[Ppnews] Day 59 of California Prison Hunger Strike: “Their Spirits Are High, Their Bodies Are Weak

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 4 13:44:14 EDT 2013


Sal Rodriguez posted: " "Starvation affects every part of your body and 
will make you weak and vulnerable to infections. The function of all 
your cells and organs will decline. Your skin may become fragile and you 
are likely to develop uncomfortable sores, particularly in the "


    Day 59 of California Prison Hunger Strike: “Their Spirits Are High,
    Their Bodies Are Weak
    <http://solitarywatch.com/2013/09/04/day-58-california-prison-hunger-strike/>

by Sal Rodriguez <http://solitarywatch.com/?author=12>

"Starvation affects every part of your body and will make you weak and 
vulnerable to infections. The function of all your cells and organs will 
decline. Your skin may become fragile and you are likely to develop 
uncomfortable sores, particularly in the mouth and bony pressure points. 
You may feel very cold and experience constipation and/or diarrhea. Lack 
of food is likely to affect your ability to think clearly. You may 
become depressed or withdrawn. Eventually, starvation will start to 
damage your major organs which can then fail completely. Heart failure 
and sudden disturbance of the heart beat are the leading cause of death 
in starvation. Your choice to refuse food can result in death.

If you are well nourished when you began to refuse food and you take in 
adequate fluid, you are unlikely to die from starvation for at least six 
to eight weeks."

So reads a "Pelican Bay State Prison Hunger Strike Informational Sheet" 
revised in June 2013 and distributed to California hunger strike 
participants protesting long-term segregation in cells the size of a 
bathroom, for average terms of 6.8 years, with limited opportunities to 
demonstrate a willingness and potential to reintegrate in the prison 
general population and by extension, society . The hunger strike is now 
eight weeks in, with 40 on hunger strike all 58 days as of yesterday. An 
additional 88 hunger strikers are still on hunger strike.

Hunger strikers are known to be at Pelican Bay State Prison, where the 
four hunger strike leaders remain in the Administrative Segregation 
Unit, isolated from others even further. The California Department of 
Corrections and Rehabilitation chief, Jeffrey Beard, a former 
psychologist, has publicly denounced the strike as merely a "gang power 
play 
<http://solitarywatch.com/2013/08/06/california-hunger-strike-approaches-one-month/>" 
and an effort by "violent prison gangs" to stay in business. How demands 
for better food, more constructive programming, and behavior-based 
segregation practices would strengthen prison gangs and undermine 
institutional security has yet to be explained.

Notably, California State Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblyman Tom 
Ammiano have announced 
<http://sfbayview.com/2013/public-safety-chairs-ammiano-hancock-announce-hearings-on-hunger-strike-issues/> 
their intentions to hold hearings on the SHU. Assemblyman Ammiano has 
previously held two hearings on the SHU in 2011 
<http://solitarywatch.com/2011/08/24/historic-california-assembly-hearing-on-solitary-confinement/> 
and earlier this year 
<http://solitarywatch.com/2013/02/26/california-assembly-reviews-solitary-confinement-policies-as-prisoners-threaten-new-hunger-strike/>.

Hunger striker Mutope Duguma, who has been in the Pelican Bay SHU for 
over a decade for alleged affiliation with the Black Guerilla Family 
(BGF), has reported 
<http://sfbayview.com/2013/hunger-strikers-weak-and-sick-transported-8-hours-by-bus-our-strength-is-a-reflection-of-your-strength/> 
that on August 23rd, two busloads of hunger strikers at Pelican Bay were 
transported to California State Prison, Sacramento ("New Folsom"), on an 
eight hour bus ride that was a harrowing experience for the weakened 
hunger strikers. Solitary Watch has also received reports of hunger 
strikers at California State Prison, Corcoran also being sent to New 
Folsom in the past two weeks.

The wife of one hunger striker from Pelican Bay who was transported to 
New Folsom who recently visited him reported to Solitary Watch that her 
husband was "very skinny." She also reported the following information 
from her husband: "On the buses, they had no medical personnel, though 
the men were being told they were being transferred due to medical 
reasons or medical monitoring. Their visits have not been taken away and 
per Assistant Warden Baufman, they will not be taken away. My husband 
has now lost 58 lbs and was told that before he is sent back to Pelican 
Bay, he must gain back a certain percentage of his body weight..he has 
lost [at least] 27% of his body weight. As of right now, he and the 
other men have no plans to resume eating until negotiations between 
hunger strikers and CDCr are met. My understanding is these men could 
end up being at New Folsom for several months. My husband said everyone 
is doing fine and their spirits are high, though their bodies are weak."

