Solidarity with the Hunger Strikers at the Alred Unit in Iowa Park – Texas

Comrade Malik in Texas stands in Solidarity with the Hunger Strikers at the Alred Unit in Iowa Park, Texas

By Keith ‘Malik’ Washington

Revolutionary Greetings Comrades!

There is a hunger strike going on right now at the Alred-Ad-Seg Unit which is located in Iowa Park, Texas. There is a High Security Unit in Iowa Park, Texas and my comrade and fellow IWOC member Xinachtili also known as Alvaro Luna Hernandez is housed there.

A lot of prisoners are on hunger strike in protest of the cruel and inhumane conditions which have been allowed to be visited upon the prisoners in the Ad-Seg Unit.

The key issues are:

  • Lack of opportunities to go to Outside Recreation.
  • Cold food being served every meal at the Ad-Seg/High Security Unit.

There has been rumors of physical abuse but I will let Xinachtli provide more in-depth details as he is housed there and I am not.

There are a lot of similar problems here at Eastham Ad-Seg and some of the common denominators which allow these problems to continue are:

  • Serious Shortages of Staff all over TDCJ
  • Lack of funds to make repairs on anything
  • Deliberate Indifference and Abuse by uncaring Staff at Alred!

The 85th Texas Legislature which convened in 2017 approved a massive multi-million dollar cut to the budget of the Texas Department of Criminal INJustice. I believe the amount was close to $212 million give or take. There have been numerous unintended consequences as a result of these cut backs—staff shortages is just one.

We have also seen an inordinate amount of prisoner deaths as a result of subpar medical care given by employees of the University of Texas Medical Branch whose headquarters is in Galveston, Texas and I believe the President of the Corrupt UTMB organization is a man named Dr. David Callender.

One issue that I’d like to bring to your attention is that prisoners who are housed in Ad-Seg all over Ad-Seg but especially at the Alred Unit are more vulnerable to abuse by TDCJ prison employees because they are more isolated from the general public, the Media and Their FAMILIES!!

Hunger Striking is the last ditch effort to have their grievances heard. This is a cry for HELP! We cannot ignore them.

My name is Keith ‘Malik’ Washington and I am a Human Rights Activist.
Please aid me in drawing attention to this serious situation.

Keith ‘Malik’ Washington is a co-founder and chief spokespersyn for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and he is the Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter). Malik has been instrumental in calling for the abolition of legalized slavery in Amerika and is very active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign.
You can view his work at comrademalik.com or you can write him directly at:

Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington
TDC #1487958
Eastham Unit
2665 Prison Rd. #1
Lovelady, Texas 75851

Santa Clara Main Jail Hunger Strike Press Conference

PRESS CONTACT: Jose Valle jose@siliconvalleydebug.org (408) 661-2604
FAMILIES CONTACT: Benee Vejar benee@siliconvalleydebug.org (408) 529-5971
 
Rally to Support Santa Clara County Jail Hunger Strike
End Indefinite Solitary Confinement and Arbitrary Classification Reviews

When: Thursday October 19th, 2017 12:00 PM (Noon

Where: Santa Clara County Main Jail 
(On the corner of W. Hedding St. and N. San Pedro St. San Jose, Ca)
 
What: It has been one year since October 22, 2016, when Prisoners United in Santa Clara County’s Main Jail suspended their hunger strike. The suspension was given to show a good faith effort and allow time for Sheriff Laurie Smith to end cruel and unusual punishment and inhumane living conditions, due to arbitrary classification reviews and the torturous practice of solitary confinement.
Although some changes have been made, prisoners continue to be subjected to arbitrary practices which deny the spirit of intent and will lift the suspension of the hunger strike beginning October 22, 2017. This Hunger Strike will span across 2 counties and 4 jails; Santa Clara County Main Jail, Elmwood D.O.C, Glenn Dyer Detention Center and Santa Rita Jail (Alameda County).
A rally and press conference in support of the hunger strike will be held by Silicon Valley De-Bug and supporting family and community members on Thursday October 19, 2017 at 12:00 Noon in front of the Main Jail.
 
