SAN FRANCISCO — A California inmate has died in solitary confinement amid a system-wide hunger strike protesting living conditions in those cells, prison activists announced.
Prison officials said Saturday that they are investigating Monday's death at California State Prison, Corcoran as a possible suicide. They are awaiting the Kings County coroner's report before making a final determination on the cause of death.
The coroner didn't return a phone call seeking comment on Saturday.
Inmate supporters and prison officials disagree over whether 32-year-old Bill "Guero" Sell was participating in the strike. Prison officials said he wasn't. Activists supporting the hunger strike from outside prison say otherwise.
Remember, California prison officials say you are not officially on a hunger strike until you've refused nine consecutive meals. So if you eat nothing for four days—and if prison guards think you're on a hunger strike, reports say they do everything to keep you hungry, including sandbagging your cell door so nobody can pass you a packet of dried coffee—but eat a piece of bread on the fifth day to keep yourself alive, you're not on a hunger strike. It'll be interesting to see what the official ruling on this death is.
The article also contains the understatement of the weekend:
The protest is the latest disruption for a prison system already facing legal and logistical challenges.
I'll say. Multiple courts, all the way up to the US Supreme Court, have told the prison system to get itself together to prevent routine and "unnecessary" deaths.