Sacrificing Self: Activism Beyond the Wall

By Comrade Kado, Eastham Unit, Texas

Photo of Comrade Kado

Comrade Kado, who has been receiving retaliation for reporting human rights abuses in a Texas prison

Received: Dec. 18, 2017 and on Dec. 29th via email from recipient of his letter.

In the “care” and custody of prison nation’s notoriously cruel southern giant – Texas – one might question how so bad a circumstance could become worse… As an activist for human rights and prison abolition, housed in solitary confinement, you may consider that this is as bad as it gets.

Before picking up this pen and typing paper in pursuance of liberation for the human people bound, abused, and silenced by the oppressors of a corrupt nation – I safeguarded as best I could against retaliation. I had zero cases for any type of misconduct in a number of years, so [I] made this point known of misconduct in a number of years, so made this point known and clear. A very dedicated contact, and supporter in this – the revolution – even had the governor Greg Abbott request an inquiry of my disciplinary history. This [was] done because of how activists seem to “suddenly” get cases and thus receive very restrictive, repressive and oppressive custody levels. For a time this seemed sufficient to combat the silencing tactics used [to] lash out at me for [my] voice, my struggle… of course I had to endure such problematic issues as: mail being withheld going outside or coming to me, sudden moves to housing that is close proximity with violently disruptive prisoners, and even having my property and family addresses “mistakenly” into another offenders’ cell, along with property taken without receiving confiscation papers during annual lock down… I endured those things and considered them merely part of this struggle.

Current events I bring to you now are to expose the actions and lengths the oppressors go to.

Ad. Seg. is a very effective tool to pick apart any targeted “offender.” Separated, isolated with no witnesses beyond the officers and staff. Every action is not random and has purpose. Once a weakness presents itself it is capitalized upon. I bring this to the attention of you comrades, not for the purpose of discouragement, nor sympathy… Simply for you to know the opposition, to know what to prepare for.

Recently I received a Jpay email that my grandmother was in final stages of colon cancer. The doctors gave her a week. In Seg., only 5-minute calls are permitted upon request every 90 days (if offenders are case-free). As it had not been 90 days since my last call, I needed to request an emergency call. This is done for deaths in the family or similar circumstances. I spoke to each shift sergeant I saw. Everyone promised to let me say goodbye to the loved one I would never see or speak to again… As days ticked by and I paced that cell, people were pulled on my line building for calls only to stop right before my cell and feign some problem or another. This, of course, had me in a state of desperate anticipation – a desired effect… A man in an already agonizing state is expected to break or lash out when he is agitated further (i.e. losing mail, antagonizing, denial of recreation, cold or small portioned food trays adding hunger to the state of hurt… It goes on and on – it also works).

Around the tenth day I stopped a C.O. named “Skaggs” while he was doing phone calls and asked him to just look at the jpay email. After seeing that there had been so much time past the week my grandmother was given left, and also that those sergeants I spoke to still did not have me on the list for call, he took the Jpay email down to the office himself to see what he could do. He came back and took me to call. Skaggs also had to listen to my call (they do that for Seg). My mother answered while in the funeral home – Grandma passed and Mom was so overcome with emotion she was unable to speak… [had I] been given such a notice that I had plenty of time to say my goodbye…

C.O. Skaggs was very compassionate and since my mom was hysterical and unable to talk due to being in the funeral home – he told me to let my mother know I would call that following day between 7pm and 8pm.

No call was given. Two days crawled by – no doubt with my mother, who also had failing health, worried senseless about me or why I never called back… Skaggs returned to my cell front to apologize and let me know that “Higher up” reprimanded him for what he did and that I had to take it up with his superiors. No call was ever given.

By now it is known by the oppressors that I am in a bad state of mind on top of being in solitary – time to ply their trade: my mail is held ridiculously long periods of time, more “shake downs” of my cell, cold food… Then a suicide occurs and another liver failure which I expose, and the “big guns” come out: The day following my exposure of a young man’s suicide, (see “Dropping Like Flies”) I am approached by a female sergeant at my cell front close to ten-o’clock night-time and asked my statement on a bogus case. A case alleging I committed an offense in public at 9pm that night. Then I am ordered to strip out of my clothes, put on only boxer shorts, submit to restraints and go to level 2 without my property, without due process…

