6,600 California prisoners refused meals
State prison officials reported Wednesday that as many as 6,600 inmates took part in a declared hunger strike over the three-day July 4 weekend, but said participation had dropped by more than two-thirds in recent days.
On Friday, 6,500 inmates at 13 California prisons and one out-of-state contract prison refused to eat state-issued food, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The number peaked at 6,600 inmates in 10 state prisons over the weekend, she said. More than 500 inmates refused food at Pelican Bay State prison, she said.
By Tuesday, the number of inmates refusing state-issued food had dropped to 2,400, and it was down to 2,100 at nine prisons Wednesday, Thornton said.
Inmates are protesting the maximum-security unit’s extreme isolation. They are also protesting the policy requiring inmates to "debrief" as a condition of leaving the unit. Debriefing involves the inmate informing on the activities of fellow prison-gang members. In addition, inmates have asked for better food, warmer clothing and a phone call a month.
Thornton said prison officials are talking with inmate representatives at the prisons where the strike continues, while medical staff continues to monitor the condition of strikers.
-- Sam Quinones
Photo: Participants hold a banner during a rally Friday at the state building in San Francisco to support protesting inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press