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The call: Hunger strike to begin July 1

June 3, 2011

Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison are planning to begin an indefinite hunger strike as of July 1 to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment. This hunger strike has the potential to become the most significant event in California prison reform in the last decade. Public support is crucial. A few months ago, Ohio prisoners won all their demands after a petition with 1,200 signatures was given to officials. Record your support by signing the Pelican Bay petition – and ask your friends to sign it too – at http://www.change.org/petitions/support-prisoners-on-hunger-strike-at-pelican-bay-state-prison.

by Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford)

It was torture at Pelican Bay State Prison, located on the rugged, remote northwest California coast, that initiated the case confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court this month to drastically reduce California’s prison population. The reduction is intended to improve medical care so incompetent and torturous that prisoners have been dying at the rate of more than one a week. The complaint’s description of a Black prisoner plunged into scalding water until his skin peeled off caught the attention of federal Judge Thelton Henderson, a hero of the Black community, who has overseen the case through the years. – Photo: Nick Baker, AP
This is a call for all prisoners in security housing units (SHUs), administrative segregation (ad-seg), and general populations (GP), as well as the free oppressed and non-oppressed people, to support the indefinite July 1 peaceful hunger strike in protest of the violation of our civil and human rights here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU), short corridor D1 through D4 and its overflow, D5 through D10.

It should be clear to everyone that none of the hunger strike participants want to die, but we are taking this dire action due to our circumstances: The state of California has sentenced all of us on indeterminate SHU program to a “civil death” merely on the word of a prison informer – a snitch.

The purpose of the hunger strike is to combat both the psychological and physical torture in ad-seg and the SHU, as well as the justifications used to support treatment of the type that leads to prisoners being subjected to a civil death. Those subjected to indeterminate SHU programs are neglected and deprived of the basic human necessities while withering away in a very isolated and hostile environment.

Prison officials have utilized the assassination of prisoners’ character by each other as well as the general public in order to justify their inhumane treatment of prisoners. The guards’ “code of silence” allows them the freedom to use everything at their disposal in order to break those prisoners who prison officials and correctional officers (COs) believe cannot be broken.

It is this mentality that set in motion the establishing of the short corridor, D1 through D4 and its D5 though D10 overflow. This mentality has created the current atmosphere in which COs and prison officials have agreed upon their plan to break indeterminate SHU prisoners.

This protracted attack on SHU prisoners cuts across every aspect of the prison’s function: food, mail, visiting, medical, yard, hot/cold temperatures, privileges (canteen, packages, property etc.), isolation, cell searches, family and friends, and socio-culture, economic and political deprivation. This is nothing short of the psychological and physical torture of SHU and ad-seg prisoners. It takes place day in and day out, without a break or rest.

The prison’s gang intelligence unit was extremely angered at the fact that prisoners who had been held in SHU under inhuman conditions for anywhere from 10 to 40 years had not been broken. So the gang intelligence unit created the “short corridor” and intensified the pressure of their attacks on the prisoners housed there. The object was to use blanket pressure to encourage these particular isolated prisoners to debrief – i.e. snitch – in order to be released from SHU.

The COs and administrative officials are all in agreement and all do their part in depriving prisoners in the short corridor and its overflow of their basic civil and human rights. None of the deliberate attacks are a figment of anyone’s imagination. These continuous attacks are carried out against prisoners to a science by all of them. They are deliberate and conscious acts against essentially defenseless prisoners.

It is these ongoing attacks that have led the short corridor and overflow SHU prisoners to organize ourselves around an indefinite hunger strike in an effort to combat the dehumanizing treatment we prisoners of all races are subjected to on a daily basis.

Therefore, on July 1, 2011, we ask that all prisoners throughout the state of California who have been suffering injustices in general population, administrative segregation and solitary confinement to join in our peaceful strike to put a stop to the blatant violations of prisoners’ civil and human rights. As you know, prison gang investigators have used threats of validation and other means to get prisoners to engage in a protracted war against each other in order to serve their narrow interests. If you cannot participate in the hunger strike, then support it in principle by not eating for the first 24 hours of the strike.

