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Fri Aug 30, 2013, 01:14 AM

Day 53: Criminal Justice Reformers Say: Negotiate Now Before There Is Blood on Your Hands

( I can't believe I'm still posting these.. I spent my adult life with a Republican Governor,, except for the 2 years of D. Gray Davis.. during my childhood and beyond, they were building more and more prisons in my Valley. a women's prison in the small farm town my dad worked in.. I couldn't believe it.. a women's prison. heavy sigh. I prayed that CA would have a Democratic Governor with a Democratic Senate and Assembly.. so they would change things and bring back humanity, common sense, compassion, and true rehabilitation... how wrong I was.. and just like Obama not ending Guantanamo or calling for investigation of war crimes...
Gov Brown is not meeting with the advocates for the CA Prison Hunger strikers. .. it is heartbreaking and disappointing)

Criminologists and Criminal Justice Reformers Say: Negotiate Now Before There Is Blood on Your Hands
(listen to the professionals)

August 29, 2013

Finally, there’s some good news for critics of the American justice system: a decline in the nationwide prison and jail population; a significant drop in the rate of African American imprisonment; conservative activists advocating “criminal justice reform”; judges in New York and California blowing the whistle on unconstitutional police and prison practices; a decrease in the use of capital punishment, with eighteen states now on record in favor of abolition; and a pervasive sense of political and economic exhaustion with the policies that made the United States Number One in the world in punishment.

Except here in California, the political class is trying desperately to maintain the state’s reputation for the largest, most punitive and expensive criminal justice system in the country.

With policies that echo southern states’ efforts to derail the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Governor Jerry Brown and a majority of California Democrats are calling for expanding the prison system; adding unneeded beds in existing prisons; offering money to hard-pressed counties to expand jails; doing deals with global private prison entrepreneurs; reluctantly responding to court-ordered reforms in the health care of prisoners; and refusing to recognize international human rights standards regarding the use of solitary confinement. The U. S. Supreme Court, hardly a bleeding heart liberal institution these days, affirmed a lower federal court’s conclusion that California cannot keep doing its penal business the same way it has done for the last thirty years.

Meanwhile, thousands of California prisoners are locked up in other states far away from their families; there is a public health emergency in two of central California’s prisons; more than one thousand prisoners are now serving sentences of five years or longer in county jails designed to hold pre-trial arrestees for a few weeks; and the state’s regular use of solitary confinement as a long-term punishment is out of step with best penal practices around the world and in direct violation of international Human Rights covenants.

“It is now time to return the control of our prison system to California,” says Governor Brown.

We say it’s time to return California’s criminal justice system to a sense of human dignity and social justice by:

Releasing state prisoners who pose no threat to California, especially the elderly and seriously ill, persons incarcerated for non-violent crimes, and long-time prisoners eligible for parole.

Immediately complying with federal court orders to provide humane care for the medically and mentally ill.

Releasing from county jail all prisoners who have been arrested for non-violent crimes and who are unable to make bail due to their poverty.

Beginning the process of eliminating solitary confinement and use of Security Housing Units as a routine practice, thus bringing California into compliance with international human rights standards.

Putting resources from the current prison budget into decent educational and training programs for prisoners inside, and into comprehensive service programs for ex-prisoners.

Finally, we call upon the Governor and legislature to immediately sit down at the bargaining table with representatives of the current prison hunger strike and enter into meaningful negotiations before prisoners die or suffer irreparable damage to their health.

Stop the political posturing and name-calling, and start negotiating before there is blood on your hands.


