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Oct 01, 2013

Corcoran Report

Ron Ahnen and Kim Pollak

keywords:

From Prison Focus Issue 41
Winter 2013

The following report is based on several visits to
Corcoran State Prison in July and August of 2013 at
the height of the hunger strike. Key issues of physical
and medical abuse, unwarranted and illegal confiscation
and destruction of private property (including of legal papers)
and other injustices linked to not following the hunger
strike protocol are the most important matters. We received
hundreds of complaints in our interviews and via mail, but
include only a short summary in this newsletter report.
Medical Abuse

One of the most common complaints we received during
the hunger strike was the lackadaisical manner in which
medical care was administered. When nurses were supposed
to be checking on hunger strikers, they would simply “fly by
the cells” and maybe peek through the door without interviewing
the prisoner. Prisoners reported guards forcing them
to walk faster than they were able given more than the usual
level of cuffs and shackles and their weakened physical state
due to not eating for over a month. Prisoner A noted that
it took over an hour to respond to a “man down” (medical
emergency situation) near his cell. Prisoner B stated he feels
the medical staff are “taking the strike very, very lightly.”
While initially people were pulled out to have their vitals
taken, nurses checked only very briefly every day at the cell
door, and contact was only orally without diagnostics or assessments.
Prisoner C noted the nurse visits at his cell door
were mostly oral and of irregular infrequency.

Although medical officials claimed that all prisoners were
being offered vitamins and Gatorade without being taken off
the hunger strike list, many prisoners told us they did not
receive them. Prisoner D reported a sign outside of the clinic
that reads “we are not giving out vitamins or nutritional
drinks.” He also said he was told that Dr. Wang, the Chief
Medical Officer, instructed prison staff not to follow hunger
strike policy. Prisoner E also reported a nurse telling him that
Dr. Wang had ordered them not to follow the hunger strike
protocol. Prisoner F told us that inmates were not allowed
out of their cells for anything, including medical treatment.
He was sent to the Acute Care Hospital when his blood pressure
skyrocketed, but he was not treated.

Prisoner G was on hunger strike at the time of our visit and
reported that his health had suffered greatly. He said that in
mid July, his kidneys were hurting so severely that he tried
to go “man down” in his cell. The guard arrived but notified
him that there were only two nurses on duty at the time.
About 45 minutes later they took him from his cell to the
rotunda to assess him. They waited for transport to the Acute
Care Hospital, but since no doctor was on duty or on call, he
was returned to his cell. That night, he was in such pain he
took another inmate’s prescribed pain meds and passed out
in his bed, only to wake up on the floor. He did not see a doctor
until he went “man down” on July 31. Eventually, he was
sent to the internal hospital and returned to Corcoran SHU in
mid-August.

Prisoner G also reported that a SHU inmate of Guatemalan
descent had been requesting medical attention for four or
five days and not getting any answers. Finally he went “man
down” but when the staff responded, they used force in his
cell and beat him up.

The lack of treatment was clearly tied to getting prisoners
off the hunger strike. Prisoner H said one doctor told him
“unless you are willing to eat, I’m not giving you any treatment.”
Prisoner I reported that the doctor considered him
suicidal and unable to make his own decisions because he
continued on the hunger strike even in delicate health. When
he finally began to eat again, he was put on the “high risk”
management, but was then told that he was only moderate
risk and should eat half a tray. He got so sick that he was sent
back to the hospital.

Prisoner J said the nurse forgot to give him his insulin. He
put in a medical request, but they did not respond. Finally he
had to “call cage” (yell and shake the cage) before medical
staff responded. He was told he would have to wait, however,
so that medical could deal with the strikers first.

RETALIATION AND ABUSE
Several prisoners noted the more aggressive posture of
the guards during the hunger strike, who seemed irritated at
the extra work and checks they had to conduct. Prisoner K
reported that when the guards moved folks, they tried to provoke
violence. He noted the prisoners resisted such provocations.
Prisoner L states that he and others were not being returned
to their original cells as a form of retaliation. He also
stated that guards were grabbing, harrassing, and provoking
inmates in order to incite violence. They did not allow prisoners
to speak at times when they should be allowed to do
so. Another prisoners reported that it took him six months
to draw a piece of art called “Unity”, showing four women
from different racial groups. He reported the artwork was
simply destroyed.

HUNGER STRIKE ISSUES

Prisoner M reported that the guards were intentionally manipulating
the number of prisoners on hunger strike. Sometimes
guards would mark on their sheet that an individual
accepted a tray even if he didn’t. Prisoner M challenged a
guard on one occasion who seemed surprised he refused a
tray noting “you accepted one last night.” When the prisoner
corrected him saying that he didn’t, the guard then corrected
the record. When he asked the guard why he put down the
incorrect information the night before, the only answer he
got was “Sorry, my bad.”

The threat of being sent to an SNY yard was one of the
tactics used to break the hunger strike. Some prisoners reported
being sent to an SNY yard or housed among debriefers.
Prisoner N said that there, “things would happen . . .
Doors would open . . .” He stated that he did not want “to get
taken down like that” (that is, set-up for an attack on an SNY
yard). He also received none of his legal material while he
was on the SNY yard.

Another tactic was to threaten permanent loss of property.
When prisoners went single cell, they received no receipts
for their confiscated property, which was then being thrown
away. Prisoner O said he heard this was going on from a
guard with whom he has good rapport. Prisoner P noted that
a form of punishment for those participating in the single
cell action was to split up compatible inmates who had been
together for a long time. Prisoner Q noted that new cellmates
would be moved in and prisoners were made to sign a compatibility
agreement. He noted, “yet how can you agree to
be compatible with somebody you scarcely know?” Prisoner
R noted that compatibility is to be assessed when a prisoner
receives a potential cellie’s C-file to review it for age, where
from, validation, etc. Prisoners are supposed to be given a
choice among possible cellies. This protocol is simply not
being followed.

Also, prisoners who refused cellies were threatened with a
second 115 (one for the hunger strike and one for refusing a
cellie). Having received two 115s in a 180 day period could
have them sent to ICC for reclassification as a “program
failure.” The consequence is reportedly loss of property increased
from 90 days to one year. In addition, inmates cannot
have anything in their cell during the first six months including
absolutely no books, magazines, or newspapers. After
six months they are allowed one book or one newspaper, but
not more than one at a time. After this threat, 20 men who
were single celled took cellmates back.

Prisoner S reports that IGIs have been spreading rumors
about different prisoners. He said that the administration has
a pattern of celling up people who are incompatible in order
to incite violence. He said that IGI goes around spreading
rumors about what one group said about another group in
order to stir things up.

