California Hunger Strikers Enter 3rd Week

California Hunger Strikers Enter 3rd Week

“We are starting to look death in the face with these indeterminate SHU terms,” wrote Lorenzo Benton on July 8, 2013. “Looking death in the face, isolated from family and friends and with no meaningful contact with others is a lonely experience that serves no one well. That is why we are now seeking redress from said condition as our days are becoming more and more numbered.”
Benton is referring to the mass prison hunger strike that began that day and is now entering its third week, amid officials’ threats and retaliation. On July 8, more than 30,000 people incarcerated throughout California refused meals, and more than 3,000 people refused to attend work or educational programs.
The strike encompassed people in two-thirds of California’s state prisons and four out-of-state private prisons contracted by California. Benton has been in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison since 2007.
In the SHU, people are locked in their cells for at least 22 hours a day. Prison administrators place them in the SHU either for a fixed term for violating a prison rule or for an indeterminate term for being accused of gang membership. These accusations often rely on confidential informants and circumstantial evidence.

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