California Prisoners Challenge Solitary, Jail Conditions with Largest Hunger Strike in State History

Prisoners in California have entered their 10th day of a statewide hunger strike to fight back against what they call inhumane conditions. The prisoners’ demands include a call for adequate and nutritious food, an end to group punishment, and stopping long-term solitary confinement in high-security "special housing units" where more than 3,000 prisoners are held in the isolation units with no human contact and no windows — some of them for more than a decade. We speak with Dolores Canales, a founder of California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement and mother of John Martinez, who has been been held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay for more than 12 years. We are also joined by Jules Lobel, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and lead attorney representing Pelican Bay prisoners in a lawsuit challenging long-term solitary confinement in California prisons. "About 80,000 people in the United States are put into solitary," Lobel explains. "It’s an inhumane practice, but in California they go to an extreme by placing people without any windows, without any phone calls, trying to totally isolate them." We also hear from a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

 

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