CA Prisoners Win Historic Gains with Settlement Against Solitary Confinement

Posted on September 1, 2015 by prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity

Agreement reached in Ashker v. Brown ends indeterminate long-term solitary confinement in CA, among other gains for prisoners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 1, 2015
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) for more than 10 years, where they spend 23 hours a day or more in their cells with little to no access to family visits, outdoor time, or any kind of programming.

“From the historic prisoner-led hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, to the work of families, loved ones, and advocate, this settlement is a direct result of our grassroots organizing, both inside and outside prison walls,” said Dolores Canales of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), and mother of a prisoner in Pelican Bay. “This legal victory is huge, but is not the end of our fight – it will only make the struggle against solitary and imprisonment everywhere stronger.” The 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes gained widespread international attention that for the first time in recent years put solitary confinement under mainstream scrutiny.

Currently, many prisoners are in solitary because of their “status” – having been associated with political ideologies or gang affiliation. However, this settlement does away with the status-based system, leaving solitary as an option only in cases of serious behavioral rule violations. Furthermore, the settlement limits the amount of time a prisoner may be held in solitary, and sets a two year Step-Down Program for the release of current solitary prisoners into the prison general population.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 prisoners will be released from SHU within one year of this settlement. A higher security general population unit will be created for a small number of cases where people have been in SHU for more than 10 years and have a recent serious rule violation.

“Despite the repeated attempts by the prison regime to break the prisoners’ strength, they have remained unified in this fight,” said Marie Levin of CFASC and sister of a prisoner representative named in the lawsuit. “The Agreement to End Hostilities and the unity of the prisoners are crucial to this victory, and will continue to play a significant role in their ongoing struggle.”

The Agreement to End Hostilities is an historic document put out by prisoner representatives in Pelican Bay in 2012 calling on all prisoners to build unity and cease hostilities between racial groups.

Prisoner representatives and their legal counsel will regularly meet with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials as well as with Federal Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, who is tasked with overseeing the reforms, to insure that the settlement terms are being implemented.

“Without the hunger strikes and without the Agreement to End Hostilities to bring California’s prisoners together and commit to risking their lives— by being willing to die for their cause by starving for 60 days, we would not have this settlement today,” said Anne Weills of Siegel and Yee, co-counsel in the case. “It will improve the living conditions for thousands of men and women and no longer have them languishing for decades in the hole at Pelican Bay.”

“This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters,” said the prisoners represented in the settlement in a joint statement. “We celebrate this victory while at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle.”

Legal co-counsel in the case includes California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Chistensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. The lead counsel is the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge in the case is Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

A rally and press conference are set for 12pm in front of the Elihu M Harris State Building in Oakland, which will be livestreamed at http://livestre.am/5bsWO.

The settlement can be read on CCR’s website, along with a summary. CCR has also put up downloadable clips of the plaintiffs’ depositions here.

A HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM

We hope it is not too late (it is never too late to join a pen pal group and be one!)

Received via email:

Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P) is hosting a new project we hope will spark interest among activists and people of conscience alike.  Join us in a Human Rights Pen Pal group, a program combining prison correspondence, political education, and sharing what you’ve learned. See below for a detailed description.

Please consider becoming a pen pal to a person imprisoned in California’s solitary confinement cells and fighting for their human rights.  If interested, please contact Denise at deniselynn777@gmail.org by March 8 to receive an application.

And please help us spread the word to other interested folks.

In solidarity,

Denise Mewbourne & Molly Batchelder
Occupy 4 Prisoners

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A HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM:
A Project of Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P)

WHAT IS THE HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM?

“How can any of us stand idly by while our public officials stride the world stage touting the inalienable rights of man, and criticizing other nations for their alleged human rights abuses, when the US is operating the largest domestic torture program on earth in SHU’s like Corcoran?”
-New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist Collective Think Tank, Corcoran SHU

“A wall is just a wall;
It can be broken down.”
-Assata Shakur

The Human Rights Pen Pal program is an anti-racist, grassroots organizer training program in solidarity with incarcerated activists fighting for the human rights of people imprisoned in California’s solitary confinement cells. It is based on the model created and piloted this year by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition, and promotes principled relationships between people in solitary confinement and supporters outside the walls. The program combines solidarity practice, political education, community organizing skills, and evaluation.

