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Leaders of Hunger Strike Against Solitary Punished With More Severe Solitary

Lawyer: "In response to prisoners’ calls for basic human and civil rights, the CDCR responds by violating those rights.”

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

In a California prisoner hunger strike against solitary confinement, strike leaders are being retaliated against with further isolation.

At least 14 Pelican Bay State Prison inmates who are active in the hunger strike and signed a statement calling for prisoner unity—the Agreement to End Hostilities Among Racial Groups—were forcibly removed from their cells last Thursday and tossed into severe isolation units, the California-based Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition reports.

"[On] July 11, 2013, we were placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), where we are subjected to more torturous conditions than in the [solitary housing units]," declared the targeted prisoners in a statement released Wednesday morning. "Despite this diabolical act on the part of the [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] intended to break our resolve and hasten our deaths, we remain strong and united!"

Furthermore, the prisoners are being cut off from news, communication, and even legal documents for a class-action lawsuit against solitary confinement.

Lawyers are being prevented from seeing their clients, the LA Times reports. Marilyn McMahon—lawyer with the group California Prisoner focus—was sent a letter from prison authorities notifying her that she is temporarily banned from all California state prisons.

“This is a clear attack against a non-violent protest,” says Anne Weills, attorney for several hunger strikers. “It is pathetic that in response to prisoners’ calls for basic human and civil rights, the CDCR responds by violating those rights.”

As the hunger strike enters its 11th day on Thursday, thousands are still participating, and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition charges that the CDCR has consistently underestimated the numbers. Last week, over 30,000 prisoners went on hunger strike.

On Saturday, over 400 people from across California, including family members of those on the inside, rallied outside of the 'maximum security' Corcoran State Prison to show their support for the hunger strikers.

The hunger strike, which launched July 8 in Pelican Bay State Prison, is the third major prisoner hunger strike in the state since 2011.

In addition to calling for an end to solitary confinement, prisoners are demanding a halt to collective punishments and administrative abuses, harsh crackdowns under the auspices of 'stopping gang activities,' access to education, healthcare, and healthy food, and programs and basic rights for long-term single housing units, including phone calls, art supplies, and photographs once a year.


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