[Ppnews] Loni Hancock and Tom Ammiano - welcome end to CA hunger strike

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 5 16:26:50 EDT 2013


LEGISLATIVE LEADERS WELCOME END TO HUNGER STRIKE; REAFFIRM COMMITMENT TO 
PUBLIC HEARINGS


September 05, 2013


http://sd09.senate.ca.gov/news/2013-09-05-legislative-leaders-welcome-end-hunger-strike-reaffirm-commitment-public-hearings


Sacramento -- Today Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Chair of the 
Senate Public Safety Committee, and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San 
Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, welcomed the 
end to the California prison inmate hunger strike after 60 days.

  "I am relieved and gratified that the hunger strike has ended without 
further sacrifice or risk of human life," Senator Hancock stated.  ""The 
issues raised by the hunger strike are real -- concerns about the use 
and conditions of solitary confinement in California's prisons -- and 
will not be ignored."

"I'm happy that no one had to die in order to bring attention to these 
conditions," Ammiano said. "The prisoners' decision to take meals should 
be a relief to CDCR and the Brown administration, as well as to those 
who support the strikers."

The end to the hunger strike comes five days after Hancock and 
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly 
Public Safety Committee, announced that they will hold joint public 
hearings on the conditions in California prisons that have led to the 
inmate hunger strike. The two legislators asked the inmates to end to 
the hunger strike so that energy and attention can be focused on the 
issues that have been raised.

According to Senator Hancock, "The inmates participating in the hunger 
strike have succeeded in bringing these issues to the center of public 
awareness and debate, Legislators now recognize the seriousness and 
urgency of these concerns and we will move forward to address them.."

"I'm especially gratified if the call for hearings helped bring this 
about," Ammiano said. "However, our real work begins now, as we will 
soon start preparing for hearings that I hope can bring an end to the 
disgraceful conditions that triggered the hunger strike."

The first hearing is expected to take place in October and will focus on 
two key issues raised by the hunger strike:

1.  The conditions of confinement in California's maximum security prisons.

On April 9, 2013, a U. S. District Judge ruled in a class action law 
suit that inmates being held in solitary confinement, sometimes for 
decades, had adequately demonstrated that the State of California may be 
denying them protection from cruel and unusual punishment and granted 
the plaintiffs the right to a trial.

2.  The effect of long-term solitary confinement as a prison management 
strategy, and a human rights issue.

Senator Hancock stated, "California continues to be an outlier in its 
use of solitary confinement. Solitary confinement has been recognized 
internationally and by other states to be an extreme form of punishment 
that leads to mental illness if used for prolonged periods of time. 
Since many of these inmates will eventually have served their sentences 
and will be released, it is in all our best interest to offer hope of 
rehabilitation while they are incarcerated - not further deterioration."

"We know these prisoners have committed crimes," Ammiano said, "but I 
have to repeat: It does not justify the way the state is treating them 
in the name of all Californians. We want California to be a leader in 
effective and enlightened corrections and true rehabilitation."

The two legislators cited a report by Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations 
Special Rapporteur on torture, "Even if solitary confinement is applied 
for short periods of time, it often causes mental and physical suffering 
or humiliation, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or 
punishment, and if the resulting pain or sufferings are severe, solitary 
confinement even amounts to torture."

They also referred to the 2006 report of the Commission on Safety and 
Abuse in America's Prisons, a bipartisan national task force. The report 
found that between 1995 and 2000, the use of solitary confinement in the 
United States had increased by 40 percent, far outpacing the 28 percent 
growth rate of the overall prison population.  The Commission concluded 
that solitary confinement is counterproductive to public safety, and 
costs twice as much as imprisonment in the general population. The 
Commission recommended ending long-term isolation of inmates.


- See more at: 
http://sd09.senate.ca.gov/news/2013-09-05-legislative-leaders-welcome-end-hunger-strike-reaffirm-commitment-public-hearings#sthash.NHE1IR0o.dpuf

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