Pelican Bay SHU on hunger strike

From the new July-August 2011 issue of News & Letters:

Pelican Bay SHU on hunger strike

Editor’s note: Prisoners at Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHUs) are going on a hunger strike July 1 to demand the prison recognize they are human beings. This follows the Georgia prison uprising and the Ohio prisoners’ actions earlier this year. Prisoners at Corcoran State Prison announced they are joining the strike. Several cities, including San Francisco, Ottawa and Toronto are planning demonstrations to support the prisoners. To sign a petition to the California prison officials to recognize their demands, see follow developments and join solidarity actions, visit

June 17 Rally

June 17 rally in San Francisco. The speaker, former Pelican Bay prisoner Bato Talamantez, called for support of the hunger strike. Read his review of Voices from Within the Prison Walls.

* * *

This is a call for all prisoners in SHUs, Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), and General Populations (GP), as well as the free oppressed and non-oppressed people to support the indefinite July 1, 2011 peaceful Hunger Strike in protest of the violation of our civil/human rights, here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU).

It should be clear to everyone that none of the hunger strike participants want to die. The state of California has sentenced all of us on Indeterminate SHU program to a “civil death” merely on the word of a prison informer (snitch). Those subjected to indeterminate SHU programs are neglected and deprived of the basic human necessities while withering away in a very isolated and hostile environment.

The “code of silence” used by guards allows them the freedom to use everything at their disposal in order to break those prisoners who prison officials and correctional officers (C/O) believe cannot be broken.

A protracted attack on SHU prisoners cuts across every aspect of the prison’s function: food, mail, visiting, medical, yard, hot/cold temperatures, privileges (canteen, packages, property, etc.), isolation, cell searches, family/friends, and socio-culture, economic, and political deprivation. The psychological/physical torture of SHU/Ad-Seg prisoners takes place day in and day out, without a break or rest.

The prison’s gang intelligence unit was extremely angered that prisoners who had been held in SHU under inhuman conditions for anywhere from ten to 40 years had not been broken. So the gang intelligence unit created the “short corridor” and intensified the pressure of their attacks on the prisoners housed there. The object was to use blanket pressure to encourage these particular isolated prisoners to snitch in order to be released from SHU.

Continuous attacks are carried out against prisoners by all C/Os and administrative officials. They are deliberate and conscious acts against essentially defenseless prisoners. It is these ongoing attacks that have led the short corridor and overflow SHU prisoners to organize ourselves around an indefinite Hunger Strike in an effort to combat the dehumanizing treatment we prisoners of all races are subjected to on a daily basis.

Therefore, on July 1, 2011, we ask that all prisoners throughout the State of California who have been suffering injustices in General Population, Administrative Segregation and solitary confinement, etc. to join in our peaceful strike to put a stop to the blatant violations of prisoners’ civil/human rights. As you know, prison gang investigators have used threats to get prisoners to engage in a protracted war against each other. If you cannot participate in the Hunger Strike then support it in principle by not eating for the first 24 hours of the strike.

I say that those of you who carry yourselves as principled human beings, no matter your housing status, must fight to right this and other egregious wrongs. Although it is “us” today (united New Afrikans, Whites, Northern and Southern Mexicans, and others) it will be you all tomorrow. It is in your interest to peacefully support us in this protest today, and to beware of agitators, provocateurs, and obstructionists, because they are the ones who put 90% of us back here because they could not remain principled even within themselves.

–Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford)

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3 Responses to Pelican Bay SHU on hunger strike

  1. bill says:

    Seriously? I mean, really? This is so over-the-top as to be absurd!
    there is a lot of misinformation being spread about the conditions inside prisons. [bill now will spread his own misinformation:] The truth is prisoners eat better and have better medical than 90% of the world. [Nonsense! Prisoners are forced to eat the starchy, fatty diet lacking in fresh produce that prisons provide; we have had reports even of prisons with gardens where the administration refuses to use the garden produce in cooking.] Do you have your meals prepared with the aid of a dietician? [You mean a dietician who is required to bow to the prison administration.] Do you have nurses standing by 24/7 for you if anything goes wrong? [You mean a medical staff that often does nothing even in cases of acute dire need. Bill, you have no clue what you are talking about.] Do you have a psychologist coming by your house every week to see how you are? [Do you have a prison administration determined to find ways to “break” you and inculcate mental illness?] Can you afford to go to the DR or dentist for ANY little problem? [Again, you are a fool to believe that prisoners can actually do this.] Do you have guards standing by to keep you safe at all times (even if it is from yourself)? [You mean guards that beat and rape prisoners and get them to beat and rape each other?] The things I describe are usually reserved for millionaires and up.. oh yeah and prisoners. Imagine never having to work a day in your life again. [Do you have any idea the number of prisoners who are working for slave wages?] Imagine meals brought to your door. Homeless people on the streets would commit crimes just to go to prison if they knew how good it is. [Many homeless people have been to prison. So why aren’t they doing what you say?] Words like inhumane, torture, gulag, barbaric, etc.. are absolutely false when used to describe prison life. [Again, you have no clue.] There is no such thing as solitary confinement in the SHU. [I just wonder where you get your “information.”] Prisoners are master manipulators, and this is what it comes down to: inmates spreading false information that gullible people believe, PERIOD. [Gullible Bill would rather spread false information provided by for-profit prison corporations, self-interested prison bureaucrats, and right-wing demagogues.] There is no torture, no inhumane conditions, no solitary confinement. WAKE UP PEOPLE! oh yeah, one more thing, the cells are NOT soundproof.

  2. Sorry, Bill, I can’t abide these kinds of lies, so I have inserted some truth in brackets into your bullshit.

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