California Hunger Strike Resumes

Eight Facilities across California
September 26 – October 15, 2011

After months of meetings and  frustration with California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) delays, prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) resume the hunger strike they’d suspended on July 20th. The call to action spreads across the California system, with participation from thousands of prisoners. On October 14th, the PBSP prisoners agree to again suspend the strike pending cooperation from California officials. Prisoners at Calipatria also suspend the strike the next day. In the summer of 2013, they will resume the strike again, with over 30,000 prisoners participating.

The prisoners held to the same five core demands they advanced in July, and advocates documented the breakdown in negotiations between prisoners and the CDCR authorities, posting it on at the start of the new strike. Representatives said the strike would be a “rolling hunger strike” allowing prisoners to come off strike to regain strength. According to advocates and the federal receivers office, over 12,000 prisoners across the system participated. The CDCR reported the strike reaching a peak of 4,252 participants simultaneously missing 9 consecutive meals in 8 facilities on September 29, 2011.

Between the July and September hunger strikes, California State Legislature held state panels reviewing conditions in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) in Pelican Bay. During the hunger strike, prisoners reported CDCR with-holding water and vitamins, threatening to move strikers out of general population, denying prisoner family visits, and banning lawyers with the mediation team from visiting their prisoner clients.

Outside supporters staged protests at facilities and at CDCR headquarters in Sacramento, including three protesters arrested for chaining themselves to the doors on October 14.

Works Cited

“Tortured SHU Prisoners Speak Out: The Struggle Continues”, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, September 2011.

“Prisoner Hunger Strike Grows to Nearly 12,000”, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, October 1, 2011.

“CDCR Threatens Crackdown of Prisoner Hunger Strike, Bans Lawyers: Mediation Team Appeals to Governor for Action”, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, September 30, 2011.

“Prisoners Speak Out Against CDCR Repression, Solidarity Grows, Struggle Continues”, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, October 4, 2011.

“Conditions at California Prison to be Reviewed”, National Public Radio, August 23, 2011.

“Prison hunger strikers no number 12,000, advocates say”, Los Angeles Times, October 3, 2011.

2011 Pelican Bay Hunger Strike”, mct3890 youtube page, published May 6, 2012.

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