Tag Archives: solitary confinement

Grassroots Organizing for Change

Posted on by 0 comment

Hello there! My name is Jesse Escalante and I am a 21 year old student at San Francisco State University majoring in Sociology and Dance. This past semester I took Grassroots Organizing for Change in Communities of Color that focused on what it actually means to organize and the work that goes into it. One of the requirements was to volunteer at a local grassroots organization. Each week, we had guest speakers from various local organizations speak of their work and how it related to our class material. This is how I first heard of the Freedom Archives and with the help of my professor; I began to volunteer with them.

During my time at Freedom Archives, I added to the collection on control units and super-max prisons, specifically focusing on ADX Florence in Colorado. During this project, I was able to explore the archives and engage with various materials regarding control units (used inter-changeably with super-max) and ADX Florence. I read articles, interviews, letters from prisoners and accessed various media resources, such as video and audio files, which furthered my knowledge about the history of super-max prisons. By the end of my project, I not only had a better grasp of the work Freedom Archives does, but also more information into the use of control units.

Volunteering with Freedom Archives has given me an insight into what it means to be a grassroots organization. Although the work done here is vastly different than the work done in some large non-profit organizations, it still has an impact. Since my internship, I have been able to reflect upon my own K-12 educations compared to college.  I had never even heard the term “super-max prisons” until my internship. Now, I have a better understanding of the ways in which control unit prisons repress movements, torture those locked inside them and isolate people from their community and family. All this information is accessible through their website. Freedom Archives is providing a service greatly needed, especially in a political climate like now. I have benefited from their work and I know others will too. If you’d like to make a donation to support the work of the Freedom Archives, you can do it here.

-Jesse

Prisoners and Politics: from the San Quentin Six to Pelican Bay

SQ6 defendants Fleeta Drumgo; Hugo Pinell; and David Johnson stage an impromptu sit in at San Quentin in 1975 when trial jurors toured the prison
SQ6 defendants Fleeta Drumgo; Hugo Pinell; and David Johnson stage an impromptu sit in at San Quentin in 1975 when trial jurors toured the prison.

Greetings,

Last Wednesday we co-sponsored Prisoners and Politics: from the San Quentin Six to Pelican Bay with Shaping San Francisco. 518 Valencia was standing room only with the space packed to capacity. The four panelists all shared interesting perspectives and drew important connections between historical and contemporary prison resistance. If you missed it, or just want to hear it again, follow the link below to a podcast of the entire event. We’ve also included the approximate timing for each panelists if you want to jump around. Thanks to everyone who helped make this a great event!

Prisoners and Politics Podcast

Author of Captive Nation Dan Burger (08:00- 32:00); original member of SQ Six David Johnson (32:30-48:00); original member of SQ Six Luis “Bato” Talamantez (48:00-54:30); National Lawyer’s Guild attorney Caitlin Kelly Henry (54:30-1:12:00); Q and A (1:12:00-end).

-Nathaniel

 

Landmark Agreement Ends Indeterminate Long Term Solitary Confinement in California

Posted on by 0 comment

Great News,

Today, the parties have agreed on a landmark settlement in the federal class action Ashker v. Governor of California that will effectively end indeterminate, long-term solitary confinement in all California state prisons. Subject to court approval, the agreement will result in a dramatic reduction in the number of people in solitary across the state and a new program that could be a model for other states going forward. The class action was brought in 2012 on behalf of prisoners held in solitary confinement at the Pelican Bay prison, often without any violent conduct or serious rule infractions, often for more than a decade, and all without any meaningful process for transfer out of isolation and back to the general prison population. Ashker argued that California’s use of prolonged solitary confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and denies prisoners the right to due process.

Complete Statement from California Prisoner Representatives:

“This settlement represents a monumental victory for prisoners and an important step toward our goal of ending solitary confinement in California, and across the country.  California’s agreement to abandon indeterminate SHU confinement based on gang affiliation demonstrates the power of unity and collective action.  This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters.  The movement began with a foundation of unity based on our Agreement to End Hostilities, an agreement between the various ethnic groups in California prisons to end the violence between us.  This agreement reaches not only state prisons, but has inspired jail detainees, county prisoners and our communities on the street to oppose ethnic and racial violence.  From this foundation, the prisoners’ human rights movement is awakening the conscience of the nation, to recognize that we are fellow human beings.  As the recent statements of President Obama and of Justice Kennedy illustrate, the nation is turning against solitary confinement. 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.  We recommit to that fight, and invite you to join us.”

Freedom Archives on KPFA

Posted on by 0 comment audio

Greetings,

Yesterday, the Freedom Archives was featured on KPFA’s The Sunday Show guest hosted by Julieta Kusnir. I was joined by Noelle Hanrahan from Prison Radio and Linda Evans, former political prisoner and organizer with All of Us or None to discuss the importance of illuminating the voices of political prisoners. Specific topics of conversation include Mumia Abu-Jamal and a recent law in Pennsylvania to limit the free speech of prisoners and former offenders, the work of the Freedom Archives to highlight the work of political prisoners and how organizing to challenge mass incarceration coincides with larger movement and community building. Thanks to everyone who helped make this show possible.

You can stream the show below:

 

-Nathaniel

Media Roundup: Hunger strikes and focus on solitary confinement

Posted on by 0 comment

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

Translate »