11th Week of Lane County Jail Detainees’ Hunger Strike, Call for Inmate Worker Strike

Sep 3, 2020

 

The outside of Lane County Jail (file photo).
Credit Elizabeth Gabriel / KLCC News

As of Sunday, some detainees at the Lane County Jail have been on a hunger strike for a total of 11 weeks. Now, some jail workers may also strike.

According to a press release from the Lane County Mutual Aid Network, roughly 20-25 pre-trial detainees have participated in the hunger strike in the county jail over the past 77 days. The Lane County Mutual Aid Network wrote there is a detainee who has refused food for 40 consecutive days, as well as two other strikers who have refused food for over 21 days.

The following are some of the striker’s demands:

  • The release of all pre-trial and medically vulnerable detainees.

  • The right to a fair and speedy trial.

  • The drastic reduction of excessive bail.

  • The right to in-person, behind-glass social visitations with friends and family.

  • The right to in-person, behind-glass visitations with lawyers at the behest of either lawyers or detainees.

  • The reinstatement of religious services.

In a video, detainee Kevin Eggleston also called for inmates who work in the jail to go on strike.

“I feel as if us as inmates—we’re the ones who really keep this jail functioning,” said Eggleston. “We clean the hallways, we feed people, we cook in the kitchen, [and] we give out the clothes for nothing. You pay us nothing except for an extra tray. You treat us like dogs.”

Eggleston also referenced other issues such as issues and abuses that are raised in the letter include moldy food, a lack of diversity training, worn-out beds, commissary price-gouging, and the lack of an emergency alert system. Eggleston said he wants a non-violent strike, in the hope that conditions and safety precautions in the jail will improve. 

“The emergency alert system here is non-existent,” said Eggleston. “If one of the inmates in the single cells should fall out, pass out, or have any kind of medical emergency, the emergency alert system is to kick the door as loud as you can and to yell and scream to try to get the officer's attention. Well, if you’re screaming and you’re yelling trying to get the officers’ attention, this is something you can’t do because you’re medically incapacitated.”

Eggleston said this is a concern because some detainees come to the jail and kick the doors out of spite, and some guards may ignore the noise, instead of responding to a potential emergency.