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.
CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons
(January 9, 2016) New York, NY: The Correctional Association of New York roundly applauds the continued commitment of Governor Andrew Cuomo to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, ending the prosecution and incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. It is now up to the members of both parties in the NYS Legislature to do their duty to make this a reality. In spite of the Governor’s assertion that the "nation looks to NY to find a way up," we actually fall behind 48 other states, along with North Carolina, by continuing to treat children as adults in the criminal legal system. New York must Raise the Age of criminal responsibility this legislative session. Read More
For decades, domestic violence survivors have been criminalized, prosecuted, and imprisoned for acts carried out by their abusive partners. In January, 30-year-old Noor Zahi Salman was arrested in connection with the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre that left 49 people dead and many more injured and traumatized. Salman’s name had, until then, been largely unfamiliar to [...]Read More
Under unique statutory authority granted to the CA in 1846, WIPP monitors conditions in women’s prisons in New York, a role played by no other group in the country. WIPP coordinates the Coalition for Women Prisoners, a statewide alliance of more than 1,800 people, and carries out advocacy campaigns to reform harmful criminal justice policies. [...]Read More