isolation

"When Will Solitary End?" by Carlos Marvin Argueta Jr.

 

When Will Solitary End?

I sit in solitary confinement,

Monitored and evaluated,

Psychologically tested,

Tortured in more ways than I care

To remember or burden you with,

With hopes I’d crack and beg,

Beg to be let out of this torturous place

And crack, losing the bit of sanity I have left

Like so many others before me and so many others

Yet to fall, fall prey to the prison’s administrators,

To the countless tactical torturous games they play.

 

I am but one of a few hundred who still stand strong,

Fighting to survive, accumulating deep embedded scars

With each passing day, learning to be resilient to all

That’s thrown and piled up against me

In such a difficult, miserable place.

 

Lonely and deprived of so much, I sit here

Beyond desperate for a helping hand, for something,

Someone, for a movement, for human rights lawyers

And all the advocates out there to put an end

To this heinous practice of solitary confinement

And take me away from this place with my dignity intact.

I hope it’s soon, before many more fall prey

And lose themselves in this dungeon of hell and misery

That’s been in place for far too long.

_____

 

My actions will soon come

Hoping that they’ll draw the attention needed

To end this heinous practice

Once and for all.

Bonnie Kerness: Pioneer in the Struggle Against Solitary Confinement

November 8, 2012  by Solitary Watch Guest Author Lance Tapley

In 1986 Ojore Lutalo, a black revolutionary in the Trenton State Prison — now the New Jersey State Prison — wrote to Bonnie Kerness’s American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office in Newark. His letter described the extreme isolation and other brutalities in the prison’s Management Control Unit, which he called a “prison within a prison.”

“I could not believe what he was telling me” about the MCU, she says. She reacted by becoming “this lunatic white lady” calling New Jersey corrections officials about Lutalo.

Kerness immediately went to work trying to stop MCU guards from harassing prisoners by waking them at 1 a.m. to make them strip in front of snarling dogs leaping for their genitals — to arbitrarily have them switch cells. She got this practice stopped.

Lutalo’s letter also began to open her eyes to the torture of solitary confinement, which in the mid-1980s was just starting to spread across the country as a mass penological practice. Coordinator of the AFSC’s national Prison Watch Project, Kerness had worked on prison issues since the mid-1970s. Now she became an anti-solitary-confinement activist. In 2012, she has been one longer and more consistently than, possibly, anyone else.

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."

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.

What is the meaning of the California prisoner hunger strikes? A statement in support of the hunger strikers

by Kevin Rashid Johnson
Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, Prison Chapter

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

Six thousand six hundred California prisoners participated in a 3-week-long hunger strike in July, seeking relief from unjust and inhumane conditions. In the face of California Department of Corrections (CDC) officials failing to honor settlement negotiations, the hunger strike resumed on September 26th, with nearly 12,000 prisoners participating in thirteen of that state’s prisons.

It is a truism that oppression breeds resistance. Indeed, the U.S. Declaration of Independence enshrines the right and duty of the oppressed to resist their oppression.

Sat & Sun (10/1 & 10/2) Show Support for Prisoner Hunger Strike Outside Pelican Bay!

California prisoners are on hunger strike again! The hunger strike that started on July 1 of this year in support of 5 demands, has been resumed by thousands of prisoners at Pelican Bay, Calipatria, CCI Tehachapi, Centinela, Corcoran, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, Ironwood State Prison, Salinas Valley State Prison.

The prisoners say that the California Department of Corrections has retaliated against prisoners for participating in the strike and made only nominal policy changes in response to the strike. Prisoners say it is necessary to continue to put pressure on the CDCR to meaningfully change long-term solitary confinement policies and practices. Up to date information can be found at http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/.

Oct.5th Sacramento Demo: Support the Prisoner Hunger Strike! End Long-Term Solitary Confinement

October 5th: in Sacramento
12pm to 2pm  
CDCR Headquarters,
1515 S St.
More info call: 415-238-1801

Support the Prisoner Hunger Strike!  Support the Five Demands!

All out to Sacramento!
In SOLIDARITY, a group of us will be leaving Eureka on Tuesday night (10/4) to participate in the Oct.5th demo.  We'll stay the night in Oakland and rideshare with Bay Area folks to Sacramento on Wednesday morning!  We will return to Eureka on Wednesday night (10/5).

