Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Torture Continues, US Prison Strike Resumes

Wisdom Quarterly
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

One might say "I don't care about people in jail" or argue that torturing prisoners is okay -- as long as it is hidden behind walls and bars, where convicts are stripped of human rights at the hands of barbaric paramilitary jailers.

These are not prisoner gangsters but prison guard gangsters, who soon become worse than the prisoners they torment, taking on much of the behavior they torture them over.

If they say they have to employ military tactics against civilians, they should know. Prisoners have no rights to say otherwise because the entire "justice" system undermines and brutalizes them as if torture were redeeming and the path to rehabilitation.

But the issue here is torture for being labeled ("validated") as a gang member when one is not. This is not additional punishment. It is tormenting and inflicting unimaginable suffering. Many do not survive it intact, and the guards/police who inflict it become damaged personalities.

Damaged former guards stand ready to torture non-prisoners without a second thought. (Sheriffs in California must first be jail guards where they are desensitized to torturing "criminals," indoctrinated into a racist system, and taught to lie and cover it up conspiratorially as part of a "code of silence" that shields fellow jailers and officers).

Simply being labeled a "gang member" for any reason whatsoever -- it is really at the sole discretion of guards and officials -- gets one sent without trial into isolation for years. There may, however, be an administrative hearing -- run by and for prison administrators.

An "indefinite" sentence means one is locked up 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and comes out of a miniature cell to "exercise" in a slightly larger cell. This is torture and leads to derangement.

The way out? Death by becoming an informant (prison "snitch") even when there is no information to reveal. Invent it, because that whatever names are given up in the process will lead to their torture and administrative relocation into "security" housing.

This is the treatment Bradley Manning received to break him and have him falsely accuse Julian Assange so that his testimony could be used to convict the founder of WikiLeaks. Holding someone indefinitely for the purpose of extracting information is illegal by international standards.

Prison officials get all the say, and prisoners get all the torture. Meanwhile, the American public is told:

"Oh, these prisoners are complaining because they want more dessert, but we explained to them that they would have to do their homework first. Then they spit at us so, of course, we had to cripple, maim, and in some instances kill them and make it look like suicide. O, can you leave that last part out, you know, about the maiming and killing." And mainstream media and politicians are more than happy to oblige by keeping the deceptive message on point.

Why is it being done at the cost of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars? It is being done because it is highly profitable (for guards, the guard union, corporations, and politicians who use it as a "getting tough on crime" campaign platform, the police state).

Those who profit, particularly corporate interests, have been dubbed the "prison-industrial complex." There success leads to the US having the largest (and growing) per capita imprisonment rate in the world.

Almost all of them will get out. We are not safer for them having been tortured; we are imperiled now in terms of outrageous costs (it would actually be cheaper to send each outcast prisoner to an Ivy League college) going into the pockets of corporations and politicians and later in terms of recidivism (new crimes being committed in the future).

Stop the insanity. Stop the torture. Stop the mindbogglingly unfair (motivated by base desires for aversion, revenge, and ignorance) treatment of not only human beings but American citizens. Because we allow it here with members of our community -- and due to extreme sentencing -- our own friends and neighbors, we do not seem to think much of it when our military and CIA tortures in our name around the world.

Enlightened self-interest is the way to freedom. Torturing prisoners or anyone harms all of us.

California Prisoner Hunger Strike Resumes
Prisoners at Pelican Bay’s SHU (Security Housing Unit) and Calipatria’s ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) resume their hunger strike.

The strike this past July exposed the conditions and practices of Pelican Bay’s SHU. Referring to the first round of the hunger strike, Mutope Duguma (aka, James Crawford), a strike representative in Pelican Bay’s SHU writes:

  • “This is far from over. And once again, hopefully for the last time, we will be risking our lives via a peaceful hunger strike [beginning] on Sept. 26, 2011 to force positive changes. For 21 1/2 years we have been quietly held in Pelican Bay State Prison solitary confinement under some of the most horrible conditions known to man. So we continue to struggle to be treated like decent human beings.”

Now over 100 hunger strikers at Calipatria State Prison -- in solidarity with the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay -- are risking their lives to expose the conditions of the ASU at Calipatria.

According to Calipatria ASU prisoners, roughly 80% of the prisoners in the ASU have been given indefinite SHU terms. They are placed in this isolation unit awaiting transfer to one of California’s three other SHU’s for men, namely Pelican Bay. Most of the prisoners currently in Calipatria’s ASU have been awaiting transfer for 3-4 years.

ASU prisoners at Calipatria report that prison officials have not been implementing the changes addressed by the five core demands written by the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay even though the demands refer to all SHU-status prisoners throughout California, not just at Pelican Bay. More

Treat 'em like slaves. That'll teach 'em to disobey! Hey, lock 'em up and throw away the key. And I don't care what they done. Maybe they ain't done nothing -- we gotta keep 'em down. Mercy for prisoners? Hell, I ain't got no mercy for no one, except we got a badge.