For orgs, families and community members who can not attend the press conference we urge for you to contact the below numbers/emails EVERYDAY until they meet the 5 Core demands:
  1. End: Meaningless Classification Reviews
  2. End: Indefinite Solitary Confinement
  3. End: Group Punishment
  4. End: Arbitrary Practices of Cruel and Unusual Punishment During Unstructured Programming (Time Out of Cell)
  5. End: Rigid Family/Friends Visitation Policies
Orgs, families and community members CALL:

Santa Clara County Sheriff Administration:

(408) 808-4900

laurie.smith@sheriff.sccgov.org

carl.neusel@sheriff.sccgov.org

christopher.grumbos@shf.sccgov.org

eric.taylor@shf.sccgov.org

troy.beliveau@sheriff.sccgov.org


Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors:

(408) 299-5001

cindy.chavez@bos.sccgov.org

mike.wasserman@bos.sccgov.org

dave.cortese@bos.sccgov.org

supervisor.yeager@bos.sccgov.org

supervisor.simitian@bos.sccgov.org

Alameda County Sheriff Administration:

(510) 272-6878

Alameda County Board of Supervisors:

NWDC: Despite Threats and Retaliation, Hunger Strikers Continue Protest ICE Ignores Demands for Improved Conditions

NWDC: RELEASE May 4, 2017
Despite Threats and Retaliation, Hunger Strikers Continue Protest
ICE Ignores Demands for Improved Conditions

Tacoma, WA/The Dalles, OR – Immigrants held at ICE facilities in two states – the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), run by GEO Group, and NORCOR, a rural public jail – continued their hunger strike today, despite growing weakness from lack of food. The exponential growth of immigration detention has led ICE to contract the function of detaining immigrants out to both private prison companies and to county governments, with both treating immigrants as a source of profit.

ICE has been using NORCOR as ‘overflow’ detention space for immigrants held at NWDC, and is regularly transferring people back and forth from the NWDC to NORCOR. People held at NORCOR have limited access to lawyers and to the legal documents they need to fight and win their deportation cases. They are often transferred back to NWDC only for their hearings, then shipped back to NORCOR, where they face terrible conditions. Jessica Campbell of the Rural Organizing Project affirmed, “No one deserves to endure the conditions at NORCOR – neither the immigrants ICE is paying to house there, nor the people of Oregon who end up there as part of criminal processes. It’s unsafe for everyone.”

The strike began on April 10th, when 750 people at the NWDC began refusing meals. The protest spread to NORCOR this past weekend. Maru Mora Villalpando of NWDC Resistance confirmed, “It’s very clear from our contact with people inside the facilities and with family members of those detained that the hunger strike continues in both Oregon and Washington State.” She continued, “The question for us is, how will ICE assure that the abuses that these whistle-blowing hunger strikers have brought to light are addressed?”

From the beginning of the protest, instead of using the strike as an opportunity to look into the serious concerns raised by the hunger strikers, ICE and GEO have both denied the strike is occurring and retaliated against strikers. Hunger strikers have been transferred to NORCOR in retaliation for their participation. One person who refused transfer to NORCOR was put in solitary confinement.

Just this week, hunger striking women have been threatened with forced feeding – a practice that is recognized under international law to be torture. In an attempt to break their spirit, hunger strikers have been told the strike has been ineffective and that the public is ignoring it.

Hunger striker demands terrible conditions inside detention center be addressed- including the poor quality of the food, the $1 a day pay, and the lack of medical care. They also call for more expedited court proceedings and the end of transfers between detention facilities. Hunger strikers consistently communicate, “We are doing this for our families.” Despite their incredibly oppressive conditions, locked away and facing deportation in an immigration prison in the middle of an industrial zone and in a rural county jail, hunger strikers have acted collectively and brought national attention to the terrible conditions they face and to the ongoing crisis of deportations, conditions the U.S. government must address.

For live updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/.

Hungerstrikes in NWDC and Boycott of Keefe Prison Commissary

April 28, 2017

Over Fifty Detainees Continue On Hunger Strike as Public Pressure Grows Against NWDC | Up to 100 Detainees Boycott Keefe Commissary Services

Tacoma, WA – Immigrants incarcerated at the Northwest Detention Center continued their protest of poor conditions inside the Tacoma immigration prison through a third week. NWDC Resistance confirmed that at least 50 detainees are refusing to eat, and as many as 100 are extending their protest to boycotting the commissary.

As community concerns grew, GEO Group Vice President wrote an April 15th op-ed claiming that “banning a private immigration detention facility… could hurt the very residents in the care of immigration authorities.” Those on hunger strike directly contradicted GEO’s claims that the private-prison company offers “humane” services, stating, “If this is called humane treatment, well I am sorry because I call this inhumane treatment and protecting their own economic interests.” On Tuesday, April 25th, Tacoma City Council held a public hearing to discuss halting plans for the facility’s expansion. In the packed hearing, NWDC Resistance presented a petition with over 600 signatures calling on Tacoma City Council to act against deplorable health conditions at the NWDC.

