Friday, November 30, 2007

Two Nobel Peace Prize laureates are calling for all charges to be dropped against eight former Black Panthers
Friday, November 30, 2007, 11 am

At a press conference held at the Interfaith Church Center, World Council of Churches representative Lois M. Dauway officially released the International Call on the San Francisco Eight, a document drafted to bring the attention and the solidarity of the global peace and human rights community to the case. The Call, currently signed by three Nobel Peace laureates and two activists in leadership positions with Nobel peace prize winning organizations, is based on internationally recognized principles of prisoner rights, human rights, and against all forms of torture. Dauway, a senior executive of the Women's Division of the United Methodist Church, stated: "The time has come to set free those who have been bound. The case of the SF8 requires all of us to come together, and take an active stand for justice for all U.S. political prisoners."

In addition to Nobel peace related and church organizations, the International Call will bring world-wide and key regional associations into direct contact with the Committee in Defense of Human Rights, and other groups working on behalf of the SF8. Intended also as a tool for local activists within the U.S. to help reach out to local religious and community based organizations, the Call will eventually be used to put pressure on both federal and local California authorities to see that justice is done for all members of the Eight, and all who have suffered torture at the hands of the U.S. criminal justice system. Call organizer and War Resisters International activist Matt Meyer reported that interest in the Call has already been generated amongst the founders of the Nobel Women's Initiative, in academic circles, and in key constituencies across three continents. "We have a great opportunity," he noted, "and a great responsibility to bring news of this case far beyond our usual circles, until justice is finally done."

The full text and current signers of the International Call is attached and below.

International Call on the San Francisco 8
Given our commitment to and history in the global justice and human rights movements,

Given our commitment to reconciliation between peoples and governments,

Given that the U.S. government and Federal Bureau of Investigation has been shown, through past U.S. Congressional hearings and legal proceedings, to have been involved in illegal policing activities against civil and human rights organizations;

Given that these illegal activities, epitomized by the FBI Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO), targeted the Black Panther Party, and appears to have an ongoing presence;

Given that eight former Black Panthers--men now all in their fifties, sixties, and seventies-were arrested on January 23, 2007;

Given that these arrests were based on charges related to a 1971 murder, a murder investigated and brought to court in 1975 with the charges dismissed;

Given that no new evidence has been uncovered, and that the alleged evidence in the 1973 investigation was thrown out of court due to a judicial finding that statements were made under conditions of extreme torture, including: electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation; and

Given that these new charges amount to little more than continued governmental harassment, violating basic principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture;

We call on all appropriate legal and governmental authorities to:
  • Investigate and end all incidents of torture within the U.S. criminal justice system;
  • Drop all current charges for all eight men in question, namely: Herman Bell, Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Henry W. (Hank) Jones, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), Richard O'Neal, Harold Taylor, and Francisco Torres;
  • Convene official investigations into the ongoing legacy and possible continued operation of COINTELPRO and similar programs, with an eye towards true reconciliation and human rights based on internationally recognized standards and principles; and
  • Release immediately, on humanitarian grounds, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom)-each of whom has served over thirty years of disproportionately long sentences based on the COINTELPRO criminalization of the Black Panther Party and the U.S. civil rights movement.

The Most Reverend Dr. Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa; Nobel Peace Laureate 1984

Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Community of Peace People, Northern Ireland; Nobel Peace Laureate 1976

Betty Williams, Community of Peace People, Northern Ireland; Nobel Peace Laureate 1976

Darryl Jordan, Director-American Friends Service Committee* Third World Coalition (Nobel Peace Laureate 1947)

William Wardlaw, Executive Director's Leadership Council, Amnesty International* (Nobel Peace Laureate 1977)

* Organizations listed for identification purposes only

For more information on the International Call, contact: Matt Meyer, War Resisters International, 339 Lafayette Street, NY 10012 USA; and the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights,

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977 Questions and comments may be sent to

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Daniel McGowan on the Legacy of the Black Panther Party

The legacy of the Black Panther Party

by Daniel on November 9th, 2007

On November 30th, there will be an event in New York City celebrating
the legacy of the Black Panther Party and in support of the San
Francisco 8. We will be co-sponsoring the event along with the
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, NYC Anarchist Black Cross, SEIU Local
1199, The Jericho Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the
Free Mumia coalition, and more local political prisoner
organizations. If you are in the NYC area, it’s important you
attend this event and show your solidarity with the 8 former Black
Panthers. Let me back up and give some perspective on who these men

The San Francisco 8 are former, original Black Panthers, and
sympathetic community activists ranging from 56 to 72. Three men were
arrested on January 23, 2006 on charges related to the killing of a
cop in San Francisco in 1971. The original three were indicted on
these charges in the early 70’s and the charges were dropped,
because torture was used to extract confessions. I’ll repeat that
— and mind you, I’m not using rhetoric: they were tortured in
ways analogous to the torture committed by the U.S. abroad, in the
so- called “War on Terror.” Six of the defendants, due to intense
legal advocacy and community support, are now out on bail awaiting
trial– set to start, I believe in the Spring. Two of the defendants
are ineligible for bail, as they have been serving a NY state
sentence for over 30 years on similar charges. (Some speculate that
these men, Jalil Muntaquim and Herman Bell of the NY3 were included
in this indictment to destroy their chances of their getting parole
in NY state. Parole was a hope given a new governor and perhaps, a
parole board would grant parole).

As I said, the charges were thrown out due to torture by
investigators– a detailed account of which is presented in the
informative documentary Legacy of Torture (available from the Freedom
Archives) including cattle prods used on genitals, beatings, sleep
deprivation, being taped to chairs and simulated drownings, aka
waterboarding. This is the process Attorney General nominee Michael
Mukasy will not condemn in which plastic is pulled over someone’s
face and water is poured producing the terror associated with
drowning. Sometime in 2002, interest was reignited in the case
(perhaps after former Attorney General Ashcroft’s statement about
cleaning up old political cases) and some of the men received grand
jury subpoenas which they resisted and were subsequently jailed for

At that point, supporters of the grand-juried men and animal
liberation activists facing their own federal grand jury joined
forces and held large rallies against the grand jury. The website was started and reported on resistance to the grand
juries nationwide. This collaboration was exciting and gave me great
hope. It was a multi-generational, cross-movement display of
solidarity and opened each group to each other’s perspectives.

That dynamic, of older and younger generations from the Black
Panther/ anti-Vietnam war and people’s movements of the 60s/70s and
the younger, anarchistic and eco/animal liberationists mixing and
providing mutual aid to each other captivated me. It also reflected
work I had been engaged on in NYC with the Jeff Luers freedom
campaign working with the Jericho Movement and former political
prisoners. (In fact, I wrote about these ideas in the 2008 Freedom
for Political Prisoners Calendar, which I highly recommend you get a
copy of). My goal then was two-fold:

1)To help secure the release of political prisoners of previous
generations by infusing their freedom campaigns with what we have to
offer: youthful energy, online tactics and organizing, fundraising,
and exposing their cases to a new generation of punks, anarchists,
and anti-globalization activists.

