Multiple inmates from several Wisconsin prison institutions began a hunger strike to end prolonged solitary confinement.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
June 12, 2016
Waupun, WI – On Friday, multiple Wisconsin prison inmates at the Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) and the Columbia Correctional Institution began a hunger strike and are refusing food to bring attention to the illegal practice in the Wisconsin Department of Correction (WDOC) to hold inmates in prolonged solitary confinement for minor infractions. The WDOC classified the solitary confinement as Administrative Confinement (AC) in an attempt to avoid a legal challenge, which is still considered an illegal act of confinement when prolonged solitary confinement is practiced. Some inmates have been held in solitary confinement for years without appealing their harsh sentences, which can cause mental disorders by being kept in absolute isolation.
Inmates that have been parole or freed and have suffered illegal prolonged solitary confinement don’t get medical treatment because apparently none is offered for those who suffer psychological disorders after spending years in isolation.
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections confirmed that two prison correctional institutions are reporting inmates that are refusing food and is expected to spread to other prisons around the state as well.
According to WCI inmate in Waupun, Cesar Deleón, 33, in a previous press release indicated that, 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 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 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.”