National STOPMAX Conference

Starting Date: 05-30-2008
Ending Date: 06-01-2008

Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122
United States
Organizing to Abolish Solitary Confinement and Torture in U.S. Prisons

Friday, May 30, 2008

8:00 a.m. Registration opens
8:00-9:00 a.m. Breakfast

Human Rights Trainings

9:00 a.m. - noon Human Rights Training - Introduction 101 - US Human Rights Network members will facilitate this workshop to provide participants with a ‘people’ centered perspective on the creation and evolution of the human rights framework from the end of the Second World War to the present. The workshop will also familiarize participants with the basic human rights texts and will provide interactive examples of how they relate to and can expand social justice work in the United States.

1:00- 3:30 p.m. - Human Rights Training for Youth -Youth trainers will incorporate media usage and analysis to work with youth in a hands on training to address the most critical aspects of their personal and communal struggles.

1:00-3:00 p.m.- Human Rights in Action - How can we take abstract human rights concepts and make them real for individuals on the ground? By getting the language of the international treaties incorporated into local or state law. Come engage in a discussion with activists who are doing the difficult work of convincing local legislators to bring international human rights into domestic legislation, and learn about the reasons why it is worth the effort.

Friday Morning Workshops

9:00-10:15 a.m.

1. Jail the Oppressor, Free the Oppressed- learn about the Strategies that the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project has utilized in collective, organized struggle to fight the prison industrial complex as it impacts Raza communities –Ernesto Bustillo, Monica Bernal, Cathy Espitia, Xristian Carbajal (CMPP); and Francisco Romero, High School Teacher, and Committee On Raza Rights, San Diego

2. Closing Prisons, Building + Fighting for Justice - overview of the campaign to close down the Tallulah Correctional Center for Youth, from parent’s perspective and the troubles and triumphs faced in the years since. Learn about this ever-growing, multi-cultural grassroots organization of families, friends and youth working to oppose the Prison Industrial Complex and the school-to-prison-pipeline. Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, Grace Bauer

3. Film -Unlock the Box- Lessons and Strategies in Fighting Isolation - sums up the struggles and experiences of decades of work around the effort to shut down control units in US prisons. Prisoners and former prisoners discuss the conditions in control units and the effects of isolation on mental health. Jay Summers, Maoist International Ministry of Prisons, S.F., CA


1. Self Advocacy/Getting Results for Prison Abuse, through speakers, prisoner testimonies and the sharing of advocacy tools developed by Human Rights Coalition, participants will become more empowered to advocate for their loved ones in prison, Human Rights Coalition, Ham’Diya Mu, Luqman Abdullah and Mrs. T. Williams

2. Impact of Death Penalty on Families, presenters will share their experience of coping with the impact of the PA criminal justice system, and capital punishment on families. This session will also offer an overview of organizing skills for approaching and dialoguing with prison and elected officials to gain support for prisoner and families rights, Reunification Transportation, Peggy Sims, Pastor Dicie Carroll, and Rochelle Lilley

3. The Successful Overhaul of Mississippi's Supermax Prison - Learn about flawed classification systems and how they contribute to overuse of supermax units. Presenters will describe the strategies they used through litigation and negotiations to overhaul Mississippi’s notoriously brutal Unit 32 at Parchman Prison , Margaret Winter, ACLU; Steve Hanlon, Holland & Knight, Community Services Team; Jim Austin, President, JFA Institute

4. Creative Writing for Survival in Solitary, Jimmy Santiago Baca

Noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch

Friday Afternoon Workshops-Session 1

1:00-2:15 p.m.

1. Soothing and Nurturing the Human Spirits on Both Sides of the Walls - Information will be shared on how to maneuver around staff obstacles and strategies to help families handle the stresses of having a loved one in the hole, Judith Trustone, Sagewriters: Patrick Middleton Phd, Prisoner SCI Graterford

2. Film- Intolerable Burden- Education v. Incarceration- The session will feature a 50-minute documentary film screening of The Intolerable Burden by filmmaker, author and Civil Rights activist Constance Curry, based on her book Silver Rights. Immediately following will be an interactive discussion with significant audience participation on dismantling the school to prison pipeline, a national trend wherein children of color are being pushed out of public schools. Set in 1965, the film follows the sharecropping Carter family as they enroll 8 of their 13 children in the all white public schools of Drew, Mississippi. The film examines the conditions of segregation, personal hardships of desegregation, white flight and resistance, and the re-segregation of public schools, while posing the current dilemma of "education vs. incarceration" - a particular threat to youth of color. The presenters will discuss their continuing efforts to dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline, Constance Curry and Benétta M. Standly, ACLU of Georgia

