[Pnews] Hunger strike and work stoppage in Santa Rita Jail continues to third day

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 1 17:25:08 EDT 2019


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HUNGER STRIKE AND WORK STOPPAGE IN SANTA RITA JAIL CONTINUES TO THIRD DAY


From: Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee - Oakland

iwoc.oakland at gmail.com <mailto:iwoc.oakland at gmail.com>

Press contact: Yolanda Huang

yhuang.law at gmail.com <mailto:yhuang.law at gmail.com>


A hunger strike and work stoppage which began on Wednesday, October 30 
inside Santa Rita Jail has continued through Friday, November 1. Since 
Wednesday, the number of individuals refusing to report to work 
assignments, meals, and jail programs has grown to over 300, according 
to attorney Yolanda Huang. All kitchen workers are on strike, she says, 
prompting threats from Santa Rita staff who claim that no one will 
receive food if the strike continues.


Santa Rita depends on unpaid labor from inmates to produce 16,000 meals 
a day for its own operations, as well as for other jails across the Bay 
Area. Huang reports that women inmates are now being forced to work in 
the kitchen, despite the fact that many do not have medical clearance to 
handle food. This will only exacerbate the public health issues which 
prompted the strike in the first place, she argues. Detainees report 
that they are served food that is spoiled and nutritionally poor. Poor 
sanitation and lack of access to cleaning supplies has led to “swarms of 
gnats” in communal areas.


The jailwide strike originated in Housing Unit 31, where a man died on 
Saturday, October 26. While the jail claims that the man died in 
booking, detainees allege that the man was in serious medical distress 
that remained unaddressed by guards until the man stopped breathing. 
Detainees who called for help were moved to the yard “so that there 
would be no witnesses,” says Huang. The attitude of guards inside Santa 
Rita is that “if you are in pain, if you are suffering, then you are a 
criminal and you deserve it,” she says. Nine people have died in Santa 
Rita custody in 2019 already.


The Audit Ahern Coalition is calling for a complete audit of the Alameda 
County Sheriff’s budget and administration of Santa Rita Jail. In 
addition, Attorney Yolanda Huang argues that supervisors should hold a 
public forum with Sheriff Ahern and conduct an independent investigation 
into conditions inside the jail. Advocates are calling on the community 
to contact the Sheriff’s Office and the Alameda County Board of 
Supervisors to ask that detainees not be punished for engaging in the 
strike.


Demands of the strike include:

  *

    Better and more nutritious food, that is not spoiled nor served in
    unsanitary ways

  *

    An end to price-gouging for commissary, phone calls, and video
    visitation

  *

    More changes of clothing and laundry access

  *

    Cleaning supplies

  *

    Access to lawyers and legal library

  *

    Daily exercise and recreation time


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