About a thousand inmates at the California Men’s Colony near San Luis Obispo are unhappy about prison policies, and they’re demonstrating by not eating state-issued food.
This demonstration started Monday morning at breakfast; that’s when about 90 percent of a prison yard refused to go to the cafeteria.
Officials say they are still eating, however, by buying food from a prison canteen.
A number of family members of those inmates say they’re not eating anything in a hunger strike, but prison officials say that’s not the case.
They say there’s no one starving there; there’s about 3,600 inmates at the medium-security prison.
The majority of the inmates in one of the prison yards started what officials call a peaceful demonstration at breakfast on Monday.
They’re protesting several relatively recent changes at the colony.
Prison officials say they have been meeting with the inmates’ advisory council about this and are concerned but not panicked.
“Inmate population continues to participate in all the other programs that are going on,” said Lt. Dean Spears, a spokesman for the prison. “They’re going to their work assignments, they’re going to their education classes. They’re participating in all medical appointments.”
Several family members blame the changes on a new captain at the yard, but prison officials say that’s not the case.
One of those new policies is rolling lockdowns, where inmates can’t get out of their cells for eight hours every other day.
The prison says it’s a statewide procedure, designed to reduce overtime expenses for personnel.
It says budget cuts are also behind a reduction in education vocational programs.
The prison says it’s gotten word that the demonstration is designed to last 72 hours and that they’ll be back to eating state-issued food for breakfast tomorrow.
Another point of contention is prison visits.
None of them would go on camera with KSBY News for fear of retaliation, but several family members said their visits were canceled this weekend.
The prison says that wasn’t the case.