Inmates at California prisons have ended a 60-day hunger strike protesting conditions and policies at the facilities.
“Our decision to suspend our third hunger strike in two years does not come lightly,” read a statement from prisoners representing the hunger strike. “This decision is especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met (despite nearly universal agreement that they are reasonable). The core group of prisoners has been, and remains 100% committed to seeing this protracted struggle for real reform through to a complete victory, even if it requires us to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
The Associated Press reported Thursday that all of the 100 inmates that were still on strike were now accepting meals. The strike began in July with 30,000 prisoners, but only 40 inmates participated from beginning to end. Prisoners demanded that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation change its policies towards the use of solitary confinement, privileges for inmates housed long-term in the restrictive Secure Housing Units, and the criteria it uses to label inmates as gang affiliated, among other grievances.
Two Democratic state legislators announced in a joint statement last week that they would hold hearings examining solitary confinement and conditions at maximum security prisons. Prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison, a supermax facility in northern California where more than 400 inmates have been in isolation for more than a decade, were leaders of the strike and negotiated an end to the protest with prison officials.
Supporters of the hunger strikers gathered at a State building in Oakland on Thursday. While this strike is over, the prisoners who signed the statement said, “our Peaceful Protest of Resistance to our continuous subjection to decades of systemic state sanctioned torture via the system’s solitary confinement units is far from over.”