CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Texas Death Row Inmates Are On A Hunger Strike

From Likening themselves to prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, a dozen inmates on death row in Texas have staged hunger strikes over the last month to protest what they call abusive conditions, including 23 hours a day of isolation in their cells.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said that the first inmates began refusing food Oct. 8 and that two were still on hunger strikes in the Polunsky prison unit in Livingston, about 45 miles east of the execution unit in Huntsville. The Polunsky Unit houses death-row inmates until their executions. As of Tuesday, one inmate had missed 35 consecutive meals and one 17 meals, but no one has yet been force-fed, said a department spokeswoman, Michelle Lyons.

Two other prisoners who had not eaten since Oct. 8 began taking food Oct. 27 and Nov. 4, Ms. Lyons said, and others abandoned their protests after a short time.

But Vickie McCuistion, program coordinator of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said some inmates had been reported as eating when they were still refusing food. Ms. Lyons said that a prisoner needed to miss nine meals to be considered on hunger strike and that some who had refused meals had eaten snacks at visiting sessions.

“Either conditions will improve, or we will starve to death,” vowed one of the first hunger strikers, Steven Woods, in an Internet posting put up by groups opposed to the death penalty. Since death row was moved from an older and more open facility in 2000, he said, “We lost all our group recreation, art programs, and supplies” in addition to “work programs, televisions and religious services.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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The men on Polunsky Death Row started a new hunger strike on Dec. 26 / 2006! They are starving again to change the horrible conditions on Polunsky. TDCJ said after the last hunger strike they didn't know something about the conditions. But ever since the last strike they know what's going on and they changed nothing...
Read this letter:

Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2007 14:09:50 EST
Subject: Hunger Strike Daryl Wheatfalls Update

Letter from Daryl Wheatfall #999020, Polunsky
Concerning the hunger strike against abuse, conditions, and lethal

"I stopped eating on December 27, 2006. The first 3 days my body has
battled with the lack of food. With each day I feel my body growing
weaker and weaker. Day 6 I slept all day as my mind carried me away
to far away places where I witness death and destruction, always
sadness. I wake to deal with a bad reaction from lack of food. I'm
extremely dizzy, and a strong pain assaults my stomach. My body
became very warm and excessively uncomfortable. To cool my body, I
lay on the floor allowing the coolness to relax my body. I've gone
from 180 pounds to 160 in 10 days.

There are ten other prisoners involved, Patrick Knight, Gayland
Bradford, Steven Woods, Reginal Blanton, Carlton Turner, Ryan
Dickenson, William Mason, and Stephen Moody.

I'm not sure how long these guys are planning to go, or how much
weight they have lost. Some are only going 5, 10, or 15 days. Myself,
Stephen Woods, and Stephen Moody is planning to go all the way.

As of January 7, 07 I weigh 159 pounds."

Their inmate numbers can be found on this website

Posted by: Sabine | Jan 21, 2007 1:25:07 PM

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