[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
Strike Solidarity Coalition
August 1, Prisoner Hungerstrike Solidarity:
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,
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.
calling for an emergency call-in day today & tomorrow in solidarity
with the Wabash protesters.
As we approach the 40th Anniversary of the
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
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
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
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
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
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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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