Fasting in Solidarity with California Prisoner Hunger Strikers

On Wednesday July 31st, people around the world will fast and take other peaceful, non-violent action in solidarity with the California Prisoner Hunger Strikers. Join family members of hunger strikers along with James Cromwell, Angela Davis, Mike Farrell, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Chris Hedges, Alice Walker, and Cornel West. We fast knowing the criminalization that killed Trayvon Martin, and the criminalization that justifies the torture of prisoners in solitary confinement are one and the same.

Today is Day 24 of the California Prisoner Hunger Strike. Beth Hastings and I are fasting today. By fasting publicly we hope to broaden awareness of the enormous injustice and the horrific conditions prisoners must endure every day in solitary confinement in the California penal system. Our fast is a personal response to an appalling situation. In California, nearly 12,000 imprisoned people spend 23 of 24 hours living in a concrete cell smaller than a large bathroom. The cells have no windows, no access to fresh air or sunlight. People in solitary confinement exercise an hour a day in a cage the size of a dog run. They are not allowed to make any phone calls to their loved ones. They cannot touch family members who often travel days for a 90 minute visit; their conversation and their mail is monitored by prison guards. They are not allowed to talk to other imprisoned people. They are denied all educational programs, and their reading materials are censored.

How are prisoners put into solitary confinement? The prosecutor, judge and jury is a prison official called an Institutional Gang Investigator. The I.G.I.’s ‘evidence’ may be a book the prisoner has read, a tattoo, or some culturally based art the prisoner has created. But most often, the ‘evidence’ comes from another prisoner, a secret informant. With this ‘evidence,’ the I.G.I can ‘sentence’ the accused to a lifetime in solitary confinement.

The primary demands of the hunger strikers are these:

  1. An end to long term solitary;
  2. An end to the illegal and immoral use of secret informants;
  3. An end to punishing whole racial groups for an individual’s actions;
  4. Improving conditions to meet basic humane standards for physical and mental health; and
  5. Providing educational programs.

What can you do to help?

You can endorse and support today’s “Hunger for Justice” action. Sign on here…

You can join the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) and participate in one action per week in response to some emergency facing the hunger strikers, and in resistance to the torture. These actions may include an email, phone call, letter, or a vigil and will be initiated by the Emergency Response Network of PHSS.

You can contact Governor Jerry Brown:
Phone: (916) 445-2841, (510) 289-0336, (510) 628-0202
Fax: (916) 558-3160
Suggested script: I’m calling in support of the prisoners on hunger strike. The governor has the power to stop the torture of solitary confinement. I urge the governor to compel the CDCR to enter into negotiations to end the strike. RIGHT NOW is their chance to enter into clear, honest negotiations with the strikers to end the torture.

Posted in Peace and Politics, Prison Reform

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