This post is part of the Liberate the Caged Voices social media campaign to Liberate our Caged Elders:
We are starting with Yafeu Iyapo-I, s/n Leonard Alexander. Here you will find more of his writings, artwork and photographs to learn more about him. Being caged for now 45 years, we will also learn about Yafeu's wife, Makini Iyapo, who for all intents and purposes, has been "incarcerated" with him.
by Yafeu Iyapo-I
On Feb. 19, 2016, I was finally released from the Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) out to this fake general population (GP) unit. I’d spent well over 30 years in wholly false and illegal solitary confinement.
After several weeks of careful observations and inquiries about this experimental concentration camp – or neo-non-GP program – I was somewhat shocked to learn that in general population, a) there were almost no stable prisoner operated cultural, historical, social, political, religious nor other educational self-help programs. And b) in particular, there were almost zero self-help economic survival programs or prisoner operated mutual support networks on behalf of both those Black new arrivals to the PBSP’s non-GP units, as well as those still captive Black activist men who were now being released from these extremely isolated human torture chambers.
It will soon become easier and faster for me to help rebuild a far, far, far more effective model of both self-help educational and economic problem solving strategies. Because in reality, some of our own still captive Black men have already spent the past 10, 20, 30 or 40 years being privately mentored to understand why and how best to help free all of our people’s minds from the separate, unequal and knowingly false shackles of white supremacy, institutionalized racism and all other forms of mental bondage or economic neo-slavery.
I need to do some final ink work for a new series of prison-related T-shirt designs and several other proposed fundraising campaigns that I’ve been laboring to self-develop on behalf of our California-based areas of self-help family rebuilding goals. So let me bring these updates to a close.
To the Bay View, thank you for sharing my enclosed thoughts, concerns and other key examples of long neglected and long overdue economic self-empowerment movement rebuilding solutions. I look forward to these good faith opportunities to add my talents and voice to our never-ending struggles for a true sense of racial, social and economic justice.
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Oct 9, 2020
Here is the pertinent info from the LCV Roundtable dialogues:
Jasmine Nguyen, undergrad at Stanford is interviewing FI people for her research on Prison Abolition. $20 compensation for 40 min. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*As I write, she is currently requesting more women to be interviewed
- The social media campaign to spotlight our California caged and tortured elders will begin Saturday, October 10 at the NJUC San Quentin event. Go to the calendar for more details
- Please read the chat from the Roundtable, much of it from Malik. Good commentary
We are in a movement for prisoner human rights. Of course, the pandemeic has exacerbated conditions inside our prisons nationwide, and has uncovered the extreme abuses our elders and 2011-2013 hunger strikers have been experiencing for decades. Let's stay on top of this! They need our support, revolutionary love and courage to collaborate with them. they continue to organize and activate inside. We must join with them and follow their lead.
Great to see you here! The information you see below is in reference to the powerful wisdom shared with the listeners of this week's Prison Focus Radio show airing this Thursday 9/17/2020, 11am. Your continued education and building of awareness about what is really happening inside our California prisons and to our elders in particular, will keep us powerful as the people:
The Stanford Report:
PTSDSC by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Baridi Williamson:
Please write to these men. A card or quick note of support and concern is always welcome. Our exchange as human beings strengthens our own humanity. These men, and their family and loved ones, continue to struggle, organize and to be active for their own self-determined lives on the inside. Let's strengthen our alliance with them to create that mighty force of unity necessary for real change.
MIchael Dorrough Sr- affectionately known as Zah (Zaharibu), he contracted and is now recovering from, COVID-19
SATF-CSP Level 2 B2-5-3L
Corcoran, CA 93212
Holding onto your humanity in solitary confinement
While creating the language for the Campaign for Tablets organized by Never Forget, Never Alone, Never Again, it was discovered that CDCr has all but abandoned what was termed a 'trial program'. We will keep you updatd on the next steps forward. It is still imperative that prisoners be able to stay in regular communicatin with their family and loved ones.
Karpani is steadily compiliing the list of DA's by county, proving to be quite an undertaking, and is in communication with Paul Redd...thank you both.
The edited recording of the August 30 Roundtable Dialogue will be available by end of this week (9/11) at the earliest, or early next week...thank you Marisa.
