Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Free Them All!

Never forget those locked down who fought for our freedom that we enjoy today. They are our political prisoners.” – Tupac Shakur

This website, produced by the "Free 'em All" committee, contains information about prisoners held by the various security agencies of the USA, and includes those who are incarcerated for their political actions, religious beliefs or culture, those who are incarcerated unjustly despite evidence of their innocence, and those whose incarceration is cruel, unusual and which contravenes Human Rights and Civil Rights.

On this homepage, you will find:
* a woefully incomplete list of political, conscious and innocent prisoners encaged across the USA.
* a list of political prisoner solidarity groups
* links to information and analysis

The USA does not recognize the existence of political prisoners held in custody by USA agencies, and there is no legally-binding and internationally recognized definition of a political prisoner.
American English definition of political prisoner according to the MacMillan Dictionary [macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/political-prisoner] is, "someone who is sent to prison by their own government because it does not approve of their beliefs or actions".
* USA Political Prisoners face death in prison [link]
* The Prisons of the U$A are instruments of Repression and Oppression [link]
* Solitary Confinement is Human-Rights abuse, according to international law [link]
* "Prisoners of War?" from FinalCall.com News [link]

"Definition of Political Prisoner and Prisoner of War",  an excerpt from the Jericho Movement Mission Statement:
“They are bothers and sisters, men and women who, as a consequence of their political work and/or organizational affiliations were given criminal charges, arrested or captured, tried in criminal courts and sent to prison. While trying them as criminals, the government maintained files on them referencing their political activities, designed to insure they remain in prison. The Jericho Movement is designed to force the hand of this government as it relates to these brothers and sisters, women and men who while on the streets, made a conscious decision to organize for our freedom and liberation. Then, after making this decision joined or became affiliated with organizations, parties, etc. that advocated and organized for these aims. Then, as a consequence of their work on the streets, and/or involvement in military actions, they were targeted, captured or framed and tried in criminal courts and sentenced to prison. While we recognize that there are many people who have become political after their incarceration, George Jackson (murdered in San Quentin) and Ruchell Magee (Angels Davis’ co-defendant) for example, we believe that this campaign has to focus on those political prisoners and prisoners of war whose incarceration was political from the inception. We can no longer continue to be liberal in our approach to our struggle. We must do what is demanded of us to move our struggle forward, strengthen our movement, internationalize our struggle and gain freedom and independence. While we continue to dither around these issues, we can be of not real help for those people inside the prisons and outside who have become political as a result of our work and struggle for freedom and liberation. With Jericho we are pushing for the admission on the part of the United States government that our political prisoners and prisoners of war do exist inside the prison of the United States, we are pushing for recognition in the international arena and therefore changing how the world views our liberation struggles inside the belly of the beast. We can wait no longer, the time is now.”

California Prisoner Hunger Strike for Human Rights [link]
* Prisoners Strike for Human Rights at Pelican Bay State Prison [link]
* Steve Champion (San Quentin Prison) [link]
* California Prisons censoring newspapers which report on Prisoner's Human Rights movement [link]
* Retaliation Against Hunger Strikers with Inadequate Food (2014-01-10) [link]

Free 'em All!
"Nuclear Resister" Political Prisoner List (update 2012-08) [link]
"Collective Black Peoples Movement (CBPM)" Political Prisoner List [link]
Mumia abu-Jamal [link]
Russell Maroon Shoats [link], updated 2014-02-21, and [link]
Albert Woodfox [link]
Jalil A. Muntaqim [link]
Pvt. Manning (USA Army Whistleblower!) [link]
John Kiriakou (CIA Whistleblower!) [link]
Bernard von NotHaus (Founder, Liberty Dollar) [link]
Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar) [link]
Roger Christie and the THC Ministry [link]
Aafia Siddiqui, Guantanamo bay prisoner No. 650! [link]
"NATO 3" [link], updated 2014-02-10
"Cleveland 4" [link]
"The Hancock 17" (Drone War Crimes Resisters!)
"The Hancock 15" [link]
"CUNY 6" [link] [link]
"The Anonymous 14 +" [link]
Jeremy Hammond  [link]
Kijana Tashiri Askari of California [link]
"Santa Cruz 11" [link]
Linda Lemaster (Santa Cruz, California) [link]
Gregory Koger (released)  [link]
"Olympia 6" (Oregon, 2009) [link]
Marie Mason [link]
Kevin "Rashid" Johnson [link
Hashim Nzinga (NBPP) [link]
Kimberly Rivera, war-resister [link], updated 2013-05
Cecily McMillan, Occupy Wall Street organizer in New York City [link] (updated 2014-05-09)
"Beale 5" [link]
"Food Not Bombs", Ten years of repression and political prisoners [link]
"Cleveland 5" (Food Not Bombs) [link]
"NATO 5" [link], Mark Naiweem [link]
Daniel McGowan [link]
Shakir Hamoodi, imprisoned for humanitarian aid to people of Iraq [link]
Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, a Catholic Witness for Peace [link]
Nate Buckley, antiwar protester [link]
Lynne Stewart, released! [link], updated 2014-02-14
Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald [link]
Leonard Peltier [link]
Eric McDavid [link][link]
Erik Oseland [link]
Mutulu Shakur [link]
"Eddie" Conway [link]
"Angola 3" [link]
Ramsey Muniz, Chicano Political Prisoner [link]
Paul French [link]
Michael Chapin [link]
Nashua Chantal [link]
Katie Olejnik, and Matt Duran [link]
Barrett Brown, "Anonymous" 'spokesperson' [link]
"Pacific Northwest Grand Jury Resisters (Seattle 3)" [link]
The 3 Grand Jury Resisters: Leah, Matt, and Kteeo [link]
"NJ4" [link]
Brian Terrell, a Peace protester [link]
"Transform Now Plowshares 3" [link]
"Bellingham 4" [link]
CeCe McDonald [link]
Matthew Duran [link]
Jordan Halliday [link]
Gregory Lucero [link]
Kellie and Victor VanOrden [link]
Tim DeChristopher [link]
"Omaha 2" [link]
Daniel Birmingham, war resister with the "March Forward" campaign [link]
"Hempstead 15", New York, 2009 [link]

