LA Times — California's prisons chief has agreed to meet for the first time with advocates for inmates who are in their fourth week of a hunger strike over conditions in solitary confinement.
"It's progress," said Ron Ahnen, president of the Oakland-based group California Prison Focus, which publishes a newsletter circulated to thousands of state inmates that hunger strike organizers used to broadcast their protest.
Ahnen is among a small group of activists set to meet Friday with Jeffrey Beard, Gov. Jerry Brown's appointed head of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Other expected attendees include a representative from the American Friends Service Committee.
The advocates were part of a mediation group that helped settle the state's last prison hunger strikes in 2011.
Department spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman downplayed the importance of the meeting, saying Beard's agreement to meet does not signal a willingness to negotiate.
"You can call it discussions," Hoffman said.
Officials have insisted from the start that they would not negotiate with leaders of the protest, which they say is organized by violent prison gangs seeking greater ability to operate within the state's sprawling penal system. continue reading...