Pelican Bay Ordered to Cease Race-Based Punishment

From the blog of UC Hastings College of Law Students, California Correctional Crisis:

Jan. 23rd 2013

The California Court of Appeal has just issued a decision in re Jose Morales. The decision prohibits Pelican Bay Prison’s practice of race-based segregation and denial of privileges. From the decision:

Pelican Bay racially segregates prisoners and, during extended periods of perceived threatened violence, denies family visits, work assignments, yard exercise, religious services and other privileges to prisoners of one race while granting those same privileges to prisoners of other races. This habeas proceeding was brought by a Hispanic prisoner alleging that the prison’s policy of disparate treatment based on race and ethnicity denies him equal protection of the laws.

This particular proceeding was tied to a 2008 incident between Hispanic inmates, which led to a segregation of all Hispanic inmates’ access to programs, which apparently remained in effect for almost three years. The result of the effective lockdown on Hispanic inmates was that only inmates classified racially as “other”, meaning, mostly Asian inmates, had to work double shifts in prison. Other inmates were denied visitation, exercise, religious services, and other privileges. In short, no one won.

The decision relies on a Supreme Court case, Johnson v. California, which held that government officials are not permitted “to use race as a proxy for gang membership and violence without demonstrating a compelling government interest and proving that their means are narrowly tailored” to advance that interest.

The decision in Morales extends that logic to race-based punishment, giving prison authorities narrow leeway to separate inmates based on ethnicity only if prison security requires it, so long as it is done “[o]n a short-term emergency basis” and not “preferentially”.

One of the notable things about the decision is the judges’ sensitivity to the chicken-and-egg nature of race-based classification. While some administrative policies are a result of gang-related racial hostilities, the classification in itself threatens not only “to stigmatize individuals by reason of their membership in a racial group” but also, importantly, “to incite racial hostility.”

Another notable thing is the court’s attentiveness to nuance. While many inmates are affiliated with a gang based on their race, not all inmates are affiliated with a gang, and to assume otherwise is to discriminate.

One hopes that the combination of this decision, and the agreement to end racial hostilities in Pelican Bay, will transform carceral practices so that racial strife, whether stemming from gang animosities or institutional unfairness, will diminish if not end.

See also: the California Court of Appeal decision

It’s time to replace prison oppression with prisoner solidarity

From: SF Bay View

January 19, 2013
by Ajene Nkrumah, Abdul O. Shakur, Sondai Kamdibe, Abasi Banda and Mutope Duguma
It’s time that we prisoners take advantage of this End All Hostilities Agreement between our racial groups and our internal hostilities, because many of us already know that many of our conflicts have been engineered by the CDCr* officials and officers.
There are many pressing issues that must be addressed by our prison class, and one hopes by taking advantage of the time in which we find ourselves in solidarity that we can serve the interests of the prisoners, as opposed to the empowerment of an oppressive prison system – i.e., CDCr and the prison industrial complex (PIC) – our oppressor. CDCr officials and officers have been ruthlessly diabolical and outright cunning in their attacks against us prisoners.

Photo (cop.) Anthony Turner, 46, serving 25 years to life under Three Strikes, who yearns to go home to the child whose note shows how much he misses and admires his father, the king, is contemplative in this photo taken June 6, 2011, just before the hunger strikes began. Since then, the plan to obtain relief if not release that hinges on prisoners ending all hostilities among themselves is spreading and inspiring hope throughout California prisons. – Photo: Lucy Nicholson, Reuters

We have seen thousands of racial riots, thousands of lockdowns, too much internal strife, and the eroding of our programs and privileges. Many of us who come out of the neighborhoods – the ghettos, barrios, rural and urban areas – have for the most part made our way utilizing the tools at our disposal and, unfortunately for us, that wasn’t a sustainable arsenal, because those tools were predicated on three motivating factors: 

1) Ignorance (i.e., no education), 2) Drugs and alcohol, and 3) Violence, generation after generation being raised in these sub-cultures, dominated by these three factors.

