Prisoners Forced to Drink Dirty, Cancer-Causing Water
  • Petitioned Scott Kernan

This petition was delivered to:

Undersecretary of Operations, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Scott Kernan
Barbara Boxer
Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Matthew Cate
Jerry Brown
California Governor
California State Senate
California State House

Prisoners Forced to Drink Dirty, Cancer-Causing Water

    1. Petition by

      blanca gonzalez

      San Jacinto, CA

People at Kern Valley State Prison are drinking dirty water against their will. And although a 2008 court order instructed officials there to do something about the arsenic in the water in the prisons two wells, nothing has been done. Upon doing my research I found out that the City of Delano is also in non-compliance with 9 wells out of the city's 11 wells, and they supply water to North Kern State Prison across the street from Kern Valley State Prison with approx another 5k prisoners and about 1,500 employees. Fortunately for the City of Delano's 55k residents they have the options of buying a home filter and or bottled water. Prisoners are being forced into drinking the water as it is the only thing available to them. Long-term exposure to arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, liver and prostate. It can also contribute to heart disease, diabetes and neurological diseases, according to EPA. The federal standard for arsenic in drinking water was changed from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion in 2001, according to EPA. Public water systems were given five years to comply.This is now 2011 and nothing has changed.

While California is obviously facing budget strains, that doesn't justify forcing anyone to drink water that's known to cause cancer and other ailments.  That is inhumane even animals are treated better.  Someday those currently incarcerated will be out on the streets, and when they get sick, we the taxpayers will likely have to pick up the bill, meaning it will cost more in the long run to let this problem go on unresolved. Removing arsenic from water is costly. Water providers must either drill new wells at about $1 million a piece, or implement treatment systems that also cost about $1 million plus annual operational costs of about $100,000. But medical cost is of treating prisoners with cancer and the othe serious illnesses has been quoted at 90k per year per inmate. At hose rates it would be cost effective to find even a temporary solution.

There's no reason we can't help the more than 10k prisoners at Kern Valley State Prison and North Kern and the employee's of the CDCR.

Please help end this cruel and unusual punishment.

Photo Credit: woodley wonderworks

Recent signatures


    1. One more year of Arsenic

      blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      We are now at the end of the month of October and nothing has changed, our state still has no money and these prisoners are still drinking dirty water. The daily poisoning which will catch up with us, if we have no money now we won't then either. How can be so ready and willing to help the people from other countries and yet we kill our own? I urge all of you to Google the information and let's educate everyone we can so that together we can make a change.

    2. Reached 4,000 signatures
    3. Updates

      blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      I have tried several times to post updates to everyone that has signed this petition but my account seems to have been hacked or is having technical difficulties but I can't send anyone any emails or updates. Please help this cause.

    4. Water a Human Right its going to cost us millions to not fix the problem

      blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      Not correcting this problem is not only hurting the prisoners but it is also costing California tax payers millions of dollars which we do not have. Arsenic lowers the immune system, cause cancer and other illness. We can pay now or later.

    5. We can't afford to let this injustice continue

      blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      We all need to participate to right the wrong that has been done for years now. People in prison are humans they are already being punished. Lets not be worse than many third world countries. I pride myself in being an American Christian

    6. blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      Watch Channel 23 Bakersfield for another story on the problem at Kern Valley State Prison. The reporter in the story is trying to downplay the effect on Arsenic in your system. And the comments below the article are of people so ignorant I find it hard to believe how callous they are. Please help to eradicate this problem sign the petition get active tell everyone that you know to sign it.

    7. blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      I have extended the deadline till June 15th in the hope that we can reach at least 5,000 people. If you look at other petitions there is no reason we can't reach that number. There are people becoming ill daily because of lack of clean water.

    8. blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      We have until May 13th to gather the rest of the signatures my hope is that some kind of resolution is accomplished whether a temporary one or a more permanent one.
      I have been analyzing the other petitions here and have notice that when it comes to Human Rights people respond there are thousand of signatures and participation. However because this is also a criminal justice issue the signatures have dwindled in. How is it that we are American and do this to our own people? The world is being helped by thousand of us financially, or by other means yet when we incarcerate the people that have done wrong we just throw away the keys and try to look the other way when they are being abused. We are actively participating in people being poisoned and there is really no other way to look at this situation. Most people in prison have done wrong they are being punished already, however it does not mean that we poison them and it is okay. Please make one last effort and pass the message we need to stop this abuse. Arsenic is a poison at high levels or low levels it does not make a difference the long term effects are bad all around, it is not a race issue, a prisoners issue it is a Human Rights issue. People deserve to drink clean water. Medical cost is extremely expensive if the prisoner is release we the public will absorb their medical cost because they will not be able to get a job. And if they spend the rest of their lives in prison we will also absorb their medical cost we can't afford not to fix the water situation. Let's do this let make a change.