2)To learn from older activists– about their experience, access to
their lessons and to increase the legitimacy of our prisoners in the
broader PP/POW support community.

Many have been working on these efforts and I hope they bear fruit.
In NYC, there are good signs including a new NYC Anarchist Black
Cross focusing on supporting Green Scare political prisoners and
political prisoners from the Black liberation movement. There has
been a greater coordination on the part of PP groups in the NYC area,
leading to this SF8 event on November 30th.

So, if you are against torture, vindictive prosecutions trying to
destroy the legacy of the Black Panthers and think that the Green
Scare is COINTELPRO-lite, this is an event you should come to. Some
of the defendants will be there as will their lawyer Soffiyah Elijah,
and performers. It’s 7pm, on November 30th at the Martin Luther
king, Jr. Labor Center, 310 West 43rd Street (between 8th and 9th

I’ve used the name “SF8″, but these are real people we are
talking about. They are:

1)Herman Bell
2)John Bowman*
3)Richard Brown
4)Henry W. (Hank) Jones
5)Jalil Muntaquim
6)Richard O’Neal
7)Harold Taylor
8)Francisco Torres

*John Bowman died of terminal cancer on December 23, 2006 after being
imprisoned for refusing to talk to a grand jury.

For more information:

Regarding the N30 event: NYC Jericho Post Office Box 1272 New York,
New York 10013
CDHR: Post Office Box 90221 Pasadena, California 91109
Freedom Archives: 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, California 94410

Democrats line up with Bush on torture


Every Saturday, the president of the United States gives a radio address to the nation. It is followed by the Democratic response, usually given by a senator or representative. This past Saturday, the Democrats chose retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to give their response, the same general named in at least three lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe for authorizing torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in Iraq. That, combined with the Democrats' endorsement of Attorney General Michael Mukasey despite his unwillingness to label waterboarding as torture, indicates that the Democrats are increasingly aligned with President Bush's torture policies.

Sanchez headed the U.S. Army's operations in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004. In September 2003, Sanchez issued a memo authorizing numerous techniques, from "stress positions" to the use of "military working dogs" to exploit "Arab fear of dogs" during interrogations. He was in charge when the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison occurred.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who headed Abu Ghraib at the time, worked under Sanchez. She was demoted to colonel, the only military officer to be punished. She told me about another illegal practice, holding prisoners as so-called ghost detainees: "We were directed on several occasions through Gen. Fast or Gen. Sanchez. The instructions were originating at the Pentagon from Secretary Rumsfeld, and we were instructed to hold prisoners without assigning a prisoner number or putting them on the database, and that is contrary to the Geneva Conventions. We all knew it was contrary to the Geneva Conventions." In addition to keeping prisoners off the database, she described other abuses, such as prison temperatures reaching 120 to 140 degrees, dehydration and the order from Gen. Geoffrey Miller to treat prisoners "like dogs."

And it's not just about treatment of prisoners. In 2006, Karpinski testified at a mock trial, called the Bush Crimes Commission. She revealed that several female U.S. soldiers had died of dehydration by denying themselves water. They were afraid to go to the latrine at night to urinate, for fear of being raped by fellow soldiers: "Because the women, in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the portolets or the latrines, were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon. And in 120-degree heat or warmer, because there was no air conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep. What (Sanchez's deputy commanding general, Walter Wojdakowski) told the surgeon to do was, 'Don't brief those details anymore. And don't say specifically that they're women. You can provide that in a written report, but don't brief it in the open anymore.' " Karpinski said Sanchez was at that briefing.

Former military interrogator Tony Lagouranis, author of "Fear Up Harsh," described the use of dogs: "We were using dogs in the Mosul detention facility, which was at the Mosul airport. We would put the prisoner in a shipping container. We would keep him up all night with music and strobe lights, stress positions, and then we would bring in dogs. The prisoner was blindfolded, so he didn't really understand what was going on, but we had the dog controlled. The dog would be barking and jumping on the prisoner, and the prisoner wouldn't really understand what was going on."

Reed Brody, of Human Rights Watch, elaborated on Sanchez: "For those three months of mayhem that were occurring right under his nose, he never stepped in. And, also, he misled Congress about it. He was asked twice at a congressional hearing whether he ever approved the use of guard dogs. This was before the memo came out. And both times he said he never approved it. (W)e finally got the actual memo, in which he approves 'exploiting Arab fear of dogs.' " Brody dismissed the military report clearing Sanchez of any wrongdoing: "It's just not credible for the Army to keep investigating itself and keep finding itself innocent."

This is not about politics. This is about the moral compass of the nation. The Democrats may be celebrating a retired general who has turned on his commander in chief. But the public should take pause.

The Democrats had a chance to draw a line in the sand, to absolutely require Mukasey to denounce waterboarding before his elevation to attorney general. Now they have chosen as their spokesman a discredited general, linked to the most egregious abuses in Iraq. The Bush administration passed Sanchez over for a promotion, worried about reliving the Abu Ghraib scandal during the 2006 election year. Now it's the Democrats who have resuscitated him. Have they no shame?

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour.

Global Write-A-Thon for Leonard Peltier, a Message from the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Save the Date: December 1st-10th, 2007
December 10th is International Human Rights Day.

The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly's adoption
and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, the first global enunciation of human rights.
(See: <> )

The commemoration was established in 1950, when the General Assembly invited
all states and interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw
fit. The day is a high point in the calendar of U.N. headquarters in New
York City, and is normally marked by both high-level political conferences
and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human
rights issues. In addition, it is traditionally on December 10 that the
five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is awarded.

Many governmental and nongovernmental organizations active in the human
rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day. We
celebrate Human Rights day because there are many people who do not have the
rights granted to them. This day was declared so that all of us can become
aware of our rights and create an awareness among others, of people who are
deprived of their rights.

To mark this day, join people all around the world and participate in our
second Global Write-A-Thon for Leonard Peltier.

This year, we will concentrate on the release of the documents that the FBI
are still withholding. Our Write-A-Thon is directed at Senator Patrick
Leahy, the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

What's a "Write-A-Thon"?Simply put: a "writing marathon". Or write a ton of
letters... :-)

Each year, Amnesty International organizes a Write-A-Thon for December 10th.
This is where we found our inspiration. Their slogan is "Write = Might".
This is oh so very true! (Thank you Amnesty International) Your letters are
the watchdogs, putting perpetrators of abuse on notice. Your letters are the
light that shines through the despair prisoners of conscience & political
prisoners face on a daily basis. Your letters are tools of freedom, paving
the way for the abused and battered to finally find justice & freedom.

Participation is easy! You can either pledge to write a letter by yourself,
or, you can plan a letter writing event, at your home, school, church or
even at your local cafe. You can hold your event, and send your letter(s)
anytime from December 1-10, 2007. To make it even easier, we are providing
you with a sample letter that you can print out. You can download the letter

the IPF website: <>

the LPDC website:

Senator Leahy's address is on the letter.

