State Correctional Institution Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
June 16, 2014

Approximately 1,300 prisoners participated in a food strike at SCI Coal Township in Central Pennsylvania in protest of a variety of conditions at the prison, including a recent cut back in food portions.

The prisoner rights group Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up! Chapter posted on their website “on June 16, 2014 prisoners…are embarking on a peaceful protest of the dining hall by refusing to go to eat due to the administration’s cutback to their food portions and rations.”

David Lee, a prisoner at SCI Coal Township, wrote:

A decent and well-proportioned diet is just one of the many issues concerning the men in this prison. Medical conditions, the red light which shines in our faces all night (every night), the over-crowding, the lack of jobs, the lack of activities, the late delivery of our mail, the denial of legitimate publications, the disrespect of our families due to visiting room changes, the already high and constantly rising commissary prices which not only exploit prisoners, but also our families who assist us in making commissary purchases, the high telephone rates, and much more are all issues which we were protesting.

(Image Source: Decarcerate PA)

According to the group, the prisoners’ demands were:

  1. The food portions and sugar rations be returned to levels prior to the May 26 memo from Superintendent Mooney authorizing cutbacks to food portions and rations.
  2. The Staff Dining Room’s unjustified and expansive entitlements be eliminated and staff be required to eat from the same Department of Corrections Master Menu, receiving the same menu as prisoners with the same portions and rations. No multiple menus, optional deserts, salad bars or other entitlements. Eliminating staff entitlements would save sufficient money from the DOC’s food budget and not require cutbacks to prisoners’ food.
  3. If the DOC continues to authorize cutbacks to prisoners nutritional needs then prisoners request that the DOC authorize policy and procedures allowing prisoners to receive monthly 60-pound food packages from family and friends as prisoners in New Jersey, New York, and Ohio are allowed to receive. If the DOC places the budget over our nutritional needs we request a means to provide for our own nutritional needs.
Citations:

Dining Hall Protest: Prisoners Challenge Food Cutbacks at SCI Coal Township“, Human Rights Coalition, Fed Up! Chapter, June 18, 2014.

Convicts to Coal Twp. prison: Meet our 22 demands“, The Daily Item, July 11, 2014.

Prisoners protest at SCI Coal Township: Support the 22 demands!“, Decarcerate PA, nd.

SCI Coal Township Retaliates Against Prisoners Who Participated in Food Protests“, Decarcerate PA, nd.