In The Matter Of W.L.
Will is a prisoner in New Jersey currently on a hunger strike in protest against the lack of medical and mental health treatment for those traumatized by solitary confinement.
2011 – 2014
Will is in solitary confinement. False disciplinary charges resulted in Will being sentenced to a term in administrative segregation. Will initiated his first hunger strike to protest the excessive use of solitary confinement and a general lack of accountability concerning its use. For most of this time, Will was confined to a unique sort of solitary confinement within New Jersey State Prison’s (NJSP) infirmary, something it appears was designed just for him.
Will has false disciplinary charges brought against him. Specifically, Will is placed in solitary confinement for refusing to submit to a urine test. From the beginning, Will denied these claims, alleging instead that personnel arrived late, after the normal two hour window, to conduct the test. Instead of providing Will with more time, Will was charged and then placed in solitary confinement as punishment.
March 2012 – March 2013
Will’s previous hunger strike ended when Commissioner Gary Lanigan provided Jean Ross, Esq. with evidence that charges used to place him in solitary confinement were not only false, but were known to be false by prison employees.
The false disciplinary charges brought against Will are dropped.
Will is transferred against his will from New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) to Northern State Prison (NSP). Upon arrival, Will is placed in the infirmary in a single-lock cell.
NSP officials abruptly attempt to place Will in a double locked cell with a dramatically incompatible prisoner. Will initiates his hunger strike and refuses all medical attention.
An assistant superintendent went to speak to Will in his cell. This official required Will to drink Boost before they spoke. Once he finished the drink, the official stated that because his hunger strike was “preemptive”, his requests for reasonable accommodations were denied. This was done despite his apparent psychological and physical ailments.
Dr. Rajiv sought authority from Dr. Arthur Brewer (UCHC statewide medical director) to force feed Will. Upon information and belief, Dr. Brewer denied Dr. Rajiv’s request.
Agreements with clinicians resulted in Will’s decision to resume appropriate nutrition. Will would remain in a single-cell on the Transitional Care Unit (“TCU”) until early January 2016 and participate in therapy to alleviate symptoms of solitary confinement, including a general inability to be in close physical proximity with other people. The agreement included a phased cell placement plan. After remaining in single-lock cell for two months while receiving medical and mental health treatment, he would be evaluated for placement in a double-locked cell with a cellmate. Both cellmates would have to approve of the placement before proceeding. The next two months would be spent in a double locked cell in the TCU. Finally, Will would be moved off of TCU and returned to C-1-East, in a general population cell, provided doing so would not pose a serious risk to his or others’ health.
This ‘transitional care agreement’ was swiftly disrupted by the NJ DOC who in court claimed that Will’s hunger strike undermined safety and security in the prison. Instead, Will was forced
Temporary court order is issued allowing the NJDOC to obtain Will’s vital signs and perform lab tests, and ordering him to voluntarily consume nourishment and hydration
News and Media
- Unpublished Opinions for the Week of August 22, 2016″ (New Jersey Law Journal)
- N.J. can force-feed inmate on hunger strike, judge rules
- Can N.J. prison force-feed a hunger-striking inmate? Court could decide
- As N.J. prisoner’s hunger strike hits one year, his health is failing