You can also fax your letter to Sen. Leahy at 202-224-3479 (for supporters
outside the USA: 00-1-202-224-3479)

Please inform us how many letters you and your friends/family have sent.
(note: have sent, not will send).

Send a message to the IPF at>
or to the LPDC at>
put "Peltier WriteAThon" as subject title tell us how many letters were sent
as well as your city + state (for the USA) or city + province (for Canada)
or city + country (outside USA & Canada)

Thank you for your support !
Let's write a ton of letters for Leonard.

Els Herten, International Peltier Forum

Toni Zeidan- Leonard Peltier Defense Committee



e-mail LPDC:>
e-mail IPF:>>


NBC to promote Muareen Faulkner's new book, Murdered by Mumia Dec 6th

ACTION ALERT: Ensure Fairness For Mumia Abu-Jamal on NBC’s The Today Show!

On Dec. 6, NBC’s The Today Show intends to air a show about Michael
Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner’s new book “Murdered By Mumia.” According
to the announcement on Michael Smerconish’s website, the show is planning
to feature both Smerconish and Faulkner as guests.

The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
(, Journalists for Mumia (, and Educators
for Mumia ( have initiated a media-activist campaign urging
people to write The Today Show at asking them to fairly
present both sides of the Mumia Abu-Jamal / Daniel Faulkner case, by also
featuring as guests, Linn Washington, Jr. (Philadelphia Tribune columnist
and Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple University) and Dr.
Suzanne Ross (Clinical Psychologist and Co-Chair of the Free Mumia
Abu-Jamal Coalition, NYC).

A sample letter (
<> ), accompanied by an
extensive informational press pack (
<> ) has been created
to use for contacting The Today Show. Please take a minute and contact
them to ensure fair media coverage of this controversial and important


The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Journalists for Mumia Abu-Jamal (

Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (


Dear Today Show,

On December, 2007, the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal will be entering the 27th
year. In the course of those years, much of the media coverage has
contained pure speculation and falsehoods. Media watchdogs like FAIR.ORG
have sharply criticized this coverage as being biased against Abu-Jamal.

We understand that on Dec. 6, the Today Show intends to air a show about
Michael Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner’s book “Murdered By Mumia.”
Interestingly, the scheduled interview regarding the new book focusing on
Mrs. Faulkner comes at a time of many startling new developments in this
historic case, generating international attention.

Reflecting the international interest in this case, in 2003, Abu-Jamal was
named an honorary citizen of Paris, and in 2006, the city of St. Denis
named a street after him. While this was largely motivated by opposition
to the death penalty, they also cited strong evidence of both an unfair
trial and Abu-Jamal’s innocence.

One of these developments centers on extraordinary photos of the 1981
crime scene taken by Philadelphia-based press photographer Pedro Polakoff
(viewable at that reveal manipulation of evidence, and
completely contradict the prosecution’s case, including Officer James
Forbes’ testimony that he properly handled both Abu-Jamal’s and Faulkner’s
guns (the photos show Forbes holding both guns in his bare hand). Also the
photos reveal that there were no large bullet divots or destroyed chunks
of cement where Faulkner was found, which should be visible in the
pavement if the prosecution’s scenario was accurate, according to which
Abu-Jamal shot down at Faulkner and allegedly missed several times while
Faulkner was on his back. Of particular note, this photographer twice
attempted to provide these photos to the District Attorney for both the
1982 trial and the 1995 PCRA hearings, and was ignored both times.

Since his incarceration, Abu-Jamal has published six books and countless
articles, and has delivered hundreds of speeches, including keynote
addresses for college graduations. As a prolific writer and tenacious
journalist, he has earned the respect (and support) of such notable
prize-winning authors as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, John Edgar Wideman,
and Salman Rushdie. Just recently, he was accepted into the PEN American
Center, one of the highest honors a writer can achieve. Additionally, at
the time of his arrest, he was president of the Philadelphia chapter of
the Association of Black Journalists, and was awarded the PEN Oakland
award for outstanding journalism after the publication of his first book,
Live from Death Row. Since Live, he has garnered a following of dedicated
readers around the world, including scholars, college educators, and
journalists. His work is, in part, testament to the dignity he has
demonstrated for the past 25 years he has been on death

The ethical interests in balance and fairness in presenting “news”
regarding the Abu-Jamal case, arguably requires providing Today Show
viewers with information evidencing Mr. Abu-Jamal’s innocence and unfair
trial. To represent this other side, and to provide perspectives
addressing the informational needs of your viewers, I ask that you also
feature experts Linn Washington, Jr. (Philadelphia Tribune columnist and
Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple University) and Dr. Suzanne
Ross (Clinical Psychologist and Co-Chair of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Coalition, NYC) as guests on your Dec. 6 show (they can be contacted via
Journalists for Mumia:

While Mrs. Faulkner certainly has a “story” and is entitled to her
opinions, your viewers should be privy to other facts, such as the
prosecution withholding key evidence, witness coercion, racist jury
selection, and evidence that Judge Albert Sabo boasted about his desire to
help the prosecution “fry the nigger,” as enclosed in the press packet
provided here for you:

I also write to provide you with information (inclusive of material from
Abu-Jamal’s lawyer) in the interests of journalistic balance, fairness and
integrity. The press packet includes 1) A recent Black Commentator article
by Philadelphia lawyer/journalist David A. Love describing the
significance of the Polakoff photos, 2) An Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal
press release about the Polakoff photos, written by Princeton University
Professor Mark L. Taylor, 3) Criticism of the 1998 ABC 20/20 program about
Abu-Jamal, 4) Background on the case, focusing on both the 1982 trial and
1995-97 PCRA hearings, with a focus on Abu-Jamal’s alleged “hospital
confession,” ballistics evidence, and the testimony of Veronica Jones, 5)
Recent police intimidation of Abu-Jamal’s supporters, including reported
death threats against Sgt. DeLacy Davis, of Black Cops Against Police
Brutality, and more.

Boston, MA: 12/3 dinner fundraiser with Ward Churchill, Lynne Stewart, Ralph Schonan

In Conjunction with International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners
Please join Jericho-Boston and the New England Committee to Defend Palestine

Monday, December 3, 2007 at 7pm for a Dinner Fundraiser with Lynne
Stewart, Ward Churchill, Ralph Schonan
The dinner will be held at the Community Church, 565 Boylston St., Copley
Square, Boston

For information: Jericho-Boston (617) 830-0732

Lynne Stewart
Ward Churchill's ZNet homepage


Sunday, December 2nd 2-6pm Encuentro 5
Suggested Donation: $10
33 Harrison Ave., Chinatown
In commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with Political
This panel is part of a three day series organized by Jericho Boston. Let
us remember and honor, not only the political prisoners being held in the
us, but also those being held everywhere in the world, in places like
Palestine, Turkey, the Basque Country to name a few.
We are honored to have as speakers:
Ashanti Alston (former Black Liberation Army Political Prisoner)
Dhoruba Bin Wahad (former Black Panther Party Political Prisoner)
Edwin Cortes (former FALN Prisoner of War)
Jihad Abdul-Mumia (former Black Liberation Army Political Prisoner)
Pam Africa (MOVE! Organization, ICFFMAJ)
Ward Churchill (American Indian Movement, Author)
Speaking on their struggle and of their people's struggle to overcome the
fierce repression and imperialism unleashed onto them for their fight for
self determination and freedom from oppression. Many of the root causes of
economic exploitation and social underdevelopment which were in place back
then are still affecting our communities today. CORI and other draconian
laws are being passed to keep people, especially people of color,
marginalized and disenfranchised.

