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July 29, 2015

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Guantánamo Bay: The Hunger Strikes - video animation

This is posted on The Guardian: In March 2013, reports of a hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay, the US detention camp in Cuba, began to surface. Details were sketchy and were contradicted by statements from the US military. Now, using testimony from five detainees, this animated film reveals the daily brutality of life inside Guantánamo. Today there are 17 prisoners still on hunger strike, 16 of whom are being force-fed. Two are in hospital

Warning: contains scenes some viewers might find disturbing

شاهد هذا الفيلم مع ترجمة بالعربية

PLEASE KEEP PROTESTING THE DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL OF MEN AT GUANTANAMO BAY!!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

The "Muhammad Ali of the Criminal Justice System" Passes On

From: Angola3News:
Oct. 4th 2013

-Special thanks to PBS, who is currently honoring Herman by streaming the film Herman's House. Watch the full movie here.

MEDIA COVERAGE:  NY Times  II  Amnesty International  II  Times-Picayune  II  ABC  II  Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC  II  NBC  II  The Independent, UK  II  UPI  II  Common Dreams  II Toronto Sun / Reuters  II  NY Daily News / Associated Press 



This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest, and brashest personality in the political prisoner world.  It is with great sadness that we write with the news of Herman Wallace's passing.

Herman never did anything half way.  He embraced his many quests and adventures in life with a tenacious gusto and fearless determination that will absolutely never be rivaled.  He was exceptionally loyal and loving to those he considered friends, and always went out of his way to stand up for those causes and individuals in need of a strong voice or fierce advocate, no matter the consequences.

Anyone lucky enough to have spent any time with Herman knows that his indomitable spirit will live on through his work and the example he left behind.  May each of us aspire to be as dedicated to something as Herman was to life, and to justice.

Below is a short obituary/press statement for those who didn't know him well in case you wish to circulate something.  Tributes from those who were closest to Herman and more information on how to help preserve his legacy by keeping his struggle alive will soon follow.
------------------
 On October 4th, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement.

Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement, and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.  Just 3 days before his passing, he succeeded, his conviction was overturned, and he was released to spend his final hours surrounded by loved ones.  Despite his brief moments of freedom, his case will now forever serve as a tragic example that justice delayed is justice denied.

Herman Wallace's early life in New Orleans during the heyday of an unforgiving and unjust Jim Crow south often found him on the wrong side of the law and eventually he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for armed robbery.  While there, he was introduced to the Black Panther's powerful message of self determination and collective community action and quickly became one of its most persuasive and ardent practitioners.

Not long after he began to organize hunger and work strikes to protest the continued segregation, endemic corruption, and horrific abuse rampant at the prison, he and his fellow panther comrades Albert Woodfox and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown in solitary.  Robert was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary but Herman remained there for an unprecedented 41 years, and Albert is still in a 6x9 solitary cell.

Herman's criminal case ended with his passing, but his legacy will live on through a civil lawsuit he filed jointly with Robert and Albert that seeks to define and abolish long term solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment, and through his comrade Albert Woodfox's still active and promising bid for freedom from the wrongful conviction they both shared.

Herman was only 9 days shy of 72 years old.

Services will be held in New Orleans. The date and location will be forthcoming.

For more information visit www.angola3.org and www.angola3news.com.



Herman Wallace in April 2013: All Power to the People!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Texas Department of Cowboy Justice: A case of lawless law enforcement

by Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson
September 7, 2013, SF Bay View

Introduction

As I sit writing this, Lt. Deward Demoss passes my cell making segregation rounds. Further down the tier he exchanges words with another prisoner, then yells down to two unit guards, “Make sure Cell 118 doesn’t eat today.” “Yessir,” they both chime in. Such is the abusive impunity here in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) Estelle 2 Unit (E2U). In fact, guards’ summarily denying prisoners meals in this manner is so routine, there’s a nickname for it here. It’s called “jacking trays.” And that’s the least of it.
'Texas' by Kevin Rashid Johnson, web
“Texas” by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

I’ve not seen conditions such as exist here in E2U in a long while. The level of abuse is on a par with conditions I described in the autobiographical section of my book that once existed in the segregation unit of Virginia’s Greensville Correctional Center, where guards had a literal license to brutalize and abuse prisoners in the most extreme ways. And these conditions are not accidental.


In fact it’s been made quite clear that I’m here in Texas in direct response to my having brought undesired public scrutiny to Oregon’s and Virginia’s prisons through a series of critical articles and reports about conditions in their prison systems and having sued Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) officials in a recently initiated federal lawsuit.

Indeed, one of my claims in that case was based in part on ODOC officials threatening that if I began litigating against and circulating critical writings about them, I’d find myself permanently in the hole and/or sent to another prison system where I’d be made to suffer much worse than in Oregon. And true to those threats, and only six days before the date on which the federal court had ordered ODOC officials, including its director, to appear and answer in my lawsuit, I was hustled off to the TDJC.

This is an account of what I’ve experienced and witnessed in just a couple of weeks here, which can only be described as Cowboy Justice – as lawless as the Wild West. It is also an appeal to public support and activism.

Welcome to Texas

The above mentioned threats were initially made when I first arrived in Oregon from Virginia in February 2012. Then on May 22, 2013, I was told by ODOC Lt. Kenneth Neff, one of the defendants in my lawsuit, that plans were indeed in motion to transfer me to another prison system where things would definitely be worse. I documented his statement.

On June 14, 2013, I was awakened early in the morning, chained up, and put on a plane bound for Texas. With the exception of only a tiny box of items I was allowed to hurriedly select, all my belongings were left behind in Oregon.

The entire transfer was a setup.

The TDCJ was chosen not in spite – but because – of the fact that I had long dreadlocks and their rule of allowing no exceptions for them, not for religious reasons or otherwise. I was told as much by TDCJ Lt. L. Evans, who presided over the premeditated scheme to shave my head by force, which they knew I’d resist and came prepared.

On arriving in Texas on that June afternoon, I was taken by prison van from the airfield to the Byrd Unit (BU), which is the TDCJ’s intake and orientation prison, where all new admissions to TDCJ are received for orientation, testing, processing etc., which takes about 60 days. I didn’t last five hours.

When I arrived in Oregon in 2012, I went through a similar institution but was given an exception to their haircut requirements upon an ODOC chaplain’s confirmation that my hair was grown for spiritual reasons. No such consideration was given at BU.

On entering the BU I went through the routine procedure of a strip search and was then handcuffed to a thick belt secured at my waist, rendering my arms and hands immobile. I was also leg shackled. This was done in preparation for forcibly cutting my hair and neutralizing my ability to physically resist, of which I was then oblivious.

Then came the ultimatum: My hair had to be cut, either by consent or force. They presented it as though my submission under threat of force was actually an exercise of free choice on my part. Yet when powerless people do the same, it’s a crime: robbery, rape, extortion etc. I protested my spiritual rights.
Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson Self Portrait 2013, web
Rashid in a recent self-portrait

I had none, they replied. Then appeared a group of riot armored guards from hiding around a corner. By choice or by force, they repeated. Although it was a futile gesture, I was resigned to resist. So, against my limited struggles, I was strapped down to a gurney, held down by the armed mob, and had my head and face shaved completely bald.


This constituted the first act of lawless law-enforcement I was to experience or witness in the TDJC. I was outraged, violated in the extreme. Even more so when I found later that the TDJC does in fact allow exceptions to their haircut rule, specifically for Native Americans – which, where other spiritual orientations are not afforded the same consideration, is unlawful discrimination.

My resistance and outrage against the physical attack and forced haircut was then used to justify transferring me from BU – without undergoing the required 60 days processing and orientation process – to the filthy solitary confinement E2U prison. I’d only remained at BU for about four hours.

The welcoming ain’t over

When I arrived at E2U, I was met at the van by yet another mob of riot-armored guards. This group was primed for a more straightforward violent attack, which I verbally noted for the record. A female guard, Mildred Dickie, was initially filming my E2U entry on a portable audio-video camera.

A notoriously abusive E2U guard. Carlos Applewhite, physically moved a smaller guard who was originally standing beside me holding my right arm, took up his position, and repeatedly told me to shut up. Which I ignored and pointed out was both hostile and unprofessional.

I was taken to a holding cell and strip searched by Applewhite with Dickie filming and observing, which I protested as an unconstitutional cross-gender strip search. Applewhite then applied handcuffs – behind my back – and shackles, the latter so tightly I could barely stand or walk, which I also protested. The camera was deactivated at that point and Applewhite barked that I’d either walk or be dragged.

I was limped along by the mob to an office where I was instructed to sit in a chair. The door was closed and the armored group stood just outside of it.

Inside the office with me were B2U Assistant Warden Wayne Brewer, Major David Forrest and Capt. James A. McKee. Brewer was the only one dressed in civilian street clothes, so I inquired of him who he was. He responded, “You shut up, motherfucker, I’m doing the talking!” Then, as if on cue, Forrest and McKee rushed me and proceeded to manually choke and repeatedly hit me in the head and face while Brewer ran a stream of threats and verbal abuse past me, promising he’d break me or kill me. I was told then and repeatedly since that I am now in Texas where prison officials do simply as they please – and get away with it. Period. I replied, when I could breathe, that I wasn’t impressed nor intimidated, and to get on with whatever they had in mind.

When they got tired and saw they were getting nowhere, I was kicked out of the office and taken by the armored group to a filthy cell, which was to be my new TDCJ abode.

The cell I was put into is situated directly in front of another prisoner’s cell, Edward Long, 579657, who was just the day before viciously beaten by Applewhite while he was handcuffed behind his back. The evidence of the attack was blatant: a black ring around his left eye, a laceration along the side of his right eye held closed with sutures tape, a badly bruised face and back, and a grotesquely swollen mouth.

Furthermore, Applewhite routinely goes to Long’s cell to boast and taunt him, admitting how he “beat the shit out of” Long until he lay in a puddle of blood. Under the peculiar conditions of prison, guards actually convince themselves that beating handcuffed prisoners and mob attacking individual prisoners in groups of five or more using gas, body armor and other weapons, are accomplished acts of bravery to boast about and take pride in, instead of pure cowardice on a par with mob rape and large adults who beat small children who by nature and circumstance are at a decided disadvantage.

Applewhite also frequently threatens others with the same, and he and other E2U guards constantly act to provoke situations to speciously justify uses of force in general and cell extractions in particular, which consist of a group of guards with weapons and body armor invading the cell of an individual prisoner by force, whom they invariably beat once restrained.

