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Penn. Death Row Inmates Stage Protest

February 5, 2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Death row inmates at the state prison in Graterford were staging a hunger strike to protest visitation policies and privileges enjoyed by killers jailed on the other side of the state.

About half the 50 death row inmates at Graterford appeared to be participating in the strike, some on pace to miss their ninth consecutive meal on Tuesday, said prison spokesman Jerry Galinski.

Authorities said a core demand involved differences between visitation rules at Graterford, in suburban Philadelphia, and the State Correctional Institute at Greene, 50 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Last year, the Department of Corrections decided to extend visiting hours for death row prisoners from a weekly two-hour visit to a weekly all-day visit.

SCI-Greene, which has 185 death row prisoners, apparently instituted the new policy immediately. At Graterford, however, prisoners are only guaranteed weekly visits of one hour _ even less than under the state’s original policy.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan MacNaughton said prisons are allowed to curtail visitation time if they don’t have enough security to accommodate long visits.