Advocates for Hunger Striking Prisoners Petition Governor Jerry Brown

Jul 31, 2013

Advocates for prisoners on a hunger strike to protest conditions in California’s gang segregation unit known as the SHU are taking their grievances directly to Governor Jerry Brown.
Credit Max Pringle / Capital Public Radio

Supporters of California prisoners on a weeks-long hunger strike against the prison system’s gang isolation program are urging Governor Jerry Brown to end practices they say are inhumane. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Dozens of family members and supporters of the hunger strikers delivered more than 60,000 signatures to the Capitol. They’re calling for a halt to harsh conditions in the Security Housing Units, or SHU’s. Ronald Ahnen is a Politics Professor at St. Mary’s and member of California Prison Focus. 

 “These guys have zero human interaction for decades on end in a windowless concrete cell. It’s just not acceptable. It’s torture," says Ahnen.

Jeffrey Callison is with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He says a new policy is in place to help inmates transition out of the SHU if they show a willingness to renounce gang involvement.

“There are much more easily seen steps to get out of the SHU with increasing privileges as you go through the steps and also there are case by case reviews of everyone who’s in the SHU," says Callison.

Earlier this month, more than 12,000 inmates were participating in the hunger strike. The state now estimates that 561 are still refusing food.