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Somewhere deep in the bowels of the California Prison bureaucracy a rule was conceived of:

Corrections policy is not to declare a hunger strike until inmates miss nine meals.
And thus today it became official. Thousands if not tens of thousands of California's prisoners have rejected food since Monday morning - nine meals - and are bureaucratically declared, if not yet so announced by the powers-that-be, on hunger strike.

California's prison officials have now begun to go down the five stages of assholery:

1) They're just harming themselves!

Inmates who are refusing meals to protest the state's solitary confinement program for gang leaders are harming their own cause, California's prison chief said Wednesday in his first comments on the subject.
2) But we already gave them what they wanted!
"I don't think it helps anything to do this," Beard told The Associated Press. "Much of what they're asking for is being done. It's just not being done fast enough for them ..."
3) We are cogs in a machine! We can do nothing.
"I think the department has pretty much done what it can do," Beard said. "My hope is that they sort of make their point, get the thing over and we can go back and start doing the reviews."
4) Petty and not so petty harassment.
State prisoners said Wednesday evening that corrections officials are threatening to search their cells, seize their food stashes and possibly move them to solitary confinement if they continue their meal strike....

In addition to food confiscation, inmates said, they may be subject to mental health and medical evaluations, denied visitors and mail packages and subject to rules violations that could eventually affect their chances of winning parole.

Stage 5, where they demand that the prisoners "cease and desist" before any "meaningful negotiations" can take place may come later in the hunger strike process. An essay in the Los Angeles Times describes the science behind and the effects on the human body of a long-term hunger strike.
Nutrition expert Dr. Caroline Apovian said that by the 40th day without sustenance, the body's fat reserves have been exhausted, and the body has begun to feed upon itself...

The strength with which the heart pumps blood begins to fade, and the body's ability to adapt starts to break down. The hunger striker begins to lose sight and hearing. Speech becomes slurred and the skin grows dry and scaly, eyes twitch in their sockets and limbs lack coordination. The hunger striker suffers vomiting and difficulty swallowing. There may be internal bleeding...

Fessler ((an evolutionary anthropologist at UCLA))  points to a seminal study on starvation that was conducted near the end of World War II... For six months, the young men were fed just 1,500 calories a day and lost 25% of their body weight.

"The changes were striking," Fessler said. "These are pacifists who did not want to go to war and they start having violent fantasies and become self-injurious. One guy, after repeated failed attempts, finally manages to chop off a couple of his fingers."

Will California force-feed the hunger strikers if it comes down to it? Not necessarily, according to policy documents published by San Francisco Bay View.
"Health care staff will not give you food or fluid as long as you make it clear that you do not want them to."
Health care staff shall grant inmate-patients autonomy in health care decisions related to nutrition and shall not force feed the inmate-patient unless one of the following criteria are met:

 - The inmate-patient's condition meets the definition of emergency status as defined in the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, § 3351(a): "An emergency exists when there is a sudden, marked change in an inmate's condition so that action is immediately necessary for the preservation of life or the prevention of serious bodily harm to the inmate or others, and it is impracticable to first obtain consent.
 - The inmate-patient is deemed unable to give informed consent as defined in CCR Title 15, Article 8, § 3353.1 and the institution obtains an appropriate court order per CCR, Title 15, Article 8, §3351(a) to treat a mentally incompetent inmate-patient.
 - Forced feeding (enteral or parenteral nutrition support) shall not take place except in a licensed health care facility by licensed clinical staff.

Both documents suggest that CDCR does not plan to undertake the kind of mass force-feeding that has been so controversial at Guantanamo. They also suggest that the state is willing to countenance a long and possibly deadly hunger strike rather than meet the demands laid out by the participants.
Major press outlets are now covering the story; news of its occurence has now spread far and wide, with, e.g., an article in the New York Times and the AP news story quoted earlier printed in the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, TruthOut continues to post the stories of the hunger strikers.

Todd Ashker, plaintiff in the lawsuit
challenging solitary confinement

I was transferred to the Pelican Bay SHU on May 2, 1990, whereupon staff told me that I would be here until I paroled, died or debriefed...

"...You are considered a terrorist and until you agree to fully assist the authorities with bringing down the gangs, you will remain in SHU with no program opportunities...."

In 1992, my paraplegic mom traveled 400 miles to visit me. Visit staff told her she'd have to wheel herself to the SHU visiting area. Another visitor assisted her. The next day, staff hassled her for four hours before letting her in to visit.  Over the years, I received two ten-minutes phone calls with her... She has since passed away.

Martha Esquivel, sister of Luis Esquivel, a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging solitary confinement.

My brother, Luis, has been in the SHU in Pelican Bay for 13 years.

In that time, two of our siblings and our mother have passed away. In 2002, Mom was 73 years old and very sick. She made the long, difficult trip to visit Luis at Pelican Bay and was heartbroken to only be able to see him through a window. After that visit, Mom's health declined even more and she was unable to travel to visit Luis... Now my father is in the same situation - he is 89 years old and in poor health, and the long trip to Pelican Bay is too difficult for him. He is also unable to speak to his son, because Luis is not allowed any phone calls.

In 2010, our oldest brother died in Tijuana... I called the prison again and requested a phone call with Luis, but I was told I could not have one because Jose had died in Mexico... I still don't understand why it mattered where Jose had died, but I was not allowed a call with Luis to tell him.

 photo hunger-strike-flyer-07-13-13_zps4b8fac45.jpg

Join us for a demonstration at Corcoran on Saturday July 13th!  Rally will begin at 2pm at Cesar Chavez Part in Corcoran. 1500 Oregon Ave, Corcoran 93212 (right next to Mark Twain Elementary School).

If you need a ride or can offer a ride, please contact Rachel Herzing, or 510-444-0484 no later than July 10th.

Meet at MacArthur BART in Oakland at 9am to join the Norcal caravan. 555 40th St  Oakland, CA 94609

Meet at Chucos Youth Justice Center in Inglewood at 9am to join the SoCal caravan. 1137 E Redondo Blvd  Inglewood, CA 9030

Please Sign the Petition!

Prison Hunger Solidarity Web Page.


Previous diaries:

30,000 Prison Voices Speak In California Hunger Strike. MSM: Crickets.

You Will Never Find A More Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy.

Some Dare Call It Torture.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 09:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, California politics, SFKossacks, Progressive Policy Zone, and Los Angeles Kossacks.

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