Hunger Strike: Federal Receiver Denies Inmates Are Collapsing in Cells

Barbed tape at a prison
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By Erin Sherbert 

As the prison hunger strike enters its third week, California inmates have reportedly collapsed in their cells from deteriorating health conditions, however prison officials are denying that.

The number of inmates striking has been dropping steadily. Two weeks ago more than 12,000 inmates from across the state and in some Southern states had joined the hunger strike. However, as of yesterday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported that 593 inmates from five state prisons were refusing to eat state-issued meals.

However, the number of those who have starved themselves since Day One of this strike is 495. CDCR counts an inmate as officially on hunger strike when he or she misses nine consecutive meals.

“Last week, one prisoner had a heart attack due to this; luckily they survived,” says Isaac Ontiveros, spokesman for the California Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. “We got word that prisoners have collapsed and were not given medical care, and we have seen at Pelican Bay those who are identified as strike leaders were put in [solitary confinement] with not a lot of clothing and no blankets and the AC was cranked up all the way.”
Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman with the Federal Receivers Office, told us that any reports of a heart attack or prisoners collapsing is untrue. “I assume it’s some advocacy group telling you that,” she said.

What she did say is that six inmates have gone to the emergency room for rehydration issues, but other than that there have been no significant or serious health conditions reported.  Kincaid said that when inmates start to see an 18 percent body weight loss, then there could be some problems. “Right now, only a few have gotten closed to that .”

Inmates resumed the hunger strike after a nearly four weeks of forgoing food back in July. However, this strike is a little different; prisoners are trying to keep the protest going for longer by implementing a “rolling strike,” where some inmates take turns eating, which gives them just enough energy to sustain this strike.

“Some have health conditions that are so bad they can’t strike for weeks at a time,”  Ontiveros told us. “You have strikers with full-blown diabetes and conditions or health concerns, but still want to be in solidarity with those in Pelican Bay.”

Inmates went back on strike on Sept. 26, claiming the CDCR has not substantially met their demands to improve prison conditions, including more exercise and access to light for those inmates locked in solitary confinement. They are also pushing for fairer policies on identifying gang members in prison.

This strike has been even more dramatic this go around; the CDCR banned the inmates’ attorneys from entering the facilities, citing security reasons. Prisoners called on Gov. Jerry Brown for help, but the governor hasn’t intervened yet.


Via @ SF Weekly Blogs


One thought on “Hunger Strike: Federal Receiver Denies Inmates Are Collapsing in Cells

  1. The hunger striker’s 5 core demands are righteous… My vision has been to shine a light on tough on crime platforms that forgot about compassion and common sense! I witnessed outright lies by Calif’s prison union regarding the 3 strike law prop 66 ballot to change the law to only focus on sex crimes and violence- My novel Roll Call illustrates those lies real time and got a great review from Kirkus in NY. I wrote that novel from Centinella prison- level 4 on the border of Calif… More stories are about the prison guards staging violence to get paid time and a half and label offenders just trying to survive. Please put a link up and guide me!
    Glenn Langohr 949 498 2174

    ROLL CALL by Glenn Langohr 120,000 words/ 4 seasons- similar to Breaking Bad and Son’s of Anarchy with a redemptive twist. ISBN 978-1-4392-4608-5 14.99 paperback 2.99 kindle e-book
    Roll Call shines a light at the dark, hidden underbelly of the U.S War on Drugs. The author takes the admonition from the Biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, “God doesn’t want you to eat of the tree of knowledge because he doesn’t want you to become as smart as him”, and relates it to the modern drug war, showing how the American justice system has turned illegal drugs into forbidden fruits; leading to a roller coaster ride through drug cartels, street gangs and outlaw bikers, all trying to get their piece of the action. Add a good detective squeezed out of the loop by an overzealous detective, a robust prison union calling bad shots, and a handful of drug criminals trying to find their conscience; and you have the perfect recipe for a revolutionary uprising; bound by blood, all leaving the reader wondering, who are the real criminals?


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