Thursday, March 28, 2019

Resources for GBCI and WCI hunger strikes January and February of 2019

Below are transcriptions of letters from prisoners, and a summary and timeline of records obtained by FFUP. The DOC's heavily redacted, 92 page release of records is available here.

Jan 3 letter from Damien Huff:

I’m writing to inform you that me and also 5 others are engaged in a hunger strike. Due to the unlawful treatment they are inflicting on certain individuals in the hole here at GBCI. I am asking that if you can start a movement and also let the media know what’s going on here at GBCI . They are harassing us, searching our cells every time we come out of our cells for HSU, law library or any other activities. They do not serv the food on time ir is extremely cold or luke warm when we get it which by law we are supposed to get at least one hot meal a day. I ask that you stand by this movement with us please.”

Jan 26 letter from Damien Huff, not received until February 5.
Well. as you should know I am currently still on hunger strike as well as Fredrick Morris, Michael Johnson and 4 others whose name I don’t know,  And yes I would very  well Love to be in the suit!  let’s rock and roll  and take these people head on. They are monitoring my strike well so it seems. They are pulling me out every day checking y vitals and whatever else they do. It should be noted that I am on : Dying to live>-what me and the others are doing is demanding for change give me liberty or give me death!! They’re gonna give me what I ask for one way or the others. The Captain Jay Verlanan is still hindering me. He has isolated me from the others so that I can’t communicate with them> And has stripped me naked and put me in a cell with no mattress, toilet paper of smock. It should also be noted that thisis winter time and the cell is freezing sold and filthy> I think this guy Verlanen needs to be stripped of his white shirt or be removed from the RHU building known as Seg.”

Wording of public records request sent by Ben Turk of FFUP on February 24, 2019.

I would like to request emails or memos from green bay correctional staff between the dates of Jan 1, 2019 to the present that contain the following words or phrases:

hunger strike
refuse meals
meals refused
refusing food
not eating

or that name the following people:

Damien Huff #551050
Fredrick Morris #579941
Michael Johnson #265812
Officer Verlanen

Please search the email archives of the warden (interim warden bill pollard, and the warden he replaced), and the medical director or head of medical staff.
Thank you

Timeline and summary of public records request:

February 7, FFUP contacts DOC Communications office, and Rep. Goyke’s office. Goyke’s office contacts DOC immediately.

February 12, both DOC Communications and Makda Fessahaye, head of the Division of Adult Institutions contact GBCI to follow up.

February 13, GBCI Warden Pollard asks to talk with Ms Fessahaye “outside of e-mail… as it relates to Ms. Swan. There has been other correspondence from the same, similar organization.” (sic)

February 13, Rachel Larson, RN, CCHP, the GBCI Health Services Director states that there’s only one person currently on hunger strike. Their name is redacted.
He is eating sporadically and taking ensure daily. Classified as nonurgent hunger strike – we are just waiting for him to eat more consistently before we take him off.”

February 13, longer email from Warden Pollard. The hunger striker is refusing regular clothes and his cell is being searched often, he is allegedly exposing himself to female staff.

February 14, DOC Communications shares draft of response to FFUP. Warden Pollard approves the wording.

February 15, DOC communications sends the same to FFUP.

February 24, FFUP sends public records request to the DOC.

March 25, FFUP receives response to public records request. The request is enclosed. It includes many emails with “hunger strike report” in the subject line and the entire body of the email redacted. Based on the subject line, dates and sender of these emails, it seems there were hunger strikes at Green Bay CI and Waupun CI in January and February of this year.

Evidence of hunger strikes at Green Bay starting January 6, ending mid February.
January 6: email from Mary Alsteen, with subject line “Hunger strikes” to “DOC DL CAI GBCI Hunger Strike Notification.” Only names are redacted. Two hunger strikers are mentioned.
NOTE: It is typical practice to not officially recognize a hunger strike until 9 meals are refused, so the other 5 that Huff spoke of on January 3 may have quit the strike before the sixth and thus were not counted. After that, he was moved and would not be able to know whether other prisoners were still engaged.
January 11 – February 8: emails from Rachel Larson, RN, CCHP at GBCI. Names are redacted, but she mentions three hunger strikers, one of whom is in general population, but has resolved. By February 8 Larson is reporting on a single hunger striker.
February 13 – February 14, emails by DOC officials following up on requests sent February 7 from FFUP. At this point there’s only one hunger striker reported, and it’s claimed that he’s taking ensure daily and eating sporadically, so considered non-urgent.

Evidence of hunger strikes at Waupun, from January 2 through February 23:
Multiple emails from Robert Weinman, Ann York, Brian Taplin or Robert Ahlborg with subject line “WCI hunger strike report” or similar from January 2 to February 23. Body of all the emails are fully redacted.
Multiple emails from Melissa Block with subject line “hunger strike report” to many of the same recipients as above, so presumably also at Waupun. Body of these emails are also fully redacted.
The record request was submitted on February 24 and asked for emails with the words “hunger strike” between January 1 and that date. The hunger strikes at Waupun may have continued beyond February 24.

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