Prisons

Amnesty International Blasts Calif. Prison Conditions

Calls them an "affront to human rights"

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Amnesty International weighed in on a 22-day-old hunger strike in California prisons on Tuesday, calling solitary confinement conditions faced by protesting inmates an "affront to human rights" and urging an impartial probe into the death of a prisoner.

Billy Sell, 32, serving a life term for attempted murder, was found hanged in his cell July 22 in the "security housing unit" – for prisoners held in solitary confinement – at the Corcoran State Prison in central California.

The local coroner preliminarily ruled his death a suicide by strangulation, prison officials said. They added there was no evidence that Sell's participation in the hunger strike, which the corrections department initially denied, had been a factor.