Mass Incarceration. The New Jim Crow. The War on Drugs. Thanks to Professor Michelle Alexander these phrases are now intimately linked in the minds of social justice advocates and faith leaders as we begin a critical struggle for fairness, justice and human rights in the criminal courts, police precincts and prisons of America. The Next Movement is convinced that America can do better, and that the majority of Americans would want us to do better, if they knew the truth. The truth about systemic incarceration, structural second class status, completely uneven law enforcement practices, oppressive and selectively enforced laws that is filling the prisons of America.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Strike

Hundreds of prisoners at California's notorious Pelican Bay State Prison, including many in its "Security Housing Unit" (SHU) have entered the 3rd week of an indefinite hunger strike to protest cruel, inhumane and torturous prison conditions. They have made clear that they are prepared to die in this non-violent hunger strike if necessary, but they do not want to die. To them, death is preferable to their horrendous prison conditions.

At least 6600 California prisoners joined them earlier in their strike. They and their completely reasonable five core demands need the active support of people of conscience across the country. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Gov. Jerry Brown have refused to enter serious negations over these demands (see article here). 
In a clear display of unity, prisoners have broken down the racial, geographic and gang barriers among themselves to join this strike. CDCR has falsely claimed the strike is gang-organized.
A July 12 report from Pelican Bay stated, "The prisoners are progressing rapidly to the organ damaging consequences of dehydration. They are not drinking water and have decompensated rapidly. A few have tried to sip water but are so sick that they are vomiting it back up. Some are in renal (kidney) failure and have been unable to make urine for 3 days. Some are having measured blood sugars in the 30 range, which can be fatal if not treated." A hunger striker in the Corcoran prison SHU went into a diabetic coma on July 3.  
Not nearly enough people are aware of torturous conditions in U.S. prisons, nor of this strike. All people of conscience are encouraged to forward this urgent information to their friends and email lists, and tell California Governor Brown and the CDCR to address these issues in a humane and rational way.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has emailed 9000 of its California members, urging them to take action.

Important Links:

Click here to access the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity site for the latest hunger strike information. 

Click here to view letters from prisoners, including some from Pelican Bay and other striking California prisoners.

Please click here to sign the online petition supporting the strikers' five core demands.


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