Tue Jul 9, 2013 8:40PM
As many as 30,000 inmates in California have gone on hunger strike to protest against the practice of indefinitely confining prisoners.
The protest, organized by a small group of inmates in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border, focuses on policies under which prisoners are put in isolation indefinitely, some for even decades, if they are suspected of having links to prison gangs, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The prisoners at 11 state facilities started their strike on Monday by refusing breakfast and lunch, according to corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton.
The strikers want a five-year limit on such kinds of isolation as well as education, rehabilitation programs and the right to make phone calls on a monthly basis.
“The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement do hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume today…consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms),” reads the letter, posted on Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website.
According to corrections policy, a hunger striker is not declared until inmates miss nine meals. The number of Monday’s protesters is far more than two years ago, when 11,600 inmates refused meals at one point.
Also, around 2,300 prisoners are not only skipping meals but they are also beginning to skip work and class.
Currently, the California prison system holds more than 10,000 prisoners in solitary confinement units, of whom dozens have spent over 20 years each in isolation.