    9. Reached 3 signatures
    10. blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      Dr. Oz: Chromium 6, Lead & Arsenic, Perchlorate Is Your Water Causing Cancer Where You Live: Your Drinking Water Quality Reports Online-Local Drinking Water Information – Take action to see if the water in your area is safe. The shocking results from Dr. Oz’s special investigation are in. Arsenic, lead, known carcinogen chromium 6, and perchlorate – or rocket fuel – are among the contaminants you are being exposed to every day.
      Local Drinking Water Information - go to the Dr. Oz website there is a link to check the water where you live.

    11. blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      Tonight on video of Erin Brockovich listen to:
      "What's in the water" eye opener.

    12. blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      The previous update is on Yerington Nevada another city with an Arsenic polluted water problem. As you can see nothing was done for a decade we need to unite to make a change. This basic Human Right is being violated daily obviously all over.

    13. Benjamin Joffe-Walt
      Vice President and Chief of Staff

      CA city breaks ground on water treatment plant

    14. Weldon Kennedy
      Managing Director, Europe

      Remember: "Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right."
      - Kofi Annan

    15. Weldon Kennedy
      Managing Director, Europe

      The World Health Organisation details the health risks of arsenic in water, noting that medical treatment isn't even fully developed for arsenicosis

    16. blanca gonzalez
      Petition Organizer

      After researching the effects of Arsenic I have found even more horrid stories of the effects in humans read this article:
      Science Daily (May 21, 2009) — The ability to mount an immune response to influenza A (H1N1) infection is significantly compromised by a low level of arsenic exposure that commonly occurs through drinking contaminated well water, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Dartmouth Medical School have found. If you continue reading the article it also goes on to say that the immune system is weaken by drinking Arsenic laced water.
      The City of Delano is in non compliance as well they supply the water to the North Kern State Prison across the street from Kern Valley State Prison population of approx 4,800 plus staff.
      They have 11 wells that are compromised. This article taken from the EPA website clearly states the cost of non compliance.
      (10/28/2008 -- SAN FRANCISCO) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered 11 public drinking water systems throughout the state of California to reduce the level of arsenic in their respective drinking water systems or face penalties of up to $32,500 per day for each violation.
      The EPA’s orders require the public drinking water systems to develop and meet a schedule to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s arsenic standard of 10 ppb.
      “Providing people with safe drinking water is essential and public water systems must take the steps necessary to comply with all federal standards,” said Alexis Strauss, the Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region.
      When will the people of the City of Delano and the prisoners that live there be given clean water to drink? We can't afford not to fix this problem.

    17. Weldon Kennedy
      Managing Director, Europe

      Prisoners have no choice but to drink arsenic-laced water at Kern Valley

    18. Reached 2 signatures
    19. California Mom Leads Campaign to Get Prisoners Safe Drinking Water

      Charles Davis
      Petition Organizer

      Blanca Gonzalez's son spent years at California's Kern Valley State Prison, where she says he was sickened by the foul water he was forced to drink – water that the state knows is contaminated with arsenic, a carcinogen that can cause serious skin...

    20. Reached 2 signatures
    21. Deja Vu: California Officials 'Anticipate' Fixing Prison Arsenic Problem

      Charles Davis
      Petition Organizer

      California officials first learned that the water at Kern Valley State Prison was contaminated with arsenic – twice the level considered safe by the World Health Organization – soon after the facility opened in 2005. Now one of the top prison...

    22. Charles Davis
      Petition Organizer

      In a statement provided to , Scott Kernan, Undersecretary of Operations at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, says he "shares your concern relative to clean water at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP)." He also says his department is working to install an arsenic treatment facility there. "We anticipate fully resolving this problem by August 2012."

      By contrast, KVSP Warden M.D. Biter said just six weeks ago that officials "anticipate resolving the problem by October 2011." Meanwhile, last week a spokesman for the Department of Public Health told the problem would be resolved by February 2012 -- at the latest.

      In 2008, meanwhile, the previous warden of KVSP, Anthony Hedgpeth, said officials "anticipate resolving the problem by June 2009."

    23. Charles Davis
      Petition Organizer

      Television's Dr. Oz did a special this week detailing how water contaminated with arsenic can cause cancer. Check it out to see the dangers that inmates at Kern Valley State Prison are being exposed to on a daily basis:

    24. Charles Davis
      Petition Organizer

      If officials at Kern Valley State Prison cared about the fact they're poisoning their prisoners, they could have requested the installation of mobile filtration units that can remove arsenic from the drinking water there -- ones like these -- before waiting for a permanent facility to be constructed:

      They haven't.

    25. Reached 1 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • john chaney DONORA, PA
      • over 2 years ago

      because imates are people's inhumane!

    • Audrey Chaney ST. LOUIS, MO
      • over 2 years ago

      The Department of Corrections have far too long gotten away with many atrocities all over the USA. Many people need to be aware of these types of occurrences throughout the correctional facilities. Just another level of hell for the inmates.

    • Juandiego Martinez OMAHA, NE
      • over 2 years ago

      Because I know what It feels like to not have a voice .And justice must be in place and enforced for the rights of all people!!

      • almost 3 years ago

      I have a brother in the correctional system

      • almost 3 years ago

      It seems obvious why drinking water unfit for human consumption is inhumane.


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