Here in E2U multitudes of prisoners attest to being victims of beatings by guards. Although there are surveillance cameras throughout the unit, guards typically take prisoners into “blind spots” like offices, closets, elevators etc. where cameras are absent and beat them. During cell extractions they simply turn off or don’t train the audio-video cameras on the prisoner, while kicks and punches are thrown and his head is slammed onto the concrete floor or steel fixtures in the cells, and guards use their bodies to block the cameras.

But in many cases, as with Long, guards beat prisoners openly in video-surveilled areas and video footage is either “lost,” recorded over, ignored, or it’s claimed the use of force wasn’t captured on film.

E2U’s primitive conditions

On top of the rampant physical abuse, living conditions in E2U are barbaric. The unit is infested with roaches which are routinely found in our food or crawling on one while he is sleeping or just sitting still. And guards serve and handle our meals in the most unsanitary manner. Thermoses of juice and stacks of trays are served on the lids of wheeled trashcans. The trays are also routinely set on the filthy unit floor during service.

Guards never wash their hands, never wear head coverings and almost never wear gloves. Trays and beverages are set inside of roach-infested and contaminated metal boxes that are affixed to the outside of the cell doors, in which flies and roaches nest and rush to get at the food served and spilled inside the boxes.
Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson
Rashid in an older self-portrait

Guards also go cell to cell handling the filthy locks, chains and latches to open and close the boxes as they handle and serve the food, trays and beverages. The boxes are never cleaned, and we must also put all items passed into and out of the cells into them, including shoes, dirty linen, worn clothing, such as during searches performed each time we leave the cell.


Should one protest these conditions, he’s almost certain to get “jacked” for his tray.

The cells each have internal showers which frequently leak, causing standing water to remain on the cell floors. The shower drain frequently stops or backs up, and smells of raw sewage. There is no air conditioning, no windows at all. The vents are clogged with debris.

And in addition to the intense Texas summer heat and humidity, the cells remain damp due to lack of air circulation and steam from the shower, which never completely evaporates from the cells. The floor and walls are covered with mildew, and black mold spots the ceilings. The cells reek of mildew.

We are never given cleaning supplies such as toilet brushes, sponges, cloths, brooms, mops, disinfectants etc. The only cleaning supply we receive is a tiny bit of scouring powder once a week.

Prisoners with obvious mental and emotional illnesses scream, rant, bang and argue at fever pitch day and night. Many obviously suffering the effects of living under E2U’s solitary confinement conditions for years on end.

Guards at their whim destroy and trash prisoners’ personal property. Often when they are out of the cell, guards simply enter them and throw items out as trash, especially that of prisoners who challenge them through complaints or in the courts.

This is also done as routine summary retaliation against prisoners who dare speak out against or otherwise challenge abusive guards and conditions. My own address book, a number of pre-posted mailing envelopes and other items I brought with me from Oregon that were inventoried by ODOC officials when I left on June 14 were stolen by TDCJ Officials, evidenced by their exclusion from the inventory made of the same sealed box of property when I got here to Texas.

Meals are grossly inadequate nutritionally, with only half the prescribed meal portions served and entire courses not provided at all at nearly every meal. One literally receives one third the amount of food on the trays at E2U compared with what I received in the ODOC. And the ODOC strictly calculated meal portions and calorie counts to ensure that prisoners receive exactly or just above 2,500 calories per day, which is the legal minimum daily calorie intake for a sedentary adult.

No desserts are served – neither pastries nor fruits – although they factor into calculating daily minimum calorie intake. No condiments are given with the unseasoned meals – neither salt, sugar etc. – which also denies basic minerals. All prisoners whom I’ve spoken to on the subject in E2U suffer the continuous torture of constant hunger pangs.

Many who’ve been confined here for some time explain that food portions and quality have been cut to the extreme by the TDCJ to save money in the face of budget cuts, because of mismanagement of food supplies – prisoner workers in E2U contend that officials steal supplies of food – and to induce prisoners to conform their behavior to officials’ will to achieve privileged statuses in E2U on which they can purchase food and condiments from the commissary. Food is thus used as punishment, behavior modification and a scheme to generate money through commissary sales.

Due no process of law

Although I was never oriented into nor notified of the TDCJ’s rules and procedures, I received three disciplinary charges stemming from my resisting the forced haircut of June 14. On June 18 E2U counselor Staci Crowley came to my assigned cell to notify me of the charges and determine if I wanted to attend the hearings, which I told her I did. I only later found after she’d left that she lied, indicating I refused to attend the hearing. McKee presided as the hearings officer and found me guilty in my absence and without the benefit of my being able to present any defense.

McKee then turned around and presided over deciding my security housing committee hearing and had me assigned to administrative segregation based on his own corrupt guilty findings on the three charges. At the next committee hearing, Forrest, my other assailant, followed suit.

And as I said, guards flaunt their abusive impunity. When I was taken out to my first committee hearing on June 19, Sgt. Bret Wuellner and guard Venson Williams Jr. held me facing a wall standing outside the office where the hearing was to be conducted – the very same office in which I was attacked on June 14.

Another prisoner was in the office being “heard.” As he was being “escorted” from the office by several guards, Wuellner remarked, “Damn, what happened to his face?” The prisoner’s face was swollen and bruised – the obvious result of a recent beating.
California prisoner hunger strike solidarity drawing by Rashid Johnson, Red Onion Prison, Va
Rashid is the artist who drew this symbol of California prisoner hunger strike solidarity when he was still incarcerated at Red Onion Prison in Virginia. The drawing is now recognized around the world by people who care about prisoners.

Also, as I’d stood waiting for his hearing to conclude, another prisoner was “held” awaiting a hearing, sitting in a wheelchair approximately 10 feet from me. He too showed obvious facial injuries resulting from a beating. Concerning this prisoner, Wuellner remarked to Williams that he’d suffered his injuries – including being wheelchair-bound – in a “cell entry.”

Wuellner took this as an opportunity to tell me that here in Texas I was in for a “rude awakening.” He asked if in Virginia I’d ever had guards “put hands” on me. When I only gave him a blank look in response, Williams added, “Take it from a Black man: They do what they want here,” speaking of the ranking white TDCJ officials, “and get away with it.” Williams is a Black guard; Wuellner is white.

To Williams’ remark I couldn’t resist responding that the pathetic thing about him and others like him is he recognizes yet goes along with it. He replied, almost apologetically, “It’s just a job and I’m not going to be here long anyway.” He proved, however, on June 28 in his participation in the brutal assault of another Black prisoner in conspiracy with Wuellner, that he is as much party to the abuse as the most racist of TDCJ officials.

Since being at E2U, I’ve been confronted repeatedly with such obvious ploys as Wuellner’s and Williams’, calculated to intimidate me on the one hand and provoke me on the other. Indeed, this has been the basis of this entire TDCJ experience: to intimidate and provoke.

Indeed, since June 14, and on Brewer’s instructions, I’ve been subjected to frequent strip and cell searches every 30 minutes to two hours every day, around the clock, even during sleeping hours. This began as soon as I was assigned to E2U, following the office assault.

On the second occasion that I was confronted for such a search on that evening, by Sgt. Kyle Nash and two other guards, I questioned the basis and legality of the searches. Their response was to tell me they were frequently searching me “because we can” and used my questioning them as an excuse to attempt to escalate the situation to where force would be justified.

Nash summoned Lt. Patrick Eady to the cell, who stated outright that they were going to “do this the hard way,” and I’m “not going to like it.” He told the guards to “go suit up,” i.e., put on riot armor, and that he wanted them to take me into the back of the cell and “beat on” me. I’d never refused to submit to the search, only questioned it, so when they returned in riot armor, I went through the strip search, was handcuffed behind and brought out of the cell.

At that point, I narrated all that had occurred and Eady’s stated intentions for an audio-video camera that was present and presumably recording. I also stated my need to see medical staff for injuries to my face and throat resulting from the assault on me in the office. Following the search, I was taken inside the cell – out of view of the camera – laid on the floor in back of the cell and hit and kicked in the face and head, which I narrated for the camera to pick up.

On June 15, 2013, I hand delivered a sick call request to a nurse Kathy Burrow to be seen for my injuries which was logged in on June 16 but not acted on within 72 hours as required by TDCJ policy – obviously to cover up my injuries and allow a passage of time for them to heal. I was not seen until two weeks later and only because of outside protest of my situation after I’d managed to get word out.

Damage control

In obvious response to outside pressure, an investigation was staged, beginning long after the fact of the June 14 assaults and my complaints. First, I was seen by a nurse on June 27, who merely looked into my mouth and ears with a light, and gave me several aspirin. The following day I was brought out to see TDCJ Dr. Bobby Vincent, then TDCJ investigator D. Morris.

Just before being brought out of the cell, E2U Lt. Ashley Anderson came to my cell to tell me, in friendly tones, that Brewer had just informed him that he’d decided to end the frequent strip and cell searches he’d had me on since June 14. How convenient – just when I was about to be brought out to see a doctor and speak to an investigator about abuses, including the office assault which he’d arranged.

The doctor, himself a TDCJ employee, seemed more inclined to minimize the remnants of my injuries than to treat me. He admitted the only reason he was seeing me was because of complaints about my being assaulted. He claimed to find only “the slightest swelling” to my left jaw and not to feel a prominent bony protrusion on the right side of my throat, which even a layman can feel right now and recognize it to be abnormal and not present on the left side. No care was given.

'Defying the Tomb' cover by Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson
Order Rashid’s book, “Defying the Tomb,” from Kerspebedeb Left-Wing Books, at https://secure.leftwingbooks.net/index.php?l=product_detail&p=893.

I was then taken into an office to speak with the investigator Morris – again, the same office where I was assaulted. The “interview” was also attended by Capt. Lawrence L. Dawson, Sgt. Tracy D. Puckett and guard Carlos Amaya Jr. under the guise of providing security but obviously to pick up and pass on what all was said.

I provided a statement about the abuses I’d experienced and the conditions in E2U and emphasized several times that I requested a polygraph examination concerning the abuses and that those who’d assaulted me should be asked to submit to the same – which I know they’d decline – since whatever they said in reply to my complaints would obviously be given preferential consideration by any TDCJ “investigator,” not only because they’re officials and coworkers, but because they are among the highest ranking in the prison.
And this was a case that would prove quite embarrassing to TDCJ’s highest officials, since it would show the abuses are not mere deviant misbehaviors of low-level rogue guards but rather permissive abuse that runs to the highest administrative levels.

