UPDATE, OCT. 19, 5:13 P.M.: A rally calling for an end to inhumane conditions in the Orange County jails is set for 11 a.m. Saturday outside the Central Jail Complex in Santa Ana.
The rally coincides with the second hunger strike (in three months) by incarcerated people in the OC jails in protest of prolonged isolation, improper housing and classification, and retaliation, according to representatives of the ACLU SoCal’s Jails Project.
Impacted families and community members plan to gather outside the Intake/Release Center on the 6th Street side of 550 N. Flower St., Santa Ana.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 11, MIDNIGHT: There will be a hunger strike at Orange County jails next Wednesday, Oct. 17, “to peacefully protest extremely inhuman and tortuous practices by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department,” according to an online post.
But the OCSD, which operates the jails, knows of no such hunger strike, according to Public Information Officer Carrie Braun.
Male and female hunger strikers from every race and background, and at all county jail facilities, will protest over “Indefinite Solitary Isolation,” claims a long letter on the Facebook page OC Sheriffs Torture.
Organizers claim that for punishment, inmates who violate jail rules are placed in cells with no windows called The Hole, where it is recommended no one stay for more than 30 days but that in some cases people have remained for years.
“Indefinite Solitary Isolation has already been widely condemned, challenged and abandoned by California Department of Corrections, and for good reason. Simply because it is severe torture,” states the letter.
Organizers allege the OCSD has ignored studies showing Indefinite Solitary Isolation is harmful. “Suicidal behaviors, self-mutilation, severe hallucinations, with panic, anxiety and sleep depravation are just some of the psychiatric effects of Solitary Isolation,” claim the protesters.
Accusing the OCSD of having somewhere “lost its professional ethic and moral compass,” organizers note that this will be the second hunger strike in two months over The Hole.
They demand that anyone who has remained in The Hole for more than 30 days be released immediately and be returned to their normal cells.
Records on how long inmates have spent in The Hole should be given to human rights organizations and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to monitor any possible abuse, say hunger strikers, who add, “Of course, we’re not expecting anything more than denials and/or finger pointing from you, but we are hoping.”
The full letter follows:
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.