The voice of a prisoner in Pennsylvania tells us about the harsh experience of being in solitary confinement for the mentally ill.
Reducing recidivismAugust 6, 2019
When someone is arrested again and sent back to prison after being released, it is known as recidivism, and is a huge problem. This article is part of the discussion.
Voices from the Inside Out: What is freedom?June 27, 2019
What does it mean to be paroled from prison? Before release, all I had was time. It was all torture. Now, I don’t have time. The effort to sustain myself takes most of my time and energy. Freedom, for me, means having time to work out who I am, how I want to relate to others.
What is freedom?September 29, 2018
A prisoner from Bellefonte, Penn., asks: “In America are we really free or are we going through an act, or through the motions?”
Readers’ Views, September-October 2018: Part 1
Readers’ Views takes up: attacks on immigrants; Syria and the Left’s failure; Democratic Party’s selling out women; Women’s Liberation; Serena Williams; ending money bail the right way; Trump-Kim “peace”; genocide and war heroes; and a discussion on sex crimes and their fallout.
Stand up for changeSeptember 27, 2018
Prisoner expresses the difficultly with organizing his fellow inmates and the importance of working together “to stand up (or ‘sit down’) for your rights.”
Prisoner reviews: ‘The End of Policing’July 23, 2018
Review of “The End of Policing” by Alex S. Vitale by a prisoner who sees it as “a wake-up call as to the world in which [we] live: the police state Amerika.”
Help keep News & Letters behind barsJanuary 31, 2018
Prisoner Fredd writes about his prison censoring many publications, including News & Letters, for trumped up reasons, and asks for help in fighting for his right to read.
Readers’ Views: July-August 2017, Part 1July 2, 2017
Readers’ Views on Philosophy and Revolt vs. Trumpism; Trump and the Left; Injustice to Immigrants; Anti-Woman, Anti-Labor Uber; ACT UP; From Iran; To Mexico; Why Read News & Letters?
Prisoners: ‘Shout Their Names’March 17, 2017
Families of two prisoners at the California Institution for Women whose deaths were declared suicides testify.
Voices From The Inside Out: Wisconsin prison destroys booksNovember 26, 2016
Prisoner Robert Taliaferro tells of how a Wisconsin prison destroyed all library books that had been damaged in any way, thus depriving prisoners of their rights and adding “fuel to the fires of revolution.”
Readers’ Views: September-October 2016, Part 2September 16, 2016
Readers’ Views includes: Politics; revolution and the power of philosophy; remembering Olga Domanski; the sports section; national prison action; and voices from behind the bars.
Readers’ Views: July-August 2016, Part 2July 14, 2016
Readers’ Views on Needed New Beginnings in Philosophy and Revolution; Making One Year Count; Subjugated Knowledge; Free Syria/May Day; and Voices From Behind the Bars.
Handicap This! September-October 2015September 6, 2015
A roundup of the situation of people with disabilities and how they are fighting for their rights including in Mexico, a prison in Carlisle, Penn., outrage against the shackling of two young students with disabilities in Covington, KY, the banning of a child with cerebral palsy and autism in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and disabled people in Iraq who face neglect and isolation.
Editorial: Evolving Black Lives Matter movementAugust 29, 2015
One year after the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson, the Black Lives Matter movement continues to challenge racist U.S. society. In doing so, it deepens itself in both content and thought.
The folly of jailing the elderly and non-violentJuly 3, 2015
Prisoner Rand W. Gould writes to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder about what is wrong with continued incarceration of elderly prisoners.
Black Lives MatterMay 3, 2015
The long-simmering outrage of Black masses has broken out into a movement against this racist society, particularly its pattern of racist killings by the police. It has not only reverberated internationally, but also made itself felt in the battle of ideas and the sphere of theory.
12 years in the SHUMay 1, 2015
Pelican Bay Prison, Calif.—Twelve years have passed since I entered the Security Housing Unit (SHU) on gang validation. This year I turned 53 years old. My cognitive skills over this past decade have taken an odd turn. The deterioration is discernible. When I first arrived I was attentive and, if you’ll excuse the expression, bright-eyed. I thought I could beat this thing, whatever this thing was. I confess—I was ignorant.
Women in solitaryMarch 7, 2015
A woman prisoner talks about how women experience Security Housing Units (SHUs) at the California Institution for Women (CIW).