Christina Accomando, Professor of English and Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Humboldt State University
William T. Armaline, Associate Professor, Justice Studies/Human Rights, San Jose State University
Hadar Aviram, Professor, Harry and Lillian Hastings Research Chair, Hastings College of the Law, University of California
Eduardo Bautista, M.S. Candidate, Department of Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Caroline Beasley Baker, artist, New York
Sara Benson, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Kristie Blevins, PhD, Associate Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Avi Brisman, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Elizabeth Brown, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University
Hoan N. Bui, Hoan N., Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Roderick D. Bush, Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, St. John’s University
Francisco Casique, Lecturer, Dept. of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Leonidas Cheliotis, Chancellor’s Fellow, School of Law, University of Edinburgh
Victoria Collins, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Lynn Cooper, Professor Emerita, California State University, Sacramento
Michael J. Coyle, Political Science, California State University, Chico
Mike Davis, Professor, Creative Writing, UC Riverside
Alessandro De Giorgi, Associate Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Daniel Dexheimer, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, Professor Emeritus, California State University, East Bay
Troy Duster, Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus, Institute for the Study of Social Issues, UC Berkeley
Preston Elrod, Professor and Division Chair of Undergraduate Studies, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Ashley K. Farmer, Teaching Assistant, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware
Keith P. Feldman, Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Craig Gilmore, California Prison Moratorium Project
Marcial Gonzalez, Associate Professor, English, UC Berkeley
Kishonna Gray, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Danielle Harris, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Veronica Herrera, Visiting Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Patricia Penn Hilden, Professor Emerita, UC Berkeley
Mary Juno, Lecturer, Forensic Science and Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Dina Kameda, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Kil, Sang Hea, Associate Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Victor Kappeler, Foundation Professor and Associate Dean, School of Justice Studies
Peter Keane, Professor, Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco
Steven Lee, Professor and Director, Forensic Science Programs, San Jose State University
Jamie Longazel, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Criminal Justice Studies, University of Dayton
Marta López-Garza, Professor, Chicana/o Studies Department and Gender & Women’s Studies Department, California State University, Northridge
Elisabeth “Betita” Martínez, writer, San Francisco
Shadd Maruna
, Professor of Justice Studies, 
Queens University, Belfast
Jacquelyn McClure, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Josh Meisel, Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator,
Criminology and Justice Studies, Sociology, Humboldt State University, California
Kevin Minor, Professor, School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Richard Moore and Sofia Martinez, Los Jardines Institute
Carlos Muñoz, Jr., Professor Emeritus and Chancellor’s Public Scholar, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor Emerita, San Francisco State University
Kim Pate, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Noam Perry, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Richard Perry, Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University and Lecturer-in-Residence, UC Berkeley Law School
Harold W. Peterson, Lecturer, Justice Studies, San Jose State University.
Cecile Pineda, writer
Gary Potter, Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Tony Platt, Visiting Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Timothy J. Reiss, Professor Emeritus, New York University
Keramet Reiter, Assistant Professor, Criminology, Law and Society, and School of Law, UC Irvine.
Claudio G. Vera Sanchez, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Phil Scraton, Professor of Criminology, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ireland
Judah Schept, Assistant Professor, School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Susan Schweik, Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, UC Berkeley
Jonathan Simon, Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law, Law School, UC Berkeley
David Stein, Ph. D. Candidate in American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California.
Margaret Stevenson, Director of Record Clearance Project, Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Jill Stoner, Professor of Architecture, UC Berkeley
Forrest Stuart, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Chicago
Ken Tunnell , Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Bryan Wagner, Associate Professor of English, UC Berkeley
Tyler Wall, Assistant Professor, Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University
Geoff Ward, Associate Professor of Criminology, University of California, Irvine
Janet Winston, Professor of English, Humboldt State University

( I will be camping for the next 4 days and don't know if I have access to internet...so if someone else posts each day, God Bless You.. I hope when I come back the Hunger Strike will have ended with the Gov sending a Rep to meet with the advocation and they start negotiations.. but I'm afraid I will be coming back to hear of sad news instead)

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Reply Day 53: Criminal Justice Reformers Say: Negotiate Now Before There Is Blood on Your Hands (Original post)
annm4peace Aug 2013 OP
annm4peace Aug 2013 #1
annm4peace Aug 2013 #2

Response to annm4peace (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 01:23 AM

1. Mother Jones magazine: "If You Note Me Drifting or Grammatical Errors...I've Not Eaten in 35 Days"


A hunger striker's letters from California's Corcoran prison.
—By Josh Harkinson | Thu Aug. 29, 2013 3:00 AM PDT

What follows are excerpts of letters from the hole by a leader of the prison strike who was eventually hospitalized after nearly starving to death. The group Legal Services For Inmates With Children provided the letters to Mother Jones on the condition that the prisoner’s name be withheld. He is a self-identified member of the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Collective Think Tank, and an alleged member of the Black Guerilla Family, a prison gang. He resides in the SHU of the California State Prison, Corcoran. These excerpts are lightly edited for clarity and brevity, and are organized according to the date of the events being described.

July 11 — They came to me and Zah's cell and told us they were moving all "strike leaders" (us and 7 others) out of the 4B1L C-Sections short corridor isolation unit to an undisclosed location on 4A yard. After an initial discussion, we all refused. Warden Gipson's immediate reaction was to order a mass cell extraction of all of us—an attempt to provoke a violent confrontation with peaceful protestors, which would have occurred with serious injuries or casualties to people on both sides. Enough prisoners came to the consensus that maintaining the peaceful posture of this protest was our primary concern, so we agreed to move.

They opened our tray slot and told us to "cuff up." Captain Smith of the I.G.I. [Institutional Gang Investigators] came through the yard gate and stated to us: "The warden ordered that all of you 'strike leaders' be put on 4A yard to isolate you." I responded: "We're housed in the short corridor isolation unit already—isn't that it's purpose?" And he responded, "Well, apparently you're not isolated enough."

We're all now housed in 4A3R—a debriefer's block. They've isolated us in a block full of snitches, rats, state agents, informants and unprincipled elements of every description.

With all of the cells they could have moved Zah and I into, they've moved us into a cell with "FUCK YOU NIGGERS" written in big black ink print over the cell door and window, so that's the first thing we see every morning we wake up. No one can tell me that that was not intentional.


August 12 — If you note me drifting or grammatical errors, I do want to apologize in advanced [sic], I've not eaten in 35 days and counting and it's affecting me in ways I'm not immediately aware of.

A few minutes ago, I returned from weigh-in / vitals (actually, the first time that's happened since the 29th of July) and I'm down to 188 lbs. From 235 lbs on 7/7.

The pains, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, + weakness I can weather with little effort. It is a simple exercise in will and mental toughness, something I was trained to do. But these emotional lapses, and the attending psychological states they've produced, are truly unexpected in their intensity. I should be able to control this also—easily. . .yet I'm finding it actual work to do so. It's disturbing for me. I hope you don't think I'm a big wuss for complaining of such weakness to you, but if I can't talk to my sister, who can I talk to? [The letter is addressing a black woman who is not the prisoner’s biological sister.]

I just spoke to Sgt. Vogel off the 4B yard, and he just gave me an memo dated 8/9/13 in which, for the first time I've ever seen, they use the terms "STG 1 Members" [a Security Threat Group consists of alleged prison gang members who are locked up in the SHU] and "General [prison] Population" in the same sentence. They will now include STG 1 members in monthly case by case reviews for getting out of the SHU. It also states that unsubstantiated confidential info from a single source won't be used as a basis to confirm gang activity. It's 5 pages long and signed by Mike Stainer [the prison's deputy director of adult facility operations]. I'll concede this is a significant concession, but is this sufficient for the comrades in Pelican Bay to declare the strike a success and end the protest? I have prepared myself for death, but if I can survive this to go on and make more contributions to the cause of progressive social change, I'd like the opportunity. I will not stop until they say it's over or my body fails—whichever comes first.

August 21 — Please forgive the delay in my responding to your comm dated 8/7 (received by my cellie on 8/14), but I was hospitalized at the time and was just released 4 days ago. My body's been damaged significantly but my mind and will remain strong.