PROPERTY CONFISCATION
Several prisoners involved in the hunger strike but not the
single cell action also had their property confiscated and were
unable to file a complaint (602) because they never received
a receipt of confiscated property. Many reported having part
of their property destroyed including legal papers, personal
letters and mementos they had possessed for years. Prisoner
T, who has an upcoming court date, is one of the many men
who reported having their legal paperwork confiscated. He
filed a 602, but it was rejected on the grounds that he had no
property receipt and no proof of what was missing. Prisoner
U reported that he got his property back, but a lot of personal
stuff had been thrown away.

Prisoner V reported that all of his property, including his
hearing aid, glasses, inhaler, and legal papers, were confiscated
while he was out on a visit to the law library. He never
made it back from the law library, but was moved to an SNY
yard. He has an upcoming court date and deadline.
Prisoner W noted that he received two 115’s-- one for
the hunger strike and one for refusing a cellie-- and that his
disciplinary assessment was 90 days of lost credit and 10
days loss of yard. Since his discipline had nothing to do with
property, he asked for his property back only to be told that
it mysteriously was redirected to the wrong place. It was sent
to an SNY Gym. The Sgt. agreed that he should get his property
back, but told him there were hundreds of cases to get
through, so he didn’t know how long it would take to get his
property back.

Many other prisoners also repeated the charge that no
property receipt was given thereby making it impossible to
file a 602 to get one’s property back. Prisoner X was told by
the Sgt. in his area “give us a year, there’s a lot going on.”

VALIDATION
Despite the claims of officials in Sacramento that the
new security threat group policy and step down program
constitute a radical change in CDC policy with respect to
gang validations and SHU assignment, evidence gathered
from our interviews suggests otherwise. Specifically, Prisoner
Y’s validation is based in part on a birthday card he
received from his grandmother which included pictures of
MLK, Frederick Douglass, and Malcolm X. One guard told
Prisoner Z “if IGI came to my house, I would definitely be
validated as a member of the be BGF because I own books
by Malcolm X, George Jackson, the Panthers, MLK Junior,
etc.” Prisoner Z then asked, “So do you believe I am not
BGF?” The guard replied, “Yes, I do, but there is nothing I
can do about it.” Prisoner AA was validated based on a picture
of George Jackson, a card from a friend, and the mention
of Black August in a card.

Prisoner BB reported that he has seen signs on cell doors
that include a prisoner’s name, picture, age, and if he’s validated,
what his accused affiliation is. He says the men are
upset about this situation because some people might be able
to use that information to validate other prisoners.
Prisoner CC was told that only Associates would be reviewed,
not members--in direct contradiction to two different
memos signed by high CDC officials in Sacramento.

CONCLUSION:
The abuses contained in this report offer little hope that
the new gang validation and SHU placement policy re-write
(known as the new Security Threat Group Management
Policy) represents the radical shift that CDCR administrative
officials claim it is. We continue to push for greater transparency
and will continue to report on the widespread abuses
that occur daily within our prisons. Only by uncovering and
reporting these abuses will we ever be in a position to put an
end to them.

Oct 01, 2013

Corcoran Report

Ron Ahnen and Kim Pollak

keywords: 2013 Hunger Strike

From Prison Focus Issue 40
Fall 2013

The following report is based on several visits to Corcoran State Prison in July and August of 2013 at the height of the hunger strike. Key issues of physical and medical abuse, unwarranted and illegal confiscation and destruction of private property (including of legal papers) and other injustices linked to not following the hunger strike protocol are the most important matters. We received dozens of complaints in our interviews and via mail, but include only a short summary in this newsletter report.

MEDICAL ABUSE
One of the most common complaints we receive during the hunger strike was the lackadaisical manner in which medical care was administered. When nurses were supposed to be checking on hunger strikers, they would simply "fly by the cells" and maybe peek through the door without interviewing the prisoner. Prisoners reported guards forcing them to walk faster than they were able given more than the usual level of cuffs and shackles and their weakened physical state due to not eating for over a month. Prisoner A noted that it took over an hour to report to a "man down" (medical emergency situation) near his cell. Prisoner B stated he feels the medical staff are "taking the strike very, very lightly." While initially people were pulled out to have their vitals taken, nurses checked only very briefly every day at his cell door, and contact was only orally without diagnostics or assessments. Prisoner C noted the nurse visits at his cell door were mostly oral and of irregular infrequency.

Although medical officials noted that all prisoners were being offered vitamins and Gatorade without being taken off the hunger strike list, many prisoners told us they did not receive them. Prisoner D reported a sign outside of the clinic that reads "we are not giving out vitamins or nutritional drinks." He also said he was told that Dr. Wang, the Chief Medical Officer, instructed prison staff not to follow hunger strike policy. Prisoner E also reported a nurse telling him that Dr. Wang had ordered them not to follow the hunger strike protocol. Prisoner F told us that inmates were not allowed out of their cells for anything, including medical treatment. He was sent to the Acute Care Hospital when his blood pressure skyrocketed, but he was not treated.

Prisoner G was on hunger strike at the time of our visit and reported that his health had suffered greatly. He said that in mid July, his kidneys were hurting so severely that he tried to go "man down" in his cell. The guard arrived but notified him that there were only two nurses on duty at the time. About 45 minutes later they took him from his cell to the rotunda to assess him. They waited for transport to the Acute Care Hospital, but since no doctor was on duty or on call, he was returned to his cell. That night, he was in such pain he took another inmate's prescribed pain meds and passed out in his bed, only to wake up on the floor. He did not see a doctor until he went "man down" on July 31. Eventually, he was sent to the internal hospital and returned to Corcoran SHU in mid-August.

Prisoner G also reported that a SHU inmate of Guatemalan descent had been requesting medical attention for four or five days and not getting any answers. Finally he went "man down" but when the staff responded, they used force in his cell and beat him up.

The lack of treatment was clearly tied to getting prisoners off the hunger strike. Prisoner H said one doctor told him "unless you are willing to eat, I'm not giving you any treatment." Prisoner I reported that the doctor considered him suicidal and unable to make his own decisions because he continued on the hunger strike even in delicate health. When he finally began to eat again, he was put on the "high risk" management, but was then told that he was only moderate risk and should eat half a tray. He got so sick that he was sent back to the hospital.

Prisoner J said the nurse forgot to give him his insulin. He put in a medical request, but they did not respond. Finally he had to "call cage" (yell and shake the cage) before medical staff responded. He was told he would have to wait, however, so that medical could deal with the strikers first.

