Solitary Confinement to be Sharply Curtailed in California
A settlement between activist inmates and California prison officials will sharply limit the use of solitary confinement in the state. “I do believe there is a deepening movement away from solitary confinement in this country, and I think this settlement is a key moment in that movement,” said Alexis Agathocleous, of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He credits the victory to prisoners at the infamous Pelican Bay lockup and elsewhere who have staged hunger strikes against solitary confinement and other abuses since 2011. California leads the nation in enforced isolation of prisoners, with nearly 3,000 inmates locked down for months, years or decades at a stretch. Nationwide, about 80,000 inmates are in solitary on any given day – more than the total prison population of most countries.
DC Mayor is a Fugitive Slave Catcher
Muriel Bowser, the Black mayor of Washington, DC, proposes targeting all 10,000 of the city’s residents on probation or parole for surprise day or night searches, in their homes or on the street. Ex-offenders caught breaking any number of rules could be held for 72 hours without charge, before being set on a path back to prison. The mayor claims she’s trying to get guns off the street. However, renowned whistleblower Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, an activist with the Hands Up Coalition-DC and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report, said Bowser’s “recommendation is basically just a warmed-over regurgitation of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793,” which was based on the dictum “Once a slave, always a slave.” Bowser “is essentially saying, once you’ve been convicted of a crime, you are always a criminal,” said Coleman-Adebayo.
The Afro-Colombian Model for Self-Determination
Blacks in the U.S. can learn something from African descendants in Colombia, South America, the third-largest concentration of Black people outside of Africa, behind Brazil and the United States, said Ajamu Baraka, a founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network and editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. Baraka lives in Colombia and took part in a conference of the Black Communities Process, or PCN, the country’s premier self-determinist organization. “They have built structures of organization in which they address, not just the political needs of their communities, but the material needs of their communities,” said Baraka. The PCN pursues a “dual power” strategy, building institutions outside of state control to confront challenges in education, culture, employment and food distribution. “PCN provides models that we can take a look at,” said Baraka.
New Film Documents Ferguson Rebellion
Independent filmmaker Ralph L. Crowder III has spent much of the summer screening his documentary Hands Up Don’t Shoot Our Youth Movement in cities across the country. Crowder says he set out to find what was unique to Ferguson, Missouri, that compelled “these strong Black people to make this kind of stand for justice.” But he soon learned that conditions in Ferguson “were the same as in the very city that I drove from,” Minneapolis. “The bottom line is that our youth are intelligent, they’re engaged with their own struggle, and in many ways they’re very disappointed and disengaged from the adults that claim to have leadership in our communities.”
High Stakes Testing Opt-Out Gains Momentum
The movement among parents to opt their children out of high stakes standardized tests is “growing by leaps and bounds,” said Dr. Pete Farruggio, a veteran educator and anti-privatization activist. “Experts in “psycho-metrics” – testing – “uniformly are opposed to the use of standardized tests to make any important decisions” in education, such as closing schools, firing teachers, and handing schools over to the private companies. The testing regime, said Farruggio, “is part of the whole neoliberal program of social control of the population, dumbing down the population, preventing critical thinking, and preventing the development of troublemakers – like you and me.”