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On Sept. 23, 2015, at least 19 and possibly as many as 22 men in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center began a hunger strike that ended on Sept. 28. It was nearly a week after the hunger strike ended before we received any mail from them. The following is a composite account based on what they sent us, written on the first and last days of the hunger strike.
“Today we declared a peaceful hunger strike due to the conditions of confinement we are being subjected to.” “There are only about 25 to 28 inmates on the high security unit and most of us are on hunger strike. The rest are too fearful to do it because we’ve been told they’ll never let us out of Administrative Detention if we complain too much.” “We are all staying on hunger strike until something is done about our conditions.” Please call or email: Warden Rick Harrington, Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador Godinez, Gov. Pat Quinn
This next phase of the struggle will require the power of the people more than ever. We have to work with and urge our representatives in the legislature to ensure changes are made in the interest of imprisoned people, their loved ones, their communities – in the interests of humanity. We must put an end to solitary confinement. There is no place for indefinite solitary confinement in a civilized society. Let the Department of Corrections know torture will not be tolerated here.
When the California prisoner hunger strike began, CDCR officials were repeatedly quoted telling the world that CDCR does not negotiate with prisoners. CDCR portrays the organizers as gang leaders – terrorists whose demands are unworthy of consideration. But on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, the warden at Calipatria State Prison did negotiate with prisoners in the Administration Segregation Unit.
California prisoner hunger strike advocates and supporters continue their efforts to compel state decision makers to negotiate with hunger strikers as they endure their 52nd day without food. Meanwhile, legal observers at Corcoran State Prison say that the 70 people still on strike at that facility are facing harsh retaliation by prison officials, including the denial of medical care and the confiscation of personal property.
Efforts over the past month to discuss or mediate the prisoner’s concerns with the CDCR have not resulted in any changes in policy and we are therefore now writing to request that you urgently consider conducting an on-site visit to one or more California prisons, including Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) to interview prisoners (now on the 38th day of their hunger strike) and prison officials.
My name is Arturo Castellanos. I am presently being housed in the PBSP’s Administrative Segregation Unit, along with the remainder of the brave men who came together and volunteered to peacefully protest the Department of Corruption and No-Rehabilitation policies of locking individuals up forever, with little or no evidence of gang activities, in indefinite SHU.
I just wrote you a few days ago about my location change; however, there’s been yet another change. We’ve been moved to Ad Seg H-Row. As you might have guessed, yes, it’s freezing cold over here. Abdul is down the row from me, Sitawa and Mutope are next door on G-Row – I think that’s the row. We are still holding up despite considerable weight loss at this point. We were all able to get some sunlight yesterday.
I am a 36-year-old socially conscious, politicized New Afrikan prison activist, jailhouse lawyer and writer. I have been held “captive” for the last nearly 19 years. In my entire existence upon this earth I’ve fallen in love only twice. The first time was with my high school sweetheart. The second time was with my very first issue of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper back in December of 2012. The Bay View has had my nose wide open ever since.
The only defense that can protect the people is to assemble the power of the people. We are our only defense. We have suffered enough injustice at the hands of a very evil system – CDCr and PBSP – and it is time that we prisoners express that pain and suffering by all means at our disposal, because CDCr and PBSP are censoring SF Bay View in order to censor prisoners, because we are exposing cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners. We collectively commend and value the courage and commitment as well as the principled stand that the SF Bay View is taking to speak truth to power.
Gov. Brown has declared that the prison crisis that allowed prisoners to die is over and that prisoners are receiving good care. His words, not ours. The governor and the officials of CDCr are arbitrarily choosing not to provide the public with adequate information that pertains to the incompetence that continues to endanger prisoners by murdering them through direct medical neglect and incompetence.
Most of us were wearing the new “Stop the Torture” t-shirts that the coalition was selling, so we looked great and our commitment was obvious to the public. It was heartening to have so many friends and family members and formerly incarcerated people meet on the steps of the Capitol and to hear them speak about their loved ones inside the walls. The hearing itself was both powerful and infuriating.
It’s vital that the End to Hostilities holds for all races and groups. We call on prisoners nationwide to draft up their own demands, tailored to their own individual institutional needs, to be served on CDCR and their prison wardens – I would get started on them now. We are giving CDCR a deadline to meet all of the demands, or else we are going to resume our peaceful hunger strike and work stoppage starting on July 8, 2013. All U.S. prisoners are asked to pick up the flag of solidarity and join us.