For Immediate Release – September 30, 2011
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
California – With the hunger strike continuing to spread from Pelican Bay and Calipatria State Prisons to at least 6 other prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has threatened to crack down on the at least 6,000 participants, including sending prisoners to solitary confinement. The CDCR also faxed expulsion orders to two mediation team lawyers, notifying them that they had been banned from all prisons pending an investigation into whether or not they had “jeopardized the safety and security of CDCR” institutions. Meanwhile, the prisoner-selected mediation team that has been trying to negotiate with the CDCR since the strike was initiated in July sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, demanding a meeting and lodging their vehement objections to the actions of CDCR officials.
“This is very worrisome to say the least,” says Carol Strickman, one of the mediation team lawyers banned from CDCR facilities. “We have been receiving steady reports from prisoners of CDCR intimidation and retaliation leading up to the strike. Now, we have the CDCR threatening prisoners and cutting off contact with our legal team. We obviously don’t want to imagine the worst, but we are legitimately concerned about violence on the part of the prison administration.”
In a letter sent to Gov. Brown this morning, mediators laid out the prisoners’ demands and said that prison officials’ inaction at the negotiation table and threats to prisoners “clearly demonstrate the unwillingness of CDCR officials to address the prisoners’ demands adequately.” Mediators are asking for a meeting with Brown, saying, “We are ready to bring forth specific proposals that will make the current proposed reforms complete and bring California in line with best practices nationwide. We can and must end torture in California’s prisons now.”
Support for the hunger strike continues to grow nationally and internationally. “The strike is growing throughout the California for Security Housing Units, from Administrative Segregation Units, throughout the general population. Prisoners are becoming more and more united in their opposition to the horrendous conditions they are forced to endure at all levels of the prison system,” said Manuel La Fontaine, of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. “And as their strike grows, so does the support coming from outside the prison walls. People see this as a human rights issue, and so no level of repression on the part of the CDCR will stop people all over the world from fighting to help these prisoners win their demands.”