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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

CA State Prisoners going on hunger strike

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Paul Sakuma/AP

Demonstrators rallied in front of the State Building in San Francisco two summers ago to support prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison. A new strike started Monday to protest the continued isolation of many prisoners.
Inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison launched a hunger strike Monday to protest the use of Security Housing Units as a way to break the power of prison gangs.

Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said 30,000 inmates refused their morning meal Monday. The department will only recognize a hunger strike when an inmate has refused nine consecutive meals. Also on Monday, 2,300 inmates declined to work or attend class.

California isolates 4,500 inmates from the general prison population in Security Housing Units at four prisons, but those at Pelican Bay face the most severe form of confinement. The super max's so-called "short corridor" restricts prisoner to their cells 22 1/2 hours a day. Inmates leave their cell only for exercise in a high-walled concrete yard, to shower, or for medical appointments. They are allowed no phone calls and can only visit with family separated by a glass partition.

Pelican Bay SHU prisoners led two mass hungers strikes in the summer of 2011 that spread to 6,600 inmates at 13 prisons. The hunger strikes each lasted less than a month and ended when the corrections department announced it would loosen some restrictions on inmates in the isolation units and review department policies for determining who to send there and for how long.

Prison officials separate inmates confirmed as gang leaders or members in isolation units indefinitely. CDCR has confined more than 500 prisoners in those units for more than five years, and dozens for more than 20 years.

Until last year the only way for SHU prisoners to return to the general population was to "debrief" — a process prison officials describe as renouncing gang membership, but which inmates describe as "snitching."

The CDCR made changes to gang management policies in 2012 that allow inmates to earn their way out of the SHU through good behavior.

But in a statement distributed by advocates for prisoners , the leaders of the hunger strike faulted CDCR's "failure to honor their word" and said the department had "acted in bad faith."

They say CDCR has actually broadened the isolation program, and still validates gang members on flimsy evidence.

"We believe that our pilot program addresses inmates concerns" said spokeswoman Terry Thornton. "It has been revised and reformed, it incorporates additional elements of due process, and we’ve created a step alternative for inmates to demonstrate their willingness to leave the gang."

Thornton said the department has reviewed the cases of 382 SHU prisoners statewide, released 208 of them to the general prison population and placed another 115 in various stages of the step-down program.

"People are leaving the SHU," Thornton said.






by on Jul. 8, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Replies (11-20):
viv212
by Gold Member on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:18 PM
I'm sure others will disagree though and say that the inmates are in prison, what do they expect?
But the SHU program is borderline inhumane.


Quoting snookyfritz:

I don't believe that sort of isolation serves any purpose.  There are less restrictive ways to keep these people segregated.  We have serious human rights issues in our prisons

Chelsey191
by Member on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:20 PM
Good. It will save US taxpayers some money. If they starve themselves to death, good riddance.
JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Bleh. California needs to save money anyway.
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:24 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting survivorinohio:

I kinda feel like we ought to keep the violent ones who prove to be violent all together and let em kill each other.  House offenders who have not demonstrated violence while doing their time somewhere els so as not to give the bad guys fresh meat so to speak. 

I have little hope for the most violent of our offenders.  I also think that solitary confinement is enough to make someone crazy and if they are already crazy it will only compound it.


I agree.

Those who have shown they have no desire to make any changes, will remain violent, keep them together and away from others.  I can't really come up with much compassion for them.

AlekD
by Gold Member on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:25 PM
1 mom liked this

Solitary confinement is torture. it's inhumane and it needs to stop.

AlekD
by Gold Member on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:27 PM
2 moms liked this

Can I get a link to this article? I want to share it on facebook.

survivorinohio
by René on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:27 PM
1 mom liked this

I think its inhuman.  And some of the people in it have been broken by it.  Some were broken when they got there though.

Quoting viv212:

I'm sure others will disagree though and say that the inmates are in prison, what do they expect?
But the SHU program is borderline inhumane.


Quoting snookyfritz:

I don't believe that sort of isolation serves any purpose.  There are less restrictive ways to keep these people segregated.  We have serious human rights issues in our prisons


How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


blue123244
by on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:40 PM

murderers and child molesters can starve themselves to death for all I care - they should at least have to work and support the families they've affected till the day they die, as for others free all the ones that are in for victimless crimes like pot, etc and prostitution (should be legalized anyway), and for the rest put them somewhere  else

viv212
by Gold Member on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:44 PM
I do believe it's the inmates who are violent with each other that go into the SHU. Most of them are "validated" which means they are apart of the larger, segregated gangs: Whites, Blacks, the Arians, the Surenos, the Nortenos, etc.

Quoting Firenygirl180:

I don't think anyone belongs in segregation unless they are a serious threat to other inmates or the corrections officers. Just being in a gang doesn't mean you are a danger. Yes, there are things you"have" to do to be accepted, but there are members that are in them solely for protection from other inmates.
viv212
by Gold Member on Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:47 PM
PS the inmates who are in protective custody are the "snitches", rapists, child abusers, etc.

Quoting Firenygirl180:

I don't think anyone belongs in segregation unless they are a serious threat to other inmates or the corrections officers. Just being in a gang doesn't mean you are a danger. Yes, there are things you"have" to do to be accepted, but there are members that are in them solely for protection from other inmates.
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