Being in the SHUNovember 24, 2014
Crescent City, Calif.—The physical and emotional toll of being in the SHU (prisons’ “Secure Housing Unit”): • Manic guards off their meds. • That last good photograph stamped with a boot. • Classification hearings postponed for potlucks. • The daughter whose eyes fill when you ask innocently, who are you?…
Aramark excels in dishing up maggots
Lapeer, Mich.—Recently over 100 Aramark Correctional Services (ACS) employees have been fired and banned from Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisons for smuggling in drugs, cell phones and other contraband, sex with prisoners, and, most recently, paying one prisoner to kill another at a prison in Kincheloe. ACS has proven incapable of maintaining sanitary kitchens and food lines and has failed to follow the MDOC menu, consistently running out of food as it’s being served, failing to follow required cooking procedures, and making numerous menu item substitutions—all in violation of its three-year, $145 million contract with the MDOC….
Readers’ Views, September-October 2014, Part IAugust 31, 2014
From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters
U.S. CRISES: RACISM, POLICE, LABOR STRUGGLES
New York News and Letters Committee prepared a flyer on Eric Garner (see: “NYC Police murder Eric Garner” this issue) headlined: “Wanted For Murder: Daniel Pantaleo.” It denounced the fact that the cops who killed Garner are [=>]
Catch-22 for prisoner with disabilitiesDecember 7, 2013
The only way to get out of Administrative Segregation is by attending the Gang Renouncement and Dissociation Process. After many months I was told that I could not attend this program because the units do not house inmates with wheelchairs and don’t have cells or showers for the handicapped.
Pelican Bay families support prisonersFebruary 21, 2013
From the January-February 2013 issue of News & Letters:
Pelican Bay families support prisoners
Editor’s note: California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC) came together during the prisoners’ 2011 hunger strike initiated by prisoners in Security Housing Unit (SHU). To support the prisoners’ ongoing movement, specifically the Agreement to Cease Hostilities (see Nov.-Dec. 2012 N&L), CFASC [=>]
Honduras three years after the coupDecember 12, 2012
La Voz de los de Abajo (Voices from Below) sponsored a delegation to Honduras in September, three years after the 2009 coup which deposed the elected President Manuel Zelaya.
Under his successor President Lobo, violence escalated. Seventy Aguán campesinos (peasants) were murdered in three years.
Honduras’ homicide rate is the highest in the world. Lawyers, politicians, human [=>]
From the belly of the beast—Pelican Bay prisoners speakAugust 10, 2012
A new pamphlet
From the Introduction:
Hunger strikes by California prisoners, fighting perpetual solitary confinement, arose in mid-summer 2011 and the fall just when the Occupy movement took off. The prisoners’ thoughts and actions put the criminal justice system on trial in the same spirit as the Occupy Everywhere movements put [=>]
Red Onion prisoners STRIKE!August 9, 2012
Wise County, Va.—On May 19 an inmate from Red Onion State Prison (ROSP) phoned a member of Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change (SPARC), informing her that on May 22 at least 11 inmates were going on hunger strike to protest the inhumane conditions of Red Onion.
The group of participating prisoners spanning two cell [=>]
Virginia prison hunger strikeMay 30, 2012
Prisoners at Red Onion State Prison in Wise County, Virginia, went on hunger strike on May 22. More details can be found at the Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers blog, which lists the ten demands here. You can join a facebook group to support the strike.
News and Letters Committees issued this solidarity statement:
The courageous [=>]
Honduran prison fireApril 6, 2012
World in View
The Comayagua national prison fire may have started accidentally, but the horrific result—at least 360 deaths—was anything but accidental. With the fire raging, prisoners remained locked up for half an hour. The Comayagua fire chief said that prison officials initially stopped firefighters from entering, citing security protocol.
