Skip to main content

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.

 photo shu-20-years-too-long_zps2e4d37c0.jpg

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.

Amnesty International has called out California as well.

"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 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."

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) :

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.


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:

Read more about the California Prisoners' Hunger Strike:

Some Dare Call It Torture.

Can the 8th Amendment Defeat California's Out of Sight, Out of Mind Supermax Prisons?

CA Gov. Brown Smacked Down (Again) By Federal Judges... And About to Face Yet Another Prison Crisis.

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

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

It's Official. CA Bureaucrats Say Prisoners Really On Hunger Strike... and Start Spouting Assholery.

Neither Beating Sun nor Boiling Sand Can Keep Them From Marching for Justice.

Can You Take One Moment to Stop Torture.

What Do You Do With People Protesting Solitary Confinement? CA Says: Stick 'em Deeper Into Solitary!


(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...

Originally posted to jpmassar on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 07:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, California politics, SFKossacks, Progressive Policy Zone, and Police Accountability Group.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site