by Mary Ratcliff
The Daily PEN American reported today in a story headlined “Steve Champion, PEN Prison Writing Award Winner, Hunger Strikes in San Quentin”:
“Steve Champion, a prize-winning writer in the PEN Prison Writing contest, went on hunger strike in the Adjustment Center (solitary confinement) of San Quentin’s death row from Oct. 4 through Oct. 19. The strike was in protest of the harsh conditions and practices of the adjustment center, where he and another PEN prize-winning writer, Anthony Ross, have been held for nearly seven years. With Ross and another death row inmate, Crips founder Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams, Champion determined many years ago to turn from gang activity to self-education and constructive action. Nevertheless, Williams was executed in 2005, and at the same time Ross and Champion were thrust into the Adjustment Center. Champion became a crusading reporter and published a book, ‘Dead to Deliverance: A Death Row Memoir.’ Inspired by the Pelican Bay strikers against solitary confinement, Champion and his fellow prisoners drew up a list of demands, which appeared in the July 3, 2012, issue of the San Francisco Bay View.
“Champion ended his strike Oct. 19, after having lost over 51 pounds and having at least one major demand met: He has been promised that he will be released from his highly restrictive confinement after seven years of being held in ‘the hole.’ While Champion has yet to be moved from solitary, his advocates are cautiously optimistic and point to his writing and the calls and letters from outside supporters – such as PEN Prison Writing Committee members – as having made the difference.”
Read the rest of the story here.
The Bay View heartily congratulates Steve for an apparently successful strike. We hope that, as rumored, his friend Anthony Ross and all eight of Tookie’s comrades who have endured a torturous seven years in isolation as punishment for their friendship will be released from the Adjustment Center as well. Though prisoners say that life is hell on death row, solitary confinement in the Adjustment Center, where George Jackson was lodged when he was assassinated, is reputedly even worse.
Watch the Bay View for further updates and for Steve’s new address once he’s moved so you can write to acknowledge his courage.
The previous Bay View stories on Steve’s hunger strike are “Death row prisoner Steve Champion, Tookie’s friend, on hunger strike since Oct. 4” and “Steve Champion: Nine days into his death row hunger strike, he’s lost 51 pounds.”
Bay View editor Mary Ratcliff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 671-0789.