[Pnews] When Prisons Retaliate: Calif. Inmates Still Paying Price for Demanding Rights

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 5 10:28:29 EST 2013


   Published on Monday, November 4, 2013 by Common Dreams 
<http://www.commondreams.org>


    When Prisons Retaliate: Calif. Inmates Still Paying Price for
    Demanding Rights


      'We demand an end to retaliation, and those demands are entwined
      with continued political organizing work to change the system'

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer
*http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/04-0*

Four months after California prisoners declared a hunger strike to 
protest solitary confinement and other abuse, they are still suffering 
retaliatory punishment at the hands of corrections authorities, the 
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition 
<http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com> announced Monday.

"We demand an end to retaliation, and those demands are entwined with 
continued political organizing work to change the system," said Isaac 
Ontiveros, with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition and 
Critical Resistance <http://criticalresistance.org/>, in an interview 
with /Common Dreams/. "It is the minimum of human decency to not 
retaliate against people who participated in the peaceful protest."

Prisoners who participated in the California-wide prisoner hunger 
strike, launched July eighth, have been slammed with what are called a 
'115 write-ups.' The penalty accuses the prisoners "of committing a 
serious rule violation" for participation in the hunger strike, 
according to a statement 
<http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/action-alert-protest-disciplinary-actions-against-prison-hunger-strikers/> 
from the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.

The write-ups have serious consequences for inmates who can face 
years-long extensions of their solitary confinement and denial of parole 
as a result. "It is something that goes into your record, so that when 
you are reviewed for whatever reason around parole, moving from one 
place to another, it affects the nature of your imprisonment," Ontiveros 
explains.

"People perceived as supporting the strike, whether refusing meals, 
refusing work, or supporting the strike with other action faced 
retaliation," said attorney Caitlin Kelly-Henry in an interview with 
/Common Dreams/. "As many as 30,000 people are documented as refusing 
meals at the time the strike was declared. We don't have numbers of 
people who refused work. It could be as many as hundreds or thousands of 
people who faced 115 and other write-ups."

The 115 write-ups are part of broad retaliatory measures inflicted 
against prisoners who participated in the hunger strike 
<http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/07/12-3>, including searching 
cells, obstructing inmates' communications with the outside 
world---including lawyers---punishing strikers with more severe solitary 
confinement, and intimidating inmates to prevent them from appealing the 
harsh measures. Prisons were also given the green light to force-feed 
<http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/20-1> hunger striking 
prisoners---a move that human rights advocates slammed as a gross 
violation of human rights.

Much retaliation is informal, in an environment where prison guards hold 
staggering power over the lives of inmates. "We've received letters 
around individual guards or groups of guards targeting people who 
participated in the strike," explains Ontiveros. "This is highly 
racialized, with high incidence of targeting of black prisoners who 
participated in the strike."

In a legislative hearing <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqXFd7sz-Jw> 
last month with the California Department of Corrections and 
Rehabilitation---won by the prisoner hunger strikes and outside 
support---prison authorities admitted they retaliated against inmates 
who participated in the hunger strikes, says Ontiveros.

Supporters of the inmates are demanding 
<http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/> that Michael 
Stainer, Director of the Division of Adult Institutions at CDCR, use his 
authority to immediately reverse the retaliatory measure.

Stainer's office did not immediately respond to repeated requests from 
/Common Dreams/ for an interview.

Ontiveros says that as supporters on the outside demand an end for 
retaliation, and push for legislative hearings, they also work to "end 
the CDCR's repression that leads to solitary confinement.

"This is an important moment to act in very strong solidarity," he added.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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