I say that those of you who carry yourselves as principled human beings, no matter your housing status, must fight to right this and other egregious wrongs. Although it is “us” today – united New Afrikans, Whites, Northern and Southern Mexicans and others – it will be you all tomorrow. It is in your interests to peacefully support us in this protest today and to beware of agitators, provocateurs and obstructionists, because they are the ones who put 90 percent of us back here because they could not remain principled even within themselves.

The following demands are all similar to what is allowed in other supermax prisons (e.g. federal Florence, Colorado, Ohio and Indiana State Penitentiaries). The claim by CDCR and PBSP that implementing the practices of the federal prison system or that of other states would be a threat to safety and security are exaggerations.

This call is co-signed by D. Troxell, B-76578; T. Ashker, C-58191; S.N. Jamaa-Dewberry, C-35671; A. Castellanos, C-17275; and G. Franco, D-46556. They, along with the call’s author, Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford, C-35671), can be contacted by writing to them at PBSP-SHU, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.

Hunger strikers’ five core demands

Prisoners in the Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit D-Facility Corridor will begin an indefinite hunger strike on July 1, 2011, in order to draw attention to and to peacefully protest 25 years of torture via the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s arbitrary, illegal and progressively more punitive policies and practices, as summarized in our “Formal Complaint,” which can be read at www.prisons.org/hungerstrike.htm. PBSP-SHU inmates’ hunger strike protest is to continue indefinitely until the following changes are made:

1. Individual Accountability: This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates’ rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria: The debriefing policy is illegal and redundant, as pointed out in the Formal Complaint on page 7, section IV-A. The active/inactive gang status criteria must be modified in order to comply with state law and applicable CDC rules and regulations – e.g., see Formal Complaint, page 7, section IV-B – as follows:

A) Cease the use of innocuous association to deny an active status.

B) Cease the use of informant and debriefer allegations of illegal gang activity to deny inactive status, unless such allegations are also supported by factual corroborating evidence, in which case CDCR and PBSP staff shall and must follow the regulations by issuing a rule violation report and affording the inmate his due process required by law.

3. Comply with U.S. Commission 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement: CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons’ final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:

A) End Conditions of Isolation (page 14): Ensure that prisoners in SHU and ad-seg (administrative segregation) have regular meaningful contact and freedom from extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm (pages 52-57).

B) Make Segregation a Last Resort (p. 14): Create a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and ad-seg the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious and other productive activities relating to having a sense of being a part of the community.

C) End Long-Term Solitary Confinement: Release inmates to general prison population who have been warehoused indefinitely in SHU for the last 10 to 40 years (and counting).

D) Provide SHU Inmates Immediate Meaningful Access to:

i) adequate natural sunlight;

ii) quality health care and treatment, including the mandate of transferring all PBSP-SHU inmates with chronic health care problems to the New Folsom Medical SHU facility.

4. Provide Adequate Food: Cease the practice of denying adequate food, provide wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.

A) PBSP staff must cease their use of food as a tool to punish SHU inmates.

B) Provide a sergeant/lieutenant to independently observe the serving of each meal, and ensure each tray has the complete issue of food on it.

C) Feed the inmates whose job it is to serve SHU meals with meals that are separate from the pans of food sent from kitchen for SHU meals.

5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates. Examples include:

A) Expand visiting regarding amount of time and adding one day per week.

B) Allow one photo per year.

C) Allow a weekly phone call.

D) Allow two annual packages per year. Base a 30-pound package on “item” weight and not packaging and box weight.

E) Expand canteen and package items allowed. Allow us to have the items in their original packaging. The cost for cosmetics, stationary and envelopes should not count towards the max draw limit.

F) Allow more TV channels.

