SACRAMENTO (AP) — The number of California inmates participating in a hunger strike has dropped sharply, four days into the protest over prison conditions.

California corrections officials say more than 12,400 prison inmates have skipped at least nine consecutive meals, a threshold that led the department to label the protest an extended hunger strike.

The tally is down from the more than 30,000 inmates who started refusing meals this week. They are protesting conditions for gang members held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison near Eureka.

Additionally, more than 1,300 inmates are refusing to go to work or classes, down from about 2,300 on Monday.

The department said Thursday those participating could face disciplinary action. Corrections officials also threatened to confiscate food some inmates have stockpiled in their cells.

Two separate hunger strikes in 2011 involved between 4,000 and 6,500 inmates.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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