Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Spreading Throughout California System

Media Advisory – July 7th, 2011

CDCR Recognizes Thousands Participating, Advocates Demand Negotiations

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Office: 510 444 0484

Cell:    510 517 6612

Oakland – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported yesterday that at least 6500 prisoners in at least a third of the state’s prisons joined a hunger strike during this last weekend, initiated at Pelican Bay on July 1st.  The CDCR has since adjusted its numbers to just over 2000 in 9 prisons across California. With prisoners striking at Corcoran State Prison Secure Housing Unit (SHU), Folsom Prison, CCI Tehachapi, Centinela and Calpatria State Prisons, San Quentin as well as prisoners in Perth, Australia, advocates and lawyers working to support the strike claim these numbers are much higher and are pushing the CDCR to enter into negotiations with prisoners at Pelican Bay and immediately implement the changes outlined in their demands.

The demands outlined by hunger strike leaders in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay Prison include an end to long term confinement and collective punishment; access to food and programs; and an end to the practice of “debriefing”, or requiring prisoners to divulge information about themselves and other prisoners around gang affiliation in order to be released back into general population.

“The sheer number of prisoners participating in this strike, across conditions of isolation, as well as racial and geographic lines speaks to the urgency of these prisoners’ demands,” says Molly Porzig of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. “It is overwhelmingly clear that the CDCR has little other option than to meet these demands.”

An unnamed hunger striker at Pelican Bay told legal workers with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition, “We feel the CDCR will not make meaningful changes in policy unless this strike gets so severe that prisoners start dying.  But we are in this until our demands are met.”

Supporters of the hunger strikers have received notices from the CDCR that mail to prisoners at Pelican Bay is being refused. Advocates and lawyers are also concerned about the health conditions of prisoners who have the joined the strike.  “It’s very important right now that supporters, as well as the CDCR be in communication with the hunger strikers so that we can be aware of their condition,” says Marilyn MacMahon a lawyer with California Prison Focus, also a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition.  Health conditions across the entire California prison system have been widely condemned, and the subject of a recent landmark Supreme Court ruling, due to medical neglect and severe overcrowding.

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition is continuing to try to maintain an open line of communication with hunger strikers, as well as planning rallies and protests in the days ahead, and urging the public to call the CDCR to demand negotiations with strike leaders.

Updates on the hunger strike can be found at


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