Pelican Bay Prison Solitary Confinement at Center of Hunger Strike

Image: Pelican Bay Prison Solitary Confinement at Center of Hunger Strike

Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013 06:36 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Pelican Bay State Prison is at the center of a hunger strike by 30,000 prisoners in the California prison system. The striked continued for the third day Wednesday, as organizations like Truth Out posted stories online about how prisoners are put into solitary confinement sometimes for years.

Called the largest hunger strike in California’s history, this latest strike is designed to bring attention to prisoners put in solitary confinement at Pelican State Prison and other state facilities for what authorities call gang related activities, according to

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Protesters, who have been organizing this strike for months, reportedly asked, among other things, that the state change solitary confinement regulations to limit inmates to a maximum of five years, said.

Truth Out published three stories from inmates this week, Wednesday’s written by Todd Ashker, a plaintiff in the Center for Constitutional Rights lawsuit that’s trying to change solitary confinement rules. Ashker wrote that he was put in Pelican Bay’s solitary units in 1990 and is still there.

In seeking to be paroled, Ashker said that he was rejected by Pelican Bay in a written response that said he was considered a “terrorist” and would remain in solitary until he helped the prison officials with “bringing down the gangs.”

This is the third hunger strike in the past two years aimed at forcing prison officials to reconsider the solitary confinement regs, and is by far the largest of the three, according to USA Today.

Advocacy groups said Pelican Bay inmates decided to protest after talks with prison officials broke down last month, USA Today said. A prison system spokeswoman said policies changed last year offering gang associates a way to get out of the solitary confinement units.

In April a federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Pelican Bay inmates claiming that the isolation units are “cruel and unusual punishment,” the newspaper reported.

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