Monday, February 27, 2012

Somebody Shared This...

Kathy, from someplace called, sent me this vid - I laughed - what a trip.
Hope you enjoy it.
Cheers !

The Nini's Are Coming !!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Author/Artist Rashid Johnson is (W/Yr Help) Out of Danger - Maybe...

On 15/02/2012 6:18 PM, Carole Seligman wrote:
Rashid called Prison Radio today with this new info.
He was transferred to Oregon. Guards came to his Wallens Ridge cell, shackled him and put him in a van (or ?) and drove him for two days (not telling him where he was going) to Wilsonville, Oregon, where he has been in a "holding cell" for one day in a receiving center, going through a "reception process", from which he will be transferred to another Oregon facility.
Here is his new i.d. number:  70384537 (he said this may change)
He has none of his personal belongings from Red Onion, including your address and phone number. He asks that you send these to him now.
He has a better means on calling people now with a prepaid debit account phone system. here is that number: 1-800-786-8521
There is a $25.00 initial minimum deposit, additional payments are $10.00 minimum. He will need to add phone numbers he wishes to call to a list soon.
Here is the address to write him (for 30 days):
Kevin Johnson
# 70384537
Coffee Creek Correctional Facility
24499 SW Grahams Ferry Rd.
Wilsonville, Oregon 97070

Rashid sounded positive about this transfer. The authorities told him it was a "brand new slate". He said he would be in "medium security, not maximum security". He said the authorities asked him how he was going to act. He got the impression that the Virgina prison authorities had told the Oregon people that he was a crazy, out-of-control, person. He said he would be in general population, "a whole new start."

Rashid indicated that phone and mail will be less restricted, than in Virginia. He can receive mail as long is it is less than 1/4 inch thick. He says he can receive books from the publishers (and probably Amazon, but he wasn't sure about that.) [Mumia cannot receive books from Amazon at SCI Mahanoy in Pennsylvania.]

His main request was for you to write him immediately with your address and phone number.

In Solidarity,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Canada vs. U.S. Justice Systems - Amazing Differences !

Compare THIS little gem w/ the US "Justice" System - where judges routinely hand out 10 and 15 year sentences for felons possessing a handgun !
Amazing the difference between here and the "Great White North", eh ?
Declaring that a three-year prison sentence for a man found with a loaded handgun would be ‘unfair, outrageous, abhorrent and intolerable,’ Madam Justice Anne Molloy of the Ontario Superior Court puts the judiciary on a collision course with the Harper government’s tough-on-crime agenda
· · · 21 minutes ago ·

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Author/Artist Rashid Johnson is in Danger - Please Support Him !

Author/Artist Rashid Johnson is in serious danger. They've moved him to Wallen's Ridge Prison in W.VA (see the video below). Please contact the prison, and let them know people care what happens to Rashid.
Wallens Ridge State Prison (address: P.O. Box 759, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219).
Alt. address & Ph.#:1052 Dogwood Drive Big Stone Gap, VA 24219-3825; (276) 523-3310 
Here's a report by Rashid, on what's happening.

By Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

On January 20, 2012, I was transferred from Red Onion to Wallens Ridge State
Prison. This transfer came on the heels of a December 12, 2011, incident where a
large portion of my hair was ripped out by a Red Onion guard, a staged investigation by a Virginia Dept. of Corrections Internal Affairs agent Johnny Acosta, and my having sent out an article and report on it all. Obviously, no coincidence.

From one set-up to another

On the morning of January 20, I was confronted at my cell by Red Onion’s C-Building Unit Manager, Michael Younce, and Lieutenant Delmer Tate, who both lied telling me that agent Johnny Acosta wanted to speak with me in the prison’s video-court area. I was, upon being handcuffed and leg shackled, “escorted” by them to the prison’s transport area and put into a cell, and told to strip down to be searched by security chief Kevin McCoy because I was “taking a trip.” Numerous guards entered the area including one Joseph Ely, a prior Red Onion guard who’d transferred to Wallens Ridge to be promoted to a Lieutenant. Ely was carrying transportation restraints and a 50,000 volt electric stun belt which prisoners are made to wear when taken on road trips. I instantly realized I was being transferred to Wallens Ridge.

I asked McCoy several times about my property. He assured it’d be right
behind me. It wasn’t. It was all left at Red Onion, where much of it will likely be
destroyed, “lost” and taken.

McCoy attempted to provoke a situation by having me given a pair of pants to wear
that were too small. I refused to wear them. After a standoff, I was given a pair in the correct size, restrained, belted and taken to a transport van. Inside the van, I was crushed and locked inside a tiny steel cage measuring about 5 feet high and 2 by 2 feet square, in which I could barely move. Once on the road, Ely asked if I knew where I was going. I answered “obviously to Wallens Ridge.” He then asked did I really not know I was being transferred? I told him no, that I was told I was going to see someone. He added, “You know why you’re going back, don’t you?” “Not really,” I answered. He then stated, “Well, you know a lot of people don’t like you. You probably won’t leave walking.” I was to receive numerous similar threats by guards that I was being sent to Wallens Ridge to be set up for violence.

