As you know, last year when prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison launched a hunger strike, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition worked tirelessly to get mainstream media to cover the strike and expose the torturous conditions within California’s Security Housing Units, as well as within prisons in general. During the first week of the strike in 2011, CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said only a few dozen prisoners were on strike. When Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity members pressured the LA Times to get true numbers from the CDCR, it was revealed that more than 6,600 prisoners were striking, reaching at least a third of the state’s prisons. Some of the very same prisoners involved in the 2011 CA Hunger Strike organized a similar hunger strike in the early 2000′s, but had serious trouble getting the word out due to a media blackout imposed by the prison administration.
Media exposure helped spread awareness and grew strong support for the 2011 CA Hunger Strike. Forceful media work along with grassroots mobilization played an important role in supporting one of the largest prisoner strikes in recent history and pressuring the CDCR to negotiate with the strike leaders. There is still much to be done to help the strikers win their demands. One way of helping to amplify the demands of the strikers is to push California decision makers to lift the media ban on California prisons.
Assembly Bill 1270 is a prison media access bill that was introduced by Assembly member Tom Ammiano to lift the media ban on CA prisons. It will allow journalists greater access to interview California state prisoners and could help amplify the voices of prisoners held in cells meant to silence and disappear them. The CA Appropriations Committee will be making an important vote concerning AB1270 on Monday, August 13th.
BEFORE MONDAY, AUGUST 13th: Help Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity get more signatures on the petition in favor of this bill and support the prisoners in their struggle for human rights!
You can also support by making a quick phone call to Committee members. Click here for phone numbers and sample phone script.
More Info on AB 1270:
How do we know what really goes on in California’s prisons? Is there any place where transparency and accountability are more important than a system that puts tens of thousands of people under the control of a state institution and spends over $9 billion of our money each year?
Assembly Bill 1270 restores the ability of journalists to conduct pre-arranged interviews with individual prisoners and to exchange confidential correspondence with them. It allows journalists to write down and record their conversations with inmates.
The bill is supported by a wide variety of organizations, including the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the ACLU, and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. AB 1270 is co-sponsored by Californians United for a Responsible Budget, the Center for Young Women’s Development, the Coalition for Women Prisoners, the Friends Committee on Legislation of California and the Youth Justice Coalition.
Assembly Bill 1270 has passed the Assembly and the Senate Public Safety Committee. But the bill is on hold now, and the Department of Corrections is opposing AB 1270, saying it would cost too much money – when in fact the costs are minor. As members of the public, we and our policymakers deserve in-depth information about how this multi-billion dollar state agency is doing its job, and that means increased media access to prisons and prisoners.
Thank you for your continued support!