Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition Launches Monthly Vigils

Around 25 activists attended the local Oakland vigil, held at 14th and Broadway in downtown Oakland.

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.

PR: Unlawful Removal of CA Voters with Conviction Records

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALL OF US OR NONE PUTS TEN CALIFORNIA COUNTIES ON NOTICE OVER UNLAWFUL REMOVAL OF PEOPLE WITH FELONY CONVICTIONS FROM ELECTORAL ROLLS
 

CONTACT:

Mark Fujiwara
All of Us or None Bay Area /
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
415-625-7056
mc@prisonerswithchildren.org
Christin Runkle
All of Us or None Los Angeles / Long Beach / 
A New Way of Life
323-406-6904
christin@anewwayoflife.org

San Francisco, CA. (April 4, 2018) — All of Us or None (AOUON), a California-based national grassroots organization fighting for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people, sent demand letters today to ten California county registrar’s offices and local courts believed to be unlawfully triggering the removal of people with conviction histories from electoral rolls — with estimated over 3,000 eligible voters being removed in 2017 in Los Angeles County alone.

AOUON has found evidence that these government agencies — which span ten counties, including Butte, Contra Costa, Kings, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara, Solano, Tulare, Ventura and Orange — have been violating recent legislation that preserves voting rights for people convicted of a felony under AB 109 Public Safety Realignment. The demand letters ask that the agencies immediately reinstate these voters’ registrations, send notices to alert the voters to the error, and fix their systems to ensure that such violations do not happen again. 

“We’re a national organization of formerly incarcerated individuals with a history of fighting for and winning the voting rights of people with convictions, and we are prepared to take necessary action to correct unlawful practices that violate our right to vote.” says Lisa James, AOUON-Los Angeles/Long Beach organizer.
 

Voting after Realignment has a confusing history, but the law is now clear

In 2011, a major California criminal justice reform — commonly known as “Realignment” — changed the law to require that people with non-serious, non-violent, or non-sexual felonies are sentenced to county jail or probation, instead of state prison. Since the California Constitution disenfranchises only those who are “imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony,” the voting eligibility of those serving felony sentences in county jail under Realignment was unclear for several years.

Following a successful legal battle brought by AOUON and other community allies against the Secretary of State, the State Legislature ultimately passed AB 2466 to clarify that Californians who are convicted of county Realignment felonies retain their right to vote.

As of January 1, 2017, state elections law requires local courts to provide to the county registrar a monthly list of people “committed to state prison.” The registrar is then required to cancel the registrations of people currently in prison or on parole. Despite the fact that voting rights under Realignment have now been clarified in law,

“The government’s ongoing confusion about the law leads to the continuing disenfranchisement of the very population historically subject to de facto disenfranchisement — from the Fifteenth Amendment to Jim Crow,” James says.
 

Educational efforts and voter outreach are critical

The last day to register to vote in the California primary election is May 21. For people who are currently in county jail, the deadline to request mail-in ballots is May 29. Even if registrar’s offices in these ten counties re-enroll voters quickly, outreach efforts are crucial to ensuring that people with Realignment convictions know that they can, in fact, vote.

AOUON is asking these registrar’s offices to engage in public education on the right to vote with a felony, but it will also continue its own outreach efforts. During the last two presidential general elections, AOUON-Los Angeles/Long Beach has done voter registration drives in Los Angeles County jails that have yielded more than 1,700 registrations in total. 

“As we restore voting rights to people incarcerated in jails, we need to establish a process to ensure everyone inside knows their rights and has timely access to registration forms and ballots before elections,” says Dorsey Nunn, co-founder of All of Us or None and executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children in San Francisco. “We also need formerly incarcerated people to be able to go into jails to do some of this voter  outreach — we have the unique experience to know that voting instills a sense of ownership in both ourselves and our communities.”
 

 

About All of Us or None

All of Us or None is a grassroots civil and human rights organization fighting for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and our families. We are fighting against the discrimination that people face every day because of arrest or conviction history. The goal of All of Us or None is to strengthen the voices of people most affected by mass incarceration and the growth of the prison-industrial complex. All of Us or None is a project of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, with the SoCal chapters sponsored by A New Way of Life Reentry Project.

Public Defender to Hold Press Conference and Rally on Thursday to Oppose Plan to Hold Oakland Arraignments at New Courthouse in Dublin

OAKLAND, Calif. – Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods will host a press conference Thursday, June 29, to announce a coalition opposing plans to hold all in-custody arraignments at the new Dublin courthouse set to open in July.