Upon reaching Wallens Ridge, I was met by numerous guards, especially ranking
guards, whom I’d known from my 2000-2003 confinement at Wallens Ridge. All
displayed openly hostile attitudes. One of the guards, who was holding one of my
arms and “escorting” me from the van to the intake area, Dixon, repeatedly dug his fingers into my right arm. I was also accompanied during this walk by two large dogs barking loudly and straining wildly against their leashes.

I went through the strip search and endured another standoff over too-small
clothes, by Sergeant Cochrane and Lieutenant Swiney, both obviously trying to
provoke a situation to “justify” using violence. So I relented and wore the clothes for the brief walk to the unit.

I was leg-shackled, cuffed from behind and “escorted” by a mob of guards to the D- 3 housing unit. Every cell in the unit was empty. I was put into D-301, one of only two cells in the block with a steel box approximately 8" x 12" x 18" with a Plexiglas cover, welded to the outside of a cell door and around the opening in the door through which food and other items are passed and handcuffs applied and removed.
I was made to kneel to have the leg shackles removed, and to put my hands outside the slot into the box where the handcuffs were removed. I then removed my hands from the box and a steel plate was slid in place across the door opening, closing off access to the box.

Cochrane and Swiney came to the door in turns, repeating the same threats Ely had made, adding that “this time there won’t be any witnesses,” indirectly referring to my placement in a completely empty unit. Major Combs then came to the cell asking if I’d changed, commenting that I’d gotten grey hair since last he’d seen me and was “getting old.” Every guard I’ve encountered from then to now has been invariably hostile, and verbally insulting. I’ve been called a “nigger” no less than 15 times and subjected to numerous homosexual taunts in efforts to provoke and enrage me, which I pay no mind to. One guard, R. Ricketts has gone out of his way to repeatedly verbally taunt and threaten me with abuses to come.

I’ve had my meals and beverages dropped into the visibly filthy box on the door
which is never cleaned, indeed it can’t be where it contains rust, peeling paint,
fermented food and beverages residue, and one must place dirty clothes, shoes,
toilet cleaning items, etc. into the box to be searched by or exchanged with guards.
Using the box for meal service is a per se health hazard. Not only is my food
contaminated by being placed into direct contact with the box’s surfaces, but I’ve
found paint particles, dirt, lint, etc. in my food and beverages from the box.

I was also brought clothes by Swiney that had been sprayed with mace or gas.
I’ve been kept incommunicado – denied phone use, all property, and kept in a
completely empty unit.

I’ve also received two trays with foods containing broken pieces of metal and rocks. Guards, including Cochrane, refuse to provide me with or to accept for filing forms needed to pursuer emergency and other grievances and complaints. I had to go through a Lieutenant Bergan to obtain complaint forms from Cochrane, who then gave me only two out of five requested by me.

As indicated in my last report/update, the December 12, 2011, assault where my hair was ripped out was preceded by threats by the assaulting guard, in that I’m
now being faced with a consistent series of threats by a staff known to abuse and
even kill prisoners – which I’ll elaborate on below – it is important that this situation be made known as broadly as possible. I believe outside exposure, support and pressure has kept many of the more serious violent official intentions at bay. These threats under the circumstances must be taken very seriously.

Wallens Ridge: A Nest of Vipers

Several of the threats here have been accompanied by guards making disparaging
remarks about me being a “protester,” “Black Panther,” etc., often accompanied by racial slurs. It is well known that Black prisoners known to challenge or protest abuses or who are politically active are abuse targets at Wallens Ridge. John Gaskins, aka Mac, who was recently released from Wallens Ridge, has been bothwitness and victim. While at the prison, he witnessed prisoners inclined to protest being set up by guards, beaten and thrown into segregation. He was himself, for this reason, set up on a false infraction and thrown in segregation until he was released from Virginia’s prisons. He expected to be beaten by the guards himself at any time.

A----, aka Outlaw, the prisoner with whom I engaged in written political exchanges in my book, Defying the Tomb, was also brutally beaten and hospitalized at Wallens Ridge a couple years ago.

In my prior update/article, I discussed a 2001 beating by 3 ranking Wallens Ridge
guards of a Black prisoner, last name Plummer, which resulted in the guards being prosecuted. The charges were circumvented by the entire prison’s staff coming together to stage a scene at the prison to sway the jury to acquit the guards, and the investigator – Johnny Acosta – who found the guards to have assaulted Plummer, was in turn sued by them. Many of the guards involved in that cover-up still work at Wallens Ridge, including Major Combs, Cochrane, Swiney, etc.

Prisoners have also been killed by Wallens Ridge officials or at their prompting.

Most recent was the controversial killing of Harvey Lee Watson by his cellmate
Robert Gleason, who pled guilty to the killing and implicated Wallens Ridge staff
as complicit and responsible. Several were fired after-the-fact, when autopsies
found Watson had been dead for half a day when discovered by guards inside the
cell. The guards had falsified records claiming they’d been making routine checks of the prisoners. However, those who caused his death were passed over. Gleason personally told me numerous times that he only realized after killing Watson that Wallens Ridge officials had used him, set him up to kill Watson to remove a thorn from their side. He vowed to plead guilty to the killing and to use the case to expose what they’d done. Which he did, to no avail.

