Controversy arises over prisoner’s death
July 29, 2013
Advocates of a California prison inmate hunger strike announced one of the prisoners who had been refusing meals has died, but state corrections officials said the death is under investigation as a suicide. [Reuters]
Supporters and inmates say Billy Sell, 32, was participating in the strike and had requested medical treatment for several days before his death last week at the Corcoran State Prison. Prison officials contend Sell was not participating in the hunger strike.
The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition launched the protest against the state’s solitary confinement practices on July 8. California’s prison officials keep some inmates in solitary confinement for years because of gang affiliation or former aggressive actions.
Supporters of the strike and prison officials are also at odds over how many prisoners are participating in the strike.
Strike advocates say more than 30,000 of California’s 132,800 inmates have taken part in the action. Prison officials claim the number of inmates on strike has dwindled to 601.