By Sam Stanton
Supporters of state prison inmates taking part in a hunger strike complain that inmate leaders have been moved to more isolated areas and prevented from meeting with one of their attorneys.
The complaints come as the hunger strike that began July 8 continues to protest inmates being held in solitary confinement for indefinite periods.
The hunger strike originally resulted in 12,421 inmates participating in 24 prisons, as well as four out-of-state facilities holding California inmates under contact. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says it considers an inmate to be on a hunger strike after having missed nine consecutive meals.
Since the strike began, the number of inmates participating has decreased. By today, the department said 1,457 inmates in 15 state prisons were still participating.
Inmate advocates said today that leaders of the hunger strike who were housed in the Secure Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison had been moved to more restricted administrative segregation units in what they called retaliation.
They also complained that one of the inmate attorneys, Marilyn McMahon, had been banned from having access to the inmates.
A statement issued on behalf of 14 inmate leaders says they were moved last week "to break our resolve" and that the department is "forcing cold air into the cells of striking prisoners."
A CDCR spokeswoman confirmed an inmate attorney had been barred from a prison pending an investigation into alleged violations of prison policies and added that inmates who lead disturbances such as hunger strikes are subject to disciplinary action, including being moved into administrative segregation.
But, spokeswoman Terry Thornton denied that the inmates are being forced to endure cold air being pumped into their cells. She said she had checked earlier today and the temperatures in the SHU at Pelican Bay are between 72 and 73 degrees.