Inmates, advocates demand change as US prison hunger strike enters 3rd week

Press TV

For the third time in two years, California inmates are refusing food to protest what they say are inhumane conditions.

Inmates are starving themselves to change the state’s practice of indefinite solitary confinement.

The protest is centered on California’s use of security housing units, or SHUs.   

SHUs are small, windowless cells that inmates say are part of a system of state-sponsored torture.

The strike started July 8th with SHU inmates in Pelican Bay State Prison located in Northern California.

At it’s peak, more than 30-thousand inmates were refusing food.

Now prison officials say the number has dropped to less than one thousand.

But inmate advocates say the officials are intentionally downplaying the strike to make it look less severe.

Prison officials have moved strike leaders into deeper isolation known as administrative segregation.

Lawyers say officials have removed legal papers from cells and barred an attorney from meeting with inmates.

Despite this, inmates are putting out the message that the strike is far from over.

Mitchell Giovannini says his brother-in-law has been in a Pelican Bay SHU for more than 20 years.

Giovannini says state officials need to agree to the inmates’ demands, which mainly involve an end to indefinite solitary confinement.

Advocates say the inmates continue to pursue a class-action lawsuit against the state of California.

The lawsuit contends solitary confinement is a violation of prisoners’ constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

Hunger strikers issued five core demands:

1. Eliminate group punishments for individual rules violations.

2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.

3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.

4. Provide adequate food.

5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates.

6 thoughts on “Inmates, advocates demand change as US prison hunger strike enters 3rd week

  1. Every act of cruelty has to be given an innocent-sounding euphemism, so now we have solitary confinement re-branded as “security housing units” to hide the fact that prisoners are intentionally being driven to insanity.

    And this isn’t limited to violent prisoners, or career criminals. Anyone the guards don’t like goes to solitary, even if they’re only locked up for non-payment of parking tickets.

    It’s time to storm the Bastille and pardon everyone in prison. We’ll need those cells for politicians and corporate executives, who have caused more harm and hurt in our society than any crack-dealer or murderer ever has.

  2. Pelican Bay Prison is where the US keeps some of its WORST murderers, rapists, gang bangers, serial killers, psychopaths and truly nuttiest of the nuttiest. If they go on a hunger strike I say take them all out and HANG THEM ALL and do the world a favor rather than keep them alive. Only a total MORON would give in to their demands, they are the ones who are lucky the never got the death penalty and SHOULD have but the commies would not allow it. Hang them all, hang them all high and save the tax payers a lot of money.

    1. Well Vekar, obviously you seem to think that everyone in prison is guilty or fairly convicted and not wrongfully charged or overly sentenced for some bogus crimes ? You talk about taking them guys out and hanging them but don`t you realy mean the crooked cops and politicions and prison guards and wardens? You must never have been arrested or wrongfully convicted of anything right Vekar.

  3. The worst crooks and murderers are out and about, free as a bird and committing more crimes on a daily basis.
    Some will even run again for office in 2014.

  4. I’ve met a few guys who’ve been to Pelican Bay. Not one good word to say about it. If you’re in Super Max, you’re in cell by youself for 23 hours a day. You get 1 hour a day on the yard, and then back to your cell. You’re fed in your cell.

    If that isn’t damn near the same thing as solitary confinement, I don’t know what is.

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