The following information is drawn from letters received from prisoners in Administrative Detention at Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois, and compiled by attorney Alice Lynd.
Jan. 21, 2014 – On Jan. 15, 2014, approximately 25 prisoners in Administrative Detention at Menard Correctional Center went on hunger strike. Officers shook down their cells and took any food they found. The hunger strikers were sent to see medical staff and charged $5 for medical treatment.
On the way back from seeing medical staff, one prisoner (said to be Armando Valazquez) was pushed onto the stairs while in handcuffs by two officers. Those officers then kicked and stomped on his back, picked him up and then slammed his face into the plexiglass window on a door. One officer was sent home early that day. Prisoner Velazquez was moved to the Health Care Unit and the prisoners have not seen him since.
The hunger strikers have been told the prison administration is working on obtaining a preliminary injunction to force feed them. They expect to continue the hunger strike even if they are force fed.
“We need as much outside support as possible,” the prisoners say.
Please call or email:
- Gov. Pat Quinn, (217) 782-0244, http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/Pages/ContacttheGovernor.aspx
- Warden Rick Harrington, (618) 826-5071
- Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador Godinez, (217) 558-2200, ext. 2008
Attorney Alice Lynd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Menard prisoners’ demands
In a letter to Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador A. Godinez, Alan Mills of Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago writes that prisoners formerly housed at Tamms and now in Administrative Detention at Menard in the High Security Unit, or HSU, “have contacted our office regarding both the process by which they were placed in this unit and the conditions of their confinement in the unit.
“They have advised us that due to the lack of response from anyone within the Department regarding their informal complaints and formal grievances they will begin an indefinite hunger strike today, Jan. 15.
“The men have forwarded the following demands to us in the hopes that we can facilitate resolution of the issues:
- A hearing upon arrival and rationale for placement, as well as the written rules and regulations regarding their classification;
- Quarterly meaningful reviews of continued placement;
- Timely written responses to grievances in compliance with the departmental directives;
- The ability to have reasonable access to cleaning supplies for their personal cells;
- The common areas to be cleaned and sanitized (i.e., showers) and the vermin and rodent infestation eliminated;
- Adequate heat and hot water in cells and common areas;
- The ability to purchase basic commissary items (i.e., thermal clothing, shoes etc.), pursuant to departmental regulations;
- Access to individual razors and nail clippers held by departmental staff;
- Timely addressed medical treatment (i.e., physical, mental and dental ailments); and
- Adequate access to legal property boxes and the law library.”
Alan Mills can be reached at Uptown People’s Law Center, 4415 North Sheridan, Chicago IL 60640, (775) 769-1411, www.uplcchicago.org.