Monday, August 22, 2011

Legislative Hearing on Pelican Bay SHU Conditions to be Held In Sacramento

For Immediate Release August 22, 2011

Community Rallies to Challenge CDCR Practices

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
510-444-0484 office

South Steps of Capitol Building, 11th and N Sts, Sacramento
Tuesday August 23rd, 11:00am

Sacramento -- The Prisoner Hunger Strike
Solidarity coalition will hold a press conference
Tuesday, August 23rd at 11:00am at the California
Capitol Building in Sacramento where families of
prisoners, community members and activists from
around California will converge to rally and
participate in a legislative hearing of the
Public Safety Committee of the California House
of Representatives on conditions in Secure
Housing Units (SHU) in state prisons around
California, including Pelican Bay. The hearing,
initiated by State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano,
was called in response to the recent prisoner
hunger strike initiated by prisoners in Pelican Bay's SHU.

"This is an important opportunity for the
California legislature and the people of
California to hold the CA Dept. of Corrections
and Rehabilitation (CDCR) accountable for
upholding the basic needs and human rights of
prisoners," says Carol Strickman, a lawyer at
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, "The
hunger strike opened the eyes of many people in
California and around the world to the
reprehensible conditions that exist within the
SHU and now it's time to start making some lasting changes."

Over the course of the last two months, thousands
of prisoners have drawn support nationally and
internationally in condemning conditions inside
of California's SHUs, including the effects of
long-term isolation on prisoners' health. "Long
term solitary confinement causes severe mental
and physical health effects that make it nearly
impossible for an individual to function in
society," says Terry Kupers a psychiatrist and
expert witness in class action litigation on
prison conditions. "Putting an end to this
practice will not only reduce violence within
prisons, but also give people a better chance to
reintegrate into their communities when they are
released." Changes to SHU conditions have
recently been implemented in other states, including Mississippi.

Prisoners at Pelican Bay paused their hunger
strike on July 20th, when the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(CDCR) took minor steps towards negotiating with
prisoners. Along with some concessions around
demands for cold-weather clothing and educational
opportunities, the CDCR indicated that it could
make changes to debriefing and gang validation
policies, as well as the practice of long term
solitary confinement. The prisoners have stated
that they would resume their strike if
significant changes are not made. Dolores
Canales, whose son participated in the strike,
says "We are in this for the long haul and will
continue to push the CDCR to meet the reasonable
demands our loved ones inside."

For more information about the rally and
legislative hearing as well as future events,
please visit

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