Prison hunger strike ends after state hearings promised

  • In this Wednesday Aug. 14, 2013, a life-sized replica of a Secure Housing Unit cell, is displayed at rally calling for the end of solitary confinement in California prisons, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. California inmates have ended their nearly two-month hunger strike protesting the prison system's isolation policies, prison officials said Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. All inmates began accepting prison-issued meals early Thursday, Corrections Secretary Jeffery Beard said.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO — California inmates on Thursday ended a 60-day hunger strike after lawmakers said they would review solitary confinement policies that kept dozens of gang leaders and members locked up for more than a decade in tiny, individual cells with little chance of returning to the general population.

A lawyer representing strike leaders at Pelican Bay Prison said they met in the law library Wednesday with other prisoners and voted to end the protest several days after two Democratic lawmakers promised to hold hearings on their complaints.

"They finally felt like somebody was listening to them," lawyer Anne Weills said. "They felt like somebody had their back."

Three of the four strike leaders have been kept in isolation for more than 20 years and the fourth for more than a decade. All four are serving life sentences for murder, have committed a string of assaults while incarcerated, and lead rival prison gangs, officials have said.

The meeting at the prison near the Oregon border came two days after high-ranking prison officials renewed contact with participating prisoners in a 90-minute conference call after steadfastly refusing to negotiate for weeks, Weills said.

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