SACRAMENTO, July 9 (UPI) -- Prisoners at two-thirds of California's state lockups as well as four out-of-state facilities are engaging in a hunger strike, a corrections spokesman said.
Terry Thornton said some 30,000 inmates refused meals on Monday as part of a protest organized by a small group of prisoners in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
Thornton said prisons were operating as usual despite the hunger strike.
The protesters want a five-year limit on solitary confinement, education and rehabilitation programs and the right to make monthly phone calls.
Currently inmates suspected of having ties to prison gangs can be left in isolation indefinitely.
Corrections officials began releasing inmates from isolation last year if they showed no evidence of gang-related behavior. Nearly half of the 400 prisoners reviewed so far have been returned to the general population.