Activists Stand In Support Of Menard Prison Hunger Strikers; IDOC Pushes Back Against ‘False’ Allegations | Progress Illinois

Posted: February 16, 2014 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

by Ellyn Fortino Friday February 14th, 2014

A small group of Chicago protestors demonstrated outside of the Thompson Center Thursday evening to call attention to the inmates at Menard Correctional Center, who they say are on a hunger strike for due process and humane conditions.

Approximately 14 inmates at Menard began a hunger strike on January 15 to protest their placement in “severe isolation” and what they say are “inhumane conditions” at the facility, organizers said. Some of the men escalated the hunger strike on February 7 and began refusing liquids.

Brian Nelson, prisoner rights coordinator with the Uptown People’s Law Center, said at least three men at the southwestern Illinois prison remained on a hunger strike as of Monday. Another two inmates were still refusing liquids, he said.

But Tom Shaer, director of communications for the Illinois Department of Corrections IDOC, told Progress Illinois on Friday that there is only one current “so-called hunger striker.” Shaer pointed out that the protest by the prisoners was not technically a hunger strike.

“This was actually a reduced calorie-intake by the ‘strikers,’ who lost only an average of 4.3 lbs. per week and at no time not a single ‘striker’ exhibited signs of malnutrition, dehydration or anything else consistent with hunger-striking,” Shaer said in an email.

“The so-called strikers received, very frequently, commissary food that was secretly provided by other inmates,” he continued. “The total of hunger strikers had dropped by an average of two per week for three weeks six total dropped, when they were getting secret food. After last Friday, when IDOC started monitoring them mostly in the Health Care Unit, where such secret passing of food can’t be accomplished, they dropped by seven.

”Gregory Koger with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network argued that the inmates do not know why they are being held in “solitary confinement.”

“They’ve received no notice as to why they’re held in administrative segregation, though several of them have reported that it was because of their activities as jailhouse lawyers and prison activists who have been challenging the horrendous conditions of the Illinois Department of Corrections,” Koger said.

Shaer stressed that the state’s prison system does not practice solitary confinement. Inmates in “administrative detention” do receive time out of their cells for visitations, exercise, phone calls and other opportunities, although they have less access to those amenities than other prisoners.

Moreover, administrative detention is never given without notice or a hearing by a committee, according to a fact sheet for members of the media that IDOC provided to Progress Illinois about the hunger strike. The only details not released about administrative detention, according to IDOC, are those that would compromise safety or security of the inmates and staff.

But Nelson, who was formerly incarcerated and spent 12 years in what he described as solitary confinement at the now shuttered Tamms Super Max prison in Illinois, stressed that the men were put into administrative detention without reason or ability to challenge their placement.

via Activists Stand In Support Of Menard Prison Hunger Strikers; IDOC Pushes Back Against ‘False’ Allegations | Progress Illinois.

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