Calipatria Hunger Striker: “Putting Everything On The Line For Dignity”

by | August 9, 2013

The statewide California prison hunger strike has now lasted 33 days. As of yesterday, 193 hunger strikers have refused meals the entire 32 days since the strike began on July 8th. In total, there were 349 hunger strikers yesterday, up from 346 the day before. CDCR’s Terry Thornton confirmed that some hunger strike participants who had ended their participation are resuming their hunger strike activity. Prisoners are only considered to be on hunger strike if they refuse nine consecutive state issued meals, so it is possible that there are many others who are also refusing meals but are not considered on hunger strike.

The California medical receiver’s office, through spokesperson Joyce Hayhoe, confirmed that, as of Wednesday, 31 hunger strikers had lost more than 10% of their body weight, and 57 had refused to be weighed. While there were two hospitalizations on Wednesday, there were reportedly no hospitalizations of hunger strikers on Thursday.

The CDCR has resumed the case-by-case reviews of SHU prisoners in facilities that have ended hunger strike participation. Reviews, which began in October 2012, will conducted on all gang validated prisoners in the SHU or in ASUs pending SHU cell openings. The reviews will determine whether or not SHU housing is necessary, and could lead to placement immediately in general population or to various stages of the Step Down Program, through which SHU prisoners may hypothetically be able to transfer out of the SHU in four to five years. This process, described in documents here, would hypothetically allow someone to get out of the SHU without debriefing.

At present, 415 case-by-case reviews of validated SHU prisoners have been completed with 230 endorsed for general population and 122 placed in various stages of the Step Down Program. The remainder are retained in SHU due to “safety concerns,” a presently undefined category that seemingly includes SHU prisoners who have instead chosen to debrief.

Meanwhile, the members of the hunger strike mediation team, a group of activists including the mother of one hunger striker Dolores Canales and attorney Marilyn McMahon, visited the hunger strike leaders at Pelican Bay yesterday. The mediation team released the following statement:

“All of the members of our mediation team were able to speak with hunger strike representatives at Pelican Bay for two-and-a-half hours.   All four representatives are totally united and resolute.  They were clear that this peaceful protest is not about them—it is about making real, fundamental changes to an incredibly unjust system.

They haven’t eaten for 32 days but they are cogent, focused, and committed.

We were able to work together to develop new ideas about how to move forward, which we’ll be acting on over the next few days.  The mediation team will be staying in contact with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and issuing statements daily.”

The family of one hunger strike participant at Calipatria State Prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) has submitted a letter dated August 4th. A powerful glimpse into what CDCR’s leader Jeffrey Beard insists is a plot by “violent prison gangs” as part of a “gang power play.”
Today is August 04, 2013, and on my third week of the hunger strike. Still I’m trying to maintain some strength, however, I’m starting to feel weaker as days keep ticking away. Also, I decided to stay in from going out to yard, because the slides movement or just standing alone drains me. Especially, the purified heat of the sun that most times exhausting becomes my enemy. I even become to have restless nights, staring into pitch darkness, thinking and yet, my thoughts at the end disappeared wondering where my mind has gone. Ultimately, and without the sense of me knowing, I fall to sleep, but for how long, I could only guess, because by time I awaken again, the lights on the hallway are shinning bright penetrating through my glass door window. That’s when I’m aware that my torture it’s about to beginning all over. Above all, while my deeply thoughts are lost within myself, I tell myself each morning it’s worth it. Worth, my pain and suffering, I’m doing the right thing, putting everything on the line for dignity, to improve this broken system that many of us grown weary of the abused and being treated worse than animal. Now that you know how I’m feeling, I hope I did not spoiled your day, but if I did please accept my deeps apologies.


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