Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

Prisoners at Pelican Bay SHU Announce Hunger Strike

Revolution newspaper received a copy of the “Final Notice: PBSP SHU D-Corridor Hunger Strike” written by prisoners in the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison. This notice calls for a hunger strike, to start on July 1, 2011, and includes five core demands, which in summary are:

1. End “group punishment” where an individual prisoner breaks a rule and prison officials punish a whole group of prisoners of the same race.

2. Abolish “debriefing” and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. False and/or highly questionable “evidence” is used to accuse prisoners of being active/inactive members of prison gangs who are then sent to the SHU where they are subjected to long-term isolation and torturous conditions. One of the only ways these prisoners can get out the SHU is if they “debrief”—that is, give prison officials information on gang activity.

3. Comply with recommendations from a 2006 U.S. commission to “make segregation a last resort” and “end conditions of isolation.”

4. Provide Adequate Food. Prisoners report unsanitary conditions and small quantities of food. They want adequate food, wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals and an end to the use of food as a way to punish prisoners in the SHU.

5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates—including the opportunity to “engage in self-help treatment, education, religious and other productive activities...” which are routinely denied. Demands include one phone call per week, one photo per year, 2 packages a year, more visiting time, permission to have wall calendars, and sweat suits and watch caps (warm clothing is often denied even though cells and the exercise cage can be bitterly cold).

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