[Ppnews] Media Access to Prisons Under Legislative Review

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 10 12:08:50 EST 2012

For Immediate Release - January 10, 2012

Media Access to Prisons Under Legislative Review
Prisoners Continue to Struggle Against SHU Conditions

Press Contact: Jay Donahue
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – The public safety committee of the 
California State Assembly will review the 
California Department of Corrections and 
Rehabilitation (CDCR) policies regarding media 
access to prisons and prisoners in a public 
hearing today at 9am in room 126 of the Capitol 
building. According to the language of the 
proposed bill, A.B. 1270 seeks to restore the 
media’s ability to conduct pre-arranged in-person 
interviews with specific prisoners according to 
the discretion of CDCR. The bill would require 
CDCR to respond to media requests for in-person 
interviews within a 48 hour period. “Passing this 
bill would be a really big success for both 
prisoners and the press in terms of being able to 
hold the CDCR accountable,” said Carol Strickman, 
an attorney with Legal Services for Prisoners 
with Children. “Lack of media access to prisoners 
has created a real issue with transparency 
regarding the deplorable conditions in California 
prisons.” Media representatives were allowed to 
request interviews with prisoners for over two 
decades prior to 1996, when the CDCR made changes 
to their policy through an internal regulation.

During prisoner hunger strikes in both July and 
September 2011, members of the press made 
repeated requests of the CDCR to interview 
strikers held in the Pelican Bay Security Housing 
Unit (SHU) that were protesting conditions which 
have been sited by numerous human rights groups 
as inhumane. Prisoners detained in the SHU are 
kept in total isolation without telephone 
privileges and with only limited family visits. 
SHU prisoners are confined to small concrete 
cells for 23 hours of the day without any 
contact, conditions that have been shown to 
exacerbate mental illness. A number of prisoners 
at Pelican Bay have been in the SHU for 20 years 
or more. After significant pressure from members 
of the press and the public, media 
representatives were allowed to tour the Pelican 
Bay SHU and interview several prisoners on August 
17, 2011. “The media visit to the SHU was 
essentially a CDCR publicity stunt,” said Emily 
Harris, statewide coordinator for Californians 
United for a Responsible Budget. “This was a 
highly orchestrated event designed to show only 
what the CDCR wanted the public to see. A.B. 1270 
will allow the media and the public a better look 
at exactly how the CDCR uses $9.2 billion dollars in tax payer money annually.”

Even with this bill on the table, SHU prisoners 
around the state continue to struggle to make 
gains around the five core demands laid out 
during the recent hunger strikes. The CDCR is 
reportedly reviewing its controversial gang 
validation procedure with a proposal expected for 
review by stakeholders in the coming months. 
Molly Porzig of Critical Resistance notes, 
“Prisoners took an extraordinary risk by going on 
hunger strike and they continue to face 
retaliation for doing so. They brought the 
conditions in California’s SHUs to light and we 
will continue to struggle to make sure their demands are met.”

For more information please visit 

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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