Of the 133,000 inmates in California prisons nearly 30,000 have refused meals for two days in a row.
Corrections officials say that the inmates refusing meals are doing it in support, and to show solidarity with prisoners being held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison. This will be the “third extended hunger strike in two years protesting conditions for the more than 4,500 gang members, gang associates and serious offenders held in the security housing units,” at Pelican Bay and three other California maximum security facilities.
Terry Thornton, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said that inmates at “two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons and at all four private prisons that hold California inmates in other states,” refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday and Tuesday. However, she did not know how many inmates refused dinner.
Inmates at Pelican Bay spoke to the media through advocacy groups explaining that the protests “began after talks with prison officials broke down last month over inmates’ demands that the department end long-term solitary confinement than can last for decades.” The protesters say they want a 5-year limit on isolation policies, the right to make monthly phone calls, and education and rehabilitation programs for those in solitary confinement.
In April, a federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit which was filed by 10 inmates of Pelican Bay which alleges that “their living conditions in the isolation units are unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.”
Photo: AP/File, Rich Pedroncelli