Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, Connell, Washington
February 1 – (ongoing)
The majority of the prisoners at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center launched a hunger strike on February 1st to protest cold “breakfast boats” that they say are primarily sugar. A breakfast boat is a boxed meal that is given to prisoners during the evening meal, usually with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a muffin, bran bar, cereal and powdered milk.
Prisoner Michael Linear spoke to The Spokesman-Review, saying “The inmates up here, they want to be able to have hot breakfast once again. Now we’re on day five up here.” In regard to the “breakfast boats” he added, “All we’re getting is sugar. Sugar for breakfast.”
The prison reported that 1,371 inmates started the food strike on Friday, with the number growing to 1,721 by Monday. At the time of the strike there were around 2,000 prisoners housed at the facility.
Robert Herzog, assistant secretary for corrections for the Washington prison system, met with prison leaders regarding the strike.
A 2016 report, Correcting Food Policy in Washington Prisons, released by the group Prison Voice Washington, criticizes the “breakfast boats.” From the report:
“Perhaps the most striking change implemented in recent years is the replacement of freshly cooked breakfast with a factory-packaged breakfast ‘boat’ that is mostly sugar and starch. CI replaced what had been one of the healthier meals served in prisons, usually including fresh fruit, lowfat milk, oatmeal, and eggs, with a plastic-wrapped ‘boat’ (so-called for the shape of the cardboard container holding the items) that incarcerated people collect at their evening meals. These boats contain a single serving of nonfat milk, an aspartame-sweetened, fortified drink mix (intended to compensate for DOC’s failure to provide all nutrients from real food), a serving of processed, usually sugar-coated, breakfast cereal, a breakfast bar that contains large quantities of sugar and chemical preservatives, a sugary muffin, and a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. Like the CI diet generally, these items are almost entirely sugar, starch, and fat.”
The report states that the “DOC takes public officials on tours of a few small gardens at some facilities, presenting a rosy veneer of sustainability and fresh produce to circumvent any real scrutiny of the bleak food reality in Washington prisons.”
The food strike follows a similar one in April, 2018 at Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla.
“Upset with breakfast, more than 1,500 Connell inmates stage food strike“, Tri-City Herald, February 4, 2019.
“Inmates at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center on hunger strike over quality of breakfast food“, The Spokesman-Review, February 5, 2019.
“Washington inmates go on hunger strike over breakfast food“, The News Tribune, The Associated Press, February 5, 2019.
“Hunger Strike at Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla“, Perilous, April 1, 2018.
“Washington State Prisoners Protest Poor Food“, Prison Legal News, January 8, 2019.