By Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
San Francisco Bay View
Oct. 13, 2011 – Mediators who met with hunger strike representatives at Pelican Bay, one of whom had been transferred to Corcoran due to the strike, confirm that prisoners there have decided to stop their hunger strike after nearly three weeks. The prisoners have cited a memo from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) detailing a comprehensive review of every Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoner in California whose SHU sentence is related to gang validation. The review will evaluate the prisoners’ gang validation under new criteria and could start as early as the beginning of next year. “This is something the prisoners have been asking for and it is the first significant step we’ve seen from the CDCR to address the hunger strikers’ demands,” says Carol Strickman, a lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.
Hunger strikers at Pelican Bay end strike after nearly three weeks; strike continues at other prisons
By Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
San Francisco Bay View
Oct. 13, 2011 – Mediators who met with hunger strike representatives at Pelican Bay, one of whom had been transferred to Corcoran due to the strike, confirm that prisoners there have decided to stop their hunger strike after nearly three weeks.
The prisoners have cited a memo from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) detailing a comprehensive review of every Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoner in California whose SHU sentence is related to gang validation. The review will evaluate the prisoners’ gang validation under new criteria and could start as early as the beginning of next year.
“This is something the prisoners have been asking for and it is the first significant step we’ve seen from the CDCR to address the hunger strikers’ demands, “
says Carol Strickman, a lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.
“But as you know, the proof is in the pudding. We’ll see if the CDCR keeps its word regarding this new process.”
The mediation team stated that while the memo indicates statewide changes in the gang validation process for SHU prisoners, the CDCR did not address the status of hunger strikers at Calipatria or Salinas Valley prisons, who are not SHU prisoners. All sources say that at this point, these prisoners will continue to refuse food and stand behind the five core demands for all prisoners in California.
A recent letter from a prisoner at Calipatria states:
“Men have … placed their lives on the line in order to put a stoppage to all these injustices we are subjected to day in and day out. People would rather die than continue living under their current conditions. … It is a privilege, an honor to be a part of the struggle, to be a part of history for the betterment of all those inside these cement walls … I will go as far as my body allows me to go.”
Gang validation is a practice that the CDCR uses throughout California prisons. Hundreds of prisoners who have been validated at Calipatria have been held in Adminstrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for as long as four years, awaiting transfer to Pelican Bay.
By Isaac Ontiveros, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
San Francisco Bay View
Oakland – With the second phase of a massive California prisoner hunger strike in its third week, prisoners have begun to report grave medical issues. “Men are collapsing in their cells because they haven’t eaten in two weeks,” says a family member of a striker at Calipatria state prison.
“I have been told that guards refuse to respond when called. This is clearly a medical emergency.”
In an effort to isolate prisoners perceived by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to be leaders, some prisoners at Pelican Bay have been removed from the Security Housing Unit (SHU) to Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg). The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition has received reports that prison officials have been attempting to freeze out strikers held in the Ad-Seg Unit at Pelican Bay, using the air conditioning system in conjunction with cold weather conditions where the prison is located.
Last week a hunger striker in Pelican Bay was taken to a hospital in Oregon after he suffered a heart attack. Prisoners have also been denied medications, including prescriptions for high blood pressure.
The CDCR has been treating the current strike, which began on Sept. 26, as a mass disturbance and has refused negotiations.
“The prisoners are saying that they are willing to take this to death if necessary to win their demands,”
says Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and a member of the mediation team working on behalf of the prisoners.
“Any deaths that result from the men starving themselves will be on the hands of the CDCR. We are at a point where we are calling on the media to make inquiries on prison protocol if and when prisoners begin to die. If they want to avoid that kind of scenario, the CDCR can start negotiating.”
Prisoners at Corcoran have stated,
“Due to what they have done here to us, some men have stopped drinking water completely, so we may well be close to death in a few days.”
Prisoners and advocates have expressed serious concerns about the state of medical care in Corcoran, Calipatria, Pelican Bay and Salinas Valley, where the strike continues. Dr. Michael Sayre, who is the chief medical officer at Pelican Bay, was sued successfully by a prisoner in 2009 for knowingly disregarding his severe medical needs. In addition, Sayre was also investigated and disciplined surrounding the death of a prisoner in Washington State in 1992 during surgery.
“The California prison system is in federal receivership in part due to the substandard medical care provided inside,”
says Terry Kupers, M.D., a member of the mediation team and an expert on prison health issues.
“It is my professional opinion that the hunger strikers are not receiving the care that they need and that their conditions could be exacerbated by the CDCR, especially if force-feeding comes into play.”
Force-feeding is a common practice used against prisoners who refuse to eat and can involve forcing a tube into the person’s stomach via the nose. The practice has been widely condemned as torture by hundreds of doctors worldwide.
For continued updates and more information, go to www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com.
Isaac Ontiveros of Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization working to abolish the prison industrial complex, is a spokesperson for the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. He can be reached at (510) 444-0484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emergency Action to Support the California Prisoner Hunger Strike
On Friday, Oct. 14, 10:30 a.m.‐1 p.m., at McAllister and Van Ness in San Francisco, prisoners’ families and other supporters will tell CDCR and Gov. Jerry Brown to meet the five core demands.
Hundreds of prisoners around California are entering the third week of their hunger strike. CDCR refuses to negotiate with the prisoners, but the department still has not adequately addressed their five core demands. Many prisoners have said they will strike to the death in order to maintain their rights as human beings and stop the torture they are experiencing.
Call Gov. Jerry Brown at (916) 445‐2841 or fax him at (916) 558‐3160. We aim to make 160,000 calls by Friday, Oct. 14, one for every prisoner in California!
Five Core Demands
1. End to group punishment and administrative abuse.
2. Abolish the debriefing policy, and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
3. Comply with Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.
4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.
5. Expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status prisoners.
CDCR has tried to break the strike by:
• Banning family member and legal visits.
• Confiscating mail.
• Taking away all medications.
• Taking away canteen items.
• Turning on the air conditioner to keep cell temperatures cold.
• Removing prisoners to Administrative Segregation.
• Issuing disciplinary actions.
And yet, the hunger strikers remain strong.
There are 1,111 prisoners in the SHU at Pelican Bay. Over 513 have served 10 years or more in the SHU. Of those, 78 have been in the SHU for 20 years or more; 544 have been in the SHU more than five years but fewer than 10 years.
Call Gov. Jerry Brown, CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate and your state representatives and urge them to negotiate with the prisoners and honor their demands:
• Gov. Jerry Brown, (916) 445-2841
• CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, (916) 323-6001
• Holly Mitchell, Assembly member from Los Angeles, (310) 342-1070
• Tom Ammiano, Assembly member from San Francisco, (415) 557-3013
• Curt Hagman, Assembly member from Chino Hills, (909) 627-7021
• Nancy Skinner, Assembly member from Berkeley, (916) 319-2014
Attend or organize weekly Thursday vigils where you live. Stay tuned to www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com for more details.
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