William Lecuyer, 34 years old and due for release in four years, is at risk of death within NJ State Prison, in the course of a year-long principled hunger strike to protest official misconduct and sham prison disciplinary and grievance systems. In the course of this protest, he has spent 19 months in solitary confinement and lost 100 pounds.
Today, POP is making a 2nd appeal to the Governor, asking him to intervene to save this man’s life. The Department of Corrections (DOC) seems willing to let Mr. Lecuyer die, rather than look at how the purported justice systems in the prisons have operated in this matter. Their handling of Mr. Lecuyer’s confinement, as his medical condition has become increasingly life-threatening, has been marked by unjust, irrational and intransigent responses, inconsistent communications, broken promises, and custodial interference with medical orders.
Will the Governor, the New Jersey Department of Corrections, and the prison doctors let Mr. Lecuyer die, rather than investigate his claims of official misconduct, negligence, and injustice? Or will the Governor finally take action to save this man’s life and fearlessly pursue justice?
What is Mr. Lecuyer’s protest about? Mr. Lecuyer was charged with failing to produce urine in June 2011, a charge for which he received a punishment of 4 months in solitary confinement. He denies using drugs and, in 13 years, has never submitted a “dirty” urine in prison.
Mr. Lecuyer has refused solid food since February 2012, demanding a fair investigation into his allegations that:
1. The charging officer falsified information on the official charging document;
2. The disciplinary Hearing Officer refused to examine crucial evidence;
3. His administrative appeal was undermined by late service of the prison’s appeal forms;
4. He was effectively denied legal access to pursue a court appeal;
5. His attempts to use the prison’s grievance system were ignored.
These are all problems frequently reported by prisoners, throughout the state prisons.
What justice is Mr. Lecuyer seeking? All of Mr. Lecuyer’s efforts to use the prison “justice” procedures, and all of the requests by Mr. Lecuyer’s family and concerned individuals and organizations in the community for an investigation of his concerns, have been diverted, ignored or rebuffed. He seeks evidence of the information in 4 official documents, one of which is already in his possession. He believes that these documents establish that the disciplinary charge issued on June 15, 2011 was fraudulent. He believes that a credible investigation of his allegations will improve prison “justice” operations and deter violations of DOC rules in the future. He now also seeks the promulgation of a regulation to ensure that that no other person’s life is endangered by the kind of treatment he has encountered in the course of his protest.
The medical staff at the prison says that Mr. Lecuyer could die from a heart attack or stroke at any moment. Unless the Governor acts, only attention and inquiry by the media are likely to break the official silence and obfuscation of the issues for which Mr. Lecuyer is risking his life.