On Monday, May 19th, 7 prisoners at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, NC began a hunger strike in protest of a range of indignities and grievances. According to prisoners in the facility, additional men have been joining the strike since that first day. The strike was initiated in part by prisoners who were transferred out of Central Prison, following a class action lawsuit against the facility for abuse by guards in various “blind spots” around Unit One. That lawsuit has already forced the administration’s hand in videotaping any cell extractions by guards.
A demands and grievances list was sent by the prisoners to comrades on the outside. It reads as follows:
1. We are not given brooms to sweep our cells. Provide them.
2. We are denied the ability to exercise proper hygiene by clipping our nails. Provide necessary items.
3. We have to buy a whole new radio just to get headphones. Allow us to buy headphones separately.
4. Our property is not inventoried by staff when they take it. By the time is is, things are missing. Follow proper procedure and let us sign property sheets to verify accuracy of it.
5. Our food trays are melted, peeling, and/or cracked. Plastic from them is regularly found in our food. We need new trays.
6. We do not get outside recreation. Give it to us.
7. Sick calls are done at our cell, eliminating confidentiality. Give them to us in the nurse station.
8. The ventilation system is filthy. Clean it.
9. Our laundry is filthy and rancid, and on top of that we are not issued the proper amount of clothes.
10. Our property box is not 2 cubic feet, but we are still forced to mail anything that does not fit in it home. Allow us what policy states we can have: 2 cubic feet of property.
11. Staff routinely pop doors with no camera or protective gear. They slam our hands in the [food] trap and don’t report uses of force. End excessive force.
12. Mattresses and religious items are taken to punish us. Do not take these items.
13. Provide us with pens, forms, hygiene items upon request.
14. SIB (seg) cells are dirty and blood-stained. We are placed in there naked, then only given four squares of tissue to use the bathroom, then nothing to wash our hands, then forced to eat with filthy hands. Clean the cells, and provide enough tissue and soap to properly clean ourselves.
15. The hygiene supplies are insufficient. Provide more when it runs out, or let us buy our own.
16. Toilets only flush twice. At least three are required.
17. The blue razors supplied do not shave properly; we need the black ones.
18. A lot of cells have no stools to sit on at the desk. Give us chairs or something to sit on.
19. STG watch label is given out, then we get treated as if we are actually in a gang. Stop stamping out going mail as STG if we are not in a gang.
20. Our cells are not properly cleaned before we come into them. Mold and mildew in the showers as well.
21. More time than 90 days to write a grievance.
22. A law library.
23. Staff routinely open our trays. Stop picking over our food.
24. We are left in restraints without bathroom breaks or breaks to eat.
25. Stop holding us here (in segregation) for years without write-ups.
26. We need emergency call buttons in the cells.
27. Stop using nutraloaf as punishment. [ed. note: Nutraloaf is an inedible vitamin based, stale brick given out to prisoners instead of real food, often for being rebellious or troublesome. The Supreme Court supposedly prohibits the use of food as punishment in prisons…]
28. Inadequate mental health services for people with mental problems that are worsening.
29. OIC needs to make daily rounds on every block.
30. Superintendant needs to make monthly rounds.
31. Our kosher religious diet is denied here but allowed at other camps. Provide it.
32. Allow us to order religious books that have previously been approved.
The prisoners are encouraging supporters to send mail and make phone calls to:
Frank Perry, Secretary of the Division of Prisons
4201 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
or Call at