Second Letter from I.C.E. Detainees who went on hunger Strike at the Suffolk County Hose of Correction
Letter received on February 26
Suffolk County House of Corrections
Additional Complaints (to Feb. 11th, which was revised from Feb. 10th)
The shower curtains always fall off. There has to be a better way to hang them.
Some detainees do not have shower shoes, envelopes, stamps or writing paper, especially when they first come in and/or perhaps they’re indigent. For these reasons, they need to be provided with these items.
Laundry is done twice a week. We’re given 2 shirts, 2 boxers, 2 pairs of socks, 1 bed sheet and 1 towel. This means we have to wear them 2 to 3 times a week before they could be washed. We need more socks, boxers, shirts, 1 more towel and 1 more bed sheet.
There is no fish in any meal. We’re not asking for much but seafood once a week.
There is no reason why we can’t have more rec. time, especially from 8-11, 1-4:30, 6-9:30. We’re under ICE.
Dust accumulates fast especially when there are six guys to a cell, and thus cell cleaning should be done at least 3 times a week which was the case until C.O. Wilson took over and without any announcement changed it to twice a week and changed the cleaning hour from 9-11 am (during our rec. time) to 8-9 am.
The workers/detail workers are not getting their fringe benefit: extra rec. time.
The phones are always occupied. There are too many detainees in this unit and not enough phones. We need at least 5 more.
The TV rooms are always cold. The C.O.s do not know how to turn up the heater or care to call maintenance.
This facility is not set up to hold detainees for months on end, but for 24 hours. (The acting assistant field director from ICE acknowledged this on Sat. 16th). To get around this, the facility together with ICE colluded to pull off this scheme of “warehousing” detainees here while listing them elsewhere. That’s why when the detainees’ relatives searched for them online (www.ice.gov/locator) or tried to send them money electronically, they’re not listed here.
As previously mentioned, we need TVs in our cells. We spend two-thirds of our time in the cells. What do you expect us to do? We get bored just like everybody else. But they have TVs and we don’t. I don’t understand how that it not a discrimination.
We’re taken advantage of because a lot of detainees, at least half, do not speak English and because we’re foreigners who essentially have no rights and are about to be deported. And thus this facility together with ICE seized that opportunity to make us as miserable as possible (no yard rec., no access to the library and no TVs like everyone else and when they shook our cells down and feed us the worst food as possible and play with our food by not portioning it properly (again, some trays are ridiculously larger than others and some are ridiculously smaller than others), refused to provide sugar to go with the corn flakes/cheerios (They’re supposed to be eaten with milk and sugar), and refused to provide us with the basic condiment--salt and pepper--which could greatly improve the bland food.
The hunger strike resulted from the grievance process not working properly. It never did. Further, the strike came about as a collective effort: “The entire village,” not by the four lugged detainees. Their removal to the segregation unit was unwarranted. They were removed to the segregation unit because they happened to speak to a lieutenant and the caseworker, Evelyn, and considered them to know too much and as the ones who organized the hunger strike. But they’re wrong. The whole unit organized it.
On Sunday night (2/17) at approximately 8 pm, Lt. DePass came to one of the TV rooms and asked if anybody wanted to eat. When no one expressed their desire to eat , the lieutenant verbally threatened them that he has four names and that he will be lugging to the segregation unit and force them to eat and then stormed out. Though I was not in the TV room to hear it but I was told what was said. But I did see him stick his head in the door and said something to them. Out of curiosity, I went to see what was being said. When I got there, I heard he said “I’m all done with your bull shit. Now you can put that in your fucking report too” as he closes the door and walked away. All of this hostility, threat and abuse were because we refused to eat. The next day, four detainees were lugged.
A day after the hunger strike began, we’ve been harassed and our cells shaken many times.
On Sunday, the 3rd day of the strike, shortly after no one showed up for lunch the captain came around with a box of tangerines but no one showed any interest when he tried to pass them out.
Out of desperation to get us to eat: on the 4th day of the strike, we were served first class dinner. Chow was always in the day room (rec. room). But on this particular day, they made a very special effort to bring it to our cells in Styrofoam trays with 1 milk each. Though we respectfully declined and insisted that we’re all set, the C.O.s forcefully insisted to put the trays in our cells. After about 15 minutes later the C.O.s came around to discard the food and milk. Shortly thereafter, Lt. Cockley came around with a nurse to ask if anyone needed to see the nurse. (C.O. Wilson also worked today, in the morning).