The entire force of an “investigation,” however, is as always staged for damage control and seldom provides any meaningful outcome, except only in cases where there is sustained and broad public outrage. And again, only enough is done to pacify that protest. It’s then back to business as usual. In fact, what Morris seemed most concerned about was whether I intend to sue the TDCJ over the abuses.

Still outta control

On that very same day that I spoke to Morris, yet another brutal assault was staged on a prisoner in E2U, involving Wuellner, Williams and the guard Amaya, who’d sat in on and listened attentively to my statement about the assaults on me, from which they obviously took pointers. The assaulted prisoner remains in the hospital as I write this.

I personally witnessed the setup.

The victim, Joe Laws, 553289, is one of the few E2U prisoners who’s refused to be terrorized by E2U guards. As a result of his resistance to their abuses, the guards both fear and hate him. Given this dynamic, an attack of the sort staged on June 28 was inevitable.

Laws allegedly had a run-in with guards earlier that morning. No immediate response followed, obviously because the investigator from the TDCJ director’s office, D. Morris, was at the prison. Also, the guards who attacked Laws used the exact same tactic to assault Laws as I’d explained to Morris that Eady had guards use on me on June 14 inside the cell. Only in Laws’ case they went to the extreme.

The guards who participated in the Laws assault were Amaya, a guard named Smith (believably Nathaniel Smith), Cody Gonzalez, Williams and one other – either Gregory Shipman or Michael Lewis – all of whom were “suited up” in riot armor. They were supervised by Wuellner, and guard Jalisa R. Jackson was operating the portable audio-video camera. When force is used, the guard with the camera is to film the prisoner at all times. However, as the guard did with me on June 14, Jackson stood far off to the side of the cell so the camera would not film activity inside the cell once the guards took Laws into the back of it.

Just 30 minutes before their shift was set to go off at 6 p.m., these guards confronted Laws in body armor for a staged cell search, in pretended response to the altercation that happened almost 12 hours earlier. Following a strip search, Laws was brought out and stood against the wall outside the cell while the cell search was enacted. Jackson “alerted” Wuellner the video camera was not working.

The riot armored guards then took Laws into the back of the cell and laid him face down on the floor, whereupon they acted to remove the handcuffs and back out of the cell in an orderly retreat. At that point Wuellner announced loudly that should Laws try to rise from the floor, force would be used.

Laws never tried to get up. Wuellner told the guards to “get him,” then announced with feigned excitement that Laws tried to rise, was “resisting.” On Wuellner’s cue, the guards rushed back into the cell and began beating and kicking Laws in the head and face. Smith was doing so with steel-toed boots.
The entire wing of prisoners witnessed the attack by sight and/or sound, and many began in outrage to kick their cell doors and yell at the guards in protest. Laws was beaten at length, following which the guards then retreated from the cell and hastily shut the door.

Wuellner then pretended to try and take photographs of Laws on a digital camera as TDCJ policy requires whenever force is used on a prisoner. However he quickly announced the battery was dead so the required still photos couldn’t be taken. Laws was left in the cell bleeding profusely from the head and face.
Their dirty work done, the group of guards left the wing to go home, it being the end of their shift and they being set to have the next four days off.

No nurses nor other medical staff are present in E2U from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. – a gross legal violation – so their attack was also timed to occur when no medical staff would be on hand to examine Laws, as is also required whenever force is used. The next shift was left to pick up the pieces.

Laws suffered a large gash in back of his head, the result of being kicked by Smith with steel-toed boots, several of his teeth were knocked out while others were driven up into his gums, a gash inside his mouth, a fractured jaw, his eye swollen closed, and other injuries.
GÇÿCollective StruggleGÇÖ by Kevin GÇÿRashidGÇÖ Johnson, web
As the drums of war beat against Syria, Rashid has given us a lot to ponder in this drawing he calls “Collective Struggle.”

As I collected the facts on everything, it took numerous prisoners kicking and banging on their cell doors and becoming primed to create havoc to get unit Sgts. Shelby Rayfield and Dustin Harkness to the wing and Laws taken to the hospital, where he has remained for several days. Guards who took him out confirmed he’d lost teeth and others were disfigured, he had over a dozen staples put in back of his head, his jaw was broken etc.

The attack on Laws was obvious retaliation and timed and conducted so as to minimize on-the-spot evidence of a beating and the extent of his consequent injuries. This entire “cover-up” was so amateurish as to be pointless, which only reflects how little these guards worry about consequences for abuse and how free they are of any sort of meaningful administrative oversight, beyond mere formalities.

In fact, as my own case demonstrates, E2U administrators themselves engage in just the same abuses. That couldn’t occur unless that clearance is given all the way up to the level of TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, which is exactly where the lawless executives of Texas take their cues.

Conclusion

In footnotes to this article I will cite the multitude of federal laws – the highest law of the land – violated by the conditions and abuses described throughout this article, demonstrating the genuinely “lawless” character of the Texas officials behind them, whose duty is foremost to defend, apply and “enforce” those very laws, so one cannot mistake the authority of these people or their institutions as anything but illegal and illegitimate.
And it reveals the hypocrisy of U.S. officials when they denounce other governments as dictatorial and terroristic for doing much the same and even less than what’s been done on U.S. soil to U.S. citizens by the U.S. government. Prisoners in Texas’ E2U need as much public support as possible. And it must be broad-based and sustained. Because what’s happening to us on the inside is fated for those on the outside as Amerika becomes more and more overtly a police state and laws become less and less a restraint on official impunity.

Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
All power to the people!

Rashid Johnson, a longtime prisoner in Virginia who was transferred last year to Oregon and recently to Texas, has been held in segregation since 1993. While in prison he founded the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter. As a writer, Rashid has been compared to George Jackson, and he is also the artist who drew the image that became the icon of the California hunger strikes. His book, “Defying the Tomb,” with a foreword by Russell “Maroon” Shoats and afterword by Sundiata Acoli, can be ordered at leftwingbooks.net, by writing to Kersplebedeb, CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3W 3H8, or by emailing info@kersplebedeb.com. Send our brother some love and light: Kevin Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo, TX 79107.


Action call

by Karl Kerspebedeb
Since his article “The Texas Department of Cowboy Justice: A case of lawless law enforcement” was written, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson has been transferred yet again, this time to the Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas.

Supporters had been calling on Texas officials to remove Rashid from Estelle, a unit with a documented history of staff violence and impunity. (Besides Rashid’s aforementioned article, see the recent piece on Truthout: “Beatings and Threats: Odyssey of a Prisoner-Advocate, From Virginia to Texas” at http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/18167-beatings-and-threats-odyssey-of-a-prisoner-advocate-from-virginia-to-texas.)

Yet while Rashid is now out of reach of the guards who abused him at Estelle, any impression that this is a “victory” will likely prove illusory. Rashid himself has written in a recent letter to supporters, “To the extent that you all’s hassling them prompted this transfer, I’m thankful – although from what I’m told, conditions here are no better than at the Estelle Unit.”

While we wait to see what happens at Clements, our priority at this point is that Rashid regain access to his personal belongings.

When he was transferred from Oregon to Texas in June, some 41 boxes of personal belongings were supposed to follow. Any property that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was unwilling to allow Rashid to have was supposed to be transferred to the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Furthermore, Rashid was supposed to receive his legal documents that he requires for his lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Corrections. So far none of this has been done, and Rashid is increasingly concerned about what has happened to his property – literally, everything he owns in the world.

Please telephone Virginia Interstate Compact Coordinator Terry Glenn at (804) 887-7866 and ask why Kevin Johnson, VDOC No. 1007485, has not yet received any of his property. It has been two months since Rashid was transferred from Oregon, and if he does not get his property soon, this will directly impact his ability to conduct his lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Corrections.

For more information, see the website rashidmod.com.

Write Rashid at his new address: Kevin Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo, TX 79107. Make sure a first and last name are clearly printed in the return address section of the envelope or your mail will be returned.


Karl Kerspebedeb is Rashid’s friend, publisher and webmaster for http://rashidmod.com/. He can be reached at info@kersplebedeb.com.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

CA: "The issues raised by the hunger strike are real – concerns about the use and conditions of solitary confinement in California’s prisons – and will not be ignored.”

September 05, 2013 


Sacramento – Today Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, welcomed the end to the California prison inmate hunger strike after 60 days.

 “I am relieved and gratified that the hunger strike has ended without further sacrifice or risk of human life,” Senator Hancock stated.  “"The issues raised by the hunger strike are real – concerns about the use and conditions of solitary confinement in California’s prisons – and will not be ignored.”

“I’m happy that no one had to die in order to bring attention to these conditions,” Ammiano said. “The prisoners’ decision to take meals should be a relief to CDCR and the Brown administration, as well as to those who support the strikers.”

The end to the hunger strike comes five days after Hancock and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, announced that they will hold joint public hearings on the conditions in California prisons that have led to the inmate hunger strike. The two legislators asked the inmates to end to the hunger strike so that energy and attention can be focused on the issues that have been raised.

According to Senator Hancock, "The inmates participating in the hunger strike have succeeded in bringing these issues to the center of public awareness and debate, Legislators now recognize the seriousness and urgency of these concerns and we will move forward to address them..”

“I’m especially gratified if the call for hearings helped bring this about,” Ammiano said. “However, our real work begins now, as we will soon start preparing for hearings that I hope can bring an end to the disgraceful conditions that triggered the hunger strike.”

The first hearing is expected to take place in October and will focus on two key issues raised by the hunger strike:

1.  The conditions of confinement in California’s maximum security prisons.

On April 9, 2013, a U. S. District Judge ruled in a class action law suit that inmates being held in solitary confinement, sometimes for decades, had adequately demonstrated that the State of California may be denying them protection from cruel and unusual punishment and granted the plaintiffs the right to a trial.

2.  The effect of long-term solitary confinement as a prison management strategy, and a human rights issue.

Senator Hancock stated, “California continues to be an outlier in its use of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement has been recognized internationally and by other states to be an extreme form of punishment that leads to mental illness if used for prolonged periods of time. Since many of these inmates will eventually have served their sentences and will be released, it is in all our best interest to offer hope of rehabilitation while they are incarcerated - not further deterioration.”