I am now housed surrounded by screaming, raving offenders who are the poor souls that have long ago lost themselves to the cruelty, the oppression and torture of TDCJ. Now they themselves are used as tools of torment… no way to find sleep, the smell of fecal matter, urine and bodies unwashed for mont… this is how Texas fights activism, this is Texas Justice. I am not to be broken, I have been lucky to land here… the terrible cruelties that I witness here will find a voice to the people who make the struggle possible. I worry that my health is at risk, and if I fall silent, it may be that they have stopped mail, or taken a step further…

I have gotten word Comrade Malik is very sick. (Following the triumph in federal court?) Please follow up on his condition and care under TDCJ custody – mine also. Today I had to stop every officer working, sergeant “Brown” still was left, for close to 4 hours dealing with chest pain and dizziness before being escorted to medical where my blood pressure was in the red! None of my medication was brought to my new cell. My concerns for my health and safety are very real, these people aren’t happy – looks like I’m doing my job. Struggle not and you are but a slave!

Revolutionaries, you are the voice to protest and with a great love for the people and mighty rage against oppression I shall struggle until I’m free or dead. Fight the power! Fight for freedom! Fight toxic prisons!!

Comrade Kado

Please contact me with any letters of support, news of the struggle or simple words in solidarity. If you email me & desire a response, leave your snail mail address please.

Email at: www.jpay.com (Noah Jack Coffin #1795167)

Mail:
Noah Coffin #1795167
2665 Prison Rd #1
Lovelady, TX 75851


Read more stories by Comrade Kado:

Cold disregard: Texas prison guards and University of Texas medical staff ignore excruciatingly painful spider bite (Dec. 15, 2017)

The condemnable and the condemned: To live and die in Texas prisons (with Comrade Malik, Sept. 16, 2017)

Exploited, abused, neglected: Mental illness and solitary confinement in Texas prisons (with Comrade Malik, July 18, 2017)

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LETTER WRITING LAUNCH to end harmful “security / welfare checks”

STOP SLEEP DEPRIVATION in CA Solitary Units in Pelican Bay SHU and Women’s Death Row

Please write letters to Lindsay Hayes, the suicide expert who’s endorsed this harmful practice by CA Dept. of Corrections.  Hayes can stop the “security/welfare checks.” We want Hayes to hear the voices of the women and men affected by these torturous checks, and we ask you to be the messengers.

Use these templates and prisoner quotes for your letter, and send to the listed addresses:

Write to:
Lindsay M. Hayes
40 Lantern Lane
Mansfield, MA 02048

Copy to:
Matthew A. Lopes, Jr.
Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC
317 Iron Horse Way, Suite 301
Providence, RI 02908

If possible, send us a copy of your letter, either by U.S. mail or email:
PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation
P.O. Box 5692
Eureka, CA 95502
phssreachingout@gmail.com

The negative health consequences of inadequate sleep ha[ve] been extensively documented and nowhere in the literature is there a report on as severe a disruption in sleep as is occurring in the Pelican Bay SHU.”
– Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, internationally recognized sleep expert, Oct. 2015

Guards are jarring prisoners awake every 30 minutes, all day and night, in Central California Women’s Facility death row and in Pelican Bay SHU with noisy so-called  “security/ welfare checks,” causing severe sleep deprivation. These checks are purported to be ‘suicide prevention,’ yet are being used as a blanket practice, whether prisoners are suicidal or not, and despite the fact that denial of sleep is devastating for the human mind and body.

This is torture. We are being emotionally, mentally and physically battered by the security checks throughout the nights.” 20 death row prisoners in Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)

People need sleep for survival, mental and physical health and well-being, and to organize for their human rights.

Inline image 1Continue reading →

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PHSS Committee to End Sleep Deprivation
P.O. Box 5692
Eureka, CA 95502
phssreachingout@gmail.com
510.426.5322

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.

Action Alert for Duane Peters of the Dallas 6

This comes from Support the SCI Dallas 6 (Pennsylvania):

PRISONER:
Duane Peters FP7306
SCI Mahanoy 301
Morea Rd,
Frackville, PA 17932

INFO:
Dallas 6 member Duane Peters has been under constant retaliation because of the Dallas 6 case. Some of the staff are the same staff that were at Dallas, some are family members, some friends. They are protecting the interests of the guards involved in this case.

As always, they came in the cell under the guise of a “contraband” search, flooded the cell and dropped legal documents and some artwork featuring the Dallas 6 into the water on the floor. This time, they have fashioned nooses and placed them in his cell. He continues to be told that he won’t make it to the Dallas 6 trial. He has been restricted from making phone calls and most importantly they are not letting him make ANY legal calls, which is court ordered. They continue to destroy and tamper with evidence. This is a reality for anyone with cases against the DOC or evidence that reveals their barbaric, tortuous treatment of inmates.

