Courtesy of the Department of Corrections
An arial view of Pelican Bay State Prison
More than 400 inmates in California prisons have refused food to protest what they call “inhumane” conditions in isolation units. Some of those inmates have not eaten for nearly three weeks; they risk permanent physical damage and death. The head of the state corrections department said Tuesday he’d force-feed inmates if necessary to save their lives.
Prisoners in Security Housing Units (SHUs) spend 23 hours a day in their cells and one hour in a concrete exercise yard. They and their supporters call those conditions “torturous.”
Inmates say Corrections’ policy of indefinitely detaining inmates identified as gang members in the isolation units only makes matters worse. The hunger strikers say they’re prepared to die so they can force Corrections to end the practice. But the department’s secretary Matthew Cate says he’ll intervene to save those inmates’ lives.
“My view of it as I sit here today – and this may change – is that I’ll seek court orders to ask that they be force-fed,” says Cate.
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