Give Squandered Prisoners Basic Human Rights


Target: Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Goal: Improve the treatment and conditions of California State Prison’s Security Housing Unit’s prisoners

In early July 2011, thousands of Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners went on a hunger strike in demand of better conditions. They had five core demands, all involving access to basic human treatment and better living conditions. They are still with needs unmet. Help these tortured prisoners obtain the satisfaction of their basic human rights.

SHU is for prisoners who have been allegedly identified as gang affiliates. They are detained to prevent “gang activity and racially motivated violence.” When the hunger strike began, SHU prisoners had five core demands. They were as follows: Eliminate group punishments for individual rule violations; Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria; Comply with the recommendations of the 2006 US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement; Provide adequate food; Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates. All of these demands are completely reasonable and still have not been acted on.

Instead of providing inmates with better conditions, they remain confined in their cells for 22 hours a day. In the time following the initial strike strikers were punished and three committed suicide. The conditions of SHU are torturous and to leave prisoners must debrief. Debriefing involves incriminating another prison mate even though many prisoners in SHU have not had any violations or gang relation since the beginning of their stays. Some of which have lasted 20 years. There are prisoners who have been told “debrief or die.”

No human deserves to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment which is why its in our amendments. Being locked in a small cell for 22 hours a day, decades at a time can lead to severe psychological and physical problems. Prisoners do not even have access to medical care and have been told that if they want medical care they need to debrief and leave SHU. These men are in SHU because they ostensibly segregate by race and gang, even though they have come together statewide to fight for themselves and each other. By signing this petition you are demanding justice for SHU prisoners from Jeffrey Beard.


Dear Secretary Beard,

I am in full support of the demands of the California State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners. For a large amount of time many of the prisoners confined in SHU have been subjected to lack of proper medical care, long periods of isolation and inhumane treatments. These prisoners deserve to have their basic needs met. I am encouraging you to meet the five core demands of the SHU inmates.

The five core demands of the inmates are very reasonable. To be given adequate food and remove long term solitary confinement should not be a very hard change for the prison system. I also feel programs and privileges should be incorporated into the system for SHU inmates to earn with good behavior. It could help motivate inmates to be on their best behavior.

Since the initial strike there have been decisions made to create Security Threat Groups and this will only further crowd SHU’s. This is not a solution at all and I strongly believe ignoring the hunger strikes will only cause further damage. Prisoner’s believe they are only in SHU to die and that is tormenting. It is leading them to think that if it time to die, it should be by their own rules.

No one should anticipate the arrival of their death due to torture. I believe to better the conditions and treatment of SHU inmates you should consider their five core demands. Every citizen in California and in this country has human rights, inmates are not an exception.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Jelson25 via Creative Commons

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92 Signatures

  • Hermann Kastner
  • James Thrailkill
  • sheila childs
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • jeff hopkins
  • Nancy Petersen
  • Holly Hall
  • Marianne Oelman
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