Lawyer: People at federal prison denied showers amid strike

July 5, 2022 GMT

SHERIDAN, Ore. (AP) — Prison officials at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, denied showers last month to those held in a unit where people were engaged in a hunger strike, according to a court filing.

A court filing last week by a federal public defender says about 80 people housed in the detention center’s “J2 Unit” were protesting conditions inside the facility’s detention center. According to the Bureau of Prisons, on June 23 some of the men in custody at the prison southwest of Portland “did not accept their meals.”

The following day, documents say prison warden DeWayne Hendrix issued a memo to people in that unit saying showers were postponed, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

“The purpose of this memorandum is to inform each of you that showers are postponed due to continued threats of assault to staff,” Hendrix wrote. “Enhanced security procedures due to ongoing disruptive behavior will continue through the weekend and will be reevaluated on Monday. All issues brought to our attention are being reviewed.”

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Oregon Public Defender Lisa Hay noted in the court filing that temperatures in Sheridan reached 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) when showers were withheld.

The Bureau of Prisons didn’t answer questions from OPB about the memo or whether the water was cut off in an effort to end the hunger strike.

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, who represent the federal prison, said in a court filing of their own last week “that no inmates are currently on a hunger strike.”

Conditions inside the federal prison have been the subject of concern since the pandemic took hold in 2020. Hay has in court filings detailed lockdowns that have lasted for days. In other filings, her office has documented poor medical and dental care that has left many suffering.

Since the pandemic began, seven people have died at the facility.