Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
Sacramento – Family members and supporters of prisoners on strike throughout California will rally outside California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) headquarters as the strike enters its 10th day. Over 1,200 prisoners continue to refuse food in an effort to force the CDCR to address their five core demands, in particular those related to long term solitary confinement, gang validation, debriefing and group punishment. Over the course of the last week, nearly 12,000 prisoners participated in the strike from thirteen California prisons, as well as California prisoners housed out of state in Mississippi, Arizona and Oklahoma, making it one of the largest prisoner hunger strikes in US history. “From the very northern most tip to the very southern most tip of California, prisoners in Security Housing Units (SHUs), Administrative Segregation Units (Ad-Seg) and general population are starving themselves because their human rights are being violated,” says Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, “We are not going to stand by while the CDCR tortures our loved ones.”
Advocates have significant concerns about some of the measures that the CDCR is implementing in response to the strike. “Prisoners are being denied both family and legal visits, they are receiving serious rules violations and their mail is being stopped,” says Carol Strickman, a legal representative of Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, “CDCR is clearly trying to further isolate the hunger strikers in the hopes of breaking the strike.” Other reports indicate that striking prisoners throughout the system are being moved into Ad-Seg. “We don’t know if they are being removed from their cells to some other location or transferred. It’s really terrifying that your loved one could be taken away like that for participating in a peaceful protest,” said Irma Hedlin, who has family members in the Pelican Bay SHU.
While communication has been limited, recent letters from hunger strike representatives indicate that they remain committed to moving CDCR and winning the five core demands. During the strike in July, prisoners started to see the adverse effects of refusing food after about two weeks. “We know that CDCR tried to minimize and cover up the fact that prisoners were getting sick during the July hunger strike,” says Laura Magnani, a representative of the American Friends Service Committee, “We have every reason to believe that they will do the same moving forward, especially given that legal visits have been barred and family visits have been denied.”
Lawyers, mediators and advocates have continually pressured lawmakers to take action on the strike. According to coalition representatives, a letter delivered late last week to Governor Jerry Brown’s office has yet to receive a response. For more information and continued updates on the hunger strike, please visit www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com