Mission Statement of the Free Speech Society

Reblogged from: SF Bay View, Feb 2nd 2015

by Abdul Olugbala Shakur, Mutope Duguma and Heshima Denham

The Free Speech Society is a movement that is dedicated towards protecting and defending the First Amendment rights of imprisoned activists. As imprisoned activists, we are embedded reporters for the people. We are the eyes and ears for the people – for the taxpayers – articulating the human atrocities that plague the prison industrial slave complex with impunity in your name.

The artist writes: “After the big tragedy in Paris – basically it was about art work and censorship – everybody stood up for the cause, ‘Je suis Charlie,’ yelling, ‘Stop censorhip! Fight against it wherever it is!’ And here we are in California being censored by that very tongue. So I used ‘Je suis Charlie’ for that reason.” – Art: Michael D. Russell, C-90473, PBSP SHU D7-217, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

Human atrocities compelled by racial oppression can only flourish when silence permeates the corridors of the vortex of torture, the PISC, necessitating the manifested destiny of a collective insurgence of voices of resistance forged by the rediscovery of our humanity. The FSS is an expression of that humanity.

Though our endeavor is just, the agents of torture and repression – the OCS (Office of Correctional Safety), SSU (Special Services Unit), IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) and ISU (Investigations Services Unit) – have dedicated their resources towards silencing our voices and suffocating the true spirit of free speech.

This mission statement is only a brief invite designed to both captivate and solicit free speech loving people to join our movement and assist us in mobilizing against the forces of repression. If you are interested, please contact the following:

  • Abdul Olugbala Shakur (s/n J. Harvey), C-48884, CSP Cor SHU 4B-1L-25, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Mutope Duguma (s/n J. Crawford), D-05996, PBSP SHU D2-107, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP Cor SHU 4B-1L-25, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
  • Steve Martinot, martinot4 @ gmail.com

Motion denied, Governor: Medical neglect is still killing prisoners

From: SF Bay View, March 22, 2013

by Mutope Duguma, Sitawa N. Jamaa, Abdul O. Shakur and Sondai K. Dumisani

Gov. Brown has declared that the prison crisis that allowed prisoners to die is over and that prisoners are receiving good care. His words, not ours.

It is obvious that the governor has not produced any data that supports his claim. Furthermore, the governor is deliberately misinforming the public, because he and the officials of CDCr – the secretary and undersecretary – are arbitrarily choosing not to provide the public with adequate information that pertains to the incompetence that continues to endanger prisoners by murdering them through direct medical neglect and incompetence.

Prisoners in cages await group therapy, Mule Creek State Prison, photo from U.S. District Court briefings

In this photo taken as part of federal litigation over California prison conditions, prisoners await a group therapy session at Mule Creek State Prison. How could being confined in tiny cages dissuade prisoners from committing suicide? – Photo filed in U.S. District Court briefings

We prisoners have read the Los Angeles Times article by Paige St. John, “California suppressed consultant’s report on inmate suicides,” dated Feb. 28, 2013, and we can only hope that justice will continue to prevail, by not only maintaining the oversight of CDCr’s “health care service,” as well as extend it to the very root of the problems that cause the very many deaths and suicides that are happening throughout CDCr.
Solitary confinement in California and throughout the United States is real. The lingering of human beings – i.e., prisoners – in these torture chambers (SHUs and Ad Segs) indefinitely has basically created the result that led to human beings dying unnecessarily inside these solitary confinement torture units.

Alex Machado, Christian Gomez, Armando Morales, John Owen Vick and Hozel Alonzo Blanchard are all men who should be alive, by all means, and the fact that the CDCr has reported 32 deaths by suicide in the year of 2012 alone should be more than enough reason for the oversight to be continued – and expanded as well. The CDCr’s own experts afforded them the procedures to follow in order to prevent such deaths. However, not only did the CDCr attempt to suppress this report and now the evidence in it, but the CDCr had the audacity to request that the United States District Court destroy that report.

The governor and the officials of CDCr are arbitrarily choosing not to provide the public with adequate information that pertains to the incompetence that continues to endanger prisoners by murdering them through direct medical neglect and incompetence.

Thankfully, for the lives of California prisoners, the judge refused to cooperate with such a conspiracy. Suppression of evidence like this is not an isolated act, because we prisoners know that the licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses and doctors do not responsibly oversee the CDCr health care services. Their actions are influenced by the local officials and officers who have total control over the prison.

