[Marxism] California prisoners protest long-term solitary confinement, other mistreatment

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Sun Jul 17 13:07:27 MDT 2011


Remember the two prisoners in Cuba who staged protest hunger strikes. In 
one case, the prisoner refused to end the strike or permit a feeding 
tube, and he died. In the second case, the Cuban doctors succeeded in 
saving the prisoner. Both were imprisoned on ordinary criminal 
convictions. US and European major media covered that story intensively 
on a daily basis.

Now prisoners savagely mistreated prisoners in California are waging a 
hunger strike against the violations of their legal rights. As one would 
expect, not much coverage and hardly on a daily basis. Partly, I guess, 
because torture of prisoners is now routine in the United States. Dog 
bites man ain't news

Juventud Rebelde, the paper of Cuba's communist youth organization, 
published this story on their fight.
Help get the word around on this just and brave effort.
Fred


JUVENTUD REBELDE
When the Hunger Strike is in the US
Juana Carrasco Martín
July 12, 2011 22:00:53 CDT

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann

I concur with the recent analysis by Spanish journalist Pascual Serrano 
(¿Y si
no hubiera sido en Cuba?, Rebelión, 09-07-2011), where he shows that the 
media
coverage of a given event depending on the place of its occurrence is 
another
eloquent evidence of the media double standard and mass manipulation. 
And here
is an example…

On the 1st of July, several dozen inmates at California's Pelican Bay state
prison began a hunger strike against the inhuman conditions at the Security
Housing Unit [SHU, pronounced "shoe"] where one-third of the 3100 
prisoners are
locked up. In this maximum security facility, near the Oregon state border,
convicts are locked in for more than 22 hours a day in windowless isolation
cells, and can have little or no contact with other prisoners for years and
sometimes decades.

Regardless of the crimes they might have committed, certainly very 
serious in
most of the cases, the prison conditions violate the basic civil and human
rights of the prisoners. They have made a statement, delivered through a
coalition of groups for prisoners' rights, denouncing the system as an 
"extreme
torture". This coincides with a 2006 report by District Attorneys and 
lawyers
ascertaining that long term isolated confinement as practiced in the US can
create "tortuous conditions proved to cause mental deterioration".

Meanwhile, according to the Huffington Post Website, the main nucleus of 
these
men have said none of them wish to die, but they are ready to carry out the
strike to its ultimate consequences rather than continue suffering the 
prison's
conditions. Now 1600 inmates from 8 of the 33 prisons in California have 
joined
in permanently, and on the week end of the 4th of July, US Independence Day,
close to 6000 more protested the situation in the same way.

Relatives of the prisoners and civil rights activists are marching in the
streets, mainly in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

This action has been caused by more than the Pelican Bay total 
confinement. A
few weeks ago, the US Supreme Court ordered the California authorities 
to reduce
their penal population due to the severe stacking in all the state's jail
facilities which exposes the inmates to very high levels of violence and
disease. Judge Anthony Kennedy described these as "intolerable to the 
concept of
human dignity".

The thing is that this is practically unknown outside the state of 
California,
despite its growing proportions and the controversy it has generated between
those who think it's a mistake to release 33 000 convicts – as the 
Supreme Court
has indicated – arguing this will increase the number of violent crimes.

Another element brought to light has been the high proportion of illegal
immigrants locked up in these state prisons. The government budget registers
18,300 prisoners in this group for an 11.2% of the 143,335 population in
facilities built for 80,000.

There are also federal and county jails in the system which adds to the 
number
of inmates. The US has 7 million people behind bars, the largest number of
prisoners in the world, and is among the greatest violators of human rights.
However, the US' hegemonic power, which includes veto in world 
organizations,
makes it special and immune to international investigations.

Its power over media serves to cover up its capital sins and points the 
heavy
media artillery toward those it wants to present as great human rights
violators. The fault is of others, never of the "empire of freedom".











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