On Wednesday, October 20, 2010, I gave notice that I intend to start a juice fast on Friday, October 22, 2010. According to the prison Program Statements, this constitutes a hunger strike.

The prison has threatened to immediately put me in solitary confinement, and to force feed me after three days. This is contrary to my interpretation of the Program Statements. However, although the Department of Justice-Bureau of Prisons (DOJ-BOP) has sent me for psychological evaluation, and otherwise demonstrated actual knowledge of my polite request to juice fast in peace, the DOJ-BOP refuses to back down from its threats.

Some might ask me why I am open with the prison about my intentions. Why don’t I just quietly juice fast the best I can, saying nothing about it?

The DOJ-BOP teaches inmates to sneak, lie and steal. They do this by 1) prohibiting almost everything, including acts that are indispensable to a decent life in prison, 2) selective enforcement of the rules, 3) deprivation of economic opportunity, and 4) deprivation of meaningful opportunities for self improvement. These are the prime contributing factors for a recidivism rate of up to 70% in US prisons, versus as little as 20% recidivism in enlightened places such as Norway.

The DOJ-BOP’s incompetence and laziness subjects Americans to preventable crime. Considering the size and annual turnover of the federal prison population, the human and economic costs inflicted upon this nation thereby are not insignificant. Americans pay for, and reasonably expect, the correction of bad behavior. They get the opposite.

I don’t feel led to play along with their game. I intend to juice fast. I’ve told them on multiple occasions, in plain language, what I am going to do. They had notice a reasonable time in advance. So far as I can tell my planned conduct is not forbidden by the rules. Nor could a well recognized religious practice be summarily prohibited, consistent with the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. I don’t think I have any duty to try to make a secret of it. My requests for basic accommodation are not unreasonable, and I intend to persist in those requests.

If you want to help me, please consider a sympathy juice fast of your own. Perhaps you’ve contemplated a juice fast. How about doing a 2 day or a 5 day juice fast in sympathy with my goals? I’ve explained what the problems are, on this blog. I’ve also supplied a chronicle of my own juice fasting experiences, together with tips on how to effectively juice fast.

You might discover what I discovered. Juice fasting is really good for human health. The spiritual benefits are likewise great and powerful. I hope you’ll simply approach this matter with a heart and mind open to God, and see what happens. Ask His favor on my endeavors as well as your own. Ask as you would a father or a friend. Some of the most dramatic answers recounted in the Holy Writ have come from some of the simplest prayers. We are not heard by God on the basis of lengthy speeches.

If I am force fed, the rules require the videotaping of the event. Video has the salutary effect of discouraging the excessive use of force, and provides both a visual and audio record in the event prison officials suggest any wrongdoing on the part of the inmate. Modern technology makes it easy for electronic files to be shared over the internet. Don’t let the prison tell you they can’t put the file in a DropBox or similar account online, and disclose the link to requesters.

The use of force, by the government upon an individual, is a matter of public concern. I trust that my friends will help to “keep the prison honest” by requiring prison officials to timely and honestly disclose video via the federal Freedom of Information Act. As Reagan and Gorbachev famously counseled each other, “trust but verify.”

Many thanks to all of you who haven’t forgotten me.

Oscar Stilley
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