Hunger strikers demand minimal living standards:
1) lower prices in commissary
2) have contact visits [rather than talking on a phone through a clear plastic wall]
3) pay more than $1 to workers [per day]
4) better food

Commissary prices rose dramatically just before the hunger strikes began, decreasing detainees’ access to food, clothes, and toiletries. As a result, almost 100 people are currently boycotting Keefe Commissary Network, the only story they can purchase from while in detention. Keefe Commissary Network is a private corporation that has sparked other lawsuits, notably one that revealed how much more people had to pay for basic goods in privately run facilities (as opposed to state-run facilities).

To learn more about the case, check out “How one inmate discovered his private prison was ripping him off — and took his warden to court” at http://fusion.net/how-one-inmate-discovered-his-private-prison-was-rippin-1793861999

For live updates on activism at the NWDC, visit: 
https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/

###
NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA as part of the #Not1More campaign, and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.

Press Release – Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders) R130-559 – Hunger Strike at Ohio State Penitentiary

Press Release re Sddique Abdullah Hasan and Hunger Strike in protest of his being locked up in the holePress Release
Re: Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders) R130-559 &Hunger Strike at Ohio State Penitentiary

Contact: Free Ohio Movement, Tahiyrah Ali 330-366-6838, Khalifa Judge 216-213-4208
Jeff Klein 419-304-3520

On Tuesday August 9, 2016, Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders, Prison Number R130-559), of the Free Ohio Movement was transferred to the hole and denied access to communication and his property. There has been no response to several calls and requests for the reasoning behind this action and requests for clarification on his safety. The Tuesday prior (8/2/16) Imam Hasan was visited by law enforcement who inaccurately described September 9, 2016 (National Freedom Movement Day) as a plot to harm people and blow up buildings. This is totally untrue.

Please call Gary C. Mohr, OSP Director, immediately and daily:
Tel.: 330-743-0700; fax: 330-743-0841 until they release him. Ask to speak to the Director Mohr and demand that Hasan be allowed back into his regular cell and regain access to his property. The person they connect you to may pretend they only know Hasan by the name Carlos Sanders, even though his name was legally changed to Siddique Abdullah Hasan decades ago.

Hasan is one of the few public spokespeople for the national protest that will start on September 9. It is important that we stand up to repression and terror-baiting as soon as it rears its head.

Effective Monday August 15, 2016 the Muslim Prisoners, including Imam Hasan,will begin a Hunger Strike until he is returned to his cell, his property restored to him and have their concerns heard and addressed.

Supporters of Imam Hasan say this:
The state is coming after Hasan on very flimsy pretext to silence him and stifle his revolutionary organizing. We must stand up together against this repression, otherwise they will come to silence us all.
– Ben Turk Freeman of LucasvilleAmnesty.org & InsurgentTheatre.org

Our system of locking people up has not and is not working. To capitalize on it through what is effectively slave labor just makes matters worse – Attorney Rick Kerger

Please call the prison and share this alert as widely as possible.
Thank you from the Free Ohio Movement
FreeOhioMovement.org

Wisconsin: DYING TO LIVE Food Refusal

On June 5th and 10th a food refusal / hunger strike was started at Waupun C.I. in Wisconsin.

The peaceful protest is against the long-term solitary confinement within Wisconson DOC’s prisons called “Administrative Confinement” (AC).

The group ROCWISDOM has issued this statement in solidarity with the hunger strikers in Wisconsin.

Here are the demands of the hunger striking men as stated in their petition you can sign:

Change.org

Petitioning WI DOC Secretary Jon Litscher
Waupun prisoners begin “Food Refusal” to Protest Solitary Torture
By Prison Forum

Dying to Live
Announcing a Human Rights Campaign at Waupun Correctional Institution starting June 10, 2016.

Prisoners in Waupun’s long term solitary confinement units will start a food refusal action called “Dying to Live” to demand an end to solitary torture in Wisconsin prisons.

THE WHY: In the state of Wisconsin over a hundred prisoners are in the long term solitary confinement Units a.k.a. administrative confinement (AC). Some have been in isolation for 18 to 29 years concurrently.