In that case, they wanted to silence Watson, who kept protesting that officials had knowingly transported him from Sussex One State Prison in Waverly, Virginia to Wallens Ridge with a dead prisoner sitting with him in the van. Watson had also just set his cell on fire the night before being transferred and had recently set another prisoner on fire. He had outstanding punitive segregation sentences to serve and was not supposed to have been released to population. He also was supposed at all times to have been housed in cells alone, even in population, due to mental health status. However, ranking Wallens Ridge officials and the counsellor, wife of Lieutenant A. Gallihar, conspired to put Watson in Gleason’s cell in population. Gleason was known to have been convicted, suspected, and charged with numerous killings. Officials felt he was their man for the job.

In the cell, Gleason complained to staff counsellor Gallihar, ranking officials,
the warden, even people on the outside that Watson was sick and needed to be
moved out of his cell before he was forced into a drastic reaction. Watson would
drink urine, masturbate in the open, talk loudly to himself all times of night, etc.
Lieutenant Gallihar, his wife and others told Gleason, “You know how to deal with it,” refusing to move Watson. Gleason admittedly snapped and killed Watson. The scandal has been widely reported in the media and Gleason is open about what happened and why. The day after the killing, A. Gallihar, who wasn’t at the prison the day of the killing, fabricated an incident report as thought he was, on his wife’s behalf to cover for her.

During or about 2003, a white Connecticut prisoner was strangled to death by
Wallens Ridge guards who claimed the death a suicide hanging. A similar attack
was attempted against another white prisoner, Michael Austin, now confined at
Red Onion, during or about 2010. The guards disliked Austin because he’d grown
up around and embraced Black urban culture and clashed with the prison’s rural
white guards who’d ridicule him and try to influence him with racist values. In his
case, guards premeditatedly rushed into his cell, claiming falsely he was attempting to hang himself, put a thick string around his neck and began choking him. Their designs to strangle him to death were foiled only because the string broke.

During 2003, another Connecticut prisoner, a Black man named Lawrence Frazier, was electrocuted to death by numerous Wallens Ridge guards while he was restrained to a steel bed frame by his extremities. The death was dismissed as caused by insulin shock, however an examining doctor found the electrocutions contributed to, if not caused, his death.

A documentary “Up the Ridge” was filmed by a local radio group exposing the
racism and abuses surrounding the prison and reporting on Frazier’s killing.

During 2001, I was myself the victim of a brutal assault by a mob of Wallens Ridge guards, including two who beat Plummer just months later. In my case, I was drawn out of my segregation cell while fully unrestrained by a guard G. Sexton, inviting me to an off-the-record one-on-one fight (what we call “a fair one” in prison). His intentions, however, weren’t to fight but to set me up for a mob attack. Sexton never once put up a fight, but was knocked down almost immediately and began

screaming for back-up. I was subdued without resisting and upon being handcuffed and shackled was repeatedly kicked in the face and head, electrocuted with multiple 50,000 volt stun weapons, had all but 3 of my then almost 2-foot-long dreadlocks systematically ripped out, and was left with multiple facial lacerations that had to be stitched closed, burns across my upper body and arms, and blood red and purple contusions covering the entire whites of my eyes across their front halves. The attack was covered up by Wallens Ridge officials at all levels and Internal Affairs agents who destroyed pod surveillance camera footage of the attack, moved all vocal prisoner witnesses to other units, and colluded reports claiming all my injuries were inflicted by Sexton defending himself against an unanticipated attack by me when the cell “accidentally” opened. At first they’d claimed I opened it, whereas Sexton himself told guards in the control booth to open it.

What’s more, Wallens Ridge’s present warden, Gregory Halloway, has subjected me to extensive past torture while a unit manager at Greensville Correctional Center, during 1998. At that time he kept me on an illegal status called “white cell status,” when I was left for 8 months, even during winter, with nothing inside the cell, but one pair of boxer shorts. No property was permitted. I could not even brush my teeth and ended up having to have several filled for cavities as a result. I was only allowed a mattress and bedding from 10 pm through 6 am. I contracted the flu, sinus infections and colds. Throughout the white cell confinement, my cell window to the outside was broken, letting in freezing and cold outside temperatures.

While on white cell status, Holloway accused me of knocking him unconscious in
the medical department while my blood pressure taken with my hands cuffed,
supposedly in response to his torturing me. I remained on white cell status until I
was transferred to Red Onion in 1998 from Greensville.

Therefore not only is Holloway an official who’s known to illegally torture and
abuse—and will admit having me on that illegal status—but one who has cause for
vengeance against me. It is highly unlikely I can expect to receive any semblance
of just treatment under him, nor that he would act to prevent threatened abuses.
Indeed it is probable that he is privy to such abuses. Furthermore, Holloway is
but a token Black figurehead, recently appointed to Wallens Ridge to counter a
widespread image and reputation for racism like at Red Onion. Similarly, at Red
Onion, a token Black warden was appointed in the early 2000s, under whose
supervision racism and abuse escalated. Indeed, he went out of his way to avoid
making waves with the local entrenched white supremacist status quo that de facto ran Red Onion, as it does Wallens Ridge.

Dark faces in high places is today’s chief tactic for masking institutionalized racism.