RETALIATION AND ABUSE
Several prisoners noted the more aggressive posture of the guards during the hunger strike, who seemed irritated at the extra work and checks they had to conduct. Prisoner K reported that when the guards moved folks, they tried to provoke violence. He noted the prisoners resisted such provocations. Prisoner L states that he and others were not being returned to their original cells as a form of retaliation. He also stated that guards were grabbing, harrassing, and provoking inmates in order to incite violence. They will not allow prisoners to speak at times when they should be allowed to do so. Another prisoners reported that it took him six months to draw a piece of art called "Unity" with four women from different racial groups. He reported the artwork was simply destroyed.

HUNGER STRIKE ISSUES
Prisoner M reported that the guards were intentionally manipulating the number of prisoners on hunger strike. Sometimes guards would mark on their sheet that an individual accepted a tray even if they didn't. He challenged a guard on one occasion who seemed surprised he refused a tray noting "you accepted one last night." When the prisoner corrected him saying that he didn't, the guard then corrected the information. When he asked the guard why he put down the incorrect information the night before, the only answer he got was "Sorry, my bad."

The threat of being sent to an SNY yard was one of the tactics used to break the hunger strike. Some prisoners reported being sent to an SNY yard or housed among debriefers. Prisoner N said that there, "things would happen . . . Doors would open . . ." He stated that he did not want "to get taken down like that" (that is, set-up for an attack on an SNY yard). He also received none of his legal material while he was on the SNY yard.

Another tactic was to threaten with permanent loss of property. When prisoners went single cell, they received no receipts for their confiscated property, which was then being thrown away. Prisoner O said he heard this was going on from a guard with whom he has good rapport. Prisoner P noted that a form of punishment for those participating in the single cell action was to split up compatible inmates who had been together for a long time. Prisoner Q noted that new cellmates would be moved in and prisoners were made to sign a compatibility agreement. He noted, "yet how can you agree to be compatible with somebody you scarcely know?" Prisoner R noted that compatibility is to be assessed when a prisoner receive's a potential cellie's C-file to review it for age, where from, validation, etc. Prisoners are supposed to be given a choice among possible cellies. This protocol is simply not being followed.

Also, prisoners who refused cellies were threatened with a second 115 (one for the hunger strike and one for refusing a cellie). Having received two 115s in a 180 day period could have them sent to ICC for reclassification as a "program failure." The consequence is reportedly loss of property increased from 90 days to one year. In addition, inmates cannot have anything in their cell during the first six months including absolutely no books, magazines, or newspapers. After six months they are allowed one book or one newspaper, but not more than one at a time. After this threat, 20 men who were single celled took cellmates back.

Prisoner S reports that IGIs have been spreading rumors about different prisoners. He said that the administration has a pattern of celling up people who are incompatible in order to incite violence. He said that IGI goes around spreading rumors about what one group said about another group in order to stir things up.

PROPERTY CONFISCATION
Several prisoners involved in the hunger strike but not the single cell action also had their property confiscated and were unable to file a complaint (602) because they never received a receipt of confiscated property. Many reported having part of their property destroyed including legal papers, personal letters and momentos they had possessed for years. Prisoner T who has an upcoming court date, is one of the many men who reported having their legal paperwork confiscated. He filed a 602, but it was rejected on the grounds that he had no property receipt and no proof of what was missing. Prisoner U reported that he got his property back, but a lot of personal stuff had been thrown away.

Prisoner V reported that all of his property, including his hearing aid, glasses, inhaler, and legal papers, were confiscated while he was out on a visit to the law library. He never made it back from the law library, but was moved to an SNY yard. He has an upcoming court date and deadline.

Priosoner W noted that he received two 115's-- one for the hunger strike and one for refusing a cellie-- and that his disciplinary assessment was 90 days of lost credit and 10 days loss of yard. Since his discipline had nothing to do with property, he asked for his property back only to be told that it mysteriously was redirected to the wrong place. It was sent to an SNY Gym. The Sgt. agreed that he should get his property back, but told him there were hundreds of cases to get through, so he didn't know how long it would take to get his property back.

Many other prisoners also repeated the charge that no property receipt was given thereby making it
impossible to file a 602 to get one's property back. Prisoner X was told by the Sgt. in his area "give us a year, there's a lot going on."

VALIDATION
Despite the claims of officials in Sacramento that the new security threat group policy and step down program constitute a radical change in CDC our policy with respect to gang validations and SHU assignment, evidence gathered from our interviews suggests otherwise. Specifically, Prisoner Y's validation is based in part on a birthday card he received from his grandmother which included pictures of MLK, Frederick Douglass, and Malcolm X. One guard told Prisoner Z "if IGI came to my house, I would definitely be validated as a member of the be GF because I own books by Malcolm X, George Jackson, the Panthers, MLK Junior, etc." Prisoner Z then asked, "So do you believe I am not BGF?" The guard replied, "Yes, I do, but there is nothing I can do about it." Prisoner AA was validated based on a picture of George Jackson, a card from a friend, and the mention of Black August in a card.

Prisoner BB reported that he has seen signs on the cells door that include a prisoner's name, picture, age, and if you're validated, what you're accused affiliation is. He says the man are upset about this situation because some people might be able to use that information to validate other prisoners.

Prisoner CC was told that only Associates would be reviewed, not members--in direct contradiction to two different memos signed by high CDC are officials in Sacramento.

CONCLUSION:
The abuses contained in this report offer little hope that the new gang validation and SHU placement policy re-write (known as the new Security Threat Group Management Policy) represents the radical shift that CDCR administrative officials claim it is. We continue to push for greater transparency and will continue to report on the widespread abuses that occur daily within our prisons. Only by uncovering and reporting these abuses we will ever be in a position to put an end to them.

Oct 01, 2013

Pelican Bay Report

Kim Pollak

keywords:

From Prison Focus Issue 41
Winter 2013

This report is based on interviews with inmates at Pelican
Bay State Prison in July and August of this year,
during the 60-day-long Hunger Strike. Information
has also been gathered through the many letters received directly
from Pelican Bay inmates. Hundreds of prisoners at
Pelican Bay participated in the latest protest and over 30,000
system-wide: the largest ever hunger strike in CA prisons.
The majority of the men with whom we spoke had participated
and/or were participating in the strike at the time of the
interview.

MEDICAL CARE AND CHECK-INS
Though medical negligence is a common complaint heard
from inmates at all times, it is especially noteworthy during
the hunger strike. Some members of the public have questioned
the responsibility of the prison to provide health care
to those who chose to place themselves in harms’ way by
not eating. The prisons do in fact have responsibilities to the
prisoners, even during a hunger strike. Daily medical checkins
are protocol during hunger strikes after the third week.
While some prisoners reported that nurses would walk by
and ask inmates if they were okay and drinking fluids, others
described staff walking by their cells with no verbal communication
at all. Some prisoners had been informed that during
the strike Medical was understaffed. One prisoner’s statement
reflects the sentiment of most, if not all of the hunger
strikers: “The hunger strike is designed to motivate change.
We are not trying to die.”