Alex Machado, Christian Gomez, Armando Morales, John Owen Vick and Hozel Alonzo Blanchard are all men who should be alive, by all means, and the fact that the CDCr has reported 32 deaths by suicide in the year of 2012 alone should be more than enough reason for the oversight to be continued – and expanded as well.

Prison staff relationships are intermingled through personal relations – marriage, family, friendship – and are reflected by the transitions from health care services to corrections or vice versa. A good example as to how much the officials and officers control health care services can be seen in the two 2011 prisoner hunger strikes.

On July 2, 2011, prisoners held in solitary confinement in SHU and Ad Seg for years, subjected to torture and cruel and unusual punishment in violation of our U.S. constitutional rights, decided to go on a peaceful hunger strike, in which over 6,000 of us participated.

The only reason we received adequate health care services (medical treatment) during our July 1, 2011, hunger strike that lasted to July 20 is because the federal receivership oversaw the medical treatment; prisoners were weighed, vitals checked, vitamins provided daily. This prevented thousands of prisoners from suffering when many emergencies could have resulted in thousands of prisoners dying, due to CDCr Secretary Matthew Cate and Undersecretary Scott Kernan violating a verbal agreement to implement our reasonable Five Core Demands, an agreement that resulted in us ending our first hunger strike.

The only reason we received adequate health care services (medical treatment) during our July 1, 2011, hunger strike that lasted to July 20 is because the federal receivership oversaw the medical treatment.

Therefore, we decided to go back on our second hunger strike on Sept. 26, 2011, in which 12,000 prisoners participated throughout CDCr, clearly demonstrating that there is a widespread problem of deliberate medical neglect and torture inside CDCr solitary confinement units.

During our Sept. 26, 2011, hunger strike, which lasted to Oct. 13, 2011, the federal receivership allowed CDCr to oversee the health care services. The result of this action not only placed prisoners’ health at risk, but CDCr immediately implemented a policy protocol for overseeing the hunger strike that was catastrophic for prisoners: Thousands suffered and several died when CDCr was allowed to have control over the hunger strike, in which hunger strikers were denied medical treatment throughout the hunger strike.

The prison guards have no medical training yet were allowed to say to medical personnel that a prisoner was faking – “He’s not sick” – and oddly enough, the medical staff tended to allow this to be the authority on which they proceeded. Thousands of prisoners suffered behind this ill advised information. We received no daily checkups, no vitals checks, no vitamins, no weigh-ins conducted under CDCr medical supervision. Many times medical problems were treated too late and by this time the damage was done.

The conflict of interest lies in the relationships between the prison guards, who are responsible for providing security only, and those who are responsible for providing health care services, food and religious services etc. Unfortunately, the prison guards have structured the prison environment around the deprivation of the prisoners, simply to demonstrate its dominance over prisoners, which creates severe violation of prisoners’ constitutionally protected rights.

During our Sept. 26, 2011, hunger strike, which lasted to Oct. 13, 2011, thousands suffered and several died when CDCr was allowed to have control over the hunger strike, in which hunger strikers were denied medical treatment throughout the hunger strike. 

The Bill of Rights’ 10 original amendments and Reconstruction amendments 11 through 27 of the Constitution – particularly important in respect to prisoners, the First, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendments – are deliberately violated routinely. The many settlements of prisoner lawsuits in years past speak volumes to this fact.

Gov. Brown’s current changes have not rendered any justice or humane treatment of prisoners thus far, and the death count and the many prisoners held inside solitary confinement, who suffer from numerous ailments and torture, only seem to exacerbate this problem. Therefore, we prisoners can only hope, in the interest of our livelihood and humanity, that the courts expand their oversight and open up an independent investigation as to why prisoners are held unjustly in solitary confinement.
Send our brothers some love and light:

  • Mutope Duguma (James Crawford), D-05596, D1-117 up, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Sitawa N. Jamaa (Ronnie Dewberry), C-35671, D1-117 low, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Abdul O. Shakur (James Harvey), C-48884, D1-119 low, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Sondai K. Dumisani (Randall Ellis), C-68764, D1-223 low, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

