Today begins the second week, Day 15, of California's prisoners' hunger strike. More than 1000 prisoners (1) likely remain committed to the strike. Yesterday, the New York Times, in a blistering editorial entitled Climbing Out of the Hole, drew nationwide attention to the viciousness that is California's prison system.
They have been held in solitary confinement for at least 20 years, each in his own 8-by-10-foot windowless cell at the Pelican Bay supermax prison, with about a thousand others - half of whom have been there for more than a decade. They are allowed only about an hour of "recreation" each day, often in shackles, in a cement enclosure not much larger than their cell...
At Pelican Bay, the overwhelming majority of the men in solitary don't even have a record of violence; they are placed in solitary for their "gang associations," despite the fact that such associations have hardly any predictive value for a prisoner's likelihood to be violent...
States that have recently reduced or nearly eliminated the use of solitary - from Mississippi to Ohio to Maine - have found it is possible to maintain safety and control in prisons while respecting basic human dignity. There is a difference, after all, between punishment and torture. Prisoners shouldn't have to starve themselves for us to see that.
"Prisoners seeking an end to inhumane conditions should not be subjected to punitive measures for exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest," Amnesty International’s USA researcher Angela Wright said. "Prolonged isolation under conditions which can only be described as cruel and inhumane treatment is prohibited under international law."...The hunger strike has so far only led to an increased viciousness in those whose job it is to control prisoners. Here is some of what is being done at various prisons in California (obtained from email reports forwarded by Occupy4Prisoners) :
The human rights organization reports of at least 500 prisoners who have spent more than a decade in solitary confinement "in conditions of environmental and social deprivation which flout international standards for humane treatment."
IGNORING SERIOUS MEDICAL NEEDS;-----
Hunger striker with chronic back pain has taken pain reliever since 2010. Medical staff stopped it abruptly. He writes that this particular medicine "is not supposed to just be stopped. You are supposed to be tapered off. I have been going through lots of pain, sweats, I can't sleep, etc."
When he asked for his medication, the doctor just laughed at him.
The prisoners who have been moved to Ad-Seg, as well as prisoners still in SHU, reported yesterday that it is "freezing cold" in their cells. The prison is pumping in cold air and keeping doors to the outside open. People who are fasting are already cold. SHU prisoners have very thin clothes and thin blankets. (You may recall that their incidental demands back in 2011 were for 'watch caps' and for the right to purchase thermal underwear, because of how cold their concrete cells are.) Extreme temperatures are a torture method.
STOPPING SHOWERS, YARD, VISITS, AND MEDICATIONS;
Even prisoners with active legal cases did not get their law library time. The prisoners identified as "hunger strike leaders" were moved, seemingly to a SNY (Special Needs Yard) where debriefers/informants are. Also, their family visits have been stopped.
Prisoners have been denied showers and opportunity to shave since 7/7--even those who are not hunger striking.
What You Can Do:
- Sign The Petition.
- Be willing to take a simple action:
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) invites you to support the hunger strikers by signing this Pledge of Resistance:
I will join PHSS in one action per week in response to some emergency facing the hunger strikers, and in resistance to the torture. These actions may include an email, phone call, letter, vigil, and/or activation of my network and will be initiated by the Emergency Response Network of PHSS.
- Check Later Today and Subsequently for The Next Asked For Action .
Read more about the California Prisoners' Hunger Strike:
(1) California prison system officials have not released new "hunger strike participant" totals in days now, and may not until the end of today. Some fifteen hundred were still participating by California's own last count, which is believed by Prisoners Hunger Strike Solidarity to be an undercount.
This article, new today, detailing restrictions on press coverage, claims
Roughly 1,000 inmates in California’s prisons were still on a hunger strike...