Policy of the Cruel and Absurd: Sleep Deprivation in California’s Prisons

By Charlie Hinton, Verbena Lea, and Willow Katz

In prison isolation units throughout California, guards wake prisoners up every 30 minutes under the guise of suicide prevention. These “security/welfare checks” cause ongoing sleep deprivation. The United Nations and many sleep and mental health experts have long defined sleep deprivation as a form of torture, and sleep deprivation often is used as a torture technique for prisoners of war. So California tortures its prisoners to prevent them from killing themselves.

Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, Ph.D., an expert in sleep and circadian rhythms, concluded in a 2015 report:

“The current practice of 30 minute … checks of inmates housed in the [Security Housing Units] is likely a cause of severe sleep disruption … The mandated purpose of these … checks (i.e. suicide prevention) is, in fact, likely to have the opposite effect and inadvertently increase suicidality in these individuals … There have been no direct studies of intentionally waking an individual every thirty minutes every night for days, weeks, or months, as doing so would be considered highly unethical in a research environment.”

Yet this is the reality for people housed in California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs), Administrative Segregation Units (Ad-Segs/ASUs), Condemned Units (death row) and Psychiatric Services Units (PSUs). In these solitary confinement cells, prisoners are kept alone 24 hours a day with no direct contact with other people — except guards. Known effects of such isolation include suicidal thoughts and behavior, yet the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) fails to provide adequate, if any, mental or physical health services. Instead, it keeps people locked up in brutally oppressive conditions, and jars them awake every 30 minutes, purportedly to see if they’ve committed suicide.

artwork by R.T. 2016

CDCR does not even acknowledge that prolonged isolation is torture and psychologically harmful. They use the “checks” as a blanket practice, whether or not prisoners are suicidal and despite the fact that sleep deprivation increases the risk of suicide. In CCWF death row, where the checks began in May 2014, there has not been a suicide since 1991 [pg 6 in link]; in Pelican Bay SHU where the checks began in August 2015, there has been one suicide in 13 years. Prisoners point out these histories as they question the purpose of the “checks.” These “checks” only exacerbate CDCR’s abuse of prisoners and historic refusal to compassionately treat prisoners dealing with serious mental health issues, including suicide.

“CO’s can save lives by talking to potentially suicidal inmates…”1 Good interpersonal communication skills by guards are consistently recommended to prevent suicides in prison, but such skills are rare in CA prisons. Admitting suicidal feelings to prison staff will, ironically, subject prisoners to the brutality of “suicide watch.” Prisoners report that guards use the “security/welfare checks” to be as loud and disturbing as possible.

Paradoxically, these so-called “security/welfare checks” come as the result of a settlement, theoretically a victory to improve the conditions of prisoners, in a federal class-action lawsuit, Coleman v. Governor of CA. The Coleman court determined that California prison officials did not provide adequate mental health care, thus violating prisoners’ Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

The judge appointed Matthew Lopes as Special Master to oversee CDCR’s implementation of Coleman reforms for 35,000 prisoners with serious mental illness, and Lopes brought in “suicide expert” Lindsay Hayes as a consultant. Just prior to becoming the “suicide expert” under the Coleman Special Master, Hayes worked as a consultant for the defendant — the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation itself. Hayes endorses the 30-minute checks.

Even as he receives letters from prisoners suffering from the checks and those who support the prisoners from the outside, he has not responded, or, to our knowledge, recommended a change.
The California State Auditor recently released a report on suicides in CA prisons commissioned by the Joint Audit Committee of the CA legislature (http://tinyurl.com/yca9tvf5.) While the report concludes that “It [CDCR] Must Increase Its Efforts to Prevent and Respond to Inmate Suicides,” it does not address prison conditions – like brutal and racist guards and administration, solitary confinement, and the horrific “suicide watch,” when prisoners considered suicidal are “allowed only a no-tear smock or gown, a safety mattress, and a no-tear blanket. All furniture is removed, [and] staff must provide continuous, direct visual observation as well as nursing checks every 15 minutes,” instead of any kind of humane and compassionate care.