Join us to strategize to bring our freedom fighters home and liberate our

Jericho-Boston, (617) 830-0732,

Jericho-Boston, (617) 830-0732,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Eric McDavid Update 11/27/07

Dear friends,

On Sunday we learned that the cardiologist finally made it in to visit
Eric. Thank you to everyone who’s calls and emails were an integral part
in making this happen. The doctor examined Eric and determined that he
“very likely” had a case of pericarditis in the spring. As of right now,
everything looks and sounds healthy with his heart. The doctor told him
which medications he should request if the pericarditis comes back, and
told him that if the jail refuses to provide these medications that he
should request to be taken to UCD Medical Center. Eric has finally
received the tests/examinations that he has been waiting for since last
April, but he has not yet been allowed to review the results.

Yesterday (Monday) Eric called to tell us that they took him down to the
doctor to “officially” end his hunger strike. They also finally drew
his blood to run tests. Now that Eric is eating and his heart condition
seems to have passed (for now), it seems likely that the blood tests might
serve only to absolve the jail of any responsibility for his previous
conditions. However, if they test for the right things, they might be
helpful in proving that Eric is in dire need of vegan food, as he is most
certainly not getting the nutrition his body requires.

Please continue calling the jail and demanding that Eric be given vegan
food and that they allow him to review his medical records.

Make sure you have Eric's x-reference number handy in case they ask for it
(x-ref 2972521):

Jail phone numbers: 916-874-6752 or 916-874-6905
Chief Deputy, Corrections & Court Services 916-874-5686

Captain Scott Jones: 916-874-5428 (This is the direct line for the jail
commander and it may only be answered during business hours)

You can also request to speak with Jail Operations Commander Douglas, as
he is allegedly the person who will probably make the final decision about
Eric's food.

Thank you all for your continued support!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Ahmad Sa’adat confined to “Collective Isolation”

In Nafha Prison

On Sunday, 25/11/2007, the Israeli occupation’s military court in the ‘Ofer barracks near Ramallah held another hearing in the case against Ahmad Sa’adat, the secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In the previous court hearing, a week ago, we revealed that Sa’adat was deported to the remote Nafha prison in the Naqab desert, in punishment for his position against the US sponsored ‘Autumn Conference’ in Annapolis. Now, Sa’adat had a chance to say some words before the hearing begun, and we learned that he is in the “Collective Isolation” section. This special section used to be in the Be’er Sabe’e prison, but was transferred to Nafha.

The “Collective Isolation” section is used by the Israeli prison authorities against some of the political leaders among the Palestinian prisoners, to isolate them from the rest of the prisoners and to prevent them from continuing their political activities. Conditions in this section are worse than those in ‘ordinary’ sections, and the prisoners are deprived of some of the very limited rights that are still held for other Palestinian militants in Israeli prisons. It should be remembered that Israel treats all Palestinian militants much worse than criminals, and refuses to recognize them as political prisoners or as prisoners of war.

The court hearing was due to hear three witnesses, all of them spent some years as prisoners in Israeli prisons but were already released. Two of those were invited to the hearing, but didn’t care to show up. The third witness was not even invited, so that his non appearance in the court was postponed to the next hearing. In these circumstances, Ahmad Sa’adat’s boycott of the military court, due to his refusal to recognize the legality of the occupation and its institutions, was confined this time to refusing to stand up in front of the judges.

The military court decided to hold its next hearing on 27/1/2008.

For more details:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dictators in the Empire's Employ

By Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dictators in the Empire's Employ
[col. writ. 11/18/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal
With the teeth of the Pakistani dictatorship now bared, we are beginning to see a mirror image of most of U.S. history throughout the last century.
Although perhaps best seen in the vicious wars of Latin America, it is a fact that the U.S. government supported brutal, violent dictatorships on every continent, almost always against popular, and especially workers movements.
Although most Americans would be hard pressed to actually recall the names of 4 U.S. backed dictators of the 20th century, it is a safe bet that the people who tried to survive in those countries will remember them for the rest of their lives.
From Haiti's infamous Duvaliers, to Cuba's Batista, there were no dictators too wretched, too violent, too vicious for the U.S. to support.
There's a good reason why when President Lyndon B. Johnson took the Oval Office after John Kennedy's assassination, he told one of his aides, "We've been running a damned branch of Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean."*
That's because Washington was essentially internationalizing its program of repression and McCarthyism, according to at least one Latin American country. Scholar (and former diplomat) Clara Nieto wrote, in her remarkable 2003 work, Masters of War, the story of how the U.S. got almost the entire continent to go its way:
At the Tenth Inter-American Conference requested by {former State Dept. chief John} Dulles and held in Caracas in 1954, he easily persuaded the meeting to adopt a declaration condemning international communism and advocating hemispheric solidarity and mutual defense against "Communist aggression." The chancellor of Guatemala, Guillermo Toriella, warned that on "the pretext of combating Communism, fundamental principles of democracy can be contravened, violations of human rights justified, and the principle of non-intervention infringed upon." The declaration, he argued was "the internationalization of McCarthyism." The majority - all dictatorships - supported it; Argentina (under Peron) voted against it and Mexico abstained. Costa Rica did not attend the meeting, since Jose Figueres refused to participate in this "assembly of dictators in a country governed by the most brutal and corrupt of them all, General Perez Jimenez" {C. Nieto, pp.138-139}.
Thus, generations were subjected to the terrorism of their own governments, their own armies, paid, and trained by the Americans. These U.S. trained terrorists launched wars against their own people; students, teachers, trade unionists, writers, intellectuals, priests, Indians, and beyond.
Yet, that was then. What now?
Despite all the gas and rap about "freedom", "democracy", and the like, the U.S. is, once again, depending on a dictator who has essentially shut down the Supreme Court, whipped lawyers in the streets, waged fraudulent elections, exiled his political opponents, and ruled with an iron fist. The differences between Burma and Pakistan could be measured in inches.
Yet, none of this really matters to the White House. What matters is what has always mattered. That the dictator do the bidding of his imperial masters - the people be damned.
There's a reason why Latin America has elected predominantly anti American governments in the past decade, and it had nothing to do with the easy media fiction that Hugo Chavez made them do it. For millions of people, they remember the so called 'secret wars' waged by armed puppets of the Americans-and they want no more of it.
Dictatorship 2 -- Democracy 0.
--(c) '07 maj
*[Source: Nieto, Clara, Masters of War: Latin America and the U.S. Aggression (From the Cuban Revolution Through the Clinton Years) {New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003} ]
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner in the United States, framed and in prison, with what could be the final decision on his legal appeals possibly coming down this summer. That decision could give Mumia his freedom, a new trial, life in prison, or execution. It is time to turn up the heat against this injustice.
Free Mumia!