If officials did not send me to Wallens Ridge with deviant designs, then this admits I qualify to be housed at any other VDOC prison of the same level 5 security classification, such as Sussex One or Two State Prisons, where a more racially diverse and tolerant staff exists. At Wallens Ridge and Red Onion, I and other politically active prisoners and those who challenge abuses have been targeted in a clear pattern with official violence and abuse.

It’s my request to supporters and readers to raise as much protest and awareness about this situation as possible and press for my reassignment to a less volatile and more racially diverse and tolerant environment, such as the Sussex prisons. And to also be aware of the foul conditions that we live under on these razor wire plantations. For me, it just went from bad to worse.

Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
All Power to the People!

Up The Ridge - Wallen's Ridge State Prison - W.VA

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Don't Stop Believin' - My New Pandora Internet Radio Station

I love Don't Stop Believin' - it's the name of my new "Internet Radio Station" on Pandora.
For those of you that don't know about it, Pandora is a free service, where you simply choose a name for your internet "station", type in your favorite music, and let 'er rip ! The more music you type in, the better Pandora gets at picking songs you like.
It's a nonstop stream of music that YOU get to choose.
My buddy Chill turned me on to it - pretty neat stuff.
Check it out - and check out my station.
Thought I'd share.
This is the link to my radio station -> text to click on
Cheers !

Journey - Don't Stop Believing

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kevin Johnson Attacked at Red Onion State Prison - VA

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Assaulted by Red Onion Prison Guard

On December 12, Kevin "Rashid" Johnson was assaulted by Sergeant Tony Adams at Red Onion State Prison in Virginia. Rashid was accosted him as he was coming out of the exercise cage. He was handcuffed and ordered by Sgt. Tony Adams to turn his back on them, which he didn't do. Adams then ripped out a swath of Rashid's hair, extending from above his right eye all the way over to his left ear. The guards then threw him to the ground and dislocated his left collarbone.

As of December 15, Rashid still has not received adequate medical attention.

Rashid has spent the past 21 years in prison, 18 of which have been spent in segregation. Jailed as a young man, he has used his time in prison to educate himself, and, developing a political analysis of the society that condemned him and so many others to a life behind bars, Rashid founded the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter, a revolutionary communist organization. In his years in prison, he has honed his skills as a jailhouse lawyer, an artist, and author, writing several exposés of ongoing conditions of racism, violence, and other forms of abuse at Red Onion prison, where he has been held since __.

In 2010, several of Rashid's writings, and his clandestine correspondence with another prisoner, were published in the book Defying the Tomb. Since that time, a website has been put up making Rashid's writings more widely accessibly (, and artwork by Rashid was used prominently by supporters of the California prisoners' hungerstrike in 2011. Rashid has also continued exposing the deteriorating conditions at Red Onion prison, especially since Randy Mathena replaced Tracy S. Ray as Chief Warden in October.

Over the past year, as Rashid has brought increased attention to conditions in Virginia's prisons, he has also been increasingly targeted by prison staff. His mail has been disrupted, both incoming and outgoing. Political essays and reviews of his book have been refused on the spurious grounds that they pose a risk to the security of Red Onion prison. He has been transferred to Red Onion's new B-3 isolation unit, where he has had his cell "searched" by guards throwing his belongings on the ground and the stamping on them with their dirty boots, and where he has been kicked and threatened by guards. Rashid has pointed out that this abuse has likely been intended to provoke a response whereby the guards could "justify" violent reactions.

This is the context in which the  December 12 assault on Rashid took place. The prison guards, working for the new warden Randy Mathena, are clearly targeting Rashid for abuse as payback for his work in exposing the conditions at Red Onion.

The only means of defense that prisoners like Rashid have is outside support and attention. Letting those who run the prisons know that we are watching, and encouraging human rights and progressive organizations to speak out about such cases, can save lives.

Telephone the office of Harold Clarke, direcor of Virginia's Department of Corrections, at:

Demand that Kevin "Rashid" Johnson be provided with appropriate medical care, that Sergeant Tony Adams be suspended from duties, and that criminal proceedings be launched against him for assault. The incident apparently occurred in front of a video camera - this film footage should be secured as evidence, and made available to the public.

Telephone Warden Randy Mathena at:

Demand an end to the targeting of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson for abuse. Demand the Rashid be provided with adequate medical care, and that Sergeant Tony Adams be suspended from duties.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Three Prisoners Die in Hunger Strike !

Hungerstrike News
November 20, 2011 Vol. 3, No. 1

Three Prisoners Die in Hunger Strike Related Incidents: CDCR Withholds Information from Family Members, Fails to Report Deaths