A representative from the Auditor’s office had contacted our committee for input. We provided written descriptions of the “security/welfare checks”, documentation from prisoners in 13 prisons describing the checks as torture and explaining the harm to their mental and physical health, and material opposing the checks from 3 sleep experts and the American Public Health Association. Nevertheless, the audit completely ignored the input of our committee and all “advocacy groups,” and apparently the auditor did not seek any input at all from prisoners. The report has little mention of the “security/welfare checks,” except to say 2 of the 4 prisons the Auditor examined “did not conduct these checks as required.” The report refers frequently, however, to the “suicide expert,” and calls for his recommendations to be implemented, clearly indicating support for the “security/welfare checks”.

Other experts, however, have recommended the checks be halted:

“Repeated intrusions, especially to nightly sleep, lead to a variety of negative physical, cognitive and emotional consequences, adding to the already well-documented harms of solitary confinement.… There are other strategies for suicide prevention that can be pursued in prison contexts that do not result in the suffering caused by th[is] approach …” — Jail and Prison Health Committee, American Public Health Association

“This level of [interrupted] sleep has been shown to have profound effects on cognitive performance, memory, mood, immune function, pain sensitivity, metabolism, and other parameters.… Importantly these effects accumulate across time. Thus as these checks are done nightly their negative effects will become greater across time … There is much research on disturbed sleep in Intensive Care Units in hospitals. Checking on patients for their safety has resulted in many ill effects. Today there are many initiatives to overcome the negative effects of this safety monitoring.”Dr. Thomas Roth, PhD Chief, Sleep Disorders and Research Center, Henry Ford Hospital

“A recent series of studies in Veterans has further pointed to the strong connection between suicidality and sleep, so much so that treatment of sleep problems in Veterans is considered part of the first line of treatment in reducing the risk of suicides.” — Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, PhD. Stanford University and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System

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Sat. Aug 19, San Jose: MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS MARCH – in solidarity with March in Washington DC

On AUGUST 19, 2017 please join in solidarity with the historic Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March. People from all over the country will be marching and hosting a rally at the White House to formally issue and demand the removal of the 13th Amendment “exception” clause that legalizes slavery. People are traveling from as far as California to join the March. Solidarity marches, rallies, and protests are being planned across the country to coincide with the DC event.  Here’s San Jose!
8-19-17-Millions-for-Prisoners

Join the NEW ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT

MILLIONS for Prisoners HUMAN RIGHTS

SATURDAY, AUG 19, 2017
SAN JOSE

We DEMAND the 13th Amendment ENSLAVEMENT CLAUSE of the United States Constitution be amended to abolish LEGALIZED slavery in America.

We DEMAND a Congressional hearing on the 13th Amendment ENSLAVEMENT CLAUSE being recognized as in violation of International law, the general principles of human rights and its direct links to:

• For profit exploitation of prison labor and the extortion of prisoners/families for needed goods and services
• Incentivizing criminalization by a private prison industry
• Reinforcement of systemic racial inequality and the militarization of police against our communities
• Disproportionate murder of black and brown people by police and the normalization of state sponsored murder via the death penalty
• Use of solitary confinement as punishment and torture
• Voter disenfranchisement of up to 6 million people
• Indefinite detention of entire families under arbitrary Immigration and Customs Enforcement quotas
• A bail bond system that unjustly penalizes the poor and dispossessed
• Producing 25% of the world’s prison population with only 4.5% of its overall population

MARCH WITH
California Prison Focus & Rise Up for Justice

11:00am: GATHER at Raymond Bernal Jr. Park, 7th and Mission Streets, San Jose, CA 95112

11:30am: MARCH to County Jail

12:30am: RALLY at James P. McEntee Plaza, 70 West Hedding, San Jose, CA 95110

Join local organizations, learn more, and hear speakers from San Jose and surrounding communities, including:
Watani Stiner
Sean Ramsey
Laurie Valdez
… and more

For a full list of sponsors or more information, email us at: riseup@forjustice.us

Download and put up Fliers! 8-19-17-Millions-for-Prisoners, SanJose

San Jose March Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/441574739560568/

Riverside Solidarity Rally Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/720255711508696/

iamWE Prison Advocacy Network is forever humbled to be hosting the upcoming March on Washington DC: http://www.iamweubuntu.com/millions-for-prisoners-human-rights.html

