Tag Archives: Marion

Out of Control: An Evening with Nancy Kurshan

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On a beautiful Thursday evening, people gathered at an event sponsored by the Freedom Archives in the Mission to hear Nancy Kurshan speak about her new book, Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons.  Nancy began the event by providing historical context about control unit prisons in the US today, the Marion lockdown and Marion’s transition to a control unit prison. After supplying some background information, Nancy launched into reading passages from her book and explaining their significance. Some of the most unforgettable stories include memories of the first demonstration at Marion, receiving words of encouragement walking in the rain with former political prisoner Rafael Cancel Miranda, and the pandemonium that ensured after simply beginning “I am not a rude person” when confronting Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Quinlan at the 1988 American Society of Criminology Conference. Nancy’s son and daughter, Michael and Rosa, also each read a passage, underscoring the collective nature of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown and the importance of family and community bonds in her political work. When asked what kept her going throughout the years, Nancy responded that the opportunity to give a voice to prisoners and the amazing people that they got to meet and the positive bonds they developed were the main factors that nurtured her perseverance.

After Nancy spoke, Azadeh Zohrabi and Manuel LaFontaine, representing the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, spoke about the decision of the prisoners inside the Pelican Bay SHU (Secure Housing Unit) to resume their hunger strike on July 8th. Both Azadeh and Manuel told people how to support the prisoners’ demands and pressure the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) and Governor Brown to end the torture taking place in California prisons. During the discussion, all three encouraged the audience to get involved in prisoner support or prisoner solidarity work. It was a great event and we want to extend a big thank you to everyone who attended and helped make this event possible!

For continued updates on solidarity work around the Pelican Bay SHU Hunger Strikes please visit:  http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/

-Nathaniel

Nancy Kurshan and Out of Control in San Francisco

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We are excited to announce an evening with author and activist Nancy Kurshan on

Thursday May 9th at 7pm at
518 Valencia St – San Francisco
* Also Updates on California Prisons *

Nancy and the Freedom Archives have recently released Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons. The book tells the inspiring story of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown (CEML). Founded in 1985 to organize against control unit prisons and related inhumane practices at the notorious federal prison in Marion, Illinois, the committee’s work and influence spread nationwide, even as the practices at Marion became widespread in many other prisons in the U.S. and internationally. Written in a very accessible and eloquent style by Nancy Kurshan, a CEML co-founder and leading activist throughout its history, the book recounts how the committee led and organized hundreds of educational programs and demonstrations in many parts of the country and sought to build a national movement to expose and abolish “end-of-the-line” prisons. You can read an briefer online version of the book here which includes audio, video and links to documents. You can also check out our new search engine which features 300+ digitized documents, audio, and video from CEML’s history of prison advocacy. See praise for Out of Control below and please join us for this exciting event.

-Nathaniel

Praise for Out of Control:

Out of Control concentrates on the political analysis and commitment of the women and men of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown – and a protracted and determined struggle to stop the physical and psychological abuse in control units in US prisons. I urge everyone to read and distribute this book.
— Lucy Rodriguez

Out of Control is now Available

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ImageThe Freedom Archives is happy to announce the arrival of Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons by Nancy Kurshan. This important book documents the decade and a half struggle of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown in challenging the barbaric practices at Marion Federal Prison in Illinois, opposing the proliferation of control unit prisons across U.S. and illuminating the racist and inhumane nature of U.S. incarceration. Additionally, a special version of this book can also be found on the internet. While the internet version is shorter and more concise, it provides direct links to documents, pamphlets, audio and video segments as well as other materials created by and related to the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown. We have shared the link to access the internet book and will continue to add media to supplement the narrative. We are really excited about this book, the historical context it provides and the interactivity of the online version.

http://www.freedomarchives.org/Out_of_Control/01_introduction.html

Media Roundup: Hunger strikes and focus on solitary confinement

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The video is well worth watching to gain further information and insight on the conditions of those held in solitary confinement in Pelican Bay’s SHU and the process of gang validations which keeps them there. The rest of the article provides some great domestic and international updates regarding hunger strikes in California’s prisons and prison resistance and activism. In January the Archives will launch a major multifaceted project that highlights the history of activism to close Control Unit prisons entitled Out of Control: A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons. The origin of this type of torturous imprisonment began in 1985 when the US Bureau of Prisons permanently locked down USP Marion in Illinois. This book project teams the archives with Nancy Kurshan, one of the founders of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown (CEML), which was a grassroots collective organized around ending the permanent lockdown in Marion Prison. Keep an eye on our blog and Facebook pages for future updates.

-Nathaniel

Some Statistics on Solitary Confinement in Pelican Bay SHU*

  • 81,622 Number of prisoners in solitary confinement across the United States in 2005, the last year for which the federal government released data
  • 11,730 Number of inmates held in isolation in California prisons today
  • 7 Percentage of California inmates who are in isolation
  • 39 Percentage of inmate suicides that happen in isolation units
  • 78 Percentage of Security Housing Unit (SHU) inmates not classified as gang “leaders” or “members”
  • $12,317 Extra annual cost to taxpayers for each prisoner in the Pelican Bay SHU
  • 11’7″ x 7’7″ Dimensions of a SHU cell at Pelican Bay
  • 6′ x 8′ Dimensions of the average American home’s walk-in closet
  • 51 Percentage of Pelican Bay SHU inmates who have spent at least five years in isolation
  • 89 Number who have been in solitary for at least 20 years
  • 1 Number who have been there for 42 years

*taken from 42 Years of Solitude by Ryan Jacobs, Mother Jones Blog

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