portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

police / legal

42 years POLITICAL PRISONER Hugo Pinnell denied parole again nov 15

Please write him a letter of support!!
I got an email that said this
yeah...not only did they deny him, but the hearing was 3 1/2 hours long, and they berated him the whole time. it totally sucks. we are going to try to publicize the situation much more broadly, and I am glad you are already aware of him in oregon. be looking at sfbayview.com in the near future for an article from his lawyer, gordon kaupp and kiilu nyasha on what went down.
There is info on the san quentin 6 below and if ya need more agents of repression by ward churchill is good charles garry's street fighter in the courtroon is good as well, or soledad brother by geoege jackson
There is more info to come I just wanted to get the word out about his PAROLE denial
Hugo can receive photographs, but not Polaraid. He can also receive writing tablets and stamped envelopes, but not stamps. He can receive money orders but not checks. It is always a good idea to indicate enclosures so that he knows what he should be receiving from you.

Hugo L.A. Pinell
A88401 SHU D3-221
P.O. Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95531-7500

Gordon Kaupp, the Attorney representing Hugo Pinell at his November Board hearing, plans to make a record of the Parole Commissioners "excuses" for denying Yogi parole so that he can appeal a denial to an outside law firm. Since that's a likely outcome in lieu of repeated Parole Board denials over the years, we need to raise funds with which to pay a law firm (Dennis Cunningham's office is not able to handle such an appeal.). Such an appeal would be quite expensive. While Gordon is representing Yogi pro bono, he does need funds for travel and other expenses. Pelican Bay is in Crescent City near the Oregon border, an eight-hour drive each way from San Francisco. We hope you will be as generous as you can as we struggle to obtain the release of our courageous brother who put his very life on the line for oppressed people. Yogi has been sacrificing for us for decades, lets all do whatever we can to bring him home.

Please make your checks payable to Gordon Kaupp and mail to:

Gordon Kaupp, Esq.
Law Office of Dennis Cunningham
115 1/2 Bartlett Street
San Francisco, CA. 94110

Here is some background info----
he RW Interview: Luis Talamantez
San Quentin:
Revolutionary Worker #969, August 16, 1998

The RW recently had the opportunity to interview Luis Talamantez and other former members of the San Quentin 6. Luis spoke about the assassination of revolutionary political prisoner George Jackson by California prison authorities, the historical events that led to the case of the San Quentin 6, and the implications for the struggle today. He also spoke to the RW about his activities as a prison rights activist with the Pelican Bay Information Project and California Prison Focus.

RW: How did the case of the San Quentin 6 come about?

LT: My name is Bato. George Jackson gave me the name Bato, a name I honor, a name I exchange with all my comrades who are all batos to me because the legacy of Comrade George Jackson lives on. I'm one of the original San Quentin 6 trial defendants, political prisoners in a case that goes back about 25 years now. My co-defendants and comrades were Sundiata (Willie) Tate, David Johnson, Larry Spain, Hugo Pinnell and the late Fleeta Drumgo.

Our case grew out of the assassination of George Jackson at San Quentin. We were present, though out of seeing range, when he was slain by fascist San Quentin prison guards. We can't really speak about the San Quentin 6 without speaking about George Jackson and the Soledad Brothers. We would also have to speak about the Marin County shoot out on August 7, 1970, when George's younger brother Jonathan was slain by San Quentin guards during an attempt to free the Soledad Brothers. This was a whole era of prison struggle, of resistance by the imprisoned class. The struggles took place in a historical context that we identified with. I've had the privilege of knowing my comrades-in-arms, prisoners who became revolutionary through the process of indoctrination by people like comrade George Jackson, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara and Malcolm X. George Jackson taught us a lot.

Leadership was provided for us by comrade George Jackson. We were all incarcerated within what was then called Mad Adjustment Center at San Quentin. By the way, it was the first SHU or Security Housing Unit in the country. It was established in California based on the concept of sensory deprivation, of complete isolation, of round the clock surveillance, of political retaliation and punishment for political beliefs. It all started right here in California and within the San Quentin cell block that was called the MAD Adjustment Center, and then was spread to other parts of the country.

