Revolution #277, August 12, 2012

Brave Prisoners on Hunger Strike in North Carolina

The following article was written by a volunteer in the Revolution mass incarceration project:

Another prison hunger strike began on July 16 at three different prisons in North Carolina. Prisoners from Central Prison, Bertie Correctional Institution, and Scotland Correctional Institution launched the strike to demand an end to inhumane prison conditions, including the torture technique of solitary confinement.

Out of the 36,000 prisoners in the state of North Carolina, 7,000 are in “Close Custody,” which means they can be subjected to solitary confinement, locked in their cells for 23 hours a day and must be “highly supervised and under tightly controlled perimeters,” (according to the North Carolina Department of Correction’s glossary on Corrections-related terms on Close Custody). reported, “Central Prison currently holds over 600 inmates in Close Custody. In March, an inmate with a history of self-harm was found dead in his solitary confinement cell. In North Carolina, self-harm can be punished by up to 30 days in isolation.”

Central Prison also was the site of another prison strike in December 2011, when inmates protested conditions of kitchen employment. Leaders of this strike, known as “The Strong 8,” were punished and are still being held in solidarity confinement for contributing to the “work stoppage.”

In the context of the horrific conditions and threats of repression, the prisoners who are participating in these strikes are incredibly brave and courageous. Those who have been on hunger strike have all been reported to be Close Custody inmates. As many as 100 have been reported to be participating in the hunger strike, with different inmates joining and stopping at different points. On July 29, Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective and the Greensboro Legal Defense Fund held a rally in support of the inmates. All people of conscience must build visible support for the prisoners who are lifting their heads and fighting through to end the inhumane treatment of prisoners once and for all.

Demands of the strikers include:

“The end of cell restriction. Sometimes prisoners are locked in their cell for weeks or more than a month, unable to come out for showers and recreation.”

“An immediate end to the physical and mental abuse inflicted by officers.”

“Education programs for prisoners on lock-up.”

“The levels of I-Con, M-Con, and H-Con need to be done away with altogether. When one is placed on Intensive Control Status (I-Con), one is placed in the hole for six months and told to stay out of trouble. But even when we stay out of trouble, we are called back to the FCC and DCC only to be told to do another six months in the hold, infraction free.”

“The immediate release of prisoners from solitary who have been held unjustly or for years without infractions; this includes the Strong 8, sent to solitary for the purpose of political intimidation.”

(See the San Francisco Bay View article, “North Carolina prisoners on hunger strike,” July 25, 2012 for a more complete list of demands.)


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