By Mike Holman,
In solidarity with the SHU Isolation Unit Installation, Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund is sharing this letter from a California prisoner, written 3 weeks ago, about the reality of solitary confinement. As you hear this, think about what CDC’s Jeffrey Beard claims about solitary confinement.
“They call me the criminal, but I couldn’t do what they do …the most cruel and unusual of punishments.”
7/24/2013 California Prison Inmate
This is written from CIM_AD_SEG as I wait for the “SHU” here. This AD-SEG is probably worse. We do not even get the little we should. Yard is most often skipped, showers often skipped also. Books are not passed out. There are no plugs for an appliance. I have been staring at a wall since February, it is now near August. I am not guilty but was found guilty though I have evidence in the form of a C.O.’s statement, which he later took back. This is definitely the most cruel and unusual of punishments, to be locked in a box with no TV, no radio, no books, & no yard.
From my window, all I can see is the wall; all I can hear are screams & groans of grown men’s agony expelled by those who are loosing their sanity. The silence is deafening the air thick and drowning, prayers are sent desperately begging for help. This is definitely the cruelest and unusual of punishments carried out by a system that systematically studied techniques to break the spirit, to bend the will, to destroy the mind. Nobody cares, nobody sees, nobody hears, nobody listens. Beatings would heal, floggings would cease, death would bring peace, but the brain has flashbacks, nightmares, and emotional scars. How can inflicting psychological torture make a man better? This is definitely the most cruel & unusual of punishments, to traumatize those already living through lives worst. How does pain & injury serve to rehabilitate men? How does a land under the hand of God let this happen? This exists in the deepest darkest corners of your average prison.
In a world within itself preventing outside regulation, where the voiceless cannot cry out from a land of isolation. They call me the criminal, but I could not do what they do, this is definitely the most cruel and unusual of punishments.
In a shining example of torturers censoring news exposing the torture they commit in California prisons, CDC has recently censored at least two issues of Revolution newspaper sent to Pelican Bay prisoners by Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund. Revolution is covering, and continuing to cover, the courageous and inspiring stand that hunger-striking California prisoners are taking to end the inhumane conditions they face, including what is in fact torture under international law. Revolution reports this from the larger context of exposing a whole system of exploitation and oppression. The prison authorities allege that this news is “unauthorized correspondence between inmates”, and that Revolution incites “…participation in a mass disturbance (which) is a serious threat to the safety and security of this institution”.
Their claims are outrageous and bogus. Hundreds of mainstream and other news sources are covering the hunger strike and prison conditions from different perspectives… Can prison authorities be allowed to ONLY permit prisoners to read news coverage that does not expose and challenge their lies, and censor anything else on the basis that it is “inciting participation in a mass disturbance”? This logic is chilling and illegal and must not stand.
In the 1974 case of Pell v. Procunier, the US Supreme Court found that “the conditions in this Nation’s prisons are a matter that is both newsworthy and of great public importance”. Similarly, the 1987 McCabe v Arave case ruled that the presentation of ideas that some may find controversial does not constitute a plan to breach the security of an institution.
Pelican Bay prison authorities are trying to isolate, demoralize and further torture prisoners through denying them revolutionary sustenance, including news of growing support beyond the prison walls for the prisoners’ just demands.
Prisoners have a right to the life of the mind, which is a key part of being human. Through sending Revolution and other literature to about 800 prisoners in state and federal hellholes throughout the US, PRLF provides them with an educational opportunity to engage with world events and key political, cultural, and philosophical questions of the day from a unique revolutionary perspective… and to critically think about and dissect the current state of society as well as search for an alternative. Censorship of this is yet another intolerable and inhumane form of torture, and must not stand!
One thing people can do right now to oppose this censorship is to go to our website, PRLF.org, and 1) Sign the statement to End Censorship of Revolution at Pelican Bay Prison
Numerous family members and friends of prisoners have reported retaliation by prison authorities against prisoners throughout the state. Less than a year ago, Governor Brown vetoed AB 1270, which would have restored media access to prisons to the level it was at in 1996. Several other periodicals that support the prisoners and the hunger strike have had issues of their periodicals censored. Censorship of Revolution and other periodicals that expose and oppose prison conditions could create conditions in which prison authorities are free to commit all kinds of abuses behind thick walls of concrete and of enforced silence. End the censorship of Revolution and other periodicals at all California prisons!
Mike Holman, Executive Director, Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund.