As a hunger strike in prisons across the US state of California is approaching its eighth week, state officials have come under increased pressure to explain how they plan to meet a federal court order to ease overcrowding in the state’s prison system.
On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown proposed a $315 million plan to meet the federal court order and send thousands of prisoners to private prisons and vacant county jail cells.
The 2009 court order set a cap on the state’s prison population that would force California to either find new homes for some 10,000 inmates or let them go.
“The budget every year for the jail and prison system increases, it doesn’t get cut at all,” activist Susan Thornton-Zetino told Press TV. “It’s like a pipeline. We don’t want to invest in education, vocational training, after-school programs and taking care of the basic needs of peoples in community and then as soon as someone makes mistakes we just want to lock them up.”
California governor’s proposal to spend over $300 million to send inmates to private prisons comes as a hunger strike by California prisoners in protest against state prison conditions including the misuse of solitary confinement is approaching its eighth week.
As many as 30,000 inmates in security housing units, or SHUs, started refusing food on July 8th.
Prisoners say the move is aimed at demanding an end to what they call their inhumane conditions including keeping them in solitary confinement for 10 to 40 years.
The independent United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, condemned the state of California on August 23 for its solitary confinement policies and said prolonged and excessive solitary confinement “amounts to torture.”
Last week, a judge ruled that California is allowed to force-feed hunger striking prisoners who are at risk of death.
“[It is] not acceptable to use threats of forced feeding or other types of physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike,” Mendez said.
“We always point fingers at other countries,” said Lupe Reynoso, an inmate’s relative to Press TV’s reporter Ross Frasier. “And now our loved ones who are incarcerated are asking us to voice their voice for them that torture is actually happening to them.”
By Press TV
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