The California prison strike is entering its third week—here's a brief overview of the strike's history and the strikers' five, not very demanding demands—with reports of retaliation against prisoners who are refusing to eat.
Cold air is allegedly being piped into cells, a prominent rights lawyer has been barred from meeting any prisoners in the state of California, and the New Yorker reports that prison officials are contemplating force-feeding and trying to tempt prisoners with "special menu items":
C.D.C.R. has not ruled out the possibility of force-feeding participating inmates; or perhaps, as in the past, it will try to entice them away from mass resistance with special menu items like strawberry short cake and ice cream. “They have never had ice cream in the SHU,” the wife of an inmate told the group Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity during a similar hunger strike in 2011. “And in the nearly twenty years he has been in the California system, he has never seen a strawberry.”
It seems especially cruel to say Yeah, we could've gotten you a strawberry some time in the past 20 years, but we waited until now to place an order.
Some prison officials are telling reporters that the success of the strike—that is, how a bunch of people in solitary with extraordinarily limited and heavily surveilled communication managed to coordinate and organize themselves—is proof that the strikers are gang members. Strikers, on the other hand, claim prison officials are too arbitrary when it comes to deciding who's in a gang, who should be in solitary, and for how long.
Amnesty International has called on prison guards and officials to stop "punishing" the strikers. Prison officials have agreed to meet with some prisoner advocates today in Sacramento.
I'm not expecting much—officials are alternately dismissive of the strike, then heavy on the we-don't-negotiate-with-terrorists rhetoric—but we'll see.