The event will be on the historic steps of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland and Woods will speak along with families of criminal defendants, formerly incarcerated and others concerned that moving arraignments from Oakland to Dublin will result in more people being held in jail while they fight their cases.

The Public Defender’s Office, which represents the majority of criminal defendants, has formed a coalition of local politicians, non-profits and activists to oppose the plan, which recently was announced by Alameda County Presiding Judge Morris Jacobson. The Dublin courthouse, officially known as the East County Hall of Justice, originally was to host only South County arraignments, including those currently at the Hayward and Pleasanton courthouses.

North County arraignments – including Oakland, Berkeley and Albany – currently are held at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. The Dublin courthouse is approximately 30 miles away and is one mile from the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.

Arraignment is a critical point in a criminal case because that’s when criminal charges are announced and the court sets bail or chooses to release someone on their own recognizance. It must take place at a location that is readily accessible to defendants’ families, who need to attend in person in order to provide essential information to the court, including community ties and employment.

If families are unable to travel the extra 30 miles to Dublin, more defendants will remain in custody for longer periods of time, particularly defendants with the lowest income and the least serious charges.

WHAT: Press conference
WHEN: 12:15-1:15 p.m. Thursday, June 29, 2017
WHERE: East steps of Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon St, Oakland

 

Here is a list of coalition members:

1)      American Civil Liberties Union

2)      Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff

3)      Oakland Vice Mayor and Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington

4)      Assembly Member Rob Bonta

5)      Assembly Member Tony Thurmond

6)      Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan

7)      Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillen

8)      Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb

9)      Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid

10)   Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks

11)   Oakland City Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington

12)   Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney

13)   Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan

14)   East Bay Community Law Center

15)   Ella Baker Center

16)   Equal Justice Society

17)   Silicon Valley De-Bug

18)   Essie Justice Group

19)   Bay Area Legal Aid

20)   Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

21)   Disability Rights Education Defense Fund

22)   Urban Peace Movement

23)   All of Us or None

24)   The Asian Prisoner Support Committee

25)   A. L. Costa Community Development

26)   CURYJ

27)   Participatory Defense Movement

28)   Root and Rebound

 

LSPC Policy Director Endria Richardson Discusses Prop 64 (AUMA) on KPFA’s “Up Front” program – Oct. 3, 2016

LSPC Policy Director Endria Richardson discusses Prop 64 (Adult Use of Marijuana Act) and how it will affect formerly incarcerated people and communities of color in Oakland, especially in terms of policing as well as access to business permits to open dispensaries.
KPFA Report begins: 33:10.
Endria’s segment begins: 37:40

UpFront – October 3, 2016

UPFRONT

An hour-long news magazine with a strong focus on state and local issues. Hosted by Cat Brooks, Mitch Jeserich and Salima Hamirani.

Manuel La Fontaine talks about the 2016 FICPFM National Conference with Jan Miyasaki on WORT Radio

Just days after the successful conclusion of the 1st National Conference of the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People & Families Movement in Oakland, CA, LSPC Program Manager & FICPFM Leadership Council Member manuel la fontaine has an early-morning conversation with Jan Miyasaki of WORT radio (Madison, WI) and EXPO organizer & National Conference attendee Jerome Dillard.

Dorsey Nunn speaks at Underground Scholars Graduation Ceremony at U.C. Berkeley

Underground Scholars hosted the first graduation ceremony for formerly incarcerated people at University of California, Berkeley on May 15, 2016.

LSPC Executive Director & All of Us or None co-founder Dorsey Nunn recognized Underground Scholars role in UC Berkeley’s decision to Ban the Box on employment applications, & spoke to the value of having an intellectual base to the FICPFM Movement.

Landmark Agreement Ends Indefinite Long-Term Solitary Confinement in CA

Settlement Reached in California Class Action Suit Moves Out of SHU Those There 10 Years or Longer, Ends Solitary Purely Due to Gang ValidationFOR

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9/1/2015

Contacts: Denise Mewbourne, 415-625-7050, denise@prisonerswithchildren.org;
Carol Strickman, 415-625-7043, carol@prisonerswithchildren.org

Sept. 1, 2015, San Francisco – Today, the parties agreed on a landmark settlement in the federal class action Ashker v. Governor of California that will effectively end indefinite, long-term solitary confinement in all California state prisons. Subject to court approval, the agreement will result in a dramatic reduction in the number of people in solitary across the state. The class action was brought in 2012 on behalf of prisoners held in solitary confinement at the Pelican Bay prison. They were in solitary confinement often without any violent conduct or serious rule infractions for more than a decade, and without a meaningful process for transfer out of isolation and back to the general prison population. Ashker argued that California’s use of prolonged solitary confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and denies prisoners the right to due process.

