30,000 California Inmates Begin Hunger Strike to Demand Education, Rehabilitation and Policy Changes
A total of 30,000 inmates in the state of California have begun the largest hunger strike in state history. The inmates at 11 different facilities are refusing meals in hopes that they can affect change to escape the abuses they’ve suffered at the hands of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
One of the strongest gripes of inmates is the fact that some of them have been placed indefinitely in complete isolation. The LA Times reported on a letter they received from inmates, who’ve demanded that the state vacate its policies on solitary confinement, capping the total number of days to five. There is no limit right now.
The LA Times has reported that 4,527 inmates at four state prisons are now living in solitary confinement. The inmates, in their letter remind the public that the protest is non-violent.
“The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement do hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume today…consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms),” the letter says.
The inmates are also seeking out an increase in the number of educational and rehabilitation programs and the right to make monthly phone calls. The black community has been heavily impacted by the mass incarceration and prison overcrowding problem. Extensive amounts of incarceration in the black community has led to the spread of mental illness, a spike in STDs, higher black unemployment and out-of-control violence in urban communities. These problems are linked to the strengthening of the school-to-prison pipeline, which guides millions of young children from failing schools into the prison industrial complex.
“While the CDCR has claimed to have made reforms to its SHU system — how a prisoner ends up in the solitary units, for how long, and how they can go about getting released into the general population — prisoners’ rights advocates and family members point out that the CDCR has potentially broadened the use of solitary confinement, and that conditions in the SHUs continue to constitute grave human rights violations,” the latest letter says.
The state will not recognize the hunger strike until nine consecutive meals have been refused by the inmates. Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton told the LA Times that 30,000 prisoners had skipped breakfast and lunch by Monday. RT.com and other sites are watching the strike closely to determine its outcome.
We will be too.
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