Prisoners at Pelican Bay and other prisons will resume their hunger strike
by Incarcerated Flavors
Protest in Solidarity with 30,000 California Prisoners on Indefinite Hunger Strike
WHEN: Friday July 12 at 5:00pm, State Office Building on Genesee Street outside
the parole office. And on Saturday July 13 at 12:30pm at Oneida
County Jail, Marcy Correctional Facility and Mid-State Correctional Facility.
A series of protests are planned locally in solidarity with 30,000 California prisoners who are now in their fifth day of an indefinite hunger strike and work stoppage. The prisoner justice group Incarcerated Flavors along with Citizen Action, Occupy Utica and Project SALAM have called for a rally Friday, July 12 at 5:00pm where the local parole office is located at the State Office Building in Utica. A second picket will start Saturday, July 13 at 12:30pm outside Oneida County Jail and will travel to Marcy Correctional Facility and Mid-State Correctional Facility to inform prisoners of the strike in California and to raise awareness of torture and abuse that exist in local prisons.
The strike was launched to encourage the State of California to make much needed reforms in California prisons; key among them is the demand to end long term solitary confinement. The strike follows a wave a prisoner strikes in recent years in several states and multiple prisons. The Center for Constitutional Rights noted that “devastating psychological and physical effects of prolonged solitary confinement are well documented by social scientists” and stated that solitary confinement violates the Eight Amendment and is a form of torture. This is a view that has been echoed by the international community.
“The sole purpose of solitary confinement is to break someone psychologically. This is torture plain and simple. It exists in prisons in California and right here in the Mohawk Valley,” stated event organizer Brendan Maslauskas Dunn. The protestors hope to spark dialogue locally about the US prison system, which is the largest in the world, and the too-often ignored abuse and torture that exists in the prisons. Solidarity actions will also occur across the US and in places as far as Palestine.
Brendan Maslauskas Dunn
In 2011, prisoners locked in the Security Housing Units (SHUs) at Pelican Bay and other California prisons went on hunger strike to protest the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. During two different waves of hunger strikes at least 12,000 prisoners participated in the strike. The strike received widespread support from outside prisons, and daily national and international media coverage.
Two years later, the brave actions of the hunger strikers and public pressure has helped ignite awareness about torture and solitary confinement inside prisons, and compelled the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to promise meaningful reforms. But the CDCR has failed to make good on its promises. New regulations potentially empower prison officials to use even broader guidelines for locking people in the SHU—possibly resulting inmore prisoners being condemned to horrors of solitary confinement. There is still nothing to prevent CDCR from keeping a person locked in solitary indefinitely.
On July 8, Prisoners at Pelican Bay and other prisons will resume their hunger strike (this time their protests will include work stoppages as well) unless the California Governor Jerry Brown and the CDCR take decisive action to meet their demands. We must pressure the state of California to address the strikers’ demands, and to stop its practice of long-term solitary confinement!
The Pelican Bay Five Core Demands:
1. Eliminate group punishments and administrative abuse.
2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons recommendations and end long-term solitary confinement.
4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.
5. Create and expand constructive programming.
CALIFORNIA PRISONERS SET TO HUNGER STRIKE JULY 8
MONDAY, JULY 8, 2013, 11AM
Oakland—Family members, advocates, and lawyers will announce their support for the peaceful hunger strike and job actions beginning today throughout the California prisons starting on Monday July 8. Prisoners have been clear since January that they are willing to starve themselves unless the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agrees to negotiate honestly about their demands.
On June 20, prisoners being held in solitary confinement at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit describe their actions:
“_THE PRINCIPAL PRISONER REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE PBSP SHU SHORT CORRIDOR COLLECTIVE HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT_ does hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume today, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms).
Our decision does not come lightly. For the past (2) years we’ve patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR’s failure to honor their word—and we have explained in detail the ways in which they’ve acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action.
On June 19, 2013, we participated in a mediation session ordered by the Judge in our class action lawsuit, which unfortunately did not result in CDCR officials agreeing to settle the case on acceptable terms. While the mediation process will likely continue, it is clear to us that we must be prepared to renew our political non-violent protest on July 8th to stop torture in the SHUs and Ad-Segs of CDCR.
Thus we are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what’s right.
We are certain that we will prevail…. the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?
The world is watching!
While the CDCR has claimed to have made reforms to its SHU system—how a prisoner ends up in the solitary units, for how long, and how they can go about getting released into the general population—prisoners’ rights advocates and family members point out that the CDCR has potentially broadened the use of solitary confinement, and that conditions in the SHUs continue to constitute grave human rights violations. The California prison system currently holds over 10,000 prisoners in solitary confinement units, with dozens having spent more than 20 years each in isolation. Conditions in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU sparked massive waves of hunger strikes in 2011 that saw the participation of 12,000 prisoners in at least a third of California’s 33 prisons