Militant Journalism

Angola inmates on hunger strike against unlawful extension of solitary confinement

On Feb. 17 at 5:10 a.m., the entire tier CBC Lower Left (solitary ward) at Angola Penitentiary began a hunger strike over unlawful and excessive detention in solitary confinement, as well as horrendous conditions.

“The reason [for the strike is] … EVERYONE over here is between one month to six months past their initial disciplinary detention,” according to communications from the inmates carrying out the hunger strike. 

On the first day of the hunger strike, prison officials threatened inmates with mace if they did not return their trays. By lunchtime, officials began recording the names of the initial hunger strikers. On the second day, inmates were given word that a warden was en route to come speak with them. 

Ultimately, the hunger-strikers have only received empty promises and excuses.

The inmates only have access outside of a 9’ by 6’ cell for one hour a day, 15 minutes of which is used to shower. There is no heat in the prison and the inmates only have a jumpsuit and a sheet. Louisiana has had very cold temperatures as of late and with the latest winter storm, lows are in below-freezing temperatures.

“My boyfriend has been [in solitary confinement] for two months past his due date. First, he was put in on March 20th and then was supposed to be released [from solitary] on November 12th, then [the prison officials] stopped answering calls from me [at the prison],” said Jer’Rica Rush, whose partner is one of the hunger strikers, to Liberation News.

“They come in to check their vitals and everything every night but some of the inmates have been in there months past their due date. No one is paying attention to them. They refused eight meals so far and are still on with the strike,” Rush elaborated.

“All they have is a jumpsuit and a sheet and they haven’t even been able to wash their clothes. I’m just trying to get him out of the hole right now. There’s no heat on and it’s freezing in there. There’s mold in there and people are getting sick,” Rush emphasized. She explained, “We’re trying to push the story out there — it’s really bad conditions.”

The inmates asked that all their names be included so that no one person is singled out for retaliation:

  • Theoshamond Norman #407759
  • Ronald Reel #356002
  • James Thom #313821
  • Percy Hawthorne #348602
  • Donald Hensley #112218
  • Frederick Ross #585778
  • Courtney Williams #623982
  • Tonka Hayes #338440
  • Robert Hunt #318004
  • Harry Dupre #292174

The hunger-strikers are asking concerned people to call Warden Nettles LSP at 225-655-4411. Inmates want guarantees in writing: to be released from solitary and to be moved to appropriate and safe conditions.

For further updates and to get involved, please join the Angola Inmates Defense Committee and the Central Gulf Coast affiliate of the National Committee for Justice in Denver on March 1 at 6 p.m. Central time. 

The committees will discuss this prisoners’ struggle, as well as the repression against those in Denver who are facing up to 48 years in prison for organizing for justice for Elijah McClain murdered by police in 2019. 

To donate to Angola inmate Quierza Lewis’s legal fees: https://www.gofundme.com/f/serving-life-for-a-nonviolent-drug-conviction

Lewis is close to garnering enough financial support to finally have legal defense, which all 1,500 prisoners impacted by that ruling are seeking. 

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