California inmates have ended a nearly two-month hunger strike to protest the prison system's isolation policies, prison officials said today. More than 30,000 inmates, who said gang leaders are often held for decades in isolation units, had been refusing meals when the strike began July 8. By this week, just 100 people were on hunger strike, including 40 who had been on strike continuously since the beginning. Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard said in a statement that all inmates began accepting prison-issued meals today.
The strike ended after two Democratic state legislators promised to hold hearings this year on inmates' concerns. A federal judge had given authorities permission to force-feed inmates if necessary to save their lives, but Beard in a statement said that the strike ended "before any inmates became seriously ill." (Even the hard-core strikers had been accepting vitamins and electrolyte drinks.) Supporters and advocates did not immediately confirm that the strike had ended but cited a positive response to the inmates' demands.