3. History of Supermax Litigation- The presenters will provide an overview of past litigation efforts surrounding supermax prisons and discuss current trends in supermax litigation around the country. The focus will be on class action challenges to conditions and placement as well as on individual claims arising from prisoners in supermax prisons. The presentation will conclude with predictions on likely future trends in supermax litigation. The presenters will note that overall, with the limited exception of mentally ill prisoners being placed in supermax prisons, the courts have not been very receptive to legal challenges to supermax placement or conditions of confinement. David Fathi, US Human Rights Watch: Paul Wright, Prison Legal News: Angus Love, Institutional Law Project

4. 9x15 - Control Unit play – This short play exposes torture in a control unit in prison. Session will involve participants in a reading of the play and an examination of how to use various artistic tools to raise awareness in our communities and take action, Molly Smollett, playwright

Friday Afternoon Workshops-Session 2

2:30-3:30 p.m.

1. From the Isolation Cell Block to the City Block – Session will focus on the impact of solitary confinement on the mental health of prisoners, their families and the community through first hand testimony of prisoners and family members. Barbara Fair, People Against Injustice: Ann Schwartzman; PA Prison Society; Kathleen Creamer, Community Legal Services + others

2. Introduction to Families + Friends of the Emergency Response Network (ERN) – Learn about the Emergency Response Network and the efforts to build a proactive community of families and friends of prisoners. Gain access to some simple and accessible tools and resources for combating the abuse of prisoners and network with other advocates. Theresa Shoatz, Families and Communities United: David Onion, Director of ERN

3. Film- Red Clay Country-The Milieu Will Kill You -Red Clay Country is an uncensored video documentary taped by inmates at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, a maximum security state penitentiary. This unique chronicle examines, through the medium of spoken-word poetry combined with candid inmate interviews, the chronic, inner-city cycle of poverty, crime and incarceration. It confronts the disturbing reality of an epidemic proportion of fatherless black youth coming of age within, and being fathered by their very nemesis - a racist prison industrial complex. Produced and Directed by Kevin O’Neill, artist, poet, former prisoner

4.The Struggles for Native American Religious and Spiritual Practices in the US Prison System - PowerPoint presentation and discussion about the human rights and civil rights struggles of Native American prisoners, including those on Death Row, and the denial of their religious and spiritual practices and beliefs. Lenny Foster, Navajo Nation Corrections Project, Window Rock, AZ
STOPMAX Kick-Off Event
Eastern State Penitentiary

Friday May 30, 2008 4:30-7:00 p.m.

The conference kick-off event on Friday evening May 30th, at Eastern State Penitentiary, where solitary confinement was first practiced in the United States, will feature:
Rubin Hurricane Carter - Keynote Speaker

Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc - traditional Aztec dancers

Testimonials from prisoners in solitary confinement.

Press conference

8:00 -9:30 p.m. - Dinner/Interactive Theatre - A Thousand Kites Play

Saturday, May 31, 2008

8:00 a.m. - Registration opens
8:00-9:00 a.m. - Continental Breakfast

9:00-9:15 a.m. - Welcome

9:15-10:15 a.m. - STOPMAX Campaign Plenary- STOPMAX staff and partners give overview of history of campaign work and future vision for a national movement

10:15-10:45 a.m. Speaker - Jimmy Santiago Baca

11:00 - 12:30 - Survivors of Isolation Panel – hear the testimonies of people who have endured solitary confinement and torture in US prisons (Moderated by Dr. Terry Kupers)

12:30-1:30 Lunch

Saturday Afternoon Workshops - Session 1

1:30-2:30 p.m

1. Psychiatric Torture and Violence Against Prisoners: Human Rights and Advocacy, Session will focus on exposing torture and documenting human rights abuses of people labeled as "mentally ill" in the Prison Industry. Workshop presenters will share life experiences and oral histories of survivors, and provide documented expert evidence of human rights violations involving forced psychiatric interventions. Presenters will share violations under the human rights convention/treaties, The Convention Against Torture (CAT), The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Mental Patient's Liberation Alliance, Inc, New York, Daniel Hazen

