YOUNGSTOWN - A group of inmates at the Supermax prison on the city's far East Side have been on a hunger strike for a week.
David Bobby, warden of the Ohio State Penitentiary on state Route 616, said Friday that 27 inmates were on the hunger strike as of Friday.
The hunger strike started with 30 on Monday and peaked with 54 during the middle of the week but several inmates have dropped out, Bobby said.
All those taking part in the hunger strike are inmates who are termed ''Level 5 inmates,'' or inmates who have the highest security classification.
One of the reasons for the strike is that some inmates are upset at how the Level 5 classification is arrived at and the process for an inmate getting his status changed to something less dangerous, Bobby said.
Inmates are also upset about commissary prices, Bobby said.
Bobby said there have been hunger strikes at the prison before, usually by solitary inmates who are protesting something. He said for the most part, they are allowed to strike food and water, but if prison medical staff detect a danger, they are fed, sometimes forcibly, Bobby said.
Trays are taken to the inmates cells and if they are returned empty, it is assumed that those inmates have eaten, Bobby said. Inmates also have access to water in their cells, Bobby said.
''We offer them the tray. They either take it or refuse it,'' Bobby said.
At the Youngstown prison, there is a medium security camp along with a building that houses the inmates deemed by the state to be among the worst. They are kept on lockdown in their cells 23 hours a day.