On August 21, 1971, after an uprising by the prisoners against our brutal living conditions on the first tier of the MAD adjustment center, George Jackson fled from the doorway of the MAD adjustment center into the open to prevent being surrounded, isolated, and killed within the cell block facility. He chose and went for freedom and he died along the black asphalt alleyway called Utility Road. He was slain on this black asphalt on that Saturday afternoon. I theorize he was assassinated after being found still alive. Other people have their own opinion, but I theorize that the trajectory of the single bullet that hit George Jackson on that day was completely aerodynamically impossible. George Jackson was shot down in the back. He was shot from the north block catwalk which is about 30 feet off the ground and that runs along one side of the north block. From that catwalk, a sharp shooter guard took aim and shot George Jackson. That guard's own admittance was that the bullet ricocheted off the black asphalt, went up and nicked George's heel, hit him in the buttocks and then somehow hit him in the head and killed him.

The state prosecutorial experts theorize that George Jackson died through a strange, ricochet trajectory bullet that took a complete right angle turn in flight to have accomplished this feat. From my memory, from what I've heard, from what I've thought about these last 25 years, I would say that George Jackson was finished off on the ground. I still have fresh recollections in my mind of the chalk outlined figure, with his hand outstretched, that was left on the black asphalt after the removal of his body. That imprint has stayed in my mind over the years and I have accepted that that was where he fell. I have not accepted that that's where he fell dead, but where he fell wounded and was finished off. Subsequently, I learned from one of my comrades who had a better view that eventful day, that George had fell elsewhere and was dragged onto the asphalt.

George Jackson had long been marked for death by the prison system and by the government's counter-intelligence program or COINTELPRO during an age when revolutionary leadership and fighters around the country and around the world, both outside and inside prison, were being assassinated. These were the years when there was an active government effort to eliminate leadership. It happened with AIM [American Indian Movement], with the Panthers, with the Puerto Rican freedom fighters. COINTELPRO never went away and still surveils today.

Six of us were randomly selected out of 26 prisoners who were freed from our cells on August 21, 1971. The authorities called us the Prison Half Dozen, well-baked revolutionaries suspected as the instigators, the perpetrators, co-conspirators, of a big plot to escape and blow up the world. Because in their minds, they had so exaggerated and overblown about who George Jackson was and the vanguard movement he stood for, that they thought of giant fantasies about what George Jackson would have been possible of had he lived.

I was acquitted after the lengthy San Quentin 6 trial which ran from 1972 to 1976. The trial itself lasted 18 months and was considered the longest up to that time. Three were found guilty and three of us were acquitted. I was acquitted and released eight days later, on August 20, 1976. I came to live in San Francisco.

RW: What drew you back to becoming a prisoners' rights activist?

LT: Nothing drew me back. I was never entirely released by the grip of the prison system. It still controls my life because I am a two-strike ex-felon. The state can third-strike me by manipulation. So the work I do is mostly for the class struggle, but there is also an element of self preservation. A lot of our ex-prisoner members realize that things are getting worse now not only for people inside prisons, but also for those in our communities where they are three-striking youngsters and sending them up for life. We are leading a vanguard movement of families against three strikes. Families independently are organizing. They call themselves collectively "Families Against 3 Strikes." It is very encouraging that there is a grass roots movement coming about through a critical need, a vital emerging need, a need of life and death in many cases, of survival in Third World communities which today are decimated by mass imprisonments. The prison population in California stands at 163,000 and over 100,000 are people of color. One thousand prisoners a month are going into the California prison system. Many of them are being violated for the third strike. Many are being violated in what has become the merry-go-round of recidivism. Eighty percent of all prisoners that are released return to prison in a vicious cycle that is kept going by the power structure. It is profitable. The prison industrial complex has manipulated legislative acts in collusion with law enforcement and a gullible public to make sure that the operation continues in the trafficking of lives.

