[Ppnews] 6, 000 California Prisoners Resume Hunger Strike, CDCR Threatens Disciplinary Action

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 28 17:41:08 EDT 2011

6,000 California Prisoners Resume Hunger Strike

CDCR Threatens Disciplinary Action

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

California – Lawyers and mediators received 
confirmation from a reliable source today 
estimating that 6,000 prisoners statewide are 
taking part in a second wave of a massive hunger 
strike against inhumane conditions in California 
Secure Housing and Administrative Segregation 
(Ad-Seg) Units. While California Department of 
Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has not yet 
disclosed which prisons are participating, family 
members have confirmed that up to 1,000 prisoners 
in both the Calipatria State Prison general 
population and Ad-Seg units as well as prisoners 
at CCI Tehachapi, CSP Centinela and West Valley 
Detention Center are refusing food. “The CDCR is 
very tight-lipped about the numbers of prisoners 
known to be on hunger strike,” says Molly Porzig, 
a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity 
Coalition, “During the July strike, it took 
persistence by journalists to get accurate 
figures on how many people and in which prisons. 
We assume the same will be true of this strike.”

The prisoners are refusing food to protest what 
have been characterized by human rights groups as 
torturous conditions in California’s Securing 
Housing Units (SHUs) at Pelican Bay, CCI 
Tehachapi, CSP Corcoran and Valley State Prison 
for Women. Prisoners continue to rally around 5 
demands, originating at Pelican Bay, which 
include an end to the practice of long term 
solitary confinement as well as the policies of 
gang validation and debriefing. A prisoner at CCI 
Tehachapi recently described the conditions and 
reasons for striking: “The only clothing we are 
given in here are socks, boxers and a t-shirt. To 
be honest they’re filthy. Now just imagine being 
locked in that bathroom for 24 hrs, 7 days a 
week, year after year after year for no 
legitimate reason. We have only been allowed to 
have fresh air for four hours in the past eight months.”

In a September 27 memo signed by Deputy Director 
Scott Kernan, the CDCR has threatened 
disciplinary action against any prisoners taking 
part in the strike as well as placement in Ad-Seg 
and the removal of canteen items. The CDCR 
recently stated that it had sufficiently 
addressed the prisoners’ demands and that any 
future hunger strikes would not be treated in the 
same fashion as the July strike, which lasted for 
nearly four weeks.  The prisoners maintain that 
while they have received some privileges such as 
sweat pants, colored pencils and proctored exams, 
the CDCR has yet to move on the demands related 
to solitary confinement and gang validation. 
“Though promises were made at the end of the last 
hunger strike, and some progress has been made, 
it is painfully slow for people who have lived 
under conditions of torture for years, and often 
decades in California’s prison system,” says 
Laura Magnani, a member of the prisoners’ 
mediation team and a representative of the 
American Friends Service Committee. “While the 
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 
tries to paint the prisoners as nothing more than 
‘dangerous gang members,’ we see this strike as a 
courageous effort to work across all cultural and 
ethnic divisions through time honored non-violent actions.”

Many of the prisoners have stated that they 
intend to continue their hunger strike until all 
of their demands are met, despite the possibility 
that they might suffer serious health 
consequences. Reports from the July hunger strike 
indicated that many of the strikers lost 20-30 
pounds and experienced dizziness, fainting and heart arrhythmia.

For more information and continued updates, 

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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