Around 25 activists attended the local Oakland vigil, held at 14th and Broadway in downtown Oakland.
The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition and member organizations have begun a series of statewide coordinated actions to end solitary confinement.
The vigils will be held on the 23rd of each month, to symbolize the 23 or more hours every day that people are kept in solitary confinement. The first vigil was held this past Monday, March 23, at locations in Oakland, Arcata, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Vigil organizers said, “The actions will acknowledge the importance of organized, community-based pressure as a core strategy (along with courts and legislators) of our work outside the walls to end solitary confinement.”
For up to date information about the location of the next vigil, go to the PHSS website.
Drawing for the Pelican Bay hunger strikers by Pete Collins, imprisoned at Bath Prison, Ontario, Canada.
On February 12, the federal court issued another interim victory for the prisoner-plaintiffs in LSPC’s solitary confinement class action case when it announced its tentative decision to grant our motion to amend the complaint. The amendment will allow certain prisoners who have been transferred out of Pelican Bay security housing units (PB SHU) to remain in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit asserts that ten years or more in the PB SHU is cruel and unusual punishment. In an end run around the lawsuit, the prison has been transferring many of these prisoners to other SHUs, particularly Tehachapi. Four of our ten named plaintiffs are in this situation.
Because the court had previously defined our 8th Amendment class as prisoners who have served ten or more years at PB SHU and are currently housed there, their transfer moved them out of the class. Our motion argued that these prisoners should be eligible for relief, since their conditions remain cruel and unusual. The granting of the motion allows us to prove the facts to support our claim.
We are still on target for a December 2015 trial. The judge indicated she will bifurcate (split) the two issues into two trials. In December, the trial will address whether 10 years or more in PB SHU violates the 8th amendment. Assuming we win that trial, there will be a second trial in 2016 to address whether ten years or more at PB SHU followed by a transfer to another SHU also constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Currently, there are over 200 prisoners PB SHU who have been there for ten years or more.