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Folsom hunger strike begins today, May 25 – your support is needed

May 25, 2017

by Anthony Estrada via a family member

Supporters rally in front of CDCR headquarters in Sacramento on July 18, 2011, 10 days into the first mass hunger strike to end longterm solitary confinement led by prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU. During that first strike, participation peaked at 6,600; the second one later in 2011 drew 12,000 participants and the third, in 2013, peaked at 30,000. – Photo: Grant Slater, KPCC

On May 16, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they will begin a hunger strike on May 25. This announcement comes in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom.

Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners. Incarcerated people commonly face disciplinary actions, retaliation by prison officials, abuse and further denial of their basic human rights during hunger strikes- simply for exerting their free will and resisting their mistreatment.

The danger of these threats is compounded by the long-term health consequences and extreme physical weakness that accompany starving yourself in an environment that provides woefully inadequate medical care. In short, these prisoners will desperately need our support.

Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners.

When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.

Today, the hunger strike begins. Please read the information below and make phone calls as soon as possible. All of the contact information you need is included at the bottom. The following media release comes directly from incarcerated people at FSP who will be on strike:

On May 25, 2017, prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) in Represa, California, have started a hunger strike to peacefully protest the conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies, to no avail. Further, prisoners have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials and met with only resistance and silence.

Folsom ASU is like stepping back in time to the era when prison officials blanketed the injustice imposed on its prisoners in solitary confinement and bluntly turned a blind eye to mistreatment and the stripping away of basic human dignity and elements. As CDCR made drastic changes throughout its prisons to put prisoners on roads of rehabilitation and more humane living conditions, Folsom officials reject the ideals and continue the injustice of the past.

To those reading who may find it hard to believe, just a few years ago many will recall this same fight took place within the SHU (Security Housing Unit). The direction, message and programs CDCR implemented for long term isolation to rehabilitate is ignored, shut out and rejected here in Folsom ASU.

On May 25, 2017, prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregation Unit) in Represa, California, have started a hunger strike to peacefully protest the conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregation unit.

Some might assume the impact of the struggle men endured within the SHU to gain fair, dignified living conditions would have a long-lasting effect, yet men stand again, just as unified, ready to sacrifice their bodies, health and life to achieve what has already been hard fought for and accomplished. Why must California prisoners continue to sacrifice health and life, involve lawyers and courts, in order to be treated like human beings? We will continue to remind CDCR officials they will be held accountable for this type of treatment.

Prisoners in B4 ASU are forced to sit or stand idle in their cells or yard cages without meaningful exercise, education or rehabilitative programs. We are already forced to endure atypical and significant hardships due to being in segregated housing and solitary confinement. When taken together, these conditions constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution.

Over 600 prisoners walked on May 17, 2013, to raise $10,000 for cancer research. Note that the prisoners are as solidly Black and Brown as the staff is solidly white. Inciting race conflict among prisoners used to be a principal method of control by staff, but that weapon was blunted by the Agreement to End Hostilities, written and adopted by prisoners in August 2012. – Photo: Laura Newell, London Telegraph

We are being deprived of basic human needs, including normal human contact, environmental and sensory stimulation, mental and physical health, entertainment, physical exercise, sleep, access to courts and meaningful activity. Prolonged exposure to these deprivations has caused and will cause serious physical and psychological harm.

FSP (Folsom State Prison) is deliberately indifferent to prisoners’ suffering. They are aware that prolonged social isolation and lack of environmental stimuli cause “serious psychological pain and suffering and permanent psychological pain and suffering, and permanent psychological and physical injury.”

CDCR is aware (Madrid-Ashker-Coleman) that the conditions of extreme isolation will likely inflict some degree of psychological trauma. These injuries include chronic insomnia, severe concentration and memory problems, anxiety and other ailments. This is why all SHUs and most ASUs within CDCR have provided prisoners with the opportunity to have TVs, pull up bars, education, social and rehabilitative programs.

However, FSP continues to claim lack of money as an excuse to not fall in line with CDCR’s stated goals, and is content to ignore the suffering of men in its care. We continue to be confined alone in our cells with only misery for company.

Unfortunately, our voice in here can be drowned out by administration, but those out there can help by making their voice heard in concern about our treatment. We urge you to call and email all officials and ask questions on the conditions here, and make sure procedures are met for those hunger striking.

The following are officials to contact:

Were you sent to a secretary or voicemail? Leave a message for the official you are trying to contact.

Is this your first time calling in? You can find a detailed guide here.

Sample script

“Hello, my name is ____________ and I’m a resident of California. I am calling in support of the hunger strike that is beginning today at Folsom State Prison. I am deeply concerned about the inhumane conditions of confinement that have brought this on, and strongly urge you to act upon the prisoners’ demands, which are reasonable and amount to basic human rights.”

Send our brother some love and light: Anthony Estrada, T-80277, P.O. Box 715071, Represa CA 95671.

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