Tag Archive: CA prisoner hunger strike

Two Years After Hunger Strike, California Settlement May Release 2,000 Prisoners From Solitary


From Truth Out/ By Victoria Law

Attorneys and family members announced on September 1 what they called a “landmark settlement” in the class-action lawsuit Ashker v. Governor of California. The settlement, stated lead attorney Jules Lobel, “is an important step in the growing movement to end solitary confinement.”

The settlement comes after months of negotiations between advocates and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). It also comes after years of agitation, including a lawsuit and three mass prison hunger strikes, aimed at ending California’s practice of placing prisoners in isolation for indeterminate periods of time. Advocates predict that between 1,500 and 2,000 people will be released from isolation in the coming months.

At issue is California’s security housing units (or SHU) and its practice of placing those accused of gang affiliation within these units for an indeterminate time period. Within the SHU, they are locked into windowless cells for at least 23 hours per day. When taken out of their cells – for a shower, a visit or an hour of recreation alone in an exercise pen – they are handcuffed and ankle chained. Two categories of people are placed in the SHU. Those who break prison rules are temporarily sent to the SHU for up to five years. The other category includes those who have been placed in isolation on accusations of gang involvement. For them, there is no fixed end date. Until recently, accusations that have landed them in the SHU often relied on confidential informants and circumstantial evidence, such as tattoos or associations with others. Until recently, one of the few ways to be released from the SHU was to “debrief” or provide information incriminating others, who are then placed in the SHU for an indeterminate sentence. They are the ones who have written manifestoes, filed lawsuits and repeatedly gone on hunger strike to protest their conditions of confinement.

In California’s Pelican Bay State Prison, 1,134 of its 1,181 prisoners were held in the SHU as of June 2015. Although CDCR insists that solitary confinement does not exist within its prison system, those within the SHU argue otherwise and, in 2012, went to court to prove it. (more…)

Two Years After Pelican Bay Hunger Strike, What’s Changed for People Inside the Prison?

pelican bay

From Truth Out/ By Victoria Law

Two years have passed since people confined in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison initiated a 60-day hunger strike to protest the conditions associated with the prison’s “security housing unit,” or SHU.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) continues to claim that “there is no ‘solitary confinement’ in California’s prisons and the SHU is not ‘solitary confinement,'” but people inside the Pelican Bay State Prison’s security housing unit say they remain locked in for at least 23 hours per day.

Meanwhile, in June 2015, the CDCR released proposed new regulations around its use of the security housing unit and administrative segregation – regulations that may, in part, curb participation in future strikes and other prison protests.

Among the proposed changes is a new subsection increasing the penalty for active participation in acts like a mass hunger strike. Noting that disturbances have “become an increasingly serious problem, often resulting in the serious injury of others,” the new regulations increase security housing unit sentences: Active participation in a disturbance, strike or riot, which currently carries two to six months in the security housing unit, will increase to three to nine months. (The penalty for leading a disturbance, strike or riot remains six to 18 months.) (more…)

A Year After Mass Hunger Strike in California Prisons, What’s Changed?

hungerstrikeFrom Truth Out/ By Victoria Law

On July 8, 2013, 30,000 California prisoners launched what became a 60-day mass hunger strike. One year later, however, Luis Esquivel is still sitting in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in solitary confinement in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. “Right now, my uncle is in his cell with no windows,” said his niece, Maribel Herrera. “It’s like sitting in a bathroom – your sink is there, your toilet is there, your bed is there. And you’re just sitting there. I can only think about that for so long because it hurts.”

Herrera’s uncle has been in solitary confinement for 15 years. “I hadn’t seen my uncle since I was a child,” said Herrera. “I can’t even remember hugging him.” When she visited him in 2012, her first-ever visit to Pelican Bay, more than 850 miles away from her family’s home in San Diego, hers was the first visit Esquivel had received in seven years. (more…)

One Month After Historic Hunger Strike Ends, Legislators Hold Hearings About Solitary Confinement

shutdownshuBy Victoria Law/ from Truthout

Families and former prisoners held for years in solitary confinement expressed optimism October 9 after the first of several California Public Safety Committee hearings about the punishment, promised in exchange for an end to prisoners’ 60-day hunger strike over the summer.

“Tell us the truth, even if it’s not pleasant,” State Assembly member Tom Ammiano told California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials, advocates, formerly incarcerated people and family members.

On Wednesday, October 9, the California legislature’s Public Safety Committee held the first of several hearings about the use of solitary confinement in California’s prisons. These hearings were prompted by a 60-day hunger strike that rocked California’s prison system this past summer.

On July 8, 2013, over 30,000 people incarcerated throughout California refused meals. (more…)

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For October 2013 Is Now Available

halloweenHello Friends and Comrades,

1) We have two versions of the political prisoner birthday poster for October.  Here is one version as well as an extra spooky negative image one for Halloween. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

Some News And Updates:

2) Jorge Cornell, whose birthday was last month, was transferred two weeks ago. If your birthday card for him was returned, please resend it to this address:

 Jorge P. Cornell #28152-057
P.O. BOX 1000

3) Political prisoner Herman Wallace of the Angola 3 has been given less than 2 months to live and he’s now on hospice care inside the prison. He, along with one other person, has been in solitary confinement for the past 41 years. He wrote this heart wrenching statement recently and there’s some petitions folks can sign to try to get him compassionate release. Not to mention his birthday is in October so make sure to send him a card.  Herman passed away on October 4th after enduring 42 years of solitary confinement. (more…)

Pelican Bay solitary confinement case set to expand

guardtowerpelicanbayFrom Los Angeles Times

OAKLAND — A federal judge Thursday said she is likely to allow a lawsuit alleging that solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison amount to psychological torture, to be expanded from the cases of 10 prisoners to include about 1,100 inmates now held in indefinite isolation.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken expressed concern at a hearing, however, that changes the state has made in how it identifies inmates for isolation means those prisoners won’t be included in the pending class-action lawsuit.