“We know these prisoners have committed crimes,” Ammiano said, “but I have to repeat: It does not justify the way the state is treating them in the name of all Californians. We want California to be a leader in effective and enlightened corrections and true rehabilitation.”

The two legislators cited a report by Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, “Even if solitary confinement is applied for short periods of time, it often causes mental and physical suffering or humiliation, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and if the resulting pain or sufferings are severe, solitary confinement even amounts to torture.”

They also referred to the 2006 report of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, a bipartisan national task force. The report found that between 1995 and 2000, the use of solitary confinement in the United States had increased by 40 percent, far outpacing the 28 percent growth rate of the overall prison population.  The Commission concluded that solitary confinement is counterproductive to public safety, and costs twice as much as imprisonment in the general population. The Commission recommended ending long-term isolation of inmates. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 31st, people around the world will fast and take other peaceful, non-violent action in solidarity with the California Prisoner Hunger Strikers

On Wednesday July 31st, people around the world will fast and take other peaceful, non-violent action in solidarity with the California Prisoner Hunger Strikers. Join family members of hunger strikers along with James Cromwell, Angela Davis, Mike Farrell, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Chris Hedges, Michael Moore, Alice Walker, and Cornel West. We fast knowing the criminalization that killed Trayvon Martin, and the criminalization that justifies the torture of prisoners in solitary confinement are one and the same.

We fast in solidarity with the demands of the hunger strikers. And we fast to get justice for Trayvon and for people of every gender, race, and religion who have been killed by state and vigilante violence. Support efforts everywhere for Justice for Trayvon Martin.

"We have taken up this hunger strike and work stoppage... not only to improve our own conditions but also an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world."
- Hunger Strikers in the Short Corridor Collective at Pelican Bay State Prison SHU

Join us to help win the 5 demands of the California Prisoner Hunger Strikers

On July 30th the families and loved ones of prisoners on hunger strike are visiting Sacramento to demand that Governor Brown pressure the CDCR to enter into negotiations with the hunger strikers. Call California Governor Jerry Brown and let him know you're fasting in solidarity with the strikers, ask him to meet the strikers demands: (916) 445-2841, (510) 289-0336, (510) 628-0202.


Endorse, support, and/or join the "Hunger for Justice".


For More Information Contact: hunger4justice2013@gmail.com

We are all prisoners of injustice.


In solidarity/En solidaridad,

Cities and countries participating thus far: England, Germany, the US (Jackson Mississippi, Los Angeles, Oakland CA, Santa Cruz, Philadelphia PA).
“Hunger for Justice” convened by members of: Alexandria House; Alliance for Global Justice; Anti-Racist Action-LA; Brandywine Peace Community; California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; California Prisoner Solidarity Coalition; Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB); Critical Resistance; DCFS/DHS-Give Us Back Our Children; Ecosocialist Horizons, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network; FACTS Education Fund; Fair Chance Project; Flying Over Walls; Freedom Archives; Global Women’s Strike; Hank Jones - San Francisco 8; Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; LA Laborfest; Lives Worth Saving Gang Intervention; Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles; National Hood Alliance; Palestinian Youth Movement; Payday men’s network; Peter Laarman - Progressive Christians Uniting and Justice not Jails; Project South; Queer Strike; Rev. Louis Logan; Ruckus Society, Scientific Soul Sessions; Theresa Shoatz - Maroon Philly Committee; Transgender, Gender-Variant, Intersex Justice; US PROStitutes Collective; White Noise Collective; Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike; Youth Justice Coalition; Ordinary People's Society, Alabama; Prodigal Child Project, Alabama; Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement, National; Sin Barras. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Solidarity with prisoners in California from a supermax-prisoner in Ohio

This was sent to us as a call for solidarity and support for the California prisoners who are going on a hunger strike as of July 8th, by Greg Curry in Ohio, who has been held in the supermax since his false indictment and conviction following the Lucasville prison disturbance of 1993. Greg and others have had to resort to hunger strikes many times to fight for basic rights. 

7-1-13 For Distribution:

Why should a prisoner in Ohio or Minnesota, or New Mexico, support California prisoners as they move into a crucial stage of struggle for their just do?

My humble opinion is: how could any prisoner think that these apartheid-style policies being used in California won't come knocking in Florida, WV, Illinois, or any prison system, at any given time? Remember California is said to be a liberal (in terms of political policy) state. How many conservative governors are envious of such harsh prison policies right now?!

I urge all of you in every prison and your able-bodied supporters (each of you can ask one of your friends, supporters outside who are in good health) to support this July 8th hunger strike in some form, but don't wait till this kind of policy pays you a visit... 


Remember Lucasville 
Justiceforlucasvilleprisoners.wordpress.com

Greg Curry (Ohio State Penitentiary)

Gregcurry.org

Greg Curry #213-159
OSP
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road,
Youngstown, OH 44505

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

International Support for California Prisoners resuming Hunger Strike from July 8th

Prisoners in California's SHU's: we hear you loud and clear!

On July 8th, many California prisoners in the Secure Housing Units (SHU's) will go on an indefinite hunger strike again. In 2011 they did so by their thousands, this time they are resuming the hunger strike. 

Why? 
Because the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) has not listened to the many complaints of the prisoners, summarised in Five Simple Core Demands:


1. Eliminate group punishments.  Instead, practice individual accountability.

2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.

3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement. 

4. Provide adequate food and hygiene. 

5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates. 

The July 2013 California SHU prisoners hunger strike is done in unity regardless of race, religion, "gang." All prisoners participating are in unity, following the Agreement to End Hostilities as drawn up in August 2012.

---- 
Our comrades at Prison Watch Europe are going to organize local writing afternoons where people can send cards to the head of prisons reminding him of these 5 simple demands. Also we will be sending cards to prisoners supporting their efforts and letting them know we hear them loud and clear.

More information about the crisis in the California prison system and the torture which is called Solitary Confinement can be found amongst others here:

- SF Bay View National Black Newspaper

- Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
- Stop Mass Incarceration Network
- NCTT-Cor-SHU 
- The Rock
- Bay Area Intifada Hunger Strike Support
- California Prison Focus
- SolitaryWatch.com
- Lockupreform.com
- California Prison Watch

We will be making more information available soon.




Monday, June 3, 2013

July 8th: Peaceful Protests of refusing food in CA SHU's and elsewhere will resume if demands are not met!


Please spread this flyer, thank you! Also follow NCTTCOrSHU.org, Californiaprisonwatch.org (one of our network blogs), Stopmassincarceration.org, SFBayview.com, Prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com, and other sites with updates.

Also actions of solidarity are planned in other states (Louisiana for one, Ohio may follow). CDCR should at least hear and talk with the prisoners and their representatives!

Latest on CDCR's proposed new " STG" program is that NONE of the prisoners in the units in at least Corcoran-SHU 4B 1L have signed a "contract" that CDCR has installed to push prisoners to comply with their new solitary confinement punishment rules.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Join Us in Stopping Torture in US Prisons!

The Prison Watch Network endorses the following call for Solidarity:


Tens of thousands of people imprisoned in the US are being subjected to torturous, inhumane conditions.  Many are:


·       Held in long term solitary confinement; locked in tiny, windowless, sometimes sound proof, cells; cut off from fresh air and sunlight for 22-24 hours every day and given small portions of food that lacks basic nutritional requirements. 

·       Denied human contact and violently taken from their cells for petty violations.

·       Put in solitary arbitrarily, often because of accusations of being members of prison gangs based on dubious evidence, and have no way to challenge the decisions of prison authorities to place them in solitary.

Many are forced to endure these conditions for months, years and even decades!  Mental anguish and trauma often results from being confined under these conditions.  Locking people down like this amounts to trying to strip them of their humanity.

These conditions fit the international definition of torture!  This is unjust, illegitimate and profoundly immoral.  WE MUST JOIN IN AN EFFORT TO STOP IT, NOW!

People imprisoned at Pelican Bay State Prison in California have called For a Nation-wide Hunger Strike to begin on July 8, 2013. They have also issued a call for unity among people from different racial groups, inside and outside the prisons.  People who are locked down in segregation units of this society’s prisons, condemned as the “worst of the worst,” are standing up against injustice, asserting their humanity in the process.  We must have the humanity to hear their call, and answer it with powerful support!

A Nation-wide and World-wide Struggle Needs to Be launched NOW to bring an End to this widespread Torture Before those in the Prisons Are Forced to Take the Desperate step of going on hunger strikes and putting their lives on the line!
                                                                                               
To the Government

We Demand an Immediate End to the Torture and Inhumanity of Prison House America – Immediately Disband All Torture Chambers.  Meet the demands of those you have locked down in your prisons!

To People in this Country and Around the World

We Cannot Accept, and We Should Not Tolerate This Torture.  Join The Struggle to End Torture in Prisons Now!
To Those Standing Up in Resistance Inside The Prisons: 

WE SUPPORT YOUR CALL FOR UNITY IN THIS FIGHT, AND WE WILL HAVE YOUR BACKS!

June 21, 22 and 23 Will Be Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture!  There will be protests, cultural events, Evenings of Conscience, sermons in religious services, saturation of social media – all aimed at laying bare the ugly reality of wide spread torture in US prisons and challenging everyone to join in fighting to STOP it.

Send Your endorsements (name . and if you wish, organization and/or title,  to:

For more information and to join in this struggle contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at:

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Prison-Wide Hunger Strike Still Rages at Guantánamo

From: Andy Worthington
30.3.13

Three weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled, “A Huge Hunger Strike at Guantánamo,” in which I reported the stories emerging from Guantánamo of a prison-wide hunger strike, the most severe since George W. Bush was President, and the gulf between what was being reported by the prisoners, via their attorneys, and what the US authorities were saying.

At the time, the authorities stated that just six of the 166 men still held were classified as hunger strikers, and that five were being force-fed, through tubes inserted up their nose and into their stomachs — these men all being long-term hunger strikers, at least one of whom has, alarmingly, been on a hunger strike since 2005.

It was, to be frank, inconceivable that the hunger strike had been invented by the prisoners, when attorneys reported visiting their clients, and seeing that they had lost 20 to 30 pounds in weight. However, it took until March 15, as Carol Rosenberg reported for the Miami Herald, for “the first admission of a protest” to be made by the authorities. Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a spokesman for the prison authorities, denied “a widespread phenomenon, as alleged,” but conceded, “for the first time after weeks of denial,” as Rosenberg put it, “that the number had surged to 14 from the five or six detainees who had for years been considered hunger strikers among the 166 captives at Guantánamo.”