The prison was grossly overcrowded. Indeed, the [=>]
SHU prisoners: We want to be treated like human beings!November 17, 2011
Pelican Bay, Calif.–On Sept. 26 Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners resumed their hunger strike, suspended on July 20, to give California prison authorities a chance to make good on their promises to address the prisoners demands (see “Pelican Bay SHU struggle continues!” Sept.-Oct. N&L). Especially important to the prisoners was getting out of perpetual solitary confinement, [=>]
L.A. solidarity with Pelican Bay prisonersSeptember 15, 2011
Los Angeles–On Aug. 13, 30 youths, mostly young women, gathered at the County Twin Towers Prison to support the Pelican Bay prisoners’ hunger strike. With the drumbeat and the performance of Aztec dancers, the protesters held individually made signs that read: “Prisoners are human beings, give them their rights”; “We stand in solidarity for prisoners’ [=>]
Pelican Bay hunger striker speaksSeptember 14, 2011
Pelican Bay, Calif.–Here in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU), a number of us prisoners decided to launch a peaceful collective protest in the form of a hunger strike starting July 1. This action is necessary due to the anti-human, draconian institutional policies implemented by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
Pelican Bay SHU struggle continues!September 13, 2011
Pelican Bay, Calif.–The hunger strike among California prisoners, consigned to perpetual solitary confinement in Security Housing Units (SHU), was suspended on July 20. The conditions that drove many prisoners to severely endanger their health by not eating for three weeks persist. According to prison officials themselves, at one point 6,600 inmates in at least 13 [=>]
Justice for Oscar Grant!August 31, 2011
Oakland, Calif.–On June 12 over 150 demonstrators marched to downtown Oakland from Fruitvale BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station, dubbed “Oscar Grant Station” by community activists. We were protesting the mild charge and minimal sentence handed down to Grant’s killer, former BART cop Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle was released from a Los Angeles County jail the [=>]
Stop torture in California prisons!August 6, 2011
A special report from News and Letters Committees:
Stop torture in California prisons!
The hunger strike among California prisoners, consigned to perpetual solitary confinement in Security Housing Units (SHU), officially ended on July 20th but what persists are the conditions that drove many prisoners to severely endanger their health by not eating for three weeks. Prisoners we [=>]
Pelican Bay SHU on hunger strikeJuly 22, 2011
Editor’s note: Prisoners at Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHUs) are going on a hunger strike July 1 to demand the prison recognize they are human beings. This follows the Georgia prison uprising and the Ohio prisoners’ actions earlier this year. Prisoners at Corcoran State Prison announced they are joining the strike. Several cities, including [=>]
‘Man in a cage’June 5, 2011
Amarillo, Texas–The people in charge of this prison unit’s law library (which is in charge of providing indigent inmates with supplies and postage) flex their supposed power on the poor prisoners. They are known to openly and willfully interfere with inmates’ legal work and appeals, while being free to abuse the poor who are incarcerated [=>]
$31 ‘crime’ = 10 yearsJune 3, 2011
From the new issue of NEWS & LETTERS, May-June 2011:
$31 ‘crime’ = 10 years
Lawton, Okla.–Patricia Marilyn Spottedcrow, a 25-year-old nursing home worker and mother of four children, from Kingfisher, Okla., was arrested for selling $31 worth of marijuana to a police informant in December of 2009 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Torturer Jon Burge’s reign of terrorApril 5, 2011
Editor’s note: Mark Clements spent 28 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was one of many tortured under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge’s reign of terror. Clements is now Chairman of the Wrongful Convictions Committee of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. The following is excerpted from [=>]
Readers’ Views (Jan.-Feb. 2011)February 28, 2011
THE OPPOSITE OF WAR IS NOT PEACE BUT REVOLUTION
Your Statement, War threat over Korea,” issued on your website on Dec. 9 had it just right! “The continuing threat of war on the Korean Peninsula underscores the urgency of the Marxist-Humanist perspective that the opposite of war is not peace but revolution.”
And you had it right [=>]
Georgia’s prisoners STRIKE!February 16, 2011
On Dec. 9, prisoners throughout Georgia began the largest prisoner strike in U.S. history. They refused to leave their cells for work or other activities, dubbed their strike a “Lockdown for Liberty,” and released a humanist statement of demands. These included: a living wage for work done; educational opportunities; humane health care; an end to [=>]
Stop the culture of tortureNovember 18, 2010
From the Nov.-Dec. 2010 issue of News & Letters:
Forum: Stop the culture of torture
Chicago–At the end of September the Illinois Coalition Against Torture gave venue to torture victims and their primary lawyer at “Jon Burge GUILTY–beyond the trial.” The event featured Mary L. Johnson, mother of a still-imprisoned torture victim; Flint Taylor, battling lawyer for [=>]