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Thousands of California state prisoners, angry about what they call harsh treatment, have been on a hunger strike that enters its ninth day Tuesday.

There could be as many as 12,000 inmates skipping meals in at least eight California prisons, a prison advocacy group said. Many inmates are angry about a practice of keeping them in solitary confinement for too long, the group said.

“We are hoping that this widespread participation will push (prison officials) to negotiate and honor the basic demands of the people locked behind those walls,” said Isaac Ontiveros, a spokesman for Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. “You have people in there that have been in solitary confinement for 20 years. They just want to change their conditions.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released a statement last week saying it is “responding to a hunger strike disturbance by thousands of inmates in several correctional facilities.”

Prison officials said it would punish inmates who were not eating and leaders of the strike will be removed “from the general population and be placed in an Administrative Segregation Unit.”

The prisoners have made five demands which include a change in the prison policy that makes inmates go through an interrogation process where they have to incriminate themselves and identify other inmates who are involved in breaking rules in order to get out of solitary confinement. They are demanding an end to group lockdowns and want more privileges for those in solitary confinement, such as winter clothes and nutritious meals.


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