More than 30,000 inmates incarcerated in California’s 37 state and private prisons have launched a massive hunger strike to protest the conditions at the Pelican Bay Supermax Prison.
The hunger strike is the third in two years to be carried out by disgruntled inmates who are showing solidarity with their fellow prisoners who are incarcerated in isolation units.
The prisoners are protesting the fact that more serious offenders and gang members are held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours per day.
The cells these serious offenders are kept in at the Pelican Bay prison are reported to be tiny and like living in a small box.
The secure holding units (SHU’s), which are home to some of the more serious convicted criminals are very basic. The prisoners sleep on a concrete slab and have only a tiny area to sit or wash in.
The hunger striking inmates posted their “demands” on the prisoner hunger strike solidarity site with the following 5 demands:
1. Stop punishing groups for the actions of individuals
2. Stop rewarding those who provide information on others
3. Improve nutrition
4. Institute constructive programs for those in solitary confinement
5. End long-term solitary confinement
Hunger strikes are not considered to be official until prisoners skip nine consecutive meals. This is the reason why state officials have refused to recognize the strike. Spokeswoman, Deborah Hoffman, from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in an email:
“There is a process in place when an inmate misses his ninth consecutive meal — and it is a process — it doesn’t all happen at once, can take days.”
Roughly 2,000 inmates in the Pelican Bay prison also refused to go to jobs and classes saying they were sick.
What do you think of the Pelican Bay Prison hunger strikes? Are the inmates justified in their plight to make conditions better for their fellow prisoners? Or are the secure holding units the right place to hold serious offenders indefinitely? Sound off in the comments feed below