Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poster of the Week

Community Based Solutions Not Jail Expansion
Mary Sutton
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Los Angeles, CA 2011

CURB* poster, made prominent at the July 27, 2011 Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, meeting is featured in a photo, by Nick Ut on the Washington Post.

Community Organizations and L.A. Activists Protest Jail Overcrowding, Call for Probation Reform, Sentencing Reform, and Money for Programs and Services

Californians United for a Responsible Budget, CURB, is a broad-based, state-wide alliance of over 40 organizations seeking to CURB prison spending by reducing the number of people in prison and the number of prisons in the state.

(beware you will have to view a short second commercial before you can access the list of photos. Link on #15)

Members of several CURB organizations, All of Us or None, A New Way of Life, Youth Justice Coalition, and Critical Resistance and supporters held up placards demanding that the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors put more money allocated through AB109 into community based solutions rather than continued oversight by the sheriff’s department or the dysfunctional probation department.

The recent landmark US Supreme Court ruling condemned California prison overcrowding and called for the immediate reduction of the prison population by at least 33,000 prisoners. The Los Angeles County Jail currently holds around 20,000 prisoners on any given day, with a total capacity for 22,000. Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Department of Corrections’ response to the Supreme Court’s ruling would shift at least 11,000 prisoners to the LA County Jail over two years.

Mary Sutton, of Critical Resistance and an active member of CURB, says “We can bring people home safely, more humanely and more efficiently by making sentencing, probation and parole reforms. 35 years ago people were not locked up for the kind of infractions we are talking about in regards to the individuals that will be sent home to LA County. The prison population grew from 20,000 to as high as 180,000 because of harsh sentencing laws and tough on crime measures implemented in the 70s, 80s and 90s. If we free up the resources that are wasted on ineffective policies that are proven not to increase public safety, we could fund programs in L.A. that would reintegrate people into their communities, and keep them there."

Sutton submitted, to the Board of Supervisors, copies of CURB’s Budget for Humanity and their long standing document “50 Ways to Reduce the Prison Population” , for the record.

The Youth Justice Coalition, a youth empowerment program based in Inglewood, presented its Welcome Home LA plan, which outlines ways Los Angeles County can concretely support re-entry for people on parole and probation. The plan calls for resources for community organizations that could help people get off of parole and probation and stay out of jail and prison. Welcome Home LA also calls for banning the box on employment applications that force people to disclose their conviction histories. Henry Sandoval of the Youth Justice Coalition says, “LA needs to prioritize a way for people returning home to be able to get good jobs, education, healthcare, making sure they know about services and are followed up with. There are organizations that can do this. Beefing up the jails, parole, probation, these are just black holes. The real issue is keeping people out of the system altogether. “'s+meeting&hl=en&

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Poster of the Week

Bobby Sands 1954 - 1981
Republican Movement
Offset, circa 1981

Solidarity With All Prisoners
Digital, 2011
Oakland, California

Prison Strike
Los Angeles, California

Support the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson
Red Onion State Prison
2011, Homewood, Illinois

CSPG’s Poster of the Week focuses on Hunger Strikes to protest prison conditions.

In 1981, ten men starved themselves to death inside the walls of Long Kesh prison in Belfast, North Ireland, while attempting to make Margaret Thatcher's government recognize them as political prisoners rather than common criminals. Bobby Sands, member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), was the leader of the hunger strike. He was 27 when he died.

On July 1, 2011, another prisoner hunger strike began in California. Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (California) initiated a hunger strike to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment—including one of the most tortuous isolation regimes in the world. Pelican Bay is a super max facility dedicated to holding prisoners in long-term solitary confinement and extreme sensory deprivation.

Despite the fact that federal courts, mental health professionals, and international human rights monitors repeatedly have pointed out the devastating impact of isolation on human beings, the State of California continues to consign hundreds of prisoners, sometimes for decades, to torturous conditions that federal judge Thelton E. Henderson concluded “may well hover on the edge of what is humanly tolerable.” Tragically, because they feel their efforts to challenge these conditions through administrative and legal channels have failed, hundreds of prisoners have put their bodies and their lives on the line.

At one point there were 6,600 prisoners in 13 prisons participating in the strike. “This massive and inspiring act of solidarity and people power across prison-manufactured & exacerbated racial and geographic lines has dumb-founded the CDCR. While the daily numbers of hunger strikers fluctuates, the CDCR is certainly under-estimating how many people inside prison are participating in and supporting this strike.”
June 20, 2011 -

In order to keep prisoners even further divided, guards pursue an infamous policy of race-baiting to encourage self-segregation in gangs. Despite these challenges, the inmates there have overcome their differences to struggle for dignity and improved conditions. Inmates participating in this movement to resist abhorrent conditions have demonstrated unity across prison-manufactured racial and geographical lines.

The hunger strikers have five core demands:

1. End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse – This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status, and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria -
Perceived gang membership is one of the leading reasons for placement in solitary confinement.

