St. Lawrence University students hold hunger strike for prisoners' rights
Friday, December 7, 2012 - 6:38 am

By CRAIG FEILICH

CANTON – A four-day hunger strike in support of prisoners’ rights has started at St. Lawrence University.

“We’re focusing on solitary confinement, and asking people to sign petitions and raise awareness,” said Thomas Matt, a sophomore from Utica.

He and six others at the liberal arts college began Thursday and plan on ending their hunger strike Sunday night.

In the meantime, they have set up tables in the student center for people to sign petitions and get information on the issue of prisoners’ rights and particularly solitary confinement, which has come in for criticism in recent months, being characterized as torture by organizations such as the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“I got interested last year when I began blogging about the American justice system. We have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, and most of them are there for non-violent crimes, but for drugs. The need to get rehab, not be called criminals,” Matt said.

He said other members of the striking group have family members incarcerated or took a class at SLU on prisoners issues.

Matt says this action follows on a hunger strike last year by 6,600 prisoners in solitary confinement.