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California Prison Hunger Strike Ends After Two Months

Aired 9/5/13 on KPBS News.

After nearly two months of going without meals, the California prison inmates protesting the state's Security Housing Units are giving up their hunger strike.

After nearly two months of going without meals, the California prison inmates protesting the state's Security Housing Units are giving up their hunger strike.

Isaac Ontiveros is a spokesman for the inmates and the outside groups that support them. He points to upcoming hearings promised by Democratic lawmakers who chair the state legislature's public safety committees as a sign of the strikers' success.

"They have gained a substantial victory today in that they've opened up the possibility for substantial and fundamental changes to California's tortuous practice of solitary confinement," Ontiveros said.

But Dana Simas with the California prison system said the state isn't able to end solitary confinement, as the strikers have called for.

"Any reasonable requests, we tried our best to accommodate them. But there are things that we just - when public safety is threatened - we can't budge," Simas said.

The state says 12,000 inmates participated in the hunger strike at one point. Forty of them went without meals the entire two months.

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