G) Allow TV-radio combinations or TV and a small battery operated radio.

H) Allow hobby craft items – art paper, colored pens, small pieces of colored pencils, watercolors, chalk etc.

I) Allow sweat suits and watch caps.

J) Allow wall calendars.

K) Install pull-up/dip bars on SHU yards.

L) Allow correspondence courses that require proctored exams.

For more information and ongoing updates about the hunger strike, check the California Prison Focus website, www.prisons.org/hungerstrike.htm. To reach two of the coordinators, email Ed Mead at mead@prisonart.org or Marilyn McMahon of California Prison Focus at marilyn@prisons.org.

 

30 thoughts on “The call: Hunger strike to begin July 1

  1. Birgit Czerny

    The real sadness in this story, in this decision, is the fact, that human souls are forced to act in such a cruel way to themselves, due to a merciless system – a system of pure brutal force. A hunger strike is a one way street – leading into death( approximately after 50-60 days) or major medical problems – may be lasting for the rest of their lives. A hunger strike is not an ethic act in my opinion – it doesn't respect the value of life. The decision of these men in favour of a hunger strike clearly shows the non-ethic attitude of the current prison-system in California. WAKE UP NOW – California ! Politicians should STOP right now the ongoing inhuman procedures in these prison facilites. TODAY ! It is ENOUGH ! Act in favour of humanity.

    Birgit Czerny, member of the Green Party Frankfurt, Germany , BirgitCzerny@aol.com

    Reply
    1. Bernardo Piaggio

      Birgit, as much as I would like to agree with you on this subject matter – I can't. The prisoners knew what they where getting into and they are aware about the judicial system in California and the U.S. Having said that, it doesn't mean it is okay, but they have a chance to move to Germany and commit the crimes over there where the system is a bit more humane. Most of the people in prison deserve to be in prison. Most of the people on death-row should have considered their action prior to acting.

      Reply
  2. Scott

    These are my demands, 1.) Stop killing inicent people, 2.) Stop sexually abusing children and women, 3.) Stop gang violence in our communities.

    How many demands do victims get? Anyone? NONE!!! I'm all about the rights of human beings, those who live active non-violent lives, pay taxes and love their fellow man!

    Reply
    1. ImTrixKat

      not everyone in prison is in for crimes such as those . . . you can't pick and chose civil rights. They don't need everything on that list, but 10-40 yrs of isolation is above and beyond

      Reply
  3. Rich

    You bleeding heart liberals so quick to defend those who wouyld kill you and rape your children. These inmates are in SHU because they have been deemed to dangerous to be amoung OTHER murderers, gang members thieves child molestors and thieves. They get the same portion of food that general population inmates get. Television (paid for by us the tax payer) packages from home and other luxery items they are demanding are not a right, they are a privlidge that their actions have caused them to lose. These PoS are not your choir boys, they are people who will use you and kill you given the opprotunity. They willt hank you for your support as they put a knife in your chest and look you dead in the eye and tell you its nothing personal.
    They FAKE their condition and punishment into something it isnt because they know you bleeding hearts will take up their cause. They FAKE breaking contact with their gangs to get out of SHU without debriefing so they can maintain their status. They run their game on you weak minded people and you eat up like a fat kid with ice cream. They love you people because youre mentally weak. How do I know? They told me.

    Reply
    1. Reinhard Klapproth

      The US has by far the highest prison inmate population of all democratic countries. Almost one percent is incarcerated in comparison e.g. to Germany where one in thousand is. The harsher you treat the criminals the more you get. Strange, isn't it? German prisons aren't funny either, but the main objective of incarceration is to try to show that there is a life worth living without crime. Germany's streets are safer, homicide rate is lower, but even murderers get out of prison after about twenty years (with few exceptions). Can you explain that to me? Do you think Germans are better people? It seems you have to chose between tough retaliation and safer streets.

