An ongoing battle between California prisoners and their handlers has entered its third round of protests with the largest opening turnout so far.
Protesters outside Pelican Bay State Prison as a hunger strike began Monday. Del Norte Triplicate / Anthony Skeens
On Monday, 30,000 inmates across almost two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons refused breakfast, along with California inmates in four prisons outside of the state. This marks the third mass hunger strike since 2011 coordinated by a small group of inmates in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit. The group has dubbed itself the Short Corridor Collective.
There were also 2,300 inmates who refused to go to work and classes, prison officials said.
Inmates will not officially be recognized by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as being on a hunger strike until they have missed nine consecutive meals.
“We’ll see as time goes on,” said CDCR spokesperson Terry Thornton. “Just because they refused state-issued food does not mean they’re not eating.”
In the last hunger strike that began in September 2011, the leaders were moved from the rest of the SHU population to Administrative Segregation Units, but that has not happened yet this time. The initial numbers for that hunger strike pushed 12,000 inmates.
The inmates could be segregated by the end of Wednesday when there will be a clearer count of who is actually on a hunger strike, Thornton said.
There have been no reports of violence,” said Thornton. “Everything is being run normally.”
The Collective has called for the hunger strike over what it deems a lack of effort taken by the CDCR to make changes in gang management reforms, SHU policies and conditions.
CDCR has a pilot program almost in its second phase that addresses some of the concerns the strikers have raised.