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Wisconsin: Prison Hunger Strike Reaches Crisis Point

According to an August 22, 2016 report from Workers World, an ongoing hunger strike at the Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin has reached a crisis point. A group of at least eight prisoners at Waupun and the Columbia Correctional Institution began refusing food in June as part of a movement called “Dying to Live.” The prisoners began the action to protest the use of long-term solitary confinement and to call for improvement in the care of mentally ill prisoners. On June 17, 2016, the Wisconsin DOC began force-feeding the hunger strikers; however, guards stopped giving regular hydration and nutrition in August and began a sadistic pattern of tube-feeding the strikers once every 72 hours.

Workers World stated a letter from Waupun prisoner LaRon McKinley detailed the DOC’s efforts to break the will of the protesters by tube-feeding them sporadically, increasing the pain, harm and danger to the men and putting them at risk of “refeeding syndrome,” which can cause fatal heart or respiratory failure. McKinley’s letter claimed that he and fellow hunger striker Cesar DeLeon had refused to drink the lead-contaminated water provided by the facility and were denied bottled water or Gatorade-type drinks.

Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Steven Bauer refused to stop DeLeon’s forced tube-feeding in July, saying “The prison cannot allow him to die on a hunger strike.” On September 6, 2016, activist Bernie Gonzales provided an update through JONAH, a Wisconsin-based criminal justice reform group, stating that McKinley and DeLeon, as well as “3 or 4 others,” were continuing the hunger strike. According to the World Medical Association, “the forced feeding of hunger strikers is unethical and is never justified.”


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