We need not speak to the calamities, devastation and terror that is prevalent throughout our lives. We all know very well that we are the “pawns” in this game of horror – i.e., genocide. Drugs, alcohol, guns and inadequate educational institutions are not manufactured by us, but they are definitely weapons of mass destruction, designed for us specifically.
Prisons are only an extension of the manifestation of an orchestrated, diabolical plot to control human beings in highly confined areas, ultimately toward their extinction.
Many prisoners are removed off general population because of their ability to resist the attacks being waged against us by deliberately contrived CDCr policies. For years, CDCr has used these methods in order to build their empire – i.e., the prison industrial complex – that serves the interests of CDCr and CCPOA, the guards’ union.
Violence is a valuable tool that serves to establish a justification for coalescing us prisoners under conditions that are self-destructive. We who are held in solitary confinement, under sensory deprivation, in administrative segregation (Ad-Seg) and security housing units (SHU) have come to experience some of the protracted physical and psychological attacks while in these isolated “torture chambers” throughout California and the United States.
Our physical and psychological torture is a concentrated torture, because we happen to be held in isolated units and are made to suffer until we break down and snitch – i.e., de-brief – in order to get from under such horrible conditions. Many prisoners have broken, only to find themselves stuck in their same reality with a few small amenities. It is safe to say that any institution practicing such treatment on prisoners in solitary has created the current realities in which prisoners throughout CDCr are trapped in a “vortex of violence.”
We prisoners in the Short Corridor have studied these contradictions and we can look back all the way from 1944 to 2012 and point out the wicked hand of CDCr that has pushed us prisoners to be involved in racial violence, gang violence and internal violence. Remember, we are prisoners under the control of CDCr officials and officers, and we are going to reflect or exemplify exactly what it is they desire us to be. When we deviate from this order is when we become subjected to their many forms of attacks. And general population prisoners are not exempt from this reality.

Violence is a valuable tool that serves to establish a justification for coalescing us prisoners under conditions that are self-destructive.

Therefore, we say that the only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first. We are far from naïve because we understand that this is prison and some problems will occur, but we know also that prisons are environments for men – and for women in women’s prisons – and problems should be handled as such.
If your problem involves 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 to 100 innocent prisoners, then you and whoever you got into it with need to end that problem through other means, if violence was ever an option.
But if we plan to change the oppressive prison conditions, then we have to reconstruct the whole way we co-exist behind these prison walls because it has allowed CDCr to exploit us toward their interests. Therefore, by embracing the Agreement to End Hostilities, we can change our prison oppression into a more productive prison environment that serves the interests of us prisoners, as well as put an end to the policies that are inhumane.

The only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first.

Through litigation and peaceful demonstrations we can:
  1. End all solitary confinement in sensory deprivation isolation housing.
  2. End the Three Strikes policy.
  3. End the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
  4. End indefinite sentences, such as LWOP (life without the possibility of parole) and lifers with a cut-off age of 60, so that they can program back into the free world.
  5. End the whites-only composition of the BPH (Board of Parole Hearings).
  6. Reinstate the Inmates’ Bill of Rights, which was implemented around the 1960s and 1970s, and for which prisoners fought and died. Later, in the 1990s, for prisoners’ brave and creative actions, Gov. Pete Wilson and his cronies eroded it.
  7. Win adequate nutritional food. The CDCr practice of using prisoners to experiment with effects of genetically modified foods should not be allowed.
  8. Win adequate medical treatment.
  9. Win adequate education, including in trades and vocational programs.
  10. Win adequate recreational programs to keep prisoners physically fit.
  11. Win adequate family, friends and spouses program, starting with family visits for all prisoners, without creating circumstances where pedophilia can occur.
  12. Win adequate pay for prison labor.
  13. Win adequate access to technology, including computers. We live in a very technical society.
  14. Win adequate prison libraries, in which all prisoners have access to a plethora of books.
  15. Win adequate law libraries for all prisoners.
  16. Win release dates for all prisoners who have been held on one year to life, 5 to life, 7 to life, 15 to life and 25 to life, who have been in prison over 25 years. We know they have been rehabilitated.
  17. Win adequate religious services for all religions.
  18. Win holiday meals. Funds have been allocated for CDCr to provide prisoners with holiday meals, but in places like PBSP SHU, we are not provided with them. We request that the CDCr provide us with designated holiday meals. We equally request that Muslim prisoners within the SHU be able to purchase religious ceremonial food, such as meat, breads, dates and nuts, as well as tea.
  19. Support minority businesses. The CDCr has not adequately provided minority businesses access to the prison population. There exist a number of minority owned businesses that provide a variety of food items, from meat to health food, that we should be allowed to purchase. Many of these small businesses find themselves struggling in these tough economic times. Providing them access – without exploitation – to the CDCr prison population would serve as an effective strategy towards economic recovery.
  20. Win access to being kidney donors to anyone the prisoners consent to give a kidney to. Thousands of people die annually due to not being able to get a kidney, and we prisoners have heard numerous sad stories; we wish we could have contributed a kidney to save someone’s life. All expenses would be paid by the patient, unless they are poor, in which case the expenses would come out of our Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF), which has an annual budget of $50 million.
  21. Win the right to publish our writing and artwork. Prisoner publication is a legal right. Approximately 15 years ago, the IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) and ISU (Investigative Services Unit) at PBSP arbitrarily reinterpreted the policy on prisoners getting their manuscripts published into books. Under this re-interpretation, to publish prisoner writings is now considered an unlawful business practice. We are requesting that we be allowed to have our manuscripts published into books, as long as the manuscripts are not about the alleged crime that brought us to prison. This would also allow prisoners the opportunity to pay their restitution. We also request to profit off our talents – our artwork, writings etc.
We prisoners need to coalesce our energy around these 21 policy changes. It is clear that we have allowed politicians, prison guards and the judicial system to treat us inhumanly, like wild animals, because we did nothing to change these conditions in which we have been placed. And the prison oppressors do not stop. They get more oppressive with each and every passing day. It is their nature to exploit the poor and vulnerable human beings in our society.
We are not poor nor are we vulnerable when we exercise our minds toward our interests. As we said, ourInmate Welfare Fund alone produces $50 million a year. Imagine what our actual spending is. Yes, we as a 21st century prison class are far from poor and vulnerable.
It’s just time that we politicize ourselves.
Send our brothers some love and light:
  • Ajene Nkrumah (Joe Valentine), C-47779, PBSP SHU D4-212L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Abdul Olugbala Shakur (James Harvey), C-48884, PBSP SHU D1-119L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Sondai Kamdibe (Randall Ellis), C-68764, PBSP SHU D1-223L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Abasi Banda (Clyde Jackson), C-33559, PBSP SHU D2-107L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Mutope Duguma (James Crawford), D-05596, D1-117U, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
*The acronym CDCr, for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is sometimes written with a lower case “r” to indicate that the rehabilitation part of its mission has been abandoned in recent years.

