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CDCR Punishes Hunger Strikers, Brown Goes on Vacation
At least 14 prisoners being held in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at California’s notorious Pelican Bay State Prison were forcibly removed from their cells and placed in more punitive isolation late last week, according to lawyers who visited their clients on Tuesday.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–JULY 17, 2013
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
Ph. 510 517 6612
Oakland–At least 14 prisoners being held in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at California’s notorious Pelican Bay State Prison were forcibly removed from their cells and placed in more punitive isolation late last week, according to lawyers who visited their clients on Tuesday.
“They have been singled out for their participation in the ongoing California prisoner hunger strike and targeted because they are outspoken prisoner activists,” according to Kamau Walton of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. The 14 were placed in Administrative Segregation last Thursday.
Prison officials, also confiscated legal material from the prisoners, including attorney-client protected documents relating to a highly publicized federal class action lawsuit against the state of California. The lawsuit contends solitary confinement is a violation of prisoners’ 8th Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment, as well as their rights to due process.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) continues to lowball strike participation numbers – on the 10th day of the strike thousands are still participating throughout the California prison system, with at least 30,000 participating last week. Prisoners continue to call on the CDCR to negotiate over their demands.
“This is a clear attack against a non-violent protest,” says Anne Weills, attorney for several hunger strikers. “It is pathetic that in response to prisoners’ calls for basic human and civil rights, the CDCR responds by violating those rights.” Weills also notes that all 14 prisoners retaliated against had signed onto last summer’s Agreement to End Hostilities Among Racial Groups–a document issued from the Pelican Bay SHU, urging prisoners to resolve conflicts peacefully amongst themselves and to work to end wider violence in the prison system. The CDCR has refused to distribute the Agreement among prisoners.
In a statement issued this morning, strike representatives said, “on July 11, 2013, we were placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), where we are subjected to more torturous conditions than in the SHU. Despite this diabolical act on the part of the CDCR intended to break our resolve and hasten our deaths, we remain strong and united! We are 100% committed to our cause and will end our peaceful action when the CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands.”
Governor Jerry Brown has been completely silent on the strike that has gained international news attention. He remains mired in multiple scandals in the California prison system. Brown will be taking a European vacation, visiting among other places, Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Family members and loved ones of the strikers are outraged.
Oakland–The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation continue to retaliate against hunger strikers. Yesterday it was reported that a core group of strikers were moved from the Security Housing Unit in Pelican Bay to even more restricted isolation. Since then, supporters have learned that prison officials have been attempting to break the resolve of strikers by blasting cold air into the SHU and Administrative Segregation (AD-Seg) units at Pelican Bay. Also, in a move to restrict communications between prisoners and their legal advocates, the CDCR has issued an exclusion order denying attorney Marilyn McMahon access to her clients at Pelican Bay State Prison, many of whom are in the 11th day of their protest against indefinite long term solitary confinement.
The order bans McMahon from the prison pending a CDCR investigation to determine whether one of her legal assistants “presents a serious threat to security.” The order says nothing about what the assistant stands accused of. McMahon comments, “I’m struck by how similar this is to the gang validation process, one of the hunger strike issues. Prisoners are sent to solitary indefinitely based on reports that they are not allowed to see, made by prisoners whose identity they are not allowed to know.”
McMahon and fellow attorney Carol Strickman were banned during the hunger strike in 2011 under the same administrative regulations. “All charges against us were eventually lifted,” said McMahon, “but to this day CDCR has never told me the charges against me.” The order prevented the two attorneys from having legal visits with their clients for the remainder of that strike.
Late last week, the CDCR moved 14 supposed hunger strike leaders from the SHU in Pelican Bay to the even more restrictive Administrative Segregation, confiscating their legal papers related to a lawsuit filed against the Department for its policies of indefinite long-term solitary confinement. In further efforts to break the strike, the Department is forcing cold air into the cells of striking prisoners. Supporters and advocates are denouncing the CDCR’s tactics as cruel and inhumane.
“The CDCR wants to cut off communications between prisoners and the outside world, but we are not going to let that happen,” said McMahon. The prisoners are resolute about continuing their hunger strike until a legally binding agreement is reached.