Day 58 – Statement from the Mediation Team

For Immediate Release

Day 58 – Statement from the Mediation Team

Amplifying the voices of CA prisoners on hunger strike

WASHINGTON - I fear there is very little time left to resolve the hunger strike before death or irreparable injury to the prisoners occurs. The Mediation Team has been pressing CDCR to engage in serious discussions about SHU conditions and procedures. We began this effort back in February and have little to show for it. While CDCR officials have met with us, and our conversations have generally been cordial, their willingness to implement serious and substantive change is lacking. Recently, their position seems to have hardened. Presumably, this stance reflects that of the governor, the ultimate warden of this state.

In light of CDCR’s stance, the legislative announcement last week of future public hearings was a breath of fresh air. Legislative hearings are valuable because they educate legislators and the public, and can provide additional pressure on prison officials. Hearings can lay the groundwork for legislation.

However, without a majority of the legislators on board, and a governor willing to sign on, the legislative route can be another dead end. It will be our collective job to maximize the gains achievable.

The legislators called upon the prisoners to end their hunger strike, in light of their commitment to hold legislative hearings to address the issues surrounding long-term solitary confinement. Whether this announcement is sufficient cause for the prisoners to end the hunger strike is a decision for them to.

Whatever happens in the next days and weeks, the prisoners have transformed themselves.

I now quote from my organization’s statement last week:

“Racial and geographic divisions have separated them in the past. Now, prison violence has
been reduced since a prisoner-issued call last year to end racial hostilities between groups.”

“Despite guard provocation, the striking prisoners have been extraordinarily disciplined, never
responding in violence. The hunger strikers have shared magazines, stamps and stories; they
have called for help for each other when someone goes “man down,” regardless of any prior
affiliation. They have recognized the humanity of each other. If only the prison administration
could do likewise, we could begin to transform our correctional system to truly achieve public
safety.”

The prisoners’ transformation, along with the increased unity on the outside among family members and supporters, is the foundation upon which we go forward.

On behalf of the Mediation Team,
Carol Strickman, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children

Hunger Strike Mediation Team
Dr. Ronald Ahnen, California Prison Focus and St. Mary’s College of California
Barbara Becnel, Occupy4Prisoners.org
Dolores Canales, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement
Irene Huerta, California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement
Laura Magnani, American Friends Service Committee
Marilyn McMahon, California Prison Focus
Carol Strickman, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children
Azadeh Zohrabi, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children

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