prisoners rights

74 petitions

Update posted 6 days ago

Petition to Todd Spitzer (Orange County Supervisor 3rd District), California Governor, Tony Rackauckas, Loretta Sanchez, Loretta Lynch, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, DIane Feinstein, Alex Padilla

Exonerate Kenneth Clair: DNA Evidence Points to Someone Else.

On November 15, 1984, 5-year-old Jerrod Hessling witnessed the beating, rape, and stabbing death of his babysitter. When asked to describe the killer, he said, without hesitation, that it was a white male. Another child present during the murder saw a white man’s tattooed arm reach inside the house to open a sliding glass door. Yet somehow, the lawyers in the case determined that Kenneth Clair, a dark-skinned African-American homeless man who had been squatting next door, was the killer. When Jerrod saw him on the witness stand and insisted they had the wrong man, the prosecution chalked it up to youth and trauma and pursued the death penalty for Kenneth Clair. To this day, 31 years later, Mr. Clair sits on San Quentin’s death row, awaiting his execution date. [UPDATE: I was recently made aware that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals secretly overturned Mr. Clair’s death sentence and changed it to life in prison without parole. This is mixed news -- his life is spared, but he no longer has the right to an attorney under habeas corpus laws, and he has not been granted a retrial. That means the exonerating DNA evidence will NOT be seen in court. We now have to focus our energy on asking Governor Jerry Brown and California State Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate the case and exonerate Kenneth Clair for this crime he did not commit. It is Mr. Clair’s only remaining chance for justice. ] But that’s not the biggest bombshell in this case -- in 2008, forensic testing revealed that DNA found on the murder victim did not match Clair’s. DNA taken from a glove found at the scene also did not match. It matches another individual, but the Orange County District Attorney insists that “confidentiality is required” concerning this evidence, and for 7 years now, the identity of the person whose DNA does match the swab has remained a secret. In the interest of justice, we must call on the Orange County DA and California state lawmakers to demand that the DNA evidence be turned over to Kenneth Clair’s defense. Since his conviction, Clair has struggled with ineffective counsel. He wanted his lawyers to work at investigating the crime, rather than simply trying to free him from death row, but they never did. His plea for substitute counsel even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, and he did eventually receive a switch of counsel. Finally, he is being represented by people who are dedicated to his exoneration. But their hands are tied without this crucial DNA evidence, and more of Clair’s precious life is wasting away in prison as they fight to obtain it. Please sign my petition: Obviously the Orange County District Attorneys office, with their current district attorney Tony Rackauckas will continue withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense. The only alternative is to both Mr. Rackauckas out of office. So our goal now is to fight this battle both by rallies and at the voting box. If you cannot vote, we still need your donations and also your time if you can volunteer. OUR MAIN MESSAGE IS THAT THE DNA IS NOT KENNETH CLAIR'S. WE DO NOT CARE IF THE DA'S OFFICE CONTINUES TO WITHHOLD THE RESULTS ANY MORE........  NOW OUR MISSION IS TO EXONERATE KENNETH CLAIR. "IF THE DNA SAYS NO .........YOU HAVE TO EXONERATE AND LET KENNETH CLAIR GO......."  

C. J. Ford
163,490 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives

Pass the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act.

I was sentenced 78 months to serve at a federal prison for a white-collar crime. I left home a healthy single mother of two sons, not ever experiencing any serious illnesses. I was a registered nurse who had achieved 3 secondary degrees. I was homeowner and a successful business entrepreneur. I was also six weeks pregnant. Anytime I was transported, I was chained at my ankles with another chain around my waist that bound my hands in front of my belly.   While shackled, forced to step up into a van, I fell. A couple days later I begin spotting with streaks of blood, which I reported immediately to the medical staff. They instantly informed me they had “no” means of caring for me and would need approval from the US Marshals to take me to the ER. The turnaround time for approval ended up being 4 weeks. At that point, it was no longer an “emergency,” so I was turned away from the ER — I then required a second approval for an obstetrician, which took 4 more weeks. A total of four requests were made, each taking 4 weeks, while I was placed in solitary confinement for “medical observation." I ended up miscarrying at approximately 20 weeks without any formal or proper prenatal care. While I was miscarrying, I lay wet in a pool of blood, curled up from excruciating pain, in complete darkness, locked in a cell until an officer made rounds. I suffered the entire miscarriage shackled to the bed. When asked, the officers told the nurse and myself that the linen which contained my unborn child had been thrown in the trash. I had no privacy. Male officers were at my bedside 24hrs observing my nakedness and any treatment given to me. I received no counseling, nor had any opportunity to grieve my miscarriage. I was relocated to another facility where again, I was placed in solitary confinement for a month. Solitary is being locked in a 6’ by 9’ room with a bed, toilet, sink, and no window for 23 hours a day. For women in prison, stories like mine are a lot more common than you would think. Women are the largest growing prison population. Our federal, state, county, and private prisons are not equipped to give women the medical care they need, especially when pregnant. We need to ban the shackling and solitary confinement of pregnant women in prison throughout the United States. These prisons do not implement best practices of standardized care or data collection which allows no liability for the treatment of incarcerated women, promotes harm to children, and destroys families. I have testified before the US Commission on Civil Rights, providing statements of women who are being dehumanized and abused incarcerated in federal, state, county, and private prisons. We are  fighting for safety and justice of incarcerated women. We request that Congress and all states throughout the US establish policies that prohibit shackling and solitary confinement, implement best practices of standardized care, provide data collection for accountability of safety, and promote strong relationships with their children. Please sign my petition asking Congress and US State Legislators to pass the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act throughout the United States. Thank you,Pamela Winn

