In 2011, prisoners locked in the Security Housing Units (SHUs) at Pelican Bay and other California prisons went on hunger strike to protest the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. During two different waves of hunger strikes at least 12,000 prisoners participated in the strike. The strike received widespread support from outside prisons, and daily national and international media coverage.
Two years later, the brave actions of the hunger strikers and public pressure has helped ignite awareness about torture and solitary confinement inside prisons, and compelled the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to promise meaningful reforms. But the CDCR has failed to make good on its promises. New regulations potentially empower prison officials to use even broader guidelines for locking people in the SHU—possibly resulting inmore prisoners being condemned to horrors of solitary confinement. There is still nothing to prevent CDCR from keeping a person locked in solitary indefinitely.
On July 8, Prisoners at Pelican Bay and other prisons will resume their hunger strike (this time their protests will include work stoppages as well) unless the California Governor Jerry Brown and the CDCR take decisive action to meet their demands. We must pressure the state of California to address the strikers’ demands, and to stop its practice of long-term solitary confinement!
The Pelican Bay Five Core Demands:
1. Eliminate group punishments and administrative abuse.
2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons recommendations and end long-term solitary confinement.
4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.
5. Create and expand constructive programming.
I urge you to initiate accountable negotiations with these prisoners and/or their chosen representatives. I urge you to take action to implement the fair and reasonable demands immediately, and in good faith. I also want your guarantee that peaceful hunger strikers will not be retaliated against.