Pelican Bay Prisoners Plan Hunger Strike to Protest Solitary Confinement

Categories: Crime, Law & Order
An aerial view of Pelican Bay State Prison
Inmates at California's notorious Pelican Bay State Prison are planning a hunger strike to protest what they say are inhumane conditions of confinement.

The Oakland-based grassroots organization Critical Resistance issued a statement today indicating that the inmates will begin the strike on Friday. Activists and lawyers will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. tomorrow at 1515 Clay St. in Oakland.

The protest is aimed specifically at Pelican Bay's Security Housing Unit (SHU), where prisoners are lodged in small, windowless cells, often without access to other people or open space for extended periods. Pelican Bay is one of a select group of state prisons and one federal prison classified as a "supermax" facility intended to house extremely dangerous inmates.

Advocates for prisoners say a growing body of research indicates that solitary confinement is equivalent to psychological torture. "People who are in prison are already being punished. They are still human beings and should not have to lose their civil and human rights," Karen Shain, an attorney with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, said in the Critical Resistance statement.

For those interested in a close look at life in a supermax, we recommend SF Weekly sister paper Westword staff writer Alan Prendergast's 2007 profile of infamous Colorado inmate Thomas Silverstein.

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I spent 10 years in California prisons and know the Pelican Bay SHU personally. I wrote a drug war novel Roll Call by Glenn Langohr to show the public the path we are on by incarcerating petty criminals is only breeding bigger ones who are displaced from society when they are released. The U.S is not the leaders of the free world; we are the leaders of the incarcerated world! I started http://www.lockdownpublishing.... when I got out of prison to help other prisoners change their lives through writing. I pray more people stand up and look at the five demands asking for humane treatment!


I noticed something. All of these claims are from prisoners. Prisoners said this, prisoners said that. So we are to take their word for it? If they said the guards were pulling them out of their cells every hour and beating them for being on a hunger strike would this be taken as gospel? I have yet to see an article from a non- prisoner who has seen the prison conditions for themselves. These individuals are not in prison for being honest, kind, gentle, moral, etc. If being in a cell with meals brought to your door, free television, the best medical money can buy, the best psychological help money can buy, social interaction with at least 6 other people you are housed with, if that is what we call torture now, then most of the world is being MORE than tortured. Our military does not eat as well as these prisoners. If homeless people on the street knew how well they would be taken care of in prison they would commit a crime just to get there. Should I live on the street going through dumpsters or should I go to prison with a roof over my head, and meals brought to me? Probably 50% of the world live in worse conditions than these prisoners, and most people in America cannot have surgery for a $5 copay. Most people in America do not have the luxury of having a psychologist standing by to be able to talk to. Most people do not have guards standing by to protect them (even if it is from themselves). Inside prison you do not hear the cries of ones being "tortured" you hear laughter and lively banter in the pods. You hear cheering as their sports team score on the television. You hear conversations of life on the streets etc. Most people in the world would say, "If this is torture, sign me up!" Final note.. how can you have a cell mate in "solitary confinement"? SHU is NOT solitary confinement.


Thanks for sharing this info & please check out: http://prisonerhungerstrikesol... for updates & ways to show support from the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition--these folks are in contact w/ prisoners on a weekly basis & working to build support for prisoners at Pelican Bay and Corcoran. 

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