Ex-black militant becomes eagle scout

Nov 25, 2007
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Cleveland Sellers called himself a black militant in his autobiography, and he was convicted - and later pardoned - of sparking a 1968 civil rights protest in which three students were gunned down by state troopers.
These days, however, he has a doctorate in education and is director of the African American Studies program at the University of South Carolina.
On Dec. 3, the 64-year-old man will become an Eagle Scout, an achievement he hopes will add an important layer to a personal narrative that to many people will always be linked to the protest known as the Orangeburg Massacre.
"People have tried to create these monsters and make us something that we weren't because it helped them make their case," Sellers said during a recent interview at his college office. "I think it's important for people to know who I am and maybe through the process that will help lower the barrier and lower the kind of imagery they have of me."
Sellers was on the path to becoming an Eagle Scout until his paperwork was lost nearly four decades ago.
He credits scouting for his appreciation of nature, and a sense of orderliness. He fondly recalls attending the Boy Scouts' National Jamboree in 1960, and thinks he still could cook up a mean coffee-can souffle. Sellers has helped start a troop named after Camp Brownlee, the blacks-only scout camp he attended as a young man.
The men who led the troop he once belonged to were father figures, which is what many youth lack today, Sellers said.
"I look around now and there's no organizations for them other than the gang banging and that kind of stuff," he said. "I just think we need to take another look at the Boy Scouts as an alternative to the idleness and the crime."
But after his formative years as a scout, Sellers became best known as the only person convicted of inciting a riot following the Feb. 8, 1968, Orangeburg shootings, which took place during protests over a bowling alley owner's refusal to allow blacks inside. Three people were killed and 27, including Sellers, were wounded.
He spent seven months in jail, but 23 years after his conviction he was pardoned.
After leaving prison, Sellers worked as a coordinator for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and sat in on planning sessions with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
While the Orangeburg shooting may not be well known outside South Carolina, Columbia University history professor Manning Marable said it was an important part of civil rights history. He said Sellers is an example of a leader who battled segregation on the local level.
"I think Cleve Sellers embodies many of the strengths of the grass roots organizers who didn't seek the limelight, but who had tremendous respect among working and poor people locally," Marable said.
Sellers acknowledges his place in civil rights history.
"There's a certain level of humility that makes me reluctant about being the face of Orangeburg, but I figure if nobody's the face then the story doesn't get told," Sellers said.
While the state has formally apologized for the Orangeburg shootings, Sellers believes the event still merits a closer look by authorities. The FBI, however, has not added the shootings to the list of civil rights-era cases it has reopened.
"I say Orangeburg is the litmus test for race," Seller said. "If we can't be honest and genuine and get to the facts and get to the trust and get justice, then how can we talk about anything else?"

Dec. 1st: The Trial/Cuban 5 Film

The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5 and

Saturday December 1st, 2007 at 6:30pm

1199 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center Auditorium
310 W43rd St. (btwn. 8th-9th Ave.)
Take the A,C, E, 1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, S, or W Trains to 42nd St. and Times Square

Suggested Donation: $10 (no one will be turned away for lack of funds)


Join the Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5 for the New York
Premiere of 'El Processo' (The Trial: The Untold Story of the Cuban 5)!!

A brand-new (September 2007) 70-minute documentary from Cuban filmmaker Rolando Almirante that tells the story of the Cuban Five and their legal struggle. This documentary explores the U.S. government's use of false conspiracy charges and secret evidence which laid the basis for their conviction. It features revealing interviews with defense and prosecuting attorneys, Cuban and U.S. experts, and advocates for the Five's freedom.

English Narration by actor Danny Glover

The Program also will consist of a short Legal Update, Update from the Canadian Conference to Free the Cuban 5, and several campaign updates.

Light refreshments will be served.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Eric McDavid Update: Hunger Strike Ends, Struggle for Food and Medical Care Continues

Dear friends,

Eric called this morning to tell us that he has ended his hunger strike.
Today marked the two-week point in this leg of his struggle for vegan
food. Further down is a letter he has asked us to send to you.

Thank you all for your support these last two weeks! Based on the jail's
response to our calls, it was clear that they were feeling the pressure.
Unfortunately, this battle is not over. Eric is still requesting vegan
food AND medical care from the jail. We need to keep calling to demand
that he be provided both.

Eric has decided he will finish the commissary food he has left in his
cell, but will no longer be ordering items from commissary. This means
that he will, once again, be subsisting off of what little food he can
pull from his trays. Eric has tried this in the past. In fact, this is
what he was eating before his recent hunger strike. During the two months
he was doing so, he lost 20 pounds and suffered a bout of pericarditis.
Clearly, this is not an acceptable diet.
It is imperative that we keep calling the jail and and demand that Eric
be given food and medical care immediately.

Eric has still not received blood work. The doctors at the jail have told
Eric's lawyer a number of times that the cardiologist was schedule to see
Eric, but this has yet to happen. Eric needs to be given bloodwork, and
to see a cardiologist immediately so they can properly diagnose the cause
of his heart condition.

When Eric was last weighed by the doctors at the jail, he weighed 147
pounds. This is the lowest his weight has been since he entered the jail
, and it is dangerously low for someone of Eric's height and build.

When Scott Jones was interviewed by the press on Tuesday (after a press
conference held by his family, partner and supporters about his hunger
strike – for statements from Eric, his mother, and his partner about his
hunger strike, please visit soon, as these documents
should be posted in the next couple of days), he repeated the jail's oft
repeated lie that the jail does not have the resources to supply Eric with
vegan food. Please remember that this is absolutely false. The jail
provided Eric with vegan food for 16 months, and there is no reason they
cannot continue to do so.

Please keep calling the jail! When you call the Correctional Health
Services Division about Eric's medical situation please request that they
do the following things:

1) Give Eric the treatment they have promised. That means bloodwork and a
visit from a cardiologist. Until they do these things, they will not be
able to properly diagnosis the causes of and provide treatment for his
heart condition.

2) Eric needs to be given full access to his medical records and the
results of these tests.

3) Dr. Dutrick (possibly mispelled), the man in charge at medical
services, should recommend that Eric be given vegan food for medical
reasons (it would obviously improve his health). Scott Jones said in an
interview with the Sacramento Bee that they will give prisoners vegan food
with a doctor's order.

