Coal Township prison attempts to suppress Ramadan fast

Source: HRCoalition
08.30.2010
From the Human Rights Coalition: Muslim men at SCI Coal Township under fire for observing Ramadan, Prisoners refused food, called ‘cave monkeys’ & ‘terrorists’ by racist guards.

According to multiple reports from prisoners at SCI Coal Township prison in Coal Township PA, Muslim prisoners are being harassed and purposefully starved by prison staff in retaliation for observing the annual Ramadan fast.

During Ramadan, observant Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset but are allowed to eat during the other hours of the day and are not required to drastically reduce the total amount of food eaten per day. This is particularly important to Muslim prisoners in the Restricted Housing Units (RHU’s), where even the regular food portions can cause weight loss and hunger pains. Currently, observant Muslims in Coal Township’s RHU are being served only a small bag of food for the predawn meal and a single meal after sunset, resulting in feelings of sickness and lightheadedness for many of the men during their daytime studies. They have vigorously protested the situation to no avail, petioning officials all the way up the prison’s chain of command to receive their full daily food portions.

This has angered prison officials, who have stood by while guards refuse yard time and showers to the Muslim prisoners, as well as call them “cave monkeys” and “terrorists”. During rounds earlier in the month, Superintendent David Varano and Deputy Superintendent Rhonda Ellett made clear that no investigation would be made of the issues raised by the Muslim prisoners, and Varano suggested that Muslim prisoners “not fast next year”!

Take Action!
Support these men’s right to observe Ramadan, and the right of all people to practice their faith without fear of reprisal from authorities! Call the following DOC officials and demand that the men at Coal Township receive their full allotment of food each day. Politely ignore claims that “policy is being followed”; this is an excuse meant to distract you and flies in the face of numerous reports from prisoners stating that they’re getting not enough food!

Department of Corrections Acting Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal (717-975-4918)
SCI Coal Township Superintendent David Varano (570-644-7890)
Coal Township’s Food Service Manager Toni Shedleski (570-644-7890)

When calling prisons and public officials, always maintain courtesy and be absolutely firm in demanding that they uphold their duty. They are public servants and are accountable to you!

Human Rights Coalition: Fighting for the Rights and Lives of Prisoners

Philadelphia chapter: 215-921-3491 – http://www.hrcoalition.org/
Pittsburgh FedUp! chapter: 412-361-3022 ex.4 – http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org/fedup/

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