• Chey Bryant

    What I find refreshingly interesting about this movement to change the CA prison system & their solitary confinement policies is that it seems to be very organized. I have not (recently, in the past few years) seen a social movement for change that is so clear in it’s demands. I think that this concise knowledge of what needs changing is vital to a movement of people in prison, considering that there can be a disconnect between inmates who are going through horrible and unnecessary punishments in prison and those on the outside world who can really help to develop support and change. 

    I also think that the use of solitary confinement as a long term punishment can be seriously detrimental to the minds and bodies of inmates, seeing as how humans seem to be naturally social and these inmates are left are alone in a tiny cell (that may often  have little access to direct sunlight) for days, months, years at a time with very little time outside of that cell. Because of bodily and psychological risks I don’t understand why solitary confinement is used as a punishment at all, because this practice, in many ways, seriously hurts people, people who are our fellow humans. So is this really how we should be treating folks, even if they have committed crimes? and what about people who are falsely imprisoned who go through this type of punishment for no reason? What if the same was done to us, or someone we love? There seems to be a lack of common decency in this practice, and possibly in the entire prison system. 

  • panyia

    As I read I realized that the discussion on food injustice has only been apart of the community who are not in prison.  I am really surprised that there is also food injustice in some of the harshest place, places that I thought were fair.  It has become so much clearer to me that the prison system (that I had thought was a good place for us, those who are afraid of the deviants) is rather really a brutal place.  It seems that if we don’t do anything about it and live happily but ignoring these injustices, we are rather living at the expenses of the hard reality of people suffering.

  • pmlarsonmiller

    The use of solitary confinement as long term punishment (long-term meaning decades, with prisoners still on lock-down after 39 years), is cruel and unusual; I doubt that anyone could make a convincing argument otherwise. 
    Prisons are peculiar: the general public rarely thinks about them; and if they do, they do not think about them from a critical standpoint. The general public, I would argue, is predominantly made up of those who represent the “norm” on some level; whether that is white, heterosexual, male, middle-upper class, etc. For socially defined “others,” prison is more likely to be an intrusive and unavoidable presence in their lives. Not only is prison largely neglected in public discourse; but those who are in prison are there in part because they are and were prior to incarceration largely neglected and invisible. 

    “If you are reading these words, you can no longer claim ignorance; to stand idly by now would be complicity. A wise man once said, “All that is necessary for evil men to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” 

    For those who look for issues surrounding incarceration, or for those who fall into some knowledge concerning it, there comes a definite need, urgency, and responsibility; to spread knowledge, to continue research, and to fight for those who cannot win the fight on their own.  

    • Anonymous

       This:  “Not only is prison largely neglected in public discourse; but those who
      are in prison are there in part because they are and were prior to
      incarceration largely neglected and invisible.”

      Agree, and excellent point about those who represent (on some level) “the norm.”

      To take up the question of prison conditions and the use of mass incarceration as a mechanism for social (racial, economic, gendered, sexual) control would be painful beyond measure for many people because the analysis would expose brutal realities that fly in the face of many cherished beliefs and values.  But to move forward, we must be willing to face that pain – and the massive injustice that underlies it.

      • pmlarsonmiller

        I feel that the process of acknowledging brutal realities includes stages of denial (where, unfortunately, many if not most people get stuck), depression, anger, acceptance, hopelessness, and then ACTION! 
        I agree that people need to be willing to face and work through painful emotions and realizations. I think that it can be easy to get stuck in them, but I also believe that people can use their anger, sadness, etc., as fuel for change and as a tool in finding their voice. 

        • Anonymous

           So agree.  The journey into and through this level of pain must be understood as complex – and that healing, not retribution can result if the process is handled with care and integrity.

          Anger is always an appropriate response to such mass violence and injustice – and so is sorrow.  We can channel them to good ends.

      • Audre Lorde — “Uses of Anger” :)


    • Invisible yet omnipresent.. Yes..

      we all must do what we can to increase the knowledge and then the resistance

      as our comrade Victoria Law often writes here and elsewhere —

      “For a World without Cages”

  • McKenzie Daul

    This idea of isolation is disturbing to me on so many levels. I do not understand how someone is supposed to learn from their mistakes by being kept in a cement box for years on end. There is scarce treatment involved. Isn’t the point of prison to make one learn from their mistakes. Rather, this technique only confirms the idea of torture and makes it seem okay. The beginning of this blog was quite moving to me; I think many people get confused by what the prison system is really like now a days. It is no longer about treatment rather simply about punishment in the harshest way possible. A person is a person each one deserves the basic human rights. This article just confirmed my passion to continue on my journey through college then law school in order to work within this system protecting not only prisoners rights but also citizens like us. 

    • thanks so much McKenzie

      Amen to all you said — torture indeed

    • Anonymous

       Cheers for your comment in so many respects.  You’re right on time in asking what good lesson is learned from institutionalized brutality – and in pointing out that this is the normalizing of torture.

      Sending you every good wish for your college and law school journeys – and thanking you for your unequivocal commitment to human rights.

    • It renews the faith in people to know many are inspired to take up fighting within the system for those who can not fight for themselves. 

       You can’t “unknow” something, and if you turn your back after seeing these realities, than you are as guilty as those who institute these tortures.  But, there is a sense of powerlessness, how do you help from such distance?  

      While I will share this with friends and family in CA, and I see no reason why I can’t call my own senators, I’d really like to study more how we can keep future populations in the prison system to a minimum. 

      As Kay points out, these men come from populations who were invisible and neglected in the first place.  Lets be honest, they are in many ways in the eyes of authority, disposable.  Looking at the criminal systems in Western Europe, the emphasis in many countries places a priority on “correcting their course” rather than throwing them in jail.

      No wonder they find our system barbaric.

      • “I see no reason why I can’t call my own senators,”

        Exactly — this is an issue everywhere

        thank you!

      • Anonymous

         Well said, Patricia.

        Where you cite me, I’d like to note that  I simply quoted the point made by pmlarsonmiller above!

  • Anonymous

    Nancy, thanks for this.  How many have gone into the gulag of long-term solitary confinement? 

    I’m making my calls.

    • thank you Kay — knew you would be calling..

      Much appreciated

      I really feel that the 80,000 figure is a gross mis-underestimation..

      i know at Angola alone — there are  more than 1200 in permanent lock down in Camp J — plus the Ad Seg Units in each of the other 4 “camps”

    • and how could i forget —

      no numbers kept at all on the number of juveniles kept in such circumstances

      • Anonymous

         Exactly.  Yet solitary confinement for juveniles is commonplace.

  • For Hugo Pinell, Herman Wallace, Robert Woodfox and so many more..

    Thanks – as always – Angola 3 News


  • Welcome to all – returning and new visitors..

    Hope you all join in the conversation..