What: Legislative Hearings on Solitary Confinement, Rallies in Support of the Hunger Strikers
When and Where: Wednesday October 9, 2013, State Capitol, Sacramento, 95814
– 11:30: Opening Rally on the West Side of the State Capitol
– 1:00-3:30: California Public Safety Committee Hearing
– Hearing was televised on the California Channel: www.calchannel.com.
In response to the largest prison hunger strike in US history, California lawmakers held the first of a series of legislative hearings on solitary confinement in California prisons.
During their 60-day hunger strike, California prisoners brought the issue of solitary confinement to the attention of the world and garnered an unprecedented level of support for their cause. At its peak, 30,000 prisoners were on strike, demanding an end to indefinite solitary confinement; fundamental changes in the draconian policies used to keep prisoners in solitary; and an end to collective punishment.
Prisoners suspended their strike on September 5th after Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano promised to hold hearings about conditions in the Security Housing Units (SHUs) and take action to address the issues raised by the strikers. The hearings will include testimony by family members and loved ones of prisoners, former prisoners, experts on solitary, advocates, as well as representatives of the CDCR.
“Although this hunger strike is suspended, the major demands of the strikers remain unmet,” said Donna Willmott, of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. ”We look to our legislators to take a stand against torture. We need them to use their power to bring California in line with other states which have succeeded in shutting down or drastically scaling down their SHU units.”
Prisoners involved in the historic strike are also hoping the hearings can produce real changes in California’s internationally condemned use of solitary confinement. “”Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano have basically said that there has to be change, “ said hunger striker Mutope Duguma from Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU. “It is our hope that these current hearings will render that change that we so desperately seek, in the interests of all prisoners held throughout California in these isolation units and hopefully throughout the United States of America.”
Supporters of the prisoners held a rally before the hearing and again at the conclusion of the proceedings.
[For the LA Times article announcing the hearing, click here]