If you want to go, please contact Redwood Curtain CopWatch at 707.633.4493 or email copwatchrwc@gmail.com.


Find updates on the hunger strike at

Monday Aug 1st: DAY OF PROTEST AND SOLIDARITY WITH THE PRISON HUNGER STRIKERS

August 1st: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST & SOLIDARITY WITH THE PRISON HUNGER STRIKERS

List of Actions for August 1: Day of Protest and Solidarity with the Prison Hunger Strikers

In support and respect for the courageous prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison and other prisons all around California, whose July 2011 hunger strike challenged the inhumane conditions of the Security Housing Units [the SHU] and inspired the support of people far and wide—we now call on people of conscience everywhere across the U.S. and beyond, to join in an International Day of Protest and Solidarity with the Prison Hunger Strikers on Monday, August 1, 2011. 

 

The Hunger Strikers achieved real success: the conditions of systematic abuse and torture in the SHU—and widespread thru the prison system—were dragged into the light of day. Their original five core demands have now been acknowledged—although not yet met—by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), which promised to consider them. On Monday, August 1 many diverse people and organizations will publicly speak out and act in support of these demands. Prisoners must gain the human rights and civil rights demanded by their very humanity—and by ours outside the prison walls too, wherever we may be.   We insist there must be NO RETALIATION by the authorities against individual prisoners, groups of prisoners, prisoners’ family members or attorneys or other advocates, in the wake of the Hunger Strike. (And we will be paying attention.) Let us show on August 1 that the prisoners do not stand alone, through our demonstrations, rallies, religious services, fasts, call-the-governor-days, art and music, taking to the airwaves thru talk show and other call-ins, and many other public, visual, and creative expressions. Send word of your plans to prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity@gmail.com and follow news and information at  prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

 

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

Protests Grow in Solidarity With California Prisoners As Hunger Strikes Enter Third Week, Democracy Now! July 15, 2011

INTERVIEWS BELOW

Thousands of inmates in at least 13 prisons across California’s troubled prison system have been on hunger strike for almost two weeks. Many are protesting in solidarity with inmates held in Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s first super-maximum security prison, over what prisoners say are cruel and unusual conditions in "Secure Housing Units." We play an audio statement from one of the Pelican Bay prisoners and speak to three guests: Dorsey Nunn, co-founder of "All of Us or None" and executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and one of the mediators between the prisoners on hunger strike and the California Department of Corrections; Molly Porzig, a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition and a spokesperson for Critical Resistance; and Desiree Lozoya, the niece of an inmate participating in the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike, who visited him last weekend.

Molly Porzig, a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition and a spokesperson for Critical Resistance.
Dorsey Nunn, co-founder of "All of Us or None." He is also the executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. Nunn was incarcerated from 1971 to 1982 in San Quentin Prison in California. He is one of the mediators between the prisoners on hunger strike and the California Department of Corrections.
Desiree Lozoya, is the niece of an inmate participating in the Pelican Bay hunger strike.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to California, where thousands of inmates in at least 11 prisons across the state’s troubled prison system have been on hunger strike for almost two weeks. Many are protesting in solidarity with inmates held in Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s first super-maximum security prison.

The hunger strike began on July 1st in the Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit, when inmates began refusing meals to protest what they say is cruel and unusual conditions. Prisoners in the units are kept in total isolation for 22-and-a-half hours a day, a punishment some mental health experts say can lead to insanity and is tantamount to torture.

Democracy Now! obtained a recording of an audio statement that one of the Pelican Bay inmates, Ted Ashker sic, made to his legal team in the secure prison’s Secure Housing Unit, which is referred to as the SHU. You will need to listen closely as he explains his reasons for joining the hunger strike.

TODD ASHKER: The basis for this protest has come about after over 25 years—some of us, 30, some up to 40 years—of being subjected to these conditions the last 21 years in Pelican Bay SHU, where every single day you have staff and administrators who feel it’s their job to punish the worst of the worst, as they’ve put out propaganda for the last 21 years that we are the worst of the worst. And most of us have never been found guilty of ever committing an illegal gang-related act. But we’re in SHU because of a label. And all of our 602 appeals, numerous court challenges, have gotten nowhere. Therefore, our backs are up against the wall.