He said on Thursday that the number of striking participants had dropped from 738 on Monday. There were 2,722 inmates incarcerated at DVI on Thursday, according to Bona.
Prior to Thursday, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials would not categorize the strike as official until the inmates had missed nine consecutive state-issued meals, which happened Wednesday night, Bona said.
CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton confirmed Wednesday, July 10, that there were inmates refusing to eat at the state’s 34 prisons, but the strike had apparently lost momentum since it began on Monday.
“We wanted to acknowledge there were inmates refusing state-issued food,” she said. “It’s dropped gradually each day.”
About 30,000 inmates were involved in the strike on the first day systemwide, and nearly 29,000 inmates refused meals on Tuesday, July 9. Close to that same number did the same on Wednesday, she said.
Although they refused to eat their state-issued food, Thornton noted that some inmates were still “eating food they purchased from the prison canteen.”
Now that the strike is official, Bona said it “triggers a health care issue,” and the medical staff at DVI is monitoring participating inmates.
The strike was reportedly initiated by inmates at Pelican Bay in Crescent City on Monday.
Inmates have also refused to participate in their work schedules, Thornton said.
On Wednesday, Thornton said about 1,700 inmates refused to go to work or to their educational programs, while 2,000 did so Tuesday. She said officials have yet to determine how many were at DVI.
Thornton said the hunger strike overlaps with the month-long Islamic holiday of Ramadan, which requires Muslims to fast from dawn to dusk until Aug. 7.
She said that because of the holiday, official total numbers of inmates participating in the hunger strike would not be available until later Thursday, July 11.
According to the blog site http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com, the inmates at Pelican Bay have five core demands.
Bona said Thursday that about the smaller meal portions and their desire for exercise equipment in the Secure Housing Units known as SHU.
The mother of a DVI inmate, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation against her son, said the Tracy-based inmates have their own demands.
Inmates are allegedly upset about hot temperatures in the prison during a recent heat wave, small meals and the poor condition of drinking water.
The mother said Monday that the prison shouldn’t “mistreat our kids.”
“They are asking for little bit more food,” she said. “Some are going to bed hungry. And the water is like a brown color, and they make them drink the water. A lot of the guys getting sick and getting headaches.”