A week before protests in prisons are planned to start statewide, inmates at High Desert State Prison in far Northern California have launched their own hunger strike.
Corrections department officials Friday confirmed that nearly two dozen inmates began refusing meals Monday. By Friday afternoon, that number had dropped to 20.
Department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said the High Desert inmates had presented a list of 30 complaints, all centered on conditions within the prison's administration segregation unit. Those areas are used not only to house inmates who have violated rules and require greater security, but serve as overflow housing for mentally ill inmates awaiting placement elsewhere.
Thornton would not provide a copy of the prisoners' list of demands, but said they include "larger food portions, more cleaning supplies, more access to the law library, the ability to purchase more soup, soap, coffee, snacks and food items from the canteen; and more TV channels. They also have concerns about the laundry and want the canteen to stock a wider selection of headphones and ear buds."