The medical receivers office has told Solitary Watch that not all hunger 
strikers are consenting to being weighed, though of those who have, "two 
hunger strikers have lost more than 15% of their body weight; 12 have 
lost more than 10% of their body weight."

Also according to the medical receivers office, there are three prisons 
with hunger strikers. It is unclear what the third prison is, alongside 
Pelican Bay and New Folsom. On August 28th, there were three prisons on 
hunger strike; on the 29th, there were also three prisons on hunger 
strike, though the medical receivers office reported that these were not 
the same three as on the 28th. In other words, one prison ended its 
participation while another joined. Determining which prisons are 
involved has been a challenge.

On August 27th, the CDCR press office told Solitary Watch that the 
hunger strike at Corcoran had ended and that "there were no 
negotiations. The hunger strikers chose to resume eating." However, 
Solitary Watch later received word from a hunger strike mediator that 
some black inmates were resuming their hunger strike, a claim that 
hasn't been reflected in CDCR's official hunger strike counts.

On the issue of hunger strike counts, the unnamed mediator also reported 
to Solitary Watch several examples of improper hunger strike counts they 
had received:

·  "In clinic, man gets glucose gel pack squirted into his mouth. He 
spits it out. He's told 'too late, you're off HS.'"

·  "In clinic/hospital, doctor tells prisoner, drink this ensure or I 
won't treat you.  The prisoner, afraid he's in real danger of organ 
failure, drinks it just to get treated."

·  "Prisoners pass each other notes or magazines by fishing. The sender 
and receiver are both declared off hunger strike."

·  "A prisoner is told he's off HS because he accepted his dinner tray 
the day before. He denies it. The guard shows him the log of trays for 
that prisoner, which shows he accepted it. 'That's false! I did not,' 
says the prisoner. 'Oops, my bad,' smirks the guard."

·  "A prisoner starts eating again after getting dangerously ill.  But 
after a few days, he resumes the HS. He's not counted until he misses 
another 9 consecutive meals, and we're not sure he's counted even then. 
Unknown."

·  "In some locations, prisoners are counted as off if they get the 
gatorade; in other locations, not."

There is also the possibility that Calipatria State Prison resumed 
hunger strike activity last week, as they reportedly said they would do 
if the hunger strike leaders weren't negotiated with, which clearly has 
not happened. Either way, there is no clear evidence of what the third 
prison on hunger strike is.

The hunger strike participation levels reported by CDCR have varied 
widely over the past week and a half:

    *   September 3rd: 128 hunger strikers in three prisons; 40 on
      hunger strike since July 8th.
    * September 2nd: 135 hunger strikers in three prisons; 40 on hunger
      strike since July 8th.
    * August 30th: 123 hunger strikers in three prisons; 41  on hunger
      strike  since July 8th.
    * August 29th: 156 hunger strikers in three prisons; 41 on hunger
      strike since July 8th.
    * August 28th: 123 hunger strikers in three prisons; 41 on hunger
      strike since July 8th.
    * August 27th: 118 hunger strikers in three prisons; 41 on hunger
      strike since  July 8th.
    * August 26th: 92 hunger strikers in two prisons; 41 on hunger
      strike since July 8th.

Meanwhile, the CDCR  released a response 
<http://cdcrtoday.blogspot.com/2013/08/cdcrs-responses-to-hunger-strikers.html> 
to the demands of the hunger strikers on August 26th. As it has 
consistently done in the past, the CDCR claims it "does not utilize 
'solitary confinement.'" In response to the demand to "Expand and 
Provide Programming and Privileges for SHU inmates" the CDCR countered 
that it has made changes. CDCR claims it has approved "proctors for 
college examinations," authorized "watch caps, sweat pants," allows SHU 
prisoners to have "wall calendars, art supplies and hobby items," in 
addition to allowing disciplinary free SHU prisoners to take yearly 
photographs to send to loved ones. How these constitute sufficient 
programming that can prepare someone in the SHU for life on the outside 
isn't explained.
Overall, CDCR pointed to the creation of the Step Down Program and 
revised criteria for placement in the SHU. In addition, CDCR cited the 
case-by-case reviews it began in October 2012 of all 3,000 SHU prisoners 
placed in segregation units in Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Tehachapi State 
Prison, and New Folsom for alleged gang affiliation. The reviews have so 
far lead to over half of all reviewed SHU prisoners being released or 
endorsed for release to the general population, indicating that CDCR had 
previously labeled them gang affiliates without sufficient evidence that 
they were actively involved in gang activity.
*Sal Rodriguez <http://solitarywatch.com/?author=12>* | September 4, 
2013 at 1:02 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p2HYoj-2PL




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