Day 50 – Statement from the Mediation Team

As a member of the Mediation Team, never did I think I would be a part of a Hunger Strike that would enter into its 50th day. Never did I think that, as a member of the Mediation Team, I would be denied access to the face to face meetings that have taken place within the CDCR because I am a family member. And never did I think that CDCR would refuse on all grounds to meet even the most reasonable demands of the prisoners.

As I reflect on the past 50 days, I have often asked myself, “What is my role in all this?” How can I be heard if there is no one to listen? And even more… no one that even seems to care? I now sit and wonder if there is not even one, just out of sheer human nature, motivated by heartfelt compassion of the suffering of the families and the strength and dignity of the prisoners left starving to death… There must be some that are losing sleep at night…There must be someone in CDCR who can no longer play the role they have been assigned. Or have the prisoners lives become such a replaceable commodity that hearts are calloused towards the thought of the prisoners’ starvation and suffering?

Every statistic and study from animal research to human research has proven the harmful effects of solitary confinement. And CDCR’s solution is to say that solitary confinement simply does not exist. Problem solved right? In a sense, I feel as if I might not exist because that is how we continue to be treated as family members on the Mediation Team. Like maybe if we are ignored long enough the problem will simply go away. Or maybe if we are ignored long enough we will just quit?

But on the 50th day, I am filled with absolute awe of the strength and character of these individuals who have endured decades-long isolation. And I think it must be hope that fills them with such a determination… hope for long overdue change, hope in a system that has kept them in isolation for decades. And I think of great changes in history that only took place when people did not give up and when the awakening of a moral consciousness was stirred within the heart and soul of the public.
So as we enter into the 50th day, a historical moment in the longest and largest prisoner hunger strike in United States history, I hold on to hope for the greatest changes within our system to come. For the efforts of humanity to be restored to the prisoners and for rehabilitation to honestly begin taking place within our prison system.

50 days into this strike I can’t help but wonder – will change only come at the cost of human lives? But CDCR has an answer for that one too. The state of California is going to force feed the prisoners, no loss of lives, hunger strike over, problem solved? Perhaps this is my role on the Mediation Team – to see what I’ve never seen before, to witness CDCR at its very best when it comes to problem solving?
Since the CDCR will not enter into meaningful negotiations I can only hold on to Hope, that the awakening has begun and that the problems will truly be solved, as we anxiously wait for change to come.

On behalf of the Mediation Team,
Dolores Canales, 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,
Irene Huerta, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement (CFASC)
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

11 thoughts on “Day 50 – Statement from the Mediation Team

  1. Your post truly touched my heart! You are thinking that you are not making a difference feeling helpless is an overwhelming feeling! I know! They took my husband to an outside hospital told me he was out for routine testing no updates and when I asked I was told no medical release on file even though he had done it in triplicate. His return they had removed almost half of the right side of his brain. As he started short circuiting due to light sound or loss of solitary conefinement multiple 115′s was their answer. Like you I too continue to this day to feel helpless with no way to seriously resolve problems only fake promises. Yes we are ineffective but you know where it matters most is that those inmates will know you cared! My husband went on to attempt suicide several times it is tough when inmate family members are treated as nothings worth nothing but what your doing matters!!!! Sending prayers!!!

  2. And to think that some of these people consider themselves God fearing humans. Not so. They are deceived because so many of them are true criminals. Lies to government and anyone they need to make up stories to. Human? Yes. But they act like animals.

  3. The response from the administration does not surprise me. They are the one who put the SHU in place in the first place. And to think they want to build more prisons so they can continue on this practice is unthinkable. I do not live in CA, but I hope you guys continue to fight for fair treatment of “everyone”, this is a fundamental right under the US consitutions.

  4. It is very sad.. our system is broken, and CDCR refuses to fix it. I just read the update regarding the hunger strike on the CDCR website… in the update CDCR contends that the demands “have already been addressed”…. we know that they have not been addressed…. this is their way to try to wipe their hands clean and not have to deal with the inhumane conditions that they subject these men to….I’m at a loss for words, very disappointed, but we have to continue to fight in whatever way we can. When will the world understand what is really going on behind those walls? The media does not even report accurate information, most of the media either remains silent on the issue or reports inaccurate information, such as what Jeffrey Beard said in the LA Times.

  5. This Special Hunger Strike ISN’T in vain, It has touched thousands of People’s Hearts!!!, like mine; I don’t have a loved one on SHU, but I can sense the Strikers pain and desperation hoping for Change,and reclaiming Their Rights in Peacefuly!!! This is not the End…It Is Just The beggining!!! LETS Keep Focused and move Forward. God blessings for the Hunger Strikers and Their Families.

  6. Thank you all for words of encouragement – and yes – we won’t lose hope – these men have hope for change –
    From a place of hope – everything looks different – keeps them going – keeps us as family and all the supporters going – praying for change to come soon !

  7. The state of California will not listen nor the governor. Locking people up is a business and that’s how they see it. They don’t care about the inmates. But… if we hired these s.o.b.’s then we sure can fire them. We pay their salaries and we have more than enough say so in this.We need to look at handling this now in a different approach. The media sure ain’t helping. We can’t give up and we won’t give up.

  8. It may be the darkest before the dawn, but what we are witnessing is men who had been considered unworthy and society’s castaways find their dignity, humanity, worth, and unity behind a cause greater than any individual. This is truly heroic, and history shows us that it is people like this, willing to make huge sacrifices, that eventually produces change. Hope certainly, also faith and truth. Justice is Truth.

  9. I just want to let you know that these bulletins, similar to those from Samidoun (the Palestinian Hunger Strikers’ organization), are extremely helpful in staying ‘in touch’ with the U.S. prison hunger strike.

    I’m so glad you’ve begun them.

    In solidarity,

    Rael Nidess Marshall, TX


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