Prisoner Hunger Strike Hits Polk Correctional

cantwontOn 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

(919) 838-4000


  1. NC Cure

    NC-CURE meets with NC DPS and Policy Makers June 11th – these issues and more to be addressed.

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  3. sally

    If these are true this is. Inhumane.this needs to be taken care before the strike gets any worse maybe Washington needs to be notified.

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  11. Becky

    my son was just transferred here on Friday 7/18/14, is this stuff still going on??

  12. jas

    I can’t believe i’m just now reading this. I have been wanting to speak with someone about this facility. They are very unorganized and their conditions are indeed inhumane. Nearly everyday, my boyfriend and brother complain about how it is so hot in there that the dry paint is beginning to melt off the walls. On “seg” they only receive showers on certain days and not everyday. They do not serve properly prepped food items. My boyfriend never eats breakfast, lunch, nor dinner because of this. This facility has numerous conditions that are unacceptable. They’re too busy trying to take everything away from these guys instead of doing their job, providing the basic standards, and meeting the guidelines that they are suppose to meet.

    1. Shayla

      I agree this is very inhumane. Who would allow something like this. People commit crimes but to treat them in this way in hopes of rehabilitation. Makes no sense at all!

  13. Katina puckett

    My son was transferred to Polk yesterday and it scares the hell out of me because this is his second time there. Three years ago he was there for a year and the place is a horror story. It is filthy, they treat the prisoners less then dogs. The guards beat my son and several others almost to death then spit in there faces and got away with it. They served mildew food and several times had roaches in it. There has been many complaints about this facility threw out the years and even deaths of young inmates reported. One young man was put in a cell and they about starved him to death, he was near death when someone finally stepped in and got him to a hospital. My son three years ago was falling in stress and a guard gave him enough pills to overdose on, his roommate continued to bang on doors and get guards attention telling them he was unconscious but he was ignored, 8 hours later he was taken out the cell and rushed to the prison hospital were he layed on life support for 6 days before he woke by the grace of god! The prison did not inform me of this, his roommate got his mother to call and tell me. I called the prison and raised all kinds of Cain and finally after asking several people on duty is this true? Was my son on life support for a week from overdose in your prison faculty and I was not informed of this in noway?? He replied yes, it’s true but he is fine now! I said are you serious? My son could have died and no one was going to notify me? He said because he’s over 18 we don’t and want notify anyone! It was all a matter of a cover-up with this prison and I would have not been notified unless he died. This is not nothing new with polk, this has been going on many years and the horror story’s all over the Internet are so very true. I have wrote everybody under the sun about this place and no one seems to care. This place needs to be shut down for ever and knocked down. Please people if you have children or family in this place keep close contact threw letters, visits, phone calls and anyway possible. PLEASE

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