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Apr 9, 20

Phone Zap: Support Hunger Strikers in Michigan Immigrant Prison

Call for a phone zap in support of ongoing hunger strike at North Lake Correctional Facility.

Social Media Event HERE

About ten inmates at the North Lake Correctional Facility, a federal immigrant prison in Baldwin, MI, are moving into day five of a hunger strike, demanding adequate nutrition and basic healthcare services currently being denied, as well as religious freedom for followers of the Hebrew Israelite faith. Add your voice to their struggle and call on Thursday, 4/9 to show public support.

Call:

North Lake Correctional Facility: (231) 745 9711
Federal Bureau of Prisons, North Central Region Office: (913) 621 3939

Script:

“I’m calling in support of the prisoners on hunger strike in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at the North Lake Correctional Facility. By law prisoners must receive adequate nutrition and healthcare. They are also guaranteed religious freedom under the 1st amendment. Their strike is sending a clear message that their basic needs are not being met and that their basic rights are being violated. You have an obligation to cooperate with their demands.”

Pro Tips

Try to get someone–anyone–on the other end. But even if you can’t, leaving a voicemail is helpful! Add your own thoughts to the script if you want. Don’t be flustered if the person on the other end attempts to derail your message by arguing small points. Remember the big point: People are putting their bodies on the line and we’re here to voice our support for their demands.

Context

On Sunday, April 5th, approximately ten people incarcerated at the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan launched a hunger strike in response to unsafe conditions and the mistreatment they have experienced inside the Special Housing Unit, or SHU. Their concerns include inadequate food and lack of access to medical attention. North Lake is a private immigrant-only prison operated by the GEO Group through a contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“The main thing is the food,” said one incarcerated person, who stated that their diet had not been meeting the protein requirements of the federal prison system. In addition, he described a lack of proper medical care and treatment after an assault last month. Prison staff have repeatedly exacerbated violence inside the facility.

The majority of those currently on strike inside the SHU are Black men who have expressed serious fears for their safety, describing an inhumane and chaotic environment in which they have suffered racial repression, including administrative segregation within the SHU for over a month after a conflict in which they had not been involved.

“We’re tired of the mistreatment and lack of protection,” one person told No Detention Centers in Michigan last month. “Incidents have occurred and will occur in the future; it’s inevitable.”

“Prison experiences are all unpleasant but this is next-level for so many reasons,” another person wrote. “I have been to six prior institutions, and I have yet to witness a facility like this one. To subject anybody to these living conditions is offensive, racist, and unfair. Are foreign citizens any less human than U.S. citizens?”

Although members of No Detention Centers in Michigan are not currently aware of any suspected cases of COVID-19 inside this facility, the hunger strike comes at a time of grave new dangers facing incarcerated populations worldwide, who are unable to practice social distancing or other steps needed to prevent the spread of the virus and maintain public health.

“The experiences we’ve been hearing about inside North Lake are a reminder that prisons aren’t safe for anyone,” said Jonas Higbee, a member of No Detention Centers in Michigan. “At a moment when COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout the Federal Bureau of Prisons as well as Michigan’s state prisons and jails, this is also clear evidence that the GEO Group is not able to protect the people in their custody during a crisis. GEO already has a long history of neglect and abuse, and when people are telling us that they’ve been fearing for their lives even before the COVID-19 emergency, it’s an indication that a quarantine inside a prison is not the answer to a pandemic. As we’ve been starting to see around the country, starting with the most medically vulnerable, the federal government needs to find a way to release people immediately.”

North Lake Correctional Facility:
231-745-9711
Federal Bureau of Prisons North Central Region Office:
913-621-3939

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No Detention Centers in Michigan

No Detention Centers in Michigan is taking action to stop GEO Group and to close North Lake Correctional Facility.

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