On May 16th, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they would begin a hunger strike on May 25th. This announcement comes in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization, and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom State Prison.
Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners. Incarcerated people commonly face disciplinary actions, retaliation by prison officials, abuse, and further denial of their basic human rights during hunger strikes- simply for exerting their free will and resisting their mistreatment.
The danger of these threats is compounded by the long-term health consequences and extreme physical weakness that accompany starving yourself in an environment that provides woefully inadequate medical care. In short, these prisoners will desperately need our support.
When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights, and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.
The hunger strike has begun. Please read the information below and make phone calls as soon as possible. All of the contact information you need is included at the bottom. The following media release comes directly from incarcerated people at Folsom State Prison (FSP) who are on strike:
Folsom ASU Media Release
On May 25, 2017 prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) in Represa, CA have started a hunger strike to peacefully protest the conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies, to no avail. Further, prisoners have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials and met with only resistance and silence.
Folsom ASU is like stepping back in time to the era when prison officials blanketed the injustice imposed on its solitary confined prisoners and bluntly turned a blind eye to mistreatment and the stripping away of basic human dignity and elements. As CDCR made drastic changes throughout its prisons to put prisoners on roads of rehabilitation and more humane living conditions, Folsom officials reject the ideals and continue the injustice of the past.
To those reading who may find it hard to believe, just a few years ago many will recall this same fight took place within the SHU (Security Housing Unit). The direction, message, and programs CDCR implemented for long term isolation to rehabilitate is ignored, shut out, and rejected here in Folsom ASU.
Some might assume the impact of the struggle men endured within the SHU to gain fair, dignified living conditions would have a long-lasting effect, yet, men stand again, just as unified, ready to sacrifice their bodies, health, and life to achieve what has already been hard fought for and accomplished. Why must California prisoners continue to sacrifice health and life, involve lawyers and courts, in order to be treated like human beings? We will continue to remind CDCR officials they will be held accountable for this type of treatment.
Prisoners in B4 ASU are forced to sit or stand idle in their cells or yard cages without meaningful exercise, education, or rehabilitative programs. We are already forced to endure atypical and significant hardships due to being in segregated housing and solitary confinement. When taken together, these conditions constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution.
We are being deprived of basic human needs, including normal human contact, environmental and sensory stimulation, mental and physical health, entertainment, physical exercise, sleep, access to courts, and meaningful activity. Prolonged exposure to these deprivations has caused and will cause serious physical and psychological harm.
FSP (Folsom State Prison) is deliberately indifferent to prisoners suffering. They are aware that prolonged social isolation, and lack of environmental stimuli cause “serious psychological pain and suffering and permanent psychological pain and suffering, and permanent psychological and physical injury.”
CDCR is aware (Madrid-Ashker-Coleman) that the conditions of extreme isolation will likely inflict some degree of psychological trauma. These injuries include chronic insomnia, severe concentration and memory problems, anxiety and other ailments. This is why all SHUs and most ASUs within CDCR have provided prisoners with the opportunity to have TVs, pull up bars, education, and social and rehabilitative programs.
However, FSP continues to claim lack of money as an excuse to not fall in line with CDCR’s stated goals, and are content to ignore the suffering of men in its care. We continue to be confined alone in our cells with only misery for company.
Unfortunately our voice in here can be drowned out by administration, but those out there can help by making their voice heard in concern with our treatment. We urge you to call and email all officials and ask questions on the conditions here, and make sure procedures are met for those hunger striking.
To support the strikers, contact the following officials:
- Folsom Prison Warden Ron Rackley: 916- 985-2561 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chief Deputy Inspector General Roy Wesley: 916-255-1102
- Ombudsman Sara L. Smith (the person who is supposed to check on welfare, investigate complaints, etc.): 916-324-5458 email@example.com
- CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan: firstname.lastname@example.org
- CDCR Undersecretary Ralph M. Diaz: email@example.com
- Governor Jerry Brown: 916-445-2841
- Chief Officer of the Ombudsman Sara Malone: 916-327-8467 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Folsom Prison Public Information Officer Jack Huey: 916-985-2561 email@example.com
Sent to a secretary or voicemail? Leave a message for the official you are trying to contact.
First time calling in? You can find a detailed guide here.
“Hello, my name is ____________and I’m a resident of _______(name your state). I am calling in support of the hunger strike that began May 25th at Folsom State Prison. I am deeply concerned about the cruel and inhumane conditions of confinement that have brought this on. I strongly urge you to meet the Hunger Strikers’ reasonable human rights demands, and do not retaliate against them.”