Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Prison Hunger Strikers’ Health Deteriorating Rapidly

California’s second prisoner hunger strike this year is now in its third week. The health of many prisoners is deteriorating rapidly, with some exhibiting serious symptoms. Men are fainting in their cells. One striker at Pelican Bay prison was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack, according to the OB Rag. Family members are accusing guards of not responding to calls for medical help.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has transferred some prisoners at Pelican Bay from the Security Housing Unit (SHU) to Administrative Segregation, where they have been accused by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition of attempting to freeze out strikers with air conditioning.

The strike began on September 26. The CDCR is treating the strike as a mass disturbance and is refusing to negotiate with prisoners. However, prisoners say they will continue striking until they die. According to the OB Rag, prisoners at Corcoran state prison have stopped drinking water completely, which should result in deaths within a few days.

Prisoners and their advocates are upset about medical treatment at Corcoran, Calipatria, Pelican Bay and Salinas Valley prisons, each of which is participating in the strike. Prisoners are routinely denied prompt and adequate care for chronic and acute medical conditions. Numerous prisoners have died unnecessarily because of delayed or inadequate healthcare. The conditions are so bad that the state prison system is in federal receivership in part because of the substandard medical care.

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