California Prisoner Hunger Strike: Attorney Advocate blocked from accessing prisoners

phss-corcoran-th041The following statement – and many more updates – on the California Prisoners Hunger Strike, now entering its 14th day, may be found at the site of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.

Oakland–The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation continue to retaliate against hunger strikers. Yesterday it was reported that a core group of strikers were moved from the Security Housing Unit in Pelican Bay to even more restricted isolation. Since then, supporters have learned that prison officials have been attempting to break the resolve of strikers by blasting cold air into the SHU and Administrative Segregation (AD-Seg) units at Pelican Bay. Also, in a move to restrict communications between prisoners and their legal advocates, the CDCR has issued an exclusion order denying attorney Marilyn McMahon access to her clients at Pelican Bay State Prison, many of whom are in the 11th day of their protest against indefinite long term solitary confinement.

The order bans McMahon from the prison pending a CDCR investigation to determine whether one of her legal assistants “presents a serious threat to security.” The order says nothing about what the assistant stands accused of. McMahon comments, “I’m struck by how similar this is to the gang validation process, one of the hunger strike issues. Prisoners are sent to solitary indefinitely based on reports that they are not allowed to see, made by prisoners whose identity they are not allowed to know.”

McMahon and fellow attorney Carol Strickman were banned during the hunger strike in 2011 under the same administrative regulations. “All charges against us were eventually lifted,” said McMahon, “but to this day CDCR has never told me the charges against me.” The order prevented the two attorneys from having legal visits with their clients for the remainder of that strike.

Late last week, the CDCR moved 14 supposed hunger strike leaders from the SHU in Pelican Bay to the even more restrictive Administrative Segregation, confiscating their legal papers related to a lawsuit filed against the Department for its policies of indefinite long-term solitary confinement. In further efforts to break the strike, the Department is forcing cold air into the cells of striking prisoners. Supporters and advocates are denouncing the CDCR’s tactics as cruel and inhumane.

“The CDCR wants to cut off communications between prisoners and the outside world, but we are not going to let that happen,” said McMahon. The prisoners are resolute about continuing their hunger strike until a legally binding agreement is reached.