‘Settle your quarrels’: Update on End to Hostilities, prisoners’ demands, hunger strike

From: SF Bay View, Nov 18th 2012 

November 18, 2012

by Arturo Castellanos
I’m one of the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU (Security Housing Unit) prisoner representatives. I write this to touch on a couple of issues of immediate importance.

Arturo Castellanos – Photo: CDCR via California Watch

First, we have received a lot of questions regarding the “End to All Hostilities” paper, via prison publications, attorneys etc. I will answer the most important ones here.

No, it was never meant to be a call for a hunger strike on Oct. 10. Those that did go on one, no biggie. I’m sure it was good practice.

Yes, it’s also between all groups (all good solid Southern, Northern, Eastern, Western, up and down, back and forward). And since it involves all CDCR and county jails, it also involves all Youth Authority, YTS (Youth Training School), and all juvenile halls, camps etc. across the state.

We hope that this now clarifies the document to everyone’s satisfaction. Of course there are always going to be groups and individuals who feel that it does not apply to them and act accordingly in an adverse manner under that false belief. Well, the only thing that we can say to those is to repeat an old convict/prisoner common sense saying, “Don’t ever falsely assume one’s hands are tied, where one expects all others to just stand still and take it.” Therefore, it’s vital that this End to Hostilities holds for all races and groups, as I will briefly explain.

The documents the Short Corridor Collective have been putting out since our March 2012 rejection of CDCR’s STG-SDP (Security Threat Group, Step Down Program) 5.5 Program and will continue to put out are in the following order:

1. The Open Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown
2. The Agreement to End Hostilities between all races and groups
3. Our Rejection/Response to CDCR’s STG-SDP 7.0
4. Our Demands/Notice giving CDCR a “deadline” to meet all of the demands, or else we are going to resume our peaceful hunger strike (HS) and work stoppage (WS) starting on July 8, 2013.

It’s vital that the End to Hostilities holds for all races and groups.

Note that we only agreed to “temporarily” suspend the July and October 2011 hunger strike after CDCR agreed to change a lot of SHU policies and practices in a positive manner. Since then, CDCR has failed to honor their end of our prior agreements. Instead, they gave us STG-SDP 7.0 that will only put a lot more in SHU.