The Human Rights Pen Pal program is specifically intended to support the ongoing work of Occupy 4 Prisoners (O4P), as well as the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition. O4P arose as a powerful coalition combining the powerful new energy of the Occupy movement with established Bay Area activist groups working in solidarity with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. The PHSS works to end solitary confinement, otherwise known as SHUs (Security Housing Units) and Ad Segs (Administrative Segregation), as well as to address the human rights of people imprisoned in these torture chambers.

WHAT WILL THE HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM LOOK LIKE?

Solidarity: The program is designed to foster pen pal relationships between people inside and outside the walls, in the interest of a mutual exchange of support, shared information and inspiration. We will energize each other in this struggle! It also assumes that developing relationships will lead to a growing commitment of those ‘outside the walls’ to work in solidarity with activists on the inside and their human rights campaigns.

The ‘outside the walls’ O4P group will be limited to 10-12, with each pen pal writing to one or more people in solitary confinement, from prisons with SHUs throughout California. The pen pals group will meet monthly, and the meeting will have two major components: political education and social/logistical support for the act of corresponding itself.

Political Education: The political education component will include readings and discussions about California prisons, solitary confinement, the history of resistance by incarcerated people, and strategies of solidarity used by local and national anti-prison organizations.

Supporting each other: This includes: sharing in the group what we’re learning from our pen pals (without necessarily using their names); exchanging ideas for responding to their letters; discussion of tactics and support for spreading awareness about solitary confinement to our friends and family; evaluating our work together. In order for this work to be as sustainable as possible, the group will include emotional support as needed.

Sharing what we’ve learned in the larger world: We intend to foster human connections and the understanding that when anyone is tortured and oppressed within a society, it reverberates throughout the entire culture as social trauma. The humble act of letter correspondence with imprisoned people, especially when we share what we have learned with others, is crucial to breaking down the societal compartmentalization that enables this kind of oppression to endure.
‘OUTSIDE THE WALLS’ PEN PALS WILL BE ASKED TO COMMIT TO:

(1) Regular correspondence with your ‘inside the walls’ pen pal(s) twice monthly.

(2) Attending a three hour monthly meeting. These meetings will continue from March through August (6 months). The Oakland location is TBD, and rides will be organized if needed.

(3) Actively participating in the interactive political education component, which consists of reading suggested short essays, preparing questions for discussion at the group meetings, and keeping abreast of O4P, PHSS and other anti-prison events and activities.

(4) Sharing your experiences as a pen pal participant with your own friends and networks.

(5) Consider continuing your correspondence with your prisoner pen pal for at least a year, with discussion of whether or not the structured pen pal program should continue and, if so, in what form.

HOW TO APPLY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS PEN PAL PROGRAM
(Deadline March 10)

For more info and to receive an application, contact Denise at deniselynn777@gmail.com Leave your email address and phone number. Deadline for returning applications is March 10. The first Pen Pal meeting will take place the fourth week of March 2013.

Inhumane conditions at Calipatria State Prison ASU

Posted On December 14, 2011 in the SF Bay View
by Kendra Castaneda

[1]In the California prison system, Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation) and ASU (Administrative Segregation Units) are classified as “temporary,” but many prisoners have been in the ASU for years. At Calipatria State Prison near the Mexican border in the Mojave Desert, Ad-Seg is a bit better than ASU because the ASU was purposely built away from the rest of the prison in a building of its own.

It’s so isolated the prison authorities can do anything they want to the ASU inmates without anyone knowing. They use the ASU to house the men they are holding longer than the “temporary” time. For example, almost all the men are validated – determined through a very flawed process to be members of a prison gang – and awaiting transfer to a SHU (Security Housing Unit).

They wait for years in ASU, while the men in Ad-Seg are mostly those “under investigation” or charged for a stabbing or a fight with a sentence of approximately one year in segregation. Ad-Segs are also attached to the prison itself so the conditions are not so protected from view as in a detached ASU building.

