[Ppnews] Inmate hunger strike expands to more California prisons
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 6 12:53:50 EDT 2011
Inmate hunger strike expands to more California prisons
Inmates in at least a third of California's
prisons are believed to be refusing meals in
solidarity with maximum-security prisoners at Pelican Bay.
By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times
July 6, 2011
Inmates in at least 11 of California's 33 prisons
are refusing meals in solidarity with a hunger
strike staged by prisoners in one of the system's
special maximum-security units, officials said Tuesday.
The strike began Friday when inmates in the
Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison
stopped eating meals in protest of conditions
that they contend are cruel and inhumane.
"There are inmates in at least a third of our
prisons who are refusing state-issued meals,"
said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The number of declared strikers at Pelican Bay
reported Saturday as fewer than two dozen has
grown but is changing daily, she said. The same is true at other prisons.
Some inmates are refusing all meals, while others
are rejecting only some, Thornton said. Some were
eating in visitation rooms and refusing
state-issued meals in their cells, she said.
Assessing the number of actual strikers "is very challenging," Thornton said.
Prison medical staff are "making checks of every
single inmate who is refusing meals," she said.
More than 400 prisoners at Pelican Bay are
believed to be refusing meals, including inmates
on the prison's general-population yard, said
Molly Poizig, spokeswoman for the Bay Area-based
group Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity.
The group had received reports on the strike from
lawyers and family members visiting inmates over the weekend, she said.
The group's website claims that prison officials
attempted to head off the strike by promoting a
Fourth of July menu that included strawberry
shortcake and ice cream. According to the
website, the wife of a Security Housing Unit
inmate said her husband had never had ice cream
there and "has never seen a strawberry."
Inmates at Calipatria State Prison with more
than a thousand prisoners were among those
reported to be refusing meals, Poizig said.
Prison officials could not be reached for comment.
But Thornton acknowledged that inmates at the
prison were refusing to eat state-issued meals.
The strike was organized by Security Housing Unit
inmates at Pelican Bay protesting the
maximum-security unit's extreme isolation. The
inmates are also asking for better food, warmer
clothing and to be allowed one phone call a month.
The Security Housing Unit compound, which
currently houses 1,100 inmates, is designed to
isolate prison-gang members or those who've committed crimes while in prison.
The cells have no windows and are soundproofed to
inhibit communication among inmates. The inmates
spend 22 1/2 hours a day in their cells, being
released only an hour a day to walk around a
small area with high concrete walls.
Prisoner advocates have long complained that
Security Housing Unit incarceration amounts to
torture, often leading to mental illness, because
many inmates spend years in the lockup.
Gang investigators believe the special unit
reduces the ability of the most predatory
inmates, particularly prison-gang leaders, to
control those in other prisons as well as gang members on the street.
Prison administrators are meeting with inmate
advisory councils to discuss the inmates' complaints, Thornton said.
But "I have not heard there's been any decision"
to modify policies governing the Security Housing
Unit, she said. "A lot of those policies have been refined through litigation."
<mailto:sam.quinones at latimes.com>sam.quinones at latimes.com
Copyright © 2011, <http://www.latimes.com/>Los Angeles Times
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews