UC Berkeley Underground Scholars: ON THE TIER
By Underground Scholars
UC Berkeley Underground Scholars: ON THE TIERMar 09, 2023
Tech and Justice: Navigating Harms in the Digital Age with Shani Shay, Conan Minihan and Eli Martinez
"Tech and Justice: Navigating Harms in the Digital Age," is brought to you in collaboration with UC Berkeley Underground Scholars and the UC Berkeley School of Information. Our guests today are three UC Berkeley students impacted by incarceration-Shani Shay, Conan Minihan and Eli Martinez. They'll share their personal experiences and insights on this topic and discuss their research around data surveillance and the criminal justice system.
As we delve into this important and timely conversation, we'll be exploring questions such as: How does data surveillance disproportionately affect individuals with a criminal justice background? What are the long-term consequences of being monitored or tracked by surveillance technology? And most importantly, what can be done to mitigate these risks and protect the privacy and dignity of individuals with a criminal justice background
Let's Talk Abolition with Dr. Erica R. Meiners and David Maldonado
We are back with another fire episode of On the Tier with the Berkeley Underground Scholars. In this episode, our host, Daniela Medina, sits down with comrades Dr. Erica Meiners and David Maldonado, co-authors of the article “In Due Time: Meditations on Abolition at the Site of the University.” Dr. Erica Meiners is an organizer, writer, and professor of education and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Northeastern Illinois University. She recently co-wrote “Abolition. Femism. Now.” alongside feminist pioneers Angela Davis, Gina Dent, and Beth E. Richie. David Maldonado is a West Berkeley native and one of the founding members of the Berkeley Underground Scholars. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Education department at UC Berkeley. We proudly bring you this episode which furthers discussions around abolition and the connection between higher education institutions and the carceral state.
SHU Post-Release Syndrome with Dr. Terry Kupers and George Villa
Welcome back to another episode of On the Tier brought to you by the Berkeley Underground Scholars. This episode marks the finale of our solitary confinement series brought to you in partnership with California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement and Unlock the Box.
In this episode, your host, Daniela Medina is joined by mental health expert Dr. Terry Kupers and George Villa. George Villa is the Programs and Research Associate with MILPA Restoring Promise Initiative, Director of Team Villa Boxing non-profit Gym in Salinas, Masters' Candidate at University of California Davis, Community Development Graduate Group and SHU survivor. Daniela, George and Dr. Kupers will discuss the mental health consequences endured by victims and survivors of solitary confinement as well as explore the term ‘SHU post release syndrome’–coined by Dr. Kupers. This series serves as a toolkit to help other states follow California’s lead to end long-term solitary confinement.
The Short Corridor Collective with Jamala Taylor, Marie Levin and Azadeh Zohrabi
This episode discusses the Short Corridor Collective–a group of incarcerated men that organized one of the most impactful prison hunger strikes in history. For years, California Department of Corrections has justified their inhumane use of solitary confinement by labeling SHU inmates as "the worst of the worst". Here to counter that narrative, we welcome Jamala Taylor, Marie Levin and Azadeh Zohrabi. Jamala Taylor spent thirty one years incarcerated and fifteen of those years were spent in solitary confinement. He now works as a re-entry coordinator and is a student of Sociology at CSU Fullerton. Jamala joins us to teach us more about the hunger strike, the five core demands and putting an end to racial hostilities within prison walls. Marie Levin, the sister of one of the four principal representatives of the Short Corridor Collective, shares her experience as a family member fighting to end the injustices of solitary confinement and the prison industrial complex. Azadeh Zohrabi, director of the Berkeley Underground Scholars, details the role she played during the hunger strikes and what motivated her to rally against the unjust practices of the California Department of Corrections.
Jamala Taylor now works as a re-entry coordinator for the Insight Garden Program and is the co-founder and CEO of Linear Consulting and Support Services. If you would like to learn more about Jamala and his work you can visit https://insightgardenprogram.org/ourteam. Jamala is also offering re-entry support services at https://linearconsultants.com/.
This episode was brought to you with the support and collaboration of California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement (CFASC), Unlock the Box, and Berkeley Underground Scholars.
Confidential Information and Merger Yards
Welcome back to On the Tier with the Underground Scholars. Continuing with our solitary confinement series, our topic of discussion will focus on the California Department of Correction’s retaliation tactics against those who participated in the California prison hungers strikes to end long term solitary confinement, these tactics include the perverse use of confidential information and Non-Designated Program Facilities, aka: merger yards. The Non-Designated Programming Facility is a program in which Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY), previously known as Protective Custody (PC) and General Population (GP) are forced to cohabitate and program on a Non-Designated Yard together. We welcome back former guests, civil rights attorney, Anne Weils and SHU survivor and Berkeley Underground Scholar, Kevin McCarthy.
The Legal Battle to End Solitary Confinement: Ashker vs. Brown
This episode is part two of our five part series on solitary confinement. Legal Battle to End Solitary Confinement. Ashker vs. Brown. Daniela is joined by longtime freedom movement attorney, Anne Weills, and UC Berkeley Underground Scholar, Kevin McCarthy. Tune in as we discuss the groundbreaking legal settlement Ashker vs. Brown and find out more about Kevin and Anne's role in the struggle to end solitary confinement.
