Today, 15:23

Amnesty International has called on the US government to stop “punishing” California hunger strikers who are protesting against inhumane conditions and solitary confinement policies. The strike has been in action for three weeks. It is the third such hunger strike in California prisons in two years – and the biggest.

 Ten times more inmates in USA than in any civilized country, since prisons became privatized – modern slavery, one may think, since labor in prisons is cheap, most of them are black.

The protests began on July 8 and are now in their third week, with more than 1,000 inmates across California joining the hunger strike. Initially, approximately 30,000 prisoners in over 24 penitentiary facilities took part in the action.

On July 11, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) vowed to implement disciplinary measures against the hunger strikers, for instance, pro-longing their time in the Security Housing Units (SHU).

According to an Amnesty International report, since then, key leaders of the strike had been facing increased periods of isolation, harsher conditions and more restrictions on communication with their attorneys.

The prisoners have been demanding an end to a policy of keeping hundreds of prisoners in near or total isolation for years on end in so-called Security Housing Units, simply because they have been associated with a gang.

They also want officials to stop requiring prisoners who want to be released from the units to undergo debriefings in which they are expected to point out gang associates. They have also demanded improvements in the food quality in the units.

The detainees want the state to adopt a maximum isolation term of five years, and also provide education and rehabilitation programs.

Amnesty International argues that according to recent studies, “harsh environmental conditions are harmful to a prisoners’ psychological and physical health”. And inmates held under such conditions have a harder time reintegrating into society after their release because of the long-lasting effects of the lack of social contacts during their solitary confinement.

Voice of Russia