Prisoners reported the neglect of health care needs both
related and unrelated to the strike. Prisoner J, however, stated
that despite delays he knew of no one who had been denied a
medical request. Prisoner B explained that medical appointments
were not necessarily denied but were not meaningful
either. For example, requested scans, x-rays and treatments
were commonly denied. Unfortunately, even outside of the
hunger strike, the most basic diagnostics and treatments are
denied regularly. And although prisoners who “fell out” (i.e.,
they ended their strike due to physical conditions) were taken
to Medical, prisoners consistently relayed accounts where
prisoners would not have fallen out or needed to go to Medical
had it not been for the actions or neglect of prison staff.
It is not uncommon that prisoners who are hurt or sick and
in need of immediate care receive no response from staff and
wait extended periods of time before receiving any medical
attention. Prisoner A reported hearing staff bang at the door
of a fellow inmate, yelling “get the fuck up or we’ll extract
you.” When staff finally opened the door they found him unresponsive.
At that point the prisoner was taken to Medical.
We received various reports in regards to prisoners’ prescribed
medications. Blood pressure medications were suspended
for strikers because they must be taken with food.
Nobody appeared to have a problem with that. However,
several others reported discontinuation of all pain medications
simply as an act of retaliation. When strikers began eating
again, medications were not always reissued automatically,
but rather the men were required to submit requests,
causing unnecessary delays. According to Prisoner G there
is a new “pain committee” in Medical. To see the medical
reports, prisoners must buy them from their own file.

FEEDING AND REFEEDING
Starting approximately three weeks into the protest,
around July 25th, prisoners were offered Gatorade and vitamins
B12, B1 and C. Prisoner B reported that sometimes the
Gatorade packets were cut open and not always full. Some
of the strikers received the Gatorade, but were not given vitamins.

Once strikers were ready to continue eating they were put
on a re-feeding diet. According to Prisoner A the re-feeding
diet began with a small paper cup of Ensure twice a day, to
half a can twice a day, to two full cans a day. On days five
and six the men received a peanut butter sandwich and bologna
sandwich. On the 8th day the men were given breakfast
and dinner meals with instructions to only eat half and by
day nine strikers were back on regular meals. He added that
prisoners could continue receiving Gatorade and vitamins
throughout re-feeding. Several prisoners reported that they
or a fellow inmate had been denied the special re-feeding
diet and consequently became sick and had to go to Medical.
Prisoner H for example, reported that a fellow prisoner who
had come off the strike after losing approximately 25 lbs.
was denied the re-feeding diet and as a result the striker got
sick and was sent to the infirmary where he was given an IV.
Control by Retaliation, Intimidation and

MANIPULATION
Reports of staff retaliation is sadly all too common in California
prisons. Retaliation, intimidation and manipulation
are used as methods of gaining and maintaining control over
both individuals and groups. Inmates described the countless
ways that retaliation, intimidation and manipulation were
used by prison staff throughout the strike as ploys to maintain
dominance and influence the outcome of the protest.
What follows is only a small sample of the kind of tactics
used to squash the prisoners’ non-violent protest against torture
and inhumane conditions.

Prisoner B reported that guards offered him a tray with
coffee and water through the slot in his door. He refused it
however, explaining that if he had accepted the tray, even
without food, he would have been counted as off the strike.
Prisoner E reported that guards passed out free canteen lists
as an enticement to eat. Prisoner F and Prisoner G were
off strike because of misinformation by guards that others
had stopped. Others who had stopped when they received
the misinformation, later resumed their strike. Prisoner D
stopped striking on the 18th, 10 days into the strike, because
he and the other men in his pod were threatened that if they
did not eat they would be moved to the Administrative Segregation
Unit (ASU) where conditions of isolation are even
harsher than SHU, or C12 where the debriefers are housed.
The entire pod stopped their strike. Another ploy used by the
prison to break prisoner spirits was to cause physical discomfort
using temperature control. Prisoner D reported temperature
fluctuations that are either too cold or too hot. Prisoner
F explained that keeping people cold increases hunger and
hunger related discomfort. According to Prisoner C, guards
used a mattress to block the space beneath the cell door of a
fellow inmate who was no longer on strike. Presumably this
was to keep him from passing food to his neighbors. The lack
of ventilation worsened his asthma.

All hunger strikers received disciplinary/retaliatory writeups
for participating in the protest. The write-ups were issued
for participating in a “gang-led” prison disturbance. According
to some prisoners the serious rules violations reports
(115s) showed inaccurate dates, downplaying the strength
and length of the strike. Guards issued the 115s to the prisoners
noting that if they pled guilty, they would get 90 days
credit loss.

According to Prisoner A many prisoners did so. Alternatively,
if they challenged the 115s and pled not guilty, they
would have their TVs taken for 30 days, which is a big deal
because the men are not getting much mail right now and TV
is their only form of communication with the outside world.
However, Prisoner G explained, those who challenged their
115 were almost entirely found guilty and ended up having
their TVs confiscated for 60 days instead of 30.
Prisoner D reported that the typewriter privilege, which
had been issued a few days before the strike began was rescinded!
They have rescinded permission for other items
as well: cups, soap dish, candy bars. Prisoner F reports that
when he started eating again, portion sizes were (and continue
to be) smaller than before the strike. The threat and implementation
of relocations and property confiscation were
additional tactics employed by staff to control the prisoners
and the outcome of the strike.

RELOCATIONS AND PROPERTY CONFISCATION
Relocations were used as a method to stop the flow of
information between prisoners and as a disincentive for inmates
to continue their participation in the protest. Hunger
strikers were moved to different units within the prison and
from Pelican Bay to Corcoran and New Folsom. Prisoner
representatives who organized the strike were especially
targeted for relocation. Efforts to keep strikers uninformed
were largely effective, as many men complained of being left
in the dark and having no idea of what others were doing and
what they should do. One prisoner explained that the guards
were also trying to isolate those who had come off of the
hunger strike from those who had not.

The reps and many other strikers were moved from the
SHU to ASU, where television, radios and other forms of
sensory stimulation generally permitted in the SHU are
all summarily prohibited. Though the yard is better in the
ASU, the cells are smaller. Most prisoners did not want to be
moved from their cells and fellow pod inmates with whom
they were familiar, and even considered “family”, as one inmate
explained. Relocation to the ASU was a threat sufficient
enough to make some strikers end their strike. Hunger Strikers
moved to ASU were returned to the SHU upon eating.
When strikers were relocated their belongings were confiscated.
Numerous prisoners reported that their property was
disposed of, allegedly lost, or as Prisoner B reported, his possessions
had been “trashed.” Prisoner G reported that a week
after the strike began guards took his property, including his
writings, drawings, and legal documents. He received a receipt
saying that they “examined” his legal paperwork for
contraband, but did not read it. They returned some of his
paper work, but not all. He was especially upset about the
loss of his drawings which he had been working on all year.

