On May 16th, inmates at Old Folsom State Prison made contact with the outside world to announce that they will begin a hunger strike on May 25th. This announcement comes in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization, and unbearable living conditions at Old Folsom State Prison. Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners. Incarcerated people commonly face disciplinary actions, retaliation by prison officials, abuse, and further denial of their basic human rights during hunger strikes- simply for exerting their free will and resisting their mistreatment. The danger of these threats is compounded by the long-term health consequences and extreme physical weakness that accompany starving yourself in an environment that provides woefully inadequate medical care. In short, these prisoners will desperately need our support. When incarcerated people take action to fight for their dignity, their rights, and their lives, those of us on the outside must answer with solidarity. Our support is crucial in getting their demands met and minimizing retaliation against them. We must let these brave individuals know that we have their backs, and that they will not be forgotten.
Today, the hunger strike begins. Please read the information below and make phone calls as soon as possible. All of the contact information you need is included at the bottom. The following media release comes directly from incarcerated people at FSP who will be on strike:
Statement from Prisoners
On May 25th, 2017 prisoners in Folsom State Prison B4 ASU (Administrative Segregated Unit) in Represa, CA have started a hunger strike to peacefully protest the conditions of their confinement in the administrative segregated unit. Prisoners have exhausted all reasonable remedies, with no avail. Further, prisoners have attempted to open lines of communication with administrative officials and met with only resistance and silence. Folsom ASU is like stepping back in time to the era when prison officials blanketed the injustice impose on its solitary confined prisoners and bluntly turn a blind eye to mistreatment and the stripping away of basic human dignity and elements.
As CDCR made drastic changes throughout its prisons to put prisoners on roads of rehabilitation and more humane living conditions, Folsom officials reject the ideals and continue the injustice of the past. To those reading who may find it hard to believe, just a few years ago many will recall this same fight took place within the SHU (Security Housing Unit). The direction, message, and programs CDCR implemented for long term isolation to rehabilitate is ignored, shut out, and rejected here in Folsom ASU. Some might assume the impact of the struggle men endure within the SHU to gain fair, dignified living conditions would have a long-lasting effect, yet, men stand again, just as unified. Ready to sacrifice their bodies, health, and life to achieve what has already been hard fought for and accomplished. Why must California prisoners continue to sacrifice health and life, involve lawyers and courts, in order to be treated like human beings? We will continue to remind CDCR officials they will be held accountable for this type of treatment.
Prisoners in B4 ASU are forced to sit or stand idle in their cells or yard cages without meaningful exercise, education, or rehabilitative programs. We are already forced to endure atypical and significant hardships due to being in segregated housing and solitary confined. When taken together, these conditions constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the US Constitution.
We are being deprived of basic human needs, including normal human contact, environmental and sensory stimulation, mental and physical health, entertainment, physical exercise, sleep, access to courts, and meaningful activity. Prolonged exposure to these deprivations has caused and will cause serious physical and psychological harm.
FSP (Folsom State Prison) is deliberately indifferent to prisoners suffering. They are aware that prolonged social isolation, and lack of environmental stimuli causes “serious psychological pain and suffering and permanent psychological pain and suffering, and permanent psychological and physical injury.”
CDCR is aware (Madrid-Ashker-Coleman) that the conditions of extreme isolation will likely inflict some degree of psychological trauma, these injuries include: chronic insomnia, severe concentration and memory problems, anxiety and other ailments. This is why all SHUs and most ASUs within CDCR have provided prisoners with the opportunity to have TVs, pull up bars, education, social and rehabilitative programs. However, FSP continues to put lack of money as an excuse to not fall in line with CDCR’s stated goals, and are content to ignore the suffering of men in its care. We continue to be confined alone in our cells with only misery for company.
Unfortunately our voice in here can be drowned out by administration but those out there can help by making their voice heard in concern with our treatment. We urge you to call and email all officials and ask questions on the conditions here, and make sure procedures are met for those hunger striking.
Call In Campaign
The following are officials to contact:
- Chief Deputy Inspector General – Roy Wesley – (916) 255-1102
- Ombudsman Sara L. Smith (the person who is supposed to check on welfare, investigate complaints, etc.) – (916) 324-5458 // email@example.com
- Secretary Scott Kernan – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Undersecretary Ralph M. Diaz – email@example.com
- Governor Jerry Brown – (916) 445-2481
- Chief Office of the Ombudsman – Sara Malone – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Public Information Office of Folsom – Jack Huey – (916) 985-2561 // email@example.com
- Folsom Warden – Ron Rackley – firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, you can call the prison itself at (916) 985-2561.
To get someone on the line, press #1 for English, then #3 for administrative services, and #1 for the P.I.O (public info).
Sent to a secretary or voicemail? Leave a message.
First time calling in? You can find a detailed guide here.
“Hello, my name is ____________and I’m a resident of California. I am calling in support of the hunger strike that is beginning today at Folsom State Prison. I am deeply concerned about the inhumane conditions of confinement that have brought this on, and strongly urge you to act upon the prisoners’ demands, which are reasonable and amount to basic human rights.”*
*If you are calling the prison or a prison official, you can also urge them to not retaliate against the hunger strikers.
It’s up to us to stand with these prisoners as they fight for their rights and personhood to be recognized by Old Folsom State Prison. A flood of outside support is often what it takes for prisoners to be heard, even when those prisoners are taking extreme measures that sacrifice their health and wellbeing. Please email and call as many of the above contacts as you can in the following days, and look for updates as the situation unfolds.
You can reach the support crew at email@example.com