Political Prisoner Solidarity Groups
Prisoner information resources

Books about Political Prisoners USA [link]
Prisoners Literature Project [link]

National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms [CivilFreedoms.org], has played a leading role in defending Muslims and others who have been unjustly attacked by the government. Subscribe to their newsletter by sending a request to [ncpcf.list@gmail.com].

"Occupy For Prisoners!" campaign, 2012-02 [link], a community-led series of actions in support of unjustly incarcerated prisoners and their families!
* Mumia abu-Jamal's message to "Occupy the Prisons" [link]

Jericho Movement [link]

Inside & Out program of the Nuclear Resister [link]

"United Front for Peace", organized by The Ministry of Prisons (MIM-Prisons) [link]

NYC Anarchist Black Cross
New Years day action in support of Political Prisoners, 2013 [link]

Anarchist POW support tour, 2012-04 [link]

National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners, 2012 [link]

Denver Anarchist Black Cross [denverabc.wordpress.com]

Innocent Prisoners
Lorenzo Johnson, innocent man struggling for freedom [link], updated 2014-02-19

The Drug War
All people kidnapped by security agencies during a raid against medicinal cannabis clinics are, by definition, Political Prisoners.
* "Oaksterdam University gets a Monday morning federal raid", 2012-04-02 [link]

A Domestic War against the People!
Snitch Culture [link]
Informant: David Agranoff [link]
NATO 3: Undercover Agent admits he did the crime without penalty, 2014-02-03 [link]

Website designed and moderated by Dr.G., Minister of Information for the Northbay Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) [NorthbayMDS.blogspot.com] [NorthbayMDS@gmail.com]

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ashker v. Brown lawsuit update, documentary materials

*Take Action!*
Tell the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Honor the demands of the prisoners in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit.
* When:  Thursday, February 12, 2pm
* Where:  1300 Clay Street, Room 2, 4th Floor, Oakland, CA

Why:  The CDCR has been using the DRB review process and the chimerical Stepdown Program in an effort to get rid of the Ashker v. Brown class-action without meeting any of the Five Core Demands, and without making any meaningful changes to its policies and practices in validating or revalidating those who it indefinitely holds in its torture chambers.  We need the court to know that support for the 30,000-plus in the SHUs who went on hunger strike in 2013 remains as strong as ever.

Regarding the February 12th hearing, the Center for Constitutional Rights' website announces:
Oral Arguments on our Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Complaint will take place on February 12, 2015 in front of Judge Wilken in District Court in Oakland, CA.  Jules Lobel, CCR President, will be seeking permission to file a Supplemental Complaint to add a class of prisoners recently transferred from solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison to another California solitary confinement unit.  As Plaintiffs have alleged in the proposed Supplemental Complaint, the cruel and unusual treatment [the prisoners have] experienced, and its debilitating effects, have not abated, but instead continue under a different name in a different prison.

Ashker v. Brown
Synopsis -
On May 31, 2012, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent between 10 and 28 years in solitary confinement.  The legal action is part of a larger movement to reform inhumane conditions in California prisons' Security Housing Units (SHU), a movement sparked and dramatized by a 2011 hunger strike by thousands of SHU prisoners; the named plaintiffs include several leaders and participants from the hunger strike.  The class action suit, which is being jointly filed by CCR and several advocate and legal organizations in California, alleges that prolonged solitary confinement violates Eight Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the absence of meaningful review for SHU placement violates the prisoners' right to due process.
Learn more about the human impact of inhumane conditions. Read the hunger strikers's personal stories [http://ccrjustice.org/pelican-bay-prison-hunger-strikers].

Status -
Oral Arguments on our Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Complaint
[http://ccrjustice.org/files/Ps%20Motion%20to%20File%20Supplemental%20Complaint%20and%20Proposed%20Supplemental%20Complaint%2012.12.14.pdf] will take place on February 12, 2015 in front of Judge Wilken in District Court in Oakland, CA
Jules Lobel, CCR President, will be seeking permission to file a Supplemental Complaint to add a class of prisoners recently transferred from solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison to another California solitary confinement unit.  As Plaintiffs have alleged in the proposed Supplemental Complaint, "the cruel and unusual treatment [the prisoners have] experienced, and its debilitating effects, have not abated, but instead continue under a different name in a different prison."
Read our Fact Sheet on solitary confinement [http://ccrjustice.org/files/CCR-Factsheet-Solitary-Confinement.pdf].