      Reply
  4. happymealer

    that piece of shit was not put in scalding hot water…..hey hippies try a little experiment rub your own shit all over your body leave on for a few days then rinse your weakminded body with cold water i bet you will have a serious rash on your body at the very least ever hear of chafeing these dirty baby killing grangma raping thrill killing inmates are masters of manipultation come walk the line in pbsb someday and educate yourself dont let these dark and deviant minded monsters fool you they are doing this because the shu short corridors make it almost impossible for them to run their rackets….and to order innocent people on the streets to be further victemized by these unrepentant and evil thugs.

    Reply
  5. peacemaker/colt44

    poor and helpless human beings?how about the poor and helpless human being in this same shu unit that was caught on tape molesting his 11 yearold daughter in the visiting room surrounded by dozens of his cohorts and family members while his wife her mother watched……ohh please help me im the victim of racism and the man wont get me hbo or a dip bar ….pardon me while i vomit!!!

    Reply
  6. olive

    I cannot believe people are actually falling for these guys! Those individuals have a way out, no one is forcing them to live the life they chose to live! If you want out get out. They are put there for a reason, and I don't wanna hear it's because of my race. If that was the case, everyone in the state would be locked down!

    Reply
  7. Steelheader

    Haha! Make sure they take all their canteen (food bought through a monthly draw of $240) before they declare a TRUE hunger strike. I've seen it before. They stock up for months on canteen items before a "declared" hunger strike. That way when they refuse the state issued meals they still have food items to get them by in their cells. They will even share their canteen with other inmates on the tiers, as long as they "participate" in the strike. This is not their first rodeo, and it wont be their last.

    Reply
  8. James Harris

    Even inmates have rights.All of you talking trash here should spend 6 months in prison before you run your fowl mouths about something you know nothing about

    Reply
      1. Concerned

        You work there, you don't live on the other side of the bars. Wonder what you'd be forced to do living on the other side. I can understand your POV, but until we are the prisoners, I believe its wrong to pass judgement. Yes, if they are in there, there is a reason, I get that. I'm just saying…there's a difference between working there and living in there.

        Reply
    1. Smile

      James maybe you should not commit a FELONY!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW BOUT THAT..YOU HAVE THAT COMING YOUR DUMB A** BROKE A LAW SO MAN UP AND SUCK IT UP YOU YOU KNOW WHAT!!!! :)

      Reply
      1. ImTrixKat

        If James only spent 6 months, it is highly likely that he was there on a non-violent, low-level crime. There is a level system for a reason – the CDCR made the rules, they should follow them. Why do level one Inmate live on Level 4 yards? There ARE differences in crimes. Low-level, non-violent inmates are the most likely to suffer abuse OR learn to become hardened criminals on the inside. Women especially are subject to Level 4 prisons no matter their crime. I know, because YES, i committed a felony – over 10 years ago. Did my time and have not only been crime free, but haven't even had one police contact. My concern is that 95% of all inmates come home. Would we rather they come home with no hope to get a job, a place to live – ANY way at ALL to become a productive member of society? Is that what's best for society? It's time for restorative justice. The prisons should be for the violent and abusive. And if you guys feel toughened and have become hateful and inhuman working the men's prisons – go work at the womens prison – then you only have to worry about having your ear talked off! LOL

        Reply
  9. Reinhard Klapproth

    My, my, what is wrong with you? Prisoners are rabid dogs? With that attitude you are fully qualified as an Auschwitz guard: Treating jews as subhuman beings. Have the US turned into a fascist country?

