Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Hungerstrike is Back On: Vigil in Montreal this Friday October 7

When: 12pm – 1:30pm, October 7
Where: the United States Consulate at 1155 rue St-Alexandre (metro Place des Arts)

For three weeks in July, thousands of prisoners in the long-term isolation unit at Pelican Bay and other prisons in California went on hunger strike to try to win some modest improvements to their conditions. The hungerstrike was suspended when the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agreed to address the prisoners demands, providing a few minor concessions immediately as a gesture of good faith.

Unfortunately, CDCR was operating in bad faith, and has since put out lies about what had been agreed to, threatened prisoners with retaliation, and conducted a public relations campaign defending torture in its prisons.

As a result, as of Monday, September 26, many prisoners have resumed their strike. Last week, over 11,000 prisoners refused food. CDCR has responded by banning visits, barring lawyers, and threatening prisons with disciplinary reprisals.

The men in Pelican Bay's Security Housing Unit are held in their cells, alone, 22½-24 hours per day, they are served unsanitary and unwholesome food, punished collectively for the actions of individuals, and routinely - and without reason - denied access to programs and amenities which are considered standard in similar facilities in other states and at the federal level.

Solitary confinement has been shown to have serious effects of one’s physical and psychological health after even a small period of time – many of the California prisoners have spent decades enduring such conditions.

This second strike promises to be more brutal than the first. CDCR has promised to respond more viciously to suppress the strike. Outside support is needed now more than ever!

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