In support of the California hunger strike
The Correctional Association of New York (CA) stands in support of the 30,000 people incarcerated in Pelican Bay and other California prisons who have peacefully and collectively put their bodies and their lives on the line to challenge the pervasive use of solitary confinement and other abusive conditions.
With thousands of people tortured in solitary confinement units across California prisons for 22- to 24-hours a day for months, years, or decades, the situation has become so dire that the people subjected to these conditions decided that they had no other alternative than to risk their lives to draw attention to their plight. While this collective resistance has been non-violent, there has been a repressive retaliatory response by California authorities, with reports of blanket denials of access to lawyers across the prison system, blasting of ice cold air, denial of medical care, and transfers to even more torturous isolation.
As an agency with a legislative mandate to monitor prison conditions in New York State since the 1840’s, we understand the particularly egregious harm that can occur when there is a combination of abusive conditions and denial of access to people outside the system. The Correctional Association join the call for California officials to end their abusive retaliation and accede to the five core demands of the people who are on hunger strike: 1) eliminate group punishments; 2) reform the processes whereby people are currently deemed gang members and sent to indefinite isolation; 3) end long term solitary confinement; 4) provide adequate and nutritious food; and 5) create and expand constructive programming.
Unfortunately, the torturous use of solitary confinement is not unique to California. In New York, there are thousands of people, disproportionately people of color and including particularly vulnerable groups like youth and people with mental illnesses, in isolated confinement, sometimes held there for decades. As part of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), the CA calls upon New York officials to end this torture by: 1) dramatically reducing the number of people who are separated from the general population by restricting the criteria used; 2) ensuring that members of vulnerable groups do not spend any time in isolation; 3) drastically reducing the length of time any person spends in isolation; 4) fundamentally transforming the response to individual’s needs or problematic behaviors from inhumane and ineffective isolation and deprivation to additional therapeutic and rehabilitative support, programs, and services that address the underlying needs or causes of behavior.
- For more information about the hunger strike and participants’ demands, please visit: http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/.
- For more information about the NY Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, please visit: www.nycaic.org.
- For more information on solitary confinement in New York, visit the Correctional Association’s Solitary Confinement issue page.
( Sept. 9. 2018,The Guardian) Inmates within America’s overflowing prisons are marking the end of a 19-day national prison strike on Sunday with a new push to regain the vote for up to 6 million Americans who have been stripped of their democratic rights.Read More
Staten Islanders had the opportunity Thursday night to briefly experience one of the hardest parts of our nation’s penal system. A group of advocates brought a makeshift solitary cell to the South Shore YMCA in Eltingville to show people the level of isolation inmates can face. The model was constructed by Doug Van Zandt, of [...]Read More
“Prison Within Prison: Voices of Women Held In Isolated Confinement in New York” is a collection of oral and visual observations from twenty women about their experiences being held in isolated confinement in New York’s women’s prisons and Rikers Island. They are advocates and leaders on a range of issues in the movement to end [...]Read More
WOMEN AND ISOLATED CONFINEMENT Women held in isolated confinement are subjected to dehumanizing treatment—treatment that makes it difficult for them to maintain their dignity, hygiene, nutrition and personal property. They can get in trouble for something as simple as attempting to talk to the person next to them. They are denied commissary privileges which provide [...]Read More