Thursday, July 21, 2011

What we can do in other countries to SUPPORT the Californian HUNGERSTRIKERS!

Since July 1, thousands of prisoners across California have participated in a
hunger strike against torturous conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison's
Security Housing Unit. It started with roughly one hundred prisoners that stated
that they will refuse food until death if their demands for basic human rights
are not met. At least 400 prisoners at Pelican Bay continue to refuse food and
thousands more around the state are striking in solidarity. Now MORE than 6,600
prisoners in California, many of whom are in maximum isolation units, have gone
on a hunger strike.

Last week the leaders of the strike decided to continue striking because the
CDCR failed to address any of their five core demands during negotiations. The
strike is reaching a critical point with reports of dozens of striking prisoners
being taken to the infirmary because of irregular heartbeats or fainting.

“What’s most troubling is that the CDCR has not offered anything substantial in
response to the prisoner’s demands, which include an end to long term solitary
confinement. Some of these guys have been in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) for
20 years or more and are suffering the severe affects of being locked in a 6 x
10 concrete cell for 23 ½ hours a day. What they are asking for are basic human
rights.” says Carol Strickman, a lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners with
Children and member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity legal team.

The hunger strikers believe that this is the only way they can get the CDCR to
rectify the conditions they are experiencing in the SHU. They believe they have
no other recourse. Legal avenues are closed. Communication with the outside
world, even with family members, is so restricted as to be meaningless.
Possessions - paper and pencil, reading matter, photos of family members, even
hand-drawn pictures - are removed. Many of these prisoners have been sent to
virtually total isolation and enforced idleness for no crime, not even for
alleged infractions of prison regulations. Their isolation, which can last for
decades, is often not explicitly disciplinary, and therefore not subject to
court oversight. Their treatment is simply a matter of administrative
convenience. The UN has characterized their imprisonment as ‘inhumane and
Officials at Pelican Bay claim that those incarcerated in the Security Housing
Unit are "the worst of the worst." Yet often it is the most vulnerable,
especially the mentally ill, not the most violent, who end up in indefinite
isolation. Placement is haphazard and arbitrary; it focuses on those perceived
as troublemakers or simply disliked by correctional officers and, most of all,
alleged gang members. Often, the decisions are not based on evidence. And before
the inmates are released from the barbarity of isolation into normal prison
conditions (themselves shameful) they are often expected to "debrief," or spill
the beans on other gang members. Now refusing to eat is regarded as a threat,
too. Authorities are considering force-feeding. It is likely it will be carried
out - as it has been, and possibly still continues to be at Guantánamo (in
possible violation of international law) and in an evil caricature of medical
care. While the CDCR has claimed that there is no medical crisis, mediators
report that the principal hunger strikers have lost 25-35 pounds each and have
underlying medical conditions of concern.

The 5 Basic demands are:

1. End “Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse
2. Abolish Debriefing Policy & Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria:
People inside prisons should not be categorized and punished as gang members
just because another person says they are part of a gang in order to get out of
the SHU.
3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety & Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006
Recommendations regarding an End to Long-term Solitary Confinement; people want
adequate natural sunlight, quality health care and treatment
4. Provide Adequate & Nutritious Food: Not use food as punishment
5. Expand & Provide Constructive Programming & Privileges for Indefinite SHU
Status Prisoners: (i.e. visitation, phone calls, mail, radio, etc)

If demands are not met soon, people will begin to die….


What we can do:1 - Make calls and write letters of protest to:

Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
TEL: (916) 445-2841
Secretary Matthew Cate
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
1515 S Street
Sacramento 95814
Phone: (916) 323-6001
CDCR Public Affairs Office: (916)445-4950

Sample Script for letters and phone calls:

“My name is _________ . I’m calling about the state wide prisoner hunger strike
that began at Pelican Bay. I support the prisoners & their reasonable “five core
demands.” I am alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating medical conditions of the
hunger strikers & the inaction of the CDCR. I urge you to make sure the CDCR
negotiates with the prisoners and the outside mediation team the prisoners have
approved, immediately & in good faith, before prisoners are force-fed or even

2 – Make calls and write letters of protest tothe US Embassy in your country

3 - If you have a website or blog help promote the hunger strike news

4 – Keep yourself informed:
To sign up to the newsletter send an email or go

5 – Look here for more ways to get involved :

6 – Sign the on-line petition:

7 - Send this info to friends

8 - Organize a solidarity demonstration or action

9 - Write to the strike leaders at Pelican Bay and send them your words of
encouragement and support:

Todd Ashker C-58191
Sitawa N. Jamaa / s.n. Dewberry C-35671
Antonio Guillen P-81948
Lewis Powell B-59864
Paul Redd B-72683
Alfred Sandoval D-61000
Danny Troxell B-76578
James Williamson D-34288
Ronnie Yandell V-27927

All at PBSP, PO Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532. USA

10 - Ask local unions, professional groups, or organisations to issue a
public declaration of support

"If they only touch you when you're at the end of a chain, then they can't see
you as anything but a dog. Now I can't see my face in the mirror. I've lost my
skin. I can't feel my mind." - the effects of long term isolation.

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