I Am In Guantánamo Bay. US Government Is Starving Me To Death

‘They have stopped feeding us before but this time feels different.’ Photograph: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

By Khalid Qassim for The Guardian – I started hunger strike because I was so frustrated, so depressed – I have been locked up here so far from my family for 15 years. I have never been charged with a crime and I have never been allowed to prove my innocence. Yet I am still here. And now Donald Trump says that none of us – the 26 “forever” prisoners who have apparently committed no crime, but merit no trial – will ever leave here so long as he is in charge. Some will say I brought the pain on myself. But how can that be? I did not ask to be brought here. I did not do anything that justified being kidnapped and hauled half way around the world. It is true that there have been times when I thought I would be better off dead. This was the only peaceful way I thought I could protest. What I really want, for me and for the other men here, is justice. Certainly, I never wanted to die in the pain I’m now in. They have stopped feeding us before but this time feels different. They want to stop the hunger strike by any means. They keep repeating: if you lose part of your body that is your choice; if you are damaged, that is your choice. They intend to leave us until we lose a kidney or another organ. They will wait until we are damaged. Maybe until we are too damaged to live. Just over a week ago, on 29 September, I collapsed and they called a “code yellow” – that’s what they call it.

Jails Replace In-Person Visitation With Video Screens

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By Mike Ludwig for Truthout. The rash of suicides alarmed mental health experts and local watchdogs, and Arce’s death has advocates calling out the lack of equal access to services for disabled people in prison. Despite concerns about the mental health of its prisoners and alleged discrimination against disabled people, the local sheriff’s office no longer allows in-person visitation at the jail, which serves major suburbs of New Orleans. Critics say changing the visitation policy could take a heavy toll on people who are already in an emotionally challenging position.

While Prison Activists March For Humane Treatment, Florida Shuts Off Visits This Weekend

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones visits the Wakulla Correctional Institution in Crawfordville, Fl. March 1, 2016.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

By Julie K. Brown for Miami Herald – Visitation to all Florida state prisons has been canceled this weekend after evidence surfaced that inmates are planning possible uprisings to coincide with Saturday’s march for prisoners’ human rights in Washington, D.C. Julie Jones, Secretary for the Florida Department of Corrections, announced the move as a precaution, given the agency’s staff shortage and “credible intelligence’’ that groups of inmates at several institutions were planning disturbances. “There’s no reason to be alarmed. We are just being proactive,’’ said Michelle Glady, a spokeswoman for the department. The agency is taking preemptive steps to secure facilities so that staff and inmates will be secure, she said. Social media has been advertising a “Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights” rally on Saturday in Washington, but it’s not clear who is spearheading the movement. Postings advertise the effort as a way to raise awareness about the problem of mass incarceration and human rights violations in prisons across the country.

’13th’ And The Culture Of Surplus Punishment

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By Victor Wallis for the San Francisco Bay View. From the late 1800s until now, unpaid prison labor has been the pattern, practice, and collective mindset of various states across America. Southern states have taken particular advantage of the wording of the 13th Amendment, and in turn, current resistance movements have risen out of prison-dense states like Texas and Alabama, where units are often compared to plantations. The degrading treatment of people in prison, however, is a nationwide issue, as shown in the widespread imposition of solitary confinement, assaults by guards, and medical neglect. On Saturday, August 19th, prison activists and everyone who wants to join in will march in Washington DC, San Jose CA, and other cities around the country.

Barriers To Changing Legal Names And Gender Markers In Prison

California's SB 310 could ease some of the challenges facing trans people in prison, such as a legal name change. (Photo: steinphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

By Victoria Law for Truthout – During her 30 years in California’s prison system, Cookie Bivens has seen numerous trans women attempt to change their name and gender marker while incarcerated. Not a single woman ever succeeded. In California, people seeking to legally change their name or gender marker must file an application with the county court and pay a filing fee of nearly $500. (A person earning less than $2,127 per month can file for a fee waiver.) Once the paperwork is filed, the court sets a hearing date within six to 12 weeks. If the court receives no objections to the proposed name and gender marker change, the petition is granted. Incarcerated trans people face an extra hurdle: obtaining approval from the prison’s superintendent and other administrators. Without that approval, they cannot begin the court process.

This Former Inmate Is Fighting For Every Prisoner’s Right To A College Degree

by Laura Baker

By Victoria Law for Narratively – As Cheryl Wilkins accepted her college diploma, hundreds of women screamed her name and whooped with joy. They were so loud that Wilkins’ brother, sitting with his four-year-old daughter, couldn’t hear the girl cheering, “Auntie! Auntie!” Other family members were even more enthusiastic. When another woman’s name was called, her six-year-old daughter grabbed her hand and dragged her to the stage. “Come on Mama, get your degree!” Wilkins remembers the girl shouting. “Her daughter took the diploma and walked off the stage with it.” Once the ceremony was over, the pictures taken and the food eaten, the mood turned tearful. Wilkins’ niece sobbed as her father led her away. “I want Auntie to come with us!” she cried. Other children screamed as family members pried them from their mothers’ arms. The visitors left through one exit and the women, many in tears, through another. The afternoon ended with all of the women being strip searched, the required practice after any contact with outsiders. This was no ordinary college graduation. The ceremony took place at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York’s maximum-security prison for women.