Pamela Winn
193,512 supporters
Started 1 month ago

Petition to Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights

End torture in US prisons

(Just read the first 385 words)  Hi my name is Arden. I am a 12 year old in Menlo Park. I recently learned about solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is a type of imprisonment in which a prisoner is kept alone in a prison cell without any meaningful contact with other prisoners. It is specifically designed for disruptive prisoners, or ones guards deem mentally unstable. It is also used as a security measure for prisoners whose safety is threatened by other prisoners. Although the status of solitary confinement varies from state to state and between corrective facilities, systematic policies and conditions include: Imprisonment for 22 to 24 hours a day behind a solid steel door Severely limited contact with other humans No phone calls and rare  family visits Extremely limited access to rehabilitation or educational programming Grossly inadequate medical and mental health treatment Restricted reading material and personal property Physical torture such as hog-tying, restraint chairs, cell compulsion"No-touch torture," such as forced sensory deprivation, permanent bright light, extreme temperatures, and insomnia. Chemical atrocities, such as stun grenades and stun guns Sexual threats and other forms of cruelty and humiliation Solitary confinement(defined by the U.N) violates human rights. It fits the definition of torture, especially on a long-term basis, according to various international human rights treaties. Long-term imprisonment is a form of punishment that harms deformed individuals both mentally and physically. In addition, inciting severe pain or suffering - be it mental or physical - is a form of bullying or torture to face, which is a separate violation of human rights. Solitary confinement is opposed to reducing rehabilitation and recidivism. In order to rehabilitate and promote, inmates need to be given opportunities to make decisions and control certain aspects of their environment, not helplessness. I am appalled that we are paying for torture. And that Americans are being torture by our government. We need to change this!  By signing this petition you are asking the Justice Department to reduce the amount of inmates in solitary confinement by 80% over a period of 2 years. Also, limit time spent to 12 hours a day for a maximum of 3 days a week. Of course this is excluding inmates that are a threat to others. Everyone should get education while incarcerated. So, when they are in solitary confinement they should get books. In state prisons 76.6% are arrested after being freed. In federal prison the rate is 44.7%. Lowing the psychological impact of prisons and giving them a education will lower the re-arrest rate.  All people before they are sent to solitary confinement shall be examined by a psychologist.  In the last 25 to 30 years, the use of solitary confinement in the United States has increased significantly. Isolation can last from days to years, even decades. In many cases, individuals with mental health problems who have difficulty conforming to facility rules, but are not violent or dangerous, are eventually placed in these units. “Former inmate Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years on death row, including 10 in solitary confinement for a murder he didn't commit, drove home Hanley's points. ‘I would watch guys come to prison totally sane, and in three years they don't live in the real world anymore," he said. One fellow inmate, Graves said, ‘would go out into the recreation yard, get naked, lie down and urinate all over himself. He would take his feces and smear it all over his face.’” This is an excerpt from an article by the American Psychological Association.  Solitary confinement is certainly considered as torture. The U.N. Convention against Torture defines torture as any state-ratified act "by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person" based on information, punishment, intimidation or discrimination for a reason. Since the 1990s, the United Nations Committee Against Atrocities has repeatedly condemned the use of solitary confinement in the US. In 2011, the UN's special relationship on torture warned that solitary confinement "can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities, or juveniles."  Solitary confinement has become a common practice in almost every state in the United States, where tens of thousands of prisoners are kept in isolation at any given time, and in dozens of other countries around the world. A prisoner stays for 23 hours inside a solitary confinement unit, where they engage in all of life's activities: they eat, sleep, and defecate in 60 to 80 square feet of their cell. Sometimes cells lack natural light; they may not even have a window. Many solitary confinement units have concrete doors, so prisoners are literally housed in concrete and steel. They have nothing to do. They are not given education or vocational training. They are basically sitting idle in their cells. There is monotony: they are surrounded by the same sounds, the same smell, the same light, the same four walls.  The effects of solitary confinement on adolescents and adults can be highly detrimental to their growth. The isolation of solitary confinement can lead to suffering, incite serious mental and physical health problems, and work against rehabilitation for adolescents. Because young people are still developing, traumatic experiences such as solitary confinement can have a profound impact on their rehabilitation and development opportunities. Solitary confinement can worsen both short-term and long-term psychological and physical problems or it is more likely that such problems will develop. Adolescents in solitary confinement are regularly denied the necessary access to treatment, services, and programming to meet their medical, psychological, developmental, social, and rehabilitation needs. Solitary confinement also manifests physically, with severe and harmful psychological effects. Solitary confinement has been reported to cause hypertension, headaches and migraines, profuse sweating, dizziness, and heartburn. Many prisoners also experience extreme weight loss due to digestive complications and abdominal pain. Many of these symptoms are due to acute anxiety and sensory deprivation. Inmates may experience neck and back pain and muscle stiffness even without prolonged physical activity. These symptoms often worsen with repeated visits in solitude.   We need to end this. I know I am not an adult but I do not want to grow up in a world where my country tortures people. This is going to change with your help. We can stop this AND WE WILL. We will NOT let this continue. Please share this to all your contacts. If you want to set up a stand, get promotional material or want to debate the facts, please email me:

Arden Margulis
13 supporters