by Diana George, Free Us All Coalition
Seattle, Washington (June 26, 2013) – Prisoners in the state of Washington will go on strike on July 8, 2013, refusing to work on that day. Some prisoners in Washington, including some in juvenile facilities, have vowed to join the nonviolent strike. The strike’s aim is two-fold: to show support for the hunger strikers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to join California prisoners in protesting long-term solitary confinement and other human rights abuses in U.S. prisons.
The Washington prison strike on July 8 will coincide with hunger strikes and work stoppages at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, and at least four other prisons in California. The California prisoners’ demands include an end to long-term solitary confinement and to such practices as “gang debriefing.”
To gain release from solitary confinement, California prisoners are pressured to “debrief,” denouncing fellow prisoners as gang members, who are then punished with solitary confinement. Some California prisoners have been held in isolation for more than 30 years; the strike’s aim is to end this torture.
The California prison strikes will be the third such strike to occur in the last three years. On July, 1, 2011, 6,600 prisoners in the state of California went on a nonviolent hunger strike that began in Pelican Bay State Prison and spread to other facilities in the state. Later that year, their demands still unmet, nearly 12,000 California prisoners resumed the hunger strike in September and October 2011.
This year’s call for a strike includes nonviolent work stoppage by prisoners in the general population, alongside the hunger strikes of those prisoners in solitary confinement. In California, as in Washington, work stoppages are slated to include all work, including tasks essential to the day-to-day functioning of the prisons, increasing the strike’s impact.
Diana George of the Free Us All Coalition in Washington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, she recommends http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/ and http://solitarywatch.com/2013/06/01/gao-report-questions-widespread-use-of-solitary-confinement-in-federal-prisons/.