Healthy prisoners launch hunger strike on MLK Day to support tortured mental health prisoners – join the phone zap!

by Atlanta IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee)

Sixteen folks incarcerated at Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C., are going on a hunger strike starting Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, as an act of comradery to the 200 prisoners being tortured in Unit One, a mental health unit. They need your help to make the calls on Monday, Jan. 20. And if you have the time thereafter, call any other day you can until their demands are met and those 16 hunger strikers can eat again.

In Unit One at Central Prison, guards are daily using chemical mace against both Level 2 mental health prisoners, who receive psychiatric help, and Level 3 mental health prisoners, who take psychotropic medications. Guards are trigger happy and deploy an excessive amount into the prisoner’s small cell at the slightest disagreement.

According to North Carolina Department of Correction Policy Chapter F.1503(d): “An officer is prohibited from using force solely as a result of verbal provocation. An officer shall not use force against an offender who has abandoned his/her resistance or who is effectively restrained. The use of force as punishment is strictly prohibited.”

Furthermore, these prisoners attend a group therapy session every Monday, but while they are in the session, Unit One’s guards destroy the cells of these prisoners by searching their cells and throwing their personal belonging all around the cell. This is done to deter the prisoners from attending the group sessions, discouraging them from receiving treatment.

Medical staff continue to show deliberate indifference to the needs of the prisoners housed on Unit One. Several prisoners are not receiving their self-meds, medications given out monthly that prisoners keep in their cells, such as for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. To receive these meds, the prisoner submits a medication refill request. The medical staff has neglected to submit the requests therefore leaving several prisoners without their meds.

It takes months just to be seen by medical staff when a sick call is submitted. Prisoners are not receiving adequate healthcare. Prisoners are compelled to endure illnesses for months before being seen by medical staff.

This medical neglect and excessive use of force towards the most vulnerable population in Central Prison is cruel and unusual torture and a human rights violation.

These 16 brave and selfless activists imprisoned in Central Prison are taking a stand, by way of a hunger strike, for those in Unit One who are mentally incapable of making these demands. This is a humanitarian display of unity for those inside who face injustice by the very same people who face injustices enslaved right there with them.

This solidarity is inspiring. Please help them to expose these human rights violations and meet their basic, humanitarian demands by joining the phone zap and calling in to amplify their voices!

Suggested script and demands

I am aware that Central Prison’s guards and medical staff are directly torturing the prisoners and there are 16 hunger strikers exposing these human rights violations who will not eat until the following issues are addressed:

1. End the excessive use of chemical mace on prisoners who have not been a threat to staff or others.

2. Stop the targeted searches of mental health prisoners who attend weekly group on Unit One. We know that this is an attempt to discourage them from receiving treatment.

3. Address the deliberate indifference shown by medical staff not refilling prisoners’ self-meds and neglecting to answer sick calls in a timely manner.

Who to call

1. Call 919-733-0800 Central Prison. Request to speak with Deputy Warden Steven Waddel, Unit One Manager Tenbrook and/or medical personnel.

2. Call 919-838-4000 Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office. Request to speak with Commissioner Todd Ishee and/or Dr. Gary Junker.

Hot tips

You don’t have to give your name or any other information if you don’t want to.

Entering *67 before any number may block your caller ID.

Don’t worry about anyone giving you the runaround, not getting through or having to leave a message. Just pursue it to the point that you can. We are calling to apply pressure and every call counts.

Please report back on calls by emailing atlantaiwoc@protonmail.com or by visiting the IWOC Phone Zap directly at https://incarceratedworkers.org/phone-zaps/16-hunger-strikers-act-comradery-fellow-prisoners-starting-mlk-day.

Atlanta IWOC can be reached at atlantaiwoc@protonmail.com and you can follow Atlanta IWOC on Facebook.