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Well over ten thousand adult prisoners are currently being held in some form of solitary confinement in California prisons – 80,000 in total across the United States.

Among the worst form of solitary confinement is the indefinite and long‐term, extreme isolation of the Security Housing Units (the SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s “supermax”. Locked in a 11’7” x 7’7” windowless concrete box/cell for at least 22 ½ hours a day, day in day out, year after year, prisoners endure without sunlight, fresh air or human touch. In contrast to every other system in the United States, prisoners can’t even receive a phone call unless a family member has died.

Over 500 prisoners have been locked down in the Pelican Bay SHU for over 10 years. About 80 of them have been in solitary for over 20 years and at least two prisoners have been isolated for over 40 years. This is a policy that condemns to permanent life long isolation.

Extended solitary confinement is globally recognized as torture. Cut off from any normal human interaction, enduring sensory and physical deprivation, many prisoners describe their lockdown in the SHU as being “buried alive”. The State of California asserts that solitary confinement is not a form of punishment, but rather an “administrative assignment” to insure the safety of the prison and the public. These conditions of torture will not make anyone safer, or prepare men subjected to such dehumanizing conditioning for eventual release.

We stand together against these shameful practices and consider them extensions of the same inhumanity practiced at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. In defense of the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we, the undersigned, call on Governor Jerry Brown to end this torture at Pelican Bay and all California Prisons immediately.

The Right Reverend Joseph Jon Bruno, D.D.
Bishop Diocesan
Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese

Michael Ratner
President Emeritus
Center for Constitutional Rights

Fr. Greg Boyle
Founder – Homeboy Industries, author

Michelle Alexander
Author, The New Jim Crow
Professor of Law, Ohio State

Robert Thurman
Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies
Columbia University

Quinn Delaney
Akonadi Foundation

Angela Davis
Author, Scholar
Distinguished Professor Emerita, UC Santa Cruz

Noam Chomsky
Emeritus Professor MIT, Linguist
Political Critic

Gloria Steinem
Feminist, Journalist

Reverend Jesse L. Jackson
Founder and President
Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Peter Coyote

Georgia Kelly
Founder and Director
Praxis Peace Institute

Earl Katz
Activist/ Executive Producer
President Emeritus, Board Public Interest Pictures

Loïc Wacquant
Professor of Sociology
UC Berkeley

David Fathi
Director, National Prison Project

Rick Goldsmith
Documentary Filmmaker

Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Chancellor’s Professor
Medical Anthropology
UC Berkeley

Rabbi Michael Lerner
Founder and Editor
Tikkun Magazine

Anthony Arnove
Writer and Producer
Dirty Wars

Megan Comfort
Author Doing Time Together:
Love and Family in the Shadow of the Prison

Don Paul
Author, Performer
Producer, Runner

Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Author, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus,
Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California

Terrence McNally

Mavis and Jay Leno
Activist and Entertainer

Vanita Gupta
Deputy Legal Director

Cornel West
Philosopher, Public Intellectual

Bonnie Raitt
Singer, Songwriter

Cheryl Saban, Ph. D.
Cheryl Saban Self-Worth
Foundation for Women & Girls

Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The Shalom Center

Luis Valdez
Playwright, Actor, Film Director

Cindra and Alan Ladd

Rev. Peter Laarman
Executive Director
Progressive Christians Uniting

Susan L. Smalley, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Department of Psychiatry
UCLA School of Medicine

Ed Asner
Actor, Activist

Sarah Shourd
Former U.S. Hostage in Iran

Susan Bay and Leonard Nimoy
Activist and Actor

Lawrence Bender
Producer and Activist

Joseph Margulies
Author, Guantanamo
and the Abuse of Presidential Power

Northwestern University School of Law

Mike Farrell
Actor and Activist

Barbara Ransby
Author, Historian

Harriet Beinfield
Efrem Korngold

Authors, Chinese Medicine

Donald Goldmacher M.D.
Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?

Rick Cluchey
Director and Co-Founder
San Quentin Drama Workshop

Haskell Wexler
Cinematographer, Director

Vincent Warren
Executive Director
Center for Constitutional Rights

Kate Harrison
Kate Harrison Consulting

Patricia Penn Hilden, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita,
Native American Studies/
Comparative Ethnic Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Rabbi Phyllis Berman
Philadelphia, PA

Walter Parkes
Laurie MacDonald


Doris La Frenais
Philanthropist, Activist

Susan Sarandon

Elliot Currie
Professor, UC Irvine
School of Social Ecology

Daniel ‘Nane’ Alejandrez
Founder and Executive Director
Barrios Unido

Carol Bondi
Advocate Juvenile Justice

Marjorie Cohn
Thomas Jefferson Law School

Dr. Linda Gaither
Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Sandor and Faye Straus
Progressive Activists

James Duff
Writer, Producer, Director

Tom Morello
Musician, RAM

Jill Stoner
Chair, Graduate Program Jewish Studies
UC Berkeley

The Rev Jessie Vedanti
Episcopal Peace Fellowship

The Rev Allison Liles
Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Kevin Wall
Producer, Activist

Karen Bernal
Former Chair, Progressive Caucus
California Democratic Party

Sandra Fluke
Attorney, Social Justice Advocate

David Meggyesy
Board President
Athletes United for Peace

Lewis Sawyer
Radio Producer, Host

Bill Zimmerman
Political Consulting

Dr. Murray Korngold
Psychologist, Chinese Medicine

William Gazecki
Independent Documentary Filmmaker

Jamie Cromwell
Actor and Activist

Ann Philbin
Hammer Museum UCLA

Jonathan Simon
Professor of Law
UC Berkeley

Susan Gzesh
University of Chicago
Human Rights Program


Join Us and Sign this Open Letter
to Governor Jerry Brown by clicking here.