human rights violations

Mentally Ill Man Dies, Injured and Alone, in a Tulsa Jail Cell

November 5, 2012 by  

photo of Elliot Earl Williams

In a horrific story out of Oklahoma, lawyers representing the estate of a prisoner who was found dead in the Tulsa Jail have sued the local sheriff’s office and the jail’s private health care provider. In a motion just filed in federal court, attorneys have asked a judge to release a video made of the man’s final two days, during which he allegedly languished in an isolation cell without food, water, or medical attention.

As reported by the Tulsa World:

Elliott Earl Williams, 37, was pronounced dead in his cell at 11:21 a.m. Oct. 27, 2011, after allegedly going days without food and water…

According to the motion seeking release of the video and related documents, Williams–who had exhibited signs of mental illness–tried to hurt himself and ran into a steel door head-first after being placed in a booking cell upon arrival at the jail Oct. 22.

When detention officers and medical personnel refused to treat him, claiming he was faking paralysis, he was left on the floor of the booking cell for 10 hours and soiled himself, the motion states.

He was then transferred by gurney to the jail’s medical unit, where he was dumped in a shower and left for two hours. He was then moved to a medical unit cell, where he was left naked on a steel bunk with only a blanket, the motion states.

Williams remained in the cell, naked, immobile and with only a blanket, for the next three days, according to the motion.

He last ate on the morning of Oct. 23 and last drank any water–”other than a few drops he managed to lick off his fingers”–on the morning of Oct. 24, according to documents cited in the motion.

The next morning, on Oct. 25, Williams was dragged on his blanket to a video-monitored cell, according to the motion. The remaining 51 hours of Williams’ life were videotaped.

 Included on that tape, according to the motion, are numerous instances in which detention officers opened Williams’ cell door and threw Styrofoam food containers onto the floor of the cell.

On Oct. 26, the day before his death, no one entered his cell, according to the motion.

“On one occasion, he attempted to open one of the food containers that had been thrown into his cell the previous day, but his efforts to do so failed,” the motion states. “In the process of trying to open the food container, he spilled the cup of water. The empty cup was still in the cell when Mr. Williams died.”

Vote YES on Prop 36: Amend the Three Strikes Law

America's prison problem (Great VIDEO)

Why does the US put so many people behind bars and what lies behind California's new push for leniency?

last Modified: 01 Nov 2012 14:40

By filmmakers Michael Montgomery and Monica Lam

The US locks up more people than any other country in the world, spending over $80billion each year to keep some two million prisoners behind bars. Over the past three decades, tough sentencing laws have contributed to a doubling of the country's prison population, with laws commonly known as 'three strikes and you're out' mandating life sentences for a wide range of crimes.

But a clear sign that Americans are rethinking crime and punishment is a voter's initiative on California's November ballot called Proposition 36 that seeks to reform the state's three-strikes law. Some 27 states have three-strikes laws patterned after California's version, which was one of the first to be enacted in the country.

Since it was passed in 1994, nearly 9,000 felons have been convicted in California under the law.

One of them is Norman Williams, a 49-year-old African-American man who was a crack addict living on the streets. He was convicted of burglarising an empty home and later stealing an armload of tools from an art studio. His third strike: filching a jack from a tow truck in Long Beach. His fate sealed under California's three-strikes law, Williams was sent to a maximum security prison [for a life sentence] alongside murderers, rapists and other violent criminals.

"I never wanted to do my whole life in prison. Nobody wants to be caged like that," Williams says.

Williams was lucky. After 13 years behind bars, his case was reviewed by a judge and he was released. He is one of about two dozen 'three strikers' who have won sentence reductions through the work of a Stanford University law clinic founded by Michael Romano. In Williams' case, the prosecutor actually agreed that the original sentence was too harsh. An idea emerged from Romano's work: Why not draft a ballot initiative to ensure that sentences like Williams' will not be repeated?

"When people originally passed the three-strikes law in 1994 the campaigns were about keeping serious and violent murderers, child molesters in prison for the rest of their lives," Romano says. "I think that's what people want and are kind of shocked to hear that people have been sentenced to life for petty theft."

Please DON’T vote in favor of Prop 34 to end California’s death penalty, from Verbena Lea Oct 2012

feedback welcome to copwatchrwc@riseup.net, especially if you've read the various statements!  ~Verbena of RedwoodCurtain CopWatch

I know that this might be difficult for people to understand, but I am urging you not to vote for Prop 34, the Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act (SAFE California Act).  Never would I believe that I would stand in the way of abolishing the death penalty, but as with many propositions, bills, and ballot measures brought to the people in the past, with promising names (i.e. the horrendous and misleading "Victim's Rights Bill", Prop 9 in 2008) or the appearance of good ideas, it is necessary to look deeper- WHO created the bill?  WHO is advocating for it?  WHO is against it?  WHY?  Propositions put in petitions and on our ballots are not always as simple or righteous as they sound.