The Problem: The U.N., several states, and even President Obama have come out against this kind of confinement, citing the torturous effect it has on prisoners.

The Objective: Stop the torturous use of long term solitary confinement (A.C.) Here are our demands:

1) Place a legislative cap on the use of long term solitary confinement (A.C.)

2) DOC and WIS legislators must adopt/come into Compliance with the U.N. Mandela Rules on the use of solitary confinement.

3) Form and implement an Oversight Board/Committee Independent of DOC to stop abuse and over-classification of prisoners to “short” and “long” term confinement.

4) Immediately transition and release prisoners who have been on the long term solitary confinement units for more than a year in the Wisconsin DOC to less restrictive housing.

5) Ensure proper mental health facilities and treatment of “short“ and “long” term solitary confinement prisoners.

6) Instigate an immediate FBI investigation into the mind control programs being used in the system. We believe these exist to break and recondition anyone they consider a threat to their regiment. All mind control programs aimed at dehumanizing prisoners under the guise of “mental therapy” must be investigated and stopped.*

Here is a links to an article on mind control programs in our prisons:
https://iwoc.noblogs.org/post/2016/02/16/personal-experience-with-behavior-control-in-a-wisconsin-prison/

For more information on AC, including the Mandela Rules, to read AC prisoners profiles and writings by AC prisoners, and much more, go to Solitarytorture.blogspot.com and from there you can browse other prison issues.
To contact us, email prisonforum@outlook.com

This petition will be delivered to:
WI DOC Secretary Jon Litscher

PETITION UPDATE

More prisoners pledge to strike and DOC reacts
By Prison Forum

JUN 4, 2016 — Hello, I thank you for signing this petition. Communication with the prisoners is difficult but at least one inmate has been moved to another prison and we are told more prisoners are pledging to refuse to eat in solidarity with the others. Some prisoners are starting to refuse food early but the official start date is June 10th.

Lots is happening on our side and besides scrambling to get ready for rallies on June 10th and 11th, we are searching for ways to get and maintain contact with the striking prisoners. Our mail sometimes reaches the prisoners sometimes not and phone calls are once a week. Senator Harris- Dodd is helping to coordinate wellness checks with other legislators that have shown interest. With a “wellness Check” the DOC liason for the legislature checks on or visits the prisoner (we hope daily) and reports to the legislators. This will help.

It is important that we let the people in power know that we care- that solitary Confinement over 15 days has been deemed torture by the United Nations and that some these men have been in isolation for DECADES.

Please go to our website Solitarytorture.blogspot.com to get addresses, emails and phone numbers of those in power over these men. There is also a “how you can help” list at right.

Let us know when you do contact them: prisonforum@outlook.com. Also here are sample letters to the legislature and media; and a sample press release to send to online and regular media, and lots of prisoners’ writings, studies and articles on this barbaric practice.

Thankyou again for your interest. There is a worldwide awakening to the horror of solitary confinement and the prisoners on AC are asking us to include them in our advocacy and to work for the elimination of this practice.
Administrative confinement has been a secret torture and finally these courageous prisoners are putting it on the map.

Rallies:

Madison: Friday June 10th. 1 pm, Madison capitol steps, West entrance
Milwaukee: Saturday, June 11th.12 noon, Milwaukee Court house steps
See web for contact numbers: http://www.solitarytorture.blogspot.com [and below!]


CALL AND EMAIL 

Call and email the following people and tell them to meet the six humanitarian demands of the “Dying to Live” Food Refusal Humanitarian Campaign Against Torture. The objective of this campaign is to expose and stop the torture that is Administrative Confinement (AC).

a) Governor Scott Walker
Tel: 608-266-1212
P.O. Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707
Email: governor@wisconsin.gov

b) WI Doc Central Office / Secretary of DOC Jon E. Litscher
Tel 608-240-5000;
P.O. Box 7925,
Madison, WI 53707
Email: jon.litscher@wi.gov

c) Columbia Correctional Institution Warden :
Michael Dittman, Warden CCI
P.O. Box 950
Portage, WI 53901-0950
Tel.: 608-742-9100
Fax: 608-742-9111
He does not give out his email.

d) Waupun Correctional Institution Warden:
Brian Foster, Warden WCI
PO Box 351,
Waupun, WI 53963
Tel.: 920-324-5571
Fax: 920-324-7250
Email: brian.foster@wisconsin.gov

3) Call or write the FBI in Milwaukee, WI and demand they investigate mind control programs in Wisconsin maximum prisons.
FBI Milwaukee
3600 S. Lake Drive
St. Francis, WI 53235
Tel.: (414) 276-4684

4) Call and email your local new media and ask them to cover this food refusal, “Dying to Live” campaign. Use one of our templates to get started.