4) Dr. Dutrick should make a recommendation to the jail administration
that inmates who refuse to eat non-vegan food should be given vegan food
for medical reasons (clearly eating is healthier than starving)

The phone number to the Correctional Health Services Division is: (916)
You can also email them at:

When calling the jail administration about vegan food for Eric and future
prisoners, request that they:

1) Provide Eric with vegan food immediately. His health is in very poor
condition – he lost 20 pounds after they cut off his vegan meals, and
suffered another bout of pericarditis – and this could be remedied by
feeding him nutritious, healthy meals. They provided Eric with vegan meals
for 16 months. There is no reason they cannot continue to do so.
(Remember, they always say that they don't have the resources to provide
“special” diets – but this is simply not true.)

2) Change the policy about vegan meals and ensure future access to anyone
that refuses to eat non-vegan food.

3) Jail Commander Captain Scott Jones or Operations Commander Lt. Deputy
Douglas needs to speak with Eric immediately about his requests so they
can begin remedying the situation.

Please continue calling the jail at the numbers below, and make sure you
have Eric's x-reference number handy in case they ask for it (x-ref

Jail phone numbers: 916-874-6752 or 916-874-6905
Chief Deputy, Corrections & Court Services 916-874-5686

Captain Scott Jones: 916-874-5428 (This is the direct line for the jail
commander and it may only be answered during business hours)

You can also request to speak with Jail Operations Commander Douglas, as
he is allegedly the person who will probably make the final decision about
Eric's food.

A Letter From Eric
needing to land ashore & rocky shoals at low tide revealing no beach head,
the search for a harbor elsewhere must ensue… … …

upon reflection i noticed how procedure and policy had removed the humyn
element in how the jail handled hunger strikes (as much as there was one
in the first place), how my hospitalization was becoming unavoidable
(irking at my just say no instincts 2 western “medicine”), & most
important of all = something’s not feeling right in the direction i was
moving. these relations have brought me 2 the point where i’ve decided 2
no longer protest in this fashion; in the spring of 06 it brought forth
growth, seems like the soils of fall 07 may require a different type of
seed. i also fully acknowledge that some cycles are meant 4 others 2
complete but i still have some time left within these walls. my intent
was 2 B treated humanely in an inhumane system, perhaps that was my
mistake – oh well = live, learn, adapt, think about it, think about it
again & give it 1 more go (emphasis on the adapt bit)

i wish 2 thank from the depths of my being all those who have supported
me over the last 2 weeks with letters & contacting the jail on my behalf.
i especially want 2 thank my partner, family and SPS for all their
energies & support.

Much love and solidarity,


Find Your Joy

Jonathan Paul Update

After 20 days, we finally received a call from
Jonathan yesterday. He spent his first week in the
special housing unit on 23 hour lock-down. Now that
he is out of the SHU, he is adjusting to his new
surroundings quite well. He is able to get vegan food
and is keeping busy. The yard is large and gives him
an opportunity to spend time outdoors.

He is working each day picking up garbage, which he
doesn't mind because it is an outdoor activity. He is
taking a public speaking class and a National
Geographic certification course. He will be in his
unit another few weeks before being transferred to
another more "permanent" unit.

No word yet on when he will be able to have visitors.
Jonathan misses his friends, family and his companion
animals, but most of all his freedom. That said, he
is adjusting as well as can be expected. Jonathan is
doing time for the animals, and that makes it easier.

The best part of Jonathan's day is mail call. Please
continue to write to him and send him your support.
And please remember other political prisoners - you
are their lifeline.

For the animals and the earth,

Friends of Jonathan Paul

Jonathan Paul
FCI Phoenix
Federal Correctional Institution
37910 N 45th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85086

Please feel free to contact Jonathan's support group
at or e-mail me
directly at If you are
interested in organizing a fundraiser or a letter
writing event, please let us know.

We plan to get a support website up for Jonathan very

Here are some guidelines for writing: (We've taken
this from Daniel's support website - thanks to
Daniel's support group for these comprehensive

When sending a letter, it's best to keep it simple.
Write or type on blank notebook or copy paper no
bigger than 8.5x11 and don't use any special colored
or gel pens or pencils, stamps, or stickers. Don't
write anything on the outside or inside of the
envelope except the prisoner's address and your full
name and return address in the upper left hand corner
of the addressed side of the envelope. Use plain white
envelopes without a clear plastic address window, or
any special decorations. Most prisons also REQUIRE a
return address on the envelope.

Please take a minute to read the following VERY
IMPORTANT guidelines.
- Write on both sides of the paper, since the number
of pages he can have may be limited. It is also
totally acceptable to type your letters. More will fit
on a page.
- Write your address inside your letter/card if you
think he does not have it, but DO NOT put an address
label anywhere inside or on the letter/card. Address
labels are ONLY OK to go on your envelope.
- Do NOT send him stamps, envelopes (self-addressed or
otherwise), blank paper or notecards. He will not be
able to receive them and he will be denied your
- Do NOT send him any form of currency, whether cash,
check or money order.
- Do NOT send photographs larger than 4x6. Do not send
polaroids and make sure the content is appropriate.
- Do NOT include any paperclips, staples or any extra
things in your letter.
- Do NOT send a card that has glitter or any 3-D
objects in or on it.
- Do NOT send cards with paper inserts glued in them.
- Do NOT tape your envelope shut.
- Do NOT ever write "legal mail" or anything implying
that you are an attorney unless you are
- Please use your common sense; don't write about
anything that is likely to get a prisoner in trouble
in any way.

Jonathan will not receive the envelope your letter is
mailed in, so write your return address and full name
in the letter as well. Also, number the pages like
"1/5, 2/5,3/5..." so that a prisoner can tell if some
pages are missing.
If you send Jonathan a letter and it gets returned to
you, please let us know about it so we can add any
other restrictions to the guideline list.
Please do NOT send in any books to Jonathan yet. We
are in the process of getting a system going for him
to receive books.

Jonathan's co-defendants:

Daniel McGowan
FCI Sandstone
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 1000
Sandstone, MN 55072

Nathan Block #36359-086
FCI Lompoc
Federal Correctional Institution
3600 Guard Road
Lompoc, CA 93436

Joyanna Zacher #36360-086
FCI Dublin
Federal Correctional Institution
5701 8th St - Camp Parks- Unit E
Dublin, CA 94568

Jacob Conroy # 93501-011
FCI Victorville Medium 1
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 5300
Adelanto, CA 92301

Lauren Gazzola #93497-011
FCI Danbury
Federal Correctional Institution Route #37
Danbury, CT 06811

Kevin Kjonaas # 93502-011
FCI Sandstone
PO Box 1000
Sandstone, MN 55072

Joshua Harper 29429-086
FCI Sheridan
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 5000
Sheridan, OR 97378

Andrew Stepanian # 26399-050
FCI Butner Medium II
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 1500
Butner, NC 27509

Other Green Scare:

Jeffrey Luers # 1306729
Lane County Adult Corrections
101 West 5th Ave
Eugene, OR 97401-2695

MCDAVID, ERIC X-2972521 4E231A
Sacramento County Main Jail
651 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Friends and Family of Jonathan Paul
PMB# 267
2305 Ashland St., Ste. C
Ashland, OR 97520

Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration

Paul Wright & Tara Herivel

This is the third and latest book in a series of Prison Legal News anthologies that examines the reality of mass imprisonment in America. [The other two titles are The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the US Prison Industry and Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor, both available from PLN].

