Prison Law Office position on Pelican Bay hunger strike
The Prison Law Office supports the Pelican Bay SHU prisoners’ demands for a more effective and fair means to address criminal gang activity and individual responsibility; that CDCR comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement; and that CDCR expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU prisoners. We believe that CDCR should only hold prisoners accountable for their own actions, and that all prisoners should receive adequate food under appropriate staff supervision.
We have recently filed suit aiming to achieve the elimination of group punishment in the form of race-based lockdowns in California prisons (Mitchell v. Felker, E.D. Cal. Case No. No. 08-CV-1196-RAJ), and we have previously litigated against other deplorable conditions in the Pelican Bay SHU (Madrid v. Gomez), but we know that many intolerable conditions remain, and that meeting the above demands is an important step toward the goal of affirming the human rights and dignity of SHU prisoners. We continue to work as class counsel to improve other unlawful conditions at Pelican Bay, including inadequate medical, dental, and mental health care and accommodations for prisoners with disabilities.
The Prison Law Office calls on CDCR to respond in a meaningful way to the inhumane conditions in the Pelican Bay SHU. In addition, CDCR should take appropriate steps to monitor the health and well-being of the hunger strikers. As part of the Plata v. Brown lawsuit, we will continue to monitor Pelican Bay’s compliance with Plata policies and procedures, including those applicable to hunger strikers.