Image by Pete Collins, imprisoned at Bath Prison, Ontario, Canada
Nov. 17: In the month since the second phase of a massive prisoner hunger strike in California ended on September 22nd, three prisoners who had been on strike have committed suicide. Johnny Owens Vick and another prisoner were both confined in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit. Hozel Alanzo Blanchard was confined in the Calipatria Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU).
According to reports from prisoners who were housed in surrounding cells and who witnessed the deaths, guards did not come to the assistance of one of the prisoners at Pelican Bay or to Blanchard, and in the case of the Pelican Bay prisoner (whose name is being withheld for the moment), apparently guards deliberately ignored his cries for help for several hours before finally going to his cell, at which point he was already dead. “It is completely despicable that prison officials would willfully allow someone to take their own life,” said Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, “These guys were calling for help, their fellow prisoners were calling for help, and guards literally stood by and watched it happen.”
Family members of the deceased as well as advocates are having difficult time getting information about the three men and the circumstances of their deaths. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is required to do an autopsy in cases of suspicious deaths and according to the Plata case, is required to do an annual report on every death in the system.
Family members have said that their loved ones, as well as many other prisoners who participated in the hunger strike, were being severely retaliated against with disciplinary actions and threats. Blanchard’s family has said that he felt that his life was threatened and had two emergency appeals pending with the California Supreme Court at the time of his death. “It is a testament to the dire conditions under which prisoners live in solitary confinement that three people would commit suicide in the last month,” said Laura Magnani, Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee, “It also points to the severe toll that the hunger strike has taken on these men, despite some apparent victories.” Prisoners in California’s SHUs and other forms of solitary confinement have a much higher rate of suicide than those in general population.
The hunger strike, which at one time involved the participation of at least 12,000 prisoners in at least 13 state prisons was organized around five core demands relating to ending the practices of group punishment, long-term solitarily confinement, and gang validation and debriefing. The CDCR has promised changes to the gang validation as soon as early next year and were due to have a draft of the new for review this November, although it’s not known whether that process is on schedule. “If the public and legislators don’t continue to push CDCR, they could easily sweep all of this under the rug,” said Emily Harris, statewide coordinator Californians United for a Responsible Budget, “These deaths are evidence that the idea of accountability is completely lost on California’s prison officials.”


What is the meaning of the California prisoner hunger strikes? A statement in support of the hunger strikers

