Law Union Prison Justice Committee stands in solidarity with the California Hunger Strikers: End Solitary Confinement in the US and Canada

September 5, 2013

After nine weeks, the 30,000 California prisoners protesting the conditions of solitary confinement suspended their hunger strike today. California holds nearly 12,000 people in extreme isolation cells with no windows and no access to fresh air or sunlight. The United Nations condemns the use of solitary confinement for more than 15 days as torture, yet many people in California state prisons have been imprisoned in solitary confinement for 10 to 40 years.

The Prison Justice Committee of the Law Union is committed to reducing the destructive impact of harsh criminal justice policies on the lives of individuals, families and communities. We are concerned about the long-term impact of appalling conditions inside prisons in both the United States and Canada.

As the Ashley Smith case has taught Canadians too well, solitary confinement is an inhumane and degrading policy that accomplishes no rehabilitative purpose. We condemn the use of extended solitary confinement in the strongest possible terms.

The fight is not over. Prisoners should not be forced to place their health and very lives at risk in order to protest torture. We call on California Governor Jerry Brown and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to respond immediately to conditions that have lead to the statewide hunger strike in California prisons.

We call on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to listen to the voices of the California prisoners. Canada’s increasing reliance on solitary confinement, particularly targeting women and Aboriginal prisoners, must end.

While we welcome the recent commitment to legislative hearings and congratulate the strikers for the changes they have inspired, we join the hunger strikers in demanding that California fully implement the prisoners’ five core demands, which are:

End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse.
Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria.
Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement.
Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food.
Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates.

The Law Union of Ontario is a coalition of over 200 progressive lawyers, law students and legal workers. For more information visit: http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

Solidarity Statement September 5 2013

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