CLALLAM BAY — Clallam Bay Corrections Center inmates went on strike Monday in protest over food and other conditions at Clallam Bay Corrections Center, refusing to eat their meals, a state Department of Corrections spokesperson said Tuesday.
The prison responded by placing inmates on restricted-movement status, spokesperson Janelle Guthrie said Tuesday morning.
Two inmate wives — one of which did not want to be identified — described the action to the Peninsula Daily News not as restricted movement but as a lockdown, a more restricted status under which inmates cannot receive phone calls and are confined to their cells. One wife said food packages were being withheld from the inmates.
Restricted movement is the suspension of normal movement in a prison, usually after a disturbance, according to www.doc.wa.gov.
“We have been working to address concerns of the incarcerated individuals for the last several weeks,” spokesperson Janelle Guthrie said in an interview.
“The administration has been working hard to address their concerns, and I know they’ve addressed a number of them to date.”
She said in a prepared statement that inmates began refusing meals and not attending assigned work and programs Monday in an action initiated by “a small number of incarcerated individuals.”
Some inmates are “attempting to enforce their will in a manner inconsistent with the welfare of others and facility safety and security concerns,” she said.
“Much of the rest of the population are participating out of concern of retaliation.”
Guthrie said in a later interview those concerns were explicitly expressed by some inmates.
Holly Phillips, the wife of an inmate, said prison officials were not allowing inmates access to food packages they had stored to sustain each other during the strike.
“The prison is refusing to give them their food packages as punishment,” said Phillips, who said she will be attending the University of Idaho School of Law next year.
“They have been completely locked down,” the Lewiston, Idaho, resident said.
“There is no phone usage.
“Even the ones in school cannot attend their classes.
“It’s basically punishment.”
Her husband emailed Phillips on Monday that “they locked us down,” according to a screenshot from his JPay corrections services email account.
“I don’t know when we will be off, but they are down-sizing, the [expletive deleted] they have been doing … food, rec, phone calls, the way they treat our family’s [sic] when they visit,” he said.
They put our loved ones on lockdown,” said the wife of another inmate who did not want her name used for fear her husband would suffer retaliation.
“That’s corporal punishment, in my eyes,” she said.
Guthrie emphasized in a second interview that the prison had not been locked down.
Units are scheduled to begin gaining access to phones on a rotational basis “within the next 24 hours,” she said in an email.
“Under restricted movement, they are allowed calls three times a week.”
Guthrie said the delivery of food packages has not been affected by the prison’s response to the food strike.
Prison inmates conducted food strikes in April 2018 at Walla Walla Penitentiary and in February at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].