It’s time to replace prison oppression with prisoner solidarity

From: SF Bay View

January 19, 2013
by Ajene Nkrumah, Abdul O. Shakur, Sondai Kamdibe, Abasi Banda and Mutope Duguma
It’s time that we prisoners take advantage of this End All Hostilities Agreement between our racial groups and our internal hostilities, because many of us already know that many of our conflicts have been engineered by the CDCr* officials and officers.
There are many pressing issues that must be addressed by our prison class, and one hopes by taking advantage of the time in which we find ourselves in solidarity that we can serve the interests of the prisoners, as opposed to the empowerment of an oppressive prison system – i.e., CDCr and the prison industrial complex (PIC) – our oppressor. CDCr officials and officers have been ruthlessly diabolical and outright cunning in their attacks against us prisoners.

Photo (cop.) Anthony Turner, 46, serving 25 years to life under Three Strikes, who yearns to go home to the child whose note shows how much he misses and admires his father, the king, is contemplative in this photo taken June 6, 2011, just before the hunger strikes began. Since then, the plan to obtain relief if not release that hinges on prisoners ending all hostilities among themselves is spreading and inspiring hope throughout California prisons. – Photo: Lucy Nicholson, Reuters

We have seen thousands of racial riots, thousands of lockdowns, too much internal strife, and the eroding of our programs and privileges. Many of us who come out of the neighborhoods – the ghettos, barrios, rural and urban areas – have for the most part made our way utilizing the tools at our disposal and, unfortunately for us, that wasn’t a sustainable arsenal, because those tools were predicated on three motivating factors: 

1) Ignorance (i.e., no education), 2) Drugs and alcohol, and 3) Violence, generation after generation being raised in these sub-cultures, dominated by these three factors.

We need not speak to the calamities, devastation and terror that is prevalent throughout our lives. We all know very well that we are the “pawns” in this game of horror – i.e., genocide. Drugs, alcohol, guns and inadequate educational institutions are not manufactured by us, but they are definitely weapons of mass destruction, designed for us specifically.
Prisons are only an extension of the manifestation of an orchestrated, diabolical plot to control human beings in highly confined areas, ultimately toward their extinction.
Many prisoners are removed off general population because of their ability to resist the attacks being waged against us by deliberately contrived CDCr policies. For years, CDCr has used these methods in order to build their empire – i.e., the prison industrial complex – that serves the interests of CDCr and CCPOA, the guards’ union.
Violence is a valuable tool that serves to establish a justification for coalescing us prisoners under conditions that are self-destructive. We who are held in solitary confinement, under sensory deprivation, in administrative segregation (Ad-Seg) and security housing units (SHU) have come to experience some of the protracted physical and psychological attacks while in these isolated “torture chambers” throughout California and the United States.
Our physical and psychological torture is a concentrated torture, because we happen to be held in isolated units and are made to suffer until we break down and snitch – i.e., de-brief – in order to get from under such horrible conditions. Many prisoners have broken, only to find themselves stuck in their same reality with a few small amenities. It is safe to say that any institution practicing such treatment on prisoners in solitary has created the current realities in which prisoners throughout CDCr are trapped in a “vortex of violence.”
We prisoners in the Short Corridor have studied these contradictions and we can look back all the way from 1944 to 2012 and point out the wicked hand of CDCr that has pushed us prisoners to be involved in racial violence, gang violence and internal violence. Remember, we are prisoners under the control of CDCr officials and officers, and we are going to reflect or exemplify exactly what it is they desire us to be. When we deviate from this order is when we become subjected to their many forms of attacks. And general population prisoners are not exempt from this reality.

Violence is a valuable tool that serves to establish a justification for coalescing us prisoners under conditions that are self-destructive.

Therefore, we say that the only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first. We are far from naïve because we understand that this is prison and some problems will occur, but we know also that prisons are environments for men – and for women in women’s prisons – and problems should be handled as such.
If your problem involves 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 to 100 innocent prisoners, then you and whoever you got into it with need to end that problem through other means, if violence was ever an option.
But if we plan to change the oppressive prison conditions, then we have to reconstruct the whole way we co-exist behind these prison walls because it has allowed CDCr to exploit us toward their interests. Therefore, by embracing the Agreement to End Hostilities, we can change our prison oppression into a more productive prison environment that serves the interests of us prisoners, as well as put an end to the policies that are inhumane.

The only way that we can stop the bleeding is by prisoners ending it first.

