CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT MUST RESPOND TO INMATE HUNGER STRIKE BY IMPROVING PRISON CONDITIONS
Religious Coalition Says California s Use of Prolonged Solitary Confinement is Tantamount to Torture
July 15, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. In response to the ongoing hunger strike by inmates incarcerated in multiple California prisons, Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, released the following statement:
Hunger strikes are the last resort of prisoners protesting inhumane confinement conditions. We have seen prisoners protest their treatment in this manner at Guantanamo Bay, and now inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison in northern California among various other prisons in California are taking similar drastic measures. At Pelican Bay, hundreds of prisoners are held in prolonged solitary confinement, a practice that qualifies as torture due to its destructive physical and psychological effects on human beings. Conditions are so bad in California, these inmates prefer to starve themselves possibly to death rather than live another week in prolonged solitary confinement.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture vehemently believes that even those convicted of crimes are human beings with inherent dignity and worth, and they deserve humane treatment. NRCAT is a coalition of religious organizations committed to ending torture sponsored or enabled by federal or state government in the United States. Our members moral convictions and our commitments to international and constitutional protections against cruel and inhumane treatment require that we call on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to respond to the prisoners reasonable demands, put an end to its egregious use of prolonged solitary confinement, and take immediate steps to improve the conditions in California s prisons.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, more than 300 religious organizations have joined NRCAT, including representatives from the Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Baha i, Buddhist, and Sikh communities. Members include national denominations and faith groups, regional organizations and local congregations.