Conditions in Ad-Segs and ASUs vary widely from one prison to the next. Not every prison has an ASU, and some prisons with Ad-Segs are not as inhumane as others. The way the administration at a particular prison wants to run its segregation units determines their conditions.
Current inhumane conditions at Calipatria State Prison ASU (Administration Segregation Unit)

The men in the ASU unit wear dirty laundry; their boxers get changed approximately every three months. They are holey, dirty and gross.

The food is moldy, spoiled and rotten. Many men are not fed at all; the correctional officers state they “ran out of food.” The men in the corner cells are forced to go hungry most of the time.

There are no TVs or radios; therefore, hundreds of men are forced to stare at a concrete wall all day, which violates CDCR’s DOM (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Department Operations Manual). Although these units are already equipped with cables, Warden Leland McEwen refuses to allow the inmates an appliance (radio or TV) in their cell to stimulate their minds while in complete segregation.

Almost all of the men in Calipatria’s ASU have been placed there on “suspicion” of prison gang activity, but even if they commit no gang-related act and are not being disciplined, they are held in complete “temporary” segregation for years.

They are allowed outdoors three times a week to “exercise” in dog cages, but that schedule is not kept. Many correctional officers pick and choose which men they want to allow outside, and their outside time is often cancelled due to staff meetings or staff barbeques.

Some of the men have been sitting in a concrete cell and denied permission to go outside to any yard for a long time.

The men in ASU are allowed to receive books through a vendor paid by a family member or friend. But for the many men who do not have anyone to buy books for them, they have an inmate exchange, where Level 4 inmates donate books for the ASU men. These books frequently have pages ripped out, and the library’s selection of books isn’t sufficient for 200 men. Many men have read the same book 100 times. An inmate in ASU can only have one book in his cell a week, and the trading books with another inmate is difficult. The prison does not routinely allow them even to exchange their own books with each other.

There is only one nail clipper for 200 men to share, and the correctional officers do not clean the clipper.

There is only one hair clipper for 200 men to share, and the correctional officers do not clean that either.

The tiers are extremely dirty, and the correctional officers refuse to clean them. In January 2011 the men purposely submitted to a forced “cell extraction” so the prison would be cleaned. The cells are unsanitary, and black widow spiders often find their way into the cells due to Calipatria being in the desert.

The men are forced to go outside in the winter desert cold with no shoes on, with their bare feet and no clothing but boxer shorts. The temperatures at Calipatria can get down to 32 degrees; it is cold and extremely windy in the winter time. The men are forced to wear nothing but boxers, and some do not get blankets in their freezing cold cells.
[2]
Calipatria Warden Leland McEwen
All eight emergency exits at Calipatria ASU are purposely barricaded and blocked with boxes of sand on the orders of Calipatria Warden Leland McEwen.

The men are not given proper medical treatment, for there is NO MEDICAL facility at Calipatria State Prison. Men in the ASU currently have broken bones, internal health problems, Hepatitis C and many need surgery. These men have been waiting in ASU for years in pain. The prison purposely ignores the men’s request slips for medical treatment.

The men in the ASU have been there for one year, two years, three or four years, and one man has been there for seven years straight. The men ask the ICC (Institutional Classification Committee) why they are not being transferred to Pelican Bay SHU. They beg to be transferred to the SHU, yet the response from Warden McEwen, Assistant Warden Anderson and IGI (Institutional Gang Investigator) Sgt. E. Duarte and by all the other IGIs is to “parole, debrief or DIE.”

After the second hunger strike, Warden McEwen ordered IGI Sgt. H. Groth and his fellow officers to walk around in the ASU harassing the inmates.

In the Calipatria ASU, Hispanic men are being falsely validated left and right by IGI Sgt. E. Duarte abusing his power. Out of 200 men in the ASU, there are about 10 Black men, a few white men, one or two classified by CDCR as “others,” and the rest – over 150 inmates – are Hispanic.

The only African American inmate in my husband’s pod in ASU, in cell 159, died a few weeks ago. The inmates are saying it was a cover-up. The prison originally said it was a suicide, but the men are saying it was no suicide.