July 8, 2013, will be two years. That’s CDCR’s deadline. Stay tuned for the last two documents. The last document should be out on the web by the end of this year. And we will also serve a copy of it on all CDCR officials. But I will give a sneak preview here in a couple of paragraphs.

We are giving CDCR a deadline to meet all of the demands, or else we are going to resume our peaceful hunger strike and work stoppage starting on July 8, 2013.

Since July 2011, we have read in prison publications how prisoners all across the state and the U.S. are also being deprived and tortured in different ways, including women prisoners. We knew we were not alone in this.

So our Demands/Notice will contain, among others, the list of Orders/Demands listed in The Rock newsletter, Volume 1, No. 10, October 2012(which are a part of our original five core demands); as well as our statement about how CDCR must abolish “intelligence” based SHU/Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation) confinement, as stated in The Rock newsletter, Volume 1, No. 9, September 2012.

We will also call on [prisoners in] GP (general population), Ad-Seg, death row and SHU representatives, including women (I’m also personally including here all YA and YTS), to draft up their own demands tailored to their own individual institutional needs to be served on CDCR and their prison wardens – I would get started on them now – as well as a call for all prisoners across the U.S., state and federal, to join us July 8, 2013, for a national hunger strike and work stoppage to protest solitary confinement and the continued deprivations and conditions in their individual prison systems.

We will also encourage reps from each U.S. prison to formulate their own separate demands, now tailored for their individual state and institutional needs, also setting July 8, 2013, as their deadline to meet their demands or else they will also go on hunger strike and work stoppage, which we will support. And for those interested as to acceptable strategies, have family and friends send you free download copies of The Rock newsletter Volume 1, No. 7, July 2012.

We will also call on [prisoners in] GP (general population), Ad-Seg, death row and SHU representatives, including women (I’m also personally including here all YA and YTS), to draft up their own demands, tailored to their own individual institutional needs, to be served on CDCR and their prison wardens – I would get started on them now.

In closing, we know a lot of prisoners are wondering why we did come up with a date so far away. As individuals from each group, we are always itching and ready to act; however, because this involves many different groups, ideas, opinions, as a collective we had to restrain our urges of going at it now and instead we had to exercise patience in order to obtain a mutual agreement between all of our groups which we now have.

That was the most important aspect of our own negotiations, to set a deadline for CDCR that we all agreed on. And to fully understand our vision, where we are not only thinking of our state, one must stand back and see the big picture of this upcoming main event, where all U.S. prisoners are asked to pick up the flag of solidarity and also volunteer and join us on that national hunger strike and work stoppage starting on July 8, 2013.

We are basically alsoopening the door and giving all U.S. prisoners a forum to put forward their own demands for change. This all takes a lot of time to do, plus, it’s less than a year away, which is nothing for those of us who have already spent decades in SHU. And for those who do not wish to participate, that’s fine with us. Just like all the past ones, this is going to be on a pure voluntary basis; however, it is now time to stand up on July 8, 2013, and be countedamong those standing on the line that we have already drawn in the sand!

All U.S. prisoners are asked to pick up the flag of solidarity and also volunteer and join us on that national hunger strike and work stoppage starting on July 8, 2013.

Always in solidarity!
Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP-SHU Prisoner Representative
Mail to Arturo is severely restricted.

“George Jackson” – linocut by Santiago Armengod
“Settle your quarrels” is from the famous passage in “Blood in My Eye” by George Jackson, written just before he was assassinated while he was locked in solitary confinement at San Quentin Prison and published posthumously: “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give up your life for the people.”

California rises to prisoners’ challenge to end racial hostilities

From: SF Bay View
Oct. 14th 2012

by Mary Ratcliff

Unity is a matter of life and death in all ‘hoods – in the prisons and on the streets. The Youth Justice Council rallied outside the LA County Men’s Jail at 10 a.m. on 10/10, the day set by the Pelican Bay Prison Short Corridor Collective for the beginning of the end of racial hostilities. – Photo: Virginia Gutierrez

In the U.S., we not only encage 25 percent of the world’s prisonersmore than any nation in the history of the world and more Black people than were enslaved in 1850 – but we isolate at least 80,000 of them in solitary confinement. I contend that the purpose is to drive them mad; and after years of reading their letters, I believe they are targeted for this intense form of torture not because they are the worst of the worst but because they are the best and brightest.

