Pelican Bay Prison Conditions Spur Hunger Strike

By: Lisa Barbella - July 10, 2013

More than 30,000 California inmates have refused one or more meals to protest solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison, corrections officials told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. This is the third time inmates have refused to eat to draw attention to the use of long-term solitary confinement.

The hunger strike began on Monday when inmates at two-thirds of California’s 33 prisons and all four private prisons for California inmates in other states declined to eat breakfast, according to corrections department spokeswoman Terry Thornton.

Approximately 2,300 inmates refused to attend classes or go to their jobs on Monday and about 2,000 refused to attend on Tuesday.

There are more than 4,500 prisoners held in Security Housing Units at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border, where the strike was organized, and three other maximum security prisons in California. Most are gang members and gang associates. Some are kept in solitary confinement for extended periods of time, sometimes decades, according to the AP.

The latest strike is in response to failed talks with corrections officials about ending the use of long-term solitary confinement. Prisoners are asking for a five year limit on solitary confinement, education and rehabilitation programs and monthly phone call privileges. The policy changed last year to allow gang associates to work their way out of Security Housing Units, according to Thornton.

This hunger strike is more widespread than the two that occurred two years ago, when about 12,000 inmates refused meals in October 2011 and 7,000 refused meals in July 2011.

There are approximately 133,000 inmates housed in California prisons.

Lisa Barbella

About the Author

Lisa BarbellaLisa Barbella is a freelance writer with WebProNews. She loves running, reading biographies, and eating sushi. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @L_Barbella

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  • gorka de zamacona

    Some wise man, once stated: “a nation’s greatness can be measured by how it treats its prisioners and old people” We fail to be a great when measured under those standards.


      I personally dont have any remores for them being lock up for 23hrs.A day because they had too do something to be sent to the hole in the first place. No one is sentance to the hole you have to attack a guard or another inmate to be sent to the hole. I have done some hard time in my day.Now if you want to talk about mistreatment and abuse thats a nother story.

      • http://peoplepc Concerned Citizen

        Your mistaken, the CDC rules have changed…. you can be placed in the SHU if you are validated as an associate or a prison gang member… and with the criteria that CDC uses to justify the validation for SHU term… MANY, MANY people are placed there… this is one of the issues that is being brought to the attention for change….. people are serving SHU terms for non-violent crimes. They say they need to do something to relieve prison overcrowding… well, if they keep validating people without cause, it will never change… you don’t even receive custody credits if you are validated…

  • Janeth

    Jerry Brown and Jeffrey Beard better make a wise decision and comply with the five core demands. Not every family is perfect so hopefully they don’t have one of theirs live under those conditions. They should get locked up to see how they will like to be locked up 23 hrs a day for years.

  • dressman

    Let them starve!

  • http://youtube moddakka

    Im a paroled inmate who has first hand knowage about how cdcr just abuse,s there power over the inmates .in all ways as in the debrefing process is only a plot to gain more so called information.B/S!!!! I’ve been held in the shu for 10 years now that im free in gonna do all i can to assit my fellow inmates