Updates + Help the Riverside Hunger Strikers Win Humane Conditions

April 26, 2017: About 30 people inside of Robert Presley Detention Center and at least one in Southwest Detention Center in Riverside, CA have been on hunger strike since April 13, 2017. Jail administrators have yet to meet with the strikers to address their concerns. The Riverside County Jails’ conditions undermine the prisoners’/detainees’ rights and dignity.

WOMEN ON HUNGER STRIKE IN ROBERT PRESLEY DETENTION CENTER
Reports from April 26, 2017 are that some women prisoners in Robert Presley Detention Center have joined in the hunger strike. They too have stopped eating. We will share more information as we learn it, reaching out for family members of those women. We expect there may be additional issues for the women prisoners that they are striking about. We will find out.

14 DAYS WITHOUT EATING
Four people on hunger strike in Robert Presley Detention Center have passed out. Three of them have had trips to outside medical facilities. Riverside Sheriff’s Dept. runs the Robert Presley and has been retaliating, trying to intimidate the hunger strikers. For almost two weeks, they have not allowed family visits, and they limited phone access, cut off all commissary, and levied rules violations1 against the people on peaceful hunger strike. On April 26, Day 14 of the Hunger Strike, we learned that visits, telephone, and commissary have been restored and the rules violations withdrawn. Outside pressure stopped that retaliation! It is well past time for the Riverside Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Dept. to meet with the strikers and address the reasons for the strike- inhumane and needlessly restrictive policies!

INTERVIEW WITH FAMILY MEMBERS ON SOJOURNER TRUTH RADIO
On the morning of April 26, 2017, Margaret Prescod of Sojourner Truth Radio on KPFK, spoke with two family members of a man who’s been awaiting trial for 3 years in solitary, and has been on hunger strike in Riverside County Jail since the first day, April 13. Sojourner Truth Radio: Detainees in Riverside County Jail Launch Hunger Strike https://soundcloud.com/sojournertruthradio/sojourner-truth-radio-detainees-in-riverside-county-jail-launch-hunger-strike

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT THE HUNGER STRIKE

⇒SHARE THIS UPDATE FAR AND WIDE. 

⇒SIGN (and share) THIS PETITION
“Support Riverside County Jail Hunger Strikers!” Petition by Riverside All Of Us Or None to the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Dept. https://www.change.org/p/riverside-county-board-of-supervisors-support-riverside-county-jail-hunger-strikers

⇒MAKE CALLS (or continue making calls); Sample Script HERE
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:
Kevin Jeffries: (951) 955-1010
John Tavaglione: (951) 955-1020
Chuck Washington: (951) 955-1030
Marion Ashley: (951) 955-1050
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:(951) 955-2400 Press Option 4
RIVERSIDE COUNTY ROBERT PRESLEY JAIL: (951) 955-4500 Press Option 1 then Option 8

⇒SEND A LETTER to the Riverside Board of Supervisors
• U.S. Mail address: 4080 Lemon Street, 5th Floor, Riverside, California 92501
• Email addresses: district1@rcbos.org, district2@rcbos.org, district3@rcbos.org, district5@rcbos.org
Sample letter: http://wp.me/a1BB1k-35h
Encourage and help your organizations, churches, etc. to write a letter, too.

⇒FILE A COMPLAINT WITH RIVERSIDE GRAND JURY
Please fill this out if you are a Riverside resident
http://countyofriverside.us/Portals/0/GrandJury/GrandJury2013-2014/grandjurycmpltform.pdf

⇒MAY DAY RALLY!
Join a Rally on Monday, May 1st in support of the Hunger Strikers on their 17th day. More details will be out soon.
Our Rally will be alongside the May Day Marches and Rallies honoring International Workers Day and Immigrant Rights Day.


1 In March 2015, a state appeals court says a California prisoner who took part in a mass hunger strike protesting long-term solitary confinement should not have been punished for disorderly behavior because he did not disrupt prison operations or endanger anyone. This should apply also to jail prisoners/detainees. https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/ca-state-court-prisoner-cant-be-punished-for-hunger-strike/

Santa Clara Co. Jail Hunger Strikers Released from Solitary! Hunger Strike Suspended Pending Sheriff’s Fulfillment of Demands

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HUNGER STRIKE SUSPENDED.

Hunger Strikers have been released from solitary with handshakes and hugs. In 90 days, Strikers will be able to downclass in to general population. Additional clothing has been ordered. The sheriff’s department has agreed to subsidize lowering Commissary prices through the Welfare Fund. The Hunger Strike will continue its suspension until lasting changes are met.

The community can still put pressure in the form of a petition to insure lasting change in classification, administration, and Gang Intel both in policy and practice.

Be a part of the process to have lasting change!

