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.
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.
“These guys have zero human interaction for decades on end in a windowless concrete cell,” says Ronald Ahnen, Politics Professor at St. Mary’s and member of California Prison Focus. “It’s just not acceptable. It’s torture.”
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,” says Jeffrey Callison with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “There are case by case reviews of everyone who’s in the SHU.”
Earlier this month, more than 12,000 inmates were participating in the hunger strike. The state now estimates that 561 are still refusing food.