International Health Workers for People Over Profit http://www.healthworkersinternational.org
To: Receiver J. Clark Kelso California Medical Board CDCR
July 11, 2011
Thousands of prisoners in California have been on hunger strike since July 1, demanding basic improvements in the state’s supermax prisons, especially Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU). At Pelican Bay, close to a hundred prisoners affirm that this will be an indefinite strike, and that they are willing to die.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation regulations stipulate that prisoners are deemed on hunger strike after refusing meals for 48 hours, at which point they should be weighed and have their vital signs recorded. But according to Carol Strickman of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, “We have heard of no one being weighed, having blood pressure taken, or being seen by a doctor. CDCR is saying that their hunger strike protocols were not intended to apply to a mass situation; they have no protocols for this situation.”
We have also heard that ALL medications have been discontinued, or that ALL medications which are supposed to be taken with food have been discontinued. Either case is unacceptable.
One reason the prisoners are on hunger strike is “denial of medical care”, as detailed in their “Formal complaint” which was sent to Governor Brown and CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate on February 5, 2011.
It would be unethical for CDCR medical staff to refuse prisoners their medications for any reason, and it would also be illegal under California Penal Code Section 673. Any act of deliberate neglect of prisoners’ medical needs would constitute a violation of their Eighth Amendment Constitutional rights.
We urge Receiver J. Clark Kelso and the California Medical Board to investigate these allegations and to ensure that no prisoner is denied medical care for any reason.
We demand all medical professionals maintain the highest standards of care for all their patients – be they incarcerated or not.
Susan Rosenthal & Liv Capozzi (officers)
International Health Workers for People Over Profit