“This settlement represents a monumental victory for prisoners and an important step toward our goal of ending solitary confinement in California, and across the country,” the plaintiffs said in a joint statement. “California’s agreement to abandon indeterminate SHU confinement based on gang affiliation demonstrates the power of unity and collective action. This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters.”

“The seeds of this victory are in the unity of the prisoners in their peaceful hunger strike of 2011. That courageous and principled protest galvanized support on both sides of the prison walls for a legal challenge to California’s use of solitary confinement,” said Carol Strickman, staff attorney at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) which is co-counsel in the case. (For more information on LSPC’s 25 years of supporting people in solitary confinement prisons see our website and our timeline of work.) 

“Today’s victories are the result of the extraordinary organizing the prisoners managed to accomplish despite extreme conditions,” said Center for Constitutional Rights President and lead attorney Jules Lobel. “This far-reaching settlement represents a major change in California’s cruel and unconstitutional solitary confinement system. There is a mounting awareness across the nation of the devastating consequences of solitary – some key reforms California agreed to will hopefully be a model for other states.”

When the case was filed in 2012, more than 500 prisoners had been isolated in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay for over 10 years, and 78 had been there for more than 20 years. They spent 22 ½ to 24 hours every day in cramped, concrete, windowless cells, and were denied telephone calls, physical contact with visitors, and vocational, recreational, and educational programming. Hundreds of other prisoners throughout California have been held in similar SHU conditions.

LSPC Staff Attorney Carol Strickman helped compile extensive expert evidence in the case that established severe physical and psychological harm among California SHU prisoners from prolonged solitary confinement. Plaintiffs worked with 10 experts in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, medicine, prison security and classification, and international human rights law. The resulting reports provide unprecedented and holistic analysis of the impact of prolonged solitary confinement on human beings, and provided guidance in the construction of settlement reforms.

Today’s settlement transforms California’s use of solitary confinement from a status-based system to a behavior-based system – prisoners will no longer be sent to solitary based solely on gang affiliation, but rather based on specific serious rules violations. It limits the time a prisoner can spend in the Pelican Bay SHU to five years and reduces the step-down program for transfer from SHU to general population from four years to two years. The agreement creates a new non-solitary but high-security unit with improved conditions for the minority of prisoners who have been held in any SHU for more than 10 years and who have a recent serious rule violation.

Federal Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas will oversee these reforms for two years, which may be extended if the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is found to be violating prisoners’ constitutional rights. Representatives of the prisoners who brought this lawsuit and plaintiffs’ counsel will meet with CDCR regularly to ensure compliance. Plaintiffs’ counsel will receive extensive documentation of the new policies and practices and will meet frequently with Judge Vadas to oversee the agreement.

Ashker v. Governor of California amended an earlier lawsuit filed by Pelican Bay SHU prisoners Todd Ashker and Danny Troxell, representing themselves. In addition to LSPC, co-counsel in the case are California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Ellenberg & Hull, Christensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone.

Read the settlement submission here, and a comprehensive summary of the settlement terms here. All documents in the case are on CCR’s case page. Since they cannot speak from prison, CCR is making downloadable video clips from the plaintiffs’ depositions available here.

There will be a rally and press conference in Oakland, at the Elihu M. Harris State Building, 1515 Clay St., 12pm PDT. Contact the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition at 408.910.2618 for further details. (The press conference will be livestreamed at http://livestre.am/5bsWO)

###

Statement of Plaintiffs in Ashker v. Brown federal class action lawsuit on settlement filed September 1, 2015

Conscious-Rising-by-Chris-Garcia-PBSP-SFBV“This settlement represents a monumental victory for prisoners and an important step toward our goal of ending solitary confinement in California, and across the country. California’s agreement to abandon indeterminate SHU confinement based on gang affiliation demonstrates the power of unity and collective action. This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters. The movement began with a foundation of unity based on our Agreement to End Hostilities, an agreement between the various ethnic groups in California prisons to end the violence between us. This agreement reaches not only state prisons, but has inspired jail detainees, county prisoners and our communities on the street to oppose ethnic and racial violence. From this foundation, the prisoners’ human rights movement is awakening the conscience of the nation, to recognize that we are fellow human beings. As the recent statements of President Obama and of Justice Kennedy illustrate, the nation is turning against solitary confinement. We celebrate this victory while at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle. We recommit to that fight, and invite you to join us.”

