In prisons throughout California, Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma, hunger strikes have been under way since July. Inmates are protesting what they say are inhumane prison policies, including one that allowed nearly half of Pelican Bay's 1,111 prisoners to be held in solitary confinement for more than 10 years.
According to the federal receiver’s office, 12,000 prisoners are now participating. But ColorLines reports that, while some concessions have been made, there are concerns about intimidation and retaliation by prison officials, including some changes that victimize those who are completely innocent: the inmates' families.
The strike has now become the largest such action in recent history, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has addressed it as such. CDCR classifies the strike as an organized disturbance, thereby institutionalizing disciplinary actions against prisoners. Some strike leaders have been transferred to solitary confinement units.
Families of inmates have also been denied visits to Pelican Bay, according to Jay Donohue of the Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS). "Their visits for the weekend were not allowed, and they’ve been told that they won’t be at all until the strike ends."
"Denying visits only heightens the isolation that the prisoners and family members experience, especially at this critical time," said Dolores Canales, the mother of an inmate being held in the Pelican Bay SHU …
The second memo details the crackdown on participating inmates since the summer. Since the suspension of the hunger strike in July, prison guards have reportedly employed intimidation and retaliation tactics such as raiding inmates' cells and issuing excessively harsh write-ups.
Read more at ColorLines.
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