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Indybay Feature
Thu Apr 19 2018 (Updated 05/01/18)
Hunger Strike Underway at Santa Clara County Jails
Prisoners United of Silicon Valley Demand Human Treatment in County Jails
Inmates at two Santa Clara County jails are holding a hunger strike to protest inmate isolation and basic sanitation. The hunger strike officially began Sunday April 15 at the Main Jail in San Jose and at the Elmwood Correctional Complex in Milpitas. Over 70% of Santa Clara County’s jail population are pretrial detainees, many of whom remain fighting their cases for five years or more because they can’t afford bail. When prisoners are booked, they are classified according to their charges or gang allegations. Based on classification, prisoners can be housed indefinitely in maximum security housing units without any real path to downclass to a less restrictive setting.

In 2015, Michael Tyree, a mental health detainee in Santa Clara County’s Main Jail was waiting for a bed to receive mental health services on the outside. While waiting, three correctional officers beat him to death. There was a huge outcry after Tyree's death, and with inspiration from the Pelican Bay hunger strikers of 2013, incarcerated people in Santa Clara County’s Main Jail began their first hunger strike in 2016. Due to that strike, the jail administration agreed to make changes.

However, in 2017 the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved $45,000 for a taser pilot project in the jails. Previously, tasers were banned from the Sheriff’s department due to related deaths. Prison reform advocate Jose Valle of Silicon Valley De-Bug said, "There is still a poisonous culture of prison floor staff."

Prison Hunger Strikers Suspend Action After 11 Days, May Resume | Rally and March to Support Hunger Strikers | Day 6: Hunger Strike in Santa Clara County Jails | Day 5: Hunger Strike in Santa Clara County Jails | Hunger Strike at Two Santa Clara County Jails
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