For Immediate Release – April 26, 2012
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
What: Supporters and Family members Rally
When: 3pm Thursday 4/26/2012
Where: CDCR Headquarters, North Building, 1515 S. St, Sacramento, CA
Sacramento – A little over a month after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released its “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy,” which proposes new gang validation and Security Housing Unit (SHU) step down procedures, the Department has called a meeting with members of the mediation team advocating on behalf of SHU and Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) prisoners around the state as well as legislative aides in Sacramento. Concerns have been raised that the new procedures will actually increase the number of people in the SHU as the CDCR is recommending an expansion of the seven currently recognized prison gang affiliations to include other security threat groups, as well as broadening its current validation categories.
“Who are the real stakeholders? Prisoners and family members are the people most directly affected by the torture that is solitary confinement,” said Laura Magnani, a member of the mediation team, “ Yet they are not being consulted in this process. The mediation team has done its best to respond to the proposal, but meaningful change will require real open participation.” Though less than 72 hours notice was given for Thursday’s meeting, advocates and family members will rally outside CDCR headquarters beginning at 3pm to show their ongoing support for SHU and Ad-Seg prisoners.
The proposed regulations are the CDCR’s most substantial response to the 5 core demands of thousands of prisoners around the state who engaged in 2 hunger strikes in 2011. The demands include an end to long term solitary confinement as well as gang validation. SHU sentences are meted out administratively by the CDCR as opposed to a judge, and indeterminant sentances are primarily reserved for those who have been validated as gang members. The average indeterminant SHU sentence is 6 years, though some have spent more than 20 years in solitary confinement in California’s SHUs and Ad-Seg units. CDCR’s just released 10 year strategic plan, “The Future of California Corrections,” fails to address changes in SHU policies, further calling into question the sincerity of their plans. In response to the CDCR “Security Threat Group Prevention” proposal, one prisoner held in the Pelican Bay SHU said “This document is a representation of the ongoing contradictions and inhumane treatment of prisoners held specifically in solitary confinement which has the potential to affect all state prisoners, women and men.”
While the CDCR has not set a public agenda for this meeting, there is hope that this will be an opportunity specifically for legislative offices to push CDCR to make meaningful changes. “Legislative aides from a number of offices, including the House Public Safety committee will be in attendance,” says Azadeh Zohrabi, a member of the mediation team, “We’re hoping that they take this chance to ask the tough questions and demand answers that will bring relief to prisoners being subject to inhumane conditions daily.” For more information and updates visit www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com.