RW: What kind of changes, what kind of struggle did you have to go through to become a revolutionary prisoner at that time?

LT: Let me say that being revolutionary takes a lifting of one's consciousness and values above personal incentives--to one of total behavior adjustment against exploitation, aggression, self aggrandizement. To become a revolutionary is a slow process. But we need to accelerate that process among the prison class today, which is severely afflicted by lack of revolutionary awareness and activity.

For myself, I was a ward of the state at 12 years old. I developed a certain code of behavior of live and let live, and later, a code of solidarity, mutual assistance and self-help. As your consciousness grows over a period of years, somewhere along the line, you come to a certain basic conclusion in reference to things, and one was the ideology of class warfare. When you realize that you are of a separate under-privileged class, you realize there are other class mates similarly situated as yourself, and that the oppressor oppresses all the oppressed. You realize members of this class come in different shapes, forms, and colors, orientation. You develop your revolutionary set of values, of priorities, and you struggle to be a revolutionary and to maintain a revolutionary perspective. You struggle to not succumb to internal strife, victimization, exploitation, internal warfare, internal genocide among your own class. You understand that the class must be strong to withstand the onslaught of the oppression within which you are being kept, and which is your everyday reality. You see these things as you resist injustice and question the way things are, i.e. as your revolutionary activities and consciousness develop.

RW: What inspires you to continue struggling today?

LT: I am inspired today as I was then, by prisoners that I have known and have felt a life bond with. One prisoner who I hold really dear to my heart is Louie Lopez, who for 20 years was a solid cross cultural comrade, proud of his own Mexican heritage. Louie Lopez who I knew, and Sundiata also knew since juvenile hall, youth authority days, is typical of so many of the struggling prisoners today. On Father's Day 1996 when he died, part of me died with him. As one of the 26 prisoners freed on August 21, 1971 at San Quentin, Louie Lopez stood with us, struggled with us and also bore witness to the death of George Jackson.

Louie Lopez, whose death could have been my own, keeps me struggling. He should never have died in the abject state he did. He was given no treatment despite complaints and attempts to have medical attention given to him. The Pelican Bay Information Project visited him and monitored his case for a number of years while he was at Pelican Bay. He always gave me the fist salute. We knew who we were and we knew in our hearts we had come on the revolutionary road together as prisoners and we would stand and die together.

I speak of Louie Lopez because he was an example even when he was being set upon and beaten by the guards. He was never quiet, he resisted under stress and punishment. He made the rest of us strong even though he stood in chains. We rallied to each other, we embraced each other, we supported each other. I want to pay tribute to my comrade, my friend who died after being transferred from Pelican Bay to Corcoran. He was never told until the last month of his life that he contracted bone cancer. He had complained about aching bones--which a lot of prisoners today complain about--aching bones, soreness, weakness, that abject state when there's no exercise, no sunlight, within the tomb of Pelican Bay. Prisoners never get out in fresh open air but are kept in their cells, temperatures sometimes up to 90 degrees during the summer. A month after he died, a letter from him reached me via another prisoner, scribbled by a very weak hand. It said "Here is the last information I have for you. There has been a number of cell extractions this month. I heard the buzzer go off, extraction team buzzer go off so many times I have laid here and I have counted and I have written it down." It showed his dedication that even while he was dying he tried to let me know what was taking place within the bowels of the prison, to assist me in the work of monitoring the abuses there.

RW: Can you talk more about your work today with the Pelican Bay Information Project (PBIP) and California Prison Focus (CPF)?

LT: Pelican Bay, a super-maximum security prison, opened in 1989. Ruchell Magee and Hugo Penell were on the first bus sent there. Hugo and others have told us that it is an institution where violence is a standard policy used to do bodily harm to prisoners, and as a means of control by the guards.

