California Admits 6,600 Prisoners Are on Hunger Strike

California Admits 6,600 Prisoners Are on Hunger Strike

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports that as of Friday, July 8, at least 6,600 prisoners in at least 13 of the state’s prisons have joined the hunger strike initiated at Pelican Bay on July 1.

With prisoners striking at Corcoran State Prison Secure Housing Unit (SHU) and Folsom, Tehachapi, Centinela, Calpatria and San Quentin state prisons, as well as prisoners in Perth, Australia, advocates and lawyers working to support the strike claim these numbers are much higher and are pushing the CDCR to enter into negotiations with prisoners at Pelican Bay and immediately implement their demands.

The demands outlined by hunger strike leaders in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay Prison include an end to long term confinement and collective punishment; access to food and programs; and an end to the practice of “debriefing,” or requiring prisoners to divulge information about themselves and other prisoners around gang affiliation in order to be released back into general population.

“The sheer number of prisoners participating in this strike, across conditions of isolation as well as racial and geographic lines, speaks to the urgency of these prisoners’ demands,” says Molly Porzig of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. “It is overwhelmingly clear that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations CDCR has little other option than to meet these demands.”

An unnamed hunger striker at Pelican Bay told legal workers with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition, “We feel the CDCR will not make meaningful changes in policy unless this strike gets so severe that prisoners start dying. But we are in this until our demands are met.”

Supporters of the hunger strikers have received notices from the CDCR that mail to prisoners at Pelican Bay is being refused. Advocates and lawyers are also concerned about the health conditions of prisoners who have the joined the strike.

“We feel the CDCR will not make meaningful changes in policy unless this strike gets so severe that prisoners start dying. But we are in this until our demands are met,” said one hunger striker at Pelican Bay.

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“It’s very important right now that supporters as well as the CDCR be in communication with the hunger strikers so that we can be aware of their condition,” says Marilyn MacMahon, a lawyer with California Prison Focus, also a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. Health conditions across the entire California prison system have been widely condemned due to medical neglect and severe overcrowding and are the subject of a recent landmark Supreme Court ruling.

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition is continuing to try to maintain an open line of communication with hunger strikers, as well as planning rallies and protests in the days ahead and urging the public to call the CDCR to demand negotiations with strike leaders.

For  updates on the hunger strike go to www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com.

Isaac Ontiveros of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition can be reached at (510) 444-0484 or isaac@criticalresistance.org. Bay View staff contributed to this report.
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Jul 13 2011

I support these prisoners. It has been my expierence with DOC, talking does not work. Doing things the "right" way is not often rewarded. Families calling DOC have little effect. I believe they are right... they only way to get DOC to listen is to take control of the only thing they have... their body. I am praying for these inmates. I do not want to see anyone die. I do respect their them for taking a strong stand for human dignity!!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 13 2011

I support these prisoners. It has been my expierence with DOC, talking does not work. Doing things the "right" way is not often rewarded. Families calling DOC have little effect. I believe they are right... they only way to get DOC to listen is to take control of the only thing they have... their body. I am praying for these inmates. I do not want to see anyone die. I do respect their them for taking a strong stand for human dignity!!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 18 2011

This is great! We were talking budget cuts anyway. Dead prisoners = less upkeep = more money for the law-abiding citizens who pay their damn taxes!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 20 2011

Dummies, they are in PRISON! They are lucky we feed them, and support there families through welfare because they are in prison and can not provide for there families. At least we are saving money on food.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 21 2011

cruel comments! Some of these men were rail roaded by cocky DA into entering a plea deal, since they didn't have the means for a dream team, they would take the deal hoping to be out in a couple years. Life in prison is harsh. Throw any human being in there and his survival rate is very little if he doesn't abide by prison politics. wanna try? I will pay to house anonymous who posted just a few moments ago.

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