Alabama prison hunger strike spreads to Limestone Correctional Facility

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by Swift Justice, Free Alabama Movement, F.A.M. Queen Team, Unheard Voices OTCJ and T.O.P.S

The United Nations has recognized solitary confinement as torture. Prisoners and their supporters all over the country have been campaigning against it for the past several years. The 2011-2013 California hunger strikes, which were joined by 30,000 prisoners at their peak, were aimed at ending indefinite solitary confinement, especially when the prisoner has committed no infractions. This banner was created by the Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT).

On Monday, March 26, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) transferred a confined citizen, Kenneth S. Traywick, to Limestone Correctional Facility, where he was placed in solitary confinement, under “observation.” Upon arrival at Limestone CF, Traywick began a hunger strike in protest of his unwarranted solitary confinement. This follows multiple waves of recent hunger strikes by prisoners in Alabama, all protesting the same issue, and all exposing the ADOC’s patterns of retaliation and abuse.

Traywick is currently housed in Limestone CF’s C Block, which has been illegally transformed from general population into segregation housing, as the ADOC continues to use solitary confinement to silence organizers and advocates for peace on the inside. Those now located in the C Block include Kenneth Traywick, as well as eight people who were transferred from Holman Correctional Facility and a growing number of people being relocated from other prisons. None of these individuals have disciplinary charges or infractions.

These events can only be interpreted as yet another egregious act of retaliation by the ADOC in the wake of peaceful organizing. Prior to his transfer, Traywick was incarcerated at Staton Correctional Facility for several months without any infractions.

In fact, during his time at Staton CF he was promoted to a dorm leader position and was known for keeping down fights and drug use among fellow prisoners. Like other recent hunger strikers, Traywick has been involved with groups focused on non-violence and education, including the Free Alabama Movement and Convicts Against Violence.

Furthermore, Traywick’s transfer and confinement displays the ADOC’s pattern of targeting, isolating and removing older, more established prisoners in order to foster instability and increase the likelihood of violence. It is clear that the ADOC continues to illegally impose solitary confinement no matter what cover they claim through their new terminology, e.g. “observation.”

We also know that these tactics are a direct response to the work of incarcerated organizers who are protesting to stop the construction of new prisons in Alabama.

Over the past few weeks, nine prisoners launched hunger strikes to protest the ADOC’s illegal use of solitary confinement. The first of these was Robert Earl Council, also known as Kinetik Justice.

That initial strike inspired eight others, who became collectively known as the #Holman8. All strikes ended with negotiations to return individuals to general population. Kinetik Justice returned to general population for the second time this month on March 21st.

In response to these hunger strikes, community organizers across the country have shown support by alerting the press as well as organizing call and email-in campaigns to the ADOC offices. They have proven effective in both of those instances, getting the attention of local and national media outlets and ultimately pushing the ADOC to release the hunger strikers back to general population.

Community members are stepping up again, now, to support Kenneth Traywick as he moves into his third day on hunger strike. Like Kinetik Justice, Traywick will be striking until he is placed back in general population and the ADOC calls off its campaign of retaliation.

A trusted supporter of Kenneth Traywick writes: “Hey, everyone! Thanks for calling in, emailing and faxing! The fact that some of our calls are being returned means that we have forced them to acknowledge us as a community with power – and also that they are using solitary confinement even if by another name or under a new ‘policy.’ Our calls prove to them that we are watching and will be until Kenneth Traywick is released. Please continue to show your support for the man who is hunger striking by calling in, and feel free to acknowledge that while we have heard their response, we insist that Traywick be released immediately.”

This statement is a collaboration of Swift Justice, Free Alabama Movement, F.A.M. Queen Team, Unheard Voices OTCJ and T.O.P.S. They can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/swift.justice.944.

1 COMMENT

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