Today’s News: Day 4 for massive prison hunger strike; State surrenders on lethal injections; Atwater bridge

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Hunger strike. Nearly 29,000 California inmates refused have now gone more than three days without food in a protest over prison conditions and policies.

The protest is the largest in California history, involving three times as many inmates as participated in hunger strikes two years ago. The exact number of prisoners refusing food is unclear because thousands of Muslim inmates are observing Ramadan, which involves daily fasting.

The protest is being organized by inmates at the Pelican Bay maximum security prison in far northern California. Paige St. Johns of the L.A. Times says the prison’s isolation policies are their primary complaint.

“There are several hundred inmates who have been a decade or more in solitary confinement. They want that limited to five years,” St. John said. “They also asked for better food and rehabilitation and education programs for those inmates who are held in solitary confinement.”

The Times reports that leaders of the protest are accusing jailers of threatening to search their cells and possibly place them in solitary confinement because of their participation in the hunger strike. Prison officials wouldn’t confirm that but said such measures – quote – “might be part of our normal policy.” Which Way, L.A.?, L.A. Times

Prison population. Gov. Jerry Brown is making a last-ditch effort to delay a federal court order requiring the state to release thousands of inmates by the end of the year. Brown’s administration filed a request with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy that would push back the releases for a year while the high court considers the state’s appeal. Kennedy handles cases for the court’s Western region. Federal courts say thinning the prison population is necessary to ensure adequate health care for inmates. Brown says the mass release would endanger the public. AP

Delayed executions.
California is giving up the fight to win approval of a three-drug execution method for condemned inmates. State prison officials say they won’t challenge an appeals court ruling that found  the lethal injection cocktail needs more study because it could cause unreasonable pain. Instead, the state will develop protocols for a single-drug execution method that’s used in other states. California has more than 700 prisoners on Death Row, but the state has not carried out an execution since 2006. San Jose Mercury News

Boundary battle. A lawyer for a group of residents demanding that the city of L.A. redraw its council districts says Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Herb Wesson broke the law when the latest maps were conceived. Attorney Leo Terrell says then-Councilman Garcetti and Wesson violated federal voting rights laws by improperly considering race as a factor when they drew up new council boundaries. He’s asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate. Garcetti and Wesson have both declined to comment on the allegations. L.A. Times

River bridge.
The L.A. Board of Public Works has signed off on a $6 million suspension bridge that would link Atwater Village to horse trails and bike paths just across the Los Angeles River. The project is part of the long-term master plan for the river and it’s been in the works since the 1990s. Real estate developer and philanthropist Morton La Kretz recently donated $5 million to get the project moving. The proposed span would bear his name. If it’s approved by the City Council, construction could begin by summer’s end. Curbed L.A.