Here we are at Day 49 – what can we say that we haven’t already said? It seems CDCR isn’t doing anything. What are these brave men who have been starving themselves — just a statistic? Is my husband just one of the 50 who’ve been locked up in the SHU for over 25 years? Is he just one of the 20 reps for the hunger strike? One of the 16 who signed the Agreement to End All Hostilities? One of the 16 who was sent to Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for signing that agreement? One of the 79 still fasting?
CDCR doesn’t see the humanity in all of this; these men are just numbers to them. It is such a business. Our Governor Jerry Brown is considering a prison alliance between a private company and the guards’ union. The bottom line is it’s all about numbers and money, it’s not about human beings and saving lives. What could be more human than what these men are doing? To risk their health and lives to protest decades of abuse of power and to end prolonged solitary confinement? And now CDCR is even trying to take away their intention to continue fasting for as long as it takes for something to change. CDCR is just waiting to stick tubes down their throats and say it’s over and you guys got nothing. They don’t care about the men’s lives, just their power over inmates.
But these men aren’t backing down, so now it’s a stare-down. Why should the men believe CDCR when they say “when you stop hunger striking then we will talk”? The men have come too far to turn around and say we’ll stop, we believe you, when everything CDCR says turns out to be a lie. They stopped in 2011 because CDCR made promises, then nothing happened. So how can these men feel any trust?
Right now, all of our lives are in the hands of CDCR; we’re all at a standstill. We have to sit around and wait – wait for a call to hear that the men have reached their demands and called off their hunger strike or a call that’s going to tell you that your loved one has passed due to starvation.
On behalf of the Mediation Team,
Irene Huerta, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement – firstname.lastname@example.org
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