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California Inmates Suspend Two-Month-Long Hunger Strike

Inmates at California's Chino State Prison in December 2010.
Kevork Djansezian
Getty Images
Inmates at California's Chino State Prison in December 2010.

After more than two months, 100 California inmates have suspended a hunger strike they launched to protest prison conditions, including the use of solitary confinement by the state.

In a statement, some of the prisoners said they had "collectively" decided to end the strike, despite the fact that most of their demands have not been met.

"To be clear, 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," the prisoners said. They added: "With that said, we clarify this point by stating prisoner deaths are not the objective, we recognize such sacrifice is at times the only means to an end of fascist oppression."

The Los Angeles Times reports prisoners decided to call off the strike after legislators called for "public hearings on conditions in California's maximum security prisons and the use of solitary confinement."

The Times adds:

"The hunger strike began July 8, when more than 30,000 inmates in two-thirds of the state's prisons began refusing state-issued meals.

"Corrections officials refused to negotiate throughout most of the protest."

If you remember, we reported on the strike back in August when California sought permission to force-feed about 70 of the prisoners. A judge approved the request, as the strike entered its seventh week.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeff Beard said they were "pleased this dangerous strike" was called off.

"I'd like to commend my staff and the staff with the federal Receiver's Office for working together to ensure the health and safety of all employees and inmates was a top priority," Beard said in a statement. "CDCR will continue to implement the substantive reforms in California's Security Housing Units that we initiated two years ago."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.