donate or subscribe
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

Hunger strike at Polk supermax in North Carolina

April 26, 2018

by Willie James Dean-Bey

Prison abolitionist Nube Brown sums up what motivates hunger strikes by prisoners all over the world. She was part of a rally outside Old Folsom Prison near Sacramento, California, on June 4, 2017.

By the time you receive this, many of the prisoners housed on H-Con supermax at Polk Correctional Institution will have started a hunger strike in protest of our conditions of confinement. Being that we are imprisoned, it is sometimes easier for society and executive management at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) to view us as sub-human, forget about us and assume that we are receiving quality care. This is not the case.

We are still human, just like you. For years, many of these injustices have been going on unchecked, but that does not make them right. All we are demanding are things that policy and law asserts that we can and will receive.

Our legal precedent is based on the Supreme Court rulings in Ashker v. Brown and Madrid v. Gomez, where the prisoners housed in SHUs in California came together in opposition to the exact same treatment we face at Polk. Ashker v. Brown was won a couple of years ago. [It was settled in September 2015. – ed.]

Now, we prisoners housed on H-Con have finally come together with the same purpose in mind: to better the living conditions in solitary confinement, not just for us but for those who have to come here in the future, until isolation in North Carolina is completely abolished. This is most definitely inhumane and unconstitutional.

Sensory deprivation is an understatement. Mental instability is the status quo. Cruel and unusual punishment is expected and violations of our due processes rights and policy are constant. Please take the words of a prisoner who is experiencing this for what it is: facts.

By the time you receive this, many of the prisoners housed on H-Con supermax at Polk Correctional Institution will have started a hunger strike in protest of our conditions of confinement.

I do not speak with only self in mind. Why should we have to harm our bodies to receive what is blatantly declared that we can and will receive? Stand for us, stand with us: Take a stand for what’s right.

These are the basic rights and privileges that we are demanding:

  • Have emergency call buttons reinstated inside each pod and cell. (We are forced to beat on our outside window for extended periods of time to receive assistance.)
  • Receive a 90-day review and be promoted off of H-Con after serving up to six months infraction-free. Pursuant to NCDPS policy, High Security Maximum Control, Chapter C, Section 1704(d), we are being forced to serve a minimum of 12-24 months infraction-free when policy only demands we serve “up to” six months.
  • Give H-Con prisoners a phone call once a month and on holidays, such as Christmas, pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1214(b), and Inmate Access to Telephone, Chapter D, Section 0804(a)(b)(k). We can use the same phones and calling procedure used for emergency and unusual calls. There is no immediate need to install phones on each block because phones are already installed on each block and were used for this purpose at one time. Policy says we “will” receive limited telephone privileges.
  • Provide us with local newspaper publications. Some of us are on radio restriction; therefore, we have no way of knowing about national and international events. We are supposed to receive this regardless.
  • Provide us with hygiene and food items on canteen: soap, deodorant, toothpaste, combs, brushes, food. The state-issued hygiene items are useless. This is inhumane and bad business sense. Denying food as punishment is unconstitutional.
  • Give us shower time every day. We are allowed showers four times per week and the current policy with respect to H-Con prisoners and inmates is outdated. Pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1205(a)(d)(e), we were being escorted to the showers, which could be a security and logistical risk. Now, we have showers within each cell. There is no risk to allowing us to shower throughout every day.
  • Provide us with progressive programs – behavioral, educational, vocational. Pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1219(a)(e), we are supposed to be provided with programs that were discontinued for H-Con prisoners. We have nothing to better ourselves while in isolation. We are doing dead time and bored, yet we are expected to leave better than when we entered. How is this possible when we have nothing to gain or lose?
  • Provide us with televisions, either to be purchased or provided by the state in each cell or one for each pod. Pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1211(b)]. H-Con prisoners “can” be allowed television privileges with the region director’s approval.
  • Give outside recreation, regardless of infraction history, unrestrained, as our primary form of recreation. Pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1206(c), we should have unrestricted outside exercise as our primary exercise unless there is inclement weather. Nowhere does it state that we must be infraction-free for six months. This is a form or discrimination.
  • Provide us with adequate medical and mental health care. Regardless of why we are in prison – and on H-Con – we are still human. We deserve doctor-patient confidentiality, continuity of care, and help when faced with mental or physical illnesses and ailments, unbiased. To a severe extent, we are not receiving this.On Sept. 1, 2016, mental health prisoners seeking psychiatric help (Level 2) and taking psychotropic medication (Level 3) were no longer supposed to serve more than 30 days per year on lock-up and are not supposed to be housed in isolation (H-Con), pursuant to High Security Maximum Control, Chapter C, Section 1701(b)(2)(3)(4). Regardless of a mental health assessment and Level 3 status showing serious mental discrepancies, such as bipolarism, depression, PTSD or schizophrenia, prisoners are still being housed on H-Con and told by psychologists that they aren’t suffering from these ailments or disorders.

    The Therapeutic Diversion Unit [TDU], which was supposedly set up for us, places us at the bottom of their list, unless you have five years or less. We are forced to speak of our personal issues to psychologists by yelling through the thick glass window in our cell, where everyone can hear us, instead of in a private area, which is available and safe enough.

Attention director of prisons, superintendents, executive management of NCDPS (North Carolina Department of Public Safety): By policy, prisoners housed on isolation are not supposed to be treated any differently than the prisoners in general population. As you can see, these demands are basic amenities that may be taken for granted out in society. In here, you learn to appreciate these things.

Knowing is half the battle. Action is known to be the culmination of that knowledge, when used in the proper manner. Now, since we all know better, it’s time to do better.

The next step for us, if disregarded, will be a class action lawsuit. There is no breaking our hunger strike unless our needs and demands are met.

A video conference, teleconference or personal appearance is requested to deliberate the particulars of accommodation; then a memorandum is demanded to be issued to H-Con prisoners and staff specifically detailing such accommodations and logistics and the timeframes that they will be put into effect. Policy – and law – stands in our favor.

The next step for us, if disregarded, will be a class action lawsuit. There is no breaking our hunger strike unless our needs and demands are met.

Signed with honor and respect,

Black Lion United Nations

Willie James Dean-Bey

Send our brother some love and light: Willie James Dean-Bey, 1433812, Polk Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 2500, Butner NC 27509.

One thought on “Hunger strike at Polk supermax in North Carolina

Leave a Reply

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements

Jrop Detroit


Click and find the
TravelVisaPro.com