In September, the Short Corridor Collective, prisoners confined to the SHU in Pelican Bay State Prison, one of the first and harshest examples of mass solitary confinement, sent out a historic call for racial hostilities to end in California prisons beginning Oct. 10.

Of the prisoners in the SHU, who are all “considered the most dangerous and influential (prisoners) in the state,” these men in the Short Corridor are “the leaders, what one authority called all the ‘alpha dogs,’” writes Nancy Mullane of KALW, who managed to get approval for a visit to the SHU – and even an interview with a SHU prisoner. In California, reporters’ access to prisoners is largely barred by law.

In announcing their 10/10 rally, LA’s Youth Justice Council quote political exile Assata Shakur: “If unity happens inside the walls of prison, imagine the impacts it will have on our neighborhoods and youth!” – Photo: Virginia Gutierrez

In a letter to prisoner advocates, these so-called “shot callers,” who prison officials say require isolation to prevent them from ordering prison murders, have shown their true colors. Writing “on behalf of all racial groups here in the PBSP-SHU Corridor,” they declare that “now is the time for us to collectively seize this moment in time and put an end to more than 20-30 years of hostilities between our racial groups.”

“Therefore,” they write, “beginning on Oct. 10, 2012, all hostilities between our racial groups in SHU, ad-seg, general population and county jails will officially cease.” With this call, prisoners who endure some of the world’s worst punishment have disarmed their jailers – disabling the most effective weapon in the Corrections Department arsenal: divide and conquer.

“In conclusion, we must all hold strong to our mutual agreement from this point on and focus our time, attention and energy on mutual causes beneficial to all of us and our best interests. We can no longer allow CDCR to use us against each other for their benefit,” they write. So, with solidarity, the same men who led last year’s hunger strikes, which involved 12,000 prisoners at their peak, intend to achieve the modest relief they were promised then – promises still unfulfilled.

Prisoners respond to the call

When the Bay View published the call to end hostilities, prisoner advocate Kendra Castaneda printed 100 copies of the story and mailed them to 100 prisoners around the state, so that word would begin to spread before Bay View prisoner subscribers received their October papers. She was determined to make a way around the severe restrictions on prisoners’ ability to communicate.

A large, enthusiastic crowd, including prisoners’ families and supporters as well as youth, turned out for the 10/10 rally in LA. – Photo: Virginia Gutierrez
California prisoners, who are prohibited from writing to each other, rely on phone calls, visits and letters from outside the walls and on the Bay View and a few other publications for the news that matters most to them. Most of the men in the Short Corridor Collective, however, are allowed no phone calls, and many are denied visits as well.

And rumors reached us that the Corrections Department might ban the October Bay View statewide for containing the call that would effectively disarm them. We don’t yet know whether subscribers have received their papers. What we have heard is that many prisoners’ letters to the Bay View are being confiscated.
Of the 100 copies of the call to end hostilities that Kendra mailed, all appear to have been delivered except the 11 addressed to the very same men who wrote it. On Oct. 12, she received 11 “mail stops,” notices from the Pelican Bay gang unit claiming her letters violate California Code of Regulations Title 15 with “plans that violate the law” and facilitate prisoner-to-prisoner communication, even though she had deleted all the signers’ names and prison numbers.

Responses from prisoners who did receive her letters are beginning to reach Kendra, and here’s what they write:

This is one of 11 “mail stops” Kendra Casteneda received Oct. 12, barring her letters containing copies of the Bay View story announcing and including the “Agreement to end hostilities” from reaching the very prisoners who wrote the agreement. This mail stop names Ron Dewberry, better known as Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa. (Click to enlarge.)
From Gustavo Chavez: “The idea of this agreement going around is a positive start to a new beginning for all inmates. If we could maintain this valuable peace treaty within the prison system, why not work on spreading the word outside the prison walls so that we may put an end to the gang violence and work on becoming a bigger force?

“Of course this movement will immediately be looked at as home grown terrorism. We can’t allow such propaganda to interfere with our progress to educate our youth. The whole system operates on scare tactics, tactics that we shouldn’t fear.

“The challenges that lie ahead must be supremacy over the entire system. We can’t allow our decisions to be uncertain, because uncertainty won’t take us far. We also must implement principal to our purpose so that we may understand the cause. When people lose focus, things get ugly, and we all know who benefits from that!