The practice of “debriefing,” or offering up information about fellow prisoners particularly regarding gang status, is often demanded in return for better food or release from the SHU. Debriefing puts the safety of prisoners and their families at risk, because they are then viewed as “snitches.”

The validation procedure used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employs such criteria as tattoos, readings materials, and associations with other prisoners (which can amount to as little as greeting) to identify gang members.

Many prisoners report that they are validated as gang members with evidence that is clearly false or using procedures that do not follow the Castillo v. Alameida settlement which restricted the use of photographs to prove association.

3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement – CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the US commission on safety and abuse in America’s prisons final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:

End Conditions of Isolation (p. 14) Ensure that prisoners in SHU and Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation) have regular meaningful contact and freedom from extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm. (pp. 52-57)

Make Segregation a Last Resort (p. 14). Create a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and Ad-Seg [Administrative Segregation] the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious, and other productive activities relating to having a sense of being a part of the community.

End Long-Term Solitary Confinement. Release inmates to general prison population who have been warehoused indefinitely in SHU for the last 10 to 40 years (and counting).
Provide SHU Inmates Immediate Meaningful Access to: i) adequate natural sunlight ii) quality health care and treatment, including the mandate of transferring all PBSP- SHU inmates with chronic health care problems to the New Folsom Medical SHU facility.

4. Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food – cease the practice of denying adequate food, and provide a wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals, and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.

PBSP staff must cease their use of food as a tool to punish SHU inmates.

Provide a sergeant/lieutenant to independently observe the serving of each meal, and ensure each tray has the complete issue of food on it.

Feed the inmates whose job it is to serve SHU meals with meals that are separate from the pans of food sent from kitchen for SHU meals.

5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Poster of the Week

100 Many Mandelas
Juan Fuentes
Silkscreen, 1986
San Francisco, California
CSPG’s Poster of the Week honors Nelson Mandela Day, July 18, established in 2009 by the United Nations General Assembly, to mark his contribution to world freedom. Celebrated around the world, this July 18 also marks Mandela’s 93nd birthday.
The featured poster by Juan Fuentes was made while Mandela was still in prison. Under multiple images of Mandela, a large red ribbon noting AIDS awareness dominates the poster. The following quote come from a 2002 speech by Mandela.
The enormity of the threat posed by HIV/AIDS cannot be overstated.
HIV/AIDS is a danger to all of our people - young and old, rich and poor, men and women, those in the cities and those in the countryside.
HIV/AIDS is the greatest danger we have faced for many, many centuries.
HIV/AIDS is worse than a war. It is like a world war. Millions of people are dying from it. As we speak now, there are thousands of people dying from it this moment.
But this war can be won. This is one war where each and every one of us can make a difference. It is through the combined efforts of all of us that we stand the best chance of victory in this war against HIV/AIDS.
In January 2005, Mandela’s 54 year old son Makgatho, a lawyer and father of four, died of AIDS. Mandela asked all South Africans to treat AIDS as an "ordinary" disease rather than a curse for which "people will go to hell and not to heaven." His only other son died in a car accident in 1969.
More than 5 million South Africans are infected with the AIDS virus, HIV -- the largest number of cases in a single country -- and at least 1,000 a day die from complications of AIDS, according to the United Nations. Like Mandela, other African leaders have also become increasingly forthright about the need to combat AIDS despite cultural resistance to public discussions of the disease.
Mandela (born 1918) was an anti-apartheid activist and the leader of the African National Congress’ (ANC) armed wing. In 1962, he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. He served 27 years, many on Robben Island with other political prisoners, opponents of the apartheid regime of South Africa. Apartheid was legalized racial segregation that was enforced by the National Party government between 1948 and 1994. Following Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990, he supported reconciliation and negotiation, and helped lead the transition towards multi-racial democracy in South Africa. Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994-1999, the first South-African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. In 1993 he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Not until 1990, the same year he was released from prison, did a retired Central Intelligence Agency official admit that the CIA was responsible for Mandela’s capture.
South Africa's apartheid government had designated the ANC a terrorist organization during the group's decades-long struggle against whites-only rule, and ANC members were barred from receiving U.S. visas without special permission. Despite being one of the most respected and revered people in the world, Mandela remained on the U.S. terrorism watch list until July 2008, when it took an act of Congress to remove him from this list.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Poster of the Week

I Am No Longer Afraid of Mirrors
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville; Peace Press
Photograph by Hella Hammid
Los Angeles, California

To commemorate the death of Betty Ford (1918-2011), an outspoken and gutsy Republican first lady who dared to break many national taboos—including talking about her breast cancer and her addiction to alcohol and pills. She also strongly supported a woman’s right to an abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment—both anathema’s to many Republicans.

In today’s cultural climate, where discussing addictions on talk shows is commonplace, and many wear pink ribbons to promote breast cancer awareness, it is hard to imagine that this openness has only developed over the last three decades. When Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978, it was an unmentionable topic. It was not only kept secret from employers, but also from close friends and many family members. Breast cancer was considered a stigma, and following a mastectomy, many women felt ashamed and “no longer a complete woman.”

