Laura Magnani

HUNGERSTRIKE UPDATE, DAY 35 for Humane Conditions in CA Prisons

Please read and take action now. If you are in the Humboldt region, please come to the Arcata Plaza on Thursday in Solidarity with the Hunger Strikers, 5PM FOR THE 5 DEMANDS!  There are Solidarity events all over CA and the world. Check out the calendar on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website  & create your own events!

Before you read the Hungerstrike News, please sign these petitions:

FOUR PETITIONS TO SIGN! (don't worry about accidentally signing a petition twice; it won't let you)

 

http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-jerry-brown-stop-indefinite-solitary-confinement-in-security-housing-units?utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

 

http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-jerry-brown-stop-the-torture-in-california-2

 

http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8249

 

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51040/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=11455

HUNGERSTRIKE NEWS

Vol. 3 #26, August 11, 2013 

Day 35 Countdown for Humane Conditions

Carol Strickman, Mediation Team
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Some California prisoners got good news on Friday: the Federal Communications Commission agreed to limit how much companies can charge for phone calls made from behind bars. But this welcome reform does not affect SHU prisoners. Why? Because SHU prisoners in California are not allowed to call home. Lack of family phone calls is one of the reasons why California’s SHU cells are characterized as solitary confinement – the harsh deprivation of family and social ties.

Prisoners in the SHU are not even allowed to write letters to their loved ones, if their loved ones are also incarcerated. The letters they are allowed to write are copied and scrutinized by gang investigators for evidence of gang involvement. And gang investigators find “gang involvement” everywhere they look – even in the drawings of a five year old girl who sends her artwork to her daddy. Imagine a little girl getting her drawing back from the prison because it is considered gang-related. Gang investigators will even reach out to family members and friends who write to SHU prisoners, warning them that they face possible investigation themselves merely for corresponding with a SHU prisoner.

SHU prisoners in long-term solitary confinement value their family relationships above all else. So that is what SHU prisons try to destroy. Consider this: a mother with two sons in prisons (one in general population and one in SHU) cannot write to both. Why? Because she knows that gang investigators will link her sons to each other through her address, thereby jeopardizing the son in general population with gang validation and placement in SHU.

This is the meaning of cruel and unusual punishment. How long would you tolerate these sorts of attacks on you and your family? Would you be driven to hunger strike because of these and other cruelties?

CDCR has created the conditions that drive prisoners to desperation. Whether it be a lonely suicide in an isolation cell or a united peaceful protest, the message is clear: SHU prisoners have been pushed beyond the limit of what human beings should have to bear. It is horrifying to witness CDCR’s response to the current hunger strike: crank up the cruelty and let them die.

Today is Day 35.

On behalf of the Mediation Team,
Carol Strickman, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, (510) 289-7225

 

Hunger Strike Mediation Team
Dr. Ronald Ahnen, California Prison Focus and St. Mary’s College of California
Barbara Becnel, Occupy4Prisoners.org
Dolores Canales, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement
Irene Huerta, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement
Laura Magnani, American Friends Service Committee
Marilyn McMahon, California Prison Focus
Carol Strickman, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children
Azadeh Zohrabi, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children

Please Also Read Intense Informative Countdown Reports
Day 34:  http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/day-34-countdown-for-humane-conditions/
Day 33:  http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/day-33-countdown-for-humane-conditions/

SHU isolation cell to be installed on State Capitol South Steps Aug. 14

by D’Andre Teeter, San Francisco Bay View

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, in support of the California prison hunger strikers and their five demands, invite the public to visit an installation of a life-sized mock Security Housing Unit (SHU) cell on the California State Capitol South Steps in Sacramento.

The cell will be on display – and you can walk right in to see how it feels – from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14. A press conference, featuring Assemblymember and Public Safety Committee Chair Tom Ammiano, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, people formerly incarcerated in California Department of Corrections (CDCR) SHUs, SHU prisoners’ families, and other voices of support and conscience will be held at noon.

Read more.

California’s Continuing Prison Crisis

New York Times Editorial, August 10, 2013

California has long been held up as the land of innovation and fresh starts, but on criminal justice and incarceration, the Golden State remains stubbornly behind the curve.

...on the Class Action Lawsuit Against CA's Use of Prolonged Solitary Confinement

(Telephone press briefing held on May 31, 2012)  

“My name is Marie Levin. I am the youngest sister of Ronnie Dewberry.

“Ronnie has been held in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison since 1990. That is truly cruel and unusual punishment.

“When I heard about the inhumane conditions in the SHU, I broke down crying uncontrollably.

“Ronnie lives in a cramped, windowless cell for at least 22.5 hours a day. He is let out of the cell only to exercise alone in a concrete enclosure and to shower 3 times weekly.

“He is allowed no phone calls and they only receive one package per year.

“His food is often cold and rotten.

“Ronnie has chronic stomach problems, swollen thyroid glands, and a severe Vitamin D deficiency. He also suffers from high blood pressure and has at times been denied his medication.

“He says that being in the SHU feels like psychological torture.

“This is traumatizing knowing that a loved one is suffering and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“Ronnie and I are 10 months apart, and we were very close growing up.

“At first, he was in [a] prison near our family and we were able to visit regularly. I was able to visit him regularly.

“Since he was transferred to Pelican Bay in 1990, I have seen him only 5 times. The drive is almost 8 hours in a car in travel…very expensive.

“There is much time between visits that each time Ronnie looks much older.

“After the long, costly trip, we are only permitted to visit for 1 hour through a piece of glass. I have not been able to hug my brother in over 2 decades.

“My mother has had several strokes and is now paralyzed, speaks with difficulty, and suffers from dementia. She longs to see her only son but she is no longer able to make the long and difficult trip.

“Though Ronnie is eligible for parole, he will not be paroled while he is in the SHU.

“I fear our mother will pass away before she and Ronnie can see each other again.

“In 2001, our oldest sibling, Carol, suffered kidney failure and Ronnie set about trying to donate a kidney for her. He was able to get tested and found out that he was a compatible donor. But the prison would not allow him to make the donation.

“For years, Ronnie fought for permission to save his sister.

“Carol died in 2010 in a pool of blood, bleeding out after a dialysis treatment. She was 59-years-old.

“I am very grateful for this lawsuit and for all of the support that has been given to Pelican Bay prisoners since the hunger strike.

“The movement to end these barbaric conditions has lifted Ronnie’s peers as well. For the first time in a very long time, I felt hopeful that Ronnie’s situation might change for the better.”

###

Transcript of Remarks by Marie Levin, family member of Pelican Bay SHU prisoner Ronnie Dewberry, on the Ruiz v. Brown class action lawsuit challenging California’s use of prolonged solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison

Read more: Lawsuit challenges California’s prolonged solitary confinement policy

Testimony About TORTURE in CA Solitary Housing Units

Hidden Behind Concrete and Barbed Wire: Hearings Expose Torture in California's SHUs

"My brother has been in Pelican Bay SHU for the last ten years. I'm here today to be the voice, not only for him, but for all of the prisoners who are suffering in the SHU and for all of the prisons in California. There are a lot of questions that I want answered. I want to know what our elected officials are going to do to change what's being done? Why is it 30 days later and still nothing has been done when the CDC agreed to part of the prisoners' demands? I want to know why my brother is tortured on a daily basis year after year. Why is he not fed correctly and why is he so pale and skinny? Why does my mom have to cry every time she goes to see him? Seeing everybody that has come out today just lights my fire, because I know that I am not alone and I can let him know that he is not alone."

Amber