With 12,000 Participants Last Week, Prisoner Hunger Strike Begins 8th Day

October 3, 2011

CDCR Bars Family Member Visits

Press Contact: Jay Donahue

Oakland – As the renewed prisoner hunger strike enters it’s second week, the federal receiver’s office released information that at least 12,000 prisoners were participating during the first week. Prisoners are continuing a hunger strike that they temporarily suspend in July. Originating from Security Housing Units (SHUs) and Administrative Segregation Units (Ad-Seg) across the California, prisoners held at Pelican Bay State Prison, Calipatria, Centinela, Corcoran, Ironwood, Kern Valley, North Kern, Salinas Valley, California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, Pleasant Valley State Prison, San Quentin as well as West Valley Detention Center in San Bernadino County are currently participating. Over 3,000 California prisoners held in  out-of-state facilities in Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma have also refused food.

“This is the largest prisoner strike of any kind in recent US history,” says Ron Ahnen of California Prison Focus, “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 to SHU and Ad-Seg policies.”

Family members of striking SHU prisoners reported that their visits this weekend were denied by the Califonia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) who cited security concerns. “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,” says Dolores Canales who has a son in the Pelican Bay SHU, “Denying visits only heightens the isolation that the prisoners and family members experience, especially at this critical time.” Continue reading

State Prison attacks solidarity, threatens advocates of human rights for prisoners

As new hunger strike begins, prison officials investigate advocates

October 1, 2011 | Michael Montgomery
The hunger strike is being led by inmates housed in Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit

The hunger strike is being led by inmates housed in Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit

Michael Montgomery/California WatchThe current prison hunger strike is being led by inmates housed in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit.

Just days after thousands of California inmates renewed a hunger strike, two Bay Area attorneys closely involved in mediation efforts got a surprise: They were under investigation by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for allegations of misconduct and unspecified security threats.

The attorneys – Marilyn McMahon, executive director of California Prison Focus, and Carol Strickman of Legal Services for Prisoners With Children – have been banned from state institutions until the investigation is resolved, according to temporary exclusion orders signed by Corrections Undersecretary Scott Kernan on Sept. 29.

The investigation will determine whether the attorneys “violated the laws and policies governing the safe operations of institutions within the CDCR,” the order states.

The document does not provide details about the allegations. It cites a section from the California Code of Regulations that reads:

“Committing an act that jeopardizes the life of a person, violates the security of the facility, constitutes a misdemeanor or a felony, or is a reoccurrence of previous violations shall result in a one-year to lifetime exclusion depending on the severity of the offense in question.”

Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton confirmed the department had banned “some specific attorneys” from one facility for alleged misconduct. She declined further comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

The move is another indication that the corrections department intends to handle the current protest differently from an earlier hunger strike, which ended July 20 after officials agreed to some concessions, including a review of policies governing the state’s controversial Security Housing Units, where some inmates have spent decades housed alone in windowless cells.

Since then, strike leaders have accused corrections officials of failing to carry out their promises. Continue reading