QUESTION: Where to find information about a hunger strike at FCI Tallahassee in 1998?

question / pregunta: 

In 1998, women at FCI TAllahassee staged a hunger strike (two of the women referred to it as a "food strike") to protest the conditions of the prison. In response, the staff first tried to break the strike by offering a steak dinner. When that failed, they pulled women out of bed and showers, shipped them to a detention center and, from there, transferred them to different prisons (both state and federal even though all are federal prisoners) across the country.

Where and how would I find media coverage about either the hunger strike or the repercussions?


I tried LexisNexis Academic, using various combinations of keywords, but found no mention of this incident. I also tried the following databases: Contemporary Women's Issues, Gender Studies Database, GenderWatch, and Studies on Women and Gender Abstracts.

I'll leave this question "unanswered," though, in case someone else turns up something useful...

Answer posted by:
jim miller

It would be VERY difficult to prove this did not happen, but based on our searches of newspaper databases, we have to wonder if this may be an incident that happened elsewhere. Lexis Academic, as indicated in our earlier answer, gets nothing in major news sources. Even if we select "Florida News Sources", and search: tallahassee and federal correctional (dates Jan 1, 1997-Dec 31, 1999), we get 7 very unrelated articles. Even a VERY broad search: tallahassee and federal correctional and hunger and strike (all dates) gets 1 hit, with the prison in part of a news summary, and a widely separated news note on a hunger strike at Ft. Benning in 1990.

In Factiva, the search: tallahassee and "federal correctional" and hunger and strike (all dates) gets only 3 hits. The only connection to FCI Tallahassee is a mother who staged a hunger strike at a prison camp in Coleman, Florida, and got moved to FCI Tallahassee in January 2000.

So unless the person or source that gave you this information can give you more hints about it (possibly a different prison near Tallahassee?), your only recourse would be to do an investigation of potential sources of information (people) around the Tallahassee area. Possibly Florida prisoners' rights organizations could give you names of people to ask.

Jim Miller
[email protected]

I was there and it really happened...

I am working on a book about the travesty of my unjust incarceration and experience with the Federal "justice" System.

I was in Tallahassee FCI from 1998-2000 as a minimum security inmate, thrown in with murderers, violent career criminals, etc..

There was group of women in "D unit", (I was in B then F) who were writing a book "The Tallahassee Project" amongst other things, and were quite active (in many cases rightfully so) in creating awareness of the outrageous sentencing issues guideline and disparities for drug convictions. Many were innocents set up by drug using and dealing boyfriends, or falsely ratted out by these men who only cared about saving themselves once busted.

I do not know if they were responsible for the hunger strike. I recall it being about rumors started by prisoners that the food we were being served was going to be tainted by some group of unknown inmates who were going to pee in it or something like that, and everyone was urged not to eat in the food being served by the prison.

I do not recall it being about prison conditions. Prison is a terrible thing but that place was not that horrible. What was horrible was the sadistic and sick people in charge-the abusive guards and other mentally twisted primarily African American staff who enjoyed torturing white prisoners for no reason, with mind games, threats of moving them to other prisons, etc, the prejudice and favoritism towards African Americans who were the majority of the population, etc.

Prison staff became aware of this and those who did NOT eat the prison food in the “mess hall” were scrutinized and considered troublemakers and were charged with “inciting a riot” and many of them were sent away to new prisons.

There was always some kind of scandal or ridiculous nonsense going in the bizarre world of Tallahassee FCI. It was like an alternate universe from hell.

I knew I was leaving and tried to spend my time doing positive things, and could mostly be found in the law library trying to dissect what had happened to me, legally. I ignored of all that nonsense and always did what I was told for fear of being locked in the SHU (a jail within the jail).

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