- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Inmates at Ohio’s highest-security prison are continuing a hunger strike protesting recreation and programming restrictions that include a ban on religious gatherings.

A prisons department spokeswoman says eight inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown were continuing to refuse meals as of Wednesday, in a protest that began March 19. The prison houses Ohio’s super-maximum security lockdown.

Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith says most inmates have been prohibited from roaming their enclosed housing units freely, and group programming has been halted for the highest-security inmates. She cites safety and security concerns, including a serious assault on staff, in the decision.

Striking inmates argue religious programming is a constitutionally protected right.

Smith says inmates still have access to one-on-one religious services.

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