Here we are, Day 37 into the California prisoner’s hunger strike which began on July 8, 2013. There are nearly 300 men who have been on the hunger strike since it started. During the first week of the hunger strike, 14 men who signed off on the Agreement to End Hostilities dated August 12, 2012 were placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg). This retaliation against the prisoners has further allowed CDCR to extend its power and cancel all family visits.
Although the inmates are suffering, their families too are being tormented by the CDCR and the lack of information on their loved ones’ conditions. The only information made available to families is through media reports describing the slow deterioration of the inmates. CDCR Secretary Beard stated in his Los Angeles Times Op Ed, “I am concerned about the toll this hunger strike is taking on my staff, the inmates and their families.” He has the power to end the hunger strike, if he really cared about the inmates and their families.
Let me be clear about this peaceful protest. These brave men are not involved in this hunger strike for personal gain or to create a lavish prison lifestyle for themselves. Rather, they are protesting inhumane conditions and treatment in the California prison system. These prisoners are tortured daily, mistreated and abused, by a system that is run and paid for by California tax payers. I for one do not want my tax dollars going towards the abuse and maltreatment of another individual. We must live up to the deepest values of our nation, the United States of America, where everyone’s right to be treated fairly and as a human being are constitutionally protected. The significance of this strike is to allow the nation to see the abuse and abhorrent conditions that exist within our prison systems.
As a wife whose husband has endured unbelievable atrocities for over twenty-eight years in solitary confinement, I am pleading with Governor Brown to intervene, end the torture, and comply with the requests set forth by these men who are starving themselves.
On behalf of the Mediation Team,
Irene Huerta, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement (CFASC)
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
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