Amy B. Smoyer, PhD

Incarcerated Lives, Health & Social Work

If a Tree Falls in the Forest...

It has been a month since prisoners began their hunger strike in California to protest conditions there, particularly the use of indefinite solitary confinement (22 hours a day in a cell, years on end) for people suspected of having gang affiliations and other disciplinary reasons.  On the first day in July, 30,000 inmates participated in the strike, now there are approximately 550 strikers, although the mechanism by which participants are officially counted is contested by organizers who maintain the number of strikers is much higher.  One man is dead.

One of the strikers 5 Demands is that the prison, "Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food."

I am at a posh beach town in Spain where families where matching, ironed, outfits to the beach.  I am eating pulpo and pimentos drenched in olive oil and salt, by the pound. When I go to sleep at night, I can hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.

Oh baby, it's a wild, wild world.  How do our realities align and intersect with the world of Pelican Bay?  Are we capable of hearing and seeing the lived experience of these incarcerated people in California?  Or incarcerated people anywhere?  Who's problem is this? What would it take for this debate to matter, on a large scale, to the people of the United States of America?

Trees are falling but the sounds of this collapse are not being heard in large part because there is very little media coverage.  Here are a couple of links to bring you up to speed.  Check it out and mention it to a friend or family member as you turn over on the beach, linger at your desk, travel through your daily life.