Wednesday, July 10, 2013

California prison problem more than overcrowding

It has been a bad week for California Prisons.  As many as 30,000 prisoners have started a hunger strike, an investigation revealed that the prison system has illegally sterilized female inmates and a panel of judges that has threatened contempt of court against Governor Jerry Brown, demands the release of 10,000 prisoners.

Officials said 30,000 California inmates refused meals Monday at the start of a prison strike involving two-thirds of the state's 33 lockups, as well as four out-of-state facilities, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Participants refused breakfast and lunch, said a corrections spokeswoman. In addition, 2,300 prisoners skipped work or classes, some saying they were sick.

The protest was organized by a small group of inmates held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border. Their complaints focus on policies that put inmates in isolation indefinitely, some for decades, if they are suspected of having ties to prison gangs.

If things weren't bad enough in California, doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

From 1997 to 2010, the state paid doctors $147,460 to perform the procedure, according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners.

The women were signed up for the surgery while they were pregnant and housed at either the California Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, which is now a men’s prison.

Former inmates and prisoner advocates maintain that prison medical staff coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison in the future.

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