Yesterday marked the first official day of the hunger strike taking place at eight prisons across the state, with as many as 4,000 inmates refusing state-issued meals. In response, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a stern warning that participating inmates could be transferred to solitary confinement and lose other privileges, including time in the sun, unless they start eating again.
Today, the CDCR took it a step further, threatening to expel two mediation lawyers and ban them from prison facilities while officials investigate whether they had jeopardized the safety and security at prison facilities, according to the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity group. SF Weekly contacted the CDCR, which confirmed that some attorneys had been suspended for alleged misconduct.
Attorneys representing the prisoners are now asking Governor Jerry Brown for help. In a letter sent this morning, attorneys asked Brown to meet with them, and help usher in changes to the state's prison system, namely the "inhumane conditions" and its "unfair" gang identification policies.
"This is very worrisome, to say the least," says Carol Strickman, one of the mediation lawyers banned from CDCR facilities. "We have been receiving steady reports from prisoners of CDCR intimidation and retaliation leading up to the strike; now we have the CDCR threatening prisoners and cutting off contact with our legal team."
According to the hunger strikers, 513 of the 1,111 prisoners held at
Pelican Bay have been in solitary confinement for 10 or more years, and
78 have been held for more than 20 years without access to light or open
space for prolonged periods of time.
Prisoners went on strike that lasted the entire month of July until the CDCR agreed to meet their demands. The prisoners resumed the strike again this week, claiming CDCR officials have yet to substantially meet their demands, which includes better conditions for prisoners in solitary confinement.
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