Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof staged death row hunger strike
He said he's been "targeted by staff,” “verbally harassed and abused without cause” and “treated disproportionately harsh" as a federal inmate.
Dylann Roof walks into the courtroom to enter his guilty plea on murder charges at the Charleston County Judicial Center in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday, April 10, 2017.Grace Beahm / The Post And Courier pool via AP
Breaking News Emails
Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
WASHINGTON — White supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof staged a hunger strike this month while on federal death row, alleging in letters to The Associated Press that he’s been “targeted by staff,” “verbally harassed and abused without cause” and “treated disproportionately harsh.”
A person familiar with the matter said Roof had been on a hunger strike but was no longer on one, as of this week. The person couldn’t immediately provide specific details about the length of the hunger strike or whether medical staff needed to intervene. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Roof wrote in his letter to the AP that he went on the hunger strike to protest the treatment he received from a Bureau of Prisons disciplinary hearing officer over earlier complaints that he was refused access to the law library and access to a copy machine to file legal papers.
Roof's Feb. 13 letter indicated he was already “several days” into a hunger strike, and he wrote in a follow-up letter that the protest ended a day later after corrections officers forcibly tried to take his blood and insert an IV into his arm, causing him to briefly pass out.
“I feel confident I could have gone much, much longer without food," Roof wrote in the Feb. 16 follow-up letter. “It's just not worth being murdered over.”
The allegations could not immediately be verified and a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons said the agency had no comment on Roof’s allegations, citing privacy concerns.
Roof's lawyers said in a statement that they were “working with BOP to resolve the issues addressed in the letters.”
In a 321-page legal brief, Roof’s lawyers asked a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, to review 20 issues, including errors they say were made by the judge and prosecutors that “tainted” his sentencing. One of their main arguments is that U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel should not have allowed Roof to represent himself during the penalty phase of his trial because he was a 22-year-old ninth-grade dropout “who believed his sentence didn’t matter because white nationalists would free him from prison after an impending race war.”
Roof is the first person to be ordered executed for a federal hate crime. Attorney General William Barr announced in July that the government would resume executions and scheduled five executions — though Roof is not included among that group — ending an informal moratorium on federal capital punishment as the issue receded from the public domain. The Supreme Court has temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures in court.