SACRAMENTO (AP) — Democratic lawmakers on key policy committees say they want to limit California’s practice of keeping hundreds of inmates in solitary confinement for years, sometimes decades, as a way of controlling violent prison gangs.

They held the first in a planned series of hearings Wednesday in response to an inmate hunger strike this summer that at one point involved more than 30,000 of the 133,000 inmates in state prisons.

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The inmates were protesting conditions for gang leaders held in isolation at Pelican Bay and three other prisons.

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Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco says their treatment reminds him of animals in a zoo.

Prison officials say they already have changed the rules to limit use of the isolation units and let gang members earn their way out through good behavior.

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