Hunger Strike: Federal Receiver Denies Inmates Are Collapsing in Cells

Categories: Health
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Starved for change
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.

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9 comments
AJ Honeylake
AJ Honeylake

If you go on hunger strike knowing you have active diabetesm you are a moron and deserve what you get.

thomas long
thomas long

free  all of  them  and  send  them to mexico

malibu1369
malibu1369

Why?  Can I send you there next time you get a speeding ticket?  One less bigot in California...

Couldbeyou
Couldbeyou

But for the grace of God, this could be anyone of us.  The California prisons have become a living hell, over crowding is out of control.  It is time to repeal the 'three strike law', especially for non-violent crimes.  Speaking as a victim of a violent crime, I did everything in my power to make sure the person who attacked me was locked up for good.   Our Governor and Prison officials will have to answer to a higher deity, if they allow this to continue.

prison guard
prison guard

You people have no idea how easy inmates have it in prison. I am a prison guard, I have inmates tell me on a daily basis that they would rather be in prison than on the streets. They have excellent medical and awesome food. I have had multiple inmates tell me they came to prison to receive back surgery and many other surgeries. They get better medical than our citizens and our veterans.    

prison guard
prison guard

The death penalty will help overcrowding, lets get rid of all the chesters and murders. 

randyfleming
randyfleming

So far , 2 people liked your comment... This means 'gang bangers' now read SFWeekly. Demographics sometime are surprising..

malibu1369
malibu1369

And again I wish for a "Thumbs Down" button for your comment, @randyfleming

randyfleming
randyfleming

Shouldn't this article be in the 'SF Foodie' section ?

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