After 59 days, California inmates have ended their hunger strike. The prisoners had been protesting what they called aggressive use of solitary confinement, which kept some prisoners in isolation for decades.
Some 30,000 inmates began the strike on July 8, but that number dropped over time. This week there were about 100 remaining, including 40 who have been on continuous hunger strike during the two-month period. Those on hunger strike were getting by on Gatorade, totaling 600-625 calories a day, and vitamins.
In addition, advocates say the men had put on extra pounds in anticipation of the hunger strike. Some may have weighed 225 to 250 pounds at the start of the strike; others likely weighed less.
While it does not appear that any of the inmates have suffered severe health problems that can result from starvation, the process of commencing eating again must be done slowly and carefully. Anyone who has refused food over a long period of time is at risk of "refeeding syndrome," which can cause "potentially fatal shifts" in fluids and electrolytes possibly leading to cardiac arrest and even death.
Joyce Hayhoe, spokeswoman for the court-appointed federal receiver overseeing prison health care, says the Gatorade seems to have helped the inmates avoid significant health problems and hopes that the men will avoid other health problems during the refeeding phase.