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Utah State Prison inmates have ended a six-day hunger strike, corrections officials say.
On Wednesday, only two of 42 striking inmates said they will continue to refuse meals to protest prison conditions.
At breakfast on Wednesday, 31 of the 42 inmates protesting conditions in the Uinta 2 unit accepted meals, prison spokeswoman Brooke Adams wrote in a press statement. By lunch, 40 of the 42 were accepting meals.
Corrections officials, who have characterized the hunger strike as a "disturbance," on Tuesday announced that participating inmates would lose privileges, such as access to TV and snacks, if they continued the strike.
"Such a reduction in privileges is a standard consequence for acts that jeopardize safety and security and disrupt the operation of the facility," Adams said.
Eleven inmates were moved to a different maximum security unit Tuesday after disputes connected to the strike. Some refused to wear handcuffs so they could be taken to an interview room. Some covered their cell doors with paper and broke sprinklers in their cells, causing flooding, Adams said. Two inmates also began fighting inside their cell.
Of the 11 inmates who were moved to another section, all but one accepted a meal tray Wednesday morning.
All of the inmates involved in the strike are documented gang members, Adams said.
They 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 that about 30 inmates in 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 say they have been meeting with the ACLU and other advocacy groups and are considering changes that they said would give inmates more out-of-cell time and access to enrichment services.
Medical staff will also monitor the health of the two inmates who are continuing the hunger strike, Adams said.