Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Medical Conditions Reach Crisis in Pelican Bay Hunger Strike

For Immediate Release--July 12, 2011

Medical Conditions Reach Crisis in Pelican Bay Hunger Strike

Advocates Demand Access to Strike Leaders, Negotiations

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
Office: 510 444 0484
Cell: 510 517 6612

What: Press Conference
When: Wednesday, July 13; 11:00am
Where: San Francisco California State Building,
at Van Ness Ave. and McAllister Street

Oakland-- According to advocates working on behalf
of prisoners on hunger strike at Pelican Bay
State Prison's Security Housing Unit (SHU),
medical conditions for many strikers have
deteriorated to critical levels, with fears some
prisoner could start to die if immediate action
isn't taken. Prisoners at Pelican Bay have been
on hunger strike for nearly two weeks and have
been joined by thousands of other prisoners
throughout California's vast prison system. Some
of their main demands revolve around health
conditions in Pelican bay's Security Housing
Unit, while the entire California prison system
is under federal receivership due to grave health
conditions throughout its facilities.

A source with access to the medical condition of
the hunger strikers, who asked to remain
anonymous told lawyers with the Prisoner Hunger
Strike Solidarity coalition that health of the
prisoners on hunger strike is quickly and
severely deteriorating, saying, "All of the
medical staff has been ordered to work overtime
to follow and treat the hunger strikers. Some
[strikers] are in renal failure and have been
unable to make urine for three days. Some are
having measured blood sugars in the 30 range,
which can be fatal if not treated. The staff has
taken them to the [prison hospital] and given
them intravenous glucose when allowed by the
prisoners. A few have tried to sip water but are
so sick that they are vomiting it back up."

Prisoners participation in the strike in other
prisons in California have also reported that
medications, including those for high blood
pressure and other serious conditions, are being
withheld from prisoners on strike. Some
prisoners have participated for limited periods
of time or have joined other prisoners in
"rolling" strikes, due to their already poor medical conditions.

"This situation is grave and urgent," says Carol
Strickman, staff attorney for Legal Services for
Prisoners with Children and a legal
representative of the Prisoner Hunger Strike
Solidarity coalition. "We are fighting to prevent
a lot of deaths at Pelican Bay. The CDCR
[California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation] needs to negotiate with these
prisoners, and honor the request of the strike
leaders to have access to outside mediators to
ensure that any negotiations are in good faith."

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition
is urging journalists to do further investigation
into the health conditions at Pelican Bay, while
also pushing state politicians to visit the
prison itself. The coalition is also encouraging
members of the public to pressure Gov. Brown and
the CDCR to negotiate with the prisoners. Taeva
Shefler of the Prison Activist Resource Center,
another member of the solidarity coalition says,
"The question for the CDCR is: will they continue
to jeopardize prisoners' health and safety rather
than sit at the same table and talk?"

Hunger strike supporters will hold an emergency
press conference Wednesday at 11:00 am outside
the State Building in San Francisco. Supporters,
including family members of those held at Pelican
Bay, will also continue to hold rallies and other
events in the coming weeks.

For information on upcoming events, visit

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