Todd Ashker
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Ronald Dewberry)
Luis Esquivel
George Franco
Richard Johnson
Paul Redd
Gabriel Reyes
George Ruiz
Danny Troxell

LSPC Hunger Striker Support Timeline

1990 – 2001

LSPC staff, interns and attorneys receive and respond to people incarcerated in Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Tehachapi and other SHU prisons. The letters report horrendous conditions, severe isolation, suicide attempts, and mental breakdowns.

2001-2008

Staff attorney Cassie Pierson develops relationships and corresponds with several Pelican Bay Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners until her retirement. She forwards their human rights complaint to the United Nations in Geneva.

2009

Staff attorney Carol Strickman continues correspondence with people incarcerated in Pelican Bay SHUs, including communication with several prisoners about the possibility of a major lawsuit.

2010

February 5
Todd Ashker and Danny Troxell, along with others incarcerated in the Pelican Bay SHU, send a formal human rights complaint in February to Governor Schwarzenegger and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary Matthew Cate.

2011

March
LSPC sends out a survey to SHU prisoners at Pelican Bay and Corcoran to document the effects of long-term isolation and publishes A Cage Within a Cage, our report on the findings in July.

April 3
Pelican Bay prisoners sign a “Final Notice” which sets July 1, 2011, as the beginning of an indefinite prisoner hunger strike if the listed 5 Core Demands are not met.

May
In anticipation of a July 1 hunger strike, Bay Area prisoner rights organizations and supporters begin meeting to coordinate outside support.

June
The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition is officially formed. LSPC/All Of Us Or None is a founding member, along with California Prison Focus (CPF), Prison Activist Resource Center, and Critical Resistance. The coalition sets up a Media Team and recruits a Mediation Team. Two LSPC staff members join the Mediation Team. The coalition identifies family members, the religious community and students as likely allies.

LSPC Executive Director Dorsey Nunn and Staff Attorney Carol Strickman travel to Crescent City to interview four Pelican Bay SHU prisoners.

July 1
The prisoner hunger strike is initiated. At its peak, 6600 prisoners from 13 California prisons participate. It is suspended on July 20. LSPC/All Of Us Or None organizes rallies and does media work. The Mediation Team meets with CDCR officials several times, and speaks by phone to prisoner representatives (reps) to help facilitate a resolution. As part of the discussions, the reps request to help put together a litigation team to further pursue the prisoners’ claims.

August 23
The Assembly Public Safety Committee (Tom Ammiano, Chair) holds an informational hearing on conditions in CDCR’s security housing units. LSPC is instrumental in setting up this hearing, identifying speakers, and organizing a rally outside the Capitol that day. Hundreds of family members and supporters travel from around the state to speak out. Executive Director Dorsey Nunn is a panelist at the hearing and a rally speaker.

September 2
LSPC helps organize and participates in a conference call with several attorneys who had expressed interest in representing the prisoners in litigation to challenge solitary confinement. Jules Lobel of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who had been following the situation for months, was on the call.

September 26
People in sensory deprivation units resume their hunger strike because they feel that the promises CDCR made are not being fulfilled. On September 29, CDCR places staff attorney Carol Strickman and CPF Executive Director and attorney Marilyn McMahon under investigation, and ban them from Pelican Bay prison.

Almost 12,000 prisoners participate in this phase of the hunger strike, which goes on for 18 days. Again, LSPC/All Of Us Or None organizes rallies and events, and does media work. As part of the Mediation Team, LSPC is instrumental in the final conversations which end the hunger strike. The attorneys’ visiting ban is lifted without further incident a few months later.

During this hunger strike, the newly formed legal team begins meeting with potential plaintiffs and gathering facts to support a lawsuit. Following cessation of the hunger strike, LSPC and the rest of the legal team continue this investigation, which includes visits to Pelican Bay and examination of CDCR documents.

2012

February
Litigation team members file appearances as attorneys of record for Todd Ashker and Danny Troxell in a lawsuit they had filed on their own behalf in 2009.