Press Release: Folsom Prison Hunger Strike Enters 9th Day – Families, Advocates to Rally in Folsom and L.A. to Support Prisoners’ Demands

For Immediate Release – Friday, June 2, 2017

WHAT:  Rally & Press Conference to Support Folsom Prison Hunger Strike

WHEN:  Sunday, June 4th from 12:00pm-2:00pm | Press Conference @ 1:00pm

WHERE:
Folsom: Folsom State Prison | E Natomas & Folsom Prison Road  (Folsom, CA 95630)

Los Angeles: Twin Towers Jail | 450 Bauchet St  (Los Angeles, CA 90012)

PRESS CONTACTS:

Courtney Hanson
photos.courtneyjade@gmail.com | (916) 316-0625

 Raquel Estrada
rpartida831@gmail.com | (831) 227-7679

Folsom—On Sunday, June 4th, 2017, human rights advocates will hold a rally outside of Folsom State Prison (FSP) to amplify the voices of people incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at FSP, who have been on hunger strike since May 25th. Prisoners in Building 4 of ASU are striking because they are forced in live in conditions that are inhumane and constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution. Despite the fact that FSP is aware of the dangerous consequences of prolonged social isolation, they continue to deprive prisoners of basic human needs, including normal human contact, environmental and sensory stimulation, mental and physical health, physical exercise, sleep, access to courts, and meaningful activity.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is aware (Madrid-Ashker-Coleman) that the conditions of extreme isolation will likely inflict some degree of psychological trauma, including but not limited to: chronic insomnia, severe concentration and memory problems, anxiety and other ailments. The CDCR and the general public have a heightened awareness about this issue because of the prisoner hunger strikes that swept California in 2011 and 2013 and involved more than 30,000 prisoners. Those strikes led to Ashker v. Brown, a federal class action lawsuit asserting that prolonged solitary violates the 8th Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) and putting someone in solitary based on gang association violates the 14th Amendment (no due process). The case reached settlement in September 2015, ending indeterminate solitary confinement terms in Security Housing Units (SHUs), but did not prevent prisoners from being kept in prolonged solitary confinement in Administrative Segregation.

FSP continues to claim that lack of money prevents them from abiding by CDCR’s stated goals, and are content to not only ignore the suffering of men in its care, but to retaliate against them for their peaceful protest.

“On the afternoon of May 27th, someone called on my husband’s behalf relaying his message that Warden Ron Rackley and Ombudsman Sara Smith had a meeting with him where they communicated that they were upset with the hunger strike and threatened to take away his visits, move him to another prison, give him a 115 and revalidate him as a Security Threat Group (STG) gang leader for his role in organizing the hunger strike. On May 28th, I arrived to visit and the Sergeant informed me that my husband is no longer at FSP and was moved to DVI Tracy.” —Raquel Estrada

Folsom prison hunger strikers have the following demands, which are published in greater detail here.

  1. PROVIDE ADEQUATE ACCESS TO COURTS AND LEGAL ASSISTANCE

  2. PROVIDE MEANINGFUL EDUCATION, SELF-HELP COURSES AND REHABILITATIVE PROGRAMS

  3. ALLOW POSSESSION OF TELEVISIONS

  4. PROVIDE EXERCISE EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING PULL-UP BARS, FOR MEANINGFUL EXERCISE IN YARD

  5. END CRUELTY, NOISE AND SLEEP DEPRIVATION OF WELFARE CHECKS

  6. KEEP ORIGINAL PROPER PACKAGING FOR COMMISSARY AND CANTEEN

  7. GIVE NON-DISCIPLINARY STATUS TO QUALIFYING PRISONERS

  8. PROVIDE ADEQUATE AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND SHOES

  9. PROVIDE FOOD BOWL AND CUP

###

Endorsed by Sacramento Solidarity Network, California Families Against Solitary Confinement, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community, All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, Democratic Socialists of America Sacramento, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Showing Up for Racial Justice Sacramento, Freedom Outreach, Underground Scholars

Folsom Hunger Strike began May 25, 2017 – Your support is needed

NUMBERS TO CALL IN SUPPORT ARE BELOW
DEMANDS AND GRIEVANCES
HERE
HUNGER STRIKE UPDATES HERE

On May 16th, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they would begin a hunger strike on May 25th. This announcement comes in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization, and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom State Prison.

Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners. Incarcerated people commonly face disciplinary actions, retaliation by prison officials, abuse, and further denial of their basic human rights during hunger strikes- simply for exerting their free will and resisting their mistreatment.

The danger of these threats is compounded by the long-term health consequences and extreme physical weakness that accompany starving yourself in an environment that provides woefully inadequate medical care. In short, these prisoners will desperately need our support.

When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights, and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.

The hunger strike has begun. Please read the information below and make phone calls as soon as possible. All of the contact information you need is included at the bottom. The following media release comes directly from incarcerated people at Folsom State Prison (FSP) who are on strike:

Folsom ASU Media Release

On May 25, 2017 prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) in Represa, CA have started a hunger strike to peacefully protest the conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies, to no avail. Further, prisoners have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials and met with only resistance and silence.

Folsom ASU is like stepping back in time to the era when prison officials blanketed the injustice imposed on its solitary confined prisoners and bluntly turned a blind eye to mistreatment and the stripping away of basic human dignity and elements. As CDCR made drastic changes throughout its prisons to put prisoners on roads of rehabilitation and more humane living conditions, Folsom officials reject the ideals and continue the injustice of the past.

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PHSS Statement in Support of Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIAN PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE

April 28, 2017

 The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition stands in strong solidarity with the over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike protesting their torturous conditions and treatment in Israeli prisons. As a coalition that came together to support California prisoners in solitary confinement that went on hunger strikes and issued five core demands, we support all of your demands, particularly raising your call to end solitary confinement, administrative detention, and the attacks on family visits.

Solidarity between our struggles is not new. Upon starting their third hunger  strike in 2013, prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison in California received a letter of support from former Palestinian political prisoner Khader Adnan, who himself had been on hunger strike for 66 days. As a direct result of their hunger  strikes and sacrifices, and because of the solidarity and support like that of Adnan, the prisoners’ movement in California achieved an historic legal victory against the use of solitary confinement in 2015.

We hold hope for you and will fight with you towards liberation from California, to Palestine, to everywhere where people are struggling against oppression and injustice.

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, a coalition of supporters and communicators for prisoner rights.

pdf of Statement here: https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/phss-palestinian-hunger-strike-statement.pdf

Over 1,500 Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Israeli Prisons

Freedom & Dignity Strike

New Statement from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement Reaffirms Urgent Call For Support 

April 26, 2017  Day 10
The Palestinian prisoners’ movement participating in the hunger strike in Israeli prisons issued a new statement on 26 April, the 10th day of the hunger strike which began 17 April 2017, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

The over 1500 hunger strikers have a series of demands, including an end to the denial of family visits, the right to appropriate health care, the right to education in prison and an end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention,” imprisonment without charge or trial.  Read full statement here by the Palestinian Prisoners Movement on behalf of the strikers and translated to English.

Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons

By Marwan Barghouti – April 16, 2017  Day 1
NY Times Opinion Pages

HADARIM PRISON, Israel — Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.

Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners’ Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.

Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it.

Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions. It has committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against the Palestinian people; the prisoners, including men, women and children, are no exception.

I was only 15 when I was first imprisoned. I was barely 18 when an Israeli interrogator forced me to spread my legs while I stood naked in the interrogation room, before hitting my genitals. I passed out from the pain, and the resulting fall left an everlasting scar on my forehead. The interrogator mocked me afterward, saying that I would never procreate because people like me give birth only to terrorists and murderers.

A few years later, I was again in an Israeli prison, leading a hunger strike, when my first son was born. Instead of the sweets we usually distribute to celebrate such news, I handed out salt to the other prisoners. When he was barely 18, he in turn was arrested and spent four years in Israeli prisons.

