State Correctional Institution-Fayette, La Belle, Pennsylvania
July 4, 2019-end date unknown

According to the Pennsylvania-based prisoner rights advocacy group the Human Rights Coalition, 16 prisoners went on hunger strike to protest a variety of conditions including “repeated physical abuse from guards, sexual harassment, extensive use of pepper spray, theft of mail/legal documents, and restriction of access to basic goods such as toilet paper, toothbrush/paste, yard time, shower time, and clean clothes.”

Maria Finn, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections confirmed the existence of a hunger strike at SCI-Fayette, but said that 11 prisoners participated. Finn said that all prisoners had since begun eating.

Two prisoners known to be participating in the hunger strike, Caine Pelzer and Reginald West wrote that Unit Manager Paul Aurandt “simply hates prisoners and anyone that challenges what’s being done. So there’s a free pass on all the guards are allowed to do. I’ve spoken with him several times and it always ends with him saying ‘Mr. Pelzer I find it hard to believe a guard would do a thing like that.'”

According to the group, the prisoners’ demands are:

  • Investigate the health and living conditions of hunger strikers
  • Discipline the guards that have been abusing inmates, repeatedly pepper spraying people, and restricting access to basic goods.
  • End the abusive practices in the RHU
  • Transition all long-term solitary confinement prisoners back into General Population
Citations:

Human Rights Coalition PA. July 14, 2019. “URGENT CALL ALERT! – 16 Prisoners on HUNGER STRIKE!” [Facebook Post]. Accessed July 16, 2019.

Maria Finn, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Spokesperson. Email to Perilous. July 17, 2019.