“I Never Will Abandon This Hope”: Testimony of a Pelican Bay Hunger Striker on Solitary Confinement

Julie Tackett, an activist from Washington, attended the August 23rd hearing of the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee on the topic of California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). She read testimony on behalf of her friend, Bryan, who has spent more than 16 years in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison and took part in […]

Voices From Solitary: Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Was “the Only Way to Get the Word Out” About Prison Abuses

The following is excerpted from a letter from Alfred Sandoval, a Pelican Bay SHU inmate and one of the original leaders and participants in this summer’s three-week hunger strike. Addressed to “All Media, Prisons Supporters, etc.,” it was written on June 26th, a few days before the strike began. Sandoval describes his own experiences, and outlines a series of abuses […]

Pelican Bay Prisoners Plan to Resume Hunger Strike

This summer’s prison hunger strike, which eventually spread to some 6,600 inmates in dozens of California facilities, was organized and launched in the “short corridor” of Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU). The strike ended three weeks after it began, with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation making a few small concessions to […]

“Toxic Conditions”: Testimony of Dr. Terry Kupers on Solitary Confinement

Dr. Terry Kupers, a clinical psychiatrist, professor at the Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology, and expert in forensic mental health, spoke before the California Assembly Public Safety Committee on August 23rd, 2011 addressing the issue of solitary confinement and the need for reform of California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). The document is also available […]

Voices from Solitary: “Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat to Justice Everywhere”

The following letter was written by an inmate at the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, California, who had been placed in solitary confinement in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) after being “validated” as a gang member. Written on July 31st, the letter highlights institutional problems at CCI and makes various recommendations. It also declares support for the […]

A Hunger for Justice in Pelican Bay

Note: The following piece ran on The Guardian’s website on Monday, July 25. On 21 July, prisoners in solitary confinement at California’s notorious Pelican Bay State Prison began accepting the meals that were slipped to them through slots in their solid mental cell doors. For many, it was the first time they had eaten in three weeks. A group […]

Voices from Solitary: Letter from a California Prison Hunger Striker

The following letter was sent by a hunger striker at California Correctional Institution (CCI) Tehachapi, one of three state prison containing an all-solitary Security Housing Unit (SHU). The letter was written by an SHU inmate to his girlfriend, who forwarded it to Solitary Watch for publication. It is dated July 21, after the writer had been refusing […]

As Prisoners End Hunger Strike at Pelican Bay, Their Cause Continues

Reports from California Prison Focus, among other groups supporting prisoners on hunger strike in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU), confirm that the strikers last night agreed to begin eating. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reportedly made small concessions having to do with prisoners’ possessions and educational programming, and also promised a comprehensive review […]

Statements from Human Rights and Civil Rights Groups Support Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers

After three weeks, hundreds of California inmates are still participating in a hunger strike that at one point spanned thirteen prisons and 6,600 prisoners. The most resolute participants appear to be concentrated in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison, where the hunger strike began, and in the SHUs at Corcoran and Tehachapi. Many hunger strikers are weakening […]

Who Are the Hunger Strikers? How Prisoners Land in Pelican Bay’s SHU

Sympathy for the prisoners on hunger strike in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prisons is limited by the widely held impression that these men (and indeed, most supermax prisoners) are the “worst of the worst.” According to conventional wisdom, in order to land in the most secure units in the prison system, these […]