by Kevin "Rashid" Johnson 

Rashid Johnson, a prisoner in Virginia, has been held in segregation since 1993. While in prison he founded the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter. Rashid is also the artist who drew the image that has been used extensively during the strikes of arms linked in unity and a crossed out spoon and fork. His book, “Defying the Tomb,” with a foreword by Russell “Maroon” Shoats, has been banned as “gang literature” by Pelican Bay State Prison. It can be ordered at, by writing to Kersplebedeb, CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3W 3H8, or by emailing Send our brother some love and light: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1007485, Red Onion State Prison, P.O. Box 1900, Pound, VA 24279.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass
Six thousand six hundred California prisoners participated in a 3-week-long hunger strike in July, seeking relief from unjust and inhumane conditions. In the face of California Department of Corrections (CDC) officials failing to honor settlement negotiations, the hunger strike resumed on September 26th, with nearly 12,000 prisoners participating in thirteen of that state’s prisons.
It is a truism that oppression breeds resistance. Indeed, the U.S. Declaration of Independence enshrines the right and duty of the oppressed to resist their oppression.
In this era of capitalist oppression on a global scale, the hunger strike exhibits the very same humyn spirit, courage and outrage that drove millions across North Afrika and the Middle East this year, to take to the streets in protest against oppressive governments. U.S. rulers, in the face of pretending to champion and support human rights, democracy, and the demands for basic rights by people half a world away, can’t admit they practice abuses just as vile against their own subjects – right here in Amerika.
Hosni Mubarak, the U.S. puppet and Egyptian dictator who was driven out of Egypt by mass protests this year, was notorious for torturing his own people. But so too are U.S. officials. Indeed, one of the key protest issues of the California prisoners is the acute psychological torture of sensory deprivation in the CDC’s Security Housing Units (SHUs) – Pelican Bay’s SHU in particular. This torture can’t be honestly denied.
It has long been the game of U.S. officials, especially since the 2004 Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib torture scandals, to pretend that psychological torture isn’t really torture at all. However, they secretly know the exact opposite to be true. According to torture experts, psychological – or ‘clean’ torture – is the most destructive, sadistic and inhumane type of torture. Among the most proven effective methods is the very sort inflicted by design in the isolated cells of the SHUs, namely sensory deprivation.
Noted psychologist and torture expert, Dr. Albert Biderman, long ago found as to sensory deprivation, “the effect of isolation on the brain function of the prisoner is much like that which occurs if he is beaten, starved or deprived of sleep” [1]. The very same U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that employed Biderman as one of its torture researchers and experimenters, encoded these findings in its 1963 “Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation” torture manual, confirming that:
  1. The deprivation of sensory stimuli induces stress;
  2. The stress becomes unbearable for most subjects;
  3. The subject has a growing need for physical and social stimuli; and
  4. Some subjects progressively lose touch with reality, focus inwardly, which produces delusions, hallucinations, and other pathological effects.
What’s more, over a century ago the U.S. high court found and denounced the same in U.S. prisons, in the face of In Re Medley, 134 U.S. 150 (1890) [2]. These findings have been repeated in U.S. courts today in response to the conditions of SHUs and super-maximum security prisons that have swept Amerika since the 1970s, alongside massive imprisonment of the poor and people of color. In one case concerning Pelican Bay’s SHU, the California federal courts found “many, if not most, inmates in SHU experience some degree of psychological trauma in reaction to their extreme social isolation and the severely restricted environmental stimulation in SHU.” Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F. Supp. 1146 (1995).
So it’s no wonder thousands of prisoners have been driven to starve themselves in desperate efforts for exposure and redress, and to show they are worthy of basic humyn rights and dignity.
But the typical response of officials is to discredit the resistance of those who suffer at their hands by villainizing (or “dirtying up,” as Johnnie Cochran used to called it), the victim. It was done to Civil Rights activists from the 1950s-1970s who opposed and exposed racism – U.S. officials projected them as fronts for foreign communists, and denounced as “Soviet propaganda” graphic photos of Southern lynching that appeared in world media.
Whatever happens to be the popular official enemy and bogeyman of the day, is the label used to discredit those who resist official oppression. During the Cold War, the ‘enemy’ was communists. Then it was terrorists. In the era of mass incarceration and ongoing persecution of Black and Brown youth, it’s gangs. These labels are used to provoke visceral reactions in the population at large of fear, hatred and consequent disregard for and alienation against the oppressed. And true to form, the hunger strikers have been “dirtied up’”as the work of prison gangs:
“The CDCR has continued to lie about the hunger strike – saying it was organized by gangs and attacking representatives of the strikers and others, depicting them as the ‘generals’ of the prison gangs and the ‘shot callers’ who order other prisoners to engage in gang violence.
“Dolores, whose son has been in the SHU for 10 years, said “If that is their [the prisoners’] way of thinking, then why did they just conduct a hunger strike willing to risk their own lives, to suffer on a daily basis in a nonviolent demonstration that spread across California prisons involving thousands and thousands of men crossing all racial lines? It’s because they are human beings. They do have dignity, and they want to be heard.” [3]
Not coincidentally, another of the hunger strike’s main protest issues is the CDCR’s labelling prisoners as gang members upon the flimsiest grounds, then confining them in SHUs until they “debrief” – that is, finger other prisoners as gang members to be thrown in the SHU. Thus the only way to leave SHU is as a known informant to be ostracized and targeted as such by others.
The Real Purpose of SHUs and Super-maxes
The true purpose of SHUs isn’t to control gangs and racial violence. In fact, the CDCR has long instigated and facilitated prisoner-on-prisoner violence. From the notorious ‘gladiator fights’ – where guards at CDCR’s Corcoran State Prison set up prisoner fights, gambled on the outcomes, and then shot the prisoners for fun, killing 8 and shooting 43 just between 1989 and 1994 – to massive numbers of prisoner-on-prisoner clashes instigated and manipulated by the notoriously corrupt California prison guards’ union, to generate public support for building more prisons to increase prison jobs and dues-paying membership.
In 1999, prisoners at the New Folsom Prison went on a hunger strike protesting being forced onto prison yards with rivals. CDOC Ombudsman Ken Hurdle rejected negotiations, stating “Then you’d have two groups normally aligned on the yard together. They would have only staff as their enemy” [4]. This admits officials deliberately facilitating prisoner-on-prisoner violence as a technique of prison control. This is what they fear in the unity shown by the hunger strikers. And it undermines the disunity they need to project them as animals.
Officials welcome and incite gang violence. It creates jobs, justifies their oppression, and enhances their ‘control.’ Even Crips co-founder Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams, who was killed by the CDCR exposed this [5].
More revealing is that then-California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, rejected massive international pleas to stay Tookie’s execution on grounds that Tookie dedicated his book, Life in Prison, to Black revolutionary George Jackson, who was murdered by CDOC officials in 1971. Schwarzenegger said the dedication “defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed.” Which brings us closer to exposing the real reasons SHUs exist.
The actual “leaders” officials fear, and who are the prime targets of SHUs and super-maxes are those who are politically conscious and prove able to unite prisoners across racial and other lines.
The proliferation of SHUs and super-maxes began with the Marion Control Unit, which opened in 1972, following the murder of George Jackson and the peaceful 1971 Attica uprising that officials ended with the coldblooded murders of 29 prisoners and 10 civilians, and systematic humiliation and torture of hundreds of prisoners, provoking international outrage. Like the brutal government responses to mass protests in Asia and Afrika this year, when the prisoners of Attica took to the yard in protest, with grievances articulated and represented by politically conscious prisoners, the official response was murder and torture, then high security torture units. In one of the few admissions on record, Ralph Arons, a former warden at Marion, testified in federal court: “The purpose of the Marion Control Unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison and in society at large” [6]. Yet U.S. officials deny confining or persecuting people for political beliefs.
In fact, Pelican Bay officials recently banned my own book, Defying the Tomb, as “gang material,” a book of political writings and art, which many readers and reviewers have compared to George Jackson’s writings, whose books CDOC banned in the 1970s as well. And with the resurgence of prisoners’ political consciousness, they’ve recently begun confiscating this book as “gang material.” Like Nazi book burnings and concentration camps, the object is to censor and persecute political consciousness and revolutionary culture amongst the most oppressed peoples. And ‘gang’ labels are used to “dirty up” the people, practices, and ideas they seek to repress.
Just as I am confined in a remote Virginia super-max, under ‘special’ conditions of a SHU because of my political beliefs and having co-founded the New Afrikan Black Panther Party as a Party of the oppressed, so too you’ll find in these units across Amerika those who hold and practice revolutionary political views and affiliations that are supposed to be constitutionally protected, not persecuted. As the high court once proclaimed:
“Our form of government is built on the premise that every citizen shall have the right to engage in political expression and association. This right was enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Exercise of these basic freedoms in America has traditionally been through the media of political associations. Any interference with the freedom of a party is simultaneously an interference with the freedom of its adherents. All political ideas cannot and should not be channelled into the programs of our two major parties. History has amply proved the virtue of political activity by minority, dissident groups…” [7]
But contrast these political ideals with the political reality that such parties face at the hands of officials, as admitted by Justice Hugo Black: “History should teach us…that…minority parties and groups which advocate extremely unpopular social or governmental innovations will always be typed as criminal gangs and attempts will always be made to drive them out” [8].
This is the function of the SHUs like those that California’s prisoners are protesting, and the ones used as a weapon to censor and repress political consciousness.
Resistance to the oppression of these units is the meaning of the hunger strikes. Amerika’s oppressed and disenfranchised victims of modern penal enslavement and the New Jim Crow, are struggling like those of generations past for recognition and respect as humyn beings. As a Party of the oppressed, especially the imprisoned, the NABPP-PC stands in unity with the heroic struggles of California’s entombed, and call on all freedom-loving people everywhere to take up their cause.
Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
All Power to the People!
  1. Albert D. Biderman and Herbert Zimmer, eds. The Manipulation of Human Behavior (New York: Wiley, 1961), 29.
  2. The court found under conditions of solitary confinement “A considerable number of prisoner fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to remove them, and others became violently insane; others still committed suicide, while those who stood the ordeal better were generally not reformed, and in most cases, did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community.”
  3. “Hunger Strike to Resume September 26 – Support the Just Demands of the Pelican Bay Prisoners,” Revolution #243, September 25, 2011.
  4. Quoted from Sacramento Bee, December 8, 1999.
  5. “Yes America, as unbelievable as it may seem, ‘hood cops, with impunity, commit drive-bys and other lawless acts. It was common practice for them to abduct a Crip or Bounty Hunter and drop him off in hostile territory, and then broadcast it over a loudspeaker. The predictable outcome was that the rival was either beaten or killed on the spot, which resulted in a cycle of payback. Cops would also inform opposing gangs where to find and attack a rival gang, and then say ‘go handle your business.’ Like slaves, the gang did exactly what their master commanded. Had they not been fuelled by self-hatred, neither Crips, Bounty Hunters, nor any other Black gang, would have been duped: “The ‘hood cops were pledged to protect and serve, but for us they were not there to help, but to exploit us – and they were effective. With the cops’ Machiavellian presence, the gang epidemic escalated. When gang warfare is fed and fuelled by law enforcement, funds are generated for the so-called anti-gang units. Without gangs, those units would no longer exist.” Blue Rage, Black Redemption (2004).
  6. Stephen Whitman, “The Marion Penitentiary – It should be Opened-Up Not Locked-Down.” Southern Illinoisan. August 7, 1988, p. 25.
  7. NAACP v. Button. 371 U.S. 415, 431 (1963).
  8. Barenblatt v. U.S., 360 U.S. 109, 150 (1959) (J., Black, dissenting).

