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Menard hunger strikers cheered by protesters, threatened by staff

February 6, 2014

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.”

Menard Correctional Center in winter by David Ramsey
Menard Correctional Center – Photo: David Ramsey
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

  1. “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.
  2. “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.
  3. “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.
  4. “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.”

Progress

“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.”

Retaliation

“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.”

Contact information

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 salynd@aol.com.

 

9 thoughts on “Menard hunger strikers cheered by protesters, threatened by staff

  1. Jacqueline Munson

    Let’s not torture these men, let’s not be evil, Let’s keep it peaceful.

    I realize I don’t know why some of these men are incarcerated but if you are head of a prison i would think you have rules to follow just as these men do. Stop the brutality.

    Reply
  2. iwpchi

    Dear friends;

    We have just sent the following message by email to the head of the Illinois Department of Corrections:

    "It has come to our attention that inmates at the Menard Correctional Institution are on hunger strike against the deplorable conditions at the prison as well as against the brutal treatment they regularly are forced to suffer at the hands of your vicious guards and staff.
    Be aware that the entire world is carefully watching what happens to these prisoners and will hold you and the entire Illinois Department of Corrections leadership and staff responsible for any harm that comes to any of these hunger strikers, or to any inmate unfortunate enough to be placed into your hands.We are particularly concerned about the whereabouts and condition of of Armando Velasquez, a hunger striker who has apparently disappeared into some mysterious corner of your notorious hellhole prison.
    We are also concerned about reports coming out of Menard stating that your "medical staff" are threatening to torture hunger strikers when the prison attempts to force feed them. That is a naked violation of every US citizen's right to be protected from "cruel and unusual punishment" and can result in any staff member condoning or undertaking such actions being arrested and charged with human rights violations both in US and international courts.
    We demand that you immediately convene meetings with all these inmates to allow them to submit their grievances to you and that all the following very resonable demands be met immediately:
    “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.”

    We and our fellow Friends of WikiLeaks worldwide will be closely following this case and will be immediately informed of any new developments, which we will immediately broadcast around the world via Internet.

    Most sincerely,

    Friends of WikiLeaks – Chicago"

    Best wishes and keep us informed of any new developments via fowlchicago(_at_)riseup(_dot_)net

    Reply
  3. Connie Velez

    We have received a confirmed Newsbrief… from Hunger Strikers..Mr.John Velez, Mr.Michael Williams. John.V was sent out of MENARD during his 3rd wk of hunger strike dated 1-15-14 thru 2-24-14 he was already in Bad

    shape for the idoc to have shipped out of one cage to another cage and left him in the NRC..without any notification as why they choose him to be the scapegoat on a court writ. They had him in the worst cell that he stated 10x worse then MENARD. Nevertheless he continues to be traumaticly unstable. They carried out their threats that he would be sent out of state,however he stopped breathing and had to administer the difrbilator to bring him back he suffered a Heart Attack. so now he is in Victorsville Calif. As for Mr.Michael Williams he also is in Bad shape!! So on this note he thanks All whom have Supported this cause and hopes to hear a reply from anyone who needs to know some Truth about the situation that still hangs over there heads

    Reply
  4. Connie Velez

    His Parent Facility was MENARD and his Temporary Facility was Stateville. ..and Now his New Id# 0194122..Being in Federal State Prison. .0194122 if need more information plz call me @ 773 397 2645 Thanks♥

    Reply
  5. Connie Velez

    Hopefully Someone will write to the Hunger Strikers whom jeopardize their lives to a better Prison reform!!.Straughton & Lynn were the attorney s who recieved their mail…alongside with Affordable Justice Power. Mr.Michael Williams # N-97521 Po.Box 1000 Menard il 62259 and Mr.John Velez 01941-122 Victorsillve, Po.Box3900 Adelanto Calf.92301

    Reply

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