Revolution Online, October 13, 2011

Update on Prisoner Hunger Strike: Strike at Pelican Bay Ends, Continues at Other Prisons

On October 13, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity reported that the hunger strike at Pelican Bay Prison had ended after nearly three weeks and that prisoners are continuing to strike at other prisons. The report said:

"The prisoners have cited a memo from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) detailing a comprehensive review of every Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoner in California whose SHU sentence is related to gang validation. The review will evaluate the prisoners' gang validation under new criteria and could start as early as the beginning of next year….

"The mediation team stated that while the memo indicates statewide changes in the gang validation process for SHU prisoners, the CDCR did not address the status of hunger strikers at Calipatria or Salinas Valley prisons, who are not SHU prisoners. All sources say that at this point, these prisoners will continue to refuse food and stand behind the 5 core demands for all prisoners in California. A recent letter from a prisoner at Calipatria states, 'Men have … placed their lives on the line in order to put a stoppage to all these injustices we are subjected to day in and day out. People would rather die than continue living under their current conditions. …It is a privilege, an honor to be a part of the struggle, to be a part of history for the betterment of all those inside these cement walls… I will go as far as my body allows me to go.'

"Gang validation is a practice that the CDCR uses throughout California prisons. Hundreds of prisoners who have been validated at Calipatria have been held in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for as long as four years, awaiting transfer to Pelican Bay."

Earlier on October 13, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity posted the following example of how the CDCR has been retaliating against the hunger strikers:

"Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity has received letters from hunger strikers throughout the state, which have been severely delayed due to the CDCR's retaliation of tampering with strikers' mail.

"Chad, a hunger striker at Pelican Bay, details some of the retaliation he has experienced for participating in the strike again:

"'In an effort to break my strike, they began withholding my pain medication as leverage. At first cold turkey until I reminded them of the Plata and the federal judge's ruling that it is criminal to cold turkey a long-time recipient of medications for chronic pain. So they issued just enough to clear them, but so minute and ineffective to cause extraordinary pain, from both disease and withdrawal symptoms. When that failed they came to my cell and said I need to go to the CTC [infirmary] because I'm so sick and totally disabled. It's very, very worse than SHU conditions. It freezes 24 hours a day and you are entitled only to the linen on your bed, what's on your back, and a towel.'

"Chad, who suffers from end stage liver disease and hepatitis C, goes on to explain how guards ordered him out of his cell when it was clear his medical condition was worsening:

"'In an effort to ‘help me' and ensure my dire health needs are met, when I refused to go they extracted me. A very brutal act. They did not enter as I prepared for, but instead, with three types of "toys," an overwhelmingly suffocating gas, or like an impenetrable cloud or fog, filled my cell. Then they tossed in a type of gas bomb. Then hit me with a direct spray of another gas. On the verge of passing out I left the cell. Interestingly, all the taunting and provoking challenges [by guards] abruptly ended when the video camera arrived. What happened to me was wrong on so many levels.'

"Chad is currently in the prison's infirmary under the care of the infamous Dr. Sayre, who is notorious for abusing prisoners. Chad ended his hunger strike after ten days.

"Pelican Bay hunger strikers have also been transferred to Corcoran as retaliation for striking. During the first round of the strike in July, 17 strike representatives at Pelican Bay were transferred to Corcoran, a facility unlike Pelican Bay that is permitted to force-feed hunger strikers."


Check back at for continuing developments in this very significant struggle.

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