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Prisoner hunger striker demands end to indefinite detention in Pelican Bay’s supermax cells

By George Chidi
Friday, August 23, 2013 22:51 EDT
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Todd Ashker
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Lawyers for a hunger-striking prisoner in Pelican Bay released audio describing the demands of the remaining hunger strikers protesting indefinite solitary confinement in the California prison.

Todd Ashker, a prisoner sentenced to life for killing an inmate, has been imprisoned in the “supermax” solitary confinement cells of Pelican Bay for years. In the tape, Ashker demands on behalf of the Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement “an end to indefinite solitary confinement based on innocuous associational behavior and/or confidential information intelligence from prisoners tortured to the point of serious mental illness and agreement to become state collaborator informants.”

Ashker has been on a hunger strike for 47 days, his lawyers told Amy Goodman, host of the show Democracy Now! on Friday.

The protest centers on the use of confidential informants and prisoner association to determine when a prisoner may be part of a gang or a “security threat group.” If a prison is designated as a member of an STG, he or she can be isolated from the rest of the gang in supermax solitary confinement for years with little redress, prisoners argue.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a policy memorandum earlier this month laying out a pilot program for changing the rules for assigning prisoners to supermax cells, but “CDCR’s STG pilot program is not responsive to our demands,” Ashker said. “It continues to base indefinite (supermax) solitary confinement upon confidential information intelligence without any requirement for any formal charge being filed and adjudicated for due process due to the California Prison System’s preponderance of the evidence standard.”

Watch the segment with Goodman and Ashker below.

 
 
 
 
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