Locked-Up in "High Security Unit" and Not Told Why, Prisoners Hunger Strike for Answer
"They are completely and entirely untrue," Schaer says. "The inmates want attention and now they're getting it."
According to Schaer, the units are clean, heat and hot water is plentiful, there are a few mice here and there, but that's to be expected in a rural area, and inmates are given regular mental health evaluations. As for the allegations that inmates are not told why they are placed in the administrative detention unit, he says that is false, too.
"They're told why and they're given clear directives," Schaer says.
So if everything in the unit is fine, why would the inmates want to go without food for several days in protest?
"Because they're not happy with how the system works and they're trying to take extreme action," Schaer says. "We think these allegations are either entirely untrue or gross exaggerations. People do irrational things - that's what lands them in prison. And they're doing irrational things because they're taking an inaccurate view of their actual situation."
But the Uptown Peoples Law Center says that the situation is very real and ever since the 2013 closure of the controversial Tamms Correctional Center, a "supermax" prison where inmates were subjected to solitary confinement-like conditions, the Illinois Department of Corrections appears to be recreating mini-supermax prisons around the state by carving out special units such as the one at Menard, which does nothing to rehabilitate inmates.
"We want these guys to come out and be law-abiding and paying taxes instead of being screwed up in the head," Nelson says."We're already spending a lot of money to house them there. So let's do something so they're better off when they come out."
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