Saint Mary's political science professor Ron Ahnen was recently interviewed on the Los Angeles radio station KPFK about the hunger strike currently underway in California's prison system. The strike involves up to 2,000 inmates who are refusing meals to protest a variety of issues, in particular, indefinite solitary confinement.
Ahnen spoke with Sonali Kolhatkar, founder and host of KPFK’s morning show Uprising, about the goals of the striking inmates, which include the elimination of the practice of "debriefing" inmates who are in solitary confinement. The SMC professor says that by participating in a debriefing process, inmates put their own lives in danger. They are perceived as “snitching” on the gang activities of other prisoners and face retaliation inside the prison. As a result, they must be sent to live on special protection yards, and the lives of their loved ones on the outside are also jeopardized.
An associate professor at the College, Ahnen teaches courses on human rights and prison reform, such as “Ending Sentences: Life Behind and Beyond Bars." A prisoner’s rights advocate, Ahnen is also president of California Prison Focus, a human rights advocacy group working to abolish the state’s prison system in its present condition.
Listen to the KPFK segment.