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Journalist Shane Bauer on Inhumane Prisons From California to Iran

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Posted on Jul 12, 2013
Democracy Now!

More than 12,000 prisoners in California have endured five days of hunger-striking to end harsh punishment, redefine gang activity, improve food quality, increase access to health care and education services, and bring an end to solitary confinement, which they call “indefinite state-sanctioned torture.”

More than 1,000 inmates are missing classes and prison work programs in addition to forgoing meals in the third large-scale hunger strike in the past two years. The fast began at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border and has spread to two-thirds of the state’s 33 jails.

Correction officials have responded by threatening to search prisoners’ cells, conduct mental health evaluations and deny inmates access to visitors and mail.

Award-winning investigative journalist Shane Bauer was one of three American hikers imprisoned in Iran after being apprehended on the Iraqi border in 2009. He spent 26 months in Tehran’s Evin Prison, four of them in solitary confinement. He compared that experience to the treatment of prisoners in California in a Mother Jones article last year titled “Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America’s Prisons.”

Bauer told “Democracy Now!” on Friday: “While the solitary confinement is at the core of it, it’s kind of about a lot of other issues. It’s become a much more widespread hunger strike. Each prison has its own demands. There are demands you see for rise in wages, from 13 cents an hour to $1 an hour, demand for the return of educational classes, and really the demands for the return of a lot of services that have been cut in recent years.”

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