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Inmates go on hunger strike at Santa Cruz County Jail

Inmates go on hunger strike at Santa Cruz county jail
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

Clarissa Morales braved the wind and rain to stand outside the Santa Cruz County Jail on Wednesday. She and others are backing their friends and family who are incarcerated. Morales said in Santa Cruz County, inmates receive unfair treatment. "I have been an inmate here. The last time I was here was four or six months ago. I experienced a lot of the stuff, like the overcrowding," said Morales.

Overcrowding, improper nutrition and cold temperatures are just a few of the dozen complaints filed by inmates with county law officials over the past two weeks. Morales said she has seen it all herself. "We are put to sleep on the floor, next to the toilets. There are no beds. We weren't given any blankets or anything," said Morales.

Similar scenarios have led inmates to not only voice their concerns, but act on them. Currently, around 40 inmates are refusing meals until they see change. Sgt. Dee Baldwin, with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, said addressing inmates' concerns has been a top priority. "Our administrators have come up with a number of responses to the concerns by those inmates. Today, we were able to meet with several of the family members and explain the responses that we have made to some of those requests," said Baldwin.

One of the changes has to do with the clothing options offered to inmates. Baldwin said inmates can now receive beanies and long-sleeved thermals to keep warm.

On the other hand, their families said they won't stop raising their voices until they see the changes for themselves. "It would be nice if they wrote a letter and addressed the changes they've made so we could see, because we don't know," said Morales.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office issued an official letter Wednesday, addressing the concerns of inmates and their families.


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