This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Several Utah State Prison inmates who are on a hunger strike have been eating food they purchased themselves from the prison commissary, prison officials said in an update Monday.
The number of participants in the hunger strike held steady at 42, prison officials said. But not all of the inmates have gone completely without food since the strike began Friday morning, purportedly in protest of living conditions in the prison.
One in the group has accepted breakfast trays twice, several others have received juice packets, and "staff have documented several inmates consuming commissary food in their cells," according to a statement by prison spokeswoman Brooke Adams.
Medical staff tried to conduct exams Monday, but all of the strike participants refused to be weighed and all but one refused to meet with a nurse, Adams wrote. Mental-health staff met with each inmate Monday. Two inmates with known medical conditions are being closely monitored, and each inmate has received a fact sheet about potential health effects of fasting.
The striking inmates all are maximum-security inmates and documented gang members, according to the Utah Department of Corrections. They have said they want gang leaders moved to a different part of the prison, more time outside of their cells and more services for education and rehabilitation.
The ACLU of Utah has said about 30 inmates in the unit, known as Uinta 2, have written complaints of "squalid living conditions" and prolonged confinement, claiming some are kept in their cells for 47 of every 48 hours. Inmates also have said their meals are not adequate.
Prison officials recently met with the ACLU and two other advocacy groups, invited their input and provided them with an overview of potential changes.