PROGRAM AND MAIL
Program was greatly reduced during the strike. Prisoner B
reported that they were only being allowed out of their cell
two days a week, and even that was not consistent. Prisoner
C reported that they were on rolling lockdown three days/
week and that prisoners were not getting full yard time even
on those three days. The prisoners were told that this was
due to staff having more work because of the hunger strike.
In addition, Prisoner H explained that the pods had not been
cleaned because the workers were on strike and it fell on the
COs to clean the cells.

Prisoners reported that mail was regularly delayed throughout
the strike. Some inmates reported that they were receiving
their mail while others were not. Prisoner D reported that
old mail was finally being released, including newsletters
held since last Spring.

One prisoner shared a powerful account of his experience
in ASU. He explained that the ASU yard at Pelican Bay is
outside in a series of ten cages, “like animal cages” he explained.
On a positive note, he said it was the first time he
had seen plant or animal life in 20 years. “Little yellow flowers,
ants, bugs, birds. Sunshine.”

SOLIDARITY AMONG PRISONERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Dispersed within the stories of the men’s struggles and
sacrifices were stories of strength and beauty, such as families
of prisoners of different racial groups moving beyond
racial boundaries and joining together in solidarity to make
a difference.

Because of the yard configuration one man shared that he
was able to see people for two or three cages on either side.
He was able “to see other human beings,” he exclaimed.
He was able to see people that he had known for years but
had never seen. It was the first time this prisoner, an African
American man, had spoken with another Black person in 7-8
years. It’s “like a reunion… Just as good as having a visit…
I’ve been isolated from others for so long.”

Another powerful element of this struggle is the extent
to which the prisoners have put aside their differences and
have acted in solidarity. A great number of those that did not
participate in the strike showed their support for the struggle.
Several prisoners, for example, reported that individuals and
entire pods boycotted the canteen, in solidarity with the hunger
strikers

Jun 01, 2013

Pelican Bay State Prison Report - 2013 Prisoner Hunger Strike

Kim Pollak

keywords: 2013 Hunger Strike

From Prison Focus Issue 40
Summer 2013

This report focuses on the information we gathered about the 2013 hunger strike. We note that specific detailed accounts of many instances of retaliatory behavior of guards and other prison personnel are still flowing in. We are still gathering these data and assembling them in a report to be issued later this year specifically on retaliation. The conclusions and evidence in this report stem from dozens of letters received from men at Pelican Bay and through visits to verify the abuses of legal, medical, and other human rights.

Despite conflicting ideas about strategies, demands and whether or not to even have the strike, we perceived a strong sense of solidarity among the prisoners. Contrary to reports of intimidation, dozens of prisoners wrote us explaining why they were willfully participating in the strike. maintained a strong sense of solidarity. One prisoner who expressed tactical differences and reservations stated that he was going to support the strike either way in order to achieve solidarity. Moreover, a wide-spread and accomplished commitment to non-violence was evident. Though prisoners reported that guards were trying to instigate violence among prisoners before and during the strike, the men reported that they stood by The Agreement to End Hostilities and their commitment to non-violence. They were determined to succeed “on behalf of the youth coming behind” as one man stated. With the drive to make a difference, in the weeks and months before the hunger strike began, participants prepared themselves for the strike both physically, mentally and spiritually.

Before the strike had begun, men expressed concern that CDCR would not meet their medical obligations as stated in the CDC Mass Organized Hunger Strike Policy 4.22.2. They questioned whether CDCR was ready to handle the possible flood of “man downs” and other emergency situations that could come with this action. Clearly the staff added to a tense and harsh atmosphere designed to discourage potential strikers by telling them that CDCR “is not going to do anything” for them and that “men will die.” Even before some guards made these kinds of statements, the prisoners already expressed their view that medical neglect and death were very real possibilities. Indeed, some of these concerns were realized. In addition, while some prisoners reported that they had received “Do Not Resuscitate” forms, others reported that the forms were being withheld. Release of Information forms that allowed CPF or loved ones to check on prisoners’ well-being during and after the strike were also “lost” or disappeared.

We received disparate reports regarding the required health checks of strikers by prison staff. Prisoner G reported that he went once a week to medical, at which time his weight, blood pressure, pulse and organs were checked. Others reported irregular, infrequent and insufficient checks. It was reported for example, that guards and/or medical technicians (nurses) would merely walk by and ask how they were doing or peek into the cells without any verbal communication at all. Prisoners recounted how certain numbers were skewed to support CDCR propaganda that the men were eating throughout the strike. One man, for example, reported that his base weight was taken after two weeks of fasting, minimizing his documented weight loss.

While some men reported they received medical treatment as usual and that they had received sufficient care throughout the strike, the majority reported delays, neglect and abuses. By the end of July we were hearing reports that some strikers had fallen out but that there were not enough medical staff to properly tend to them. When Prisoner J visited the medical clinic, he was informed by the doctor that there was only one doctor working when there normally were six. Prisoner M described an incident where staff was banging on the door of a fellow inmate, yelling “get the fuck up or we’ll extract you.” When the staff finally opened the cell door the man was found unresponsive and taken to medical.

Blood pressure medications were stopped due to high risks associated with lack of food intake. Prescribed medications were often stopped as well, sometimes as a form of retaliation. Prescription pain medications were replaced with Tylenol or even baby apsirin. Psychiatric medications were withheld. One man with diabetes was refused glucose supplement for emergency drops in blood sugar. Prisoners who were relocated from one prison to another were often denied their previously approved medications or had to wait several days after their transfer to receive their medications. When the strike ended, medications were not automatically reinstated, but rather men had to put in a medical slip to get their medications back, causing unnecessary hassle, delays, cost, and additional suffering.

Strikers relayed many of the symptoms from which they suffered. For example, strikers became fatigued, distracted, and unable to focus. They experienced nausea and severe, persistent headaches. Prisoner X reported that he was unable to partake in this normal routine of exercise due to fatigue. Prisoner I explained that by the middle of the 3rd week he had become very pale and was experiencing a sharp pain under his ribs. He was reluctant to seek medical care. Prisoner K’s legs became wobbly and would shake uncontrollably. He could barely walk to the visit. Prisoner L described an inability to concentrate, an on-going headache, dizziness when standing and shaky legs. Prisoners also reported problems regulating temperature, exasperated by the fact that the cells were kept either too cold or too hot. He reported that the supplements made him throw up. Prisoner M reported problems with his digestive track and bowels, and that he was having sharp pains in his heart area. At least one prisoner reported developing kidney problems.

