DOC says some hunger strikers are eating, advocates look at issues
(KUTV) The hunger strike at the Utah State Prison continued Monday night but prison officials are claiming some of the hunger strikers have some food while advocates for the prisons say there are inmate issues that deserve attenion.
In a press release, the Department of Corrections said it has observed some of the hunger strikers eating commissary food in their cells while advocates say the hunger strike is bringing issues to the surface.
Warren Rosenbaum, one such advocate, falls on the right end of the political spectrum. His office is draped in pictures of Ronald Reagan.
"I like Trump," he said.
But last year Rosenbaum began assembling a monthly newsletter for the benefit of, oddly enough, prison inmates.
"They are not treated like human beings."
His brother-in-law was jailed for sex crimes in 2014 and Warren watched his pain, and at age 80, became an advocate for prisoner's rights.
"The inner being is killed; they come out somewhat like zombies. You are entitled to human dignity."
He now sides with the American Civil Liberties Union when it comes to the hunger strike underway at the prison. Initially prison officials said the 42 "gang members" wanted to have their gang leaders out of high security. After letters from about 30 prisoners in the unit, perspectives have changed.
The ACLU says there is more to their demands, including a plea for better education and rehabilitation programs, better food and more access to exercise.
There are also concerns about food and replacing meat with soy. Prisoners used to get two small pints of milk and in some cases, now they only get one.
Prisoners are only let out of their cells for an hour, three times a week.
"That is what he wrote in the letter."
Rosenbaum is getting the August edition of his newsletter ready for distribution and hoping the hunger strike will shed light on a dark place in the criminal justice system.
"A nation that stands for humane treatment doesn't realize what is going on behind the walls."
The Department of Corrections is also reviewing available legal options with its counsel from the Utah Attorney General's Office should intervention become necessary.
In a statement the DOC said:
"The Department does not capitulate to demands, threats or intimidation from inmates. In fact, UDC policy states that inmates who engage in a "food strike" may be subject to disciplinary action, an option the Department is now reviewing."