Share & Sign the Petition: https://www.change.org/p/support-the-santa-clara-county-jail-hunger-strikers

#debugsanjose #protectyourpeople #hungryforchange

Previous Post- Hunger Strike Announcement/More Info: http://wp.me/p1BB1k-2Ot

We Stand in Solidarity with Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Wisconsin

“Dying to Live” Humanitarian Food Refusal Campaign Against Torture
On June 10, 2016, Wisconsin prisoners held in long term solitary confinement at Waupun Correctional Institution and Columbia Correctional Institution began a “Food Refusal Campaign.” They wish to bring the horror of prolonged solitary confinement to the public’s attention and to end this torturous practice throughout Wisconsin prisons.  Solitary confinement for more than 15 days has been deemed “torture” by the United Nations, but the Wisconsin Department of Corrections holds prisoners in isolation for decades. Join us in supporting these prisoners who are making a courageous sacrifice for human rights, dignity, and an end to solitary torture.

PHSS Statement of Solidarity
California’s Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) stands in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike in Wisconsin in protest of prolonged solitary confinement. 

Social isolation, sensory deprivation and forced idleness are now recognized as seriously harmful to human beings.  Solitary confinement has been condemned, not only by prisoners, former prisoners and their families, but also by mental health professionals, academics, the religious community, the United Nations, President Obama, Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and even some prison officials.  It is unfortunate that Wisconsin prisoners have to resort to a hunger strike to be heard by prison officials and other authorities. 

Participation in a collective hunger strike requires bravery, social commitment, mental strength and a willingness to risk one’s own well-being.  Hunger strikes are not entered into lightly and must be taken seriously.  The six humanitarian demands of these hunger strikers are reasonable.

Like the Wisconsin prisoners today, in 2011 and 2013 California prisoners protested prolonged solitary confinement by participating in peaceful hunger strikes.  Those actions led to significant changes to California’s prison policies.  We urge Wisconsin officials to re-examine and change their own policies, meet with the hunger strikers and meaningfully resolve these human rights issues amicably and speedily.

  • STATEMENTS FROM PRISONERS who are leading the campaign: Uhuru and Cesar

Demand Justice for Erika Rocha: Attention to Abuses and Escalating Suicide Epidemic in CA Women’s Prison

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APRIL 25 2016 Press Release from California Coalition for Women Prisoners:

Advocates demand justice for Erika Rocha, who was 35 years old and just one day away from her Youth Parole Hearing last week when she committed suicide. Erika was incarcerated at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona. The suicide rate at CIW is more than eight times the national rate for people in women’s prisons and more than five times the rate for all California prisons. In the week since Erika’s death, another suicide was reported and at least 22 more people transferred to suicide watch. The suicide watch unit is overcrowded and CIW is placing people on “overflow” in the SHU (“Security Housing Unit”).

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) has released a statement highlighting the abuses that Erika suffered at the hands of the criminal legal system, as well as a list of demands to prevent similar tragedies from occurring and a petition to the California Legislature. CCWP is also supporting Erika’s family in raising funds for funeral services.

Erika was 14 years old when she was charged as an adult. Interrogated by police and prosecutors and threatened with a double life sentence for attempted murder, Erika pled to 19 to Life. Erika was 16 years old when she was sent to state prison. Prison staff placed her in solitary to “protect her” until she was 17, but she told CCWP that guards admitted to keeping her in solitary to protect the prison because she was too young to legally be there. At the time of her death, Erika was serving her 19th year in prison following two years in juvenile hall. She suffered from deplorable treatment for mental health issues attributable to her incarceration as a youth, including at least four indefinite terms of 2-3 years  in solitary confinement.

“We are continuing to gather information, but we know that the day before her death, Erika was released from a suicide watch unit and placed in a mental health unit where CIW is still required to take precautions to prevent deaths,” said Colby Lenz, CCWP member. “Multiple institutions, including CIW and CDCR, are responsible for this tragedy. We demand a full investigation into the ongoing crisis and high suicide rate at CIW. We ask the California Legislature to order the Office of the Inspector General to take action immediately.”

CCWP Program Coordinator, Windy Click, who met Erika in prison when she was 19, said, “Erika was always seeking help, she was lost inside an adult facility not knowing what the future held. When she asked for help they didn’t bother to help her.”

“Erika’s death is a painful example of how the criminal justice system is broken and therefore breaks people. They did this to her. She obviously didn’t see any future for herself,” said another friend of Erika’s who was also incarcerated in state prison at 16.

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Please see the list of demands and request for help below 1

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Sleep Deprivation for Almost Three Months! Help STOP It

Last month, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinementcensorship

This is a huge victory and there is still work to do.

The win effectively ended indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limited the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture.

Now, there is a dangerous practice in California prisons of guards doing so-called “security/welfare” checks every 30 minutes, 48 times a day. These checks are only being done in the isolation units, causing ongoing sleep deprivation for those prisoners.

We call for you to continue to stand with us and support the prisoners inside of solitary

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Sign PETITION in Support of CA AB 1652

Let your legislator know you support AB 1652.

SIGN HERE! 

AB 1652 takes a significant step forward in reforming solitary confinement by specifying that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) may only place prisoners into SHUs for serious rule violations. As a result, CDCR could no longer place people into SHUs indefinitely for allegedly having a connection to a gang.