As California Prisoner Hunger Strike Reaches Critical Moment, Families and Advocates Return to Capitol, Demand Action from State Government

All eyes are on California, as prisoners across the state’s vast prison system hit their 38th day of hunger strike in protest of the torturous conditions of solitary confinement.  Prisoners’ loved ones and supporters joined 100 people on the steps of the state capitol Wednesday afternoon, August 14, to demand swift and resolute action from California decision makers.  Activists also set up a life-sized replica of a Security Housing Unit (SHU) cell, encouraging the governor, legislators, and members of the public to experience for just a few minutes what thousands of California prisons live through, many for decades.

Irene Huerta’s husband has been in solitary for 28 years and is currently on hunger strike.  Huerta is part of a mediation team that is trying to keep channels of communication open between strikers and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), with hopes of reaching an end to the strike.  “It is important for us to be here today.  It is day 38 and our loved ones could die soon if no one steps up to do anything,” says Huerta.  She joins many others in condemning the CDCR’s continued attacks on strikers, along with Governor Brown’s total silence on the entire issue.  “For Brown to say nothing at all, at such a critical moment, that is a slap in the face.  To say anything at all, even to speak against the strike, that’s one thing.  But to remain silent when people’s lives are on the line and their families are worried sick? There is nothing worse.”

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano spoke at a press conference today, saying, “When you get a letter that says to incarcerate someone in solitary confinement for longer than a very short period is torture, you know the whole world is watching. “  He continued, “There has been some very bad press on this—demonizing us for being activists for human rights for prisoners.  We know that there are some people who have committed some very egregious crimes but that’s not the issue… looking at everyone as if they are a gang member and isolating them. We don’t support that.  We want appropriate steps to be taken.”

California State Senator Leland Yee also voiced his condemnation of solitary confinement, saying in a statement issued by his office, “the indiscriminate use of solitary confinement is…inhumane and a direct violation of internationally recognized human rights.”

“These strong statements come at a crucial time,” says Donna Willmott, a spokesperson for the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. “But as the medical conditions become more and more critical, and as the CDCR digs in its heels, it is absolutely imperative that actual and resolute steps be taken immediately.  The time to wait and see has passed.”

A delegation of prisoners’ loved ones and supporters continue to meet with legislators to demand action. In particular, people are demanding an emergency session of California’s Public Safety Committee.

6 thoughts on “As California Prisoner Hunger Strike Reaches Critical Moment, Families and Advocates Return to Capitol, Demand Action from State Government

  1. As I said, quoting Freedom Fighter LD Barkley in my article for the SF BAYVIEW: This is but the sound before the fury. But oddly enough, my article didn’t appear on your page. Are you not aware that the CDCR is willing to let all of these men die – just as they were willing to kill all – even their own prison guards – in NY during the September 1971 ATTICA Rebellion? The. CDCR. does. not. care. These brave strong intelligent and courageous men have my utmost respect. And they know. Trust me, they recognize like no others, the true nature of the beast. LD Barkley was assassinated by Nelson Rockefeller’s response to the ATTICA Rebellion for just such conditions as these men here today fight for. But his words are immortal: “This is but the sound before the fury.” My love and strength to all.

  2. Posted 15 August 2013: Remembering Attica Forty Years Later

    Attica Prison Revolt 40th Anniversary – Sound before the Fury

    Hunger Strikers, supporters refute CDCR gang propaganda

    Hunger Strike Rally at Corcoran prison – the sound before the fury

  3. We the People of the United States ask and Implore that our judicial system Stops the torture of inmates and their Families. They have been judged and sentenced to be imprisoned NOT to be TORTURED. The SHU is IN-HUMANE…

  4. Pingback: Day 39 of California Prison Hunger Strike: Governor Jerry Brown Remains Silent - Solitary Watch

  5. Pingback: Torture By Design

  6. Pingback: New Clear Vision | Responsible Designs

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