SIU students protest living conditions at Menard

A group of protestors, including a contingent from Carbondale, stand in front of Menard Correctional Center in Chester on Thursday in support of prisoners on hunger strike within the facility. The group banged drums, pots and metal objects, as they yelled to employees leaving the prison and inmates conversing through an open window.

CHESTER — A group of students from SIU protested with a noise demonstration Thursday afternoon outside Menard Correctional Center.

The group from SIU, along with protesters from St. Louis, protested the living conditions of inmates who have reportedly been on a hunger strike since Jan. 15, said Nick Smaligo, SIU graduate student.

He said there were about 25 inmates who were involved in the strike initially and nine remain now.

In a written statement from Smaligo and other protesters, he said the hunger strikers reported abusive conditions, including cold temperatures, rodent infestations, filthy cells, inadequate blankets, no hot water and poor access to health care. The strikers also report retaliation from prison authorities, including intimidation and the storming of cells.

“The major problem is the prisons are kept in this high security unit without any idea of why they are in it and without any due process for how they get out of it,” Smaligo said. “That is a significant thing and, as far as I know, that is a violation of federal law.”

Smaligo said on Jan. 27 a number of people went to Menard and did a noise demonstration.


Anyone interested in getting in touch with the protesters should contact

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