More than 200 prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU), Corridor D, have been on a hunger strike since July 1. The prisoners allege that the conditions constitute human rights violations and violate both U.S. and international law. The D corridor (also known as the “short” corridor) has the highest level of restricted incarceration in the state and the most severe conditions in the nation.
Last week, the International Action Center (IAC) and the Bail Out the People Movement held a protest at the California State Franchise Office in New York City. The rally was an act of solidarity in support of the hunger strike at Pelican Bay.
“We are not a traditional prisoners’ rights organization, but the crisis at Pelican Bay and prisons overall compels the progressive and solidarity movement to come out on this issue,” stated Teresa Gutierrez, IAC national coordinator. “We support the demands of the hunger strikers. We hold Governor [Jerry] Brown, prison officials as well as the Obama administration accountable for their health. The situation is dire. Even before the prisoners started their hunger strike, nutrition, health and all general conditions were deplorable.
Gutierrez feels that isolation in the SHU amounts to torture. “Guantanamo Bay is right here in America, in the prisons of California and elsewhere,” she added. “The population is overwhelmingly Black and Latino, not because we are the most criminal, but because we are the ones most targeted by a racist and anti-poor system.” She urges anyone wishing to support the cause to call Brown and California prison officials now. Tell them no more deaths, negotiate with the hunger strikers and to meet their demands now.
The prisoners’ list of demands include that the California Department of Corrections comply with U.S. Commission 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement. They also want to abolish the debriefing policy, modify active/inactive gang status criteria and restructure criteria that justify unnecessary punitive acts.