California officials, inmate advocates discuss hunger strike
SACRAMENTO -- Inmate advocates were left disappointed by their conversation with California prison officials Tuesday, the first such meeting since a statewide hunger strike began two weeks ago.
The inmates are seeking improvements in prison conditions and limits on how long they can be held in solitary confinement. Officials said 851 inmates in 11 prisons were still refusing meals Tuesday.
Laura Magnani from the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that opposes solitary confinement, said prison officials did not show any willingness to budge from their current policies during the meeting in Sacramento.
“We will do everything we can to keep communications open,” she said. “But it doesn’t feel like progress to us.”
Officials created new avenues for inmates to leave solitary confinement in the wake of a hunger strike in 2011, but advocates say the change has not gone far enough.
Jeffrey Callison, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said there were no negotiations at the meeting.
“It was not intended to resolve the hunger strike or anything like that,” he said. “It’s up to the inmates who will decide when they will start to eat.”
Callison declined to provide additional details about the meeting, which he described as a chance to exchange information.
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