Today, August 8 2013, marks one month for prisoners on hunger strike throughout the California prison system. Earlier today, the mediation team working on behalf of the strikers was able to speak to the prisoners at Pelican Bay who initially called for the strike. Just moments ago members of the mediation team issued the following statement:
All of the members of our mediation team were able to speak with hunger strike representatives at Pelican Bay for two-and-a-half hours. All four representatives are totally united and resolute. They were clear that this peaceful protest is not about them—it is about making real, fundamental changes to an incredibly unjust system.
They haven’t eaten for 32 days but they are cogent, focused, and committed.
We were able to work together to develop new ideas about how to move forward, which we’ll be acting on over the next few days. The mediation team will be staying in contact with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and issuing statements daily.
Reports from prisoners at Pelican Bay indicate escalated mistreatment from guards in the Administrative Segregation and Security Housing Units. Prisoners report being verbally abused by guards and over hearing them discussing orders “to treat some prisoners really nicely and others really badly.” Despite the abuse, prisoners remain steadfast in continuing their protest. “They are obviously feeling the effects of not having eaten in over a month, but they remain strong and in high spirits” said Anne Weills, a lawyer representing strikers at Pelican Bay. “They are fighting for themselves, their fellow prisoners, and those who will come after them. They are incredibly inspired by all the support they’ve received, and are steadfast in their commitments to improving conditions.”
On the outside, prisoners’ loved ones, activists, and advocates continue their fight to compel the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Governor Jerry Brown to urgently address the human rights violations happening in the prison system by calling for immediate good-faith negotiations with strikers.
“These men are risking their lives to insist on humane conditions and an end to indefinite sentences of solitary confinement in California’s prison system,” Said mediator Barbara Becnel . “Recent reports from these prisoners demonstrate that their brave efforts have been made all the more difficult by prison guards who are treating them very harshly. Meanwhile, the hunger strikers have entered a very dangerous phase of their protest: their health could be permanently damaged and they could even die. As for Gov. Brown and CDCR Secretary Beard: How many prisoners have to be harmed by guards and the conditions which violate international human rights standards before state authorities are willing to seriously consider their demands for real change? How many prisoners have to die?”