California Prison Hunger Strike Ends Peacefully

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)


(Note: This is my fifth and final essay in support of the California prisoners on hunger strike.  The first is here.  The second is here.  OPOL’s wonderful treatment of the situation is here.  The third is here.  Yesterday’s is here.

SF Gate reports that after three full weeks the California Prisoners’ Hunger Strike has come peacefully to an end.  Prisoners across California are now eating:

SF Gate reports that after three full weeks the California Prisoners’ Hunger Strike has come peacefully to an end.  Prisoners across California are now eating:

Inmates have ended a three-week hunger strike in the high-security Pelican Bay State Prison in Del Norte County to protest conditions in isolation units at the facility and what they said were oppressive gang-security measures by prison officials, California prison officials say.

Advocates for the prisoners said they got confirmation late Thursday from the inmates themselves. Meanwhile, some inmates in three other state prisons who were refusing to eat in solidarity with those in Pelican Bay were continuing their strike until they could also receive confirmation, state officials said.

“Most inmates at Pelican Bay started eating again last night, and as of 1 p.m. today they were all eating,” Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Thursday.

“Our staff is now consulting with the prisoners in the other institutions who are still refusing to eat prison-issued food, and we are hoping they start eating again soon,” she said.

The hunger strike began at Pelican Bay near the Oregon on July 1 and spread to 6,600 inmates in 13 of California’s prisons, according to the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition in Oakland.  On the twentieth day, the number of strikers had fallen to between 160 and 400.

As a sign of its willingness to look further into the prisoners’ five core demands, and in recognition of the time it will take to enact structural changes, the Department of Corrections is initially easing restrictions in isolation units so inmates can make phone calls and get calendars and cold-weather caps, as well as expanded educational opportunities.  Other reforms-the main demands of the prisoners– are also being considered.

Inmate leaders said they do not consider their eating the end of anything.  They consider it a beginning. Today would have been Day 22 of the prison hunger strike. This may have been the most significant act of prisoner resistance in 40 years, since the Attica Uprising in 1971.  And, fortunately, unlike Attica, this phase has not ended in violence.

The main issues, of course, remain.  Long term, 23-hour per day solitary confinement continues.   But the prisoners managed to bring together Black and Latino prisoners who are normally set against each other. And they managed, despite restrictions on their communicating with each other and with those outside the walls, to assert their humanity and challenge others to reclaim their humanity by standing with them in solidarity.

Thank you for supporting this struggle so far. The march toward humane treatment of prisoners continues in California and across America.


cross-posted from The Dream Antilles


  1. the prisoners’ struggle.

  2. will be met . . . . !

    Thank you for your steadfastness in this effort, davidseth.

    I have just bumped into an article, which demonstrates the inhumanity of private prisons’ mentality exhibited over inmates.  I urge everyone to read this.

    21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor

    In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.

    July 21, 2011, By Rania Khalek  |

    There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight.

    They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.

    Incarceration Nation

    It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars. That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.  . . . .

    In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit. By dipping into the prison labor pool, companies have their pick of workers who are not only cheap but easily controlled. . . . .

    Over the last 30 years, at least 37 states have enacted laws permitting the use of convict labor by private enterprise, with an average pay of $0.93 to $4.73 per day.

    Federal prisoners receive more generous wages that range from $0.23 to $1.25 per hour, and are employed by Unicor, a wholly owned government corporation established by Congress in 1934. . . . .

    Some of the largest and most powerful corporations have a stake in the expansion of the prison labor market, including but not limited to IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. Between 1980 and 1994 alone, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Since the prison labor force has likely grown since then, it is safe to assume that the profits accrued from the use of prison labor have reached even higher levels. . . .

    Imagine Pelican Bay Prison!

    (The mentality exhibited and used over inmates seems to be indicative and flowing over into the non-prison society, little by little.)

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