[Pnews] Pennsylvania prisoners start hunger strike against isolation practices

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Jun 27 19:37:12 EDT 2021


  Pennsylvania prisoners start hunger strike against isolation practices

June 25, 2021

By Lena Mercer, /Perilous Chronicle/

On June 23, 20-30 prisoners at SCI Phoenix, a 3,800 bed state prison 
facility near Philadelphia, began a hunger strike. The strikers are 
protesting against the use of an Intensive Management Unit (IMU), or 
segregation unit, inside the facility. They hope to bring attention to 
the use of these segregation units that they say most people do not 
fully understand. Inside these restricted release units, prisoners are 
held in isolation without programming and with no redress to remove 
themselves from the enhanced detention.

Several of the strikers participated in the uprising 
at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware in 2017 
and were later transferred to Pennsylvania through interstate compact. 
These prisoners, known collectively as the Vaughn 17 
<http://www.vaughn17.com/>, were charged with crimes following the 
uprising and have since organized jointly in their own defense.

In a June 1 statement 
written in coordination with Philly Anti-Repression, a 
Philadelphia-based organization that helps people organize against state 
repression, the Vaughn 17 group decried the conditions inside the 
facility. “Here, we are housed in our cells with only 5 hours of 
recreation per week, no programs, no schooling, no jobs, or anything 
else involving rehabilitation. We have been housed in this way (some 
completely misconduct-free) with no way out” they said in the statement.

Philly Anti Repression posted acall-in campaign on Twitter 
<https://twitter.com/phlbailfund/status/1408130089972387841> to be held 
on June 24 and 25. The intention of the call-in campaign, according to a 
participant, is to bring attention to the fact that while people are 
being sent into the Intensive Management Unit, no official protocols 
about the IMU exist. This leaves no possibility for people to 
administratively challenge their detention inside the restrictive housing.

“There is nothing productive or humane about locking up a human being in 
a box and letting them out for 5 hours a week,” the strikers said in the 
statement. “If PA DOC chooses to go into rehabilitating people and help 
them to become better human beings, then long term solitary confinement 
has to go.”

As of the evening of June 24, the strike was ongoing.


Lena Mercer <https://twitter.com/thelenamercer> is a journalist based in 
the Pacific Northwest and a member of the Perilous Editorial Collective.

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