Editor: The hunger strike by hundreds – at first thousands – of California prison inmates is entering its third week. One inmate has died. The strike is getting some media attention. There was a front page article on the LA Times today – Monday, July 29.
By Paige St. John / LA Times
PELICAN BAY STATE PRISON — Inside the concrete labyrinth of California’s highest-security prison, an inmate covered in neo-Nazi tattoos and locked in solitary confinement has spearheaded the largest prison protest in California history.
Convicted killer Todd Ashker and three other inmates — representing the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia and the Black Guerrilla Family — called for a mass hunger strike July 8, largely to protest indefinite incarceration in solitary confinement.
More than 30,000 prisoners answered.
Though segregated from others, the leaders, who dub themselves the Short Corridor Collective, have kept the protest going, with more than 600 inmates still refusing food. Among the four, Ashker is the most outspoken of the collective and the legal brains behind the strike.
California prisons, hunger-strike backers clash over inmate death
By Steve Gorman / LA Times – Reuters / July 28, 2013
(Reuters) – Supporters of California prison inmates staging a prolonged hunger strike said on Saturday that one of the prisoners who had been refusing meals has died, but state corrections officials said the death was under investigation as a suicide.
The inmate, identified by mediators for protesting inmates as Billy Sell, died on Monday at the Corcoran State Prison in central California, where he was serving time in a “security housing unit” for prisoners held in solitary confinement, according to the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.
The group said in a statement that fellow inmates have reported that Sell was participating in the hunger strike, and that he had been requesting medical attention for several days before his death.
The hunger strike, which entered its 20th day on Saturday, was launched in protest against the state’s solitary confinement practices and ranks as the largest in California prison history.