Pelican Bay Information Project was formed by family members who came to us and pleaded their case to have their loved ones included in securing visitation rights to the prison. Other organizations like the Prisoner's Rights Union, more recently Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, National Lawyers Guild, Prison Law Office, Criminal Justice Consortium Elements, ACLU, and a lot of others came together recognizing the emergency need for a group to form in response to brutality at Pelican Bay. Thus we were born out of necessity to fight the injustice being inflicted on our community and our loved ones.

Hugo remains today completely isolated at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison. He is one of the few remaining legacies of the struggle on Saturday afternoon, August 21, 1971. Because of our condition, because of the oppression we had felt, because of our political understanding of what was taking place, because of our lengthy prison indoctrination, because of the revolutionary struggles within the prison system that were bringing prisoners together in solidarity and across racial barriers--there wasn't as much aimless and chaotic violence as there is today within the prison system. The leadership in the prisons today are kept completely confined under severe lockdown, not allowed to indoctrinate, gather, communicate or to form any kind of lasting solidarity movements within the prison system. Instead there's an ongoing, active campaign by the state security unit (SSU) to disunite and discommunicate prisoners.

Recently, I received a tape from Hugo Pinell, the last San Quentin 6 still in prison, who is originally from Nicaragua. He has spent 35 continuous years in California's prison system: San Quentin, Folsom, Tehachapi, Corcoran, Pelican Bay. Hugo sends his revolutionary greetings as always, but asks--where is the revolution? Where are the revolutionaries? Why are they silent on my behalf? Should I still believe the people will free me, because I will never submit to the power of the state or to the criminal injustice system which has tried me, found me guilty, has kept me illegally in prison for 35 years. I will never submit to the legal process, court writ, to free me. Only the people can free me. That has been Hugo Pinell's message for years and years to us. He's a voice from within the bowels of an incredible ferocious beast that is swallowing up our children, our families, our neighborhoods, our communities, our working class. Swallowing us up here in California at an incredible rate. And Hugo remains a voice of those hundreds of thousands that are going under and into the prison system where today there is no revolutionary movement yet. Because of this we will struggle to be a voice not only for Hugo but other comrades that are in there: Luis Rodríguez, Paul Red, Fati Carter, youngest brother of the well-known slain Panther Bunchy Carter, Steve Castillo, one of the finest jailhouse lawyers, who has waged a struggle for years within the bowels of hell. These SHU units are where the politically conscious fighters and resisters are kept isolated, away from being able to organize and provide the leadership that is desperately needed in the prisons today.

California Prison Focus, which is an outgrowth of PBIP, has heard from thousands of prisoners similarly situated. Among these are only a few that have learned how to wage a struggle of solidarity, organization and ideology within this monster that holds them. One of my tasks for years as the co-founder and co-director of the PBIP is to serve as a vehicle, to be a voice, to be a bridge, to be a communication facility. We have been responsible in California for the exposure of human rights abuses at several prisons.

For example, the Madrid vs. Gomez case that we undertook five years ago--which proved that state-sanctioned torture is being practiced--highly refined techniques with many punishment features. The events that led to Madrid vs. Gomez occurred in 1993 with the systematic beating of a number of Hispanic prisoners taken out from the SHU at Pelican Bay, who were walked across naked in chains to the infirmary where they were x-rayed against their will, suspected of hiding metallic objects or weapons within their body cavities. They were systematically beaten during the transport to and from, at night, in the rain, completely naked--a chain gang of approximately 24 prisoners who the prison insisted were in a gang formation and planning collective violence, some kind of conspiracy to collectively resist the intimidation and terror of that institution, and rightly so. We encourage prisoners to unite and resist the terror designed to break them. More recently, we helped expose the gladiator fights at Corcoran where prisoners are being openly pitted against each other by a corrupt, degenerate, sadistic, prison guard personnel. This exposure was recently featured on the TV program 60 Minutes.