Through litigation and peaceful demonstrations we can:
  1. End all solitary confinement in sensory deprivation isolation housing.
  2. End the Three Strikes policy.
  3. End the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
  4. End indefinite sentences, such as LWOP (life without the possibility of parole) and lifers with a cut-off age of 60, so that they can program back into the free world.
  5. End the whites-only composition of the BPH (Board of Parole Hearings).
  6. Reinstate the Inmates’ Bill of Rights, which was implemented around the 1960s and 1970s, and for which prisoners fought and died. Later, in the 1990s, for prisoners’ brave and creative actions, Gov. Pete Wilson and his cronies eroded it.
  7. Win adequate nutritional food. The CDCr practice of using prisoners to experiment with effects of genetically modified foods should not be allowed.
  8. Win adequate medical treatment.
  9. Win adequate education, including in trades and vocational programs.
  10. Win adequate recreational programs to keep prisoners physically fit.
  11. Win adequate family, friends and spouses program, starting with family visits for all prisoners, without creating circumstances where pedophilia can occur.
  12. Win adequate pay for prison labor.
  13. Win adequate access to technology, including computers. We live in a very technical society.
  14. Win adequate prison libraries, in which all prisoners have access to a plethora of books.
  15. Win adequate law libraries for all prisoners.
  16. Win release dates for all prisoners who have been held on one year to life, 5 to life, 7 to life, 15 to life and 25 to life, who have been in prison over 25 years. We know they have been rehabilitated.
  17. Win adequate religious services for all religions.
  18. Win holiday meals. Funds have been allocated for CDCr to provide prisoners with holiday meals, but in places like PBSP SHU, we are not provided with them. We request that the CDCr provide us with designated holiday meals. We equally request that Muslim prisoners within the SHU be able to purchase religious ceremonial food, such as meat, breads, dates and nuts, as well as tea.
  19. Support minority businesses. The CDCr has not adequately provided minority businesses access to the prison population. There exist a number of minority owned businesses that provide a variety of food items, from meat to health food, that we should be allowed to purchase. Many of these small businesses find themselves struggling in these tough economic times. Providing them access – without exploitation – to the CDCr prison population would serve as an effective strategy towards economic recovery.
  20. Win access to being kidney donors to anyone the prisoners consent to give a kidney to. Thousands of people die annually due to not being able to get a kidney, and we prisoners have heard numerous sad stories; we wish we could have contributed a kidney to save someone’s life. All expenses would be paid by the patient, unless they are poor, in which case the expenses would come out of our Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF), which has an annual budget of $50 million.
  21. Win the right to publish our writing and artwork. Prisoner publication is a legal right. Approximately 15 years ago, the IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) and ISU (Investigative Services Unit) at PBSP arbitrarily reinterpreted the policy on prisoners getting their manuscripts published into books. Under this re-interpretation, to publish prisoner writings is now considered an unlawful business practice. We are requesting that we be allowed to have our manuscripts published into books, as long as the manuscripts are not about the alleged crime that brought us to prison. This would also allow prisoners the opportunity to pay their restitution. We also request to profit off our talents – our artwork, writings etc.
We prisoners need to coalesce our energy around these 21 policy changes. It is clear that we have allowed politicians, prison guards and the judicial system to treat us inhumanly, like wild animals, because we did nothing to change these conditions in which we have been placed. And the prison oppressors do not stop. They get more oppressive with each and every passing day. It is their nature to exploit the poor and vulnerable human beings in our society.
We are not poor nor are we vulnerable when we exercise our minds toward our interests. As we said, ourInmate Welfare Fund alone produces $50 million a year. Imagine what our actual spending is. Yes, we as a 21st century prison class are far from poor and vulnerable.
It’s just time that we politicize ourselves.
Send our brothers some love and light:
  • Ajene Nkrumah (Joe Valentine), C-47779, PBSP SHU D4-212L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Abdul Olugbala Shakur (James Harvey), C-48884, PBSP SHU D1-119L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Sondai Kamdibe (Randall Ellis), C-68764, PBSP SHU D1-223L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Abasi Banda (Clyde Jackson), C-33559, PBSP SHU D2-107L, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
  • Mutope Duguma (James Crawford), D-05596, D1-117U, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
*The acronym CDCr, for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is sometimes written with a lower case “r” to indicate that the rehabilitation part of its mission has been abandoned in recent years.