About 14 county detention center inmates staged a short hunger strike earlier this week after jail officials punished inmates for smokingin the infirmary.

Superintendent Richard J. Baker said jail officials temporarily removed the television from the infirmary early Monday morning.

The inmates began their hunger strike at lunch Monday to protest the television's removal from the infirmary for 24 hours, Baker said.Most of the inmates had given up the hunger strike yesterday, but a couple may be continuing to refuse meals, he said.

Baker said officials removed the television during the overnight shift early Monday morning because inmates had been found smoking in the infirmary, where smoking is prohibited. A search turned up two cigarettes in the infirmary. When no inmate would admit owning the cigarettes, all in the infirmary were punished by losing their television privileges, he said.

The superintendent said the inmates would not be disciplined for participating in the hunger strike.

"If they don't want to eat, that's their choice," he said.

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