What’s more, lawyers for the state say they are in the process of moving some existing prisoners out of confinement in Pelican Bay’s super-maximum security isolation cells.

“I’m wondering how I would manage a class that has people moving in and out,” Wilken said. Nevertheless, she used Thursday’s hearing in Oakland to set Nov. 3, 2014, for the trial. Her ruling over whether that trial will be a class action, or remain confined to the few inmates who filed the case, is yet to be decided. (more…)

CA Prisoner Hunger/Work Strikes roundup with Ed Mead

I-stand-with-CA-prisoner-hunger-strikeFrom The Final Straw

This week William talks with Ed Mead, editor of CA Prison Focus magazine to discuss the results of the hunger and work strikes that swept west coast prisons since July, resulting in one prisoner death and at one point including the participation of 30,000 hunger strikers. The strike, the third over two years, was meant to bring attention to and pressure against the state for it’s practices of indefinite detention in solitary confinement without recourse, the silencing of prisoner activists, lack of programs for prisoners to prepare for the outside world, the institutionalization of snitch-culture through “debriefing”, group punishments and not providing adequate and nutritive food. More info can be found at: http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/

This Thursday in Oakland, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) will be holding a press conference following a legal hearing around posing a class action lawsuit around inhumane conditions in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay. Show up if ya can! Details at: http://ccrjustice.org/pelican-bay


The second half of the show features new metal and punk tracks from Primary Stress, ANCST & more.

The playlist for this episode can be found here: http://www.ashevillefm.org/node/7677

This show will be streaming at AFM from 9/23/13 thru the 29th, podcasting at radio4all.net and later will be archived at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org

Hunger striker considers where we go from here, wonders, ‘Will the Legislature dupe us too’?

Protesters from Humboldt County unfurled this banner outside Pelican Bay State Prison on July 8, the first day of the 2013 mass hunger strike, the largest in history with 30,000 participants initially. The huge banner reappeared at many subsequent rallies. – Photo courtesy PHSS Humboldt

Protesters from Humboldt County unfurled this banner outside Pelican Bay State Prison on July 8, the first day of the 2013 mass hunger strike, the largest in history with 30,000 participants initially. The huge banner reappeared at many subsequent rallies. – Photo courtesy PHSS Humboldt

From San Francisco Bay View

Written Sept. 8, 2013 – First and foremost we want to give a lot of respect and love to all the human beings who made their voices heard and the countless dedicated supporters and organizations who beat the drum as well as the pavement demanding an end to solitary confinement, LONG TERM solitary confinement.

To the 30,000 hunger strikers who courageously stood up, we commend each and every one of you, no matter if you did one day or the whole 60 days. We have had three hunger strikes in which none of us could imagine such courage would stem from such a peaceful protest. But as I have written in an article called, “Because I’ve seen men,”* my own personal strength and resolve has been improved on. I could not have ever expected to be amongst such courageous individuals. I salute each and every one of you.

We want to always give much respect and love to the six prisoners who sacrificed their lives despite what CDCr propagated against you. We know each and every one of you died for a cause that’s more honorable than anything, especially in a world where men and women die every day for nothing. We also know none of you were suicidal. We will forever hold you all in our memory, high before the world. (more…)

Statement Suspending the Third Hunger Strike

hungerstrikeFrom Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Greetings of Solidarity and Respect!

The PBSP-SHU, Short Corridor Collective Representatives hereby serve notice upon all concerned parties of interest that after nine weeks we have collectively decided to suspend our third hunger strike action on September 5, 2013.

To be clear, our Peaceful Protest of Resistance to our continuous subjection to decades of systemic state sanctioned torture via the system’s solitary confinement units is far from over. Our decision to suspend our third hunger strike in two years does not come lightly. This decision is especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met (despite nearly universal agreement that they are reasonable). The core group of prisoners has been, and remains 100% committed to seeing this protracted struggle for real reform through to a complete victory, even if it requires us to make the ultimate sacrifice.  With that said, we clarify this point by stating prisoner deaths are not the objective, we recognize such sacrifice is at times the only means to an end of fascist oppression.

Our goal remains: force the powers that be to end their torture policies and practices in which serious physical and psychological harm is inflicted on tens of thousands of prisoners as well as our loved ones outside.  We also call for ending the related practices of using prisoners to promote the agenda of the police state by seeking to greatly expand the numbers of the working class poor warehoused in prisons, and particularly those of us held in solitary, based on psychological/social manipulation, and divisive tactics keeping prisoners fighting amongst each other. Those in power promote mass warehousing to justify more guards, more tax dollars for “security”, and spend mere pennies for rehabilitation — all of which demonstrates a failed penal system, high recidivism, and ultimately compromising public safety.  The State of California’s $9.1 billion annual CDCR budget is the epitome of a failed and fraudulent state agency that diabolically and systemically deprives thousands of their human rights and dignity. Allowing this agency to act with impunity has to stop! And it will. (more…)

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For September 2013 Is Now Available

birthdaycupHello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for September. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

Some News And Updates:

2) The campaign to have Earth Liberation Front prisoner Marie  Mason moved from her special isolation unit is underway! Please write a letter today. You can download the “Move Marie” here: trifold color brochure  The text version and a sample letter are available here.

3) Brother Abdullah is in debilitating pain and unable to walk without assistance, due to an acute case of sciatica. Abdullah has suffered in this state for over two weeks and has, to no avail, submitted to all prison procedures, which are required in order to get medical attention, namely the “sick-call process.” (more…)