The following information is drawn from letters received from prisoners in Administrative Detention at Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois, and compiled on Feb. 2 by Attorney Alice Lynd.
“Today is Day 14 and these are trying times for all of us prisoners. There are about a dozen prisoners still on strike and feeling the effects.”The prisoners have not heard anything about Armando Velasquez. Officers have told the prisoners that an independent review is being conducted, but no one has talked to the inmates. “They keep telling us inmates he’s in Health Care.”
Demonstration by supporters
“Yesterday, on Monday, Jan. 27, there were hunger strike supporters outside of the prison banging on homemade drums singing, ‘We support the hunger strike.’ Us prisoners in the HSU [high security unit] were able to hear and see them out our windows. We opened our windows and screamed ‘Hunger Strike!’ ‘No due process, no peace,’ and ‘We Love You!’”
“There were about 20 supporters outside and they also held signs that read. ‘We Support the Hunger Strike’ …. They were out there in 12 degree weather from about 2:45 p.m. until 3 p.m. Some majors and correctional officers were harassing the protesters until the (county) police came and the supporters dispersed.”
“I do not know who those supporters were, but if you can find out please let them know we deeply appreciate their support. Seeing them protest on our behalf was definitely a confidence booster. The psychological effect on the prisoners is beyond explanation.”
Proposal by hunger strikers to the warden
- “Starting this week, give the inmates in A.D. [Administrative Detention] status who are up for their 90-day reviews informal, face to face hearings and issue them a written disposition stating the basis for whatever decision is reached.
- “Give us your word that an orientation manual/rule book, specifically for inmates who are in A.D. status, or seg. (segregation) status and are housed in the High Security Unit (N-II B and C wings and the front of 7-gallery), will be passed out within the next 30 days.
- “Give us your word that a Behavior Incentive Program that allows inmates who have long term seg. and are housed in the High Security Unit the opportunity to earn the privilege of buying limited food items and coffee through good behavior will be implemented within the next 30 days.
- “Continue to work on addressing and resolving the meritorious complaints included in our Jan. 15, 2014, grievances and any grievances thereafter. This includes weekly rounds by the major and/or warden to prevent our issues from piling up like they did this time.”
“The funny thing is while the protesters were outside protesting, … (Assistant Warden Jones) came to the HSU to say, ‘We’re working on your hearings and an orientation manual. The head warden is having a meeting right now.’”
“So far, the prison administration has been sweeping, mopping and even laid wax on the gallery floors. Every Saturday prisoners are given disinfect[ant] for cleaning their cells along with a mop and broom. We were given coats and Mental Health has been making rounds once a week. However, we still don’t know why we are here or what the rules are in the HSU. Plus, medical staff has been talking crazy to prisoners and how they’re going to torture us when we go to the Health Care Unit to be force fed.”
“The police and medical staff are pissed about this hunger strike and are writing bogus tickets in retaliation for this hunger strike. There are several prisoners who have received bogus tickets since Jan. 15. Please let our supporters know the injustice system has been retaliating against us by writing us bogus tickets and putting us in Administrative Detention Seg[regation] status. Thank you for your support.”
Please call or email:
- Warden Rick Harrington, (618) 826-5071, P.O. Box 711, Menard IL 62259
- Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador Godinez, (217) 558-2200, ext. 2008, P.O. Box 19277, Springfield IL 62794-9277
- Gov. Pat Quinn, (217) 782-0244, http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/Pages/ContacttheGovernor.aspx, 207 State House, Springfield IL 62706
Attorney Alice Lynd can be reached at email@example.com.