PLEASE CALL/FAX/EMAIL:

DOC Secretary John Wetzel
Phone: 717-728-4109
Fax: 717-728-4178
EMAIL: ra-contactdoc@pa.gov

DEMAND:
· Stop all harassment and retaliation to Duane Peters (his registration nr is: FP7306)
· Remind him that this issue has been brought to his attention at several town hall meetings and in writing and phone calls for the past two to three years
· Remind him that these reports are being shared with the Department of Justice and will continue to be shared with them
· If further harassment and retaliation continues, we will be asking for charges on everyone involved, from the guards up to the superintendent of SCI Mahanoy. The charges will be destroying evidence, ethnic intimidation and harassment.

*I would appreciate if you please email notes of your call to freedom4six@gmail.com.

WRITE A LETTER TO JUDGE GELB
Write a letter to Judge Gelb asking her to strictly enforce all of her court orders in the Dallas 6 case. Ask Judge Gelb to place an order against ethnic intimidation and retaliation and ensure that it is strictly enforced. If anyone wants a pre-made letter template, please email freedom4six@gmail.com for a copy.

Judge Lesa Gelb
Luzerne County Courthouose
200 N. River Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711

SEND A LETTER

FAX/MAIL A LETTER TO LUZERNE “KIDS FOR CASH” COUNTY DA,
DEMAND SHE DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST the DALLAS 6

Here is the letter you can send to the district attorney asking to drop the charges against the Dallas 6
Please feel free to forward and share with anyone who may be interested in participating.

Fax# (570) 825-1622
Stefanie J. Salavantis, District Attorney
Luzerne County Courthouse
200 N River St
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711

Dear District Attorney,

I am writing regarding the Dallas 6 case. This case has been in the courts going on five years. Carrington Keys, Duane Peters, Anthony Locke and Derrick Stanley have been waiting all these years for a chance to tell the truth in court. Anthony Kelly who pleaded out earlier has also been waiting for resolution of the case. False charges of rioting were brought against these men simply because they covered their cell windows to bring to your attention and the attention of other authorities gross violations of civil and human rights, abuse and torture that they experienced, witnessed and documented at SCI Dallas.

We know from the recent exposure of abuse by guards at Rikers Island and Attica prisons in New York State that there are many jurisdictions that are facing charges of gross abuse of prisoners. There are many in Pennsylvania and across the nation who know about the Dallas 6 men who are outraged that your office did not investigate the human rights violations that the men were non-violently protesting, but instead investigated and also charged the men with rioting for being whistleblowers!

Local and national organizations have endorsed and support these prisoners. All are watching. All are calling on your office to drop the charges against the Dallas 6, which are frivolous, false and vindictive, an abuse of power and a waste of taxpayers’ money. We call instead for an immediate investigation by your office, as well as by federal and state authorities, of the abuse of prisoners by guards at SCI Dallas and all Luzerne County prisons, and the prosecution of guilty parties, including of those in positions of responsibility who have been told about it, for allowing this injustice to continue.

Besides the obvious injustice of retaliation against the Dallas 6 for trying to draw attention to abuse of prisoners at SCI Dallas, other reasons your office should drop the charges include:
· Covering your window is a violation of DOC policy and should have been handled internally in the prisons, not through the courts.
· Covering your window is not a riot. It is impossible to hold a riot in solitary confinement.
· The only people injured during the incident were the peaceful prisoners who were physically attacked by guards.
· The men have endured well-documented human rights abuses at SCI Dallas and now further abuse and retaliation at SCI Mahanoy and SCI Retreat, which has been reported to the appropriate authorities.
· Trial has been consistently delayed for years, taking almost five years to prosecute a third class felony.
· The county and DOC have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars in housing, transportation, police and court costs bringing them back and forth across the state for a group vendetta by public servants.
· The District Attorney office has taken responsibility for redaction of videotapes without the consent, approval or knowledge of the judge.
· The District Attorney’s office has not turned over full discovery within these five years which is in contempt of court orders.

