10-day hunger strike ends at Texas prison
Officials said the strike was driven by complaints over recreational time and food portions and temperature
By Keri Blakinger
IOWA PARK, Texas — A 10-day hunger strike over prison conditions at a North Texas lock-up has come to an end, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The action, which prison officials said was driven by complaints over recreational time and food portions and temperature, started with more than 45 administrative segregation prisoners on Christmas Day at the Allred Unit.
By Wednesday morning, 37 inmates were still turning down meals at the Iowa Park facility. Just before 6 p.m., TDCJ spokesman Robert Hurst said all the men had accepted meal trays.
"I have not heard anything to support that," said Jennifer Erschabek of Texas Inmate Families Association. When word of the strike first broke, Erchabek questioned whether the cause could be a lack of heat in cells or a food complaint of some kind. Hurst later clarified it was not heat-related, and stressed that the prison was monitoring the situation.
"Most of the offenders have items purchased in the commissary in their cells," he said about a week into the strike. "The department is closely monitoring their food intake and will take appropriate action as needed."
When asked why the hunger strike ended, Hurst said: "It ended because they accepted meals." He did not clarify whether any of the prisoners' concerns were addressed.
The 3,722-inmate facility just south of the Oklahoma border typically houses one of the system's largest populations of administrative segregation, a non-punitive form of isolation for inmates deemed a security risk or danger to others.
Earlier this year, TDCJ quietly put an end to the use of punitive solitary confinement. Thousands of inmates are still in administrative segregation, but that number has markedly decreased in recent years.
As of late July, 573 segregated inmates - roughly 15 percent of the system's entire administrative segregation population - were housed at Allred.
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