Prison Profiteers is unique from other books on the market because it exposes and discusses who profits and benefits from mass imprisonment, rather than who is harmed by it and how. Why is sentencing reform dead on arrival in every state legislature and congress? What is the biggest transfer of public wealth into private hands in recent history? Read Prison Profiteers and you will know! Hint: It has to do with prisons.

Positive: With the baby boomlet demographics, we foresee increasing demand for juvenile [incarceration] services. Negative: . . . it is often difficult to maintain the occupancy rates required for profitability.

Locking up 2.3 million people isn’t cheap. Each year federal, state, and local governments spend over $185 billion annually in tax dollars to ensure that one out of every 137 Americans is imprisoned. Prison Profiteers looks at the private prison companies, investment banks, churches, guard unions, medical corporations, and other industries and individuals that benefit from this country’s experiment with mass imprisonment. It lets us follow the money from public to private hands and exposes how monies formerly designated for the public good are diverted to prisons and their maintenance. Find out where your tax dollars are going as you help to bankroll the biggest prison machine the world has ever seen.

Contributors include: Judy Greene on private prison giants Geo (formerly Wackenhut) and CCA; Anne-Marie Cusac on who sells electronic weapons to prison guards; Wil S. Hylton on the largest prison health care provider; Ian Urbina on how prison labor supports the military; Kirsten Levingston on the privatization of public defense; Jennifer Gonnerman on the costs to neighborhoods from which prisoners are removed; Kevin Pranis on the banks and brokerage houses that finance prison building; and Silja Talvi on the American Correctional Association as a tax-funded lobbyist for professional prison bureaucracies; Tara Herivel on juvenile prisons; Gary Hunter and Peter Wagner on the census and counting prisoners; David Reutter on Florida's prison industries; Alex Friedmann on the private prisoner transportation industry; Paul Von Zielbauer on the sordid history of Prison Health Services in New York; Steven Jackson on the prison telephone industry; Samantha Shapiro on religious groups being paid to run prisons and Clayton Mosher, Gregory Hooks and Peter Wood on the myth and reality of building rural prisons.

Tara Herivel is the co-editor of Prison Nation. She is a prisoner rights attorney and the author of numerous articles in the alternative press. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Paul Wright is the founder and editor of Prison Legal News and co-editor of Prison Nation and The Celling of America. He lives in Seattle, Washington and Brattleboro, Vermont.

This is an exclusive paperback printing made just for Prison Legal News.

The Death of Fred Hampton- Documentary Showing- December 1st

On December 1st, there will be a documentary showing of The Death of Fred Hampton at the SoCal Library in LA. This showing will mark the 38th anniversary of the death of the young Black Panther leader. We ask that every attend this event to honor the life and struggle of this dedicated revolutionary.

On December 4, 1969, Fred Hampton, the Deputy Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, was killed during a raid by Chicago police and the FBI. During the incident, police riddled the apartment with bullets, killing Black Panther Mark Clark, and injuring five other Panthers. Fred Hampton, one of those injured, was dragged out of his bed and shot pointblank in the head. It was later discovered he had been drugged by an uncover agent. This documentary depicts the rise of Hampton in the Panther Party and ultimately his brutal assassination.

December 1, 2007 • 5:00-8:00 pm
Southern California Library
6120 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA

Sponsored by Anarchist Black Cross Federation (LA), the Ida B. Wells Institute,
Black August (LA) and Some of Us Are Brave

Friday, November 23, 2007

Anarchist Birthday Brigade List for December


82A6313 / Box 51
Comstock, New York 12821
Great Meadow Correctional Facility
December 1, 1940

FCI Terre Haute
P.O. Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
December 5, 1947

Lane County Adult Corrections
101 West 5th Ave
Eugene, OR 97401-2695
December 5

00482-285 / Unit A
5701 8th St. Camp Parks
Dublin, CA 94568
Here is the birthday list for December. Please be
advised that addresses do change, so if there is
someone that knows of a recent transfer on this list,
please let us know.

Thanks You,

December 13

#4969 / P.O. Box 41
Michigan City, IN 46361
Indiana State Prison
December 12, 1954

South Central Correctional Center
255 West Highway 32
Licking, MO 65542-9069
December 28, 1955

Suicide City

By Sara Olson

Right after 4:30 p.m. count on Halloween, there was the sound of a scuffle in D Hall. An alarm brought guards running from all parts of the yard. An ambulance pulled up to the back door of the hall in which we live. The attendant pulled open the back door, got back into the ambulance and backed the rear of the vehicle up to the door. Next thing we knew, a phalanx of guards came hot-footing down our hall toward the ambulance, three of them surrounding a tall, slim woman with her wrists cuffed behind her back, hair flying everywhere and a wild, terrified look in her eyes. She'd threatened to cut her wrists.

Later, we were locked down at 7:00 p.m. for the rest of the night. Even though several industrious inmates had worked hard to put on a Halloween party for the housing unit, with homemade decorations and cleverly-designed games and snacks, the guards squelched the fun and locked us down. They had to do "paperwork" on the cutter. Both are becoming more and more common, lock-downs and suicides. If it's the weekend---lock-down. If it's a holiday---lock-down. People are locked down and they become even more depressed, over and above the general pall produced by simply doing prison time. Bam! Another suicide attempt . . . or worse, a success!

It's suicide city at Central California Women's Facility (CCWF). One prisoner said to me, "I've never seen so many people trying to kill themselves as I have in the last year. Sure, people die of natural causes . . . well, 'natural' prison causes like years of poor diet, no medical care, ever-present tension, but this suicide stuff!" As one of my roommates said, "It's a madhouse."

The warden was compelled by the rising rate of suicide attempts to issue a memorandum in August. In it, she assured the overcrowded, crammed-in-for-life masses that she is, "committed to insuring that you all have access to any level of mental health services you might need to address any mental health issues you may be experiencing." Huh? More like, each attempt is a crazed reaction to emotional isolation in the midst of teeming predation. It is in prison that a human being comes to know that she really is, no matter what spiritual myths she may embrace to get her through each day, all alone in the universe.

Recently the CCCMS program was reevaluated. There are increasing numbers of CCCMS women in prison or it sure seems that way. CCCMS is pronounced Triple C-M-S. It means Correctional Clinical Case Management System. It is a designation for prisoners who are prescribed psychotropic drugs for behavioral management. CCCMS is enshrined in Title XV, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) bible of rules and regulations, that spells out the direct supervision of California's more than 173,000 prisoners in its prison industry. They may have been taking prescribed drugs on the street. Sometimes an inmate is given a medication to lower the incidence of anger and violence stemming from previous life experiences of abuse, whether personal, systemic, or both. Sometimes an inmate is medicated because of the way we are housed, woefully overcrowded, in dorm rooms, day rooms and the gym. Sacramento instructed mental health professionals to reduce the number of women prisoners at CCWF on behavior modification drugs because there are too many using them. "Get rid of the Topomax and Wellbutrin!" Often, pills are "cheeked" at the "hot med" window and sold . . .that is, bartered . . . for tobacco and food. Those pills were money in the bank--"were" because many women have already been precipitously de-scheduled from their meds.

