SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Nearly 30,000 of the 133,000 inmates in California prisons refused meals for the second day in support of inmates held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison, corrections officials said Tuesday.
The meals were refused on Monday and Tuesday as inmates announced what they said would be the third extended hunger strike in two years protesting conditions for the more than 4,500 gang members, gang associates and serious offenders held in the security housing units. Many of those inmates are kept in solitary confinement, sometimes for decades.
The protest is the latest disruption for a prison system already facing legal and logistical challenges. Officials are struggling to move about 2,600 inmates from two Central Valley prisons because they are considered especially vulnerable to a potentially fatal airborne fungus. They also are appealing a separate court order requiring the state to release nearly 10,000 inmates by year’s end to reduce prison crowding as the best way to improve conditions for sick and mentally ill inmates.