Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. Our show is special because we make it our priority to go where the silence is. We put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power and lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. If everyone who visited our website in the next week donated just $15, we would cover all of our operating costs for the year. We can't do it without you. Please donate today. It takes just a couple of minutes to do your part to make sure Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else.

Your Donation: $
Tuesday, July 17, 2001 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Reportback On Police Crackdown On Indigenous...
2001-07-17

Prisoners in Pelican Bay, California Suspend a Hunger Strike After a State Senator Calls for Negotiations with Prison Management

download:   Get CD/DVD More Formats
This is viewer supported news

Over 600 prisoners in solitary confinement at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison recently suspended a hunger strike after state Senator Richard Polonko called for negotiations with the management at Pelican Bay and CDC Headquarters.

The hunger strike, which began July 1 and lasted until July 10, was in protest of the corrections department’s policy of removing and isolating those prisoners who are designated as gang members. Gang membership is most often determined during a 'debriefing' process, during which a prisoner is encouraged to incriminate others. Other criteria include possession of literature or art construed as gang-related, writing to another prisoner’s family, assisting another prisoner with legal work, signing birthday or get well cards to prisoners, and exercising or otherwise interacting with another gang suspect.

Prisoners are not allowed to present evidence or witnesses in their defense.

The inmates are then separated from the general prison population and kept in Security Housing Units, known as SHU—confined for 22 hours a day in 8-by-10-foot windowless cells.

One prisoner, Steve Castillo, filed a legal challenge to the 'debriefing process' a few years ago, but it has been tied up in the courts since. Feeling that there was no other recourse, Castillo called the hunger strike.

Guests:

  • Helen Grimes, mother of Donald Johnson, a Pelican Bay Prisoner in SHU (Security Housing Unit), where the prisoners were on strike.
  • Bato Talamantez [BAH-toe], one of directors for California Prison Focus and ex-prisoner. Spent time in San Quentin.

Related link:


Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

This is viewer supported news