5) Contact your own legislators and ask them to learn about Administrative Confinement and support our campaign against solitary torture. You can find out who your legislators are and get contact information here: http://maps.legis.wisconsmin.gov (enter your address or zip in right corner) or here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/about/contact/)
OR by googling:”Who are my legislators in Wisconsin?”

6) We will be announcing a “rolling fast” to express solidarity with the food refusal where we take turns fasting for one day each for as long as the prisoners continue their action. Document your story live for social media, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Corcoran SHU prisoners start hunger strike for decent healthcare; support needed now

Sept. 28th, 2014
From: SFBayview

On Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, three men locked inside unit 4B-1L of the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) of California State Prison-Corcoran started a hunger strike:
Heshima Denham (J-38283), followed on Sept. 27 by Michael Zaharibu Dorrough (D-83611), and Kambui Robinson (C-82830) will join them the following day for a few days or as long as he can considering his poor health.

Why?
The medical care at Corcoran SHU is so bad that life-threatening situations have occurred on too many occasions to the people in the SHU and possibly also elsewhere at CSP-Corcoran that they have had to resort to a hunger strike, the ultimate nonviolent protest, in order to make this point known to the warden, the medical receiver appointed by the court to oversee California’s notoriously bad prison healthcare, and the administration of the California Department of Corrections (CDCr).

Several factors made the three decide to protest the lack of healthcare now: Kambui has diabetes that is very badly regulated with a HBA1C of 9.3 – far too high for diabetics, especially with those already suffering loss of eyesight and neuropathy – and Zaharibu has dangerous, untreated, extremely high cholesterol, making him very vulnerable to stroke, and he has untreated gall stones and a CPAP machine [for sleep apnea, can cause strokes] without an extension cord to work effectively.

Custody staff interfering with medical staff is causing dangerous situations.

What can you do to help?

Ideally we want Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough and Kambui Robinson moved to Vacaville or New Folsom medical facilities. Kambui’s situation is most critical:

He needs more control over his insulin-dependent diabetes – better regulation, prevention of more complications, and a special diet for diabetics, with sufficient carbohydrates, low fat, whole grains, access to glucose and daily exercise outside his cell. He also needs a diagnostic scan to determine nerve damage in his brain.

For Michael Dorrough (D-83611): normal access to the CPAP machine, treatment for high cholesterol levels and treatment for gallstones.

[Note: Both Michael Dorrough and Kambui Robinson also need to be moved away from the Central Valley due to Valley Fever!]

Finally, for Heshima Denham (J-38283), we need an MRI-scan to make a diagnosis of the pain in his right side and treatment for whatever is causing it. Heshima was recently also diagnosed with PTSD.
Please keep in mind these are medical issues that should be treated with discretion.

Although I concentrate on these three people who are on a hunger strike, they have expressed that they are striking for all people with a disease or injury needing better care, chronic or not, at CSP-Corcoran.

Although I concentrate on these three people who are on a hunger strike, they have expressed that they are striking for all people with a disease or injury needing better care, chronic or not, at CSP-Corcoran.

Call or write to the Corcoran warden, or leave a message with his secretary. Below is a proposed script:

Call or email Warden Dave Davey, at 559 992-8800 or dave.davey@cdcr.ca.gov, or write to him at P.O. Box 8800, Corcoran, CA 93212-8309.

[Please cc emails to: Dr Clarence Cryer, clarence.cryer@cdcr.ca.gov , Chief Executive Officer in charge of health care at CSP-Corcoran.]

Call or send a copy of your letter or email to Diana Toche, Undersecretary for Health Care Services and Undersecretary for Administration and Offender Services, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Correctional Health Care Services, P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001, 916-691-0209, Diana.toche@cdcr.ca.gov.

Also send a copy to the Medical Receiver, California Correctional Health Care Services, Controlled Correspondence Unit, P.O. Box 588500, Elk Grove, CA 95758, CPHCSCCUWeb@cdcr.ca.gov.

Finally, contact the Ombudsman, at Cherita.Wofford@cdcr.ca.gov.

