California inmates resume hunger strike

prison

"Some of the men said they're prepared to die this time, because they feel that they're being killed slowly anyway."

The above quote comes from a supporter of Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, a coalition set up in alliance with the striking prisoners in California's prison system. The prisoners re-started a temporarily suspended hunger strike Sept. 26, now in its second week.

"This is the largest prisoner strike of any kind in recent US history," says Ron Ahnen of California Prison Focus in a press release, "The fact that so many prisoners are participating highlights the extreme conditions in all of California's prisons as well as the historic opportunity the state has been given to make substantial changes."

Indeed, reports indicate that the prisoners are becoming more militant. In the July wave of the strike, an estimated 6,600 prisoners participated. Now, during the first week of the renewed strike, more than 12,000 were reported to have participated.

The strike started in the notorious maximum security Pelican Bay State Penitentiary - specifically its SHU, or Secure Housing Unit - and spread across the system, to 13 out of 33 prisons, as well as to private, contracted out-of-state jails.

The inmates first started their hunger strike July 1 to protest "cruel, inhumane and tortuous conditions of their imprisonment [and] to improve the treatment of SHU-status prisoners throughout California."

"For the past 10-40 years," said a press release from the solidarity coalition, "thousands of California prisoners have been confined in [Secure Housing Units] indefinitely based on status [E.G., a gang label - active gang classification, based on innocuous association activity, and allegations from confidential inmate informants] - wherein, they have been demonized as the worst-of-the-worst, in order to justify decades of human rights violations - including state sanctioned torture for the purpose of breaking the prisoners, and coercing them into becoming known informants for the state - thereby placing such prisoners, and their families in serious danger of retribution."

The strike's five "core demands" include the ending of group punishments for rules violations by a single prisoner; abortion of policy in which inmates were forced to "snitch" on each other and the detention of prisoners in the SHU for perceived gang activity; an end to long-term solitary confinement; "adequate and nutritious food" and "constructive programming and privileges," such as weekly phone calls, one photo per year, education and so on.

The prisoners weren't the only ones critical of the California jails. One of their key demands is the ending of long-term solitary confinement, still employed in state prisons. But in 2006, the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons officially called for ending that punishment.

The strike's first wave, which lasted through July 20, at first seemed to have some effect. The prisoners entered into negotiations with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. On July 20, CDCR Undersecretary Darby Kernan assured the prisoners that the state would meet their five demands. The strike was suspended to give the state time to implement the changes.

Instead, say prisoner representatives, Kernan only gave vague assurances of change in several follow-up meetings and even went so far as to lie to the Public Safety Committee of the California State Assembly about the conditions in Pelican Bay and the system overall. Consequently, strike leaders called for the resumption of the hunger strike Sept. 26.

"As of September 2011," the solidarity coalition said in explaining the resumption of the strikes, "these SHU-prisoners continue to be subjected to CDCR's torturous human rights violations in spite of the July 2011 peaceful protest via hunger strike, wherein thousands of prisoners of all races/groups united in their effort to bring mainstream exposure and force an end to such barbarous policies and practices. CDCR has responded with more propaganda, lies, and vague double talk promises of change in time."

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation appears to now be currently more inclined toward fighting than negotiations. "A number of family members received notice that they were not going to be allowed to see their loved ones as long as the strike continues," Dolores Canales who has a son in the Pelican Bay Secure Housing Unit, said in a press release.

"Denying visits only heightens the isolation that the prisoners and family members experience, especially at this critical time," she continued.

Still, the prisoners seem steadfast. According to a supporter, "They've chose the only weapon that they can use that's at their disposal, and that's themselves."

Photo: Creative Commons 2.0

 

 

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.

Comments


  • GOVERNMENT IS THE POBLEM BY NOT STANDING BY THE CONSTITUTION, THEY TAKE BRIBES / CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND THEY EITHER GIVE HUGE BAILOUTS OR THEY GRANT RETRO ACTIVE IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION,

    SBX211 Retro Active Immunity given to California judges for openly taking bribes. Judges are employees of the state they receive their pay and benefits from the state. The Los Angeles Superior court judges are currently receiving an additional $57.688,00 from the county of Los Angeles. there is no bigger user of the court than L.A. County.(A party to the case and has a financial interest in most cases in the courts) Those payments were found to be unconstitutional / illegal in Sturgeon vs L.A. County. After that decision the judges paid a lobbyist to pass SBX211 ( RETRO ACTIVE IMMUNITY )

    SBX211 does not restore due process
    SBX211 violates Article 1 section 9
    SBX211 violates the 14th amendment (no equal protections)
    SBX211 violate checks and balances between legislative and Judicial powers.
    Judges do not disclose the county payments at the onset of any trial where the county is either a party to the case or has a financial interest. (Judges violate Judicial codes of ethics)
    Judges refuse to recuse themselves when requested under CCP170
    Judges find themselves unbiased and then file an order striking statement.

    In the year of 2010 alone $57,688.00 per year per judge X 460 judges = $26,709.544.00 paid to judges from L.A. County from tax payer money to only have the judges rule against the tax payer in favor of L.A. County or the County's interest. THE BRIBES WORK.
    HISTORY OF RETRO ACTIVE IMMUNITY IN THE UNITED STATES
    1. given for unconstitutional use of torture
    2. given for illegal merger of banks (we can see the effects of that now)
    3. given to telecom company for illegal wire taps. (Fisa bill that led to the patriot act)
    4. SBX211 given to Judges for taking bribes.

    SBX211 is evidence of conspiracy of the California legislative branch of government to cover up the multiple felony's committed by the Judicial branch of government. By an act of Legislation, California's judicial branch has admitted to be corrupt.

    SECTION FROM SBX211
    This bill would provide that no governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, shall incur any liability or be subject to prosecution or disciplinary action because of benefits provided to a judge under the official action of a governmental entity prior to the effective date of this bill on the ground that those benefits were not authorized under law.

    MOTION TO VOID ALL ORDERS BASED ON FRAUD ON THE COURT. A VOID ORDER IS VOID AT ALL TIMES, A VOID CAN NOT BE MADE VALID BY ANOTHER JUDGE, CAN NOT BE MADE VALID THOUGH THE PASSAGE OF TIME, A VOID ORDER IS SIMPLY VOID.

    Posted by DANIEL , 10/16/2011 8:48pm (3 years ago)

  • You know not everyone in prisons committed a violent act. A friend is in jail on a 40 yr sentence because as a young man he participated in a bank robbery. One of the guys had a gun, not used and he didn't know he had it so it became aggrevated robbery. One bad decision at 20 yrs old is all it takes to end up in these horrible places with no way out.

    Posted by Kim, 10/11/2011 3:38pm (3 years ago)

  • I wonder if all the families of murder victims and rape victims are going on hunger strike?

    Posted by Brooks, 10/08/2011 11:16pm (3 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments