A Beginning Resource Packet for California Prisoners’ Advocates

Prison Officials: A Beginning Resource Packet for California Prisoners’ Advocates

Artwork by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson from the California Prisoners’ Hunger Strike of 2011 (Credits: Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity)

This resource packet for California prisoners’ advocates (researched and edited by members of the Pledge of Resistance and Human Rights Pen Pal Programs, projects of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition) comes from the website of Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. According to PHSS:

This packet is intended to be a resource to help folks involved in different forms of anti-prison work. The packet contains information on prison officials, ranging from wardens to medical officers, at major prisons in California. There is a specific focus on prisons that have participated in the hunger strikes over the past few years and are classified as higher “security levels” and include solitary confinement. The hope is that this packet will help make your advocacy easier.

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Family filing suit over son’s suicide while isolated in SCI Cresson

Abolitionist Law Center

Family filing suit over son’s suicide while isolated in SCI Cresson

‘His life shouldn’t have ended this way’

Brandon Palakovic and his mother in a family portrait Brandon Palakovic and his mother in a family portrait.

Brandon Palakovic and his mother in a family portrait.

Brandon Palakovic was witty and personable. He was smart, didn’t like to complain and made people laugh.

But, he also had trouble following rules — even from a young age.

“He just couldn’t function in society as most people could,” said his mother, Renee Palakovic. “He could never understand consequences and boundaries. He never thought they applied to him. He couldn’t look forward. He just would do it for the moment.”

By age 11, Brandon had been diagnosed as having oppositional defiant disorder, which is characterized by argumentative or defiant behavior lasting more than six months. He was institutionalized for about a year, while his…

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Parents of Brandon Palakovic sue prison officials for death of their son in solitary confinement

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Abolitionist Law Center

MEDIA RELEASE: Parents of Brandon Palakovic sue prison officials for death of their son in solitary confinement

Contact: Bret Grote          bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org                412-654-9070

July 8, 2014: Pittsburgh, PA – A lawsuit filed in federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania today claims that Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel and other officials in charge of the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Cresson “created and sustained conditions of solitary confinement that subjected Brandon Palakovic to torture, causing him to take his own life on July 17, 2012, at the age of 23. Defendants transformed [Brandon’s] 16-48 month term of imprisonment into a death sentence.”

Read the Complaint HERE.

The case sheds light on the life-and-death consequences of solitary confinement, seeking accountability for illegal conditions of confinement that are increasingly recognized as torture.

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The lawsuit was filed by Renee and Darian Palakovic on behalf of their late son, Brandon…

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Prisoner Update from Scotland CI

I am reblogging this February 2014 update on North Carolina prison Scotland Correctional Institute in order to see if any readers have more recent information. I have received letters from around 10 prisoners stating that prison is still on lockdown. Please comments on this post contact me through my Contact page if you are privy to any additional information regarding this.

Prison Books Collective

solitary_confinement_cell_auschwitz_1-300x300The whole prison system is supposedly built to rehabilitate the inmate, meant them to health or a useful life, as through therapy and education to restore to a former role, privileges, or good name. But that’s not happening within the prisons system. What is taking place is the word ‘restrain,’ which means to hold back to deprive of freedom or limits. The prison system has cut the education system, doesn’t give out a day of therapy, and privileges is slowly being restricted. No inmate at this point is being treated as an individual. Inmates are being restrained, handcuffed, beaten, or tortured and sprayed with mace.

At Scotland CI they have forced inmates to take showers in handcuffs and forced inmates to expose themselves to other inmates. They have put inmates’ lives in danger without the concern of the spread of disease from inmate to inmate. They have exposed inmates to…

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Jail Demo June 13th! Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners and All Prison Rebels!

Please share details of this noise demo at the downtown Durham jail in North Carolina with all of your contacts!

Prison Books Collective

 friday13thdemohandbill-page-001Friends,

Please help spread the word that on June 13th at 8pm, there will be a noise demo at the downtown Durham jail. The call-out is part of several benefits and letter writing events going on throughout the triangle that week as part of the June 11th Day of Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist and Eco Prisoners.

It’s also taking place in opposition to recent statements/ordinances by the Durham City Council that seek to criminalize protest. Specifically, a recent statement forbids protests at night, protests without a permit, and the use of masks or other tools to hide identity from law enforcement. It is clearly a symbolic gesture at containing the kinds of anger and protest that erupted this past winter after Chuy Huerta died in police custody, which helped to galvanize and catalyze increase public anger and opposition to DPD.Finally, the demo is in solidarity with the prisoners in the jail…

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Voices from Solitary, Analyzing Isolation

Leon Benson | Shakespeare in the SHU | Wabash SHU Solitary Confinement

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our second suggested theme, “Analyzing Isolation,” calls for writers to provide their analyses of solitary, discussing ways in which the practice is harmful and counterproductive. 

The following comes from Leon Benson, who spent 10 consecutive years in a 7 by 12-foot cell on 23-hour-a-day lockdown in the Secured Housing Unit (SHU) at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. In this powerful piece, excerpted from an essay entitled “Moral  Lobotomy: Abolish Prolonged Solitary Confinement and the Mental Disorders it Causes,” Benson, 38, calls for a ban on prolonged isolation, asserting that the practice causes mental breakdowns in those subjected to it. He can be reached by writing: Leon Benson #995256, Pendleton Correctional Facility, 4490 W. Reformatory Rd., Pendleton, IN, 46064. –Lisa Dawson

Leon Benson | Shakespeare in the SHU | Wabash SHU Solitary Confinement

Leon Benson speaks from his tray slot at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in IN (Photo: Screenshot from MSNBC’s Lockup series: “Shakespeare in the SHU“)

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If I ever have known hell, it occurred during my years in solitary. I still can hear the unrelenting screams from other prisoners and the metal clanks of cell doors opening and closing. I still can smell the stench of fear. Existential purgatory is another way to describe it: You have no clue of when you will be released back to general population–it could be in 30 days or in 30 years.