The eldest of my four children is now a man of 31. Yet here I still am, pursuing this struggle for freedom along with thousands of prisoners, millions of Palestinians and the support of so many around the world. What is it with the arrogance of the occupier and the oppressor and their backers that makes them deaf to this simple truth: Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.

Israel has built nearly all of its prisons inside Israel rather than in the occupied territory. In doing so, it has unlawfully and forcibly transferred Palestinian civilians into captivity, and has used this situation to restrict family visits and to inflict suffering on prisoners through long transports under cruel conditions. It turned basic rights that should be guaranteed under international law — including some painfully secured through previous hunger strikes — into privileges its prison service decides to grant us or deprive us of.

Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence. Some have been killed while in detention. According to the latest count from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, about 200 Palestinian prisoners have died since 1967 because of such actions. Palestinian prisoners and their families also remain a primary target of Israel’s policy of imposing collective punishments.

Through our hunger strike, we seek an end to these abuses.

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PRISONERS UNITED of Silicon Valley Thank Each Other & Supporters for a Largely Successful Hunger Strike Against Solitary Confinement

Read full article in SF Bay View (includes video from a TV interview with hunger striker inside the jail)

January 25, 2017

by Mary Ratcliff

In late September, prisoners in the Santa Clara County jails who are part of what they then called the Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement sent a letter to Sheriff Laurie Smith with a list of demands and a notice that in October the inmates would initiate a hunger strike to continue their “peaceful protest to end this torturous practice of solitary confinement and inhumane treatment until there is tangible and meaningful change for all prisoners – most whom are un-convicted pretrial detainees,” they stated.

santa-clara-county-main-jail-yard-by-robert-galbraith-reuters-webIn prisons and jails, prisoners classed in general population are the freest, allowed to exercise on the yard together, as these men are at the Santa Clara County Jail. Solitary confinement is the least free classification and has been identified as torture by the United Nations. The issue was central to this hunger strike. “They isolate me by removing any form of social oxygen,” one prisoner told San Jose Inside. “I come out by myself, I do not interact with nobody else, no card playing, no nothing. When we go out in the yard, we come out one person at a time. We’re in our cells by ourselves. But they’re saying this isn’t solitary.” – Photo: Robert Galbraith, Reuters

The letter begins by recalling the Ashker settlement, the 2015 resolution of a lawsuit against solitary confinement in the state prison system that was initially filed by prisoners and fueled by a series of hunger strikes, the largest in history. Though it didn’t end solitary confinement, it severely limited it and released thousands of prisoners who had suffered the torture of solitary confinement for a decade or more into the relative freedom of general population.

Building on that precedent, the Santa Clara prisoners write: “Currently there are over a hundred prisoners held in solitary confinement throughout Santa Clara County jails.” Then they list their core demands:

  • End meaningless classification review and the biased appeal process;
  • End placement in solitary confinement when there exists no serious rule violation to merit such placement;
  • End the policy and practice of denying prisoners sufficient clothing;
  • End jail profiteering and exploitation of prisoners and their families through contract bidding of commissary vendors based on kickbacks and political incentives for campaign contributions;
  • End recidivism and misappropriation of prisoners’ welfare funds.

In calling the strike, which was inspired by the nationwide prison strikes that began Sept 9, 2016, they wrote to their comrades: “Said hunger strike will begin at 12 midnight on Oct. 17, 2016, and will go on for two weeks, or 14 days. It will end on Oct. 30, 2016, at 12 midnight. This strike is not mandatory, but instead it is highly encouraged to all who are concerned, willing and able.

“We especially reach out to those who are healthy and influential. We lean upon you and ask that you utilize your influence to help further push and inspire this movement through your words and actions by leading through example.

“For those who might not be able to hold up for the full 14 days, it’s OK; just do your best. But this county does not acknowledge a hunger strike until you refuse nine straight meals through the course of three days, so we ask that at a minimum you hold out for four days so that your sacrifice and efforts are acknowledged.”


Santa Clara County Main Jail is the main lockup in Silicon Valley, which is booming economically. So why would a large jail be needed where jobs are plentiful? Silicon Valley is notoriously reluctant to hire people of color regardless of their skills, so, as in nearly all the rest of the country, the wealth gap between rich and poor is huge.

