California State Prison, Corcoran, California
January 9 – 28, 2019
Two-hundred and seventy prisoners launched a hunger strike at the facility’s 3C Unit, although the strike may have extended to other units as well. The hunger strike was in response to more than three and a half months on “modified program”–an indefinite period of restricted movement in response to an incident or unusual occurrence.
The prisoners demanded a return to normal programming and movement including visitation, recreation time, commissary and programming.
According to IWOC, on Wednesday, January 23, 250 prisoners were “over the 9 meal threshold” necessary for official recognition of a hunger strike and 3 had been “taken to infirmary already due to chest pain and shortness of breath.”
The strike was confirmed by officials at Corcoran. Terry Thornton, Deputy Press Secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed “the number of inmates who participated peaked at 270 on Jan. 9. On Jan. 28 at the end of the hunger strike, 245 inmates were participating.”
Supporters created an online petition that got hundreds of signatures. Many of those signing on left comments saying that their family members were on hunger strike at Corcoran.
From IWOC’s statement on the hunger strike:
“They and another unit within 3C have been on “modified program” for a three and a half months. Here this essentially means a “lockdown” in all meaningful aspects – no visitation, no canteen, no packages, no educational, rehab or vocational programming, and little yard time. The pretext for this indefinite lockdown by CDCr of hundreds of prisoners for months on end is an altercation on Sept 28th which saw three prisoners from their unit attacked and put into the infirmary. Group punishments and indefinite isolation are standard practices by CDCr and must stop. These practices only escalate trauma and conflict, and ultimately only promote violence and destabilization within facilities. This effects are not an accident or “regrettable by-products.” This is how CDCr interprets its mission: control by brutalization and division.”
On Monday, January 28, the warden stated he would comply with two of the strikers’ demands and the prisoners ended the strike.
According to an article by Shadowproof, however, the Warden has since failed to meet any of the demands of the hunger strikers. The warden had initially agreed to restore canteen and create a new recreation schedule if the hunger strike were ended. Prisoners report that neither of these demands have been met since ending the strike. Warden Ken Clark was supposed to meet with inmates on February 5th to continue negotiations but reportedly delayed the meetings.
In response, on Monday February 11th, prisoners refused their breakfast trays and held a noise demo by banging on windows and doors.
The warden has still not acted on any of the demands of the striking prisoners.
A list of demands released to IWOC from a representative of the Corcoran hunger strike.
Update (2/6/19): A previous version of this article indicated that Corcoran had been on “lockdown” for 3 1/2 months prior to the hunger strike, rather than on “modified program”. It also indicated that 250 prisoners participated in the hunger strike. This article has been updated to reflect the new information that 270 prisoners participated.
Update (1/23/19): A previous version of this article indicated that the hunger strike began on January 8, 2018. This article has been updated to reflect the new information that the strike began on January 9, 2018.
Oakland IWOC. January 18, 2019. Personal Interview.
“Hungerstrike in Corcoran 3C Against Indefinite Lockdown and Group Punishment“, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, nd.
Oakland IWOC. January 23, 2019. Personal Interview.
“Lift Modified Progam “Lockdown” at Corcoran State Prison 3C Yard“, Online Petition, Change.org.
Oakland IWOC. January 28, 2019. Personal Interview.
“US Targets Venezuela with Oil Sanctions amid Political Crisis; Plus: Douglas Rushkoff: Team Human,” Radio Show, KPFA, January 29, 2019.
Thornton, Terry, Deputy Press Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Email Interview with Perilous. February 6, 2019.
“Following hunger strike, Corcoran prisoners say negotiations with warden have fallen apart,” Shadowproof, February 8, 2019.
“Corcoran Warden Reneges on Pledges. Time Again to ZAP!” IWOC, February 13, 2019.