(FinalCall.com) – Inmates at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison have ended their hunger strike but their families, prison reform advocates and supporters have vowed to carry on their struggle for measurable improvements in the Security Housing Units.
Prison officials and outside representatives of the inmates confirmed that the hunger strikers accepted an offer from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and ended their protest July 20.
However, according to the Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, hunger strikers in other prisons, at least CCI Tehachapi, Corcoran and Calipatria State Prisons, are still refusing food.A call to corrections department spokespersons to inquire whether inmates at other prisons were still waging hunger strikes had not been returned at press time.
“It is unclear how long they will continue, if they are aware of the agreement or even believe anything the CDCR claims given their history of deliberate misinformation campaigns,” the coalition stated on its website.
According to a press release, the corrections department agreed to review and change some policies regarding special housing units and gang management.It also agreed to provide cold weather caps, wall calendars and some educational opportunities for inmates in the special housing units.
Prison officials are working to stabilize operations for all inmates and improve safety and security statewide, said corrections official Matthew Cate, in the press release.
The inmates’ supporters say a very substantial part of the agreement is a corrections department promise to examine gang validation and debriefing processes and outside supporters plan to work to ensure that the department upholds its promise.
In addition, inmates haven’t given up on others demands, said the coalition.In every strike or organizing campaign, there comes a time to assess whether primary tactics are still being effective, the group added.
“Obviously, this struggle isn’t over.It’s just a matter of changing tactics and the prisoners used the only tactic they had access to, which was risking their lives to send a message about conditions in the SHU by going on a hunger strike,” Molly Porzig told The Final Call.
Ms. Porzig, a member of the prison reform group Critical Resistance and organizer with the Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, said supporters must press legislators to become involved in an active way to address the inmates’ five core demands, which include eliminating group punishments, and providing adequate food.
Assemblyman Tom Amniano, chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, has scheduled public hearings on SHU conditions for Aug. 23, a spokesperson told The Final Call.
“The fact that they (inmates) agreed to this so-called agreement shows that they need more support and need for supporters to strengthen their strategies to make sure the changes they are demanding actually get done,” Ms. Porzig said.