111335_story__Hunger-Strike

A judicial pig recently ordered the force feeding of federal prisoners who protesting inhumane conditions in KKKalifornian prisons:

“[A] federal judge gave the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) permission to force-feed some of the inmates who are still participating in a hunger strike, 45 days after it began. Prisoners across a number of the state’s jails [sic] are protesting indefinite solitary confinement policies they say amount to “human torture.” 

When the hunger strike began on July 8th it included close to 30,000 prisoners across 24 California prisons. As of Aug. 20, there were 94 inmates on a hunger strike; 45 have been on a hunger strike continuously since July 8.

Prison officials needed court permission to start the mandatory nourishment, because California state law prohibits force-feedings for prisoners who have signed medical orders asking not to be resuscitated in the event they lose consciousness or experience heart failures.

The CDCR argued that some “inmates may be or have been coerced into participating in the hunger strike.” U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson gave the prison officials the authority to disregard the prisoners’ “do not resuscitate” directives.

Defenders of the hunger strike say the CDCR’s logic doesn’t wash. “The strike started with 30,000 prisoners and is down to a few hundred. If people were being forced to stay on, they don’t seem to be complying,” read a statement from the Prisoner Hunger Strike Coalition (PHSC)….”

The central demands of the hunger-strikers are straightforward. They center on the policy of solitary confinement, a widespread practice in Kalifornia, while also highlighting the conditions faces by the ‘Golden State’s’ general prison population:

1.End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse– This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status, and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria

  • Perceived gang membership is one of the leading reasons for placement in solitary confinement.
  • The practice of “debriefing,” or offering up information about fellow prisoners particularly regarding gang status, is often demanded in return for better food or release from the SHU. Debriefing puts the safety of prisoners and their families at risk, because they are then viewed as “snitches.”
  • The validation procedure used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employs such criteria as tattoos, readings materials, and associations with other prisoners (which can amount to as little as greeting) to identify gang members.
  • Many prisoners report that they are validated as gang members with evidence that is clearly false or using procedures that do not follow the Castillo v. Alameida settlement which restricted the use of photographs to prove association.

3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement – CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the US commission on safety and abuse in America’s prisons final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:

  • End Conditions of Isolation (p. 14) Ensure that prisoners in SHU and Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation) have regular meaningful contact and freedom from extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm. (pp. 52-57)
  • Make Segregation a Last Resort (p. 14). Create a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and Ad-Seg [Administrative Segregation] the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious, and other productive activities relating to having a sense of being a part of the community.
  • End Long-Term Solitary Confinement. Release inmates to general prison population who have been warehoused indefinitely in SHU for the last 10 to 40 years (and counting).
  • Provide SHU Inmates Immediate Meaningful Access to: i) adequate natural sunlight ii) quality health care and treatment, including the mandate of transferring all PBSP- SHU inmates with chronic health care problems to the New Folsom Medical SHU facility.

4. Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food – cease the practice of denying adequate food, and provide a wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals, and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.

  • PBSP staff must cease their use of food as a tool to punish SHU inmates.
  • Provide a sergeant/lieutenant to independently observe the serving of each meal, and ensure each tray has the complete issue of food on it.
  • Feed the inmates whose job it is to serve SHU meals with meals that are separate from the pans of food sent from kitchen for SHU meals.

5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates.

Examples include:

  • Expand visiting regarding amount of time and adding one day per week.
  • Allow one photo per year.
  • Allow a weekly phone call.
  • Allow Two (2) annual packages per year. A 30 lb. package based on “item” weight and not packaging and box weight.
  • Expand canteen and package items allowed. Allow us to have the items in their original packaging [the cost for cosmetics, stationary, envelopes, should not count towards the max draw limit]
  • More TV channels.
  • Allow TV/Radio combinations, or TV and small battery operated radio
  • Allow Hobby Craft Items – art paper, colored pens, small pieces of colored pencils, watercolors, chalk, etc.
  • Allow sweat suits and watch caps.
  • Allow wall calendars.
  • Install pull-up/dip bars on SHU yards.
  • Allow correspondence courses that require proctored exams.

Even Juan E. Méndez, adviser to the International Criminal Court and the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, warns the policy of solitary confinement amounts to torture:

Even if solitary confinement is applied for short periods of time, it often causes mental and physical suffering or humiliation, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and if the resulting pain or sufferings are severe, solitary confinement even amounts to torture,” Mr. Méndez stressed as nearly 200 inmates in Californian detention centres approach their fifth consecutive week on hunger strike against cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions.

I urge the US Government to adopt concrete measures to eliminate the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement under all circumstances,” he said, “including an absolute ban of solitary confinement of any duration for juveniles, persons with psychosocial disabilities or other disabilities or health conditions, pregnant women, women with infants and breastfeeding mothers as well as those serving a life sentence and prisoners on death row.”

Méndez’s statements are a sideshow. While the words ring true, his statement amounts to an effete declaration with the sole effect of implying pluralistic dissent within US-led imperialism. This moonlight effort by Méndez, who normally propagandizes against Third World anti-hegemonic “dictators,” will not bring justice inside Kalifornia’s dungeons. The so-called “rule of law” so often touted by the US and UN serves to advance the interests of imperialism, not to hold it accountable to the exploited and oppressed masses.

Those interested in more information about revolutionary efforts to end solitary confinement should check out the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons and their ongoing coverage of the strike.

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National Liberation, News and Analysis, Prisons, US/Canada

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