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Nearly 12,000 California Prisoners Go On Hunger Strike to Protest Solitary Confinement

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Up to 12,000 inmates in eight California prisons are said to be entering the ninth day of a hunger strike, protesting the manner and length in which inmates are kept in solitary confinement.

Isaac Ontiveros, a spokesman for advocacy group Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, said, “We are hoping that this widespread participation will push (prison officials) to negotiate and honor the basic demands of the people locked behind those walls. You have people in there that have been in solitary confinement for 20 years. They just want to change their conditions.”

Included in the prisoners’ demands are a change in the prison policy that requires inmates to incriminate themselves and name other inmates who break rules in order to get out of solitary confinement. In addition, they want group lockdowns ended and privileges such as winter clothes and nutritious meals for those in solitary confinement.

Prison officials have said segregating problematic prisoners cuts down on gang violence and increases safety within the facilities, while noting that inmates who aren’t eating and leaders of the strike will be removed “from the general population and be placed in an Administrative Segregation Unit.”

A rally outside the corrections department headquarters in Sacramento on Wednesday is expected to draw protestors expressing solidarity with the prisoners.


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