This man was harassed on purpose by IGI Sgt. Groth and his fellow officers right before he mysteriously died. As of a few days ago, the inmates are saying the officers are now being ‘hush hush’ about the man’s death but the family of the man who died says this was no suicide.

Calipatria State Prison refuses to speak to the family. CDCR refuses to speak to the family or give the family any information pertaining to how he died. Calipatria’s Sgt. Garcia, who works at the coroner’s office, tells the family of the man who died that the autopsy reports will be available in six to nine weeks, and the family has already laid his body to rest. The family mentioned to me that their son took part in both of the hunger strikes; therefore, the autopsy report should show deterioration of certain body parts. But the family is being denied all of his death reports.

In the ASU unit, visits to the men are often cancelled on purpose, or the prison ignores family requests for the ASU men. Visits are stripped from many of the men due to false charges made against them; therefore, these men are forced to never see their families.

Almost all the men in the ASU have been classified already as validated “SHU status inmates.” They sit illegally in an ASU cell for years on end, being denied a transfer to a SHU facility. Due to their classification, it does not matter that the hold is supposed to be temporary. These men are stripped of their privileges as if they were in Ad-Seg and live under the same constraints as if they were in an actual SHU facility.

As of today, the Calipatria ASU is full. Their A5 segregation unit is for the “overflow,” and it is almost full. The prison has started to make plans to construct another ASU. If they do, there will be two ASUs and one A5 overflow unit.

The men at Calipatria ASU call that particular ASU the “ASU/SHU,” because they say it is worse than a SHU facility.

Kendra Castaneda is prisoner human rights activist with a loved one currently incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit).[3].

Notes:
Article printed from San Francisco Bay View: http://sfbayview.com

URL to article: http://sfbayview.com/2011/inhumane-conditions-at-calipatria-state-prison-asu/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Calipatria-State-Prison-California.jpg

[2] Image: http://sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Calipatria-Warden-Leland-McEwen.jpg

[3] Email suppressed.

[4] Hunger strike organizer: Ad-Seg/ASU units are bad news: http://sfbayview.com/2011/hunger-strike-organizer-ad-segasu-units-are-bad-news/

[5] Hunger striker dies mysteriously at Calipatria, family reports funeral is Tuesday, Nov. 22, in Oakland: http://sfbayview.com/2011/hunger-striker-dies-mysteriously-at-calipatria-funeral-saturday-in-oakland-family-contact-needed/

[6] Medical condition of hunger strikers deteriorates, some days away from death: http://sfbayview.com/2011/medical-condition-of-hunger-strikers-deteriorates-some-days-away-from-death/

[7] CDCR: Bay View is contraband for mentioning George Jackson and Black August: http://sfbayview.com/2011/cdcr-bay-view-is-contraband-for-mentioning-george-jackson-and-black-august/

[8] As hunger strikers’ medical crises worsen, marchers will ‘bring the noise’ to downtown SF at rush hour Friday: http://sfbayview.com/2011/as-hunger-strikers-medical-crises-worsen-marchers-will-bring-the-noise-to-downtown-sf-at-rush-hour-friday/

Pelican Bay prison hunger strikers declare victory – support from many places including Youngstown, Ohio

Source: Sharon Danann, in: Workers World
Published Jul 27, 2011 4:22 PM

Leaders of the hunger strike in the Security Housing Unit at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison accepted an offer July 20 from the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation and have ended their weeks-long action. Members of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition confirmed reports of the hunger strike’s end after speaking with some of the prisoners involved. (prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com, July 22) The CDCR reported that as of 1 p.m. on July 20 all those who had been fasting at Pelican Bay had resumed eating. (www.sfgate.com, July 22)

Having been without food for 21 days, the leaders opted to “live to fight for justice another day,” according to mediator Dorsey Nunn. (times-standard.com, July 22) The CDCR offer included expanded educational programs, wall calendars and all-weather caps. The CDCR also committed to a review of SHU and gang-related policies.

