“We was never supposed to be back here to begin with. And they admitted it as well! We didn’t have no business for being back here, because we never did anything to violate institutional rules. We went on a hunger strike about it. And I also would add that they let us stay at least six days without no food, before implementing the rules that they should’ve been following from the get-go.”
Speaking on Monday, June 22nd, 2020, one member of a group of predominantly Black men held since March in the Special Housing Unit (or SHU) at the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin describes the awful conditions they all have faced, including a period of several days when they had no access to soap or other hygiene products. In the time since this call, we’ve heard that the men in the SHU were finally given soap and toothpaste after five days. To our knowledge, the other conditions described in the call remain the same.
This recording has been edited for length.
“It’s been an ongoing issue: the mail that we send out is not being received. They’re not letting the mail go out, for whatever reason. And they’re also having an issue letting us receive mail coming in, which is a violation of the mail procedure, because if they’re not going to send you the mail that I send to you, or not give me the mail that you send to me, they have to give me a reason why so we could try to fix the issue.
The hygiene is a problem. Since Thursday we been up here asking for soap, we can’t get soap. We been here asking for toothbrush, we can’t get no toothbrush. We been here asking for toothpaste, we can’t get no toothpaste. We been asking for toilet papers, we can’t get no toilet papers. We asking for deodorant, we can’t get no deodorant.
The food—we already talked to the guy from the BOP. It’s unhealthy, man. It’s the same meal every day. It’s rice and beans, every day, twice a day. I don’t know as far as, like, what can be done about it, but it’s unhealthy. I’m not eating it, personally. I stopped eating it because it’s causing me stomach issues. I’m not the only one with the stomach issue.
It’s hot, but we don’t have no AC in the facility. So there’s air coming in here. The air is filthy, man. It’s filthy. And they’re not letting—I don’t know if the institution don’t have air conditioning, or if they’re just electing not to let the air conditioning go.
There was an issue with the phone, because they’re not letting us use the phone as we should. Because there’s two forms of segregation. Administrative segregation is entitled to the same privileges, to the extent practical.
We was never supposed to be back here to begin with. And they admitted it as well! We didn’t have no business for being back here, because we never did anything to violate institutional rules. We went on a hunger strike about it. And I also would add that they let us stay at least six days without no food, before implementing the rules that they should’ve been following from the get-go, because it’s GEO policy.
Being that we back here in the SHU, we don’t have access to do anything on our own, and the case manager’s supposed to be here once a week. We haven’t seen the case manager in over a month and a half. None of us even know who our case manager is right now at this time.
It’s 23 and 1 right now. And that 23 and 1 is only five days a week—on the weekend, it’s 24. 24 hours in the cell. We are being held right now until we can get transferred to the next facility. We been designated since probably the beginning of April. As of right now, nothing has happened yet. We still back here, crossing our fingers, hoping this nightmare will end anyday, and it just hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened. And there’s really no sign right now that it’s going to happen in the next week or so, neither.”