He is not available. Can I take a message?

Caller: Hello Mr. Folino/Mrs. Shawley.  I am calling to strongly encourage you to move prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz from 23 hour lockdown into the general population.  My understanding is that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has recommended his release into general population and given his clean record over the past 21 years I think it is without a doubt the just and right thing to do.  Thank you for your time.

You can also write a letter  to:
Supt, Folino, 169 Progress Drive, Waynesburg, Pa 15370

The Worst of the Worst: Supermax Torture in America

“They beat the shit out of you,” Mike James said, hunched near the smeared plexiglass separating us. He was talking about the cell “extractions” he’d endured at the hands of the supermax-unit guards at the Maine State Prison.

“They push you, knee you, poke you,” he said, his voice faint but ardent through the speaker. “They slam your head against the wall and drop you on the floor while you’re cuffed.” He lifted his manacled hands to a scar on his chin. “They split it wide open. They’re yelling ‘Stop resisting! Stop resisting!’ when you’re not even moving.”

When you meet Mike James you notice first his deep-set eyes and the many scars on his shaved head, including a deep, horizontal gash. He got that by scraping his head on the cell door slot, which guards use to pass in food trays.

Read the rest here.