FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 7.5.21
Contact OCEAN Co-Founders Russell Hatton, Daniel Wilson in MSOP: 218-351-1900, ex 70887 or ex 106021
Coalition Contact: David Boehnke, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-315-4222
Forty Five Detainees Begin Hunger Strike to End Preventive Detention in MN
Yesterday, July 4th, forty five detainees in Minnesota’s shadow prison at Moose Lake went on hunger strike for an end to preventive detention — being held indefinitely past their prison time based on what they “might do”. Detainees claim such detention is unconstitutional, an abuse of the mental health system, and a death sentence.
“A few of us tried going on strike in January and were given empty promises,” said Daniel Wilson, a co-founder of OCEAN, a detainee advocacy group from inside the Moose Lake Shadow Prison. “We are no closer than before to ‘a clear path home’ nor has there been a legislative hearing. So, to demand our freedom from unconstitutional indefinite detention, forty of us our going on indefinite hunger strike, starting July 4th, 2021.”
743 detainees are housed in the ‘treatment center’ in Moose Lake and St Peter Minnesota, costing taxpayers over 100 million dollars a year, or $393 per person, per day. Detainees are 6 times more likely to die than to be released.
“If we were mentally ill they wouldn’t have sent us to prison for a crime we chose to commit. It is a crime to hold us until we die after we’ve served our prison sentences” says Russell Hatton, detainee and OCEAN co-founder. “It is even worse for the 90 people held here indefinitely who have never been convicted of a crime. And yes, this could be you”.
The program has been the worst in the country for decades and mired in scandal, with “no healthcare, no treatment, and no hope” according to Wilson. LGBTQ and Black people are two times more likely to be indefinitely detained and there are ongoing complaints of racism and discrimination. Moreover, the program doesn’t prevent detainees from being victims of sexual violence. This April, a psychologist was charged with sexually assaulting two men under her care, while a trans-woman currently being held at the facility for “evaluation” has been raped in two separate occasions when improperly housed in double cells with men.
This hunger strike is three times larger than the one launched this January for a “clear path home” and the demand is sharper. Detainees demand an “end to the program” via either “an Executive Order from the Governor” or “commitment from a Senator and Representative in the MN Legislature to sponsor a bill to end the program”.
This hunger strike may also kick off a national movement beyond Minnesota, with detainees in similar sites committing to joining the strike in four other states so far.
The End MSOP Coalition, a families group, has also planned a multi-state gathering and rally from 1-5pm on July 18th to mark the program’s 27th Anniversary, starting at the Minnesota Capital and ending at the Governor’s Mansion. Learn more at facebook.com/endmsop or thevoicesofocean.net.
Hear testimony from OCEAN co-founders here:
-Daniel Wilson: https://drive.google.com/…/1r42kLyWZ6oB5M7pImw1tjExuo…/view…
-Russell Hatton: https://drive.google.com/…/11vzdnH2gSTt9XMSINl7181H62…/view…DRIVE.GOOGLE.COMRussell Hatton 7.2.21 hunger strike demands.mp3