One week ago Oakland Prisoners’ Hunger Strike Solidarity Activists gathered at MacArthur Bart and car-shuttled to Sacramento – along with supporters and families of prisoners in solitary confinement from all over the state. They came together on the steps of the Capitol to rally and then attend a joint hearing of the State Assembly’s and Senate’s Public Safety Committees on the issue of solitary confinement.
The hearing was packed with opponents of solitary confinement, and the chairs of the committees – Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, and Loni Hancock of Berkeley, were sympathetic. Testimony was given by CDCR hacks (in charge of California’s solitary confinement program), former confinees, and experts on the effects of solitary confinement, then public testimony against this torture commenced. The hearing, scheduled to end at 3:00 PM, did not end until much later. (Whether any kind of legislation restricting the use of solitary in California Prisons will be created or be voted on by the Legislature and be signed by the Governor remains uncertain at best).
Here is a poignant video with excerpts from the rally and the hearing.
Tomorrow (Friday, 10/18) Juan Mendez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, will speak at UC Berkeley.
Mendez will engage with families of incarcerated prisoners in solitary confinement, students, faculty, and advocates/allies to explore: Is solitary confinement as practiced by the California Department of Corrections cruel punishment and torture?
The event begins at 6:00 PM in the Valley Life Sciences Building, RM 2060.