Suggested script for your phone call, email or letter:

I am contacting you concerning the lack of specialized healthcare for people inside the CSP-Corcoran SHU, especially those with chronic diseases. I would like to make you aware of the fact that there is a hunger strike going on inside to demand that people with diabetes or sleep apnea and in need of special diets and other mental and physical healthcare get treated as they would when not incarcerated. Insulin-dependent diabetics with complications and patients with CPAP machines, mental illness such as PTSD and other mental challenges should not be in the SHU but in a medical facility.

The healthcare system in several California prisons is failing badly and we demand prompt action now:

Either move the diabetic patients and the CPAP-machine patients, as well as all other chronic disease patients, to a medical facility or improve the healthcare system, including the rules for, for instance, MRI scans in CSP-Corcoran.

MRI scans are only allowed when there is a physically visible wound. This is wrong!
Also, prevent custody staff from interfering with medical issues, please!

I respectfully insist you act this week to start making specific and general improvements to the healthcare in CSP-Corcoran SHU, before lives are lost.

Thank you.

Just got word that Soja has ended his hunger strike

From: Redbird Prison Abolition:
Nov. 4th 2013

UPDATE: Just got word that Soja has ended his hunger strike.

“I ended my hunger strike Nov 1, 2013, after a long discussion about my property and the harassment, I agreed to come off strike if my property was brought to me, which was given to me a short while later.

However, my issues with the harassment wasn’t taken too serious in my opinion. I was only told that he would keep his attention on the issue and be fair if something was to happen. At that point  his attention won’t stop something happening to me if that’s what is planned.”

Message from Pelican Bay Reps to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez

October 18, 2013
We, the four principal representatives of the prisoners confined in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, hereby welcome Juan Mendez to California. We have followed your work and advocacy against torture throughout the world and congratulate you on your commitment and success in bringing your findings to the public’s attention.
We recently suspended our hunger strike against torture in the form of prolonged solitary confinement in California’s prisons after 60 days. Over 30,000 prisoners joined us in the largest protest ever against prison conditions in the United States and possibly the world.
We decided to suspend our hunger strike for several reasons: (1) We succeeded in making the issue of torture in California’s prisons into an issue of worldwide public and media attention. The New York Times, Washington Post,   Los Angeles Times, CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BBC are just a few of the media outlets that covered our cause, with many running editorials in our support. Thousands of people joined demonstrations, signed petitions and letters, and spoke out in our favor. (2) State Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano promised to hold legislative hearings to address solitary confinement, the conditions of imprisonment, and sentencing policy in California and to introduce legislation for reform. They have already held one hearing on October 9, in a room filled with our supporters, and heard from experts, former prisoners, and family members who spoke of the torture we endure and demanded change. (3) CDCR officials promised to meet with us to discuss our concerns, and we have already spent hours in talks with them.
But nothing has changed. Over 3500 prisoners remain isolated in California’s SHUs with almost no human interaction, little opportunity to exercise or even see the sun, and forbidden from contact visits or telephone calls with their families. They join thousands of others who are held in different forms of solitary confinement throughout the system.  Prisoners are revalidated for indefinite terms on the basis of unconfirmed rumors, anonymous misinformation from debriefers and informants, and possession of criminalized books, articles, and art work. The only sure way out is to debrief and expose yourself to shame, further exploitation by prison officials, condemnation and violence.
Mr. Mendez, we ask that you join in our struggle. We would like you to testify at one of the upcoming Legislative hearings. We would like you to consider becoming an expert witness in our lawsuit. As a former prisoner yourself, we would like you to do your best to bring both our conditions and our human rights movement to the attention of the international community, with intention to take resolute action against the torture we, along with many other prisoners in California and elsewhere have endured for far too long. We look forward to meeting you.
With Respect and in Solidarity,
Todd Ashker
Arturo Castellanos
Antonio Guillen
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

Calipatria shows the way: ASU prisoners win their demands while on hunger strike

Sept 29th 2013, in: SF Bay View
by Kendra Castaneda
When the California prisoner hunger strike began on July 8, 2013, CDCR officials were repeatedly quoted in the mainstream media telling the world that CDCR does not negotiate with prisoners. CDCR portrays the organizers as gang leaders – terrorists whose demands are unworthy of consideration.
Calipatria State Prison signBut on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, the warden at Calipatria State Prison did negotiate with prisoners in the Administration Segregation Unit (ASU), a form of solitary confinement similar to the notorious SHUs (Security Housing Units). Those prisoners were hunger striking to have their own demands – unique to that institution – met while in solidarity with the five core demands made in 2011 and still to be negotiated.

On Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, the warden at Calipatria State Prison did negotiate with prisoners in the Administration Segregation Unit.

The warden promised that day that the agreement they worked out would be put into writing and implemented. On Sunday, Aug. 18, the Calipatria ASU prisoners resumed eating on the condition that if the state did not negotiate with the main reps from Pelican Bay State Prison who wrote the five core demands for some type of change to end perpetual isolation, then the men at Calipatria ASU were going to resume their peaceful hunger strike on Monday, Aug. 26.
Below is a letter from the Calipatria ASU hunger strikers written Aug. 20, shortly after they temporarily ended their hunger strike on the 41st day:
“Greetings to all in solidarity,
“High salutes, best wishes to all of the men and women who supported this historic peaceful movement for human rights, hunger strike 2013!
“Here at Calipatria we are counted and remain determined to bring humane treatment even if it takes sacrifice. Our personal demands have been promised to be met within a month, by the start of September: expansion of canteen; SHU privileges: pictures, sweaters and shoes; pull-up bars; two packages a year; and installation of phones in ASU.
“For these reasons we have stopped after over a month – 41 days – of hunger striking in high hopes the five core demands will be met soon along with all the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective’s demands. Most important, if we see no attention is being given to the five core demands, the majority of like minds will resume hunger striking in solidarity.
“We men are ready to jump back into the hunger strike full throttle to stop the torture to all men and women through peaceful demonstration. Just because our own personal, superficial demands are being met does not mean we lose focus on the five core demands. All five are just, reasonable and most important.
“In the meantime, the real ‘worst of the worst,’ CDCR officials, have shown their true colors, calling this peaceful hunger strike a hostage situation. Also, CDCR’s notice they will not negotiate – does that mean they’d rather see humans die? Only because we won’t sit back and be tortured in silence? Let alone Short Corridor prisoners have been tortured for decades upon decades – all because we want human contact with our love ones?
“Who is really the ‘worst of the worst’ [a phrase officials often use to describe the people they condemn to solitary confinement torture]? Under CDCR, California is in violation of international laws and treaties and with United Nation agreements.

We men are ready to jump back into the hunger strike full throttle to stop the torture to all men and women through peaceful demonstration. Just because our own personal, superficial demands are being met does not mean we lose focus on the five core demands.

“Where is Jerry Brown? Is he another bought politician under the belt of CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the guards’ union, often called the most influential lobby in the state) for the money they donate to his campaign? They do donate millions to protect their job security by keeping governors in their pockets.
“CDCR wastes double or even more taxpayer money to warehouse humans in torture chambers called SHUs and ASUs rather than in general population. The purpose of solitary confinement is big profit only! No type of rehabilitation is provided, period!
“Therefore, we remain steadfast in solidarity for the end to long term isolation. Si se puede is our motivation chant!
“Thanks to all the loved ones, activists, gente at rallies and protests in the rain or sunshine. All that support carried and fed bodies while we hunger struck. Muchisimas gracias! Si se puede! We thank you all.
“Humbly in solidarity,
“ASU Calipatria”
On Monday, Aug. 26, Calipatria ASU voluntarily resumed their peaceful hunger strike in solidarity, refusing meals due to CDCR Sacramento’s failure to keep their word to negotiate the five core demands. Resuming their hunger strike debunked what CDCR officials had told the press: that the main reps forced others to starve. Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, “Hunger strike in California prisons is a gang power play”: “Don’t be fooled. Many of those participating in the hunger strike are under extreme pressure to do so from violent prison gangs, which called the strike in an attempt to restore their ability to terrorize fellow prisoners, prison staff and communities throughout California.”
Beard goes on to state: “Many say they want to resume eating but are afraid of the retaliation they will suffer at the hands of other inmates acting on orders from their gang leaders.”

On Monday, Aug. 26, Calipatria ASU voluntarily resumed their peaceful hunger strike in solidarity, refusing meals due to CDCR Sacramento’s failure to keep their word to negotiate the five core demands.