March 20
A United Nations human rights petition is filed with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of California SHU prisoners and human rights organizations by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. LSPC is a petitioner and co-counsel on this petition.

April
LSPC accompanies mental health expert Dr. Terry Kupers to Pelican Bay for interviews with prospective plaintiffs.

May 31
After eight additional prisoners agree to be plaintiffs, the team files its Motion to Amend the Complaint, adding those plaintiffs, dismissing certain individual defendants and causes of action specific to Ashker and Troxell, dismissing claims for money damages and converting the case into a class action lawsuit.

June
The PHSS coalition constructs a model SHU and sets it up at various locations for community outreach that summer. LSPC participates in the original construction of the model, as well as regular outreach events with the model at parks, schools and other locations.

August 12
The Agreement to End Hostilities, written by the Pelican Bay prisoner representatives, asks for all people in California prisons and jails to cease race-based hostilities, and embrace the unity needed to end long-term solitary confinement and improve overall conditions.

September 10
The court grants the plaintiffs’ motion to file an amended complaint.

2013

February 5
Assembly Public Safety Committee Chair Ammiano convenes a second legislative informational hearing on SHU conditions. LSPC supports family members who made presentations.

February 17
Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit Short Corridor Representatives issue a letter to Governor Brown and CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard, about their intended resumption of their nonviolent hunger strike-work stoppage protest, citing CDCR’s failure to make the changes agreed upon during the July and October 2011 negotiation process.

April
LSPC arranges interviews for medical and mental health experts to interview plaintiffs and other long-term SHU prisoners.

April 12 – 14
Transporting the model SHU to Southern California, LSPC makes public presentations about solitary confinement to three communities – in East LA, Inglewood, and at Scripps College in Pomona. Mental health expert Dr. Terry Kupers also spoke.

May 2
Plaintiffs file a Motion for Class Certification, seeking to expand the reach of the lawsuit beyond the ten named plaintiffs to include all Pelican Bay SHU prisoners confined there for more than ten years, or on the basis of unconstitutional gang validation procedures.

July 8
The Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective initiates a third hunger strike, which lasts for about 60 days. At its peak, over 30,000 prisoners participate. LSPC visits prisoners on hunger strike, advocates on their behalf through the mediation team, media work and organized rallies.

October 9
Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees hold a joint informational hearing about SHU conditions under the leadership of their respective chairs, Senator Loni Hancock and Assembly member Ammiano. LSPC Executive Director Dorsey Nunn, UC Berkeley student and SHU survivor Steven Czifra, and Dolores Canales from PHSS speak on the panel of family members and formerly incarcerated people. (See powerful public testimony from the day here.)

2014

January
LSPC arranges a week of interviews for mental health expert Dr. Craig Haney with long-term SHU prisoners.

February 11
Senator Hancock and Assembly member Ammiano convene another joint legislative hearing on SHU, this one focusing on current CDCR policies. The four main prisoner representatives are banned from testifying over phone or video, so they submit their written testimony.

April
LSPC arranges a tour of Pelican Bay SHU for our mental health experts.

June 2
The court grants plaintiff’s motion and certifies the case as a class action lawsuit.

December
LSPC arranges a tour and prisoner interviews for plaintiffs’ expert Juan Mendez and accompanies him on his visit. Mr. Mendez is the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. LSPC also arranges two weeks of interviews with Pelican Bay SHU and General Population prisoners with Dr. Craig Haney.

December 12
The litigation team files its Motion to File a Supplemental Complaint, to broaden the scope of the lawsuit to include those prisoners who had been in Pelican Bay SHU for over ten years and were then transferred to another SHU.

2015

March 9
The court grants plaintiffs’ motion to Amend the Complaint, expanding the reach of the lawsuit to former Pelican Bay SHU prisoners now housed in other SHU prisons, namely Tehachapi , Corcoran and New Folsom.

March-April
The litigation team submits ten expert reports, and five rebuttal reports, to defendants. LSPC works closely with Drs. Kupers and Haney on their reports.

May
The litigation team takes the depositions of the defense experts and defends plaintiffs’ experts in their depositions.

April to September
The litigation team engages in settlement negotiations with defendants. LSPC participates in several negotiation sessions with the CDCR Secretary.

 September 1
The parties submit the settlement to the federal court judge for preliminary approval.

 

 

 

 

 

// NOTE(kyle) 3/24/15: This fixes the broken sidebar tabbing behavior of the // Tabber Widget. The original JS is still there but has been commented out.