CSPG’s Poster of the Week shows feminist writer, poet, and teacher Deena Metzger triumphant and free, with the strength to reveal her mastectomy scar that has been camouflaged by a tattoo in the image of a tree branch in bloom. Describing the actual moment when the photo was taken, Metzger stated, “I just stood out there and opened my arms and said, yes to life.” This poster inspired many women—and their families—that life after cancer could be and should be celebrated and embraced without shame and without limits. Deena’s poem, inscribed on the poster, reads:

I am no longer afraid of mirrors where I see the sign of the amazon, the one who shoots arrows.
There was a fine red line across my chest where a knife entered,
but now a branch winds about the scar and travels from arm to heart.

Green leaves cover the branch, grapes hang there and a bird appears.
What grows in me now is vital and does not cause me harm. I think the bird is singing.
I have relinquished some of the scars.
I have designed my chest with the care given to an illuminated manuscript.
I am no longer ashamed to make love. Love is a battle I can win.
I have the body of a warrior who does not kill or wound.

On the book of my body, I have permanently inscribed a tree.

This poster and more than 100 others will be featured in “PEACE PRESS GRAPHICS 1967-1987: Art in the Pursuit of Social Change” at the University Art Museum (UAM), California State University, Long Beach, September 10 – December 11, 2011. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Center for the Study of Political Graphics and the UAM, and is part of the Getty’s regional initiative: Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, the largest collaborative art project ever undertaken in Southern California.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Poster of the Week

I Want You For U.S. Army

James Montgomery Flagg

U.S. Government Printing Office

Offset, First Printed 1917


Uncle George Wants You

Stephen Kroninger

Offset, 1991

Madison, Wisconsin


Originally published by the artist and offered free to peace groups, the poster was then reprinted and distributed by the Progressive Magazine.

I Want Out

Larry Dunst and Steve Horn

Committee to Help Unsell the War

Offset, 1971

New York, New York


I Want You To Drive An SUV

Donald Farnsworth

Digital Print, 2002

San Francisco, California


To commemorate July 4th and the U.S. war of independence, CSPG’s Poster of the Week focuses on the image of Uncle Sam, one of this country’s most recognized symbols. During the Revolutionary War, before there was an Uncle Sam, there was an earlier fictional character named Brother Jonathan, who was created to personify the entire United States. From 1776 to 1783, "Brother Jonathan" was a mildly derisive term used by Loyalists (who remained loyal to British King George III) to describe the Patriots (who supported independence from Britain).

In editorial cartoons and patriotic posters, Brother Jonathan was generally clean shaven, and either depicted as an American revolutionary with a tri-cornered hat and long military jacket, or with a top hat, tailed coat and stripped pants. The latter dress style later became identified with Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam has been personifying the U.S. government since the War of 1812, but both Brother John and Uncle Sam remained in use until after the Civil War. Brother Jonathan was a representative of the revolutionary age, when all the states were considered brothers. The United States was a plural term in those ancient days - "the United States, they..." But after the Civil War, the federal government became more dominant than the states, and the United States became a singular term -"the United States, it..."

Federalist Brother Jonathan would no longer do, and Washingtonian Uncle Sam became the preferred image. Cartoonist Thomas Nast helped establish the image of Uncle Sam in the latter 1800s. Nast also provided us with our popular image of Santa Claus, and first represented the Republican Party as an elephant and the Democrats as a donkey.

The depiction of Uncle Sam as a stern elderly man with white hair and a goatee, dressed in clothing that uses the design elements of the American flag, became common during the Civil War. The best-known and now iconic recruitment poster of Uncle Sam by James Montgomery Flagg, first appeared on the cover of a magazine in 1916. Flagg was an illustrator and portrait artist best known for commercial art. Although Flagg used a modified version of his own face for his Uncle Sam, he based the pose with its dramatic pointing finger, on a 1914 British recruitment poster featuring Lord Kitchener, the British Secretary of State for War. More than four million copies of Flagg’s I Want You poster were printed between 1917 and 1918. This poster was also used extensively during World War II, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and is still used to recruit today.

CSPG’s Poster of the Week shows how the same image can be used to support war, oppose war or parody popular assumptions about war. In addition to the 1917 poster, the 3 variations are shown were produced during the Viet Nam War [I Want Out], during the first Gulf War [Uncle George Wants You], and soon after the war against Afghanistan began [I Want You To Drive An SUV]

All of these posters were part of American Icons—Graphics of Patriotism & Dissent,

which premiered at the Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, in April 2011. The exhibition is now available to travel and will soon be on our website:

Additional Reading:

fictional dialogue between Brother Jonathan and Uncle Sam by Daniel De Leon

Originally published in _The People_, April 18, 1897
As reprinted in _The People_, April 6, 1991