Day 58 – Statement from the Mediation Team

I fear there is very little time left to resolve the hunger strike before death or irreparable injury
to the prisoners occurs. The Mediation Team has been pressing CDCR to engage in serious discussions
about SHU conditions and procedures. We began this effort back in February and have little to show for
it. While CDCR officials have met with us, and our conversations have generally been cordial, their
willingness to implement serious and substantive change is lacking. Recently, their position seems to
have hardened. Presumably, this stance reflects that of the governor, the ultimate warden of this state.

In light of CDCR’s stance, the legislative announcement last week of future public hearings was a
breath of fresh air. Legislative hearings are valuable because they educate legislators and the public,
and can provide additional pressure on prison officials. Hearings can lay the groundwork for legislation.
However, without a majority of the legislators on board, and a governor willing to sign on, the legislative
route can be another dead end. It will be our collective job to maximize the gains achievable.

The legislators called upon the prisoners to end their hunger strike, in light of their commitment
to hold legislative hearings to address the issues surrounding long-term solitary confinement. Whether
this announcement is sufficient cause for the prisoners to end the hunger strike is a decision for them to

Whatever happens in the next days and weeks, the prisoners have transformed themselves. I
now quote from my organization’s statement last week:

“Racial and geographic divisions have separated them in the past. Now, prison violence has
been reduced since a prisoner-issued call last year to end racial hostilities between groups.”

“Despite guard provocation, the striking prisoners have been extraordinarily disciplined, never
responding in violence. The hunger strikers have shared magazines, stamps and stories; they
have called for help for each other when someone goes “man down,” regardless of any prior
affiliation. They have recognized the humanity of each other. If only the prison administration
could do likewise, we could begin to transform our correctional system to truly achieve public
safety.”

The prisoners’ transformation, along with the increased unity on the outside among family members
and supporters, is the foundation upon which we go forward.

On behalf of the Mediation Team,
Carol Strickman, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children

Hunger Strike Mediation Team
Dr. Ronald Ahnen, California Prison Focus and St. Mary’s College of California
Barbara Becnel, Occupy4Prisoners.org
Dolores Canales, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement
Irene Huerta, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement
Laura Magnani, American Friends Service Committee
Marilyn McMahon, California Prison Focus
Carol Strickman, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children
Azadeh Zohrabi, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children

10 thoughts on “Day 58 – Statement from the Mediation Team

  1. There should be at least 100 more people out posting beneath articles in news forums about conditions in prisons. The lack of a public outcry there creates the impression that everyone is happy. This is why some of the journos don’t believe the hunger strikers. It needs to be a habit.

  2. I have no words right now.My son was supposed to come out on the 7th of this month,instead the prison committee decided to make him coll his heels in solitary for another year.I am crushed.

  3. Pingback: California Hunger Strike

  4. I have posted almost every day on website Democratic Underground. I post on my facebook also. I also call Gov Brown, Prison officials, and some of the Assembly members.. and I live in MN. My peace Group WAMM.. Women Against Military Madness have joined the supporters of the Prisoners Hunger strike.

  5. I hope more CA Legislators gather to discuss this important Matter time its running off and We don’t want the CDCR Prisoners on H.S to Died.!!!

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