Calipatria ASU prisoners know the inhumane conditions those in the SHUs endure because they too live in horrific conditions daily with no rehabilitation in solitary confinement, and Calipatria is known for corruption at the hands of the prison guards, so why would these men have to be forced to starve themselves when they are being tortured too?
How is it that 30,000 prisoners – men, women and youth – throughout the state of California at numerous prisons refused meals on July 8, 2013, in peaceful protest to stop their inhumane conditions and torture in solitary confinement under CDCR, but on Sept. 5, when the strike was suspended, it was CDCR stating that only fewer than 100 prisoners were hunger striking?
That would mean what Beard told the Los Angeles Times about this hunger strike being a “gang power play” is not accurate, and Beard stating, “Many say they want to resume eating but are afraid of the retaliation they will suffer at the hands of other inmates acting on orders from their gang leaders,” is inaccurate as well. If the hunger strike was a gang power play that started with 30,000 participants and was suspended when fewer than 100 were still starving themselves, what happened to the other 29,900 prisoners throughout the state who resumed eating? How come they were not retaliated against as Beard predicted?

Why would these men have to be forced to starve themselves when they are being tortured too?

What Beard told the Los Angeles Times was a way to cover up the inhumane conditions these prisoners face daily for years, for decades upon decades, entombed within concrete walls in a dungeon. The only way for these human beings’ voices to be heard was to starve themselves to expose these CDCR officials, who claim rehabilitation but practice torture.
In the Aug. 19 Los Angeles Times article by Paige St. John, “Calipatria prison hunger strikers resume eating, get more calls, cable,” CDCR put its spin on the successful negotiations between the Calipatria warden and the ASU prisoners: “California prison officials insisted the expanded privileges at Calipatria State Prison, near the Mexico border, did not signal a willingness to negotiate with inmates.
“’The warden at CAL did not “reach an agreement” with the hunger strikers,’ said department spokesman Jeffrey Callison. ‘The warden simply informed the inmates that local issues would be discussed only after they ceased their involvement in this disturbance.’”
Contrary to what Callison told the LA Times, the Calipatria warden did negotiate with the men in ASU and verbally met their demands BEFORE they suspended their hunger strike. The demands were not met as a reward for abandoning the strike. Once their own unique demands had been promised, the men chose to temporarily suspend their strike to regain some of their strength but promised to resume it on Aug. 26 if the five core demands had not also been negotiated. They made good on that promise.
On Sept. 3, while the men in Calipatria ASU were again on hunger strike, an official memo was issued regarding Calipatria ASU living conditions in response to the ASU hunger strikers humane demands:
Calipatria memo granting demands 090313
Note: A5 is another segregation unit.
While CDCR officials publicly deny that the prisoners were hunger striking for better conditions, the warden at Calipatria issued and signed a memo during the hunger strike stating they are addressing the concerns about such issues as the cleanliness of their pods and showers. That memo confirms that Calipatria State Prison ASU prisoners have issues concerning cleanliness.
The fact that Calipatria ASU prisoners were indeed hunger striking on Sept. 3, the date of the memo, is proven by the medical receiver’s office daily updates reporting that some of those prisoners were receiving IV fluids due to starvation.
One statement in the memo, however, needs to be addressed and corrected: The Security Threat Group (STG) Pilot Program does not satisfy the five core demands, as the second paragraph implies. The warden’s statement, which must have been approved by CDCR, repeats similar assertions made throughout the strike. Here are the five core demands; compare them to the Security Threat Group (STG) Pilot Program and decide for yourself.
The original five core demands:
  1. Replace group punishment with individual accountability.
  2. Abolish the debriefing policy, and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
  3. Comply with the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.
  4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.
  5. Expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status inmates.
Inside Calipatria ASU video frame 0211 by KMYA Titan TV, web

The dungeon known as Calipatria ASU – Photo: KMYA Titan TV

The equivalency CDCR claims between the five core demands and the STG Pilot Program should be debated during the upcoming legislative hearings to be held beginning in October.

The fact is that 30,000 men, women and youth of all races went on a peaceful hunger strike in unity for all or part of 60 days, risking their lives to make their voices heard protesting their inhumane conditions. Why wouldn’t society believe them over state officials who repeatedly prove they are not credible?
If Calipatria State Prison can peacefully negotiate humane demands with prisoners in segregation, then I believe ALL California prisoners, especially those in the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU, need to be negotiated with, and CDCR needs to meet the prisoners’ demands – the five core demands – once and for all. These are human beings held in a system that’s supposed to rehabilitate. Let’s not forgot that.
Kendra Castaneda is a writer and prisoner human rights activist. She can be reached atkendracastaneda99@gmail.com.