Description -
On May 31, 2012, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent between 10 and 28 years in solitary confinement.  The legal action is part of a larger movement to reform inhumane conditions in California prisons' Security Housing Units (SHU), a movement sparked and dramatized by a 2011 hunger strike by thousands of SHU prisoners; the named plaintiffs include several leaders and participants from the hunger strike. The class action suit, which is being jointly filed by CCR and several advocate and legal organizations in California, alleges that prolonged solitary confinement violates Eight Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the absence of meaningful review for SHU placement violates the prisoners' right to due process.
SHU prisoners spend 22 to 24 hours every day in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell.  They are denied telephone calls, contact visits, and vocational, recreational or educational programming. Food is often rotten and barely edible, and medical care is frequently withheld.  More than 500 Pelican Bay SHU prisoners have been isolated under these devastating conditions for over 10 years, more than 200 of them for over 15 years; and 78 have been isolated in the SHU for more than 20 years. This suit asserts that prolonged confinement under these conditions has caused harmful and predictable psychological deterioration among SHU prisoners. Solitary confinement for as little as 15 days is now widely recognized to cause lasting psychological damage to human beings and is analyzed under international law as torture.
Additionally, the suit alleges that SHU prisoners are denied any meaningful review of their SHU placement, rendering their isolation effectively permanent.  SHU assignment is an administrative act, condemning prisoners to a prison within a prison; it is not part of a person's court-ordered sentence. California, alone among all fifty states and most other jurisdictions in the world, imposes extremely prolonged solitary confinement based merely on a prisoner's alleged association with a prison gang.  Gang affiliation is assessed without considering whether a prisoner has ever undertaken an act on behalf of a gang or whether he is ... or ever was ... actually involved in gang activity.  Moreover, SHU assignments disproportionately affect Latinos. The percentage of Latino prisoners at the Pelican Bay SHU was 85% in 2011.  The only way out of SHU isolation is to "debrief," to inform on other prisoners,  placing those who do so and their families in significant danger of retaliation and providing those who are unable to debrief effectively no way out of SHU isolation.

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone are co-counsel on the case.
The case is /Ashker v. Brown/, and it seeks to amend an earlier pro se lawsuit filed by Pelican Bay SHU prisoners Todd Ashker and Danny Troxell.  The case is before Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.  The proposed Amended Complaint in the case appears below.
To learn more about the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike and prisoners' rights issues in California, please visit the following websites:
* California Prison Focus [http://www.prisons.org]
* Legal Services for Prisoners with Children [http://www.prisonerswithchildren.org]
* Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity [http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com]
*Additional Material: Read the Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (PDF)

* May 31, 2012 - Amended Complaint [http://ccrjustice.org/files/Ruiz-Amended-Complaint-May-31-2012.pdf] was filed.
* December 17, 2012 - Defendants' Motion to Dismiss was filed.
* January 17, 2013 - Plaintiffs' Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss was filed.
* April 9, 2013 - Judge denied defendants' Motion to Dismiss,
* May 2, 2013 - Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification was filed.
* September 26, 2013 - Hearing in the District Court for the Northern District of California on the Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification.  Plaintiffs seek to represent a class of over 1,000 prisoners serving indeterminate SHU sentences at the Pelican Bay SHU on the basis of gang validation, none of whom have been or will be afforded meaningful review or procedurally adequate review of their confinement, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and a subclass of prisoners who are now, or will be in the future, held in solitary confinement at the Pelican Bay SHU for longer than 10 continuous years, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
* June 2, 2014 - Judge granted Class Certification.
* December 12, 2014 - Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Complaint and Proposed Supplemental Complaint - which seeks to add an additional class of prisoners who have been relocated out of Pelican Bay solitary confinement to another solitary unit in California, was filed.
* January 15, 2015 - Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Complaint was filed.
* January 29, 2015 - Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Complaint is filed.
* February 12, 2015 - Judge Wilken hears Oral Arguments on Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Complaint.

