Texas prisoners go on hunger strike to protest solitary confinement

Dozens of guys held in solitary confinement in Texas prisons are on a starvation strike to protest the apply. They would like the state to restrict who’s held there and for a way lengthy.


Dozens of prisoners throughout Texas are just about per week right into a starvation strike in protest of what they are saying is inhumane remedy. The inmates, all males, need an finish to solitary confinement. Paul Flahive of Texas Public Radio has been following the tale, and he joins us now from San Antonio.

Paul, so what do the inmates say concerning the stipulations they are residing in?

PAUL FLAHIVE, BYLINE: Yeah. The boys are in restrictive housing, or what is higher referred to as solitary confinement, the place they spend as much as 22 hours an afternoon of their cells. In a letter to state legislators, they mentioned staffing shortages have made the location even worse, the place one jail unit – Collier unit – males had most effective had out of doors sport a handful of time in 3 years, and personnel struggled to provide them get admission to to showers greater than as soon as per week. State officers have contested the ones descriptions, however the moves are taking place in as many as 14 devices around the state. And the State Division of Felony Justice says 72 inmates are taking part, although out of doors organizers say it is extra like a 300.

MARTÍNEZ: Why does the state of Texas say those inmates are being saved in solitary confinement?

FLAHIVE: They are saying it is excellent for personnel and different inmates – lots of the males in solitary as a result of they’re decided to be a prime get away chance. They have got were given disciplinary violations like attack. However many are participants of limited gangs. So some are being separated merely on account of their standing as gang participants. And jail directors say they use an exhaustive procedure to resolve who will have to be in solitary, and it is reviewed periodically. A spokesperson mentioned the state’s made large strides in decreasing the selection of inmates on this safe detention, shedding 65% during the last 15 years from about 9,000 to only over 3,100 now.

MARTÍNEZ: All proper. What are the inmates pronouncing?

FLAHIVE: We have now reached out to a number of, however now we have no longer been in a position to glue simply but. We have now noticed letters they have got despatched to state lawmakers with their calls for and considerations. Those inmates, particularly the group participants, say they should not be punished for simply being in a gang. For them to get out of solitary, them will have to undergo a renouncement and denouncement program, which oftentimes method snitching on their inmates, which places them in danger. Some had been inside of for over a decade, say researchers. Suggest Brittany Robertson has been involved with a few of these inmates. She says they would like the state to forestall keeping other folks indefinitely this fashion and to construct a step-down program so inmates can acclimate to the overall inhabitants earlier than they are launched from jail.

BRITTANY ROBERTSON: 80 % of them will input the neighborhood. And those are males who’ve handled isolation and will be afflicted by PTSD, psychosis and hallucinations. And there is not anything getting ready them. A few of them had been in for twenty years.

FLAHIVE: Jail officers say those are violent and arranged gangs, and they are able to’t believe them to have loose rein to recruit all through the jails.

MARTÍNEZ: Then why did the Texas institute this sweeping solitary confinement machine within the first position?

FLAHIVE: Yeah, Texas had an explosion of jail gangs and violence within the mid-’80s, and the state – it had to put into effect this to safe the ones systems. These days individuals who practice legal justice say it merely quantities to torture. If truth be told, I spoke to a variety of jail researchers. And Texas is now simply some of the handful of states to nonetheless use this administrative segregation in keeping with gang club. California stopped a identical apply just about a decade in the past after a weekslong starvation strike involving loads of inmates and a class-action lawsuit.

MARTÍNEZ: All proper. That is Paul Flahive, a reporter with Texas Public Radio. Paul, thank you so much.

FLAHIVE: Thanks.

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