Inmates Launch Hunger Strike, Want Lie Detector for Suspected Child Molesters
Apr. 23, 1985
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) _ Twenty-six jail inmates are on a hunger strike, demanding that state prosecutors give polygraph tests to child-molesting suspects to help them prove their innocence, the jail's commander said Tuesday.
Twenty men and six women refused breakfast Tuesday and an undetermined number of inmates skipped dinner Monday night at the jail 110 miles north of Los Angeles, said Kern County Sheriff's Lt. Frank Williams.
While Willams did not know what the strikers had originally been charged with, he said most were being held in isolation, which is most often used for suspects in child molesting and sex-related cases, and for informants.
Fifty to 60 inmates are involved in the strike and they plan to go without food for seven to 10 days, said Ruellene Pitts, the aunt o suspect and the co- founder of the Bakersfield chapter of VOCAL, or Victims of Child Abuse Legislation.
There were 679 people in the jail on Tuesday.
The strike followed three days of picketing last week by VOCAL in defense of people its members say are wrongly accused of child molesting.
The group founded in Sacramento charges that abuse accusations are being falsely raised in child custody proceedings, and questions the detention of suspects and the use of child witnesses.
The hunger strike's goal is to change policy so that an outside agency reviews child molesting charges, Ms. Pitts said.
However, Williams said the jail will not relay the inmates' demand to the state attorney general's office.
''They all have attorneys, and if their attorneys want to use that option, it's up to them to do that,'' Williams said.
''The people involved will be seen daily by our medical staff,'' he added.