There’s a reason prisoners go on hunger strike to protest. It is as simple as it is grim: what else can they do? When most every form of life is controlled, confined, and denied, all that is left is bare life. It is a dreadful thing indeed, when the available sites of political resistance are reduced to a human’s own digestive tract. As such, every concerted hunger strike and every circumstance that prompts a hunger strike deserve our attention. Right now, that means we should focus on the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.
Inmates at the prison, the state’s highest security facility, have entered their second week of a hunger strike. Nine inmates have refused meals since March 19 in protest of restrictions placed on recreation and prison programs, including bans on religious gatherings for certain prisoners. According to prison spokespeople, the “range restriction” practice now in place means that most inmates cannot move around their enclosed housing units, and highest-security inmates are currently banned from all group programming (including GED classes and group religious worship).