After nearly two months of protesting inhumane solitary confinement practices, inmates in California’s vast prison system have ended their hunger strike. The hunger strike, which began on July 8, attracted as many as 30,000 inmates at its peak, making it the largest mass hunger strike in state history.
The hunger strike comes to an end as California State Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and State Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) have agreed to hold joint public hearings on solitary confinement and whether it constitutes a human rights violation. In 2011 Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture, called for the “absolute prohibition” of solitary confinement beyond 15 days, which the UN identifies as torture. The hearings are expected to begin in October.
The conclusion of the mass statewide hunger strike in California has been met with relief by the political establishment as well as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), which had described the strike as an “illegal mass disturbance.”