Convicted murderer on hunger strike in California dies

GlobalPost

A convicted murderer on a hunger strike at California's Corcoran State Prison died Feb. 2 after refusing food for four days, a Department of Corrections spokesman reportedly confirmed.

Christian Alexander Gomez, 27, began fasting six days earlier along with 31 other inmates to protest conditions in the Administration Segregation Unit at Corcoran, Kawl News reported.

Thousands of California prisoners throughout the state corrections system have been staging hunger strikes since July, according to KTLA.com. The first protests were against isolation units at Pelican Bay State Prison. 

At issue is their access to health and legal services, sanitary food and other amenities, Kawl reported.

The strikes began following a Supreme Court ruling in May that California prison overcrowding was causing "needless suffering and death," Reuters wrote. An estimated 4,000 inmates participated in various strikes at the movement's height.

The court ordered the state to reduce the number of prisoners to 110,000, "still well over the maximum capacity, from 140,000."

Gomez, serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and attempted murder, was found unresponsive in his cell and sent to an outside hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

KTLA quoted Theresa Cisneros, a spokeswoman for Corcoran, as stating that prisoners on hunger strike had their vital signs and weight measured every day, and they were not allowed to starve.

Correctional Healthcare Service spokeswoman Nancy Kincaid reportedly said nothing in the preliminary autopsy suggested starvation cause Gomez's death.

She said that because he was under medical care prior to the hunger strike, he may have been in poor health, which was further complicated by fasting.

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