I have been talking some with people who have worked with prisoners and have fought for years against the racist, classist, unjust, and cruel jail and prison system of the U.S.- which has about 2.3 million people captured in its cages, and many more under the constant scrutiny and control of the injustice system (run by some of the worst crooks/criminals on Earth). And this does not account for the U.S. immigration detention centers, holding thousands of captives.  So, I sought out some opinions from people I trust, especially after speaking with a local woman who has been doing prisoner support and prison abolition work, and she was not excited about Prop 34. The large majority of people on death row in CA, apparently are not in favor either.  That says a lot.

It is my strong opinion, now, that we should not allow Prop 34 to pass.  And we should get busy creating a better ballot measure to end the death penalty, which puts funding in a just direction for those so harmed by the injustice system.


Below are four writings from prisoners on Death Row in San Quentin.  One of the writers, Kevin Cooper is an outspoken artist, writer, prisoner who was framed (like many black men) years ago for murder and has been fighting to be freed from prison and from death row for many years.  I think he raises important questions to examine... WHY were death row inmates never consulted by the proponents of this Act?  Who are the proponents?

PLEASE READ the statement from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty as to why it "cannot add its name to the list of organizations endorsing the California SAFE Act."   Here is the link:
http://www.nodeathpenalty.org/organizing-updates/october-25-2012-organizing-update/cedp-statement-california-safe-act

 

It is a matter of innocence, not economics

October 1, 2012

by Jarvis Jay Masters (on San Quentin's Death Row)

Please DON’T vote in favor of “The SAFE California Act” to end California’s death penalty.

You need to know that your vote for this act would throw away the key for all the innocent men and women on death row and, instead, sentence all prisoners on death row to spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole and without effective legal representation.

The way I see it is, behind the scenes, the “Act” has been to cast Jeannie Woodford, former prison guard, former San Quentin warden, former director of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and current director of Death Penalty Focus, an organization striving to abolish the death penalty, to build support for this “Act” from, among others, the prison guards union.

Please DON’T vote in favor of “The SAFE California Act” to end California’s death penalty.

I am not the first to say how deeply troubling it is to see this initiative being advocated for by a woman who presided over state executions without ever offering an OPEN apology.

There is something even more troubling about depending on a flawed prison system and its employees to go ahead and make this decision, when the men and women at risk have never been asked for our two cents about matters that affect our life and death.  PLEASE KEEP READING!

Remembering Attica Forty Years Later

by Dennis Cunningham, Michael Deutsch & Elizabeth Fink

PRISON LEGAL NEWS     VOL. 22 NO.9      Sept 2011
https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/includes/_public/_issues/pln_2011/09pln11.pdf

This year, September 9 will mark the 40th anniversary of the rebellion at Attica State Prison in upstate New York. As one of the prisoner leaders, L.D. Barkley, announced to the world, the rebellion was “but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.”
The sound of Attica was heard loud and clear, but the fury at the time was reserved to the assault force: several hundred violently angry white state police officers and prison guards who carried out the massacre that ended the rebellion on September 13, 1971, with 43 men dead. The fury of the oppressed themselves has been a work in progress since that time.

L.D. was one of many politically aware prisoners in New York and elsewhere who identified with the struggle for liberation world-wide, with consciousness growing out of the civil rights movement, the urban uprisings of the 60s, and the ideology and practices of Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party. This consciousness was given voice in the writings of George Jackson and Eldridge Cleaver, especially Soledad Brother and Soul on Ice, whose searing indictments of injustice, racism and cruelty in California prisons echoed across the country and inspired resistance.

A manifesto demanding reform had come out of California’s Folsom Prison in 1970 and made its way around the country and into Attica, and the prisoners there had delivered a manifesto of their own to New York state authorities, which was ignored, several months before the rebellion. George Jackson was assassinated at San Quentin on August 21, 1971; a few days later the prisoners at Attica staged a surprise protest at breakfast, during which nobody ate and nobody talked. The guards were stunned and unnerved at the unanimity of the protest action.

A number of the prisoners had been involved in previous, smaller rebellions at the Tombs jail in New York City and the state prison at Auburn. Various chapters of political groups on the outside had formed inside, including the Black Panther Party and the Puerto Rican Young Lords, and the Black Muslims had a large organized contingent at Attica as well as in all other New York state prisons at that time. Political literature flowed freely, and the groups were often able to gather in the exercise yards and at various work sites and other locales in the institution. Grievances against the guards, the administration and the system were many and widely shared, especially on the part of the Black and Latino prisoners who came mainly from New York City, and almost all the rest from other big city environments like Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester.

