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California Inmate’s Hunger Strike: “A Good Thing” – Updated



Updated 7/18/2013 – Approximately two thirds of the state’s 33 prisons are currently striking. It is estimated that the number of striking inmates, on hunger strike, range from a minimum of 12,000 to much higher numbers. Originally, this article focused on one of the main demands, the excessive use of solitary confinement in California prisons. The striker’s demands include an increase in hourly wages (currently 13 cents); the restoration of educational, rehabilitative, vocational, mental, and physical health services recently removed from the state prison budgets. The striker’s demands are not unreasonable. The demands are for rehabilitation and the basic right to be treated humanely.

Thousands of inmates in California began refusing meals two weeks ago to support inmates held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison. The hunger strike across California’s prisons continued as inmates protested the use of solitary confinement for those suspected of having ties to prison gangs. Inmates can be held in isolation indefinitely for decades at California’s isolated northern Pelican Bay prison. Prisonpath is not a defender of gangs or their leaders, but we all should remember what Fyodor Dostoevsky, the great Russian novelist said almost 150 years ago, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

We have posted before numerous articles about the harm of extended solitary confinement. Let us now consider California’s inmates response to this extreme punishment. California’s prisons chief, Secretary Jeffery Beard, says inmates who are refusing meals to protest the state’s solitary confinement program for gang leaders are harming their own cause. Secretary Beard did not discussed the other demands for effective rehabilitation.

Inmates have chosen nonviolence to express their beliefs about the extensive use of solitary confinement in California’s prisons and the lack now of programs for rehabilitation. The inmates are not rioting and are not acting out their opposition in violent ways. Rather, the inmates are following the principles of nonviolent protest as espoused by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. You may not agree with the inmate’s cause, but all of us including California’s prison chief should praise their nonviolent protest – “It’s a good thing.”

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Thami Naught

I hope matter has being solve and no more life can be loss


Donna Hill

I don’t think hunger strikes can be called “A good thing” It should never have had to have come to this. Prison officials should have never forced the prisoners to have resorted to such drastic means to have basic human rights met. They should be ashamed of the treatment that they have dealt out and immediately change conditions at the very least and vow that this will never again. Nobody goes on hunger strikes without very good cause. All people should stand up and demand change and whomever says it’s a “good thing” apparently has never endured such a horrendous… Read more »


[…] Many of our states have serious problems with their prisons. California is usually out front leading the pack. Last week, PrisonPath posted an article about the ongoing hunger strike by California inmates protesting abusive solitary confinement. The article praised the peaceful protest by the inmates.. […]


I suppose it’s better than hurting the guards and rioting, trying to escape and whatnot, but I hope this doesn’t have to last much longer.


[…] use of solitary confinement. PrisonPath posted an article on July 18th about the merits of the California’s inmate’s hunger strike. As of this date, there are approximate 45 inmates still on hunger strike protesting […]


[…] felons in our society, life in prison for women, and the continuing harsh treatment of inmates in California and other states. Many inmate families have had questions about prison visitation, how to […]