Attached Files
* UN Special Rapporteur Report on Solitary [http://ccrjustice.org/files/UN-Special-Rapporteur-Report-on-Solitary.pdf]
* 5-31-12 Ruiz Amended Complaint [http://ccrjustice.org/files/Ruiz-Amended-Complaint-May-31-2012.pdf]
* Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or Stay [http://ccrjustice.org/files/160%20Motion%20to%20Dismiss%20or%20Stay.pdf]
* Plaintiffs' Opposition to MTD [http://ccrjustice.org/files/178%20Opp%20to%20MTD.pdf]
* Order Denying Motion to Dismiss 4.9.13 [http://ccrjustice.org/files/Order%20Denying%20Motion%20to%20Dismiss%204.9.13.pdf]
* 195 Motion for Class Certification [http://ccrjustice.org/files/195%20Motion%20for%20Class%20Certification.pdf]
* 195-1 Exhibits A-F [http://ccrjustice.org/files/195-1%20Exhibits%20A-F.pdf]
* 195-2 Exhibits G-L [http://ccrjustice.org/files/195-2%20Exhibits%20G-L.pdf]
* 195-3 Exhibits M-S [http://ccrjustice.org/files/195-3%20Exhibits%20M-S.pdf]
* 195-4 Exhibits T-Y [http://ccrjustice.org/files/195-4%20Exhibits%20T-Y.pdf]
* 242 Defendant Opp to Motion for Class Cert [http://ccrjustice.org/files/242%20Defendant%20Opp%20to%20Motion%20for%20Class%20Cert.pdf]
* 263 Reply ISO motion for class cert [http://ccrjustice.org/files/263%20Reply%20ISO%20motion%20for%20class%20cert.pdf]
* 6.2.14 Order Granting Class Cert [http://ccrjustice.org/files/6.2.14%20Order%20Granting%20Class%20Cert.pdf]
* Ps Motion to File Supplemental Complaint and Proposed Supplemental Complaint 12.12.14 [http://ccrjustice.org/files/Ps%20Motion%20to%20File%20Supplemental%20Complaint%20and%20Proposed%20Supplemental%20Complaint%2012.12.14.pdf]
* Ds Opposition to Ps Motion to File Supplemental Complaint 1.15.15 [http://ccrjustice.org/files/Ds%20Opposition%20to%20Ps%20Motion%20to%20File%20Supplemental%20Complaint%201.15.15.pdf]
* Ps Reply in Support of Motion to File Supplemental Complaint 1.29.15 [http://ccrjustice.org/files/Ps%20Reply%20in%20Support%20of%20Motion%20to%20File%20Supplemental%20Complaint%201.29.15.pdf]

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Human Rights Pen Pals


The Power of Pen and Paper can Transcend Prison Walls

Human Rights Pen Pals
2440 16th st. #275, San Francisco, CA 94103
(Info current as of Sept. 14th, 2014)

Human Rights Pen Pals is a grassroots, racial justice community organization, in solidarity with people in California's solitary confinement cells. Through letter writing and community organizing, we promote principled, mutually educational relationships between people in solitary confinement and human rights supporters outside the prison walls. We believe that the power of pen and paper can transcend prison walls.
We take our inspiration from the poetic words of Assata Shakur, "A wall is just a wall; it can be broken down." The pen pal program is centered around the relationships between people who believe that all human beings have human rights, whether they are inside or outside the prison walls. We assume that the developing relationships will lead to a growing commitment of those 'outside the walls' to work in solidarity with imprisoned people working for their human rights 'inside the walls.'

Who is a Human Rights Pen Pal? 
A Human Rights Pen Pal is someone who believes that solitary confinement is torture, who supports the California hunger strikers and their demands to be treated as human beings, and who would like to develop a respectful and mutually educational letter-writing relationship with an imprisoned human rights pen pal.

What is the Human Rights Pen Pal program? 
The Human Rights Pen Pal program is an anti-racist, grassroots organizer training program in solidarity with the human rights of prisoners in California's solitary confinement cells. The program promotes principled relationships between prisoners in solitary confinement and supporters outside the walls. It will combine practice, political education, beginning community organizing skills, and evaluation 

How can you become a Human Rights Pen Pal? 
Contact the pen pal program by email at cws@igc.org, or by land mail at: Human Rights Pen Pals 2440 16th Street #275 San Francisco, CA 94103 
Thank you for your commitment to justice. 

We envision a world without prisons and an end to all forms of torture, including solitary confinement in California.

Human Rights Pen Pals is a grassroots, racial justice community organization, in solidarity with people in California's solitary confinement cells. Through letter writing and community organizing, we promote principled, mutually educational relationships between people in solitary confinement and human rights supporters outside the prison walls.

* We believe that all human beings have human rights.
* We believe that a movement to build a world where prisons are not necessary must center the experience and expertise of those most affected by the prison system: currently incarcerated people, family members and loved ones, formerly incarcerated people, youth and young adults in communities from which most future prisoners in California come, and their long term allies.
* We believe that demonstrating love and respect for one another in our work is critical and just as important as the actual accomplishments of our work.
* We believe that the work of community pen pals may entail not only letter writing, but also political education, advocacy, community organizing, alliance building and mutual support.
* We believe that respectful, mutually educational relationship-building between imprisoned and community pen pals is a powerful motivation for inspiring community activists to become long-term organizers, committed to dismantling the prison industrial complex.
* We believe that the power of pen and paper can transcend prison walls.

* Amplify the voices of people enduring and resisting torture in solitary confinement cells, including the historic 'Agreement to End Hostilities.'
* Support the 5 core demands of the hunger strike participants of 2011 and 2013.
* Work for an end to the systems of 'gang validation' and 'security threat group' validation which CDCr uses to place people in indefinite solitary confinement.
* Help build a grassroots movement for the human rights of imprisoned people based on the voices of those most affected by the prison system.
* Promote community based alternatives to violence.

