The Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Strike has gained considerable momentum. The renewed strike began last week and is the second such mass action staged by inmates in less than six months to draw attention to overly punitive treatment. Thousands of inmates have reportedly joined the effort in prisons throughout California and across three additional states, despite efforts by prison administration to crackdown on inmates.
The effort began at the Secure Housing Unit at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison on September 26, and inmates from a dozen facilities throughout the state are now participating. According to the federal receiver’s office, 12,000 prisoners are now participating in the hunger strike, including 3,000 inmates housed in out-of-state facilities in Arizona, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.
As Julianne Hing reported last week, conditions in the prison’s Secure Housing Unit (SHU) have not improved according to prisoners’ original demands. In July, 6,000 inmates went on strike to protest 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 ten years.
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.
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