A key accomplishment of the hunger strike has been to bring attention to the issue of torture in U.S. prisons. Currently inmates at Pelican Bay cannot be transferred out of their confinement in the SHU unless they turn in someone else for gang-related activities. Prisoners opposed to doing so on principle or in fear of retribution, or who have no such information, including those in the SHU for political beliefs, have been locked in SHUs indefinitely. Black Panther members incarcerated in the 1970s are among the inmates who have spent decades in isolation.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has stated that long-term solitary confinement is in violation of prohibitions against torture, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Supporters of the courageous prisoners continued to hit the streets with rallies July 22 and 23 in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Chino, Calif.; and in Los Angeles, Chicago and Montreal. Plans are going forward for a march on CDCR headquarters in Sacramento, Calif.; a rally at the California State building in San Francisco; and a meeting with family members and loved ones of prisoners in Oakland.

High-spirited activists marched up the quarter-mile driveway of Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 23, drumming on paint buckets and pots, until they were turned back by guards near the gate to the Supermax. In Baltimore on July 21, the blazing heat did not stop protesters outside the city jail from drawing support from passersby, who responded positively to the “Jobs not jails” theme.

Struggle against torture continues

The hunger strike has continued at three California state prisons. More than 400 inmates are refusing food at Corcoran and more than 100 at Tehachapi. The PHSS blog quoted a friend of a Calipatria prison hunger striker as saying, “I’m 100 percent sure that at least 300 prisoners are still supporting each other and going strong, refusing food and demanding the CDCR change conditions of solitary confinement and policies around gang validation.” (July 20)

According to a spokesperson for the court-appointed receiver overseeing prison health care, an inmate at Tehachapi had lost 29 pounds. (Los Angeles Times, July 19) The CDCR claimed to be medically monitoring 49 prisoners who had lost more than 10 pounds, but prisoner advocates disputed both the numbers and the quality of medical attention, most of which was “drive-by checks.” (PHSS conference call, July 18)

The PHSS was aware of “dozens” of hunger strikers who had lost over 20 pounds and who were experiencing fainting or irregular heartbeats. Nunn stated that the prison hospital at Pelican Bay was filled with inmates receiving fluids by IV. Some had “started to refuse water,” but many others were having trouble keeping ingested water down. Nunn added, “It is truly a matter of luck and/or untiring spirit that nobody has died so far.” (colorlines.com, July 20)

PHSS is encouraging solidarity actions to continue to make sure the CDCR makes good on its promises and to prevent retaliation against hunger strikers. Hunger strikers not in SHUs have been thrown in solitary as punishment for acts of solidarity. (PHSS blog, July 22)

This historic hunger strike of 6,600 inmates, uniting without regard to race, religion, ethnicity or group affiliation, has inspired prisoners and supporters to new acts of courage and defiance. Support the California hunger strikers and build the prisoners’ movement everywhere!

It’s Not Over! Support Still Needed!

We need to keep up the pressure and support, because the CDCR is just trying to get the hungerstrike and the news about the deplorable, torturous conditions out of the media.
We need to make sure the CDCR is doing what it said it shall do.

July 22nd 2011
From: Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Mediators from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity’s Mediation team spoke with the Short Corridor Collective, four representatives of the hunger strike leaders at Pelican Bay and confirmed the leaders have accepted an offer from the CDCR.

When this news was announced at a vigil in Oakland last night, one family member responded: “I’m not going to believe it until my son tells me so.” She will be seeing him at Pelican Bay this weekend.

According to family members and friends of prisoners, as well as the CDCR, hunger strikers continue to refuse food across CA– in at least CCI Tehachapi, Corcoran and Calipatria. It is unclear how long they will continue, if they are aware of the agreement or even believe given the misinformation CDCR has been circulating. As families and friends gear up for another round of weekend visits, we will have more information as to whether hunger strikers will continue protesting CDCR’s policies and conditions in the coming days.

The leaders confirmed CDCR’s announcement that immediate changes in SHU policy are the opportunity for some educational programs, provision of all-weather caps (beanies) and wall calendars. More substantially, the leaders explained the CDCR has agreed to investigate changes to other policies including the gang validation and debriefing processes, and it is now up to supporters outside prison to make sure the CDCR upholds their promise.
Many supporters, as well as the Pelican Bay hunger strike leaders, see this as a victory. The leaders explained to the mediation team they are overwhelmed by the support and solidarity of family members, community members, organizations, and people across the world joining their fight for human rights, and cannot adequately express their appreciation. They also explained this is in no way over. Using a sports reference, the Short Corridor Collective insisted: “this is just the first quarter,” and what a start it has been.

