California Prison Hunger-Strikers Enter Third Week

by on July 29, 2013 · 5 comments

in California, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights

Editor: The hunger strike by hundreds – at first thousands – of California prison inmates is entering its third week.  One inmate has died.  The strike is getting some media attention.  There was a front page article on the LA Times today – Monday, July 29.

By Paige St. John / LA Times

PELICAN BAY STATE PRISON — Inside the concrete labyrinth of California’s highest-security prison, an inmate covered in neo-Nazi tattoos and locked in solitary confinement has spearheaded the largest prison protest in California history.

Convicted killer Todd Ashker and three other inmates — representing the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia and the Black Guerrilla Family — called for a mass hunger strike July 8, largely to protest indefinite incarceration in solitary confinement.

More than 30,000 prisoners answered.

Though segregated from others, the leaders, who dub themselves the Short Corridor Collective, have kept the protest going, with more than 600 inmates still refusing food.   Among the four, Ashker is the most outspoken of the collective and the legal brains behind the strike.

Balance of article.

California prisons, hunger-strike backers clash over inmate death

 By Steve Gorman /  LA Times – Reuters / July 28, 2013

(Reuters) – Supporters of California prison inmates staging a prolonged hunger strike said on Saturday that one of the prisoners who had been refusing meals has died, but state corrections officials said the death was under investigation as a suicide.

The inmate, identified by mediators for protesting inmates as Billy Sell, died on Monday at the Corcoran State Prison in central California, where he was serving time in a “security housing unit” for prisoners held in solitary confinement, according to the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.

The group said in a statement that fellow inmates have reported that Sell was participating in the hunger strike, and that he had been requesting medical attention for several days before his death.

The hunger strike, which entered its 20th day on Saturday, was launched in protest against the state’s solitary confinement practices and ranks as the largest in California prison history.

Balance of article.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Nic July 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

It’s a real shame how little anyone cares about his.

Indefinite solitary confinement is a fate worse than death, it reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode “Escape Clause.”

I mean, this type of incarcerations is almost on the same level as capital punishment to me, and that’s something that needs to be mandated by a judge and jury; not a warden or a gaurd (who may have an axe to grind with a prisoner). I’d imagine it’d easily drive one to suicide as well.

No one deserves this. _Everyone_ deserves their dignity and their life.


Debra August 2, 2013 at 11:21 am

You are sadly mistaken to believe that violent, dangerous criminals deserve ANYTHING but to be locked up so the rest of us can be safe. Obviously neither you nor any of your loved ones ever suffered physically or financially, at the hands of some useless, piece of trash that has no conscience. If someone is in prison for drug abuse, THAT’S wrong–they need treatment. If they are in for rape, murder, assault, etc. they BELONG there.


mjt July 29, 2013 at 3:17 pm

there have always been bad guys and bad prisons. since this republican zero tolerance hit America, we have come to a new low. the so called officials behind these policies should be fired and jailed. I can think of some prison roommates that would Fit well with them. I would rather get fed to the lions then suffer the torture inflicted with years of solitary confinement.


Mister Groucho July 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm

As I was rushing to work this morning, KPBS mentioned the list of prominent people pressuring Jerry Brown to prohibit the indefinite detentions in solitary.
Does anyone have that list? Publish it, perhaps?


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