Thursday, July 21, 2011

Organizations - sign letter to Governor Brown - support the Hunger Strikers

Everyone -- Please ask organizations you work
with to sign on to this organizational Open
Letter to Gov. Brown to grant the demands of the
hungerstrikers. We hope to deliver it to Brown as
soon as next Monday, July 25. This national
letter was written and is being circulated by a
number of our sister organizations.

CDCR has just issued a press release saying the
prisoners have ended their hungerstrike. There
has been no independent verification. Even
if the men inside have resumed eating, we know
the demands have not been resolved. We must
remain committed to changing the torture these
men live in, with the hungerstrike as an
inspiration and wakeup call for activists
outside. Please continue to build long-term
support for ending torture in California's SHUs.

We are asking you to do two things with this letter:

1) Please circulate widely. We want to get as
many organizations as possible to sign-on as quickly as possible.

2) Please get authorization from your
organization(s) and sign-on as soon as possible
if you have not already. If at all possible,
please endorse the letter no later than midnight Friday, July 22.

TO SIGN-ON: Please send an email to
with the name of the organization, and, if you
are a local or state-based organization, your geographic location.

End Torture! Grant the demands of the hungerstrikers!
I've also pasted the text of the letter, and
signing organizations into this message, below:

Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

We, the undersigned civil rights, community, and
human rights organizations, urge you to intervene
with the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (CDCR) to respond immediately to
conditions that have lead to a statewide hunger
strike in California prisons. As you know, the
hunger strike was initiated by prisoners in the
Secure Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison
on July 1, 2011 to protest conditions that have
been characterized by the United Nations as
"inhumane and degrading." The hunger strike now
has spread to a third of the state's prisons and
has involved at least 6,600 prisoners from all
racial groups. The demands made by these
prisoners are relatively modest and in keeping
with human rights standards adopted by many other
jurisdictions with regard to the treatment of
prisoners housed in Secure Housing Units.

As organizations from around the country that are
committed to reducing the destructive impact of
current criminal justice policies on the lives of
individuals, families, and communities in the
United States, we are concerned both about the
immediate well-being of the hunger strikers and
the long-term impact of appalling conditions
inside prisons, particularly the use of long-term
isolation and practices of racial profiling
under the guise of gang affiliation that often
are used to justify such abuses of human rights.

We join with more than 7,500 individuals that
have signed petitions in support of the hunger
strikers and with community groups and family
members of hunger strikers who have coordinated
demonstrations in cities across the U.S. and
abroad to voice their support. We join these
courageous people inside and outside of prison in
demanding that the CDCR fully implement the
prisoners' five core demands, which are:

1. End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify
Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria

3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and
Abuse in America's Prisons 2006 Recommendations
Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement

4. Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food

5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming
and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates.

Despite the fact that federal courts, mental
health professionals, and international human
rights monitors repeatedly have pointed out the
devastating impact of isolation on human beings,
the State of California continues to consign
hundreds of prisoners, sometimes for decades, to
torturous conditions that federal judge Thelton
E. Henderson concluded "may well hover on the
edge of what is humanly tolerable." Tragically,
because they feel their efforts to challenge
these conditions through administrative and legal
channels have failed, hundreds of prisoners have
put their bodies and their lives on the line.

Throughout your political career you have
publicly supported progressive human rights
issues. We know that you will share our desire to
avoid the kind of outcome that resulted from the
H Block Hunger Strike in Northern Ireland in
1981. We believe that you will be responsive to
the efforts of these prisoners to seek more just
and humane conditions of confinement, and we
encourage you to treat these prisoners with the
respect and consideration they deserve. We urge
you in the strongest possible terms to intervene
in this matter immediately and to find a just and honorable resolution.

Thank you for your consideration.

Signed by:

A Better Way Foundation

A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Los Angeles, CA

All of Us or None

Arkansas Voice for the Children Left Behind

Breakout!, New Orleans, LA

Cante Wanjila Native American Reentry and Support Project, South Dakota

Critical Resistance

Detention Watch Network

Freedom Archives

Justice for Families

Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA

Kemba Smith Foundation

Labor/Community Strategy Center, Los Angeles, CA

Law Office of Rebecca Young, East Boston, MA

Milk Not Jails, New York

National Policy Partnership for Children of the Incarcerated

Resurrection After Exoneration, New Orleans, LA

Safe Streets/Strong Communities, New Orleans, LA

TalkBLACK, Atlanta, GA

Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth

Visions to Peace Project, Washington, D.C.

No comments: