California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

HUNGERSTRIKE UPDATE, DAY 35 for Humane Conditions in CA Prisons

Please read and take action now. If you are in the Humboldt region, please come to the Arcata Plaza on Thursday in Solidarity with the Hunger Strikers, 5PM FOR THE 5 DEMANDS!  There are Solidarity events all over CA and the world. Check out the calendar on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website  & create your own events!

Before you read the Hungerstrike News, please sign these petitions:

FOUR PETITIONS TO SIGN! (don't worry about accidentally signing a petition twice; it won't let you)

 

http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-jerry-brown-stop-indefinite-solitary-confinement-in-security-housing-units?utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

 

http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-jerry-brown-stop-the-torture-in-california-2

 

http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8249

 

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51040/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=11455

HUNGERSTRIKE NEWS

Vol. 3 #26, August 11, 2013 

Day 35 Countdown for Humane Conditions

Carol Strickman, Mediation Team
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Some California prisoners got good news on Friday: the Federal Communications Commission agreed to limit how much companies can charge for phone calls made from behind bars. But this welcome reform does not affect SHU prisoners. Why? Because SHU prisoners in California are not allowed to call home. Lack of family phone calls is one of the reasons why California’s SHU cells are characterized as solitary confinement – the harsh deprivation of family and social ties.

Prisoners in the SHU are not even allowed to write letters to their loved ones, if their loved ones are also incarcerated. The letters they are allowed to write are copied and scrutinized by gang investigators for evidence of gang involvement. And gang investigators find “gang involvement” everywhere they look – even in the drawings of a five year old girl who sends her artwork to her daddy. Imagine a little girl getting her drawing back from the prison because it is considered gang-related. Gang investigators will even reach out to family members and friends who write to SHU prisoners, warning them that they face possible investigation themselves merely for corresponding with a SHU prisoner.

SHU prisoners in long-term solitary confinement value their family relationships above all else. So that is what SHU prisons try to destroy. Consider this: a mother with two sons in prisons (one in general population and one in SHU) cannot write to both. Why? Because she knows that gang investigators will link her sons to each other through her address, thereby jeopardizing the son in general population with gang validation and placement in SHU.

This is the meaning of cruel and unusual punishment. How long would you tolerate these sorts of attacks on you and your family? Would you be driven to hunger strike because of these and other cruelties?

CDCR has created the conditions that drive prisoners to desperation. Whether it be a lonely suicide in an isolation cell or a united peaceful protest, the message is clear: SHU prisoners have been pushed beyond the limit of what human beings should have to bear. It is horrifying to witness CDCR’s response to the current hunger strike: crank up the cruelty and let them die.

Today is Day 35.

On behalf of the Mediation Team,
Carol Strickman, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, (510) 289-7225

 

Hunger Strike Mediation Team
Dr. Ronald Ahnen, California Prison Focus and St. Mary’s College of California
Barbara Becnel, Occupy4Prisoners.org
Dolores Canales, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement
Irene Huerta, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement
Laura Magnani, American Friends Service Committee
Marilyn McMahon, California Prison Focus
Carol Strickman, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children
Azadeh Zohrabi, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children

Please Also Read Intense Informative Countdown Reports
Day 34:  http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/day-34-countdown-for-humane-conditions/
Day 33:  http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/day-33-countdown-for-humane-conditions/

SHU isolation cell to be installed on State Capitol South Steps Aug. 14

by D’Andre Teeter, San Francisco Bay View

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, in support of the California prison hunger strikers and their five demands, invite the public to visit an installation of a life-sized mock Security Housing Unit (SHU) cell on the California State Capitol South Steps in Sacramento.

The cell will be on display – and you can walk right in to see how it feels – from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14. A press conference, featuring Assemblymember and Public Safety Committee Chair Tom Ammiano, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, people formerly incarcerated in California Department of Corrections (CDCR) SHUs, SHU prisoners’ families, and other voices of support and conscience will be held at noon.

Read more.

California’s Continuing Prison Crisis

New York Times Editorial, August 10, 2013

California has long been held up as the land of innovation and fresh starts, but on criminal justice and incarceration, the Golden State remains stubbornly behind the curve.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT regarding Inhumane CA prison isolation units

California’s prison isolation units remain inhumane despite proposals to amend policies   3/12/12

Amnesty International welcomes proposals by the California prison authorities to provide a route out of isolation for validated gang members through a step-down process.

 

However, Amnesty International remains deeply concerned by conditions in the state’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) units, which fall short of international standards for humane treatment.

 

Please Speak Out Against Torture in CA Prisons! Call Jerry Brown in Support of the Hunger Strike's Demands.

Contact the Governor.
Tell him you support the prisoner hunger strike, and the prisoners' FIVE DEMANDS! 
Tell him to stop the retaliation by the CDC (California Department of Corrections) against the hunger strikers!

Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841

CDCR Bans Lawyers: TAKE ACTION NOW!

13 Reasons to Shut Down California SHUs*

1. SHUs don’t work.

Rates of gang activity, yard violence, illegal drug sales and assaults on staff are increasing in California, while decreasing in other states. Maryland has recently closed its SHU.

2. SHUs add violence to the prison system.

The psychologically brutal and degrading conditions of long term SHU confinement encourages violence and harassment by guards and enrages inmates.

3. SHUs cause short, medium, and long term psychological breakdown and social deterioration.

SHU inmates have no physical contact with anyone for years on end and rarely are able to talk to anyone else in the prison.

4. SHUs do not serve public safety.

Inmates are often released directly from the SHU to the general public without skills that would help them survive. They are thus often less well equipped than nonSHU inmates to function in society. Staff working in SHU units have higher rates of drug use, family breakdown, and spouse/child abuse.

Monday Aug 1st: DAY OF PROTEST AND SOLIDARITY WITH THE PRISON HUNGER STRIKERS

August 1st: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST & SOLIDARITY WITH THE PRISON HUNGER STRIKERS

List of Actions for August 1: Day of Protest and Solidarity with the Prison Hunger Strikers

In support and respect for the courageous prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison and other prisons all around California, whose July 2011 hunger strike challenged the inhumane conditions of the Security Housing Units [the SHU] and inspired the support of people far and wide—we now call on people of conscience everywhere across the U.S. and beyond, to join in an International Day of Protest and Solidarity with the Prison Hunger Strikers on Monday, August 1, 2011. 

 

The Hunger Strikers achieved real success: the conditions of systematic abuse and torture in the SHU—and widespread thru the prison system—were dragged into the light of day. Their original five core demands have now been acknowledged—although not yet met—by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), which promised to consider them. On Monday, August 1 many diverse people and organizations will publicly speak out and act in support of these demands. Prisoners must gain the human rights and civil rights demanded by their very humanity—and by ours outside the prison walls too, wherever we may be.   We insist there must be NO RETALIATION by the authorities against individual prisoners, groups of prisoners, prisoners’ family members or attorneys or other advocates, in the wake of the Hunger Strike. (And we will be paying attention.) Let us show on August 1 that the prisoners do not stand alone, through our demonstrations, rallies, religious services, fasts, call-the-governor-days, art and music, taking to the airwaves thru talk show and other call-ins, and many other public, visual, and creative expressions. Send word of your plans to prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity@gmail.com and follow news and information at  prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

 

It's Not Over: Abolish Long-Term Solitary Confinement!

Support Still Needed!

  excerpt of letter from prisoner at CCI Tehachapi; July 21, 2011

...As far as we last heard it’s been like 12 prisons that are involved. Here there are a lot of people on strike - all races, Pelican Bay and Corcoran for sure...
... All they do is weigh us and take our vitals (blood pressure, temp., and heart rate), but of course they weigh us in chains to weigh us down and they allow the c/o's to operate the scale. I am at 171 on my last weigh-in, down from 185. They attempt to take my blood, which I refuse; I'm weak as it is, if I do that I’ll fall out.

 

They truly don't care and they are perfectly content in watching us pass rather than admit fault and make changes to a policy that is brutal and baseless. I can’t take my medication anymore because I have to take it with food… I asked for help and they just ignored me.

