California Prisoners Make Historic Call for Peace between Racial Groups in California Prisons & Jails

For Immediate Release—September 12, 2012

Press Contact:  Isaac Ontiveros, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, 510.444.0484

Oakland—Prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) have announced a push to end all hostilities between racial groups within California’s prisons and jails. The handwritten announcement was sent to prison advocacy organizations. It is signed by several prisoners, identifying themselves as the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective.   The Short Corridor refers to a section of Pelican Bay Prison’s notorious Security Housing Unit (SHU). Pelican Bay’s SHU was the point of origin for last year’s hunger strikes which rocked California’s prison system, at one point including the participation of nearly 12,000 prisoners in over 11 prisons throughout the state.

The statement calls for the cessation of all hostilities between groups to commence October 10, 2012, in all California prisons and county jails.   “This means that from this date on, all racial group hostilities need to be at an end,” the statement says. It also calls on prisoners throughout the state to set aside their differences and use diplomatic means to settle their disputes.   The Short Corridor Collective  states, “If personal issues arise between individuals, people need to do all they can to exhaust all diplomatic means to settle such disputes; do not allow personal, individual issues to escalate into racial group issues.”  In the past, California prisoners have attempted to collaborate with the Department of Corrections to bring an end to the hostilities, but CDCR has been largely unresponsive to prisoners’ requests. The statement warns prisoners that  they expect prison officials to attempt to undermine this agreement.

“My long-time experience in urban peace issues, gang truces, prevention and intervention, is that when gang leaders and prisoners take full stock of the violence, and how they can contribute to the peace, such peace will be strong, lasting, and deep. I honor this effort as expressed in this statement,” says Luis J. Rodriguez, renowned violence intervention worker and award-winning author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.  Rodriguez has helped broker gang truces throughout the US as well as in other parts of the world. This spring, Rodriguez was involved in a historic truce between gangs in El Salvador leading to a 70% drop in violence in that country.  According to Rodriguez, “What is needed now—and where most peace efforts fail—is the meaningful and long-lasting support of society and government, in the form of  prison reform, training, education, drug and mental health treatment and proper health care. We need an end to repressive measures that only feed into the violence and traumas.”

Azadeh Zohrabi of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition sees the agreement as a positive development that stems from last year’s hunger strikes.  “While living through some of the worst conditions imaginable, the authors of this statement continue to work for change,” states Zohrabi. “While the prison administration drags its feet on even the most basic reforms, these guys are trying to build peace throughout the system.  That says a lot their humanity and hope.” Continue reading

California: Prisoners Supporters Rally at CDCR Headquarters As Hunger Strike Enters 10th Day

October 5, 2011

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.” Continue reading

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

California: Prisoner Hunger Strike Grows to Nearly 12,000!

Stop Torture in U.S. Prisons!

A short video about solitary confinement by the American Friends Service Committee

For more information about AFSC’s campaign to stop torture in prison, visit: http://www.stopmax.org – On any given day, as many as 200,000 men and women are locked in solitary in U.S. prisons – alone…

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by prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity

Numbers released by the federal receiver’s office show that on September 28th, nearly 12,000 prisoners were on hunger strike, including California prisoners who are housed in out of state prisons in Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma. This historic and unprecedented number shows the strength and resolve of the prisoners to win their 5 core demands and is a serious challenge to the power of the California prison system and to the Prison Industrial Complex in general.

Prisoners are currently on strike in Pelican Bay State Prison, Calipatria, Centinela, Corcoran, Ironwood State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, North Kern State Prison, and Salinas Valley State Prison. Throughout the last week prisoners at California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, Pleasant Valley State Prison, San Quentin as well as West Valley Detention Center in San Bernadino County were participating.

The receiver’s office and the CDCR begin monitoring prisoners who have refused food for 72 hours or for 9 consecutive meals. Representatives of the hunger strikers have previously stated that this will be a rolling strike, allowing prisoners to come off strike to regain strength. Because of this, numbers will likely fluctuate throughout the duration of the strike.

prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity | October 1, 2011

California Prisoners hunger strike for human rights brings vicious threats and suppression

Round 2, Day 4: Hunger Strike Expands & Exposes ‘Perfect Storm’ in CA

As released yesterday, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity has confirmed that at least 6,000 California prisoners in jails, General Population, Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg/ASU) and Security Housing Units (SHUs) are hunger striking for the human rights of California’s SHU-status prisoners. We have confirmed prisoners are striking at Pelican Bay, Calipatria, CCI Tehachapi, Centinela, Corcoran, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, and West Valley Detention Center.

The California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) has not released the total number of prisons, or which prisons prisoners are striking at. The CDCR withheld accurate numbers for several days after the first round of the strike in July until we pressured reporters to investigate and force the CDCR to release information. We know the CDCR is not releasing accurate numbers, and that many more prisoners are participating and supporting the strike in various ways. Continue reading

4,000 Prisoners On Hunger Strike In California

by Judy M.

Prison officials in California confirmed on Thursday, September 29, that more than 4,000 inmates have been on a hunger strike since Monday.

It’s the second time this year that inmates have refused food to protest a prison system’s use of Security Housing Units — known as “the SHU” — to control prison gangs.

They were also protesting inhumane prison policies, including a policy that allowed nearly half of Pelican Bay’s 1,111 prisoners to be held in solitary confinement for more than ten years. According to the California Department of Corrections, 78 prisoners have been held in solitary confinement for more than 20 years. Continue reading