Allow my words to be the catalyst for the much larger debate: Does prolonged segregation in Indiana cause mental breakdowns in prisoners? The answer is yes. The U.N. has long declared that prolonged solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment. (Articles 1 and 16 of the U.N. Convention Against Torture). This type of prolonged confinement is especially harmful to mentally ill prisoners. After class action litigation, Indiana federal courts, in December 2012, finally ruled to ban all mentally ill prisoners from being housed in any of Indiana’s segregation units; deeming the units toxic to prisoners with mental illness.

But what about segregation, especially if extremely prolonged, being harmful to any prisoner? […] These individuals are practically buried alive. Mainly due to administrative and not disciplinary reasons: A vindictive warden can lock a prisoner in solitary for years on mere speculation of wrongdoing.

Some of these men break down mentally and become zombies full of psyche medication. But most will be left with functional psychological damage. More than 80% of these prisoners will be released back into society someday. Dr. Terence T. Gorski proposed that these prisoners will suffer from what he calls Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS). There is mounting evidence that PICS is a major contributing factor to the high recidivism rate.

Dr. Gorski’s concept of PICS in emerged from his clinical consultation work and rehabilitation programs with incarcerated and newly released prisoners. And he established that PICS is a set of symptoms that are present in many prisoners that are caused by prolonged incarceration in general population settings. However, the symptoms are most severe and prisoners subjected to prolonged solitary confinement.

PICS is a mixed mental and personality disorder with five clusters of symptoms:

• Institutionalized personality traits resulting from the common deprivations of incarceration–a chronic state of “learned helplessness” in the face of prison authority and antisocial defense in dealing with a predatory prison environment.

• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by traumatic experiences before and during incarceration with symptoms such as flashbacks, intense distress, irritability, hyper-vigilance, and paranoia.

• Antisocial personality traits, the direct result of internalize coping behavior required to survive in a harsh environment that has two sets of survival rules–passive aggression with guards and active aggression with predatory prisoners.

• Social sensory deprivation syndrome caused by the effects of prolonged solitary confinement that imposes both isolation and sensory deprivation. Symptoms include chronic headaches, inability to concentrate, we pressed rage, and obsessive thinking.

• Reactive substance use disorder which often occurs with prisoners who use addiction and drugs to cope with PICS.

Releasing these prisoners back into society with such severe symptoms will only create devastation and chaos. They will be less likely to get and maintain jobs and more likely to commit crimes, disrupt families, and to need healthcare. All of which will bring a heavier toll on community stability and tax payer money better spent in other areas…

This epidemic of systematically destroying prisoners’ lives beyond repair can be prevented. All that needs to be done is to change the ineffective policies that promote high incarceration rates for nonviolent crimes, the use of extreme prolonged solitary confinement, and the restrictions on educational, vocational, and rehabilitation for people while in prison. To promote alternative laws and policies would reap huge benefits, not only for the many prisoners currently suffering the trauma of prolonged solitary confinement, but for the greater good of all society.

Support Political Prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz!

Moorbey'z Blog

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Monday, May 19th at 7pm
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Support Political Prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz!

Join us in welcoming

Hear an update on California prisoners’ struggles

Russell Maroon Shoatz was released from solitary confinement for the first time in more than 22 years February 20, 2014 as the result of a nation-wide campaign. Now that he is in general population, organizing continues to win his release.

The move comes after Maroon, who turned 70-years-old in August 2013, was transferred to three different Pennsylvania prisons in the past months. It marks the first time that Maroon has been in the general prison population in the state of Pennsylvania since 1983, when he was placed in solitary confinement due to his work with the Pennsylvania Association…

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Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For May 2014 Is Now Available

Prison Books Collective

prisonsareforburning! Hello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for May. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

2) It’s not too late to plan a noise demo outside a prison or jail near you that holds women captive for Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day began not just as a day to honor mothers, but as a day for mothers to express solidarity with one another and against the wars that left widows and orphans impoverished.  Check out last year’s call for noise demos for inspiration.

3)The Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army reprinted shirts from their hit show What Are Prisons For?  and donated them to us to help raise funds. The shirts come in red with black writing. They’re printed on Tultex brand shirts that are 100% sweatshop free. They are $20 , but sign up to…

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Free All Mothers! 2nd Annual Mother’s Day Anti-Prison Noise Demo

Free All Mothers! Anti-Prison noise demo, Raleigh, NC; Sunday, May 11th at 3pm

Prison Books Collective

Mother s day flyer jpegFree All Mothers!

2nd Annual Mother’s Day Anti-Prison Noise Demo

– Sunday, May 11th,  3pm 2014

Meet at State St. and Bragg St. in Raleigh.

For Carpool Information Please email: durhamprisonbooks@gmail.com

– Spread the word!!!

We’ll be breaking the isolation and monotony of the women in the Raleigh Correctional Center for Women and the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women (a prison next door to RCCW). Together these two prisons have almost 1,500 women, almost all of them mothers. RCCW is the state’s largest prison with 1,288 women including women’s death row.

Bring banners,drums, pots and pans, your voice, your love for those inside and your anger for the walls that separate us.

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