Three hundred prisoners, including many held in solitary confinement, joined the strike. And after only four days, jail officials held a meeting with about a hundred prisoners that resulted in suspension of the strike, which continues.

Three hundred prisoners, including many held in solitary confinement, joined the strike.

“In an unusual turn,” the San Jose Mercury News reported, “the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, the union for the rank-and-file enforcement officers of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, publicly sided with the inmates and released a statement lambasting Sheriff Laurie Smith for not being responsive enough to the protest of conditions ranging from how solitary confinement is doled out to inadequate clothing.”

Now, under their new name, Prisoners United of Silicon Valley, the strikers have issued their own newsletter and topped it with this statement:

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UPDATE on Santa Clara Jail Hunger Strike

Oct 19, 2016 UPDATE:  The Hunger Strike in the Santa Clara Main Jail is on- more than 300 people are participating, many of them in solitary confinement.  The classification system in Santa Clara Jails must change, and solitary confinement must end!  Please note this correction in the Sheriff’s number.  The correct number is 408.808.4611.  Additional numbers to call: 408.299.8770 and the Public Information /Public Relations Officer- 408.808.4905.  Read the below statement regarding the Hunger Striker’s Demands and, when you call, express your support for those human and civil rights demands and for the hunger strikers. Don’t be discouraged by staff responses.  State your concerns and support and keep the pressure on. Sheriff Laurie Smith has failed to respond so far.

Previous Post- Oct 17, 2016 Hunger Strike Announcement/More Information: http://wp.me/p1BB1k-2Ot

Oct. 15 Merced, CA: Day of Action in Support of Hunger Strikers

ON SEPTEMBER 9TH, people incarcerated in the county jail in Merced, California, located in the Central Valley, in conjunction with the nationwide prison strike that began on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, issued a set of demands to jail staff. They demanded the firing of a brutal sheriff, Lt. Moore, access to baseline calories per day and proper legal resources, an end to forced dress out in gang colors and classifications, an end to solitary confinement, and much more.

Inmates at Merced County Jail have long had to live with brutal staff and horrible conditions. Almost monthly, guards have carried out raids which have left various inmates injured from projectile weapons. Many inmates at the county jail haven’t even been found guilty of a crime and are simply waiting for court and cannot afford to bail out. For many locked up in Merced, their only crime was being poor.

Day of Action in Support of Hunger Strikers
Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016
12 Noon – 2:00pm
Merced Main Jail, downtown
700 W. 22nd St.
Merced, CA 95340
Caravan from Bay Area

The response to the historic hunger strike, which quickly spread throughout the facility, from jail staff was more repression, lockdowns, and cutting off access to phones. When asked for a comment on the hunger strike, Sheriff Vern Warnke replied to people standing up to his department’s attacks on basic humans rights, “This isn’t a country club. If they don’t like being here then quit getting arrested!”

After a series of negotiations with prison staff that went no where and was designed to end the strike ended, inmates again went back out on hunger strike in early October. Some inmates have also remained on strike since mid-September.

As people on the outside, we need to show solidarity with those on hunger strike in Merced. Towards this end, people across Northern California will converge in Merced on Saturday, October 15th at 12 Noon, at the downtown Merced Jail located at 700 W 22nd St to show support with the hunger strikers and connect with friends and family of those locked inside.

For people in the Bay Area, a carpool/caravan is being organized at the West Oakland BART station starting at 8:30 AM and will be leaving at 9 AM for Merced.

Support the #PrisonStrike. Victory to the hunger strikers in Merced!

Contact for more info: victoria@mopmerced.org

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/313453359035353/

Caravan from Oakland to Merced: https://www.facebook.com/events/316195602089381/

PHSS Supports Strike Against Prison Slavery and Inhumane Conditions

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) supports the peaceful work stoppages and hunger strikes that began throughout the country on September 9, 2016 by incarcerated people fighting prison slavery, solitary confinement, and other abuses. Opposing dehumanization in prison is an expression of the struggle for the recognition of all of our humanity. We support peaceful prisoner-class-led movements struggling against prison dehumanization and for human rights for all.

For more info on PHSS, see prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordprss.com