Part of the reason to control the medication rolls was the plan to merge 600 women prisoners into the state's three women's prisons from California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) which, until Spring 2007, had been a co-ed facility. A few went to Community Correctional Facilities but most were sent to "ugly beds" (halls, gym, floors) at California Institute for Women (CIW), Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) and CCWF.

The impact of the CRC transfers had a dire impact on medical care. The prison industry's health care is in federal receivership, no longer under supervision of CDCR. The receiver, Dr. Robert Sillen, got an email from a colleague, dated May 24, 2007:

". . . I got a call form (sic) Dawn Martin at VSPW this am and they are being overwhelmed with the influx of inmates and custody has closed down some of the off site transportation which is now causing a delay in care. She stated that they were at 200% of capacity and that there were inmates on the floors. She does not know how she is going to deliver care to these inmates."

This is the result of prison transport chaos on medical care. The mental health care that our warden assures us will be provided is similarly impacted. Sillen, in his supplemental Report Re Overcrowding in Spring 2007 wrote that CRC had 299 CCCMS inmates who would add to already-inflated CCCMS numbers at the other women's prisons. He stated:

"Each of these receiving prisons is already overcrowded with CCCMS patients. As of May 25, 2007, for example, (i) CCWF was operating at 132% of its CCCMS capacity, its Reception Center was operating at 145% of its CCCMS capacity and its administrative Segregation Unit housed 24 CCCMS patients;(ii) CIW was operating at 101% of its CCCMS capacity, its Reception Center was operating at 75% capacity, its Administrative Segregation Unit housed 89 CCCMS; and, (iii) VSPW was operating at 154% of its CCCMS capacity, its Reception Center was operating at 129% of its CCCMS capacity, its Administrative Segregation Unit held 15 CCCMS inmates and its Security Housing Unit housed another 32. In light of the existing overcrowding at these facilities, the influx of still more prisoners to these facilities may strain the system to the breaking point."

The "hot med line", which operates at breakfast and at the evening meal and where prisoners pick up their psychotropic drugs, grew to an insupportable number last summer. The line took two-and-a-half hours to process. Of course not all "hot med" prisoners were getting psychotropics. Some get pain-killers and there is a large number of diabetics who get insulin that's now being dispensed in their housing unit. But a large part of the "hot med line" did get them and something had to be done.

Prison psychologists have a huge caseload that they can't handle with any efficiency. There isn't time for proper evaluation on A yard, the receiving yard, of incoming inmates mental health conditions. Some scam the system. "Oh yeah, I was on such and such on the street. Yup!" All this prescribing of head meds got out of hand, so Sacramento stepped in.

From now on, lifers will be a non-priority. They're not going anywhere anyway. More and more women, no matter what their needs, will be pulled off meds and taken off CCCMS status. Many now get drugs such as lithium that they consider less effective and which can have undesirable side effects. One reason lifer and long-termer needs can be degraded is that these inmates have acclimated and they don't appear to cry out for help. However, taking people off CCCMS without a real diagnosis could lead to emotional explosions. One prisoner remarked, "I think they would want to cause explosions. I scares the outsiders. If a higher safety risk can be created in women's prisons, Sacramento can show that women are as violent as men."

CCWF and VSPW, our sister prison sited across the county road, together the largest mass of imprisoned women in one place in the world, were built per a dorm housing plan because women aren't considered dangerous to staff and to each other. Originally the two prisons were designed for four women per room but that was in the last century. I was transported to CCWF in 2002. Since I've been here, there have always been eight women in every room. A couple of years ago, we wrote letters to legislators to beat back an attempt to cram another woman in for a total of nine per room.

CIW, built in the 1950's with its two-person cells, is spoken of at CCWF in the hushed tones one uses to describe some kind of prison heaven. "Wow! Two! Only two people to a cell!" On the other hand, CIW's dayrooms have been housing women in bunks since the 1980's so, as common space, they've been off limits for a couple of decades.

With eight people in a room, women tend to achieve a natural ethnic balance. It makes it more difficult to cultivate the racially-based antagonisms that the "old CDC" (prior to the addition of Rehabilitation to the departments name and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against racial separation in California's prisons) has done so successfully among the state's male prisoners.

However, as with the men, the ethos of violence, AKA "handling your business," permeates women's prisons. If a woman tries to kill herself, she'd better do a good job because, even if she has one, DNR's are not routinely honored. Also, if a woman fails at her suicide attempt, she may get jumped for her ineptitude because she didn't "handle her business" well.

There is no transfer from a room for a woman who feels or who is actually threatened until the inmate has tried, at least once, to "handle her business." It's all a bizarre situation. In the end, a transfer to another room with seven different women is no guarantee of safety anyway. Eight women living over and under each other in a small room, many for life, leads to patterns of behavior that would challenge brain surgeons or rocket scientists or ordinary Americans who never give a thought to how they'd manage to survive such an environment. We're all dumped together. There's no regard for an individual's social or cultural history. Background other than crime history, is wiped out. Previous medical or mental health history, all of it, counts for nothing. The most deranged person runs the room because she terrorizes the others. She may be genuinely crazy or a run-or-the-mill bully. Short-termers can be subject to the whims of people who don't have release dates. Lifers, who must face a parole board that grants no release dates, must deal with a short-term nut who threatens to beat everyone up for a spoonful of Folger's coffee.

Cruelty and disdain are the way, ladled out by staff and inmates alike. Fights occur in broad daylight, resulting in fifteen guards descending on two women with cans of Orange Crush pepper spray drawn like six-guns. Perhaps a fight might be completely ignored if staff don't feel like doing "paperwork". Women walk around sporting black eyes like merit badges.

Write-ups abound, on the other hand, often for minor infractions. Short-termers get longer short terms and long-timers . . . oh, well . . . stay longer and longer, perhaps with a dollop of extra time in Ad Seg which can end up seeming like a vacation from the pandemonium of dorm housing. In Ad Seg, cells house only two people, a real plus. A prison thrives on chaos, moment-to-moment instability, and imminent threat. The rule is "never get comfortable." The minute you do, everything changes. The atmosphere of eternal conflict prevents all solidarity among prisoners and keeps everyone fearful of and fighting with one another. It makes it easy for the staff to play people off against each other. Add mental illness to the list of ingredients and there's a perfect combat stew bubbling away twenty-four/seven.


Nov 11, 2007
Sara Olson, W94197; 506-10-04 Low; CCWF, P.O. Box 1508, Chowchilla CA 93610-1508