Hunger Strike at Robert Presley Detention Center, California

Hunger Strike at Robert Presley Detention Center, California

Robert Presley Detention Center, Riverside, California
June 30-July 15, 2019

Four female prisoners housed at the Robert Presley Detention Center engaged in a 16-day hunger strike in protest of various conditions at the facility including sexual harassment by guards, lack of mental health treatment and lack of adequate time out of their cells, according to The Press-Enterprise of Southern California.

The strike ended in the evening of Monday, July 15 when staff agreed to try to work on the issues raised by the prisoners.

Chantel Cox and Yolanda Velasco, two striking prisoners who spoke with The Press-Enterprise, said that deputies do not take seriously their claims of sexual harassment and that they have faced retaliation for speaking up about it.

The prisoners are also protesting lack of privacy during conversations with medical and mental health staff and inadequate care for mentally ill prisoners. According to Cox and Velasco, deputies have ignored a prisoner who was self-mutilating, giving her cleaning supplies to clean up the blood without taking any steps to address the issue. On the last night of the strike, that prisoner attempted to hang herself.

Male prisoners housed at the Robert Presley Detention Center participated in their own hunger strike in January in protest of lack of medical care, lack of out-of-cell time allotted by prison policy and other policy violations. The January hunger strike lasted approximately 5 days and ended with verbal promises from deputies that the strikers’ demands would be considered.

At the end of June, 2019, the civil grand jury of California released a report on conditions in the administrative segregation unit at the jail, prompted by the January hunger strike. The grand jurors criticized the jail for various issues they considered unfair, including flaws in the grievance process and an inconsistent application of privileges.



Women in Riverside County jail stage 16-day hunger strike over their treatment“, The Press-Enterprise, July 17, 2019. 


Hunger Strike at Robert Presley Detention Center, California“, Perilous, January 14, 2019.

Riverside County jails unfair – and perhaps cruel – to some inmates, grand jury says“, The Press-Enterprise, July 2, 2019.

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Inconsistent Application of Privileges and Rights within the County Detention Centers“, 2018 – 2019 Civil Grand Jury Riverside County, June 28, 2019.