REDDING, Calif. - The Butte County Sheriff's Office uncovered a phony hunger strike planned among jail inmates.
The inmates planning the strike are members or associates of the Norteño street gang. They have been placed in security lockdown due to an ongoing pattern of disruptive behavior and assaults against African-Americans and members who violate their "Code of Conduct".
Since July of 2013, there have been 14 violent incidents stemming from this group in the Butte County Jail. The most recent incident happened on March 20, involving an assault on staff.
Jail officials put the group in security lockdown as punishment, however, the group is still granted one hour access to the day room seven days a week along with one hour of exercise time five days a week.
The inmates have begun to store food items and intend to eat those items instead of the food provided by the jail.
According to officials, this is a tactic commonly used by state prison inmates when they are trying to manipulate jail authorities and the public into believing they are being mistreated.
Jail officials continue to receive credible information that these inmates will resume their attacks on other inmates if given the opportunity.
"We cannot allow the violence to go unabated and this is the only way we currently have to keep these inmates from engaging in disruptive and violent behavior," said Undersheriff Kory Honea.
Officials said their correctional staff now deal with a much more criminally sophisticated inmate for a lengthier period of time and that is why the Sheriff's Office is actively pursuing funding to expand and renovate the jail.
"We simply need a different kind of jail now, one that can accommodate a more complex correctional environment," Honea said.
During this phony hunger strike, inmates will be monitored by medical staff and correctional staff will still offer the inmates meals three times a day to ensure no one goes hungry.
The strike is set for March 27, 2014.