[Pnews] CA Supermax Prisoners Win Right To Sue As A Class Over Torture, Decades-Long Solitary

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 11 14:48:52 EDT 2014


  CA Supermax Prisoners Win Right To Sue As A Class Over Torture,
  Decades-Long Solitary

Wed, 06/11/2014 - 09:20 --- Glen Ford
*http://blackagendareport.com/content/class-action-against-torture-solitary-confinement*


      A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

"/*The ruling will force the state to defend its draconian policies."*/

Prisoners held for ten years and more in solitary confinement at 
California's infamous Pelican Bay supermax have won the right to 
challenge -- as a class -- the constitutionality of their treatment. A 
federal judge in Oakland has allowed five of the inmates to also 
represent 500 others who have spent a decade in isolation, as well as 
1,100 additional prisoners who are confined in solitary for supposed 
gang membership. Lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights are 
handling the class action suit. The question they are posing is simple: 
Does ten years in solitary -- and even longer, for dozens of inmates at 
Pelican Bay -- amount to unconstitutionally _cruel and unusual 
<http://solitarywatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/fact-sheet-solitary-confinement-and-the-law.pdf>_ 
punishment?

Nowhere else in the world is solitary confinement practiced on anything 
like the scale of the United States, where _80,000 men and women 
<http://solitarywatch.com/2012/02/01/how-many-prisoners-are-in-solitary-confinement-in-the-united-states/>_ 
are held in isolation on any given day. That's significantly more than 
the _total prison populations 
<http://www.idcr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/WPPL-9-22.pdf>_ of 
France or Germany or Japan -- a Solitary Confinement Prison Nation 
within the vast American Gulag.

Any sane and moral person would agree that solitary confinement for 
weeks and months, much less years and decades, is a uniquely ghastly 
form of torture that rips at the essence of what makes us human. It is 
the ultimate sentence of social death. The Pelican Bay inmates' lawyers 
believe the recent ruling will, for the first time, force the State of 
California to defend its draconian policy on its merits. If 12 years a 
slave is a horror, how should one describe 12 or 20 years of solitary 
suffering? And, what do you call the people who enforce and defend such 
sadistic savagery -- men with such hatred for their own species that 
they would torment fellow humans, endlessly?

"/*The jailers' roles are identical to those of the Nazi Gestapo."*/

According to _the lawsuit 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/04/us/judges-decision-to-hear-inmates-case-threatens-practice-of-solitary-confinement.html?ref=us&_r=0>_, 
solitary confinement, as practiced at Pelican Bay, is such a barbarity, 
it "renders California an outlier in this country and in the civilized 
world." If it were not for the _two hunger strikes 
<http://truth-out.org/news/item/18649-california-prison-hunger-strike-ends-after-60-days>_ 
staged by inmates over the last three years, the so-called civilized 
world would remain blissfully ignorant of the crimes routinely 
perpetrated against captive human beings by U.S. civil servants and 
dues-paying members of the guards union.

Under the California criminal justice system, solitary confinement is 
much more than just a punishment, or a security measure: it is a 
process. For the 1,100 inmates in solitary at Pelican Bay because of 
alleged gang associations, the process is designed to turn them into 
snitches or liars who finger innocent men. Release from solitary is 
possible only if one admits to gang affiliation and implicates other 
inmates -- who will then be put through the same process. The jailers' 
roles are identical to those of the Nazi Gestapo who tortured suspected 
members of the Resistance until they provided the names of their 
comrades, or of people they hardly knew, who would then become part of 
the same torture process.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl says he was tortured by his captors in Afghanistan, 
locked alone in a cage for weeks, maybe a month. In Guantanamo Bay, 
Cuba, where the prisoners exchanged for Bergdahl spent the last 12 
years, the maximum isolation time allowed at a stretch _is 30 days 
<http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40097#.U5e64oVSUj4>_. So, 
it seems that by both the standards of the Taliban and Guantanamo, 
Pelican Bay, California, is the deepest level of Hell.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to 
BlackAgendaReport.com.

/BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at 
/_Glen.Ford at BlackAgendaReport.com 
<mailto:Glen.Ford at BlackAgendaReport.com>_/./

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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