More than 400 inmates at four California prisons are in the third week of a hunger strike to protest long, punitive stays in isolation cells, reports the Los Angeles Times. Prison officials, who refuse to allow reporters to interview the strikers, said 49 inmates who have lost at least 10 pounds each are “being monitored closely,” including seven at Pelican Bay, the maximum-security prison near the Oregon border where the hunger strike began.
Inmate advocates say thousands of inmates have joined the strike, which began July 1. Many are beginning to show dramatic weight loss and collapse with the early signs of starvation, they say. Dozens have been sent to prison infirmaries because of irregular heartbeats and fainting, said a group called California Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity, which represents attorneys and family members of inmates. “Most have lost 20-35 pounds,” the statement said. Despite repeated assurances that the situation is under control, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation refused a Time’ request to visit and interview striking inmates. “At this time, we are not allowing media into the prison due to security and safety issues,” prison spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said.