Anarchist prisoner Jennifer Gann was attacked by warders at Kern Valley State Prison on September 13th for coming to the aid of another trans woman who was being harassed by guards. The following is an excerpt from a letter that just came in from Jennifer.
Please take some time to write Jennifer a letter, send her some zines, or put a couple dollars on her books. She does not have access to her property, and is being held in the Administrative Segregation Unit, (‘the hole’..solitary confinement), so anything helps.
You can write to Jennifer at:
J. Gann #E-23852
Kern Valley State Prison
PO Box 5107
Delano, CA 93216
….”I’m currently sitting in a cold, gray, cement cell with nothing but a sink, toilet, bunk, and basic necessities.
I was on D-facility, Tuesday afternoon (9/13), going out to the yard from my housing unit when I heard a CO behind me begin yelling at and harassing one of my sistas. So I stopped to see what the problem was, when several COs immediately turned toward me and began yelling “turn around and get down!”
As soon as I turned my back to comply, I was assaulted from behind, my face slammed forward into a metal locker, splitting my head wide open, blood gushing, as 4 or 5 guards began punching and kicking me as I lay face down unable to move. They had me pinned down, knees in my back and on my head. They kept yelling “stop resisting!”
A dying prisoner has been released in Louisiana after serving nearly 42 years in solitary confinement, longer than any other person in the United States.
Herman Wallace and two others, known as the Angola Three, were placed in solitary in 1972 following the murder of a prison guard. The Angola Three and their supporters say they were framed for the murder over their political activism as members of one of the first prison chapters of the Black Panthers.
In a surprise development on Tuesday, Wallace was released from prison after a federal judge overturned his conviction, saying he did not receive a fair trial. Wallace, who is near death from advanced liver cancer, was taken directly to a New Orleans hospital where supporters greeted his arrival.
We are joined by three guests: Robert King, who until Tuesday night was the only freed member of the Angola Three and helped deliver to Wallace the news of his release; Wallace’s defense attorney, George Kendall; and Jackie Sumell, an artist and Wallace supporter who is with him at the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans.
“This is a tremendous victory and a miracle that Herman Wallace will die a free man,” Sumell says. “He’s had 42 years of maintaining his innocence in solitary confinement, and if his last few breaths are as a free man, we’ve won.”
This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest, and brashest personality in the political prisoner world. It is with great sadness that we write with the news of Herman Wallace‘s passing.
Herman never did anything half way. He embraced his many quests and adventures in life with a tenacious gusto and fearless determination that will absolutely never be rivaled. He was exceptionally loyal and loving to those he considered friends, and always went out of his way to stand up for those causes and individuals in need of a strong voice or fierce advocate, no matter the consequences.
Anyone lucky enough to have spent any time with Herman knows that his indomitable spirit will live on through his work and the example he left behind. May each of us aspire to be as dedicated to something as Herman was to life, and to justice.
Below is a short obituary/press statement for those who didn’t know him well in case you wish to circulate something. Tributes from those who were closest to Herman and more information on how to help preserve his legacy by keeping his struggle alive will soon follow.
On October 4th, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement.
Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement, and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.
Just 3 days before his passing, he succeeded, his conviction was overturned, and he was released to spend his final hours surrounded by loved ones. Despite his brief moments of freedom, his case will now forever serve as a tragic example that justice delayed is justice denied.
Herman Wallace’s early life in New Orleans during the heyday of an unforgiving and unjust Jim Crow south often found him on the wrong side of the law and eventually he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for armed robbery. While there, he was introduced to the Black Panther‘s powerful message of self determination and collective community action and quickly became one of its most persuasive and ardent practitioners.
Not long after he began to organize hunger and work strikes to protest the continued segregation, endemic corruption, and horrific abuse rampant at the prison, he and his fellow panther comrades Albert Woodfox and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown in solitary.
Robert was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary but Herman remained there for an unprecedented 41 years, and Albert is still in a 6×9 solitary cell.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released a statement this morning that all hunger strike participants had resumed eating, ending a two month long hunger strike. 100 hunger strikers were participating as of yesterday afternoon, with 40 on hunger strike the entire 59 days since the launch of the strike. Protesting long-term solitary confinement and sensory deprivation in California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs), 30,000 prisoners in 24 prisons across the state and in out-of-state facilities housing CDCR prisoners launched a hunger strike on July 8th. Continue reading “California Prison Hunger Strike Ends After 60 Days”
“I conclude that the 11 months under conditions of solitary confinement (regardless of the name given to his regime by the prison authorities) constitutes at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture,” Juan Mendez, UN special rapporteur on torture. Continue reading “Manning was tortured..Dismiss the charges NOW”
The American Friends Service Committee has put out a new edition of the vital publication Survivors Manual: Surviving in Solitary – A Manual Written By and For People Living in Control Units. The volume is a collection of letters, stories, poetry, and practical advice on surviving solitary confinement in prisons. AFSC released the following announcement last week: