2013 proved to be a tremendous year, both for Herman’s House and in the wider struggle to end the use of torture in our prisons. While we are still in the process of coming to terms with the triumphant release and immediate loss of Herman Wallace, his legacy continues to provide us with fuel to continue this fight. As we come to the end of the year we’d like to highlight some of the notable moments in the national movement to end the use of solitary confinement and extend our gratitude to those organizations, community groups, individuals and collectives who have contributed their precious energy to this movement.
• Jan 4th TAMMS Supermax prison in Illinois closes down after decades of torturing inmates in solitary there
• May 2013 Jackie Sumell receives SOROS Justice fellowship for new media campaign focused on ending solitary confinement
• June 19th The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) hosts a national 23 hour fast to in conjunction with the first ever Congressional hearing on solitary confinement by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
• June 25th political hostage Sara Shroud launches a fundraising campaign for her play about solitary confinement: Opening the Box
• July 8th Over 30,000 inmates begin on a historic 60 day hunger strike in California to protest conditions in prisons including solitary confinement
• July 8th Herman’s House premieres on national television as a part of PBS’ POV series
• July 12th Congressmen Richmond, Conyers, Nadler and Scott call for Investigation of Louisiana’s use of solitary confinement
• Oct 1st Herman Wallace’s conviction is overturned and he is released from prison after 41 years in solitary confinement
• Oct 4th Surrounded by people who loved him, Herman Wallace joins the ancestors
• Oct 7th UN Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez issues a statement condemning the use of solitary confinement, specifically highlighting the torture of Albert Woodfox.
• Oct 21st Jackie Sumell lectures at Tulane University as a part of “Conversations on Race, Privilege, Power, and Justice”
• Dec 13th The Colorado Department of Corrections announces that it will no longer allow mentally ill inmates to be placed in solitary
• Dec 20th, The Promise of Justice Initiative wins a ruling on behalf of inmates in Angola establishing the heat index inside the prison to be cruel and unusual
• Dec 23rd Democracy Now hosts a roundtable discussion political prisoners in solitary confinement
• Dec 31st, HAPPY NEW YEAR, Lynn Stewart released from prison!
This time of year provides the collective opportunity to transform reflection into resolve. Let’s continue the momentum of victory and of structural change into 2014. Join us for a rally in support of Albert Woodfox, the only remaining member of the Angola 3 behind bars, on January 7th The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments respective of Judge Brady’s ruling that Albert’s conviction should be overturned for a third time. Jackie recently visited Albert where he remains in solitary confinement at David Wade Correctional facility. Albert expressed tremendous gratitude for the hundreds of letters of support in recent weeks, and admiration for all of those who continue to struggle for his freedom. For more details from the visit, read here.
We at Herman’s House ask supporters to stay connected to us for the New Year as we continue our focus to build Herman’s dream home, we are looking forward to good news in the coming weeks, and the prospect of significant community collaborations. Additionally we will be republishing the book,The House That Herman Built in collaboration with the prestigious Akademie Schloss Solitude in early 2014. Jackie will be speaking at several colleges and universities and the House That Herman Built will be exhibited at at least two venues in north America.
For the year ahead our charge to end the use of solitary confinement in the United States can only strengthen with your commitment. Herman’s House asks that you round up the 2013 by considering to support the organizations and creative projects who have made the victories of 2013 possible.
Enter 2014 remembering that ALL is possible. Our lives, our possessions, relationships, bodies, situations and circumstances are forever changing. Everything is impermanent and we can end the use of solitary confinement in the United States.
All Power to the People.