Monday, February 13, 2012

Inmate Dies During Hunger Strike at California’s Corcoran State Prison

Inmate Dies During Hunger Strike at California’s Corcoran State Prison

This troubling news reposted from Solitary Watch

News of a death in Corcoran State Prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit is emerging as an underreported hunger strike in the prison’s ASU comes to a close. Inmates in the ASU are held in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement. Many have been in isolation for years and even decades.

California State Prison, Corcoran, which houses over 1400 in Security Housing Units and an additional 350 in ASUs, has been the site of two waves of hunger strikes since late December 2011. Unlike the highly publicized hunger strikes last year that originated in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU, the Corcoran strikes have remained relatively small and have received little press attention.

On December 19, 2011, three inmates at Corcoran announced a hunger strike protesting the conditions of the ASU. They listed eleven demands  ranging from educational and rehabilitative programming to timely medical care. According to California Department of Corrections spokesperson Terry Thornton:

"On Dec. 28, 59 inmates housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit at Corcoran State Prison refused their state-issued meals. On Dec. 29, that number dropped to 54. On Dec. 30, 49 inmates refused state-issued meals. By Dec. 31, all inmates resumed eating state-issued food."

According to Pyung Hwa Ryoo, one of the main petitioners of the December 2011 hunger strike:

"Three days after the strike began, prison officials came to the ASU and let the strikers know that the petition, and demands of the strike, would be granted. They requested three weeks to make the changes happen; and to give them the benefit of the doubt, the request was granted and the strike was put on hold.
"It has been a little more than 2 weeks since the strike stopped. So far, there has been some improvements in this ASU, but the majority of the promised changes have not yet occurred."

According to a letter from strike petitioner Juan Jaimes dated January 31st:

"…this hunger strike commenced on December 28, 2011 and it has no ending date unless some or all demands are met…"

He also indicated (as confirmed by CDCR’s inmate locator) that he was transferred from Corcoran to Kern Valley State Prison. Though unconfirmed, he has also indicated that the two other strike petitioners were also transferred away from each other.

There is conflicting information suggesting that some inmates continued to strike during the period between the “official” strikes. The following, however, has been confirmed by Thornton:

"On Jan. 27, 32 inmates in Corcoran State Prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) refused to eat breakfast and started a hunger strike. As of Feb. 9, all inmates in the ASU except one resumed eating state-issued food."

A letter to California activist Kendra Castaneda from a Corcoran ASU striker, however, indicated that “on or about Feb 2nd or 3rd 2012 an inmate has passed away due to not eating.”

While the cause of death and its possible relationship to the hunger strike remains unconfirmed, Thornton responded to questions from Solitary Watch with an apparent affirmation that an inmate death had taken place, and the statement: ”I do not know the results of the autopsy.”

In response to a phone call, Tom Edmonds, Chief Deputy Coroner in Kings County confirmed that inmate Christian Gomez died on February 2nd at Corcoran, but also did not share the cause of death.

Solitary Watch will provide updates as information becomes available.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Jalil Muntaqim Sent to SHU on Bogus Charge

Jalil Muntaqim has been sent to the SHU on a bogus charge (see below). Comrades from Jericho are asking that people speak with their own organizations and ask them to write or call the folks below to get Jalil out of the SHU and if possible a transfer to another facility.

The following report is from a friend of Jalil's who visited him on Saturday January 29th:

On Monday, [Jalil] was taken down to trial regarding the photograph that was "recovered" in his cell (the photo was from Cetewayo's memorial held at Hunter College this past March, in which a BPP banner was hanging in the background. Guards confiscated the photo on grounds that it demonstrated "unlawful organization.") This photograph had been sent in through the mail, and therefore presumably been processed through Attica's correspondence department. Jalil had lined up 3 witnesses for this bogus trial: 1. The head of Attica's correspondence dept, to argue that mail sent in through correspondence could not be considered contraband after the fact; 2. The head of Attica's gangs unit to show that Black Panther Party is not a designated gang (originally, the charges included gang affiliation as well); 3. Jalil's counselor, to demonstrate good behavior and non-involvement in unlawful organizations.

When he arrived to the trial, he was told all 3 of these witnesses were denied on the basis of "irrelevancy." He was therefore unrepresented and with no witnesses. A lieutenant was then brought in,confirmed that the photo was of unlawful organization, and Jalil was hit with 6 months SHU right then and there.

He has been in SHU since Monday, with only the clothes on his back. He has not been given any personal property, and was told he probably won't receive any of it for weeks. He has no phone privileges, no commissary, no packages, and will eventually be allowed 5 books and limited legal materials. He will have only one visit weekly for the duration, and these are no-contact visits which take place in Attica's SHU.

He is asking that people contact NYS Attorney General Eric
Schneiderman, as well as Commissioner Brian Fischer to demand that the
charges be dropped, Jalil be released from SHU immediately, and that
this campaign of harassment come to AN IMMEDIATE END! These charges
are entirely fabricated and show premediation on behalf of the prison
administration to lock Jalil away until his next parole hearing in

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:
Office of the Attorney General
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341
(518) 474-5481

Commissioner Brian Fischer
NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Building 2
1220 Washington Ave
Albany, New York 12226-2050
(518) 457-8126

When you call and/or write, be sure to use Jalil's DIN number (#77A4283) and refer to him as Anthony “Jalil” Bottom, currently at Attica.

Jericho would like to know what responses people receive. Please send an email to or to let them know.