We have finally seen the justice system in New York begin to address the crisis of prisoner abuse by holding those responsible to account through criminal charges and dismissals of perpetrators. Luzerne County has experienced corruption and interpersonal relationships among officials — when will justice arrive and prevail at Luzerne County? You are responsible for the actions of those who are part of your office since they take your direction and carry out your decisions. Failure to drop the charges will expose to the public the lack of will of your office to investigate serious human rights violations, make your office complicit in the punishment of and retaliation against men who bravely tried to bring to your attention injustices and illegal practices at SCI Dallas, and raise questions about whether your personal relationship with people connected with SCI Dallas constitutes a serious conflict of interest.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,
Your Name/Title
Phone/Email

OR
FAX A LETTER
Fax: (570) 825-1622
OR BOTH
TO:
Stefanie J. Salavantis, Esquire
Luzerne County District Attorney
200 North River St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711

POINTS
• The charges are false and retaliatory
• The only people injured during the incident were the prisoners who were peaceful
• The only violence was carried out by the guards, who should be on trial for abuse
• Covering your window is a violation of DOC policy and should have been handled internally not through the courts
• Covering your window is not a riot! It is impossible to hold a riot in solitary confinement. Everyone seems to know this except for your court.
• The District Attorney office has not turned over full discovery within these 5 years with no sanctions or contempt being cited against them.
• The District Attorney office has taken responsibility for redaction of videotapes without the consent, approval or knowledge of the judge. This is illegal.
• The county and DOC have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars in housing, transportation and court costs bringing them back and forth across the state for a personal vendetta
• Trial has been consistently delayed for years, taking almost 5 years to prosecute a 3rd class felony
• The men have endured well documented human rights abuses at SCI Dallas and now further abuse and retaliation at SCI Mahanoy and SCI Retreat, which has been reported to the proper authorities.

Thank you!

More information about the case of the six men who made a peaceful protest inside their solitary confinement cells inside SCI Dallas, PA, and who were severely and unjustly punished by PA DOC can be found by going to the support site.

CA Prisoners Win Historic Gains with Settlement Against Solitary Confinement

Posted on September 1, 2015 by prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity

Agreement reached in Ashker v. Brown ends indeterminate long-term solitary confinement in CA, among other gains for prisoners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 1, 2015
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) for more than 10 years, where they spend 23 hours a day or more in their cells with little to no access to family visits, outdoor time, or any kind of programming.

“From the historic prisoner-led hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, to the work of families, loved ones, and advocate, this settlement is a direct result of our grassroots organizing, both inside and outside prison walls,” said Dolores Canales of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), and mother of a prisoner in Pelican Bay. “This legal victory is huge, but is not the end of our fight – it will only make the struggle against solitary and imprisonment everywhere stronger.” The 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes gained widespread international attention that for the first time in recent years put solitary confinement under mainstream scrutiny.

Currently, many prisoners are in solitary because of their “status” – having been associated with political ideologies or gang affiliation. However, this settlement does away with the status-based system, leaving solitary as an option only in cases of serious behavioral rule violations. Furthermore, the settlement limits the amount of time a prisoner may be held in solitary, and sets a two year Step-Down Program for the release of current solitary prisoners into the prison general population.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 prisoners will be released from SHU within one year of this settlement. A higher security general population unit will be created for a small number of cases where people have been in SHU for more than 10 years and have a recent serious rule violation.

“Despite the repeated attempts by the prison regime to break the prisoners’ strength, they have remained unified in this fight,” said Marie Levin of CFASC and sister of a prisoner representative named in the lawsuit. “The Agreement to End Hostilities and the unity of the prisoners are crucial to this victory, and will continue to play a significant role in their ongoing struggle.”

The Agreement to End Hostilities is an historic document put out by prisoner representatives in Pelican Bay in 2012 calling on all prisoners to build unity and cease hostilities between racial groups.

Prisoner representatives and their legal counsel will regularly meet with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials as well as with Federal Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, who is tasked with overseeing the reforms, to insure that the settlement terms are being implemented.

“Without the hunger strikes and without the Agreement to End Hostilities to bring California’s prisoners together and commit to risking their lives— by being willing to die for their cause by starving for 60 days, we would not have this settlement today,” said Anne Weills of Siegel and Yee, co-counsel in the case. “It will improve the living conditions for thousands of men and women and no longer have them languishing for decades in the hole at Pelican Bay.”

“This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters,” said the prisoners represented in the settlement in a joint statement. “We celebrate this victory while at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle.”

Legal co-counsel in the case includes California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Chistensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. The lead counsel is the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge in the case is Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

A rally and press conference are set for 12pm in front of the Elihu M Harris State Building in Oakland, which will be livestreamed at http://livestre.am/5bsWO.

The settlement can be read on CCR’s website, along with a summary. CCR has also put up downloadable clips of the plaintiffs’ depositions here.