Since the blanket denials were dropped, and the media began to take an interest in the story, focusing the world’s attention on the problems at Guantánamo to a greater degree than has happened for many years, the authorities have steadily acknowledged that more and more prisoners are on a hunger strike. Last week, the numbers went up to 21, and ended the week at 26, and this week the latest tally is 31 [Note: Since writing this article, the figure has been revised up to 37]. That, however, is still a far cry from the claims made by the prisoners and their attorneys, who state that the majority of the prisoners in Camp 6 — 130 men in total — are involved in the hunger strike.

Whatever the exact figures, transparency and honesty are not attributes that the US government can claim when it comes to Guantánamo, and it is difficult to see why the authorities should be trusted. As well as disputing the figures, the government also claims that the main reason given for the hunger strike is a lie. 51 attorneys wrote to defense secretary Chuck Hagel on March 14, explaining that the hunger strike “was precipitated by widespread searches of detainees’ Qur’ans — perceived as religious desecration — as well as searches and confiscation of other personal items, including family letters and photographs, and legal mail, seemingly without provocation or cause. We also understand that these searches occurred against a background of increasingly regressive practices at the prison taking place in recent months, which our clients have described as a return to an older regime at Guantánamo that was widely identified with the mistreatment of detainees.”

Chuck Hagel has not responded, but the authorities deny the prisoners’ claims.

However, there is another reason for the hunger strike that is rather harder to deny; namely, that the prisoners despair of ever being released, over four years after President Obama promised to close Guantánamo, and despite 86 of the remaining prisoners being cleared for release by an interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force that the President established in 2009.

The President himself is to blame for imposing a blanket ban on the release of two-thirds of these men — all Yemenis — after a Nigerian man,Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried and failed to blow up a plane bound for the US on Christmas Day 2009. Abdulmutallab was recruited in Yemen, but the President’s ban imposes an unjustifiable life sentence on the Yemenis on the basis of their nationality alone.

Also to blame is Congress, where lawmakers introduced legislation designed to block the release of prisoners, including an obligation on the defense secretary to certify that any released prisoner would not subsequently be able to engage in anti-American activities — a certification that seems to me to be impossible to make. As a result, only four prisoners have been released in the last two years, and during that same time period three prisoners have died. The prisoners also understand these statistics: at present there is a 43 percent probability that if they manage to leave Guantánamo, which is unlikely, it will be in a coffin.

The authorities have not spoken officially about the prisoners’ despair, although in Congressional testimony last week, Gen. John F. Kelly, the naval commander at Guantánamo, acknowledged the reality of it when he said, “They [the prisoners] had great optimism that Guantánamo would be closed. They were devastated, apparently … when the president backed off — at least their perception — of closing the facility. He said nothing about it in his inauguration speech. He said nothing about it in his State of the Union speech. He has said nothing about it. He’s not — he’s not restaffing the office that … looks at closing the facility.”

What happens next is unclear. People will die unless action is taken to bring the hunger strike to an end, and President Obama needs to stir himself from his torpor and act to bring to an end the disgraceful situation whereby prisoners cleared for release by the government may be imprisoned for the rest of their lives because it has proven to be politically inconvenient to release them. One of these men, Adnan Latif, a Yemeni, died at Guantánamo last September, and there are now understandable fears that others will die.

Instead of responding, however, President Obama is doing nothing — or rather, just watching as officials establish that nearly $200 million is required to renovate the facilities at Guantánamo, including, as Gen. Kelly let slip, $50 million to replace Camp 7, the secretive camp where the 16 “high-value detainees,” including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are held. The President, I’m sorry to note, escaped the scrutiny he deserved when these figures emerged, because the cost, of course, includes the figures for the cleared prisoners. It was established in November 2011 that it costs $72 million a year to hold the cleared prisoners; and to that can be added half of the $150 million that is not being spent on the “high-value detainees.” With the annual cost, that is $150 million that will be spent this year on holding men that the US government decided three to four years ago it no longer wished to hold.

When asked about the reasons for the hunger strike, Capt. Durand stated that

Read the rest here: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2013/03/30/prison-wide-hunger-strike-still-rages-at-guantanamo/

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Study reveals 10 factors in wrongful conviction cases

The Report by Jon Gould is readable here: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/241389.pdf
---
From: EurekAlert

Public release date: 13-Mar-2013

Contact: J. Paul Johnson
jjohnson@american.edu
202-885-5943
American University

Study reveals 10 factors in wrongful conviction cases

Why do innocent people go to jail in the United States every year for violent crimes they did not commit? It's a serious question representing the ultimate miscarriage of justice—taking away the freedom of a factually innocent person while also allowing the guilty person to remain free. The U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) wanted to learn answers to prevent wrongful convictions in the first place.

Jon B. Gould, J.D., Ph.D., a professor and the director of the Washington Institute for Public and International Affairs Research at American University and his team of researchers conducted a three year, first of its kind, large-scale empirical study Predicting Erroneous Convictions: A Social Science Approach to Miscarriages of Justice employing social scientific methods.

It was funded by NIJ, and an NIJ video features Gould discussing wrongful convictions. After identifying 460 cases employing sophisticated analytical methods matched with a qualitative review of the cases from a panel of experts, 10 statistically significant factors were identified that distinguish a wrongful conviction from a "near miss" (a case in which an innocent defendant was acquitted or had charges dismissed before trial).

 "Surprisingly unlike airplane crashes or near midair collisions where the National Transportation Safety Board moves in to investigate and reconstruct events in an effort to prevent future catastrophes, wrongful convictions have rarely been investigated beyond a specific case study," says Gould. "This is especially troubling since our criminal legal system is predicated on finding defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before imprisoning them."

10 Factors Identified in Wrongful Convictions

  • State death penalty culture/state punitiveness
  • Strength of prosecution's case
  • Prosecution withheld evidence (Brady violation)
  • Forensic evidence errors
  • Strength of defendant's case
  • Age of defendant
  • Criminal history of defendant
  • Intentional misidentification
  • Lying by non-eyewitness
  • Family witness testified on behalf of defendant

The resulting 10 factor model applied by Gould and his team can be used to accurately predict an erroneous conviction versus a "near miss" nearly 91 percent of the time and is a useful tool for jurisdictions around the country to adopt remedies to address the 10 weaknesses with little cost according to Gould. The biggest investment is time, training and the acknowledgement that there is room for improvement from police, prosecutors and defense interests. A key to the model's development was the unprecedented cooperation of an expert panel composed of stakeholders from the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Police Foundation, National Innocence Project and National District Attorneys Association.

From the quantitative and qualitative analysis, Gould and his team determined that prevention begins at the police station starting with the interrogation and investigation of alibis. This is followed by several opportunities along the way to identify the innocent before they are wrongfully convicted. For example, if forensic testing was conducted earlier and the results became available sooner to investigators innocent suspects could be freed. But faulty identifications, absence of early forensic test results, and inadequate investigation of alibis leads to what Gould characterizes as a "perfect storm" of errors made worse by collective tunnel vision. It should be noted much of this is unintentional.

The 10 factors in various combinations create this tunnel vision where a prosecutor with a weak case focuses on an accused even more intently rather than considering alternative suspects precisely because tunnel vision has set in – in other words the case seems to add up from the investigation but is sufficiently weak relying on perhaps a misidentification.

For Gould this was the most surprising result of his research because he and his team expected strong prosecutorial cases to result in wrongful convictions since the evidence was compelling for the prosecutor to seek conviction but instead the study revealed the contrary. This led the team to look at weak defense counsel, poor explanation/presentation of forensic evidence, and police practices that could trigger the course of events spiraling out of control to a wrongful conviction because the weak prosecution case in turn is not adequately challenged by the defense attorney and the prosecution for one reason or the other may fail to disclose exculpatory evidence- a Brady violation.

Finally, the wrongfully convicted skew toward young suspects as well as those who have a prior criminal record. In other words, the defendants are not in a strong position to demand more from prosecutors or even their own defense counsel because they do not have the wherewithal to challenge the charges.

The study concludes that the social science approach is valid and effective in studying miscarriages of justice and should continue. Gould especially is interested in more research on the "near miss" cases to better learn how the criminal justice system can "get it right" when confronted with an innocent defendant. In the coming weeks, Gould will present his research in Seattle, Miami, New York City, Albany, NY, and North Carolina.
###

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Monday, February 18, 2013

CA: Prisoners’ peaceful protest to resume July 8 if demands are not met

from: Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity and SF Bay View:
Feb. 14th 2013

ATTENTION: Governor Jerry Brown; CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard; and all other parties of interest.

In response to CDCR’s failure to meet our 2011 Five (5) Core Demands, the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives respectfully present this notice of, and basis for, our indi- vidualized, collectively agreed upon, decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest action on July 08, 2013.

The upcoming peaceful protest will be a combined Hunger Strike [HS] – Work Stoppage [WS] action. Once initiated, this protest will continue indefinitely—until all Five (5) Core Demands are fully met. Here’s why.

1. The Basis for Our Decision to Resume Our Peaceful Protest

The basis for our decision to resume our nonviolent peaceful protest has been made individually, while presented collectively, on behalf of ourselves, and all similarly situated prisoners, as well as non-prisoners, who are adversely affected by the inhumane policies/ practices at issue.

Governor Brown’s, and CDCR Secretary Cate’s, failure to make the changes agreed upon during the July/October 2011 negotiation process, has forced us to resume our nonviolent hunger strike/work stoppage protest.

During these negotiations, CDCR’s Undersecretary Kernan, et al, acknowledged the rea- sonableness of our Five (5) Core Demands and asked us to suspend our hunger strike in order to give the CDCR time to implement timely and meaningful changes of real sub- stance, in response to our demands. We agreed—while CDCR has failed to do their part.

Before we began our July 01, 2011 peaceful efforts to bring about the long overdue re- forms to the CDCR system, we presented Governor Brown, CDCR Secretary Cate, and many others, with our “Formal Complaint” spelling out the reasons why we are willing to put our lives on the line in order to bring about the necessary changes. Along with our “Five (5) Core Demands,” wherein we made it clear that we can no longer, complacently, accept the policies and practices that have subjected us, as well as thousands of other pris- oners, and loved ones outside these prison walls, to decades of torture within these solitary confinement SHU/Ad-Seg Units, based on innocent associations and unsubstantiated alle- gations of involvement in illegal activities.

