Tag Archive: suicide

Women in Solitary Confinement

womensolitaryFrom Truth Out/By Victoria Law

Victoria Woodrich had had enough. On November 11, 2014, six weeks before her 36th birthday, she tied a sock around her neck; she tied the other end to the top of her bed structure. By the time staff found her at 3:30 that afternoon, she was dead.

Woodrich, known as Shortybang to her friends, had been in prison for more than a decade and at Illinois’ Logan Correctional Center since its 2013 conversion to a women’s prison. Earlier that month, she was placed in the prison’s segregation unit, where women are locked in their cells nearly 24 hours a day.

“She kept telling me she wanted to die,” recalled Nicole Natschke, who was in segregation during that time. “She told me that everyone would be better off without her.” Three days later, the woman awoke to screaming. That was when she learned that Woodrich had hung herself. (more…)

FBI’s “Suicide Letter” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Dangers of Unchecked Surveillance

mlklettersFrom The Electronic Frontier Foundation

The New York Times has published an unredacted version of the famous “suicide letter” from the FBI to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter, recently discovered by historian and professor Beverly Gage, is a disturbing document. But it’s also something that everyone in the United States should read, because it demonstrates exactly what lengths the intelligence community is willing to go to—and what happens when they take the fruits of the surveillance they’ve done and unleash it on a target.

The anonymous letter was the result of the FBI’s comprehensive surveillance and harassment strategy against Dr. King, which included bugging his hotel rooms, photographic surveillance, and physical observation of King’s movements by FBI agents. The agency also attempted to break up his marriage by sending selectively edited “personal moments he shared with friends and women” to his wife.

Portions of the letter had been previously redacted. One of these portions contains a claim that the letter was written by another African-American: “King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all us Negroes.” It goes on to say “We will now have to depend on our older leaders like Wilkins, a man of character and thank God we have others like him. But you are done.” This line is key, because part of the FBI’s strategy was to try to fracture movements and pit leaders against one another. (more…)

In States That “Reduce” Their Use of Solitary Confinement, Suffering Continues for Those Left Behind

tapley-supermax-photo-300x198From Solitary Watch

Under pressure from activists, lawsuits, and even a few reformers within the corrections system, several states have significantly reduced the number of people they hold in solitary confinement in their prison systems. These reductions, achieved largely through “reclassifying” prisoners and returning the least troublesome ones to the general population, have rightly been celebrated by opponents of solitary confinement.

In recent months, however, reports by organizations and investigative journalists have documented what happens to those who remain behind when the use of solitary is “reduced” rather than eliminated. In doing so, they show the pitfalls involved in opposing the “overuse” of solitary, rather than confronting all extreme isolation as torture. (more…)

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…)

‘A Girl Hanged Herself Here’

08-01-eloy-thumb-640xauto-8758From Color Lines
by Aura Bogado
When the Dream 9 entered the Eloy Detention Center last week in Florence, Arizona, they planned to start organizing. That effort has now grown into a hunger strike protesting the conditions in one of the most notorious immigrant detention centers in the country—and a deportation machine that continues to remove more than 1,000 people per day out of the United States.

Shortly after arriving at Eloy, the Dream 9 say their phone use was unfairly restricted. In protest, they began a hunger strike—but six were placed in solitary confinement for their decision to do so. Most are back in the general population, but two remain. At the time of publication, 24-year-old Lulu Martinez and 22-year-old Maria Peniche have spent 104 out of the last 108 hours in complete isolation. Mohammad Abdollahi works with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), which organized the action that resulted in the Dream 9’s detention, and he remains in steady contact with the nine. He says that when Martinez and Peniche are brought out of their individual cells and into the yard once a day, they are shackled and interact only with guards.

But Martinez and Peniche aren’t the only ones facing horrid conditions at Eloy. Thesla Zenaida, who met the Dream 9 at Eloy and is now participating in a hunger strike along with other women detainees, explained in a phone call that a guard’s treatment at the detention facility drove a fellow detainee to suicide. (more…)

Farewell to Aaron Swartz, an Extraordinary Hacker and Activist

aaronFrom the EFF:

[Several days ago], Aaron Swartz, a close friend and collaborator of ours, committed suicide. This is a tragic end to a brief and extraordinary life.

Aaron did more than almost anyone to make the Internet a thriving ecosystem for open knowledge, and to keep it that way. His contributions were numerous, and some of them were indispensable. When we asked him in late 2010 for help in stopping COICA, the predecessor to the SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills, he founded an organization called Demand Progress, which mobilized over a million online activists and proved to be an invaluable ally in winning that campaign.

Other projects Aaron worked on included the RSS specifications, web.py, tor2web, the Open Library, and the Chrome port of HTTPS Everywhere. Aaron helped launch the Creative Commons. He was a former co-founder at Reddit, and a member of the team that made the site successful. His blog was often a delight. (more…)

Remembering Avalon on Winter Solstice

avalonFrom Earth First Newswire

Environmental and social justice activist, ELF warrior and political prisoner William C. Rodgers (known to friends as “Avalon”) died on December 21, 2005. A casualty of the Green Scare, he committed suicide in jail, citing the following reason:

“To my friends and supporters to help them make sense of all these events that have happened so quickly: Certain human cultures have been waging war against the Earth for millennia. I chose to fight on the side of bears, mountain lions, skunks, bats, saguaros, cliff rose and all things wild. I am just the most recent casualty in that war. But tonight I have made a jail break—I am returning home, to the Earth, to the place of my origins. Bill, 12/21/05 (the winter solstice.)” (more…)

Dead Gitmo Prisoner’s Tragic Letter About Why He Gave Up on Life

Dead Gitmo Prisoner’s Tragic Letter About Why He Gave Up on Life

Adnan Latif suffered at the hands of the US government in ways that most people can’t begin to comprehend.

From Alternet.org

Adnan Latif was found dead in his cell on September 10th, 2012, just a day before the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. He was 32. Latif, a Yemeni citizen, had been detained at Guantanamo Bay for over a decade, despite a 2010 court ruling that ordered the Obama administration to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate Latif’s release forthwith,” due to lack of evidence that he had committed any crime. He suffered at the hands of the US government in ways that most people can’t begin to comprehend, and his death should be a reminder that the national shame that is Guantanamo Bay lives on and now enjoys bipartisan support. (more…)


Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

by Chad Landrum*

The CDC’s shameless attempt to suppress the tragic loss of life of three recent hunger strikers has inevitably failed in the whole, despite the fact that it still refuses to knowledge its own complicity with regards to the particular details surrounding these deaths. The essential facts are widely known among the prison masses.

This comes as no surprise for those of us familiar with the practices of the CDC. Yet for those naïve to the CDC’s duplicity, there are valuable lesson to be learned from all of this. With respect to the three men who needlessly lost their lives, it is significant that we not pass judgment on them prematurely.

The taking of one’s own life is a conscious decision, and such a decision is as relevant as the surrounding conditions that gave rise to the decision itself. This inseparability between our consciousness and our environmental conditions is summed up well in Karl Marx’s simple, yet revealing, statement:

“…the ‘ideal’ is nothing more that the material world reflected in the human brain and translated into forms of thought….”

To speak of these avoidable deaths in the context of “suicides” is to legitimize the state’s role in creating the oppressive conditions that resulted in these deaths, and thus, exonerates it of responsibility. (more…)