Human Rights Pen Pals began in the spring of 2013 as a project of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition (PHSS). PHSS is a Bay Area-based coalition, whose overall goals are to amplify the voices of California people imprisoned in long-term solitary confinement; and to win the Five Core demands of the hunger strikers, who have initiated three major hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013, the most recent one involving 30,000 people incarcerated in California prisons.
(Please see the website, www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com)
The Pen Pal program started with two workshops in the Bay Area, with a total of about 25 community pen pals, each 'matched' with one or more imprisoned pen pals, all of whom were hunger strikers. After the 2013 hunger strike, we received numerous requests from community supporters throughout the country to be 'matched' with an imprisoned pen pal. As of September, 2014, we now have approximately 100 'matched' community pen pals; but we also have a large waiting list of imprisoned pen pals seeking a community pen pal with whom to correspond.

* Prioritize accountable, long term sustainable commitment, grounded in love.
* Practice 'Each One Reach One, Each One Teach One' organizing to bring more community pen pals into our work.
* Practice grassroots alliance building with people and organizations most impacted by the prison system.
* Create 'reach out' materials that highlight the humanity of those most affected by the prison system.

Internal Organizing -
The Internal Organizing Committee coordinates various internal functioning aspects of the Pen Pal program. Examples of its work include: matching community and imprisoned pen pals; using our list serve to keep community pen pals in touch with each other and with updates on the struggle against solidarity confinement; and reaching out to, educating, and supporting new volunteers.

Advocacy Committee -
The Advocacy Committee utilizes our resources outside the walls, individually and collectively, to support the survival and resistance of our imprisoned pen pals.
Examples of advocacy may include: sending our pen pals stamps, contacting the warden when they are not receiving our mail, assisting our pen pals when they wish to file '602' complaints, fighting to support incarcerated peoples' right to read and to communicate with the outside world; and coordinating an Emergency Response Network to challenge major prison and CDCr human rights violations.

Communications Committee -
The Communications Committee will be responsible for creating and maintaining the HRPP website, updating and maintaining materials, sharing training information with the larger list-serve, sharing updates on social media, working with conventional media as needed, setting up and encouraging active blogging by pen pals, and creative projects that help create greater public awareness of solitary confinement issues.
Some examples of our work are: working with other committees to produce materials, coordinating with a graphic designer and a web technician to set up and maintain the website, and a traveling altar with photos and statements to the world of people in solitary confinement.

Base Building Committee -
The focus of the Base Building Committee will be to grow the number of dedicated pen pals and activists outside the walls who are committed to the mission of Human Rights Pen Pals.
Examples of base building include: encouraging all community pen pals to sign a pledge to reach and sign up 3 new pen pals per year; coordinating educational conference calls for pen pals to build their skills and knowledge about dismantling the prison system; attending conferences and events to outreach about the Human Rights Pen Pals, and encourage new people to sign up; and hosting semi-regular in-person events for local pen pals to build community and relationship in their pen pal work.

Alliance Building -
The Alliance Building Committee will prioritize building principled relationships with people in organizations most impacted by the California prison complex in general, the systems of solitary confinement in particular; and their long term advocates and allies.
These organizations might include, but not be limited to: formerly incarcerated people; family members and loved ones of people in prison; students, educators and community organizations challenging the prison system; students, youth, young adults and educators potentially impacted by the 'school-to-prison pipeline.'

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Status Report from Bro. Clyde Jackson, released from Pelican Bay SHU

"Leaving Pelican Bay SHU, I’m a pup in a brand new world"
by Clyde Jackson, published 2014-09-06 by "San Francisco Bayview" newspaper [http://sfbayview.com/2014/09/leaving-pelican-bay-shu-im-a-pup-in-a-brand-new-world]:
Send our brother some love and light: Clyde Jackson, C-33559, SATF C3-217, P.O. Box 5246, Corcoran, CA 93212.
Leaving Pelican Bay SHU was exhilarating – with at the same time a feeling of melancholy. Seemingly a paradox. When one has spent decades isolated to fashioned hours of 22½ hours each day, strangely this abnormality functions as a norm.
I hardly looked back as I was departing, but I was never displaced from the stark reminder of what I personally experienced and what others continue to endure.
When I finally reached this place (California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran), I began to realize that I had actually been released and quite possibly over a period of time I might just be able to restore in myself a sense of normalcy.
CSATF prisoners listen to a visiting missionary in the “hot flaming sun” of the San Joaquin Valley. For prisoners whose color has faded from decades in isolation, with rare exposure to sunlight, the hot sun of the San Joaquin Valley is good medicine.

