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Hunger Strike Continues in California prisons

July 25, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—July 25th, 2011

Supporters rally to pressure CDCR to meet prisoner demands

Press Contact: Emily Harris, Statewide Coordinator
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
510-435-1176

Rally 12 – 2 pm
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation headquarters, 1515 S Street, Sacramento

Sacramento—Hunger strikes continue in prisons throughout California to demand more humane conditions, and supporters are rallying in Sacramento to maintain pressure on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). While hunger strikers at Pelican Bay have declared a victory, prisoners in Corcoran, Calipatria and Tehachapi prisons continue to refuse food until their demands are met.

“We are rallying today to show that the public still supports the continued hunger strikers,” says Lisa Marie Alatorre, Campaign Director for Critical Resistance, a member of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB). CURB is a coalition of over 60 organizations that work to reduce the state’s prison budget and the number of people locked up in California prisons, one of several groups who organized the rally. “We are inspired by the victory at Pelican Bay, but the fight is not over. There are people across the country who will continue organizing until CDCR meets the demands of the continuing hunger strikers.”

Family members of strikers, advocates, and organizations from across California will be joining CURB at the CDCR headquarters for the rally, which will include a march to Governor Brown’s office and delivery of a signed letter urging the Governor to intervene in the negotiations and ensure the hunger strike demands are met.

Prisoners in the Corcoran Secure Housing Units, and those who face long-term solitary confinement in Tehachapi and Calipatria prisons, are carrying on the hunger strike started on July 1st by prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison. The strike quickly expanded to approximately 6,600 people in a third of California’s prisons. It received broad international support – organizations and individuals held demonstrations throughout the US, in Canada, and in Australia, and flooded CDCR headquarters and Governor Jerry Brown’s office with demands for negotiation. Strikers won several concessions from the CDCR and prompted California lawmakers to initiate hearings on conditions in the SHU, including the practice of long-term solitary confinement. The CDCR also committed to holding similar hearings, but has yet to schedule them.

“Action is more important than ever. The CDCR must not only meet the strike demands, it must follow-through on promises made to the Pelican Bay prisoners, and there is no clear plan for how it will do that,” explains Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity member Manuel La Fontaine. Another wave of rallies are being planned across the country, including Ohio and New York.

The CDCR has come under increased pressure in the past months as public opinion polls show widening support for reforms to California’s massive prison system. The Supreme Court recently ordered the CDCR to reduce the number of people incarcerated because it has consistently been unable to deliver basic medical care to all prisoners.

“We are seeing over and over the same message to the CDCR, whether it is the hunger strikes, opinion polls or the Supreme Court decision: the atrocious conditions and policies within California prisons must end, and the place to start is by meeting hunger strike demands,” says Alatorre.

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