“Last but not least, we/I know that rumors have been going around about certain stuff, and supposedly everything is coming from the Short Corridor. It sounds like the guards are attempting to disrupt the agreement by spreading these rumors around. We all must be careful not to fall into the guards’ web.
“I’m always prepared for the worst, especially when knowing I’m being psychologically tortured day after day.” – In struggle, Gustavo Chavez, E-45117, PBSP SHU D-8-121, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532, written Sept. 26, 2012

In a separate personal letter, Gustavo writes on Oct. 7: “Kendra, a lot of scandalous things are occurring up here. They have over 16 inmates from the main line on potty watch. I’m constantly being threatened by the coward pigs. Their tactics are aimed to disrupt what we are setting out to accomplish. You make sure to continue riding strong against the enemy regardless of the amount of times they try to bring you down.”
From Terrance E. White: “They’ve moved a lot of people over to Wasco State Prison Ad-Seg Unit, and they’re still validating people but have let non-serious incidents go back to the yard. That’s what I’ve witnessed.

“And they didn’t try to deter our Black August celebration this year. Here at North Kern State Prison, we had Southern Hispanics, Northern Hispanics and a few whites participate in our exercising routines on the yard (dog kennel) with us New Afrikkkans.

“We are all also aware of the peace treaty that’s to start Oct. 10, 2012, throughout the prison system and are all in agreement with it. It is about time to take back all that has been lost and continue to press forward in this struggle for liberation. They’ve had all us oppressed in these conditions for far too long.” – Comrade T, Terrance E. White, AG8738, KVSP D6-241, P.O. Box 5005, Delano, CA 93216, written Oct. 5, 2012

From Heshima Denham: “We received the comments (from several different sources) on the 10/10 cessation of hostilities and are in FULL adherence/compliance with all three points. However, there does seem to be some confusion on aspects of point 3 as it relates to the 10/10/2012 date, and we were wondering could we get some clarity from the main reps at PB?” – Heshima Denham, J-38283, Cor-SHU 4BIL-46, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212, written Oct. 3, 2012

Prisoners’ inability to communicate leads to confusion

The confusion Heshima mentions appears to be reflected in an Oct. 13 story in the Los Angeles Times. Prisoners apparently heard that a call had been put out by those who had called last year’s hunger strikes and assumed it was for another hunger strike. The Times reports:

“Corrections officials said they do not know why about 500 inmates started refusing food Wednesday, the same day a prison ‘end to hostilities’ was called by inmate activists who had orchestrated last year’s mass hunger strikes.

“The fasting began at opposite ends of the state. Several hundred inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border refused meals from Wednesday through Friday, but began eating again Friday night, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. About 300 prisoners at California Correctional Institute in Tehachapi, north of Los Angeles, also began refusing meals Wednesday. About 200 of them continued to refuse food Saturday, Thornton said.”

This youngster dressed in stereotypical prison garb behind bars dramatizes the encaging of human beings practiced on a mass scale in  California and throughout the U.S. Prisoners in solitary confinement endure years and even decades of isolation in windowless “concrete coffins” the size of a parking space, deprived of sensory stimulation, human contact or a glimpse of the natural world – a bird, a tree or a blade of grass. Imagine the strength of character that takes! – Photo: Virginia Gutierrez
The Times’ story closes on an ominous note:

“Prison officials regard the reference to race [in the call to end hostilities] as a synonym for the race-based gangs active in California prisons, including the Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood and 415 KUMI.
“Molly Porzig with Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity said Pelican Bay prison officials responded to the ceasefire by asking the 16 Short Corridor inmates whose names appear on the statement to acknowledge gang activity. She attributed the claim to a family member visiting one of those inmates last week.”

This suggests that CDCR is trying to turn the call to end hostilities on its head and consider it evidence of gang activity.

To nip in the bud these efforts to confuse and criminalize prisoners and stop their peaceful organizing, it is imperative that the truth be communicated to prisoners all over California. We urge readers to print out this story and mail it to prisoners you know. If you’re not currently corresponding with a prisoner, look for California prisoners from among the hundreds of pen pals listed in the Bay View.

The call to end hostilities is heard and heeded on the streets

Los Angeles’ Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) called for a “parallel cease fire in the streets” to correspond to the end of hostilities inside the prisons called by the Short Corridor Collective. Led by the youth, a large, diverse crowd rallied at 10 a.m. on 10/10 outside the LA County Men’s Jail.

