A photo of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington, where inmates were placed in solitary confinement following a food strike.
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A photo of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington, where inmates were placed in solitary confinement following a food strike.
Credit: Washington State Department of Corrections

Prisoners went on food strike. Were thrown in solitary. And now they're suing

The Washington State Department of Corrections is being sued by inmates who say they were arbitrarily placed in solitary after a non-violent food strike.

Earlier this month about 700 inmates at Clallam Bay Correctional Facility participated in the action to protest conditions at the prison.

After a 24-hour lock down, 36 inmates were transferred to other facilities, including five who have been in solitary at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla for three weeks.

Nick Straley, of Columbia Legal Services, says the Department of Corrections retaliated against the men.

“The primary issue is that these men have done nothing to justify the terrible treatment they have received, no information or evidence to suggest that what the Department of Corrections has done in this regard is appropriate,” Straley said.

The suit filed in Thurston County Superior Court asks that the men be released from solitary confinement and that state return their property taken during the move.

In a statement, Robert Herzog, assistant secretary of the prisons division said the department stands by its decision.

“The Department takes our responsibility to balance the rights of incarcerated individuals and the safety and security of our facilities very seriously," he said.