In the past months, the California prison system, or CDRC, has been convulsed by hunger strikes and a series of so-called “gladiator” or “dog fights,” in which guards pit prisoners against each other.  Brook, an organizer with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee in Oakland, spoke with us to provide vital context for understanding this volatile situation- as well as recent updates on the movement inside Corcoran, one of the more infamous of these maximum security prisons.

Brook explains in detail the history of these fights, and also how gang culture thrives inside prisons- often as a way to give prisoners an identity and protection in facilities where the purpose is to remove these from its prisoners. As Brook puts it, having your crew allows you to have such things as communication, identity, protection, sunlight- all things that the state explicitly tries to take from you.