Prisoners Plan Hunger Strike to Protest Wisconsin Long Term Isolation
Wisconsin prisoners at Waupun Correctional Institution are planning a hunger strike to begin on 10 June 2016 to demand an end to the torture of long-term confinement in control units in Wisconsin.
In 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WI DOC) made some policy changes to their use of long-term solitary confinement. According to the DOC, the number of prisoners in "restrictive status housing" was reduced by about 200 by reducing the maximum time prisoners can be put in control units (which varies depending on the justification given for this isolation). The WI DOC refused to release any information about these changes until compelled by records requests, and the total number of prisoners in control units reported by the DOC is highly suspicious as it is far lower than information gathered from surveys.(1) In addition, Waupun prisoners were not notified of the change to this policy, and months later were still being held for longer than the new regulations allowed.(2) It's unclear if the new policy is being applied uniformly across Wisconsin prisons at this point, but small reductions in the length of solitary confinement sentences will not solve the fundamental problem of this system of torture.
The actual policies are available on the Wisconsin DOC website and include a table listing maximum time in "disciplinary separation" for various offenses. This includes 180 days for "lying" and 360 days for "lying about an employee," 180 days for "disrespect" and 180 days for "misuse of state or federal property." These are all easily abused accusations that prisoners are powerless to dispute. Furthermore, a Wisconsin prisoner can be put in a control unit for up to 180 days for "punctuality and attendance" issues and "loitering," and up to 90 days for "poor personal hygiene," "dirty assigned living area," and "improper storage."(3) The policy also states "More than one minor or major disposition may be imposed for a single offense and both a major and minor disposition may be imposed for a major offense" which sounds like they can just pile on lots of offenses and sum up the total max days in isolation so that prisoners are held there for years.
The demands of this protest include the release of prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for over a year, a length of isolation far exceeding what is commonly considered torture by international human rights organizations.
As one prisoner reported to Under Lock & Key a few years ago:
"I have reasons to believe that these people have no plans of removing me off A.C. ... They have me in the worst conditions in the Wisconsin DOC. ... It is fly infested. I have black worms coming out of the sink. We can't have publications.
"I have been in seg for over 13 years. and I haven't given these people any trouble in a long time, and what I'm in seg for is solely political. I am being punished for organizing for Black Unity and against institutional racism. I simply created organizations that advocated the advancement of Black people and that fought against Black on Black crime, poverty, ignorance, etc. It wasn't created to terrorize white people, as the totalitarian state would have you believe.
"As a result of being in seg I have developed a long range of psychological issues, issues that have left me scarred permanently. These issues have caused some professionals to label me psychotic and delusional among other things. I was diagnosed with Delusional Disorder and am being treated for it."(4)
It is well documented that long-term isolation causes mental health problems including hallucinations and delusions. This technique is used in prisons like Guantanamo Bay to torture military prisoners into making confessions (or making up confessions for the many innocents who suffer this torture). But in the Amerikan prison system this torture primarily serves to slowly erode the health of prisoners who are either confined to waste away for the rest of their life, or released back to the streets unable to care for themselves.
The petition put together by prisoners at Waupun is printed in full below:
Dying to Live
Human rights fight at Waupun Correctional Institution starting June 10, 2016. Prisoners in Waupun's solitary confinement will start No Food & Water humanitarian demand from Wisconsin Department of Corrections officials.
The why: In the state of Wisconsin hundreds of prisoners are in the long term solitary confinement units a.k.a. Administrative Confinement (AC). Some been in this status from 18 to 20 years.
The Problem: The United Nations, several states, and even President Obama have come out against this kind of confinement citing the torturous effect it has on prisoners.
The Objective: Stop the torturous use long-term solitary confinement (AC) by:
- Placing a legislative cap on the use of long term solitary confinement (AC)
- DOC and Wisconsin legislators adoption/compliance of the UN Mandela rules on the use of solitary confinement(5)
- Oversight board/committee independent of DOC to stop abuse and overclassification of prisoners to "short" and "long" term solitary confinement.
- Immediate transition and release to a less restrictive housing of prisoners who been on the long term solitary confinement units for more than a year in the Wisconsin DOC
- Proper mental health facilities and treatment of "short" and "long" term solitary confinement prisoners
- An immediate FBI investigation to the secret Asklepieion* program the DOC is currently operating at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) to break any prisoner who the DOC considers a threat to their regimen
How you can help
- Call Governor Scott Walker's office and tell him to reform the long-term solitary confinement units in the Wisconsin DOC and to stop the secret Asklepieion program at once. The number to call is 608-266-1212.
- Call the DOC central office and demand that all 6 humanitarian demands for this hunger strike be met and demand an explanation as to why they are operating a torture program. The number to call is 608-240-5000.
- Call the media and demand that they do an independent investigation on the secret Asklepieion program operating at Columbia Correctional Institution, and cover this hunger strike.
- Call the FBI building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and demand that they investigate the secret Asklepieion torture program being run at CCI. The phone number to call is 414-276-4684.
- Call Columbia Correctional Institution and tell them you are aware of their secret torture program. Harass them! 608-742-9100.
- Join in on the hunger strike and post it on the net. Convince others to join as well.
* Asklepieion is a secret DOC torture program based upon Dr. Edgar H. Schein's brainwashing methodology that in the 1960s was disguised and turned into a Behavior Therapy Treatment program that deals with the literal brainwashing and enslavement of an individual's mind. It retrogresses the individual to the character role of a child and reinforces the need for paternal authority. To achieve such effect the prison authorities, with the help of collaborating inmates, must first break the individual's mind through sleep deprivation and character invalidation techniques, and then, recondition it with Stockholm Syndrom. To see more go to https://iwoc.noblogs.org/post/2016/02/16/personal-experience-with-behavior-control-in-a-wisconsin-prison/