It actually took me four days to get here after making multiple stops at other points. This added to my level of anxiety in anticipation of the new environment I was designated for. Thus far, I truly can attest to the fact that general population is totally distinct from what I remembered 33 years ago when I first arrived at San Quentin.
A month after my arrival, I have not settled in yet and probably will not, simply because transitional adjustment develops over a long period of time. Especially considering the horrific circumstances of the SHU, it is not an easy adjustment.
So to facilitate this process, I put together on a daily basis “short thoughts” in order to relax my mind and not become over-consumed. The sun is beautiful as I watch it “flame” across the sky. I’m learning receptibility as I adapt to the cultural generational gap.
Yard is sparse, twice a week, so the three times I’ve relished the “hot flaming sun,” more and more my complexion is returning. People are good-spirited and it’s a trip listening to their stories on an exchange basis.
I’m on the verge of reconnecting with my family. And I had my first contact visit in over 30 years with two great friends who provided me a generous level of comfort. It was a splendid occasion.
One thing that captures my attention is that after all the struggles of the past, there is definitely more work needing to be done. I’m waiting on a job now as I wait to enroll in the educational department to complete my academic course I started in the previous environment.
In sum, it’s like being a pup in a brand new world. I’ve conveyed this new experience accordingly and I’m just trying to fit in and live with the same intransigent discipline that keeps me on the correct course.
First time I’ve had a phone call that’s not related to an emergency situation, so I could just enjoy the tone of the receiver’s voice. Takes a while getting used to. Until next time, be up!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Status Report from Bro. Daryel Burnett, released from Pelican Bay SHU

"Culture shock! Leaving Skeleton Bay after decades in solitary"
by Daryel ‘Ifoma’ Burnett, published 2014-09-06 by "San Francisco Bayview" newspaper [http://sfbayview.com/2014/09/culture-shock-leaving-skeleton-bay-after-decades-in-solitary/]:
Send our brother some love and light:
Daryel Burnett, B-60892, CSP CSATF/SPC, C3-218, P.O. Box 5246, Corcoran, CA 93212.
Please accept my apologies for being negligent in not writing much sooner about my transfer out of Skeleton Bay. I could give you a bunch of reasons, but they would probably sound like lame excuses. I’m still decompressing from being warehoused inside that pathological incubator for over 25 years while slowly making adjustments to this new environment.
After decades of being subjected to a state-sanctioned penological experiment in behavior modification, I was transferred out of Pelican Bay – beginning the journey of a thousand miles with the first steps. Initially my journey out of Pelican Bay caused a mixed range of emotions: relief on one hand and on the other hand a profound sense of emptiness in leaving behind relationships born out of shared respect, fortitude, self-respect and strength in surviving the crippling effects of prolonged isolation and sensory deprivation.
I’ve learned over the years that it is the moments of uncertainty and difficulty that provide the greatest clarity, thoughts and choices. Nothing is ever permanent except change. It’s always in these critical moments, one way or the other, that shape and define who we are as men or women.
On May 2, I left Pelican Bay, arriving at this new joint, California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran, four days later. This will become my first experience in 37 years living on a general population mainline.
In some aspects, this experience is similar to my first days and weeks in prison. The most glaring difference is the impact of 37 years of being unable to socially or culturally interact with people in any meaningful and productive way.
Living inside an artificial bubble for decades requires a whole new type of relearning and readjustment to deal with the circumstances of today’s realities – which is far different from what I ever imagined. My perception of things was way off the mark.
On the bus ride to this new joint, I was surrounded by elders who changed their personal insights on various cultural changes and different comings and goings within the new prison construct. In some ways they were preparing me on what to expect in 21st century culture.
The first stop on the bus ride was New Folsom. From a short distance away, I could see the old granite walls of Old Folsom. It looked like an old 17th century castle built to warehouse and shackle to walls the living dead.
A few people were dropped off at New Folsom, and I continued the bus ride to Duel Vocational Institution. All of the elders shared in a common experience.
We were to begin our first prison years at DVI in the early ‘70s. We were taken to Ad Seg in K-Wing and were to spend the next three days in this prison. It was a rude awakening to today’s new prison environment.
After spending decades in the Bay, the first thing that you notice is the qualitative change in climate. Coming from an environment that is always cold and rainy into a climate where it’s hot as hot requires some major readjustment. The heat never lets up and at times it is unbearable.
Coming from a serene, quiet environment, the noise level was shocking and maddening. The endless hollering, screaming and yelling all during the day and night made me initially think I was mistakenly placed on the prison’s psych ward, but clearly I was wrong. Maybe I had become over sensitive to loud noises.
In some ways a lot of that noise can be attributed to the lack of appliances (radios and TVs) to pass the time and their inability to socially interact with each other in any meaningful way. Human contact is restricted.
The yard in K-Wing has been transformed into a bunch of individual cages. It looked like a human zoo. It’s mind boggling how society can talk about the ethical treatment of animals but yet when it comes to human beings our worth is no more valuable than a chimpanzee or other captive species imprisoned at the local zoo.
I try not to make general characterizations or judgments based solely on observation, but clearly something in that environment just ain’t right. It seems like DVI was left to cripple or rot in the sum. Raccoons, cats and other vermin roam the prison grounds as if it is a federal protected sanctuary.
The majority of prisoners seem to be unaware of any prison houses outside of their immediate environment. Hopefully, change will come, because a lot of those men have been stuck in that place for over a year pending transfer.
I was moved to another Ad Seg in J-Wing. The cell light wasn’t working. Broken windows – and the mattress wasn’t fit to sleep on. I didn’t mind the windows being broken because not only did it mean fresh air but I could begin to use all of my natural senses to perceive people and nature. Our perception of people and nature at the Bay was primarily perceived through the prism of a rectangular concrete cage. Inside the cell I could hear all the sounds of night life.
Since I was unable to talk to anyone from my cell, I decided to catch a couple of hours of sleep in anticipation of the morning’s bus ride. I dozed off and was literally shaken out of my bunk by a loud rumbling that was shaking the ground as if it was an earthquake. The noise level was so loud that I thought an airplane was about to crash. The noise triggered in my mind some pending doom or disaster.
It was not until I heard a whistle from a passing train that I realized all was clear. I guess my mind was playing tricks on me.
That morning we left DVI. A couple of miles down the road, the bus began to experience mechanical problems. It was announced that if the problem wasn’t corrected, we would be returning to DVI. There was a collective “damn.” Luckily the problem was corrected and we arrived at this place (California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran) three hours late.
This prison complex is enormous. Today’s prisons are far different from what most people in Pelican Bay can imagine, especially the old-timers. These mainlines are much like management control units with the exception that all races go to the yard together. We are fed in our cells and canteen is delivered to our cell.
The mainline construct has definitely changed. We go to yard only twice a week and with people only in your building. These new types of prisons are more restrictive and controlling. Jobs are scarce in these types of facilities.
This place is not petty. You can do your time without being sweated on small stuff. None of the stuff we read or heard from the rumor mills was true. There are no journals or programs of any nature related to the step down program. While I know I’m being monitored, the staff here doesn’t go out of their way to mess over you. This environment is a good fit for folks who need to decompress.
In some ways I had to learn how to walk again, especially being restricted for decades to walking inside a rectangle box no bigger than a dog run. Being in this prison you become aware of space both from the area of your surroundings and looking towards the sky.
The very next day I was told to report to medical without having a clue where the hell is medical. This prison is so big, we rode on a cart to get from the property room to this facility. One of the guys who came with me reported to the mental health building instead of medical. He too didn’t have a clue. It’s safe to say I found my way without wandering.
The following week I was let out to the big yard. Culture shock! The majority of prisoners here are young enough to be my sons.
Arriving here, I’ve been treated with the highest of respect and reverence. I have probably shaken hands with more people in a couple of days than I have in my entire life. It was a welcoming experience to say the very least.