(A 6-man cell (13 cells in the unit) in a pretty compact space, too small to accompany 72 detainees, max. 75. The hallway can get pretty crowded. The unit and because of the location of the jail, it is set up for a 24 hour transit stay. And thus deportees are brought to the Logan International Airport for their scheduled flights the next day.)
The next morning (the 5th day of the strike), breakfast was back to the way it was where they bring up a cart of trays and call us out to the dayroom. But no one went to eat. For lunch, they went around and put in the cells sandwich bags and cups of drink. We’re on a hunger strike but they forcefully put food in front of us even though we respectfully declined. That’s like putting a naked woman in front of a religious person. That’s a violation of someone’s wishes and arousing their temptation. If we wanted to eat, we would have gone to the dayroom and grabbed a tray. At around 2:40pm, C.O. Wilson came around with a clipboard (the first time ever) and looked into our cell at where the bags were, which had been moved and placed on the top bunk. But I saw him put a check mark on his clipboard, which I would assume to falsely indicate that we ate even though we did not. And at 3:30 pm rec., we brought all the bags and put them on the tables in the dayroom (everybody).
The treatment is now worst than ever. They’re making everything harder now and lock us in right after rec. Without giving us any opportunity to brush our teeth like we normal do. It wasn’t like that before the strike.
At the dinner hour, no one went to the dayroom for chow. But sometime around 7 pm when the detainees heard that they had one last time tomorrow (2/20) to eat or they will all be shipped out, they caved in and just about everybody grabbed the bags that they had put on the tables earlier and also grabbed the tangerines and apples that had been brought up since Sunday. Their strategy worked since on this day they brought in a lot of new detainees...about the same amount for the swap.
No one, except those in here, will ever know what kind of food they really feed us with and how we’re truly treated until they’ve been here. The media now doesn’t have any sympathy for us since they think we’re picky and asking for too much. But the whole thing has been twisted and we’ve been made a laughingstock since we can’t be out here to respond to what’s been said about us and speak on our own behalf and defend ourselves. Whatever we say or do will always be twisted so that they could defend themselves. But we can’t do the same since we don’t have access to the outside world. Remember, we’re only detainees/immigrants. We have no rights. But at the end of the day, we’re human beings too.
Letter from I.C.E. Detainees who are on hunger Strike at the Suffolk County Hose of Correction
This list of grievances was issued on February 10th from Unit 8-2 at the Suffolk County House of Correction. On February 15th detainees in this Unit launched a hunger strike:
1. He has no respect for us. He's very abusive and uses expletive language with us, such as the F.... word.
2. When we bring up stuff that needs to be fixed, his response would be deal with it.
3. Abusive treatment from other C.O.'s like Wilson. He makes fun of the detainees by using mockery and sarcastic remarks.
For the reasons mentioned above, we do not want the Lt. and C.O. Wilson on this Unit. Further, they are very discriminating against immigrants.
4. Food is always bad. There is no energy. Most of the time, the food is bland and there is no condiment such as salt and pepper. The food portion is very unbalanced. One tray might have a very small portion while others might have a very ridiculously big portion. There is no fruit.
5. The bathrooms only have two showers working on each side. Most of the sinks do not have hot water.
6. One side of the bathroom has no mirrors. If they claim we’re breaking them, then review the video to see who broke them and when.
7. A. Count time takes too long, which affect us when we need to use the bathroom, We cannot use the bathroom whenever we need. We’re forced to “hold” and at times need to urinate in a cup.
b. During the overnight and morning shifts, only one bathroom is open. There are, on the average, about 70 people here.
C. When buzzed, the C.O. takes too long to open the door
8. The three TVs in the dayroom don’t work properly. They make weird sounds. It’s hard to watch them without getting annoyed. The cables are worn out.
9. Whenever we request grievance forms, the C.O.s would tell us it wouldn't matter because it would just go in the trash. And according to Officer R. Jean-Louis. 'we’re going to win anyway' when a detainee requested a grievance form.