California prison hunger strike still on


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Hours after announcing an end to the hunger strike at the maximum security lockup Pelican Bay, California corrections officials acknowledged more than 500 inmates continue to refuse meals at three other state prisons.

More than 400 inmates remain on hunger strike at the California State Prison in Corcoran, more than 100 at the California Correctional Institute in Tehachapi and about 29 at Calipatria State Prison, said prison spokeswoman Terry Thornton.


Inmates at Pelican Bay, where the strike began on July 1, agreed to resume eating in exchange for ‘cold-weather caps, wall calendars and some educational opportunities’ according to a statement issued by Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate on Thursday morning.

Many inmates have gone on and off the hunger strike, accepting meals at varying points during the three-week protest, making the number of prisoners involved a moving target, according to Thornton.

About 110 inmates ‘have continuously refused state issued food from July 1 through yesterday’, Thornton said on Thursday afternoon.

Earlier this week, 17 inmates who had begun to show early symptoms of starvation were moved from Pelican Bay to Corcoran, to ‘ensure we have sufficient and appropriate medical resources’ to treat them if they continued the strike, said Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver overseeing prison healthcare.

Among the protesters’ demands is an end to a policy that requires them to inform on gang members in order to be released from Security Housing Units, where inmates often spend years in solitary confinement as punishment for violating prison rules.



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-- Jack Dolan