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May 28, 16

Waupun Prisoners Refuse Food to Protest Solitary Confinement

Submitted to It’s Going Down

Prisoners at Waupun Correctional Institute (WCI)  have vowed to protest conditions by refusing to eat, starting on June 10th. They insist that solitary confinement is torture and demand that Wisconsin cease the practice. “This aim is not to facilitate death, but to facilitate human dignity and humanitarian accountability,” said Cesar Deleon, one of the protesting prisoners.

According to Deleon, prisoners in solitary at WCI are never allowed to go outside or see the sun. The one hour per day of recreation they’re allowed out of their bathroom-sized cells is spent in an indoor recreation cage, which is often filthy with urine and feces because once a prisoner is moved to the cage, requests to be allowed access to a bathroom are ignored by staff. Prisoners in administrative confinement (AC) are not only extraordinarily isolated from general population, but also from loved ones and spiritual leaders. AC prisoners are allowed one 15 minute phone call and one 15 minute video visit per week, the calls and conferences are closely monitored and can be cut off with very little pretext. Spiritual leaders who regularly visit other prisoners are not allowed to visit the AC unit, which is a clear violation of the constitutional right to religious practice.

The Wisconsin Department of Correction (WDOC) holds over 100 people in administrative confinement, some have been in one form of isolation or another for decades. Last August, WDOC announced an 90 day limit on their use of segregation as punishment for all but the most severe cases. Those changes did not apply to AC prisoners though, because according to WDOC, Administrative Confinement is “non-punitive.”

The prisoners are calling for an end to the practice, entirely. Their six demands include a legislative cap on the use of AC, compliance with the UN Mandela Rules on solitary confinement, increased oversight, one year limits, mental health treatment and a federal investigation of harassment by staff, which the prisoners describe as a mind control program, designed to “break and recondition” anyone staff perceives as a threat.

There will be support rallies on June 10th in Madison and June 11th in Milwaukee as well as a letter writing and phone pressure campaign to support the demands of the prisoners. Detailed information, including writing and personal perspectives from the prisoners and their families is available online at SolitaryTorture.blogspot.com.

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