The undisputable fact is that many of us have been held in solitary confinement for the past 10 to 40 years, based on fabricated information provided by prisoners who have been tor- tured to the point where they provide false information to IGI, in order to get out of the SHU/Ad-Seg. Few of us, if any, have ever been formally charged with, or found guilty of a single illegal, gang-related act. (To review our Formal Complaint, go to: prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/formal-complaint. For the 5 Core Demands, see: http://www.prisons.org/documents/FinalNoticewith5CoreDemands.doc).

We have demonstrated our commitment to our cause through our hunger strike actions – from July 01 to July 20, and from Sept. 26 to Oct. 13, 2011. We remain 100% collectively committed today!

We have kept our word, while patiently waiting for the CDCR to keep theirs. However, at this point, it is clear to us that the CDCR has no intention of implementing the substantive policy changes that were agreed to fifteen or sixteen months ago – based on their highly touted “Security Threat Group” proposals [March and June 2012], and the much hyped “STG Pilot Program” [October 11, 2012], the CDCR has clearly demonstrated their bad faith; because their alleged changes to the policies/practices at issue are a sham.

In reality, the proposed changes will greatly expand upon the number of prisoners who will be subjected to long-term isolation in torture cells; all the above is detailed in our written Rejection/Oppositions to the March and June proposals. As well as the October 11, 2012 Pilot Program. (See them at: http://www.prisonart.org/images/!Newsletter/Rock2_1 and at: http://www.prisonart.org/images/!Newsletter/Rock1_2. The entire Pilot Program is at: http://www.sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/CDCR’s-Oct.-11-2012-Security-Threat- Group-Pilot-Program.pdf.)

Another recent example of the CDCR’s refusal to honor the agreement is PBSP’s Warden Lewis’ refusal to allow a test run – visiting pilot program for additional visiting time on the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18; such additional time was agreed to during negotiations with Undersecretary Kernan [see his August 2011 memo]. Thereby, Warden Lewis has directly violated the agreement on this point too!

There are a number of additional examples that have been, and can be, pointed out to dem- onstrate the CDCR’s non-responsiveness/unwillingness to make meaningful changes to the current policies. Therefore, based on the CDCR’s failure to meaningfully address our Five (5) Core Demands, we presently have no available alternative avenues to obtain the long overdue changes, in a timely manner, other than giving the CDCR until July 08, 2013 – as a deadline – to meet our stated demands.

Failure to come to a legally enforceable agreement will be deemed as just cause for us to resume our indefinite, nonviolent, peaceful protest action(s) until the changes are made, as exemplified below.

2. Our Five (5) Core Demands (with Supplements)

At this point, the CDCR’s willingness to implement meaningful changes to the current policies/practices at issue lacks credibility. Thus, the CDCR’s empty promise to effect such changes is not acceptable.

Therefore, the CDCR will be required to sign off on a Consent Decree in US Dist.Ct., N.D. Cal., case # C 09-05796 CW, spelling out the specific terms of the policies to be immediately enacted – pursuant to our five (5) Core Demands [see:http://www.prisons.org/documents/ FinalNoticewith5CoreDemands.doc].

The consent decree will be subject to enforcement by the federal court; it is the only way we have of ensuring the CDCR’s compliance, now and in the future. This is, therefore, mandatory and non-negotiable! The specific terms in the consent decree will be provided by our attorneys, for the above referenced case, in the not-too-distant future.

A few examples of what this consent decree will include are:

(a) SHU confinement shall be solely for determinate terms, per guidelines of CCR Title 15, Sections 3312-3321, and 3341.5(c)(1)(B), “Determinate SHU Segregation” [no more indeterminate SHU terms!];

(b) Ad-Seg confinement shall be solely per guidelines of CDCR, Title 15, Section 3335 regarding placement for legitimate investigative purposes—not to exceed eleven (11) months, absent formal charges being filed;

(c) Step Down Program shall be for a maximum duration of eighteen (18) months, and available for the purpose of enabling prisoners an opportunity to shorten the duration of their determinate SHU term.

3. In Addition to Our 2011 Five (5) Core Demands, We Present the Following Forty (40) Supplemental Demands That Are Part of and/or Related to Our Five (5) Core Demands.

(1) Order that all past Rule Violation Reports [RVR] issued to CDCR prisoners for their participation in the last two 2011 peaceful Hunger Strikes [HS] be rescinded and expunged from all prisoners’ files.

(2) Order that no RVR be issued to any CDCR prisoner in violation of any rules and/or in retaliation for participating and/or leading the July 08, 2013, or any future peaceful HS/WS.

(3) Order that CDCR prisoners who do participate in the July 08, 2013, or any future peaceful HS/WS, not be retaliated against by placing any of them in Ad-Seg, nor have any of their personal property removed, appliances disconnected – including those already in Ad-Seg – or be moved to other cells, etc.

(4) Order that the PBSP-SHU D-Facility visiting room also be reopened, like it was during the early 1990’s when this prison first opened—it was specifically built for D-Facil- ity visiting—and that funds be provided in order to accomplish this. This way, all C- Facility and D-Facility SHU prisoners and their families/friends can again have that addi- tional space and time available for visiting, where they will again receive 4-6 hours per visit on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. And not the present 90 minutes or less, especially for those families and friends who have to travel over 200 miles.

(5) Order and issue a memo to all SHU prisons that all SHU prisoners are to be permit- ted to make one (1) weekly phone call as part of their SHU program. And that the memo be posted in all SHU unit sections.

(6) Order that the CDCR’s Department of Operations Manual (DOM), the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, DOM Supplementals and/or Operational Procedures (OP) be revised where it states that, all SHU/Ad-Seg prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess art/hobby supplies from the prison canteen store and approved vendors; and shall be allowed to take one (1) picture per year as part of their program, without having to first be disciplinary free. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(7) Order that CCR Title 15, Sections 3192; 3100 through 3108; the CDCR DOM and DOM Supplementals be revised, stating that, all CDCR prisoners – especially those in SHU/Ad-Seg – shall be permitted to sell, convey, or give away as gifts any artwork or artistic expressions to any prisoner or the public in general – without being penalized/ restricted and/or disciplined. The CDCR now allows SHU and Ad-Seg prisoners to order and possess art/hobby supplies. In addition, while in SHU/Ad-Seg, artwork sometimes becomes a prisoner’s only form of income, not to mention keeping their minds occupied on something positive. So, they should be allowed to sell or give it away to anyone, including prisoners. PBSP’s IGI is presently confiscating and/or issuing RVR’s just for giving drawings to other prisoners as gifts for their families and friends. That is just real petty and fundamentally wrongheaded! Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.

(8) Order that all SHU/Ad-Seg and G.P. recreational book libraries be funded from either the CDCR’s budget or from our Inmate Welfare Funds [IWF], and restocked at least once a year. For example, PBSP’s has not been restocked since 2008 and the books are falling apart from so much use. Yet the prison claims there’s no funds for it. What is our IWF being spent on then?! Issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(9) Order that more funds be provided for education, either from the CDCR budget or from our IWF, to provide real rehabilitation programs such as college, GED, vocational training, etc., so that all CDCR prisoners, especially indigent ones, can have real opportunities to educate themselves. Moreover, these programs can and will help those who are released from prison to be productive citizens, where they are no longer stuck on the same gear that caused them to go to prison in the first place.

(10) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3161, “Inmate-Owned Legal Materials,” be revised to comply with the Prison Legal News (PLN) Settlement Agreement (as DOM Article 43, Sec. 54030.10.2 does]. At present, the language is so vague and confusing that most CDCR staff purposely use that Title 15 section to mislead prisoners to believe all law books, law periodicals, etc., are to also be counted towards the ten (10) book limit – where instead they should be considered “legal materials” and should only be counted towards the combined six cubic feet of state-issued and personal items, excluding bedding and appli- ances. [Id. Sec. 3190(c)], plus one cubic foot of related legal materials of an active case [Id.Sec.3161]. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting the PLN Settlement Agreement at page 4, section (g) [formerly cited as PLN v. Schwarzenegger, now cited as PLN v. Brown].

(11) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplementals and/or OP be revised to state that, whenever a CDCR prisoner purchases a new appliance, he or she shall be permitted to donate their old personally owned TV or radio appliance to another CDCR prisoner who is indigent – where that used appliance is officially placed on the indigent prisoner’s CDCR Form 160-H, “Inmate Property Control Card.” This way, prison staff cannot arbitrarily confiscate it on a whim. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.

(12) Order that the CDCR DOM and CCR Title 15 be revised to increase all D-status prisoners’ maximum canteen draw from $55.00 to $65.00 per month. Ever since it was raised to $55.00, the canteen prices have dramatically inflated. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(13) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplementals and/or OP be revised where it states that, all SHU and D-status prisoners shall also be permitted to participate in donating funds to good outside local charity causes via “Charity Food Drives,” just like the ones held for General Population [GP] prisoners. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this.

(14) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3190 (j)(3), CDCR DOM Article 43, DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that, all SHU D-status prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess one clear-cased typewriter [hardwired or manual] under the same security measures that are currently being followed by prison staff for allowing TV, TV-radio combos and radio appliances [Id. Sec 3190(k)-(m)]. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR-prisons [and all approved vendors] to be posted in all unit sections approving this.

(15) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3190 (j)(3), CDCR DOM Article 43, DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that, all SHU, D-status prisoners shall be allowed to order and possess a total of two (2) approved appliances; for example, one TV and one radio, one TV-radio combo and one typewriter, one TV and one typewriter, or one radio and one typewriter. (All SHU cells are equipped with four (4) electrical outlets.) Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons [and all approved vendors] to be posted in all unit sections allowing this.

(16) Order that the CDCR DOM, DOM Supplemental and/or OP be revised where it states that all CDCR prisoners in Ad-Seg shall be permitted to possess their personally owned TV and/or radio appliance in their cells with or without fire sprinklers. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this. And ordering Prison Maintenance/Plant Operations departments to make sure fire sprinklers are immediately installed in all Ad-Seg cells, including all SHU cells.

(17) Order that the CDCR DOM, Title 15, Section 3117(b)(2), DOM Supplemental and/or OP be revised to where it states that, all GP life-term prisoners shall again be permitted “family overnight visits” with their immediate family members. Right now, in all of the CDCR, only life-term prisoners who have become CDCR’s debriefer/snitches are allowed family visits. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections permitting this under the prior amended CCR Title 15 regulations.