I recently visited the women's prison at Chowchilla, California which the state boasts as being the biggest women's prison facility in the country. The SHU there is designated as the Pelican Bay for women and is a very heavily insulated area with concrete cubicles, thick plexi-glass separating visitors from heavily chained and manacled prisoners. Upon entering, our investigative team witnessed a shocking incident. A woman prisoner was led in, handcuffed and with a big black pointed canvas hood placed on her head. They stuck her in the room, shut the door, opened the food port or slot, reached in and removed her handcuffs, then made her get down on her knees, unstrapped the restraint hood and left her there. The woman crumbled in tears, misery, wretchedness. She was a young, scrawny, white woman with a smock on her like you see in an insane asylum. The woman never stopped trembling, moving her head around, completely disoriented. When we were getting ready to leave she said, "Please don't go, they are going to put that back on me. I can't stand it. It makes me want to suffocate, to die. They are saying I assaulted an officer because I spit in his face after he had manhandled me." Hooding is a new terror technique employed at many prisons now under the pretext of protecting guards from AIDS if they get spit on.

All this is why the work we do, and other groups do, is so vital. It personally affects me because I have been kept in abject slavery during my prisoner years along with my prison comrades, my codefendants. We were kept heavily chained for six years. I know what it is to be in abject, powerless misery, year round. It will deaden and vegetate you into a non-person.

Today we have to let other people know. We need to organize. We need to try and slow down the complete disintegration of society into one of authoritarian abuse. We need to raise again the ideology of revolutionary struggle because with this situation, only a revolutionary struggle can halt the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Only revolutionary thinking and implementation can abolish all prisons for all time. La lucha continua.

prog rock movie night fri nov 24 17.Nov.2006 14:48

steve hackett

So the proceeds from this film showing will go to HUGO P and his defense fund.
Will show a GENISIS concert 30min from 1973 a gentle giant film from 73 and the classic YESSONGS from 1972 all on the big screen 7pm FRI nov 24th laughing horse books 12 ne 10th 503-236-2893

WOMEN SHOULD NOT SEND PICS 20.Nov.2006 08:50

kirsten anderberg kirstena@resist.ca

Due to personal experience, I must warn WOMEN who are considering doing prisoner support. Even for so called "political prisoners." Suffice it to say that I DO NOT recommend WOMEN write this man. I DO NOT recommend WOMEN send him their Pictures either. At this point, due to the very true and real PATTERN of men in prison USING women, LYING and USING women FROM PRISON, yes, even "political prisoners," even NW anarchist "political prisoners" - I have to put out this warning...I DO NOT THINK WOMEN SHOULD WRITE THIS MAN, period. If men want to do male prisoner support, power to them. I remember a male radical friend of mine wrote to a famous NW anarchist prisoner and he wrote back telling my male friend he did not feel comfortable writing men, which is quite telling...so when that prisoner put call-outs for letters, he really was asking for LETTERS FROM WOMEN...so is this really just a call out to get this man letters and pics of women? I hope not. I think it actually should be headed off at the pass and only men should write him. The patterns of abuse between male prisoners and women on the outside is too easily documented at this point. As a feminist, as an activist, as a woman who HAS been lied to and manipulated by a "political prisoner" quite recently, I really do feel this topic needs to be breached. Men in jail LIE to women to get *what they want*, with no, as in NONE, concern for the women involved whatsoever. Even "NW anarchist political prisoners," yes. Yes, even NW "anarchist political prisoners" have USED women HORRIBLY under the guise of prisoner support. And these men continue their abusive patterns with women once out of jail too, they need women to use for their release, not just when they are in there, they use women for free housing once out, for free *everything* once out too, so BEWARE...My advice at this point is DO NOT SEND OR GIVE THIS MAN MONEY, WOMEN. I would not even write him, leave that to the men. Even NW "political prisoners." Even "anarchist political prisoners" lie. I can prove that. There is a sick pattern of abuse between male prisoners and women that I can clearly see and document. My advice is for WOMEN TO NOT WRITE OR SEND PICS TO THIS MAN. LET MEN DO IT. If he is not just trying to lure in women to USE, then he will be fine with male letters and male support. Women randomly opening up to men in prison merely due to the "political prisoner" title is DANGEROUS. I tell you, male political prisoners have done some really shitty things to women activists, under the guise of prisoner support...and just cuz they are men in prison, that does not give them a carte blanche to use/abuse women like that. I have warned you. If you write this man, women, there is a good chance you will write me later and tell me I told you so. I hate to be so honest, but this is a serious issue and I am sick of seeing men in prison use women up like they have been. I used to do prisoner support, but not anymore, once I saw what male anarchist political prisoners were actually doing to the women they used up. At this point, I relegate prisoner support for men to men ONLY. It is too dangerous for women to walk into that mess.