2. Film- Charisse Shumate: Fighting for Our Lives-Women and Human Rights- This film documents the struggles of women prisoners and their advocates to stop heath care abuse within the California prison system. Discussion will follow on how advocates, former prisoners and family members can work with women on the inside to change prison conditions. California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Shawnna Demmons

3. Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP): Human Rights Abuses and International Law –Panel discussion to highlight the human rights abuses for youth sentenced to JLWOP using International standards as a framework for strategizing. created by prisoner Robert Saleem Holbrook, facilitated by Anita Colon, Joan Holbrook, Dr. Geraldine Bonner and Joan Porter

4. Partnership, Perception and Power, This session will present ideas for re-defining campaigns based on lessons learned focusing on media, language, unlikely linkages and the voices of impacted families, Kimberly Haven, Justice Maryland

5. Film-Re Righting Ourselves: Stories of Male Prisoners Activism for Change, This DVD presentation is the result of a learning program at a county jail. Poetry and prose selections motivate prisoners to revisit their past, reflect, recreate and ‘reright’ themselves. The process of healing, self-realization and wholeness of men who offered to have their experiences videotaped and shared with youth as a community service project is the focus of the film. Irene Baird, Penn State; Charles Stuart, National Incarcerated Parents and Families Network

6. Changing the Militaristic Model for Personal and Social Change in a Gang Unit – This session will provide a brief introduction to gang myths and the basic philosophy and components of the present NJDOC gang unit program. A moderated discussion will then focus on feasible community and prison alternatives, independent monitoring by a community coalition and strategies for achieving change. Arch Angel , Almighty Latin Kings Queens Nation; Jean Ross, People’s Organization for Progress

Afternoon Workshops - Session 2

2:45-4:15 p.m.

1. Recognizing Families Role in Reentry/Pre-Post Incarceration Syndrome - interactive workshop led by experienced family members and former prisoners focused on empowering families to understand the Pre & Post Incarceration Syndrome, and support the specific needs of prisoners returning from solitary confinement. Betty Inge, Wallace Kirby, Paulette Jeffries, Tehuti Evans, Families of Prisoners Coaltion, Baltimore, MD

2. Women in Isolation – panel – Through first-hand stories and testimony from women in prison this session will highlight the unique human rights abuses suffered by women in isolation with opportunity for discussion to help generate energy for action. Fight for Lifers West, Donna Pfender and others

3. Native Person or Gang Member: The Struggle for Identity in the Gulag - panel –This panel will address and discuss the unique situation that Native people confront with the US Penal System and the profound impact that Administrative Segregation has on these individuals and the interconnected and interwoven Tribal Communities they return to. Len Foster, Dine Nation; Michelle Tyon, Oglala Lakota Nation; Jamie Bissonnette, Abenaki Nation, AFSC; Sherri Mitchell, Penobscott Nation, Richard Iron Cloud; Newell Lewey; Marletta Pacheco; Richard Silliboy, Micmac

4. Two Decades of Fighting Against Torture in US Prisons: Where We Came From + Where We’re Going –panel- Overview of history of and current conditions in supermax facilities, highlighting the devastating impact isolation has on mental health of prisoners and public health for our commuities. Corey Weinstein, California Prison Focus; Dr. Terry Kupers, Wright Institute; Bonnie Kerness, Coordinator AFSC Prison Watch

(This Session will run 2:30 -4:30p.m.)
5. ImaginAction - Hector Aristizabal will offer an introduction to the use of Image theatre, forum theatre, story-telling, consensus process and other tools in which a community can explore conflicts and seek ways to transform them through actions. This process could lead to the creation of images and short scenes related to the main topics of the conference

6. Prisoners, Reporters, Lawyers and Activists Challenge a State Supermax - This will discuss how prisoners, reporters, lawyers, and activists (including ex-prisoners and family members) can work together to build a movement to challenge conditions and practices within a state Supermax — ultimately, with the goal of shutting it down. former isolation prisoners Ray Luc Levasseur and Randy Garland: Lance Tapley, freelance investigative journalist for Portland Phoenix: Curtis Cooper, lawyer: Joseph Steinberger, lawyer: David Bidler, Black Bird Collective, Maine

Afternoon Workshops - Session 3

4:30-5:45 p.m.

