The strike was initiated by prisoners within the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in Pelican Bay State Prison, but news quickly spread and is now said to include prisoners in facilities across California. At least 30,000 prisoner ingrates appear to be participating in the hunger strike, which also includes a work stoppage by thousands of inmate workers looking for an excuse to retire to their cells where staring at walls is preferred to sweeping floors and delivering library books.
According to Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, the California prison system currently holds over 10,000 prisoners in solitary confinement units, "with dozens having spent more than 20 years each in isolation."
The hunger strike is not the first of its kind in Pelican Bay. In 2011, prisoners in the SHU sparked a massive statewide hunger strike that grew to include 12,000 prisoners in a third of California’s 33 prisons, and costing California taxpayers untold amounts mostly in the form of uneaten prepared meals.
"We are certain that we will prevail…. the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?" the prisoners' statement reads, referring to their list of demands.
Unfortunately, these same inmates appear to be oblivious to the additional burden their so-called hunger strike will impose upon California taxpayers. "Each and every prepared meal that goes uneaten amounts to huge waste of taxpayer funded resources, not to mention the uneaten food removal costs that will add enormous tonnage of additional refuse into an already overburdened refuse removal system," stated prominent California Tea Party activist A. Paul Datall.
Datall continued: "Most of the prisoners do better in prison than they do out on the street. They'll go back to eating eventually, because Americans don't know how to go without. In many freedom-loving African countries, for example, peoples are not conditioned to demand entitlement after entitlement, and so they're accustomed to starvation for themselves and their children. But here in America, it's entitlement after entitlement after entitlement."
Outside the gates of Crescent City's Pelican Bay, a handful of no-tax activists yesterday held signs that said such things as, "Let them rot in hell," and "Cheaper to imprison vegetables than gang member creeps."
We expect, as the hunger strike continues, that California's conservative, values-driven citizens will mobilize against the wastage that the hunger strike is creating.