30K California Inmates Join Hunger Strike

Prisoners demand end to indefinite isolation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2013 3:13 AM CDT
30K Calif. Inmates Join Hunger Strike
Inmates exercise in the main yard of the general population yard at the Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, Calif.    (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

More than 30,000 inmates in California refused meals yesterday in what could be the start of the biggest prison hunger strike in American history—although corrections officials won't consider it a hunger strike until inmates miss nine consecutive meals. Inmates at more than 20 of the state's 33 prisons appear to have joined the protest over isolation policies, and thousands have also skipped work or classes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The protest was organized by inmates at the "supermax" Pelican Bay facility, where prisoners are demanding an end to policies that keep inmates in isolation units indefinitely if they are suspected of being gang members and refuse to renounce their membership, reports KPCC. The protesters want a 5-year limit on isolation policies, as well as education and rehabilitation programs. More than 11,000 inmates joined a similar hunger strike in 2011, which ended after corrections officials promised to review isolation unit policies. In other California prison news, it emerged this week that the prison system sterilized more than 100 women without the state's consent. (More hunger strike stories.)

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