29,000 California prisoners on hunger strike to protest isolation

Some 29,000 prisoners began a hunger strike this week in California to protest the conditions of isolation units and the quality of the food they are receiving.

The strike is being considered among the largest, if not the largest in the state’s history, according to the Atlantic Wire and Los Angeles Times.

The Times reports that 10 inmates who began the hunger strike earlier have been placed on medical watch.

State corrections officials won’t acknowledge the protest as a hunger strike until inmates miss 9 consecutive meals, a milestone that would occur late Wednesday.

Protests were organized by inmates in California’s most isolated prison, Pelican Bay, near the Oregon border, the Times reports. A network of family and inmate advocacy groups spread the word about the meal action.

Initial reports were that 30,000 inmates were participating in the hunger strike. But that number was adjusted down on Tuesday, according to the Times. Frustrating the count is the timing of the strike, to coincide with the observance of Ramadan.

Demands from inmates are similar to those made in 2011, when 11,600 inmates refused some meals and about 6,000 refused 9 consecutive meals.

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