SAD 20.Nov.2006 15:45

FD

I am saddened by this above comment, I am not so much questioning the validity of the statements but more so just sad that this brother in struggle is still met with FEAR after being already so pescuited and punished for his political beliefs and action in the people's struggle against the prison industrial complex and u.s. imperialism.
He is lucky to be alive, desreves our support

NEW Hugo press release 23.Nov.2006 14:13

FD

PRESS RELEASE

HUGO PINELL DENIED PAROLE
by Gordon Kaupp, Esq. with Kiilu Nyasha

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Board of Parole Hearing, for the 8th time, denied Hugo L,A. Pinell parole at a hearing held Tuesday, November 14, at supermax Pelican Bay State Prison, Crescent City.

Apparently, 42 years in California prisons, the last 36 in solitary confinement, including 16 in the windowless, hi-tech SHU (Security Housing Unit) with sensory deprivation in the extreme, was not enough retribution against Hugo Pinell, nicknamed Yogi Bear. They gave him two more.

Since Hugo has had a clean record, no 115s, (rule infractions) for 24 years and his last crime was committed 35 years ago, it was a almost purely a political decision.

Hugo was part of the Black Movement formed in resistance to the deplorable conditions and unspeakable brutality that was exacted on prisoners, especially Blacks, in the 1960s and 70s. Born in Nicaragua, Hugo also resisted the Mexican/Latino segregation of Blacks. i.e., he broke ranks, identifying as Black instead of "Latino." That made him even more of a target and a bilingual threat.

It is indisputable that it was the prisoners' Movement led by George Jackson and W. L. Nolen, which brought attention to the appalling conditions and eventually Congressional oversight and overhaul of the California prison system. (See The Melancholy History of Soledad Prison, by Min S. Yee.)

The mandated changes that grew out of that struggle serve as an open and undeniable acknowledgment of just how bad it was and how necessary the resistance. Although it's difficult to imagine worse conditions than those in today's 5000 prisons and jails across the country, most grossly overcrowded -- yesterday's filthy dungeons, literal "holes," virulent hatred from racist guards and prisoners alike, officially sanctioned brutality, torture, and murder comprised more horrific conditions 40 years ago.

The stance Hugo Pinell took resulted in prolonged torture and isolation, plus a long record of 115s. E.g., Hugo often intervened physically when another prisoner was being beaten, getting beat up himself and thrown in the hole. Almost any Black person who has suffered guard or police assault knows that when the brutality stops, it's the victim who gets the charges or write-ups for assault, not the official aggressor.

At one point in the turbulent 60s, the Movement organized a hunger strike which lasted eight days. Hugo's file reflects eight 115s, one for each day and that was used against him at the hearing!

During the hearing, the Commissioners virtually ignored his 24 years of clean time, and tallied his 115s, counting well over 100. Although Hugo has not gotten a violation since 1982, the Board found a way to hold that against him too. Commissioner Shelton said something like, "when I see a man as violent as you and I see that you have not had a 115 for 24 years it makes me wonder, and it reminds me of a story I once heard. At a parole board hearing of an inmate who had received many 115s early on but hadn't received any in a long time, a commissioner asked him how he was able to stay out of trouble. The inmate told the Board, 'It's because I'm the shot caller on the yard and I can get anyone to take the fall for me.'" That story is incredible for several reasons: that a prisoner would even say such a thing; the fact that Hugo is never on the yard; and SHU prisoners are completely isolated, no phone calls, censored mail, restricted, monitored, no-contact visits.

