Two prisoners spoke up about the appalling solitary confinement circumstances that drove them to starve themselves after 21 days, when the last of many Texas convicts to refuse food continuously concluded his hunger strike. A group of prisoners decided last year that they wanted to have their opinions heard because thousands of them are being kept in dangerously isolated conditions, frequently for years or decades.
Starving for a Change
As many as 300 inmates from prisons throughout the state agreed to start a hunger strike on January 10 in response to Texas’ solitary confinement policies.
The number of men participating in the hunger strike quickly decreased as the days passed. There were 72 men reportedly rejecting meals three days into the protest, according to TDCJ, and it fell to 38 a week later.
According to TDCJ, the final man who had steadfastly rejected food throughout the whole strike started eating again on Monday at noon, three weeks after men stopped eating to attract attention to their treatment, a source posted.
Over 20 additional males had gone three or more days without eating. Still, they had previously taken a break to eat three weeks earlier, according to TDCJ spokesman Amanda Hernandez. During the strike, four people needed intravenous infusions.
To be Treated as Humans
The inmates believed that by organizing, state officials would reconsider Texas’ practice of isolating inmates and keeping them there forever because they belonged to a prison gang.
The men contended that it is unreasonable to confine prisoners to solitary confinement for belonging to a gang when they haven’t otherwise broken any prison regulations. Instead of requesting a status designation, they asked that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice place individuals in solitary for risky or violent behavior, according to a ksat.com report.
The jail administration has tightened communication restrictions with inmates on a hunger strike. Hernandez claims that the agency is turning down any requests for male journalists to speak with the media due to security reasons. Instead, inmates can only contact via a slow prison mail system.