1)Your presence is always needed to actions like this-
2) Please make calls, etc.! The more calls, especially throughout the country, the better! "Sunlight is the best disinfectant":
3) Currently, SB 1064 a bill that addresses the abuse of Confidential Information (1030) by CDCr subjecting hundreds of men to decades of solitary confinement and multiple parole denials equaling a civil death, is on its way to the governor's desk. All he needs to do is sign it into law to stop the injustice. Stay tuned for actions relating to this since public comment has ended. Below are testimonials from Keith Wattley of UnCommon law and Paul Redd:
Dear Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer:
My name is Keith Wattley. I am the founder and executive director of UnCommon Law, and I am pleased to speak to you today in strong support of Senate Bill 1064.
Since the first time I visited Pelican Bay State Prison nearly 22 years ago, I have met, corresponded with and litigated on behalf of many of the thousands of people indefinitely locked up at that prison and in other solitary confinement units throughout the state. Too often, they found themselves trapped in these holes in the ground based solely on confidential information, sometimes without even being found guilty of a rule violation that would justify such placement. Then, even years after emerging from solitary confinement, the parole board often denies their release from prison based on that same old unreliable confidential information. Our system of justice cannot allow this practice to continue because it violates fundamental principles of due process.
My former client, Wesley, spent 15 extra years in prison because the parole board and Governor kept relying on false confidential allegations to block his release. It took multiple court orders and numerous parole hearings to overcome this false information. He was released in 2018. Wesley has asked me to relay the following statement on his experience: “It was frustrating for the parole board and Governor to use secret information to say I was a threat to public safety when there was nothing I could say or do about it. I’m grateful to be home now, but I can’t get back the 15 years I lost with my family.”
In summary, SB 1064 provides basic due process protections for people like Wesley who have been treated unfairly by the parole consideration process. For this reason, I urge your yes vote. Thank you.
My name is Paul Redd. I work for the American Friends Service Committee, a proud sponsor of SB 1064. I was released from California Department of Corrections after 44 years, on May 21 this year. I spent over 35 years in Solitary confinement. My 35 plus years spent in the various Security housing units was based on erroneous confidential information: In one case the informant did not exist; in another the staff never documented it nor investigated the information; and in another they never provided me with any 1030's, confidential disclosure forms summarizing the incident. It wasn't until 1989 that an appeal coordinator by the name of Mary Rockwood discovered these violations. She only had the authority to go back to 1988, so whatever was in the file from 1977-89 was never reviewed, and I lost all those years.
In 2005, while in court, a deputy attorney general ordered investigators to provide me gang validation materials that I had not had access to. There was a confidential document that had been used for several years to validate keeping me in the security housing unit. The “information” accused me of killing an inmate at San Quentin, although I was never charged with that offense. Six years later a new investigation found the information did not identify me of killing anyone, and it was removed from the validation packages. However the damage I suffered by this informant was done. I can give a dozen or so examples from my C-files where erroneous, unreliable, or dormant confidential information was used, with the help of prison staff directly/indirectly allowing it to happen, with no accountability. After I was released to General Population the use of such “information” against me continued during parole hearings and risk assessments, but I was still unable to know what the so-called information was.
SB1064 is one of the most important bills before this committee to put a stop to the abuse of confidential information. The bill prevents tax payers from having to pay to extend people’s sentences based on erroneous and uncorroborated allegations. It is long overdue. I would be happy to answer any questions.
4) Tune in to Prison Focus Radio on KPOO San Francisco 89.5, or stream live on KPOO.com, every Thursday at 11am.
Peace and solidarity, Nube
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Jul 16, 2020
The Champs are Back Unbroken:
Welcome Home Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Paul Redd and Lorenzo Benton!
By Kim Pollak
“No, this isn’t an exaggeration. I am fighting to prevent class genocide... If you are politically involved, a jailhouse lawyer or just a natural leader, you are going to end up in the SHU” Nancy Grimes, the mother of a SHU prisoner, testifying during the public comment period in April 1999 about CDCr’s debriefing policy. (Prison Focus, Spring 1999)
“.… For many of us who were in the fight to abolish solitary confinement and end long-term SHU's for over 30 years, the fight to gain our freedom is a more challengingone, as the power-that-be seems tonot be receptive tothe positive changes within our lives or nor satisfied by our acts of restoringhumanity to a place or a people, where there waslittle, if any.
…. After going on 42 years of incarceration and 16 parole denials, it does not appear it is getting any easier, as obstacles are constantly thrown before me, due to no fault of my own.” Lorenzo Benton in a letter to California Prison Focus, January 2018
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa aka Ronnie Dewberry, Paul Redd and Lorenzo Benton have finally been released from the grip of institutionalized fascism after over 40 years each in the California state “correctional” system. These men were each locked up in the concrete depths of solitary confinement hell, at Pelican Bay State Prison, for their opinion, resilience and resistance, for approximately three decades each.
