NLG-SF Bay Area’s Police & Prisons Committee Launches Prisoner Advocacy Network

By Caitlin Henry, NLG San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

We are excited to launch the Prisoner Advocacy Network and share “Support From Outside The Walls” training materials!

Prisoner Advocacy Network (PAN)

 P&P member and PAN Co-Founder Marie Levin and her brother Sitawa during his first contact visit after 31 years in the SHU. He was a CA hunger strike leader and a lead plaintiff in the Ashker suit, and built the foundation for releasing people from the SHU. She says: The day was an exciting and historical moment for her family: "31 plus years since he was locked in solitary confinement, having a chance to hug him was like a miracle," she said.

P&P member and PAN Co-Founder Marie Levin
and her brother Sitawa during his first contact visit after 31 years in
the SHU. He was a CA hunger strike leader and a lead plaintiff in the Ashker suit, and built the foundation for releasing people from the SHU. The day was an exciting and historical moment for her family: “31 plus years since he was locked in solitary confinement, having a chance to hug him was like a miracle,” she said.

On November 21, the NLG-SF Bay Area Chapter’s Police & Prisons Committee launched it’s Prisoner Advocacy Network (PAN). We will train California based volunteers in advocating for people in solitary, and will pair advocates with folks on the inside.

Following California’s prison hunger strikes, loved ones of people suffering from solitary confinement alerted the NLG to the need for individualized advocacy. We formed a network of activists, family members, formerly incarcerated people, legal workers, law students, and attorneys. We aim to strengthen movements on the inside and their corollaries on the outside by providing advocacy for incarcerated activists. We seek to eliminate the use of solitary as punishment for people who are discriminated against due to their political perspectives and organizing. Our focus is narrow and specific—supporting people in California’s solitary confinement and similar conditions of isolation, such as security housing units (SHUs), administrative segregation, and gender-based segregation. We prioritize advocating for jailhouse lawyers and those engaged in political activity.

We will provide non-litigation advocacy. Our training and activities will include correspondence with people inside, phone calls and letters to prison and health care officials, assisting with filing administrative appeals, filing complaints, public records requests and possibly visits.

To volunteer, email pan@nlgsf.org with your name, status (formerly incarcerated, legal worker, law student, etc.), and relevant experience.

“Support from Outside the Walls” Training Series
We are partnering with allied organizations on a training series. Please visit caitlinkellyhenry.com/support to see our materials from the following trainings:

1: Support from the Outside
2: CDCR Appeals Process
3: Medical and Conditions Advocacy for Transgender People Detained or Incarcerated in the Federal System
4: CDCR Records: How to Request, Read, and Utilize Prison C-File, Medical, and other Records
5: Legal and Family/Social Visits
6: Support for People in Immigration Detention
7: Challenges to Getting Appropriate Medical or Mental Health Care On The Inside: Tools For More Effective Advocacy and Better Outcomes for Incarcerated People and Supporters On The Outside
8: Meeting People Where They’re At
9: Writing Advocacy Letters for Medical Care, Mental Health Care, and Disability Accommodations
10: Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue for Advocates of People Incarcerated in the SHU/Solitary/Segregation

Other Committee Work

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“Shutting the SHU” panel at the 2015 Law for the People Convention. (Photo: Caitlin Henry)

Members organized an inspiring panel at the Convention, “Shutting the SHU: Movement Strategies for Ending Solitary Confinement.”
Committee members penned the article, “NLG Plays Pivotal Role in Solitary Confinement Victory,” about contributions to the political and legal work that paved the way for the Ashker case’s September 1 settlement: nlgsf.org/news/nlg-plays-pivotal-role-solitary-confinement-victory

We meet every second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM, alternating between San Francisco and Oakland. We invite NLG members and allied groups and individuals to attend. Phone conferencing is available.

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