For Immediate Release – July 21, 2011
Press Contact: Jay Donahue
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
Oakland – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prematurely announced an end to the Pelican Bay hunger strike today. The strike is protesting conditions of confinement international human rights groups have called torturous and inhumane. Lawyers and mediators in contact with the strikers, however, have not received confirmation from the hunger strike leaders that the strike is over. “We would like to hear directly from the men at Pelican Bay that they have resumed eating and what demands, if any, have been met,” says Carol Strickman, a lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.” At this point, “Strickman continues, “we have not been able to ascertain what concessions may have been granted.”
Supporters of the strikers say this issue is not resolved. “The CDCR has used deceptive tactics throughout this strike to try to overcome prisoner resistance,” says Taeva Shefler, a member of Prison Activist Resource Center and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. “In order to break the strike, the CDCR has regularly underestimated strike participation and withheld information regarding the health of striking prisoners. Prisoners not yet in solitary have been placed in Administrative Segregation or Security Housing Units as punishment for protesting. These are the very issues this strike aims to change in the first place.”
Information coming from Pelican Bay and other prisons has been sparse at best over the last three weeks, as CDCR has declined to grant media access to the prisoners on strike and letters sent by family members have been returned by the prison. “There’s a reason this department is mired in multiple court orders, receiverships, and other monitoring processes,” says Molly Porzig of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, “The lack of reliable communication today simply underscores the core of this crisis.”
Supporters continue to urge the public to call Governor Brown’s office asking him to exert pressure on the CDCR to meet the prisoner’s demands. For updates, please visit www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com.