08:54 GMT +321 October 2019
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    Wisconsin Inmates Plan Hunger Strike Against Solitary Confinement

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    LaRon McKinley Bey, 60, and about a dozen other inmates at Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin plan to go on hunger strike on June 10 to protest indefinite solitary confinement, which they are subjected to.

    The demonstration will begin in Wisconsin, but the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Milwaukee, which is supporting the prisoners’ efforts, hopes that it will spread to other prisons, reported the Post-Crescent, a Gannett newspaper. The IWW will be holding rallies in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, as well as hold an online letter writing campaign with a petition.

    “The overarching demand is to end administrative confinement — to not allow long-term solitary confinement,” said Ben Turk with the IWW to the Post-Crescent.

    Bey, who sued the state’s Department of Corrections (DOC) earlier this year, has been in solitary confinement for the last 25 years. He spends about 23 hours a day alone in a cell. Meals are slid through a slot on the door. The only time he interacts with people is when he is escorted to and from the showers in shackles, to a caged in recreation area, or when he has a video session with mental health staff. There are over 100 other prisoners in Wisconsin experiencing the same treatment.

    The United Nations called for all countries to ban solitary confinement in 2011 saying that the practice amounts to torture. “Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit… whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique,” said UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez that year.

    “Bey is serving a 262-year sentence for crimes including robbing and tying up two elderly Madison women in their homes in 1984, and a 1987 escape in which he shot a sheriff’s deputy and another was injured,” wrote the Post-Crescent.  

    A spokesperson for the DOC, Tristan Cook, told the Post-Crescent that they are aware of the prisoners’ plan to hunger strike and “will continue to evaluate and monitor the situation to ensure the health and safety of inmates.”

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    Tags:
    demonstration, protest, Hunger Strike, Department of Corrections, IWW, Industrial Workers of the World, Ben Turk, Tristan Cook, LaRon McKinley Bey, Waupun Correctional Institution, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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