In announcing their rally, YJC wrote: “Prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) have announced a push to end all hostilities between racial groups within California’s prisons and jails. The handwritten announcement was sent to prison advocacy organizations. It is signed by prisoners identifying themselves as the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective. Pelican Bay’s SHU was the point of origin for last year’s hunger strikes which rocked California’s prison system, at one point including the participation or nearly 12,000 prisoners in over 11 prisons throughout the state.”

As the crowd gathered for the 10/10 rally, a big banner greeted them: “To the cops we all look the same! Unite LA! Why fight each other?  Fight for justice!” – Photo: Virginia Gutierrez
“We have the duty to fight for our brothers and sisters who remain inside the walls of injustice and confined to a system that does NOT work for our community,” they declared.

Photos taken at the rally that illustrate this story exude solidarity and hope.

Sponsoring organizations included Youth Justice Coalition, Fair Chance Project, LA Community Action Network, FACTS (Families to Amend California Three Strikes), California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement, Homies Unidos, California Faith Action, Coalition to Stop Sheriff Violence and Gender Justice LA. For more information or to add your organization as a supporter, email the Youth Justice Coalition at freelanow@yahoo.com or call them at (323) 235-4243.

The youth quote political exile Assata Shakur: “If unity happens inside the walls of prison, imagine the impacts it will have on our neighborhoods and youth!”

Another rally was held in Riverside. The announcement on Facebook reads: “We are calling on all communities in Riverside County to stand in solidarity with all of our loved ones locked inside California’s prisons and county jails. This press conference and rally calls on the CDCR and local county sheriff’s departments to honor the call to end all hostilities between racial groups.”
In the Bay Area, a panel discussion on the call to end hostilities among other topics under the heading, “Alternatives to the Prison System,” is set for Saturday, Oct. 20, 2:30 p.m., at the Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. The topics are:

  • prisoners’ call for an end to hostilities, inside and in the communities
  • a critique of power’s criminality as revealed in the existence of prisons
  • real alternatives to the criminality of punishment

Panelists will include:

  • Steve Martinot, author of “The Need to Abolish the Prison System: an Ethical Indictment”
  • Joileen Richards, Campaign to End Mass Incarceration
  • Urszula Wislanka, Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Support Committee, and News and Letters
  • Melvin Dickson, The Commemorator: Commemoration Committee for the Black Panther Party
  • Dorsey Nunn, All of Us or None

Bay View editor Mary Ratcliff can be reached at editor@sfbayview.com or (415) 671-0789.

Inmates at another California prison launch hunger strike

From: LA Times
Oct 13th 2012

A mass hunger strike is underway among solitary confinement inmates at one California prison, while a second protest at another facility has stopped.

Corrections officials said they do not know why about 500 inmates started refusing food Wednesday, the same day a prison “end to hostilities” was called by inmate activists who had orchestrated last year’s mass hunger strikes.

The fasting began at opposite ends of the state. Several hundred inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border refused meals from Wednesday through Friday, but  began eating again Friday night, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. About 300 prisoners at California Correctional Institute in Tehachapi, north of Los Angeles, also began refusing meals Wednesday. About 200 of them continued to refuse food Saturday, Thornton said.  

Those fasting are housed in Tehachapi’s high-security segregation unit which, along with Pelican Bay, is the subject of a class-action lawsuit alleging inhumane treatment and subjective policies for holding inmates in severe detention for decades. Conditions in the austere cells, where inmates spend 22 1/2 hours a day with limited options for exercise or rehabilitation, were the root of two much larger hunger strikes last year involving as many as 6,500 inmates. Prisoners this week so far have not aired their grievances or made demands, Thornton said.

Read the rest here.

Los Angeles’ Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is calling for a “parallel cease fire in the streets”

Posted on: Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity on October 4, 2012:

Los Angeles’ Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is calling for a “parallel cease fire in the streets” to correspond to the End to Hostilities that has been called for by the Short Corridor Collective – a group of Pelican Bay hunger strike representatives who are living in that prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU, or isolation unit).

The YJC will kick off its call for an end to hostilities on the streets with an event on Wednesday, October 10th at 10am outside the LA County Men’s Jail (450 Bauchet Street, Los Angeles, 90012).

Here’s more information from the YJC’s Facebook event:

Prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) have announced a push to end all hostilities between racial groups within California’s prisons and jails. The handwritten announcement was sent to prison Advocacy organizations. It is signed by prisoners, identifying themselves as the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective. Pelican Bay’s SHU was the point of origin for last year’s hunger strikes which rocked California’s prison system, at one point including the participation or nearly 12,000 prisoners in over 11 prisons throughout the state.

