Quoting from his recent Community TV show, Steve Pleich, an officeseeker and political activist, writes of the Sin Barras organization: “They are asking why our country imprisons a greater percentage of its citizens than any other country in the world. They are asking why Black Americans who comprise 12% of the population compose 40% of all prison populations. They are asking why 65% of all those incarcerated are non-violent drug offenders. They are asking our President why the federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine are 18 times that of the punishment for powder.
“They are asking why our county jail is operating at 120% capacity at a time when the State of California is under a federal consent decreee to reduce the overall prison population by 30,000. The are asking why, in consideration of the fact that the consent decree is based on a finding by the court that the level of medical care provided to prison inmates violates their constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment, our county jail has decided to outsource its medical care and place it beyond local control. And they are asking why our young non-criminal Latinos are being racially profiled and placed on immigration holds by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the cooperation of our county Sheriff’s Department. [emphasis mine]
Steve Argue’s ordeal is also described in other articles (http://www.huffsantacruz.org/
How many people are being held in solitary confinement here in Santa Cruz? What are the criteria? Has the policy meaningfully changed since Argue’s experience, or has it gotten worse? What kind of racial profiling goes on in the jails? Public inquiry, public protest, and publicity all have an impact.
My Experiences in Solitary Confinement and..Santa Cruz Organizing For Trayvon Martin and Against Solitary Confinement
I myself spent about 5 months out of my 9 month sentence in the Santa Cruz County Jail in solitary confinement. I was in jail for coming to the defense of a woman and small child who were being brutalized by the police at a protest against the U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia. In jail, I was immediately put in solitary confinement, being told, “Mr. Argue, I have put you in administrative segregation because I deem you a threat in potentially organizing against authority”.
In solitary I wrote a lot and what I was writing was getting published on the outside. I was threatened by guards that they would hurt my wrist if I kept writing. I kept writing. The guards then one day handcuffed me and then brutally beat me, hurting my wrist so bad that I couldn’t write for months.
Protests outside the jail against my beating then got me out of solitary confinement for a while, but I was put back in after getting caught with an extra blanket another prisoner had gotten to me to fight excessive cold of the nights. (As an additional punishment, they turn up the air conditioning at night and deny additional bedding or clothing to inmates.)
The next time I got out of solitary I started petitions against the privatization of the commissary and the increase in price for materials needed to contact the outside world.
Everyone in my cell block signed the petition and it was published on the outside. Prices for some materials were brought down, and I was put in the hole (i.e. solitary confinement without reading or writing materials) for the rest of my stay.
-Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency
To Join Santa Cruz Organizing Efforts, See:
For more on Trayvon Martin, see:
The Case of Trayvon Martin: There is No Justice in The Capitalist Courts!
ILWU Local 10 Pledges Support For Trayvon Martin Actions