Even before the hunger strike began, prisoners were reporting they were being cut off from access to information regarding the strike, and complained of being left “in the dark.” These reports were substantiated by the fact that the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) coalition and Prison Focus newsletter had been stopped pending an investigation. Prisoner visits by several lawyers and members of the coalition were suspended from prisoners visits based on various alleged infractions. All of these allegations were eventually dismissed and retained issues of our newsletter delivered. Some prisoners were denied legal visits by either being sent to the infirmary unnecessarily or by the withholding of notification of a scheduled visit.

The prison staff continued to obstruct and falsify information about the strike throughout the protest. Prisoner A, for example, reported in late July that some of the guards were telling prisoners that the men in Administrative Segregation had started eating again. Because of their isolation and the lack of communication among prisoners, the men had no way to verify the information. Prisoner A and his cell mate went off strike believing that the strike had ended. When they found out that it was not true they resumed their strike. In addition, prisoners on strike were transferred to other units and other prisons, separating those who were on strike from those who were not participating and those who had come off the strike. Alleged protest organizers were separated from the general SHU population. These actions were presumably part of the prison’s and CDCR’s efforts to impede the flow of strike-related communications.

Prisoners reported that the guards used the threat of being placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg) as a deterrent to participate in the strike. These strategic threats were backed up by the very real conditions of some Ad Seg Units where TVs and radios, a critical source of mental stimulation, are prohibited. Strikers who were transferred to Ad Seg and elsewhere were usually returned to the SHU after they began accepting meals, while some only returned to their regular cells long after the strike was over.

Relocations resulted in property confiscations. Some men had their belongings returned, while others lost most or all of their belongings, including legal paperwork, family photos and so on. One protester reported that a piece of artwork he had made for donation to a coalition fundraiser had been deemed “gang related” and confiscated. Some strikers reported that when their possessions were returned to them, they had been “trashed”.

Refeeding. The following describes the steps of re-feeding as reported by one striker, though it may have varied throughout the prison and/or throughout the strike:
Days 1 and 2: One medicine sized cup of Ensure four times a day.
Day 3: Half a can of Ensure in the morning and half a can in the evening.
Day 4: Two full cans of Ensure; One in the morning and one in the evening.
Days 5 and 6: A peanut butter sandwich and a two-sliced bologna sandwich.
Days 7 and 8: Regular breakfast and dinner with instructions to only eat half.
On day nine the men resumed regular meals. Nevertheless, some men went directly to standard trays immediately, by their own choice.

The men could reportedly drink Gatorade and vitamins and minerals throughout the strike and the re-feeding process, though prisoners reported that they did not start receiving Gatorade or supplements until the end of July (three weeks into the strike). Prisoner G reported on July 25th that he started receiving 2 dry packets of Gatorade a day that he should mix with water. He said that the packets were opened but taped, and not always full. Some prisoners reported that guards told they would not be counted as being on strike if they accepted the Gatorade, further skewing statistics. To our knowledge no forced feeding took place at Pelican Bay.

We received various reports regarding re-feeding, implying that the re-feeding process throughout the prison were not consistent, and actually somewhat arbitrary. We received reports from multiple prisoners who were denied the re-feeding diet or received less than adequate proportions. Prisoner N reported that a fellow inmate was refused a special diet when he ended his strike and as a result he got sick and ended up in the infirmary where he received an IV. Others had to limit even their Ensure as they came off strike because their digestive system was so compromised. Numerous men reported that when they began eating again, portion sizes were and continue to be smaller, and that the quality of the food has dropped significantly, despite how deplete of nutritional value and desirability it already was previous to the strike. One prisoner who was unable to strike because of medical issues reported that he had given his special diet trays to the men who had come off strike so they had more nutrition.
Prisoners endured various acts of retaliation and intimidation by prison staff. Prisoners reported that creating uncomfortable conditions by way of temperature control was one such form of retaliation. The men explained that keeping the cells cold was a ploy to get strikers to eat again, as regulating body temperature becomes increasingly challenging with the loss of body mass. Prisoner O reported that in his pod the air vents were not functioning correctly creating extremely high levels of heat and humidity. The cells that were previously cold became stuffy and hot. Prisoner M reported that the guards had blocked the door with a mattress of a fellow inmate who was not on strike, presumably to keep him from passing food to those around him. The lack of ventilation was particularly problematic for that inmate because he suffers from asthma. In addition, prisoners reported that the guards played mind games with the men. Prisoner P stated, “where we used to get beat up, now there’s more psychological abuse.” Prisoner G reported that the guards offered him a tray with coffee and water to get him to unwittingly end his strike. Other such mind games took place on a regular basis.

Many privileges were revoked, suspended or limited during the strike. Typewriters, which had been issued a few days before the strike, were rescinded and to our knowledge are still not available. Other items were reportedly taken away as well, like cups, soap dishes and candy bars. Mail, including legal mail, was reportedly withheld and delayed throughout the strike. Law library access was limited. Prisoner F reported that he did not have access to books for three months. In addition, and perhaps most disturbing though not unexpected, prisoners were regularly denied yard and showers during the strike. The guards blamed the loss of yard on the work stoppage, and having to clean the pods. Another prisoner was told by guards that the denial of yard time was a result of not enough staff available to respond to emergencies. The men are used to frequent loss of yard time or “down days” as they refer to them, but according to Prisoner D, during the strike “every day was a down day.”

In addition, cleaning of the pods was neglected. Because of the work stoppage there were no tier tenders and it became the responsibility of the guards to clean the pods. However, on July 30th Prisoner H reported that his pod had just been cleaned for the first time since the strike began.

Both before and during the strike, prisoners reported that retaliation and intimidation by prison staff intensified. This was reflected in the number of reports we received regarding the increase in 115 violation write ups that the men received. Prisoners reported that the sergeants pressured the guards to issue more 115s--for anything. So regulations were tightened and rules changed, usually without prior notification, leading to more 115s, as planned. Prisoner D stated that the guards became “increasingly creative with their write ups.” Prisoner J reported, for example, was told that he “can have a stamp and an envelope, but a stamped envelope now counts as contraband.” He explained that this is in accordance to an old, outdated rule, previously unenforced. Prisoner G reported that he received a 115 for “disobeying orders”, for talking. There is no rule against talking, he explained, though there was a sign posted. Cell raids also increased dramatically. Prisoner E reported that both he and his neighbor received 115s for sending stamps as payment for their subscription to The Rock newsletter. Guards claimed that sending stamps was like donating money and having money is against the rules. He reported that his stamps were confiscated.

