As public health advocates, we are deeply disturbed about the conditions leading to the California prisoner hunger strike, including the extensive use of long-term isolation, which has been repeatedly shown to be physically, emotionally and cognitively damaging. Such treatment is a violation of international standards of care for prisoners. The Standards of Care for Correctional Institutions developed by the American Public Health Association explicitly oppose such treatment.
We call on the Prison Health Care Receiver to exert his leadership in addressing the inhumane conditions that prisoners suffer in various Security Housing Units in the state. It is both an ethical and a professional responsibility for those working in public health to speak up about such conditions. Where one has direct responsibility for the health and medical care of a population, ethical practice demands much more.
We urge the CDCR and Governor Brown to act immediately to respond to the strikers and to implement changes which will make the treatment of California prisoners more humane.
We also strongly support independent monitoring of the health of those on strike, via direct reports from health professionals and independent journalists.