Recent Media Coverage

Needless to say, a link to an article does not imply endorsement.



Hungerstrike News can be reached at

Throughout the month of July, and for weeks in September and October, 2011, thousands of prisoners across California participated in a hunger strike against torturous conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit.
Hungerstrike News documented their struggle and the actions of those who stood in solidarity with them.
In the current period, Hungerstrike News will be released intermittently to provide updates about the struggle against isolation torture in the California gulag. 

Has Your Mail to Someone in Prison Been Refused?

From Julie Tackett:
Having your mail rejected is one of the most upsetting things to have happen when you have a loved one in prison. Whether is just a mistake on your part, a concerted effort cut family bonds or blatant retaliation for things like the Hunger Strike, it will help to keep track of trends. I have a spread sheet to record mail rejected by CDCR. I will watch for trends of increased rejections by facility, type of rejections, reasons for rejections, and otherwise keep an eye on things.

If you ever have a piece of mail rejected by CDCR for any reason, just message me, email me at or call 206-214-8208.

Thanks, Julie

Secretary Matthew Cate
1515 S Street
TEL: (916) 323-6001
Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
CDCR Public Affairs Office: (916)445-4950

If you have a website or blog and would like to help promote Hungerstrike News, get in touch.
follow the Prisoner Hungerstrike Solidarity Coalition on twitter:


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh Yeah - BranScam Needs a PenPal...

Brandon (the artist that did the devil-girl on the letter below) needs a female penpal pretty bad - so if anyone knows a girl who's willing to write him, he'd be grateful.
You can write him at: Brandon Begay, #83195-008, CADC, P.O.Box 6300, Florence, AZ 85232.
He's a good guy - 26, Navajo, a party animal, and a helluva artist. Write him, OK ?

Finally...More Prisoner Art

Well, here's some prisoner art - been a while.
I receive it from time to time, but little lately has been worth a shit, frankly.
Anyway, have a Happy Halloween !

A Little Halloween Prisoner Art

Friday, October 21, 2011

Burnin' a New CD

Hi Folks,
Just burnin' a new cd, and thought I'd share a little electronica tune I found.

