[While the strike at Pelican Bay Prison has concluded, the struggle for justice there and throughout the California Prison System continues. In several prisons, the hunger strike continues. Here is a letter from a hunger striker at Tehachapi Prison, reporting on the hunger strike there. — Frontlines ed.]
Voices from Solitary: Letter from a California Prison Hunger Striker
The following letter was sent by a hunger striker at California Correctional Institution (CCI) Tehachapi, one of three state prison containing an all-solitary Security Housing Unit (SHU). The letter was written by an SHU inmate to his girlfriend, who forwarded it to Solitary Watch for publication. It is dated July 21, after the writer had been refusing food for three weeks.
I am glad the word is out, I’m just saddened that I don’t see anything on the news of our struggle. 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.
As far as commissary, that’s a negative. It is CDC policy to search our cells and remove all store when hunger strikes begin, and they did so here.
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.
They also took my shoes when I got here and my feet hurt. [*He had only been at CCI 2 weeks before the strike started, and he was never given any shoes!]
Help get the truth out there. I pray some attorneys get involved. Let them know the CDC is without truth and will lie to keep this issue from ever getting coverage. I am here validated for no actual action. This policy of validating people for no reason robs us of our lives, so we are on a hunger strike in which we could pass because in this environment we’ve already passed. This is not a life.
I have no food and no meds (that I can take). All they do is weigh me. They don’t treat us (example; Ensure, Gatorade, nutrients of some
So I remain strong in the hopes that change will come. I get sad when I watch the news and they talk about stuff with no meaning and ignore us. I am an American citizen and when enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay had a strike they covered it, all networks, beginning to end, but we are just forgotten.
Contact all media networks and let them know this is a peaceful protest and we have been given no other option for relief rather than to hunger strike in the hopes that someone, ANYONE, will care enough to step in and help us.
One might think that us as prisoners must be held under duress and extreme conditions in order to refuse the most basic necessity; food. I
choose to remain on strike for I have been robbed of my life, my ability to be a father to my son, a son to my parents, a lover to my love, a friend to friends, and to experience life in the minimum of its meaning.
I was sentenced to life in prison at 18 for an action I committed, but now I am validated for no actual action committed by me. And I’ll be held here in the SHU until I die or debrief. Just imagine if anyone out there could be put in jail just for someone’s accusation. It’s unheard of. But in here its common practice for we are forgotten. We are the tragic aftermath of an angry committee.
Some believe we don’t deserve common decency or compassion because we didn’t show any when we committed our crime. To those people I say, in life wrongs are committed. I don’t justify anything. But this country was founded on mass genocide and yet that is forgotten.
Now that civil rights have passed the oppression that must be has moved behind these walls of the new “concrete slave ship.”
I am only a man who prays that I will be judged by my actions and my disciplinary file, not by the words of faceless informants and a confidential file that I can’t see. We must defend ourselves against the unknown. It’s literally impossible.
My feet still walk the trail of tears. I am in my soul still a believer in justice and the good in people. I believe if society really knew what happened in here they’d be appalled.