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How the strike ended: A meeting in the law library

September 05, 2013|By Paige St. John

SACRAMENTO -- The end to California's 60-day prison hunger strike ended after a rare meeting among inmates who have spent years -- some decades -- in isolation, one of their lawyers says.

In a call with inmate advocates Tuesday, state prison officials began discussing small changes in living conditions for those held in solitary confinement.

The next day the four leaders of the prolonged hunger strike asked prison guards to set up a meeting with the handful of core organizers still housed in isolation units at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border, said inmate attorney Anne Weills.

Weills said prison officials agreed. The strike leadership and 14 of their organizers -- representing four main ethnic and racial groups in California prisons -- were assembled in the prison's law library to discuss whether it was time to end the protest.

"So they had this meeting, which was extraordinary," said Weills, who was at the prison where she had been meeting with protesters to discuss their federal litigation over prolonged solitary confinement.

"They met collectively and talked about why the strike should end and the accomplishments they'd made, the willingness [of lawmakers] to have the hearings," she said. "They broke up into their various groups, and they voted, and voted to end the strike there."

Afterward, Weills said, the Pelican Bay inmates were allowed to place a call to other strike leaders who had been moved, along with the bulk of remaining 100 hunger strikers, to California State Prison outside of Sacramento. She said she was told there were similar discussions, and a similar vote, to end the protest.

"So we left on a very high note," Weills said.

ALSO:

California inmates told: get ready to move

Analysts: Brown's prison plan doesn't solve long-term problems

Lawmakers call for hearings on prison conditions, hunger strike

On Twitter @paigestjohn

paige.stjohn@latimes.com

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