CSATF offers college courses to Level IV prisoners.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Agreement to End Hostilities, notes from a former SHU prisoner at Soledad

"Ending hostilities means no more violence on the yards – period!"
by Pablo Pina, published 2014-08-30 by "San Francisco Bayview" newspaper [http://sfbayview.com/2014/08/ending-hostilities-means-no-more-violence-on-the-yards-period/]:
Send our brother some love and light: Pablo Pina, D-28079, SVSP Ad-Seg D2-9-196, P.O. Box 1050, Soledad, CA 93960.
Photo: A large, loud, youth-led rally celebrating the launch of the Agreement to End Hostilities was held outside the LA County Jail on the day the agreement took effect, Oct. 10, 2012. – Photo: Virginia Gutierrez

I believe that a lot of racial tension in California prisons comes from this: The end of hostilities is being misinterpreted. It’s not that all these young prisoners are just going into the prison system and running wild. No, I doubt that is the real problem, especially in regards to the Mexican prisoners. Since leaving the SHU, I have spoken to many prisoners and they understand what the call to end hostilities entails.
What is misunderstood by many is that somewhere someone said that it is OK to settle personal conflicts. This, I think, is what is igniting the constant violence, because if one prisoner attacks another prisoner of another group or race, the other group will want to retaliate and it continues and continues.
Thus the result is a riot where all are involved in a conflict that originally started as a personal conflict between one person and another. A move against one person of a racial group or other will result in a retaliatory move by the other. They can’t let it go. So that’s where the problem lies. If there is going to be an end to hostilities, it must be enforced by all groups to the fullest.
When the mandate was sent out to all groups, it stressed that “if, of course, you are attacked you should defend yourself.” That is to say, simply put, that you should not go out and stir up shit, but you should stand your ground.
When I left the SHU, I was asked to explain the end to hostilities even further, and that was for everyone to understand that the end of hostilities means no more bullshit violence on the yards – PERIOD!
The administration will attempt to use the continued violence to their benefit to keep many of those still in SHU up there. They will use the violence as an excuse to continue to deny mainline prisoners many programs and privileges.
For example, I learned that Salinas Valley State Prison has a lot of vocational programs. They have the building, equipment etc. But due to so much violence on all yards, they shut them down. This has gone on for years now.
They will not hire instructors and pay them for doing nothing. They can’t teach during lockdowns, and it makes sense. I imagine all the yards are like this throughout California, and it will continue as long as we continue to act like fools.
I spoke to a lot of folks of all races and all agree that something can and should be done to begin to set the course for better conditions within the prison system. Talking about it is one thing. Putting it into effect is another, but it’s possible so long as we commit ourselves to that goal.
But first, we all need to be on the same damn page! I can tell you right now that we definitely aren’t.
And this is because too many people are interpreting end of hostilities as they see fit for them, and what this does is undermine others’ work, which defeats the whole damn purpose of end hostilities. It’s not just for racial reasons. A lot of folks think that’s what it means. It goes much deeper than that.
The reason many prisoners have been held captive in the SHU had nothing to do with racial tensions. If we were to see why 90 percent of prisoners are in SHU, it has nothing to do with race and has more to do with gang violence.
The lockdowns are what’s keeping a lot of prisoners sitting in their cells because they don’t have any jobs, educational programs etc. etc. A lot of these youngsters come to prison and learn nothing except to continue banging.
The mandate to end hostilities needs to be explained further for some prisoners and there needs to be just one interpretation. Taking care of personal business is not the right way to go because it opens the door for more, continued violence.
I’m out here. I’ve seen the many possibilities that those of you in SHU cannot see. I’ve seen that folks can discuss issues, work together to an extent, but everyone’s hands are tied. Why? Because everyone believes end hostilities means you stay on your side of the yard and I stay on mine – and we just stare at each other.
Everyone believes end hostilities means you stay on your side of the yard and I stay on mine – and we just stare at each other.
There need to be changes, because for those coming out of SHU who cannot associate with fellow prisoners due to the STG and Step Down Program, the way the yards are set up right now is nothing more than a self-imposed trap. For example, a Southern Mexican can only hang out in his area on the yard and the same for a Northern or White, Black etc.
So how the hell could you avoid associating with other gang members? You can’t unless you stay in your cell or walk the track for hours. The Step 5 prisoners will have a difficult time maneuvering their way around the yards. But the yards can’t be opened up so that folks can mingle more freely.
No one plays handball, basketball with any other race. Everyone stays close to their own hood, which deprives prisoners the ability to associate with other races and work towards expanding healthy relationships.
The violence can’t be blamed on all the youngsters. I met some really good young folks from all groups and races. They are not all idiots and wild. But I do believe that more needs to be explained in regards to the end of hostilities. In the meantime, everyone must have patience until more SHU inmates are let out.