On Monday, prisoner-rights workers visited the writer of these letters. They report that he was physically weak but mentally competent—and was continuing his hunger strike.

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Response to annm4peace (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 01:53 AM

2. Day 53: the update

Day 53 – Statement from the Mediation Team
Posted on August 29, 2013 by prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” - Albert Einstein

50 days into a hunger strike which was announced last December, the Department of Corrections has just now issued a highly deceptive and problematic response to the prisoners’ demands. The gist of the response was that the CDCR has done all that it plans to do and that the rest is non-negotiable. The reply was not directed at the prisoners themselves or the prisoners’ mediation team; instead, it was issued as a press release on the CDCR’s website late Monday afternoon. It is not clear if the CDCR has shared the response to the demands with the prisoners.

The CDCR’s statement assures the public that it has addressed the prisoners’ demands while continuing to assert that solitary confinement does not exist in California. The state’s repeated denial of the problem and lack of willingness to implement necessary changes is dangerous and irresponsible.

Prisoners have used every means available to them to change the policies that result in them being confined in extreme isolation for decades including the CDCR’s internal grievance system, meetings with Wardens, litigation and multiple hunger strikes. In 2001 they went on hunger strike over these same issues and called off the strike when CDCR promised to make changes. In 2002, they resumed their hunger strike when CDCR did not make the changes it promised to make. Since 2002, prisoners have filed numerous lawsuits against the conditions in the SHU; many have won settlements with the courts. One notable settlement was the Castillo settlement which was applauded by many as a meaningful reform which clarified the requirement that validated prisoners would not be housed in the SHU indefinitely without having engaged in actual gang related activity rather than innocuous association or possession of books and art which the CDCR labeled “gang activity”. Under this agreement, the CDCR was required to do reviews every 6 years to determine whether a validated prisoner was an “active” gang member. If there was no evidence of “activity” then the CDCR was required to release the prisoner to General Population. The CDCR has held the six year “inactive reviews only to rubber stamp their original status – arbitrarily alleging gang “activity” where none existed. The same discretion can be applied to the Department’s new, proposed policies.

While the rest of the nation is moving away from the use of solitary confinement, California seems to be stuck in the dark – keeping more prisoners in solitary than any other state and for much longer than any other state. The CDCR says that the hunger strike was not a proper way for prisoners to resolve their grievances. What other options did the prisoners have? CDCR doesn’t even follow court orders or settlements that it agrees to and there is no mechanism in place to ensure accountability and compliance. Even now as the CDCR keeps repeating the message that they are “doing the right thing” by slowly releasing dozens of people from the SHU, they are working to finalize new policies that would expand the number of people who can be sent to the SHU and still allow for indefinite isolation for people who have not engaged in any gang behavior while in prison. It is no surprise that the prisoners went back on hunger strike.

Behind closed doors, CDCR will admit that many of the demands are reasonable and that the hunger strike reps are among the easiest for them to deal with. In the public sphere, CDCR administration has demonized these men and subjected them to retaliation, dangerous housing conditions, inadequate medical care, and coercive tactics in order to break up the strike and the unity of those who are participating in the strike. As a meditation team, we’ve been dealing with an administration that has become increasingly callous and cowardly, watching these men suffer and get close to death. There has been virtually no opportunity to explore options which would address the concerns of both parties.

California cannot just ignore this problem, hoping that it will go away. The way to make the hunger strikes go away is to deal with the issues responsibly – meet with the reps and come to an agreement. Otherwise, the CDCR will only be repeating this cycle over and over again in an insane attempt to subdue any efforts to create necessary changes with extreme violence and repression. This cannot be tolerated any longer. It is time to break the cycle and to deal with this strike and the issue of solitary confinement responsibly and reasonably.

On behalf of the Mediation Team,
Azadeh Zohrabi, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children

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