Friday, July 08, 2011

Americans Hunger Strike Over Basic Human Rights

Forgive my generic use of the word, Americans, but it gives geographical context to the story.

It appears that prisoners have woken up to the fact that, despite the recent hand wringing over the conditions under which Bradley Manning was being held at the military brig at Quantico, nobody is going to protest the inhumane conditions that exist throughout the entire industrial system of the American gulag.

Consequently, it seems prisoners are going on hunger strike, not for anything unachievable, but for something quite basic, the right to be treated as a human being. Good for them.

When I first started to become aware of the gang system that existed in these hell holes, my initial thought was, pity you haven't got the brains to put away your differences and focus on the real enemy, the US Department of Corrections Retribution.

Inspiring: Inmates at 11 CA Prisons on Hunger Strike, Protesting Inhumane Solitary Confinement
By Lauren Kelley
July 7, 2011,

As we previously noted, inmates of the Secure Housing Unit (i.e., solitary confinement) at California's Pelican Bay State Prison started a hunger strike on July 1 to protest the the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment.

While noting that the hunger strike is being “organized by prisoners in an unusual show of racial unity,” five key demands are listed by California Prison Focus:

1) Eliminate group punishments; 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 Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long term solitary confinement; 4) provide adequate food; 5) expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates.

Now, the hunger strike has spread to a total of 11 California prisons -- one-third of the facilities in the state. The LA Times reports that although the exact number of strikers is hard to pin down/is constantly shifting, there are rough estimates:

More than 400 prisoners at Pelican Bay are believed to be refusing meals, including inmates on the prison's general-population yard, said Molly Poizig, spokeswoman for the Bay Area-based group Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity.

And that's just at Pelican Bay. So in other words, this is a fairly impressive display of solidarity, and it's obviously starting to garner mainstream news attention.

Prison officials have been predictably less than enthused about the strike. This anecdote is both revealing and depressing:

The [Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity] website claims that prison officials attempted to head off the strike by promoting a Fourth of July menu that included strawberry shortcake and ice cream. According to the website, the wife of a Security Housing Unit inmate said her husband had never had ice cream there and "has never seen a strawberry."

A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation assured the Times that prison medical staffers are "making checks of every single inmate who is refusing meals." source

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