Victory For Palestinian Prisoners As 80% Of Strike Demands Met

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By Staff of Tele Sur – “We know that there is a long struggle to come, for liberation for the prisoners and liberation for Palestine,” stated a solidarity network. After more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners staged a a mass, historic hunger strike for 40 days, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ officials confirmed Sunday that nearly 80 percent of the prisoners’ demands were met as the strike ended Saturday. Issa Qaraqe, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Commission, spoke at a press conference Sunday, declaring the victory “an important achievement to build on in the future on the basis of the protection of the prisoners’ rights and dignity.” Among the many conditions prisoners wanted to be improved that the Israeli Prisons Service agreed to include expanding access to telephones; lifting the security ban on hundreds of family members of Palestinian prisoners, including the 140 children who were denied visits from parents; allowing distant family members to visit their imprisoned relatives; and improving the conditions of both women and children prisoners.

Court Orders Life-Saving Treatment For Mumia Abu Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal is serving life for the murder of a police officer. | Photo: Reuters

By Staff of Prison Radio – Late yesterday, Federal Judge Robert Mariani ordered the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to immediately give Mumia Abu-Jamal the life-saving latest direct-acting antiviral medications that have a 95% cure rate! After a year and a half of constant legal battling, near death hospitalization, and agonizing chronic sickness, Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and attorney Robert Boyle, and thousands of activists, on behalf of Mumia, have prevailed. It took two lawsuits hundreds of hours of motions and your calls, letters and demands. Winning a preliminary injunction is a tall order and requires proving there will be irreversible harm in delaying the order.

Guards Sympathize With Striking Prisoners: “We See It As A Moral Issue”

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

By Cora Lewis for Buzz Feed News – The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into prison conditions in Alabama, weeks after inmates there joined a nationwide prisoner strike in protest of forced labor and living conditions. “The investigation will focus on whether prisoners are adequately protected from physical harm and sexual abuse at the hands of other prisoners; whether prisoners are adequately protected from use of excessive force and staff sexual abuse by correctional officers; and whether the prisons provide sanitary, secure and safe living conditions,” the DOJ said in a statement.

The New Slave Revolt

Old County Jails

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – A nationwide prison work stoppage and hunger strike, begun on Sept. 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising, have seen over 20,000 prisoners in about 30 prisons do what we on the outside should do—refuse to cooperate. “We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves,” prisoners of the Free Alabama Movement, the Free Ohio Movement and the IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee wrote in a communique.

45 Years After Attica Uprising, Prisoners Are Rebelling Again

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By Alice Speri for The Intercept – LAST MONTH, INMATES across the country embarked on what organizers have called the largest prison strike in U.S. history, an ambitious mass protest against prison labor and inhumane prison conditions. The strike, which was the culmination of a series of renewed efforts at prison organizing in recent years, kicked off on September 9, in tribute to one of the bleakest moments in the country’s history of incarceration, the uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

Striking Prisoners Are Bending Arc Of Moral Universe Closer To Justice

Inmates at the correctional facility in Elmore, Ala. (Brynn Anderson / AP)

By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan for Truth Dig – Grass-roots organizing, the hard work of building movements, can be grueling. Pay is often low or nonexistent. Success is never assured. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But it doesn’t bend itself. Right now, under some of the most repressive circumstances that exist in the United States, a national movement is growing for prisoners’ rights.

Alabama Prison Guards Went On Strike This Weekend In Solidarity With Inmates

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By Brendan O’Connor for Jezebel – A group of guards at an Alabama prison went on strike this weekend, out of solidarity with inmates protesting overcrowding and unjust labor practices. Strikes and work stoppages have rolled through the nation’s prisons following the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising earlier this month. On September 9th, inmates at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore went on strike for at least 24 hours, refusing to show up for their work assignments.

The Banning Of Books In Prisons: ‘It’s Like Living In The Dark Ages’

Books including Friday Night Lights are banned in Texas prisons – yet Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is allowed. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

By Stuart Miller for The Guardian – Dan Slater’s new non-fiction book Wolf Boys recounts the story of two Mexican-American teens in Texas seduced by the violent cartels across the border and the Mexican-born Texas detective who hunts them. It is grim and violent, yet it is a detailed and thoughtful look at American society and the war on drugs. It has also been condemned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Directors Review Committee, which declared Wolf Boys off limits to all Texas prisoners before it was even published this month.

Yes, I’ll Get Gender Surgery. But May Still Be Punished For Suicide Attempt

The US disciplinary barracks in Leavenworth, Kansas, where Chelsea Manning is being held. Photograph: Charlie Riedel/AP

By Chelsea E Manning for The Guardian – Last week I was given the “good news” that the Department of Defense will grant my request to see a surgeon for treatment related to my gender dysphoria. Although I don’t have anything in writing, I was shown a memorandum with my name on it that confirmed the military is moving forward with my request. Everything that they have presented to me leads me to believe that they are going to provide the care that has been recommended by my doctor. I have requested this for nearly a year. That same week, I was also given “bad news”: I may be punished for a suicide attempt in July.