Hunger Strike at Polk Correctional Institution, North Carolina

Hunger Strike at Polk Correctional Institution, North Carolina

Polk Correctional Institution, Butner, North Carolina
April, 2018 (exact dates unknown)

According to a letter from prisoner Willie James Dean-Bey to the San Francisco Bay View, prisoners in the H-Con housing unit went on hunger strike and released a list of demands, including access to food and hygiene items, newspapers, consistent showers and standards for eventual release from solitary confinement, among others.

The list of demands of the hunger strike are:

  • Have emergency call buttons reinstated inside each pod and cell. (We are forced to beat on our outside window for extended periods of time to receive assistance.)
  • Receive a 90-day review and be promoted off of H-Con after serving up to six months infraction-free. Pursuant to NCDPS policy, High Security Maximum Control, Chapter C, Section 1704(d), we are being forced to serve a minimum of 12-24 months infraction-free when policy only demands we serve “up to” six months.
  • Give H-Con prisoners a phone call once a month and on holidays, such as Christmas, pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1214(b), and Inmate Access to Telephone, Chapter D, Section 0804(a)(b)(k). We can use the same phones and calling procedure used for emergency and unusual calls. There is no immediate need to install phones on each block because phones are already installed on each block and were used for this purpose at one time. Policy says we “will” receive limited telephone privileges.
  • Provide us with local newspaper publications. Some of us are on radio restriction; therefore, we have no way of knowing about national and international events. We are supposed to receive this regardless.
  • Provide us with hygiene and food items on canteen: soap, deodorant, toothpaste, combs, brushes, food. The state-issued hygiene items are useless. This is inhumane and bad business sense. Denying food as punishment is unconstitutional.
  • Give us shower time every day. We are allowed showers four times per week and the current policy with respect to H-Con prisoners and inmates is outdated. Pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1205(a)(d)(e), we were being escorted to the showers, which could be a security and logistical risk. Now, we have showers within each cell. There is no risk to allowing us to shower throughout every day.
  • Provide us with progressive programs – behavioral, educational, vocational. Pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1219(a)(e), we are supposed to be provided with programs that were discontinued for H-Con prisoners. We have nothing to better ourselves while in isolation. We are doing dead time and bored, yet we are expected to leave better than when we entered. How is this possible when we have nothing to gain or lose?
  • Provide us with televisions, either to be purchased or provided by the state in each cell or one for each pod. Pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1211(b)]. H-Con prisoners “can” be allowed television privileges with the region director’s approval.
  • Give outside recreation, regardless of infraction history, unrestrained, as our primary form of recreation. Pursuant to Conditions of Confinement, Chapter C, Section 1206(c), we should have unrestricted outside exercise as our primary exercise unless there is inclement weather. Nowhere does it state that we must be infraction-free for six months. This is a form or discrimination.
  • Provide us with adequate medical and mental health care. Regardless of why we are in prison – and on H-Con – we are still human. We deserve doctor-patient confidentiality, continuity of care, and help when faced with mental or physical illnesses and ailments, unbiased. To a severe extent, we are not receiving this.On Sept. 1, 2016, mental health prisoners seeking psychiatric help (Level 2) and taking psychotropic medication (Level 3) were no longer supposed to serve more than 30 days per year on lock-up and are not supposed to be housed in isolation (H-Con), pursuant to High Security Maximum Control, Chapter C, Section 1701(b)(2)(3)(4). Regardless of a mental health assessment and Level 3 status showing serious mental discrepancies, such as bipolarism, depression, PTSD or schizophrenia, prisoners are still being housed on H-Con and told by psychologists that they aren’t suffering from these ailments or disorders.The Therapeutic Diversion Unit [TDU], which was supposedly set up for us, places us at the bottom of their list, unless you have five years or less. We are forced to speak of our personal issues to psychologists by yelling through the thick glass window in our cell, where everyone can hear us, instead of in a private area, which is available and safe enough.

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Hunger strike at Polk supermax in North Carolina“, San Fransisco Bay View, April 26, 2018.


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