On Thursday, September 5, the 60th day of the third peaceful hunger strike in California prisons, the hunger strike was suspended. For background information about the hunger strike go here.
As a result of the historic hunger strike in California prisons this summer, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and State Senator Loni Hancock committed to host a series of hearings and legislation to address conditions of solitary confinement. The first of such hearings was held on Wednesday, October 9 in Sacramento. To view powerful excerpts from the hearing compiled by Lucas Guilkey and shared by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, visit here. For the hearing in its entirety here, go to "Joint Informational Hearing on Segregation Policies in California Prisons" dated October 9, 2013.
Want to learn more about the critical role and witness of incarcerated women in the California movement to end long term solitary confinement? Victoria Law, author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, shares about the leadership role of incarcerated women in California during this summer’s historic hunger strike here.
The joint hearings mark an important step in the work to end torture in California prisons. It is essential that we ensure that the hearings yield legislative action. When 30,000 prisoners go on hunger strike to protest their conditions, and 100 remain on strike for 60 days, it should be a wake up call to state legislators that something is seriously wrong. We must ensure the call remains strong.
Together, we must continue to stand with the hunger strikers' calls for an end to torture.
Responses to the Historic Prisoner Hunger Strike and Looking Forward
Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, stated:
“We honor the courageous witness of those who have risked their lives to call for an end to torture. We urge California legislators and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to take immediate action to concretely address the indignity of long term solitary confinement in California prisons. What lies before the leadership of California today is a critical opportunity to address the concerns raised by those who have risked their lives on hunger strike in the past 60 days. We applaud the recent announcement from Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and State Senator Loni Hancock to host hearings in the coming weeks to address the concerns raised by those on hunger strike. We cannot return to business as usual. The religious community stands poised to support all who move with resolve to address these concerns.” The complete NRCAT press release can be found here.
California State Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee stated:
“The issues raised by the hunger strike are real – concerns about the use and conditions of solitary confinement in California’s prisons – and will not be ignored. According to Senator Hancock, “The inmates participating in the hunger strike have succeeded in bringing these issues to the center of public awareness and debate, Legislators now recognize the seriousness and urgency of these concerns and we will move forward to address them.” “I’m especially gratified if the call for hearings helped bring this about,” Ammiano said. “However, our real work begins now, as we will soon start preparing for hearings that I hope can bring an end to the disgraceful conditions that triggered the hunger strike.” Their statement can be found in full here.
Family members of those on hunger strike stated:
“To ensure that the prisoners, our loved ones, never need endure such suffering again we will continue in our work to bring an end to such inhumane conditions. As members of CFSC (California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement), ourselves and many family members are ready to continue and remain in the forefront to bring an end to the use of long term solitary confinement. We are very proud of our family members and loved ones that were willing to make such a sacrifice which has gained international attention and we are honored to be part of such a historical movement.” Their statement can be found in full here.
The Mediation Team appointed by the leadership of the hunger strike stated:
“This hunger strike is historic on many levels: the number of prisoners who went without food; the international media attention; and the impressive mobilization of groups on the outside who published in-depth analyses, organized demonstrations, worked with the media, and promoted the prisoners’ demands and their Agreement to End Hostilities. Coupled with the lawsuit by the Center for Constitutional Rights and other attorneys, this peaceful protest was a tremendously courageous effort that has the potential of securing real change in California’s practices related to solitary confinement.” Their statement can be found in full here.
Photos from an interfaith prayer service and a press conference.