What's more, the Board violated Hugo's right not to discuss or admit to the crimes for which he was convicted. An in-depth look at Hugo's convictions reveals serious questions of reliability of evidence and basic fairness in the trials. Except for the original case that landed him in prison, all of Hugo's subsequent convictions were for acts against prison guards, reflecting the historic struggle referred to above. Nevertheless, one Commissioner did hold his denial against him and berated him for it, saying, "and you continue to show no remorse and you even deny doing those things." What good is the right not to admit to something, if your lack of remorse (for something you didn't do) can be used against you?

I'm reminded of the case of Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt) who spent 27 years in California prisons convicted of a murder for which he was ultimately exonerated. He faced the same reason for being repeatedly denied parole -- his refusal to show remorse for a crime he didn't commit. Similarly, Hugo's denial of guilt and lack of remorse was used against him, a clear violation of his rights under Cal. Penal Code Sec. 5011.

One of the requirements for parole is community support upon release. Forty letters from teachers, professors, human rights advocates, social workers, friends, family, and even the Public Defender, Jeff Adachi, offering Hugo San Francisco's new reentry program upon parole, were discounted and scorned by the Commissioners.

Another point the Board used against Hugo was his unwillingness to "program." Insistence on programming in reality is about domination and submission, since the extremely limited "programs" they provide do not produce truly marketable skills. SHU prisoners don't even have access to the programs available to mainline prisoners. They can only take certain correspondence courses or read self-help books to demonstrate their compliance.

Hugo's lack of submission to the system's programming has to do with his own program of survival under conditions designed to produce insanity. The supermax SHU is itself a human rights violation. The United Nations and Amnesty International assert that the conditions of the SHU are inhumane and in violation of the international conventions on the treatment of prisoners. Psychiatrists in the field of prison mental health have documented through dozens of studies since the 1970s that SHU conditions -- 23-24 hours a day in small cells with no natural light, no windows, no view outside their cells, no contact visits, prolonged isolation -- are always harmful. One such expert, Dr. Terry Kupers, author of "Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It," evaluated Hugo's mental health in 2004, and concluded that he is nothing short of amazing. Hugo has been able to maintain his sanity through a strict regimen of vegetarian diet, exercise, prolific writing to relatives and friends, and other forms of self care. This is a full time effort to be sure, and the result is that Hugo remains compassionate, mentally and physically healthy and alive against all odds. It's even more remarkable considering that in 2005, a record 44 prisoners killed themselves in California prisons; 70% of the suicides were in segregated units. In a national study of 401 suicides in one year, 1986, two out of every three people who killed themselves were in control units. (Hayes and Rowan 1988).

In summary, this Parole Board Hearing was anything but fair and impartial. We sit in a room in the SHU with the Commissioners facing Hugo and I (his attorney), three guards behind us and Hugo chained hands to waist, feet to waist. Openly hostile, the commissioners recounted the history of 115s, alleged attacks on guards over 35 years ago, with SHU guards looking at us, looking at them. It's unfair because the commitment offenses cannot change; only the prisoner can change.

Despite their unfairness, despite their violation of his rights, despite their refusal to display humaneness or common sense, and despite their utter rudeness and obvious contempt for Hugo, I must say my client remained strong and upbeat. I felt proud of him.

We were all but sure that they wouldn't grant him parole before going into the hearing, but we knew that we had to make a good record so that we could move into the second stage of the strategy to get Hugo Pinell out of SHU, out of prison.

We intend to file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with an outside court to appeal the Board's denial. We are announcing our search and need for a law firm with the resources to represent Hugo. If you know any law offices or friends in firms please ask them if they would be willing to take the case and to call or write me, his attorney, Gordon Kaupp, 115 1/2 Bartlett Street, San Francisco, Ca. 94110, (415) 285 8091. For more information on Yogi, go to www.hugopinell.org.