One of only two inmates continuing a hunger strike to protest a planned ban on smoking at the Utah State Prison annex in Cedar City says he will refuse food until officials reverse their position.
Mike Mullens said he has lost seven pounds since he began the hunger strike last Friday.Jimmy Stewart, director of the Iron County-Utah State Corrections Facility, said 49 inmates began the strike in protest of a no-smoking policy, which will become effective March 1, and to show their opposition to new rules regulating local telephone calls.
"I will take this all the way," Mullens said. "Someone has to fight for these people in here. There is no reason for the non-smoking policy. We have adequate ventilation."
Under the new telephone policy, inmates will only be allowed to place collect calls to local numbers. Prison officials have said the action was taken to prevent inmates from calling local college students and prison staff.
Inmates contend the local phone lines were restricted to keep them from complaining about prison conditions to news organizations, but Stewart denied the charge and said he will not reverse either policy.
Mullens, who said he also believes his mail is being screened, said he has been living on water, coffee and cigarettes.