(18) Order the California Prison Industry Authority [Cal-PIA] to produce decent qual- ity mattresses. The current 100% cotton air-filled ones, which are not densely packed cot- ton core mattresses, do not have a way to keep the cotton evenly distributed like the old ones did. And where, after a week of two of sleeping on it, on all-concrete bunks, a new mattress literally turns into a flat lumpy torture mattress, due to cotton shifting and the cotton not being densely packed. Where instead, PIA makes these cotton mattresses just appear as ones that are thickly/densely packed. But, in truth, the cotton itself is just puffed up with air – another PIA rip off of taxpayers’ monies! In addition, a prisoner has to liter- ally lift these flat lumpy mattresses from one end in order to pack it down to the other end, in order to make it a little thicker. But, by doing this, the mattress ends up 1-2 feet shorter, leaving our feet on bare concrete because the mattresses have are then too short! Also, with the old ones, a prisoner held onto them for 3-4 years with no problem. But, with these new ones, a prisoner exchanges them every six (6) months – a lot sooner if we were allowed to do so [6-month wait is mandatory]. Which, in turn, means a lot more inferior mattresses have to be produced to keep up with the demand. Where only PIA is literally reaping the benefits at $60.00 per mattress, while prisoners in solitary confinement are being further tortured with these flat, lumpy, short torture mattresses! Therefore, demand that PIA stop ripping off the taxpayers’ monies, and that they either produce better quality ones, or start producing better quality 4-6 inch densely packed 100% all-foam mattresses to immediately replace the present air-filled cotton torture mattresses. That a memo be issued and posted in all CDCR prison unit sections that this was ordered and will be remedied ASAP!

(19) Order the Cal-PIA to also produce boxer shorts with longer inseams to at least 9- inch inseams. The present ones have a very short inseam mode for women prisoners, where male prisoners have no choice but to order them 3-4 sizes bigger and hem them at the waistline just so they can fit correctly. This has been a continual problem for many years now and also needs to be corrected. That memo be issued and posted in all CDCR unit sections that this has been ordered and will be remedied ASAP!

(20) Order that the CDCR DOM, CCR Title 15, Section 3044 (g)(4)(E) and 3190(i), DOM Supplementals and OP be revised where it states that all SHU and Ad-Seg, D-status prisoners shall also be allowed to order, in addition to one annual 30-lb. food package, a second annual non-food special-purchase package [i.e., such items like art/hobby supplies, sweatpants/shorts, shoes, thermals, earphones, etc.], just like we used to be allowed to do. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(21) Order that the CDCR DOM Article 43 “Property Matrix” and DOM Supplemen- tals all be revised, if they haven’t been already – which states that, all CDCR SHU/Ad-Seg D-status prisoners shall also be allowed to order and possess all the additional following items; (a) no limit on chocolate candy bars; (b) no limit on sugar-free hard candy; (c) all Asian soups; (d) all trail-mix products; (e) all cheeses; (f) all dry jerky meats [i.e., sausage, chorizos; all nuggets and slices of beef, turkey, pork, pepperoni, salami, chicken]; (g) all seasonings; (h) all powdered sugar-free beverage drinks in any kind of containers; (i) all tea and teabags; (j) one 12-foot earphone extension cord; (k) all art/hobby supplies [i.e., color pen fillers, 12-24 packs of pastels/woodless color pencils/watercolors/charcoal sticks, 3 drawing art pads of any thickness, and art erasers]; (l) one sweatpants and one sweat- shorts (2 total), and sweatpants/shorts with “cords” [we are presently allowed to possess shoestrings and our new laundry bags have 9-inch, thick cords already attached, proving that the cords are not a security threat]; (m) all Dickies thermals, tops and bottoms; (n) hair grease; (o) lotion; (p) laundry soap; (q) 6 bars of soap; (r) 1 soap dish; (s) 1 tumbler (16 oz.); (t) 1 food container bowl; (u) zip-lock bags; (v) paper mirrors; (w) 4 pairs of boxer shorts and 4 pairs of T-shirts (gray or white; long sleeve or short sleeve), which will ease cost on CDCR to purchase these for prisoners; (x) earplugs; (y) 1 watch cap (gray or white); (z) 1 pair of wool gloves; (aa) three (3) typewriter ribbons; (bb) six (6) typewriter correction ribbons, and (cc) typewriter paper. All these items need to be added in the CDCR DOM Article 43 Property Matrix and/or a memo sent to all approved vendors or they will not send them when we order our packages. Ad-Seg (and all other D-status pris- oners) should also be included for these items because most wait years in Ad-Seg before they are sent to SHU, where Ad-Seg literally becomes a SHU overflow. It should also be noted that ever since the first HS in 2011, CDCR headquarters representatives have come to PBSP and repeatedly stated to us that Article 43 was being revised to add most of these items but, to date, it has just become another broken agreement, because it has not been done. Thus, until it is revised to add all the above, issue a memo to all “approved vendors,” and to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections approving all these items for all SHU/Ad-Seg and all other D-status prisoners.

(22) Order that the Cal-PIA no longer be allowed to produce or provide any food prod- ucts to any CDCR prisons. Ever since they began doing so, the overall quality of prison food has dramatically decreased and the costs have dramatically increased. As well as causing prison and local community bakeries and butcher shops across the state – who were a lot cheaper – to close behind PIA forcing the CDCR to buy from them. Prisoners also working for $1-4 a day used to produce good fresh quality baked goods. Now it’s pre- baked and shipped from PIA where the goods have either been stale or spoiled. For exam- ple, the bread is packed in plastic with industry-manufactured pinholes, causing the bread to spoil. And the lunch meats are now shipped from PIA in sealed pockets filled with nasty-smelling preservatives. We also know for a fact that PIA attempted to force CDCR to buy all dairy products from them in order to supply PBSP – which would have also been more costly – which nearly drove the local dairy supplier Humboldt Creamery in Fortuna, CA out of business. And the only reason PIA failed was because the dairy products would spoil during transport, etc.. The whole sordid story is public record and reported in the local paper, “The Triplicate” [www.triplicate.com]. PIA already produces all other CDCR products from shoes to the very poor quality mattresses. We don’t need or want them to also now control what we eat, period!

(23) Order that all CDCR food-ounce servings be raised two (2) ounces (for example, 3 oz. of eggs raised to 5 oz. of eggs). As well as raising our present two portions of fruit per day to four portions. And, start reissuing us the old real syrup and jelly packets and stop giving us the new unhealthy PIA artificial ones that nobody likes or eats. Thus, raising our overall daily calorie intake with solid non-PIA foods, and not with extra Kool-Aid packets, etc. We are grown men and women, so stop feeding us children’s portions that some fat- cats, so-called “nutritionist” sitting in Sacramento decides we should have. Maybe they should be forced to first eat this PIA junk and small food portions for a year, in order to make a correct informed decision. That a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this immediately.

(24) Order that the CDCR DOM, CCR Title 15, Section 3220.4 and DOM Supple- mentals be revised where it states that, all uncut, R-rated movie/videos shall be permitted to be shown to all CDCR prison populations. At present, we are only allowed up to PG-13 movie/videos. We are not 13-year-old children, nor in juvenile detention centers. Again, we are grown men and women in adult state prisons. Therefore, we should be allowed to watch uncut R-rated movie/videos. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections approving this.

(25) Order that the CDCR DOM and CCR Title 15 be revised to state that all CDCR prisons shall provide – if they have not done so already – their prison populations with the minimum of twenty quality “entertainment channels.” Especially for prisons like PBSP that are so isolated that they can’t even receive one TV channel over the air, not even with a digital antenna. Presently, this prison only receives eight low-quality Charter Cable channels consisting of 3 cable and 5 network channels. Less than all other SHU prisons across the state. And, where there’s constant signal interruptions. Until then, issue a memo to all CDCR prison wardens – especially to PBSP’s Warden Lewis – ordering this, and to be posted in all CDCR unit sections.

(26) Order that all CDCR prisons use the funds are specifically designated for enter- tainment and recreation purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to immedi- ately purchase all the necessary equipment, storage sheds and any needed digital antenna towers, etc. These funds should also be used to pay the monthly fees and costs to cable companies to add the above-mentioned minimum twenty channels to all CDCR prisons.

(27) Order that all CDCR prisons use the funds that are specifically designated for exercise equipment purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to immediately be used to purchase and install all the promised dip and pull-up bars on all SHU/Ad-Seg and Death Row yards.

(28) Order that CDCR prisons use the funds that are specifically designated for exer- cise equipment purposes from the CDCR budget, and/or from the IWF, to also be used to purchase weight-lifting equipment for all GP yards again, as they once had, so prisoners can have something to look forward to on those GP yards other than dip/pull-up bars, handballs and looking at each other.

(29) Order that all arbitrary contraband (“potty”) watches be stopped immediately. Especially order that the PVC tube torture restraints that are currently being used here at PBSP – and maybe at other prisons – as some kind of twisted torture experiment on pris- oners that some C/O conceived and made in his garage, be immediately stopped and abol- ished forever! [See Rock newsletter vol. 1, no. 12, Dec. 2012, at p.4, “Freedom, Justice and Human Rights.”] And that all prisoners that prison staff reasonably suspect – not on some whim – have hidden contraband in cavities, first be given the option to be X-rayed to prove they have nothing hidden. Because, for the past couple of years, prison staff have “intentionally” not given that option in order to arbitrarily and systematically use these PVC torture tube restraints to punish and torture prisoners! This is a barbaric and humili- ating practice! Also, immediately order that when a prisoner does provide a bowel move- ment, that it be done in a closed-room environment, not in the damn hallways and side corridors leading to and from Visiting or law library, like they do here at PBSP-SHU, where everyone from the outside prison tours, to prisoners being escorted, can see him giving a bowel movement like some farm animal! As they walk by just feet away from him. Not to mention all our food carts that are pushed by them, too! That a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons – especially to PBSP Warden Lewis – to be posted in all unit sections ordering all these human rights violations to be immediately stopped!

(30) Order that Dr. Sayre be immediately removed as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at PBSP, or at any CDCR prison – if it hasn’t been done yet – and that he never hold any position of authority over any prisoner’s health and medical treatment. He is behind countless medical negligence and civil rights complaints going back more than a decade. He is also behind not allowing prisoners the option of getting an X-ray, forcing them to go through the “potty watch” torture-tube-restraints “therapy,” referred to at (29) – claiming it was too costly to give the X-ray option. This is the worst of the worst doctors in all of the CDCR and he must be removed!