The statement calls for the cessation of all hostilities between groups to commence October 10, 2012, in all California prisons and county jails. The PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective has strongly requested that its statement be read and referred as a whole. 


On October 10th, the Youth Justice Coalition will be holding a rally to stand in solidarity with the Prisoners of CA.

We have the duty to fight for our brothers and sisters who remain inside the walls of injustice and confined to a system that does NOT work for our community!!

Please join the YJC and Community Advocacy groups and stand in solidarity with the CA prisoners and their efforts to end racial tension within the prison walls. Please contact us ASAP if you would like to Sponsor or Speak at the Rally/Press Conference.

Sponsoring Organizations:

1. Youth Justice Coalition (sponsor)
2. Fair Chance Project (sponsor)
3. LA Community Action Network (sponsor)
4. FACTS Families To Amend CA Three Strikes” (sponsor)
5. “CA Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement” CFASC (sponsor)
6. Homies Unidos (sponsor)
7. California Faith Action (sponsor)
8. Occupy The Hood LA (pending)
9. Immigrant Youth Coalition (pending)
10. Interfaith Communities United For Justice and Peace (ICUJP)-(pending)
11. Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC) (pending)
12. Coalition To Stop Sheriff Violence (sponsor)
13. Bus Riders Union (pending)
14. October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality (pending)
15. Gender Justice LA (sponsor)
“If unity happens inside the walls of prison, imagine the impacts it will have on our neighborhoods and youth!” -Assata
For more information or to add your organization as a supporter, email the Youth Justice Coalition at freelanow@yahoo.com or call them at (323) 235 – 4243.

There is another Event, a Rally in Riverside, CA, in solidarity with this Event, it is announced on Facebook here.

LA youth join call for end to hostilities

Posted on: Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity on October 4, 2012:

Los Angeles’ Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is calling for a “parallel cease fire in the streets” to correspond to the End to Hostilities that has been called for by the Short Corridor Collective – a group of Pelican Bay hunger strike representatives who are living in that prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU, or isolation unit).

The YJC will kick off its call for an end to hostilities on the streets with an event on Wednesday, October 10th at 10am outside the LA County Men’s Jail (450 Bauchet Street, Los Angeles, 90012).

Here’s more information from the YJC’s Facebook event:

Prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) have announced a push to end all hostilities between racial groups within California’s prisons and jails. The handwritten announcement was sent to prison Advocacy organizations. It is signed by prisoners, identifying themselves as the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective. Pelican Bay’s SHU was the point of origin for last year’s hunger strikes which rocked California’s prison system, at one point including the participation or nearly 12,000 prisoners in over 11 prisons throughout the state.

The statement calls for the cessation of all hostilities between groups to commence October 10, 2012, in all California prisons and county jails. The PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective has strongly requested that its statement be read and referred as a whole. 


On October 10th, the Youth Justice Coalition will be holding a rally to stand in solidarity with the Prisoners of CA.

We have the duty to fight for our brothers and sisters who remain inside the walls of injustice and confined to a system that does NOT work for our community!!

Please join the YJC and Community Advocacy groups and stand in solidarity with the CA prisoners and their efforts to end racial tension within the prison walls. Please contact us ASAP if you would like to Sponsor or Speak at the Rally/Press Conference.

Sponsoring Organizations:

1. Youth Justice Coalition (sponsor)
2. Fair Chance Project (sponsor)
3. LA Community Action Network (sponsor)
4. FACTS Families To Amend CA Three Strikes” (sponsor)
5. “CA Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement” CFASC (sponsor)
6. Homies Unidos (sponsor)
7. California Faith Action (sponsor)
8. Occupy The Hood LA (pending)
9. Immigrant Youth Coalition (pending)
10. Interfaith Communities United For Justice and Peace (ICUJP)-(pending)
11. Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC) (pending)
12. Coalition To Stop Sheriff Violence (sponsor)
13. Bus Riders Union (pending)
14. October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality (pending)
15. Gender Justice LA (sponsor)
“If unity happens inside the walls of prison, imagine the impacts it will have on our neighborhoods and youth!” -Assata
For more information or to add your organization as a supporter, email the Youth Justice Coalition at freelanow@yahoo.com or call them at (323) 235 – 4243.

There is another Event, a Rally in Riverside, CA, in solidarity with this Event, it is announced on Facebook here.