California’s Prisoner Hunger Strike

Nearly 30,000 prisoners began a hunger strike on July 8, demanding changes to the inhumane incarceration of as many 4500 people.  Specifically, the issue is over incarcerating folks in segregated or administrative segregation units after a usually arbitrary determination that the inmate is in a gang. In these units, for 22-24 hours a day, an inmate is locked alone in a small cell with no windows, natural light or fresh air.  He is fed small meals lacking nutritional value.  He has little to no  human contact.  The conditions are extremely damaging to the human mind, body and soul. In short, it is torture,.Yet, some guys have been living in these conditions for 10-40 YEARS.

Since the 8th, the number of strikers has gone down from 30k to just over 500.  One man died — reportedly by suicide, though many dispute that.

According to Rolling Stone (who I proudly support and disagree with the backlash over the cover with the boston bomber dude because the cover reported on a newsworthy story and reminded us that not all terrorists look like Osama Bin Laden), these are the inmates’ demands:
1) Stop group punishment.
2)  Abolish the debriefing policy.  I believe this refers to an inmate who was been “validated” as a gang member by the prison who renounces the gang so he can get out of solitary confinement.  To do so, though, he has to tell prison officials everything he knows about the gang.
3)  Comply with national standards on solitary confinement.  Allow inmates some contact with others.  Let those in solitary confinement for 10-40 years out.
4) Give food with nutritional value.
5) Given people in solitary confinement opportunities for programs and privileges.

I do not see why the prison doesn’t give in.  Makes no sense to me.

Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court [implicitly] told Jerry Brown sorry buddy, we know you have a very cute corgi,

 but the judges on that 3 judge panel are more convincing than a cute corgi picture and it’s time you release 10,000 inmates because the prisons are too overcrowded.  The court explicitly said only that the stay was denied.  My two least favorite justices, Scalia (don’t get me started on his fat hypocritical ass) and Thomas (or his either), dissented and claimed that 10,000 of the inmates to be released were convicted of “serious” crimes.  Ridiculous.  Serious crimes like parole violations for not updating their addresses? Serious crimes like having a lot of marijuana and some cash in “denominations consistent with sales”?  Serious crimes like a 4th DUI in 10 years? Totally exaggerated and ridiculous. I doubt if Scalia and Thomas have any idea what relatively minor offenses would result in someone being in a California state prison.

How are they going to pick the 10k? Narrow folks down by seriousness of offense and time left to serve and do it randomly?

Published by Jenny Brandt

About Me: sociology, african american studies, chicano/a studies, critical race studies, and criminal law scholar. public school kid from kindergarten-J.D. Former public defender. I am a post-conviction guru. Appeals. Sentencing. Withdraw Pleas. Habeas. Published author in the Criminal Law Bulletin and California Defender. "I do it for the joy it brings, because I'm a joyful girl, because the world owes me nothing, and we owe each other the world." Why I started JJC: My PD buddy suggested it. What and who JJC is inspired by: public defenders I have worked for, with, and next to. my clients who have battled things no one should and are still here. innocence and guilt and everything in between. My coworkers, who fight just as hard as the PDs I love, for many of the same reasons. My husband who was once voted "most Christ like" (every Jewish girl's dream). My Corgi who loves everyone. The constitution. Tabloids. My mom, for giving me a voice. My dad, for teaching me what to say. My brother, for teaching me how to say it.

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