(31) Order that all CDCR prison cells that have not been painted (i.e., Corcoran, Folsom, etc., and all Ad-Seg cells, etc.) be painted so the cells are not the present drab, depressing, bare gray concrete cell walls. PBSP-SHU cells have been painted since before it was opened. So all other cells should also be painted with a coat of paint! Order Mainte- nance and Plant Operations departments to do this ASAP. Issue a memo to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.

(32) Order Maintenance and/or Plant Operations departments at PBSP to finally fix the original flawed-design ventilation system that we have been complaining about in 602 appeals since the day this prison first opened, where they have repeatedly come around and basically did a whole lot of nothing to it. For example, in SHU, these cells only have out- take vents – no intake vents. The only intake vents are the giant ones above the control booths that sound like a jet engine when turned on, where prison staff and prisoners can’t hear anyone talking to them. Thus, it’s never turned on unless there is smoke or a prisoner got pepper-sprayed multiple times in the cell or section. And, the intake vents that are turned on 24/7, that are supposed to suck in any accumulated heat on the second tier, are those right above the top step on the second tiers. However, during the winter months, when this place first opened, and the heaters were turned on, those intake vents proved to be extremely inadequate, where the heat only rose and accumulated on the second tiers – where those prisoners, and even the cops feeding up there – complained of the heat. So, as stated, a whole lot of nothing was done. Where , to date, the heaters are never turned on! And, year round, air barely comes out of the ventilation systems, where we have to ask the Control Tower guard to open the yard door in the mornings prior to yard and when the yard is not being used, just so we can get some fresh air in here – even if it’s ice cold air! Therefore, order PBSP’s Maintenance and/or Plant Operations to at least replace the intake ventilation motors with those with a lot higher R.P.M.s, so, when the heaters are ever turned on again, those intake vents can maintain the heat at the proper levels on the second tiers. And, order them to keep the air levels turned up 24/7 where it properly circulates in the units. Especially in those cells that have their fronts covered with Lexan/Plexiglas that become suffocating during the summer months. Issue a memo to PBSP to be posted in all unit sections that reflects the above order.

(33) Order Maintenance and/or Plant Operations at PBSP, and other prisons that have it, to cut one (1) foot off the bottom of the Lexan/Plexiglas coverings on all cells that have them so air can properly be allowed to circulate in those cells [see (32) above]. And, that ‘if’ a prisoner is housed in one of those cells who is not on “Lexan status,” to give those prisoners the option of having it removed. [Note: Some prisoners prefer it because it’s a lot more quiet and warmer in the winter months.] Thus, issue a memo to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.

(34) Order that the CCR Title 15, Section 3097, “Inmate Restitution Fine and Direct Order Collections,” be revised where the restitution rate is reduced from 55% back to a reasonable level of 33% that a prisoner has to pay on all incoming monies. At present, prisoners are paying 55% of monies their loved ones send them – especially with the lack of prison paying jobs – so, in reality, their loved ones are the ones paying the full amount, not the prisoners, so a lot of prisoners no longer ask their loved ones to send them any funds. Thus a lot less additional funds get paid into the Restitution Fund. Until these revi- sions are done, issue a memo to all prison Trust Account Offices, and to be posted in all unit sections, ordering the restitution rate of all incoming monies be reduced to a total of 33% that a prisoner has to pay on all incoming monies.

(35) Order IGI staff at PBSP, and other prisons, to stop being so extremely petty on everything from screening mail, visiting, and legal visits. Because, it seems like ever since the first 2011 HS – where IGI for the first time felt they lost total control – they have made it their mission in life to use extreme petty tactics to attack all those in SHU, including all their extended families and friends. Where they have now made an art of twisting any mail/ visiting/contraband, etc. rules and regulations until they “find” something to suspend visits, confiscate mail, etc. and/or issue RVRs for things they have never been known to do prior to the 2011 HS. Therefore, issue a memo to all IGI/ISU staff ordering them to stop being so vindictive and petty under the guise of security!

(36) Order that the following revisions be made to the Cal. Code of Regulations [CCR], which would state that, if an Administrative Rule Violation Report [ARVR] per CCR Title 15, Sec. 3314 hearing is not held within 30 days of issuing it [Id. Sec. 3320(b)], then no restrictions under Sec. 3314(e)(1)-(10) shall be imposed. And that if a hearing is not held within 60 days of issuing an ARVR, then the ARVR shall be ordered dismissed in its entirety and expunged from the prisoner’s C-file. Because, as it stands right now, even if an ARVR hearing is held six (6) months from issuing it, the hearing officer can still impose the same restrictions as if the hearing was held within 30 days of issuing it. This is not right! And there has to be some kind of accountability on CDCR staff for the countless unjustified delays in hearing ARVRs. Therefore, until it is revised, that a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this change.

(37) Order that the following revisions be made to the CCR Title 15, which would state that, if a Serious Rule Violation Report [SRVR] per CCR Title 15, Sec. 3315 hearing is not held within 60 days of issuing it, then the restrictions under Sec. 3315(f)(5)(A)-(P) shall not be imposed. And that, if the hearing is not held within 90 days of issuing it, then the SRVR shall be ordered dismissed in its entirety and expunged from the prisoner’s C-file. Because, as it stands right now, even if the hearing for a SRVR is not held within 30 days of issuing it, no good behavior credits can be taken. However, as in the ARVR, if a SRVR hearing is held six (6) months from issuing it, the hearing officer can still impose the same restrictions as if the hearing was held with 30 days of issuing it. This is not right either! And there should also be some kind of accountability for the countless unjustified delays in hearing SRVRs. Therefore, until it is revised, that a memo be issued to all CDCR prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this change.

(38) Order that an independent audit/investigation be conducted into the expenditures of the Inmate Welfare Funds [IWF] for the past five (5) years. And, that a copy of that investigation, and an up-to-date itemized list of IWF monthly expenditures be posted in all prison unit sections so we, as prisoners, can have something tangible to see where our monies are actually being spent, and to ensure none of those monies are being diverted to other areas not in the prisoner’s interest or benefit. CDCR prisoners have the right to have this information posted in their sections. The IWF solely belongs to all CDCR prisoners. It was created to reimburse services to prisoners, including their training and education and to underwrite the prison canteens. Prisoners who are taxed for that purpose by the CDCR on purchases and the like, have paid every penny themselves that goes into the IWF. Those monies are not court-ordered restitution funds, nor do they belong to CDCR – even though they act like it does. Thus, issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections reflecting this order.

(39) Order that all CDCR prisons’ associate wardens conduct monthly meetings with GP, SHU/Ad-Seg and Death Row prisoner representatives [not subject to CCR Title 15, Sections 3230-3232] in order to have open dialogue between prisoners and the prisons’ administrations. And, more importantly, order that every associate warden who conducts these monthly meetings is given the prison warden’s full authority at these meetings, to address and grant/deny any grievances/requests from the prisoner reps right there and then, that can be dealt with at the institutional level — where she or he is not later overruled by the warden – including, discussions on how our IWF should be spent. Thus, issue a memo to all prisons to be posted in all unit sections ordering this.

(40) Order that during any HS/WS negotiations—if CDCR does not meet the July 08, 2013 deadline—a member of our outside Mediation/Litigation Team and a member of the Press either be physically present and/or present by phone conference.

CONCLUSION

We are hopeful that Governor Brown, the CDCR, et al, will make the changes required in order to meet our reasonable demands – prior to July 08, 2013 – because we remain 100% fully committed to resuming our indefinite protest action(s) – to the point of our starvation resulting in serious permanent injury and/or death. To date, three prisoners have sacrificed their lives, and many more have suffered permanent damage, in solidarity with our cause!

We hope more deaths/injuries will not be required – but we are fully committed to our cause, and will accept nothing less than the changes to CDCR policies and practices ref- erenced above.

In addition, be advised that since the 2011 Hunger Strikes, we have read many prison pub- lications [i.e., the Rock and http://www.sfbayview.com, etc., etc.] where we quickly came to realize that we here in PBSP-SHU were not the only ones who have been tortured with solitary confinement and countless deprivations from the past 10 to 40 years. That, all our fellow men and women prisoners all across California, from all security levels 1 through 4 (where many of theirs have been included within the above demands), and all those across all of these United States, in both federal and state prisons, have suffered similarly to us here, in one form or another. But most have never had a voice or forum to lay their demands out for change. Therefore, we have placed the next two paragraphs here in full solidarity with all our fellow women and male prisoners across the country so they can finally be heard!

Therefore, expect your offices to also soon be receiving separate demands from all other CDCR male and female prisoner representatives from all security levels [1 through 4] on GPs, Ad-Segs, Death Row and from all other CA SHU prisons who will also join us on the July 08, 2013 HS/WS, if their demands are not met by that deadline. Which will be tailored to their own particular institutional needs that are not listed above–which we fully support.

As stated above, we are also offering this forum to all male and female prisoners across the U.S. prison systems (state/federal) as a favor to them in full solidarity, who otherwise will not have a voice, nor probably ever have this unique opportunity again, where, if they also wish to volunteer to join us on a “National Hunger Strike/Work Stoppage,” to peacefully protest solitary confinement and other deprivations and conditions in their own individual state and federal prisons for the past 10 to 40 years, or less, and if they also wish to be heard, we encourage all their prisoner representatives to also formulate their own separate demands tailored for their individual state and federal institutional needs, where they also serve a copy on their state governors, etc. And where they also set the same deadline for those officials to meet their demands, or they will also be starting their HS/WS on July 08, 2013, which we will fully support.

Finally, from today to the July 08, 2013 deadline, and/or during the HS/WS, we are willing to keep ongoing communications open with your Sacramento CDCR Administration, and/ or your office, Governor Brown, in order to negotiate all of our demands listed here that can be negotiated. With hopes that we can avoid having to resume our peaceful action(s) – or end it sooner – where we can all come to a reasonable Consent Decree.

Respectfully Submitted,

– Todd Ashker, C-58191, PBSP-SHU, D4-121
– Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP-SHU, D1-121
– Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671, PBSP-SHU,D1-117
– Antonio Guillen, P-81948, PBSP-SHU, D2-106

The PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives

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