1. Waiting to Die in Solitude:A Look at Death Row Prisoners &Their Conditions - The workshop/panel will explore the conditions that death row prisoners face. It will give a realistic depiction from the actual descriptions of death row prisoners. Participants will engage in an exploration of the roles litigation, legislative strategies and activism play in bringing about change. There will also be discussion about how to engage families of death row prisoners as a pivital part of the struggle for better conditions. Tonya McClary, Louisiana Capital Assistance Center

2. Film - Up The Ridge: During the session, we will present Up the Ridge, a one-hour documentary that offers an in-depth look at the United States prison industry and the social impact of moving hundreds of thousands of inner-city minority prisoners to distant rural outposts. The film explores competing political agendas that align government policy with human rights violations, and political expediencies that bring communities into racial and cultural conflict with tragic consequences. After the film, we will present Thousand Kites, a national dialogue project addressing the criminal justice system. Participants will learn how Thousand Kites has been used in communities all over the United States and how they can become involved with Kites in their communities and become part of a national movement to use the power of art to reform our criminal justice system and to talk about human rights in the United States, nick szurberla, Appalshop

3. Youth in Adult Prisons – This workshop will seek to raise participant’s awareness of the conditions faced by young people in adult jails and prisons (including lengthy stays in solitary confinement, increased likelihood of being sexually or physically assaulted, and other forms of torture), engage participants in dialogue about the effects that locking young people up in adult facilities has on the broader community, and work with participants to brainstorm alternative ways of addressing violence and crime. The workshop will also locate the practice of trying youth as adults within the context of the cradle-to-prison pipeline, and seek to broaden participants’ understanding of how and why the pipeline traps and criminalizes so many young people. We will end the workshop with an update about relevant national and local legislative efforts, and information for participants about how they can engage in building a movement to challenge incarcerating young people in adult prisons. We will also touch on several international human rights treaties that the U.S. violates in its treatment of young people within the adult prison system. Youth Arts and Self Empowerment Project, Sarah Morris and Victor Saez, Phila

4. Film -The Legacy of Torture- The War Against the Black Liberation Movement– After screening the 28 minute video, presenters will discuss the conspiracy and murder charges against former Black Panthers based on confessions extracted under torture. COINTELPRO and its’ use of torture to quell political dissent will also be examined. Soffiyah Elijah and Francisco Torres, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights

5. Counter Abuse Strategies for Supermax Prisons – panel- This panel brings together several groups that have been working to challenge conditions in supermax prisons to share the experiences, barriers, and successes of their efforts. The goal is for participants to learn about a range of approaches to advocacy and fighting for change with time for Q +A and discussion. Etta Cetera, HRC/FedUP: Caylor Roling: Partnership for Safety and JUstice: Barbara Fair, People Against Injustice: Bonnie Kerness, AFSC Prison Watch: Laurie Jo Reynolds, Tamms Year 10 Campaign: Matt Lowen, STOPMAX Campaign, AFSC Arizona

6. Art as a Means of Struggle and Survival – Members of the Prison Creative Arts Project will deliver a creative presentation of visual art, writing, and slam poetry created by artists incarcerated in Michigan. Artist responses include reflections on mental health care, incarceration of youth, and human rights abuses. Rachael Hudack, Sarah Carswell,and Airea Dee Matthews (PCAP)

6:00- 7:30 p.m.- Dinner/Speaker

Dinner Speaker -Laura Whitehorn -Laura who is 63 yrs old served 14 years in federal prison, including several years in a control unit for women near Tallahassee, Florida. Since her release in 1999, she has lived in New York City, working as an editor at POZ magazine, a national publication for people affected by HIV.

8:00- 10:00 - Evening Event

The Welfare Poets

Danza Mexica Cuahtamehoc

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

8:00 -9:00 a.m. - Breakfast

9:00-10:30 - Regional Strategic Planning Meetings- People will meet in smaller groups, by state or region to discuss possible strategies and next steps to pursue post-conference. This is a critical opportunity for us to lay a firm foundation the National STOPMAX Campaign.

10:45-noon- Strategic Planning - Report Out Session

Noon - 1:00 p.m. Closing Session

ImaginAction- Hector Aristizabal will use story telling as a way to create a symbolic map for the work done. Using image theater to both process conference work as well as create images of the work that people feel inspired to do after the event. We will use some collective singing and dancing to send us back into life fully energized honoring those who are incarcerated and their families.

1:00 p.m. Boxed Lunches
Geographical Scope: National

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