6,000 California Prisoners Resume Hunger Strike– CDCR Threatens Disciplinary Action

For Immediate Release – September 28, 2011

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Office:  510 444 0484
Cell:   510 517 6612

California – Lawyers and mediators received confirmation from a reliable source today estimating that 6,000 prisoners statewide are taking part in a second wave of a massive hunger strike against inhumane conditions in California Secure Housing and Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) Units. While California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has not yet disclosed which prisons are participating, family members have confirmed that up to 1,000 prisoners in both the Calipatria State Prison general population and Ad-Seg units as well as prisoners at CCI Tehachapi, CSP Centinela and West Valley Detention Center are refusing food. “The CDCR is very tight-lipped about the numbers of prisoners known to be on hunger strike,” says Molly Porzig, a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, “During the July strike, it took persistence by journalists to get accurate figures on how many people and in which prisons. We assume the same will be true of this strike.”

The prisoners are refusing food to protest what have been characterized by human rights groups as torturous conditions in California’s Securing Housing Units (SHUs) at Pelican Bay, CCI Tehachapi, CSP Corcoran and Valley State Prison for Women. Prisoners continue to rally around 5 demands, originating at Pelican Bay, which include an end to the practice of long term solitary confinement as well as the policies of gang validation and debriefing. A prisoner at CCI Tehachapi recently described the conditions and reasons for striking: “The only clothing we are given in here are socks, boxers and a t-shirt. To be honest they’re filthy. Now just imagine being locked in that bathroom for 24 hrs, 7 days a week, year after year after year for no legitimate reason. We have only been allowed to have fresh air for four hours in the past eight months.”

In a September 27 memo signed by Deputy Director Scott Kernan, the CDCR has threatened disciplinary action against any prisoners taking part in the strike as well as placement in Ad-Seg and the removal of canteen items. The CDCR recently stated that it had sufficiently addressed the prisoners’ demands and that any future hunger strikes would not be treated in the same fashion as the July strike, which lasted for nearly four weeks.  The prisoners maintain that while they have received some privileges such as sweat pants, colored pencils and proctored exams, the CDCR has yet to move on the demands related to solitary confinement and gang validation. “Though promises were made at the end of the last hunger strike, and some progress has been made, it is painfully slow for people who have lived under conditions of torture for years, and often decades in California’s prison system,” says Laura Magnani, a member of the prisoners’ mediation team and a representative of the American Friends Service Committee. “While the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tries to paint the prisoners as nothing more than ‘dangerous gang members,’ we see this strike as a courageous effort to work across all cultural and ethnic divisions through time honored non-violent actions.”

Many of the prisoners have stated that they intend to continue their hunger strike until all of their demands are met, despite the possibility that they might suffer serious health consequences. Reports from the July hunger strike indicated that many of the strikers lost 20-30 pounds and experienced dizziness, fainting and heart arrhythmia.


One thought on “6,000 California Prisoners Resume Hunger Strike– CDCR Threatens Disciplinary Action

  1. Pingback: California Hunger Strike Centers On Jail Within A Jail | Neon Tommy

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