Editorial by Ed Mead
As many of you may know, I am also the editor of the Prison Focus newspaper, a position I’ve held alone or jointly for the past thirteen years. Prison Focus #39 was mailed out to readers in early March. This week California Prison Focus received word from several Pelican Bay prisoners that their captors had rejected that issue. One man sent us the rejection form 1819 given to him. It says the “pages which meet disapproval criteria” are 8, 9, and 10, and the description of the problem is “correspondence that contains security concerns CCR 3006(c)(5) plans to disrupt the order of any facility”.
What was on pages 8, 9, and 10 that would undermine the order of the state’s most secure prison? Why it was the Open Letter to Governor Brown and the new corrections boss written by the Reps. The open letter has been reported on in such lofty publications as the Los Angeles Times, yet I’ll bet that newspaper was not banned. The Times even reported on an event that was to take place on a certain future date, a date this publication cannot mention lest we be banned yet again. CPF is currently working on a response to this heavy handed censorship, a banning based solely on the fact that it contained a copy of a letter to public offi cials. As was the case with banned issues of the Rock newsletter, Prison Focus #39 reached subscribers in every other facility in the state.
On the good news front, the issue of solitary confi nement is getting wider and wider support. Even conservative columnist George Will has jumped on the band wagon. He recently wrote: “Tens of thousands of American prison inmates are kept in prolonged solitary confi nement that arguably constitutes torture. Isolation changes the way the brain works. The mental pain of solitary confi nement is crippling: Brain studies reveal durable impairments and abnormalities in individuals denied social interaction.”
Now I would like to apologize to readers for another lame issue of this newsletter. I have articles from the Reps, all kinds of letters from readers, and other good information that I am not publishing this month as a direct result of the censorship Rock has suffered in the past. April’s issue did get in, and so will this one because the content is so watered down and contains a lot less material than you have a right to expect. The enemies of democracy and freedom of speech have won, at least for this month.
As the number of subscribers/readers surpasses several hundred so does the amount of material used to produce it, which at this point is about four reams of paper at $5 each and close to a toner cartridge per issue at $154 a shot. So far my old laser printer is holding up under the load. The good news is that this not a plea for stamps or money. I have enough of both for now, thanks to the generosity of Rock readers. I’m good for at least a couple more months. If you are a new reader who wants to subscribe, however, the price is 30 stamps or $15 (or else a good story, I’m pretty easy).
We up here in Seattle have been organizing against the SHUs, as are folks in San Diego, LA, the Bay Area, Portland, and elsewhere. Here we have union endorsements, churches, community activists, and have many events planned. The closest one is a hip hop educational to be held on April 29th. Our group, we call ourselves “Free Us All”, has weekly planning meetings. On May 18th we’ll be hosting a united front meeting with representatives of immigrant communities, gay and lesbian, union representatives, church leaders, and many others, for the purpose of developing support for the struggle against Security Housing Units. We are planning major demonstrations for July.
If you have people in the Seattle area who might want to get involved, have them e-mail this writer at ed@rocknewsletter. com. If you have people in any of the other cities mentioned, let me know and I’ll send the contact information to the appropriate folks.
That’s it for this month. Take care in there and continue to stay strong.