Last July prisoners at the Special Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, in California, went on a hunger strike. Some prisoners had lived for decades in torturous conditions. They felt they had two choices. Continue their slow torturous death or resist in the only way they could… by putting their own lives on the line. They began a hunger strike.
This hunger strike was joined by prisoners at 13 of California’s prisons and at one point during the hunger strike it numbered 6,600 prisoners. It became the largest prison strike in California history.
On Aug. 23, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (Democrat-San Francisco), held a hearing on human rights violations of prisoners who have been tortured in solitary confinement units throughout the state of California. (On the blog “Interchange” you can read a detailed written account of that meeting).
Between the end of the first phase of the hunger strike and this hearing, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had only given the prisoners small items (such as sweat suits, watch caps, colour pencils, etc.) with promises of seriously looking in to the issues. Click here for the list of demands from the prisoners.
CDCR reneged on any real dialogue; to make any real changes. So prisoners at both Pelican Bay & Calipatria, in the State of California, feel they have no other choice than to resume the hunger strike to stop the torturous conditions of Security Housing Units (SHUs).
For an in-depth article on the first phase of the hunger strike, up to August 20th you may wish to read Hungerstrike Recap: California Prisoners Showed the Way!
Last July when the first phase of a hunger strike took place CKUT was there to report on it, in French and English, on such shows as: The Prison Radio Show, Off The Hour and En Profondeur.
Tune in to the Prison Radio Show between 11am-12pm on September 30th, for an update on the second phase of this hunger strike.