Target: Jerry Brown, Governor of California
Goal: Relax extra-punitive measures taken against striking prisoners at Pelican Bay Penitentiary.
Currently, inmates at Pelican Bay Detention Center are engaged in a hunger strike in protest against prison conditions including the long-term use of solitary confinement. Fourteen prisoners participating in the strike have been “removed from their cells and placed in more punitive isolation units,” according to advocacy group People’s Action For Rights and Community. In addition, guards have also confiscated legal documents belonging to the prisoners, some of which contain information pertaining to a class-action lawsuit against the state of California for inhumane usage of prolonged solitary confinement.
An attorney for some of the hunger strikers called this action “a clear action against non-violent protest” and added that all of the fourteen inmates currently undergoing this special punishment had signed a prisoner-issued document entitled the” Agreement to End Hostilities Among Racial Group.” This document, according to the People’s Action For Rights and Community, “urges prisoners to resolve conflicts peacefully amongst themselves and to work to end wider violence in the prison system.” The group also notes that the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation “has refused to distribute the Agreement among prisoners.”
Inmates who are fighting to end racially motivated violence and prolonged isolation practices in the California prison system have been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. California Governor Jerry Brown has been silent since the Pelican Bay hunger strike began; he is currently embarking on a European vacation. Tell Governor Brown to cut his travels short and comment on the inhumane situation occurring in his state’s Department of Corrections. Urge him to condemn the illegal confiscation of inmate legal documents, and to tell the California Department of Corrections to negotiate with the inmates on hunger strike at Pelican Bay.
Dear Governor Brown,
You are doubtlessly aware of the current hunger strike at Pelican Bay Penitentiary. It may seem like the demands of prisoners have nothing to do with you personally, but this could not be further from the truth. There are prisoners at Pelican Bay Penitentiary who have been in solitary confinement for over a decade for simply being beaten up by gang members who they couldn’t name. Now, fourteen striking prisoners at Pelican Bay are being punished for political activism by being forced into harshly punitive isolation units. Furthermore, legal documents belonging to these prisoners have been confiscated by guards. These documents pertained to a class action lawsuit about which you are also doubtlessly aware. This lawsuit is being brought against the state of California for their usage of prolonged isolation in prison as a cruel and unusual punishment. You have the power to end this state of affairs.
In an official statement, the inmates have described their treatment in the Administrative Segregation Unit as “torturous” and “designed to end our resolve, break our spirits, and hasten our deaths.” By remaining silent about the actions of Pelican Bay officials and Pelican Bay guards, you are tacitly condoning their fascist actions. Even prison inmates have a right to legal counsel and attorney client privilege. In addition, each of the fourteen inmates currently under persecution at Pelican Bay signed a prisoner-issued document pledging to stand against racist violence. This doesn’t sound like an action meant to endanger the lives of other inmates or prison guards. Urge the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation to negotiate with the striking prisoners, and demand that the fourteen striking prisoners be released from administrative segregation and handed back their legal documents.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Pelican Bay State Prison website