Intro music- Dead Prez "Police State"
Pelican Bay SHU: The History of Solitary Confinement in CA and Gang Validations
This episode will kick off a special series on the history of solitary confinement in California’s state prison system and the movement to end the practice of indefinite isolation culminating in the historic statewide hunger strikes which tens of thousands of incarcerated people participated in between 2011-2013. With the support from Unlock the Box, this series is brought to you by Danny Murillo, co-founder of Berkeley Underground Scholars, Dolores Canales, co-founder of California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement and the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Changemaker.
In this episode, your host, Daniela Medina, is joined by Dr. Jonathan Simon, Professor at UC Berkeley and Underground Scholar Joshua Mason. Joshua Mason is also the principal author of the Underground Scholars Language Guide which is available on our website.
Join us to hear more about the history and emergence of California’s notorious security housing units, the Madrid vs. Gomez case, the expansion of gang validations, and how California state prison administrators continue to find ways to justify the use of modern-day torture chambers. This series serves as a toolkit to help other states follow California’s lead to end long-term solitary confinement.
Opening theme song by Rico Pabon https://www.ricopabon.com/
Narrated by James Carlin
2 mins Kid Frost "No Sunshine"
2:40 Sounds and voices from The Atlantic "The Torment of Solitary Confinement"
11 mins What is Pelican Bay SHU (Solitary Housing Unit)
13:50 Joshua Mason shares the conditions he experienced while held in Pelican Bay SHU
15:30 Overview of 'Gladiator Fights'
29 mins Madrid vs. Gomez Case
34 mins Cell extractions
39 mins Gang validations, gang associates and confidential information
42:50 Lack of due process
43:30 Judge Thelton Henderson and more on Madrid vs. Gomez case
45 mins The need for a social movement
49:30 CDC's lack of clear policy and the use of language to justify solitary confinement; prison gangs and security threat groups
51:30 Judge Henderson's statement on solitary confinement
55:30 Joshua's experience returning to Pelican Bay SHU as a free man
1 hour Professor Simon and Joshua's final thoughts
Closing song William Onyeabor "Body and Soul"
Center for Political Education
Stronger Together with Jazmin Garcia (UCR), Ryan Rising (UCSB) and Joshua Solis (UCSC)
In today's episode Daniela will be speaking with three members of the Underground Scholars statewide coalition, Jazmin Garcia from UC Riverside, Ryan 'Flaco' Rising from UC Santa Barbara and Joshua Solis from UC Santa Cruz. Together they will talk about some of the barriers they had to overcome to organize groups on their campuses to support the needs of formerly incarcerated students as well as discuss the important role of their allies and formerly incarcerated individuals themselves.
Underground Scholars: A Statewide Movement with Azadeh Zohrabi
In today’s episode Daniela will be talking with the director of the Berkeley Underground Scholars, Azadeh Zohrabi. In addition to learning more about Azadeh’s personal experiences with the injustice system, she will discuss more about the recent statewide expansion of the program. This episode is particularly relevant for campus allies in learning more about the ways in which they can support formerly incarcerated students.
2 min- Azadeh’s background as a system impacted individual and what motivated her to want to pursue a law degree
9 min- The three areas of work Berkeley Underground Scholars focuses on– recruitment, retention and advocacy
10 min 50 secs- The challenges the program faces; such as the lack of resources for our formerly incarcerated and system impacted students on campus
13 min 30 secs- Statewide expansion work
16 min 30 secs-The crucial need for support from the university
22 min 30 secs- The importance of non hierarchical organization
23 mins- What is next for the future of Underground Scholars?
25 mins- The ways in which formerly incarcerated students are beginning to shape spaces such as public policy, criminal justice reform, healthcare, sciences and more
26 mins- How can faculty support our student population? What is helpful and what is not?
30 mins- Best approaches in supporting outreach for formerly incarcerated and system impacted students
From Pelican Bay to UC Berkeley with Danny Murillo and Stephen Czifra
In the Spring of 2013, a group of formerly incarcerated UC Berkeley students started to organize with the goal of creating a space where they could connect and support each other. On today’s episode, On The Tier host, Daniela Medina will be talking with two of the founding members of the the Underground Scholars Initiative, Steven Czifra and Danny Murillo. They will discuss the origins of the organization and how it began as a student reading group about the prison industrial complex; as well as discuss the barriers formerly incarcerated students continue to face such as housing insecurity, mental health and licensing barriers. Visit us at https://undergroundscholars.berkeley.edu/
Trigger Warning: Mental health and the impacts of trauma are discussed around the 30 minute mark.
If you enjoy the music featured in this episode please visit https://www.ricopabon.com/music to support activist and artist Rico Babon.
Host and Project Manager-Daniela Medina
Narrator- James Carlin
Music- Rico Pabon “Center of the Storm”
This production was brought to you with the support of the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Department.