Advocates: Calif. inmates on hunger strike near death

PressTV (includes tv report):
July 14th 2011
Inmates in a number of California prisons have been refusing food since July first.

The hunger strike is protesting the conditions in the Security Housing Unit, or SHU, in Pelican Bay State Prison. Inmates say the extreme isolation in these maximum security areas are damaging their health and they want an end to indefinite confinement.

Prison officials say the number of inmates refusing food in California prisons has dropped to 795 at six prisons. That’s down from a high of 6,600 at 13 prisons.

Clyde Young is a prisoner advocate and a former prisoner. Young says even though fewer prisoners are striking, about 200 inmates in the SHU are progressing rapidly toward organ damage from extreme dehydration.

Prison officials say the reports are exaggerated and that no inmates have reached a “crisis” stage.

Dolores Martinez is a mother of a SHU inmate. Martinez says she believes the situation is worse than prison
officials want to admit.

Advocates say meetings with prison officials have not been successful in addressing the inmates’ demands.

Martinez says a large number of people are dismissing this issue because society doesn’t typically provide inmates with sympathy.

Prison officials say there are no plans to change policies for confining inmates who commit serious crimes in prison.

And officials in charge of prison medical care say doctors and nurses are closely monitoring inmate health and will provide medical care to the inmates that want it.