[Ppnews] Pelican Bay - Support and Resistance Expand + NYT Editorial

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Aug 2 11:37:50 EDT 2011



Support and Resistance Expand

<http://t.ymlp151.com/jqjaaauseyakaeujanahy/click.php>Prisoner Hunger 
Strike Solidarity Coalition

August 1, Prisoner Hungerstrike Solidarity:

<http://t.ymlp151.com/jqbacauseyafaeujatahy/click.php>Hunger Strike 
Supporters everywhere are gearing up for the legislative hearings to 
begin on August 23rd in Sacramento, CA by holding lead-up events in 
the weeks before the 23rd.

Today supporters in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and 
New York are holding rallies and speak-outs as part of a national day 
in support of the hunger strike, asking for all five core demands to 
be met, and for no retaliation against any and all prisoners who 
participated in the strike.

Supporters are also continuing to show support by participating in 
rolling fasts, writing letters to legislators, and words of 
encouragement and support to prisoners. Last week, more than 150 
religious communities of Roman Catholic nuns mailed in letters of 
support of the prisoners' requests to the governor of CA. The 
communities ranges from the Congregation of St. Joseph to the Loretto 
Sisters to the Sisters of Mercy. Each religious community represents 
from 100-18,000 nuns nationally and internationally. These 
representatives say: "We are with each of the prisoners and their 
supporters and loved ones in this struggle and extend our prayers of 
love, peace and support."

Tactics of extreme isolation, social deprivation and torturous 
conditions are used throughout the US. 
<http://t.ymlp151.com/jqhagauseyacaeujaaahy/click.php>[At least 60 
super-maximum security prisons are operated in 44 states of the US]. 
People locked up throughout all prisons continuously resist 
repression and torture everyday, often working together in forms of 
both spontaneous and well-organized massive resistance.

Days within the Hunger Strike in CA ending, 
<http://t.ymlp151.com/jqwagauseyaraeujadahy/click.php>the Department 
of Corrections in Indiana put all the state prisons on lock-down in 
response to a stabbing no doubt instigated by guards. Prisoners in 
Indiana's SHU joined together in resistance once the prison 
administration cut off all electricity and water in the prisons.

<http://t.ymlp151.com/jqqadauseyanaeujaaahy/click.php>Supporters are 
calling for an emergency call-in day today & tomorrow in solidarity 
with the Wabash protesters.

As we approach the 40th Anniversary of the 
<http://t.ymlp151.com/jqyazauseyakaeujaaahy/click.php>Attica 
Rebellion this September, we're reminded of the decades before us of 
prisoners working together across prison-manufactured racial 
divisions, resisting brutal conditions of isolation, torture and 
imprisonment. We're reminded of the long and tireless fight for 
humanity to be recognized. The hunger strike that started at Pelican 
Bay and swept across CA's prisons system has rejuvenated years and 
years of anti-prison and human rights' work throughout the US and 
internationally, galvanizing support and collaboration inside and 
outside prison walls.
************************************************
August 1, 2011


Cruel Isolation

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/opinion/cruel-isolation-of-prisoners.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&pagewanted=print

For many decades, the civilized world has recognized prolonged 
isolation of prisoners in cruel conditions to be inhumane, even 
torture. The Geneva Conventions forbid it. Even at Abu Ghraib in 
Iraq, where prisoners were sexually humiliated and physically abused 
systematically and with official sanction, the jailers had to get 
permission of their commanding general to keep someone in isolation 
for more than 30 days.

So Americans should be disgusted and outraged that prolonged solitary 
confinement, sometimes for months or even years, has become a routine 
form of prison management. It is inflicting unnecessary, indecent and 
inhumane suffering on tens of thousands of prisoners.

The issue came to the fore 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/us/08hunger.html>most recently 
because of a three-week hunger strike by inmates at Pelican Bay State 
Prison in California near the Oregon border that began on July 1 in 
the Orwellian Security Housing Unit, where inmates are held in 
wretched isolation in small windowless cells for more than 22 hours a 
day, some for many years.

Possessions, reading material, exercise and exposure to natural light 
and the outside are severely restricted. Meals are served through 
slots in steel cell doors. There is little in the way of human 
interaction. Returning to the general prison population is often 
conditioned on inmates divulging information on other gang members, 
putting themselves in jeopardy.

How inmates in these circumstances communicated to organize the 
protest is unclear, but it quickly spread to other California 
prisons. About 6,600 inmates participated at its peak. California's 
huge prison system is dysfunctional in so many ways. In May, 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/24/us/24scotus.html>the Supreme Court 
found conditions at the overcrowded prisons so egregious that they 
violated the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment 
and ordered the state to cut its prison population by more than 
30,000 inmates. The case did not address the issue of long-term 
solitary confinement.

With their health deteriorating, those inmates continuing to fast 
resumed eating after state prison officials met a few modest demands. 
Inmates in Pelican Bay's isolation unit will get wool caps for cold 
weather, wall calendars to mark the passing time and some educational 
programming. Prison officials said current isolation and gang 
management policies are under review. But the protest has raised 
awareness about the national shame of extended solitary confinement 
at Pelican Bay and at high-security, "supermax" prisons all around 
the country.

Once used occasionally as a short-term punishment for violating 
prison rules, solitary confinement's prevalent use as a long-term 
prison management strategy is a fairly recent development, Colin 
Dayan, a professor at Vanderbilt 
University,<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/opinion/18dayan.html> 
said in a recent Op-Ed article in The Times. Nationally, more than 
20,000 inmates are confined in "supermax" facilities in horrid conditions.

Prison officials claim the treatment is necessary for combating gang 
activity and other threats to prison order. It is possible to 
maintain physical separation of prisoners without ultraharsh levels 
of deprivation and isolation. Mississippi, which once set the low bar 
for terrible prison practices, saw a steep reduction of prison 
violence and ample monetary savings when it dramatically cut back on 
long-term solitary several years ago.

Holding prisoners in solitary also is very expensive, and several 
other states have begun to make reductions. In any case, decency 
requires limits. Resorting to a dehumanizing form of punishment well 
known to induce suffering and drive people into mental illness is beyond them.




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