Bato Talamantez from California Prison Focus explained that after the dreaded Secure Housing Units (SHU) had opened at "the Bay" circa 1991, concerned families, Human Rights’s activists and ex felons stood witness to that harsh dehumanizing prison era where the worst brutality and abuses came to light during the class action landmark court case of Madrid vs. Gomez. Supporters came to know, admire and respect the prisoner comrades inside and their consistent resistance to oppression. Throughout the years, Sitawa, Paul and Lorenzo, each denied parole multiple times and eligible years ago, have continued to keep the Faith of Resistance Alive, within themselves and in those around them.
Sitawa and Paul specifically, along with other strong and principled thinkers of the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective, organized and inspired 30,000 other imprisoned activists, to join in their struggle for freedom from the torture of solitary confinement. They played chess rather than checkers, and chose a peaceful strategy focused on solidarity. In doing so, despite non-cooperation from CDCr, they created and promoted the Agreement to End Hostilities, a statement that is still having impact on both sides of the walls today.
Even from within the most inhumane environment Sitawa, Paul and Lorenzo maintained their warrior spirit and inspired thousands of others near and far, inside and out. They are stellar examples of resilience, integrity and an unwavering commitment to peace, justice and equality. California Prison Focus, Liberate the Caged Voices and KAGE Universal salute Satawa Nantambu Jamaa, Paul Redd and Lorenzo Benton, and welcomes them home with arms wide open!
Following are excerpts from an article titled written by Sitawa and his still-imprisoned comrade Jabari Scott, published in the Prison Focus Newspaper in October 2011 (Issue 44, Pg. 14), followed by a poem from Paul Redd.
Solidarity Had the The Might to Move the Mountain of Prison Torture that Kept us Isolated and Voiceless - We Still Need You Now
We prisoners, the Prisoner Human Rights Movement (PHRM), all our supporters, all state legislators and all citizens of California are being lied to and manipulated….
Gov. Brown and CDCr administrators are currently violating our United States constitutional rights, the California Code of Regulations and other rules, laws, policies and standards with the intent of breaking down and destroying men and women prisoners, family bonds and moral ethics here in California...
My very first run-in with these backward, mountain dwelling
slave drivers was during my journey from DVI Prison to CCI, better known as Tehachapi State Prison….
My week long journey was pretty much uneventful, but I was able to touch base and educate a few young up-and coming, politically conscious prison activists to a better understanding of ceasing hostilities and where we stand in our protracted peaceful protest.
…. It immediately became clear to me that my next two years were going to be another form of modern day slavery and that the past four years of protest – all we fought through and accomplished – had fallen on deaf ears here at Tehachapi.
This hellish modern day slave camp and all its staff have been brainwashed and indoctrinated into an old, prehistoric, backwards prison mentality of the 1960s and 1970s, minus the physical violence, which has been replaced by a new form of violence, mental assault through every facet of this institution and its officials. All of the rights that have been rightfully ours as prisoners are denied.
Staff knowingly violate daily every rule, policy, law, standard and constitutional provision that has been written to provide prisoners with their basic human
rights, and they do it as though they have no conscience at all and it is their normal way of life, that we prisoners should be thankful for and accept with a smile and “thank ya, sir.”
With that, they flex their muscles as though they stand on the absolute power of virtual impunity that allows them to constantly get away with the crimes they commit upon us prisoners daily. Thus, they boldly think we should bow to their whim.
… It was clear to me that this administration utilizes the methods of dehumanization by stripping prisoners of their dignity, one layer at a time.
Pelican Bay Prison Express (Now Prison Focus), November 1995
What do you see?
Decaying society torn apart,
riddled in bullets, drugs, deaths,
self-destruction, broken families (prisons without walls and or bars).
What do you see?
Courtrooms full of angry youth,
both men and women,
victims of a decaying society.
What do you see?
Ourselves thrown into California’s prisons to be Warehoused, never confronting the real problem – how we allow ourselves to be exploited, manipulated.
Yes, we see what you see - yourself.
Yes, we are from you. We call upon our communities to take a stand.
Organize, join forces with outside entities.
Demand that we as prisoners be provided with the proper and correct tools to uplift us
culturally, historically, educationally,
to eradicate this internal illness we have taken on.