The entire staff at Attica at the time was white except for one Puerto Rican guard who worked in a watchtower and had no contact with prisoners. The surrounding rural area of Western New York where the guards came from was mostly what some call “up South,” to denote the level of racial antipathy and outright bigotry endemic in the local population, and thus in the prison work force.

At the same time there was a strong and growing belief among the prisoners that they had clear-cut rights under the Constitution that guaranteed fair and decent treatment, as well as freedom from discrimination; that despite years of peaceful petition and advocacy, their rights were largely ignored by the prison administration; and that much of the abuse and brutality they experienced from the white guards was a matter of official policy. Many prisoners had come to feel that something must be done.

* * *

Report Sheds Light On Dire Prison Conditions For Youth Offenders Serving Life Sentences

By The Public Record   Jan 5th, 2012

You probably know that the United States has more people in jail than any other country in the world. The staggering number is 2.3 million. China, which has four times as many people as the US, is a distant second with 1.6 million prisoners.

What you may not know is that the US also tops the charts in the numbers of youth offenders serving life without parole sentences in adult US prisons. The score? The world: 0; the US: 2,570.

Pelican Bay Short Corridor Update (Dec 2011)

A Shout-out of respect and solidarity – from the Pelican Bay Short Corridor – Collective – to all similarly situated prisoners subject to the continuing torturous conditions of confinement in these barbaric SHU & Ad/Seg units across this country and around the world.

This is our update of where things currently stand and where we’re going with this struggle – for an end to draconian policies and practices – summarized in our “Formal Complaint” (and many related documents published and posted online, since early 2011)

As many of you know… beginning in early (2010), the PBSP – SHU Short Corridor Collective initiated action to educate people and bring wide spread exposure to – the (25+) years of ongoing – progressive human rights violations going unchecked here in the California Department of Corruption – via dissemination of our “Formal Complaint” to 100’s of people, organizations, lawmakers, Secretary Cate, etc… wherein, we also sought support and meaningful change.

My Guantánamo Nightmare, by Lakhdar Boumediene

My Guantánamo Nightmare   by LAKHDAR BOUMEDIENE   Jan 7, 2012

On Wednesday, America’s detention camp at Guantánamo Bay will have been open for 10 years. For seven of them, I was held there without explanation or charge. During that time my daughters grew up without me. They were toddlers when I was imprisoned, and were never allowed to visit or speak to me by phone. Most of their letters were returned as “undeliverable,” and the few that I received were so thoroughly and thoughtlessly censored that their messages of love and support were lost.

Some American politicians say that people at Guantánamo are terrorists, but I have never been a terrorist. Had I been brought before a court when I was seized, my children’s lives would not have been torn apart, and my family would not have been thrown into poverty. It was only after the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to defend its actions before a federal judge that I was finally able to clear my name and be with them again.

Isolated CA Inmates Continue Their Fight for Reform

SOLITARY WATCH: News from a Nation in Lockdown

Dec 30, 2011 by Sal Rodriguez    Since the widespread hunger strikes across California protesting the conditions of long-term solitary confinement in the California prison system, there have yet to be any indications of substantive change on the horizon.

July 8 RALLY (Eureka) TO SHOW SOLIDARITY With Prisoners Hunger Strike

Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (Crescent City, California) will begin an indefinite hunger strike July 1, 2011 to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
has been found guilty of constitutional rights violations by federal courts, and its practice of long-term isolation, particularly at Pelican Bay, has been identified by human rights monitors as constituting a form of psychological torture.

The lives of the prisoners who say they are going to participate in the strike are at great risk.

 

Why a California Prisoner Hunger Strike (Starts July 1st)

CA Prisoner Hunger Strike Starts July 1st!

Pelican Bay SHU Prisoners' Formal Complaint and Final Notice

Todd Ashker, who is in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit, has asked us to expose
THESE DOCUMENTS, Complaint and Final Notice,  in place of the one circulated at the end of March 2011 (below).

The new material is in the Final Notice. The Complaint was part of
the previous hunger strike document but Todd asked me to send it along with
the Final Notice.

The men who intend to go on hunger strike on July 1, 2011 have
collaborated on five core demands that they plan to present, along with their
"Formal Complaint" to the Governor, Secretary of Corrections, and Warden, about
30 days prior to July 1. They have expanded their demands to include
eliminating long term confinement in Security Housing Units and Administrative

World Courts of Women on Poverty in the U.S. - September 30, 2011

Testifying and Witnessing Poverty as a Human Rights Violation

Date: September 30, 2011 (exact dates and locations TBA)

The U.S. World Court will focus on the hidden yet, brutal issues of poverty in the United States, making visible the invisible, listening to those voices that have been dispossessed, denigrated.