AirTalk for July 21, 2011

Conflicting reports: Pelican Bay hunger strike over?

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Grant Slater/KPCC

A banner at a protest in Downtown Los Angeles on Monday morning.

KPCC has received word that the largest prison strike in California in a decade may be over. However, there has been no confirmation from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The hunger strike was in response to poor conditions in California prisons and began three weeks ago at Pelican Bay State Prison, a maximum security facility. The strike originated in the Special Housing Unit of the prison, which houses 1,100 inmates who are completely isolated from one another in soundproof cells and are let out for only one hour each day. The strike had spread to thirteen other state prisons with 6,500 inmates participating over the past few days. Recently, several of the inmates have reached critical condition and could die if they don’t resume eating. To avoid self-inflicted inmate deaths, the head of corrections at Pelican Bay even considered implementing force-feeding through a court order. However, many of the prisoners have signed advanced directives dictating their end-of-life care, which force-feeding would come into direct contradiction with. So, is the strike over? How big of a role did the media play in this? And if it's over, what was the deal that was struck?

Guests:

Nancy Kincaid, Director of Communications, California Prison Health Care Services

Jack Dolan, reporter for the Los Angeles Times

Molly Porzig, member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition and a spokesperson for Critical Resistance

Terry Thornton, Deputy Press Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Office of Public and Employee Communications















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