    Reply
  10. Onewhohasbeenthere

    The jewish people were not killers nor were they committing any type of crime against their fellow people. They were law abiding citizens who were herded up and put into cattle cars and taken to Concentration camps. Taken to these camps by the sort of people we incarcerate now in an attempt to protect others like your self. Your analogy of being like an Auschwitz guard is totally erroneous. The prisons are full of self proclaimed Nazis who kill for the supreme right to being white, feeling they are the supreme race. The blacks are no better when they form groups such as the Black Gorilla Family, Black Panthers or Crips. Mexican groups such as the mexican Mafia, New Familia, or Texas Syndicate also kill without conscience all for illicit reasons. The fact that you assume I am advocating killing prisoners like rabid dogs actually displays your ability not to be able to read between the lines and be cognizant of what is actually being said. As for knowing something about what I am talking about ,I personally have lived is said environment for thirty years of my 67 years of life. Any moment of freedom for any one of these incarcerated inmates is an eminent threat towards any and everyone around them.

    Reply
  11. taxpaying ex-con

    There are some real pieces of sh-t in the SHU, both inmates and guards. And there are decent human beings in there, as well, both inmates and guards. There is an assumption that everyone in PB is a rapist murderer, and that just isn't true. But reality is harsh as f++k in PB, and inmates have to adapt to survive. Sometimes adapting will land your a$s in the SHU.

    Reply
  12. Natalie

    My bother did NOT rape, kill, victimize, sexually abuse any children/ women and he's in the SHU. The reason, because he's a drug addict. A "snitch" SAID my brother was a gang member and he has tattoo's so the DA/Cops/PO's etc….. assume it's true. My brother has made some mistakes in life and now will have to pay for the rest of his life since he now has a labeled put on him. Our family (30+ people) has been paying taxes for years, we're tax payers too……. God forbid your child makes the wrong decisions when they're in their 20's and then have to pay for the rest of their lives because a "snitch" wants privileges they may not get otherwise.

    Reply
    1. ImTrixKat

      I will keep your brother in my prayers. he's not the only one suffering under false pretenses and won't, unfortunately, be the last.

      Reply
    2. PBSP RN

      What has he done since he's been in prison I wonder? Often it isn't the original crime that lands them in the SHU… it is the what they do once on the inside. He isn't in there for being a sweet good kind hearted soul, I can tell you that.

      Reply
  13. dolores

    It seems there is so much hatered being poured out over this hunger strike and the men in prison involved. And this is coming from society that has earned thier freedom by being outstanding citizens. Since you are so rational I would like you to read the message these men are attempting to convey to society. They are not asking to be released to YOUR streets and many of them are in SHU only because of a "confidential informant" (who is also an inmate) has implicated them in some kind of wrong doings. In which, 90% of confidential information recieved from inmates is fabricated for personal favors. And although I cannot speak for all the men involved, if you were aware of the laws, life sentences are being handed out for no actual involvement in the crime. And one last thing, again though I cannot speak for all the men involved, they are strongly against child molesters and rapists. I would hope that I am entitled to an opinion without causing too much anger and hate.

    Reply
  14. zoo keeper

    some hunger strike,most of these scum tapped out the second day…what a joke!!lot of big talk not much action or support from the public.ha ha ha hey i have a novel idea dont do the crime if you cant do the time….for you inmate luvin welfare recievin low lifes…you just got played by your'e peep's in their cages again ….their are real problems in this world for the price of a cup of coffee you could feed a real starving affrikkin…not some ghetto monster who does not deserve or really need your'e help…

    Reply
  15. batowato

    .. sometime in 2003/4 i entered as CPF monitor for purpose of conducting interviews with shu prisoners that i either knew previously or had learnt of… thru office mail. as an experience for me.. RE entering a max. shu unit was both traumatizing… physically draining… and enraging 'tho' i kept a lid on. i manages to visit with several prisoners at different times… i regained composure and interest in talking with prisoners behind the pli-glass.. i forgot the strile invironment and intimideating cokmplex.. they seemed to be anble to cope… so i could, too…it's still is an amazing testament to the human spirit… and to true revolulutionasy spirit of resistance… i came out of shu that time… only 4 hours or so…… a stronger and better regrouped xprisoner… not only to rememeber what captivity is.. but moreso to feel the crawly stifling choking… sensation i felt then and now… freedom for all !!
    bato oheyo

    Reply

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