The majority of strikers received 115s simply for participating in the strike. Prisoner H stated that whether or not strikers received 115 for participating in the hunger strike depended on the correctional officer. Prisoners felt like the inconsistency of who did and did not receive a 115 was used as a method to break solidarity and create bad feelings amongst inmates. Prisoner J reported that everyone in his section received 115s. He explained that when they received the 115s they were told by the guards that if they plead guilty they would only get 90 day credit loss but if they plead not guilty they would receive the same credit loss and have their TVs taken, which is a big deal when one has almost no other sources of mental stimulation. Consequently, most of the men reportedly pleaded guilty. The guys who pleaded not guilty did in fact have their TVs confiscated for 30 days. After summarily being found guilty, they reportedly lost their TV privilege for an additional 30 days. Prisoner V stated that the 115s showed inaccurate dates, downplaying the amount of time they were on strike. Prisoner L reported that he was transcribing legal papers for his neighbor. His neighbor was written up for “passing an unknown item” which the guards claimed was food, with no investigation.

OUTSIDE SUPPORT FOR THE HUNGER STRIKERS.
The hunger strikers received support from many individuals and groups; not only from those of us on the outside of prison walls and those of us from California, but from fellow Pelican Bay prisoners, those incarcerated at other institutions, as well as individuals and groups nationwide. At Pelican Bay, there were individuals who were not participating in the strike, even entire pods, who boycotted the canteen as a way to show their support. Support from other incarcerated individuals emanated from across the country. CPF received letters of support from prisoners in Illinois, Louisiana and other states. In the state of Washington, prisoners, including juveniles, showed their support to California Prison hunger strikers, as well as those of Guantanamo Bay, by going on work strike on July 8, 2013. Prisoners in the Green Hill Juvenile prison in Chehalis, Washington joined the strike and released their own demands. There were also rallies held in support of the strikers in Seattle, Olympia and Chehalis, Washington, as well as in Portland, Oregon and in other cities as well. A Portland/Northwest regional coalition and network of individuals, organizations and affinity groups was formed to support the hunger strikers' five demands.

Following is an excerpt from a statement made during the hunger strike, published in The Fire Inside: Newsletter of the Coalition for Women Prisoners (Issue number 49, Fall 2013/Winter 2014), titled Central California Women’s Facility Supports Hunger Strike: “We. The women of CCWF, many of us who have friends and family members in the SHU, are helping support the men on Hunger Strike. We are fasting once a week on Fridays and doing a prayer walk every Friday at 7pm. We walk and pray at the same time for the men who are suffering from unfair treatment… This issue affects all of us.”

SUSPENDING THE STRIKE
The strike was officially ended by the prison reps on September 5 after sympathetic politicians, California Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano agreed to conduct hearings with the purpose of proposing new legislation on solitary confinement. The first round of such legislation is currently being considered in AB 1652 and SB 892 (see President's Message in this issue).

Jun 01, 2013

Corcoran Report

Kim Pollak

keywords: 2013 Hunger Strike

From Prison Focus Issue 40
Summer 2013

OVERVIEW
Prisoners reported through written letters and confirmed through direct visits that a whole series of legal, medical and physical abuses occurred during and after the hunger strike in order both to crush it and to retaliate against those who participated. These egregious acts of violence, provocation, and medical neglect must be investigated, and every guard or medical staff member found responsible for these abuses must be reprimanded to the fullest extent.

HEALTH AND MEDICAL
Strikers reportedly received less medical attention and lower quality care than during the hunger strikes of 2011, and compared to the already substandard level of care that they normally receive. Inmates explained that the medical staff was taking the strike “very lightly.” There were reportedly 24 cells total in the medical unit with eight being reserved for hunger strikers. According to prisoners, there was not enough space in the emergency room, contributing to the denial of requested medical care. Prisoner G explained that in order to be taken to the emergency room, an inmate had to sign a CDCR liability release form. The form is not clear, however, and does not specify from which treatments the inmate is releasing liability. For this and other reasons, some inmates declined visits to the emergency room.

Prisoner A reported that while he was in the medical clinic he was told by one of the nurses that medical staff was being ordered by the chief medical officer to give no special attention or care to the strikers. Other inmates heard similar statements from the guards. Prisoner L stayed away from the ACH (Acute Care Hospital) medical clinic “at all costs” due to what he described as “incompetence.”

Health checks occurred throughout the strike, though inconsistently and often conducted without any actual concern for the health of the inmates. Prisoner B reported that a psych staff member walked down the hall of his pod asking individuals, “Are you on strike? Are you alright?” and then left without waiting for a response. Prisoner C reported that nurses were conducting check-ins every three days. They would look into his cell and then walk by with no verbal exchange. Another reported that he was getting checked by nurses every day, but that checks were made at his cell door. The contact was only oral and no diagnostics or assessments were conducted. Baseline weights were reportedly manipulated. One striker stated that his baseline weight was taken a week into the strike after he had already lost 13 lbs. Another said his baseline weight was taken nine days into the strike after he had already lost 17 lbs. Prisoner D reported on July 26th that he had been weighed once since July 8th. Prisoner E had his vitals taken twice in a period of 24 days.

Hunger strikers reported a variety of food deprivation - related symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, trouble holding thoughts and insomnia. One inmate reported that he was urinating blood while another reported that he was throwing up blood. Several inmates reported themselves or neighbors going “man down.” They reported that many of these incidents were preventable and occurred as a result of delays and unanswered calls for help. Prisoner E reported that he called for help for 24 hours before going “man down.” Another prisoner reported an incident he witnessed, in which a fellow inmate requested medical attention and went four or five days with no response. When he finally went man down, the guards “used force in his cell and beat him up.” More immediate responses would have prevented multiple prisoner visits to the medical clinic and hospital. As a result of injuries and illnesses that were not addressed or treated, or only after great delays, prisoners suffered from exasperated symptoms and pain. Prisoner F reported that he was hospitalized for a week, had an EKG, and was told that he would need a follow up in a couple of days. There was no follow up.

Prisoners reported that they were deprived of their prescribed pain medications, and other medications that “were to be taken with food.” Prisoner C for example, reported that he had not received the pain medication prescribed for his knee in several days, but rather was given the less effective and cheaper Tylenol. Prisoners reported that their antidepressants and other psych medications were discontinued. Prisoners reported that when they were relocated they did not receive their medications for several days. One reported that after he arrived at Corcoran from Pelican Bay, his medications were mixed up on a daily basis. At times he was denied his pain medications because it was claimed that he had refused them, which he denies. It was reported in early August that, as opposed to the 2011 hunger strike, the men were not receiving vitamins.

