Inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison are planning another hunger strike on July 8.
This marks the third hunger strike in nearly three years that has been coordinated by a group of inmates who dubbed themselves the Short Corridor Collective and have been housed in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Units for several years.
The strike is extending to a call for inmates with prison jobs to refuse to show up for work.
The Collective is calling for the protest in what they deem a lack of effort taken by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to make changes in gang management reforms, SHU policies and conditions.
“Every prison is developing contingency plans,” said CDCR spokesperson Terry Thornton. “It’s hard to know the impact.”
The last two hunger strikes led by the Collective amounted to the largest protests in California prison history. The first one peaked at 6,600 inmates spanning about a third of California’s 33 prisons in July 2011. The second hunger strike came at the end of September 2011 peaking at around 4,500 inmates over numerous prisons. Each lasted almost three weeks.
The strikes launched national attention to the Collective’s cause, which had originally made five demands of CDCR that included tweaking SHU policies and improving SHU conditions.
This time around the Collective is seeking 40 more demands that it claims are supplements to the five core demands.
The first two hunger strikes created a disturbance in CDCR’s daily function amounting to almost $300,000.
The work stoppage the Collective is calling will likely compound the effect of the hunger strikes.
“A lot of the jobs inmates have deal with feeding other inmates. If they decide to not go to work then staff is going to be preparing the food,” said Thornton. “That could impact the entire population, not just any inmates who are planning any disruptive behavior.”
Inmates who refuse to work will likely be written up, lose their job assignments and be placed in a lower privilege class, said Lt. Chris Acosta, public information officer for Pelican Bay.
It’s unclear how big this strike is going to be. CDCR will have a better idea after the third day if inmates have refused nine consecutive meals, which is what the department considers an inmate hunger striking.
As with the last hunger strike, the Collective and other inmates deemed to have coordinated the hunger strike will likely be moved to an Administrative Segregation Unit to cut off communications.