Dept. of Corrections LYING About Prisoner Hunger Strike / 21st Day of Strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JULY 21, 2011

Prisoners In Solitary Confinement On 21st Day Of Hunger Strike

Department of Corrections Is LYING About the Strike & Prisoners' Medical Conditions!

"The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has been lying to the public, lying to the media, and lying to prisoners,"  says Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch. Now, the CDCR has issued a bogus press release claiming that the prisoner hunger strike in the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU is over. The media has an ethical responsibility to investigate the truth when the CDCR attempts to make such a false claim. The prisoner hunger strike against the torture of the SHU began on July 1, 2011 and is still going strong despite serious medical problems experienced by the prisoners. The CDCR has proven that it cannot be trusted or relied upon for genuine information.

 

The CDCR has refused to act in good faith, instead deliberately making false and misleading statements, and hiding information- in attempts to downplay the strength of the prisoners' nonviolent hunger strike, end the strike without meeting the prisoners' demands, deceive legal advocates, and suppress support for striking prisoners which has spread internationally.

CDCR has consistently tried to break the strike in these ways:

  • enticed prisoners into not fasting before the strike began by releasing a “4th of July Menu,” including food that prisoners have never seen before in prison

  • continuously down-playing participation and support in regards to numbers. 

  • told prisoners at Calipatria that the strike was over and the demands met more than a week ago, when this was not true

  • refusing to disclose accurate, if any, information about the striking prisoners' medical status and other details on the strike from press, media, advocates, family members and prisoners

  • violating medical protocol, including not distributing prescribed medication

"Prisoners Are Human Beings! Meet the Five Demands Now!" Rally Cries of People in Solidarity With Hunger Striking SHU Prisoners [VIDEOS, Words from Hugo Pinell included]

Three weeks with No Food, Solidarity Strengthens

Protests Grow in Solidarity With California Prisoners As Hunger Strikes Enter Third Week, Democracy Now! July 15, 2011

INTERVIEWS BELOW

Thousands of inmates in at least 13 prisons across California’s troubled prison system have been on hunger strike for almost two weeks. Many are protesting in solidarity with inmates held in Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s first super-maximum security prison, over what prisoners say are cruel and unusual conditions in "Secure Housing Units." We play an audio statement from one of the Pelican Bay prisoners and speak to three guests: Dorsey Nunn, co-founder of "All of Us or None" and executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and one of the mediators between the prisoners on hunger strike and the California Department of Corrections; Molly Porzig, a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition and a spokesperson for Critical Resistance; and Desiree Lozoya, the niece of an inmate participating in the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike, who visited him last weekend.

Molly Porzig, a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition and a spokesperson for Critical Resistance.
Dorsey Nunn, co-founder of "All of Us or None." He is also the executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. Nunn was incarcerated from 1971 to 1982 in San Quentin Prison in California. He is one of the mediators between the prisoners on hunger strike and the California Department of Corrections.
Desiree Lozoya, is the niece of an inmate participating in the Pelican Bay hunger strike.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to California, where thousands of inmates in at least 11 prisons across the state’s troubled prison system have been on hunger strike for almost two weeks. Many are protesting in solidarity with inmates held in Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s first super-maximum security prison.

The hunger strike began on July 1st in the Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit, when inmates began refusing meals to protest what they say is cruel and unusual conditions. Prisoners in the units are kept in total isolation for 22-and-a-half hours a day, a punishment some mental health experts say can lead to insanity and is tantamount to torture.

Democracy Now! obtained a recording of an audio statement that one of the Pelican Bay inmates, Ted Ashker sic, made to his legal team in the secure prison’s Secure Housing Unit, which is referred to as the SHU. You will need to listen closely as he explains his reasons for joining the hunger strike.

TODD ASHKER: The basis for this protest has come about after over 25 years—some of us, 30, some up to 40 years—of being subjected to these conditions the last 21 years in Pelican Bay SHU, where every single day you have staff and administrators who feel it’s their job to punish the worst of the worst, as they’ve put out propaganda for the last 21 years that we are the worst of the worst. And most of us have never been found guilty of ever committing an illegal gang-related act. But we’re in SHU because of a label. And all of our 602 appeals, numerous court challenges, have gotten nowhere. Therefore, our backs are up against the wall.