Note: Too many young homies are catching cases for scratching others and think they did a good move. Those in reality are embarrassing and were considered PC moves before. Everyone needs to wise up.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Status Report from Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa: "Worse than Pelican Bay"

by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (R.N. Dewberry), published 2014-08-29 by Sa Francisco Bayview newspaper [http://sfbayview.com/2014/08/sitawa-nantambu-jamaa-worse-than-pelican-bay/]:
Send our brother some love and light: Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry, C-35671, CCI SHU 4B-7C-209, P.O. Box 1906, Tehachapi CA 93581.
Sitawa is one of the four “main reps” responsible for the historic mass hunger strikes in 2011 and the largest hunger strike in prison history, involving 30,000 prisoners, in 2013. He is highly respected throughout the California prison system. His supporters rejoiced when he was released from decades in the Pelican Bay SHU and devastated to learn he was simply transferred from one SHU to another.
That’s Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa in both photos, one taken in 2012 and the other in 1988. – Photo: Adithya Sambamurthy, CIR

This place is worse than Pelican Bay State Prison in so many ways. I’ll start sending updates on corruption and racism against prisoners who have been placed in Steps 3 and 4 of these keepers’ Step Down Program (SDP).
The DRB (Departmental Review Board) lies to the public. Prisoners are coming into a non-functional SDP, and they are trying to create a functional program while we are in this corrupt system. We were placed in an allegedly functional program.
George Giurbino and Suzan Hubbard are the two CDCR officials who are doing those DRB-CBC (Community-Based Coalition) reviews [http://sfbayview.com/2013/02/the-obstructionist-george-giurbino-of-cdcr/]. They are playing CDCR prison politics as to who they are allowing to go directly to the general population (GP) and who is placed in Steps 1-4.
All of us being reviewed at Pelican Bay have spent 10, 20 and 30 years in the SHU (Security Housing Unit, California’s form of solitary confinement), so how can they say go to GP? That would be admitting we’re not the worst of the worst, as they call us.
Instead, we’re placed on one of the Steps 1-4, which means that we have to endure one year to three years of continued torture and CDCR prison politics being played against us. By these officials even placing us in a Step 1-5, they show that we should have not been held another day, period!
This is how CDCR prison politics are being used against all prisoners based on Giurbino and Hubbard’s racist views directed at specific prisoners and these officials’ bias and hate against prisoners generally. That is clearly the basis for their decisions as to who is going directly to the GP and who will be given additional years in solitary confinement.
Yes, that is a criminal act being committed against us. To correct a historic wrong, these officials should be immediately releasing us to the GP.
CDCR has knowingly lied to state Sen. Loni Hancock about the entire SDP and how well it is functioning. She should come to Tehachapi Prison and see for herself how CDCR lied and didn’t give a damn about the state legislators in order to get the CDCR plan out there with a positive spin. The new STG (Security Threat Group) and SDP system are nothing but lies and half-truths!

Sen. Loni Hancock chaired the hearing, along with Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.
(Photo on left: CDCR’s George Giurbino testifies at the joint hearing on Solitary Confinement by the Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees at the Capitol in Sacramento on Feb. 11, 2014)
(Photo on right: CDCR’s Suzan Hubbard testifies Feb. 11)