Read the rest here.

Also see this article in the SF Bay View:

Hunger strikes and national protests continue
July 22nd 2011
Protesting torture in America continues in and out of prisons

BACK TO SAC ON MONDAY! The hunger strike continues in Tehachapi, Corcoran and Calipatria state prisons, so we’ll keep the pressure on CDCR and Gov. Jerry Brown!

On Monday, July 25, noon-4 p.m., prisoners’ families and supporters will meet in Sacramento, at Fremont Park, 15th & Q, at 11:30 a.m.; march to CDCR headquarters, 1515 S St., rally noon-2 p.m.; march to State Building to deliver organizational letter to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office 2-4 p.m. RIDE-SHARE West Oakland BART 9:30 a.m. Meanwhile, keep calling CDCR and Gov. Brown demanding more humane treatment of prisoners across California.

by Deborah Dupre, Human Rights Examiner

The historical prisoner hunger strike led by 11 now “shrunken” but alive Pelican Bay Prison inmates advocating human rights, peace and justice continues according to officials, prisoners’ families and prisoner attorney Marilyn McMahon of California Prison Focus, despite announcements Thursday that it ended. Prison officials acknowledge that prisoners for the fourth week are refusing food numbers in the hundreds. Advocates say the number could be in the thousands after California Department of Corrections (CDC) negotiated a token agreement pertaining only to Pelican Bay.

For hours after announcements that the strike ended, communications flying between frustrated reporters recently banned from California prisons, attorneys and family members of prisoners concluded a twofold analysis. The strike ended at Pelican Bay Prison, but until the five core demands are met there, strike leaders’ message to the public is to continue national protests. Secondly, since Thursday’s “token agreement” only pertained to Pelican Bay, the spiraled strike at up to 15 other prisons continues.

A message to the public from the 11 strike leaders was issued by attorney Marilyn McMahon at 7 p.m. PST, Thursday, during a World Can’t Wait teleconference with 15 prisoner advocates and reporters across the nation. Hunger strike leaders had just requested that McMahon relay the public message that the sole reason they got this far is due to “outside actions.” They said they need the “outside movement to continue to make sure the agreement is kept,” especially related to “isolation units.”

According to McMahon, only a “few token gestures have been made by officials” and “people are still being tortured in America.”

California Prison Focus issued a statement late Thursday confirming hunger strike leaders at Pelican Bay entered into an agreement with CDCR officials “to end their hunger strike in exchange for a major policy review of SHU housing conditions, gang validation process and debriefing process.”

Among “over 7,000 prisoners” hunger striking since July 1, 17 Pelican Bay prisoners are in the “worst” shape, having lost 20 to 35 pounds, McMahon said. Strike leaders told her Thursday that they all look “shrunken.”

“They are amazingly mentally clear,” she said. “Many people in the SHU are political prisoners. The only chance they have to ever touch their babies is to debrief.”

Debriefing involves snitching on another inmate, denouncing him as a gang member. This automatically results in exoneration of the snitcher and condemnation of the target. The target is then transferred, with no other evidence, to a Security Housing Unit (SHU) for 23 hours per day of indefinite solitary confinement, putting an end to contact with children and other family members that predictably results in mental injury. Some have been in the SHU for 30 years, according to McMahon.

Among prison protesters’ five core demands is ending the debriefing policy, as reported by LA Times.

Official count of prisoners still refusing food

Hours after announcing the historical hunger strike ended at Pelican Bay, CDC officials acknowledged that over 500 inmates continued to refuse meals at three other state prisons: “More than 400 at the California State Prison in Corcoran … more than 100 at California Correctional Institute in Tehachapi [and] about 29 at Calipatria State Prison,” according to prison spokeswoman Terry Thornton.

LA Times reported that the Pelican Bay inmates “agreed to resume eating in exchange for ‘cold-weather caps, wall calendars and some educational opportunities,’” according to a statement by CDC Secretary Matthew Cate on Thursday morning.

Thornton, who called the strikers a “moving target,” stated that many hunger strikers accepted meals at varying points during the three-week protest, but, as family members have gone on record stating, some prison officials were telling prisoners days ago that the strike ended.

Thornton also stated that about 110 inmates “continuously refused state issued food from July 1 through yesterday,” July 20, the day before the Pelican Bay prison strike officially ended.

Seventeen inmates with “early symptoms of starvation” were moved from Pelican Bay to Corcoran Prison to ensure “sufficient and appropriate medical resources” for treatment if they continued striking, said Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the federal receiver overseeing prison healthcare.

Torture in California prisons can end, Gov. Jerry Brown

CDC used cruel actions to end the strike, according to Carol Strickman, a staff attorney for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and staff to the mediation team representing the hunger strikers.

For the rest, with links, please go to: SF Bay View.

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More news via Email:

Bay Area rides to Sacramento, California action…

lisa@criticalresistance.org Fri, July 22, 2011 5:55:42 PM Subject: MONDAY: The strike continues! Mobilize to CDCR!

As many of you have heard, the Short Corridor Collective at Pelican Bay have ended their hunger strike and have declared it a success! Their courageous act of refusing to eat for 4 weeks has successfully put the issues of torturous isolation units and California’s abominable debriefing program in the international & national media, it has boosted a growing movement for the rights of prisoners, and is unifying prisoners of different racial groups for a struggle against their real and shared enemies: the unfair policies and practices of CDCR.

Many of you also know that the hunger strike continues in Tehachapi, Corcoran, and Calipatria State Prisons.

We must continue to put pressure on CDCR and Governor Jerry Brown!

On Monday, 7/25 from noon-4pm in Sacramento, family members, community based organizations, and community members from around the state are mobilizing to support the ongoing California Prisoner Hunger Strike!

Meet in Sacramento at Fremont Park (on 15th St., b/w Q & P Streets) @ 11:30am.

March to CDCR headquarters (1515 S. Street) and rally from noon-2pm.

March to State Building to deliver organizational letter to Governor Jerry Brown’s office from 2-4pm.

*Please note that this will be a PEACEFUL, non-arrestable action.

Please take the time to forward this email to all of your contacts, and continue to call CDCR and Governor Brown demanding more humane treatment of prisoners across California.

For more information, please check the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Blog or call (510) 444-0484.

BAY AREA Ride-share: Meet at West Oakland BART at 9:30am, rides will be leaving at 10am. If you have a car & want to offer rides, or if you need a ride, please contact Lisa Roellig:lisaroellig@gmail.com 415-238-1801 (cell).

Thank you for your continued support!

In Struggle,

Lisa Marie Alatorre for Critical Resistance
————
On July 23rd a great relly was organized in Ohio at the Ohio State Penitentiary in support of the California Hunger Strikers’ Demands. In that prison in Youngstown, those prisoners known as the “Lucasville 5” went on hungerstrike in January of this year to successfully challenge the conditions there. They are in full support of the California hunger strikers and are eeager to hear about the situation.

Finally:

Some gains so far:

– While the CDCR vigorously dehumanizes prisoners, and refused to negotiate, saying (“we don’t negotiate with prisoners”), they were effectively forced into offering an agreement to make changes;

– this historic strike has demanded everyone who is against torture in any way to recognize prisoners as human beings, to act on their beliefs that no one should ever be tortured;

– this historic hunger strike has widened and intensified international scrutiny into prison conditions and policies in California, and around the United States, as well as solidarity in intervening in CDCR “business as usual.” According to Terry Thorton, spokesperson for CDCR, this strike was “a major disruption to CDCR’s normal operations” (i.e. of control, isolation and torture);

– this historic strike has (re)inspired prisoners to work together in struggling for their humanity to be recognized;

– this historic strike has proven to family members, former prisoners, advocates, lawyers, faith-based and religious groups, medical professionals, and community members and organizations that we can and need to continue to work together better in the struggle to change the conditions we live in, and to transform the devastation and disappearance prisons cause in our communities

– this historic strike has re-invigorated rigorous and collective prisoner-led resistance in the US.