"Emergency Call! Join Us in Stopping Torture in U.S. Prisons!" Published in Los Angeles Times

August 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Editor’s note: The following ad ran in the Los Angeles Times on August 28. It was made possible by the contributions of many people who signed and helped pay for it. For more information, to sign the ad or contribute to publishing it, go to http://www.stopmassincarceration.net/.


MOST AMERICANS IMAGINE THAT TORTURE HAPPENS SOMEWHERE ELSE, in other countries far, far away. But torture is occurring every day, right here in California. The question is how long will we tolerate it?

10,000 people in prison in California and 80,000 people in prisons across the U.S. are held in solitary confinement—a punishment that is a recognized form of torture. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez told the UN General Assembly in 2011 “Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit... whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique... and indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should also be subject to an absolute prohibition.”

On July 8, 2013, approximately 30,000 California prisoners began a hunger strike to stop indefinite solitary confinement. Now entering its eighth week, well over 100 remain on strike. California prison officials have refused to meet prisoners’ demands or even negotiate, but instead have retaliated against and vilified the prisoners. Recently, California prison officials obtained a court order to allow force-feeding of hunger striking prisoners, including those who have stated they do not want such intervention. Medical ethicists in The New England Journal of Medicine recently wrote: “Force-feeding a competent person is not the practice of medicine; it is aggravated assault. Using a physician to assault prisoners no more changes the nature of the act than using physicians to ‘monitor’ torture makes torture a medical procedure.”

The situation is urgent. The signatories below have signed the following EMERGENCY CALL TO STOP TORTURE IN U.S. PRISONS. You too are encouraged to sign this statement, and to donate generously, so it can be published in other publications.



TENS OF THOUSANDS of people imprisoned in the U.S. are being subjected to torturous, inhumane conditions. Many are:

  • Held in long term solitary confinement; locked in tiny, windowless, sometimes sound proof, cells; cut off from fresh air and sunlight for 22-24 hours every day and given small portions of food that lacks basic nutritional requirements.
  • Denied human contact and violently taken from their cells for petty violations.
  • Put in solitary arbitrarily, often because of accusations of being members of prison gangs based on dubious evidence, and have no way to challenge the decisions of prison authorities to place them in solitary.

Many are forced to endure these conditions for months, years and even decades! Mental anguish and trauma often result from being confined under these conditions. Locking people down like this amounts to trying to strip them of their humanity. These conditions fit the international definition of torture! This is unjust, illegitimate and profoundly immoral.


People imprisoned at Pelican Bay and other prisons in California launched a nationwide Hunger Strike on July 8, 2013. They have also issued a call for unity among people from different racial groups, inside and outside the prisons. People who are locked down in segregation units of this society's prisons, condemned as the "worst of the worst," are standing up against injustice, asserting their humanity in the process. We must have the humanity to hear their call, and answer it with powerful support!

A nationwide and worldwide struggle needs to be built NOW to bring an end to this widespread torture and to support the prisoners who have put their lives on the line.


We Demand an Immediate End to the Torture and Inhumanity of Prison House America—Immediately Disband All Torture Chambers. Meet the Demands of Those You Have Locked Down In Your Prisons!



We Cannot Accept, and We Should Not Tolerate This Torture.
Join the Struggle to End Torture in Prisons Now!



We Support Your Call for Unity in this Fight and
We Will Have Your Backs!


Stop Mass Incarceration NetworkCalifornia Families to Abolish Solitary ConfinementOscar Grant FoundationLegal Services for Prisoners with ChildrenSan Francisco Bay View NewspaperWitness Against Torture Viggo Mortensen, actor • Cornel West, author, educator, voice of conscience • Noam Chomsky, Professor (Ret.), MIT* • Alice Walker, author • Michelle Alexander, author, The New Jim Crow • Tom Morello, The Nightwatchman • Daniel EllsbergLuis Valdez, Founding Artistic Director, El Teatro Campesino* • Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party* • Tananarive Due, author • Gbenga Akinnagbe, actor and director • Arturo O’Farrill, Afro Latin Jazz Alliance* • Cindy SheehanFr. Gregory J. Boyle, Homeboy Industries* • Jackie Sumell, artist, Herman’s House* • Marjorie Cohn, Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law* • Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait* • Wayne Kramer, Jail Guitar Doors USA* • Chuck D, Public Enemy* • Rev. George F. Regas, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)* • Stephen Rohde, ICUJP* • Cynthia McKinneyStandish Willis, National Conference of Black Lawyers* • Robin D. G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA* • Rev. Stephen Phelps, The Riverside Church, NYC* • Peter Schey, President, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law* • William AyersLaura Markle Downton, NRCAT Director of U.S. Prisons Policy & Program* • Colin Dayan, Professor, Vanderbilt University* • Larry Everest, writer for Revolution newspaper, author of Oil, Power and Empire • Sheila Pinkel, artist, “Site Unseen” • Larry Aubry, Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives* • Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake, Presiding Minister, The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples* • Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director, Office of the Americas* • Cal Berkeley Football* Players Alejandro Crosthwaite, Khairi Fort, and Richard RodgersGlen Ford, Black Agenda Report* • Prison Watch NetworkJames Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild, LA* • Dr. Antonio Martinez, Institute for Survivors of Human Rights Abuses* • Marilyn McMahon, California Prison Focus* • Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, Pastor, Glide Memorial Church* • Helen Schietinger, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition* • Jim Vrettos, professor, John Jay College* • Ron Ahnen, California Prison Focus* • Dorsey Nunn, All Of Us Or None* • Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd, KRST Unity Center* • John Burris, Civil Rights Attorney • Josh Fattal, Author • Rev. Frank Wulf, United University Church, LA* • Charles Carbone Esq., Prisoner Rights Attorney • Alex Sanchez, Executive Director, Homies Unidos* • Rev. Frederick Trost Fr. Bob Bossie SCJ Ron Jacobs, writer • King Downing, Human Rights Racial Justice Center* • Rael Nidess M.D. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture* • Peadar King, Irish filmaker • J. Tony Serra, Lawyer • John Galbraith Simmons, medical writer and author • Corey Weinstein M.D. • Anne Ramis, artist • James Cockcroft, author • Andres Thomas Conteris, Nonviolence International* • Gaillard T. Hunt, Guantanamo Lawyer • Bernardine DohrnGerry Condon, Board of Directors, Veterans For Peace* • Denis O’Hearn, author, The Life and Times of Bobby Sands • Haifa Zangana, Iraqi novelist • Dahlia Wasfi M.D.JC Robinson, Professor, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley* • Staughton Lynd, Peace Activist, author, lawyer • David MacMichael, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity* • Martha Rayner, Guantanamo Lawyer • Barbara Lubin, Founder and Executive Director, Mid East Children’s Alliance* • Rev. Theon Johnson III, Assoc. Pastor, Glide Memorial Church* • David Rovics, singer/songwriter • AND HUNDREDS MORE





1. Eliminate group punishment and administrative abuse.

2. Abolish the “debriefing” policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.

3. End long-term solitary confinement.
Comply with the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons (2006).

4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.

5. Create and expand constructive programming.


Or make a check out to “Stop Mass Incarceration/AfGJ” List “Emergency Call” in memo line and mail to:

P.O. Box 941, Knickerbocker Station • New York City, NY 10002-0900

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION OPTION ONLINE. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is a project of the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ), a 501(c)3 organization.



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