From Seattle Times: After years of getting cold muffins for breakfast, inmates at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center are refusing meals in protest.
Offenders at Coyote Ridge, which is in Connell, Franklin County, and houses approximately 2,065, have skipped meals out of frustration over a range of issues, primarily the quality of their food. The strike began Feb. 1 and continued through at least Monday afternoon.
It’s the second time in a year that Washington prisoners have protested over food quality, raising concerns that the unrest could continue to simmer — or escalate.
The hunger strikes have highlighted the fact that the state Department of Corrections (DOC) has not fully complied with Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2013 executive order to promote healthful food at state facilities.
The action at Coyote Ridge — and a strike last year at Walla Walla’s Washington State Penitentiary — could also be a key early test of the state’s new state Office of Corrections Ombuds. The Legislature and Inslee authorized that position last year to provide some independent oversight of the DOC.
Joanna Carns, director of that office, has made food issues an early priority. After last year’s meal strike, her office has partnered with the DOC to survey the inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary about food.
“While it might not be immediately apparent to the outside person, food is actually a critical issue in corrections, and is one of the things that will lead inmates to riot,” Carns said.
At the request of the DOC, Inslee has included $2.78 million in his proposed new two-year state operating budget to bring back hot breakfasts to Coyote Ridge, Washington State Penitentiary and three other prisons, which all moved to cold breakfasts in recent years.
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