Symphonic Metal - Stormbringer

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hungerstrike News

Prisoners at Calipatria Call Off Strike

Image by Pete Collins, imprisoned at Bath Prison, Ontario, Canada
October 15: Prisoners at Calipatria State Prison have decided to temporarily end their hunger strike to regain strength. Hunger strikers were subject to extreme retaliation at the hands of warden Leland McEwen and guards, including witholding water and vitamins. Reports from prisoners that indicated that many men were collapsing in their cells and that the guards were doing nothing when alerted. A family member said that the infirmary there was full and that prisoners needing medical care were being transferred to Centinela.

It is becoming apparent that Calipatria is basically used as a stepping stone to Pelican Bay or other California SHUs. A majority of the men held there have been validated as gang members and have effectively been given SHU status. Some spend as long as 4 years in solitary confinement, awaiting transfer. Calipatria has virtually no programming for prisoners, and prisoners frequently have nothing in their cells to enrich their days. The prison has prohibitted radios and television, which violates CDCR policy. The hunger strikers have added these items to their demands.
As prisoners throughout California continue their struggle for human rights and against torture, we must keep up the pressure on Governor Jerry Brown and the CDCR as the 5 core demands have only been minimally addressed We will continue to post updates as we get them. A recent letter from a hunger striker stated:
“A caged man is a spirit trapped in steel — leave him alone and his spirit becomes one with his cage — it’s all he knows. Motivate him, nurture and socialize him, and his spirit soars. It’s only then that the man realizes the difference between him and his cage — the reasons for it. Thus, allowing him to finally be free from it.”


Why I Chained Myself to the State Building in LA

by Keith James 

Two videos of acts of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience in Support of the Prisoners Hunger Strike, to demand an end to the retaliation and torture at the hands of the CDCR and governor Jerry Brown, and a demand that CDCR and Gov. Brown immediately meet the Prisoners' Five Demands.
In a word, torture… torture in a brutal and barbaric penal system hell-bent on the destruction of thousands of prisoners in high-tech torture chambers called Security Housing Units or SHU’s.

In the SHU you’re locked up in a small, windowless concrete cell 23 hours a day, with minimum human contact and maximum sensory deprivation. Imagine your only human contact with the outside world is the punch of a prison guard, or a violent gas explosion as part of “extracting” you from your cell. Imagine never hearing music ever again.

Think about everything that makes you human… that keeps you physically and mentally alive… that connects you with the world and other people… that gives you a reason to live, to love, to learn and think…. All this is what the SHU tries to extinguish.

Of the 1100 prisoners in the SHU in Pelican Bay State Prison, over 500 have been literally buried alive in the SHU, entombed, for over 10 years; 78 for over 20 years. The cruelty and illegitimacy of the State of California ’s actions must stop and stopping torture requires such inhumanity becoming a MAJOR focus of resistance in society.

Prisoners at Pelican Bay and other state prisons have rebelled against all this; for 20 days in July and now for 19 days, from September 26 to October 14, upwards of 12,000 courageous prisoners have carried out a hunger strike. The prisoners stopped eating, risked their lives, and made their just and reasonable demands to end long term solitary confinement and torture, and snatched the initiative from the prison authorities, spotlighting a towering crime that has been for far too long covered up.

What these prisoners have done is truly heroic. They are an inspiration, setting an example for everyone fighting for an end to injustice, and we must come to their side.

Yet in California the Governor supports the prison officials in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR). As the CDCR viciously intensified their almost unimaginably cruel treatment of prisoners who are on a hunger strike with even greater repression and violence these past weeks and months, Gov. Brown fully backed the assault, saying: “We have individuals who are dedicated to their gang membership who order people to be killed, who order crimes to be committed on the outside. My recommendation is to deal effectively with gangs in prison.” No, Governor Brown - torture is unequivocally unacceptable, no matter what labels are put on prisoners. This is why I chained myself to the State Building in Los Angeles .

The CDCR response to this hunger strike has been vicious, outrageous, and ominous: intimidation and retaliation against prisoners and their families; “general population” prisoners put into isolation for participating in the hunger strike; fluids and vitamins deliberately withheld to further incapacitate the striking prisoners; expulsion orders to two key mediation team lawyers who have been banned from Pelican Bay prison pending an investigation into whether they had “jeopardized the safety and security of the CDCR”; denial of family visits; further isolation of hunger striking SHU prisoners by placing them “down under” in Administrative Segregation Units, in extreme cold with no medicine and medical attention; brutal cell extractions of hunger striking prisoners, with the use of suffocating gas explosions in the prisoners cells….

What people do on the outside of prison will be a big factor in what happens now that the prison authorities have reacted with vicious reprisals against prisoners, families, and legal advocates. The hunger strike has been halted for now. The torture, despite an epic struggle, continues… the 5 demands of the prisoners have NOT yet been met… but many, many more people, millions more, learned about the SHU’s and thousands today are looking for ways to act to put an end to such inhuman, punitive treatment.

We have a moral responsibility to act in a way that corresponds with the justness of the prisoners’ demands and with what is truly at stake. In the words of Revolution newspaper, a determined and bold movement outside the walls of prison is urgently needed to expose and demand an end to these high-tech torture chambers called “SHU’s”. That’s why I chained myself to the State Building in Los Angeles .