California says 7,600 inmates remain on hunger strike in 5th day

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John A. Imani joins about 75 demonstrators Monday in front of the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles for a rally held in support of Pelican Bay State Prison inmates who are refusing meals in protest of conditions at the prison.

John A. Imani joins about 75 demonstrators Monday in front of the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles for a rally held in support of Pelican Bay State Prison inmates who are refusing meals in protest of conditions at the prison.

California corrections officials said 7,600 inmates remained on hunger strike for the fifth day, part of a protest that involves two-thirds of the state’s prisons.

Following its own protocol, the court-appointed medical receiver’s office has begun medical observations of those prisoners, at this point to just keep watch for signs of distress. “Some are refusing treatment,” said Liz Gransee, spokeswoman for medical receiver J. Clark Kelso. Refusal, she said, can range from declining to speak with a nurse, take medications or go to a previously scheduled appointment.

In addition, 1,200 inmates continued to refuse to go to their assigned prison jobs or attend classes, the corrections department said.

Spokesman Jeffrey Callison said the work stoppages, as well as the hunger strike in general, had not otherwise caused disruptions and remained peaceful. “I have not heard of anything out of the ordinary,” Callison said.

Even so, the corrections department has told inmates that it regards the current protest as a “mass disturbance” that could result in cell confinement, seizure of private food supplies and rules violation reports that could affect a prisoner’s chances of parole later on.

Advocates for inmates and their families are planning their own rally Saturday outside the gates of California State Prison in Corcoran.

[For the record, 7:40 p.m. July 12: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the number of hunger strikers was 12,400 and those refusing work or take classes was 1,300.]

Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times

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