TRANSFERS, COMMUNICATION, AND SPECIAL NEEDS YARD (SNY)
Strikers were transferred both within the prison and to other prisons. “The overall mood inside was hectic; lots of tension and agitation and people being moved around” wrote one prisoner. Strikers were moved around in a consolidated manner. For example, it was reported by one prisoner that all of the strikers were put on the left side of the SHU in each building. This aided staff in their efforts to cut off the flow of communication among protesters. In addition, guards sometimes “reported” erroneous information that the strike had ended. Some strikers who had ended their strike prematurely would not have done so if they had known other prisoners were still striking. This occurred during the 2011 hunger strike as well. Guards also sought to eliminate the ability of non-hunger strikers to pass food to the men on strike. In addition, the warden had reportedly instructed force to be used in transfers. Guards threatened strikers with use of force in cell extractions if inmates refused to comply. The threats and moves caused some prisoners who had stopped striking to rejoin the strike in further protest.

On July 26th Prisoner D reported that seven identified representatives, including himself, were taken to the SNY where the guards made sure that representatives of groups participating in the protest remained isolated from other participants. Prisoner E believes that strikers were relocated to the SNY specifically to be housed with hostile informants, with the intention of providing de-briefers with information to make them seem more credible. Others stated that the guards were aiming to incite violence among the prisoners. One striker who was transferred to the SNY reported that the sergeant told him, “Don’t expect these guys to holler for you. They are probably going to throw feces and urine at you, but my guys are here. Don’t worry.” Not surprisingly, we received multiple reports of such incidents occurring. Strikers reported physical harassment such as being spit at, hit and kicked, as well as receiving insults and other verbal harassment from SNY inmates. The safety of the sensitive needs inmates was compromised as well.

PROPERTY CONFISCATION
Property confiscation was used as a blatant form of retaliation towards both hunger strikers and those who participated in the single cell action. We received numerous reports regarding cell searches, property confiscation and the subsequent mishandling and disposal of prisoners’ belongings. Cell searches occurred while men were in the yard or taking showers. Prisoner D reported that guards were using this method of intimidation as a response to single celling. One inmate reported he did not seek medical care because he did not want to leave his cell, concerned that while he was gone his cell would be searched and his belongings confiscated.
When an inmate and his belongings are transferred, regulations state that inventories are to be taken. This protocol was blatantly disregarded. And though some prisoners did eventually get some of their property back, others reported that their belongings were never returned and/or damaged when they were. Confiscated items included everything from reading glasses, hearing aids and hygiene products to original artwork, letters, photographs, address books and legal papers.

One prisoner reported that his building received the memo about canteen privileges, stating the additional items inmates would be allowed to purchase. The men then placed orders, but were subsequently told that the privileges had been rescinded. At the time of the interview, the men had not gotten their money back. In addition, canteen staff was instructed not to sell food items to the strikers.

115s AND OTHER FORMS OF RETALIATION
Violation write-ups were a primary form of retaliation and intimidation. As at other participating prisons, the majority of hunger strike and single cell participants received 115s with allegations of gang-related activities and accusations of causing a prison disturbance (akin to a riot). Prisoner P explained that the 115 he received for hunger strike participation which included language about “organizing, communicating, participating and passing ‘kites’.” Prisoner F explained that his violation write-up stated inaccurately that he “had no questions, needed no representation or staff investigation.” Prisoner R reported that he was not given notice of his 115 hearing, was consequently not present and found guilty. Prisoner G claimed that he did not bother challenging his violation hearing because “it’s a kangaroo court.”

Prisoners reported that men who did not attend their hearing or challenge their 115 received either eight to ten days of CTQ (confinement to quarters) or 30 days of lost “privileges.” Those who challenged their 115s and lost were denied privileges for 90 days. One inmate reported that his 90 day loss of privileges started on the day of the hearing rather than the date of the violation, resulting in more than 90 days loss of privileges. Prisoner Q reported that strikers received 115s after nine days of refusing trays and were told that after nine more missed meals they would receive a second 115 and lose some privileges permanently such as TVs and radios. As a result of these disciplinary threats and consequences and the fear of losing their most valued possessions, some protesters ended their strike.

Other forms of retaliation were reflected in the attitude of the guards. One prisoner stated that the guards were “more indifferent this time; that they do not care if people do or do not eat, or if they die.” Others reported that the guards were more aggressive since the strike had begun, especially when extra work on their part was necessary. Prisoner U reported that the guards responded with aggression when prisoners requested simple things, like toilet paper. Prisoner J reported that the guards had been harassing him verbally, calling him derogatory names. Others reported incidents of being grabbed by guards and experiencing other such forms of provocation.

YARD
SHU prisoners had reduced access to showers and yard throughout the strike. Prisoner B reported on July 28th that he had been on lock-down since July 11th. Likewise, there were prisoners who reported that they had not had yard in 20 days. Sometimes upper cells would have yard time and not lower, or vice versa. Access to the law library was restricted as well, even for those who had active cases. One prisoner stated that the officers would find any pretext they could to deny access to the law library and other privileges. Prisoner P did not have an active case, and had been waiting to go to the law library for seven months. In addition, mail was delayed and visits were denied. Prisoner Q reported that his outgoing legal mail had been held and opened.

CONDITIONS
Generally horrible conditions reportedly worsened during the strike. Temperatures were reported as both too hot and too cold in different sections of the prison, contributing to the discomfort and health risks of the strikers. One prison stated that his latest shower had hot water, implying that this was (is) not always the case. It was reported that entire sections were not being cleaned due to the work stoppage. The cells into which men were moved were often filthy and placed additional stress on the health of the inmates. The denial of personal hygiene items also increased the health risks of strikers. Prisoner R reported that refused food trays were being refrozen and served again a week later.

NUMBERS
We received numerous reports that prison officials were deliberately and falsely reporting to the media lower numbers than the real number of strike participants. Various tactics were used to lower the reported number of protest participants. For example, it was reported by CDCR that Muslims who were striking were not participating in the strike, but rather observing Ramadan. Those who drank tea or coffee, or sometimes even Gatorade, were disqualified from the list even if they were eating no solid food. In addition, strikers adamantly dispute CDCR’s claim that the strike was gang driven and/or that they were pressured to participate by other prisoners. Every inmate who communicated with us stated emphatically that they were not coerced in any way to participate.

Prisoners generally noted that the Agreement to End Hostility contributed to the positive morale and solidarity among the prisoners. Many inmates expressed appreciation of supporters on the outside. One prisoner eloquently stated his gratitude to the coalition and other activists on the outside: “All of these years, our voices would never have been heard without your support. Never think for a minute that our bravery is any more significant on the inside than the bravery it takes to stand up on the outside.”

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