Santa Ana Jail inmates on hunger strike with loved ones' support

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Dozens of inmates at the Santa Ana Jail are on a hunger strike, and some of their family members turned out to support them on Thursday.

Speaking through a megaphone, carrying signs and marching, a group of protestors gathered outside the jail demanding change.

"I would like to see families respected. I would like to see families allowed to see their loved ones. I'd like to see the retaliation stop. I would like to see Sheriff Hutchens be accountable," said Dolores Canales, mother of inmate John Martinez.

Canales is leading a group of people who have family members incarcerated at the jail, alleging inhumane conditions.

Many families say their loved ones are being deprived of visits and phone calls, being housed in the wrong areas and retaliated against for speaking up.

The ACLU said Martinez and more than 150 other inmates are on hunger strike until they get what they want.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department said Martinez, who was convicted of murder and is on trial for attempted murder, is motivating the protest.

"In support of an inmate within our custody, who's very influential within the jail population in his further attempt to manipulate his housing location," said OCSD Undersheriff Don Barnes.

The OCSD calls the allegations baseless and says they may isolate individuals on hunger strike only for medical observation.

The ACLU has not ruled out legal action.

"It is not uncommon for the ACLU to make broad-based allegations in their attempt to get access inside custodial facilities that they will use for further litigation," added Barnes.

When asked how long this hunger strike might last, families of the inmates said as long as it takes.
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