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California inmates end hunger strike after 2 months

California inmates are seen in this undated file photo.
September 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Inmates have ended their nearly two-month hunger strike over isolation policies, state officials said Thursday.

The strike ended before any inmate suffered serious injury, although over 50 prisoners did require medical care. A federal judge had given authorities permission to force-feed inmates if necessary to save their lives.

More than 30,000 inmates refused meals when the strike began in early July. By this week, only 100 strikers continued to refuse meals -- 40 of whom had been on strike continuously since July 8.

The prisoners were demanding changes to solitary confinement known as the Security Housing Unit or SHU. The strike ended after two Democratic state legislators promised to hold hearings this fall on inmates' allegations that gang leaders are often held for decades in isolation units.

Separated from the rest of the prison population to control gang violence, they generally get less food, fewer privileges and no phone calls until they can earn their way back to a regular cell.

The Corrections Department insisted conditions were not inhumane, pointing out inmates in the SHU are double bunked, get cable TV and daily contact with staff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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