CDCR allegedly creates new types of solitary confinement cells, applying double jeopardy

From a letter sent on Aug. 14, 2015:

I’m writing to you about a new disciplinary building that’s been implemented here and at other prisons. It is known as a C-Status building.
It’s both similar and yet different from the Hole, or SHU.

This new program was implemented this year and cdcr are putting inmates in here based on how many 115s we get. The criteria is having two “Serious” 115s* (this could be for phone possession, dirty drug test, fighting, ANY Division offense really), or one Serious and two Administrative 115s, within a 6 month period.

The problem with this is if staff doesn’t like you, they can and will find something to write us up on, and it’s like we are being punished twice.

We have to deal with the disposition/punishment from the 115 (loss of yard, loss of phone, canteen, appliances, visits, etc), and then if we have two write ups, they convene a Commitee hearing (the captain, CC1, and CC2), label us as ‘program failures’ and we get put in the C-Status building for on average 5 months.

Once in the C Status building, our TVs, hot pots, fans, watches, radios, shavers, anything electronic is taken from us, as well as musical instruments, and we’re told to either send it home or donate it, but they will not store it for us. For recreation, we are only given one hour in the concrete yard at the same time every day.

The Title15 says they are only supposed to take away entertainment appliances, but they are going beyond that. They do not allow us to go to the law library (only paging), or go to any religious services.

Many of us have appealed via 602, but they have been screening out every one. We are essentially being punished twice, the first punishment being from the 115, and then by committee putting us in here, sometimes months after the original 115 disposition.

There are approximately 44 cells that have been appropriated in 8-Block (all of the cells in B and C section) to be used to house inmates placed on ‘C-Status’ by the disciplinary lieutenants and/or ‘C/C’ placement (Privilege Group & Work Group), by prison officials at a Committee hearing (which consists of the facility Captain, CC1 Counselor, and CC2 Counselor).

Since the implementation of this new punishment, prison officials have been on a grind to fill up these cells. And they have done just that; almost all 44 cells (double occupancy) have been filled up. And these are only with the inmates on this yard, C-yard.

There is a huge disparity in the treatment and ‘program’ we receive compared to those inmates that get sent to Ad-Seg and SHU’s. They have more privileges than us and they are often placed there for way more serious offenses, such as possession of weapons, distributing/possessing drugs, battery and assault on staff or inmates, etc. And these Ad-Seg inmates are allowed to have their TV’s, and new arrivals to Ad-Seg are even given radios to use temporarily. Even more important, they are [in theory] allowed access to the law library twice a week.

But for many of us we’re put on C/C for petty offenses, and once here we are not allowed to go to the law library or any religious service programs.
Being denied access to the law library and its resources is a huge obstacle to those with active appeals and court cases. It’s denying us with one of our fundamental rights to have access to law materials and the courts.

CSP-Sac officials have ignored the Title-15, and often make and impose changes arbitrarily. For example, since when is a hotpot, fan, or wrist watch considered an ‘entertainment appliance’, which they have and thus will not allow us to have them. However, according to the Title-15, the only property we’re not allowed to have while on C/C or C-Status, are ‘entertainment appliances’ (TVs, radios, and musical instruments).

We are being subjected to worse treatment and denied programs, and for many of us these are for petty offenses. All of us have already been found guilty and punished once already for the 115, but now if we have two 115 write-up’s within 6 months of each other, we get punished twice by being put in this shit-hole of a disciplinary building, often for up to 5-6 months. This is double jeopardy at its finest.

*=Rules Violation Reports, see 3310-3326 of CDCR Title 15 rules book

 

Solitary Confinement: A “Social Death” – NYT on “Shocking” Data from CCR Case

Prisoner Human Rights Movement

A video the New York Times published, accompanying the article Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life (August 3rd, 2015, by Erica Goode) shows Todd Ashker, George Franco, Gabriel Reyes and Paul Redd talking on camera about solitary confinement, being locked down without any hope, with no ending in sight:

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/bcvideo/1.0/iframe/embed.html?videoId=100000003831139&playerType=embed


This comes from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and it is about the Case Ashker v. Brown, in which the New York Times used research, including the 10 expert reports and a video with 4 of the class action representatives (Todd Ashker, George Franco, Gabriel Reyes and Paul Redd).

Today’s New York Times science section features a front-page piece about the research that CCR commissioned and compiled for our ground-breaking challenge to long-term solitary confinement. “Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life” introduces to the public the 10 expert reports we submitted to the court…

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