Celebrities Join California Prison Hunger Strikers' Cause

Gloria Steinem, Jesse Jackson, Bonnie Raitt and Jay Leno have joined prison hunger strikers in calling for an end to California's use of solitary confinement to control prison gang violence.
July 30, 2013
 

Gloria Steinem, Jesse Jackson, Bonnie Raitt and Jay Leno have joined prison hunger strikers in calling for an end to California's use of solitary confinement to control prison gang violence.

 
The civil rights crusaders, singer and late-night comedian are among those who signed a letter sent Monday to Gov. Jerry Brown. The letter calls isolation units "extensions of the same inhumanity practiced at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay."
 
The letter to Brown, to be followed by a demonstration Tuesday at the Capitol, was arranged by the National Religion Campaign Against Torture and local supporters of the prison protesters.
 
The organization, based in Washington, is pushing to close solitary confinement units at prisons in 13 states, viewing such isolation as torture, said Executive Director Rev. Richard Killmer.
 
Brown's spokesman referred a request for comment to the corrections department.
 
Isolation units "serve a vital role in state prisons, keeping staff and other inmates safe from the same violent gangs leading the hunger strike and terrorizing communities across California," corrections spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said.
 
Other notables who signed the letter to Brown include political critic Noam Chomsky, Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman and actor Peter Coyote.

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